The battle for Aleppo is coming to a close and we can hope that the slaughter that has resulted from rebels and terrorists fighting the Syrian military and Russian Air Force is drawing to a conclusion as well. When I was in Syria last month, I remember being ushered into a large conference room for an interview between the Syrian foreign minister and a few dozen journalists. After taking his seat, the foreign minister asked us a question, “Why the hysteria about Aleppo?”
I didn’t find the interview to be particularly helpful as the foreign minister gave many vague non-answers. He also couldn’t recall a single mistake that the Syrian government had made during the course of the war but he had his side of the story, he had his narrative locked in. This should have come as no surprise to the journalists sitting at the table as regime preservation is the main focus of any government. Just like a politician running for office, they will say what they have in order to be elected, and then say whatever they have to in order to be re-elected. It isn’t about ideals or truth, it is about the dynamics of power but as citizens we keep believing that our leaders are noble. It is what we want to believe. We love the lie.
The foreign minister was right about one thing, there was, and is, a hysteria about Aleppo. The problem is that while we expect the regime to have a narrative, we don’t expect the media to have a narrative. Ideally, we would like the press to present us with facts and analysis, then we can arrive at our own conclusions. Instead, the press entered into several competing narratives which exist in a echo chamber devoid of hard facts and figures. This recent interview on Democracy Now exemplifies the competing narratives: