Assad’s Troops Wipe Out a Playground Full of Children in Syria

by Clay Claiborne on November 26, 2012

First published at Daily Kos.

A lot of my friends on the left have recently been out on the streets protesting the Israeli shelling and bombing of Gaza. I wonder it they will have anything to say about this?

Or is it just another day in Syria?

From the Adam Clark Estes, the Atlantic Wire, 25 November 2012:

At a certain point, it seemed like much of the world grew numb to the violence in Syria. But it’s hard not to be disturbed by a new video showing a street littered with children’s bloody bodies.The scene is from Deir al-Asafir, a rebel-held town in the outskirts of Damascus where a Syrian government airstrike killed as many as ten children on Sunday. Opposition sources told both Reuters and CNN that planes flown by Assad loyalists peppered the suburb with cluster bombs, one of which hit a playground full of children playing. A YouTube video shows the aftermath. (Be careful clicking through to that video — It is disturbing and graphic.)

A woman bent over the lifeless body of a young girl dressed in purple is screaming “May God bring you pain, Bashar.” A man walks in circles, as if in shock, with the limp body of a young child with blood dripping from his heels. There are bodies spilling out of cars, bodies blocking the streets.

The locals say the attack came without warning or provocation. “None of those killed were older than 15 years old,” one villager named Abu Kassem told Reuters“There are two women among 15 people wounded, mostly hit as they were inside the courtyards of their houses. There were no fighters inside Deir al-Asafir when the bombing occurred. They operate on the outskirts. This was indiscriminate bombing.”

It’s hard to know what exactly happened. Journalists haven’t been allowed into the country for months, and of those that’ve managed to gain access, nine have been killed. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the estimated 40,000 civilians killed in Syria since the conflict began nearly two years ago. The United States has kept its hands in its pockets so far, in part because our diplomats say that the Syrian rebels have long been too fragmented and disorganized for any hope of real cooperation. Will a playground full of dead children sway the State Department to take a more assertive stance? Probably not.

All those who have opposed imposing any kind of no-fly zone in Syria and also have opposed giving anyone who was willing to protect these children adequate weapons with which to do so, should also look upon this as their handiwork.


{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

byork November 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm

… and this regime should not be regarded as fascist?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp November 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm
Anthony Abdo November 29, 2012 at 12:16 am

‘Two car bombs exploded minutes apart in a suburban residential area of Damascus on Wednesday, killing at least 45 people and injuring 120, Syrian media reported. The blasts targeted an area called Jaramana populated by Christians and Druze, minority groups that have mostly supported the Syrian regime. Although no group claimed responsibility for the blasts, it had the trademarks of al Qaeda-affiliated organizations.’


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp November 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Brian S. November 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hello Tony, long time no hear from. As Binh notes it is entirely possible that these bombings are the work of the regime, although I would not just assume that is the case. I may return with further considered review of the matter, if others don’t get in ahead of me (please feel free to contribute if you have serious evidence/argumentation on this).


Anthony Abdo November 29, 2012 at 11:24 pm

You don’t hear from me, Brian,because this site most usually removes what I write. I think that you must know that already though…


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp November 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Tony is upset because his personal attacks don’t get published. Meanwhile in Syria Assad has cut the internet. Glad he has his priorities straight.


Anthony Abdo December 1, 2012 at 3:43 am

No, Pham, my not getting published multiple times here has nothing to do with any ‘personal attacks’ but rather with my views on politics not being respected here. I have lost count of the times a certain common voice on this site has lectured me as to supposedly being nonmarxist in my point of view while he and this site have always projected him as being the absolute essence of marxist brilliance repeatedly. I have had the problem of writing often and seeing my opinion then quickly removed and he does not, and neither do you either for that matter, Pham. It has nothing to do with you and him supposedly not attacking others personally and me supposedly doing so.


Anthony Abdo December 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

In fact, my last 2 replies on this thread contained zero personal attacks on anybody and so then???? …why is my last comment now awaiting ‘moderation’ once again, Pham? Do any of your posts ever ‘await moderation’, Pham?


Anthony Abdo December 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm

And now once again another post ‘awaits moderation’…. This is a ridiculous way to distort comradely discussion. If this goes online immediately, it will be 2 out of 4 posts in the last 5minutes that get allowed.


Ben Campbell December 2, 2012 at 2:23 am

Hi Anthony. I’m not sure why a couple of your comments have been held for moderation, but it is a WordPress issue and not something that is being consciously done by any moderator. We try to check the site frequently and quickly approve comments that have been held for moderation, but occasionally it might take a few hours.


Aaron Aarons November 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Israel’s crimes are financed and otherwise enabled by the imperialist rulers of the countries most of us live in, particularly the United Snakes but also the United Killdom, and settler-colonial Canada and Australia. Nobody on the anti-imperialist left is demanding that the U.S. or its allies take military action against the Zionist state, but only that they stop actively enabling its crimes. SInce, AFAIK, those governments are not actively enabling any alleged crimes of the Syrian state, it makes no sense to demand that they stop enabling them.

Moreover, if you’re going to compare our concern with the deaths of Syrian children with our concern for the deaths of Palestinian children, how about comparing your concern with the deaths of Syrian children from the actions of the Syrian state with the orders-of-magnitude greater number of deaths of children around the world every day as a result of the policies imposed by imperialist governments and the banksters and other capitalists they serve?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp November 30, 2012 at 11:48 pm

We want U.S. imperialist sanctions on Israel just as we wanted them on South Africa. It’s terrible, isn’t it? Think of all the colonists and racist settlers who might go hungry because of evil Uncle Sam!


