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What’s Next for the Egyptian Revolution

Egyptians are making history at a frantic pace. After the largest protests in Egypt’s history initiated the downfall of the first Muslim Brotherhood government, a military-led massacre of Muslim Brotherhood faithful quickly altered the political dynamic. Everything is in flux.

The people of Egypt have now deposed of two governments amid one of world history’s strongest revolutionary movements. But the massive showcase of Egyptian people-power has been met with gloom and cynicism from many progressive-minded people, who lament the loss of “democracy” in Egypt as they painfully watch the Egyptian military re-assert itself into power. “Nothing has changed,” they moan, “the same ruling class under Mubarak rules again.”

This criticism — although partially true — completely misses the point.

The flaw lies in viewing the Egyptian military as omnipotent and the Egyptian people as powerless. Yes, the military is a powerful institution — especially in light of U.S. military aid — but ignoring the crucial role of the Egyptian people in the process is a profound oversight and a lack of political depth perception.

Some key questions to ask are: Do the recent events in Egypt push general political consciousness forward or backwards? And are the people nearer or further away from taking power for themselves? The answer is unquestionably “forward.”

The people of Egypt have learned a thousand political lessons since the overthrow of Mubarak. They have now successfully disposed of two heads of state, and will not be so easily deceived by a U.S.-backed Mubarak clone. The situation has changed in a profound way, most notably because the people have twice exercised and felt their massive power. This is key!

The most astute revolutionaries in Egypt — and there are many — have zero trust in the army. The whole country has become politicized and is learning incredibly fast from direct experience. To only see the power of the Egyptian military in this dynamic is to be color blind to the vibrant shades of revolution.

It’s true that many Egyptians have a semi-idealized view of the Egyptian military; but this is not a sheepish bow to authority, but a uniquely Egyptian perspective based on real history. Former Presidents Nasser and Sadat were military-linked heads of state who played a progressive role in many arenas of Egyptian life, especially in economics and national independence (in recent polls Sadat and Nasser remained the two most popular Egyptian politicians to date, regardless of both having died decades ago).

This bygone era of romance with the Egyptian military was partially rekindled when the military seemed to fulfill the demands of Egyptians by removing Morsi. The largest protests in Egyptian history were based on one solid demand — Morsi must go. The military, it appeared to some, listened to the people and acted accordingly. Of course the military never wanted the Muslim Brotherhood in power; the military also pursued its own interests while play-acting on behalf of the people.

Although the military was also looking out for itself, it was the massive anti-Morsi protests that acted as a smashing democratic veto to the elections that brought Morsi to power. These elections offered no real alternative to Egyptians: A Muslim Brother versus a stooge from the previous dictatorship. This especially fake form of democracy was not suited for a nation that just used revolution to destroy a dictatorship; a higher form of direct democracy thus delivered the immediate impeachment of Morsi.

The people of Egypt again delivered a revolution while the military again attempted to act as a midwife — after the revolutionary contractions already began. It’s true that only the military had the organizational abilities to care for the baby post-delivery, but it’s the Egyptian people who gave life to and still demand parental oversight over their historic offspring. The people of Egypt have no doubt who the real parents of this revolutionary newborn are, and neither does the military.

This is why the military is immediately trying to appease the Egyptian masses by getting governmental power into the hands of a civilian caretaker government that has the trust of the people. The liberals who are accepting these posts — such as U.S.-backed Mohamed ElBaradei — will be the next to expose themselves as poor parental guardians of the revolution, as did the Muslim Brotherhood before them.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s ascension to the position of revolutionary caretaker acted as an enormous barrier to the revolution’s progress, and surmounting this barrier has pushed the revolution into a whole new political territory. Now only the weakling liberals remain as brakes to the Egyptian revolution, along with the military behind the scenes and the Mubarak forces. But the people have proved themselves capable of steamrolling anything it views as a threat to its revolutionary offspring, liberals, reactionaries, and military alike.

In reality the Egyptian military’s power is overstated, easily shredded if it attempted to repress the broader revolution. The army’s rank-and-file soldier — if ordered to shoot on the revolutionary public — would rather turn its guns on the officers and generals ordering the repression. Revolutions excel at this form of redefining power — the powerful quickly become powerless. Once omnipotent dictators find themselves — as Mubarak did — literally in a cage, discarded.

After the Egyptian liberals are exposed as poor guardians of the revolution, a giant political void will open up. In politics — especially revolutionary politics — voids are quickly filled by those most organizationally ready to fill them.

Speaking to this idea, Cihan Tugal’s essay, “The End of the ‘Leaderless’ Revolution,” makes many excellent points about Egypt’s revolution suffering from an inability to organize itself sufficiently to receive the gains of the revolution. Tugal argues:

“…it is not sufficient for the system to fall. What will replace it? We have been avoiding an answer…We now have to wake up and realize that if we do not develop solid alternatives (and organizations and institutions that will implement them), the downfall of the system will not mean the making of a better world.”

In short, if the Egyptian people are not properly organized, the power will return to the army, as it has post-Morsi.

Tugal is of course correct. The Egyptian people must organize to ensure it is they who are able to care for their creation, not simply a handful of elites. Organization begins with common beliefs and interests, which in political language quickly get translated into political demands and broader social goals.

The Egyptian people do not need abstract notions of democracy, but food, jobs, social services, etc., while striving towards equality and a deeper sense of direct democracy than is offered by the stale, uninspiring U.S.-modeled electoral system.

The most modest demands in Egypt — food, jobs, public services, etc. — are at the moment the most revolutionary demands, since the majority of Egyptians will unite to fight for them in the streets, while the U.S.-backed military and its liberal coalition government are incapable of delivering them, since doing so would violate the sacred laws of neo-liberalism/capitalism.

Once these demands are properly articulated and organized around, the situation in Egypt will have changed, since the people in Egypt will have found their collective voice towards what they aspire to, as opposed to the present day rejecting what they are against.

But many pundits see only tragedy in the recent events of Egypt, rejecting any optimistic possibility. They argue that the recent events in Egypt are purely the machinations of foreign powers — again, there is evidence to partially legitimize this claim. But this analysis ignores the revolutionary X factor — the Egyptian people and the continuation of the revolution.

The essence of revolution is that the overwhelming majority of people directly intervene into politics in a way that fundamentally changes existing politics. This is opposed to a “normal” democracy, where average people mark a ballot every four or so years — if they vote at all. In non-revolutionary times people are passive and disengaged from the political process, focusing on themselves and their families; they don’t view themselves as agents of change, but victims of larger more-powerful forces. A revolution creates the exact opposite dynamic.

Most political pundits only understood the masses in states of non-revolutionary political passivity. The Egyptian people have proved this perspective wrong on two historic occasions and still this outdated narrative is clung to by observers.

To the average political pundit the motor of history freezes in place after every political uprising. The situation is not evolving but stagnant; the group that presently is in power will remain in power. Nothing will really change. The people were used as puppets for more powerful interests, and in the post uprising period the puppets will be cut from their strings, lifeless and exploitable.

This is a popular explanation of the events in Egypt, which view the downfall of Morsi as purely a pre-planned coup, and again, there is legitimate evidence of coup plotting.

But again, the bigger picture is lost by narrowing the focus here. The ruling class of any country is extremely hesitant to attempt to use the broader population as weapons against their ruling class political adversaries, since doing so is akin to steering a tiger by grabbing its tail.

In times of revolution the masses are less tame than any tiger, and have a greater capacity to think. They cannot be so easily led by the tail — or the leash — back into the cage.

Vijay Prashad writes about the dynamic aspect of revolution in his excellent book “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter.” The following passage refers to the Arab Spring in general:

“More will be demanded… The Arab lands will not be the same again…In Egypt, where the appetite for the possibilities of the future are greatest, the people continue to assert themselves into Tahrir Square and other places, pushing to reinvigorate a Revolution that must not die. They do not want to allow it to settle back into the possible forms, the neoliberal security state…They want something more. For them the slogan is simple: down with the present: Long Live the Future.”

The future of Egypt depends on several factors, though ultimately it’s a race between the Egyptian people and the elites: the people must quickly organize themselves towards an independent political path, while the ruling class frantically attempts to cajole the tiger back into its cage by a mixture of repression, political maneuvering, and religious/ethnic divide and conquer tactics.

This race is more sprint than marathon; the Egyptian people don’t have forever to solve this problem, since revolutions are by nature temporary exceptions to the historic norm. Even the mightiest tiger eventually exhausts itself in struggle, becoming more vulnerable to the zookeeper.

Yes, it’s possible that the revolution may fail. But let’s not assume its failure, but encourage it to victory. Let’s criticize its weaknesses, not fetishise them. Let’s analyze its strength in order to strengthen it yet more.

It’s possible — and even likely — that the Egyptian people will rediscover their pan-Arabic, socialist roots. But this won’t be based on a stale Soviet-era vision, but a higher historic level, opening up new political vistas that gaze upon unseen social horizons, capable of inspiring the broader Middle East towards a new political project. And possibly the world beyond it.

history,

West Losing on All Fronts in Syria

Finian Cunningham

This article originally appeared in Press TV.

Not only are the US, Britain and France losing their criminal covert military war for regime change in Syria, these state terrorists are also caving in on the propaganda front.

Such a criminal conspiracy was bound to fail sooner or later. Now, its weight of falsehoods and lies are imploding. The arrival of the UN chemical weapons inspection team this week in Damascus marks another hammer blow against Western malicious designs on Syria. The UN seems set to finally comply with the Syrian government’s terms for investigating competing claims about the use of deadly chemical weapons in Syria. President Bashar Al Assad and the Damascus authorities have consistently alleged that it is Western-backed mercenaries who have used the internationally banned weapons, while the Western powers have charged that it is the Syrian state forces.

