Tony Badran discusses Syria and regime propaganda:
Beyond the moral realm, the “there are no good guys” message aims to influence strategic priorities. More specifically, it seeks to heighten strategic confusion about the primary US objective in Syria – toppling the Assad regime – and thus reinforce the Obama administration’s indecision and reluctance to lead.
I want to take this in a slightly different direction and comment on the misleading idea that the “there are no good guys” message actually matters. There usually aren’t “good guys” in brutal civil wars and insurgencies, but it is important for interventionists in the West to insist that there are. Interventionists need to present one side of any given conflict as the “good guys” for a few reasons. First, they insist on using moralizing rhetoric, so acknowledging the flaws or misconduct of our would-be allies gets in the way. Especially in conflicts where no U.S. interests are at stake, such as Kosovo, Libya, and Syria, it is politically very important that one side be seen as fighting principally for higher principles and that it not be seen as struggling for power for its own community or group. Taking the side of a particular community or group in a sectarian or ethnic fight isn’t terribly appealing, but in most cases that is exactly what interventionists are calling for the U.S. to do. Ironically, it is the moralizing rhetoric and the portrayal of conflicts in ideological terms that make interventionist arguments unusually vulnerable to regime misinformation and news reports of rebel misconduct. If there were any merit to the interventionists’ strategic arguments, it probably wouldn’t matter whether the Syrian opposition was made up of “good guys” or not.