Syrian death tolls and the kinder gentler jihadists

Middle East
on 67 Comments

I think the Assad regime is probably almost as bad as commonly portrayed, and none of this is meant in any way to deny that the regime has killed tens of thousands of civilians or more or to justify their war crimes. But I can’t reconcile the numbers with the mainstream depiction of the war by the likes of Roger Cohen, Nicholas Kristof, or other interventionists (who say nothing about our assistance to the Saudi war on Yemen, which is one massive war crime. So much for their humanitarian motives).  Everyone agrees that the jihadists are the best fighters on the rebel side and that many of the “moderates” are similar in ideology and that they have genocidal attitudes, and they have supposedly killed over 100,000 Syrian soldiers and allied militia, yet–

1. When intervention isn’t intervention.

Supposedly the problem is we haven’t supplied enough aid. How the hell did the rebels manage to do so well against forces with tanks, artillery and an air force? Has this ever happened without massive amounts of outside armaments? The Max Fisher piece in the New York Times shows, without spelling it out, that the mainstream lament is wrong. The war has lasted this long and caused so many deaths precisely because outsiders on both sides keep intervening. One can’t help but notice that to liberal hawks US interventions that cause massive death tolls simply aren’t acknowledged and the answer to a failed intervention is more intervention.

2. The kinder gentler jihadists.

The rebels have killed 100,000 armed opponents, yet according to mainstream Western sources they have only killed a small fraction of the civilians. Is this true? Suppose it is. What that suggests is that the Syrian regime has done a good job shielding most of those who would be exterminated from the jihadis, even if they themselves are guilty of massive war crimes. Or are we supposed to think the jihadis are compassionate? Alternatively, perhaps most or all of our information comes from pro-rebel sources and the jihadis have killed far more civilians than we are led to believe. For instance, maybe some of the dead militia and Syrian soldiers in the Syrian Observatory figures were actually unarmed civilians accused of regime support. It would be amazing in a brutal civil war if rebels didn’t murder civilians accused of supporting the other side and this is even before we take into account the genocidal ideology many of the rebels are reported to have.

3. Cited death tolls.

For a long time the media tended to rely on the figures supplied by the pro rebel Syrian Observatory. The Wikipedia article I linked above gives their yearly totals and a breakdown by faction–at present, roughly 100,000 armed dead on the pro government side, roughly the same on the anti government side, and about 85,000 civilians. In recent months, however, various groups estimate the true death toll is close to 500,000 and so that is now the figure commonly cited in the press.

Compare this to Iraq. The mainstream press press commonly cited the figures of Iraq Body Count, which was an actual count of civilian deaths that could be verified with reasonable certainty from media accounts. By the late 00’s this number was over 100,000 and now is closer to 200,000. IBC has also estimated the death toll including fighters and that figure is 250,000. There were other ways of counting the dead– notably the Johns Hopkins team which found 100,000 by 2004 and 600,000 by 2006 using surveys, and more recently another study found about 500,000 dead as of 2011, also using a survey. What number does the press usually use? Generally, I see the “over 100,000” figure. Just look at this New York Times editorial from 2011; it says “tens of thousands” of Iraqi deaths, an amazingly low figure they probably got from either the US government or some think tank.

So a conservative count of civilians only is used for a war where America is mostly responsible (and too small even using IBC data), while the highest figure available is used for Syria with the American role generally papered over. The press, if it wants to use the smallest reasonable figure for Iraq, should use the 250,000 of IBC, since they don’t exclude fighters when citing Syrian estimates. And even IBC, which was very critical of the Johns Hopkins study, would probably agree that the total violent death toll is higher than their figure, and that is before one includes the deaths caused by the collapse of civilian infrastructure.

4. Comparisons to Israel in Gaza

Nobody does this, so I will. Of course the 2014 war in Gaza only lasted several weeks and was conducted against a population of only 2 million and therefore the death toll is 100-200 times smaller. All the same, the Western press seems to have two different standards here. When fighting jihadis and “moderate” rebels, the Syrian government bombs urban areas, killing civilians, and this is unequivocally condemned in Western media. Israel employs the same tactics and we hear much debate about whether it was justified because, allegedly, Hamas used civilians as human shields or stored weapons or dug tunnels or whatever. Often the defenses of Israel were clearly false, but they were always taken seriously. The issue doesn’t even come up with Syria– no one in the mainstream Western press even bothers to make the same arguments or refute them, because when Assad bombs urban areas he isn’t a Westerner and isn’t our ally and therefore he is obviously a war criminal, unlike when Israel does it.

Suppose Israel faced a combination of Al Qaeda and “moderate” rebels heavily supplied with both men and material from outside, openly declaring that they would massacre Jews and Christians if they won. Suppose they had a serious chance of victory. How would Israel fight such a war, given how they fight in vastly less serious circumstances (for them)?

