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Total number of comments: 36 (since 2010-09-09 17:49:01)


The Unrepentant Marxist


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  • 'American Sniper' is an antiwar movie
    • The left was certainly wrong in judging this as a gung-ho film. I doubt that many young people will want to enlist after seeing this, as was not the case with Tom Cruise's "Top Gun" or more egregiously the Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris films of an earlier period.

      The film is very much in the "Hurt Locker" vein as well as any number of Israeli films that depict the victimizer as victim. In such films, Arabs are objectified as a kind of alien presence. They serve one and only one purpose, to make the hero (in some ways anti-hero) look like the disillusioned victim of circumstance.

      Unlike Ron Kovic's "Born on the Fourth of July", and Oliver Stone's great film based on it, no memoir has emerged from the Iraq or Afghanistan war that can truly be called antiwar. The best thing I have seen is "The Pat Tillman Story", a documentary about a pro football player killed by "friendly fire" in Afghanistan. I also recommend "The Kill Team", another documentary about Afghanistan based on a true story that evokes Oliver Stone's "Platoon".

      Finally, I found "American Sniper" a flaccid affair, far less interesting than Eastwood's twin films on Iwo Jima. If he wanted to be taken seriously as a filmmaker, he might have considered making one from the POV of one of those objectified "jihadists" who were fending off the Americans in a place like Fallujah. There was a Harper's magazine article from about 10 years ago that interviewed just such a fighter. That was an exception to the rule.

  • In Iraq and Syria the US sanctions its allies while its friends back its enemies (got that?)
    • MANPAD’s don’t make a huge difference.


      But not in the eyes of those getting barrel bombs dropped on them.

    • So, here, it seems, is the lineup: Russia (under sanctions), Iran (under sanctions), Hezbollah (Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), and Assad’s Syrian regime (target of U.S. regime change) are on our side; Israel (major strategic partner) is fighting the guys on our side!


      it depends on what you mean by "on our side". There is zero evidence that the USA ever gave the FSA the kind of support that Russia gave the Baathists. The support was a combination of words and "support" that made hardly any difference such as MRE rations, walkie-talkies, small arms, etc. In fact, when the FSA was trying to get MANPAD's, the one thing that could have made a difference, the CIA worked with Turkey and Jordan to prevent them from being shipped into Syria.

  • Academia, the 'battleground' in the Palestinian solidarity movement
    • The Hatem Bazian referred to in the article above was the keynote speaker at a Syrian revolution rally in Washington I attended in 2012, not John McCain. It is a pity that so much of the left never figured out that this movement had much in common with the Palestine Solidarity movement. You can see what Bazian said at the rally here:

      link to

  • Rob Reiner wants to pick Palestinians' leaders for them
    • I don't know how generational it is. I'm Reiner's age and wouldn't be caught dead making such a racist statement. It is more a function of living inside the Hollywood bubble.

  • Reading Salaita in Illinois—by Way of Cary Nelson (part 1)
  • How we can oppose the Assad regime and Western intervention at the same time
    • Shingo, you still don't get it. When the Guardian says "reportedly", it was referring to the article. That is the source of the 70 percent figure--period. Also, you really are quite funny in quoting Pepe Escobar on this. You might as well have quoted yourself.

    • Shingo, there is no "NATO poll". There is only a article that refers to such a poll. I invite everybody who take Shingo seriously to try to find anything that corroborates such a poll outside of, the Moonie newspaper that covers the UFO beat as well. All of the articles that refer to this "70 percent" business all point to the article. That is a fact. If you don't care about the facts, naturally you'd be aligned with a dictatorship built on lies.

    • Well, if you want to cite al-Mayadeen TV as an impartial source in light of its reputation as being partial to Hizbollah and having journalists like Sami Kulaib, whose wife Luna Shibl is the media advisor to Syrian President Bashar Assad, be my guest. I have learned long ago that Baathist propagandists are shameless and you are no exception.

    • Shingo, when will you learn that I have heard all these Baathist talking points before and know how bogus they are? Yes, a 1000 people were polled but 81 percent said that Bashar al-Assad had to go. Here's the lowdown on that poll:

      link to

      It was an internet survey of the Arab world by YouGov Siraj in December. It covered just more than 1,000 people in 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

      The central question was: "In your opinion should Syria's President Assad resign?"

