“There is another type of warfare—new in its intensity, ancient in its origin—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat,by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It preys on unrest.” –JFK
Now and again, I get asked where did I get my disturbing avatar. I never give much of a background on it when asked since its origins in itself are disturbing. My avatar comes from a terminated YouTube channel that posted the most horrifying battle footage of the Syrian civil war. I thought the image was kind of neat looking, so; I saved it, not knowing the channel would be terminated shortly after that.
Anyone who reads The American Sun clearly doesn’t see the world with rose-colored glasses on. We find ourselves lost down rabbit holes and often forget how we got here. I could never forget my “redpillling” as it was serendipitously through the Arab Spring. The war in Syria was, without a doubt, my political awakening to the neoliberal death machine. My unfettered support for American foreign policy quickly disappeared after seeing exactly which side of the war we were on.
I was a typical 20-something working a dead-end job, going to college, and smoking weed with a license to kill time. With AM radio blasting in the background, I was trying to play some Call of Duty when I heard mainstream media pundits going off on some guy named Alex Jones for questioning the narrative surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting. I figured, why not listen to him and see what’s up. He had Michael Savage on, discussing the attack on the Benghazi CIA outpost with its connections to the State Department gun-running operation arming sloppy jihadists in Syria. I always considered myself a grandiose armchair general and where one thing led to another, I discovered a plethora of grainy potato vision uploads and go-pro cams of what was happening in the Levant. The mainstream media pitched it as peaceful protesters fighting a “brutal regime” and its dictator. Yet this could be any further from the truth. You don’t mechanize army divisions over a few hundred college students chanting democracy slogans.
I began losing track of time, drowning in content every night, clenching my teeth tight watching these videos at night and maladaptive daydreaming of the conflict during the day. It got so bad to the point where if I was invited to a house party, I would half-jokingly say, “Naa, I can’t make it tonight; the Sham Hawks rebels are about to upload the sacking of Aleppo’s Industrial district. I can’t miss it!”
When social media was how we used to know it, it deliberately enabled western sympathizers and nefarious agents. Most accounts were created outside Syria, reposting clips uploaded by young and “open-minded” living inside Syria, giving them hyperbolic titles and false descriptions. In addition to the much-lauded “peaceful protesters,” Google, Twitter and Facebook allowed sloppy Jihadists to create accounts for propaganda and recruitment purposes. Thousands of YouTube channels popped up within a short period, displaying the same black, white and green flag avatars. Team sloppy jihad portrayed themselves as grizzled warriors laying waste to the Syrian Arab Army and it’s collaborators. Some with clips playing various nasheed songs singing how they are “high flying eagles,” “clashing swords,” and “skinning the infidel monkey” with their battalion avatar, usually in the upper right-hand corner, letting the watcher know who uploaded it.
On the Syrian Arab Army side, footage was not nearly as prevalent for the simple fact they are a professional army so they weren’t pulling their smartphones out in the middle of combat (though when something spicy were to unfold, someone would pull a smartphone out). Though there were channels with names such as AleppoTube, SyrianTruth that gave us a raw account from their point of view. Respect needs to be given to ANNA (Abkhazian Network News Agency) for their heroic on the grounds of war reports. On a side note, Volodymyr Zelenskyy banned ANNA from Ukraine in August 2021 and YouTube in May 2020. But the overriding majority of videos uploaded to social media weren’t from Jihadists, nor Syrian government forces, or the likes of CNN and Al-Jazeera but from civilians losing loved ones, being shot at, rummaging through their bombed-out homes and watching battles rage from a not so safe distance.
My personal opinion of the worst was the displeasure of watching melancholy, slow-motion videos of bloated corpses being fished out of the Queiq River. An example of such awful content was two shepherds cracking jokes in an open field hysterically crying after being blown to bits by a mortar. Then there was one when an elderly man was executed along a hedge wall by a Syrian soldier. A dozen Syrian soldiers were blowing kisses and waving goodbye before being executed, captivating uploads of protesters and unarmed police officers running for their lives after being open-fired upon by “unknown rooftop snipers.” It’s as if Storm of Steel came to life in the modern era. My emotions got the best of me when a sanitary worker was killed in his garbage truck. Thinking to myself, this is a man just trying to clean his city amid war and bring about a bit of normalcy and civility. I felt helpless, a feeling I had never had before.