Aaron Aarons December 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm

WTF are you talking about, Binh? What does your brief response have to do with anything I wrote in my longer, but still brief, comment? Do you think the “deaths of children around the world every day as a result of the policies imposed by imperialist governments and the banksters and other capitalists they serve” was in any way a reference to the hypothetical possible suffering of “the colonists and racist settlers who might go hungry because of evil Uncle Sam”? (Incidentally, it is reasonable to estimate that the number of children killed by global capitalism every minute of every day is far greater than the number of children killed by the playground bombing here attributed to the Assad regime and greater than the number of children killed Friday in that horrible massacre in Connecticut. Those who focus so much attention on such isolated events to the near-total exclusion of attention to the one-per-minute massacres of a score of children by imperialist capital “should also look upon [these] as their handiwork.”)

Also, what U.S. imperialist sanctions on ‘Israel’ do ‘we’ want? We do demand of the imperialists that they stop arming and subsidizing Israel, and that imperialist corporations stop propping up the Israeli economy. (OTOH, I disagree with those who oppose Coca-Cola providing its poison to Israelis. Rather, I wish they would give it away free there!) We are also for BDS actions by non-governmental and non-corporate individuals and organizations. Few supporters of the Palestinians would call for the kind of sanctions on the Zionist entity that the imperialists impose on countries like Cuba, the DPRK, Iran, or Syria.

(Incidentally, I disagree with those who oppose Coca-Cola providing its poison to Israelis. Rather, I wish they would give it away free there!)


Aaron Aarons December 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

OOPS! Sorry for the duplication of that last sentence that I had meant to move, rather than copy, to the earlier spot it is in. If it is technically possible, the moderators should delete that sentence along with this comment.


Louis Proyect November 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm

@Aarons: SInce, AFAIK, those governments are not actively enabling any alleged crimes of the Syrian state, it makes no sense to demand that they stop enabling them.

Why is this nonsense being circulated once again? The god-damned CIA is monitoring the Turkish border with Syria in order to block any ground-to-air missiles getting into the hand of the FSA. Imperialism *is* intervening against the revolutionary movement. Furthermore today’s NY Times admits why the US is finally reconsidering its options:

American officials and independent specialists on Syria said that the administration was reviewing its Syria policy in part to gain credibility and sway with opposition fighters, who have seized key Syrian military bases in recent weeks.

“The administration has figured out that if they don’t start doing something, the war will be over and they won’t have any influence over the combat forces on the ground,” said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer and specialist on the Syria military. “They may have some influence with various political groups and factions, but they won’t have influence with the fighters, and the fighters will control the territory.”


Joe Vaughan December 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm

American officials and independent specialists on Syria said that the administration was reviewing its Syria policy in part to gain credibility and sway with opposition fighters, who have seized key Syrian military bases in recent weeks.

This is undeniably true. But what other reason would a U.S. government ever have for intervening in a civil war–for example, in Libya?

If this bad motivation in some way vitiates the resulting actions, then surely “we on the left” (I use the phrase conditionally) have to qualify our “support” for the government action and policy behind the intervention.

This holds even if we approve of the use made by revolutionaries some of the possible results–perhaps even more so in that case.

The U.S. government overthrew the hideous dictatorship of the Taliban and the hideous dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, both with catastrophic results for the 99% in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Indeed, at least initially, the Afghan war was “won” by Afghan fighters with no invading “Coalition” army, though the CIA and others had a small number of “boots on the ground”–a terrifying prefiguration of what can come of letting the colonials fight among themselves with judicious air support for the probable winners.

It appears, BTW–whatever it may mean–that as of Friday the Syrian resistance does have a few surface-to-air missiles, though not from the sources inderdicted by the CIA:


Pham Binh December 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

Libyan revolutionaries circumvented the CIA blockade on heavy weapons and brought them there. Also, some of those weapons were liberated from Assad armories. Every base that falls to the FSA means more and better weapons.


Aaron Aarons December 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Louis writes: “Imperialism *is* intervening against the revolutionary [sic!] movement.”

So, Louis, if you believe that this is the case, will you join us anti-imperialists in opposing all imperialist intervention is Syria?


Pham Binh December 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm

The U.S. military intervened in Egypt and told mid-level officers not to shoot protestors in Tahrir Square. I guess you oppose that too.


Aaron Aarons December 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I don’t oppose it when the higher-ups of an international crime syndicate tell local subordinates not to do something particularly murderous that will cause greater problems for the syndicate. That’s not what most people would mean by “intervention” in the context of this debate.


Anthony Abdo December 1, 2012 at 4:06 am

Louis calls his own very personally favored military/terrorist forces ‘the revolutionary movement’. Here though is what a reporter for the Associated Press says of a squad of them though… ‘The Lebanese gunmen were Sunni Muslims, as are the vast majority of Syria’s rebels. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – along with his most elite troops – belong to the Alawite sect, a Shiite offshoot.’

Of course, ‘the god-damned CIA is monitoring the Turkish border’ as well as planning to give Turkish military the full force of Nato’s support need be.


Brian S. December 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm

@ Anthony A. “The full force of NATO’s support” for what exactly?
And since when does being a “Sunni Muslim” constitute some form of criminal behaviour?


Anthony Abdo December 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm

And who said that being Sunni Muslim is criminal behavior, Brian? I find it strange the way some people’s thinking goes so wildly astray on these Syrian and Libyan matters. How in the world did you read that I was implying that being Sunni Muslim was constituting ‘some form of criminal behavior’? I most certainly never came close to meaning anything like that. Why would you take it that I did?

The reporter merely states that there are sectarian RELIGIOUS boundaries in the infighting in this country Syria and does not assign goodness nor badness to the differing religious groupings, and neither should you or I. But certainly we should take note of these sectarian religious alignments and not go around calling one of the varying religious/ ethnic factions things such as ‘the revolutionary movement’ as Louis just did, Brian, as if he were talking of the international socialist movement or some such, when in fact it is a RELIGIOUS and ETHNIC division that has created opposing camps in this fighting, not secular political divisions so much.

As to what might constitute the full force of Nato’s support to Turkey be in this conflict? The answer appears to be that it might well at least mean the US will help Turkey set up a missile defense system to better protect Turkish government efforts (and Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s efforts, too) to create regime change in Syria, which would be helpful in further weakening Iran’s regional support in an already underway battle against the US and Israel and assorted other regional dictatorships allied with the US, would it not? These governmental powers from outside Syria itself want regime changes in Syria as well as in Iran and previously Libya. The Pentagon wants regime change in Syria, and why should comrades be in silence about that, or outright denial that it is so?