      Across the whole region, the overall finding was that 81% of people polled thought President Assad should go.

      But the polling company also stated: "Respondents in Syria are more supportive of their president. 55% do not believe Assad should resign."

      Looking closely at the survey report, it does not say explicitly how many of the 1,000 people who responded were from Syria. But it does say that 211 were polled in the Levant region, 46% of whom were in Syria.

      Doing the sums, this suggests that only 97 people took part. When the BBC checked with YouGov Siraj for the exact breakdown, the company said that in fact there were 98 respondents from Syria (the difference arising from the fact that averages given in the survey report were rounded).

      This is a very low sample according to the managing director of survey company ORB, Johnny Heald, who has been carrying out polls in the Middle East for many years.

      "When we poll and we want to find out what Libyans think, or what Syrians think, we would rarely do anything less than 1,000 interviews," he says.

      "One thousand is the generally accepted industry minimum to be able to speak confidently about what people from a particular country think about an issue.

      "If you say that this poll covers people from 18 countries, then that's fine. But you need to be very careful when you interpret the findings.

      "It is not good to say that 55% of Syrians, for example, think that Assad should stay when only 97 people were asked that question."

      But he has another criticism - according to UN figures, only 18% of people in Syria have access to the internet, which means that the sample polled is biased towards those who can get online.

      The people who conducted the survey at YouGov Siraj, the Dubai-based arm of a UK polling company, say the poll was not intended to be representative of all Syrians.

      They too say the sample was too low for this and that internet penetration in the country is not good enough.

      This is why they referred to "respondents from Syria" rather than referring to "Syrians", they say.

    • Shingo, you really are a card. That Guardian article by Jonathan Steele you cited neglects to mention that the Doha poll consisted of just 97 internet users in Syria among a population of more than 20 million. Who are you trying to kid with this stuff? The people commenting here who agree with you? That's called preaching to the choir.

    • I always get a chuckle out of the bottom-feeding of the Baathist supporters. Shingo provides a link to the 70% claim that in turn links to Here's some info on that "newspaper":

      link to

      In fact, the World Tribune is not published in the United Kingdom, nor is it, to be precise, a newspaper. It is a Web site produced, more or less as a hobby, in Falls Church, Virginia, and is dedicated to the notion, as its mission statement explains, that “there is a market for news of the world and not just news of the weird.” (Nonetheless, the site includes a prominent feature, Cosmic Tribune, with an extraterrestrial focus, and it links to a Mafia journal called Gang Land News.) Its editor and publisher, Robert Morton, is an assistant managing editor at the Washington Times and a former “corporate editor” for News World Communications, the Times’ owner and the publishing arm of the Unification Church, led by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. (Morton and his wife, Choon Boon, are themselves followers of the Reverend Moon.) Among the World Tribune’s other recent half-ignored scoops are that Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for last month’s blackout and that a North Korean defector stressed, during a meeting in July with White House officials, the need for a preëmptive military strike against Kim Jong Il.

    • You people should be aware that the Arab left agrees with Omar rather than you. This statement includes not only respected leftist intellectuals like Tariq Ali and Ilan Pappe but a virtual who's who of Arab intellectuals and writers:

      link to

      Your comments are isolated to a sector of the left that is in the Global Research/ orbit and is exclusively non-Arab. For all the talk of Mondoweiss publishing a rebuttal to Omar, I'll bet that if it appears, it will be written by a non-Arab. Even in the case of the Angry Arab, who shares your animosity to the rebels, you will not find the same sort of partisanship for Bashar al-Assad on display here. Frankly, this hysteria over al-Qaeda, the burqa and Sharia law, etc. could have been written by Christopher Hitchens who at least had the merit of being a lively writer.

    • After some years, the MEPI programme was deep enoungh entrenched in socities to give the attack order. Barack Obama gave the order for a serious of bloody regime changes using “4th generation warfare” commonly known as “arab spring” in his Presidential Study Directive 11 signed in August 2010...


