The Socialist Response

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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:06 am

https://www.redpepper.org.uk/forget-spy ... -of-syria/


Forget spies and bots – Russia’s real crimes are against the people of Syria

Tony McKenna writes that Russia is supporting Assad's murderous dictatorship to secure territorial power

April 1, 2018
10 min read


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Eastern Ghouta, Damascus

It seemed to happen all at once. Cold War fever descended on the UK like a thick Moscow fog. Following on from the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this month, in an attack which occurred on British soil, the hidden hand of the Kremlin was discerned at work behind the scenes; the Russian state, it was averred, had taken the darkest of revenges on one of its former employees paying scant regard to British sovereignty. Hard on the heels of this scandal, revelations about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of date has dredged up the debate about Russian electoral interference. A particular image of Russia has been resurrected; a subversive shadowy power, a Cold War puppet master pulling the strings from behind the curtain, manipulating nations and governments.

Yet in all this furore, little is said of the one great crime which we know the Russian state to have colluded in: its support of the murderous Assad regime in Syria. Last month alone in its continued support of the Assad regime, Russian launched a series of airstrikes against Eastern Ghouta. The region, which had been declared a ‘de-escalation zone’ in 2017, and which Russian planes were supposed to avoid, nevertheless became a mass murder ground, as Russian airpower strafed the terrain, killing hundreds within days. Amnesty International at once came out and said that the military action amounted to nothing less than war crimes. Russia’s intervention goes back longer than this, of course. Russian military intervention began in September 2015, and by late February the following year, it was launching on average 60 air raids every day in Syria. The war crimes too have been ongoing; in that same month in 2016, Amnesty international declared that Russia was ‘guilty of some the most egregious war crimes’ for decades after the charity released a report alleging that the Russian air force had deliberately targeted civilians and aid workers.

It is, of course, a world away from the individualised narrative of sinister spymasters and shadowy assassins, of patriotic belligerence in the face of wicked foreign incursion. Instead it is merely the routine, prosaic form of mass murder which is part and parcel of the everyday operations of imperial power, in this case Russian military power propping up a dictatorship in Syria whose existence is now held in place by an almost genocidal application of force against its own population.

We are used to wars in the Middle East, we are desensitised to the type of suffering which seems almost infinite in its scope, and we have become inured to the banal and mundane excuses which powerful states reel out in order to justify civilian slaughter. In Iraq, in Palestine, in Syria the refrain is always the same; Islamic terrorists hiding out within the population, terrorists who represent an existential threat to the civilian population; targeting the population, therefore, is the only way to remove the threat; one must bomb the village in order to save it.

Such a depressingly absurd rationale has been deployed by Assad and his Russian proxies over and again. On 19th February the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said ‘Jabhat al-Nusra is the main problem in Eastern Ghouta’. In actual fact, however, such an image was far from accurate. Research suggests that Jabhat al-Nusra, a group which emerged from the al-Qaeda network, occupied a relatively small presence in East Ghouta; at its peak constituting around 1,000 fighters, but that number was reduced to around 250 after clashes and conflicts with other rebel groups.

Groups, for example, like that of Jaysh al-Islam, the strongest rebel presence in East Ghouta, a group which originally wanted to replace the Assad regime with a state run under Sharia Law, but which later called for a ‘technocratic body that represents the diversity of the Syrian people.’ Jaysh al-Islam has been locked into a war on several fronts; against the regime forces, of course, but also against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and even some of the Kurdish forces. For its part, the Faylaq al-Rahman organization, also active in East Ghouta, is affiliated to the Free Syrian Army and it too looks to depose Assad without seeking the imposition of an Islamic state to replace him. It is, somewhat paradoxically, locked into combat with Jaysh al-Islam, as well as battling the regime.

All this is to say that rebel forces represent an incredibly complex and sometimes contradictory patchwork of political interests; it is true that their aims are expressed under the banner of Islam, but within this, there are many different political tones from a more secular state approach to the rigidly theocratic. This is important to consider especially with regard to the latest atrocities, for as the Syrian expert Ahmed Abazeid says, the majority of areas the Russians are now bombing ‘especially those under the control of Jaish al-Islam – don’t have any fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra’.

And yet, the never-ending stream of islamophobia pumped out by the mainstream media allows all these differences between rebel groups to be blurred into one single shade of Islamic extremism. After all, the rebels are in the main poor Muslim men and they have guns. The conclusion is inevitable. They are terrorist extremists. It is a logic the Assad regime has used to cynical, murderous effect.

Far from being a sworn enemy of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, however, the historical record reveals the Assad regime has often gone out of his way to abet it. In 2011 when the revolution erupted in territories and cities across Syria, one of the first countermeasures the Syrian regime took – beyond slaughtering hundreds of protestors – was to release many high ranking Sunni jihadists from the jails, using them as a pathogen which could be wafted toward the revolutionary movement, disrupting it, corroding it, eating into it from the inside. Men like Hassan Aboud, the leader of the Salafist Ahrar Al Sham, or Abdul Rahman Suweis of the Liwa al-Haq organisation.

In fact, as Mohammed Al-Saud, a Syrian dissident, points out, ‘the majority of the current ISIS leadership [in Syria] was released from jail by Bashar Al Assad’. ISIS, of course, was resisted by a coalition of rebel forces, including the Free Syrian Army and a host of Islamic organisations, a resistance that culminated with the rout of the death cult in early 2014. It was heroically driven from the country, only to see it re-energised after its conquest of Mosul in Iraq, whereupon ISIS swept back into Syria, turning its newly won firepower on regime and rebels alike.

But while it is true that the Syrian regime has been locked into intermittent combat with ISIS, it must be stressed that ISIS and its ilk have also provided an essential buffer, insulating the regime from the rebels by splitting the rebel forces, often requiring the latter to open up a war on two fronts. Above everything else, it allows a sclerotic, zombified regime, reanimated by foreign imperial powers, to retain its death grip on a country through a campaign of terror and mass murder directed at the civilian population. From 2011-2017 the Syrian Network for Human Rights estimates of the 207,000 civilian deaths in Syria, 92.17% of these were the responsibility of the Assad regime. As the clock ticks on, the bodies continue to mount.