Brian S. December 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

@Tony. Don’t you read your own posts Tony? You claim to be refuting Louis characterisation of the Syrian rebels as ” revolutionary forces” by citing “what a reporter for the Associated Press says of a squad of them though” – and what he says of them is that they are “Sunni muslims”. So that must be something that you regard as excluding them from being “revolutionary forces”, and thereby seriously negative. Its hardly news that there are different religious affiliations among the Syrian population, but there is nothing in the link you posted to indicate that this Lebanese group were motivated by sectarian factors or conducted themselves in a sectarian manner (why couldn’t they have been just democratic internationalists – ah, because they were “Sunni Muslims”. QED).
You say that NATO is aiming to “to better protect Turkish government efforts to create regime change in Syria”. And what do those efforts consist of, preciely?


Anthony Abdo December 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Come now , Brian. Once again your reasoning just does not add up. A sectarian conflict based more on what religious groupings you belong to does not make for democratic ‘revolution’, as Louis and apparently you think that it does. Trying to imagine that Nato and US backed Syrian Sunnis are ‘democratic internationalists’ because you will them to be that does not make it so.

Further, once again your ending question is you playing the blind innocent here. You well know that Turkey is allowing Syrians (and others, too!) against the Assad regime to use Turkey as organizing and entrance point to attack Syrians who are not interested in overthrowing the Assad regime. You hardly need me to inform you of that.


Brian S. December 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm

@Anthony. But who says its a “sectarian conflict” – not your source – just you. Or does the fact that “Sunni muslims” are involved automatically make it a sectarian conflict in your book? It sounds like it.
All the evidence that I’ve seen suggests that Turkey is restricting the movement of Syrians across the border: they are reported to have the army generals who defected under lock and key.


Anthony Abdo December 3, 2012 at 12:27 am

Give us a break, Brian, with these multiple falsehoods you are now posting here. Here is what the New York Times said way back in June even about the Turkish involvement against the current Syrian government. It is the complete opposite picture from what you are trying to give people. See below… Plus, to ignore the religious factionalism in these conflicts as you want us also to do is to distort much of the true picture of these conflicts.

C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition
Published: June 21, 2012
WASHINGTON — A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

Related in Opinion
Patrick Chappatte: Arms Flow to Syria (June 22, 2012)

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. The Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so….



Brian S. December 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm

@AnthonyAbdo. My “falsehoods” simply consist of quoting your own linked sources back to you. And here once again I have to say READ YOUR OWN POST: “The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. ” In other words, the US is IMPEDING the flow of arms to the Syrian opposition. Look at the list of weapons actually being supplied by “a shadowy network of intermediaries”: almost entirely small arms – while Assad has the benefit of airpower, artillery and armour, and is still losing the war. Doesn’t that suggest anything to you as a supposed Marxist?
And I don’t” ignore the religious factionalism” in the conflict (read my previous posts); what I do is reject your apparent view that everyone else has to offer evidence for their views (fair enough) while you get to claim whatever takes your fancy, with any old nonsense as substantiation.


Clay Claiborne December 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm

@Antony The Syrian opposition also has Christians, Alawi, and Shiite. It is majority Sunni because Syria is. The demands of the SNC or the FSA aren’t sectarian.

Assad and his supporters (I’m looking at you) attempt to frame it as a sectarian conflict and even have been willing to stage terrorist attacks against Shiite, Christians and Alawwi to attempt to push it in a sectarian direction.

Turkey has been forced to deal with hundreds of thousands of refugees as a result of Assad’s murderous policies, and the overwhelming majority of Syrians want “regime change.” [If it was such an overwhelming sentiment, the revolution would have been crushed 30,000 Syrian deaths ago.] So why shouldn’t Turkey be for regime change.

The question is, why do you want to keep the murderous bastard in power?


Clay Claiborne December 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm

BTW my comments await moderation too, and I wrote this piece.


Anthony Abdo December 3, 2012 at 12:13 am

Clay, your comments ‘await moderation’? I see your comment of 9:15 quickly followed by that of another by you at 9:16. And now I am going to try to reply to you at 9:46. Your posts are going online easily enough I see.

My own comments go a’waiting moderation’ then one gets online immediately afterwards instantaneously. Then another ‘awaits moderation’ once again when I write it 5 minutes later. One minute later after that, another comment by me gets immediately posted! What kind of game is this that is played with us posters who disagree with the viewpoints offered up by yourself, Pham, and Louis? The site actually defines itself by your views on Syrian regime change, and others with like views to mine hardly see this site as conducive to our writings being posted, nor to even our comments about your contributions getting seen either.

I have been kicked off of Louis’s ‘marxism list’ countless times over a period of the last 15 years while posting on numerous topics, and each time it was because he simply disagreed with my pov. Further, I have watched him do the exact same with numerous other comrades, too! Here, one gets the distinct impression that he is a founder in this group sponsoring this ‘North Star’ site as well. Is it any wonder that I think it not some ‘Word Press issue’ as Ben Campbell has stated it merely to be when my views are held up, disallowed, and actively discouraged from being presented? I rather think it the logical response to when one is getting fugged around in this sort of manner ONCE AGAIN.

Now, as to the point you made that Turkey is supposedly merely for regime change in Syria due to having refugees from Syria coming over into Turkish territory? I guess the fact that Turkey is part of Nato and a close ally of the US has nothing really to do with their antipathy to Syria’s dictator, Assad, when we all know that he is an ally and friend with the current government of Iran? Is this what you are saying is your opinion here, Clay? It’s only that the humane Turkish government is bothered by the Syrian refugees? That’s it?!!!