Furthermore, go back to the kinder gentler jihadist notion. If the claims are to be believed, the rebels in Syria have managed to kill 100,000 heavily armed opponents and (supposedly) a much smaller number of civilians. The Israelis killed about 1500 civilians and several hundred Hamas fighters. Interesting. If one takes the Western press at face value (probably not a good idea), the Syrian rebels, including Al Qaeda, are fighting their war far more humanely than the IDF. Do I believe this? Not really, but the pro-Syrian-rebel American columnists should. And Hamas was only able to kill 66 IDF soldiers and 6 civilians. This is what you’d expect from a lightly armed force with essentially no outside help fighting a military with tanks, artillery, and an air force. Again, the fact that the Syrian rebels have been so successful in killing their armed opponents disproves the notion that the poor rebels are fighting without outside help against hopeless odds.

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67 Responses

  1. silamcuz
    August 30, 2016, 10:46 am

    So Assad can bomb his way in getting a compliant, docile populace he can rule over, but the moment Bahrain start keeping anti-government protesters in check using minimal violence or brutality, the US or rather, Hillary Clinton should’ve intervened. Nice hypocrisy there.

    • Donald Johnson
      August 30, 2016, 8:05 pm

      Your comment has no bearing on anything I wrote. Bahrain wasn’t mentioned– you should have whatever argument you wish to have on that someplace else. And while Assad is a war criminal, the Max Fisher piece in the NYT made it clear that outside intervention on both sides is why the war drags on and why the death toll is so high.

      • Keith
        August 31, 2016, 1:07 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “And while Assad is a war criminal….”

        Defending one’s country against destabilization and regime change is a war crime? You do remember Gen. Wesley Clark commenting on the seven countries targeted for destabilization just prior to the Iraq invasion, do you not? You are not aware that the conflict and violence in the Middle East is a direct consequence of imperial machinations? Who is the bigger “war criminal,” Assad, Obama or Hillary? What Third World leader can ever hope to compare with a US President when it comes to mass murder? Enough of your liberal de facto defense of empire and imperial policy! Stop demonizing Third World leaders caught in an impossible situation creates by US imperialism!

      • Donald Johnson
        August 31, 2016, 9:40 am

        Massacring civilians and torturing people is a war crime. And whataboutery is as stupid in this context as in every other.

        One other point– if you actually read the piece you’ll notice that it’s not a defense of intervention. Part of the point which was, surprisingly enough, made in the NYT, is outside intervention is precisely why the war has lasted so long and been so bloody.

      • Keith
        August 31, 2016, 11:13 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Massacring civilians and torturing people is a war crime. And whataboutery is as stupid in this context as in every other.”

        Whataboutery? The primary responsibility for the carnage in Syria lies with the US/NATO, etc. When you demonize to the target of imperial aggression as a war criminal, you become a propagandist for empire. I trust that you are aware of the imperial responsibility for the creation and support of ISIS and offshoots? And that NATO special operations forces comprise boots on the ground for this mass terror operation? Assad cannot unilaterally terminate the conflict, whereas, all the empire has to do is stop supporting these Islamist terrorists. Cut off the funding and the fighting will quickly end. So no, it is not whataboutery to point out that the US President and former Secretary of State are bigger war criminals than Assad. Who is attacking who, for cry sakes?

      • Donald Johnson
        August 31, 2016, 1:13 pm

        Yes, whataboutery. Part of my post is about how intervention has made the Syrian war drag on and therefore made the death toll skyrocket, but since I also criticized Assad this makes me an apologist for empire in your eyes. Nobody has a right to torture or murder civilians even if the other side started the war.

      • Keith
        August 31, 2016, 5:31 pm

        DONALD JOHNSON- “…but since I also criticized Assad this makes me an apologist for empire in your eyes.”

        I didn’t say apologist, I said propagandist. Even as you criticize imperial intervention, you also reinforce the propaganda meme of the imperial interventionists. The Middle East is a violent mess because of imperial intervention. Under these circumstances, what constitutes decent behavior? Brass knuckles for the aggressors and Marquis de Queensbury for the defenders? What would Abe Lincoln have done under similar circumstances? And how many times have you called Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton war criminals as they surely are? Also, I wasn’t commenting on your article, just your comment where you felt compelled to demonize Assad (the elected and legitimate President of Syria, I might add) in the all-too-familiar liberal loyal opposition type of criticism. As an aside, I note that the Sanders “Our Revolution” deception continues Bernie’s whoring for the Democrats where mainstream Democrats are lauded as “progressive” while Greens are excluded. Proving once again that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people, in particular liberals. Liberals once had at least some substance. Not any more. Now they are nothing but noisy decoys luring the gullible to their doom.

      • ritzl
        August 31, 2016, 6:34 pm

        Thanks Keith. It was a good article sans the “war criminal” contention/opinion.

        He certainly wasn’t before we intervened. Don’t know how you save 25M human beings from being ruled by head-chopping, cage-burning, liver-eating animals (ntm the sick-boy-throat-slitting “moderates”) by laying down – by not fighting back.

        If Assad is, Obama, HRC, Bush, et. al., are as well. And as you say Lincoln too. Truman didn’t need to nuke a city. He could have nuked a military base. Etc. Etc. Etc.

        IDK. I’m tired.

