Marc Lynch warns against the U.S. escalation in Syria

Middle East
on 62 Comments

The drumbeat to increase American involvement in the war in Syria continues, spurred on by that painful photograph of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh covered with blood and dirt. Steve Coll, a normally cautious New Yorker reporter, is the latest to join in. He writes,

“[U.S.] aid has helped to keep the rebels in the field but it has not been enough to defeat Assad, or to deter his forces from employing unconscionable tactics, and it is hard to escape the conclusion that this caution has enabled the apparent war crimes of Assad and his allies.”

Marc Lynch is one of the few experts who has over time been proven right about Syria, and his informed warnings must be taken seriously. Lynch, a professor of political science at George Washington University who also tweets as @abuaardvark, recently published The New Arab Wars, one of the best of the recent books about the Mideast. Lynch notes, in sorrow rather than pride, that he “was among the minority of analysts who vocally opposed the militarization of the [Syrian opposition], because I feared precisely the disaster which would soon unfold.”

Marc Lynch

Marc Lynch

Lynch is certainly no apologist for the Assad regime. He reminds us that the original 2011 uprising in Syria was nonviolent, and “involved almost unbelievably heroic popular participation in the face of extreme state violence.” But he is also realistic. He explains that, in contrast to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the Syrian regime did not become totally isolated:

“Asad retained considerable support among wide sectors of the Syrian citizenry, including not only minority communities but also much of the urban Sunni elites who had benefitted from his rule and feared change.”

Once the Syrian civil war got started, you needed a flow chart to depict the extraordinary complexity of the violence. Here is a rough census of the protagonists: the Assad regime; the Syrian nonviolent opposition; the Syrian armed resistance, divided among jihadist forces, former Syrian military, ISIS; and Hezbollah militias, who crossed over from Lebanon. The outside actors include: the U.S.; Russia; Turkey; Iran; Saudi Arabia; Qatar — all of them supplying arms to one faction or another. By contrast, the warring Balkans in the years leading up to World War 1 were a model of simplicity. Lynch has followed the story closely, and he notes that “the complexities of this debate, mostly in Arabic, were often lost on a Western discourse framed around a simpler story of a united Syrian people against a reviled dictator.”

What’s more, Lynch reminds us that America is already stoking the many-sided conflict with weapons: “The United States remained publicly cautious about arming the insurgents, but rapidly developed a covert program to arm and support vetted rebel groups.” He explains that escalating the violence, especially in a conflict with so many armed actors, can never bring peace, but only promote what he calls “a dynamic stalemate.” He elaborates: “As rebel groups began to take up arms in response to the Asad regime’s brutality, they found ample sources of funds and weapons from abroad to support their insurgency. When they began to demonstrate too much success, Asad’s backers ramped up their own support to the regime.”

Lynch gives President Obama credit for digging in his heels against the more extreme interventionists, some of whom are in his own administration. That could change on January 20, 2017, if the more hawkish Hillary Clinton takes office.

So far, most U.S. interventionists have not called for American troops in large numbers. They insist, against the evidence of the past 5 years, Lynch states, that ratcheting up pressure with no-fly zones and other aggressive measures will force Assad and his patrons to back down. Lynch is (excessively) polite with the hawks, but he does note wryly, “It baffles me that the lesson most of Washington learned from the tribulations of the Libya intervention was that Obama should also have intervened in Syria.”

Among ordinary Americans, that awful photograph of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh understandably prompted calls for action (although the failure of the West, including the United States, to do more for Syrian refugees is a big part of the problem). For those who ask, What should we do? Lynch’s answer is, First do no harm. American policymakers are supposed to be better informed. They should understand that promoting more violence, even with ostensibly humanitarian intentions, can make a bad situation even worse. After endless wars across the Mideast for what feels like an eternity, the foreign policy establishment should know better. But for many of them, auditioning for a ranking job in the Hillary Clinton administration must be more important.

About James North

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62 Responses

  1. Donald Johnson
    September 2, 2016, 11:48 am

    Thanks. We need but won’t get a press corps that could be this straightforward in its analysis of the situation. You acknowledge the brutality of the regime while also pointing out the obvious– outside forces have kept this war going.

    In fairness to Coll’s New Yorker piece, he did have a sentence or two about the rebels shelling civilian areas, obviously meaning to sow terror, plus he also mentions the alliance between the ” moderates” and Al Qaeda. But several paragraphs later Coll seems to have forgotten what he had written and regrets that we haven’t supplied the rebels with more weapons in the passage you cited.

    As for the foreign policy establishment, they make their living advocating for war. At one time I thought that was a bit simpleminded but that was faux sophistication. There are enthusiastic partisans amongst ordinary people who might swallow the liberal humanitarian argument, but the think tank world provides cushy jobs for people who say we need to spend billions bringing democracy to benighted foreigners.

  2. Annie Robbins
    September 2, 2016, 12:52 pm

    Marc Lynch is one of the few experts who has over time been proven right about Syria, and his informed warnings must be taken seriously.

    not to toot our own horns but lots of mondoweiss commenters have also been proven right about syria (saying this stuff for a long long time even before lynch), which one could easily witness in the long comment thread (100’s) following the highly controversial 2013 article by Ramah Kudaimi we published here title “Do’s and don’ts for progressives discussing Syria” http://mondoweiss.net/2013/08/dos-and-donts-for-progressives-discussing-syria/

    well, we might have been proven right if the comment section wasn’t erased that is. this is why our commenter archives are so important. the arguments went on for days supported by many many links and supporting docs.

    • Mooser
      September 2, 2016, 1:08 pm

      “well, we might have been proven right if the comment section wasn’t erased that is.”

      The “it’s off-line and can be put back on-line when conditions are propitious” is no longer operative? It’s come to “erased”? Not that the exact term (deleted, erased, inaccessible, lost) matters, but the chance they may be restored is very remote at this point, is what it adds up to, “Annie”?