And to your final question about why do I supposedly want to keep ‘the murderous bastard’ in power? I ask you, why do you want this ‘murderous bastard’ out of power so bad, that you single him out along with the Pentagon and your own capitalist government for getting him removed NOW? There are plenty other murderous bastards out there and it hardly bothers you much in the least that they are in power about almost every single one of them. So why is an American calling himself a marxist going at him RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT with the very same verbal venom that a Glen Beck is able to muster for the same regime change desired by the US Right Wing, Liberal Democrats, Pentagon, etc?

In fact, I do not want the Assad in power in Syria. I did not want Gaddafi in power in Libya. I do not want the mullahs in power in Iran. And I do not want the US government and its military to be removing any of them either. Why do you want that?


Aaron Aarons December 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

The ‘murderous bastard’ whose power we should, by orders of magnitude, be most concerned with destroying is Mr. Global Imperialist Capital. Everything should be judged in that context.


Joe Vaughan December 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

All those who have opposed imposing any kind of no-fly zone in Syria and also have opposed giving anyone who was willing to protect these children adequate weapons with which to do so, should also look upon this as their handiwork.

I guess I don’t belong under this fatwa since I would at least accept Syrian revolutionaries’ being able to make “legitimate” use of an NF zone if one were established.

I can’t refrain from pointing out, however, that without doubt more than one group of children perished during the NATO air campaign in Libya.

Were these “counter-revolutionary” children who had it coming?

What is to stop the old-line anti-imperialists from retorting that these deaths were “the fruit” of Claiborne’s advocacy? Or my own much more muted and conditional advocacy if it comes to that? Or are we going to argue absurdly that nobody innocent at all perished in Libya as a result of “legitimate” acts of civil war?

In the long run, either one takes an emotionalist, moral-supremacist (read manipulative) line or one takes a scientfic and rational one. It isn’t wrong to be angry, indeed enraged, but it is wrong to let one’s politics be ruled by pure emotion. Why? Because the same convenient outrage can always plausibly be whipped up against one by the opposition, leaving humankind none the wiser.

Who the opposition are, of course, and why one needs to be on the attack at any given time, are different matters altogether.


Clay Claiborne December 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm

About 75 civilians were killed by NATO bombing in Libya. That can easily be justified given the number of children and others killed by Qaddafi. How many more would have been killed if Qaddafi had had a free hand to do what Assad has been doing in the past year.


Anthony Abdo December 3, 2012 at 1:01 am

I’m used to seeing Hillary Clinton justify Nato bombings, and not marxists. Will Clay next start to tell us that the drone killings by Obama, too, are surgically done and ‘justified’ since they target ‘jihadists’ and not civilians? And to try to convince us that he is being a marxist while doing so?


Joe Vaughan December 13, 2012 at 8:37 am

Note please that we do not regret the killing of the alleged 75 civilians; we do not regard it even as an unfortunate accident (or “collateral damage.”) We justify it.

We pass over other deaths, such as the death of 62 refugees on a ship that capsized, or the unknowable number of “justified” deaths of non-combatants at the hands of Libyan fighters who were enabled to act more freely because of the air strikes.

In fact, the true figure of “justified” deaths of non-combatants as a result of the airstrikes (as opposed to actually in the airstrikes) is not known, though there are no doubt varying estimates. You cannot “justify” the airstrikes except by their wider consequences, so this can’t be ruled out of court.

Such, in Goya’s terms, are the pranks of warfare, which in fact is never entirely “justified” or predictable, however necessary it may be.

This brings us to the nub of the matter–obscured as it may be by the essentially irrelevant argument about the numbers of civilian deaths in Libya–which is the astonishing assertion that opponents of U.S. intervention are directly, if not entirely, responsible for the murder of children by Assad.

The fact is that no expression of “support” by unrepentant Marxists and their fellow travelers is going to have a single jot or tittle of influence on the policy decisions of the Obama cabal, the Pentagon, the CIA, or the ruling-class swine whom they serve. Zero. Zip. Nor are the counter-assertions by latter-day Maoists and other–or the demurrers of skeptics–likely to have any influence on policy-makers.

The policy-makers and the war-makers listen only to each other and to their masters.

Therefore, nothing concrete has actually happened or not happened or is going to happen or not happen in Syria as a direct result of any left-wing debate about U.S. policy in and of itself.

Thus any old-line anti-imperialists who fulminate here–or perhaps critics analyzing the position–are therefore not guilty on grounds of U.S. policy support/non-support of the crimes that are being committed by Assad. Their crime–and how easy it is to make such sweeping assertions–is a purely abstract moral one.

On the other hand, the waving, on purely moral grounds, of a foreign bloody shirt by leaders who themselves risked nothing by said waving would be a wonderful way of defining a shibboleth to be used in purging a nascent movement of anybody who displeased its leaders.

I am not accusing anyone of actual demagoguery–especially when the following is so small and, frankly, marginal politically–but the risk of demagoguery surely lurks in any purely moralistic and self-righteous argument such as the one presented at the beginning of this piece.


Anthony Abdo December 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm

As Clay and others on this thread shout out YOU Baby Killers! here at the Assad regime, the US military and government are seemingly preparing to enter the fray OVERTLY and DIRECTLY using the imperialist standard of THEY have WOMD! that will be screamed out to the world. See today’ headlines documenting the Pentagon plans…

‘US weighing military options if Syria uses WMD’- ‘Syria’s arsenal is a particular threat to the American allies, Turkey and Israel, and Obama singled out the threat posed by the unconventional weapons earlier this year as a potential cause for deeper U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war.’ (YES, the phrase here is DEEPER U.S. INVOLVEMENT.)

Why can the US political Establishment’s Associated Press admit DEEP US government and military involvement in trying to overthrow the Assad government but Clay and others here are unable to do so?


byork December 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Anthony, okay, so – hypothetically – let’s say the Assad regime does deploy chemical weapons against civilians and pro-democracy forces, what do you then say? Still want to leave the people to their plight?


Anthony Abdo December 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Even your phrasing of the question to me shows this sad ‘liberal’ humanitarian imperialist mindset. Haven’t the supposed ‘pro democracy’ forces you back also used terrorist attacks against civilians in this conflict? Still want to leave their victims ‘to their plight’, byork? Looking to save foreigners from madmen? Why not work to stop the Pentagon rather than working to enable their assaults on others? We have madmen in office right there in places like D.C., London, Paris, and Berlin. No need to go looking, as salvador knights for babies pulled off their life support equipment, women being raped, or the use of WOMD outside of your own domestic ruling class circles. We already have enough Tea Party saviors from those bad dudes abroad without us USA Today marxists rushing in to provide the propaganda the Pentagon likes to use.


byork December 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Anthony, accepting that there have been terrorist attacks by the revolutionaries (for argument’s sake), you still haven’t answered my question. You are typically ‘left-wing in form but right-wing in essence’. Your anti-imperialist chest-beating means leaving the oppressed Syrians to suffer without the support of countervailing military assistance (be it provision of hardware or invasion such as imposition of a No Fly Zone/Safe Haven). It’s actually not possible to differentiate your views from those of the isolationist Right in the USA, such as Ron Paul. Leftists, especially those influenced by Marxism, are internationalists who stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed. (Surely you don’t deny that the regime is oppressive?).


Anthony Abdo December 4, 2012 at 12:46 am

So I remind you of a Ron Paul supporter (hardly!), and you remind me of a ‘Save Darfur’ send the troops into Sudan liberal type, a Greg Mortenson Three Cups of Tea type of let’s help the girls out in Afghanistan/ Pakistan and stop those big bad misogynist Muslim men, and a Stop the Evil Serbs from committing genocide Nato propagandist for bombing Belgrade type, byork. You are, in fact, the ‘liberal’ humanitarian boo-hoo-hoo-we-got-to-do-something-now parallel the bomb ’em imperialist propagandist type, and not really very much an internationalist or anti-imperialist marxist. Let’s not smoke screen up your crocodile tear liberalism with some faint bs about you supposedly being for socialism as you support foreign regime changes that your own capitalist class looks to obtain as it stomps across the globe. Socialism will be far off the agenda in Syria if the Pentagon get’s its way.

Personally I would rather appear to more to others as the ‘isolationism’ supporter of a Ron Paul cheerleader fanclubber than yet another coverup-up for the Pentagon liberal Democratic Party Michael Mooreman that you so resemble to me.

Here below is the corporate media type of crocodile tear stuff you are resembling so well with your own words here at North Star….

‘Anxiety is increasing about the prospect of a desperate Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his rapidly proliferating enemies.’ (Are you feeling anxious, byork?)

This was taken from today’s… ‘Israel Asked Jordan for Approval to Bomb Syrian WMD Sites’ rah rah rah! ‘report’ @

Now why are you and Israel and the US government of Obomber man so ‘anxious’? Gotta go to war some much much more and need to justify it all? Syria, and then on to Iran?


Anthony Abdo December 4, 2012 at 12:49 am

Uh… I’m back to ‘waiting for moderation’ once again. No reply to you yet, byork…. if ever????


Ben Campbell December 4, 2012 at 1:27 am

Anthony, your comment was delayed for only 25 minutes. Please refrain from implying that your comments are being singled out for moderation. They aren’t. The North Star is for vigorous debate, and all comments that substantively engage the material will be accepted. We will be posting a comments policy shortly, but I can assure you that our moderation standards are presently very laissez-faire. We can’t, however, always guarantee that comments will be posted in real-time.

Subsequent inquiries of the form “where is my comment?” will be deleted, since they are both irrelevant to the discussion at hand and amount to an allegation of bad faith on the part of the moderators.


Anthony Abdo December 4, 2012 at 10:57 am

So you will delete any comments that allege bad faith on the part of the moderators, Ben? But faith in your integrity does not come automatically. A site has to earn respect, not just try to force it with threats such as you have just issued.

I might also ask, where is the transparency and accountability here at North Star? One of the site’s most eager builders is Louis Proyect who has his own discussion list, the misnamed ‘Marxism list’. He has literally thrown off dozens upon dozens of people through the years who have voiced opinions merely counter to his own. Can you truly expect that this sort of track record of North Star sponsor Louis is conducive to anybody having any real faith in North Star’s good intentions in regard to respecting the freedom to speak out without censorship here?

And what about the case of Clay, who recently claimed to us that he was subject to ‘waiting for moderation’, too? And a couple of days later the Administrator (does the Admin have a name, Ben?) writes a piece on Libya under his knickname (misspelling intended, Comrades) ‘Admin’ where he ends it by listing links to about 25 or so previous commentaries by one Clay Claiborne! Not exactly what I would call an accountable in his supposed honesty sort of guy, I think.

Or how about those entreaties for us to all contribute commentaries here, Ben? We are lectured about how we should not ever be calling foul here in our remarks UNLESS we also write, too, for this site. Though when I suggested that I would write about the fading away of the ‘Save Darfur’ crew of humanitarian imperialists of the Left/ liberal sector, and how they were forerunners to the We gotta intervene in the name of American marxism against Assad, Gaddafi and the Mullahs of Iran leadership of their respective nations, I was actively encouraged not to do so as it was not considered relevant in the strange pov of the North Star moderators! So we have yet another case of game playing and double speak once again in play here. When I ask to contribute a review over previous humanitarian imperialist endeavors to encourage Pentagon entry into foreign wars it is not considered by North Star moderators to the discussion around Libya and Syria, as strange as they appears to be.

And why is this North Star website covering up who the moderators other than yourself are, Ben? Who is the actual OWNER of the site? I go to the ABOUT section of the site and read nothing of note here. What is being not said? Why is the site OWNERSHIP hidden away from us? Put it out in writing so all can see and maybe less alleging will be done about the bad faith of the site bosses… Stop discouraging counter opinions to Clay and Louis and Pham from being written either as commentaries are responses to their commentaries. Then we might see the site equally as both ours and theirs where discussion between those with differing opinions flows freely, Ben.

