Gas attack in Damascus: the low proficiency of state public relations services and mass media

Usually I prefer taking time for thinking, reading and analyzing documents before writing any post.
Regarding the infamous gas attack of 21. August in Damascus, I start being fed up by the lack of proficiency of the governmental public relations services and of the mass media. Therefore I will stick to the news in this post.

Firstly, I would like to clearly state that I don't negate that a gas attack has taken place on 21. August. I don't negate that hundreds of people have been killed. My only concern is the weakness of the arguments displayed to the citizens of our democracies so that they properly understand what has taken place and can then support their respective governments. This is how war becomes legitimate: when a democratic Nation unanimously decides to back its government when it has to enforce peace wherever it is.
Today, my only concern is the respect for the citizen.

So let us start with the mass media.
This picture, credited to Reuters, is may be one of the more ridiculous I have ever seen. Effectively, on the foreground stands a man wearing a counterfait Lacoste polo shirt,  a gas mask on his face, thus spreading the idea that combat gas has effectively been used in the area. However, if you look carefully at the picture, you can see that the people on the background have removed their masks. The most evident sign that there is no danger, all the more that everybody stands quiet. This picture is self explanatory of the accuracy of the media accounts.
Then let's go to the reports published by both the White House in Washington and the French Ministry of Defence. Of course, both documents have been initially documented by high-level experts. Some paragraphs give credit to both French and U.S conclusions related to the use of gas, allegedly by the Syrian armed forces. However, I remain largely disappointed by some details, which could be considered as of importance, mainly when such documents intend to establish the proof of cruelty and are used to prepare the public opinion to a punitive expedition in one of the more sensitive and unstable areas of the world.
So let us scrutinize one after the other:
- the U.S document refers to 'independent sources'. The exact quote is: 'A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations'.
As perfectly depicted by O. Kempf in his blog, from the very moment one wants to establish a proof, both parties have to be listened to and furthermore, open sources must be quoted.
-Furthermore, a quotation of social media is rather funny when it comes to peace and war: anybody a little bit familiar with the internet is perfectly aware of the viral effect that only one account may have. As well, how can sources located in rebel areas, even being NGOs, be considered as independent ? In no way they are independent, they exclusively can account of their local observations, made from the rebel side.
-By the way, obviously, none of those reporters, NGO workers has been gased on that day, leading to conclude that they were in locations far from the attacks, which has undoubtedly downgraded the accuracy of their allegations.
This one additional point which would deserve some more documentation: according to the US government, 12 attacks have lead and to the French MOD, large areas have been covered, but in none of those were NGOs. Or they would have counted victims as well.
In such a case, how can anybody dare rely on such accounts.

 -My last point refers to the wind. Everybody who has read novels relating World War I remember the importance of the wind while using combat gas. Having had a look at the weather in Damascus on that very day, it seems that the speed was between 12 and 26 km/h. Which is quite a lot and would certainly have largely spread the product.
The map provided by the White House proves the intrication of 'loyal' and 'rebel' areas. Making use of a volatile combat gas in such areas may hit the rebels as well as the loyal neighbourhood. Mainly if there is wind,as it seems to have been the case on 21. Aug.

Again new questions without any answer.

My only conclusion is a political one: having set a red line like the U.S President did, having made bold statements on the vital need to get rid of a dictator, necessarily drives diplomacy into a corner where it has no other issue than a headlong rush, where the tempo is no more set by two of the main world powers but by a coalition of insurgents, may they be legitimate or not.

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