But this is of little consequence to the Russian government – whose primary interest is to secure their territorial power in Syria, and in the Middle East more generally. During the Cold War the USSR provided Syria with subsidies and its biggest external market, while the old dictator, Hafez al-Assad, allowed them to set up a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus in 1971, a port which provided Russia with a gateway into the Mediterranean, and offered a counterweight to the US imperial presence and its Sixth Fleet which was then stationed in Italy. Such a trend was revived after the collapse of the USSR. In 2009, Russia announced it would modernise Tartus, and once the civil war had broken out in Syria it started to build its military presence in the port again. This is part and parcel of a larger power struggle in the Middle East which has seen Russia – along with its allies in Lebanon and Iran, and Assad himself – attempt to forge an imperial bloc which might act as a counterweight to expanding Western influence in the region. The Syrian Civil War sits at the confluence of imperialisms, both US and Russian – competing interests which threaten to turn a regional struggle into a complex, volatile situation of deadly proportions and global impact.

Where UK politicians have attacked Russia over spectral spy-thriller scandals, they have provided very little condemnation of its foreign policy in Syria. Whilst the UK and US aren’t thrilled by the idea of Putin securing more power in the Middle East – particularly given Russian backing from Iran, and long-standing UK loyalty to the Saudis – the prospect of a rebel victory isn’t more warmly received. There’s a tendency to regard the rebel opposition to Assad through an islamophobic lens which paints all extra-state fighters as one inchoate ‘muslim threat’ to Western power (or indeed, ‘Western values’). Moreover, one can’t expect this government – with its long history of backing tinpot dictators to shore up foreign policy ambitions – is likely to provide genuine support for the more radical forces on the ground in Syria seeking autonomy and self-determination separate from the hidden hand of Western political-economic interests. But, more perhaps should be expected from the opposition. Jeremy Corbyn, and the movement behind him, has provided the most radical, popular alternative in UK politics for decades, but the Labour opposition has been shamefully silent over Assad and the war crimes his regime has committed against his own population. This must change. And Assad’s alibi for genocide, in the form of the sinister Muslim extremist waiting in the shadows on the edge of civilisation, must be revoked.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:59 am

Anarcho-syndicalist Trans-Feminism
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Cobbling together a linking up of Anarcho-syndicalism and Trans-Feminism.

Anarcho-syndicalism is a movement which seeks the liberation of all people oppressed by capitalism through the struggle of those people to abolish capitalism and create a libertarian socialist, or Anarchist society. One of the groups of people oppressed by capitalism are transgender people, something I know well as a trans-women myself. Trans people are people who do not identify with the gender classification they were given at birth. Our society determines what gender identity people can have when they are born based on what reproductive organs they posses, accordingly people are assigned as either “male”, or “female”. Trans people are people who reject the gender identities assigned to them and attain/create new gender identities for themselves. These people may identify as men, or women, both, or neither.

PATRIARCHY AND CAPITALISM

Our capitalist society is a patriarchal one, meaning that those who identify as men have power over those who identify as women. Men make up the majority of the ruling class and their bureaucratic flunkies such as politicians, or CEOs, and women make up the majority of the working class. As such men generally hold the lion’s share of wealth and power in society and gender roles which privilege the power of men predominate. Men are seen as being inherently masculine and powerful while women are seen as being inherently nurturing and week willed. As such society is constructed around masculine power. Institutions such as the state are based on masculine ideas of competition, warfare, and control. This patriarchal system is based on reproduction.

Women are predominantly saddled with the house-work since they are (supposedly) nurturing and weak and men are predominantly charged with being the head of the household going out to make a living by selling their labor power on the market since they are (supposedly) strong and conditioned as such to labor. In such a set up the women performs a large amount of unpaid labor for the capitalist that employs her husband and the capitalist class generally because she carries out the labor needed to keep the worker’s life going and raise the next generation of exploitable workers. Effectively the women becomes a member of the working class through this unpaid labor as she is performing labor for the capitalist class’s profits.

Even after women have gained access to the workforce and been given the ability as such to directly sell their labor power to the capitalist class on the market they have been saddled with what is called the “second shift”. They still take care of the majority of the house work, but also go out to work themselves and based on the norms of gender have to juggle their work life and their lives as nurturing mothers. As such capitalism holds women down and gives men advantages of wealth and social power/status in order to extort women’s unpaid labor for the capitalist class.

TRANS OPPRESSION AND CAPITALISM

Trans people fit into this with the fact that they reject patriarchy’s classifications of gender assigned to them at birth. Gender is a matter of personal identification rather than reproductive organs, but patriarchy tells all of us that our gender identities are strictly based on our body parts despite many people being born without traditional sexual organs, or the traditional amalgamation of chromosomes. As such trans people are chronically underemployed and thus chronically impoverished and are disproportionately victims of violence. Racist, queerphobic, misogynist attacks on trans women of color are a regular occurrence with many of them being killed as a result. Trans people are socially barred from going into the bathrooms they want because they are viewed as the opposite gender they identify as. Trans people are legally classified by the state as a their assigned gender at birth often with a corresponding name attached to that gender. We are viewed as unnatural, mentally ill, or trendy attention seekers despite many indigenous and eastern societies having a wide range of gender expressions historically that don’t fit the male/female binary based on reproductive organs.

As such patriarchy in capitalism also forms the oppression of trans people with social norms and institutions being much more attentive to the interests of cis (non-trans) people than those of trans people. As such trans people are made into a surplus population superfluous to capitalism, marginalized, repressed, killed, beaten, and injured.


