Plot Hole: If Assad Gassed Civilians To Terrify Them Into Submission, Then Why Is He Denying It?

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readApr 14, 2017


The main roadblock standing in the way of the establishment narrative that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had his air force use sarin gas on civilian noncombatants in Idlib earlier this month is the question of why. Why would he do such a thing at this point in time? Why, when he is winning the war, after the Trump administration announced it had no intention of deposing him, would Assad choose to do something he knows for a fact will turn the world against him and bring the rumblings of regime change back to his doorstep? Why? Even if he is the worst person in the world, why would he choose to do such a stupid, suicidal thing? It makes no sense to anyone with an ounce of critical thinking ability.

The corporate media has been struggling to answer this question, because they absolutely must answer it in order to manufacture consent for the latest regime change war the American political establishment is salivating over, but so far what they’ve come up with has exposed even more gaping plot holes in their narrative than ever.

Last week the New York Times published an unbelievably feeble attempt at answering this “why” question, which essentially boiled down to the assertion that Assad does such things as a show of dominance, to make the Syrians “feel defeated” and “as miserable as possible” because he’s basically a flesh-an-blood comic book supervillain. The CIA-funded Washington Post offers essentially the same explanation in an article titled “Why would Assad use sarin in a war he’s winning? To terrify Syrians”, writing that Assad used chemical weapons “to send a message: This is the fate of rebels and those who support them.” The Guardian suggests that Assad resorted to chemical weapons for their “shock and awe” effect in the same way America used the atomic bomb to cause Japan to surrender. Even The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and Murtaza Hussain have advanced the “shock and awe” theory, citing Winston Churchill’s extremely creepy advocacy of the use of chemical weapons due to the way their horrific effects can terrify a population into submission.

The problem with this theory that’s being uniformly advanced by these media outlets? Assad is unequivocally denying having used chemical weapons at all, saying openly on Syrian television that his government has never nor would ever make such an attack and that it gave up its chemical arsenal three years ago. This denial in and of itself necessarily invalidates the “shock and awe” argument, because you can’t terrify a populace into submitting to you unless they believe you’re the one doing it. You can’t “shock and awe” people with your weapons and savagery if you’re denying that you even have those weapons and promising that you wouldn’t use them if you did. You can’t convince people that you’re a savage monster who might gas their family if they don’t behave while simultaneously reassuring them that you’d never do anything of the sort.

So if you’re having trouble following, the argument we’re meant to believe is now as follows: Assad somehow faked the surrender his of chemical arsenal three years ago or has procured more chemical weapons since, he used them at the most disadvantageous time possible knowing without a doubt that it would provoke retaliations from the west, and he did it as a show of strength and savagery to terrify the Syrian people into submission while simultaneously reassuring these same Syrian people that he doesn’t have such weapons or any intention to use them. This is of course coming from an extremely powerful media network with an extensive history of collaborating to manufacture consent for the military actions of the US government, which itself has an extensive history of using false flags to help facilitate said manufactured consent.

Right. Nothing suspicious about that at all.

I don’t know what kind of a man Bashar al-Assad is, and neither do you. There is too much propaganda, too much manipulation, too much deceit muddying the waters for any of us to know with any degree of certainty what his administration has really been about. What I do know is that Syria occupies a crucial strategic location in the fossil fuel wars that have been tearing our world apart, that there are many powerful people deeply invested in having you perceive its government a certain way, that there are many, many, many reasons to doubt that Assad used chemical weapons in 2013 and that there are many, many, many reasons to doubt that he used them in 2017 as well.

We are being lied to. Not for our benefit, but for the benefit of people who stands to profit from our deception. The oligarchs want us to consent to their sociopathic agendas in a part of the world that poses no threat to us. We should not give it to them.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, please consider helping me out by sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or even tossing me some money on Patreon so I can keep this gig up.