Barack Hussein Obama: Enemy of Syrian People

by Clay Claiborne on September 21, 2012

If I ask you for a job, you have every right not to hire me.

But when you use your clout to make sure no one else will hire me, that is another matter entirely. That’s called blacklisting and is totally wrong in my book.

If a black man in the south, back in the day when the Klu Klux Klan was burning and lynching, was murdered by the Klan, and you had used your clout to make sure he couldn’t buy a gun anywhere (because black people commit crimes or whatever reason you thought “reasonable”) I would consider you as something like an accessory to that murder.

I would also consider you as objectively a friend of the Klan and an enemy of black people.

Now, if you want to understand why I am so hard on President Obama on this matter, it is because he represents the United States, and U.S. policy now is to deny people being bombed, weapons with which they could defend themselves.

I have shown in my other diaries that the people being bombed would most likely have effective surface-to-air missiles by now, except for the interference of the United States.

Cossacks objected to the picture of a young girl that had her head blown off in Syria over the weekend so I took it down. Well, you should know that three more little girls were killed in Aleppo today by a Syrian jet that could afford to make slow, low passes over the apartment building that was its target because the pilot knew the people on the ground had no way to get at him.

That would not be the case except for Central Intelligence Agency agents in Turkey, on President Obama’s orders, that are making sure that Syrian jet won’t meet an effective defense from the ground.

Don’t worry, I won’t post pictures of those little girls on my Daily Kos blog, so unlike their friends and family, you won’t have to look at their mutilated bodies. But you should, you really should, because in stopping those that could have defended those little girls from being able to do so, the United States is intervening in the Syrian Civil War, and all of us now have the blood of those little girls on our hands.

3:29 PM PT: I apologize for the photo and the outrage it has caused. I only wish that there was more outrage that this little girl was murdered (along with hundreds of other innocent Syrians) over this past weekend.

I also wish that I couldn’t say that I have done more to publicize the slaughter of the Syrian people in the Daily Kos, than all the other Cossacks combined, but I’m afraid that is the case.

It seems that most people don’t just don’t want to see or hear what is being done to our fellow human beings by the Assad government.

I see very few other Cossacks bringing the horror of the state organized slaughter to the readers here, either with or without graphics, they just want it to go away.

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph
is for good people to do nothing.
I may not always do the do the right thing, but I refuse to do nothing.

I guess I thought I could shock people out of their apathy. I see now that I was mistaken. People are clearly far more angry about what I have done in publicizing what was done to this little girl than they are about what was done to this little girl, and I think that is a shame.

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron Aarons September 22, 2012 at 6:56 am

I will go along with you in demanding that the CIA get out of the Middle East entirely.

But before you get too self-righteous, Clay, about other people’s ‘apathy’ about what is happening in Syria, maybe you can share with us your lack of apathy about the tens of thousands of young children who died yesterday as a result of capitalist-imperialist-imposed disease and malnutrition. Dying slowly from those causes is not as dramatic as having your head blown off, but it doesn’t involve any less suffering.

So how about putting at least as much energy into condemning Obama and other imperialist politicians and capitalists for their role in imposing neoliberal policies that, as an intensification of traditional imperialist looting, largely cause those tens of thousands of deaths each day?


Brian S. September 22, 2012 at 7:24 am

Re Aaron Aarons: I don’t know if the phrase has taken hold in the US, but in Britain, which was subject to this sort of specious reasoning for a long time, an apt phrase was coined to characterise it – “whataboutery”. Whataboutery responds to any attempt to address a crucial issue not by logical discussion but by changing the subject. If we each tried to address all the “what about X” issues then we would end up being overwhelmed and doing nothing. What we have to have is a division of labour (assuming we have some agreement on basic coordinates). That’s what mainstream ngo’s do – Oxfam doesn’t go around shouting at Amnesty International “how dare you campaign on human rights when people are starving”. It does its work and lets AI do what its best at.
So I say to Clay: keep on keeping on with your great work on Syria. And to Aaron: if you want to campaign against imperialist policies that create poverty and disease in the third world – good on you! Post the results of your work and your concerns here and you’ll get a warm welcome, and with luck some intelligent discussion. Meantime I’ll be tending to my concern with the fate of the Libyan revolution. Each of us will almost certainly become a bit obsessive about our particular patch, but if we don’t go around wasting energy on “what abouts”, between us we might actually manage to enlighten the world and do a bit of good.


Arthur September 22, 2012 at 11:18 am

“Whataboutery” is a nice phrase. The interesting things is that its so typical of mainstream conservatism. Its the instinctive mindless “letter to the editor” from people opposed to doing anything about something in particular because they are generally opposed to doing anything about anything. They simply take it for granted that people they disagree with don’t want to do anything about things they themselves theoretically might want something done about. Their assumption is based on a geeral world outlook that nothing can be done about anything anyway.

The popularity of whataboutery among the pseudoleft reflects the fact that their basic world outlook is conservative.

Re the article. Its a natural response to be defiant about a position under attack.

But refusing to be silenced is not the same as learning how to avoid getting isolated and remain effective.

Shock tactics are sometimes effective in shaking people out of their apathy and sometimes not.

When shock tactics backfire, repeating them isn’t going to work either.

There pobably isn’t much that could sway Democrats until the election is over. (Except perhaps a suggestion that an “October Surprise” could actually gain votes).

But it’s not going to get easier to persuade them by insisting that they are solidly in the enemy camp.


Aaron Aarons September 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Arthur writes: “The popularity of whataboutery among the pseudoleft reflects the fact that their basic world outlook is conservative.”

If by “conservative” you mean wanting to conserve planet earth in the face of the devastation caused by capitalism in all its stages going back to the early mercantile stage at the time of Cristobal Colón, and continuing through “free”-market neoliberalism and its preferred political form of authoritarian electoral “democracy”, I’ll agree that I’m “conservative” in that sense. But the usual meaning of “conservative” in political discourse is the conservation and strengthening of hierarchy and inequality, which, together with direct looting, is what U.S. imperialism in particular and Western imperialism in general is all about. The looting of Iraq, institutionalized in the ‘Bremer orders’, is a case in point.