More at: https://libcom.org/blog/anarcho-syndica ... m-01042018
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:22 am

Postmodern Conservatism and Capitalism

by Matt McManus April 5, 2018

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Conservatives today have been deeply critical of what is often called postmodernism. They have associated it with identity politics, political correctness, social justice warriors, relativistic “cultural Marxism” and a host of other evils. For some conservatives, post-modernism is signifies everything that is wrong with contemporary society. University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson has characterized it as “dangerous” and “radical” and dismissed important authors like Derrida as “charlatans.” The National Security Council has claimed that “postmodern cultural Marxism” (whatever that means) mobilizes opposition to Donald Trump. And right wing commentator Ben Shapiro has characterized Barack Obama the first “postmodern” President.

Moreover, conservative criticisms of postmodern thinking are not relegated to its intellectual claims. They are often directed against specific groups in society that are perceived as promulgating postmodern doctrines. Here, Jordan Peterson, now the number one selling author on Amazon, is perhaps the most articulate and comprehensive right wing critic. He criticizes postmodern theorists and scholars for corrupting the youth of the West with “nihilistic” doctrines that “rip out their ethical foundations.” Most particularly, he directs his scorn against postmodernism’s most pernicious product: identity politics. Taught that powerful institutions are marginalizing their identity, individuals become “hell-bent” on tearing down apparently oppressive structures without appreciating the valuable service they provide. This leads to growing social fragmentation, a sense of atomistic isolation from all other individuals and groups, and destroys the “substructure of Western Civilization” and its affiliated moral values.

There is much that could be said defending postmodern intellectuals and theory from critics like Peterson. To my mind it is clear that they do not have a particularly robust understanding of most of postmodern doctrines. But here I want to raise another, more direct criticism. Conservative critics often take various social groups who advocate for postmodernism to be responsible for social fragmentation and the alleged collapse of the Western tradition and its values. Apparently a small cabal of university professors, activists, and students, is ripping apart the “substructure” of Western civilization one Derrida citation at a time. However, these conservative criticisms all have a curious shallowness to them. By directing blame against easily targeted and reviled social groups like intellectuals (and, as we shall see, ethnic minorities), they either miss or distract from more powerful social trends which might play a far more significant role in what David Harvey calls the “production of difference” across society. In this essay, I want to discuss how capitalist societies actually produce the kind of social fragmentation and atomism these conservative critics decry. Moreover, I will suggest that capital plays a fundamental role in the production of what I call “postmodern conservatism.”


Continues at: http://newpol.org/content/postmodern-co ... capitalism
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:30 am

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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:11 am

Think responsibly- the stakes are high. Critical discourse should not be equated with "war-mongering".


The ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots

April 14, 2018 by Leila Al Shami

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Cartoon criticizing selective outrage
which only applies to chemical attacks,
by Yaser


Once more the western ‘anti-war’ movement has awoken to mobilise around Syria. This is the third time since 2011. The first was when Obama contemplated striking the Syrian regime’s military capability (but didn’t) following chemical attacks on the Ghouta in 2013, considered a ‘red line’. The second time was when Donald Trump ordered a strike which hit an empty regime military base in response to chemical attacks on Khan Sheikhoun in 2017. And today, as the US, UK and France take limited military action (targeted strikes on regime military assets and chemical weapons facilities) following a chemical weapons attack in Douma which killed at least 34 people, including many children who were sheltering in basements from bombing.

The first thing to note from the three major mobilisations of the western ‘anti-war’ left is that they have little to do with ending the war. More than half a million Syrians have been killed since 2011. The vast majority of civilian deaths have been through the use of conventional weapons and 94 per cent of these victims were killed by the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance. There is no outrage or concern feigned for this war, which followed the regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators. There’s no outrage when barrel bombs, chemical weapons and napalm are dropped on democratically self-organized communities or target hospitals and rescue workers. Civilians are expendable; the military capabilities of a genocidal, fascist regime are not. In fact the slogan ‘Hands off Syria’ really means ‘Hands off Assad’ and support is often given for Russia’s military intervention. This was evident yesterday at a demonstration organized by Stop the War UK where a number of regime and Russian flags were shamefully on display.

This left exhibits deeply authoritarian tendencies, one that places states themselves at the centre of political analysis. Solidarity is therefore extended to states (seen as the main actor in a struggle for liberation) rather than oppressed or underprivileged groups in any given society, no matter that state’s tyranny. Blind to the social war occurring within Syria itself, the Syrian people (where they exist) are viewed as mere pawns in a geo-political chess game. They repeat the mantra ‘Assad is the legitimate ruler of a sovereign country’. Assad – who inherited a dictatorship from his father and has never held, let alone won, a free and fair election. Assad – whose ‘Syrian Arab Army’ can only regain the territory it lost with the backing of a hotchpotch of foreign mercenaries and supported by foreign bombs, and who are fighting, by and large, Syrian-born rebels and civilians. How many would consider their own elected government legitimate if it began carrying out mass rape campaigns against dissidents? It’s only the complete dehumanization of Syrians that makes such a position even possible. It’s a racism that sees Syrians as incapable of achieving, let alone deserving, anything better than one of the most brutal dictatorships of our time.

For this authoritarian left, support is extended to the Assad regime in the name of ‘anti-imperialism’. Assad is seen as part of the ‘axis of resistance’ against both US Empire and Zionism. It matters little that the Assad regime itself supported the first Gulf war, or participated in the US illegal rendition programme where suspected terrorists were tortured in Syria on the CIA’s behalf. The fact that this regime probably holds the dubious distinction of slaughtering more Palestinians than the Israeli state is constantly overlooked, as is the fact that it’s more intent on using its armed forces to suppress internal dissent than to liberate the Israeli-occupied Golan.

This ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots is one which equates imperialism with the actions of the US alone. They seem unaware that the US has been bombing Syria since 2014. In its campaign to liberate Raqqa from Daesh all international norms of war and considerations of proportionality were abandoned. Over 1,000 civilians were killed and the UN estimates that 80 per cent of the city is now uninhabitable. There were no protests organized by leading ‘anti-war’ organizations against this intervention, no calls to ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure were protected. Instead they adopted the ‘War on Terror’ discourse, once the preserve of neo-cons, now promulgated by the regime, that all opposition to Assad are jihadi terrorists. They turned a blind eye to Assad filling his gulag with thousands of secular, peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators for death by torture, whilst releasing militant-Islamists from prison. Similarly, the continuing protests held in liberated areas in opposition to extremist and authoritarian groups such as Daesh, Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham have been ignored. Syrians are not seen as possessing the sophistication to hold a diverse range of views. Civil society activists (including many amazing women), citizen journalists, humanitarian workers are irrelevant. The entire opposition is reduced to its most authoritarian elements or seen as mere conduits for foreign interests.

This pro-fascist left seems blind to any form of imperialism that is non-western in origin. It combines identity politics with egoism. Everything that happens is viewed through the prism of what it means for westerners – only white men have the power to make history. According to the Pentagon there are currently around 2000 American troops in Syria. The US has established a number of military bases in the Kurdish-controlled north for the first time in Syria’s history. This should concern anyone who supports Syrian self-determination yet pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of Iranian troops and Iranian backed Shia militias which are now occupying large parts of the country, or the murderous bombing raids carried out by the Russian air force in support of the fascist dictatorship. Russia has now established permanent military bases in the country, and has been handed exclusive rights over Syria’s oil and gas as a reward for its support. Noam Chomsky once argued that Russia’s intervention could not be considered imperialism because it was invited to bomb the country by the Syrian regime. By that analysis, the US’s intervention in Vietnam was not imperialism either, invited as it was by the South-Vietnamese government.

A number of anti-war organizations have justified their silence on Russian and Iranian interventions by arguing that ‘the main enemy is at home’. This excuses them from undertaking any serious power analysis to determine who the main actors driving the war actually are. For Syrians the main enemy is indeed at home – it’s Assad who is engaging in what the UN has termed ‘the crime of extermination’. Without being aware of their own contradictions many of the same voices have been vocally opposed (and rightly so) to Israel’s current assault on peaceful demonstrators in Gaza. Of course, one of the main ways imperialism works is to deny native voices. In this vein, leading western anti-war organizations hold conferences on Syria without inviting any Syrian speakers.

The other major political trend to have thrown its weight behind the Assad regime and organize against US, UK and French strikes on Syria is the far right. Today, the discourse of fascists and these ‘anti-imperialist leftists’ is virtually indistinguishable. In the US, white supremacist Richard Spencer, alt right podcaster Mike Enoch and anti-immigration activist Ann Coulter are all opposing US strikes. In the UK former BNP leader Nick Griffin and Islamophobe Katie Hopkins join the calls. The place where the alt-right and alt-left frequently converge is around promoting various conspiracy theories to absolve the regime of its crimes. They claim chemical massacres are false flags or that rescue workers are Al Qaeda and therefore legitimate targets for attack. Those spreading such reports are not on the ground in Syria and are unable to independently verify their claims. They are often dependent on Russian or Assad state propaganda outlets because they ‘don’t trust the MSM’ or Syrians directly affected. Sometimes the convergence of these two seemingly opposite strands of the political spectrum turns into outright collaboration. The ANSWER coalition, which is organizing many of the demonstrations against a strike on Assad in the US, has such a history. Both strands frequently promote Islamophobic and anti-Semitic narratives. Both share the same talking points and same memes.

There are many valid reasons for opposing external military intervention in Syria, whether it be by the US, Russia, Iran or Turkey. None of these states are acting in the interests of the Syrian people, democracy or human rights. They act solely in their own interests. The US, UK and French intervention today is less about protecting Syrians from mass-atrocity and more about enforcing an international norm that chemical weapons use is unacceptable, lest one day they be used on westerners themselves. More foreign bombs will not bring about peace and stability. There’s little appetite to force Assad from power which would contribute to ending the worst of the atrocities. Yet in opposing foreign intervention, one needs to come up with an alternative to protect Syrians from slaughter. It’s morally objectionable to say the least to expect Syrians to just shut up and die to protect the higher principle of ‘anti-imperialism’. Many alternatives to foreign military intervention have been proposed by Syrians time and again and have been ignored. And so the question remains, when diplomatic options have failed, when a genocidal regime is protected from censure by powerful international backers, when no progress is made in stopping daily bombing, ending starvation sieges or releasing prisoners who are being tortured on an industrial scale, what can be done.

I no longer have an answer. I’ve consistently opposed all foreign military intervention in Syria, supported Syrian led process to rid their country of a tyrant and international processes grounded in efforts to protect civilians and human rights and ensure accountability for all actors responsible for war-crimes. A negotiated settlement is the only way to end this war – and still seems as distant as ever. Assad (and his backers) are determined to thwart any process, pursue a total military victory and crush any remaining democratic alternative. Hundreds of Syrians are being killed every week in the most barbaric ways imaginable. Extremist groups and ideologies are thriving in the chaos wrought by the state. Civilians continue to flee in their thousands as legal processes – such as Law No.10 – are implemented to ensure they will never return to their homes. The international system itself is collapsing under the weight of its own impotence. The words ‘Never Again’ ring hollow. There’s no major people’s movement which stands in solidarity with the victims. They are instead slandered, their suffering is mocked or denied, and their voices either absent from discussions or questioned by people far away, who know nothing of Syria, revolution or war, and who arrogantly believe they know what is best. It is this desperate situation which causes many Syrians to welcome the US, UK and France’s action and who now see foreign intervention as their only hope, despite the risks they know it entails.

One thing is for sure – I won’t lose any sleep over targeted strikes aimed at regime military bases and chemical weapons plants which may provide Syrians with a short respite from the daily killing. And I will never see people who place grand narratives over lived realities, who support brutal regimes in far off countries, or who peddle racism, conspiracy theories and atrocity denial, as allies.


https://leilashami.wordpress.com/2018/0 ... of-idiots/
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:02 am

https://oaklandsocialist.com/2018/04/14 ... -of-syria/

Oppose US bombing of Syria; Oppose ALL bombing of Syria!

