As sure as sunrise follows sunset, the possibility of war breeds a new generation of ‘experts’ and ‘analysts’ who occupy the numerous ideological think tanks and make the media rounds providing seemingly impartial analysis but in reality pushing an agenda of their own, usually in favor of war.
The anticipated war with Syria is no exception. This time the person suddenly in the spotlight was someone named Elizabeth O’Bagy who works for the pro-war neoconservative-aligned Institute for the Study of War (ISW). O’Bagy’s main point is that the Syrian rebels are not al Qaeda or Islamic militant groups but ‘moderates’ and that hence the US should squarely support them in their efforts to overthrow the Syrian government and should launch military strikes, the bigger the better.
Although young (just 26) she shot to prominence as a Syria expert and made the media rounds, the apex being getting a pro-war op-ed piece published on August 30 in the pro-war Wall Street Journal that was then praised by pro-war senator John McCain during congressional hearings with pro-war secretary of state John Kerry. That is how the pro-war propaganda model operates, by creating an echo chamber that amplifies the voices of those it prefers.
What O’Bagy and her claque did not reveal and none of those media outlets mentioned was that she was also a paid contractor for the Syrian Emergency Task Force that works to encourage the US and UK governments to provide aid to the Syrian opposition. That would have immediately disqualify her as an impartial source, even by the loose standards of the media. When I heard her being interviewed on NPR on September 6 without this connection being mentioned, I immediately wrote a letter to them saying that this was a serious omission. They posted a correction in the transcript the next day, though I am not by any means inferring that my letter was solely responsible.
But just yesterday O’Bagy was fired from her job at the ISW. Ironically, O’Bagy’s downfall was not due to her hiding her conflict of interest. The ISW was fine with that because she served their pro-war interests. What happened was that she had misled them about the fact that she claimed she had a PhD from Georgetown University when she wasn’t even enrolled in a doctoral program.
But be patient. Another fresh new pro-war ‘analyst’ will surely come along soon. They always do.