When it comes to Syria, our press is full of moralizing and propaganda, and short on analysis

Middle East
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Last week The New York Times ran a big piece on Syria titled, “As Atrocities Mount in Syria, Justice Seems Out of Reach.” It asserts that Bashar al-Assad is responsible for 100s of 1000s of deaths of civilians, and that the evidence of his crimes is as strong as that at Nuremberg for Nazis.

This week the Times ran another piece putting the deaths in Syria almost completely at Assad’s doorstep. Anne Barnard writes about a level “of state brutality not seen in decades,” from which the U.S. holds itself “at arm’s length.”

It is hard to escape the sense that Western fears of Islamist terrorism have grown so intense that many are willing to tolerate any number of deaths of Arab or Muslim civilians, and any abuses of state power, in the name of fighting it.

This view of Syria seems incomplete.  We are supposed to believe from anti-Assad sources that the rebels have killed 100,000 or more armed combatants on the Assad side, yet have killed only a tiny fraction of the civilian dead.  Coincidentally the sources of the information are mostly Syrian opponents of Assad.  In the Barnard piece there is a token acknowledgement that Assad’s opponents, including jihadists, have also caused civilian deaths:

Rebels have shelled civilian neighborhoods, and the jihadists of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have deployed suicide bombers, tortured enemies and executed prisoners, often on video.

But the largest number of violations by far has been by the Syrian government and its allies, investigators say…

Put these alleged facts together and the picture is extraordinary. While every war has atrocities committed by both sides, in this case the rebels whose most effective forces are jihadists are fighting a guerrilla war while limiting the civilian casualties.

Why aren’t we discussing this? If this is the case, Al Qaeda might be the first guerrilla force in history to fight with “purity of arms”, to coin a phrase.  We give Israel weapons and they killed about two civilians for every fighter in their last war.  Al Qaeda, apparently, is much more discriminating.

The Times stories are one-sided, but underneath them there is an irreducible core of truth: the Syrian government has committed huge war crimes in a brutal civil war.  The problem is that they are whitewashing the rebels, which is just what some on the left would do if the geopolitical situation were reversed. Because on the other side you have some who think Assad is the hero.

So the answer to the question  is  that we aren’t discussing the strange notion of a benevolent rebel force of jihadis because the mainstream press is playing its usual stenographer role and because many people on the far left play their own stereotypical role of glorifying the people the mainstream demonizes.  Assad is supposed to be a victim and a hero.  It is hard to tell what Syrians truly think, and chances are, since there are 20 million of them, they think different things.

Here is the latest ORB poll, which seems to indicate the majority of Syrians dislike all armed factions, though of course it would be a different majority in each of the questions asked:

The survey reveals a majority feel that [anti-Assad] Coalition is having a negative influence on affairs inside Syria (63%). This compares with majorities feeling Daesh (85%), Nusrah (71%), the YPG [Kurds] (78%) and Western backed Syrian Democratic Forces (67%) are also having a negative influence. It is only the FSA [Free Syrian Army, anti-Assad] (43%) and Turkey (45%) who have anywhere near a majority saying they are having a positive influence.

This Foreign Affairs article on Five myths about the Syrian refugees relies on extensive interviews with refugees and finds that most were fleeing violence in general not Assad in particular.

But in the west, everyone is a moralist first and an analyst second.  That leads to all the propaganda. The natural temptation is to start ignoring the crimes of the supposed good guys. The bias is huge and it is almost impossible to investigate anything firsthand. I wonder if or when there will ever be an honest account of not just the Syrian War, but all the lies told by people on all sides.

This article I wrote last year about Syrian death tolls frames one of the issues: It is odd that the majority of recorded deaths are ostensibly armed combatants on both sides when the usual picture in the media is of a war where most of the deaths are Assad’s massacres of civilians.

This piece two years ago by the war-nerd Gary Brecher pointed out that the figures on casualties are “pure mud,” but that civilian casualty numbers are skewed by the fact that a large number of Alawites (the Shi’ite sect of which Assad is a member) have been pressed into uniform because their community is at stake.

Even Alawites who hate Assad’s clan have joined up, because when you belong to a small hill sect in a sea of Sunni sectarians, you’re in a prison situation: stick with your own or die.

Nobody knows how many Alawites have died because we don’t know how many of anyone have died, but it is a huge number. And maybe most are soldiers and so wouldn’t be counted as the sympathetic civilian victims.  But they are fighting and dying in very large numbers because if they lose the Alawites are dead. Therefore, even if one took the claims that “most” civilian dead are killed by the Assad government as unquestionably true, it is disingenuous to see the morality of the war solely in those terms.  The implication of the most-civilians-were-killed-by-Assad argument is that dead Alawites who take up arms to prevent their own genocide don’t count. Once they pick up a weapon to fight against the rebels who might well ethnically cleanse their group, they become faceless members of Assad’s regime (which Barnard’s sources tacitly compare to Hitler, or at least the “mix of fascism and anti-Semitism in World War II”) and their deaths are treated as having the same moral significance as the deaths of Nazi stormtroopers.

At this point I want to quote someone who has actually been to Syria, speaking to the Real News:

I don’t deny the Syrian government is killing people. I’ve seen the results of their bombings. They bomb everything. It’s an overwhelming indiscriminate level of violence against opposition areas. But this is a two-sided war, a multi-sided war in fact. I have been saying this is a two-sided war.

[T]he charts saying the government is responsible for 95% of all civilian deaths shouldn’t be believed. The opposition has killed around 100,000 pro-government fighters. If the government has killed 95% of the civilians, then that means the side of the war that has al Qaeda in it has almost exclusively killed government forces, which would make it the noblest fighting force in history. I don’t whitewash the government’s atrocities. I have said something that’s obvious – there are many sides fighting and many sides killing civilians.

The quote comes from Rania Khalek, the journalist often described in certain circles as an Assad apologist, which should give one some indication of the level of discussion on Syria within the US.  My analysis of al Qaeda’s purity of arms sounds so much like hers because the point is obvious, or it would be if the mainstream press didn’t write their stories in a way that seems designed to conceal just how strange their storyline is.

There are other counter-examples to the propaganda in the mainstream press.

A year ago in Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch also questioned the numbers of civilian deaths on Assad’s side. He said that Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Syrian government had killed “250,000 of its own people” was not supported by evidence. And that while human rights groups broadly agreed that Assad had killed more civilians than “armed rebel and extremist groups,” there weren’t enough figures from the pro-government side to make that claim reliable.

