Syria jumps the shark


If an entire nation can be said to have jumped the shark,* this video surely represents that for Syria.  In it, a Syrian television channel owned by a relative of President Bashar al-Assad reports that Al Jazeera built movie sets — with the help of American, French, and Israeli directors, naturally — at its base in Qatar depicting Tripoli’s Green Square, on which it fabricated the scenes of the rebels taking the Libyan capital.  The video does not address how Al Jazeera managed to persuade Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam to fly to Qatar and act in the scenes that followed days later — which I wrote about here — showing his unexpected late-night appearance before foreign journalists in this not-really-rebel-held Potemkin Tripoli.

But never mind that: the report goes on to claim that Al Jazeera is busily building mock-ups of Syrian cities on which to shoot similar scenes in the days ahead, that members of the “so-called Syrian opposition” might even participate, and — to paraphrase The Wizard of Ozthe Syrian people should pay no attention to these men behind the curtain.  This is a quite extraordinary public display of insanity on the part of the Syrian regime’s auxiliaries and one has to consider the possibility that the YouTube channel the Syrian Interpreter, which uploaded and subtitled the clip, has itself fabricated this; absent that, though, this looks like nothing less than an end-of-days desperation and panic.  As I wrote in another post about the CIA’s involvement in Syrian coups in the 1960s, I was prepared to understand some measure of paranoia born of history but this is such an implausible conspiracy no one could possibly believe it.  Right?

Well, in one of those serendipitous web-surfing juxtapositions, I read about this Syrian video on the New York Times blog The Lede not long after finishing Jeremy Stahl’s five-part series for Slate about the origins of the 9/11 Truth movement and other lunatic conspiracy theories regarding the September 11th attacks.  In it, Stahl says:

By April 2004, 16 percent of respondents in a CBS News poll said that the Bush administration was “mostly lying” about what it knew about possible terrorist attacks against the United States prior to 9/11, while 56 percent said it was telling the truth but hiding something and 24 percent said it was telling the entire truth. By the five-year anniversary of the attacks, one in three Americans would tell pollsters that it was likely that the government either had a hand in the attacks of 9/11 or allowed them to happen in order to go to war in the Middle East.

With that in mind, I have to reconsider the limits of what reasonable people are prepared to believe.  Perceived truth often has a great deal to do with whatever one wishes were true.  Returning to the Syrian video, I see the report ends with the portentous declaration: “This is Al Jazeera TV and these are its plans.  We leave the judgment to you.”  And I can’t help but think that sounds just like the Fox News motto: “We report.  You decide.”


* For those unfamiliar with the expression “jumping the shark,” it is derived from a particularly absurd episode of the TV series “Happy Days” and represents the moment when all credible creative ideas have been exhausted and a show — or in this case, a nation — resorts to ever-more desperate gimmicks to retain audience engagement.


As a side note: the Syrian report is exceptionally precise in the timing of when this is all happening.  The report aired 9 September — let’s consider it a perverse kind of rebuttal to my own commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the attacks — and says, “This plan will be staged next Sunday to give the US, Israel and NATO an excuse to carry out military strikes against Syria in the future, under the pretext of no-fly embargo and preemptive strikes to protect civilians.”  How Al Jazeera got those three powers in on their set-building scheme I’ll never know.  In any case, they presumably meant the plan would launch that immediate Sunday, which was 11 September; if not, keep an eye out for suspicious Al Jazeera cameramen lost in make-believe this weekend.


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