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Danielle Ryan

US-Led Anti-ISIS Coalition Ignores Civilian Deaths – and the Media Let Them Get Away With It

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The US-led coalition against ISIS has vastly played down the number of civilians that have been killed in Iraq as a result of their own airstrikes. In fact, the war against ISIS may be the "least transparent war in recent American history."


The conclusion comes from a report published by the New York Times. Reporters Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal spent 18 months investigating coalition bombing in Iraq, traveling to more than 150 sites of airstrikes across the northern part of the country. Their goal was to determine which air force launched which strikes — and whom they killed.

Troubling findings

The US-led coalition has admitted to killing civilians in a tiny minority of airstrikes. According to official figures, one civilian has been killed for every 157 airstrikes. In reality, Khan and Gopal found the actual rate is one civilian died for every five airstrikes. That means the rate of civilian deaths is 31 times higher than the US military has admitted.

The report said the most common justification given by the coalition when denying civilian casualty allegations is that it has “no record” of carrying out a strike at the time or area in question. This response, which amounts to brushing off the allegation, places the blame at someone else’s feet. The military wash their hands of the incident, and there is very little probing by politicians or the media after that.
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Making Stuff up on Twitter is the New 'Journalism' — and We Deserve it

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On Monday, The Guardian published a story which should have surprised no one: Information pushed aggressively on Twitter by anti-Trump conspiracy theorist duo Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor came from a hoaxer who duped Taylor in an email.

Taylor, a former White House staffer under Bill Clinton, tweeted out “fake details of criminal inquiries” related to Donald Trump which did not exist and were “invented” by a hoaxer claiming to work for the New York attorney general.

Mensch, a former conservative member of parliament in the UK and now a self-styled journalist, helped Taylor to spread the information on Twitter, while also claiming to have separate sources to back it up.
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Reports of Hungary’s Slide into ‘Dictatorship’ Have Been Exaggerated

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Is Hungary sliding into tyranny and dictatorship? According to headlines which have painted a rather grim picture of Hungary’s present and future under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the answer is a resounding yes.

Hungary is “held hostage” by “tyrant” Orban who is returning the country to “totalitarianism,” claims The New Statesman. The International Business Times worries about Hungary’s “dark path toward dictatorship”.

The EU struggles to contain “dictator” Orban, says the Sydney Morning Herald. Orban is Europe’s “enemy within,” warns the Financial Times. He is “Europe’s New Dictator,” says Politico.

These attention-grabbing headlines and dramatic portrayals exaggerate the political situation in Hungary. Of course, there are plenty of legitimate complaints to be made about Orban (though, naturally, the specifics of the complaint will vary based on who is speaking). The problem is that the media has taken those complaints, exaggerated and embellished them, and used them to predict this country's slide into absolute tyranny irresponsibly. This distorts reality and lessens the readers’ ability to understand what is going on in Hungary.

Brussels likes to believe it promotes democracy within the 28 EU member states. Yet, when Orban begins to implement policies that they don’t like (but that his voters support), he becomes an outcast. Those shouting "dictator!" fail to take into account the wishes of the many Hungarians who voted for Orban’s reelection in 2014 and who support many of his policies. Disregarding the will of the people to score ideological points about democracy is ironic indeed.

Let’s break it down.
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Where Was Meryl Streep When Obama Was Prosecuting Whistleblowers & Bombing Weddings?

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Okay, first let’s get one thing out of the way: I adore Meryl Streep. Judge all you want, but The Devil Wears Prada is a classic and I won’t apologize for saying it.

Streep’s anti-Trump speech on Sunday night at the Golden Globes was a sublime performance. It was delivered with emotion and grace. A real tear-jerker for anyone worried about the oncoming era of Trump.

And yet... it also stank. It reeked, in fact. Of pure, unadulterated hypocrisy. Because Streep, sadly, is that common breed of liberal Hollywood hypocrite. You know, the ones whose bleeding heart credentials are suddenly nowhere to be found when the occupant of the White House is a cool Democrat who’s besties with Beyonce.

In her impassioned speech, Streep called on her peers and fans to join with her in donating to the Committee to Protect Journalists: “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That's why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution,” she said.

She’s right, of course. But one wonders is Streep even aware, for instance, that the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all of his predecessors combined? It’s a tradition Trump is likely to continue, of course, but it’s rather strange that the issue never crossed her mind until now.
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Time to Admit Washington’s Syria Policy Has Gone Completely Off the Rails

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Fifteen years, hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later, the United States’ war on terror has spawned more instability, violence and chaos than we could have imagined when this undefined and never-ending global campaign began.

Today, jihadist terror groups control more territory and are more of a threat to the world than they were on September 11, 2001. Last week, US-based security firm the Soufan Group estimated that many of the post-9/11 concerns about global terrorism are “considerably worse now than in 2001.” The group argued the spread of violent extremism has “surpassed anything [Osama] bin Laden likely thought achievable in a fifteen-year period.”

