Assad’s Bloodhounds: the Party for Socialism and Liquidation

by Pham Binh on August 19, 2012

“Someone has to be the bloodhound.”

Social Democrat Gustav Noske uttered these words in 1919 before organizing the right-wing death squads that killed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknicht, two revolutionary former leaders of the very same German Social Democratic Party Noske belonged to.

Martyred by bloodhounds of the counter-revolution.

Almost a century later, some on the left have once again taken it upon themselves to be the bloodhounds, not on behalf of the capitalist system but of one of its henchmen, Bashar Al-Assad, hereditary dictator of Syria. Despite the many differences between the Arab Spring and the era of wars and revolutions that rocked Europe from 1914-1921, one thing is remarkably similar – both divided the left internationally into three trends: pro-revolution, anti-revolution, and centrists in the middle who align with one camp and then the other depending on the issues and circumstances.

As far as anyone can tell, there is no wing of the Syrian opposition that seeks to physically liquidate the revolution the way Noske did. Instead, we find Assad’s biggest bloodhounds abroad, outside of Syria’s borders, on the so-called anti-imperialist left in the West. They never tire of airbrushing the records of bloody, collaborationist “left” tyrants like Muammar Ghadafi and Assad while smearing revolutionary movements against their rule as terrorist, racist, pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist, and neoliberal in character.

For these bloodhounds, every revolution against “left” dictators is a fresh chance to run over the man standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, an opportunity to mow down the protestors who brought down the Berlin Wall with machine gun fire and re-open Stalin’s beloved gulags under new management.

One of the worst offenders on the Marxist left is the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) with Workers World Party not far behind. PSL refused to support Libya’s revolutionaries in February of 2011 before they begged the imperialist West to use its military superiority over Ghadafi to counter his military superiority over them (at which point the Western left’s centrists joined PSL in falsely claiming that there was no Libyan revolutionary movement worthy of the name and agitated in conjunction with the bloodhounds against NATO’s attacks on Ghadafi’s forces).

Hezbollah’s boots on the ground. Aleppo Citadel, Syria.

PSL seized on the popularity of the pre-Ghadafi Libyan flag among protestors as “proof” that the rebellion was monarchist in character, nevermind that it was a revolution directed against a man who proclaimed himself the “King of Kings,” nevermind Libya’s first free and fair elections for a national legislature that now rules in his place. Today PSL loyally parrots the Syrian state media as it makes victims out to be criminals and criminals out to be victims by talking about foreign-backed “terrorist” rebels while studiously ignoring Iran’s and Hezbollah’s boots on the ground, playing up sectarian elements within the Syrian opposition while pretending Shia support for the revolution does not exist, and raising a hue and cry over interference with Assad’s counter-revolution from the imperialist West while “forgetting” about the arms, fuel, and economic subsidies provided to the regime by the imperialist East.

This is what passes for Marxist analysis these days!

Thankfully, we will never see the Ghadafi masoleum that PSL plans to erect in Washington, D.C.’s Red Square after a PSL-led revolution here because they (like their three-letter “competitors”) are incapable of accomplishing anything so audacious or liberating. Bloodhounds are dangerous not because of their rigorous arguments, convincing analysis, or ability to inspire and lead successful mass movements but because of their ability to track, attack, and kill. If that is all they can do, they should at least bark in support of the right side: the bourgeois-democratic revolution, not the bourgeois counter-revolution!

Bourgeois-democratic revolution 2.0

Once upon a time, Marxists were the biggest, staunchest champions of bourgeois-democratic revolutions not in spite of their socialist convictions but because of them. “[B]oth the direct interests of the proletariat and the interests of its struggle for the final aims of socialism require the fullest possible measure of political liberty and, consequently, the replacement of the autocratic form of government by a democratic republic” is how a party resolution Lenin quoted approvingly put it.

Political freedom is the best and indeed the only road to a sustainable post-capitalist order (whether that end point is labeled socialism, anarchism, communism, or horizontalism is not as important as actually getting there; we are long overdue). Lenin was prescient when he wrote along these lines in 1905 that “whoever wants to reach socialism by a different road, other than that of political democracy, will inevitably arrive at conclusions that are absurd and reactionary both in the economic and the political sense.” The history of the 20th century is littered with reactionary absurdities of this type. All of them failed without exception. Hitching the wagon of the socialist movement to the governments of the USSR, China, Albania, Cambodia, and now (for the bloodhounds) Ghadafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria helped drag the international socialist movement back to the fringes where it was before the days of even the First International.

Working and oppressed peoples will never flock to the banner of Marxism again unless and until we prove in practice to be the biggest and most ardent champions of not just their social and economic freedom but their political freedom as well. Freedom from want is just as important as freedom of thought, expression, and assembly. Lenin, following Marx, understood that we will never get to the former unless and until we win and utilize the latter.

To “win the battle of democracy” we must first win the battle for democracy.

This battle for democracy rages in every country affected by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions known as the Arab Spring. Claims that the Egyptian, Tunisian, and Yemeni bourgeois-democratic revolutions were genuine mass revolts while their Libyan and Syrian counterparts were foreign-engineered or foreign-backed-and-therefore-hijacked – advanced by bloodhounds and centrists alike – are laughable fairy tales unworthy of self-proclaimed Marxists. This is not the reality on the ground and does not correspond in the slightest with the experience of the Arab and North African masses who are toppling autocrats “left” and right alike using all available means, including imperialist airstrikes on their enemies when unavoidable. They simply do not care about the Western left’s attachment to “socialist” policies such as Ghadafi’s free housing or “principled” opposition to Western intervention which, in the case of Libya, they exploited for their own ends: ousting Ghadafi and completing the first stage of their revolution.

The Libyans dared to win and the centrists and bloodhounds dared to castigate them for it.

The comrades who lined up with the bloodhounds over NATO’s Libya operation under the slogan “hands off Libya” are doing so again over Syria under the slogan “hands off Syria.” In doing so, they provide a perfect example of why the “revolution yes, intervention no” and “no to dictatorship, no to intervention” trend on the Western left is centrist: when imperialist powers intervene against counter-revolutionaries, the centrists join hands with the bloodhounds while claiming they are still for revolution, their alliance with the revolution’s enemies to act against the revolution’s interests notwithstanding.

Think twice before joining hands with the bloodhounds. The Syrian revolution has enough enemies. It does not need frenemies.

My other writings on the Arab Spring:


{ 106 comments… read them below or add one }

Arthur August 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I still don’t see that “Hands Off Syria” is centrist.

They can either bring their followers along with them by pretending to support the revolution while actually working against it (as usual), or they can ditch their followers by openly supporting the counter revolution.