      • Annie Robbins
        September 2, 2016, 1:20 pm

        alert, i was just googling around for something i wrote about syria and ran into some of my archives stored at another site. a search on the authors name in those archives lead me to the same article w/all the comments intact. check this out http://staging1.mondoweiss.net/2013/08/dos-and-donts-for-progressives-discussing-syria

        the comments are there.

        and look, hostage’s archives! http://staging1.mondoweiss.net/profile/hostage

        shingo’s http://staging1.mondoweiss.net/profile/shingo

        i think all of them may be available by placing “staging1.” in front of the thread and archive urls

        sorry for the divert. i’m amazed!!

      • Boomer
        September 2, 2016, 1:53 pm

        “i think all of them may be available by placing “staging1.” in front of the thread and archive urls

        sorry for the divert. i’m amazed!!”

        Let’s hope the cat doesn’t disappear, now that you let it out of the bag.

      • Mooser
        September 2, 2016, 3:41 pm

        “i’m amazed!! “

        That is wonderful. I never thought they might be someplace else on the web. But there they are!

      • RoHa
        September 3, 2016, 4:12 am

        Hasn’t disappeared yet, Boomer. I’ve just checked and mine are there in all their glory. Civilization can breathe a sigh of relief.

      • Boomer
        September 3, 2016, 5:59 am

        OT: Annie, maybe your next project should be to find Mrs. Clinton’s emails. The FBI needs some help. Evidently they are out there. The latest bury-it-in-a-pre-long-weekend-news-release:
        http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/02/hillary-clinton-s-team-lost-a-laptop-full-of-her-emails-in-the-actual-mail.html

      • Danaa
        September 7, 2016, 3:18 am

        Bingo, annie. Found my own partly lost archives. Noticed that the last comment is from August 30, 2015, which is when these must have been archived.

        Yuupee….

        Especially for Hostage’s long lost archives….

      • Danaa
        September 7, 2016, 3:20 am

        Annie, you sure it was a good idea to point in that direction? most of us suspect that the disappearance of the archives was not entirely accidental.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 7, 2016, 3:28 am

        i didn’t give it a thought danaa — about it being a good idea or not. i was looking for something (i think i had recently posted, something on that topic) and i googled it and this popped up, so i just posted about it when it happened. why would i keep something like that to myself? re the archives, i don’t for a minute think it was accidental — altho some people may sincerely believe it is.

  3. Annie Robbins
    September 2, 2016, 1:39 pm

    He explains that, in contrast to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the Syrian regime did not become totally isolated:

    “Asad retained considerable support among wide sectors of the Syrian citizenry, including not only minority communities but also much of the urban Sunni elites who had benefitted from his rule and feared change.”

    – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/against-escalation-syria/#comment-854051

    i’ve read several times over the years assad’s supported by the majority (over 50%) of the population. i touched on this topic in this march 2013 article i wrote: “In Iraq, and now Syria, US seeks secular outcome by… promoting sectarian division” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/promoting-sectarian-division/#sthash.b9JT9voy.dpuf

    (and here’s the version w/the comment thread btw: http://staging1.mondoweiss.net/2013/03/promoting-sectarian-division)

    (bold added)

    Let’s listen to Tom Friedman’s recent New York Times op ed about Syria, Caution, Curves Ahead:

    There is a strong argument for everyone doing more to end the Syrian civil war before the Syrian state totally collapses and before its sectarian venom and refugees further destabilize Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan…..

    Why has he been able to hold on so long? Russian and Iranian military aid certainly help, but so does the support he still enjoys in key communities. Assad’s Alawite minority sect, which has been ruling since 1970 and constitutes 12 percent of Syria’s 22 million population, believes that either they rule or they die at the hands of the country’s Sunni Muslim majority (74 percent). The Syrian Christians, who are 10 percent, and some secular Sunni Muslims, particularly merchants, have also thrown in their lot with Assad, because they believe that either he rules or chaos does. None of them believe the rebels can or will build a stable, secular, multisectarian democracy in Assad’s wake. Why do we think they are wrong?

    Some secular Sunni Muslims, eh? How many? Friedman tells us the Syrian Sunni Majority is 74%, the Syrian Alawite community is 12%, and Syrian Christians are 10%. But that hardly explains the basis of Assad’s support. Friedman describes the secular Sunni Muslims who support Assad as “merchants.” Friedman ignores the fact that Syrians, like Iraqis before our invasion, lived, primarily, in a secular society.

    Assad’s regime is secular. Saddam was also a secular dictator. The US supports and empowers sectarian actors, while claiming to seek democratic secular results. Why do we do that? Friedman won’t tell you.

    – See more at: http://staging1.mondoweiss.net/2013/03/promoting-sectarian-division#sthash.KKODhjwE.dpuf

    at the time i thought it was curious that friedman gives us detailed percentages of minorities supporting assad, mentions the sunni majority percentage (74%) and then just skips the percentage of this category of sunni “merchants”. so by the time you add the 12% alawite and 10% christian it really does matter what percentage of sunnis support assad, but he doesn’t tell you. they wouldn’t need all these foreign fighters if the majority of the country wanted to oust assad.

    • yonah fredman
      September 2, 2016, 3:59 pm

      Annie robbins writes: “I’ve read several times over the years that popular support for the assad regime was over 50 %.”

      1. Such a claim should be accompanied by at least one source, no?

      2. Tell us about the reliability of polling in a totalitarian state. Tell us about the reliability of polling in the time of civil war.

      And then annie robbins writes this: “they wouldn’t need all these foreign fighters if the majority of the country wanted to oust assad.”

      Why bother with democracy, elections or even polling, all you need is the proof of weapons and armies.

      If not for hezbollah iran and now russia, you think assad would still be in power?

      Here’s what I think: the assad regime before 2011 was one of the worst in the world in terms of democracy.

      This did not make it wise to turn popular demonstrations into an armed conflict, but it does obligate honest people to recognize the oppression suffered by a majority of the Syrian people before armed conflict began.

      It turns out that however regressive and dictatorial the assad regime, there can be something even worse, including a stalemate civil war. But those who think that such a revelation allows them to label assad as the choice of the Syrian people ought to consider leaving the field of journalism and find a good propaganda news site who can use such nonsense instead of analysis. Oh, you found such a site. Oh.

