Norm’s note: I’m going to juxtapose, way down below, two links to two pieces that I think people should read together, well, maybe not at the same time, as if that were even possible, but so as to set up what I deem to be a necessary contrast that to my mind underlines a general confusion among lefties and to which most of them seem to be oblivious. After that, a bit of music to entertain us in our confusion.
But before I provide you with the links, as a contextualizing preamble, I want to share with you a comment (here slightly edited) that I just left over at a friend’s blog pertaining to an article recently published by Will Morrow:
Among the left, as with everyone else, there is a lot of confusion about what is going on. I note the critique of ‘Joseph Daher’ and the implication is that Daher is some sort of pseudo-leftist [and pro-imperialist apologist]. I disagree, although I might concede that given the lack of organization and leadership among ordinary Syrians and the balance of forces on the ground in Syria, all overwhelmingly in favor of the Assad regime, it may well be that the best choice in the circumstances — to avoid further and needless bloodshed, needless because of the overwhelming force arrayed against the genuine Syrian insurgents, which in contradistinction to all claims otherwise, as also intimated, here, by Will Morrow, really do exist — would be to desist or to accept a tentative or interim defeat.
To be honest, I’m no longer certain who the pseudo-leftists really are. Certainly, the individuals and groups Morrow here indicts are to my mind a far cry from being what Morrow claims they are. I’d accept that between the WSWS and the Australian Trotskies there may be disagreements as to which tactics are to be recommended to the insurgent factions of ordinary Syrians, but to claim that the likes of Daher and the Australians are pseudo-leftists strikes me as being more than a bit bizarre.
To dispell any doubts that there really was a ‘Syrian uprising,’ all that one has to do is read Raymond Hinnebusch’s masterful analysis of the complicated events which resulted in the Syrian civil war, [yes, a civil war], and do note that Hinnebusch is not affiliated with any formal ‘leftist’ organization, but speaks as an independent and highly competent researcher of Middle Eastern affairs. Of course, to assert that Syrians really did rise up in numbers against the Ba’athist regime doesn’t mean that there wasn’t an attempt by so-called foreign powers to co-opt or quell (by terror) the insurgency by infiltrating ostensibly Salafist mercenaries. In addition, there is every indication that the Russians and Syrians and Iranians AND FUKUSA are working hand-in-glove to quash a popular insurgency that yet persists. Furthermore, insurgencies are occurring throughout the whole of the Middle East: what of Iraq and Yemen and Libya and Egypt and now Iran? This isn’t [too] hard to understand, in my opinion.
Consider this comment that I left over at Off-G only a few days ago:
My Off-G comment begins:
But . . . but . . . what if the idea is . . . oh . . . I don’t know . . . say to strengthen “the position of both Assad and Putin, because [the US, UK, and France] have given them the basis for rallying their own people around them against an external threat?”
Would then the missile attack not also have had the self-same appearance, namely, of seemingly showing that FUKUSA “. . . had no real appetite for regime change, still less for an unsimulated real life war,” while maintaining the illusion that FUKUSA is the mortal enemy of both Syria and Russia and, of course, Iran?
I just read this in an article published by Al Jazeera:
Despite the pathos with which US President Donald Trump announced the military operation, its result turned out to be less than modest. Putting aside the contradictory reports on how many missiles struck their intended targets, they did not cause any military casualties and failed to inflict any serious damage on Syrian military infrastructure. Compared to the recent Israeli air raid on the T-4 base, the result of the April 14 strikes seems rather insignificant.
In this sense, the US, UK and French strikes were no different from the military action in April 2017, when after the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, the US bombed regime-operated Shayrat airfield.
The difference this year was that Washington blamed not only the Syrian regime for the chemical attack but also its patron, Moscow. This gave the situation a higher degree of tension, increasing speculations about a direct clash between the US and Russia.
Direct confrontation was predictably avoided, and the whole operation seemed to be no more than a “performance”.
Assad was content
The party that stood to benefit the most from this situation was the Syrian regime and its allies. There was no change in the balance of power on the ground as a result of the strikes and forces loyal to the Syrian regime suffered no losses. [my emphasis — N.P.]
A few hours after the strikes, Bashar al-Assad entered social media politics by posting a video of himself purportedly arriving triumphantly at his workplace in Damascus. Local and foreign media then showed scenes of Syrians celebrating in the streets.
Assad seemed to weather the media speculation storm quite well, too. Last year, the US attacks on Shayrat military base took people by surprise and left the international media speculating on the possibility of more serious US military actions against the regime. This year, after the “perfectly executed” strikes – as Trump described them – it became clear that there is nothing much behind the White House rhetoric except populism.
To Assad, it is clear that the US doesn’t have any strategy to resolve the Syrian conflict and is not even able to employ an effective mechanism to preclude the use of chemical weapons.
What in all of this seems to be obvious but that I am not seeing?
The Russians fire cruise missiles into Syria [a while back, I know], and it helps the Syrian government; [t]he U.S. and Co. fire cruise missiles into Syria, and — wouldn’t you know it — it also helps the Syrian government, and “did not cause any military casualties and failed to inflict any serious damage on Syrian military infrastructure.”