Lying about which side they are on isn’t the same as vacillating.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 10:07 am

The slogan itself is not centrist but many of the people and forces who raise it are because they also claim to be pro-revolution and yet end up agitating for the same demands (“hands off Syria” and “no to Western intervention”) as the supporters of the counter-revolution. They wander and vacillate depending on which way the imperialist wind blows.


Tom Cod August 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Isn’t it hyperbole and a little demagogic to compare those holding views in obscure small groups on the US left to those who committed mass murder? Part of this is rooted in the grandiose conception of certain sections of the US Left that they and what they think really matters a whole lot which in turn is an attitude that is materially a pale reflection of the dominance of the US and it’s culture with both sides of this debate being absolutely certain as to what the reality is ten thousand miles away.

As to political sincerity about where people are really coming from, I think that should apply across the board. Personally as citizen I think we need to shy away from foreign interventions committing America’s blood and treasure unless there is a really compelling reason like there was in World War 2. The US should not be the cop of the world. In that regard, at least, I agree with Ron Paul that this would violate both US law and the Constitution. And no, I don’t claim to be Marxist, although I served a political apprenticeship in that milieu.


Arthur August 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Yes, there is an (unavoidable) overestimation of the significance of the US “left” from people who are only now seeing through it.

There is a VERY strong overlap between the “anti-imperialist” pseudo-left and traditional US isolationism as highlighted by the libertarian site by providing much of their “analysis”.


Tom Cod August 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm

that makes it wrong?


Arthur August 20, 2012 at 1:10 am

Yes, for any leftist the strong overlap of the pseudo-left with traditional US isolationism and taking much of their “analysis” from a libertarian site like does make them wrong.

Naturally for a Ron Paul supporter it doesn’t. Bhe left has always been internationalist, not isolationist. The US left sent troops to fight fascism in Spain and carried Vietnamese National Liberation Front flags during the Vietnam war.

There’s nothing unusual about people failing their “apprenticeship” in a left milieu and ending up on the right. But usually they are aware that they had radically changed their views. The fact that you are unaware of the radical opposition between your current isolationist views and those you held in what you thought was a “Marxist milieu” simply confirms that there was nothing marxist about it.

Its a sad fact for Marxists that people who hold similar isolationist views to you DO claim to be Marxists. Although you are right that we tend to overestimate their significance it is natural for marxists to attach importance to distinguishing ourselves from them.


Tom Cod August 20, 2012 at 11:08 am

Leaving aside the personal attack, this is an entirely idealist conception that replaces a materialist analysis of what is actually going on with an analysis based on ideology and consisting in adhering to it, an outlook that Camejo excoriated in North Star. Moreover, the idea that I should take lessons in Marxism from someone who supported the war in Iraq is pretty dubious. For what it’s worth, the content of your views and a style that uses the disparagingly terms like “isolationist” suggests not a marxist outlook at all, but a Cold War liberal type view of the New Republic variety. If you can block with the Pentagon for ostensible tactical reasons to support military interventions overseas, surely I and other progressive activists can feel no compunction in doing the same with Ron Paul in opposing that.


Tom Cod August 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

My friend Les Evans, author of Outsider’s Reverie, has similar views to yours, the difference is he no longer pretends to be a marxist. On that basis we have more productive discussions.


Arthur August 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm

There was no personal attack. You said “I agree with Ron Paul that this would violate both US law and the Constitution. And no, I don’t claim to be Marxist, although I served a political apprenticeship in that milieu.”. I simply took you at your word that you agree with Ron Paul and make no pretence of being a Marxist.

As a matter of fact my reaction was similar to your reaction to the friend you disagree with. I thought the fact that you don’t pretend to be a Marxist and openly admit to supporting traditional US isolationism would make it easier to have a productive discussion, which I tried to do.

I find it interesting how after having explicitly said that you don’t claim to be a Marxist you now start behaving exactly like other “anti-imperialists” here who do make that claim. The same style of denouncing heresy.

Anyway, for what it’s worth I certainly agree that you are just as entitled to be tactically aligned with Ron Paul as I am to be demanding military action from the Pentagon. My problem is with allies of Bashir Assad. As far as I can make out Ron Paul is nowhere near as far to the right as Assad and wouldn’t be in favour of mass murder of people demanding free elections. Its just that he won’t lift a finger to help them either.


Tom Cod August 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm

My political views are actually similar to those of Peter Camejo who understood and appreciates marxism but has moved beyond kow towing to dogma. In that regard there are many people on in society and on the Left who are politically independent who do not think that American military interventions overseas are deleterious or worse in their impact regardless of what good intentions may or may not motivate those that promote it. In that regard I watched a presentation of Medea Benjamin of the Green Party last night about atrocities, impersonal in nature committed by US drone strikes in Pakistan. In the end it is these forces and the American people generally that will put a stop to these adventures whether leftist ideologues like it or not.

The world has a lot of problems and historical tasks that need to be addressed with bourgois democratic revolutions on the agenda in a hundred different places. To on that basis rush around with our cues from CNN advocating military intervention at the outbreak of any crisis in any one of these places is to set oneself up for being an apostle of gun boat diplomacy and the Wilsonian charade of imperialism as a road to democracy and development.

I’m not denouncing anyone for heresy and am all for critical thinking, but if someone say, made some ridiculous invocation of Jesus in support of homophobia or racism I might take issue with that as not being really “Christian”, even though I might say I’m a lapsed one who grew up in that tradition (partially true). From the marxist milieu, I agree with Nat W. that we need to know more about the social and political character of these forces before we start loudly supporting them, to say nothing of advocating imperialist military action on their behalf; nor should we be apologizing for Assad either obviously.

Do you think that in a place like Syria, locked into to the heart of the MIddle East and all its layered conflicts might present a less starkly Manichean visage than that presented on CNN? Maybe it actually does and you guys are right, but those who think more circumspection is needed before we rush around all amped up and invest a military commitment in such a place or act as “bloodhounds” advocating what could easily aggravate a situation and result in even more people being killed, including American youth, are right to think they are trying to act responsibly. In that regard Ron Paul and others are right in saying to Cheney and Bush, who evaded military service themselves, you’re free to go over there yourselves, but don’t drag the American people into these “foreign faction fights”.

We here a lot about “dialectics” from marxist sages, which I take to mean includes assessing things in all their complexities and nuances, particularly in situations involving life and death issues. But like the intellectual “whiz kids” of Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest”, who played a leading role in getting us into Vietnam and giving it its ideological moral justification, being motivated a crusading liberal ideology (in the present case by toy international socialism) of freeing the world’s people from communist tyranny that was on the agenda of world history for America in its century to carry out if only the political will and resources were applied to it with alacrity and and doubters brushed aside and the neo-con caricature of that that was employed to justify Iraq, I suspect that this jingoistic ultra-leftism is also an exercise in political overreaching. As in those cases, all this hubris, optimism, and studied erudition may come up short and crash into a reality that is far different with disastrous consequences.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

Things in Libya turned out very well after the Libyans took advantage of NATO’s airstrikes to oust Ghadafi and complete stage one of their democratic revolution. The anti-interventionists could not have been more wrong about the consequences of NATO’s actions there.


