Daniel McAdams is Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He served as foreign affairs advisor to US Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, including as editorial page editor of the Budapest Sun. He also served as special rapporteur for the British Helsinki Human Rights Group while based in Europe, monitoring human rights and elections on the ground in various contentious states, including Albania during the 1996-1998 civil unrest, Montenegro, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, and Slovakia. He was a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow (1998-2000) and an American Swiss Foundation “Young Leader” (2006). He can be reached on Twitter or at email@example.com
In 2012, just a year after President Obama decided that "Assad must go,” then-State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the Syrian military’s use of unguided explosives in its fight against the US-sponsored insurgency. These weapons, deemed "barrel bombs,” were, according to Nuland, "vicious things indiscriminately launched … at targets without any concern about civilians.”
Claims that "barrel bombs” were a form of terror deployed uniquely by the Syrian government primarily against citizens soon dominated media and western government coverage of the conflict. President Assad was a special kind of madman who, when given the opportunity, would particularly target his own citizens with "barrel bombs.” Just as Gaddafi was about to commit genocide against his own citizens in Benghazi, Assad was barrel-bombing his own people and must be stopped, we were told.
The media and US government adoption of the term "barrel bomb” was in reality convenient war propaganda. Do the civilian victims of any military attack — be they victims of Assad’s bombs or US drones — really care whether they are incinerated by a bomb with a Raytheon logo instead of a more crudely manufactured device? Are they any less or more dead?
Besides, history teaches us that not that long ago the US was quite fondof dropping what it calls "barrel bombs” from helicopters onto Vietnamese civilians. And, more recently, the US has sent Saudi Arabia thousands of cluster bombs — also an indiscriminate, civilian-killing device — where they have been used lately against Yemeni civilians.
Ultimately, the issue is the number of innocent civilians killed. And on that score, a new report shows that US attacks on Syria are killing hundreds of innocent civilians. According to a study by the investigative group Airwars, the estimated US-led 5,700 airstrikes on Iraq and Syria have killed more than 450 civilian non-combatants, 100 of them children.
In the ever-evolving war propaganda produced by the compliant mainstream media, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that initially this US bombing exercise was designed to save a small religious minority trapped on a hilltop in northern Iraq. When these Yazidis were "saved” by US airstrikes (many of them were not trapped after all, and preferred to say put), the US did not declare "mission accomplished” and go home, but rather began concocting story after story of why we must rapidly escalate our military presence in the region. Anyone remember the fake"Khorasan Group”?
So now one year later hundreds of civilians have been slaughtered by US bombs where they had no business being dropped. Smart bombs or dumb bombs, Boeing bombs or "barrel bombs,” the victims are just as dead. And four years after US intervention to "save” Syria from Assad, ISIS and al-Qaeda are set to take the country over.
The US government solution to a foreign policy disaster? Declare war on Assad!