The Syrian government has not given official death figures to the U.N. in more than two-and-a-half years. Virtually no pro-regime organizations provide detailed accounts of the war dead, leaving it to a network of independent or largely opposition Syrian activists and human rights groups to collect data on the conflict. But their figures are incomplete and sometimes contradictory…

[Rami] Abdulrahman, an exiled Syrian clothes salesman who runs SOHR [Syrian Observatory for Human Rights] out of his home in Coventry, England, said he lost faith in the U.N.’s counting enterprise. He felt some of the other Syrian monitoring groups were biased, and downplayed or ignored atrocities committed against certain groups, like Alawites, which are linked by ethnicity and religion to Assad’s regime.

“I don’t trust anyone,” Abdulrahman told FP in a telephone interview.

Abdulrahman agrees with other Syrian monitors that Damascus, which has enjoyed air superiority over the armed opposition since the war’s start, has inflicted the vast majority of civilian casualties. He claims Assad’s forces have killed 75 percent of civilians since the conflict began in March 2011.

But he maintains that most of Syria’s dead were combatants, not civilians.

Lately Richard Beck in n+1 published a  balanced piece arguing that the response required for the Syrian catastrophe “at this late, desperate stage is neither anti-Assad nor anti-ISIS nor even anti-imperialist — it is antiwar.” His conclusion is correct. Anti imperialism is not enough if you aren’t antiwar. The pro Assad and also the pro rebel groups on the left are all advocating war.

Beck is hard on the idea of US intervention and gets it right that we consider ourselves noninterventionists if we haven’t invaded.

Over the past fifteen years, debates over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya have steadily moved the discursive goalposts, such that “non-interventionist” now means “anything short of a full-scale occupation.” That’s the only sense in which one can say the US hasn’t carried out military intervention in the Syrian war. In 2011, Hillary Clinton objected to and undermined peace talks that didn’t include Assad’s removal as a condition. The CIA has assisted rebels with training, arms, ammunition, and supply routes along the Turkish border.

But that judgment still isn’t harsh enough.  Beck contradicts himself.  Yes, the war would occur without us; but the truth is that without outside help on both sides it would have ended faster. And who is to say that an Assad victory would be worse than a rebel victory?

Beck makes much of the reports of torture by Assad forces. But even this emphasis lets the US off the hook in some ways, paradoxically.  Mainstream liberals simply aren’t that upset any more by bombings of civilians by our side, but torture upsets them in part because Republicans favor it.  It’s an easy way to whittle down the antiwar position to something partisan.

American liberals are currently immersed in a form of narcissistic  madness. Stealing emails is intervention, we are told. But sending billions of dollars of weapons to rebels trying to overthrow a government isn’t.  That seems to be Barnard’s position. Because we haven’t actually invaded or engaged in a full scale bombing campaign against Assad, but have kept the conflict “at arm’s length,” we haven’t intervened.  She isn’t the only one.  American liberals are willing to talk all day long about the threat to our democracy poised by Russians stealing embarrassing emails (some of them quite revealing about attitudes on US foreign policy), but getting them to care about the death and destruction Obama’s policies have caused in the Middle East is like pulling teeth. They might start caring if Trump can be blamed, but in light of the recent cruise missile attack and the continued lack of interest in Yemen this seems doubtful.

An honest account of the Syrian war would still make Assad look like the war criminal he is, but the badness of our side and the complexity of the war is ignored in favor of one-sided moralizing with us as the good guys who haven’t intervened enough. Indeed, some liberals in the press prefer Trump to Obama in Syria. Some liberals love bombing.

David Bromwich in the New York Review of Books is another exception to the prevailing narcissism. He points out the inconclusive nature of the evidence linking Assad to the recent chemical attack, and captures the Syrian War perfectly: both sides are awful and which side a Syrian would hate more probably depends on which side has killed his or her family members.

A Reuters story by Anthony Deutsch several weeks after the third incident summarized the conclusion by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that banned weapons had indeed been used; the same story revealed the uncertainty of the investigating body concerning which side had used the weapons. Deutsch spoke of “a growing body of evidence that the Islamic State group has obtained, and is using, chemical weapons in both Iraq and Syria.” These indications have scarcely been mentioned in recent US reporting on Syria. The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have had them in mind when, in his initial response to the recent incident, he said that there are “continuing questions…about who is responsible for these horrible attacks.”

None of this affects what Americans should think of Bashar al-Assad. Before the war began, Assad was one more regional despot like Saddam Hussein and Muamar Qaddafi, who, though oppressive and illiberal, posed little international threat. In the civil war, Assad and his allies, Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia, have committed atrocities and inflicted suffering on the Syrian population on a scale that can never be atoned for. His enemies—ISIS, Al-Nusra (the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), and various proxy warriors bankrolled by Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia— have often done the same. Which of these parties you hate the most, if you are Syrian, may depend on which has killed the largest numbers of your family.

He also mocks the American support for intervention.

Now, more than five years into this intractable conflict, is it plausible that the United States can alleviate the sufferings caused by Assad—and by his enemies, too—with a full-scale military attempt to overthrow the government of Syria? The American establishment seems to have answered almost overnight with an automatic yes.

Bromwich is just a bit too easy on the Democrats. He says they have yielded the foreign policy debate to Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and their “understudy Tom Cotton.” Whereas, “Democrats have more to say about Obamacare and abortion and trans bathrooms than they do about Iraq, Syria, Yemen, or Russia.”

If only that were the case. Some Democrats are straightforward warmongers just like the Republicans.

Getting back to the New York Times piece with which I began: Yes, Assad is a war criminal. And it seems unlikely that he will face justice.

But who exactly are Americans to be talking about justice?  We helped keep the war going for years and yet we act like nothing that has happened is in any way our fault, except that we should have bombed more.  And none of the American moralists seem to care about what we are helping the Saudis do in Yemen or what we did to Libya after another of our noble humanitarian interventions.

The word justice is not something we should be talking very loudly about. But we do it anyway: because we have the power to squash people like bugs and we are not held to account for it.

I am going to finish by making three comparisons of Syria to Israel and Gaza.  The comparisons have nothing to do with which side you think is right or wrong–they are just a way of illustrating how mainstream Americans tend to think about these conflicts, as expressed in the press.

Consider that phrase “the largest violations by far” have been committed by the Syrian government.  In the Second Intifada “most” of the civilians killed were Palestinians killed by the Israelis. “Most” in that case meant over 2000 Palestinian civilians vs roughly 750 Israeli civilians, or approximately 75 percent Palestinian, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

But of course in American coverage, the Israeli civilian deaths loomed very large, because of the U.S. moralism against the Palestinians. The minority became the majority in terms of coverage. A genuinely balanced news organization would have given a lot of coverage to both sides. And today in Syria, the moralism assures that there is no balance re deaths on the Assad side.