Syria’s government first called for a UN inspection team back in March following a deadly exposure to the nerve agent, Sarin, in the district of Khan al Assal, near Aleppo, in which some 25 people were killed, including 16 Syrian army soldiers. However, that initiative was blocked when the UN – at the urging of the Western states – demanded that its investigators be given “unfettered access” to all sites in Syria, including military installations.

Assad’s government, supported by Russia, refused to grant the UN team such open permission because it was disturbingly reminiscent of the UN weapons inspection that had gone into Iraq 10 years ago. That team was allowed sensitive access to military sites across Iraq, which suspiciously was then followed by the US-led “shock and awe” blitzkrieg on that country beginning in March 2003.

Now, however, the UN chemical weapons top expert, Ake Sellstrom, has agreed to hold talks in Damascus at the invitation of the Syrian government. He is accompanied by UN disarmament chief Angela Kane. It is believed that the discussions will work out a modality for a proper probe in order to settle the competing claims about who used the illegal weapons.

Why have the UN weapons inspectors suddenly become more amenable to the Syrian government’s terms in the conduct of an investigation? The answer seems to be that the weight of evidence supporting the Syrian authorities’ claims has become too large to ignore.

Two developments give the Syrian government decisive credibility. In recent days, as the Syrian army pushes militants out of previously held strongholds, it has discovered a series of crude bomb factories for equipping rockets with chemical warheads. The most serious find was in the coastal city of Banias where more than 280 barrels of toxic industrial chemicals were recovered. Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, said that the toxic quantity was “capable of destroying a whole city, if not the whole country.”

A subsequent deadly find was in the suburb of Jobar in Damascus. After routing militants in gun battles, Syrian state forces found a makeshift chemical laboratory with supplies of highly toxic chlorine and other industrial materials. Some of the containers were stamped with “corrosive” warnings and labels saying “made in Saudi Arabia”. Among the cache were mortars intended for arming with chemical warheads.

The second major development is the latest official Russian report. These improvised chemical weapons used by the Western-backed mercenaries are consistent with a study from Russian experts that was submitted to the UN last week. The Russian investigation into the notorious incident in Khan al-Assal, near Aleppo, during March has found that chemical weapons, including Sarin, were indeed used, and that the perpetrators were Western-supported militants.

This finding not only completely negates earlier Western claims; it also exposes Western posturing, fabrication and lies told at the highest level of political office, including that of US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said of his country’s report: “It was determined that on March 19 the rebels fired an unguided missile Bashair-3 at the town of Khan al-Assal, which has been under government control. The results of the analysis clearly show that the shell used in Khan al-Assal was not factory-made and that it contained Sarin.”

The latter point is significant. The crudely built deadly weapons in the March attack on Khan al-Assal are part of a consistent pattern with the recent discoveries of homemade chemical warheads that the Syrian army is making as it routs Western-backed militants from their strongholds.

The imminent danger to the Syrian population – as demonstrated by recent Syrian army findings and the Russian report – has probably jolted the UN inspection team to address this issue with the urgency it demands. Tacitly, the UN team’s arrival in Damascus this week is also an admission that the Syrian government has been telling the truth all along about who are the guilty parties wielding these weapons of mass destruction. That would explain why the UN team is finally giving long-overdue respect to Syrian requests.

Moreover, as the issue unfolds, it is building into a grave indictment of the Western states. The US, Britain and France have for months been claiming that they have “evidence” that it was the Syrian government forces using chemical weapons. These powers have, in turn, used this accusation to justify their decisions to begin openly arming the militant groups in Syria.

On June 13, the Obama White House stated: “Our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent Sarin.” The next day, the US announced that it planned to send arms to militants in Syria because Assad’s forces had “crossed a red line”. The move followed earlier British and French overturning of the European Union arms embargo on Syria.

In stark contrast to the so-called tests allegedly conducted by the US, Britain and France, the latest Russian study on chemical weapons in Syria meets international scientific standards. The Russian investigation has an independently verifiable “chain of custody” in the collection of samples and the analyses were carried out according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Whereas, the claims made by the Western states are based on secret information that smacks of contriving “facts” to fit their criminal political agenda of covert war and regime change. In other words, the Western regimes are engaging in baseless propaganda and lies to give themselves a license for yet more criminal war.

Western governments are therefore increasingly seen to be not only supporting depraved cut-throats and cannibals who bomb residential neighborhoods indiscriminately, kidnap, extort, murder and rape, but these same governments that preach human rights and international law are facilitating Al Qaeda terrorists in the use of internationally banned chemical weapons of mass destruction.

The visit this week by the UN chemical weapons inspectors in Syria is another landmark reversal for the Western state sponsors of terrorism. Their lies and propaganda are unraveling as rapidly as the defeats being inflicted on their proxy death squads who have been operating in Syria for the past two years.

Military defeats for the Western-backed mercenaries around Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Idlib have come with reports of murderous infighting between the fractious so-called rebels. The treachery and brutality dispels the carefully contrived Western media image of “moderates” within the much-lionized Free Syrian Army. This outfit with its tin-pot General Salim Idriss is now seen as a nonentity, which never had any sway over the dominant groups of Al-Qaeda and Salafist mercenaries.

As the Syrian army retakes control of villages, districts and cities, there is an eerie silence in the Western media about the military successes. Where are the reports of Syrian army reprisals against civilians? Where are the claims of Syrian civilians crying out for the “heroic” militants to return and save them from the “oppressive” Syrian army?

Likewise, video footage and reports coming out of areas of Aleppo still under siege from the Western-backed terrorists show civilians protesting against their captors. Again, this is a narrative that destroys the Western manufactured propaganda image of a population rebelling against an oppressive state. It is rather a scenario of the civilian population having had to endure the imposition of mercenaries, criminals and psychopaths – an imposition that has been orchestrated by the Western regimes in Washington, London and Paris, along with their regional proxies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

As Western state terrorism runs out of ground in Syria, so are its myths and lies that have covered up the crimes of Washington, London and Paris. The emerging truth about the use of chemical weapons in Syria typifies the collapsing criminal conspiracy. These criminal rogue regimes are now losing on all front

 

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Egypt’s Revolution After the Smoke Clears

In times of crisis people strive for easy answers to complex situations. In Egypt this has resulted in absurdly digestible sound bites, where one side is labeled “good”(the Muslim Brotherhood), the other “bad” (the army), and the revolution as a whole is condemned as an atrocity. But the situation in Egypt is especially contradictory, and untying the social-political knots of the revolution requires avoiding pre-packaged catchphrases.

Contrary to the claims of many, reports of the revolution’s death are greatly exaggerated. Those who predict that Egypt will inevitably enter a long period of military dictatorship forget that the Egyptian revolution destroyed such a dictatorship in 2011, and helped topple Morsi’s authoritarian government in July. The people in Egypt have not been cowed into submission, they are still in the streets, unafraid, consciously aware of their power. The Egyptian military is very aware of this fact, as their actions testify.

Although it’s a tragedy that innocent people have been killed, it’s also true that the Muslim Brotherhood represents not the revolution, but its adversary. Especially confusing is that another opponent of the revolution — the military generals — are leading the attack against the Brotherhood, which raises the question: why would one enemy of the revolution be attacking another?

The current, bizarre-seeming situation in Egypt is actually common in the history of revolutions, having started in the modern era with Napoleon Bonaparte, who, during the French Revolution, consolidated his power by aligning with certain social classes against rival sections, and switching allegiances when necessary to offset the power of his former allies, until all political rivals were weakened, allowing him and his army to act as arbitrator and ruler.

This now common feature of revolutions is often referred to as “Bonapartism” in honor of its founder and is a reflection of society in revolutionary upheaval, where different social classes are powerfully asserting themselves, though unable to out-power their adversaries, allowing the military to act as the Bonapartist “arbitrator.”

Bonapartism is also a sign of the political weakness of the military, which is not able to rule without aligning with certain segments of the population (this is why the Egyptian generals recently asked for mobilizations to signal “permission” to put down the Brotherhood’s civil disobedience actions, essentially using Egypt’s political left against the political right).

Bonapartism has been practiced by military dictatorships since Napoleon. In fact, Egypt’s popular military President Gamal Abdul Nasser — who instituted many progressive measures in Egypt — was himself a classic Bonapartist, though one who uncharacteristically leaned left.

For example, after surviving an assassination attempt from the Muslim Brotherhood, Nasser used the military to destroy the Brotherhood, while enjoying support from the political left in Egypt due to his progressive policies. After dealing with the Brotherhood, Nasser consolidated his power against the growing revolutionary left, by attacking both the communist party and trade unions. This political balancing act between political left and right is the hallmark of Bonapartism.

Nasser’s successor, Sadat, also used a Bonapartist strategy when he invited the Muslim Brotherhood back into Egypt to use as a right wing political battering ram against the Egyptian left. Sadat needed the Brotherhood as a political prop to help him reverse the progressive policies implemented under Nasser.

Mubarak, too, used the Brotherhood in this fashion, for the same reasons as Sadat. It’s true that both Mubarak and Sadat used aggressive measures against the Brotherhood at times, but they both allowed the group greater freedom for political organization than any other group, since the Brotherhood was a politically perfect compliment to the president’s right-wing, neo-liberal policies.

This pro-Brotherhood favoritism led to the situation where, after the fall of Mubarak, the Brotherhood was virtually the only organized political force in Egypt. After being dragged into the revolution kicking and screaming by their youth wing, the Brotherhood then opportunistically took power, while sharing none of the goals or vision of the revolutionaries.