The war in Syria was the first war having social media bring the perils of war and exposed flagrant lies put forth by mainstream media into the palms of one’s hand. This violent voyeurism desensitizes individuals by providing intense emotional responses but no real feeling.
Before social media videos similar to what I’ve described above were regulated to obscure websites or snuff DVD compilations, one had to go out of their way to find such footage. If mainstream media wasn’t there to cover an event, it was like it never happened. With the war in Syria, this all changed. An amateur chronicling the war shifts the rules of war. There are no restrictions, it’s cheap, it’s easy and at that time, you didn’t need permission from anyone to do it. The war also set a foundation for groundbreaking research on how to use social media platforms to shape public opinion about external conflicts.
In other words, it expanded controlled narratives by its ever-increasing speed of dissemination on a nation’s internal political discord and exposed social media’s advantages and disadvantages for countries needing “regime change” by providing an infinite arc on what social media can do bringing it to an international public forum. They refined what was learned during the “Arab Spring” and transposed it to other nations deemed hostile to the neoliberal death machine.
But even the average junkie would’ve not been able to find uploads I was able to. Sure there was the occasional video that went viral and garnished a few million views and mainstream media would pump out a few clips of Jihadists on the back of brand new Toyota Hilux trucks. Still, the media will always show you what they want you to see. I like maps. I like them a lot! When I first started scrounging around for videos on LiveLeak and Bestgore, I wondered where they found these videos. I typed in Syria Aleppo into YouTube but came up short, I typed in another city, and nothing. I went to Google maps and zoomed in on villages that did not have Latin scripted names, so I decided to drop into the search bar and low and behold, hundreds of videos popped up of different varieties from the war-torn nation. Today there still are some floating around, but I reckon about three-fourths of them are gone. I know the playlist I made in 2013 has only two out of a hundred left. The videos removed mostly showed the atrocities committed by those backed by Western governments. That’s social media for you. Maybe someday, we can reinstate all the terminated channels and pierce the veil of our so-called rulers.
It’s been more than a decade since the war in Syria, and social media has become a standard feature of modern conflicts. We’re seeing similarities with the war in Ukraine, with the Azov battalion and foreign mercenaries being the FSA and Russian forces as the SAA. In 2012 Amazon and eBay were selling “Support the FSA” bracelets, flags and other tchotchkes.
In 2022 we have the Red Cross and those alike pleading for donations, going as far as having your local grocery store ask if you would like to round up to support Ukraine. This time there are far more platitudes that I’ll safely assume has to do with race, with images of blonde-haired blued-eyed attractive people giving us all crocodile tears. How about when Zelensky appealed to America’s Star Wars fan base? You couldn’t pull something like that off with Baghdadi, but in the end, Baghdadi was killed (allegedly) by a puppy with gender identity issues. Even YouTube ads are geared towards the incel types asking lonely men to donate money to Ukrainian women.
The Russian invasion has better optics for the normie versus Syria. Good guys verse bad guys sorta speak. Syria didn’t have this dichotomy considering the normie views a dictator as bad and ISIS or FSA as worse. By the time ISIS came into the fabricated picture, the FSA was already eating the hearts of dead soldiers (remember that one!). Mind you, that clip was already months old by the time MSM brought it to the passive viewer’s attention. The script of the FSA being “freedom fighters” was DOA. Might as well do a bust out and summon the boogie man. There may be more with Ukraine, like a psychological operation, especially since this war came directly after a mass hysteria but I’m only speculating and have yet to get lost in the weeds on this.
Social media giants have wizened up to not allow any type of dissident views and anathematize those who give counterpoints. They are playing a game of whack a mole with the speed of the hand doing the whacking, getting better and better. Ukraine has a media blackout on both sides with sporadic propaganda and random boots-on-the-ground reports. It’s much harder to gauge what’s going on in Eastern Ukraine in comparison to Syria. What happened to the story of the Biolabs in Ukraine America was supporting? What do family members of dead Russian soldiers have to say about the invasion? Are they being threatened not to speak out for the sake of “national security”?
The conflict in Syria from 2011 to 2013 will be lost in the sands of time and will be nothing more than a small footnote for the centuries to come considering how poorly documented it was.
We have genuinely forgotten the horrors of war. By means of forgetting have turned war into mythology. May God help us and bless those who all fought against the evilest forces and those who have suffered in Syria.