Aaron Aarons October 16, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Looking back on this three years later, do you still claim that ‘Things in Libya turned out very well’? IMO, the only good thing that’s happened in Libya since the ouster of Gaddafi is the destruction of the CIA station in Benghazi and the killing of four imperialist agents there by some of the people they helped bring to power.


Arthur August 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Ok, I again hope for productive discussions. The way I see it the real problem people who do want US military action in support of the Syrian revolution face is the sort of “mainstream” arguments for “circumspection” that you present, not the arguments of the “anti-imperialist” pseudo-left who have no influence whatever. So responding to your concerns would be very useful here.

I use the term “isolationist” as short hand for that “conservative” or “circumspect” position, for much the same reason that Cold War liberals did when they were trying to gain support for an imperialist war of aggression in Vietnam. The reason is to remind people that this very mainstream attitude which has in fact been the dominant view throughout most of US history, was totally discredited in the war against fascism. If you want a more neutral term, we could refer to it as the “traditional” American position. (Though I would prefer to say “conservative”).

I suspect most people posting here (on both sides of the Syria issue) would see a natural association between “anti-war” and “left”. I mentioned the fact that people claiming to be Marxist were relying for their analysis on the right-wing site I was struck by the more sophisticated understanding in this article there from Raimondo in 2000 (ie well before 9/11 and Iraq):

“Every fifty years or so, there seems to be a general reversal of political polarity, where Right and Left switch sides on the question of war and peace, and take positions heretofore opposed and even abhorred.”

The way Raimondo saw it in 2000, the left was supporting wars in the Balkans which the right (including Raimondo) were opposing.

I don’t believe that situation reversed over Iraq. The problem the Bush admistration faced was persuading a conservative congress to authorize a war that went against the whole direction of previous US policy in the region. There was no risk of any serious anti-war movement from the left but massive resistance from the foreign policy establishment. So rhetoric about imminent threats from WMDs were used to mobilize fear (the usual appeal to conservatives) without worrying about reactions from liberals or the left (in fact welcoming their opposition as a factor that helped reduce the conservative opposition to the war that was much more of a problem).

So unlike many others here, I see the (rather pathetic) Iraq anti-war movement as a continuation of that “traditional” or “isolationist” politics rather than as a continuation of the leftist anti-war movement associated with Vietnam.

The “traditional” or “circumspect” mainstream attitude is well expressed in this recent editorial.

I’m not going to attempt to respond to that perspective in this comment, but am just flagging that I believe a discussion of your views would be productive here. Perhaps a separate post from you would be a good way to kick it off?


Tom Cod August 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Don’t compare the anti-war movement of today with the wretched pro-fascist America Firsters of the 30s and 40s. That is a facile smear that was first raised during the struggle against the Vietnam War and I’m not clear from your second paragraph whether you actually agree with that Cold War Liberal position or not as you state you are raising it to make a similar point. In reality, in the 1930s, Germany and Japan, two of the biggest imperialist powers, had gone fascist and had launched a war in which the fate of the whole world hung in the balance and the genocide of millions took place. Making an analogy with that around Vietnam or the lesser “brush wars” of today is wildly inaccurate and an exercise in demagoguery that is part of the stock in trade of the neo-cons. Moreover, as you suggest, many of the forces who were amped up around Vietnam were the same folks who had been isolationist around World War 2 based on their affinity for fascism which in turn was rooted in how they viewed their class interests.

And no, the struggle against the war in Iraq was not “pathetic” but mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in the streets against a trumped up war against a sovereign state that was based on lies, something that brought to my mind Hitler (and Russia’s) war against “Polish terrorism” and alleged persecution of ethnic minorities in 1939 which was preceded by the same kind of cat to mouse ultimatum. Thus it is disturbing that you apparently feel no compunction at all, like Hitchens, in apologizing for that. if that’s Marxism, then I’m certainly opposed to it.

Yes, I’m quite familiar with Justin Raimondo for whom I have a lot of respect, although I don’t agree with all of his views. As to the Balkans, contrary to Raimondo’s assertion, I recall much of the Left, including ironically some people who are now taking your and Pham’s view on Syria, opposing this to the point of apologizing at great length for Miloslevic and the likes of Karadzic even after the Srebenica massacre of over three thousand unarmed civilians was exposed. Thus I thought by 1999 limited military action to arrest this pogrom was justified, certainly not apologizing for the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands and wholesale massacres not seen in Europe since the days of Hitler and Stalin. If I thought something like that was going on in Syria my view would change.

Actually, based on a quick perusal, I agree with much of the political attitude in the article you cite. One does not need to have actually been there in person as I have, to know that, like the Balkans, this is a complicated scenario with various ethnic groups living cheek by jowl with issues and enmities between them going back centuries with the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians as a backdrop for all of it. In addition, while Assad is not someone I would give a pass to, he does have a mass base among his ethnic constituency of Alawites and Christians and the backing of a great power, Russia. As in any civil war, things are polarized. Thus, rightly or wrongly, I don’t see a quick end to this at all.

Intertwined with that, next door is Lebanon which has been roiled in conflict almost non stop for thirty-five years. The role of Syria there was not exactly stellar from both the Lebanese and Palestinian standpoint, but what has been even worse has been the role of the US and Israel there. Thus I am very wary of both the motives and objective impact of any US or NATO military intervention in this region absent the most extenuating of circumstances. Pham says 250 people a week are dying. Not good, but who are they, armed combatants? how many are Assad loyalists? That was how many US GIs were dying at the height of the Vietnam War. Not good, but this is not May 1940 in Western Europe or 1942 on the Eastern Front when military intervention was imperative and justified.


Arthur August 22, 2012 at 1:33 am

1. Although it isn’t intended to be a neutral term, “isolationism” is not a direct accusation of being like the pro-fascist “America Firsters”. (The latter accusation is made with terms like “Assad’s Bloodhounds”). The fact is that the “traditional” (isolationist) attitudes of Americans to the rest of the world were discredited after Pearl Harbour and for that reason it is natural for people advocating any war (whether bad like Vietnam, or good as you agree with regard to 1930s Germany and Japan and the Balkans in 1999) to refer to the “traditional” reluctance of their opponents to “get involved in foreign wars” as “isolationist”.

2. I agree that many people claiming to be on the left apologized for Milosevic and Karadzic in opposing the intervention. But I also agree with Raimondo that fundamentally it was the right that was anti-war and the left did in fact take your position so I regard their opposition as showing their lack of left politics.