One common way that commentators have been confusing the situation in Egypt is by portraying the Muslim Brotherhood as Ghandian revolutionaries striving to restore democracy. But in the same breath these analysts say, correctly, ”God forbid” if the Brotherhood is allowed to implement their vision of a fundamentalist Islamic State in Egypt, since doing so would automatically reduce the liberties of women, non-fundamentalist Muslims, and religious minorities.

Yet another common mistake in assessing Egypt is to portray the conflict as secularists against Muslims. The Muslim Brotherhood does not have a monopoly over Islam in Egypt. Out of the millions of people who demanded the ouster of Morsi on June 30th, the vast majority of them were Muslims of the Sunni variety, just like the Muslim Brotherhood. But the Brotherhood’s fundamentalist version of Sunni Islam remains a minority opinion among Egypt’s Sunni majority.

A further flaw in analyzing current events in Egypt lies in forgetting how the situation developed, which requires that we delve into the not-too-distant past of June 30th, when millions of Egyptians demanded the departure of then-President Morsi. These massive demonstrations were obviously at least as large as the ones that toppled Mubarak, yet the Muslim Brotherhood failed to get the message, and have attempted to use militant civil disobedience in order to reinstate the unquestionably unpopular Morsi.

The military moved against the Brotherhood because they believed, correctly, that the majority of the population was behind them and against the Brotherhood, as evidenced by the much larger demonstrations that responded to the call of the military, not to mention mountains of other evidence documenting that opinion in working class Cairo neighborhoods has turned against the Muslim Brotherhood.

And although there are many who simply dismiss the June 30th demonstration of millions as a “conspiracy,” it’s impossible to force people to attend demonstrations with one united demand, “Morsi must go,” if they don’t want to be there. Many “pro-conspiracy” analysts simply seem not to understand the profound political significance of demonstrations of that size, as if they’re somehow common and not symptoms of a powerful revolution.

It’s true that the Egyptian generals — not to mention plotting foreign countries — are trying to implement their own agenda throughout the crisis, which always entails some conspiratorial maneuvering, but the demands of June 30th made it very clear where Egyptians stand on the issue: they spoke with their own voice.

Although the majority of Egyptians are now anti-Muslim Brotherhood, the military’s recent actions create new problems for Egypt’s revolutionaries. The power of the Brotherhood will be shattered, but the power of the military will be enhanced. To prevent the generals from abusing their power against the Egyptian working class, revolutionaries need to quickly plan a way to protect themselves while furthering the demands of the revolution.

Because the Egyptian left remains insufficiently organized, they must utilize the political strategy of the United Front, which unites broad sections of the population behind a limited number of popular demands. By doing this, the military generals will be powerless in the face of a united mass movement that is putting forth a positive program, as opposed to the current dynamic that is united around what Egyptians reject. A united front mass movement will win the hearts and minds of the rank-and-file Egyptian soldier, while also preventing the Brotherhood’s fundamentalism from gaining a fresh batch of recruits.

In Egypt the most immediate needs of the population — bread, jobs, social services, etc. — are the demands that continue to fuel the revolution and be the most uniting. If the political left put forth a plan using revolutionary methods to achieve these demands — reversing the privatizations, raising the tax rates on the wealthy, public works for employment, etc. — then the broader Egyptian working class would rally to achieve these goals, some of which were realized under President Nasser and reversed by Sadat and Mubarak.

The Egyptian revolution does not have years to solve these problems; the economy of Egypt is facing catastrophe, and drastic action must be taken immediately. This is one of the reasons Morsi was ejected from power: he thought he could continue the Mubarak attitude of doing nothing substantial for the majority of the population, half of which lives in abject poverty and the other half scrambling madly to avoid such a fate.

The higher expectations and new hopes inspired by the revolution must be accompanied by bold revolutionary actions capable of achieving these new expectations. Politics as usual is, a thing of the past in Egypt. The revolution can avoid the fate of entrenched Bonapartism only if it is unequivocally aimed at addressing the pressing basic economic needs of the vast majority of the Egyptian population.

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The Lie of “Limited” War Against Syria

The rats are jumping ship. Obama’s strongest allies can’t stomach the stench of lies that are the foundation of the war effort against Syria. Even England, whose entire foreign policy is reduced to asking “how high?” when the U.S. says “jump,” opted to stay grounded for Obama’s war drive.

The Arab League, too, having long been considered a puppet show by U.S. foreign policy, has cut its strings. The UN Security Council — after having learned not to trust Obama in Libya — also refuses to give permission for an attack. Which leaves France — the former colonial master of Syria — to fill England’s shoes as the token “important” European nation to give the attack a thin coat of “international” support. But England’s insolence will surely make an impression on the French public, who voted in a “socialist” president, presumably not to act as a warmonger.

Obama has offered zero evidence that the Syrian government is responsible for the most recent chemical weapons attack. UN investigator Carla Del Ponte blamed the U.S.-backed rebels for a previous chemical weapons attack, so if one were to presume guilt, it would flow towards the rebels.

While foreign nations instantly recognized Obama’s war song as a plagiarism of President Bush’s lyrics used to start a war on Iraq, sections of the American public have been fooled by Obama’s mellowing tone. The soft, reassuring sound of “limited strikes” that will last “hours, not days” has a calming effect on the nerves of the American public, who are essentially being told that Syria needs a light slap on the wrist for being “bad,” after which everything will return to normal; no U.S. troops need die. No big deal, really.

But, of course, any military action in the Middle East is a big deal. With each new war the U.S. wages in the region, tensions rise, self defense preparations are made, and regional alliances are readied to act as deterrents. The nations not aligned with U.S. foreign policy — and there are many — are desperate to stop the U.S.’ bloody march across the Middle East.

Americans don’t understand how the Iraq war fundamentally changed the Middle East. The U.S. Government is deeply hated by the vast majority of people in the region for having destroyed Iraq, once viewed by many as a proud Arab nation. Attacking another nation in the heart of the Middle East — that millions of Arabs have an equally strong affinity for — will create massive “blowback.”

No matter how “limited” the strike, bombing a foreign nation is a major act of war. In fact, after WWII the Nuremberg trial concluded that the Nazis’ “supreme international crime” was not genocide or holocaust, but waging aggressive war, since all other war crimes were spawned from this original sin. Of course, Obama’s aggressive war plans involve more than tossing a couple of missiles at some Syrian tanks. That is why he’s moved five Navy destroyers into the region.

It is also presumably why — as reported by the French daily Le Figaro — hundreds U.S. Special Forces and “trained militant fighters” entered Syria on August 17.

It has widely been speculated that the real intention of attacking Syria is to prop up Obama’s ailing rebels, who have received massive U.S. support in the form of guns, training, and money, for —according to The New York Times — almost two years now, and possibly longer. It’s an undisputed fact that Islamic extremists militias are the most powerful fighting forces in the opposition to Assad; if he falls then they will be in power.

If only a tiny bombing campaign is launched, then it’s certain that more bombings will take place at a later date because the U.S.-backed extremist rebels need much more assistance than that to have any hope of beating Assad. To change the balance of forces between Obama’s essentially beaten rebels and the Syrian government will require a massive bombing campaign, along the lines of Libya.

One shouldn’t forget the chain of events in Libya: After the U.S.-backed Libyan rebels were facing defeat, Obama exploited the UN’s “naivety” by claiming that “immediate action” had to be taken to prevent the slaughter of thousands of Libyans. The UN stupidly agreed to a vague resolution about “protecting civilians,” which Obama immediately used as a pretext to wage aggressive war and regime change, dropping thousands of bombs on Libya via fighter jets that attacked both military and civilian targets, tearing apart the nation’s seams in the process. Vijay Prashad’s excellent book, “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” covers the conflict in depth.

After the Libyan example, the UN is immune to Obama’s lies. So now the hardest part about waging war against Syria is starting it. And after the war foot is in the door, the logic of war immediately takes over, which instantly creates new, unforeseen dynamics, usually in the direction of expansion. It’s very possible that this “unforeseen” element of war is exactly what Obama is planning on.

For example, any sane military analyst expects Syria to defend itself. And Syria is much more capable of doing so than Libya or Iraq were. The American public isn’t prepared for this, since it essentially has been told that Syria would submissively accept its punishment, perhaps after throwing a loud tantrum.

But Syria has advanced weapons systems, and it would be perfectly legal and reasonable for Syria to defend itself by — for example, by bombing a U.S. Navy destroyer, or perhaps targeting Israel, who will certainly be involved in the assault on some level — and therefore is a legitimate military target. Israel has bombed Syria several times in the last six months.

It’s very possible that Obama is trying to provoke a strong reaction from Syria to give the U.S. public a reason to escalate the war. Any attack on Syria also has the possibility of bringing Iran into the conflict, since Iran and Syria have a mutual defense pact. And this may be the ultimate goal: to provoke Iran into getting involved militarily, so that the U.S. would have a justification to expand the war into Iran, which has been in the U.S. crosshairs for years.

If international and domestic pressure force Obama to merely launch a “symbolic” strike that Syria doesn’t retaliate against, then it will be a historic humiliation for U.S. foreign policy, showing the decline of U.S. international power. But even a “surgical” strike sets a very dangerous precedent, opening the door wider to future strikes which will inevitably be re-opened in the near future. A weak war effort this time will make the Obama administration all the more war hungry next time, since empires don’t simply fade away into oblivion.

If Obama attacks Syria at this point, he’ll have fewer allies than did Bush in Iraq. Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, had the audacity to soil the ground where Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke 50 years earlier at the 1963 March on Washington; Obama sang the praises of the great peacemaker as he planned war against Syria.