The last of my comments ‘held for moderation’ lasted only for 25 minutes but I have held my comments up for no good reason for way over 8 hours many times before, too. I have had my comments simply removed as well, which is a way of alleging to others that I am doing something inappropriate rather than merely expressing an opinion or two counter to the site moderators’ pov. Moderate the site in responsible manner and I will stop alleging the bad faith to the site sponsors. I want a site where ALL OPINIONS can be freely expressed, not just certain chosen ones. I want a Left Movement that does not have individuals scared of being lashed out at if they talk in a way that other comrades feel is incorrect. No more follow the Supreme Leader stuff… PLEASE. It destroys our reputation as a Movement when censoring of dialog is considered a norm.


Brian S. December 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm

@Anthony Abdo. I too have had comments held up for eight hours (at least) – but I don’t think this (or any site) is being run for my personal convenience, and assume that the people who have created it have lives of their own to live. I have engaged regularily with you here Tony, but I am not prepared to sit on my hands while you (or anyone) tries to turn the site into a personal ego-fest. I give my full support to Admin (I don’t see what the problem is with a collective designation for what is obviously a collective) in its work to keep the site orderly and comradely.I don’t know what all this dross is about “accountability” – this is not some sort of public facility: it doesn’t claim to represent us and doesn’t bill us for its extensive services, so on what basis does it need to be “accountable”? Accept with grace the generous gift that those administering the site are giving us; keep within the guidelines that they are fully entitled to set; engage in all the vigorous debate you want; and all will be well. Carry on in this vein and I for one will see you as no more than a saboteur in sheep’s clothing.


Anthony Abdo December 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Brian, the problem here on this site is that many of us comrades are used to following unfailingly party line and party leaders, and that includes being subject to what is correctly seen by society as a whole, as the undemocratic and top down leadership of much of the traditional Left from the larger unions to Left Marxist organizations themselves.

‘I don’t see what the problem is with a collective designation for what is obviously a collective) in its work to keep the site orderly and comradely.I don’t know what all this dross is about “accountability”’

I have heard this type of same party line repeatedly from marxists repeatedly in defense of the rigid structures of their ‘leninism’ and ‘leninist organization’ . I have heard it from union ‘leaders’, too. So many comrades are totally into the follow the leader syndrome of the ‘combat organization’, which sees political organization like some sort of police or military grouping. Follow orders and shut up, Folk. But for a site that claims to be doing it differently in the spirit of the Occupy Movement, it is bizarre to now see how rigid and controlling the environment actually is in reality, and to hear comments such as yours have been on this issue, Brian.

What any North Star discussion needs in reality, is not merely reviews of Kautsky or Lenin Thought, but simply some original thought of our own that can be put forward without rebukes such as occur in so many Marxist sect grouplets (and churches and cults).

‘Carry on in this vein and I for one will see you as no more than a saboteur in sheep’s clothing.’

You see what I mean, Brian? For any of us to deny the rigidity and oppressiveness of current Left ‘organizers’ (not just the moderators of this site, but of our entire marxist movement as a whole as well as the Democratic Party tied liberal organizations) is to be putting one’s head in the sand. If the Left just had still all those people that were once recruited and then got out, Brian, simply because they almost all found the censoring nature of the top down style to be personally oppressive to them as people, we would have organizations that could number their membership in the hundreds of thousands almost!

You see what I mean, Brian? If North Star shows itself as being merely just more of the same, then what is the value of any of us participating here? The owners of the site must really want open discussion and not just a site pushing the party line, or otherwise it will be a big waste of their time and ours. So far I find, as many others do, that North Star is merely pushing for us to adopt their doctrine, and does not truly want open discussion between comrades with differing views. That is my opinion and I am not alone in it. You want to push me out of the ‘party’, Comrades? OK, it has happened before to me and many another marxist besides me as well. That’s why so many people are scared of marxism. They see a movement that can’t even restrain from killing off its own members.


Ben Campbell December 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I did not say I would delete *any* comments that “allege bad faith on part of the moderators.” What I said is that I will delete any more of your spam comments that say nothing other than “where’s my comment??” I have made it clear that comments are held for moderation automatically by Wordpress. If you have an issue with that, then feel free not to post. I believe that the reason Wordpress is holding your comments is because we have had to ‘trash’ your previous duplicate comments.

A reasonable standard of interacting with people is to assume good faith until there is some reason to assume otherwise (not the opposite). If we cannot do that, then there is no sense having a discussion. I cannot find evidence that any of your posts have ever been deleted by any moderator (other than your duplicates). If you would like to know who is moderating this site, feel free to send a comradely email inquiring. The ‘About’ section of this website is a work in progress, and will be updated shortly.

We are open to article submissions, but reserve the right to decide what to publish on this site.

Now, I have been patient here, but as our comments policy will indicate, comments on articles are meant to engage with the topic of the article. In this case, this conversation has veered way off course; thus, if you would like to continue it please do so by email. Subsequent postings on this topic will be deleted (and once you have had postings deleted, Wordpress will likely return your comments to moderation).


Joe Vaughan December 13, 2012 at 8:44 am

Assad is a baby-killer.

Why burden yourself with the imago of this disgusting tyrant just because you are rightly disgusted by the history of U.S. interventions on the whole?

Not everything in history is a push-me pull-you. Power in general is baby-killer.


Anthony Abdo December 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

Today, in yet another article this week at the counterpunch website against the whole idea of cheerleading for Left humanitarian imperialism as advocated by the site owners here at North Star, we read the following Truth spoken to US based Marxists who want to be thought of as some sort of grand humanitarian saviors of the Syrian people…
The provocative deployment of the Patriot batteries, coupled with the orchestrated media furor over Syria’s WMDs, thus makes it quite clear that the process of preparing the American public for the very real possibility of yet another US-led military intervention in the Middle East has begun in earnest. And once again, we see the veil of a humanitarian intervention and the “responsibility to protect” hastily donned to cloak nefarious motives.’

