Home World Politics Australian Media’s Continuing Failure Over Syria

Australian Media’s Continuing Failure Over Syria


deir-ez-zorDeir ez Zor, Syria

By James O’Neill*

There are few more blatant examples of Australian mainstream media bias and incompetence than the continuing misreporting and/or silence about events in Syria.  Ukraine would run a close second.

On 17 September 2016, in the middle of a ceasefire that had been negotiated by Russia and the United States, US warplanes attacked a Syrian military base at Deir ez Zor, killing more than 60 Syrian soldiers and wounding more than 100.

There were a number of anomalies about this attack, almost none of which has been reported in the mainstream media.

First, when the attack started the Russians attempted to contact the Americans via a hot line set up to avoid conflict such as this occurring.  Such a hot line is prudent as a direct Russia-American confrontation could rapidly deteriorate.  For more than 30 minutes however, the Americans refused to respond to the Russian calls.

Secondly, at the time the attack was labeled a “mistake” and the Americans have repeated this excuse in a recently released official report.  Yet as part of the hot line procedures to avoid such “mistakes” the Russians had asked the Americans to give the coordinates of where they planned to strike.  The Americans have always refused to do so, until the Deir ez Zor attack when they gave the Russians the wrong coordinates.

Thirdly, according to Syrian intelligence, they intercepted electronic traffic between the Americans and the terrorists besieging Deir ez Zor.  As soon as the American air strikes began, the terrorists also commenced an attack on Deir ez Zor.  That is very unlikely to be a coincidence.  No reporting of the Syrian intelligence has appeared in the Australian media.

Fourthly, the Australian government admitted that it took part in the “mistaken” attack.  Quite how this occurred has not been disclosed.  The aircraft that were directly involved in the attack were not of the type used by the RAAF.  Were they piloting US aircraft?  Did they provide re-fueling services?  We do not know and the government refuses to say how or why they were part of this “mistake.”

As far as is known, there has been no Australian inquiry held, not even a phony one such as the Americans, and if there was an inquiry then we have not been told the results.

Fifthly, and this is probably the biggest failure of all, not one mainstream media outlet, in print, on air or on TV, asked the obvious question: on what legal basis is Australia involved in Syria at all?

The United Nations Charter (Article 51) and decisions by the World court, severely circumscribe the circumstances under which military force may be used.

(a) In self-defence, itself a limited concept. This manifestly does not apply to Australia because we have not been attacked.

(b) By resolution of the UN Security Council. Again, this has manifestly not occurred.

(c) By invitation of the country attacked to assist them. Syria certainly asked for Russian and Iranian help, which has bee provided to considerable effect.  Syria has never extended such an invitation to Australia, and the Syrian government has on more than one occasion made it plain that Australia’s presence is not welcome.

(d) The collective self-defence provisions of the UN Charter. This is where one State is attacked by another State, and the first State asks a third party State for assistance.

The day after New Matilda published an article of mine last November querying the legal basis under which Australia claimed justification for being in Syria, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was on National ABC Radio invoking precisely that justification.  The interviewer simply accepted that claim without question.

Unfortunately for Ms Bishop’s argument, the Iraqi government issued a statement specifically denying having made any such request.  Their requests for assistance were limited to training etc within Iraq’s national borders.  It will come as no surprise that the Iraqi government denial was unreported in Australia.

Even if Iraq had issued such a request it would not assist the Australian government’s case.  The World Court has said on at least three occasions that the collective self-defence provisions of the UN Charter only apply when a State is attacked by another State.

Whatever else its pretensions might be, ISIS is not, never has been, and in all probability never will be a “State.”

Why does all this matter?  I suggest for two reasons in particular.  The first is that it should be of concern to all Australians that yet again we blithely follow the Americans into another illegal war.  A war, incidentally, that puts us at odds with nuclear-armed Russia, and more recently, China.  The latter is not only nuclear armed, it is also our largest trading partner by a considerable margin.

