You can't be antiwar and pro-dictator

Eric Ruder responds to a left group that has defended its support for a dictator. It initially featured in Socialistworker.org on 19 September 2013
Protesters in New York City march against U.S. threats to attack Syria (Asterio Tecson)
Protesters in New York City march against U.S. threats to attack Syria (Asterio Tecson)


THE U.S. antiwar movement is again mobilizing against U.S. military threats to attack a Middle Eastern country: Syria. Though the U.S. and Russia have agreed on a diplomatic process that puts off the immediate prospect of military strikes, the Obama administration continues to insist on its right to carry out such attacks.

Today's movement faces a number of new challenges. For one thing, the architect of this drive to war is the Obama administration, not the Bush administration. As a consequence, many Democrats who opposed George Bush's invasion of Iraq are supporting attacks on Syria now, for little more reason than it's Obama at the helm this time.

Secondly, there are stark divisions within the antiwar movement about what attitude to take toward the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The International Socialist Organization, the publisher of this website, is one among many groups that have supported the two-and-a-half-year-old mass uprising against Assad and his regime. We see this struggle as part of the Arab Spring - a tide of revolt that has swept North Africa and the Middle East, challenging political tyranny, economic injustice and the dominance of Western imperialism. We stand against intervention by the U.S. and its allies in Syria, but at the same time, we continue to defend the revolution against the regime's barbaric violence and repression.

Sadly, other groups claim that opponents of U.S. imperialism must necessarily support the Assad regime. In mid-September, several of these organizations sent representatives to Damascus to meet with Bashar al-Assad himself. In many cities, these forces have tried to stop the rest of the movement from saying anything even faintly critical of the Assad regime's brutality - claiming that such criticism only feeds into the U.S. drive to war.

Last week, in response to my SocialistWorker.org article "Standing against both war and dictatorship," the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) wrote a reply titled "The ISO and the war on Syria: Silly and shameful."

That headline aptly captures the political level of FRSO's critique. The article stoops to insults, unsubstantiated claims about the ISO, and misleadingly selective quotations of my article. The transparent purpose is to deflect attention from the issues I raised about FRSO, along with the Workers' World Party and Party of Socialism and Liberation - above all, how they can support the Assad regime's use of savage and deadly repression against all opponents, its embrace of free-market neoliberalism and its not-so-hidden collaboration with the U.S., including torturing people "renditioned" to Syria during the "war on terror."
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Early on, the FRSO article accuses the ISO of playing the role of "ugly American." The evidence for this very ugly claim is the following quote from my article:

The ugly consequences of 'antiwar' support for the Syrian regime were easy to see in Chicago, where organizers of 'Hands off Syria' protests repeatedly turned over the platform to representatives of the Syrian American Forum...

The implication is that I didn't like the Syrian American Forum (SAF) speakers because they were Syrian. But you may have noticed the "..." The rest of my sentence continues: "...which works to coordinate the efforts of [Assad] regime loyalists in the U.S. Their speakers claim that the Syrian resistance is nothing more than 'al-Qaeda terrorists,' that 'there is no revolution in Syria, just criminals in the streets,' and that 'we should let the Syria government finish up those criminals before it is too late.'"

Maybe FRSO wants to defend these absurd claims against the revolution. But it shouldn't imply through selective quotation that my suspicions about SAF speakers are merely because they are Syrian.

This is typical of FRSO's dishonesty. It won't acknowledge that the SAF is an extension of Assad's police state - even though the SAF regularly coordinates speaking events around the U.S. for diplomatic representatives of the Syrian regime.

Instead, FRSO is happy to collaborate with SAF and the regime in portraying the Syrian uprising as nothing but "jihadists" armed by pro-U.S. Gulf regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar--because this serves their aim of demonizing any opposition in Syria.

It is true, of course, that allies of the U.S. have funded and armed sectarian militias connected to al-Qaeda and other such groups. But it doesn't follow that all opposition to the Assad regime is "jihadist" - or embraces the aims of the U.S. and its allies.

There are many tendencies among the forces that are generally called the "rebels." According to most accounts, including those I trust far above FRSO's, the rebel forces connected in any way to al-Qaeda or al-Nusra are a small minority.

When the Syrian uprising began, opponents of the Assad regime stayed committed to nonviolence for many months, even in the face of an increasingly bloody crackdown by the regime. Fairly quickly--and continuing to this day - in areas of the country liberated from regime control, Local Coordinating Committees sprang up to address the population's needs and to network with other liberated areas.

The Syrian rebellion is fed by the same sources as the Arab Spring in general - anger at growing inequality as a result of neoliberal economic measures imposed from above, high levels of youth unemployment, poverty among urban workers and rural peasants, and the lack of the most basic democratic rights.

The Assad regime's response has been barbaric. Though there is no definitive evidence that it has used chemical weapons, there is no doubt that the Syrian military has carried out savage artillery and air assaults against civilian populations, including the bombing of neighborhoods, university campuses and even hospitals. The death toll has now soared above 100,000.
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THE U.S. and its allies have also been ruthless - for example, in their backing of Islamist forces such as al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, explicitly meant as a counterweight to the popular uprising. Overall, the U.S. and its allies have funneled weapons and other aid away from popular revolutionary forces, even when that meant strengthening Islamist extremists.

As a consequence of the intervention of outside powers such as the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Russia backing various armed factions and the government itself, the growing militarization of Syria's civil war has pushed the forces of the popular revolt further to the margins. But those forces are still struggling to have their voices heard above the guns.

The latest round of outside intervention - a "peace deal" brokered by two imperial rivals, Russia and the U.S. - has in fact accelerated the Assad regime's offensive against the civilian population, leading to stepped - up air strikes, shelling and ground attacks on the outskirts of Damascus. Of course, a U.S. military strike would make the situation even worse, further diminishing the space for the popular revolution by giving Assad the excuse to claim that any critic of the regime is a collaborator with foreign forces.

To be sure, some popular forces against Assad, not linked to the U.S. and its allies, are calling for a U.S. attack on the regime's military capabilities. This shouldn't come as a surprise given Assad's murderous use of advanced military hardware against defenseless civilian populations. Under such dire circumstances, even groups that earlier opposed U.S. intervention may hope that a military strike will damage the regime. They may be short-sighted for not recognizing other consequences of an American attack, but they certainly aren't puppets of imperialism merely because they want to see the murderous regime punished.