      • Mooser
        September 2, 2016, 4:09 pm

        ” Oh, you found such a site. Oh.”

        You found any sites, “Yonah”? Even tho you studied to be a Chef Rabbi, and were a Saucier’s Apprentice for a time, have you found any sites which will include you?
        Oh, that’s right,Mondo will.
        That’s more than any Zionist site will do, isn’t it, “Yonah”?

      • Annie Robbins
        September 2, 2016, 7:09 pm

        yonah, google is your friend. there are tons of links. here’s one from 2012 — way back:

        “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media”

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

        The key finding was that while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war –

        2013: “NATO data: Assad winning the war for Syrians’ hearts and minds”

        http://www.worldtribune.com/archives/greatest-hits-2013-nato-data-assad-winning-the-war-for-syrians-hearts-and-minds/

        Originally published May 31, 2013

        LONDON — After two years of civil war, support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad was said to have sharply increased.

        NATO has been studying data that told of a sharp rise in support for Assad. The data, compiled by Western-sponsored activists and organizations, showed that a majority of Syrians were alarmed by the Al Qaida takeover of the Sunni revolt and preferred to return to Assad, Middle East Newsline reported.

        “The people are sick of the war and hate the jihadists more than Assad,”

        …..The data, relayed to NATO over the last month, asserted that 70 percent of Syrians support the Assad regime. Another 20 percent were deemed neutral and the remaining 10 percent expressed support for the rebels.

        try googling “what percentage syrians support assad”

        here’s the current top response from google:

        The survey, conducted by ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments, [2] found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and 26 percent for the Syrian Opposition Coalition. Dec 12, 2015

        not sure if i have ever run into a poll that didn’t state most syrians supported him over any of the opposition options.

      • Donald Johnson
        September 2, 2016, 11:55 pm

        If you google this subject you do find evidence Assad is more popular than any rebel faction.
        I don’t know how accurate such polls will be for the reasons you mention– civil war, torture chambers, etc…. But if people perceive it as a choice between a secular regime that leaves you alone if you don’t protest vs. a group consisting of murderous fanatics then it seems plausible many people would see Assad as the less bad choice.

        Also, as one article I read pointed out, obviously Assad bombs the rebel areas, not the areas he controls. People in the government held areas would have less reason to hate him and would fear the jihadis,who shell their towns, while people in the rebel areas who are starved or bombed or shelled by the Syrian military are more likely to hate him, or leave the country if they can.

        The ORB poll Annie cited sounds like the sort of thing you’d see in a civil war as opposed to a war where it is the regime vs all the people. According to that poll, the people are split.

      • Dan
        September 3, 2016, 11:32 am

        “….then it seems plausible many people would see Assad as the less bad choice”

        Makes sense
        Probably hard to separate support for Assad from just a desire for stability and fear of war.
        At this point not hard to see how even a “dynastic” police state (which is what SA also is) would be preferable to the current nightmare.

        Several interesting articles from ME journals regarding the beginnings of the civil war.

        First, a short article from Al Jazeera from April 2011, about a month after what is generallly considered the start of the war.
        http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/04/201141918352728300.html

        Next from the Journal of Palestinian Refugee Studies in 2012.
        Relevant sections, starting on page 10 are
        “1 What is the revolution” and “2. Palestinian involvement…”
        http://www.prc.org.uk/portal/images/stories/pdfs/JPRS-4_Small.pdf

        Last a recent review of “Syria Burning” from the English edition of “Now Lebanon”
        https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/reportsfeatures/567283-an-autobiography-of-syrias-revolution

      • gamal
        September 3, 2016, 12:56 pm

        “If you google this subject” like any serious analyst

        “it as a choice between a secular regime that leaves you alone if you don’t protest vs. a group consisting of murderous fanatics” your knowledge isn’t even slight.

        which way are American rangers illegally in the country going to vote?

        “When Copeland and the CIA were in Damascus planning the coup, Deane Hinton turned to the others and stated: “I want to go on record as saying that this is the stupidest, most irresponsible action a diplomatic mission like ours could get itself involved in, and that we’ve started a series of these things that will never end.” ”

        https://youtu.be/sE0fucxLvKI

      • echinococcus
        September 3, 2016, 2:12 pm

        Daniel,

        By “a ‘dynastic’ police state”, did you mean us the US? It’s not a totally in-your-face police state yet, waiting for the next member of the reigning dynasties to take office to become just that.
        There are only few instances in the history of Byzance with such a concentration per unit time of dynastic takeovers.

    • gracie fr
      September 2, 2016, 4:01 pm

      ” Asad retained considerable support among wide sectors of the Syrian citizenry, including not only minority communities but also much of the urban Sunni elites who had benefited from his rule and feared change.” ……

      I believe this to be true. I was in Syria in 2010 when the country had a well oiled profiteering business elite, an enormous state run bureaucracy. Much of the industrial mineral (phosphate cement oil natural gas) sector was state owned and geared to profit. One had to be part of the regime’s inner circle to do well. But as a result of fast track for profit, the environmental devastation was visible everywhere… Any manifestation of discord, increased the likelihood of falling foul of Assad’s Security Services and/or being ousted from a an insider’s seat at the table

      Interesting stats on the 2010 mineral sector:

      http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/2009/myb3-2009-sy.pdf

  4. Boomer
    September 2, 2016, 1:50 pm

    Another good source of actual information on Syria:

    http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/

  5. ritzl
    September 2, 2016, 2:48 pm

    A) “The outside actors include: the U.S.; Russia; Turkey; Iran; Saudi Arabia; Qatar …” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/against-escalation-syria/#sthash.4hMS4Lpn.dpuf

    Israel didn’t make the list for providing military and medical support for Nusra/al Qaeda/whatever they’re called now?

    B) That photo of the kid is very likely a fake. Are a few hundred thousand MORE human beings now going to die because of a fake photo that reinforces a preconceived notion based on an imperial aim osmotically implanted by endless media cheerleading that is now grudgingly embraced by former “skeptics” thus removing all obstacles to a few hundred thousand MORE dead human beings and the lucky ones living in a fiery hell of our making? The self-enforcing death circle/spiral is as astounding as it is obvious. Even as it plays out in this article.