It is extremely difficult to think of a single rational argument for Australia becoming so involved (and the involvement goes beyond that of the RAAF).  It is however, very easy to think of a number of reasons why we should not be so involved.

The second reason is that it reinforces a very sorry reality.  The Australian mainstream media cannot be relied upon to raise these issues, as fundamental as they are, let alone give time, space and airtime to opposing arguments.  One cannot rely on the official Opposition to even raise these issues.  Even the mildest questioning of some of our foreign policy assumptions by Senator Wong recently, invoked a barrage of criticism from the usual suspects.  Paul Keating likewise.

It is little wonder that we are now witnessing a sustained attack upon the alternative media, which is the only place in Australia where these questions are raised.  The Washington Post recently published an article listing more than 200 websites as either dupes of the Kremlin or deliberate misinformation sites.

Quite apart from the irony of the Washington Post attacking alleged fake news, it would be funny were it not so potentially serious.

It would be nave in the extreme to imagine that Australia is exempt from this campaign against the alternative media.  The clear intent is to silence dissident views.  It cannot be allowed to succeed.

*Barrister at Law.  He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au



  1. Australia has been run by a bunch of traitors within all major political parties for numerous years. The first signs of this was when the banking laws were changed, followed by ownership laws of the media being changed in favour of megalomaniacs.

    Four banks were allowed (encouraged?) to take over all the smaller banks, credit unions and building societies which had been competing. A favourable situation for both depositors and borrowers.

    We now have some of those taken over trading in their original name although owned by one of the “big four”. It is probably the same with the media outlets.

    Our gutless politicians who we are told represent the people, have for years been following orders from the U.K. and the U.S. (sometimes through the United Nations Organisation) on all major areas of responsibility towards Australia’s safety and security.

    They appear to have sold their souls to the evil doers of this world.

    We only need to look at two major incidents in which politicians acted as traitors to the Australian public. The first being their involvement of planning the Port Arthur massacre and the second, their continuing support for the spraying of toxic materials in Australian skies which is killing humans, animals and vegetation, in the name of climate change reduction.

    Both of the these programmes have been falsely reported by ALL the major media outlets.

    • I would have thought before the Port Arthur massacre the rot had set in long before? at least from the time of Whitlam, as can be seen British intelligence was directly involved and also the CIA.
      Simply put when the then Prime Minister said we are to buy back the farm? more or less, was his existential death warrant but also Australia’s,, we have to know the rot was going as a historical straight jacket long before, such as the Ballarat uprising, I think their was a levy or something on every square metre of land.
      As a American once said some time ago, do not know who, “When you lose some of your freedom for security, you deserve to lose both” I would say that the individual in Australia is in a straight jacket.as known the frog in water slowly brought to the boil, the frog will die.
      Although compared with Syria, we are comparatively free, but when you make comparisons with the worst it always seems we are better off, in part the Rothschilds and such need to create macabre situations to give you the illusion you are well off.

  2. Our Syrian involvement, has been without questioning by either the Opposition or MSM, for way too long!
    It did not even feature during the last Election, could you believe it, as a policy choice, by any Party!
    Let us all hope, James, that there are more than you and myself, who are concerned with this extremely important illegal involvement!

  3. Interesting article Mr. O’Neil.
    So sorry that we cannot respond or inform Australians what we are still up to for the last 16 years in the Middle East …….. it really is none of the public’s business as to whom we invade and kill and for whose interests.
    Malcolm Croak.
    Head Frog.
    Department of the Canberra Swamp.
    PS. We own the msm! So stiff!