Next, consider Gaza 2014. The civilian death toll was around 1400 for the Palestinians and 6 for the Israelis– figures from B’Tselem. That’s a roughly 200 to 1 ratio. In the Second Intifada you could say both sides were traumatized.  In Gaza 2014 it was a one sided massacre. Was it covered that way in the NY Times? Of course not. They leaned over backwards to tell the Israeli side. Even though the Syria criterion — “Most of the civilian deaths” — would have meant focusing solely on Israel as the perpetrator.

My third example is imaginary. Suppose that countries X, Y, and Z gave billions of dollars of weapons to Hamas, and simultaneously in some fashion thousands of ISIS fighters managed to sneak through Jordan into the West Bank and capture some Palestinian towns. The Israelis violently suppressed some nonviolent Palestinian demonstrations and as a result a war began. That war drags on for five years. Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers die, because the weapons supplied to the rebels are very effective.  Many thousands of Israeli civilians die in rocket barrages and other attacks. ISIS turns out to be so powerful the U.S. bombs them to prevent Israel from toppling. The U.S. also decides to bomb Alepp–I mean, Gaza.

So ask yourself the following questions:

1.  How would Israeli warplanes  treat the West Bank and Gaza under these conditions?  (Hint–how did they treat Gaza under vastly less serious circumstances in real life?)

2.  How would Israeli soldiers treat Palestinian civilians?

3.  How would Israel treat its own citizens suspected of sympathy for its enemies?

4.  And given that “the largest number of violations by far” would be committed by the Israelis under these extreme conditions, how would the New York Times cover the conflict?  Would they focus almost exclusively on Israeli crimes? Would they rely almost entirely on Palestinians who want to topple the Israeli government as their sources?   And would they say that countries X, Y, and Z had kept the conflict at arm’s length, because all they had done was supply billions of dollars of weapons to Palestinians who were then able to keep the war going for five years and nearly topple the government, to the point where the U.S. had to intervene? For that matter, how would Israel react to countries X, Y, and Z?  Would the New York Times support that reaction by Israel?

Of course my scenario belongs to some parallel universe, but it does illustrate the sort of bias that permeates the American press because it describes the Syrian War with the names of the factions changed.  Same relative death tolls. Same brutality. But different names. And in that case as we all know, the U.S. and The New York Times would be completely on the “Assad” side: Israel.

It shouldn’t matter which side you favor in the real Syrian war or the Palestinian conflict so far as the news coverage is concerned.  What one wants from a news organization is fair reporting of what is actually occurring; and if we can’t know for sure, then state that as well.  We don’t get this.  We get a mixture of facts and moralizing and propaganda from people who actually seem to think you can pump billions of dollars into arming rebels and not be partly responsible for what happens.

About Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

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42 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    April 22, 2017, 12:34 pm

    thanks donald. i have been appalled with the mainstream press over syria. it’s been disgraceful, especially lately with all the neocons fluffing their war feathers. horrid.

    • Donald Johnson
      April 23, 2017, 9:34 am

      Thanks. Yeah, the D.C. types who pushed for Iraq have gotten away with it. The only lesson they learned is that large American ground forces lead to American casualties and Americans don’t like that. They learned nothing else, and want to keep sowing chaos, with the support of much of the press.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 23, 2017, 9:41 am

        again, thanks for the article. it’s not easy writing about syria, at all. it’s such a hostile online environment.

  2. HarryLaw
    April 22, 2017, 12:50 pm

    The US have been trying to regime change Syria for many years……..
    “Robert Ford was US Ambassador to Syria when the revolt against Syrian president Assad was launched. He not only was a chief architect of regime change in Syria, but actively worked with rebels to aid their overthrow of the Syrian government.

    Ford assured us that those taking up arms to overthrow the Syrian government were simply moderates and democrats seeking to change Syria’s autocratic system. Anyone pointing out the obviously Islamist extremist nature of the rebellion and the foreign funding and backing for the jihadists was written off as an Assad apologist or worse.

    Ambassador Ford talked himself blue in the face reassuring us that he was only supporting moderates in Syria. As evidence mounted that the recipients of the largesse doled out by Washington was going to jihadist groups, Ford finally admitted early last year that most of the moderates he backed were fighting alongside ISIS and al-Qaeda. Witness this incredible Twitter exchange with then-ex Ambassador Ford”: http://www.globalresearch.ca/you-wont-believe-what-former-us-ambassador-robert-s-ford-said-about-al-qaedas-syrian-allies/5504906
    The US have picked a side in this war, it is the sectarian Islamists, backed by its friends Turkey [NATO member] Saudi Arabia [Arms sales, financial agreements, use of the dollar in financial markets etc] other GCC states ditto. And Israel who are now aligning with Saudi Arabia in the coming confrontation with Iran. Israel also occupies the Golan Heights and wants to create a further buffer zone to add to it [the Golan is rich in oil, now being exploited by a group with Dick Cheny and Rupert Murdock as heads.
    Of course the real reason these countries led by the US support the Sunni Islamists is because of Iran and the other members of the so called ‘arc of extremism’ Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah backed by Russia. People should not take too seriously propaganda and intelligence estimates [more lightly guesses] and look at what US ‘POLICY’ is. Clearly it is the destruction of Iran. Syria and Hezbollah are just obstacles to the greater prize {Bill Kristol said this should be the prime US objective just the other day]. The US are supporting terrorists in Syria in breach of Article 2[4] of the UN Charter, as proof, why else would Tulsi Gabbard and Rand Paul introduce a ‘stop arming terrorists’ bill in Congress. The US are responsible for the carnage in Syria.

  3. eljay
    April 22, 2017, 2:21 pm

    … While every war has atrocities committed by both sides, in this case the rebels whose most effective forces are jihadists are fighting a guerrilla war while limiting the civilian casualties.

    Why aren’t we discussing this? If this is the case, Al Qaeda might be the first guerrilla force in history to fight with “purity of arms”, to coin a phrase. We give Israel weapons and they killed about two civilians for every fighter in their last war. Al Qaeda, apparently, is much more discriminating. …

    Looks like it might be time for the “Jewish State” to pass the “world’s most moral army” torch to Al-Qaeda. Fear not, Israel: The next time you “mow the lawn”, you can defend your actions by pointing out that you’re almost as good as Al-Qaeda. :-)

  4. Keith
    April 22, 2017, 4:46 pm

    DONALD JOHNSON- “Anti imperialism is not enough if you aren’t antiwar. The pro Assad and also the pro rebel groups on the left are all advocating war.”