In any case, U.S. officials have made it quite clear they don't want any popular forces coming to power in Syria, whatever position they may take on military strikes. Veteran military strategist Edward Luttwack, for example, summarized the establishment consensus last month when he made the case for the U.S. to calibrate its military response to produce a "prolonged stalemate" as "the only outcome that would not be damaging to U.S. interests."

In other words, the U.S. doesn't want either side to win - but to prolong the bloodshed until the popular uprising is buried under the weight of sectarian conflict and the regime's violence.
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THE FRSO article claims that the ISO's criticism of the Assad regime and its defenders such as the SAF is 'an obstacle to this growing movement against another U.S. war.' But the embrace of Assad by groups like FRSO has already alienated people who want to oppose another U.S. war, but who don't want to be associated with support for dictators.

Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising two and a half years ago, many Syrians in the U.S. have hesitated to speak in defense of those struggling against the regime for fear that their families back in Syria could be subjected to harassment, imprisonment, torture and worse.

The Assad regime's record of violence and repression is plain - not least of all in its role as a torture subcontractor in the U.S. "war on terror," as is now widely known. But instead of acknowledging this record, FRSO and other groups like it celebrate the Assad dictatorship as "anti-imperialist"--even "socialist."

The FRSO reply to my article repeats these absurd claims without even bothering to address the arguments of Omar s. Dahi and Yasser Munif cited in my article:
Within the context of Arab authoritarianism, Syria has a unique trajectory. It doesn't follow the diktats of the West in the same way Mubarak's Egypt or Abdullah's Jordan do, but it has never been truly oppositional to the U.S. world order, as it sometimes likes to portray itself. It has been more independent than the U.S. would like and, in an era of total subservience by Syria's Arab brethren, this has seemed radical.
But the main goal for this independence was regime preservation. Its 1976 involvement in the Lebanese war alongside right-wing Christian militias to crush the Palestinian Liberation Organization attests to the Syrian regime's conservative nature. In 1991, Hafiz al-Assad chose to participate in the Gulf War against Iraq while his son's regime participated in extraordinary rendition, torturing Syrian citizens to gather crucial information that could help the U.S. in its "global war on terror."
No wonder both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her successor John Kerry praised Assad as a "reformer", both before and after the Arab Spring erupted. Their goal, like other U.S. officials, has been to try to draw Syria into closer collaboration with the U.S. in the building of a neoliberal Middle East friendly to oil corporations and the free market.

To be sure, FRSO is no stranger to celebrating autocrats like Assad as heroes of anti-imperialism. It and its co-thinkers supported the regime of Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya, the Kim Jong-il/Kim Jong-un dictatorship in North Korea and the Chinese ruling class' murderous suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising.

There are two basic premises behind FRSO's support for these dictators - one, that they represent "socialism" of some sort because of heavy state ownership or involvement in the economy, and two, that they are opposed to imperialism because of their conflicts with the U.S.

Both premises fall apart when you consider any of these examples - and the same is true in the case of Syria. Bashar al-Assad is known for having ruthlessly imposed neoliberalism when he took over for his father in 2000. And both Assads have been willing collaborators with the U.S., as Middle Eastern revolutionaries like Dahi and Munif have shown.

The claim that the Assad regime is "progressive" is especially absurd in the face of the ongoing people's uprising that has defied all the repression the Syrian military has mobilized so far. Indeed, what's truly "shameful" is for "socialists" in the U.S. to oppose a legitimate popular uprising - and demand that impoverished workers in the Middle East abandon their aspirations for a better life.

The antiwar movement should reject the false idea that it must support a dictator in order to oppose imperialism. We should do all we can to mobilize opposition against the drive to attack Syria - while also standing with the many Syrians fighting on their own behalf against exploitation and repression.

48 comments:

  1. There is not and never has been a revolution going on inside Syria - the same goes for Libya. What we have in these so-called 'Springs' is manipulation by Western Intelligence Services to lay the ground for regime change. This process included assassination squads posing as government troops and backed up by fully compromised NGO's in the society to antagonise and encourage revolt that could be manipulated again further. This process led on to massacres in places like Homs and Houla to convince the like of yourself Mackers that Assad was the war criminal and not the West. It culminated in the chemical weapons plot which almost everyone now sees was as stage-managed as the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the 'incubators in Kuwait' story. This is some revolution I tell ye when thousands of thug mercenaries from dozens of countries as far away as Chechnya are being paid to do Jihad against Syria and the Syrian people.

    Where is the intervention in Bahrain if supporting uprising is the position? Where was the intervention when KSA, an outside power, effectively placed Bahrain under its military rule? Nowhere. Despite a genuine Spring in Bahrain where is the noble support of the humanitarian West and indeed those who fall for their bullshit propaganda? Nowhere. Because this is not the purpose of what's going on.

    The true purpose is to weaken the axis of resistance to 'Israel', the purpose is to crush those who continue to refuse to normalise with the Zionist entity, the purpose is to take down this resistance by striking at what they perceived as its weakest point - the Assad regime. They want countries to be 'good', like Egypt and Turkey and Saudi, and to normalise with the enemy. In return they will get status and indeed 'aid' (not for the people but for the military who crush the people). Whereas Syria, who has consistently refused to normalise with the Israeli occupation, is designated as 'bad', likewise Iran. We need to see this in the context of Hezbollah's victory in the 33 day war which showed that the 'Invincible Army' was anything but. God help that the Arabs might realise that the occupation can be resisted and shunned. The axis of resistance who stood up to the criminal attack on the Lebanon, who chased the IDF back across the border, who prevented the Israeli's from setting about another land-grab, were to be isolated and taken down. And this is what led to the emergency in Syria - not some bullshit Arab Spring

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  2. Also nothing practically remains of FSA, this is now a straight shoot-out between the terrorist thugs who do the bidding of their imperialist masters in Washington, London and Paris and the good people of Syria. I know which side I'm on

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  3. Sean,

    I think people like me have been around a bit too long to be fooled by sham events. But your reluctance to stand four square against this war criminal echoes the securocrat defence that SF used to put when accused of something they did not like. Arguments for change will lose strength while progressives like yourself fail to slam the war criminals. To me it seems vital that opposition to invasion is not mistaken as endorsement for a war criminal. If the thug gets your support because he is so deeply embedded in the opposition to the US invasion, and it is sort of indivisible for you, at least hold your nose while doing it.

    I find this a very nuanced article that addresses the issues. People can be on the side of Syrian independence and freedom from external aggression without endorsing Assad.