3. “I thought by 1999 limited military action to arrest this pogrom was justified, certainly not apologizing for the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands and wholesale massacres not seen in Europe …”

There was considerable difficulty getting that position through Congress (mainly Republican opposition to Democrat administration) and that set the scene for the tactics used over Iraq. Do you believe that you became convinced at the exact moment when military action became justified or is it possible that it was justified earlier and more people got killed because it took too long to act?

3. ” If I thought something like that was going on in Syria my view would change.” Fine, that distinguishes you from what I call the “pseudo-left”. So far there have been no individual massacres as big as Sbrenica, nevertheless of the order of 10,000 have been killed. Likewise ethnic cleansing is less clear cut but more than 100,000 people have been displaced. The threshold at which people are willing to expend blood and treasure differs (basically according to how much they care about the rest of the world).

4. This conflict has been running for more than a year so your remarks about rushing around “advocating military intervention at the outbreak of any crisis” reflect your own ignorance about what’s been going on for more than a year. Spend some time reading links already provided in other posts here and ask some questions that would help refine exactly what material should be presented to people like yourself to convince them to support acting BEFORE it gets as bad as the Balkans.

Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 22, 2012 at 10:15 am

The 100-200 people killed a day (not a week) is the daily tally put together by the coordinating committees spread out all over Syria. They simply count the bodies — men, women, children, armed and unarmed. I don’t think they have access to regime soldiers’ bodies or casualty figures, so the actual figure of how many are being killed is undoubtedly higher.

Aaron Aarons August 20, 2012 at 2:53 am

‘arthur’ writes:

There is a VERY strong overlap between the “anti-imperialist” pseudo-left and traditional US isolationism as highlighted by the libertarian site by providing much of their “analysis”.
[The] left has always been internationalist, not isolationist. The US left sent troops to fight fascism in Spain and carried Vietnamese National Liberation Front flags during the Vietnam war.

What is the contradiction between being internationalist and wanting your main enemy to be isolationist? Rather, it is wanting the enemy to be internationalist that would be absurd.


Tom Cod August 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm

right and I’m afraid that to use those examples to justify Pentagon intervention in the Middle East is, to borrow a marxist dialectical phrase, turning them into their opposite.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

If you were a Syrian or a Syrian-American I think you’d feel differently. It is neither hyperbole nor is it demagogic to point out that lives are at stake — something like 100-200 people are being killed a day and the death toll just hit 25,000, and yet left discussions of Syria are almost entirely academic in nature without a sense of urgency at all.

A big reason why the left is small and obscure is because so many on the left champion “left” tyrants and autocrats or look the other way when they are committing crimes because they are “anti-imperialist.” Why would anyone — in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, or here at home — listen to us when that is all too often the case? Who wants to be identified with a left that cheers on Chinese or Syrian tanks that crush peaceful demonstrations?


Tom Cod August 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

The people you are increasingly aiming your fire at for the most part do not support “left” tyrants. When has Medea Benjamin or Jill Stein supported a left tyrant?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm

When did I ever claim Benjamin or Stein “supported a left tyrant”?


Tom Cod August 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm

My bad,what I was meaning to get at was: Do you include people like Medea Benjamin and Jill Stein as leftists who should be excoriated because they don’t support US and/or NATO intervention in places like Libya and Syria?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 22, 2012 at 10:12 am

The question is not whether you (or they) support U.S./NATO intervention. The question is whether it’s right or wrong to try to stop a given action in a given context in a specific country.

The U.S. is killing civilians all over Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is one form of intervention. I am totally opposed to it. But drone strikes on civilian targets in those countries is not the same as airstrikes on Ghadafi’s tanks (or Assad’s helicopters) when those dictators are actively using their military forces to slaughter their own people.

I have no problem with Benjamin or Stein or anyone else speaking out against the war on/in Pakistan, which is the concrete example you provided. That is a good thing. But does it follow that we should speak out against the U.S. or NATO shooting down Assad’s planes and helicopters as they fly all over Syria bombing civilian neighborhoods and even hospitals (see: No, it does not.

The Libyans exploited NATO’s air war on counter-revolutionaries for their own ends and the Syrians seek to do the same. Why on Earth would we want to stop them from finishing off their most immediate enemy and establishing a democratic order that in the big scheme of things will present an even bigger problem for U.S.-Israeli imperialism?


Shawn Redden August 24, 2012 at 8:06 am

@Pham Binh

You have framed this argument in a clever way. It obscures precisely the things you’ve sought to obscure.

In order to answer your . . . question, one must play past, or assume to be true, the fact of the ‘Revolution‘. Moreover, it requires the person responding to ignore (or assume to be chivalrous) the ‘Revolution‘ despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

You expect people to accept as fact with an argument consisting of poor analogies and wishful thinking.

Serious observers studying both Libya and now Syria cannot simply ignore geopolitics. But you do. You ignore, with breathtaking diligence, the geo-strategic implications of your desire to bomb Syrian infrastructure, the plan to hit Iran, the role played by Turkey, etc.

Meantime, you use the fraud Syrian Observatory as a crutch to justify more even bombing of the Near East.

It helps to remember just how much bombing in the Near East the forces of White Capital have unleashed over the last couple decades to understand what they’re doing now. Observatory a map.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 24, 2012 at 9:27 am

Oh did you find any evidence of NATO carpet bombing Libya? I thought not.


Shawn Redden August 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm

duck and weave… duck and weave…

Never, under any circumstances, do you acknowledge your hunger to see NATO bomb Arabs or bankroll your alCIAda allies. That’s not part of your playbook, is it?

As I said earlier, NATO’s own numbers say 9500 strike sorties over roughly 6 months in Libya. That’s more than 50 bombing runs a day. Now you can call it “Cherry Cola” or “Carpet Bombing”–I don’t care! What matters is your desire that NATO bombs fall on the heads of Arabs. When given the choice between a discussion of operations and geopolitics or sophistry, you opt for the later.

That said, it takes discipline to ignore bad facts and imagination to invent good ones, so you are to be commended for that.

. . . bob and weave . . . bob and weave…


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Facts are stubborn things, Shawn.

What matters is your inability to substantiate any of your claims. You’re idea of “discussion” is to make false claims and then quickly move on once people bombard you with evidence that you’re wrong. Perhaps you learned that trick from the neocons. It hasn’t helped either of you.

Shawn Redden August 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm

You invent a ‘Revolution’ and vilify those who don’t believe what’s in your mind!

I stand by use of NATO statistics on Libya, which you ‘stubbornly’ refuse to engage.

And concerning your petty name calling: your pro-NATO position lines up with the neocon plans, which have called for attack on and breakup of Syria for twenty years.