    What an outrageous distortion of reality! I am anti-imperialist and anti-war. The only way to end the war is to get the empire to cease its warmongering! Are you suggesting that people under armed attack from imperial proxy forces (not “rebels”) not defend themselves? Take off your blinders and look around. Afghanistan has been destroyed, yet remains under attack. Iraq has been destroyed. Libya has been destroyed. Yemen is under genocidal assault. Somalia and South Sudan are under attack. Did Assad do all of this? Who then? The empire is on a bloody rampage throughout the world (Ukraine, etc) to destroy all opposition to imperial hegemony. You didn’t notice? You weren’t aware of non-stop US warmongering following World War II to present? You don’t see a pattern? You are unaware that the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan created the Mujahideen and recruited Osama bin Laden to lead them? That the Mujahideen begat al Qaeda begat ISIS, and that they are (unreliable) imperial proxy forces who receive massive imperial support? Why are you ignoring the elephant in the room? I know you mean well, but providing “balance” by saying that the “rebels” kill civilians too, not just Assad, is, in reality, tantamount to imperial apologetics. I lay responsibility for ALL of the death and destruction on the empire. Uncle Sam is a serial mass-murderer and habitual liar. The business of empire is war. Regrettably, as a mere citizen it appears that there is little that I can do about it. We are, after all, a militaristic corporate oligarchy.

    • Donald Johnson
      April 23, 2017, 11:49 am

      I agree with basically everything you say about US foreign policy and in fact said much of it here ( without going through the whole list of countries we have intervened in, which includes many more horrific examples.)

      And no, that doesn’t mean Assad’s side is innocent. What it means is that America has no legal or moral right to be intervening in Syria or other places, and that we bear a huge portion of the blame and that our press is covering it up. But you can say this without denying the reality that many Syrians have been victimized by the Syrian government. In fact, if anything the refusal to say this probably detracts from the credibility of some on the anti imperial left who otherwise make good points about US involvement. If we take the view that we can’t talk about the Syrian government role in killing civilians without somehow supporting USimperialism, then all discussion turns into competing propaganda systems. It contributes to cynical mistrust of the antiwar side.

      • Keith
        April 23, 2017, 4:06 pm

        DONALD JOHNSON- “But you can say this without denying the reality that many Syrians have been victimized by the Syrian government.”

        Before or after the imperial intervention? Before or after the British supported the Muslim Brotherhood way back when? Before or after Western imperialism prevented normal development of these countries? What right does the arsonist have to criticize the behavior of those inside the building he set on fire? You have no moral standing to criticize the behavior of those under imperial attack. Doing so reeks of white man’s arrogance. Particularly when doing so reinforces the imperial justification for intervention. And it does.

        DONALD JOHNSON- “In fact, if anything the refusal to say this probably detracts from the credibility of some on the anti imperial left who otherwise make good points about US involvement.”

        Just the opposite. As citizens, we are primarily responsible to criticize the behavior of our own government which we theoretically have some control over, not some foreign government we are not responsible for and have no influence over. This is particularly true when we are attacking the foreign country in question and criticism amounts to little more than reinforcing the imperial narrative. Neither one of us has expert knowledge on Syria and are dependent upon a propagandistic media engaged in imperial justifications for the current warmongering. I will not, on principal, jump on the imperial narrative bandwagon and criticize any country under imperial assault/destabilization. Our primary goal should be to stop the current imperial attempt to remake the Middle East, not to demonize the leadership of one of the countries under assault. Neither of us is in any position to pass judgement on Assad, particularly in view of the empire’s current dangerous warmongering.

      • Donald Johnson
        April 23, 2017, 8:32 pm

        I agree neither of us are experts but your moral stance is inconsistent. You say on the one hand that we have no right to judge Assad, but then you talk about him as though he was innocent, so you are implicitly judging the Syrians who say he is a monster and who think the outside world should take action to overthrow him. A Syrian who had been tortured by Assad or who had lost family to Assad would not see him as a victim. My stance is that it is a brutal civil war made much worse by outside intervention and our role should stop. I hear arguments that the rebels commit atrocities and believe them. I hear the same about the government and believe them. One can quarrel about particular incidents, but overall it seems clear that there are terrible things being done by both rebels and the government. There is no justification for the atrocities of either side and I can say this while at the same time saying we were utterly wrong to intervene, that we made the situation worse and that I personally under no circumstances could see a moral way to justify Americans bringing Assad to court.

        There is a confusion here. The fact that we have no right to intervene does not mean that as individual human beings we can’t express our views on what is happening. If I adopted your approach, it would sound as though I think Assad is morally justified in what he does and for that reason we shouldn’t intervene. In reality I don’t think Assad is morally justified in his behavior, I think there is a lot of evidence of Syrian government atrocities and I still think it was wrong for us to intervene, in part because we made the situation much worse, but more fundamentally because we don’t have the right to do it.

      • Keith
        April 23, 2017, 10:16 pm

        DONALD JOHNSON- “…but then you talk about him as though he was innocent….”

        No I don’t. Please quote where I say he is innocent. Innocent of what? I have made my point clear. I oppose this imperial assault on Syria, period. I am not concerned with Assad’s guilt or innocence in regards to all of these pretexts for intervention, some of which may be true. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I don’t care. I am not going to side with the arsonist in critiquing the behavior of those inside the building which the arsonist set on fire, something you insist upon doing. These are pretexts for adding more fuel to the fire. It is hardly a secret that Israel would like to see an endless bloody stalemate in Syria, as would the empire. Why continue to contribute to the imperial demonization meme?

        DONALD JOHNSON- “A Syrian who had been tortured by Assad or who had lost family to Assad would not see him as a victim.”

        Who said Assad was a victim? It is the Syrian people who are the victims of this imperial intervention. Just as it was/is the Afghan people, the Iraqi people, the Libyan people, the Yemeni people, etc. Yet, you continue to focus on Assad versus the “rebels”, the empire barely mentioned. The empire could end the carnage unilaterally. What exactly Assad could do to end it, other than defeating the Jihadists, is unclear. Perhaps you could provide detail? Also, you might want to be more concerned about imperial use of torture rather than focus on Assad, particularly since your information sources are unreliable. The empire is on a murderous rampage, yet you focus on the “crimes” of the victim government. Your responsibility is to the actions of empire, not Assad, Gaddafi, Saddam, etc.

        DONALD JOHNSON- “If I adopted your approach, it would sound as though I think Assad is morally justified in what he does and for that reason we shouldn’t intervene.”