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  4. Being honest I find this article a piece of pure propaganda which distracts from the real issue

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  5. The battle against the imperialist aggression and scheme of the World Order is in Syria and our support needs to be with Syria. President Assad has stood up to their viscous scheme in a manner which must have surprised those in Washington and London given how easily they despatched the Hussein and Qadaffi regimes. Assad has shown that we can be beyond their grasp if we believe in OURSELVES... Ourselves alone. He put his trust in the Syrian people and the Syrian nation and together they have defeated their unholy, monstrous plans. While they're not out of the woods yet, and America and its allies are looking back in through the rear entrance of Geneva II, we need to continue our support for Bashar al-Assad because he needs it now more than ever. As we've seen from our own experience a 'peace-process' can be manipulated and abused to fashion favourable terms for the enemy, even if that enemy's original designs, as in Syria, lie in total ruin. I truly hope the victory of the Syrian Arab Army, the President and the people is invested in Syria by and for the people of Syria and not in yet more cunning schemes by the outside powers who've turned this country into a living nightmare - like Iraq and Libya - while the world watches on in effective silence. But make no mistake, like a good king of old, the function of the World Order is to find the optimum position in any situation to perpetuate and stabilise its overarching control and this will be its angle as the Syrian crisis moves to a point of resolution. We stand with Assad and we stand with Syria, the rest is fanciful thinking. For old times sake I'll say it again... Long live Assad! Long live the workers, the volunteers, the Arab Army! Long live the oppressed and besieged citizens of this historic country! And long live Syria... to where our allegiances as anti-imperialists and opponents of the World Order must surely belong!

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  6. Sean,

    it hits the real issue - the crimes against humanity that the US government and the Syrian regime have both perpetrated. Unfortunately, you slip into a rant at the end which detracts from the value of your own argument. People reading this (even if your own analysis is right) are probably going to side with the author of the article simply because of the style of the presentation of the argument which is lucid and analytical. Which means the opposition wins by default rather than reason.

    People on the left have long covered up the crimes of those they endorse while condemning the crimes of those they oppose. It is refreshing to see the perseverance of that long tradition of the left which has stood with the victims of both Assad and Obama while at the same time trying to address the issue strategically.

    Sometimes an anathema towards Israel can blind us to other unsavoury factors in life. Emotion rather reason prevails. And we all do it with something. Nobody thinks rationally in a pure sense.



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  7. It didn't get the ubiquitous title 'the irrelevant left' for nothing. While the Assad regime has been fighting and winning a just cause against imperialist aggression where has the left been? Absolutely nowhere

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  8. Sean,

    I have to laugh at that. I first came up with that term at a meeting in Dublin when they were debating whether to term themsleves the Radical Left, the Revolutionary Left, the Far Left, the Hard Left etc. I suggested they should call themsleves something the public could see as accurate - the Irrelevant Left. It went down like a lead baloon!

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  9. Well unfortunately it's an accurate definition. In terms of Assad being a war criminal charged with committing crimes against humanity where is the evidence? If you're referring to Houla and Hama, the two effective war crimes Assad stands accused of, even the United Nations dispute the veracity of the claim that it was government forces behind these slaughters. Indeed as I've said before there is a more convincing narrative that suggests this was the work of Langley and its agents in order to provide a pretext for further and more direct intervention - much the same as the later and better known chemical attack in Ghouta. Given the activities of the so-called 'rebels' would you really put any of it past them? And we know what the Americans and Brits are capable of. They have all proven themselves capable of the most callous and indeed fanatical violence. This has nothing to do with siding with Assad or his politics (nor is it to disassociate from them for that matter either) but to getting at the truth. You say you're around too long to be fooled by sham events but sometimes I wonder if you realise how deep the rabbit hole goes. I'd like to think you do but as I say I'm not entirely sure. At the end of the day surely the Syrian regime has the right to use self-defence against this unprovoked imperialist-sponsored aggression no?

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  10. Bottom line on Syria , Libya , Iraq , Afghanistan is,

    Special Forces were on the ground prior to uprising , and they are still on the ground to this very day.
    They are mingling with "So Called" Freedom fighters.
    The problem is there are that many different groups , no one knows who is who, so eventually there will always be an extreme radical group who seeks power and impose their radical laws , its Then the cycle begins again. is assad guilty of war crimes? , I don't know , But I have no doubt The British and USA special forces are.

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  11. Had Sean Bres been fifty or sixty years older, I suspect he would have stood foursquare behind Joe Stalin and dismissed the reports of gulags in the Soviet Union as imperialist propaganda.

    The Syrian Civil War began with broadly peaceful demonstrations across Syria calling for Assad to step down. This HRW article describes how cuddly Bashar Al-Assad reacted. Amnesty International's 2013 report on Syria states that the vast majority of the atrocities in this conflict are committed by the regime's security forces.

    But I guess it's all Western imperialist propaganda. Just like the republicans were beating themselves up in RUC custody in the 70s, I'm sure Syrian prisoners today are raping themselves with bottles and sticks.

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  12. Alfie,

    you beat me to it although I was actually going to cite Fisk and Falk, from the top of my head without doing any work on it - the lazy way, but it has been so well documented, there is little need to say anything. When I hear that Assad is not a war criminal it has the same impact on me of hearing Gerry Adams was never in the IRA.

    Interesting, you mention the torture in Castlereagh because there were actually people who genuinely did buy into the assertion that the people in custody there were in fact beating themselves up to discredit the RUC.

    It seems to me that there is perfectly nothing wrong and everything right about labelling Assad a war criminal. It is what people who term themsleves progresives should be doing. It by no means precludes them supporting the right of the Syrians to resist US aggression. The very people who have done the work on Assad's crimes against humanity have been long acccusing the US of the same, albeit on a bigger scale. I just noticed the other day that Amnesty International hit the US with allegations of war crimes over drone attacks.

    I see Sean's position as a mirror image of the type of argument we see in relation to Israel being accused of war crimes. Some people defend Israel and simply refuse to acknowledge that it is guilty of serial war crimes. It never flies.

    I don't think Sean's passion for justice should allow a moral cataract to prohibit his vision when it comes to these issues. And I trust he is not annoyed by these views and sees them just as exchanges and not berating.

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  13. Sean,

    again you state the case wrongly.

    Nobody disputes the right of the Syrian people to resist. What is being disputed is any right of the regime to commit crimes against humanity.