Facts are stubborn things indeed.

Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

The statistics you keep squaking about prove that there was not a single carpet bombing operation by NATO in Libya. Please investigate the evidence you present before posting because so far you’re just continually proving yourself wrong. I know you pine for Ghadafi’s rule and hope that Assad murders and tortures enough kids to break the FSA. The least you could do is be honest about your stance.

Brian S. August 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm

@ Shawn Redden re reply to Pham
Shawn, we need to try and establish some common rules of evidence. You regard the hard working Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as a “fraud”; but are happy to treat as authoritative a journalist who is apparewntly a non-Arabic speaker who has never visited Syria and works for a “think tank, dedicated to defining American interests in the Middle East and protecting America from Islamist threats”. If your only truth-rule is that those who say what you want to hear are true, and those who say what you don’t like are false, then its going to be difficult to carry on a sensible discussion. You need to provide some more objective standard for what sort of evidence you will accept as valid.
On the article you quote from Foreign Policy: its always a good idea to look at your source’s sources. If you did you would see things like:
“The FSA is scrutinising jihadists in Syria very closely, considering them ‘a real threat after the Assad regime falls’ ” (BBC)
“Tension (between oppositionists and jihadists) came anyway. The groups demanded to raise the prophet’s banner — solid black with “There is no god but God” written in flowing white Arabic calligraphy — during the weekly Friday demonstration. Saraqib prides itself in its newly democratic ways, electing a new town council roughly every two months, and residents put it to a vote — the answer was no. The jihadi fighters raised the flag anyway, until a formal compromise allowed for a 20-minute display. ” (NYT)


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 25, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I never even cited the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, I cited the local coordinating committees for the 100-200 death toll figure. Shawn has continually demonstrated that he is a conspiracist, not a Marxist, and so evidence-based discussions with him go nowhere. It’s one of many reasons why his Demands working group in Occupy Wall Street never went anywhere.


James August 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I’m not sure I’m understanding this piece. Are you saying that those who oppose NATO intervention are “bloodhounds” or “supporting the bloodhounds”?


Tom Cod August 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Mostly he’s saying the latter. To the extent he is demonizing anti-war activists, not the clowns that apologize for Assad or whomever, who nobody with any maturity takes seriously, but people who refuse to support the military intervention of their own government into a situation 10,000 miles away, it is actually the author who is acting in the tradition of Gustav Noske, albeit in an aspirational, minor league way.


dave brown August 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

The problem with Pham Binh’s position is that it lumps two responses to these national liberation wars under the “Hands off” slogan – those who abstractly oppose all imperialist intervention, and those who take Trotsky’s position in “Learn to Think”.

Trotsky in “Learn to Think” makes it clear that where national revolutions can benefit from the intervention of imperialism, revolutionaries in the imperialist countries should not try to stop that intervention, without in any way relaxing their opposition to imperialism in every other aspect.

Yet to CALL for that intervention is to say that imperialism is a progressive force. It is never progressive. While we agree not to try to stop it we do not advocate it and we warn of its real purpose. What IS progressive then, is that in its own reactionary interests of repartitioning the world, imperialism can, incidentally, be used by a national revolution to further its aim of liberation.

So the essence of what is progressive is the capacity of the popular leadership of the national revolution that can use such aid without surrendering its independence to any bourgeois faction or imperialist subordination.

I would say that in Libya, those who took that position took a “Hands Off” position but did nothing (even if we could) to stop NATO bombing Gaddafi’s heavy weapons. It was a matter of fighting on three fronts, first to remove Gaddafi, second to organise as independent militias with no confidence in the NTC as an alternative pro-imperialist bourgeois government, and third, to oppose all attempts by imperialism to suppress and defeat the revolution.

Pham Binh’s position is in danger of adapting to ‘imperialism’ as progressive because it can sometimes have its reactionary interests directed to serve a progressive cause. I repeat imperialism can never be progressive because its interests are always predatory – to divide and plunder the world and drive us all towards barbarism and destruction.

“Hands Off” slogan should be used to signify that strategic position, while the tactical situation where imperialist intervention can aid a revolution, should be called just that – a tactical hand-up in the full knowledge that the other hand hovers over the nuclear button.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

“Pham Binh’s position is in danger of adapting to ‘imperialism’ as progressive because it can sometimes have its reactionary interests directed to serve a progressive cause.”

No such danger exists if you take the time to read all that I’ve written on this question (which is quite a lot now):

The problem with the “hands off” slogan is that you can’t raise it in the Western countries without aligning yourself with Assad’s supporters. They too want a “hands off” policy. When we start making common cause with counter-revolution and its supporters, we need to re-think what we’re doing.


James August 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Is this not the exact same argument used by anti-imperialists against your very own position, i.e. that opposing the Assad regime is a position that you cannot raise without aligning yourself with “imperialism”? I see these assertions as two sides to the same fundamentally flawed coin.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The problem is that reality has more sides than a coin does. Opposing Assad, opposing imperialism, opposing anything is meaningless unless we situate in a historically specific context, which is what all of my articles have done (or tried to), whereas the “hands off” crowd applies the slogan everywhere, to everything, regardless of what is actually going on. See the difference?


Shawn Redden August 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm

The extent to which you’re using history consists of argument by (poor) analogy. You engage in no serious historical analysis of American foreign policy, nor do you analyze Syria or the forces invading it.

You post a few YouTube videos of children cheering and guys blowing up hotels expecting us to call it a ‘Revolution’ . . . because Daily Kos says we should.

Do you know how f-ing laughable that is?

This argument analogizes your alCIAda allies with Marx. According to the logic of this piece, Osama bin Laden and Lenin would have been boys. You’d have us believe Belhadj learned all he knows about The Accumulation of Capital from Rosa.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

You don’t even post links or sources, so I’m way ahead of you in these debates.


Aaron Aarons September 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

dave brown writes:

Trotsky in “Learn to Think” makes it clear that where national revolutions can benefit from the intervention of imperialism, revolutionaries in the imperialist countries should not try to stop that intervention, without in any way relaxing their opposition to imperialism in every other aspect.

This is a misrepresentation of Trotsky’s position as I understand it. Trotsky was referring to a situation where there is a conflict between two imperialist powers and one of them helps the fighters for independence in a colony of the rival power in order to weaken the latter. In such a case, imperialism as a whole is weakened by the effects of that help to independence fighters by one of the imperialist sides.
This is definitely not the case regarding Syria or, for that matter, Libya. In both those cases, there was or would be help by a relatively unified dominant imperialist bloc, including its local clients, in support of an insurrection against a government that is, to some extent, independent of imperialism and especially of that dominant bloc. The victory of such an insurrection arguably strengthens imperialism and certainly doesn’t undermine it. If it did or would so undermine it, the dominant bloc would or will have no reason to support it.