Aaron Aarons September 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Maybe I didn’t make my position clear here, but I mentioned “condemning Obama and other imperialist politicians and capitalists for their role in imposing neoliberal policies” not because I want the left to pressure them to change their policies, but rather because I want the left to fight to undermine the ability of the imperialists, and particularly of the main imperialist bloc in the world, to impose any policies on anybody.

My purpose in raising the issue of the far, far greater devastation caused by imperialism than by the actions of the Syrian regime is to question the political judgment, if not the subjective intentions, of those who claim to oppose imperialism but choose an issue that allows them to plausibly, though wrongly, advocate for greater imperialist military intervention in the world, rather than any of the numerous issues that can help mobilize people against imperialism.


Aaron Aarons September 25, 2012 at 3:11 am

Brian S. writes: “That’s what mainstream ngo’s do – Oxfam doesn’t go around shouting at Amnesty International “how dare you campaign on human rights when people are starving”. It does its work and lets AI do what its best at.”

A better analogy with what I’m saying in this discussion is the criticism made, usually justifiably, of certain NGO’s, e.g., Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, that they preferentially target governments (like those of Venezuela and Cuba, or Haiti under Aristide) and, occasionally, armed groups (like the FARC) that are seen as enemies, even if minor ones, by the U.S. ruling class. In other words, one can and should say to supporters of such NGO’s, “‘whatabout’ all the pro-U.S. governments (name a few) that are doing worse things that you are paying less attention to.” (Of course, the criticisms made of the U.S.-targeted governments by these NGO’s are also often wrong or seriously exaggerated as well.)


Brian S. October 2, 2012 at 8:23 am

@AaronAarons re NGOs
Just seen your comment Aaron and would have let it pass, were it not for its ignorance. My illustration was intended to make a general point and not raise the issue of NGOs, but since you have shifted it on to that ground: I won’t comment on “Reporters without Borders” because I am not familiar with their work (but given your methodology my remarks may well apply to them too) You say” “‘what about’ all the pro-U.S. governments that are doing worse things that you are paying less attention to.” Do you know anything about the work of HRW and AI? Yes they do criticise your pet regimes, but they also do plenty of work looking at “pro-US” governments as well. You, me and the rest of the world would know nothing about the human rights abuses carried out by the rebel forces in Libya, if it hadn’t been for the consistent campaigning of HRW and AI. I bet you didn’t complain about their “bias” then. I had my differerences with them over Libya, especially AI which I though crossed the line from human rights advocacy to political interference, but I didn’t go into denial about what they were saying, as you lot do.


Louis Proyect September 22, 2012 at 9:47 am

And to Aaron: if you want to campaign against imperialist policies that create poverty and disease in the third world – good on you!

His interventions here or on Lenin’s Tomb or my blog before he got the boot have about as much effect on ending imperialism as mine would on or the Nation Magazine website ending the Democratic Party. You hear people like Aaron at the Left Forum every year in NYC at panels on whatever topic. Instead of engaging with the speakers, members of the Spartacist League identify themselves as such and then begin a long harangue until the chair cuts them off. Members of the audience never really listen to the Spart but sink into their seats feeling the same way you feel when an amateur preacher commandeers a subway car talking about Judgment Day. You wish they would just go away.


Aaron Aarons September 25, 2012 at 5:27 am

It’s so typical of Louis Proyect to attack X by saying or implying that X is like Y and then describing what is wrong with Y as if that said anything about X. It’s called ‘guilt by imaginary association’.

Anybody who actually wants to see how Louis and I interacted on his blog before he banned my name from posting can look at:


Aaron Aarons September 26, 2012 at 5:28 am

For those who would rather not look at a bunch of pages to see how Louis Proyect reacts to opposing opinions posted to his blog, please first see this one page, particular my comment @3 and Louis’ response @5:

I replied as follows to his response:

11. Louis writes: “I don’t know how this schmuck got through my asshole filter. Will investigate promptly.”
Louis, if you had an effective asshole filter on this blog, your own posts and comments wouldn’t get through.
It’s interesting, but not at all surprising, that my comment pointing out the one thing in Chossudovsky’s article that really IS anti-revolutionary gets me called a ‘schmuck’ and an asshole by the unrepentant anti-anti-impwerialist. Otherwise, what Chossudovsky asserts seems to be that U.S. agents are used to control the direction that anti-regime protests take, and even to promote movements to get rid of such regimes, or at least of their heads, before there is time for an opposition to mature that cannot be controlled by the U.S..
BTW, Louis, are you or are you not implying that the imperialist agencies mentioned should be defended?
Comment by Aaron Aarons — December 31, 2011 @ 6:28 am

He quickly deleted this comment without acknowledging that he had censored anything. (I have quoted it here in full, even including a typo I made, so that he can’t claim other reasons for deleting it.) Since then, no comments signed ‘Aaron Aarons’ have gotten through his left-critics-of-Louis-Proyect filter.


Brian S. September 26, 2012 at 7:55 am

@AaronAarons. Actually I would suggest people read comment 1: it says it all on the issue under discussion. On the issue at dispute between Louis and Aaron: I would think there are very good practical reasons for not wanting to host a post that appears to advocate violence against diplomatic missions. I take the general view that someone who does us the favour of hosting an on-line open forum has the right to set the parameters for its use. But in this case the issue is even more open and shut: how could anyone be expected to expose themselves to legal risks just to allow some irresponsible poseur to publicise this “macho-er than thou” nonsense? If I had read this at the time my antennae would have been twitching with “provocation” warnings. I think admin on this site should watch out for this character.