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  14. Anthony,

    I am severely critical of US/UK/EU foreign policy, but I am appalled by that section of the left which gets into bed with brutish dictators.

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  15. Alfie,

    I agree. But it is something they have always done and then pretend that they alone see something that the rest of us are too stupid to see, and then label us stooges. I recall their antics when they were backing the theocratic fascists over the Danish anti-theocratic cartoons.

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  16. Where are these crimes against humanity, let me hear it from the horses mouth and forget about Fisk or Falk. Human Rights Watch Alfie? Amnesty International! FFS I've heard it all, part and parcel of the Syrian conspiracy if you bother to scratch the surface. The role of NGO's in legitimising Western intervention is well documented - as is their current agenda to facilitate normalisation in occupied Palestine. Even the United Nations investigatory teams are sent into the field with an agenda but they could not find the evidence of Assad's war crimes. Ask yourself who in the Syrian conflict has the track record of burning and knifing children to death - certainly not the government but the Western-backed 'rebels'. Ban Ki-moon could not be seen to come out and admit to such, being Washington's poodle at the UN when it comes to the ultimate crunch, and thus a verdict of 'indeterminable' was attributed to the question of who perpetrated these crimes against humanity - by the UN itself. If it was Assad don't you worry it would have been shouted from the roof-tops. Does the UN dispute the existence of the Soviet gulags? I don't think so. As for being fifty or sixty years older well itsjustmacker IS fifty or sixty years older (well maybe that's a stretch) yet he can see the truth here, thank God for common sense. Does that mean he would ignore the reality of the Soviet gulags? On the subject of which it's alarming to me that the genocide of 60 million Christians at the hands of those beholden to Rothschild tyranny never gets a look-in in terms of history but that's another story, though no doubt it is related through a common perpetrator. Tara that the whole thing constantly centres on Assad, why can't you all see that the future of the Syrian nation depends on the survival of this regime? If the West had its way Syria would be carved up and Balkanised like the former Yugoslavia or what we see today in Lebanon. In fact it would be much worse, more akin to the state Iraq and Libya now find themselves in - failed states were wanton violence is everyday living for the people. Never and I mean never in my name... the rest of you's can see things whatever way you's like

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  17. Sean,

    it doesn't really matter. You have bought into the line and have ignored, the bombings, torture, rapes. And for what? What was not reasoned in cannot be reasoned out. We will just have to settle for people making up their own mind about the merits or otherwise of your argument.

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  18. You can bet your bottom dollar that those wolves in sheep's clothing such as HRW and Ban Ki-moon would have no qualms about accusing Syrian forces if they thought they could succeed in blaming them. They didn't because they couldn't - because it was the work of CIA/MI6 sponsored terrorists to draw international condemnation and provide a pretext for even further and more direct intervention by the West. But they can't of course tell us that because it would deligitimise the entire and fundamentally WRONG attack on Syria

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  19. This is Kosovo all over again but some among us are too blind or simply unwilling to see it. I suppose Milosovic too - like Assad - was butchering away at his own people just for the hell of it eh? Just because he was a demonic madman in charge of a strategically important country... how convenient. Or do we accept the story we were spoon-fed about the Kosovan Albanians being genocided (despite ALL the evidence that has emerged since that it was made up to allow for 'humanitarian intervention' by NATO - regardless of and not to excuse the war crimes that actually did follow once the war had started). How do you know who your daddy is? Because your momma told you so...

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  20. Sean,

    carry on if you wish. I think by this point most of us view it as we view Michaelhenry's narrative on SF.

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  21. My position is consistent with the PFLP, Hezbollah, the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador as well as many, many others who are held in international esteem by those who oppose imperialism in all its wicked forms. They have NO compunction about standing in solidarity with Syria and the Syrian government against this outrageous and heinous attack on that nation's sovereignty - and neither have I

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  22. Sean,

    Indeed. If it floats your boat ...

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  23. If it floats my boat? Well that's one way of putting it. end of discussion as far as I'm concerned

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  24. I can't say that I completely disagree with everything that Sean has stated - but I do feel that the article was well written in regard to highlighting the hypocrisy of "anti war" movements.
    There is a long term realignment project "The New Middle East", this term first used by then US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice in Tel Aviv in 2006. (I'm positive the plan has been around for some decades). This however can not be used as an excuse for totalitarian leaders to remain in place simply because they are in opposition to US led imperial actions.
    I marched in the streets against US intervention in Syria - but I will not support Assad and his regime nor will I support the western funded guns fighting against Assad - I will however support the Syrian people those who are trying to survive this chaos and the million who have fled into neighboring countries creating a refugee crisis. When we collectively brought thousands onto the streets of Belfast to protest intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq - we did not advocate support for the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend and is sure as hell not the friend of the people who are trying to survive this induced sectarian carnage.
    We have to be more intelligent and thorough in our analysis of military interventions and oppositions to such,as they are usually in the interests of those who profit and very rarely in the interests of the people.
    There is a tendency for people to get caught up in their ideologies and create platforms for enemies of the people merely because they share similar dogma. In my opinion we all all guilty of this and while we argue about the merits of such among ourselves those with the power go about their profit making where ever it takes them.

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  25. Aine,

    I walked alongside you and the child at those marches! I recall even then having to face down the suggestion that Saddam and the Taliban were somehow progressive and all the allegations against them were simply untrue. If I recall, you contacted me after I wrote that Workers of the West Fight! . I had been at one of the first anti-war meetings and they were ready to kill each other over something long since forgotten about. Myself and Liam O'Ruairc could take no more and bolted out, leaving them to it. What was strange about it was that people contacted me and without knowing anything about the meeting were able to name some of those at it. It was standard fare for them.

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  26. You're right Anthony, even then there were apologists - The more time i spend around "activists" the more I release we become trapped in the rhetoric and "party lines" .... it's unfortunate and will also be the reason why the 'irrelevant' distinction holds true.
    Critic and analysis are stifled not encouraged and it is this praxis which imo allows for the reinforcement of the status quo. Never evolving - that is a danger to dissenters of any kind.

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  27. Aine,

    I think there was a tendency to bring something like a creationist mindset to the issue. No matter what the indisputable evidence for evolution there were those who would still insist the world was 6000 years old. It just became self referential.