BY OAKLANDSOCIALIST ON APRIL 14, 2018

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A photo of Damascus under US bombardment. This photo appeared in the Assad-controlled press, so we should be careful in assuming it’s accurate, although it may well be.


Trump has launched his second attack on the Syrian government, this time by reportedly bombing chemical weapons facilities, including a chemical research facility. (We say “reportedly” because we don’t know for sure exactly what the US missiles attacked.)

We have to be clear what the aims as well as the constraints are: The aim is not to overthrow the Assad regime. US Secretary of “Defense” James Mattis made this clear. He said “Right now this is a one-time shot and I believe it has sent a very strong message to dissuade him, to deter him from doing it (chemical weapons attack) again.” So, Mattis, Trump and US imperialism in general have no objection to Assad’s murderous assault on the people of Syria. They have no objection to his imprisoning thousands, torturing opponents to death, bombing hospitals, schools, residential neighborhoods and public markets. Nor any objection to the ethnic cleansing that is being carried out. No, all of that is okay. Their problem is that chemical weapons are too much of a no-no. It’s too embarrassing. Murdering hundreds of thousands is okay, just don’t embarrass us, is the position of US imperialism.

US imperialism of course supported Assad’s neoliberal economic attacks on the Syrian workers and peasants, the attacks carried out in the run-up to the Arab Spring (2011). These were the same “reforms” that enormously enriched a little clique around Assad.

Constraint on US imperialism
The major constraint on US imperialism is the fact that it’s now got serious rivals for the first time, Russian and Chinese imperialism first and foremost. Even the US Defense Department recognized this in a report from July of last year. That same report also commented on the host of “non-government actors”, including the Islamic State.

The entire scenario is carefully choreographed. The US military was careful not to attack any facility where Russian soldiers might be killed. According to the Wall St. Journal, the US let the Russians know what air space they’d be using and, in return, the Russians didn’t shoot down any US rockets. In fact, it’s made sure not to kill Iranian or even Syrian troops. The Russian imperialists, meanwhile, loudly protested and, they claim, have shot down a number of US missiles. What they are not doing is attacking the US Navy ships from which the missiles were launched.

They’re all doing their best to look good to their respective bases while making sure that a wider conflict doesn’t ensue.

Meanwhile, the editors of the Wall St. Journal made clear the real concern of US capitalism/imperialism. It is to develop “a larger strategy to counter the attempt by the Assad-Russia-Iran axis to dominate the Middle East.” If the people of Syria have to be bombed to smithereens, or thousands tortured to death, that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters (to them) is figuring out how to expand US capitalism’s power and profits in the region, vs. some of their rival imperialist powers.

Oppose any role for US capitalism
Just as at home, US capitalism has no common interest with the masses of the Syrian people. They have two interests in Syria: One is to limit the influence of Russian and Iranian imperialism in Syria. The other is to combat the Islamic State and similar groups. (On the issue of combating Russian imperialism, because of his role as a money launderer for the Russian oligarchs/mafia, Trump has a different position from the mainstream of the US capitalist class. This is at the center of their crisis with him. But that is a different issue.)

Even before he took office, Trump made his view clear: The New York Times reported that Trump’s position was “that the United States should focus on defeating the Islamic State, and find common ground with the Syrians (meaning Assad) and their Russian backers…. ‘I’m not saying Assad is a good man, cause he’s not,’ he told the New York Times in an interview in March, ‘but our far greater problem is not Assad, it’s ISIS.'”

Yes the Islamic State is a fascist force, but the reason that Trump and US capitalism in general opposes them is that they are disrupting the US.

How Syrians might see it
It is easily understandable that many people in Syria might support this particular bombing by Trump. Anything to ease the pressure, even just a little bit, might be the attitude. But Trump and US capitalism have absolutely no intention of doing anything to really help the masses of Syrian people. Not now and not in the future. The present attack is just aimed at making US capitalism look good so that they can continue their normal role of looking for a way to exploit the situation in order to increase the power and the profits of US capitalism. That is why socialists should not support it.

The “left” supporters of Assad
A footnote should be added about the “left” supporters of Assad. These are the ones who for years have been ignoring the war crimes of Assad, Putin and Rouhani. They screamed bloody murder about the last US bombing attack – the attack on the al Shayrat airfield. But just a few weeks earlier the US military had bombed a mosque in Syria, killing some 40 civilians. These same “lefts” were silent about that, just as in general they were silent about the US bombardment of Raqqa, which killed hundreds of civilians in the first few days. Since they are silent about the bombing of Syria by Assad and Putin, they have lost all right to oppose the US bombing of Syria. (For a better understanding of where they are coming from, see Putin, Assad and the Syrian Disaster.)
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Elvis » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:14 pm

Leila Al Shami wrote:

Assad (and his backers) are determined to thwart any process, pursue a total military victory and crush any remaining democratic alternative.


This is typical of the writer's very one-sided agenda. It's hogwash. These articles never mention Assad's perennial offers of amnesty--which have been taken up by some actual Syrian rebels who saw their dissident movement hijacked by US-backed jihadists. They wanted better democracy, not a freakin' ayatollah.

Syria: disillusioned rebels drift back to take Assad amnesty
Hundreds of men who took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad are defecting back to the government side, The Telegraph has learnt.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldn ... nesty.html


Assad amnesty brings hope but the fighting goes on
President Assad of Syria announced a general amnesty yesterday for all “crimes” committed before May 31, in a clear conciliatory gesture to protesters after months of turmoil.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/assa ... hsr2kw7373


Syria's Assad offers rebels 'amnesty' as conflict rages
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered rebel fighters amnesty terms if they turn themselves in to mark a national holiday
http://www.france24.com/en/20130416-syr ... lict-rages


Syrian president announces army deserter amnesty
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33664350


Syria conflict: Bashar al-Assad offers amnesty to rebels who surrender
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered an amnesty to armed rebels battling his forces if they surrender, the official SANA news agency has reported.
"Everyone carrying arms... and sought by justice... is excluded from full punishment if they hand themselves in and lay down their weapons," SANA said, quoting a presidential decree on the three-month amnesty offer.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-28/a ... er/7670802


Assad: We will grant rebels amnesty if they lay down their weapons
http://www.businessinsider.com/assad-we ... po-2016-10



Some commentators, attempting to shift responsibility away from massive US/UK sponsorship of extremist-terrorist-jihadist groups in Syria, have actually blamed Assad's political amnesties for the "Islamization" of the rebel movement—as if Assad wanted ISIS to take over vast swaths of Syria. The logic is pretty convoluted, but quantity over quality is the most effective propaganda when there's no "quality" to offer.