    Fake photo: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/the-wounded-boy-in-orange-seat-another-staged-white-helmets-stunt.html

    C) I hate to use a movie cliché to sum it up, but that’s where we’re cartoonishly at on this intervention death-cult sickness – grudging or otherwise: “The only way to win is not to play.” Period. That’s the starting point and the ending point. The “anti-Nike” motto: “Just DON’T do it!”

    There were and ARE ways to get rid of Assad (if that’s the honest objective) without turning the lives of 25M human beings into a hellish mess. Apparently it is NOT the honest objective because we did not (and are not) pursuing those diplomatic/non-violent methods. So using Assad as a rationale for death and destruction is the sign of either a dupe or a naif.

    D) Democracy (or just stable and/or consensual political institutions) has to be organically developed. Without that organic basis the inevitable result of intervention and destabilization is a worse outcome. Rule #1. Failure to heed this rule results in an argument – witting or unwitting – FOR the worse outcome.

    E) The principal, long-term, and perhaps unrecoverable disaster of this election is that voters who would normally oppose Clinton’s perpetual war fetish/freak are now going to vote FOR that option. Again, no more obstacles to killing anybody any time for any reason in any quantity. The cost to the planet (and the US) will be extreme and enduring.

    I hope I’m very wrong.

    • Egbert
      September 3, 2016, 6:11 am

      The child photograph was taken by a photographer who hangs around with the Zinka faction, celebrating their victories with them. Who are the Zinka faction? They are the ‘carefully vetted moderate rebel’ group that sometime earlier publicly beheaded a 12 year old Syrian boy. This act caused the US to ‘give pause’ in supplying them with weapons.

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45325.htm

      • zaid
        September 3, 2016, 6:10 pm

        The beheaded boy was a Palestinian boy named Ahmad Issa from handarat refugee camp near Aleppo.

        The perpetrates were form Nour aldin Zinki brigades known as Zinki, and they are armed by the US, they are also accused of using chemical weapons they stole from Assad against the part of Aleppo controlled by the Syrian Government.

        They are ten times more savage than ISIS, but they are the US guy, so you dont hear about them.

    • chet
      September 6, 2016, 11:58 pm

      The fake child photograph has been posted on the NYT website at least once every day since it was taken — the propaganda value is well understood.

    • Danaa
      September 7, 2016, 7:49 pm

      ritzl, you beat me to it apparently with the MOA link. That should teach me to read through the comments more thoroughly. Still, no harm in bringing it up again 9alas, in adouble too! glitches galore seem to be happening….I only hit the submit once!). I did add up the link to the mysterious brother who was quite alive and then suddenly very dead. Then, nothing…..the family evaporated.

      • ritzl
        September 10, 2016, 6:38 pm

        Aye Danaa. The mysterious brother. Probably tended by one of the equally mysterious, chimeric, letter-signing pediatricians.

        I don’t know. Perhaps the Nobel committee can sort it all out. ;)

        #MakeItStop

    • ritzl
      September 7, 2016, 3:14 am

      Thanks gracie fr. Good articles.

      It was interesting to note that Clinton was notionally FOR diplomatically encouraging Assad to liberalize prior to 2011 but changed her view when the Israeli government changed its view around that time.

      Coincidence? Who knows.

  6. Keith
    September 2, 2016, 4:50 pm

    JAMES NORTH- “Lynch is certainly no apologist for the Assad regime. He reminds us that the original 2011 uprising in Syria was nonviolent, and “involved almost unbelievably heroic popular participation in the face of extreme state violence.”

    Oh Jeez, here we go again! A slightly left of center member of the imperial doctrinal system providing his orientalist version of events. Two points need emphasizing. First, Israel has desired the break up of Syria for decades and has worked to achieve that covertly. Second, back in 2001, Syria was one of seven countries targeted for regime change by the neocons, according to General Wesley Clark. The notion that US/Israel was not involved in this right from the beginning is simply not believable. Back in 2011, when the “Arab Spring” presented both a challenge and opportunity for empire, the US began it’s regime change “revolution” in Syria. The violence in Syria is a direct consequence of imperial interference, period. And while conditions in these countries outside of US control are far from ideal, the opportunity for independent change is circumscribed by these interventions. Currently, the empire is on a rampage, particularly in the Middle East, trying to eliminate any resistance to global hegemony. Below I have a Chomsky quote which seems relevant, followed by a link to a brief video of reporter Eva Bartlett on her personal experience in Syria, followed by a link to a brief interview with Hassan Nasrallah for an extremely interesting perspective on the Syrian war and how it relates to the neocon plan to remake the Middle East.

    “There is, evidently, much satisfaction to be gained by careful inspection of those writhing under our boot, to see if they are behaving properly; when they are not, as is often the case, indignation is unconstrained.” (Noam Chomsky)

    “The Syrian Conflict is a PR war mounted by the western powers and their surrogates.” (Eva Bartlett) http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45372.htm

    Link to Hezbollah leader video: http://thesaker.is/hezbollah-leader-explains-why-syria-assad-are-crucial-to-middle-east-war-english-subs/

    • Mooser
      September 2, 2016, 7:10 pm

      “And while conditions in these countries outside of US control are far from ideal, the opportunity for independent change is circumscribed by these interventions”

      More than just circumscribed. More like ‘strangled at birth’.

      • Keith
        September 2, 2016, 8:02 pm

        Moose, I need a favor. For some reason I can no longer read my comments on the threads unless I am logged in. My commenter’s profile and 100 recent comments are okay, but not the thread, including replies to my comment. I couldn’t read your, for example, until I logged on. I am wondering if it is just me or if unlogged site visitors will not be able to read the comment/reply. If you would be so kind as to logged out and see if you can still read my comment and your reply? As far as I know, I can read every other comment without logging on. Thanks.

      • oldgeezer
        September 2, 2016, 10:15 pm

        @Keith

        I have encountered similar issues.

        Moral of the story…. log in.