      • Donald Johnson
        August 31, 2016, 7:51 pm

        http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/IICISyria/Pages/IndependentInternationalCommission.aspx

        The abduction and torture and murder of people are not legitimate tactics. If anything, it has probably contributed to support for the rebels or the eagerness of people not to fight for the government, but to leave. Are we really supposed to dismiss all the claims of Syrian victims of the government? If you or a family member were abducted by the government and taken away to be tortured or killed, would you accept that it was all in a good cause?

        As for propaganda, you have it backwards. It’s always the propagandists who get agitated and upset when someone talks about the atrocities of both sides ( or all sides in the case of Syria, since there are more than two). A propagandist knows that only one side commits crimes– the other side, the good guys, chose not to be bound by some prissy set of rules.

        I’ve never understood this. There is no logical reason whatsoever why in condemning Western violence you have to pick some opposing side and defend their atrocities instead. There’s no rule anywhere that says you gotta pick some faction and pretend their sh-t doesn’t stink.

      • Keith
        September 1, 2016, 10:52 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “A propagandist knows that only one side commits crimes….”

        You just don’t get it, do you? You think that talking about the Syrian “rebels” (actually, imperial mercenaries) versus the Syrian government is fair and balanced. This is a false dichotomy. All of the killing and atrocities is a direct consequence of Uncle Sam’s interventions in the Middle East. The US created the Mujahideen which begat al Qaeda, etc. which we utilize as our proxy terrorists as we smash the Middle East to bits. We created the Sunni-Shia armed conflict when we brought John Negroponte to Iraq to institute the Salvadoran option. These are exceptionally dirty wars where all sides commit atrocities as civilian populations fight for survival. So, I ask you again, how many times have you referred to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as war criminals? You demonize Assad but don’t mention Obama and Clinton, all the while self-righteously claiming you are being even handed, others not. Your even handedness is the even handedness of a liberal imperialist, something I doubt that you are capable of understanding.

      • Keith
        September 1, 2016, 11:20 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “A propagandist knows that only one side commits crimes….”

        You just don’t get it, do you? You think that talking about the Syrian “rebels” (actually, imperial mercenaries) versus the Syrian government is fair and balanced. This is a false dichotomy. All of the killing and atrocities is a direct consequence of Uncle Sam’s interventions in the Middle East. The US created the Mujahideen which begat al Qaeda, etc. which we utilize as our proxy terrorists as we smash the Middle East to bits. We created the Sunni-Shia armed conflict when we brought John Negroponte to Iraq to institute the Salvadoran option. These are exceptionally dirty wars where all sides commit atrocities as civilian populations fight for survival. So, I ask you again, how many times have you referred to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as war criminals? You demonize Assad but don’t mention Obama and Clinton, all the while self-righteously claiming you are being even handed, others not. Some of your article was good, but why the compulsion to demonize Assad under these circumstances not of his creation? If you have to call someone a war criminal, why not future President Hillary Clinton? And cut the armchair moralizing about the rules of war. These rules are ignored with impunity by empire and function primarily to permit the demonization of Third World victims of imperial aggression. All wars are more-or-less dirty and warmongers like Hillary are the ultimate war criminals.

      • Keith
        September 1, 2016, 5:59 pm

        That’s strange. I have two comments addressed to Donald Johnson which appear both on my commenter profile and on the 100 recent comments but which don’t appear on the thread unless I log on. But they don’t say “in moderation.” There are two because for some reason the 1st comment timed out before being processed by the system. The second is a slightly revised version of the first. I prefer the second. If the second doesn’t magically appear in due course I will resubmit. Odd.

      • Donald Johnson
        September 1, 2016, 8:28 pm

        Obama and Clinton are war criminals. That was implied when I mentioned how liberal humanitarians talk about Syria, but not about Yemen.

        Incapable of understanding? This stuff is extremely easy to understand– two wrongs don’t make a right. I have no idea how many times I have talked about US war crimes just at this blog. And responsibility falls on more than one group here. The US is responsible for sowing chaos across the region and the various actors are responsible for whatever crimes they commit.

        And when governments torture prisoners they aren’t doing it for survival, any more than the US is doing it to save lives when it tortures. Again, the Syrian government is helping recruit for the rebels when they massacre civilians and torture people. And when you say the rebels are all imperial mercenaries, how do you know this? All of them? There aren’t any Syrians filled with rage because the government torture or killed members of their family?

        What drove me to write this piece is that I think most of what I read about Syria is propaganda from the liberal humanitarian impulse to bomb our enemies and ignore our own guilt. But there is no obligation to pretend the Syrian government is innocent, because it isn’t.

        I imagine you’ll have a response. I probably won’t.

      • Keith
        September 2, 2016, 1:18 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Obama and Clinton are war criminals. That was implied….”

        Implied but not stated, whereas Assad’s criminality is stated. And you pretend not to see the difference? Donald, you have most assuredly reaffirmed your liberal bonafides. This will be my last comment. Not that it makes any difference, both of our comments appear only when I am logged on. If not, this is all invisible, at least to me.

      • Donald Johnson
        September 2, 2016, 11:28 am

        I can’t shut up. I’ll take one more shot.