Even more ridiculous is the repeated assertions—from both MSM and the pseudo-left—that Assad is deliberately targeting civilians, apparently just for the hell of it.


Does the U.S. still conduct bomb damage assessments? I'd like to see reports for the 25,000+ U.S. bombing sorties in Syria. That's a lot of bombs; what exactly did they blow up? Does "the left"—especially as represented by these consistently anti-leftist "leftist" writers—even care? No. It's all one-sided, hate-mongering hyperbole.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby MacCruiskeen » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:18 pm

American Dream wrote:Think responsibly- the stakes are high.


Be insufferable- pontificate pompously about "responsibility", having just pissed all over protesters on the eve of yet another FUKUS bombing mission.

American Dream wrote:Critical discourse should not be equated with "war-mongering".


The witless warmongering propaganda you copy-and-paste here so irresponsibly should not be equated with critical discourse. It is not even your own discourse, Mister Responsible; it is, as ever, some other fool's discourse, and the best you can manage is to borrow that bullshit without ever taking responsibility for it. Because "plausible deniability" matters, right? As that other AD (your partner in crime, Allen Dulles) so memoraby put it, decades ago.

You are not even making a minimal effort to look genuine anymore.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby stillrobertpaulsen » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:55 pm

Elvis » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:14 am wrote:
Leila Al Shami wrote:

Assad (and his backers) are determined to thwart any process, pursue a total military victory and crush any remaining democratic alternative.


This is typical of the writer's very one-sided agenda. It's hogwash. These articles never mention Assad's perennial offers of amnesty--which have been taken up by some actual Syrian rebels who saw their dissident movement hijacked by US-backed jihadists. They wanted better democracy, not a freakin' ayatollah.

Syria: disillusioned rebels drift back to take Assad amnesty
Hundreds of men who took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad are defecting back to the government side, The Telegraph has learnt.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldn ... nesty.html


Assad amnesty brings hope but the fighting goes on
President Assad of Syria announced a general amnesty yesterday for all “crimes” committed before May 31, in a clear conciliatory gesture to protesters after months of turmoil.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/assa ... hsr2kw7373


Syria's Assad offers rebels 'amnesty' as conflict rages
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered rebel fighters amnesty terms if they turn themselves in to mark a national holiday
http://www.france24.com/en/20130416-syr ... lict-rages


Syrian president announces army deserter amnesty
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33664350


Syria conflict: Bashar al-Assad offers amnesty to rebels who surrender
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered an amnesty to armed rebels battling his forces if they surrender, the official SANA news agency has reported.
"Everyone carrying arms... and sought by justice... is excluded from full punishment if they hand themselves in and lay down their weapons," SANA said, quoting a presidential decree on the three-month amnesty offer.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-28/a ... er/7670802


Assad: We will grant rebels amnesty if they lay down their weapons
http://www.businessinsider.com/assad-we ... po-2016-10



Some commentators, attempting to shift responsibility away from massive US/UK sponsorship of extremist-terrorist-jihadist groups in Syria, have actually blamed Assad's political amnesties for the "Islamization" of the rebel movement—as if Assad wanted ISIS to take over vast swaths of Syria. The logic is pretty convoluted, but quantity over quality is the most effective propaganda when there's no "quality" to offer.

Even more ridiculous is the repeated assertions—from both MSM and the pseudo-left—that Assad is deliberately targeting civilians, apparently just for the hell of it.


Does the U.S. still conduct bomb damage assessments? I'd like to see reports for the 25,000+ U.S. bombing sorties in Syria. That's a lot of bombs; what exactly did they blow up? Does "the left"—especially as represented by these consistently anti-leftist "leftist" writers—even care? No. It's all one-sided, hate-mongering hyperbole.


Thank you, Elvis. This is an example of actual critical discourse, much needed on the subject.

American Dream wrote:Think responsibly- the stakes are high. Critical discourse should not be equated with "war-mongering".


I appreciate you making an effort to give us your perspective of the article you're sharing, American Dream. But what do you really think about it, aside from it not being warmongering? Do you think perhaps Elvis is correct with his point where this one-sided writer is incorrect?
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:08 pm

I'm going to pass on that at this point in time, Robert. While Elvis is just as entitled as anyone else to make comments on other posts, I am not interested in getting into a "thing" about it right now. I often find those sorts of interactions across polarized difference to be unhelpful, both for myself and for the board. I think there's content in the general guidelines that cautions about those sorts of things and I'm going to stay on the side of not feeding the flames of escalating or unhelpful arguments, which I believe to be a generally good thing to do.

I have some points of clarification and discussion for you but not in this moment, nor in this thread.


stillrobertpaulsen » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:55 pm wrote:
Elvis » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:14 am wrote:
Leila Al Shami wrote:

Assad (and his backers) are determined to thwart any process, pursue a total military victory and crush any remaining democratic alternative.


This is typical of the writer's very one-sided agenda. It's hogwash. These articles never mention Assad's perennial offers of amnesty--which have been taken up by some actual Syrian rebels who saw their dissident movement hijacked by US-backed jihadists. They wanted better democracy, not a freakin' ayatollah.