    • Now that Ned is the best description of Canberra so far.
      I must re-address my letters.
      Maybe that is why the protestors yesterday were in the pond — looking for the head frog.
      But razor wire will soon sort out those frog hunters from entering the swamp

    • So sorry.
      Please forgive error, most humbly.
      The ‘S’, be it missing from Malcolm Croak.
      I correct error, it should be Malcolm Croaks.
      There is much a psychophony (sp?) from the swamp, the music of the swamp, concerning many matters that be very distracting and confusing to honourable citizens and the most esteemed selected to the parliamentary press gallery.
      Indeed, the most Honourable Malcolm; does one not one observe his song and his submerged tadpoles, in harmony for the creation of confusion and distractions to cover for murders so abominable.
      Thus the destraction inspector, the magician’s and media slight of hand; distract with one hand and the audience, so confused, does not see the mass murders with the other, before their very eyes.
      Thus the fat frog on the largest lilly in the swamp is most loudest and confusing to we his concubines.
      ( ok, it is shit, but some might appreciate the point)

  4. Have to agree, 100% with everything James has highlighted in his post. How can we expect anything else from our Government when Julie Bishops runs around spreading the lie that Assad has gassed his people, despite the FACT, that the U.N. investigation of that event gave Assad a pass ????
    Surely our Foreign Minister was aware of this, yet she still claims the opposite.
    Regards the MSM and the FAKE news stories being bandied about.
    I distinctly recall the U.S. Government approving the CIA set up a special division to CREATE FAKE NEWS and disseminate same to all and sundry. Or did the usual readers here miss that news when it occurred ?
    To now claim news is fake, is laughable, (though true in most cases ) when such a department’s main task is to generate such and disseminate it all everywhere ??????????

  5. Australia has a long time controlled by exterior sources such as organizations as the CIA, Mi6, and Tavistock, Australia is a experiment on mind controlled citizens, those who have awakened from the slumber are so few they are seen as the freaks and the best way to control this group is to ignore them and eventually the fruit will wither and die on the vine.
    As seen in Australian Parliament today, the hype on backpackers taxation as a diversion to more serious concerns such as global interrelations and the Syrian war is virtually off the agenda as to considerations relating to a peaceful solution.

      • If war is inevitable and has no end, aided and abetted by investors in stocks and shares of war equipment and scientists, engineers to workout superior methods of maiming and killing and having to earn money to pay for mortgages on quality Grand Design houses for these professionals to relax in after a days hard work at the office, and any loose change for the rebuilding of Aleppo and interest on loans to be paid by Syrians to pay off over thirty years, makes perfect sense.

  6. When Trump is inaugurated it will be interesting to see his handling of the MSM as he was pilloried by them during the election process.
    It will be fun to watch as they will be left out of briefings and press releases.
    Trump has had amicable interviews with `fake news` sites such as Alex Jones.

        • When i say someone is on the payroll i don’t mean they care for money.
          Here is how I know he is not the real deal. He urges panic all he time and never discusses how to get out of the mess we are in.

          Why is he like that? He’s “on the payroll.” My opinion, anyway.

          • But the “payroll” implies someone (“them”?) is paying for his slant on things.
            His method of rant creates his big audience. He likes audience and being the centre of attention. He is like many actors I know.
            I have heard him offer up many solutions and actions. So I say he’s not on “the” payroll — but on his own unique (sensationalist) band wagon.

          • Everyone has flaws & imperfections.
            “Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.”
            ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

  7. James if you know the answers to any of these qq and would take a stab at it, please do. I am ignorant about IS or ISIS.

    1. The members of it — do they have a leader who offers them something they can look forward to for themselves? They see all the destrution around them. Most people are not primarily into killing, so is there a happy side of the story for them?

    2. It seems to be well known that the US (or UK or Israel) gives ISIS medical care and Toyota trucks. How is it coordinated? Who is the middle man?

    3. Do you think the Syrian holocaust is just an outcome of the famous Wesley Clark plan? Or is it more specific re a build-up of NATO v Russia?