Aaron Aarons September 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

The comment of mine that Louis actually removed from his blog — the comment I reproduced above — doesn’t even indirectly advocate violence against anybody. I strongly doubt that my comment criticizing Chossudovsky’s gratuitous insistence on non-violence in the struggle against imperialist institutions could even get me in legal trouble in the U.S., and certainly not the person on whose blog I posted it. Nevertheless, if Louis wanted to have a policy, for legal reasons, of not allowing comments that seem to advocate or encourage violence against [Louis can fill in the blanks], he could do so. He has never done that, but only, long before banning me, responded to comments of mine he didn’t like, including some that had nothing to do with violence, with name-callling and other kinds of personal attacks, including on my long hair as seen in my facebook photo!

Also, why is somebody who criticizes in principle a blanket insistence on non-violence against imperialist institutions an ‘irresponsible poseur’ publicizing ‘“macho-er than thou” nonsense’, while people like ‘arthur’ and Pham Binh, who argue for actual, concrete, very deadly imperialist violence not described in such terms?

BTW, what “comment 1” are you suggesting that people read, Brian? On what page?


admin September 26, 2012 at 10:26 am

Nobody cares about your beef with Proyect and this is not the place for it.


Aaron Aarons September 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Why didn’t you react that way to Proyect’s attack on me that I was responding to?


admin September 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm

You posted URLs twice complaining about incidents with him in the past. He didn’t.


Aaron Aarons September 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm

This might be true, but I can’t think of any way to search for either all my comments about him or his about me on this site. Could you provide the links — either here or, since you as admin have my email address, privately?


Aaron Aarons October 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm

If what you are saying, admin, is that Louis Proyect attacks me by making vague, general statements about me (and by describing the real or alleged faults of other people who are, in his mind, like me) without citing actual facts, while I, in response, cite specific exchanges he and I have had in the past in order to refute him, I won’t disagree with you.


admin October 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Exactly. “…cite specific exchanges he and I have had in the past in order to refute him…” — no one cares about these. Argue about what is being said in the here and now.

If he chooses to make a fact-free statement, that’s on him. Quite a few regulars here do it.


Arthur September 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

BTW that graphic comparing the deaths in Syria last month with the worst month in Iraq is worth reflecting on.

Not only people at Daily Kos but most of the people here responded to the numbers being killed in Iraq by actually demanding that the US pull out immediately. If they (you) had been successful, many more would have been killed in Iraq. But overwhelmingly people who took that stand were really indignant about how evil Bush and company were for actually surging more troops and were so certain it wouldn’t do any good that they simply tuned out and pretended it hadn’t done any good when the level of killing did subside. Very few will grudgingly acknowledge that they got that wrong.

We’ve seen a good example of the blindness or deafness here recently with Nir Rosen’s testimony that withdrawing US troops at that time would lead to more killing becoming completely unintelligible to people who insisted on hearing the opposite.

The same mentality is at work among people who don’t want to hear about what’s happening in Syria. It isn’t actual support for the enemy. Its “traditional” isolationism, apathy, whatabouterism and ignorance.


Aaron Aarons September 29, 2012 at 2:16 am

The claim that the worst monthly civilian death toll in Iraq was 3709 is absurd, unless, perhaps, one has an extremely narrow definition of ‘civilian’. By any reasonable estimate, the average monthly total of violent deaths of Iraqis since the invasion began is well over that alleged maximum number.

But one doesn’t have to be able to predict the results of any particular military action by the Empire to oppose any and all such actions. Most of us who actively opposed the U.S. attack on Iraq from before its latest phase began in 2003 didn’t have to know that it would result in roughly 1,000,000 deaths and the virtual destruction of Iraq as a functioning country in order to oppose it, any more than, 70 years ago, one would have had to know in advance the result of any particular military move by the Wehrmacht in order to oppose it.

By the way, when ‘arthur’, et al., talk about the U.S. bringing ‘democracy’ to Iraq they must be referring to the 100 Bremer orders imposed on the Iraqi state and society, including especially Order 81, Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law. That order is apparently still in effect. See:


muie lui proyect, pham binh si asa mai departe September 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

In retrospect, the latest development at this blog shouldn’t be a surprise: from putting a “left” face on cheerleading for the US-NATO imperialist assault on Libya to cheering on the proxy war unleashed by the US-NATO-Saudi Arabia-Qatar-Libya-Israel against Syria, the petty-bourgeois ex-leftists who write for this blog have now taken to criticizing Barack Obama FROM THE RIGHT for not having initiated the bombing of Syria yet.

The (continuing) ruminations of these petty-bourgeois “humanitarian” advocates for neo-colonialism about the fate of the Libyan “Revolution” [sic] would be hysterical if the consequences of the actions of such elements wouldn’t be so disastrous; furthermore, they completely ignore recent events in Libya, like the accusation made by Washington that the killing of the US ambassador was carried out by the very same Ansar Al-Shariah militia that served as one of Washington’s on-the-ground proxies in the 2011 war to depose the Gaddafi regime. (Some other internet critics have suggested that the killing of the ambassador was actually carried out by Gaddafi loyalists.)

Whatever the case, the consequences of imperialist aggression on behalf of the Libyan “Revolution” [sic] are clear — the destruction of any semblance of a functioning, coherent Libyan society, the control over chunks of territory here and there by reactionary Islamic fundamentalist groups, poverty and misery at ever-higher levels, the de facto control over the country and its resources by imperialism, etc.

But Claiborne, Proyect, Binh, et al. refuse to let the facts get in the way of a nice fairy-tale — the fairy tale about some “progressive” revolutions (obviously led by CIA-supported Islamic fundamentalist elements) in Libya and Syria. They are doubling down their bets, so to speak, demanding that imperialism carry out an Iraq-style war of aggression against Syria (for humanitarian and revolutionary purposes of course) and fiercely criticizing Obama for his “dithering” in sending the B-52s and cruise missiles to “liberate” the Syrian people.

The moral and political responsibility of the Proyects, Claibornes and Binhs and other petty-bourgeois “radicals” for the crimes of imperialism is real and must not be ignored. Marxists must see to it that such elements are mercilessly politically exposed and then immediately expelled from all potential developing mass movements of the working class against the capitalist profit system and its myriad barbarities.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Defending Assad from the left while he kills 20,000 of his own people is a new low for the Socialist Equality Party, even worse than spreading malicious lies about the CTU’s leadership in the middle of a strike.

Oh, and those Islamicists you moan about in Libya? They’re being taken care of by the revolutionary masses:


Aaron Aarons September 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm

If what got those masses riled up was the attack on United Snakes diplomats and installations, I would hardly call that reaction “revolutionary”. Even bad people, like reactionary Islamists, can do the right thing for the wrong reasons.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

It’s nice to know there are leftists in the West who support the armed Muslim equivalent of the Tea Party harassing women and carrying out terrorist attacks in Libya and on top of that defend them when the masses attack them for it.


Arthur September 24, 2012 at 12:18 pm

1. They aren’t the equivalent of the Tea Party. The tea party are more like the most moderate Salafi or Muslim Brotherhood rather than like takfiri terrorists.

2. There are no leftists in the West who support them. Anybody who supports them and pretends to be left is actually pseudo-left.

Both these distinctions are important.


Aaron Aarons September 25, 2012 at 4:24 am

I don’t support them attacking women or carrying out terrorist attacks. In fact, if the people who were riled up were reacting to the attacks on women or to actual terrorism, I might be inclined to consider those so riled up as at least leftist, if not revolutionary. But attacks on United Snakes installations and agents are not “terrorism” by any reasonable modern definition, and being “riled up” by them is a sign of, at least, conciliation with imperialism if not support for it, and therefore not “revolutionary”.

BTW, I took (and still take) a similar position regarding the various armed fighters in Iraq. While condemning sectarian, anti-woman, anti-homosexual, etc., attacks by any group, I cheered any attacks by any of them on U.S. and “coalition” forces. In most cases, I had no way of knowing, nor did I care, who carried out the anti-imperialist attacks. It was the actions, not the actors, I was judging.


Aaron Aarons September 26, 2012 at 1:30 am

To clarify, I don’t defend the Islamists against their not-necessarily-revolutionary attackers any more than I defend the U.S. diplomats against their Islamist attackers. In both cases, the attackers were doing good things for not-necessarily-worthy reasons.


Brian S. September 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

@? re Libya Sure got that one wrong, didn’t you:
I could go on, but why bother. Political bankruptcy will out in the end.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

It’s best not to debate Syria’s truthers.


Aaron Aarons October 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm

It’s interesting how the word ‘truther’ is used to dismiss people one doesn’t want to have to take seriously. It originated as a means of lumping together all who question the Official Story of the attacks of 2001/09/11 in the U.S., so that anybody who questions that narrative would be discredited by association with the least reasonable questioners. (Some of the latter, BTW, may well be conscious or, more often, manipulated agents of those promulgating the Official Story .)


Diana Barahona October 2, 2012 at 1:13 am

Or the people running this site are employees of the USG.


Louis Proyect September 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm

This guy who links to the SEP website makes me chuckle. I just got back from a Syria rally near Times Square where speakers blasted Obama for doing nothing. It is only on the lunatic left where Obama can be portrayed as pro-FSA.


muie lui proyect, pham binh si asa mai departe September 23, 2012 at 1:03 am

I “like” how you, Louis, and your fellow petty-bourgeois ex-left friends Claiborne and Binh never are able to substantively respond to the points which I and the SEP make vis-a-vis Iran, Libya and Syria. You cannot because what you shamelessly tout as the “revolutions” in Libya and Syria are — and any reasonably objective and fairminded analyst of international affairs (even non-socialist ones) can’t help but see this — actually right-wing “rebellions” sponsored and controlled by imperialism.

Meetings of petty-bourgeois “lefts” like yourself are not even remotely representative of the opinion of the majority of the American people, much less the American working class. The American working class is not, as you take it to be, made up of imbeciles incapable of understanding the ABCs of geo-politics. The working class knows that US-NATO wars against Libya, Syria, Iran, etc. are no more progressive than the ones waged by the West in Iraq, Afghanistan or for that matter, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Panama, etc. More and more of the ordinary working-class people in the US and elsewhere intuitively comprehend that Washington’s wars are driven by a desire to enhance US imperialism’s geopolitical position and to control other countries’ natural resources (mainly oil and natural gas,) their markets and their sources of labor.

You guys are nothing less than left-talking supporters of US imperialism; facts — like the lack of popular support for the NTC in Libya and the FSA in Syria and the myriad atrocities committed by these reactionary organizations — are ignored by you. That a central role in the Libyan and Syrian “revolutions” is being played by fanatical right-wing Islamists from Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, recent (and particularly neo-liberal) defectors from the regimes there, long-time collaborators with the CIA and the intelligence services of the other NATO countries, etc, etc, etc — is all ignored by you, because such facts contradict your beautiful — and absolutely false — narrative of “popular, democratic revolutions” which imperialism is supporting, though perhaps not enough for your tastes in Syria yet.

Telling the working-class that the imperialist-sponsored “revolutions” in Libya and Syria are about giving the people in those countries more democracy is bound to elicit blank, confused stares if not chuckles; they, too their credit don’t buy your (and the West’s and the western corporate controlled media’s) transparent pro-imperialist propaganda.

While you certainly aren’t geniuses, you have enough grey matter in your heads to know what is basically going on and what your own role in support of these filthy imperialist “regime-change” campaigns is. You have, wholly consciously or otherwise, identified your own interests with those of your own imperialist bourgeoisie. For the crimes committed by US and NATO imperialism in Libya, Syria and the crimes imperialism is virtually certain to keep on committing there and in Iran as well, you will, politically and morally speaking, have a lot of blood on your hands.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm

When the Socialist Equality Party manages to make a substantive point, I will respond. Unlike, The North Star believes in vigorous debate and publishes contrary points of view.


Louis Proyect September 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm

It’s really funny. I just read the guy’s latest post thinking that the North Star host accidentally sent the same thing twice. It took me a minute to figure out that there were two different sectarian attacks but with virtually the same content. He could have simply said something like “read my first post” and not wasted bandwidth.

For people who have a morbid curiosity about this current’s relations with Arab or North African “anti-imperialists”, this might be of interest. It’s even more sordid than the Baathist-Voltairenet cash payoffs.
The IC [Healy’s nut-case Fourth International] by this time was in poor shape. In large part this was due to the destructive effects of the policies which its constituent organisations had adopted under the instructions of Healy and the WRP leadership. The Revolutionary Communist League of Sri Lanka was forced to renounce its initial support for an independent Tamil state, thus isolating itself from the Tamil national struggle. In Peru, the Communist League pursued the bogus ‘Security and the Fourth International’ campaign by attacking Hugo Blanco, the popular leader of the country’s USec section, as a supporter of CIA agents (i.e. the SWP leadership), which completely discredited the CL among militant workers. And the IC sections in Germany and Australia were required to imitate the WRP’s ultra-leftism towards the Labour Party, calling for their respective reformist governments to be brought down. The WRP leadership made no effort to analyse the specific situation in any of the countries where the IC was organising. Instead, the fantasy of a world-wide ‘revolutionary situation’ of uniform development was adopted. In any case, Healy had effectively lost interest in the small groups of the IC, except as a source of finance for the WRP. He now had more important international relations to cultivate.

Whether Healy succeeded in raising much cash from these relations is doubtful, however. The 1985 report on Healy’s financial shenanigans, compiled by David North and other representatives of the IC, indicated the receipt of over £1 million from Libya. But Dave Bruce, who oversaw much of the WRP’s commercial printing, argues that ‘of the thousands of pounds that came from the Libyans to the WRP’s printing company, most of it was for the printing of two newspapers. That was about £10,000 a month, £120,000 a year, which sounds an enormous amount of money. But of the £120,000 over half covered the cost of raw materials’. Further income came from a contract to print 250,000 copies of Gaddafi’s Green Book. In all these cases the contracts were won in competition with other printing companies, by quoting a low price, which was itself made possible by party members working extremely long hours for very low wages.

Regarding the daily paper, the production of which was commonly attributed to the WRP’s receipt of ‘Libyan gold’, Bruce argues that ‘the actual month-to-month running costs were covered by income from the sales of the News Line, the funds and the commercial printing. I have no evidence whatsoever – and I was a director of the company, so I got to know the books fairly well – that any Libyan money went towards the printing of the News Line. And the only evidence there is, is contained in a report produced by the author of Security and the Fourth International!’10

Indeed, by 1981 Healy was reduced to writing begging letters to Gaddafi (‘We greatly regret having to approach you with such matters, since you have so many more important affairs to contend with’), but with no apparent success.11 As for Iraq, it would seem that the Ba’athists were too astute to swallow Healy’s claims of mass political influence in Britain, and refused to put much money into a politically irrelevant sect like the WRP. Dave Bruce recalls hearing rumours to the effect that the Ba’athists were pressurised by Healy to give large sums of money to fund the newspaper, but ‘when they saw the results of the [1979] election, where we stood 60 candidates, at that point they more or less decided that the WRP was a joke, and they backed off’.12 All in all, there is no question that Healy tried to sell himself to the Arab bourgeoisie. What is rather more doubtful is whether they thought it was worth paying very much for him.


Brian S. September 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm

@Louis Proyect re WRP:In the mid-70s the WRP was reportedly assigning some of its members to photograph demonstrations of anti-Gaddafi students for the benefit of the Libyan security services. At this remove I can’t provide chapter and verse, but I recall that at the time this was well-documented. I can confirm from personal knowledge that the Healyites had an extraordinarily sophisticated and costly operation for their daily paper (with two regional editions) at a time when organisations considerably larger than them were only just able to sustain weekly papers. There were undoubtedly various sources of funding for this, but I would be pretty sure that a significant proportion of it must have come from one or another state source.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

The Socialist Equality Party comrades beat their chests in internet debates, but during the OWS encampment they literally stood across the street from Zuccotti Park clutching their leaflets, afraid to enter, not knowing who to talk to or how. Very revolutionary.


Aaron Aarons September 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Wasn’t that “Syria rally” organized by people who want greater imperialist intervention in Syria? I’m sure there has been many a “Cuba rally” in Miami where speakers blasted U.S. government officials for not doing enough to get rid of the Cuban government. But even if some or all of the speakers Louis refers to are not subjectively pro-imperialist, they approach the question from the viewpoint of how Syria is affected, not from how the planet is affected, by advocating for a more active, “muscular”, U.S. imperialism. Such a localist is understandable coming from Syrians who are not leftist internationalists, but coming from those who claim to be internationalist opponents of capitalism and imperialism, it is obscene.


Brian S. September 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm

@Aaron Aarons I think this is the most abject of the arguments put forward by the opponents of popular revolutions: the Syrian / Libyan people / X,Y,Z people should put up with living under brutal and corrupt dictatorships because to fight for a better life would upset some abstract geopolitical balance. This is like some distorted mirror-image of bourgeois realpoliltik. Your idea of the road to socialism seems to involve abandoning oppressed people to perpetual subjection until… I don’t know what – some miraculous event that has to occur before you will would give them permission to resist.


Aaron Aarons September 25, 2012 at 5:05 am

@ Brian S.: I’m not concerned about upsetting some abstract geopolitical balance. In fact, I want the present (im)balance to be upset. I am concerned with trying to fight for a better life by allying with what is, on a global scale, the greater evil: Western imperialism, with its oil-rich monarchist clients and their right-wing Islamist movements.

Many people in the Ukraine reacted to their very real oppression by Stalin’s USSR in the 1930’s by welcoming the Nazi invasion in 1941, and some even took part in the Nazi war machine and the anti-Jewish crusade, since Jews had been prominent in the Soviet administration of the Ukraine and had a generally bad history of exploitive relations with the Ukrainian peasantry. Fighting oppression can be a bad thing if you do it with the wrong allies.


Aaron Aarons September 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm

That should be ‘localist perspective‘.


Brian S. September 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm

A couple of interesting new items on Syria:
Latest fascinating report from Ghaith Abdul-Ahad from the frontline:
This somewhat counterbalances the pessimism of his previous report. Some highlights:
“Nearby, a group of 20 jihadis had gathered in a circle around a burly Egyptian with a chest-long silver beard.’You are in confrontation with two apostate armies,’ the Egyptian told the men, referring to the Syrian army and Free Syrian Army. ‘When you have finished with one army you will start with the next.’
“I spoke to the regional commander of the Farouq brigade, a muscular young lieutenant from the southern province of Dara’a … ‘I will not allow the spread of Takfiri [the act of accusing other Muslims of apostasy] ideology’ he told me … . “Not now, not later. The Islam we had during the regime was disfigured Islam and what they are bringing us is also disfigured. The Islam we need is a civil Islam and not the takfiri Islam.”
It should be noted that the Farouq batllion is often cited as one of the “Islamist” contingents of the FSA.
2. An interesting report conveyed via Joshua Landis:
On first reading it might just seem like further confirmation of the sectarian polarisation of the Syrian conflict. But I think it opens up another significant possibility: the emergence of an Alawite current with a primarily defensive posture, and with different priorities than the the Assad regime. That could have a very interesting dynamic (and there are other reports which suggest it.)
I wrote the above before coming across an extremely important document also propagated by Landis – a report from Syrian intellectual oppositionist Ammar Abduhamid. This provides a dense and informative picture of the state of the Syrian civilian and military opposition, and some very detailed info on what the various external powers are up to (including the US – who seem to be concentrating on the political equivalent of teaching basketweaving). Its a document on a par with the International Crisis Group Report.
For a short version edited by Landis go to: (22 September blog)
Or for the full version (long and very complex, but worth the effort):


Aaron Aarons September 26, 2012 at 1:21 am

I read the version on Landis’ blog and am more convinced than ever that none of the groups that are likely to be able to get weapons from outside are supportable by leftists. There may be small armed groups scattered around Syria that genuine leftists would want to help, but there is no practical way of doing that, since the only people who have the means to get arms into Syria, at least in any significant quantity, are reactionary governments that are allied with U.S. and European imperialism, even if they have their own reactionary agendas.

For now, in regard to the armed struggles inside Syria, the left doesn’t have a dog in this race.


Bob September 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I like that you now evoke the racist right-wing use of “Hussein” to attack Obama. Fitting since you’re now on the side of reactionaries.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm

The man’s middle name is only an attack if you’re a racist. Nothing more reactionary than that.


Aaron Aarons September 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Back to Claiborne’s original post:

Well, you should know that three more little girls were killed in Aleppo today by a Syrian jet that could afford to make slow, low passes over the apartment building that was its target because the pilot knew the people on the ground had no way to get at him.

Presumably, the plane made “slow, low passes over the apartment building that was its target” because the pilot was not just looking for an apartment building to destroy but was looking for something worth hitting — probably a place being used by opposition fighters. If he wanted to kill a lot of civilians of any age or sex, there would be no reason to make those “slow, low passes” before firing whatever weapon was used, and it’s quite unlikely that the pilot was specifically looking to kill little girls. Moreover, since the population of Aleppo was generally pro-government or neutral before it was invaded by anti-government fighters from villages near the Turkish border, there would be even less reason for a government pilot to attack civilians there. It’s very much unlike the situation in Iraq shown, for example, in the Collateral Murder video, where racist members of the United Snakes killitary murdered unarmed, non-combatant, Iraqis on the ground from a helicopter and knowingly lied that the victims were armed combatants. (The man, Bradley Manning, who exposed that crime has been in solitary confinement for over two years, while the murderers have not been punished.)


Louis Proyect September 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Aarons: Presumably, the plane made “slow, low passes over the apartment building that was its target” because the pilot was not just looking for an apartment building to destroy but was looking for something worth hitting — probably a place being used by opposition fighters. If he wanted to kill a lot of civilians of any age or sex, there would be no reason to make those “slow, low passes” before firing whatever weapon was used, and it’s quite unlikely that the pilot was specifically looking to kill little girls.

Fascinating. This is exactly the same line of reasoning I have heard from Zionists about the air war against Gaza 2 years ago. Same also as heard about the American air war against Vietnam, and NATO’s in Yugoslavia. All the civilian deaths are “accidental”. What people like Aarons are about is attaching themselves to governments on the American shit-list and using the same threadbare arguments for bombing civilian neighborhoods in the name of “suppressing terrorism” that you would hear from Fox-TV. It is the “radical” version of Sean Hannity. In reality the best way for al-Assad to avoid civilian casualties is to meet the FSA on its own terms by sending in its foot soldiers with light arms, just like the FSA’s. It can’t do this because the morale is so weak and because the FSA has the upper hand. So instead it uses helicopters and jets since nobody on the ground can do much against them. The “accidental” deaths of hundreds of civilians does not matter to al-Assad because he has no alternative. He can only rule through brute force. He is the worst war criminal in the Middle East outside of the Zionists. Everybody from the region knows this. It is up to the fun-house mirror versions of Sean Hannity like Aarons to make al-Assad’s case. Here’s a reminder of the kind of people who are on the side of the Syrians. He is a real radical unlike the sad, isolated, and reactionary “anti-imperialists” who have the same moral and psychological make up of the CPUSA in 1937.

This is from the wikipedia entry for Hatem Bazian who spoke at the Syria rally in Washington that I videoed:

Early life and education

Bazian is originally from Nablus in the West Bank and attended high school in Amman, Jordan. He arrived in the United States to attend university. He finished a double major in International Relations and Speech and Communication at San Francisco State University, where he also completed an M.A. in International Relations. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Islamic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Student activism

At San Francisco State University in the late 1980s, Bazian became the first Palestinian to be elected president of SFSU Associated Students and the Student Union Governing Board. He was the first student to win a second term as president in the history of SFSU. The election came as a result of a united front formed under the Progressive Coalition that brought together all the students of color organizations on a common platform and a joint political strategy

At the national conference United States Student Association (USSA) held at UC Berkeley in 1988, Bazian co-lead a major walk-out that culminated in the organization adopting a progressive board of directors structure granting by a 2/3 vote at least 50% of the Seats to Students of Color.

Bazian was elected as a Chair of the National People of Color Student Coalition (NPCSC) and an executive board member of the USSA. In both, he took the lead on affirmative action, access to education, anti-apartheid efforts on college campuses, and the Central American Solidarity Movement. He authored resolutions, which were adopted by the USSA national conference in 1991 calling for cutting US aid to Israel and imposing sanctions for its sales of military equipment to apartheid South Africa.[c


Aaron Aarons September 28, 2012 at 1:57 am

Are you saying, Louis, that my analysis of the particular incident I was referring to is not reasonable? Please note that I was not referring to every use of air power by the Syrian state against its opponents, but this particular one. There may be cases where the Syrian state has used air power and other firepower to deliberately kill non-combatants, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them. Since Claiborne chose to use the incident to make an argument, I pointed out the fallacy in his argument, i.e., that for the anti-government fighters in such a situation to have had weaponry so that the pilot couldn’t “afford to make slow, low passes over the apartment building that was its target” would not have prevented civilian casualties and might have increased them.

So, anti-anti-imperialists, stop the manipulative use of photos of dead or injured people on this site, and of pictures of schoolboys holding up signs in English, and base your argument on actual analysis of what is going on in the world.

BTW, Hatem Bazian, who I have known casually for decades through my involvement in the Palestine solidarity movement, anti-war movement, etc. was, as far as I knew and know, a secular leftist until probably some time in the 1990’s, when he became (or came out as) a Muslim. I am not at all surprised that the supports the Islamist-dominated Syrian armed uprising, although I haven’t yet seen or heard what he specifically has to say about it. But he is not “a real radical” and hasn’t been for a long time.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp September 28, 2012 at 6:06 am

“…stop the manipulative use of photos of dead or injured people on this site, and of pictures of schoolboys holding up signs in English, and base your argument on actual analysis of what is going on in the world.”

Yes, because clearly no one is being killed in Syria and they are not appealing to the world to help.

I’ve seen some dumb things written on this site by opponents of the Syrian revolution but this one takes the cake.


Aaron Aarons September 29, 2012 at 6:44 am

You pro-imperialist-intervention folks have been using pictures of dead and injured people without generally explaining who the people are, how they were killed or injured, and why you selected those particular victims. Nobody is denying that people are dying in this conflict and, if you were arguing for covering Syria with a cloud of fairy dust to keep people from killing each other, pictures of the dead and injured might be a valid support for your argument. But they certainly don’t support the argument for militarily supporting one side or another in a civil war.

As for the pictures of young boys (who likely know little about Syrian politics and less about regional and international politics) sitting under signs they probably can’t read, all they prove is that some adults who can write in English have used those boys to promote their own international politics. Yes, some Syrians “are […] appealing to the world to help”, but the question of which Syrians are doing so and for what reasons is not answered by such pictures. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, is much more likely to be true when you want to manipulate people rather than inform them.

I’ve seen some dumb things written on this site by supporters of imperialist intervention in Syria, so, unfortunately, your above comment has a lot of competition for the cake.


Brian S. September 28, 2012 at 11:04 am

@Aarons So, you can’t be a Muslim and a leftist, and being a believer is something that you “come out” as. Have you bottomed out yet or are are you planning on going still lower?


Louis Proyect September 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

You can’t expect Aarons to be consistent. If you point out that Malcolm X was a devout Muslim, he will use some bit of noxious sophistry to make the case that it was okay for Malcolm but not for Hatem Bazian. Or, who knows, maybe he thinks that Malcolm X was not up to his Olympian standards.


Aaron Aarons September 29, 2012 at 5:34 am

I had written that Bazian “was, as far as I knew and know, a secular leftist until probably some time in the 1990′s, when he became (or came out as) a Muslim.” I never said or implied that he stopped being a “leftist”, but that he stopped being a “secular leftist”. I added the words “or came out as” because I don’t know if he considered himself a Muslim while his politics were still secular, not Islamist. I think he can still be considered a “leftist”, but certainly not a “radical” leftist. I’m not up-to-date on Bazian’s position regarding the long-proposed two-state (i.e., Palestinian Bantustan) liquidation of imperialism’s Palestine problem, but he has promoted ‘two-state’ false friends of the Palestinians like Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky.


Louis Proyect September 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

Aarons: “Are you saying, Louis, that my analysis of the particular incident I was referring to is not reasonable?”

What I said was absolutely clear. If you substituted “Gaza” for “Aleppo” and “IDF” for “Syrian air force”, your comment could have been lifted from The Jerusalem Post.

Aarons: “But he is not “a real radical” and hasn’t been for a long time.”

Whatever he is, I prefer it to your clumsy Baathist propaganda.


Aaron Aarons September 29, 2012 at 6:14 am

The conflicts around Gaza and Aleppo are very different. The Zionists killed massive numbers of people in Gaza, and have done many less intense but very harmful things before and since the 2008-2009 attack, to punish the people of Gaza for resisting Israeli domination. It was not a military conflict. The conflict in Aleppo, OTOH, is a conflict between two forces that are contending for control over Aleppo and over Syria as a whole. “There may”, as I said, “be cases where the Syrian state has used air power and other firepower to deliberately kill non-combatants [in order, presumably, to intimidate hostile populations], but this doesn’t seem to be one of them.”

I wasn’t making “Baathist propaganda”, but deconstructing one piece of pro-imperialist-intervention atrocity propaganda.

BTW, Louis, do you really think that Baathists, rather than Salafists, Wahhabis, and the various Gulf monarchies, are the main or most reactionary of all the reactionary Arab forces in the Middle East?