Obama has very quickly ruined his integrity in Bush-like fashion. He’s jailed whistle-blowers like Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning — whose only crime was exposing war crimes — while now preparing an even bigger war crime against Syria. His presidency is going down in flames with impressive speed, and has the potential to drag down the rest of the country. On Saturday, August 31st, there is an international day of protest against a war with Syria. A large anti-war showing in the U.S. will convince more pro-war rats to jump ship, and an especially large showing could possibly sink the ship in one shot.

history, Politics,

How the U.S. Left is Failing Over Syria

It’s now painfully clear that Obama’s war on Syria is a replay of Bush’s march to war in Iraq, both built on lies. Zero evidence has been put forth that proves the Syrian government used chemical weapons. On the contrary, evidence has been recorded that suggests the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels are responsible for the attack.

If Obama wages an aggressive attack on Syria — especially without UN authorization — he’ll be committing a major international crime that will, by any standard, make him a war criminal, just like Bush before him.

And because Obama’s attack on Syria followed Bush’s logic, you’d assume that liberal, progressive, and other Left groups would do what they did when Bush went to war: denounce it unconditionally and organize against it.

But that’s not what happened. Because this didn’t happen, less accurate information was made available to the public, and fewer public mobilizations have occurred, thus re-enforcing Obama’s ability to wage an aggressive war.

There are four pieces of information that all left groups have a duty to report about Syria, but they have either ignored or minimized them:

1) Obama presented zero evidence to back up his main justification for war: that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against civilians.

2) A top UN investigator, Carla Del Ponte, blamed a previous chemical weapons attack on the U.S.-backed rebels.

3) Any attack on Syria, no matter how “limited,” has a high risk of expanding into neighboring countries if Syria exercises its right as a sovereign nation to defend itself.

4) A war against Syria will be a violation of international law, since it is not approved by the UN, and therefore will make President Obama a war criminal.

There has been a broad spectrum of leftist failure to address these issues and condemn Obama’s war, ranging from those who take an overtly pro-war position to those who use anti-war slogans that are stained with pro-war justifications. A consistent “Hands Off Syria” message was hard to find, indeed.

The most guilty parties who have aided and assisted Obama’s expected war plans will have blood-stained hands after the bombing begins. Perhaps the best example of this coterie is Van Jones, the former adviser to Obama who founded the Rebuild The Dream organization. On CNN, Jones announced his new appetite for foreign war:

“I think we need to stand behind this president and send a clear message to Assad that this type behavior is not acceptable.”

Many liberals took Jones’ “stand by our president” approach, even if it wasn’t stated as directly as Jones did, and even after “our president” was unable to present any sensible reason for waging another aggressive war in the Middle East.

A notch lower on the leftist spectrum of Syria war guilt is MoveOn.org, which has done everything in their power not to portray President Obama’s actions in their true light. But MoveOn had to take a more creative approach to covering up for Obama in Syria.

MoveOn organized a “teach-in” that was streamed on their website. The panel of speakers — with one exception — presented Obama’s position in a very evenhanded, “objective” way, presenting the president as an entirely reasonable person for wanting to bomb Syria, even if it might not be the best way to deal with the situation.

Instead of pointing out the flagrant similarities between Obama’s Syria war rationale and George Bush’s Iraq War lies, these similarities were papered over, thus legitimizing Obama’s criminal actions.

The worst Obama apologist on the panel was Matt Duss from the Center for American Progress, who explained that, although he was against a war on Syria, he “respects” that “other progressives of good faith may come to a different view.”

Phyllis Bennis from the Institute of Policy Studies was the only consistent anti-war panelist, who appeared as a fringe element when compared to the rest of the panel, only because she offered a common sense, consistent anti-war message.

The teach-in ended with a “what can we do” segment to influence the situation. Instead of mobilizing in the streets against Obama, the panelists discussed “contacting congressmen,” “calling the White House’s comment line,” “tweeting,” “email,” “petitions,” but no call was made for doing what was done against Bush: mobilize people in the streets to demand that the war be stopped.

MoveOn further exposed their pro-Obama, pro-war attitude on the website, where for days the featured petition being promoted was titled: “President Obama: Don’t Strike Syria Without Congressional Approval.”

Again, there is no basis for any strike on Syria, period — Congressional approval or otherwise. Even if Congress doesn’t approve Obama’s actions in Syria, it’s likely that he’ll attack Syria anyway, just as happened in Libya after Congress refused authorization.

On the lower end of the spectrum of leftist failure on Syria sits the International Socialist Organization (ISO). After Obama announced his intention to attack Syria, the ISO’s main article, “Imperial Hypocrisy to Justify an Assault,” neglected to address any of the above-stated four critical points about the situation in Syria.

But the ISO’s article went beyond mere neglect of facts; in several instances it re-enforced Obama’s war plans by unquestionably accepting Obama’s claim that there was “evidence” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians.

After Obama’s “evidence” was accepted, the ISO article then went on to plagiarize John Kerry’s hyper-dramatization of the YouTube video that showed the after effects of the attack:

“The mass killing in Ghouta was so awful that it forced the debate on Syria to a head. The warheads filled with sarin gas were targeted not at rebel fighters, but women and children in their beds. Their lungs filled with fluid, suffocating them. Hundreds more suffered severe and crippling injuries. Anyone with a sense of justice will be incensed by such a calculated effort to terrorize a vulnerable civilian population.”

Nowhere in the ISO article does it say “Hands Off Syria” or does it clearly denounce Obama’s pending attack on Syria. The article merely states that the U.S. is acting “hypocritically,” which, although true, falls tragically short of the needed response, therefore allowing more political space for Obama to wage a brutal attack.

It’s important to note that the above groups and individuals also politically failed BEFORE Obama announced a direct military intervention, since they did not sound the alarm bells of the long-approaching attack.

For example, the U.S. has been training, funding, and arming Syrian rebels for almost two years now, while having led the diplomatic organizing efforts of a group of rich Syrian exiles that Obama refers to as the “legitimate” government of Syria. Obama stated several times that “Assad must go.” The political Left had a duty to explain the significance of these events and their likely outcome, U.S. military intervention.

All of the above groups are also guilty of demonizing Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, buying in on the propaganda that he is worse than the Al Qaeda-linked rebels who are attacking him. This is a crucial element of justifying any aggressive war. Every head of state that is targeted by the U.S. government must be portrayed as an inspiring “Hitler,” since attacking a nation led by “Hitler” is, of course, a “good” thing to do.

And although opinion is certainly divided over Assad, those in the U.S. wishing to stop an aggressive war must focus on the actions of their own country.

“Hands Off Syria” is a united front demand, meaning that it’s intentionally aimed to create a broad based appeal in an effort to mobilize as many people as possible. No anti-war movement — or any social movement — is powerful without massive, ongoing mobilizations.

Within the united front demand of Hands Off Syria there is plenty of room for other tactics and room to discuss the deeper politics of the movement, but creating the largest possible mobilizations must be the base ingredient, and this can only be done under a demand that is capable of bringing together broad sections of the U.S. public.

The question of war sadly remains the greatest immediate threat the world faces, especially in light of an increasingly conflict-ridden and dangerous Middle East. The United States government is hell-bent on reckless wars that are increasingly likely to spiral out of control as they bring abject misery to the affected populations around the world while funneling money for badly needed social programs here in the U.S. into campaigns of death and destruction. Unequivocally denouncing U.S. foreign aggression is the duty of all working people who value peace, hate war, and aspire to create a better world.

Hands Off Syria! Bring the Troops Home NOW!

history, Politics,

Obama’s War Grows as Support Shrinks

Some careful listening has exposed the lie that a U.S. attack (war) against Syria would be, as Obama put it, “a shot across the bow,” i.e. a “tiny war.” But even before the first missile is launched the birth of Obama’s baby war began to grow, and when it’s eventually unleashed it will resemble any other fully matured war, complete with massive destruction, the death of untold innocents and yet another Middle Eastern nation torn to pieces.

The debated Syrian war resolution in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee saw the infancy of “limited strikes” quickly evolve into “altering the balance of forces” between Assad and the U.S.-backed rebels. Out of the Senate committee emerged a fully mature war, hell bent on regime change, though clothed in bureaucrat-speak to fool the American public. The resolution includes:

It is the policy of the United States to change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria so as to create favorable conditions for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria.

Translation: regime change.

Obama himself used the language of regime change to sell the war to the Republicans, though again, hidden in a swamp of words:

[the attack on Syria] also fits into a broader strategy that can bring about over time the kind of strengthening of the opposition and the diplomatic, economic and political pressure required — so that ultimately we have a transition [regime change] that can bring peace and stability, not only to Syria but to the region.

Now that the regime change motives are out in the open, a “real” war becomes all the more necessary, since Obama’s prized rebels — dominated by Islamic extremists — have encountered defeat after defeat by the Syrian Government, and need more than “limited strikes” to alter the balance of force.

Regime change, however, has been in the works long before recent events, having been the official policy of the U.S. towards Syria for at least two years, when Obama began intervening with weapons, funding, and training for the U.S.-backed rebels. During this time Obama also hand picked a group of rich Syrian exiles that the U.S. government still recognizes as the legitimate government of Syria, which of course presumes a change of regime.

The conflict in Syria would have ended — and tens of thousands of lives spared — without Obama and his allies — especially Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan — fueling the carnage with foreign fighters and massive arms trafficking. To think that Obama’s current projected bombing campaign can somehow be separated from the previous two years of regime change foreign policy is the height of political naivety.