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  28. Sean Bres,

    Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have been persistent critics of the human rights records of the USA, the UK and Israel. Indeed, many Israeli hawks accuse them of being leftist stooges, so it is rather ironic for you to suggest that they are part of some shadowy New World Order conspiracy. Leaving aside that it is a repressive dictatorship, the Assad regime is no stranger to mass killing - remember Hama in 1982? Or is that another piece of Western propaganda?

    PS. NATO certainly exaggerated the extent of Kosovar Albanian casualties in the run-up to its aerial bombardment of Serbia and many have argued that the NATO bombing campaign in 1999 only made things worse. However, apart from a few whack jobs, nobody seriously disputes that Serbian forces committed systematic war crimes in its vicious counter-insurgency campaign against the KLA. Here is the summary judgment of the UN-mandated International Criminal Court for Yugoslavia in against several commanders of the Serbian police and military. I guess this is just propaganda too though.


    Anthony and Aine,

    Isn't it convenient how the arguments of all fundamentalists - be they creationists or conspiracy merchants - are inherently unfalsifiable? Hmm...

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  29. I remember the days of "Ban The Bomb", Even then it was infiltrated by undercover Police, Now everything is being infiltrated by NCA/MI5.
    We have got to the stage we don't know who to trust anymore.

    Seems the Brits have got their way, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU 24/7. Even The German Chancellor is having her phone tapped by USA , with other leaders as well, Yet, The British and Americans , Lying bastards that the are, Deny It. So why believe any of there crap about any other country when they have instigated it.

    Sean:

    I'm 70 next July, But I'm as old as I feel, and it is far from 70.

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  30. Alfie,

    I think that type of argument can only survive by being inherently unfalsifiable. Biblical literalists for example can't abide by the evidence in front of their nose so choose the falsehoods, knowing that logic mocks them but pronouncing logic wrong.

    I recall the Balkan Wars and again there were those at the time (some still in left circles) who sought to deny Serbian war crimes. I always found it unsettling that the victims of these things could be so readily abandoned by people claiming to oppose the US because it commits war crimes. It never stacked up and all it does is help make implausible the perspective being assereted in the first place. It is like Holocaust denial: nobody simply takes its proponents seriously.

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  31. I didn't deny Serbian war crimes at all if you read through my comment but said that the stories of genocide were fabricated - like Gulf of Tonkin (admitted by the US as FALSIFIED to enter Vietnam) and the incubators in Kuwait (also admitted by the US as FALSIFIED) - on both occasions in order to give pretext for military intervention. And let's not forget Colin Powell and his vials at the UN in the run-up to Iraq 2.0 while we're at it. The flight of the ethnic Albanians resulted from NATO intervention rather than the other way round - AN HISTORICAL FACT IF YOU BOTHER TO CHECK. And and as for me being a conspiracy nut I don't agree at all, my analysis is based on sound logic shared by many credible governments, organisations and individuals around the world - in the Syrian example in terms of the war crimes cited this even includes the UN. Check it out before tagging me as some sort of nutball. In terms of the Hama massacre in 1982 I've never denied it was anything other than a war crime but we have to qualify it by saying it was the regime of Hafez the father that carried it out. His son Bashar al-Assad only assumed power in 2000 and was rightly considered as a moderniser, indicating himself that democratic transformation was possible but that it would have to move slowly to avoid antagonising vested state interests, particularly in the military. His crime was not speedy democratisation or lack of but his refusal to integrate into the world financial order when they attempted to woo and entice him into tying the Syrian Central Bank into the BIS international system as well as his steadfast refusal to disassociate from Hezbollah and Iran, abandon Palestine and normalise with Israel - like Egypt, Turkey, KSA and others who can expect not to be attacked by the West have all done. One of the key reasons why Egypt gets the bounty while Syria is the enemy is to be found in their response to the October War of 1973. Sadat went on to recognise and normalise with Israel, Assad the father refused to do so. But that's all unfalsifiable conspiracy bluff isn't it eh...

    Amnesty and HRW have been persistent critics of US-UK and Israel? Big deal, it would be hard not to criticise them and maintain any semblance of credibility, there's nothing in that. I watched Ken Roth, Executive Director of HRW, in a debate on the chemical weapons saga and it was absolutely crystal clear that he and his organisation were determined to saddle the Assad regime with the blame for the Sarin attack in Damascus - no coincidence that there offices are on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Or maybe that's just a nutball conspiacy theory. You could have taken his words and placed them right into a script for John Kerry and no-one would have noticed. Do you honestly believe Assad gassed those children as HRW would have us believe given all the credible evidence to the contrary? Of course he did, and of course the British and the Americans would never engage in the type of agent provocateur actions I and others accuse them off - sure aren't they our guys, the good guys? It must have been the mad dictator Assad. Soldiers of the West would never behave like that it's just those dirty mad Arabs. As for Amnesty... hmmm. All I can say is their silence in relation to Price, McGeough and Corey was and remains DEAFENING. I wonder why? Speaking out against British actions in Iraq or Afghanistan is expected and can't really be helped if credibility is to be maintained but the occupied six counties? Another story. More nutball theory from a conspiracy merchant I guess. Ah well...

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  32. This exchange is interesting in that it shows the gulf between otherwise like minded people. It is clear that Sean has pitched his tent on one side of the debate, whereas, others have opted for a more nuanced approach. I, on the other hand, see merit in both arguments.

    Like Saddam and Qaddafi before him, Assad missed the moment to avert civil unrest by his refusal to countenance reform of the political system in response to legitimate popular demand. His reason for doing so can only be guessed at, however, there is something in the argument that the position of autocratic governments were under attack by the process of popular uprisings in the the Arab world.

    From my perspective, the issue of Assad being guilty of war criminal a moot one. That the Syrian army has engaged in war crimes is a self evident fact, but this is not the same as saying that Assad is a war criminal per se. Were the IRA volunteers who carried out the Kingsmill, to mention but one example, intrinsically sectarian? Clearly, this operations was sectarian in both in its planning, application and execution. I would contend that whilst the IRA engaged in sectarian attacks, the organisation itself was not intrinsically sectarian in nature.


    Of course, Sean is right to argue that whatever legitimate grievances existed in the early stages of the unrest, that the western powers, supported by Israel and rouge Arab states, intervened for the purpose of affecting regime change. The Axis of opposition to Assad has drawn together the most unlikely alliance. As they did in Libya, to the utter ruination of the Libyan society, the US and Britain are supporting jihadists who are guilty of committing the most heinous war crimes. In the world of realpolitik nothing is black and white. There is no moral code governing the actions of state and non-state actors in the fog of terrible war.

