Letters from Our Readers

Workers Action

In response to How the U.S. Left is Failing Over Syria

To make sure there is no misunderstanding, Workers Action wants to clarify that the ISO is against any U.S. war against Syria. The point of our article by Shamus Cooke, entitled “How the U.S. Left is Failing Over Syria,” is that some of the arguments that the ISO uses undermines their own antiwar position. Some readers have mistakenly assumed the ISO supports a U.S. war on Syria.


Hi Shamus,

I’ve just read your excellent piece [How the US Left is Failing Syria]. I’d also add Democracy Now! to the Left media outlets that have failed in this regard.

Very Best Wishes

Tony (UK)


Good on you, Shamus, for as a once self described “liberal” — and I still have all the values and positions that entails — I am deeply disturbed by the Left’s lack of action and hypocrisy regarding Obama’s deceitful, imperial agenda in pushing for invading Syria.


Dear Shamus Cooke,

I read with interest and appreciation your article, How ‘progressives’ and the American ‘Left’ are failing over Syria. Particularly your expose of the objectively pro-war positions taken by Van Jones, MoveOn and the ISO.

However, there is a curious gap in your analysis. Nowhere in your article do you mention that the two currently leading antiwar coalitions, Answer and the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), have both taken strong positions against the US march to war against Syria — from the beginning — and have taken it to the streets. Moreover, I understand that other forces such as United for Peace & Justice have recently opposed the march to war, along with a number of other leftists.

So it is not entirely correct to imply that as a whole ‘progressives’ or the ‘left’ have adopted pro-war and pro-imperialist positions on Syria. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that this broad movement is divided on this issue into a pro-war and pro-imperialist camp, and an anti-war and anti-imperialist camp — just as during the World War I period, when there was a split between so-called ‘socialists’ who sided with their own respective bourgeoisies, and others led by the Bolsheviks who forthrightly opposed the imperialist war.

Yours in solidarity,

David Welsh

Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council
Founding delegate, U.S. Labor Against the War
Supporter of the United National Antiwar Coalition


Dear Mr. Cooke and brother Welsh,

I really liked this article because of its principled and polemical character. These characteristics are rarely to be found in what passes for “left” discourse in the USA after decades of U.S. Empire.

While I agree with my friend, David Welsh, that a supportive note about those coalitions that have continued to take an anti-imperialist war stand on the question of Syria would have strengthened the article, my main emphasis, like that of Mr. Cooke in this article, is to emphasize just how much of the current “left” in the USA is pro-imperialist. In this light I applaud this fine polemical effort. Mr. Cooke’s solid article let’s me know that there is still some left left in the USA today.


Richard Koritz

Long time Letter Carrier union activist, labor educator, and anti-war stalwart.


Shamus Cook,e

I have been reading your stuff — it’s been very helpful.

There is another point of information that IMO should be on your list. There have been reports that the CIA already has people on the ground in Syria. There are also reports that British special forces and MI6 are there.

It’s probable that the US already has boots on the ground.

Keep up the good work,




I nearly always find much to approve of in your articles, but I am especially impressed with “How “Progressives” and the American “Left” are Failing Over Syria.” I am particularly struck by the fact that many seemingly left-wing people who want Obama to refrain from bombing in fact agree that Assad is a callous thug who knowingly gassed over 1,000 innocent people (and some of these same people I have noticed assume that all 100,000 killed in Syria since March of 2011 were brutally killed by Assad’s forces.)

I become increasingly convinced that part of the problem is that those of us who are genuinely left have allowed the sham left (the terrorism-with-a-human-face left) to share with us a designation they do not deserve. Maybe articles like yours will do something about this.

Have you ever read a book called “The CIA and the Cultural Cold War” by a woman named, I think, Stoner? This book influenced me much. She claims that early in the Cold War the CIA realized it would be advantageous to the US Cold Warriors to encourage (with money, access and favour) what they called the non-Communist Left – people who advocated greater social justice in domestic issues while maintaining an implacably anti-USSR stance on international issues. It seems to me that those who wring their hands piously over the expected US attack on Syria while accepting the demonization rationale on which the attack is being based are the successors of non-Communist Left.

I wish those of us who are really left – and we do recognize each other – would some how form a united group. I have a suspicion we are a large, maybe more formidable, group that many would suppose. I assume you are doing something of this sort with the “Hands Off Syria” group you mention.

Incidentally, I think the four unmentioned or minimized pieces of information you itemize are very adroitly chosen.

Best wishes,




Right again, thank you. I hadn’t realized that MoveOn too had been so weak on the topic. At least some people use their petition form to call against war.

Larry Carney