        You are once again misrepresenting me. You are the one who keeps mentioning Assad, not me. I am the one who emphasizes imperial responsibility for the death and destruction, not you, except perhaps in passing to justify your ongoing misplaced demonization of Assad based upon unreliable information. Your analysis is that of a member of the loyal opposition, with a capital “L” and a small “o”. You are carving out a niche to the left of the NYT, yet still safely within the bounds of acceptable liberal discourse. You criticize empire belatedly even as you join in the anti-Assad amen chorus. But this isn’t about Assad, it is about American militarism and the destruction of yet another Third World country.

      • Donald Johnson
        April 24, 2017, 3:31 pm

        You say here–

        “I lay responsibility for ALL of the death and destruction on the empire. ”

        Which logically implies that Assad is innocent. There is no responsibility left to lay on anyone else. But why exactly do you have the right to do this? Being a citizen of the US doesn’t mean you get to say that Assad isn’t responsible for his own actions.

        “What right does the arsonist have to criticize the behavior of those inside the building he set on fire? You have no moral standing to criticize the behavior of those under imperial attack ”

        Which paints a picture of innocent people in a building who are doing things that can’t be criticized by the arsonist. It’s a poor metaphor. A better one– there are people in the building, some torturing the others, and the US in its wisdom thought it a brilliant idea (and I agree with you that the intentions were not good no matter what we claim) to hand weapons to some people inside, some of whom turn out to be torturers themselves. The actual truth is that Assad is a dictator and the USgovernment and others are trying to overthrow him. The predictable result is that the already cruel and dictatorial behavior of the government becomes much worse. There are multiple guilty factions–the US, the Saudis, Qatar, the Syrian government, ISIS, Al Nusra, various other rebel groups, Russia, etc….

        And there is zero reason not to say so. I know that Chomsky says citizens should criticize
        their own government first. That’s basic morality. It doesn’t mean you have to shut your brain off. A Russian citizen should be able to criticize our behavior and Syria and the behavior of Russia, and that of Assad and that of the rebels, Every human being on earth should be able to, in theory at least, have a discussion about Syria and who is doing what to whom, to the best of our ability to determine it. Artificial limits on what you can say about this or that are a bizarre self-limitation on trying to understand what is happening. And silly. You can be perfectly clear that the US is guilty of massive crimes and still notice that Assad’s government tortures people and bombs civilians.

        My last post, I think. We are going in circles.

      • Donald Johnson
        April 24, 2017, 4:40 pm

        I should clarify–I understand now that you are not saying Assad is innocent. ButI think your principles just confuse the issues unnecessarily for reasons I have already explained. So now, hopefully, I will shut up.

      • echinococcus
        April 24, 2017, 5:04 pm

        Johnson,

        I have the impression that you are the one bringing confusion into the question.

        When we say, channeling Justice Jackson, that international aggression is the supreme crime, the word “supreme” is key. It’s not just there as a pretty word. It marks a hierarchy, as there is a strict hierarchy of priorities in any situation. International law takes precedence over all others.

        That’s also the reason for the principle that all possible consequences of an aggression, intended or not, are laid at the aggressor’s door. No matter how horrible the intentions of the direct agents of some of these consequences.

        Our physical world does not admit doing one thing and its contrary at the same time, no matter how much we would like it.

      • Keith
        April 24, 2017, 5:26 pm

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Which logically implies that Assad is innocent.”

        No it doesn’t. It is a shorthand way of saying that the ULTIMATE responsibility for the death and destruction lies with the empire and this destabilization attempt.

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Which paints a picture of innocent people in a building who are doing things that can’t be criticized by the arsonist. It’s a poor metaphor.”

        No, it is a very apt metaphor. There is no way to determine how the people in the burning building would be behaving if the building wasn’t on fire and their lives in danger. And the arsonist’s thugs are running around chopping heads! What would life in Syria be like if there was no murderous destabilization? How would it compare to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, etc. You don’t know. As for all of this talk of Assad’s criminality (elected dictator?), you obviously aren’t getting your information from the likes of Eva Bartlett or Vanessa Beeley. Or John Pilger, for that matter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwLX7k57_8U

        DONALD JOHNSON- “The actual truth is that Assad is a dictator and the USgovernment and others are trying to overthrow him.”

        Why is the empire trying to overthrow him? Because he is a “dictator” and Uncle Sam is a bleeding heart liberal who travels the world doing good deeds? And you honestly feel that you can help to end this murderous imperial intervention by joining the imperial anti-Assad amen chorus? Are you serious? Compare your criticisms of Assad with your criticisms of Obama, Clinton and now Trump. It is easy to criticize others from the safety of your imperial armchair. Things look different when you are on the receiving end of the artillery shells and sharp knives.

        DONALD JOHNSON- “My last post, I think. We are going in circles.”

        You are, I’m not. I leave you with an apropos Chomsky quote:

        “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)

      • Danaa
        April 25, 2017, 4:36 am

        Donald, the problem is that you frame the discussion in terms of “Assad is innocent” or “Assad is guilty”. But that is entirely beside the point. No one stays innocent in the face of a vicious attack on life, limb and liberty. The American revolutionaries were decidedly NOT innocent by your criteria. Neither were the forces of Simon Bolivar. Or the resistance fighters of France against the Nazi occupation. Certainly the Algerians were far from “innocent” in ridding their country of the colonizing French pieds noir.

        Assad is fighting a war for the liberty of his country from the invasion mounted by the Empire, just as Keith says. The question of “innocence” in this context is nonsensical because by definition any and all liberated towns will incur collateral damage in terms of civilian casualties. Aleppo was liberated at great expense. Numerous Syrian soldiers were martyred in the process and quite a few civilians ended up as casualties, mostly unintended, but mostly unavoidable. Just look at what price the inhabitants of Mosul, mostly civilians, have to pay for their liberation! that town is being destroyed brick by brick, but what’s the alternative? and where is the cry of indignation fro m outr humanists, never apparently in short supply?

        My problem with your line of argumentation is that, even as you try to remain reasonable (and for which stand you deserve plaudits), you cast the conflict in terms that have little bearing on the situation on the ground. We are all couch warriors here, and none of us has our lives or property under immediate threat of being blown up. The difference between you and me is that I know this and therefore accept that any moralizing and high mindedness is, well, a luxury that those who have their lives at stake do not have. So, I reserve moral judgements, and try to stick to military tactics, in the hope that some day, there’ll be time enough for high moral ground dwellers to banter back and forth on what should’ve, could’ve been done better.

        No matter what tactics Assad’s army used, and many complain they were not harsh enough, pale by comparison with the reality of deeds perpetrated crazy mercenary Jihadists paid and armed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel and the CIA, many, if not the majority foreigners literally injected into Syria by the malfeasants. In all fairness, how would you speak if it was anyone you knew or claimed kinship to, had THEIR children enticed by crispies only to be blown up as the US’s cuddly lovable oh so moderate “rebels” did last week?