    • Mary, you always ask questions that need an article to respond. The short version to your three questions however is as follows:
      1. Yes, a nominal leader, who goes by the non de guerre of al Bagdadhi. He spent two years in an American camp in Iraq during which he was trained for his role. ISIS is primarily a mixture of mercenaries and fanatics.
      2. The arms and Toyotas are primarily supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qater who in turn received them from the Americans. The Turks provide safe transit routes as well as medical care. One of the major hospitals is run by Erdogan’s daughter. One of his sons controls the stolen oil. The Israelis provide medical assistance through military hospitals on the occupied Golan Heights. There is some suggestion that al Bagdadhi is an Israeli citizen. I can’t confirm that.
      3. The plans predate Clark, especially the so-called Yinon plan (Israeli) that calls for the breakup of Syria and Iraq into statelets that will not pose a threat to Israel. Some useful reading is Seymour Hersh’s article in the New Yorker, The Redirection, published about seven years ago. I also highly recommend Robert F Kennedy Junior’s article in February this year, published in. US environment magazine, entitled Syria, Another Pipeline War.
      More generally, I would add the comment that all of America’s foreign policy and accompanying wars are about asserting US hegemony over the world and control of its resources. Read the DOD 2002 document Vision 2020.
      All references readily available online.

  8. Re Alex Jones, below.

    Dee, I, too, like attention. I like to ham it up, but I am not “on the payroll.” (God knows I’m not on GUMSHOE’S payroll.)

    When I was a candidate for Congress in 2006, spewing 9-11 truthie stuff, the Alex Jones show rang me in NH to give a 7-minute radio talk. Before the show, his offsider called, and I told him what I would say. He did not like it and hung up on me, so there was no broadcast.

    Alex is a lot of fun and I guess it is good that many people can pick up some points quickly from the way he talks.
    Still, I assume he works for “them.”

    If you were “they” you would need to get in on every peacenik movement, every save-the-whales movement and certainly every conspiracy-theory crowd.

    What better way than to produce the guy who will do such a dashing job that – per google’s method – will rate the biggest audience. Then, when a reader types the name of a topic (say “Marathon bombing”), she will get Alex’s video first because he already has the most hits.

    She won’t get Mary Maxwell’s stuff in a month of Sundays.

    • Mary, what did you want to say to Jones’ offsider. There is sooo much 9-11 stuff done on his show… you could fill a 26 part documentary series. What new stuff were you offering?

      Maybe you are too serious, academic… too intellectual for the show. Above the audience?

      As for popularity. I agree that you might get Alex Jones as the first hit. That’s what his big head wants… he loves being popular. That is his make up. You can say that because you see fire engines at fires — that they are the cause of fires. (Sometimes they could be)

      Mike Rivero (who has much CRITICISM of Jones) is competing for the same and similar audience. They’ve both been at it for what 20+ years… All competing now for a slice of viewers and listeners. And to put food on the table. And it’s good to have diversity. I love the fact that different people offer different views.

      Everyone grows up and has a completely different experience of the world — whether this be Jones, Icke, Paul C Roberts, Maxwell, Fiona Barnett, Rivero, Oliver Stone etc… And they shaped by that. All have different ideologies, IQs, visions and knowledge. And all have varied personal make-ups.

      I take pieces from everyone — trying to learn from everyone’s collective experiences (whether this be Icke,,Barnett, Dr Greer, etc) — listening, analysing, rejecting, accepting… to formulate what I think is the reality — or what I estimate the reality could be (whether I like that reality or not)

      But back to wanting attention. Like a stand up comedian — they attract a specific audience — and don’t appreciate hecklers… A good heckler can put them off their game. But once they have mastered the art of “come-back” — they become better comedians and better at getting their message across.

      I thus think that once we relish criticism we can come back stronger… (digressing sorry) — Also as soon as you don’t care if you’re found… that’s when you will be.

      • Your Bossness,
        Needless to say I was the only person running for national office that year on a 9-11 platform. (But another fellow in Vermont was running on bringing a criminal charge against Bush if I remember correctly.)
        Don’t recall what the offsider said. He wanted me to take such-and-such an approach and I wasn’t willin.’

        Well go ahead and open up the portals of GumshoeNews if you want, but as it exists now it is very cautious about making claims and therefore the readers can relax and know they are at a trustworthy site. (Are there any like it? I haven’t found one — maybe The Wayne Madsen Report.)