      My understanding is that Obama was orchestrating the "arab spring" in order to build up al-Qaeda in the Middle East. Everybody knows that he is really a Muslim and a Salalfist at that. Just check Alex Jones and Moon of Alabama for more information on that.

  • While you were neutral about Yarmouk
    • I am really quite shocked by the level of Islamophobia on display here that comes straight out of the "war on terror" rhetoric of both Putin and Bashar al-Assad. It is almost as if I have wandered into the Moon of Alabama website.

      There is a deep malaise obviously at work in "Palestinian solidarity" circles, which is probably rooted in the bogus credentials of the Baathist dictatorship as a front-line state against Israel. Of course, you can only adopt that orientation in clear ignorance of the facts. It was Bashar al-Assad's father who colluded with the Phalangists and Israel to slaughter Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila.

      It is hardly worth answering the Baathist talking points here. At this stage of the game, anybody who sides with a government that drops barrel bombs on civilians is beyond hope.

  • Cornell SJP responds to the situation in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp
    • Nor do we forget that it was the Free Syrian Army, the brand-name for the “milder” of the Western-armed gangs which have rampaged across Syria, along with Jabhat al-Nusra and other reactionary militias which went into Yarmouk a year ago.


      I wasn't aware that Michel Chossudovsky was a Cornell student. I guess he must have reasons for working on another B.A.

  • The false analogy of Syria and Palestine
    • Additionally, if there was a cruel hoax, the putative perpetrators proven again and again that they are cruel and fanatical enough to do something like that.


      I always got a chuckle out of the "false flag" narratives out there that attribute the Ghouta massacre to jihadists. You'd think that if they had the means, they would have gladly put 1000 Syrian troops to their death with Sarin-laden missiles, wouldn't you? This thought never pops into the head of people like piotr, just as it never occurs to them that most Syrians who oppose al-Assad also oppose the jihadists.

      link to

    • Why do the Trots hate Catholic women? That I do not understand.


      Well, Pope Pius XII was soft on Hitler. I hate him but that does not mean that I hate all Catholic clerics. In fact the present pope seems okay.

    • The article you linked to states: "They said the data came from a range of activists and independent organizations that were working in Syria, particularly in relief efforts."

      Really? More disinformation I'm afraid. I have no idea why supporters of the Baathist dictatorship are so intent on making themselves look so credulous. First we hear that the 70 percent support came from the CIA. Now it comes from a "NATO study". But when you go a bit deeper, the poll was taken by unnamed activists and organizations. If there's one thing I am about, it is debunking crapola. That is why I was so amazed that a serious journalist like Cook would have given backhanded support for Mother Agnes.

    • a CIA survey said he had over 70% support


      Made up out of whole cloth.

      The only 70 percent that occurs to me is that this is the number of pro-Assad talking points I hear on the Internet that are bogus.

    • This article states: "These concerns were reinforced by subsequent UN reports suggesting that the rebels might have access to their own chemical weapons." I have no idea what reports this is alluding to. There was a report presented on September 18th that found evidence of surface-to-surface missiles but stopped short of pinning them to either side--something that was impossible to do short of having an eyewitness to the attack.

      That being said, this has nothing to do with Mother Agnes's wild stories about the videos of dead children being fabricated to make it appear as if they were from Ghouta when they were actually from Latakia. In other words, she simply denied that there were casualties in Ghouta, a stronghold of anti-Baathist resistance.

      This version of what took place is so preposterous that most people in possession of their senses would understand that Mother Agnes is a lying tool of the Syrian government. It reflected poorly on Jonathan Cook that he would stick his nose into this controversy without spending a few minutes to check the record on her. And then he follows up by labeling me an "interventionist" when I am on record as being opposed to American attacks on Syria. This is what happens when you get caught up in the kind of Manichean mindset that will be on display at the STWC conference on Nov. 30th. In their laudable aim to stop imperialist intervention, they made the mistake of inviting a truly ghastly figure to speak. Thank goodness Jones and Scahill took a stand.