Several news outlets have reported on the more than “limited” nature of Obama’s proposed missile strikes. ABC News expressed shock when they received information about the war preparations, since they were anything but “surgical.”

The ABC broadcast mentions the use of B-2, and B-52 bombers, as well as using the “vast majority” of the 200 tomahawk missiles fired from five Navy Destroyers already stationed off the coast of Syria. There is also a U.S. aircraft carrier in the region capable of deploying F-16 fighter jets.

The broadcast quotes a military official as saying that the Syrian shock-and-awe assault “could do more damage to Assad’s forces in 48 hours than the rebels have done in two years of civil war.”, i.e. a major military operation.

Add to this that there are already U.S. troops with “boots on the ground” in Turkey and Jordan, training and arming U.S.-backed rebels and operating more advanced missile systems. The French newspaper Le Figaro, reported that hundreds of these U.S. troops and opposition fighters have already entered Syria recently, no doubt in connection with Obama’s “limited strikes.”

Syria’s government has said that it would defend itself if attacked, a fact dismissed by the Obama Administration and the U.S. media. Secretary of State John Kerry arrogantly stated:

Let me say again unequivocally, bluntly: If Assad is arrogant enough and foolish enough to retaliate to the consequences of his own criminal activity, the United States and our allies have ample ways to make him regret that decision without going to war.

Kerry’s nonsense flips reality on its head: In Kerry’s fantasy world Syria is not being attacked by a foreign nation (the U.S.) but merely retaliated against, which doesn’t give Syria the right to defend itself (!) But if Assad does defend Syria by returning fire on an attacking Navy vessel, for example, the U.S. will “make him regret it”…. “without going to war” (?!)   Of course, war begins when Obama fires the first missile.

And this is exactly what the American public is not prepared for. Any capable sovereign nation would defend itself from such an attack, and would have every right to do so under international law. The Obama Administration — who would be breaking international law — is trying to skew the public debate in the U.S. to fit his fantasy world version of a war scenario.

If the Syrian government defends itself from U.S. attack, Obama will express “shock and outrage,” and demand that the war be escalated, possibly to include targeting Iran and Hezbollah, two entities long in the U.S.-Israeli crosshairs. The result is a catastrophic regional war that includes the possibility of becoming a global war, based on Russia and China’s reaction to the mayhem.

There are other hints that Obama has been planning for regime change for his recent war plans.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama was already meeting with regional allies for “contingency plans” in case the Assad regime happened to collapse due to the “limited strikes.” The contingency plans would be more aptly named “regime change” plans, which aim to ensure that a pro-U.S. regime takes power in Syria.

Obama has also hinted that he understands an assault on Syria would provoke a regional war, which is likely why he recently withdrew U.S. embassy staff in several countries surrounding Syria, while warning Americans not to travel to Turkey and Lebanon and “to be alert to the potential for violence.”

Of course, a U.S. war against Syria would instantly pour over its borders, since Israel has already bombed Syria four times in recent months, while the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon are crossed to funnel massive amounts of weapons while receiving millions of Syrian war refugees in exchange.

These are the regional implications that are keeping even the most submissive U.S. allies away from a war against Syria. The usual U.S. puppets like the Arab League and Britain have not endorsed an attack on Syria, while the UN also denied authorization.

So for Obama the most difficult aspect of waging war against Syria has been legitimizing it, giving it some kind of “legal” authorization, shallow as it will eventually be. Starting a war without some kind of justifiable cover would be politically costly on the foreign and domestic level, and already has been; the Obama Administration is going down in flames as it tries to revive his stillborn war.

The problem is that the same lies he used to start war in Libya cannot be recycled so easily. The UN Security Council and much of the rest of the world has learned its lessons; Obama’s “Humanitarian Intervention” in Libya to “protect civilians” instantly transformed to regime change after the first bomb fell.

Of course, Obama is combining his Libya lies with the deception of George Bush, who had “concrete” evidence that Iraq had WMD’s. Like Bush, Obama has presented no evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack; while ignoring that a previous chemical weapons attack in Syria was blamed on the rebels by the UN. Even several U.S. Congressmen who were recently shown the “top secret evidence” to prove that the Syrian government is responsible for the attack left “unimpressed.”

If Obama conjures up the audacity to wage war in Syria under such political isolation, it will be a watershed moment in U.S. history, marking a crucial moment of decline in U.S. influence abroad. But the same is true if Obama doesn’t attack; the weakness of U.S. foreign policy will likewise be exposed due to Obama’s ability to follow through with his threats due to lack of allies and domestic dissent.

Either way the U.S. elites who benefit directly from foreign wars — or by dominating international markets — will be doubly motivated to wage even more war in the future, since U.S. hegemony is no longer capable of exerting power through economic means alone. This makes it all the more important that the U.S. anti-war movement re-assert itself, and combine with the Labor Movement to demand a national set of new priorities that demand that the U.S. government attack the jobs crisis and U.S. poverty, with a federal jobs program, instead of foreign nations that are no threat to the United States.

history,

The Egyptian Revolution’s Next Barrier

Reza Fiyouzat and Shamus Cooke

When the Egyptian army first began its offensive against the Muslim Brotherhood, many speculated that such an assault would likely be extended to the same revolutionaries who demanded — in massive demonstrations — that President Morsi be evicted from office.

There have been several signs that this has already begun, though most notably the government repression against striking workers at Suez Steel and the Scimitar Petroleum company, where the striking workers were accused of being influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two recent terrorist bombings in Cairo that targeted top government officials–as well as increased violence in the Sinai region — could portend a Syria scenario for Egypt, unless revolutionaries are able to assert themselves again with the intention of out maneuvering the Egyptian military and Muslim Brotherhood, saving Egypt in the process.

The power of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been weakened significantly, at least for the moment. The recent protests called by the MB after the break up of their sit-ins have been met with insufficient support in the streets, though especially from the broader population beyond the MB base.

A recent opinion poll showed that 67 percent of Egyptians approved of the brutal way that the MB sit-ins were broken up. The Brotherhood’s leadership is in jail, its rank and file fearful, and the much of the broader population apparently wants them out of public sight and mind.

The latest move by the military regime against the Brotherhood was an Egyptian judicial panel supporting the removal of the legal status of the organization as an NGO. This came in the aftermath of a bomb attack on a police station in central Cairo on Monday, September 2.

The still-chaotic happenings in Egypt make sense only in a broader context, requiring that we look back at recent events, at which point an understanding may emerge that can help shed light on what to do next.

Reducing politics to condemning violence explains very little, especially when one considers why most Egyptians didn’t feel the way the international community did about the internal battles raging in Egypt.  The revolutionary process in Egypt has been especially contradictory, requiring that a proper analysis untangle all of the political knots.

In 2011, the initial revolutionary wave of protests led to the removal — not the overthrow, but the removal by the military — of the dictator Mubarak. The social conditions that led to Mubarak’s downfall were a general sense of desperation about the conditions of daily life by the majority of the Egyptian people, most of them working class and poor, but including also the economically devastated middle classes.

The Egyptian people did not take to the streets with a clear platform that would address their abject misery. They thus expressed their frustration by denouncing their existing conditions in general terms. The complex system oppressing them thus became crystallized in the symbolic person of Mubarak — so the people in the streets demanded his removal. This, thought the masses, would address their many social-economic problems.

At this adolescent stage of the revolution anybody who had a large organization — and was out of power but wanted to be in power — could say, “YES! Mubarak should go, and our organization will do anything to make that happen.” The Brotherhood was such a group, and it used its vast organizational capabilities — in Egypt every mosque in every village is a de-facto organization — and belatedly joined the revolution under the “Mubarak must go!” slogan.

It was the youth section of the Brotherhood that forced their leadership to join the revolution, and after becoming “revolutionaries” the MB worked to limit the further deepening of the politics of the revolution, freezing the movement in its generalized, adolescent stage, which was too immature to question the regime behind Mubarak. “Islam is the answer” remained the MB’s slogan, which, after being put into government policy, offered Egyptians no answer at all.

After the fall of Mubarak, the MB hurried to join the regime that had propped up Mubarak — with all its policies, security apparatus linked to the U.S. government, with all its ties to the neoliberal agenda of the imperialists of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and western banks — in short, the MB completely immersed itself with the old regime, while slapping on a thick coat of Islamist veneer to make the surface seem “Islamic” to the MB rank and file. The rest of Egyptian society was completely ignored, revolution be damned.

Through a farce of an electoral system the MB joined the military regime — an alliance deemed necessary at the time by the ruling elites, though with clear internal contradictions — ensuring that the two maintained joint control while working to coerce the revolution into submission. All the while the broader social and economic discontent that led to the revolution would be — as it was under Mubarak — completely neglected, and even denied any legitimacy.

By most standards, real democracy is not merely having elections or some form of parliamentary rule. If any elected government refuses to govern in the interests of the population, it is by definition “undemocratic.”

True democracy also involves the rights of the working class to organize and exact concessions from the employers and the elite in general, as well as to have a real say — through independent representative organizations — in the economic and political decisions that affect their lives. Based on these indicators, we can see that the political direction taken by the military-Muslim Brotherhood coalition was clearly anti-democratic, regardless of MB’s protestations to the contrary.

New independent labor unions started springing up immediately after the fall of Mubarak, quite naturally, as the working class saw the onset of the revolution as a perfect time to exercise their democratic rights to assert their power through the collective bargaining process for better working and living conditions. The number of these new unions began rising sharply as a result of the newly opened up political space.