    It is entirely plausible to support the Syrian people's defense of their sovereignty, and to see that the Assad regime plays the a critical role in serving this purpose. The institutions of government were the organised form upon which to mount an effective
    resistance. Again this is a self evident fact.

    Whether Assad survives after the war is a matter for the Syrian people to decide. The court that will adjudicate on his alleged crimes is not to be found on this blog or in any other left wing
    journal, rather it shall be righteous judgement of the Syrian street. In the short term, he may benefit from his robust defense of
    the people against incredible odds, but it is beyond question that significant reforms will follow.

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  33. My thoughts also. It will be for the Syrian people to decide and they have already gave their verdict on what they think of this sectarian war foisted on their society by outside imperialist interests. That verdict is to be found in the decision of the vast majority to unite behind the Arab Army and that includes Sunni, Shia, Christian, Druze and Alawite alike. I support freedom, justice, peace and independence for Syria and the Syrian people and any right-thinking person will see in the context of what the US-UK plans are for Syria that this can only be achieved if the Assad regime wins this war. I've always and consistently stated that I support the Syrian people in their campaign for greater personal freedoms and the reconstitution of constitutional norms and protections, it is to these people that my loyalty lies and not to one man. But I feel that this one man will not be found wanting when all has settled and this I reckon is their worst fear - that an independent mode of development and an example to other aspiring free nations will be evidenced in the new Syria. That's the last thing they want. These people don't give a flying fuck about justice, morality, freedom, democracy or anything else - call it conspiracy theory or whatever but that's how I call it. Good luck to Syria in the time ahead, they have my unqualified support

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  34. Alec,

    the issue of command and control is what gains one the status of war criminal. Assad is head of a repressive state apparatus which breaches human rights on a massive scale and commits war crimes. It defies logic that this does not make him complicit. Same as Heath in Bloody Sunday.

    Even in the fog of war there is a moral code that is supposed to guide actions. The problem is that it is often simply flouted. Most wars produce war criminals. A serious problem today is that the big thieves hang the little ones.

    I am sure there are people who in their bid to resist the British operation to retake the Malvinas in 82 - which they saw as imperialist aggression - sought to make the claim that Galtieri and Videla were progressive and not people who were guilty of crimes against humanity. Others would have taken the more accurate and nuanced approach that the Brits were at their usual tricks and while opposing the invasion never let up on maintaining the case against the brutal Argentine juanta.

    In fact some people have argued that Videla was among the moderate wing of the Argentine military. While true, relatively speaking, he was a serious war criminal and that status was not impacted upon by his 'anti-imperialist' stand against the Brits.

    It would be hard to make the case that Whitecross was not a war crime or the disappeared for that matter. Does that make the IRA a body of war criminals in the sense that the SS was pronounced a criminal organisation post WW2? I don't believe it does. But the command and control issue and the architects of the policies fit into the war crime bracket.

    I have always found it disheartening when people brandishing anti imperialist credentials morally endorse the war criminals. I think it is important to endorse resistance to external aggression but without ever overlooking that some of those involved in that resistance are guilty of the most horrendous crimes against their own people.

    I feel your strategic evaluation of the options in Syria reflects the realpolitik and it conveys legitimacy on resistance without conveying it on the criminal regime. The Syrian people have the right not to have their sovereignty violated.

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  35. I say this with the greatest of respect and it vexes me to have to say it and I hope indeed I've got the wrong end of the stick but it seems to me you'd rather prove me wrong than admit the reality that Bashar al-Assad is the only hope for Syria at this moment in time. The alternative is the situation we find in Iraq and Libya. To a certain extent I see this attitude as no better than those 'irrelevant left' types you criticised earlier in the thread in terms of the 'workers of the world fight' reference. What I find most troubling is that your logic leads to the conclusion that the Provisional Army Council has always been occupied by war criminals. Now you are free to believe what you like but that's a notion I will never entertain. Syria like Ireland has been forced to defend itself from outside attack and is not responsible for the causes of conflict. If someone attacks you with a knife you don't put whatever weapon you have down and say "hold on, put the knife down and we'll settle this like men" - because you'll end up bleeding to death in the street. Indeed if you have a gun then you'd better use it as what use are you anyone if you're six foot under?

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  36. If you were the leader of a country like Syria, given the context of how these countries and their development has been manipulated in the time since the collapse of Ottoman rule by colonial powers, and you put forward how you believe society should be changed I say vested interests would have you dead in the gutter in no time. A man like Assad needs time and he's limited by the framework in which be operates. His father instituted a regime that had repressive measures at its heart not because he was a sick bastard but because this was necessary given the schemes of the West to destabilise and control Arab societies. Because of this the military was given a very powerful role within society during the process of state formation in order to make it coup proof. Much of this process, like in Iraq, involved the elevation of the Ba'ath. We mightn't necessarily like such a form of state formation but for those who tried to do it as you said the result was either an assassins bullet or interference and destabilisation to bring about regime change through coup d'├ętat. Mossadegh in Iran, Allende in Chile are two notable examples. Look for the causes of these things, it's not as simple as ABC

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  37. Sean,

    I sort of pulled out of the exchange because I failed to understand how an intelligent man could buy the bull, go on a rant with chants, and convince himself that war crimes were the fault of everybody else but the war criminal. I made no allegations of you being a nutter although I found the case you made absurd and had hoped you would take the time honoured advice about what to do when in a hole. I allow for the rush of blood to the head on all our parts. Your own unfortunately seems to have been enduring. It just amazes me that you took up such a an implausible position and for what? In defence of a war criminal.

    It is not about proving you wrong. I think you were managing that quite well on your own. We all, because we are not on the ground, lack anything approaching expertise, are equipped with a rudimentary explanatory framework and have a passing rather than sustained interest, we rely constantly on those who have a track record in bringing out truths time and time again about practices that barbaric governments don't want us to know. Writers like Chomsky, Falk, Fisk have all been to the fore in unmasking Israel and US policy in the Middle East. They actually want Falk sacked from his position. We read them, check them for consistency, watch who critiques them and assess the nature of the critique. Now, all of a sudden we are supposed to believe that they have been duped by Western bull and you have not been sucked in by the propaganda of the Assad regime. Somehow, I doubt that is likely.

    Even your attempt at context confirms that context is alibi.

    I find it sad and dispiriting but as I said if it floats your boat, fine. It is you rather than me who has to sail in it.