      • Mooser
        September 2, 2016, 10:20 pm

        Hi “Keith”. Glad to. I logged out and looked, and all your comments appear. No difference I could see.

      • Keith
        September 3, 2016, 1:12 am

        MOOSER- “No difference I could see.”

        Thanks! Me either. The problem seems to have been corrected. No doubt your presence had an impact. No one wants to mess with the Moose and his mouse!

      • Mooser
        September 3, 2016, 12:24 pm

        “The problem seems to have been corrected”

        It’s a big internet, and things sometimes take a little bit of time to get disseminated.

    • Donald Johnson
      September 2, 2016, 11:33 pm

      ” The violence in Syria is a direct consequence of imperial interference, period.”

      Correct except for the period.

      What you are doing there is forcing the world into an ideological box. In this case, yes, the Syrian civil war is a direct consequence of Western interference. The box is where you say ” period”. It evidently upsets you and many others when people acknowledge the extreme brutality of the Syrian government. They are the lesser evil compared to jihadists, but they torture and murder civilians and anyone with even a drop of common sense knows this is bound to create some support for the rebels. There is no reason why people can’t acknowledge this.

      On a purely pragmatic level,you hurt your own case. People who have read news accounts of how various groups condemn the Syrian government’s bombing and shelling of civilian areas, their attacks on medical facilities, and their use of torture and disappearances are likely to dismiss your legitimate points if they read someone defending these tactics as necessary, or not acknowledging that they happen. The Western left has a history of doing this sort of thing, discrediting the legitimate critique of Western violence with apologetics for some other group’s atrocities. The debate then becomes one of competing atrocity deniers.

      Call my view liberalism if you want. It’s not a view you commonly find in mainstream liberal publications these days.

      • Keith
        September 3, 2016, 1:04 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “It evidently upsets you and many others when people acknowledge the extreme brutality of the Syrian government.”

        What extreme brutality? All of your sources are the extremely biased Western media. The empire is on a rampage. The propaganda is the worst I have ever seen. Go back to your armchair and dream sweet dreams.

        DONALD JOHNSON- “People who have read news accounts of how various groups condemn the Syrian government’s bombing and shelling of civilian areas, their attacks on medical facilities, and their use of torture and disappearances….”

        The Western media has become nothing but pure propaganda. Did you follow my links? Are they consistent with your worldview? Donald, you are a liberal, I am a radical. We will never see eye to eye. For better or worse, you are part of the system. A corrupt and evil system.

        DONALD JOHNSON- “The Western left has a history of doing this sort of thing, discrediting the legitimate critique of Western violence with apologetics for some other group’s atrocities.”

        Apologetics? Desperate people do desperate things. When the empire creates the environment which inevitably leads to the crimes and atrocities you attack, why pretend that these specific acts are not a consequence of the environment that empire created? Why insist on a phony “fair and balanced” analysis of an asymmetrical situation? None of this would be happening if empire hadn’t started the fire. Why can’t you see the forest for the trees?

      • Keith
        September 3, 2016, 11:24 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “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.”

        I am responding to this on this thread because of posting problems on the previous thread. This is an important point and I want to clarify. You don’t demonize Clinton and Obama by name because you feel that it is a systemic problem. Fair enough up to a point. Yet you demonize Assad by name even though he is trapped in the same imperial system. The big difference is that Clinton and Obama have considerable power within the system and are able to control or at least influence events. The decision to destabilize Syria and smash it to bits was made in the imperial centers of power, both Clinton and Obama bearing considerable responsibility.

        The Western media is a part of the same system and engages in propaganda to manufacture consent. Part of that process involves the demonization of the leadership of the state resisting imperial aggression. Gaddafi a terrorist intent on mass murder, Assad a brutal tyrant who commits atrocities, Putin a malevolent dictator, a new Hitler, etc. The intent is to portray the situation not as a complex issue strongly influenced by US policy with no easy solution but as a simple reality of one evil person to be removed and everything will be hunky dory. When you reinforce the imperial meme of Assad as a brutal tyrant who commits atrocities you are reinforcing imperial propaganda and de facto supporting the war on the Syrian people even as you criticize the system itself. And you really don’t know all that much about Assad and his actions relative to others in similar situations. You get your information from the left of center mainstream media which has become totally unreliable at this point in time. They are, after all, part of the imperial system of concentrated power.

        Simply put, we are in no position judge Assad under the circumstances. If an arsonist were to set fire to a building, no doubt some of the people in that burning building would engage in despicable behavior in order to save their own lives. How closely should we scrutinize them from outside the building? Rather, how much moral outrage should we have toward the behavior of those inside the building as presented to us by the media owned by the arsonist? The arsonist, I might add, who has plans for developing the property? Assad is as much a part of the system as Clinton or Obama, just a lot lower on the food chain. There is no reason to support the imperial meme by singling him out. Yet that is what many on the left do. The all-too-loyal opposition.

      • Keith
        September 3, 2016, 4:02 pm

        Since the war on Syria is such a significant topic, I would like to broaden the perspective by linking to a 9 minute video interview of John Pilger dealing with this. John Pilger is a journalist who provides a dissident perspective and whom I greatly respect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwLX7k57_8U

        The other point I would make is that the coalition of forces arrayed against Syria vastly exceeds those supporting Syria. The Russian presence in Syria, while surprisingly effective, is quite limited. Russia has rather limited force projection capabilities and could not even begin to match the US/NATO forces. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding on this. Below I provide both a quote and a link to The Saker, one of the more realistic strategic analysts around regarding Russia.

        ” Putatively pro-Russian “experts” add to the confusion by publicly hallucinating of a Russian deployment in Syria and the Mediterranean which could wrestle the entire region away from Uncle Sam and fight the entire NATO/CENCOM air forces and navies with confidence. This is all nonsense, of course….” (The Saker) http://thesaker.is/assessing-the-russian-military-as-an-instrument-of-power/

      • Danaa
        September 10, 2016, 12:55 am

        Donald, I have to agree with keith here. Virtually EVERY news source in the west is suspect – the entire MSM has become, in many ways, worse than Pravda ever was in the good old USSR. Most certainly anything from any so-called “opposition” figure residing in the west and speaking perfectly good English, is as good as their pay masters want it to be. that goes for the thoroughly discredited Syrian Observatory etc. in the UK – a one man office funded partly by saudi Arabia and partly by the west.