        Speaking of which, many folks do not know what the word “gumshoe” means and we might be better off with a more helpful name. Would the Gumshoe community please make suggestions for a title?

        Dee, I am saying this just to irk you: most stand-up comiics are on the payroll. They “help” show us whom to make fun of.

        • Re: Jones’ offsider. Does not surprise me at all. That they wanted such-and-such approach. Did it occur to you that you might have challenged Jones’ ego. He always likes to be the top dog know-all. You might have shone to brightly.

          Then on — Gumshoe does not need to “open portals”. We have contributors that carefully assess the facts. Then we put our views across as measured views….(and that is why we are not as popular as other sites)

          As for stand ups… you have to listen to many like Stewart Lee… oh tons of them. And most are definitely NOT on the “payroll”. They make a hard living on the smell of an oil rag, spending much of it in crummy hotels away from their families — trying to make people laugh. They are merely a reflection in a mirror of society.

          But even if the mirror is on the payroll, does not mean that anyone who sees their reflection is being paid off.

        • “Don’t know what the word GUMSHOE means ” ???????
          You gotta be kidding us surely ? It was common during the 50’s & 60’s especially in the comics we read during those days.
          I recall it refered to private investigators, anyone can correct me, if I’ve got it wrong.

        • I like the current name.. and if the shoe fits..
          I also like the website, for the measured considered approach it takes, and the obvious intellect and scope of knowledge of the article authors and people who offer comments..

          I post links back here whenever I get the opportunity.

          When I was about 10 years old, I told my parents I wanted to a stand up comedian when I grew up. They just laughed at me.

  9. “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false,” reportedly stated in 1981, by William Casey.CIA Director.

    Same goes for ‘stralia!! Used to say, “I want my country back”.
    Now I say, ” I want my countrymen’s powers of critical thinking, logical reasoning and healthy skepticism and distrust of government back.”

    Mal, couldn’t agree more, but gutless?? Devious, evil, and compromised, more likely.

    Nice work, James. But regaining control via “the legal system” seems to be a fool’s errand. The Powers that Be don’t obey the law. That’s just for us. Look at Port Arthur and that stitch up, the Lindt Cafe and the Droudis trial, the 9/11 fiasco, MH-17 blamed on Russia, aided and abetted by “the Lying Media”. How many Aussies died in that shoot down??

    It’ll take critical mass of people giving a shit about what is really going on.

    And as for that sack of human garbage Julie Bishop, (et al) they must be quaking in their collective boots as the Pizzagate revelations continue their upward march into the comprehension of the western denizens minds.

    There will be nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide from the outraged masses. They should enjoy their remaining time, while they have it.

    As to Casey’s comment re: false information or FAKE NEWS, what if the citizens of the world wake up to the scam? It looks like that is exactly what’s happening.

  10. Carrie Bickmore last night on The Project repeated the lie about the boy pulled from the rubble-
    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/the-wounded-boy-in-orange-seat-another-staged-white-helmets-stunt.html .
    She neglected to mention the “mannequin challenge” hoax the White Helmets were forced to apologise for.
    She is a terrible person who is playing her part in the spread of war and destruction.

  11. From Breitbart.com:
    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) slammed Secretary of State John Kerry on his willingness to intervene militarily in Syria by twisting his most famous words against him.

    “I would ask John Kerry, How can you ask a man to be the first one to die for a mistake?” Paul said, in reference to Kerry’s famous words against the Vietnam War to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.

    Kerry, as a part of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, famously said then in calling for an end to the Vietnam War, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

    Kerry served in Vietnam but the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth famously cast doubt on whether Kerry deserved the medals he received for serving in Vietnam.

    Paul said he did not believe American interests were involved in either side of the Syrian war.

    • Mary, Trump’s new consigliere is ex Breitbart which is perhaps an encouraging sign. Trump himself has made more than one comment suggesting that he is against US military ventures in the Middle East. Whether he will be allowed to actually pursue such policies is the $64,000 question.

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