The author, Ben Schreiner, is speaking of nefarious motives of the Pentagon and US government here, which our friendly humanitarian imperialism marxists at North Star always seem to ignore the presence of. See his full commentary @ ‘A Pretext for Deeper US Intervention- The Syrian Chemical Weapons Menace’

The other article at Counterpunch which takes up this urge on the Left to echo imperialist propaganda is entitled ‘Why Humanitarian Interventionism is a Dead End- Beware the Anti-Anti-War Left’ @ where the author warns us that ‘The anti-anti-war left has no influence on American policy, but that doesn’t mean that it has no effect. Its insidious rhetoric has served to neutralize any peace or anti-war movement.’ which was the same effect the previous ‘Save Darfur’ grouping had on antiwar activism as well.

I personally would like to challenge the ‘leadership’ crew here at North Star to discuss these 2 Counterpunch commentaries some. Especially this challenge goes out to Louis Proyect, who lashed out at the author of the second commentary I mentioned on his heavily censored own website called ‘marxism list’ where his threats to unsubscribe readers all the time keep discussion down to Nothing there. Perhaps here on North Star, the heavy hand of constant censorship will not be applied as it is always at ‘marxism list’…

These 2 Counterpunch articles are to be commended, if only because they cut through the avoidance of talking about Syria and Libya in any form, which much of the US Left has been adhering to. One can go to sites like that of US Solidarity or common dreams or alternet to observe this cowardly avoidance of the topic as mentioned. Time to open up the dialog some, Comrades.


Arthur December 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

Its a cheering thought that the “anti-anti-war left” is responsible for the comprehensive inability of the pseudo-left to mobilize anything. But its actually more due to the revulsion most people feel towards their disgusting apologetics for fascist terror even without ever having heard of an “anti-anti-war left”. People with the same mentality faced the same difficulty during the second world war.


Brian S. December 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I’ve read the two Counterpunch articles and they don’t seem to me to say very much. Schreiner’s article assumes that all the talk around “chemical weapons” in Syria is just empty propaganda designed to soften up western publics for military intervention. He could be right; but he offers no evidence to back up this claim – its the opinion of someone who lays no claim to specialist knowledge or intelligence. his opinion. Given that the Assad regime is currently in the process of bombing its own capital city, why on earth should we just ASSUME that they would not use chemical weapons in a final resort? What is most likely is that the current bluster over this issue by the west is an attempt to forestall the need for military intervention – because if Assad did move in this direction, the west would have no alternative but to act – something it is clearly very reluctant to do. Its probably also intended as a warning to the Russians that if they don’t act to reign in Assad the situation could escalate beyond their control.
Bricmont’s article is totally vacuous – its based around a straw man of some “anti-anti-war left who want the west to launch universal warfare in pursuit of “human rights”. He writes as if all that is at issue is uninvited western interference in states that “have different ways of thinking”, totally ignoring the fact that Libya and Syria involve domestic popular uprisings and brutal repression. His vision for international relations is a curious combination of interwar isolationism and a return to the stalinist tradition of “opposition to imperialism and the defense of national sovereignty ” (sic).


Anthony Abdo December 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

@ Arthur’s comments about us…….. ‘the comprehensive inability of the pseudo-left to mobilize anything…. its actually more due to the revulsion most people feel towards their disgusting apologetics for fascist terror…’

Yeah, I bet you really hated that back when, you too, were once calling for stopping US intervention against the red horde VietCong, red thug Milosevic/ Yugoslavia, Afghanistan/ Taliban women haters, and Saddam Hussein baby killer/ Iraq, Arthur? It must have really traumatized you to be voicing ‘disgusting apologetics for fascist terror’ back then, didn’t it?

But today, due to you changing politics, you can now tell the US public that now you have come on board with D.C. to support our heroes in uniform by having the exact same goals as they do! Let’s overthrow Gaddafi, Assad, and the Mullahs! Whoopee! The US public now loves you!

Noted, too, Arthur, you also call people who opposed US capitalist class entry into WW2 as people with ‘disgusting apologetics for fascist terror’. But perhaps, I guess that those who supported the capitalist US class participation in this WW2 were also guilty of using ‘disgusting apologetics for fascist terror’, weren’t they? Would that be you in this category, Arthur?

Because you supported winning the war with US capitalist firepower weren’t you also a little bit guilty when your war buddies used atomic weapons on huge populations of civilians, amongst many other war crimes the US and allied forces committed in WW2? Should I also blame you personally, Arthur, for the fact that they allowed Spanish and Portuguese fascists to stay in power for decades after the war ended with nary a bad word said by our rulers here in the US? And probably, too, without you saying much either…..


Brian S. December 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

@Anthony Abdo:Tony, I supported you in a previous complaint about a shift of topic (Bani Walid ->Lenin and “stages theory”, even though you were the person who initiated that shift); but you are at it again here, trying to shift us from a discussion about Syria to one on – what is it exactly, US involvement in WWII? And presumably in 24 hours you will be back here complaining indignantly about the “surreal” turn the discussion has taken!
Calm down, stay on topic, and I’ll be happy to discuss with you, despite our differerences. Carry on like this and I (and I imagine others) am just goin to tune you out as so much noise.


Arthur December 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I’m proud that I opposed US aggression in Vietnam and ALSO opposed the Serbian aggression in former Yugoslavia, Iraqi aggression in Kuwait, Taliban/Pakistani aggression against Afghanistan and fascist oppression in Iraq. The absurdity of people justifying their support for fascist oppression in one situation by their previous support for fascist oppression in other situations is highlighted by their difficulty comprehending that some people don’t support it EVER.

Yes, we shoud stick to Libya in this thread. But its no coincidence that opponents of the Libyan revolution are also tend to be on the same enemy side on most international issues. Vietnam might seem to be an exception but most of them weren’t around then, and hardly anyone admits to having supported the Vietnam war these days though in fact a majority did (and the pseudo-left then opposed solidarity with the Vietnamese and insisted on “negotations” and pacifist arguments).