Aaron Aarons October 1, 2012 at 2:16 am

I want to be more precise on one point. I should have written: “The victory of such an insurrection arguably strengthens imperialism particularly when that victory is only made possible by the intervention of imperialism.”


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp October 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

“particularly when that victory is only made possible by the intervention of imperialism.”

In Egypt, the U.S. military pressured not only the generals but even mid-level officers not to shoot the protestors, so I guess in your view the Egyptian revolution was also pro-imperialist since U.S. imperialism stepped in to restrain counter-revolutionary violence.


Aaron Aarons October 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Yes, the United Snakes stepped in to discourage badly-timed violence that would have caused things to blow up and possibly lead to a real revolution. And, more immediately, such shooting of mostly-secular, pro-bourgeois-democracy protesters at that time would have made it harder for the U.S. and Israel to maintain their support to the Egyptian military that, thanks to its temporary restraint, was never touched by that ‘revolution’.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

I never lumped them together, I pointed to the existence of three trends. The middle, intermediate trend ends up marching with and shouting the same slogans as Assad’s apologists. And because I call out Assad’s supporters and the people who have mistakenly made common cause with them that makes me like Noske? Please.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 10:18 am

The bloodhounds are the people who support the crackdown by Assad (and Ghadafi). The people who are no fans of Assad but who are trying to organize a movement against U.S./British intervention in Syria are making common cause with the bloodhounds even though that is not what they set out to do, that is in fact what is happening and what they are doing. Most people who opposed NATO’s attacks on counter-revolutionary forces in Libya did the wrong thing for the right reasons and this is an opportunity to learn from that mistake. Sadly, it seems even without imperialist airstrikes the bulk of the Western left is content to write off the Syrian revolution as a “proxy war” or act like the main enemy in Syria is in Washington, D.C. and not Damascus.


Tom Cod August 20, 2012 at 11:09 am

So American leftists who oppose their own government’s potential war in a small tin pot dictatorship ten thousand miles away are akin to German socialist government leaders like Noske who launched death squads against anti-war leaders in their own country? A deed that was clothed in “revolutionary”, “marxist” verbiage about the struggle for democracy in Germany and to liberate the oppressed people of the East from decrepit Tsarist tyranny and the Bolshvik lunacy that replaced it that these “November criminals” (referring to the Armistice) had sabotaged. Misguided and imperfect as today’s activists may be, such an analogy is completely over the top and sadly comes across as tending towards the demagoguery of the likes of Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck. Political struggle often involves blocks and united fronts. The fact that Hands of Syria can be used by Assad’s supporters is not determinative.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm

“So American leftists who oppose their own government’s potential war in a small tin pot dictatorship ten thousand miles away are akin to German socialist government leaders like Noske who launched death squads against anti-war leaders in their own country?”

Not what I said, argued, or implied. There are death squads running rampant today in Syria and there are people on the left who support them. Hence the analogy with Noske.

Try not to mix up the issues or conflate things like that.


Bob August 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm

So you can call Assad a “capitalist henchman” but the opposition leaders who openly align with the US and Saudi Arabia are “revolutionaries”?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Bourgeouis-democratic revolutions are not usually led by socialists.


Bob August 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Cutting through all the bullshit in your articles, it all comes down to you advocating for US airstrikes (and much more) on Syria.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I never advocated that. Provide some quotes please.


Bob August 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm



Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Feel free to prove that they weren’t. I wish you the best of luck.


Shawn Redden August 21, 2012 at 12:48 am

Isn’t the burden on you to illustrate how your NATO carpet-bombing has improved the material conditions in Libya?

Are to we assume things are fine and dandy since the country’s rulers pulled off an election? Your allies at Daily Kos and the NY Times have closed the curtain on Libya’s Revolution, so you do, too.

Ignorance is bliss.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

There was no carpet bombing of Libya. Look it up.

Step out of your ignorant bliss already.


Shawn Redden August 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I know you believe that military operations do not occur in this world–you call them ‘conspiracies‘, right?–but I can’t help wondering what you could possibly call 9500 ‘strike sorties’ ordered by more than a dozen countries against a population of 6 million people over 6 months?

How about answering the question: what’s materially better in Libya now as compared to, say, two years ago? After all, a lot of your hard-earned tax dollars were used to drop those bombs and supply alCIAda with the weapons to create your new reality (an American servant running the government and an American servant commanding the ground forces).

And speaking of your allies, take a look at what West Point said in 2007 about your Libyan Petrograd: Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq. It makes for some good reading.

Study up on Cyrenaica, for the love of the gods.


Arthur August 22, 2012 at 9:34 am

First lookup carpet bombing.

The thousands of strike sorties were not directed against the population of Libya as you suggest and were certainly not carpet bombing. They were not directed at flattening entire areas, which is what “carpet bombing” means but at very specific military targets such as individual tanks and artillery along the coastal highways. They were so narrowly targeted and so careful to avoid civilian casualties that a large proportion of the sorties returned without using their payload. The civilian casualties from NATO strikes were remarkably low and negligible compared with the other war casualties. Details were provided in another post here.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks for the reply, Shawn. As I said above, the burden is on you to show that Libya was carpet bombed.


Brian S. August 22, 2012 at 10:21 am

@ Shawn Redden. More semaphore. What is your point about “Cyrenaica” exactly?
Re: West Point document. An interesting source for you to put your faith in, I would have thought more me than you. And very old hat. But again you need to tell us what you think it is saying. To me it says that 4 years before the outbreak of the Libyan revolution there were 120 Libyan jihadist fighters in Iraq and that most of them came from one small city, Darnah. And your point is?
Re post Gaddafi Libya: “An American servant running the government and an American servant commanding the ground forces”: (I think we’ve gone over this ground before) Care to tell us what on earth your are talking about?
I don’t know what you mean by “materially” better: do you include freedom from a pervasive repressive regime and its security apparatus, democratic elections, beginnings of a political system in with accountable government, transparent politics, freedom of speech, freedom to form independent community organisations, right to strike, right to assemble and demonstrate, democratic decentralisation of power? Or do you mean what has happened to the price of bread? (I’ll have to pass on the latter)
When you start to ask coherent questions I can start to give you more specific answers.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Redden and co. couldn’t argue their way out of a wet paper bag.


Brian S. August 21, 2012 at 10:12 am

@Shawn Redden. I never speak for anyone, else but I certainly haven’t “closed the curtain” on Libya. On the contrary, its my favourite topic, and I’m as hungry as ever for accurate, current information (the western media has lost interest to its not so easy to come by). I don’t know about “fine and dandy” if that means am I happy with what has been accomplished so far, sure. If it means do I think everything is perfect, of course not (tell me where it is)
Ask me a coherent question or raise a coherent issue and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you (time allowing). I’d prefer civilised connversation, but dont’ insist on it. (but expect to receive as you give.) And don’t expect me to be you unpaid researcher – you’ll have to do some work too.