Labor strikes and direct actions had been on an upward spiral for years preceding Mubarak’s fall: for example, in 2008 there was a general strike.  The Middle East Research and Information Project reports:

“Despite the limited capacity of [newly created independent unions] to mobilize at the national level, for the last two and a half years, workers have escalated the protest movement that began in the late 1990s. In the decade before Mubarak’s ouster well over 2 million workers participated in some 3,400 strikes and other collective actions. The total number of workers collective actions in 2011 was 1,400; in 2012 it reached 1,969. According to the Egyptian Center for Social Rights (ECESR), in the first quarter of 2013 there were 2,400 social and economic protests. At least half involved workers and publicly employed professionals — doctors, engineers and teachers.”

The MB government took a very clear stance against the demands of the resurgent labor movement that was trying to further open up the political and economic social dialogue, and gains some basic rights.

In fact, public pronouncements by the MB, the military and elite media outlets were unanimous in their characterization of the labor direct actions as petty and selfish, thereby de-legitimizing those demands and refusing to allow for any new rights for collective bargaining by workers.

MB members and spokespersons even went so far as to characterize such workers’ demands as “counter revolutionary.” In other words, the MB-military coalition arrogated to themselves the title of true revolutionaries while the very demands that fueled the revolution were now characterized as counter-revolutionary!

However, not all segments of the ruling elites were as overtly antagonistic to the working class economic demands. Some in the ruling coalition clearly recognized that they would not be able to stop the tide of workers raising their demands in such a revolutionary period. Therefore, they opted to chose to co-opt some of the labor union leaders by integrating them into the government.

The fundamental mistake made by the MB was joining the old regime during a revolutionary upsurge, the time that the wrath of the people had just found its public expression. Decades of bottled up resentment had now found a voice, and while Egyptians gave the MB some time to address it, revolutionary energy would not be so easily stifled.

Instead of tackling the crisis of youth unemployment in Egypt by revolutionary means, the MB ignored it, and overall unemployment has been rising from 9 percent in 2011 to 13 percent, with youth unemployment at 25 percent. The MB thought that they could take the helm of a revolution while taking zero revolutionary action to address the structural issues that gave rise to it. In fact, the MB worked hard to maintain those conditions.

It was inevitable, then, that a revolution on the scale of Egypt’s would not lie dormant in the face of such flagrant neglect. In fact, during the MB’s reign there was activity across all social strata, as Egyptians learned to use their new voice. Labor unions continued to strike, student groups and others continued to organize, and all the while the dignity that all these groups continued to demand was never granted. This process placed the revolutionary movement, once again, in direct opposition to the state apparatus, this time led by the MB.

Since the new face of the state had acquired a religious covering — on top of the old economic and political miseries still firmly in place — it was natural that the most vociferous oppositions would be directed against this newly added feature of the revamped dictatorship. Hence, the main demand of the massive June 30th-July 3rd demonstrations was for the ouster of the MB, personified by Morsi. The revolutionary energy re-found its focus and targeted a new obstacle to be overcome in its path towards social and economic dignity.

The fact that the military used the MB as the scapegoat and threw them out so swiftly, of course, creates a critical dilemma. The fight for political power in Egypt is now a three-sided brawl: the military, the MB, and the real revolutionaries, who are trying to express the broader population’s economic and social demands. In this power struggle, the forces of counterrevolution have two dogs in the fight: the military and the MB.

The fact that these two mongrels have gone from uneasy allies to savage enemies — even if temporarily — makes no difference as far as their political attitude towards the revolution goes. Their anti-revolutionary perspective is, of course, tied to their economic interests, which are existentially tied to the existing economic system, from which the overwhelming majority of Egyptians gain absolutely nothing but misery.

The military had to discard their MB short-term partnership because they saw that this partnership had not managed to halt the revolution, and that, in fact, the movement was finding more depth — digging deeper would be dangerous for the military. The military had to throw out the MB and then provoke them into reactive violence, which the MB did resort to via burning churches, killing a 100 plus police/military personnel, etc. This enabled and “justified” the generals’ unleashing massive military might to crush the MB, and if left unchecked, eventually the revolution.

It would be a crucial mistake to join the Muslim Brotherhood’s side in the ongoing fratricidal conflict between them and the military, as many liberal-minded people are doing. It’s of course natural to side with a group under attack from a stronger adversary, and it was perfectly acceptable to demand an immediate end to the military’s offensive. But to demand the return of Morsi to power is to place oneself on the wrong side of the barricades.

American liberals might be swayed by Juan Cole’s description of the Muslim Brotherhood, correctly labeling them as the Egyptian equivalent of the American Tea Party movement, a grouping that is on the political right of the Republican Party, and at times in conflict with the Republicans. Like the MB, the Tea Party relies on neo-liberal economics combined with religious fundamentalism.

“But even so,” some liberals may claim, “the Muslim Brotherhood was elected, and we must protect democracy.” But democracy also takes place in the streets, and the massive demonstrations that led to Morsi’s ouster were at least as large as the revolutionary demonstrations that ousted Mubarak, when no one questioned whether or not a revolution was afoot.

Furthermore, the demonstrations called by the Muslim Brotherhood did not find a broader echo beyond their rank and file: the only large demonstrations occurred in the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold of Nasser City and parts of Alexandria. Thus, the MB knew that their demand — the reinstatement of Morsi — could not be achieved by the current balance of forces; they purposely provoked a crisis to remain politically relevant, perhaps to use as a bargaining chip against the military. But the MB leadership underestimated the military’s audacity, and now the MB is facing decapitation.

The MB belatedly realized the politics of revolution; after the masses were ignored and even antagonized by the MB, the people refused to rally to their defense when the military attacked. The masses rallied instead to the side of the attackers, which, under the circumstances, seemed to many as the only way to keep the MB from retaining state power.

This is where some Egyptian revolutionaries stumbled. So eager were they to overcome the immediate obstacle of the Muslim Brotherhood that they gave unconditional support to the military to remove this obstacle for them. It seemed practical to overcome the revolution’s most immediate problem — the MB — by using another enemy of the revolution, the generals. But a policy of pragmatism isn’t suited for the complex issues that the revolution is facing.

The Egyptian left and labor movement failed to put forth a united, independent solution in the face of the July 3rd “popular coup” and the crisis provoked by the MB’s militant civil disobedience response. Some on the left even gave their public blessing and a blank check to the military to “deal with” the Brotherhood, akin to bringing a tiger into the home to deal with a rat infestation.

The military was thus allowed to take the initiative, and during times of crisis the will to act is a major ingredient for victory. The revolutionaries had a valid fear of the Muslim Brotherhood since they represent a major threat to the revolution, but now another foe of the revolution, the military, is stronger than it’s been in years, and has quickly regained its position as the revolution’s primary obstacle.

Overcoming obstacles is a constant feature of all revolutions. After overcoming the obstacles of Mubarak and Morsi, the revolution will seek to steamroll over the next hurdle in its path; the millions of people who demanded Morsi’s removal have not disappeared, nor have they been cowed into silence.

Many analysts view each obstacle as insurmountable and have thus declared the revolution dead after every stage. When Morsi was elected, the revolution was declared dead; and when the revolution flared by the millions to oust Morsi, the revolution was quickly declared dead again when the generals used terror against the Brotherhood.

But the current support for the military is inevitably temporary, since the demands that continue to fuel the revolution will soon become the focus. This is why the military is eager to put forth a new face to their regime in the form of another set of speedy elections or “national salvation government” that was cobbled together on July 3rd. The military itself remains incapable of directly confronting the revolution, whose is strength is growing.

But after each obstacle is overcome, the revolution deepens its analysis and strengthens its morale, since nothing fuels revolution like success. The July 3rd “popular coup” still resonates as a major victory of the revolution, regardless of the bloodshed that followed. Every time the people exert their power in the streets and win their demands, the revolution gains immense strength, since the power of the people is re-affirmed.

The ultimate goal of the revolution is resolving the fundamental social and economic issues that gave birth to it; these are the problems that prevent the majority of Egyptians from living a dignified life, while these same problems enrich a tiny minority of Egyptians — and foreigners — at the expense of everybody else. This is the focus that Egyptian revolutionaries must unite under, and it must be done soon.

Egyptians must unite around a set of necessary and revolutionary measures, such as the reversal of the privatization of public industries that have resulted in layoffs, lower wages, and factory closures; the end to all IMF and World Bank dictated policies — a demand that would include Egypt refusing to repay any more of the debts that Mubarak and his cronies racked up. A crucial demand is for a national jobs program to create new — and reinforce older — public works projects. Such a jobs program could be funded by re-nationalizing Egypt’s previously privatized public banks, such as the Bank of Alexandria that was sold to Italy in 2006.

Organizing around such concrete socio-economic issues takes away from the importance of whether or not one is a Muslim — or of what particular denomination — and focuses the struggle on the real class issues that underlie the revolution and continue to breathe life into it.

Such organizing will also help to put an abrupt end to the possibility of a prolonged civil war, which would benefit both sides of the counter-revolution by hiding the political issues that the Muslim Brotherhood and the generals refuse to address. A civil war — perhaps of the Syrian variety — would bolster the Muslim Brotherhood in that they would retain their cadre — and possibly new foreign fighters to wage jihad against the military. In such a scenario, the military would retain the allegiance of many Egyptians who simply want their safety protected.

The only way to prevent this is by directing the revolutionary energy towards solving the actual social problems of Egyptians, which would attract both the rank and file soldier and rank and file Muslim Brother. One of the original slogans of the revolution was: “They are eating pigeon and chicken, but we eat beans everyday.”