Anthony Abdo December 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

Your politics are completely a confused mess, Arthur. For example, I opposed what you call ‘fascist oppression in Iraq’ (the type of terminology a Far Rightist would use, one might add), too. However, you opposed Saddam Hussein and supported the use of the British and US imperialist militaries in their war against Iraq when headed up by Hussein as well. I doubt that the people of Fallujah are any too ecstatic about your work against them. And Iraq continues a worse mess than ever today in part due to your rotten political position in favor of your own imperialist governments which you somehow think as having been marxist in character!


Aaron Aarons December 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

The people who you rightly refer to as ‘the pseudo-left [who] then opposed solidarity with the Vietnamese and insisted on “negotations” and pacifist arguments”‘ were mainly the Communist Party and the liberals they were courting. Many of the people who you nowadays refer to as ‘pseudo-left’ are the political descendants of groups like the Workers World Party and the Spartacist League that, at the time and thereafter, were loudly and unconditionally in favor of the military defeat of U.S. imperialism by the Vietnamese revolutionaries. Some of us older anti-imperialist lefties were, in fact, members of one of those two particular groups in the 1960’s.

OTOH, people like you, whose main focus was on such moralistic categories as ‘democracy’, ‘aggression’, ‘oppression’, etc., rather than on imperialism and global class struggle, either supported the imperialist war against Vietnam, et al., or opposed it in a minimal, pacifist way.


Arthur December 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Its true the 1960s pseudo-left who insisted most on “negotiations” and pacifist arguments were mainly associated with the revisionist “communist parties”. Groups like the Sparts had no connection with the mass movement at all and were mainly notorious for denouncing the Vietnamese revolutionaries and both revisionists and their opponents as “Stalinists”.

“People like me” (including all of my friends from that generation who actively supported invading Iraq) were and are in complete solidarity with the Vietnamese revolutionaries and focussed on imperialism and class struggle (in fact I was one of the main leaders of the trend in Australia opposing the revisionists advocacy of pacifism and “negotiations”). Naturally we went on to oppose counter-revolution in both Vietnam and China and to support revolution in Iraq and throughout the region. Fully nderstanding just how bankrupt the US counter-revolutionary policy had been and how thoroughly it was defeated in Vietnam made it easier to analyse the confusing reversal of US policy in the Arab world following 911.


Aaron Aarons December 18, 2012 at 1:59 am

(1) Did you also oppose the 1989-91 counter-revolution in the USSR and Eastern Europe, or were you one of those Maoists who thought that the USSR was “imperialist”?

(2) Did you support Soviet aid to the Vietnamese or did you support Maoist China’s interference with such aid?

(3) How was the intensification of open U.S. aggression against Iraq, which began with the U.S. attack on Iraq 1n 1990-91, which you supported, as you presumably supported the continuing attacks on Iraq between 1991 and 2003, a “reversal of US policy in the Arab world”? Wasn’t it just a matter of the U.S., led by its Zio-con faction, taking advantage of the operations of 11 September 2001 to mobilize support for intensified imperialist aggression in the greater Middle East and for attacks on civil liberties inside the U.S. and in allied countries?

(4) In addition, how do the Bremer orders fit into your analysis of the imperialist’s motivation for their invasion and occupation of Iraq, and how do they square with your assertions that the U.S. was somehow interested in bringing something you call ‘democracy’ to Iraq?


Arthur December 18, 2012 at 5:56 am

Not willing to enter ongoing dialogues with you, but I can respond quickly to above despite the fact that style of questions is typical of the sort of pointless grandstanding I’m not interested in wasting time on.

1. Delighted by collapse of Brezhnev regime and Eastern European police states. Opposition to them was central to the attraction of Maoism. BTW I was on the internet at the time and was about the only participant in Usenet soc.culture.russia to anticipate that the coup against Gorbachev might be defeated (when US President Ford had accepted it as having succeeded).

2. Both. Vietnam’s reliance on Soviet aid reflected and strengthened revisionism in Vietnam (and eventually the thoroughly corrupt capitalist regime there now). It was understandable for some Red Guards to protest at shipments in ways that were disruptive and correct for Maoist government to guarantee that shipments would go through.

3. 1990 removal of Iraq from Kuwait by coalition including practically everybody in the region except Israel, backed by rest of the world was unfortunately not a reversal of US policy to maintain autocracies (as proved by allowing Sadaam to use smash the Shia uprisings). It was simply a continuation of global “United Nations” policy not to tolerate the kind of aggressive fascist wars of annexation that the UN was founded as a military alliance to prevent. The 2003 invasion of Iraq “took advantage of” of the obvious complete bankruptcy of maintaining the status quo in the region following 911.

4. Bremer’s order number 1 and order number 2 were to dissolve the Baath party and its armed forces. That proved beyond doubt that the aim of the invasion was revoltutionary change (and that this had been deliberately concealed from the US foreign policy establishment and hence from general public opinion as they were naturally regarded it as an enormous “destabilizing” blunder). Without the old state apparatus there was no other option but democracy. The whole point of the conservative and pseudo-left opposition was to preserve that apparatus of autocracy.


Anthony Abdo December 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm

‘BEIRUT (AP) — As fears grow in the West that Syrian President Bashar Assad will unleash chemical weapons as an act of desperation, NATO moved forward Thursday with its plan to place Patriot missiles and troops along Syria’s border with Turkey to protect against potential attacks.’ Yes, that was AND TROOPS. See full report at below….

‘NATO moves toward deployment on Syria border’

Incredibly, some folk at North Star are, simultaneously to this news report, claiming that the US and Nato actually are supporting Assad and want him to remain in power! Words fail me when I see comrades acting this willfully blind and oblivious to what’s going on in the world. The only parallel I can see is to how the American population itself also prefers to play deaf, dumb, and blind about what THEIR uniformed heroes actually do abroad. 10 %- 20% military discount anybody? On to Iran?


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