Shawn Redden August 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Thanks for the reply, Brian. As I said above, the burden is on you to show that Libya is better off.


Brian S. August 22, 2012 at 10:27 am

@ Shawn Redden. re: “the burden is on you to show that Libya is better off.”
I don’t follow the logic of this – the Libyan people have confirmed in a multiplicity of polls that they consider themselves better off. The media is full of accounts and images that show the gains of the revolution. I’m all in favour of challenging received wisdom and common sense, but the burden of proof is surely on those who want to contest that which to everyone else is self evident. I have however made a brief response on these issues to a previous post (two up at the moment)


Louis Proyect August 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Bourgeois-democratic revolutions are not usually led by socialists.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a bourgeois-democratic revolution. It consisted of a series of battles in which all the discontented classes, groups and elements of the population participated. Among these there were masses imbued with the crudest prejudices, with the vaguest and most fantastic aims of struggle; there were small groups which accepted Japanese money, there were speculators and adventurers, etc. But objectively, the mass movement was breaking the hack of tsarism and paving the way for democracy; for this reason the class-conscious workers led it.

V.I. Lenin


Tom Cod August 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Yeah but, did American socialists call for Teddy Roosevelt to send warships over there to aid it?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 21, 2012 at 9:45 am

The Russians didn’t ask, so no.


Tom Cod August 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Are you serious? Say, let’s take the example of the Cuba and the Philippines in 1898 when some of those oppressed by the Spanish did ask. Those socialists who didn’t get behind McKinley were politically backward? How about Panama in 1903?


Brian S. August 22, 2012 at 8:51 am

The situations are rather different, because in these historic cases we are talking about US invasions. Allowing for this, however, the Spanish-American war may be of some interest.I It would appear that contemporary American socialists were divided over this, sometimes in terms analogous to our debate. The predominant stance seems to have been anti-war, with Debs and De Leon taking this view. There seems to have been support for the war among more reformist socialists, but also among Jewish socialists in New York, including the Daily Forward. Emma Goldman is often cited for her criticism of the exploitative policies pursued by the US in Cuba after the war; but she also made an interesting reference in the course of an anti-conscription speech in 1917, contrasting the First World War with the Spanish-American war:
“Don’t you know that during the Spanish-American War when the people believed in the war there was no need of asking the young men of the country, at the point of the bayonet and gun and club, to put on an American uniform? They flocked to the war because they believed in it. And whether they were American citizens or were residents of America the people of America were all willing to give their lives for something they considered right and just”


Tom Cod August 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

And what was the outcome? The US had no interest in granting these countries independence and they became US colonies, one of them, Puerto Rico, remains so today. Moreover, the US instigated repression as bad or worse than that existing under the Spanish, particularly in the Philippines. In Cuba, segregation was instituted and her resources, particularly the sugar industry were taken over by US and British corporate interest, an outcome, in general terms, that US (and Confederate) forces had been contemplating for decades. The independence she got in 1902 was a sham even on its own terms as embodied by the Platt Amendment which instituted the US as an overlord that could intervene at any time. Ironically, it was Fulgencio Batista who repudiated that-in name at least-in 1933.

When the Great War came around, something much greater in scope than the 1898 war that took 250 American lives, liberals and too many social democrats in all the countries involved did yeoman work in justifying their capitulation to bourgois public opinion and great power chauvinism by casting this disaster in democratic and humanitarianism terms.


Brian S. August 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not justifying American action in the Spanish-American war, just reporting that there was a debate among American socialists at the time and apparently a range of views.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

They asked for ground troops; in Libya and Syria they’ve asked for airstrikes on their enemies and (following the tradition of Ho Chi Minh) rejected foreign ground troops.

See the difference?


Louis Proyect August 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm
Aaron Aarons September 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

The video is disappointing. I was hoping that it was something that could show Greek leftists how to make weapons for their coming showdown with the fascists and the state behind them. The more information about making weapons that is available on the Internet, the better, since the reactionaries, in most cases, already have such weapons.

But, all it shows about Syria is some people repeatedly shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ and running across a field to retrieve weapons from — what?


Diana Barahona August 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm
The New York Times has released a video which shows Free Syrian Army rebels trying to use a prisoner as an unwitting suicide bomber, as the BBC’s Gordon Corera reports.


patrickm August 23, 2012 at 1:42 am

There is no doubt that sending their prisoner ‘home’ to actually be remotely killed driving a bomb is an attempted war crime being committed by troops on the revolutionary side of this war.

What is more we should all note that there are many progressive Syrians caught up on the currently pro Assad side of the civil war and there are plenty of reactionaries on the revolutionary side. However as soon as the issue is reduced to what demands can bring the fighting to an end one can see that the Assad forces are the problem.

The issue that threw up this war in Syria is the demand for free and fair elections and proportional representation. The issue where push came to shove was over the question of government of the people by the people for the people. The people did not start the war by exercising their human rights to associate and to control their own affairs. The war began when they were attacked at the direction of the Syrian ruling elite for doing so. These attacks were fought but the ruling elite had a very strong army with air power and even naval forces able to slaughter them and that sounds very familiar. The sides have formed up and are fighting with current ‘middle eastern rules’ and thats no good at all! It might be better if there were complete outsiders intervening as peace makers and then for a short while peace keepers till elections etc but there is no such mass intervention.

War is underway in Syria so the question before western progressives who have taken sides in favor of elections is what can win the war and bring it to an end? Exactly what has to be done to bring this warfare to an appropriate conclusion ASAP? What is the appropriate conclusion given the actual human material that makes this 21C revolution? What is possible from a progressive point of view?

Western leftists have advocated a war or a milder war known as a ‘NFZ’ as what next. Pseudo-leftists have chanted the usual hands-off dogma.

Two sets of westerners who think of themselves as progressives are in dispute over the war in Syria. Not many support Assad directly but those that called for ‘imperialist hands of Syria’ while Assad’s armed forces were themselves crushing those Syrians without an air force or a navy or an army worthy of the name are now and always have been focused on the wrong issues.

The reactionaries on the side of the revolution harm the war effort! They are rightly used by the enemy and so they ought to be stopped as a priority problem. Prisoners ought not be treated in any criminal manner!