        Anything you or I say also pales by comparison with the disgusting silence of the MSM on this atrocity. One so dastardly and evil that any speech about Assad’s “innocence” or “guilt” means nothing by comparison. Frankly, Obama – to use one example, is hundred times guiltier of atrocities than anything Assad ever did or was party to. If we are to lay blame, let’s do it proportionately, shall we? yet, here is Obama – a war criminal by any reasonable measure (for both Syria and especially for Libya) – and he is about to be getting $400K per speech. That’s enough to make anyone throw up, isn’t it?

        Also while we are at it, a word or two should be said about the unbelievable bravery of the Syrian Army in the face of incredible atrocity that was perpetrated upon their country. I kind of doubt the American or the israeli army would display nearly the same bravery and resolve in the face of such daunting odds. We should lift a hat to them, not argue about relative “moralities”.

        BTW, what would you have advocated for the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto or for the French resistance? minimize collateral damage? really? there were people who did just that, you know. movies are being made about such relativities these days. may be some day, the Syrians and their army will get some movies made about them too, and how some thought that less is more and others that more is less.

      • CigarGod
        April 25, 2017, 9:50 am

        Donald:
        The occupied have a greater right to resist than the oppressor has to suppress.
        That means there is more forgiveness due the oppressed for actions taken to throw off their oppressors.
        This is international law, is it not?

      • Mooser
        April 25, 2017, 1:22 pm

        Even if both morality and need were on the side of US intervention, that still doesn’t give the US military (and its associated contractors) the competence to do the job.

    • Bandolero
      April 25, 2017, 12:04 am

      Keith

      I find the guilt of Assad discussion kafkaesque. It misses the point: Assad is guilty of what?

      From what I hear from Syria quite a lot of people blame Assad. Here’s for what:

      – Bashar Al Assad wasted too much money on unimportant civilian stuff instead of strenghening the military as it should have been in face of continued war ambitions by the Israeli empire
      – Bashar Al Assad removed most of the mines from borders – even from the border to Turkey, a country under occupation of hostile NATO forces – and made Syrian borders insecure
      – Bashar Al Assad opened the country all kind of extremists from NATO and GCC countries thereby making the country vulnerable to their wahhabi-zionist false flag terror agitation
      – Bashar Al Assad didn’t assemble an effective deterrent against the war ambitions of the US-Israeli empire like the Kims did it in the DPRK, so unlike the DPRK Syria was not safe from US-Israeli-led fascism
      – Bashar Al Assad had a blind eye for the revival of the treacherous sectarian terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood instead of crushing them

      So, if Bashar Al Assad would have to contest an election against someone displaying more responsibility for the Syrian people, like for example Suheil al-Hassan, Bashar Al Assad could well lose such an election. But on the other hand, other Syrian people credit Bashar Al Assad for that while he didn’t manage to deter the catastrophic war of aggression by the Zionist empire, he has at least managed to put Syria on the path to win that horrific war.

      • Danaa
        April 25, 2017, 2:37 pm

        Bandolero, good to see you interject again. Interesting points. See also my comment above.

        Me, i am just surprised why we are debating assad’s rather than, say, Obama’s or Hillary’s or Erdogan’s or Bandar’s guilt when it comes to Syria. Weren’t those the ones colluding to destroy Syria by killing as many of its people as they could through their MB, Al-Qaeda and ISIS stooges and turning so many previously comfortable citizens into refugees?

        To think that we are even willing to debate the pros and cons of a leader of a country fighting for its survival against truly evil forces unleashed by the oh so wonderful powers of the gulf, west and israel?

      • Annie Robbins
        April 25, 2017, 4:22 pm

        between the 2, i know who i’d vote for:

  5. just
    April 23, 2017, 5:53 am

    Ben Norton offers a public service on Alternet:

    “Pundits Who Helped Sell NATO’s Destruction of Libya Push for Trump to Lead Syria Regime Change

    Human slaves are now being sold in Libya, after NATO regime change. The pundits who backed it now have their sights on Syria.

    … A coalition of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists helped sell NATO’s war to the public, in the lead-up to and during the intervention in 2011. Since then, many of the NATO war’s most vociferous advocates have fallen silent, avoiding any accountability for their colossal errors of judgment and imperial zeal. Virtually no one has expressed contrition.

    Given the impunity pro-war pundits have joined, war after war, it’s no surprise that many of the same figures that cheered Libya’s systematic destruction are ginnig up a new war of regime change, this time in Syria.

    AlterNet has compiled a list of the big-name pundits and newspapers that helped sell regime change in Libya, and are doing the same now for Syria.

    This is part one of a two-part series. Part one identifies the major regime change pundits; part two looks at the editorial boards of some of the top newspapers that justified military intervention in Libya and Syria, explaining how they got absolutely everything wrong. …”

    much more @ http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/media-pundits-libya-syria-regime-change

    Then there is Iraq…

  6. iResistDe4iAm
    April 23, 2017, 12:58 pm

    Try this Quick Quiz (without using a web search)…

    * Can you name the leader of the Syrian rebels (or if killed, name their replacement)?

    * If not, can you name the leaders of the top two major Syrian rebel factions?

    * If not, can you name ANY leader of the top five Syrian rebel factions?

    If South Africa had Mandela and Tambo, Palestine had Arafat, East Timor had Gusmao and Ramos-Horta, North Vietnam had Ho Chi Minh, who are the rebel leader/s of Syria?

    There are plenty of rebel militias and plenty of rebel fighters (both Syrian and foreigners), and a few opposition coalitions, but where are the real leaders of the Syrian rebels? In truth, there have been so many fake leaders imposed by so many foreign governments jostling to influence the Syrian war that the ‘official’ rebel leader barely lasts more than a few months, before he is replaced by a new ‘elected’ leader.

    There are no grass roots rebel leader/s of Syria, because there is no civil war. Unfortunately for Syrians, their legitimate pro-democracy protests (inspired by the Arab Spring) were quickly and totally hijacked by a foreign sponsored proxy war whose primary purpose is regime change. Since 2011, Syrian Islamists along with foreign jihadists/mercenaries have been financed, armed, trained and unleashed by foreign governments including the USA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain, Turkey and Jordan (to name a few).