        The post was largely about the sins of intervention. Actually, more about the lack of analysis by the press, but both. And now you are reduced to complaining that I mentioned Assad but not Clinton or Obama by name, knowing full well I agree that the US has the blood of countless people on its hands.

        The individuals are secondary. It’s the state and the forces which support it which tend to behave the same way with some variations depending on who is in charge. I use Assad’s name as shorthand for the Syrian government.

        I don’t trust the mainstream press to tell the full truth about Syria, but I also don’t trust those on the left who have some ideological need to whitewash the crimes of whoever the US opposes. It’d be better if everyone just told the truth as best as we can determine it and in Syria, the evidence is that all factions are committing war crimes.

      • Mooser
        September 2, 2016, 11:47 am

        “but I also don’t trust those on the left who have .”

        Finally! My opportunity to find out exactly who that phrase is indicting! I’m gonna ask “Donald”, cause he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t know…oh, on second thought, fuggetaboutit, why put him on the spot? Nobody could ever tell me what “diddy wah diddy” meant either. Never mind, I’m sure “those on the left who and etc.,etc”. know who they are.
        Oh, never mind, a little bit of Googling tells me it’s Mathew 25:41

      • MHughes976
        September 2, 2016, 1:04 pm

        I think that Donald’s remarks were rather fair. Distant or armchair pronouncements do lend themselves to self-righteous and one-sided rhetoric, as Keith suggests. But even saying ‘there are atrocities on all sides’ is to make a moral,statement.

    • hophmi
      August 31, 2016, 12:42 pm

      Notice how it’s always the fault of the US for Keith. It’s not like Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Venezuela, or the DPRK are helping the Assadists in any way. Whatever is good for Bashar al-Assad, including killing thousands of Palestinian refugees who lived in his country’s squalor to begin with, is good for Keith.

      • Mooser
        August 31, 2016, 1:18 pm

        “Notice how it’s always the fault of the US for Keith.”

        Just like it’s always Israel’s fault for you, “Hophmi”! “Blame Israel! Blame Israel!” that’s you praying mantras. I’m sick of it. Why don’t you defend Israel, just once?

      • Mr.T
        August 31, 2016, 1:54 pm

        “Notice how it’s always the fault of the US for Keith.”

        Notice how the level of sophistication in hophmi’s analysis never rises above rooting for the white hats as they battle the moustache-twirling black hats.

      • Kay24
        August 31, 2016, 2:37 pm

        I noticed how you failed to mention another interfering nation, that usually is a big time mischief maker in these situations. It is also known for false flag operations and training of rebels and other nefarious activities. How convenient to forget.

        “The Turkish officers allegedly confessed to the Syrian authorities that they were trained by the Israeli Mossad and were instructed “to carry out bombings to undermine the country’s security.” (Ibid.) One officer purportedly admitted that the “Mossad also trains soldiers from the Free Syria Army” as well as al-Qaeda officials on Jordanian soil with a view to send them to Syria to conduct attacks.

        These testimonies corroborate information, including from Israeli intelligence sources, indicating the implication of the Mossad in the Syrian insurrection. Several reports also mention the involvement of the CIA and the British MI6, as well as European and American special forces.”

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/turkish-secret-agents-trained-by-the-mossad-captured-in-syria/29430

      • Keith
        August 31, 2016, 10:05 pm

        HOPHMI- “Notice how it’s always the fault of the US for Keith.”

        You forgot Israel. And Saudi Arabia. And Turkey. And the GCC. And various NATO countries. And special emphasis on your fellow Zionist neocons who are using the empire to implement Israel’s plan to break up the Middle East.

      • oldgeezer
        September 1, 2016, 12:53 am

        @Keith/hoppy

        Hoppy would have us believe that the yinon plan and subsequent neocon/zionist agenda of the pnac are mere coincidence and that Israel is not drenched in the blood and misery of 10’s of millions of people in the Middle East.

        Notice how it is never the fault of the US or Israel for hoppy.

      • DaBakr
        September 4, 2016, 4:59 pm

        News flash to kth:

        The middle East was broken up long before the return of Jews to Israel. The European empire’s along with the ottoman saw to that.

      • Keith
        September 4, 2016, 6:20 pm

        DABAKR- “The middle East was broken up long before the return of Jews to Israel. The European empire’s along with the ottoman saw to that.”

        I provide a link to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East, where Israel Shahak translates and discusses the infamous Oded Yinon plan. Surely you have heard of it? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/The%20Zionist%20Plan%20for%20the%20Middle%20East.pdf

        Return of Jews to Israel? More like the atheist Zionist invasion of Palestine. But at least you are aware of how badly the Europeans screwed-up the entire Middle East and why current finger pointing is shameless hypocrisy.

    • Tuyzentfloot
      September 1, 2016, 5:14 am

      oldgeezer:Notice how it is never the fault of the US or Israel for hoppy.

      I don’t see US or Israel as the main actors in this either. The US isn’t driving the conflict. I think it has mainly been tagging along.
      There has been a decent 2piece overview article about US role in the conflict https://consortiumnews.com/2015/07/20/the-us-hand-in-the-syrian-mess/ and
      https://consortiumnews.com/2015/07/20/hidden-origins-of-syrias-civil-war/ . So the article seems to agree with you but I think the article overestimates the role of the US . The article has links to Joshua Landis who doesn’t make that mistake.

