Iran doesn't fight ground wars, and hasn't since the Sasanian Empire. After 200 years of border skirmishes with the Byzantines, Constantinople crushed them at Nineveh, which sparked a civil war, which left them ripe for invasion by the Arab Caliphate in 644 AD. That's how far back you have to go to find Persians fighting wars of aggression. Throughout the rule of Islam the Persians were known for being scheming, cosmopolitan fops that were great for court intellectuals and poets, awesome as economic advisors and courtiers, but utterly devoid of a warrior class. Anyone who thinks Iran is going to get sucked down in a land war forgets that the Iran-Iraq war was Iraq invading Iran. It was also about Sunnis worried that the Shia would get uppity now that they were in power.
The narrative on Syria is "wrong" because it's complex and depressing, not because US journalists have an agenda. They have a weakness: Americans want to know who to root for. They want to know the good guys and the bad guys. Unfortunately, there are at least SIX players in Syria:
- Assad. Historically, a bad guy. Terrorized and suppressed minorities, secret police, torture, the whole nine yards. Also an Alawite muslim, leader of a tiny tribal faction that has controlled Syria since Sykes-Picot through violence and terror. However, also aligned with the Christians, who were actually the bad guys in the Lebanese civil war (If you're aligned with Israel). Also an optometrist from London who likes Right Said Fred.
- Kurds. Historically, a good guy. However, planting bombs in Turkey and guilty of torture and violence against Alawites and Sunni. If you're aligned with Turkey, Kurds are bad guys. If you're aligned with Iran, Kurds are bad guys. So if you're aligned with Turkey, you're aligned with Iran against Kurds.
- ISIS. Historically, Baathists, the ruling Sunni party in Iraq. Also, ISIS. If you're aligned with the free world, you're against ISIS. If you were aligned with the Republican Party, you were 100% for the Baathists up until 1991.
- Russia. Historically, we're never aligned with Russia. However, they're bombing ISIS. However, they're bombing it for Assad.
- Turkey. Historically, we've always aligned with Turkey. They let us put bases there. Shit, it was our nukes in Turkey that prompted the Cuban Missile Crisis - Soviet nukes in Cuba were a counterresponse, not a provocation and the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis was actually the United States agreeing to dismantle bases in Turkey. And, in fact, they're bombing ISIS. Except they aren't, they're bombing Kurds and claiming they're bombing ISIS. Also, they're shooting down Russians.
- Iran. Historically, we've always been aligned with Iran, except when we overthrew Mossadegh. Then we were always aligned with Iran, except when the Shah fell (fun fact: Reza Shah Pahlevi received even more foreign military aid from the US than Saudi Arabia). Then we were always aligned against Iran, because Iran's proxies are the only legitimate opposition to the US clandestine service (actually managing to kidnap and murder the CIA chief of South Asia, effectively blinding US intelligence in the region for a generation). Except we're friends now, unless you're Republican, or aligned with the Saudis (who hate Iran) or Israel (who hates Iran) or oil interests (who hate Iran). And here it gets even more complicated: Iran is propping up Assad because ISIS actually hates Shia more than they hate the Great Satan America. Shia are the "near enemy" while us kafirs are the "far enemy." Twelver Shia have been fighting an existential battle against genocide by Sunni since the 5th Imam. And they're aligned with Russia. Against ISIS. Whose methodology and philosophy is propped up by Wahabism, the state religion of Saudi Arabia, our greatest ally in the Middle East.
So. Pick a good guy, and pick a bad guy, and explain it to the American public in a consistent 250-500-word narrative. Really, the instinct is to invade and liberate, which we didn't even do at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. So what we're left with is that there's a destabilized region in the cradle of civilization full of ethnic groups that want to kill each other, and they were kept from doing so for 400 years by the Ottomans and then another 90 years by Western imperialism but now that we've knocked a hole in the Jenga pile by destroying Iraq as a country, that shit is going the way of the Balkans only on a much larger, much wider, much more vindictive scale.
I love me some Stephen Kinzer. I've read three of his books. Two of them are on the Red Pill Reading List. But the media isn't misleading the public on Syria out of any sort of nefarious laziness. It's that the more you look at Syria, the more everyone is a bad guy and the less there is to be done about it and that's the sort of thing that makes people stop reading. Even this ghastly summary is factually wrong in several places, grossly oversimplified and subject to my biases.
So at the end of the day, we're being misled because there's no real upside to being educated. Truly comprehending Syria is truly comprehending politics, religion, genocide, history and the ugly side of human nature and it just ain't gonna play next to Kanye West.