To prevent the possibility of a civil war between the Islamists and the military regime, the Egyptian revolutionaries must take the initiative. If the rank and file of the Nasserite Party, the Tamaroud movement, the April 6th movement, socialist and trade union groups, and others put forth a united set of demands to resolve the economic crisis by taking revolutionary action, the true voice of the revolution will have found a common platform, a potent expression, and the power of the generals and the Muslim Brotherhood will instantly be weakened, since the rank and file of both groups would be natural recruits and would most likely be drawn to such demands.

These concrete demands would finally expose the class regime behind Mubarak and Morsi, leading the people to eventually demand that the regime itself be targeted, resulting in a more conscious revolutionary movement that the military would be unable to control.

history,

Talented Mr. Kerry Backslides on Russian Deal over Syrian Chemicals

Finian Cunningham

This article first appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation Online Journal.

Observers of John F Kerry’s more than 40-year career as a successful politician on Capitol Hill note a consummate chameleonic quality in his wheeling and dealing. This dubious quality has helped him ascend from a callow anti-Vietnam war spokesman in the early 1970s to become America’s most senior diplomat who has distinguished himself in recent weeks as one of the most strident voices calling for military attacks on Syria.

According to critics, Kerry’s shameless careerism saw him marry into “old money” in order to promote his political ambitions in the U.S. senate to his present pinnacle of American Secretary of State. A former Democratic presidential candidate, it is a fair bet that the talented Mr. Kerry still has an eye on occupying the White House sometime in the future. This oleaginous operator proved his talents within hours of shaking hands with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, when the pair appeared to come up with a ground-breaking formula to avert a military clash over Syria.

Last weekend – after three days of intense negotiations – Lavrov and Kerry emerged to announce that they had brokered a deal to eliminate chemical weapons held by the Syrian government. To the relief of many around the world, the apparent accord staved off what only days before that were threats of an imminent military strike on Syria by U.S. naval and air forces. With at least five U.S. warships off Syria toting more than 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles, U.S. President Barack Obama sounded more than a little unhinged when he declared menacingly: “The United States of America doesn’t do pinpricks”.

Kerry had been one of the most vociferous figures in Washington calling for such an intervention, even though such action was in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law – amounting to aggression, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a guest editorial column in the New York Times last week. Kerry’s war rally during Congressional hearings was also in sharp contrast to American public opinion, implacably opposed to what is seen as yet another reckless overseas military adventure. The popular anti-war sentiment among the American public resonated with international opinion, which views the official U.S. push for military action in Syria as a potentially catastrophic collision in a powder-keg Middle East.

Given the high stakes and the complexity of issues, the Lavrov-Kerry deal in Geneva came as a purported triumph in international diplomacy. Russia, in particular, derived global kudos for having initiated the proposal to put Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles under international control. That move seemed to placate Washington’s demand for bellicose sanctions on the Syrian government, whom the U.S. had been vehemently accusing of using such munitions in a deadly attack near the capital, Damascus, on 21 August.

Standing together and sharing smiles with his Russian “friend” at the conclusion of talks in Geneva last Sunday, Kerry said: “The United States and Russia are committed to remove chemical weapons from Syria.” Kerry also added that “there was no military solution” to the crisis. What a turnaround that seemed by Kerry-the-peacenik-turned-warrior.

While the American diplomat did reiterate calls for tough consequences in the event of the Syrian authorities not delivering on decommissioning of chemical weapons, it was noticeable that in the concluding press conference in Geneva Kerry did not repeat earlier threats of military force. It was also notable that Kerry backed off assertions that it was Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces which had committed the atrocity on 21 August.

For his part, Russia’s Lavrov said that any future consequences for the Syrian government non-compliance would have to be worked out through negotiations among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Britain, France, China and Russia. Lavrov clearly said that the deal was predicated on a peaceful resolution of the impasse. And, for his part, Kerry did not contradict that stated aim.

It was therefore disconcerting that immediately after the ostensible mutual accord thrashed out in Geneva that the American Secretary of State embarked on a global victory lap as if had secured a political advantage for the U.S. against Syria’s Assad. The first stop for Kerry was to greet the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The Israeli leader could not conceal his glee on receiving Kerry and declared that “Syria should be stripped of all its chemical weapons… to make our entire region a lot safer.”

Given that Israel illegally occupies Syrian territory – the Golan Heights – for the past 40 years, and has launched three unprovoked airstrikes on its northern neighbor in this year alone; and given that Israel is reckoned to possess bigger chemical weapons stockpiles than Syria and is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, as well as holding hundreds of illicit nuclear missiles, Kerry’s indulging in jingoistic felicitations in Jerusalem could be construed
as diplomatic bad faith, if not crass showmanship.

Next stop for the mercurial Kerry was Paris where on Monday he was flanked by the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and Britain’s William Hague. The press conference was like an all boys session, with each politician trying to outdo each other on who could sound the most muscular towards Syria. All three politicians were vowing that military force was an option if Syria did not comply with handing over its chemical weapons forthwith.

Kerry appeared to relish at sounding like the top dog in the pack. “We all agree – and that includes Russia – that there will be consequences… with military force an option on the table.”

Significantly, the American also brazenly told media that the chemical weapons deal worked out in Geneva was not a reprieve from Washington’s aim of regime change in Russia’s longtime ally Syria.

“Nothing of what we’ve done is meant to offer any notion to Assad that there is some legitimacy to his process, that he has some extended period as a leader,” Kerry said. When word got to Russia, Sergei Lavrov could not conceal his dismay at the sudden renewed belligerence emanating from the Western powers and from Kerry in particular. With magnanimity, Lavrov calmly and discreetly said: “This shows a lack of understanding about what John Kerry and I had agreed.”

So what can we conclude? The obvious point is that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is not a man whose word can be trusted. As with much of his political career, he seems adept at tailoring his words expediently to whatever audience he desires to ingratiate.

More importantly, the rapid change of political gear by Kerry and his Western allies shows that the primary ineluctable objective is regime change in Syria. The U.S. and its allies have conducted a covert criminal war for the past 30 months to get rid of the Assad governmentfor a variety of geopolitical reasons, including accommodating their regional proxies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and undermining Syria’s allies Iran, Russia and China in the vital oil and gas-rich Middle East.

With recent setbacks to the Western-backed mercenaries inflicted by Assad’s armed forces, the U.S. is preparing for an overt military intervention to implement its illegal agenda. The red line of chemical weapons use in Syria set forth by U.S. President Obama last year has always been a convenient trigger for such intervention under the guise of responding out of “humanitarian concern”. The rush to blame the Assad government for committing attacks with chemical weapons is part and parcel of fabricating a provocation and pretext for Washington’s military attack – an attack that would otherwise rightly be viewed as an outrageous aggression.

 In recent weeks, Washington and its allies have judged that the political climate around the world and in their own countries is not conducive to an all-out military strike on Syria. Or, at least, not yet.

In that way, it would appear that the deal hatched with Russia to decommission Syria’s chemical weapons is being used by Washington as an added lever for its criminal agenda of regime change, not as a genuine attempt to avert conflict in that country and the region more widely.

The haste with which the US, Britain and France have jumped to damning accusations against the Assad government over the UN chemical weapons report released this week is disturbingly consistent with their threat of military force. Shamelessly, these powers appear to be using the decommissioning of Syrian chemical weapons as a cover for legitimizing this aggression.

history,

Movie Review: Dirty Wars

Brad Forrest

Jeremy Scahill, reporter for such outlets as The Nation and Democracy Now, has come out with the most hard hitting documentary of recent years entitled, “Dirty Wars.” He takes us around the globe from Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia documenting the crimes of U.S imperialistic foreign policy in tragic detail.

The documentary starts off in Gardez, Afghanistan, where a night raid by strange-looking, long-bearded American troops ends up in the butchery of a family, one of the targets being an American-trained Afghan policeman. To cover up their tracks the secretive American troops extract the bullets from the dead bodies with knives. The villagers refer to the mysterious killers as “the American Taliban.”

Scahill then returns to the U.S. to dig deeper into the covered-up massacre, which results in fierce denials from the American political and military establishment. After intensive research on the atrocity, Scahill testifies before a congressional committee composed of . . . empty seats. The elite politicians apparently had no stomach for answering questions about their sordid machinations.

Scahill’s documentary is a very instructive look at the U.S. media, and reveals them as tools of big business and the banks. The film shows Scahill attempting valiantly to get out the news of U.S. foreign atrocities to the public through civilized debate that goes nowhere; the media showers him with denunciations, and when these don’t work they stonewall him.

In following his story about U.S. interventions around the globe, Scahill discovers a secretive, law breaking elite U.S. paramilitary unit that answers only to the President, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Not only is JSOC guilty of the Afghan massacre, but, as it turns out, other atrocities abroad as well.

Just as Scahill is about to break the story he is threatened by a high ranking military officer, but then an even more incredible thing happens; JSOC is credited with the “successful” killing of Osama Bin Laden, and suddenly this illegal death squad goes from top secret to media darling.

Dirty Wars follows Scahill to Yemen where members of JSOC destroyed an innocent village under the pretext that Al-Qaeda was operating there. Scahill interviews a wealthy Yemeni politician who fills him in on the massacre, while a well known Yemeni journalist who covered the story was unceremoniously clapped in jail by the Yemeni government at the personal behest of none other than Barack Obama!

On coming back to the United States Scahill interviews many military veterans who fill him in on the functions of this JSOC force. Essentially, these special forces types are wild about hair raising adventures, ready for anything, even the most bloody and criminal operations across the globe, which reminds one of nothing other than Adolf Hitler’s elite Waffen SS paramilitary units, only on a far vaster scale than anything that the fascist madman could ever dream of.

Trying to get information about the activities of these vicious special units, Scahill struggles through all sorts of Freedom of Information Act requests but is rebuffed. Talking to Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Scahill is unable to elicit any information, as Wyden hides behind the old “it’s classified” routine.