      • oldgeezer
        September 2, 2016, 4:01 pm

        @Tuyzenfloot

        I partially agree. I think US involvement is much more than we know about. And we know they have invested substantial funds in training and supplies. We also now know there are boots on the ground. If it isn’t known yet i suspect we will find out that they poured substantial billions into funding to build up to the revolt just as they did in the other colour operations.

        Israel has been providing support in terms of medical aid and i would think critical air and artillery support. It is not mere coincidence that when a rebel group lands a mortar round near the border qithout causing dahe that israel decides it needs to go flatten a syrian aemy base or formation. Of coursebthe rebels they are backing are primarily AQ affiliates.

        But you are right that there are other big players in this. The US ALand Israel aren’t minor by any means.

  2. Rusty Pipes
    August 30, 2016, 3:33 pm

    Thank you for revealing the stark contrasts between how our media relies on outside groups and data in reporting the destruction caused by countries in and out of favor.

    I would note that a slice of the Left does make exact parallels between Gaza and “liberated” (insurgent-held) areas of Syria. Qatar has been one of the major backers of the Syrian insurgency from the beginning. Its state-owned media, Al Jazeera, has extolled Muslim Brotherhood-allied insurgents across countries touched by the Arab Spring as revolutionaries and freedom-fighters. Many Progressives who had come to rely on AJ for its coverage of Palestine before the Arab Spring, continue to accept Qatar’s framing of the conflict.

    • Donald Johnson
      August 30, 2016, 8:07 pm

      Thanks. That’s interesting. I haven’t read much ( if anything at all) from that pov.

    • silamcuz
      August 31, 2016, 2:10 am

      Qatar has also been a loyal ally of Palestine and have bankrolled the BDS movement since the beginning, when it was considered as a movement supporting terrorism by even learned scholars.

      • Raphael
        August 31, 2016, 10:33 am

        Interesting….I recently became a citizen of Israel.

        Ideally, I would live in both Israel, and the US, as a dual citizen. I oppose BDS; because I sensed PLO involvement… so, now I know, that Qatar pulls the strings for the Arab militant fundamentalists hiding behind humanitarian picket signs.

        I will also know, like the Israelis, how a Israeli will act differently then that of a American Jew.

        One of the reasons why I decided I would be a Israeli American is, because, I was born with a Hebrew Israeli sounding name. And, when I had boxes full of genealogical research about my Jewish side of my family; most of the people in the American Jewish community would not even have discussions with me about it; because I’m a half Jew (a non Jewish Jew).

        And, some of my relatives were proto-Zionists, and also Zionists; that were orthodox Jews; which makes it even far more complex for me as a Catholic Jew, in this current day.

      • echinococcus
        August 31, 2016, 11:11 am

        Raphael,

        “Interesting” perhaps, but only to you.
        How many hundred times have you pulled out the fluff out of your navel to show it to all humanity to admire?
        Buy yourself a f*&^ mirror already, will you?

      • Raphael
        August 31, 2016, 11:27 am

        Haaretz

        From the Archive In the Name of Zionism, Change Your Name

        Zarechansky became Sa’ar, Brog became Barak: Behind many names in this country are stories involving a desire to forge a new identity in a new land.

        Prof. Aaron Demsky, founder and director of the Project for the Study of Jewish Names at Bar-Ilan University, and academic adviser for those who created the database of surnames at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People, explains that Hebraizing surnames was a way for the Jews who came to Palestine to express ideological identification.

        read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.566809

      • eljay
        August 31, 2016, 12:22 pm

        || Raphael: … I oppose BDS; because I sensed PLO involvement … ||

        The more-likely explanation for your opposition to BDS is that it (rightly) threatens Jewish supremacism in/and the colonialist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” project.

        Justice, accountability and equality are offensive to Zio-supremacists.

      • Shingo
        August 31, 2016, 12:23 pm

        when it was considered as a movement supporting terrorism by even learned scholars.

        Which scholars? And how can a non violent movement calling for human right be support for terrorism?

      • eljay
        August 31, 2016, 12:42 pm

        || Raphael: … Prof. Aaron Demsky … explains that Hebraizing surnames was a way for the Jews who came to Palestine to express ideological identification. ||

        Manufactured names for foreigners moving to a manufactured “ancient homeland”. Makes sense.

      • Mooser
        August 31, 2016, 1:04 pm

        ” I oppose BDS; because I sensed PLO involvement”

        “Raphael” if it is so complicated, why do you always come to such simple-minded conclusions?
        Fake left, run right, that’s “Raphael”.

        (They have GOT to stop telling these kids that they are smarter than everybody else in the world. It’s really gonna bite them in the ass soon.)

    • Citizen
      August 31, 2016, 8:05 am

      I ditto thanks to Donald for revealing main media’s intentionally inconsistent use of death toll numbers.