        You are not able to quote a single news item that comes from the government held side or get the view as it looks from, say, Iran or any of the allied forces fighting against the regime change, You have no legitimate sources to back your stories of ‘atrocities”. And, BTW, whatever happened to that infamous little chemical attack story in east Ghouta? funny how no one mentions it much any longer.

        Someone just nominated the ‘white helmets” for a Nobel prize I heard. More f
        unny, that. Most would consider them to be part of the propaganda machine, well oiled, always at the right place to render “humanitarian” help, always only to one side..

        More funny things – no sooner does the government make some battlefield gains (earned at great cost!) that we hear of yet another chlorine attack. Or barrel bombs, or the same hospital bombed over and over and the same pediatricians who just keep dying only to reappear and sign petitions (for link, please consult one of the few credible sources on Syria – MOA).

        Also, may be others have pointed it out already, but just what do you think the US would do if some outside forces mounted a regime change operation in this country? what if the Russian ambassador was seen handing out cookies to Occupy, while some agency or other kept supplying them with deadly weapons, urging “jihad on wall street’ (actually that has a cute ring to it….don’t anyone get ideas now). Given the brutality with which the rather peaceful Occupy was suppressed, can you even imagine the response of our militarized police if someone actually mounted an armed rebellion?

        Syrria responded as best it could to outside intervention conducted to remove a government the US and the evil Saudis and their Qatar bretherns didn’t like. For Qatar, may be it was the pipeline. For the US, it was pipeline + israel + empire. For Israel? just the usual, something about the shiite crescent, no doubt. Or, just chaos in Syria to remove any threat to the Golan occupation.

        And, one last thing – where are the wailing voices of the great liberal papers and journos and columnists about the atrocities committed by the Saudis against Yemeni civilians? did you see even a peep from the NYT? (OK, there was a peep. lame as it was).

        So, no wonder some people here don’t trust the “liberal” bleeding hearts, because their hearts bleed ever so selectively. Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience anything like what the syrians did, but surely, with a little imagination, you may want to reflect a little more on those ‘atrocities”, and how you would feel about them if it was your neighborhood that got taken over by some scarf-wearing mafiosi.

  7. Kay24
    September 2, 2016, 6:14 pm

    It seems the zionist supporter Rabbi Biotech Schmuckly living in the US has a gripe with Cory Booker, and I wonder who appointed him to speak on behalf of the people of New Jersey:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/293899-cory-booker-must-stop-defending-the-iran-deal

    • Annie Robbins
      September 2, 2016, 6:59 pm

      he claims it isn’t personal and has repeatedly acted like a jilted lover.

      • Kay24
        September 2, 2016, 10:16 pm

        So true. Instead of supporting his President, he is trying to make things harder for those who did, all because dear Israel is p.ff about this deal that was agreed to by so many other nations as well.
        He has taken Netanyahu’s side on this, and is attacking those who supported Obama’s policies.
        You have to wonder just how much they care for this country. It is always Israel first for them.

      • oldgeezer
        September 2, 2016, 10:26 pm

        @kay

        It is fair to say that for some of those people accusations of dual loyalty are unfair. They only have one.

      • RoHa
        September 3, 2016, 4:54 am

        “Agreed to by so many other nations”

        And airlines. British Airways has now revealed its deep-rooted anti-Semitism.

        http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/british-airways-resumes-flights-iran-ties-warm-160901111853730.html

    • Mooser
      September 2, 2016, 10:23 pm

      “he claims it isn’t personal”

      Social panic will make people do weird stuff.

  8. mcohen.
    September 3, 2016, 5:25 am

    annie

    2013 posts are good.what happened to all those people who posted on mondo

    what happened to my “mcohen” posts.without the fullstop on the end

    strange that they went up in smoke.

    • Mooser
      September 3, 2016, 12:43 pm

      “what happened to my “mcohen” posts.”

      “My “mcohen” posts”? Yours? Once you submit them to Mondo, they can do whatever they wish with them. I would think they put just as much effort into keeping them as you put into composing them.

      Why, were you thinking of sending Mondo a bill for the lost comments?

      • DaBakr
        September 4, 2016, 3:55 pm

        @mssr,
        along with your curious sense of humour comes your curious obsession with the mw archive of comments. why so worried about them disappearing?.

        As with most other inanities-or- ‘thought bubbles’ (so they’ve been called) spread out across the www, they are likely to exist forever even if just as the flotsam and jetsam of intra spacial matter . your comments will continue to exist too though it is doubtful the attempts at humour or possibly wit will translate well.

        @annie
        most of your reference points well taken. But, the report citing the support Assad dynasty retained versus the ‘abandonment’ of ‘lybia’ , Egypt, etc.

        1)- I would say “abandonment” is a bad choice of words. Mubarak may have been dumped by Obama but he was not abandoned by many power players I the region.

        2) the 50yr+ dynasty of Assads has always had the extremely committed interests of Russia (cccp) as a land bridge to the Mediterranean. Ditto for Iran though that stretch of territory forming an arc from middle Asia to the Mediterranean had been more fraught since we but the birth of first AMAL and then Hezbollah has kept Iran deeply engaged in Syria since the mami I’d 1970s
        . The point being the alliances had more to do 27th cold war policy then actual ’empire,’ though anyone btw could argue the US and cccp were both seeking empire.

        @don
        As per your debate [email protected]… As soon as you showed your cards as containing a bit of pragmatism you lost Kth. His reliance on obscure and radical authors, policies, conspiracies, etc will keep him in the radical camp for a good while. Most radicals I know personally or of, have never faught in war. Where every concept, objective or feeling one holds as sacred or solid can easily turn to dust.