Brian S. August 23, 2012 at 8:59 am

I had meant to post a link to this article yesterday, but got diverted. Its another good on-the-ground report from Chivers of the NYT which reinforces and supplements the picture of the FSA that the other reports I have posted provide. It does include the brutal use of a prisoner that Diana refers to. Her BBC link is dead but you should be able to access the story and video here:
The use of the prisoner is undoubtedly a war crime,and highly regrettable. But that is the sort of brutalisation that results from an asymmetric conflict like this. Give the FSA some decent weaponry – say 2% of what the Russians have given Assad – to redress the balance, and it might be possible to hold them to the Geneva convention.
In other respects, of course, the story (like all the others) refute the picture Diana and her co-thinkers try to paint of the FSA and the Syrian conflict: these are local people, having turned to armed resistance in the face of repression by the government, and extremely poorly armed.


Arthur August 23, 2012 at 9:52 am

“Give the FSA some decent weaponry – say 2% of what the Russians have given Assad – to redress the balance, and it might be possible to hold them to the Geneva convention.”

That’s an absurd line of argument.

All parties to a conflict are bound by international humanitarian law regardless of how well armed they are.

There are higher expectations for revolutionaries to suppress and punish war crimes from their own side. We know why counter-revolutionaries don’t. The same reasons require that revolutionaries must do so, not be offered excuses for failing to do so.


Brian S. August 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

@Arthur: you’re confusing oughts with is’s: sure revolutionaries should adhere to higher standards than the rest of humanity – but they very rarely do. And you’re confusing the diverse combatants of the FSA with the Eighth Route army (or your image of the latter). And then you’re confusing explanation with justification – my comment suggests an explanation of why they acted like this on this occasion (and what might be done to relieve the pressure they are under). OK, Its a kind of excuse – of the same sort as offered by those who explain that acts of criminality can be explained by poverty and exploitation; and indeed that those contextual factors should be taken into account in judging those acts. I’ve often been challenged on that approach before – but only by Tories..


Arthur August 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

“OK, Its a kind of excuse…”


Consider yourself to have been challenged on that approach again, this time by a non-Tory.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

Barahona doesn’t seem to realize the link she posted utterly disproves her previous claims that the Syrian armed opposition was full of car-bombing jihadi Al-Qaeda types. The reason they were going to use the captured shabiha (and admitted rapist and murderer) as a suicide bomber is because none of them believe in suicide bombing.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

Spoken like a true bloodhound.

Ever look at the Cheka’s human rights record?


Brian S. August 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

@Shawn Redden. (Sorry I couldn’t respond directly to your post, but the Reply buttons don’t seem to come up on some posts) Shawn – you’re my main man! Thanks so much for the post of the spreadsheet of the NATO strikes in Libya: do you know what the original source for it is?. I’ve consulted the original NATO logs, but its so much easier having it pulled together in a spreadsheet (although I’m not sure they’re complete) – you’ve saved me at least two week’s work.
Haven’t had time to take it all in yet: but here’s some quick observations: 78% of strikes were on very specific military targets (tank, artillery installation, apc, etc) So only 22% on buildings of any sort: 3%% vehicle storage buildings; 11% command and control centres; 8% “other buildings”. The command and control category seems to be the one where the mistakes occured, so allowing for that we might end up withmax 12 % of strikes that might not be clear military targets. Only about 15 strikes in Tripoli in the period preceding the rebel attack, all of them on specific equipmenttargets (mostly SAMs): so no NATO bombardment of the city and very limited role for NATO air power at all in the fall of Tripoli.
More to follow.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm

And not one case of carpet bombing? Why am I not surprised?


admin August 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Your comments on “The American Left and the Arab Spring” were removed because they contained no response to the content of that piece.

People who do not respond to the issues/arguments raised in particular pieces will find their comments removed. Fair warning.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 15, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Tariq Ali wobbles towards the pro-revolution side of the debate:

His excuse for his Russia Today interview is pathetic.


Arthur September 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm

A pathetic excuse for his previously so strident so openly Assadist propaganda (even blaming the Houla massacre on the opposition) that it outraged his friends.

But not a wobble towards the pro-revolution side. Wants a negotiated solution from counter-revolutionary Iran, Russia and China.

Just the more typical way for people to oppose the revlution without the embarassment of openly supporting the regime.

Better positioning himself to oppose any military support for the revolution.


Brian S. September 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

Well, its good to see that he has had the honesty to acknowledge his error over Houla – but anyone who had taken five minutes to look at the FAZ report alongside other evidence would have known it was deeply flawed, and certainly not given it instant credibility. The problem is he pronounces without bothering to familiarise himself properly with what is going on. His continuing ill-informed comments over Libya indicate that there is no change in that respect. And to rely on an LCC statement that was issued over a year ago to give his position some credibility is feeble: most of the people who wrote that statement are probably now on the front line in Aleppo. As for calling for a negotiated solution with “Pressure from Teheran, Moscow and Beijing” – that might be quite nice, but unless he’s expecting the tooth fairy to arive with it, I don’t see the point.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

I agree with you re: Houla. And it’s not like he doesn’t know anyone who speaks and reads Arabic. My comrade at took one look at the list of victim names and knew the claim that most/many of the victims were Shia was 100% false in less than five minutes.


Shawn Redden September 27, 2012 at 5:03 am

You must have been jumping for joy, PB, when you heard about your alCIAda buddies killing a few PressTV journalists yesterday. I can only imagine your excitement when that great news was paired, this week, with Comrade Clinton’s decision to remove the MEK was removed from Uncle Sam’s terrorist watch list.

Now you can bankroll them just like you do the not-terrrorists in Syria.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 27, 2012 at 9:20 am

It’s not terrorism to fight a regime that does this:

I’m saddened to learn that you consider Hillary Clinton to be your comrade, but I’m not surprised. No one could ever accuse of being bright or principled.


Shawn Redden September 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I don’t know what’s more surprising, PB– your decision to not censor a post or your refusal to denounce your boys in alCIAda killing journalists who don’t spout the “I’m a Susan Rice dittohead” party line.

How soon before you bust out a post begging for NATO carpet bombing in Syria like the one that “freed” Libya?


Arthur October 9, 2012 at 3:53 am

Well I’m certainly hopeful that Turkey backed by NATO will help protect the revolution and smash the regime in Syria.

I’m not familiar enough with Turkish politics to know, but the fact that parliamentary authorization for military action in Syria has already been granted strikes me as likely to mean that a major potential obstacle has been removed in advance.

BTW the sheer desperation of the fans of dictatorship is highlighted by references to World War. It is obvious that neither the tinpot regimes they defend nor their ineffectual allies can credibly threaten world war. Only people past caring about their complete lack of credibility carry on like that.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp October 9, 2012 at 9:50 am

Redden led the Occupy Wall Street laughingstock known as the “demands working group” to defeat at the hands of petty-bourgeois political neophyte anarchists and now spends his days trolling this site on behalf of Assad. A fitting end for a mind so small.


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