  3. Qualtrough
    August 30, 2016, 11:22 pm

    In any fight between a secular government and throat-slitting fundamentalist maniacs I will choose the secular government every time. If the USA could ally with Josef Stalin in the fight against the Nazis I see no reason why it can’t ally with Assad to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-Nusra and whatever names those scum are going under at the moment. US policy now reminds me very much of the time when the US supported the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese ran them out of most of Cambodia. There is seemingly no government or group too slimy for the US government if it suits their purposes.

    If you have wondered why the US doesn’t seem to care that much about the maniacs threatening to topple the Syrian government, wonder no more:

    “Israeli think tank: Don’t destroy ISIS; it’s a “useful tool” against Iran, Hezbollah, Syria”

    http://www.salon.com/2016/08/23/israeli-think-tank-dont-destroy-isis-its-a-useful-tool-against-iran-hezbollah-syria/

  4. DaBakr
    August 31, 2016, 12:49 am

    Hamas used human shields and “allegedly” … “stored weapons, dug tunnels or whatever” .. its not ‘whatever’. its been conformed by dozens of reports , th UN and even ngo’s not particularly friendly to israel.

    The idf uses tactics that have nothing in common with the tyrannical iron-fisted assad dynasty. when you can provide credible reports that assad warned civilians before he proceeded to slaughter them then you can get away with writing that israel did the ‘same thing’.

    some of the authors points are well taken but is unsurprisingly tainted by the necessary comparisons to israel/palestinianconflict (which btw-has been going on for over 70yrs and the ‘body count’ total for all of those years doesn’t even touch the 5yr syrian war or the iraqi death toll -and-if i am not mistaken-the actual death toll from the US military war crime committed on the retreating iraqi army along with civilians (the infamous ‘highway of hell’ for is classified and may never be known for decades. but its huge. unless you are a rank propagandist-you can’t put palestinian deaths caused by israel into the same category-wether proportional or time-wise as the deaths caused by the assads , the jordanian husseinis , the iraqi saddam hussein or the iranian mullahs/irg/basij , al- bashir and now you can add the body count in yemen by the sauds if you want to be taken seriously.

    • Donald Johnson
      August 31, 2016, 9:56 am

      I agree the I/P death toll is much lower, but it is still valid to compare tactics. The Gaza War only lasted several weeks and in a population of 2 million they killed over 2000 people while leveling I forget how many buildings.

      If Israel were facing a genuine threat to its survival do you honestly think they’d fight any cleaner than Assad? I think the Gaza War gives the answer– faced with a vastly smaller threat ( largely their fault, but set the blame question aside) they bombed and shelled and fired at civilians. If outside forces supplied Islamic jihad with weapons and men and the war dragged on for years, what do you think the toll would be on both sides?

      • inbound39
        September 1, 2016, 5:48 pm

        Death tolls,death tolls, death tolls. The press will never get an accurate figure on death tolls …..never. Can they count the bodies vaporised by missiles and bomb blasts at point of impact…no they can’t so no death toll count officially undertaken by anyone can be accurate. What I can say is it is higher than anyone is willing to say. That includes the Occupation of Palestine. Much goes unreported. When war comes to town all civil sensibilities go out the door. Behaviour normally seen in society goes out the door. Law of the jungle applies. The person holding the biggest ,newest weapon reigns supreme and slight disagreement can result in death because with a weapon in your hand there is no need for negotiation. People switch to survival mode and fear drives everything. People hide so are assumed dead. People escape the active areas and shift to other lands and are assumed dead. Some even go so far as changing their appearance and take on new identities and are assumed dead. Impossible to get accurate death tolls due to the nature of war and its variables. Any official total is miles out. Anyone who has been on active service will get what I am talking about. One point I will make is this. With Israel and Palestine many if not all Palestinian deaths were avoidable had America and Britain not helped Israel to escape justice and its obligations under Law. Had America and Britain done as it should have under Law Israel would have been forced back behind its legal borders saving thousands of lives. That still can be done.

    • Donald Johnson
      August 31, 2016, 10:24 am

      And I don’t want to rehash Gaza in detail, but here is a link to an AI report–

      https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/11/israeli-forces-displayed-callous-indifference-deadly-attacks-family-homes-gaza/

    • Donald Johnson
      August 31, 2016, 11:02 am

      Btw, apart from moral comparisons , I had another reason for mentioning Gaza. Afaik in the modern era when conventional militaries go up against lightly armed guerillas the guerillas usually lose more men. Lots more. Qualifying everything I say because I am not an expert, but this is largely due to the difference in firepower. Conventional forces have tanks, heavy artillery, and planes. This was true, I think, with the US in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Soviets in Afghanistan, the French in Algeria, and the IDF in Gaza. The guerilla side lost more armed combatants in all those cases. If they win, it’s because the conventional force is an occupier and occupiers often lose the will to maintain the occupation for whatever reason. ( In Gaza, Israel wasn’t planning to stay and mostly maintains the blockade from the outside.)

      In Syria, if you believe the numbers, this hasn’t been happening. Which is strange and suggests either the numbers are wrong or the rebels have massive amounts of aid or both.

      Getting back to morality, on the Saudis and Yemen, I agree. It’s disgraceful that the US is helping the Saudis commit war crimes there.