        As4 author….there is nothing really objectional in his piece. In many areas he is correct (but not uniquely so). And being correct and doing something about it in the sphere of the MI are two completely different concepts. There are things to quibble with as well but totally expected.
        (And I would bet some big bitcoin that many here are miffed more space and time wasn’t devoted to how Israel is the ‘root cause of ________(insert country/people) troubles

      • Mooser
        September 4, 2016, 4:17 pm

        Somebody go crank up the Enigma machine, “Dabakr” wrote a long one.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 4, 2016, 5:09 pm

        @annie
        most of your reference points well taken. But, the report citing the support Assad.. retained versus the ‘abandonment’ of ‘lybia’ , Egypt, etc.

        1)- I would say “abandonment” is a bad choice of words. Mubarak may have been dumped by Obama but he was not abandoned by many power players I the region.

        do you mean the term “totally isolated”? because i can’t see any reference to the term “abandonment” other than yours.

        the blockquote below that [“totally isolated”] reference specifically addressed assad’s “considerable support among wide sectors of the Syrian citizenry”, therefore (although i can’t check the reference because i don’t have the book), it seems lynch was addressing domestic support, not regional or international. so that’s what i addressed. and i’m not sure i’d apply that, as lynch did, to libya. because i think gaddafi did have considerable support amongst the loyalists (especially in ghat, tawargha (now a ghost town) and tripoli) but i’m not any kind of expert on libya. it’s difficult to asses his (# of)supporters before the war after the fact (although there were protests not sure how much they may have been influenced by outside forces) because the new gov tortures and imprisons signs of loyalty to this day (1000’s including civilians still imprisoned by new libyan gov).

  9. mcohen.
    September 3, 2016, 6:26 am

    syrian support for the baath party in the us iraq war marked it for destruction.

    http://www.jewishpolicycenter.org/2009/02/28/syrias-role-in-the-iraq-insurgency/

    this article in 2009 is quite interesting and worth a read

    10 years on hezbollah must be wondering what comes next.with no syrian support to back it up and turkey closing down shite support.
    aleppo has now taken on a new significance.

  10. Sally Parker
    September 3, 2016, 11:21 am

    Greetings Mondoweiss:
    Is there any possibility of a kindergarten approach to Syria? According to GlobalResearch.ca, Syria is a big dispute between two pipelines for oil in the Persian Gulf. One is the Qatar-Washington pipeline; the other is the Iran-Russia pipeline. Whoever gets the Syria pipeline controls the Middle East. Syria chose the Iran-Russia pipeline.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-secret-stupid-saudi-us-deal-on-syria/5410130
    It would seem that someone could negotiate two pipelines or one shared pipeline. It would certainly beats the alternative of WW3.

  11. Keith
    September 4, 2016, 3:37 pm

    Since this thread is about a book on Syria, I feel it appropriate that I mention another recent book on Syria: “The Dirty War On Syria” by Professor Tim Anderson, a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. Below I provide a quote and a link.

    “Although every war makes ample use of lies and deception, the dirty war on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. The British-Australian journalist Philip Knightley pointed out that war propaganda typically involves ‘a depressingly predictable pattern’ of demonising the enemy leader, then demonising the enemy people through atrocity stories, real or imagined (Knightley 2001). Accordingly, a mild-mannered eye doctor called Bashar al Assad became the new evil in the world and, according to consistent western media reports, the Syrian Army did nothing but kill civilians for more than four years. To this day, many imagine the Syrian conflict is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or some sort of internal sectarian conflict. These myths are, in many respects, a substantial achievement for the big powers which have driven a series of ‘regime change’ operations in the Middle East region, all on false pretexts, over the past 15 years.” (Tim Anderson) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-dirty-war-on-syria/5491859

    • DaBakr
      September 4, 2016, 4:16 pm

      I suppose the massive outflow of war refugees of all stripes, alawite,. Sunnis, shi’a, Christian druze in all directions desperate for refuge is a fantasy of a cuckolded world press?

      . And, that the “mild mannered eye-doctor”(who very well may have had daddy buy his degree as we have now learned that qadaffi bought for his kids, Saudis bought, etc.) Did not enter his position of leadership guided by. The Assad clan, his father’s cronies, the corrupt military leaders all there to assure his transition to power. 100s of 1000 s Syrian dead through father and son ba’ath regime of terror.

      The Assad clan had the whole world bamboozled before the ‘spring’ where even tony US fashion mag vogue or vanity fair did soft, loving, sexy,rehabilitative trash piece of journo” the public. The small peaceful protests that were put down with assads violence tour the skin off the tension holding Syrian society together under assad

      . Anderson is as off the wall as any typical radical. Nothing new. No nuance

      • Keith
        September 4, 2016, 5:44 pm

        DABAKR- “I suppose the massive outflow of war refugees of all stripes, alawite,. Sunnis, shi’a, Christian druze in all directions desperate for refuge is a fantasy of a cuckolded world press?”

        The refugees have been created by the US/Israel/NATO war against Syria utilizing Islamist terrorist mercenaries, created and supported by empire. The same thing happened in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc, as the empire has set the entire Middle East on fire in a largely successful attempt to break up the nations of the Middle East into small and weak statelets consistent with longer term Israeli planning objectives.

        DABAKR- “The Assad clan, his father’s cronies, the corrupt military leaders all there to assure his transition to power.”

        The Western imperial powers have so messed up the entire Middle East that it is difficult to evaluate what constitutes reasonable behavior under the prevailing circumstances created by the West. When the entire area is carved up so as to generate instability, what type of government is required to maintain some modicum of peaceful stability? Throw in the ongoing attempts by empire to destabilize any government which refuses to be a US/Israel vassal state and there may be no alternative to a strongman type government. Progressive change will never come if the empire keeps meddling in the internal affairs of these empire created nations. As it is, Syria, Libya, Iraq and others have effectively been destroyed. And it wasn’t Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, or Bashar al Assad who destroyed them. Look in the mirror, pal.