    • Annie Robbins
      April 23, 2017, 1:32 pm

      speaking of leaders, can anyone translate the embed in this tweet for me?:

      • gamal
        April 24, 2017, 8:54 am

        hi Annie guess you will have found this by now, thats hilarious that kind of crap is how they roll

        freely:

        were i Jolani i’d do myself, in a sharia compliant manner, after that dramatic collapse, you involve people but refuse help then flee spectacularly. (prat implied)

        fsa fsa fsa

      • Annie Robbins
        April 24, 2017, 9:43 am

        thanks gamal, appreciated.

    • JeffB
      April 24, 2017, 2:37 am

      @iResistDe4iAm

      The leaders aren’t doing a whole lot of PR which is why we don’t know them. The rebels also aren’t unified. There is a 1/2 dozen groups and many of those divide further into subgroups.

      But for 2 I can do without googling:
      FSA: Colonial al-Assad (easy to remember because same last name as Bashar)
      ISIS: al-Baghdadi

      I could actually do three though I’ll admit I had to check if al-Julani was still alive and he is so:
      al-Nusra Front (changed name to Tahrir al-Sham): al-Julani

      As for Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar… well yeah. Bashar al-Assad sided with Iran they want a pro-Iranian government deposed. Why wouldn’t they jump in when the chance presented itself.

      As an aside Ho Chi Minh got support from 200k Chinese ground troops in 1945-6 and then lots of ongoing aide. So by your standards….

      • iResistDe4iAm
        April 24, 2017, 11:25 am

        “The leaders aren’t doing a whole lot of PR which is why we don’t know them.”

        Not enough PR? Public Relations … that explains it!

        I guess Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment was just an extended 27-year long PR stunt. And all those tunnels that Ho Chi Minh had his troops dig, were just a PR prop.

        Of course the fake Syrian rebels main job when not massacring and beheading civilians, is PR — and there’s an abundance of it from their own selfie videos no less — from beheading children, to eating human organs, to staging fake rescues with fake victims…
        https://shadowproof.com/2016/11/24/video-shows-white-helmets-staging-fake-rescue-syria/

  7. CitizenC
    April 24, 2017, 9:00 am

    This is the usual tiresome left claptrap about Bashar the Beast and the “civil war” in Syria. Read what actual Syrians suffering under wartime conditions have to say, in this case the Syrian CP. The government is defending Syria from barbaric aggression. These stmts represent both wings of today’s Syrian CP, resulting from a split over the Gorbachev/perestroika era

    from 2013
    http://socialistunity.com/interview-with-syrian-communist-on-conflict-in-syria/

    from 2016
    https://www.liberationnews.org/syrian-communist-party-unified-syria-facing-barbarous-imperialist-aggression/

    • CitizenC
      April 24, 2017, 9:41 am

      The 2016 stmt is from the faction that supported Gorbachev and perestroika. The 2013 stmt is from the traditional faction, named for the founder of the party

  8. mijj
    April 24, 2017, 10:33 am

    Americans .. always keen to join in and show who’s best at mass-murder.

  9. James Canning
    April 24, 2017, 1:59 pm

    I continue to think Obama should have done all he could to prevent the eruption of vicious civil war in Syria. To an considerable extent, the disaster in Syria was made possible by the blunders in Libya.

    • inbound39
      April 25, 2017, 4:27 am

      Israel was in their from the beginning supplying arms to rebels and encouraging them to overthrow Assad because Assad was always adamant about Syria getting the Golan back. Israel wanted to keep it and control and likely settle Syria. It then became difficult for Israel to finish the job . It then switched its battle to the American mainland and started putting pressure on its paid employees in the American government to get involved. My observation is Obama smelt a rat and went forward extremely cautiously whilst behind the scenes the questionable Hilary Clinton went flat out trying to get authority to bomb the hell out of Syrian Government positions like a good Netanyahu subordinate that she is. Clinton blundered the largest in Libya…..lots of American families grieving because she dropped the ball and never had the Embassy properly fortified.

    • Danaa
      April 25, 2017, 4:49 am

      Ditto but then to continue to the logical conclusion, isn’t Obama far more guilty of “atrocities” than Assad ever was? who is the real war criminal here? the one that did the attacking, destroying and plundering or the one that did and does the defending?

      Relativity lessons, anyone?

      • inbound39
        April 25, 2017, 6:01 pm

        The American bombing of Syria and Israel bombing of Syria violates Syria’s Sovereignty. Deal it out to Israel and stop Israel meddling in Arab States and Peace will come. Clean the Zionist Israeli Agents out of the American Government and stop them doing Israel’s bidding and peace will come. Israel and America are executing their plan to destabilise all Arab States so they rule the middle east.

      • Danaa
        April 26, 2017, 12:26 am

        InBound – yes, israel and its agents within the American government and the entire political system – clean it up – If only that were possible!

  10. Misterioso
    April 24, 2017, 10:36 pm

    Must read re Syria:

    http://www.tothepointanalyses. com/3907
    To the Point Analyses  –  25 April 2017

    “A Dilemma For the Intelligence Agencies” 
    by Professor Lawrence Davidson

    Excerpt:

    “Part I – The Dilemma
    Government intelligence agencies, particularly those in the United States, have a problem. Its nature was spelled out by the retired British diplomat Alastair Crooke in an article entitled ‘Trump’s 59-Tomahawk Tweet,’ appearing 8 April 2017. As the title suggests, Crooke was reacting to President Trump’s precipitous attack on a Syrian government airbase, following the chemical weapons episode of 4 April 2017 at the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun.

    “Crooke notes that U.S. intelligence had raised doubts as to the Syrian government’s responsibility for the release of poison gas. It seems likely that the Russians had alerted U.S. forces that the Syrian air force was going to attack a rebel warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun that was allegedly full of explosives and weapons. Unbeknownst to the Russians, the Syrians, and the Americans, the warehouse also held a poisonous mix of organic phosphates and chlorine. There is also evidence suggesting that whatever released the poison gas came from an explosive device placed on the ground. Wherever the resulting gas cloud came from, and a Syrian government bomb is certainly not the only possibility, it spread over a local neighborhood and killed a number of exposed residents.