As Karl Marx noted, the government of a nation state is essentially the “executive committee” of the ruling class; it is a veiled dictatorship of the capitalists who own the tremendous profits that enable them to bend the government to their will. Laws can be ignored or instantly changed to suit the interests of the very wealthy, while working people are jailed immediately for ignoring minor laws, and find it nearly impossible to implement new ones in their favor.

Particularly chilling is the move by U.S imperialism to begin targeting U.S. civilians for assassination. The film focuses on one of the first of these unconstitutional acts: the assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, a cleric that had been radicalized by the invasion of Iraq. After the Iraq invasion Al-Awlaki began to make radical speeches in favor of Jihad, calling for national liberation through the medium of Islamic extremism.

However, inflammatory speeches are not illegal and the government could prove nothing with regard to his affiliation with any terrorist group. Al-Awlaki ended up on the wrong end of a drone strike, one of the first U.S. citizens targeted for destruction. The film reaches its emotional zenith when Al-Awlaki’s teenage son is later the victim of a drone strike, along with his equally innocent teenaged friends.

Scahill documents the emergence of these war crimes over the whole globe, as the JSOC units conduct clandestine, illegal wars on virtually every continent.

He eventually makes a trip to Mogadishu, Somalia to interview a local warlord who had been tasked with killing Somalians on the U.S. “kill list.” In an interview with a Somali warlord, the killer praises the Americans who taught him the art of murder, saying that Americans are masters of war, they are “our teachers.” In league with violent reactionary forces the world over, it appears that the American war machine has its fingers in every pie.

Jeremy Scahill brings into focus many of the crimes of U.S. imperialism since the start of the Iraq War, and in the name of the ever-ready bogie of the War on Terrorism.

The empiricism of the film is one of its undoubted merits; the “high crimes and misdemeanors” of American imperialism are fully fleshed out and absorbing. However, Scahill’s journalistic empiricism — “just the facts” — is never fit into any kind of theoretical framework, leaving the viewer to wonder why all of this madness is happening.

For an answer one need look no farther than the great socialists of the twentieth century, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, who pointed out that by the time of World War One, the great powers had embarked on a policy of imperialism — where the banks and corporations had a dominant position in economic life, and sought a foreign policy of domination and exploitation of the peoples of the whole globe for raw materials, markets and spheres of influence.

Lenin said that this inter-imperialistic struggle between the great powers would lead to war after war unless the working class intervened to end the capitalist economic basis of imperialism, and replace it with a democratic, planned economy.

With the downfall of the Stalinist Soviet Union, the imperialists of the world and especially the mightiest of them all, U.S. imperialism, thought anything was possible. Seizing the strategic oil resources of the Middle East and placing a cordon around Russia and China is undoubtedly the road being taken by American imperialism, which requires an expansion of blatantly illegal foreign wars, using drone assassinations and backing rogue regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Somalia, etc. “Dirty Wars” is just one manifestation of the eruption of aggression that American imperialism is using to “organize the globe” in its own image.

In the final analysis, the nation state can be reduced to “bodies of armed men” and their appendages, in defense of the economic system of the rich, capitalism. The American military is an instrument in the hands of the capitalist class used to oppress the entire globe. And because American capitalism can longer dominate through economic means alone, it relies ever more strongly on illegal, militaristic answers to the goal of global domination.

Jeremy Scahill has done the labor movement of the whole world a great service by exposing the bloody, insane, robber nature of the capitalist system in general and mighty American imperialism in particular. It deserves a wide audience.

history, Legal & Law,

Top Three Media Lies About the Syrian Peace Talks

The media spin machine is again kicking into high gear, perfectly timed to accompany the “Geneva II” Syria peace talks. The lies are necessary to give the Obama administration an upper hand in the peace negotiations, which are not being used to pursue peace, but instead, to accomplish the Obama administration’s longstanding goal of Syrian regime change. Here are the top three Western media lies about the Syrian peace talks.

1. The removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was an agreed upon “precondition” for the Geneva II peace talks.

This lie has been repeated over and over by government and media alike. It has zero basis. The Obama administration claims that this precondition was expressed in the “Geneva communiqué,” which was a road map agreement meant to guide the Geneva II peace talks, agreed upon by some of the major parties of the negotiations, including Russia.

The communiqué does indeed call for a negotiated political transition, but nowhere does it state that such a transition cannot include President Assad. Such a condition would have been outright rejected by Russia.

In fact, the Geneva communiqué includes this crucial statement:

“[a transition government] could include members of the present [Syrian] government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.” Nowhere does it specifically mention or imply President Assad.

The Los Angeles Times recently stepped out of line and exposed this lie:

“[John] Kerry regularly cites the “Geneva communiqué,” a kind of peace road map hammered out in June 2012 during a United Nations-organized summit. But the document does not explicitly call for Assad’s ouster.”

The Obama administration’s constant repeating of this lie only causes divisions in the peace process, undermining the chances that the peace process will succeed.

The Obama administration is especially adamant about this “Assad must go” pre-condition because it knows that, if free and fair elections were held tomorrow in Syria — as part of a UN-backed “transitional process” — President Assad would likely win. This is the result of the ethnic and religious minorities in Syria that have rallied behind President Assad, since they’ve witnessed the consistent religious sectarian atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed rebels (which the U.S. media loves to ignore or minimize).

Assad would probably win an election since there is also simply no one else on the government side or the opposition side with his name recognition or popularity. The U.S.-backed rebel war in Syria has vastly strengthened Assad’s political hand, but you wouldn’t know it from the Western, anti-Syrian media.

The rebels have never controlled more than one Syrian city, namely Raqaa, which is dominated by al-Qaeda and is governed under a Taliban-style interpretation of Islamic law, which includes a strict ban on music.

2) The U.S.-backed rebel militias are “moderate” Islamic groups.

The fact that this lie can even be uttered publicly without encountering ridicule is a major success of Western media propaganda. The media narrative paints the U.S.-backed “good” rebels fighting both the Syrian government and the “bad” al-Qaeda linked rebels.

But the “good” rebels in the U.S.-backed Islamic Front share the same vision for Syria’s future as the al-Qaeda rebels: a fundamentalist version of Sharia law, where women live in virtual house arrest and where religious minorities are second class citizens (non-Sunni Muslims would simply be butchered, as they are on a regular basis in Syria, which is again minimized or ignored in the Western media).

The “moderate rebel” lie was further exposed recently when a top leader in the most powerful militia, Ahrar al Sham, within the Islamic Front declared Ahrar al Sham to be the “real” representative of al-Qaeda in Syria, as opposed to the rival al-Qaeda faction that the Islamic Front had recently begun fighting.

Ahrar al Sham has long been known to be an al-Qaeda type Islamist extremist group; the Western media simply chose to ignore it. But when it was recently made official, the U.S. media chose to continue its ignoring stance, since actually reporting on it would destroy their “moderate rebel” lie. The Western media also continues to ignore the fact that the “moderate” U.S.-backed Islamic Front issued a joint statement that aligned itself to the extremist views of Ahrar al Sham, the “real” al-Qaeda.

3) New Evidence of Syrian government “industrial scale” torture. 

The Western media recently blasted the “breaking news” of brand new evidence showing massive “Nazi-like” torture and murder by the Syrian government, released at the beginning of the Syrian peace talks. This may or may not be true, but the lie here is that the Western media promoted the “evidence” as being unquestionably true, when the story doesn’t reach first base when it comes to evidence-based journalism.

All we really know is that there are hundreds of pictures of dead people that a “trusted source” says were killed by the Syrian government. The trusted source was designated as such by pro-Western intellectuals, who have earned professional “credibility” by helping convict war criminals in the International Criminal Court [ICC]. But as author Diane Johnstone pointed out in her excellent book “Fools Crusade,” about the war against Yugoslavia — as well as in other articles — the ICC has long been used as a tool to create a pretext for war, or a tool to justify a war after the fact.

The evidence was written in a “study” paid for by the government of Qatar, which has long funneled cash, guns, and Jihadis to Syria in aid of the anti-government rebels.

Again, we don’t know if the story is true or not. But such an important investigation should be conducted by the UN or another more objective institution. The same biased dynamic occurred in relation to the infamous chemical weapons attack, where no real evidence was provided, though an unending string of “experts” were quoted in the Western media, testifying to the guilt of the Syrian Government. But when Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Seymour Hirsch reported that the Obama administration lied about the rebels not having the capacity to perform such an attack, the Western media simply ignored the legend of journalism. The wrench in the propaganda machine was simply dislodged.

How do these lies become such permanent fixtures in the Western media? An excellent article in The Guardian newspaper recently discussed in depth the principal sources the Western media has used to understand the Syrian conflict.

The article exposed the incredible bias of some of the most important Western media sources on Syria, which is why they were handpicked in the first place to be “expert” sources: they had political agendas that were aligned with the U.S. government’s foreign policy decisions. The other side of the conflict was completely ignored, except when it was targeted for ridicule. Thus, Americans and Europeans have a completely one-sided, if not fantasy-based perspective of what is happening in Syria. This has been systematic since the beginning of the conflict, as happened with the Yugoslav, Afghan, Iraq, and Libya wars.

The result of this media-led ignorance could result in yet more unnecessary deaths in a country that now has millions of refugees and over a 100,000 dead. Obama seems like he intends to exploit these peace talks with the intention of blaming the Syrian government for their failure. Having failed to defeat Assad on the battlefield in a proxy war, the Obama administration is trying to win the propaganda war. And once peace talks have failed, talk of war will resume, since “all other options have failed.”