        In discussing the governments of the Middle East and other Third World nations, it is well to keep in mind that “democracy” is a label without meaning. A holy word that misleads. In the West, democracy must always be understood as capitalist democracy. That is, one dollar one vote. In the land of empire, the elites control policy, elections merely a tool to sell figureheads to the public to obtain electoral legitimacy while creating a sense of involvement. When Third World countries adopt Western style “democracy” they are essentially surrendering to corporate/financial control. Look at what happened in Brazil with the oligarch instigated legislative coup. Between the global financial system, corporate dominance, “trade” agreements, control of the media and communications, there is no real democracy anywhere. It is all an illusion put forth by the elites to manufacture consent

  12. Danaa
    September 7, 2016, 1:37 pm

    Well, there are some doubts raised re the “wounded boy on orange seat” – a rather conveniently photographed picture just at the right time to put Syrian government on the defensive:

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/the-wounded-boy-in-orange-seat-another-staged-white-helmets-stunt.html

    I cannot verify or deny, but the case of a staged photo op seems rather compelling. Not only that, but the instant way in which the photo was circulated in the western press and used to generate publicity against the allied forces in Syria (cf. Syria/Russia/Iran/hezbollah axis) and bought wholesale by the ever loud chest beating so-called “left” is, by itself a bit suspect.

    To add insult to injury, shortly after the photo popped up and circulated (and seemingly believed by all, including lynch, it turned out the photographer was the very same one who filmed the beheading of a sick boy by one of the US favorite rebel groups (al-Zinki or something. very moderate they be). Funny how this photographer turns out in all the right places. Even funnier how the tale of the sick boy in the back of a truck was insufficient to elicit but murmurs of feigned sympathy in the very quarters so lamentous of the boy-in-the-orange-suit. So, it would appear that “Assad-atrocities” are to be played up and iconic pictures conveniently produced whenever the government scores a victory.

    But, wait, there’s more – the ever watchful MOA caught our darling press in yet another strange little contradiction, now related to the brother of the “boy-in-the-orange-seat”. Is the brother dead or alive? you be the judge.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/death-of-brother-of-wounded-boy-in-orange-seat-appears-to-be-an-add-on-fake-.html

    Funny how these things work out in the western propaganda and its leftist cheer-leaders world.

    Disclaimer: I, of course, cannot judge what really happened to the boys in this story in all its tribulations. people no doubt get killed and wounded during military campaigns, including children, especially in situations where civilians are effectively held hostage by western- and-gulf-kingdoms’ financed jihadi-propelled attempts to destroy countries. A boy may well have been wounded. But the photo was well staged, its instant circulation suspect, and the bleeding-hearts’ acceptance of the “of course assad is bad” tale-of-tales, while ignoring the plight of the Syrian citizens who were made into cannon fodder in the arsenal of geopolitical machinations, is a testament to the moral and ethical collapse of much of the vaunted “left”.

    Next, i am sure we get to see more brave humanitarian acts by the illustrious”white helmets”, who somehow never get around to saving anyone bombed by rockets fired by the sweet-cuddly rebels. Apparently, if Assad is the one trying to protect them, they muct be expandable.

  13. Danaa
    September 7, 2016, 1:38 pm

    Well, there are some doubts raised re the “wounded boy on orange seat” – a rather conveniently photographed picture just at the right time to put Syrian government on the defensive:

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/the-wounded-boy-in-orange-seat-another-staged-white-helmets-stunt.html

    I cannot verify or deny, but the case of a staged photo op seems rather compelling. Not only that, but the instant way in which the photo was circulated in the western press and used to generate publicity against the allied forces in Syria (cf. Syria/Russia/Iran/hezbollah axis) and bought wholesale by the ever loud chest beating so-called “left” is, by itself a bit suspect.

    To add insult to injury, shortly after the photo popped up and circulated (and seemingly believed by all, including lynch, it turned out the photographer was the very same one who filmed the beheading of a sick boy by one of the US favorite rebel groups (al-Zinki or something. very moderate they be). Funny how this photographer turns out in all the right places. Even funnier how the tale of the sick boy in the back of a truck was insufficient to elicit but murmurs of feigned sympathy in the very quarters so lamentous of the boy-in-the-orange-suit. So, it would appear that “Assad-atrocities” are to be played up and iconic pictures conveniently produced whenever the government scores a victory.

    But, wait, there’s more – the ever watchful MOA caught our darling press in yet another strange little contradiction, now related to the brother of the “boy-in-the-orange-seat”. Is the brother dead or alive? you be the judge.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/death-of-brother-of-wounded-boy-in-orange-seat-appears-to-be-an-add-on-fake-.html

    Funny how these things work out in the western propaganda and its leftist cheer-leaders world.

    Disclaimer: I, of course, cannot judge what really happened to the boys in this story in all its tribulations. people no doubt get killed and wounded during military campaigns, including children, especially in situations where civilians are effectively held hostage by western- and-gulf-kingdoms’ financed jihadi-propelled attempts to destroy countries. A boy may well have been wounded. But the photo was well staged, its instant circulation suspect, and the bleeding-hearts’ acceptance of the “of course assad is bad” tale-of-tales, while ignoring the plight of the Syrian citizens who were made into cannon fodder in the arsenal of geopolitical machinations, is a testament to the moral and ethical collapse of much of the vaunted “left”.

    Next, i am sure we get to see more brave humanitarian acts by the illustrious”white helmets”, who somehow never get around to saving anyone bombed by rockets fired by the sweet-cuddly rebels. Apparently, if Assad is the one trying to protect them, they must be not only expandable, but unphotographable.

  14. Citizen
    September 12, 2016, 10:47 am

    Hillary has repeatedly said in public when she becomes POTUS she will set up safe zones in Syria. Use our air force, special forces, agreeable locals to topple Assad because it’s the humanitarian thing to do. I’m waiting for some pundit in main cable news to ask her how she will set up, maintain her safe zones with Putin’s air force there. I won’t even hold my breath for said pundit to tell the US public about all the players now in Syria, and why they say they are there.

  15. mcohen.
    September 13, 2016, 6:36 am

    i think that the situation around the golan heights has reached a dangerous phase.a deal has been reached between the us/and israel regarding military aid.the Mediterranean is suddemly becoming a dangerous place.that is where i believe a seious escalation will take place first

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