    “The American mass media nevertheless immediately blamed Damascus for an attack using chemical weapons. Trump, also immediately, believed the mass media. He is, after all, increasingly known as the Fox TV president. Taking his cue from the media, he paid insufficient heed to his own intelligence agencies’ doubts. As a result, as Crooke puts it, ‘the Tomahawks flew.’ ”

  11. gamal
    April 24, 2017, 10:52 pm

    “In our case it is not the interest of Syria that will loom large in the minds of those who sit around the peace table. Britain says much about the human side of Armenia , Syria , Poland and the rest. She could have emancipated the Syrians and Armenians from the “blasting tyranny of the Turks” years ago but it was not her interest to do so. In 1799 Britain allied with Turkey against Napoleon and drove him out of Syria”

    Syria on the peace table :1917

    Khalil A Totah

    “Now fast forward to 2017. The US is hotly involved in a war to destabilize the Syrian government. Since 2011, there has been a wall-to-wall corporate media attack on Syria that paints the Syrian government as a murderous dictatorship led by President Bashar Al-Assad. Assad has been accused of “killing his own people” with the most ruthless of methods. In 2013, the Obama Administration accused President Assad of using sarin gas on civilians in Ghouta. Journalist Seymour Hersh eventually corroborated what US intelligence likely warned Obama at the time: that the gas attack was the work of “rebels” (terrorists) who were supplied by an intricate rat line network involving Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The world was destined for another US military confrontation that year when Russia stepped in to diffuse the situation.”

    Danny Haiphong

    https://blackagendareport.com/imperialism_in_us_left

  12. Sally Parker
    April 25, 2017, 12:05 am

    It looks like the Ministry of Propaganda wants you to get into big fights about the sins or relative innocence of Assad.

    The real question is, “Do you want the gov. to gamble with your life in a game of nuclear chicken with Russia?” NATO has sponsored the biggest display of war games since Hitler’s operation Barbarossa. Putin, Gorbachev, and former US Sec of Defense William Perry have stated that we are closer to WW 3 than at any time during the Cold War. Israel is at ground zero in this gamble and all the rest of us are three steps away from ground zero. There is no assurance whatsoever that the war in Syria won’t turn into a WW 3. There is no assurance that the Syrian war won’t end with a second Jewish holocaust.

    I don’t know why big Zionist donors are willing to accept this gamble. Either they possess self-delusion worthy of a Fukushima engineer, or they want front row seats in the New World Order and the people of Israel are just expendable.

    If I had it my way Jewish Voice for Peace and others would be encouraging everyone from Zionist to anti-Zionist and Palestinian to phone Saban, Soros, Spielberg, and Adelson and say that turning Syria into a rubble field is not worth a third world war and a second holocaust.

    • catalan
      April 25, 2017, 10:41 am

      “to phone Saban, Soros, Spielberg, and Adelson and say that turning Syria into a rubble field is not worth a third world war and a second holocaust. -” Sally
      I just called Spielberg, we had a very pleasant conversation – I told him that the bike scene at the end of ET was fantastic, asked him about the grandchildren. We shared thoughts about Syria too, he agrees, nuclear Holocaust is the furthest thing he wants. He will now begin to support Assad and possibly make a movie about him and his wife. You are welcome.

  13. HarryLaw
    April 25, 2017, 4:45 am

    When 95% of the MSM say Assad is a Dictator/monster, then it becomes almost obligatory to precede any defence of Assad by declaring ‘yes he is a dictator, but’. This has the effect of disarming critics of your line of augument, but it is dishonest. First question to ask is. is he a Dictator, before 2014 he was. The new Syrian constitution of 2012, approved in popular referendum, introduced multi-party system without guaranteed leadership of any political party. In a new article 88, it introduced presidential elections and limited the term of office for the president to seven years with a maximum of one re-election. Thus in 2014 Assad won the Presidential election with 88% of the vote, in the 2016 Parliamentary elections Assads Ba’ath party won 200 of the 250 seats. The election was declared free and fair by 30 observing countries. Most opinion polls say Assad has substantial popular support, evident when any appearance by him is greeted by massive crowds of well wishers. Even a poll in the DoHa debates several years ago commissioned by Assads principal enemy Qatar found Assad to be the most popular leader. In my opinion, Assad has a duty to defend his people against this regime change assault from the West with the hard cutting edge of Turkey with financial backing from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Here are the choices:- Back Assad’s government, which is secular, has free education and health care, or back the Jihadis who regard anyone not like them as Infidels worthy of death, who have promised to kill or displace all minorities who disagree with them. Likely sell women as sex slaves and impose the most severe form of Sharia law, worse than Saudi Arabia. These are the choices, Assad is right.

    • Bandolero
      April 26, 2017, 3:26 pm

      Harry

      I agree with you. Repeating the frame of western MSM “Assad dictator/monster” BS like ‘yes he is a dictator, but’ just plays into the hands of the actual criminals and mass murderers. In Syria there was a time when many people didn’t understand what was happening because they watched too much Al Jazeera BS and saw little with their own eyes. Many people failed to understand that the usual modus operandi of the US-zionist empire of evil is to support with one hand peaceful human rights activists and with the other hand terrorists who shoot these activists, just to blame the false flag killings on the government, so that blood starts boiling for the desired goal of regime change. That time is long gone in Syria.

      Scores of people were killed and kidnapped by these criminals to produce false flag propaganda videos to blame the government or just to rob them and extort money from their families. It’s hard to find a family in Syria which had not experienced the US-led false flag terror campaign first hand now. So now the NATO-GCC-campaign of false flag terror, terror and systematic mass media fake news to support the terrorists by blaming the government for the terrorists’ crimes is laying open for the people in Syria to see through the western/GCC propaganda fog. And of course, don’t forget Al Qaeda’s airforce, which is what the IAF is popularly called in Syria, because whenever Al Qaeda and ISIS are under duress, one can bet there will soon be Israeli airstrikes against the Syrian army to try to help Al Qaeda and ISIS out of troubles.

      Though, with a bit of knowledge about history and logic it was possible to see through all of this from the very first day of that cruel war of aggression. The same mass murderous fake news mass media permanently singing the deceptive song of a needed regime change in Iraq due to weapons of mass destruction there are now permanently singing the song of a needed regime change in Syria – because the head of state is a “dictator” or “killer.” It’s basically the same bunch of people who justified their killing of 500.000 children in Iraq by saying that is a high price but a price worth to put pressure on a head of government they didn’t like.

      My comrades on the left here – who still look to the mass media BS for guidance and like to discuss the question of “guilty Assad” – I like to ask whether it was Assad who said the following?

      “The truth is, one thing we did learn is that we can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won’t stop us. We’ve got about five or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran, Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

      And was it Assad who said the following?

      “We’re an Empire Now, and When We Act, We Create our Own Reality”

      And was it Assad who said the following?

      “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

      I don’t think that it was Assad who did make these daring admissions of guilt of an unimaginable scale. And, before I forget it, here is one more interesting dialogue on guilt:

      Hasan: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?

      Flynn: I think the administration.

      Hasan: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?

      Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.

      Hasan: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?

      Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.

      I think that’s what happened in Syria, a giant crime, where very clearly guilt could and should be assigned, but since Assad was not the perpetrator of that giant crime it should not be him being blamed but those who really did plan and execute that giant crime in Syria.

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