    • This a brief reply to a short part of Cook’s latest post that mostly tries to prove that the Palestinians and Syrians are unalike. I only wish he had devoted half of his attention and energy to the question of Mother Agnes and the “false flag” narratives that were really at the heart of the STWC conference dispute. Until he begins to realize that taking a skeptic’s position on the Sarin attack in Ghouta flies in the face of the evidence and humanitarian/pacifist principles, he will remain terribly compromised. He must understand that the Baathists have a powerful public relations machinery, much of it on a pro bono basis from places as diverse as Global Research to the London Review of Books, and that Mother Agnes and many others help the war aims of Bashar al-Assad by blaming the rebels for the killing of their supporters.

      full: link to

  • Shady PR operatives, pro-Israel ties, anti-Castro money: Inside the Syrian opposition’s DC spin machine
    • that’s different than making the argument the opposition in syria, the dominant forces in combat w/assad , is primarily composed of ‘moderates’.


      I certainly agree that there are no "moderates" in the Syrian opposition as understood by Kerry. In fact he is making this outlandish claim in order to line up votes for an American attack. If the SNC is supposedly the most obedient tool of American imperialism as opposed to the Local Coordinating Councils in Syria that have zero connection to American power or influence, what does one make of the statements of Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib, the SNC leader who resigned a while back?

      link to

      Appearances may differ but the core is similar, and whether that core is French, British, Russian or American, the ultimate goal is the same; intervention, domination and supremacy and all in the name of human rights.

      The facts have proven beyond any doubt that the claws of international politics are tainted and that the world’s super powers are seeking, through the distribution of roles in the open and behind closed doors, to undermine the legitimate interests of the peoples of the world and trade in them by inciting sectarian sentiments, and the examples are plenty: from Syria and the Middle East, to Sudan and Rwanda, to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

      We should identify our own shortcomings and weaknesses that allowed Western powers to inject sectarian hatred in our societies in order to know why the talk about taking military action against Iran has become very normal.

      The bitterness in the hearts of Sunnis caused by the alleged Iranian-sponsored Shiite invasion of the Arab World is not a sufficient reason to be silent in the face of a possible military strike on Iran. If we suppose that we have 50% doctrinal differences and 20% juristical differences with Iran, we all know that we have 90% doctrinal differences with the wicked West.

      Iran’s possession of nuclear capabilities poses no threat to any Sunni but it will be a formidable deterrent to the evil powers that are rushing madly upon the Muslim World.

      The aggression against Iran is an upsurge of Western domination to snap at the riches of this region and deepen the cultural and social invasion of our Muslim World. In all honesty, it is genuinely logical and Islamic to refuse any action against Iran and to consider such action an aggression against the whole Muslim World.

    • If you read this piece and nothing else about the pro-revolution movement in the USA, you would get the impression that it is a rightwing swamp. It is unfortunate that a lot of leftists in their zeal to oppose Obama's war are on a cherry-picking expedition in order to bolster their political goals, which are certainly admirable. I imagine that I was one of the few leftists at a pro-revolution rally in Washington last year. If you base yourself solely on Max's article, you'd think it would be something like a Nicaraguan contra rally from the 1980s. It turns out that the keynote speaker was Hatem Bazian. Here's information on him from wikipedia:

      At San Francisco State University in the late 1980s, Bazian became the first Palestinian to be elected president of SFSU Associated Students and the Student Union Governing Board. He was the first student to win a second term as president in the history of SFSU. The election came as a result of a united front formed under the Progressive Coalition that brought together all the students of color organizations on a common platform and a joint political strategy.

      At the national conference United States Student Association (USSA) held at UC Berkeley in 1988, Bazian co-lead a major walk-out that culminated in the organization adopting a progressive board of directors structure granting by a 2/3 vote at least 50% of the Seats to Students of Color.

      Bazian was elected as a Chair of the National People of Color Student Coalition (NPCSC) and an executive board member of the USSA. In both, he took the lead on affirmative action, access to education, anti-apartheid efforts on college campuses, and the Central American Solidarity Movement. He authored resolutions, which were adopted by the USSA national conference in 1991 calling for cutting US aid to Israel and imposing sanctions for its sales of military equipment to apartheid South Africa.