    • Shingo
      August 31, 2016, 12:28 pm

      Hamas used human shields and “allegedly” … “stored weapons, dug tunnels or whatever” .. its not ‘whatever’. its been conformed by dozens of reports , th UN and even ngo’s not particularly friendly to israel

      Wrong. Those allegations were resoundingly refuted in those reports.

    • zaid
      September 2, 2016, 12:02 am

      The myth of Human shields again.

      The ration of civilian death to the total deaths in Syria is much lower than in Israel’s Genocide campaigns in Gaza.

      Maybe Israel should learn from Asad how to fight instead of using the myth of human shields to justify its atrocities.

  5. Tuyzentfloot
    August 31, 2016, 4:30 am

    One can’t help but notice that to liberal hawks US interventions that cause massive death tolls simply aren’t acknowledged and the answer to a failed intervention is more intervention.

    I think it goes far beyond liberal hawks. Most progressive people just want that evil regime gone, which makes them effectively in favor of more intervention, so more general than hawks the description ‘liberal interventionists’ fits better. Everyone’s a liberal interventionist now.
    And it’s normal too because the ‘realist’ position that prefers to keep the regime in place is ugly(it’s been my point of view all along but I wouldn’t call it attractive). The attitude of R2P(Responsibility to Protect) is generally accepted.
    And it all becomes more palatable by representing the opposition as having a significant moderate component, which isn’t there. Progressives and warmongers, one front.
    This week my daily newspaper published an interview with an expert on the matter, Syrian ambassador Robert Ford.
    But if you read what wikileaks has to say on Ford, he’s one of the guys who has been trying to make the place blow up in the first place. It’s like that all the time.
    This is not just about propaganda and people being fooled. Bluntly overthrowing bad regimes is just considered acceptable by many.

    A key concept in such cases is : what options are you offering the other party. This is also relevant in the I/P debate: when people insist on nonviolent resistance, they are demonstrating to the other side that there are acceptable ways out of the situation.
    Violent resistance can do that too, and it has more clout, but it’s harder to communicate that there’s a reasonable way out, and it’s easier for hasbara to obfuscate this.

  6. silamcuz
    August 31, 2016, 8:58 am

    Phil Weiss have be known to vehemently oppose US intervention in Syria, despite the astronomical death tolls of civilians even before the Civil War got underway due to the nature of the government crackdown there.

    Having opposed such interventions, for some reason he feels that Hillary Clinton should have interfered with the internal affairs of Bahrain when they contained the Arab Spring protestors using harsh measures that lead to 4 deaths.

    • Donald Johnson
      August 31, 2016, 9:58 am

      The US supports tyrants which are on its side. Nobody who was critical of Clinton suggested bombing Bahrain or supplying weapons to insurgents, so your comparison is silly.

      Now otoh in Yemen we are supplying weapons to the Saudis as they work hard at bombing hospitals and creating a gigantic humanitarian crisis, which shows how hypocritical the liberal humanitarians like Clinton, Kristof, and Cohen are, but you say nothing about that.

    • Qualtrough
      August 31, 2016, 10:06 am

      silamcruz – Astronomical?? Any fact/figures/sources to back that ridiculous claim?

    • justicewillprevail
      August 31, 2016, 12:06 pm

      False claims, incoherent arguments, slurs, random ridiculous juxtapositions, and nothing to do with the thoughtfully written piece above. Just another day in silamsez’s one man campaign to divert the topic to some ragbag of random statements in support of untrustworthy and deceitful politicians and repressive regimes. And never a sourced, referenced backup for the wacky comic book statements.

      thanks, Donald, for attempting to shed some light on this quagmire of claims and the stove piping of partisan information into various media. As you probably know, Israel is once again trying to manipulate Syria by supporting ISIS, quite incredibly, given its faux concern for innocent people’s lives.

      http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/israeli-military-make-it-clear-that.html

      • silamcuz
        August 31, 2016, 1:07 pm

        False claims? A simple google search would have verified my statements.

        Here is the Wiki link that comprehensively documents the timeline of the protests and casualties as a result of it, focusing on the specific period before armed conflict erupted.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_uprising_phase_of_the_Syrian_Civil_War

        More than 2000 civilians died during this particular phase, during which the hostile party was primarily the Syrian government towards what was then mostly non-violent protests.

        Compare that to the corresponding event in Bahrain, where only 4 protesters died. Despite protests in both countries were motivated by the same anti-government sentiments.

        How can one possibly condemn the actions of the Bahraini government, and call for American intervention while at the same time, oppose any intervention in Syria?

      • Donald Johnson
        August 31, 2016, 2:56 pm

        This is just trolling. Link to someone urging that the US intervene in Bahrain with air strikes or by training and arming rebels.

      • silamcuz
        August 31, 2016, 11:54 pm

        Link to someone urging that the US intervene in Bahrain with air strikes or by training and arming rebels.

        It appears that it is you who is trolling. In the article published by Phil below, he strongly criticized Hillary for not intervening in Bahrain.

        http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/foundations-without-protest/

        He didn’t care to specify what would such intervention look like, whether it would entail airstrikes or arming rebels, so you need to ask him that. But considering the Bahraini government managed to end protests of almost 100,000 people without resorting to military tactics, and limited fatal casualties across both sides to only 80 people, any intervention must be done with utmost reservation and respect.