Syria: disillusioned rebels drift back to take Assad amnesty
Hundreds of men who took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad are defecting back to the government side, The Telegraph has learnt.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldn ... nesty.html


Assad amnesty brings hope but the fighting goes on
President Assad of Syria announced a general amnesty yesterday for all “crimes” committed before May 31, in a clear conciliatory gesture to protesters after months of turmoil.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/assa ... hsr2kw7373


Syria's Assad offers rebels 'amnesty' as conflict rages
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered rebel fighters amnesty terms if they turn themselves in to mark a national holiday
http://www.france24.com/en/20130416-syr ... lict-rages


Syrian president announces army deserter amnesty
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33664350


Syria conflict: Bashar al-Assad offers amnesty to rebels who surrender
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has offered an amnesty to armed rebels battling his forces if they surrender, the official SANA news agency has reported.
"Everyone carrying arms... and sought by justice... is excluded from full punishment if they hand themselves in and lay down their weapons," SANA said, quoting a presidential decree on the three-month amnesty offer.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-28/a ... er/7670802


Assad: We will grant rebels amnesty if they lay down their weapons
http://www.businessinsider.com/assad-we ... po-2016-10



Some commentators, attempting to shift responsibility away from massive US/UK sponsorship of extremist-terrorist-jihadist groups in Syria, have actually blamed Assad's political amnesties for the "Islamization" of the rebel movement—as if Assad wanted ISIS to take over vast swaths of Syria. The logic is pretty convoluted, but quantity over quality is the most effective propaganda when there's no "quality" to offer.

Even more ridiculous is the repeated assertions—from both MSM and the pseudo-left—that Assad is deliberately targeting civilians, apparently just for the hell of it.


Does the U.S. still conduct bomb damage assessments? I'd like to see reports for the 25,000+ U.S. bombing sorties in Syria. That's a lot of bombs; what exactly did they blow up? Does "the left"—especially as represented by these consistently anti-leftist "leftist" writers—even care? No. It's all one-sided, hate-mongering hyperbole.


Thank you, Elvis. This is an example of actual critical discourse, much needed on the subject.

American Dream wrote:Think responsibly- the stakes are high. Critical discourse should not be equated with "war-mongering".


I appreciate you making an effort to give us your perspective of the article you're sharing, American Dream. But what do you really think about it, aside from it not being warmongering? Do you think perhaps Elvis is correct with his point where this one-sided writer is incorrect?
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Elvis » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:17 pm

"It seems to be what we have now is a political system which has essentially become, for the last thirty or forty years, a war on the human imagination."
(David Graeber)
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:29 am

I find this sort of thing to be thought-provoking and interesting:


Opposing the Air Strikes on Syria; Solidarity with Democratic and Progressive forces against Assad.

Image
Against Air-Strikes; Against Assad.

It is far from clear what is the best position to take faced with the hecatomb of the Syrian civil war.

Few can reasonably argue that a few military strikes are going to end the horrors, or that a full-scale invasion is either about to take place, or would help anybody.

If a sentence could sum up the stand of many of us on the left it’s the one put forward by the group Socialist Resistance.

Don’t bomb Syria – No support for Assad.

As Joseph Daher points out: The butcher Assad’s regime is “a despotic, capitalist and patrimonial state ruling through violent repression and using various policies such as sectarianism, tribalism, conservatism, and racism to dominate society”. No socialist can support it.

But neither can socialists support imperialist intervention against it. A US led coalition could only bring the regime down by sending in large numbers of troops, a move that would condemn the country to a worse hell than that inflicted on Iraq, in a regional and political situation which is even more volatile. The regrettable fact is that the secular and democratic forces which tried to bring down Assad have been seriously weakened, benefiting the Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces on the ground. A settlement based on aggression by the French, Americans, British and their regional supporters will do nothing but create a worse sectarian and ethnic bloodbath.


In more detail the Fourth International publication International Viewpoint explains (“Our Destinies are Linked”: Joseph Daher on the Syrian Revolution.)

How should the internationalist left respond to calls from some Syrians and Kurds for assistance from the United States military?

There is definitely no easy answer, especially when people are getting massacred on one side and, on the other, the USA has no willingness of any regime change in Syria, as has been the case since the beginning of the uprising, or, as we saw, to stop the Turkish intervention against the Kurds in Afrin.

Today the main issue is really demanding the end of the war, an end to all military interventions and guaranteeing rights for the civilians. I expanded on this issue in the last question.

However, while disagreeing with groups demanding military interventions, we should still maintain our solidarity with all the democratic and progressive forces in Syria as well as the Kurdish socialist and democratic forces that resist against the two actors of the counter revolution: the Assad regime on one side and the jihadist and Islamic reactionary forces on the other side.

From this perspective, what we can argue is that it is necessary to defend a local dynamic of self-defense rather than increasing the stranglehold of imperialism, and therefore we should also support the provision of weapons and arms to these democratic forces in the region to combat both counter-revolutionary forces. These are important element that could empower the democratic and progressive forces on the ground and give them the tools to defend themselves.

For the people who don’t feel at ease with the fact of demanding arms and weapons with no political conditions and strings attached from the West, I would like to invite them to read Trotsky’s “Learn to Think.” [2]

This does not mean of course that we are uncritical of the leadership of these groups that have such demands, and we should maintain our independence and critical opinions, even when dealing with them.

We have to be clear that imperialist actors and regional powers all act according to an imperialist logic that maintains authoritarian and unjust systems. They all oppose the self-determination of the peoples of the region and their struggles for emancipation. Hence, anti-war activists whether in the Middle East or the West need to address all forms of repression and authoritarianism, and condemn all forms of foreign intervention against the interests of the people of the region.


Joseph Daher continues,

What are some direct actions that anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians can take in solidarity with the Syrian people, including those being massacred in Ghouta, Idlib, and Afrin?

Multiple things should be done. I think anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians should call for an end to the war, which has created terrible suffering. It has led to massive displacement of people within the country and driven millions out of it as refugees. The war only benefits the counterrevolutionary forces on all sides. From both a political and humanitarian perspective, the end of the war in Syria is an absolute necessity.