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  38. My attempt at context? That is the context of what goes on in the Arab world, I didn't make it up myself, I got it from Roger Owen and his book 'State, Power and Politics in the Modern Middle East' and he is one of the most respected scholars on state formation in the Arab world. There is a similar thesis on state formation in Iraq, Libya and Syria in Beverly Milton Edward's book 'Contemporary Politics in the Middle East' which I've just finished and it explains just why these societies ended up with strongmen at the helm - as a legacy of colonial interference in their internal affairs and the resulting requirement to proof the regime against such interference and manipulation. I think I'll call it a day on this discussion with you from now on. Plainly you are right and I am wrong, the less said from this point onwards the better. For the record at no point have I said Assad did not commit war crimes as far as I'm aware but rather I asked you to show me where and when they were committed and at that point I would give my judgement. I'm not on here to defend or to attack Bashar al-Assad which seems to be where you have consistently sought to bring the focus of the conversation. I don't need to be told what's going on in Syria or anywhere else by Fisk, Falk or whoever, and certainly not Chomsky, when we can engage with the people in these societies ourselves through the internet, something I do on a daily basis - and not just with a narrow group of people but a wide divergence of opinion. They would say that most of us suffer from what Edward Said termed 'Orientalism' but they have a lot of respect for the activist base here in Ireland and its dedication to the anti-imperialist struggle and to the cause of Palestine. That's not to say I don't read the work of those you mentioned, because I do, but neither are they the Gospel. I prefer the opinions of journalists such as Abbey Clancy, Peter Lavelle and Okasana Boyko and the like of PressTV. The same goes for HRW and Amnesty, while I might have severe criticisms of them it doesn't mean I discard all they say - because I don't and respect a lot of their work. As I said that's it for me on discussing the Middle East on here and from now on I'll be ignoring any articles put up on it cause I don't need the hassle of being painted either as a nutball, an oddball, sucked in by the Assad regime or anything else. The world would be a better place if men like you had the power to make it over Anthony but that sadly is not the way things are. If you want to get dispirited about something then look to that because I'm not about supporting fascism, barbarism or anything else but simply what's for the best for the poor people of Syria, our brothers and sisters in humanity. Rant over and that's all I've left to say, no offence intended and not falling out with anyone, least of all yourself

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  39. Goodbye Nut job!!LOL

    If we couldn't laugh at ourselves we would have to cry.

    We will agree to differ.

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  40. Mackers

    being complicit and being guilty does not equate to the same thing. And it is not just a matter of degrees. For example, as the leader of a government/organisation I am not personally responsible for every individual act carried out by those who support me. At the level of control and command there is a collective responsibility, of course, but allegations must be supported by facts to prove war crimes. In Syria such facts are not self explanatory and the narratives are at odds.

    I think you have been too harsh with Sean. He is very passionate about the subject matter and supports his arguments well. His knowledge of the historical and contemporary details adds substance to his arguments, I would suggest. As I said, based on his extensive reading, he has chosen a side in the war rather than merely observing the situation with a critical eye.

    Your habit of trying to box people in is an old debating ploy of yours going way back. I do not think the hole he dug is a deep as you proclaim it. If it flies for him so be it for he is not alone in his assessment of the situation.

    The highly respected journalists to whom you refer are always founts of credible information. But, Sean has his own preferred experts on the subject, no less informed than your sources.

    Personally, I do not see this as you having won the argument and Sean having lost it. It is extremely informative from the point of view of the reader.

    Long may it contiune.

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  41. Alec,

    while you don't present it for such reasons, this type of argument is often a get out clause for heads or brutal regimes. It is as around from the advent of kings - the king is alright, just bad advisors. Hitler sort of didn't know about the death camps based on the lack of internal integration within the Nazi state.

    Milosevicz and Bagasora both tried it. And of course they use it here to distance the Brit state from the actions that its forces carry out on the ground.

    As head of an integrated repressive state you have to take the blame as much for what you don't stop on your watch as for what you allow to happen or perpetrate. Geoffrey Robertson is good on the concept of 'command responsibility' in his book calling for the pope to be tried for what the church done. Corporate responsibility Alec. Without it every leader or CEO would escape account. Kissinger/Nixon sought to blur the lines. But who believes Kissinger didn't really know about what the Argentine military were at?

    All the defences put by Sean have been made previously to protect virtually every dictator in the modern era. Can't think of one where they weren't made. It is a bit like like the Unionists refusing to face up to Brit war crimes - they just cover their eyes and ears and blame the rebels for everything.

    I don't think I have been harsh with Sean at all. Just disagreed with him. And it bothered us so little that neither of us even referred to it in our email exchanges about other things. And I have not tried to dissuade him from saying anything about my view. Adults here Alec, big boys rules. We all get a slap every now and then. And I probably get more than most.

    I didn't see any boxing in. Claiming that is an old ploy of your own when the argument doesn't go like you think it should! I put my case and he puts his own and the next day nobody cares much about any of it.

    Being passionate about something says nothing about the substance of what we are passionate about. People in opposing armies might be passionate about killing each other but it is hard to see how they can both be right.

    I don't think of it in terms of who has won or lost. That mode only produces point scoring rather than point nmaking. There becomes a points race, like an arms race, and the argument goes nowhere.

    Preferred sources do not credible witnesses make. And I am not being prejudicial to Sean's here as I haven't read them. This is not some postmodernist luxury where we can say one source is as good as the next. Those I cite are long established credible sources of information about tyrants. Both sets of source can't be right.

    Even if we knew nothing about the place,we know from our own experience that governments torture and kill civilians and then lie and propagandise to cover it up. When did we ever believe dictators over the people they repress?



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  42. The only thing I've left to say is that I appreciate Alec's words here - thanks for coming in - and that I'm not in this to debate for the craic or to win an argument, my only agenda is to raise awareness of the reality of the goings on in Syria for those who happen to be following and to demonstrate just how cunning and devious and indeed evil the imperialist masterminds who are responsible for so much of the ills in our world truly are. If we only realised what these monsters are truly capable of. And of course Mackers I've no intention of falling out with yourself or letting a disagreement get in the way of anything else. Indeed you have the greatest respect from my part for giving the likes of myself this forum. I see the fight in Syria and the fight in Ireland as inextricably linked because, like in so many instances of conflict, we share a common enemy in imperialism. The Irish struggle has to become re-imbedded in the international struggle for it to find itself again because as we discussed the other night Alec we've lost our way. I want us to find our way again because as Che or Connolly, or whoever it was that said it once told us, imperialism is the highest form of capitalism and is our true enemy. I hope that imperialism is dealt a mortal blow on Syrian soil and I will not hesitate to embrace and celebrate and share in such a victory. As for the rest of this discussion no harm done and no hard feelings

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  43. "When did we ever believe dictators over the people they repress". Never. However, the Syrian people have not spoken out against Assad en mass. Indeed, there have been expressions of mass popular support for the regime in its war against the insurgency as evidence on media sources on the worldwide web. But, I will not fall for the trick of presenting as a closet supporter of Assad.. which i am most definitely not.