Louis Proyect September 29, 2012 at 9:51 am

Aarons: “There may”, as I said, “be cases where the Syrian state has used air power and other firepower to deliberately kill non-combatants [in order, presumably, to intimidate hostile populations], but this doesn’t seem to be one of them.”

In other words, when dictatorships use air power, tanks, and heavy artillery to bomb and strafe densely populated urban settlements to neutralize scattered fighters armed with small arms, it is okay even if there is “collateral damage”.

You should look into becoming this guy’s press secretary:
Netanyahu says Israel ‘regrets’ hitting Palestinian civilians

March 22, 2011

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he regretted the accidental killing of four members of a Palestinian family in their Gaza home by Israeli tank fire.

Netanyahu in a statement Tuesday from the Prime Minister’s Office emphasized that the shooting was in response to fire by Hamas at Israeli citizens.

“It is unfortunate that Hamas continues to rain down dozens of rockets on Israeli civilians intentionally using civilians as shields,” he said. “Israel has no intention of bringing about a deterioration of the situation, but at the same the IDF will continue to act decisively to protect Israeli citizens.”

Later Tuesday evening, three gunmen from the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, were killed in an Israeli airstrike, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. The Israel Defense Forces said it struck terrorists on their way to launch rockets at Israel; the IDF identified them as the terrorists who launched a Grad-style rocket on Beersheba last month.

A Kassam rocket fired from Gaza struck Ashkelon shortly after.

Some 13 other Palestinians, including children, also were injured in Tuesday afternoon’s strike, which came after four Kassam rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel, according to reports. Israeli troops fired in the direction of Palestinians who had launched mortars at them, accidentally hitting the home, reports said.

Also Tuesday, Israeli troops fired on Gaza Palestinians preparing to launch an anti-tank missile at an Israeli force operating in the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF in a statement said its soldiers hit their target.

Israeli combat planes late Monday night pounded the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a weekend mortar attack, the worst barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israel in two years. More than 50 mortar shells struck the area on Saturday morning. On Monday, a long-range Grad-style rocket was fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

The Israelis’ attack hit two terror tunnels, two weapons manufacturing and storage facilities and two additional terror activity sites across the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF. Israel Radio said there were reports from Palestinian sources of 17 wounded.

Israel had responded earlier Monday to Saturday’s barrage with airstrikes on suspected bomb smuggling tunnels. The latest attack seemed more comprehensive and sustained, according to Israel Radio.

The armed wing of Hamas, Izzadin Kassam Brigades, had claimed responsibility for most of the explosives sent Saturday from Gaza.

Before Israel’s attack Monday night, a spokesman for Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, had indicated that the group was ready to return to a fragile truce.


Aaron Aarons October 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Louis Proyect asks me

In other words, when dictatorships use air power, tanks, and heavy artillery to bomb and strafe densely populated urban settlements to neutralize scattered fighters armed with small arms, it is okay even if there is “collateral damage”.

I am not arguing about what is or is not ‘okay’. However, I was questioning whether a particular incident of the use of air power as described here by Clay Claiborne resulted in the deaths of three young girls because or in spite of the presumed fact that the pilot felt safe in making several passes over the target before firing at it.

BTW, I would evaluate such actions by a bourgeois ‘democracy’ the same way I would evaluate such actions by a bourgeois ‘dictatorship’. Their relationship to imperialism in its miliitary and its economic aspects is more important than whether or not they were ‘elected’.


Louis Proyect October 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm

the presumed fact that the pilot felt safe in making several passes over the target before firing at it.

You still don’t get it or more likely you get it and refuse to deal with it. As I have stressed over and over and over again, and what the left press (except for the usual suspects like Global Research and Voltairenet) has said as well, this is a war in which the Syrian dictatorship has been forced to rely on tanks, artillery, helicopters, and jets. Its foot soldiers, which are effectively Allawite dead-enders, are no match for the FSA so they use weaponry that CAN ONLY result in massive loss of civilian life. It is not a question of “targeting” civilians. It is instead a question of using heavy weapons against lightly armed FSA combatants in city streets. The “collateral damage” inflicted is the same as what happened in Gaza or in VIetnam, etc. 30,000 dead Syrians is proportionately the same as around 300,000 dead Americans. All in about a year and a half. That is the mass killings you are trying to spin on behalf of the Baathist gangsters. The USA did not “purposely” bomb villages in Vietnam. They only got “accidentally” in the way of B-52 strikes. You are using the same cynical, propagandistic, self-serving, types of arguments that someone on Israeli television would use to “explain” civilian deaths in Gaza.


Diana Barahona October 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

Would it be asking too much for The North Star to put up a photo of Maya Naser? How about a repost of the news that German intelligence believes 95% of the militants fighting to overthrow the Syrian government are not Syrians?


Brian S. October 2, 2012 at 8:08 am

I unreservedly condemn the targetting of journalists by either side in Syria (or anywhere else for that matter) – it would be good to hear you say the same, Diana.
On your second item, the biggest mistake that any propagandist can make is to over-egg their pudding – and you have done that big time here! 95%! No one in their right mind is going to buy that. Since the report (erroneously) states that the FSA has 14 800 fighters) It would mean that there are only 750 Syrian fighters in the FSA!
This from a a regime website and even it felt obliged to attach a notice “Warning: source is not verifiable”. (You forgot that bit) Its “source” is to Iranian state radio IRIB, which apparently claimed the German daily Die Welt as its source. But there is no such story in Die Welt (nor anywhere else that I can see) . And IRIB has now withdrawn the story from its German site. So it looks as if the only person left believing this bizarre story is you, Diana.


Dean Clark September 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm

“A leading German newspaper reported that the German intelligence service, BND, had concluded that 95% of the Syrian rebels come from abroad and are likely to be members of al Qaeda. (Die Welt, September 30, 2012)”


Brian S. September 9, 2013 at 12:17 am

I’m not sure if “Dean Clark’s” post is some time-travelled glitch: but in case its not the answer to it is contained in my post in directly above his.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp October 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Here’s an inside look at the Syrian government’s lie machine you keep quoting from:


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