Likewise, we must reject all the attempts to legitimize Assad’s regime, and we must oppose all agreements that enable it to play any role in the country’s future. A blank check given to Assad today will encourage future attempts by other despotic and authoritarian states to crush their populations if they come to revolt.

We have to guarantee as well the rights of civilians within Syria, particularly preventing more forced displacements and securing the rights of refugees (right of return, right for financial compensations in case of destruction of their houses, justice for the losses of their relatives, etc.).

Assad and his various partners in the regime must be held accountable for their crimes. The same goes for the Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces and other armed groups.

We need to support the democratic and progressive actors and movements against both sides of the counterrevolution: the regime and its Islamic fundamentalist opponents. We have to build a united front based on the initial objectives of the revolution: democracy, social justice, and equality, saying no to sectarianism and no to racism.

We of course need to oppose all imperialist and authoritarian actors intervening in Syria.


Continues: https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2 ... nst-assad/
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:32 pm

This kind of problem should be a serious concern for the serious anti-fascist conspiracy researcher/activist:


A red-brown alliance for Syria

One of these delegations paid the regime a visit shortly after the chemical weapon attacks in September 2012. Led by Ouday Ramadan, it also included Stefano de Simone and Giovanni Feola, leaders of the neo-fascist movement CasaPound, as well as Fernando Rossi, an ex-senator from the Italian Communist Party, who sought to close ranks with the radical right wing because of his support for Gaddafi and subsequently for Assad. This "poison gas delegation" was officially welcomed by the Syrian head of parliament Jihad Allaham, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqui, Information Minister Omar al-Zoubi and Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

Fascist tradition

The reason for these fascist organisations' support for the Assad regime is partly historical. In 1954, Fascists such as Alois Brunner, leader of the SS special unit for the "final solution to the Jewish question" and Eichmann's closest associate, found a safe haven in Damascus. Hafez al-Assad, the current dictator's father, tasked Brunner with reorganising the Syrian secret service along Gestapo and SS lines.

Image
The founder of Italy's extreme right-wing Forza Nuova Party Roberto Fiore (right) and the granddaughter of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Alessanda Mussolini (left), after a press conference in Rome

Since the beginning of the people's uprising in Syria three years ago, there has once again been a remarkable mobilisation of radical right-wing groups. Bashar al-Assad's adepts are primarily of Italian, French and Greek origin, but they also come from Germany, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Poland, Serbia, the Czech Republic and Romania. They are a rather heterogeneous bunch: from Marine Le Pen's French Front National, to the Polish Catholic Falanga, which called for the citizenship of all Polish Jews to be revoked in June 2013, to the Russian Alexander Dugin's Eurasian Vision and the Greek national-socialist group Mavros Krinos, which has prided itself on providing Assad with several militias.

Italy is the hub of this red-brown pro-Assad alliance because it can count on open support from organisations such as Forza Nuova (Catholic neo-fascists) and CasaPound (who also refer to themselves as the "fascists for the third millennium"). The alliance also includes several smaller groups that consider themselves "socialist" and vaunt their links with nationalist and Stalinist parties and movements all over the world – from Russia to Venezuela and North Korea.

All of these organisations have networks and links to parts of a confused anti-imperialist and dogmatic left wing. Rooted in Stalinist thought, this branch of the left is convinced to this day that the world is mired in a constant conflict between Western imperialism (represented by the USA, the European Union and their allies) and the resistance of "sovereign states" such as Russia, China and Iran.

A "red-brown army" to serve Assad

In the name of this crude brand of anti-imperialism and an Islamophobia that varies in intensity from group to group, the fascist right, the Catholic fundamentalists and the Stalinists have spawned a small, but active "red-brown army".

To avoid any misunderstandings, it must be stressed that CasaPound and Forza Nuova have relatively few active followers: only of a few thousand members. Both groups failed miserably in recent polls. Nonetheless, they exercise an influence over young Italians that is not to be underestimated. In student elections at a few secondary schools in Rome they even won the majority of votes, which meant that the European Solidarity Front for Syria was allowed to hold speeches at these schools and elsewhere.

While Forza Nuova focuses on the defence of the traditional family and the fight against abortion, CasaPound is more involved in the social sphere: its members occupy vacant buildings and organise campaigns for people with disabilities – as long as they are Italian. Both groups share a fundamentally racist and xenophobic outlook and a categorical rejection of "mondializzazione" (globalisation), which they perceive as a rapid loss of national sovereignty.

Image
According to Germano Monti, members of the European alliance that supports Bashar al-Assad are a rather heterogeneous bunch: from Marine Le Pen's French Front National, to the Polish Catholic Falanga, to the Russian Alexander Dugin's Eurasian Vision and the Greek national-socialist group Mavros Krinos. Pictured here: members of the neo-fascist CasaPound movement in Italy



https://en.qantara.de/content/the-syria ... -for-syria
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby Elvis » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:55 pm

American Dream wrote: we should also support the provision of weapons and arms to these democratic forces in the region


Thought-provoking and interesting. The writer says the U.S. should keep doing the same thing. It was U.S. provision of weapons to "democratic forces" [sic] that escalated the war and enabled ISIS to take over large areas. These are hardly "democratic forces."

Again: does U.S. policy really care one whit about democracy in Syria or about the wishes of Syrian people?

Does anyone here really think that U.S. arming of violent, foreign anti-Assad groups is intended to benefit the Syrian people in any way, or bestow democracy on Syria?—a country, by the way, that is already a democratic republic with elections, political parties, a constitution and a parliament.


Clearly, it is impossible to 'bring democracy' to a country that is already a democracy. Clearly, the U.S. policy foreign machine doesn't care about the Syrian people; the U.S. cared so much about Iraqis, they killed a million of them and broke their country.

So: if it's not democracy and it's not about the needs and desires of Syrian people, what is it about? If one thinks hard, and critically, one can probably find a few reasons the U.S. would want to control Syria.

Are those U.S. aims anything a socialist should advocate? I would say no.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:07 pm

I do not consider myself part of any "we" that includes the State and I do not support U.S. Imperialism.
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