  • Syria wrap: Grumbling This won't be easy, NYT's Bill Keller suits up for another Mid-East war
    • Just a word on this business about the FSA using Sarin. The charge is made by Carla Del Ponte, whose background is quite shady.

      Carla Del Ponte investigated over illegal evidence

      Former war crimes prosecutor accused of allowing bullying and bribing of witnesses in trial of alleged Serbian warlord Vojislav Seselj

      Ian Traynor, Europe editor
      The Guardian, Wednesday 18 August 2010 13.12 EDT link to

      Carla Del Ponte, the former war crimes prosecutor who put Balkan warlords and political leaders behind bars, is to be investigated over claims she allowed the use of bullying and bribing of witnesses, or tainted evidence.

      Judges at the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague today ordered an independent inquiry into the practices of Del Ponte and two prominent serving prosecutors, Hildegard Ürtz-Retzlaff and Daniel Saxon, after complaints from witnesses that they had been harassed, paid, mistreated and their evidence tampered with.

      It is the first time in the tribunal's 17 years in operation that top prosecutors have faced potential contempt of court rulings.

  • The Fog of Occupation: An interview with Dror Moreh, director of 'The Gatekeepers'
  • For Lena Dunham, Palestine is invisible
    • Bravo!

      Lena Dunham is an entertainment establishment figure, not that much different from Jerry Seinfeld or Madonna despite the outsider, hipster posing.

  • Is the 'New York Review of Books' afraid of Islam?
    • I think the NYR is simply reflecting the consensus of elite opinion on the Arab Spring, which amounts to buyer's remorse. There were high expectations that somebody like Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi would emerge clutching a copy of Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" in one hand and the phone directory of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the other. Nowhere has the disappointment been keener than in Libya where the militias are Washington's worst nightmare. What is going on here? We expected these people to turn in their guns and follow their leaders obediently. Maybe decades of dictatorship has made them unruly. That is one of the reasons there has been no support for the FSA in Syria. Despite the bleating of the pro-Assad left, there has been no real support for the overthrow of Assad.

  • If '5 Broken Cameras' wins an Oscar-- then will you end the occupation?
  • '5 Broken Cameras' is reminiscent of 'The Battle of Algiers' (but the 'NYT' can't tell you that)
  • Barghouti: Attacks on the Penn BDS conference reveal panic that Israel is losing hearts and minds
    • Turns out Gur is also a supporter of Lawrence Summers "theory" of why women are not men's equals:

      “Men and women are in so many ways similar, but it so many ways different,” began Dr. Ruben Gur, Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and Director of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gur gave a brief, but compelling, history of gender research when it comes to the brain. He was among the first scientists to study female brains – which didn’t happen until the ’70s (previously, women were considered too variable to be subjects of scientific research in most areas besides reproduction).

      full: link to

  • When hope is lawful
    • I don't think that Chomsky is perceived so much for his "solutions" to the Mideast conflict as he is as a critic of Zionist brutality. Chomsky says things like this to thousands of students everywhere who have never heard anything like it before. This is his real contribution, and nothing else:

      Hijacking boats in international waters and killing passengers is, of course, a serious crime. The editors of the London Guardian are quite right to say that "If an armed group of Somali pirates had yesterday boarded six vessels on the high seas, killing at least 10 passengers and injuring many more, a Nato taskforce would today be heading for the Somali coast." It is worth bearing in mind that the crime is nothing new.
      For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel including secret prison/torture chambers, sometimes holding them as hostages for many years.

  • Mock checkpoint brings the experience of Palestinian students to Columbia University
    • When I went to work for Columbia University 20 years ago, I would be losing the kind of money I used to make working at places like Goldman-Sachs. There are obviously other rewards. Bravo, Columbia students!

  • Doron Spielman Doron Spielman
  • In the Wake of 9/11, Israel Put Iran into the 'Axis of Evil'
    • This more properly should have been made as a comment under the post here about Martin Peretz's Bard College talk but I wanted to make sure that it is picked up by folks who would be tending to look at the latest addition here. As a Bard graduate who has been challenging the Zionist agenda at the school for a number of years, you might be interested in reading this:

      link to

      It includes a video interview I conducted with Joel Kovel.

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