    One man's source is another ma's propagandist; although I don't think this applies to the eminently informed observers you named. Clearly, Sean has read other historians in the field who present a particular narrative. His opinions are informed by his efforts to understand what is occurring in the region and why.

    I do accept your point on 'corporate responsibility' but there are still a few distinctions to be made. If a regime is guilty of creating a culture of human rights abuse - and I do believe the Assad regime is guilty of this without have the hard evidence - is it then reasonable to hold the head of such a regime accountable for every act of barbarism? I will leave that as a question.

    "People in opposing armies might be passionate about killing each other but it is hard to see how they can both be right". And I think this is getting to one of the points Sean has been laboring to make. In real wars real people take sides. When the fighting broke out and the Syrian people identified a threat to their sovereignty, the regime and the army were the only organized institutions capable of coordinating the popular resistance.

    Can Syria be a better place under Assad post war? Should he be subjected to the Hague, or should he face the judgement of the Syrian people? We are all entitled to our opinions but, and more importantly, Syria is entitled to have it sovereignty recognized and respected.

    At this point I take my leave, O wise one.

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  44. Alec,

    do a spell check if they annoy you that much.

    However, the Syrian people have not spoken out against Assad en mass.

    It does not take a majority to oppose a regime before we can judge whether it is guilty of barbarism.

    Majoritarian systems often repress minorities within their territory. The majority of Russians never spoken out against Stalin.

    According to Fisk the support has increased in proportion to the extent to which the rebels have morphed into murderous thugs and the perceived level of threat to sovereignty. The whole thing didn't kick off because of Al Qaeda but in response to the torture murder of a teenage boy by Assad's forces. Fisk's study of the military indicated that many of them felt they were fighting for Syria but not for Assad. Your own reading of Rwanda shows that the Hutu Power regime there had massive support but what it did to the Tutsis was genocide.

    Never thought for a second that you were remotely sympathetic to Assad.

    I think Sean’s opinion is shaped by his attitude to the US and Israel. Most of us share that attitude yet don’t overlook the nature of the regimes that often clash with these powers. I first began reading about Syria in 1982 – around the time I met you – both it and Egypt. Didn’t like the regime then and no more like it now.

    I have a view that when we start expecting human rights standards for other people that we would not accept for ourselves we are embracing racism because we are subscribing to a perspective that there are some people who because they are a this and not a that don’t merit the same rights the rest of us expect to have.

    It is to dehumanise them.

    I think swathes of the left have a problem with human rights, in the main because it curbs their totalitarian instincts.

    Corporate responsibility does not mean that every act carried out by someone in the corporation automatically leads to the person at the top being responsible. But these things depend on the systems of accountability either put in place or not, the systemic nature of the repression, what is done in the wake of such activities etc. There is a case from WW2 where a Japanese commander was executed because one of his men executed an American POW. The commander was not in the vicinity and did not give the order. The US Supreme Court rejected his appeal although there was a dissenting opinion which has helped shape thinking on the matter since. Most now think the culpability assigned there was wrong. There was also disquiet over Jodl and Keitel going to the gallows at Nuremburg but in my own view they had no defence against the charges given their seniority within the military system.

    That in real wars real people take sides is self evident. Taking sides is not the problem. Look back at WW2 – how do we not take the side of the Soviets against the Nazis? But that does not blind us to the fact that the Soviets inflicted massive war crimes (as did the West in Normandy) against German civilians when they crossed the German border. 2 million estimated rapes. Choosing does not mean sanitising.

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  45. Alec,

    When the fighting broke out and the Syrian people identified a threat to their sovereignty, the regime and the army were the only organized institutions capable of coordinating the popular resistance.

    In political science that is called pragmatic acquiescence, not legitimising endorsement.

    I think Assad should be tried in the Hague. If he wins his case he wins. It is not too easy to secure a wrong conviction in those type of cases given the international publicity. Bagasora even got a serious charge against him dismissed (although not tried in the Hague) because there was some inconsistency in the chain of command argument. I think Sharon and Kissinger should have been tried there too. But they won’t be. But to argue for Assad not to be tried because some of his collegial war criminals like Sharon are not is basically leaving us to subscribe to some notion of collective immunity for war criminals. We don’t support the PSNI on political grounds but we can hardly demand that they not be allowed to prosecute Liam Adams for rape on those grounds. Same at international level.

    The problem with Nuremburg was not the war criminals that were tried there but the war criminals that weren’t.

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  46. Sean bres you are spot on with your take on Syria. Unfortunately Irish people have an inbuilt condition that clouds their thinking and that is their tendency to follow the U.S narrative. We want the U.S to like us and therefore it becomes difficult to criticise the 'land of the free'. Curiously we tend to believe that U.S administrations' supported our right to armed struggle during the conflict in Ireland. If America had put as much effort into liberating Ireland as they do/did in 'liberating' other countries around the world then the tricolour would be flying over belfast city hall a long time ago. U.S administration brown nosed us to secure irish/american votes nothing more. The knew/know that their true friend, britain, was murdering irish citizens and yet they stood back and ignored it and the numerous other human rights abuses. Qadaffi was a better friend to Ireland than bill clinton ever was.
    Amazingly for all the articles put on this forum concerning britain and its exploits around the world over the years, intelligent people still believe that britain is genuine about protecting 'human rights' around the world. They dont give a damn about their own citizens never mind syrian citizens.
    The slow genocide that is being inflicted on the palestinian people tends to be ignored by 'intelligent' people. There is no urgency on that one from the US/UK.
    I wonder will the righteous on here call Obama a war criminal? He has killed numerous people since he took office. Killed them almost dictatorlike. And yet the irish pathetically fawn over him.
    The shinners are rightly condemned on here for their hypocrisy over the years but it looks like they dont own the copyright to it.

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