During the intervening decades a few journalists would poke around and write "Please listen to me" reports for press outlets that only intelligence professionals and conspiracy theorists bothered to read. And for years during the Afghan War the U.S. and British governments managed to downplay reports pointing to their support for the Pakistani government despite its known control over al-Qaeda linked terror groups -- groups that wreaked carnage in Afghanistan, including against American and British troops serving there.
Today it's a different story, as the truth about what's really been going on in Syria punches its way into the 'mainstream' media the world over.
The attempt by the U.S. government to save face by accusing the Russians of causing everything bad collapsed into a farce yesterday, when after filing two obviously false reports last week the Washington Post was forced by public pressure into admitting what everyone else who reads the news already knew: Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation. (There is no 'appear' about it; no hackers had targeted the utility, not even ones from Mars.)
However, there is nothing farcical about support from Nato and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) governments for terrorist groups in Syria -- including ones that are sworn enemies of those same governments.
By the first half of 2016, when IHS Jane's Defence Weekly published a detailed list of U.S. arms shipments to 'rebels' in Syria and the Guardian reported on the £1bn of weapons flowing from Europe to the Middle East, it was no longer possible for Nato governments to shift all blame to the GCC countries for the mountains of weapons being transferred to mercenary armies with terrorist affiliations operating in Syria. As the civilian death tolls continued to mount in the country this past year, the excuse from Nato governments that they were just trying to help moderate rebels rang increasingly hollow.
Reasonable people asked how it helped moderates when the weapons they'd been given by their governments automatically made them prime targets for Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
By late December Sputnik barely raised an eyebrow when it reported that large caches of American, German and Bulgarian heavy weapons had been discovered by Russian sappers in eastern Aleppo.
If Donald Trump sticks to his assertion that the USA won't engage in regime change and 'nation-building' operations during his watch, the United States, at least, might recover from the blow to its reputation for its actions in Syria. But any such recovery could take a generation.