NPR copies Der Spiegel’s propaganda line about Asma Assad; she is cured while “regime bombs hospitals”

Deja vu all over again: Aleppo then, Idlib now, is paved with hospitals


Yogi Berra said it when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit back-to-back home runs: “It’s deja vu all over again!” This time it’s NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday morning hitting the same pitch that Der Spiegel published on Wednesday, which is the same pitch we kept hearing during the liberation of Aleppo, except this re-run shamelessly uses Asthma Assad as a point of departure:

NPR at work
NPR at Work!

I had already read it in German, Der Spiegel published it Wednesday; Thomas Römer, vigilant fact-checker, had already awarded it his equivalent of Pants On Fire. And of course, it is a re-run of the endless sequence of hospitals bombed in Aleppo, with the repeated “Last Hospital in Aleppo.” I had to listen to it this morning, since my spouse of 55 years simply must listen to NPR at breakfast.

Well, I believe there has been a bombing of a hospital. It was in Kunduz, by NATO, and the source was Medecins Sans Frontieres. It was in 2015, and is still on the MSF site:

MSF hospital bombed by NATO
MSF hospital bombed by NATO

Without further ado, Thomas Römer’s take-down, translated right after his headline in this screen shot:

Der Spiegel contorts the facts
Der Spiegel contorts the facts

In Syria, people are dying of curable diseases because Western sanctions prohibit the delivery of medicines. The mirror twists this simple fact in an article about the cancer of Assad’s wife. Here we see a glimpse into the immoral depths of war propaganda.
Already a year ago, when Ms. Assad announced she had breast cancer, it called for a rather unappetizing article in Der Spiegel. Now Asma al-Assad has said that she has defeated the cancer and Der Spiegel is going lower.
Under the heading “Asma al-Assad – First the fight against cancer, then the war” we read in Der Spiegel: “Asma al-Assad has been very lucky. Her cancer was detected early and apparently could be successfully treated. This is mainly because she is the wife of the most powerful man in Syria. Because even the simplest medical treatment in Syria is now an enormous privilege.”
Der Spiegel also says why that is in Syria today. Syria is destroyed and impoverished by the war. Of course, a Spiegel report can not do without the reference to bombed hospitals, you already know that. But then comes the most important: “Many people now also die of chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney failure because they no longer get the necessary medication or can no longer be treated.”
Terrible conditions: A destroyed country, in places still at war, with no drugs to treat the most basic diseases. And of course Der Spiegel then emphasizes the privileged position of the President’s wife to emphasize the contrast: “Asma al-Assad was treated in the Military Hospital of Damascus, which is actually reserved for members of the armed forces. She can afford to continue to be treated first class, which is above all a matter of money.”
Immediately afterwards come the key phrases of the article: “Because: The domestic pharmaceutical industry, which produced 90 percent of its own needs before the war, is still largely in ruins. Medicines need to be imported from Lebanon through overseas – and that costs, especially since many western companies are reluctant to trade with Syrian partners, many of which are on sanction lists.”
Der Spiegel just glides on by, not noting how that could come about. Nothing about the country getting destroyed by West-funded and armed Islamists, who were even upgraded by the CIA in Operation Timber Sycamore. Without the US weapons for billions of dollars Assad would have done it and there would be no misery in Syria and the Syrian pharmaceutical industry would still be there.
But the second sentence is even more crucial: there are no drugs in Syria because Western sanctions prohibit their delivery. The allegedly humane West causes children, women and old people to die of simple diseases because it prohibits the delivery of the simplest drugs to Syria. But the Spiegel glides past that, too, and puts the focus of his article on the privileged position of Assad’s wife compared to the suffering of ordinary people, without explaining who is to blame for their suffering.
And it is not the first genocide that the West has to answer for. Between the first and second Gulf War, Iraq suffered from similar sanctions and, according to Western estimates, 500,000 children died of the drug embargo of the West. When asked about this, former US Secretary of State Albright said it was a tough one, but that it was worth it.
“500,000 children died, is it worth it?” -“Yes”
And currently, the West is doing the same in Syria and Venezuela, where many people are dying because the West is banning the supply of medicines.But we must never forget: It all happens for the “Western values”. But what are these values, if hundreds of thousands of dead children are the cost?


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