      • justicewillprevail
        September 1, 2016, 4:23 am

        Logic isn’t your strong point, is it? Telling us about the Syrian casualties is not a response to the dubious, unproven nature of your claim.

      • silamcuz
        September 1, 2016, 5:19 am

        Logic isn’t your strong point, is it? Telling us about the Syrian casualties is not a response to the dubious, unproven nature of your claim.

        My comprehension skills must be lacking as well because I don’t understand what is the argument in the above comment.

        My claims were based on the immense disparities between the two government in repressing dissent and protests, manifested through the number of casualties as a result of government crackdown. 2000 peaceful protestors died during crackdown in Syria, which is equivalent to a small town being wiped out. That is quite an astronomical amount in my view, especially compared to the 80 people dead in Bahrain.

      • Donald Johnson
        September 1, 2016, 8:35 pm

        Phil complained that Clinton didn’t protest when Bahrain crushed its dissenters. In your universe ” protest” must mean air strikes and supplying weapons to rebels to overthrow the government.

        Alternatively, you are trolling and you know it.

      • justicewillprevail
        September 2, 2016, 4:56 am

        Yes your comprehension skills must be lacking if you cannot understand your own spurious arguments. Propagandists always shift the basis of their ‘argument’ when challenged on their unverifiable claims.

  7. gamal
    August 31, 2016, 9:53 pm

    if you could but understand your own fucking ancestors ( not to be indelicate but its what we with our scottish connections like to think of as the real anthem of that beleaguered little nation) Hamish Henderson was an extraordinary whiteman. (gaughan has a story too tough guy gentle artist) your piece makes me gag.

    Freedom come ye all

    Roch the wind in the clear days dawin’
    Blaws the cloods heelster gowdy ow’r the bay
    But there’s mair nor a roch wind blawin’
    Through the great glen o’ the warld the day.
    It’s a thocht that will gar oor rottans
    A’ they rogues that gang gallus fresh and gay
    Tak the road an’ seek ither loanins
    For their ill ploys tae sport an’ play

    Nae mair will the bonnie callants
    Mairch tae war when oor braggarts crousely craw,
    Nor wee weans frae pit-heid an’ clachan
    Mourn the ships sailing doon the Broomielaw.
    Broken families in lands we’ve herriet
    Will curse Scotland the Brave nae mair, nae mair.
    Black and white, ane til ither mairriet
    Mak’ the vile barracks o’ their masters bare.

    So come all ye at hame wi’ freedom
    Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom
    In your hoose a’ the bairns o’ Adam
    Can find breid, barley bree an’ painted room.
    When MacLean meets wi’s freens in Springburn
    A’ the roses an’ geans will turn tae bloom
    And a black boy frae yont Nyanga
    Dings the fell gallows o’ the burghers doon.

    https://youtu.be/3nLGKFTH5sw

  8. gamal
    September 1, 2016, 12:10 am

    Donald where are you when we need you,

    https://youtu.be/NiCNDPXM1zI

  9. JLewisDickerson
    September 7, 2016, 11:51 am

    RE: Just look at this New York Times editorial from 2011; it says “tens of thousands” of Iraqi deaths, an amazingly low figure they probably got from either the US government or “some think tank”. So a conservative count of civilians only is used for a war where America is mostly responsible . . . ~ Johnson

    MY COMMENT: Some think tank? It is sometimes said that the only thing separating the New York Times from the Council on Foreign Relations is a continuously ‘revolving door’!

  10. Atlantaiconoclast
    September 8, 2016, 2:05 am

    Just imagine what would happen if the US was suddenly caught up in civil war, with hundreds of thousands of Islamic extremist foreign mercenaries, cutting off heads of little boys, eating hearts, crucifying people, killing Gays, etc.. Do you really think Obama would hesitate to kill a significant number of civilians if HIS regime was under threat of violent removal? The US has unleashed massive firepower on “enemy forces” all while tolerating massive collateral damage. Why would anyone think our govt would not do the same to its citizens if the regime was vulnerable to being overrun by savages?

    I don’t have any easy answers for violence in Syria, other than to say our intervention helped stimulate the bloodbath we have today. If the people of Syria want to depose Assad, let THEM try, without our financial and military support. For even if you aren’t a non interventionist like me, it is folly to think that Assad’s opponents are better than him on womens’ rights, secularism, etc.

    • Mooser
      September 8, 2016, 5:26 pm

      “Why would anyone think our govt would not do the same to its citizens if the regime was vulnerable to being overrun by savages?”

      Well, there is that bit in the Constitution about violent overthrow.

  11. kalithea
    September 8, 2016, 10:05 pm

    I would rather a Gary Johnson who fumbles on what to do about Aleppo? because meddling in foreign regions is very foreign to his politic, than a Hillary conflict pyromaniac or a Trump bomb the shit out of everyone as the solution to everything. So the Zionist monopoly media and their viral Aleppo poison dart to take down the third party leader, can kiss my behind!

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