This is why Washington’s actions in Syria seem utterly inconceivable to those who would like to believe the US’ main goal in that country is fighting terrorists. I am one of those people: I would like to believe that Washington’s number one priority, globally speaking, is fighting terrorism. I would like to believe they will put aside their differences with other world powers, including Russia, in pursuit of that goal. Sadly, however, believing such a thing would make me incredibly naive.
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John Kerry is Wrong – Media Shouldn’t Stop Covering Terrorism, But They Should Start Explaining it

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The media would do us all a service if they didn’t cover terrorism so much, because then people “wouldn’t know what’s going on.” That little bit of wisdom comes courtesy of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry’s offhand remark was made during a visit to Bangladesh last week, prompting immediate criticism and even subsequent clarification from State Department spokesperson John Kirby.

The secretary of state’s suggestion that simply ignoring terrorism might help it go away and that an ignorant public is somehow desirable is ludicrous – but maybe it just came out wrong. 

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on that. Let’s assume what Kerry meant to say is that if the media didn’t make ‘insta-celebrities’ out of terrorists and play wall-to-wall coverage of major terrorist events, it would inspire fewer copycats and lone wolf attackers of the kind we’ve seen in recent months. If that’s what Kerry meant to say, he’d have a fairly reasonable point.
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The Alternate Reality of Anders Fogh Rasmussen

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Reading through a recent interview with former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, it becomes clear that his world is one in which US foreign policy has only ever made us all safer and the biggest risk we now face is diminished US power.

The entire premise of his argument throughout the interview is that if the US steps back from playing global policeman, the “bad guys” will win. Simple as that.

Tempting Putin

The interview, which focuses on Donald Trump, opens with a question about Trump’s views regarding the NATO alliance and how the candidate sees the US’s role in the world. Rasmussen immediately declares he is “not taking sides” in the US election, but his attempt at neutrality goes swiftly out the window moments later when he complains that Trump is undermining “the credibility of the United States” and putting at stake America’s “role as the global superpower”. If Trump were to be elected, he laments, that could usher in “the end of the American-led world order”.

This would be very bad, he says, because if NATO is undermined by a Trump victory, then Vladimir Putin would “open a bottle of champagne” and be “tempted to test” the alliance. This assumes that Putin has simply been waiting in the wings for the 16 years that he has held positions of power for Donald Trump to come along so that he can invade Estonia for no reason. Because Rasmussen doesn’t give us a reason and we’re not supposed to ask. We’re just supposed to assume invading the Baltics is on Putin’s to-do list.
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Obama Went to Germany to Deliver Europe’s Latest Report Card

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Shouldn’t the days of European leaders enlisting the help of American presidents to sell unpopular ideas to their citizens be long over? They should. But evidently, they are not.

Barack Obama arrived in Europe last week, bursting with words of wisdom and friendly advice. He was welcomed enthusiastically by the leaders of the United Kingdom and Germany. Less enthusiastic, however, was the reception from the citizens of those countries.

Trouble in paradise?

In Germany, Obama arrived to tens of thousands protesting the hugely unpopular TTIP trade deal between the US and Europe, which is currently going through its 13th round of negotiations — negotiations which, by and large, have been carried out in secret between Brussels and Washington. TTIP is being sold as a vehicle to reduce tariffs and remove regulatory barriers to trade between the US and Europe — but protesters in Germany and elsewhere see the deal as a Trojan horse. They are worried that the jobs, growth and prosperity promised by its proponents will fail to materialize and that the arrangement will leave Europe at the mercy of wealthy multinationals who will degrade environmental and food standards to have them fall in line with the more lax approaches favored by the US. Essentially, they are justifiably unhappy with a deal which would give the US and big business greater control over EU regulatory laws.
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Happy Birthday, NATO: It’s Time to Retire!

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Birthdays are always a good time to take stock of one’s achievements, make some resolutions and contemplate the road ahead. So, with NATO turning sixty-seven today, perhaps it’s time for the military alliance to engage in some honest self-reflection.

The problem is, sometimes it’s just hard to let go. No one wants to admit their glory days are behind them. Everyone wants to feel they have a purpose, some grand vision yet to fulfill. When the time comes to hang up your hat, some bow out gracefully. Others need to be dragged kicking and screaming.

If Supreme Allied Commander General Philip Breedlove’s latest comments are anything to go by, the alliance won’t be performing a graceful exit any time soon. Instead, the 28-member bloc is simply recalibrating its efforts in an attempt to justify its existence and remain relevant.
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All Quiet on Western Front After Syrian Forces Recapture Palmyra From ISIS

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The recapture of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra was the single biggest defeat for ISIS since it declared its caliphate, but the West does not seem interested. Why? Because then they’d have to give some credit to Russia.

Indeed, it must have been a tough weekend for Western media’s favorite Syria pundits. It’s hard to fathom that any observer — regardless of their particular leanings — could feel anything other than relief at such a victory.

Yet, there’s a strange sense that some pundits might actually be a little bit disappointed. Not to see the back of ISIS in the city, of course, but to be faced with the uncomfortable reality that their narrative is quickly unraveling.

No word from the grand coalition

Given the monumental importance of this latest victory in Syria’s war, you would expect at least a comment or two from Barack Obama, who more than a year and a half ago solemnly swore that his grand coalition would “degrade and destroy” the terror group. You might also expect a few words from David Cameron, who, like Obama, has seemed so terribly concerned by the humanitarian situation in Syria and so determined to “defeat” ISIS. But the two of them must have been having a bit too much fun this past Easter weekend, because there wasn’t a peep out of them. In a way, they’ve done us a favor, because their silence speaks far louder than their words ever could.
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