Judy Miller’s ghost lingers: Putin, Syria and how the New York Times cheers on a new Cold War
The propagandists have turned on the fog machine. Let’s try and sort out myth vs. reality with Russia, Middle East
We reach a moment in the four-year-old Syria crisis when it is vital for anyone who has not succumbed to our hobbling republic’s induced apathy to pay very close attention. And we reach a moment when this will be ever more difficult, as it has been in the Ukraine case for exactly two years this month. Events now come at us in a rush. So does the mis- and disinformation.
No coincidence, of course. And nothing at all new. When the intent and conduct of American foreign policy are objectionable (as so often) and rise close to the surface (as they do occasionally), the fog machine switches on (automatically and always). There is a seven-decade record of the phenomenon.
This is our moment in Syria. Two very consequential developments last week bring us to it.
On Thursday Secretary of State Kerry convened in Vienna with his counterparts from Russia, Iran, several European powers, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, and Turkey. Altogether, roughly a dozen foreign ministers took seats at the mahogany table.
What emerged after seven hours of reportedly arduous negotiation the next day stands as the most promising proposal to date for a just settlement in Syria. Its main features have been widely published. A nationwide ceasefire is to be followed by a U.N.-supervised revision of the Syrian constitution, almost certainly focused on accommodating Syria’s ethnic and religious divisions, Yugoslavia-style, while keeping the nation intact and—far from least—secular. Closely monitored national elections are to be held under the new constitution.
It is a sequence. Note it, for it tells you what you need to know.