Are the Americans really that weak, incompetent and intimidated?
Or do all of the capitalist states having interests in the Middle East not have a common interest in keeping groups of seemingly restive someones under control?
And doesn’t the restiveness appear to be general throughout the entire region[?] How are things in Yemen? What [about in] Iran? What about in Iraq? And Libya? How’s that working out?
I wonder which is the scarier prospect: losing complete control over the masses of the Middle East or not getting a piece of the economic pie that everyone has already agreed upon behind the scenes, at the level of oligarchical negotiations?
My Off-G comment ends.
I left the gist of that comment over at Bramhall’s site. Her reply:
Thanks for your comment, Norman. I think there’s growing evidence that Middle East restiveness, aka the Arab Spring was a deliberate CIA/State Dept “color revolution,” orchestrated by the same people who orchestrated the color revolutions in Eastern Europe. If you haven’t read Arabesque$: Enquête sur le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes arabes by Ahmed Bensaada, I think you would really enjoy it.
And this was my comeback:
Thank you for the link, Stuart.
I think there are a lot of moving parts to what is happening in the Middle East.
CIA covert operations cannot determine spontaneous social movements that emerge out of social conditions that are structural and system-wide.
At most, black ops can co-opt trends to the degree that the trends have not firmly consolidated into conscious networks and organizations that become the articulated conscious expression of mass movements.
If the CIA and similar institutions are capable of ‘agency,’ ordinary people are also capable of ‘agency’ when conditions are both ripe and impel ‘group’ or ‘collective’ action.
That people in the Middle East are indeed capable of and have demonstrated a capacity for conscious organization under difficult and repressive conditions is attested to by Ramond Hinnebusch, as but one example.
This doesn’t mean that the awareness that accompanies these broadbased rebellions will be adequately informed by a comprehension of how to actually resolve their untenable circumstances, or that they aren’t vulnerable to being co-opted, but it does mean that people can of themselves and do sometimes become insurgent without either covert instigation or intervention by foreign powers, although to be sure, the state institutions and organized herarchical networks of local privilege being thus threatened by such instability will seek to misdirect popular grievances in such a way as to preempt either direct challenges to aspects of the social order or an outright overthrow, and one tactic is to blame a foreign power as being behind or orchestrating the mounting social chaos, which is not to discount that covert operations can indeed at the same time be inserted into the melee from without, be it in favor of either helping to fortify or to weaken the system of rule, all depending on an assessment of the balance of forces on the ground with an eye to those advantages percieved to be leverageable under the circumstances.
So all of that was my reply in response to Will Morrow’s post.
In my opinion, there are elements of willful blindness and misinformation on all sides. Some refuse to believe that ordinary people are capable of acting en masse according to their own lights, however misguided they may be, that is to say, that ordinary Syrians really did and continue to make an attempt to escape the control of the current system of rule, and, on the ohter hand, it may be that others don’t see that perhaps the so-called revolution, which really was at hand and a revolution of sorts, “had come too early,” meaning that the genuine rebels don’t yet have a sufficient grasp of the structural dynamics of their predicament to be able to devise effective strategies for what is, in fact, a righteous rebellion.
Now for the two links to the pieces to which I referred, and in no particular order:
a) Pseudo-left parties promote US-French-British bombing of Syria by Will Morrow
b) Syria: from ‘authoritarian upgrading’ to revolution? by Raymond Hinnebusch (11/01/2012) | International Affairs
Finally, just to get a sampling of the so-called “pro-imperialist” stance that Morrow attributes to the Australian Trotskies, have a read of this:
If you do manage to find a trace of “pro-imperialist” tripe in anything that Bloodworth writes in that excerpt or the piece from which the excerpt was lifted, be sure to point it out to me. Bloodworth is one of those Aussies who associates with all those other Aussies that to my mind Morrow’s piece slanders. (BTW, and while I have it in mind: if you haven’t read this piece by Michael Karadjis (oh, do roll your eyes, because, yes, he’s another one of those lefty-type Aussies, albeit perhaps not a Trotskyite), The Trump-Putin coalition for Assad lays waste to Syria: Imperial agreement and carve-up behind the noisy rhetoric, you probably really should, as it does raise some serious questions about exactly who is allied with whom and to what purposes. Just some things of which to be mindful before deciding that you “know” for sure what the “whole deal” is about.)
My, what a tangled world we live in!
Anyone for some CCR? Yep.
As long as I remember
The rain’s been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’
Confusion on the ground
Good men through the ages
Tryin’ to find the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain
I went down Virginia
Seekin’ shelter from the storm
Caught up in the fable
I watched the tower grow
Five year plans and new deals
Wrapped in golden chains
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain?
Heard the singers playin’
How we cheered for more
The crowd then rushed together
Tryin’ to keep warm
Still the rain kept pourin’
Fallin’ on my ears
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain?
Songwriters: Glenn Gregory / Ian Marsh / Martyn Ware
Who’ll Stop the Rain lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC