Libya and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong

by Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp on July 1, 2012

Reflexive opposition to Uncle Sam’s machinations abroad is generally a good thing. It is a progressive instinct that progressively declined in the 1990s, as presidents Bush Sr. and Clinton deftly deployed the U.S. military to execute “humanitarian” missions in Somalia, Haiti, and the Balkans and progressively increased in the 2000s, as Bush Jr. lurched from quagmire to disaster in transparent empire-building exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, what is generally good is not good in every case. The progressive instinct to oppose anything the U.S. government does abroad became anything but progressive once the Arab Spring sprang up in Libya and Syria, countries ruled by dictatorships on Uncle Sam’s hit list. When American imperialism’s hostility to the Arab Spring took a back seat to its hostility to the Ghadafi and Assad regimes (their collaboration with Bush Jr.’s international torture ring notwithstanding), the Western left’s support for the Arab Spring took a back seat to its hostility to American imperialism.

Desperate times call for desperate measures in Syria.

The moment the Syrian and Libyan revolutions demanded imperialist airstrikes and arms to neutralize the military advantage enjoyed by governments over revolutionary peoples, anti-interventionism became counter-revolutionary because it meant opposing aid to the revolution. Equivocal positions such as “revolution yes, intervention no” (the one I defended) were rendered utopian, abstract, and useless as a guide to action by this turn of events.

“Libyan Winter” Heats Up

By any means necessary, or by any means we in the West deem acceptable?

To say that the Libyans were fortunate that anti-interventionists were too weak to block, disrupt, or affect NATO’s military campaign would be an understatement. Libya would look like Syria today if the anti-interventionists won at home in the West.

In both cases, the Western left mistakenly prioritized its anti-imperialist principles over its internationalist duty to aid these revolutions by any means necessary. By any means necessary presumably includes aid from imperialist powers or other reactionary forces. If this presumption is wrong, then we are not for the victory of the oppressed by any means necessary and should remove those words from our vocabulary in favor of by any means we in the West deem acceptable.

When the going got tough and the F-16s got going over Libya, the revolution’s fairweather friends in the West disowned it, claiming it had been hijacked by NATO. Instead of substantiating this claim with evidence that NATO successfully pushed the Libyans aside and seized control of their war against Ghadafi, the Western left instead 1) focused on the alleged misdeeds of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and 2) hid behind phrases such as “Libyan Winter” and “civil war,” implying that the Arab Spring in Libya froze the instant NATO jumped in and that neither the rebels nor Ghadafi deserved anyone’s support.

Women in Benghazi hold signs that say “no negotiation” and “no fly zone.”

Both evasions of the central issue – that NATO’s air campaign had mass support among revolutionary Libyans which was faithfully reflected by the NTC’s stand against foreign invasion and for foreign airstrikes – were very serious methodological mistakes that only a handful of commentators managed to avoid, Clay Claiborne of Occupy LA being the most prominent. Far from freezing over, the struggle in Libya became a long hot summer of multifaceted conflict with international, conventional military, tribal, and underground dimensions that eventually culminated in Ghadafi’s grisly execution, raising and personalizing the stakes for Assad.

Anti-imperialists were so focused on the NTC’s cooperation with NATO, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and repressive Arab governments that they were as blindsided as Ghadafi was when forces independent of NTC control – Berber militias in Western Libya and underground networks in Tripoli – overthrew his regime in a surprise move on August 20. The NTC that the Western left portrayed as all-powerful due to its CIA and Arab state patronage was not able to move into Tripoli for weeks afterwards. To this day, the NTC has not disarmed rebel fighters, contrary to the confident predictions born of anti-imperial hubris by anti-interventionists who sought to convince us that the revolution was a mirage and that the West’s pawns chosen from above were firmly in control of post-Ghadafi Libya.

Broken Records Lead to Broken Crystal Balls

When NATO launched airstrikes in Libya, the anti-interventionists heard the same pretexts about human rights and freedom used to justify wars for empire and oil in Afghanistan and Iraq. This identical stimulus triggered an identical reaction – they used the contradictions and hypocritical flaws in the official rationales for intervention as the basis for opposing NATO’s action – just as Pavlov’s dogs reacted as if they were being fed when they heard a bell ring, regardless of whether any food was actually served.

This conditioned reaction to the broken record of justifications led anti-interventionists to conclude that NATO’s end of the Libyan war would resemble the Afghan and Iraq wars and so their case against intervention was built around the following predictions:

1)     Mass civilian casualties due to Iraq or Viet Nam-style aerial bombardment;

2)     Foreign invasion/occupation due to imperialist “mission creep”;

3)     Future interventions would be easier and more likely elsewhere;

4)     A neocolonial regime would be installed in Tripoli as the result of NATO-led “regime change,” the logical conclusion of the “revolution was hijacked” conspiracy theory.

NATO’s methods and the war’s outcome were totally at odds with what the anti-interventionists envisioned:

1)     There was no massive NATO bombardment of civilian targets, there was no Libyan highway of death, no Black Hawk Down, no Wikileaks-style helicopter gunship atrocities. The absence of wanton slaughter of civilians by NATO compelled Ghadafi to fake collateral damage incidents and civilian funerals and arbitrarily exaggerate the number of civilians killed.

2)     The anti-interventionists believed that NATO would be compelled to send ground troops by the logic of “regime change,” by the inability of forces loyal to the NTC to make significant headway against Ghadafi’s forces. They seized on the presence of small numbers of NATO military advisers and special forces in Libya as a vindication of their prediction and as proof that the West put “boots on the ground.” In reality, NATO boots played a secondary role; Libyans did the fighting and the dying, not Westerners. Out of 30,000 people who were killed in the Libyan civil war, how many were NATO personnel? Zero. That number would have been higher if NATO ground forces were in the thick of combat or invaded (much less occupied) the country.

3)     Paradoxically, NATO’s successful campaign in Libya made a future U.S./NATO campaign in Syria less likely. Russia and China are now determined to block any attempt to apply the Libyan model to Syria at the United Nations Security Council and the Obama administration is not willing to defy either of them by taking Bush-style unilateral military action for the time being.

4)     The proponents of the hijacking theory failed to address the most obvious and urgent question that flowed from their own analysis: what could the Libyans do to take their revolution back from NATO’s hijacking? A hijacking is a struggle for control between legitimate and illegitimate actors where the rogue elements get the upper hand. (Never forget 9/11.) Not one of the Libyan revolution’s progressive detractors outlined how NATO could be elbowed aside by Libyans to regain control of their struggle.

This was no accident or coincidence.

The hijacking narrative did not arise from a factual foundation but from a simplistic, reflexive ideology, albeit an anti-imperialist one. The anti-interventionists did their best to substitute weak suppositions, NATO’s bald hypocrisy, and guilt by association for the evidence they lacked to support their hijacking story. For them, the Libyan revolution’s constituent elements lost their political independence, initiative, and lifeblood the instant NATO fired its first cruise missile. Nothing else mattered except that NATO chose to act; what Libyans said, did, thought, and organized was simply not a factor for them.

These anti-imperialists airbrushed the Libyans out of their own revolution.

This image became very popular among Western leftists prior to NATO’s intervention. Revolutionary Libyans did not feel that U.N.-backed airstrikes constituted foreign intervention, a term they used to describe invasion and other forms of unwanted imperialist meddling. The Western left disregarded the thoughts and feelings of their Libyan comrades and called for an end to NATO airstrikes against Ghadafi’s forces.

The driving force behind the military offensive by Berber militias in western Libya that was timed to coincide with the surprise uprising in Tripoli that ousted Ghadafi was not NATO. NATO did not organize the underground network of neighborhood cells in Tripoli that penetrated Ghadafi’s secret police. And NATO certainly did not pick August 20, the day Muhammad entered Mecca, as the day to launch a risky grassroots insurrection in Tripoli.

Hammered by NATO’s airpower from above, by the Berbers from without, and by revolutionaries from below, Ghadafi’s forces in Tripoli melted away. The “Libyan Winter” proved to be the hottest chapter of the Arab Spring thus far.

Post-War Libya

Rebels who stormed Ghadafi’s Tripoli compound were eager to expose his regime’s relationship with imperialist powers and one of their commanders sued the British foreign minister for handing him over to Ghadafi to be tortured, hardly the acts of anyone on the CIA payroll.

Events shortly after Ghadafi was toppled provide even more evidence that the revolution was not hijacked by NATO. When rebels stormed Ghadafi’s compound, they were quick to show Western reporters the dictator’s scrap book featuring himself arm-in-arm with Condoleeza Rice. A top rebel commander publicly accused the British government of handing him over to Ghadai’s regime to be tortured right before he filed a lawsuit against Jack Straw, Britain’s former Foreign Minister for authorizing the rendition. The new Libyan government refused to hand over Ghadafi’s son Saif to the International Criminal Court (now it has even arrested their lawyers), the body responsible for dispensing NATO’s “justice” to Slobodan Milosevic. No U.S or NATO bases have been established in Libya unlike in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.

In other words, Libyan sovereignty emerged from the revolution intact despite NATO’s involvement. This would not be the case if NATO was directly or indirectly in charge of Libya or set up some sort of neocolonial regime.

The bottom line is that the bulk of the Western left could not bring itself to wholeheartedly support a democratic revolution that co-opted foreign intervention for its own ends. The revolution landed safe and sound at a qualitatively more democratic destination precisely because control of the revolution never left Libyan hands.

“No to Help” would have been a more honest slogan than “hands off Libya.”

Today, Libyans enjoy freedom of speech, freedom to protest and organize, and most importantly, freedom from fear of state repression. The Western left ought to join the revolutionary masses of the Arab and North African world in celebrating this historic victory, not isolate ourselves from them by mourning (or slandering) it.

Instead of trying to learn from their mistakes, the anti-interventionists simply moved on to Syria to make the same errors without a second thought about why the reality of post-intervention Libya looked nothing like their dire forecasts. This willful blindness makes them incapable of understanding why any Arab revolutionary in their right mind would look to Libya as a model, why Syrians would chant, “Bye, bye Ghadafi, Bashar your turn is coming!” while crowds in Tahrir Square chant, “If they want to be Syria, we’ll give them Libya” in response to the Egyptian military’s latest power grab.

The Main Enemy In Syria

The anti-interventionists are repeating their mistakes over the Libyan revolution blunder-for-blunder over the Syria revolution. In place of their attacks on the Libyan NTC, they denounce the Syrian Nation Council (SNC); they dwell on the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) U.S. backing, just as they painted Libya’s rebels as tools of the CIA; instead of “hands off Libya,” they put forward the slogan “hands off Syria,” as if Syria’s death squads were Uncle Sam’s handiwork and not Assad’s.

Hyperbolic condemnations of the FSA, SNC, or the coordinating committees do nothing for Syrians whose lives do not depend on the anti-imperialist credentials of these groups but on whatever assistance they can provide. Similarly, criticisms that the Syrian revolution should rely less on armed struggle and more on strikes by workers have a questionable relationship to reality at best. Since when has a strike ever stopped a death squad from breaking down a door and murdering a sleeping family or prevented a civilian neighborhood from being shelled by artillery? Does anyone seriously believe that the Syrian struggle is being led astray by trigger-happy gunmen (most of whom are working for Assad, not against him)?

German socialist Karl Liebknecht wrote an anti-war leafleft in 1915 under the title, “The Main Enemy Is At Home!”

Our first duty in the West is to do whatever we can to aid, abet, and provide material support for our Syrian brothers’ and sisters’ fight against the Assad regime. Our main enemy is at home in the West, but theirs is not. Washington, D.C. is not sending death squads door-to-door to execute women and children, the regime in Damascus is; the Pentagon is not shelling civilian targets and killing journalists in Homs, the regime in Damascus is. Their main enemy is at home, just as ours is.

This grim reality must be our starting point in any discussion about Syria, not a hypothetical U.S. military action down the road, the contours of which cannot be known in advance. We cannot have the same attitude towards U.S. airstrikes on Assad’s forces and a full-scale ground invasion of Syria because their impact on and implications for the revolution would be completely different. The contours of imperialist intervention must shape our attitude towards it. Sending the FSA small arms and anti-tank missiles or video cameras is not the same as sending American marines into the streets of Damascus, although they are all forms of U.S. intervention.

Syrian revolutionaries know damn well what atrocities Uncle Sam is capable of – Iraq is right next door – and the Arab world knows better than we in the West ever will what the colonial boot feels like. To lecture them of perils and pitfalls they know better than we do is to insult their intelligence. To pretend that we know the dangers of dealing with imperialist devils better than Third World revolutionaries do is a kind of white anti-imperialist’s burden, and its arrogant paternalism is just as misguided as its colonialist antipode.

We have no business criticizing the SNC, FSA, or the coordinating committees unless and until we have fulfilled our first duty by matching our words of solidarity with deeds and acts that can make a difference in the revolution’s outcome, however small they might seem.

Self-Determination and Intervention

The biggest obstacle to Syrian self-determination today is the Assad regime which increasingly rests on Russian bayonets drenched in Syrian blood. He is determined to stay in power by any means necessary and will not rest until their struggle for self-determination (which is what a democratic revolution is) is buried, in mass graves if need be. Respect for Syrian self-determination means respecting how Syrian revolutionaries organize their struggle and their choices even when they conflict with our own preferences and choices.

If Syrian revolutionaries ask for Western airstrikes because they lack an air force to counter the Assad regime militarily, who are we to oppose those airstrikes? Who are we to tell them that all-out defeat is better than the triumph of a revolution “tainted” by an unavoidable compromise with imperialists powers? Who are we to tell them they must face Russian helicopter gunships without imperialist aid because “the revolution will be won by Syrians themselves or it won’t be won at all”? Do we really want our Syrian brothers and sisters to confront tanks with rocks and slingshots as so many Palestinians have?

While the Western left is raising a hue and cry over the minimal aid Syria’s rebels receive from the CIA and reactionary Gulf states, Russia is overtly ramping up its military aid to Assad. Whether we like it or not, the struggle between the Syrian revolution and Assad’s counter-revolution has been internationalized just as the Spanish civil war of 1936-1939 was. The Western left in those days demanded foreign intervention in the form of arms, military aid, and volunteers for the Spanish Republic. The anti-interventionists (mostly fascists or fascist sympathizers) were more than happy to see the Republic starved in the name of “non-intervention” while Hitler bombed Guernica and did everything possible to ensure Franco’s victory.

Those who oppose Western military action today against Assad in the context of a revolution that has developed into a full-blown civil war where segments of the revolution and the people are begging for foreign arms, aid, and airstrikes while the counter-revolution imports arms to slaughter them follow in the anti-interventionist footsteps of the Spanish Republic’s opponents whether they are aware of it or not.

“Hands off Syria” should be the slogan raised at demonstrations in front of Russian embassies and consulates around the world, not the one directed at foreign powers aiding the rebels lest we become little better than Assad’s unwitting executioners in the eyes of revolutionary Syrians. Instead of focusing our fire on the shortcomings of the SNC, FSA, and the coordinating committees, we should be organizing events and fund-raisers for humanitarian relief, fact-finding missions, and video and communications equipment with the aim of smuggling it into Syria. These activities are already taking place but not with the participation of the Western left since we are more worried about our precious anti-imperialist principles and hypothetical Libya-style airstrikes (as if the outcome there was a step backward and not a step forward) than tackling the ugly realities of the Syrian revolution whose straits become more desperate with each passing hour.

We fiddle furiously while Syria burns and Syrians bleed.

The most important thing for the Western left to do is to forge close and enduring relationships with revolutionary Syrians living abroad by demonstrating our unequivocal support for their revolution through deeds, through joint work with their communities. Only in that context and on that basis can criticisms we have about deals with U.S. imperialism or mistakes made by the SNC, FSA, and the coordinating committees gain a hearing among the people who count: revolutionary Syrians.

One way to begin building these relationships would be to organize forums and debates over the question of intervention with revolutionary Syrians of various shades of opinion. The single most embarrassing aspect of the Western left’s opposition to NATO’s Libya operation was the way revolutionary Libyans were barred from Libya forums organized by anti-interventionists.

This outrage was the absurd but logical outcome of the white anti-imperialist’s burden, a burden we must cast aside if we hope to act in concert with the Arab Spring.

Conclusion

The Western left should reject knee-jerk anti-imperialism because its unthinking, blind, reflexive, nature put us at odds with the interests and explicit demands of first the Libyan and now the Syrian revolutionary peoples and in line with the interests of their mortal enemies.

Knee-jerk anti-imperialism leads to our enemies doing our thinking for us: whatever Uncle Sam wants, we oppose; whatever Uncle Sam opposes, we want. This method plays right into U.S. imperialism’s hands because the last thing Uncle Sam wants is a thinking enemy.

My other writings on the Arab Spring:

  • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

    There are several false premises in this article, which lead to the absolute wrong conclusions.
    The major false premise is equating the militias and the Western-created governments in exile with the “revolution.” The latter, in the case of Syria, is not even composed of Syrians, but expatriates, according to Elaine Hagopian, the most knowledgeable and unbiased expert on the crisis that I know of.
    And according to Hagopian, the initial revolution in Syria was and continues to be nonviolent. It was based in the Local Coordinating Committees, which have not changed tactics to embrace violence or foreign military intervention, but have been rendered marginal since the West began sending in money, equipment, fighters and weapons to a variety of violent, extremist militias, who are not united and do not represent the Syrian people. (Listen to Flashpoints on June 12, June 26, and check out http://www.syrianews.cc/ and http://documents.sy/image.php?id=947&lang=en)
    On a more fundamental level, the article lacks a class analysis. If the author wishes to lecture to Marxists it would be a good idea to base his arguments in Marxism, which must always start from the structure, the fundamental social classes in conflict, state power, and imperialism. Then we would have a common point of departure on which to discuss the issue. But the way that the arguments are framed are so biased in favor of the transnational capitalist class and the aspiring Syrian transnational capitalist fraction in their bid to take over the state as to leave us with no points of agreement. Ideologically we might as well be on different sides of the class divide.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      - The FSA arose to protect the nonviolent protestors from armed attacks. They are not a foreign body and are essential to the revolution’s continuation. How do you propose to protect Syria’s peaceful protestors from snipers, tank shells, artillery, and rockets?

      – The point of this article is not to present an overview of the Syrian revolution, its forces, and its context but to focus more narrowly on what revolutionaries in the West ought to do to aid the revolution. If the CIA sends the FSA video cameras and small arms, should we try to block those shipments?

      – Syria is already ruled by a capitalist class, which is fighting tooth and nail to keep its power from any challengers, whether they be workers (many of whom are fighting for the revolution) or an “transnational capitalist fraction.” Their desire to defend the status quo by any means necessary is what underpins the counter-revolutionary slaughter they are carrying out. Over 15,000 have been killed already. The killing will stop when the revolution triumphs as it did in Libya. It is in the interst of Syria’s workers to have maximum democracy and democratic rights, and this revolution is their best shot at winning both.

      – Occupy LA is not a “democratic centralist” organization and has no “party line” on imperialism or anything else. The article never claimed he was a spokesman or somehow represented Occupy LA, just that he participated. There is nothing unethical about being factual.

      • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

        Have you even listened to Elaine Hagopian? The “Free Syrian Army” is not a unified army. It is a collection of foreign-backed, foreign armed militias, each with its own reasons for trying to topple the government, including mercenary motives. Not a single one of them is secular, democratic or revolutionary. They did not “arise” to protect peaceful protesters, but jumped into the fray to pursue their own objectives. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are backing them because they are Sunni dictatorships and the government, although secular, is mainly Alawi, which is a Shia subgroup. As always, the U.S. and NATO are fomenting sectarian violence to destabilize the country.

        If these fanatical militias are there to protect civilians, why are they murdering so many of them? The al-Houla massacre and the attack on the TV station are just two examples of a daily toll of innocents being killed by the terrorists’ car bombs, machine guns, rockets, grenades and, in al-Houla, knives and small arms. In the face of their lack of popular support and their inability to defeat the Syrian army, they resort to terrorism.

        You should not use the word, “we,” when talking about the left, if you are going to take positions in favor of war. As Hagopian has said, the violence must stop. The Syrian people do not want war. 51% of Syrians do not favor ousting Assad, according to a poll carried out by Qatar, a country which wants Assad out and has been sending Libyans to Syria to fight the government. This is a majority of the Syrian people, who want the violence to end, not more violence.
        Yes, it is possible that 15,000 Syrians have died, a good many of them police and soldiers doing their job, and many of them civilians murdered by the terrorist militias, and many of them militia members. Yes, government forces have also killed Syrian civilians, but to say that these deaths are the result of the failure by foreign-backed militias to topple the government is absurd. They have died precisely BECAUSE of this war of destabilization. And the killing will only increase under NATO bombardment and in the process of overthrowing the government, because the militias are sectarian fanatics who will carry out confessional, revenge and territorial killings, just like the militias have done and are doing in Libya today.
        The key question you keep avoiding is, what will be the class character of the government that Western powers (and Saudi Arabia and Qatar) will impose once they have overthrown the current one? It will not be revolutionary or democratic. It will be a neoliberal government composed of gangster technocrats, whose only interest will be giving away Syrian gas and setting up U.S. or NATO military installations near Iran. This is what all of the bloodshed that you support will bring for the Syrian people, along with a lot of sectarian violence.
        It is indeed unethical to sign articles that take controversial positions with an affiliation. It has nothing to do with OLA being democratic centralist, but it does have everything to do with OLA opposing militarism, NATO and threats of war against Iran. It is standard and customary for people, when they must list an institutional affiliation, to state that their stand on a particular issue does not reflect the positions of their institution. Claiborne should respect OLA’s values and leave OLA out of his warmongering articles.

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

          Why would I listen to Elaine Hagopian when I can listen to the Syrians themselves? Did you look at any of the photos posted in this article? What do you say to the Syrians who called for protests in Syria under the title, “Friday for International Protection”
          http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/09/201199113127432919.html)?

          “The key question you keep avoiding is, what will be the class character of the government that Western powers (and Saudi Arabia and Qatar) will impose once they have overthrown the current one?”

          The Western powers aren’t driving the conflict in Syria nor will they control the future government.

          • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

            Elaine Hagopian is Syrian, as you well know. And quoting Al-Jazeera, which is owned by the Qatari royal family and who everyone knows has been manufacturing news ever since the Qataris joined in with NATO and the U.S. to overthrow Gaddafi, doesn’t impress anyone. Your statement that the West will not control the future government is not just absurd, it is propaganda. Just like your statement that all the CIA is providing is video cameras and small arms. Are we talking about the same agency?

            • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

              And thank you, but I will pass up your invitation to go to Turkey and block CIA deliveries of “cameras” to their militias. But if you want to organize a protest outside of a Russian embassy or consulate, you could probably get Reporters Without Borders to help you. (Oh, that’s right–it was your side that killed seven media workers. But RSF could at least denounce the lack of press freedom in Syria.) Then there’s also the journalist, Michael Deibert, who was very helpful in the overthrow of the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. And Robert Kent, a New York City librarian who is experienced in destabilization campaigns against Cuba. Good luck with it.

              • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

                Again, you refuse to deal with the fact that large numbers of revolutionary Syrians are explicitly asking for arms and airstrikes since they don’t have guns or an air force. Playing “change the subject” is not helping you win any arguments.

                • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

                  Thank God their signs and banners are written in English since I don’t read Arabic.

                  • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

                    Of course they’re written in English — they’re appealing for international solidarity. The Vietnamese did the same thing:
                    http://www.psywarrior.com/NLFLeaf09B.jpg

                    • Ephran Pham

                      Good to see someone challenging crazy ‘ol Diana Barahona. It’s sad that she is such a groupie of dictators and drinks the blood of the Syrian people! The Syrians put their lives on the line and Diana Barahona hides beneath her desk like a cowardly dog.

                    • admin

                      Ephran, no name-calling. One warning.

                • Aaron Aarons

                  Certainly, SOME Syrians, perhaps large numbers, are asking for imperialist air strikes. But how do you know that they are REVOLUTIONARY? By what definition? Remember that John Kennedy was pilloried by some of his fellow imperialists for refusing to provide air support for the COUNTER-revolutionary Cubans at the Bay of Pigs in 1961?

                  For me, whether a force is revolutionary, counter-revolutionary, or neither is determined by the role they play in the ongoing struggle between the global capitalist ruling class and those who seek to overthrow it, or at lest resist the extension of its power.

                  I’m not, BTW, going to make any firm predictions on what kind of government will result if a force armed by the Western-allied Sunni monarchies takes power in Syria. But I’m inclined to believe that it will be implicitly, if not explicitly, allied with the West against Iran and Hezbollah, and put the latter, in particular, in great danger, and leaving the ZIonists even more secure in their grip on Palestine.

            • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

              Al-Jazeera is quoting the protestors accurately. Do you have proof to the contrary? If they said the sky was blue, would that be a Qatari lie too?

              I see you have evaded my central questions: Why would I listen to Elaine Hagopian when I can listen to the Syrians themselves? Did you look at any of the photos posted in this article? What do you say to the Syrians who called for protests in Syria under the title, “Friday for International Protection”?

              • Aaron Aarons

                I’d have to tell the Syrians, if I told them anything, that I’m primarily concerned with the hundreds of millions of people in the world who need protection FROM Western imperialism or could be saved by Western imperialist reparations in the form of water and sewage treatment facilities, free anti-malaria and anti-AIDS drugs, etc..

            • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

              Elaine Hagopian supports the “nonviolent” Syrian uprising (http://mycatbirdseat.com/2012/02/what-is-really-going-on-in-syria/). Why don’t you?

        • Brian S.

          @Diana Barahona
          Elaine Hargopian may well be a voice worth listening to – but I can’t find her saying the things that you ascribe to her: why do you not provide a link or serious quotes?
          Her argument, as far as I can see, is to regret the fact that the Syrian opposition movement has not remained non-violent, and to accuse the FSA of being violent.
          Undoubtedly true, and in the best of all worlds it might have been less costly if the Syrian people had swallowed Assad’s repression and behaved more Gandhian than Gandhi . But that’s not the world we live in. Instead they (or many of them) responded to the brutal repression by organising first, armed self-defence, and then armed retaliation. The result is a murky militarisation of the conflicr. Its not a pretty world – but its the real one. The bottom line for me is are you in favour of those who initiated this brutal cycle or those who were forced into it to defend themselves and their families?

          • Aaron Aarons

            Personally, I have nothing against a political movement being violent, as long as it is directed against the global ruling class. For example, I totally support the Vietnamese Stalinists’ violence against the French and the USians, while condemning their violence against the independent workers’ movement in late 1945.

            My main complaint about the anti-anti-imperialist “leftists” like Claiborne, Binh, Proyect, et al., is that they are devoting their time and energy to support a struggle that is publicized and looked upon favorably by the Western imperialists, while they could be dealing with any of the numerous crimes being committed by those imperialists and their allies — crimes which, unsurprisingly, don’t get much mention in the imperialist-controlled media.

  • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

    Also, Clay Claiborne is, indeed, a participant in OLA. However OLA has never taken the position that Claiborne has taken in his incessant cheerleading for NATO, so for him to sign his drivel by identifying himself with OLA is extremely unethical. It is also unethical for the editor, who knows this fact, to repeat that Claiborne is with OLA, and thus continue to taint OLA with a pro-imperialist position.

  • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

    First, for the sake of clarity, I have not been active in OLA [ which is down to GAs of 50-60 people] in many months.

    And now on to the discussion at hand. Diana, you say:

    And according to Hagopian, the initial revolution in Syria was and continues to be nonviolent. It was based in the Local Coordinating Committees, which have not changed tactics to embrace violence or foreign military intervention,

    Do you not remember the Syria wide mass protests of September 9, 2011 named the “Friday of International Protection” that called for foreign intervention or the March 16, 2012 “Friday of Immediate Foreign Intervention” mass protests? How can you pretend that foreign intervention has not been a popular demand among the Syrian protesters for many months now? You then go on to say:

    but have been rendered marginal since the West began sending in money, equipment, fighters and weapons to a variety of violent, extremist militias, who are not united and do not represent the Syrian people.

    Why do you not mention the Free Syrian Army? Do you not know that the FSA is the main body carrying out armed struggle against the Assad regime? “extremist militias” as you call them or “armed terrorist gangs” as Assad calls them may or may not exist. I’ve seen no definite proof that they do exist. Just as I’ve seen no definite proof of money & guns from Qatar.

    What I have seen is a great many videos of Syrian soldiers who, in some cases even show their IDs, and pledge allegiance to the FSA. The FSA started when a colonel who was ordered to open fire on protesters on July 29, 2011 “Friday of ‘Your Silence Is Killing Us'” defected with his troops and founded the FSA. What is the FSA? It is soldiers that have defected from Assad’s army, supplemented by Syrian citizens who are taking up arms for the first time. And I’m sure they have some foreign advisers from Libya passing on the military lessons of their revolution. That is who Assad it fighting, that is the armed opposition, the soldiers and workers of Syria and it is ridiculous to try to make them out as something separate from the Syrian uprising that came with the Arab Spring.

    And why do you say the mass protests have been rendered marginal when the Friday protests continue and in spite of the constant attacks by Assad’s forces on them, continue to be the back bone of this movement. You should visit my blog and see what Assad did to Douma this weekend as soon as the UN stood down, and then see the videos of the heroic mass rallies all across Syria in support of Douma. Seriously, you need to look at that stuff before you talk about “rendered marginal.” Are you really that clueless as to who is driving this process? It is the Syrian masses.

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      You should not be identifying yourself with OLA to promote war in either case.

      • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

        I identified as a participant of Occupy LA, so responsibility for that rests with me, not Clay.

  • Luke Cooper

    I have the middle position (no to western military intervention, yes to revolution and support for it by any other means, e.g send weapons etc), so don’t agree with thrust of this article.

    Your discussion of the question “by any means necessary” is telling. That slogan has always been taken to mean any EFFECTIVE means, i.e, in the prefigurative terms of occupy how you struggle has to reflect the goals you are trying to achieve. I fail to see how dependency on the overwhelming military force of an imperial power can have anything other than ultimately negative consequences for a revolution.

    For all the talk about “surgical” attacks, the aim of air strikes are ultimately to intimidate and demoralise a people through use of overwhelming technologically-savvy force.

    In Libya, the same forces that pushed for western intervention are, unsurprisingly, responsible for the bourgeois decay of that revolution; unsurprising because it is written into the DNA of bourgeois politics in the south and east that you should not rest on the organic mobilisation of subaltern classes.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      1. Sending weapons is a form of intervention. Sending “advisers” to teach people how to use those weapons is also a form of intervention.

      2. “By any means necessary” has nothing to do with prefiguration. Malcolm X said he would kill any Klansmen that came to his house to protect his family. That had nothing to do with what kind of society he wanted to see. The question, as Trotsky said, is whether the means lead to the end, not are the means good or bad.

      3. Are you saying that the Libyan revolution’s tactics with regard to NATO were ineffective or “ultimately negative”? They won. Now they have strikes, demonstrations, protests, and elections whereas before they had torture, repression, and a chance to resist neoliberal encroachments.

      4. Intervention in Libya was called for as a last, not first, resort by the NTC. The same is happening in Syria. For more on that, see: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/07/01/1104983/-My-response-to-Phyllis-Bennis-Where-is-the-non-violent-opposition-in-Syria

      5. How do you think the Syrian demonstrators who risked their lives to call for imperialist airstrikes (Sept. 9, 2011 was named the “Friday of International Protection” and was the first time the movement as a whole put forward an explicit demand for foreign intervention; on March 16, 2012 the opposition called the protests the “Friday of Immediate Foreign Intervention”) would react to your” middle position”?

  • http://rupensavoulian.wordpress.com Rupen Savoulian

    I have been following the ongoing debate about the Libyan and Syrian interventions, and wanted to make a number of points. Some are in support of the above article, and some are critical comments.

    There is no question that the Qadhafi regime abandoned its socialist rhetoric a long time ago, and oriented to the US, Britain, France and other imperialist powers. His participation in the rendition of terrorism suspects is particularly heinous. However, Libya’s resource nationalism, and Qadhafi restrictions on some foreign investment in the oil sector, did mean problems for the imperialist corporations. Putin in Moscow has been friendly to big business investment, but has exercised total control over the lucrative oil and gas sector in Russia, something that incurs the hostility of the imperialist countries.

    The NTC is a collection of former Qadhafi allies, CIA assets, fundamentalist Islamists and other opponents of the Qadhafi regime. While it pays some lip service to Libyan Arab nationalism, it has so far followed a course that is in line with the neoliberal agenda of privatisation and increasing foreign investment. Oil has been privatised, and the domestic situation is deteriorating, with the new regime also practicing torture, and ignoring the tribal clashes and rivalries throughout the country that have erupted into open warfare.

    If the NTC does have broad popular support, how come it is unable to impose its control over the majority of the country? The various militia groups have gained control over various portions of the country, and thus Libya is fragmented into competing entities. NATO bears direct responsibility for this political fracturing. As I understand it, Salafist groups have been protesting in recent days, demanding the introduction of strict Islamist Sharia law in the new Libya, something opposed by other sections of Libyan society.

    The NATO intervention played a decisive part in the overall military success of the rebels, degrading the Qadhafi regime heavy weaponry and limiting the ability of the Qadhafi forces to impose control over the country. Qadhafi waged a brutal counter-insurgency war – no more or less savage than the numerous counter-insurgency wars waged by the United States and its proxy forces in Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. The US and NATO powers are the main political supporters of the new Libyan militias, and their political complexion will be influenced by NATO’s over-arching agenda. While much was made by the corporate-controlled press about an impending massacre of anti-Qadhafi rebels in Benghazi in 2011, there was a massacre of pro-Qadhafi forces and civilians in the town of Sirte, supported by NATO forces, which basically punished the entire town and wiped if off the map.

    Qadhafi had been a pan-Arab nationalist and ‘socialist’ in the early days of his rule. He promoted Arab nationalism as a counter to tribal and sectarian affiliations. This of course did not erase tribal identities, but Qadhafi clung tenaciously to Arab nationalism till the very end.
    The rebel militias introduced the element of sectarian and ethnic cleansing into the conflict, even in the early days of the Libyan uprising in March 2011. The sub-Saharan Africans have been targeted by the Berber militias, as well as Arab-majority towns that have been Qadhafi strongholds until today. Qadhafi’s rightist turn from the early 1990s was criticised by socialist and left parties, and awareness of this political orientation makes it all the more imperative to oppose NATO intervention and the imperialist agenda for the post-Qadhafi Libyan government. I do not see how the reactionary turn of the Qadhafi government makes it possible to support NATO intervention.

    I think it is presumptuous to categorically state that the majority of Libyans wanted foreign intervention. There were a number of conflicting reports in the early days of the uprising about the political orientation of the rebel militias, and whether the majority wanted foreign intervention. Given the long history of foreign occupation of Libya by the European colonial powers, their brutality in governing the country and violently repressing the Libyan nationalist resistance led by Omar al-Mukhtar, I think it is difficult to say whether the majority of Libyans viewed foreign intervention in a positive light. Qadhafi certainly built his early credibility in the 1970s by closing the US military base in the country. I am unaware of any demands by the rebel militias, or the NTC, to expel the NATO presence in the country.

    Just my two cents worth….in the spirit of comradely debate.

    Rupen Savoulian

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      “The NTC is a collection of former Qadhafi allies, CIA assets, fundamentalist Islamists and other opponents of the Qadhafi regime.”

      You neglected to mention the middle-class lawyers and other political activists that formed the core of the NTC. Whether this is deliberate or not is unclear to me, but the one-sided view of the NTC will skew your conclusions.

      “If the NTC does have broad popular support, how come it is unable to impose its control over the majority of the country?”

      The NTC has broad popular support, but so do a lot of the militias and other forces that are competing with the NTC for power and influence. Broad, popular support does not mean 51% in all areas of the country at all times. Now that Ghadafi is gone, I suspect support for the NTC decline. That’s what usually happens after a revolution’s first stage is victorious — it splinters.

      “I think it is presumptuous to categorically state that the majority of Libyans wanted foreign intervention.”

      I said the majority of revolutionary Libyans. Not all Libyans supported the revolution.

      Pretty much all Libyans oppose foreign invasion, which is what is usually meant by “foreign intervention.” I have yet to find a single revolutionary Libyan who opposed the airstrikes in spring of 2011. Have you?

      “I am unaware of any demands by the rebel militias, or the NTC, to expel the NATO presence in the country.”

      Since NATO never occupied Libya, why would anyone demand NATO’s expulsion?

      I’ve tried my best to address what I think your key concerns are. I’m aware of the problems and difficulties facing Libya now with the militias, corruption, neoliberalism, ethnic/tribal conflicts, but at least now workers and other people have the ability to fight for their own interests, organize unions, and so on. That is a step forward, is it not?

      • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

        Pham Binh: “You neglected to mention the middle-class lawyers and other political activists that formed the core of the NTC.”

        You mean the gangster technocrats who promised a share of Libya’s oil to each country on the basis of how many bombing missions they ran? http://pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/libya-open-for-business.html
        France’s Total got 35% of the oil after doing 35% of the bombing runs. Afterwards, the French foreign minister called the bombing runs “an investment”:

        “Although French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe denied knowledge of the 35 percent agreement, he considered it only “logical and fair.” “We are not alone, Italy is also there, the U.S. …” Juppe added that intervention “is expensive” and it is an investment for the future “because a democratic Libya will be a country that will develop, it will be a factor [contributing to] the stability, security and development of the region.”

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

          There’s no evidence that the letter you cite in your article is the policy of the Libyan government. Try again.

        • Brian S.

          @ Diana Barahona: re the NTC
          And also the now elected NTC representatives from Benghazi, including Najat Rashid Mansur Al-Kikhia, a woman who received the highest vote of any candidate in the local election.
          There are several opinion polls that show massive popular support for the revolution, and even a large majority who have confidence in the NTC (despite its shortcomings).
          Your account of the oil industry shows the usual problem of relying on a single source. There has been no move to “privatise” the Libyan oil industry. The figures you quote, if they have any reality at all, might relate to oil supplies, not ownership. What do you expect the Libyans to do with their oil – eat it?

        • Brian S.

          Diana,you say “France’s Total got 35% of the oil after doing 35% of the bombing runs.” But your source: a report in Liberation (Paris) and the letter it reprints,makes no connection between bombing runs and oil. Moreover it says the agreement was reached “at the London summit” ie on 29 March, only 10 days after NATO aerial assaults had begun, not really “after” anything much.
          Mahmoud Shammam, the TNC’s information minister named in the letter as the person delegated to sign the agreement described the letter as “a forgery, a joke!”. And he may have had a point:
          1. The NTC was not represented at the 29 March London summit.
          2. Why would you designate a very junior information minister to sign a deal over oil?
          3. As you note the letter is on the letterhead of “The Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya”. The problems is no such organisation existed. You describe it as the “forerunner of the NTC” but the NTC had no forerunners; and no earlier significant anti-Gaddafi group bore this name. (Think abou tit – is it a likely name for a pro-westerni group?)
          So it looks as if Shammam was right, and the joke is on you!

    • Brian S.

      What NATO presence?

  • Pingback: Libya and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist()

  • Michael Pugliese

    Diana>…The Syrian people do not want war. 51% of Syrians do not favor ousting Assad, according to a poll carried out by Qatar Usually related as ,”55%,” support Assad. False. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saul-landau/washington-and-damascus_b_1621153.html?utm_hp_ref=world
    A February poll conducted by a Qatari agency, backed by anti-Asad money, concluded Asad’s regime enjoyed 55 percent popular support — not for its virtues, but because people worried a subsequent government would be worse.

    On which see, Syria and the ‘Assad poll’
    Another insidious myth is doing the rounds: that 55% of Syrians support president Assad. The figure was cited by Aisling Byrne in an article which I critiqued recently. Now, it has surfaced again inan article by Jonathan Steele for the Guardian.

    While it is undoubtedly true that the Assad regime still has a measure of support within Syria, no one can sensibly put a figure on it or claim that Assad’s supporters form a majority.

    The 55% figure comes from an internet survey by YouGov Siraj for al-Jazeera’s Doha Debates. Just over 1,000 people across the Arab countries were asked their opinion of Assad and an overwhelming majority – 81% – thought he should step down.

    However, al-Jazeera says the picture inside Syria is different: “Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.”

    What is the basis for this statement? A look at the methodologyof the survey shows that 211 of the respondents were in Levantine countries and that 46% of those were in Syria. In other words, the finding is based on a sample of just 97 internet users in Syria among a population of more than 20 million. It’s not a meaningful result and certainly not adequate grounds for such sweeping conclusions about national opinion in Syria.

    Posted by Brian Whitaker, 18 January 2012. Comment. http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2012/blog1201.htm

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      You wrote, “A February poll conducted by a Qatari agency, backed by anti-Asad money, concluded Asad’s regime enjoyed 55 percent popular support — not for its virtues, but because people worried a subsequent government would be worse.”

      So what you are saying is, “The Syrian people do not want war. 55% of Syrians do not favor ousting Assad.” Thanks for correcting my mistake.

  • http://perelebrun.blogspot.co.uk/ David Wayne Kasper

    “its internationalist duty to aid these revolutions by any means necessary.”

    On what planet does the ‘western Left’ run NATO? Did I miss something? Do ‘western Leftists’ have a duty to support ‘limited’ bombing campaigns now – as long as they hide the bodies for us? Or as long as we get to see some cathartic statue-toppling on CNN?

    If a ‘revolution’ is bombed into existence by the most oppressive military apparatus in human history, is it all that ‘revolutionary’? Do you seriously think the Pentagon do it to help ‘the people’ liberate themselves on their own terms? If so, do you watch a lot of movies?

    Imperialism – ‘splitting’ the left for over a century. It seems some people never learn…

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      Thank you.

  • Aaron Aarons

    Rupen Savoulian: “I think it is presumptuous to categorically state that the majority of Libyans wanted foreign intervention.”

    Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street: “I said the majority of revolutionary Libyans. Not all Libyans supported the revolution.”

    So, according to Pham Binh, not only should the international left base its positions regarding imperialist intervention on what the 0.2% of the world’s population who lived in Libya might have wanted, but we should only count that portion of that 0.2% who were, according to Pham Binh, “revolutionary”. And Binh doesn’t provide any definition of “revolutionary” other than the implied one, that they were seeking to overthrow the existing government. By that definition, the Nicaraguan Contras were “revolutionary”, as were all those “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe.

    Given how the word “revolutionary” is used by people like Pham Binh and Clay Claiborne, I would consider it an honor for them to call me “counterrevolutionary”.

  • http://perelebrun.blogspot.co.uk/ David Wayne Kasper

    Also, Al-Jazeera is funded by Saudi oligarchs, who are as ‘trigger-happy’ as their western R2P allies. Just because it ain’t Fox doesn’t mean it’s free from imperial propaganda. I’ve always been curious how ‘opinion polls’ can be conducted in unstable war zones. Funny how we don’t hear nowhere near as much about the hideous oppression taking place in Saudi Arabia (or other Emirates) from ‘left-imperials’.

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      http://pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/what-happened-to-al-jazeera.html

      Ignore the last paragraph–I didn’t write that. The Qatari royal family let the NATO powers use al-Jazeera as a propaganda organ in exchange for increased access to natural gas markets in Western Europe. They are also going to host the U.S. Navy and buy weapons from the U.S.

  • Aaron Aarons

    in one of the photo captions in the article, we read:

    “The Western left disregarded the thoughts and feelings of their Libyan comrades […]”

    And what made any unspecified groups of Libyans “[our] comrades”? If they didn’t and don’t put the global struggle against capitalism and imperialism ahead of their own local issues, they aren’t, at least not yet, my comrades, regardless of whether or not I support them on their local issues.

  • Aaron Aarons

    I wonder if people like Binh and Claiborne who support violence by imperialists against local oppressors would also support violence by underground anti-capitalist groups — perhaps a reborn Red Brigades or Red Army Faction — against, for example, the executives of imperialist mining companies who are responsible for murder, as well as more indirect devastation, in places like the Congo, Papua New Guinea and Central America, to name just a few of the countries and regions where they do their dirty work? (I won’t name any of the companies, nor provide the addresses in places like Denv** and Vanc***** where they are headquartered, so as not to expose the owners of this web site to charges of “aiding and abetting terrorism”.)

  • http://perelebrun.blogspot.co.uk/ David Wayne Kasper

    And hey – how about those NTC lynchmobs – do murderous, racist pogroms count as ‘necessary’ to to Binh/Proyject/Caiborne’s idea of ‘revolution’? Can we explain it away as ‘red terror’ required for proletarian liberation (as supposed “mercenaries”, black immigrant workers don’t count in this fantasy)?

    But best not to bring that up, eh? We might get told off – again – by ‘revolutionaries’ cheering on NATO from the comfort of New York or LA.

  • Louis Proyect

    Let’s be clear about something. The “anti-imperialist” left supports Assad and supported Qaddafi before him. They subscribe to a Marcyite analysis that amounts to putting a minus where the Pentagon, CIA or State Department puts a plus and a minus where they put a plus. This led Sam Marcy to back Soviet tanks in Hungary, and his supporters backing the crushing of Tiananmen protests. In fact it is an offshoot of 1930s style Stalinism. How odd that self-described Trotskyists or crypto-Trotskyists have mastered the logic of the Kremlin under Stalin.

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      Still an unrepentant cheerleader for NATO’s “humanitarian” bombing, huh? I’m not looking forward to how you’re going to cheer on NATO and the U.S. when they go in to support the “green revolution” in Iran (and, the liberation of all of that light crude oil). You’ll have quite a lot of death and destruction to explain away then.

      • http://WSWS.ORG Josh Laurel

        Diana, what I find so revolting about this article (and others like it posted by Pham Binh) is that its beginning and a link to it were published on Louis Proyect’s horrifically misnamed “The Unrepentant Marxist” blog.

        The primary purpose of said blog is to put a “left,” no Marxist, no an “unrepentant Marxist” face on Western imperialist warmongering, under the same old, tired “humanitarian” guise.

        Louis Proyect, Clay Claiborne and Pham Binh’s essential purpose is to subordinate to the Democratic Party and Obama any potential developing mass movement against the ruling class’s 3-pronged strategy of unceasing austerity, unceasing imperialist war and ever-intensifying police-statism.

        On Proyect’s blog, leftish criticisms of, for example, Obamacare are posted side-by-side with vomit-inducing “justifications” for the war that US imperialism waged in Libya and which it is on the precipice of now openly starting in Syria (perhaps through its proxy in Ankara.)

        Proyect, Claiborne and Binh are part and parcel of what WSWS.ORG rightly calls the petty-bourgeois “left.” In their socio-economic position and outlook, they have far more in common with the US’s capitalist elite than they do with the working class.

        The successful development of any working class-led movement for socialism is contingent on (among other things) the exposure and removal from its ranks of such petty-bourgeois shills for imperialism as Proyect, Claiborne and Binh.

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

          What’s tired is the left’s counter-revolutionary anti-imperialism. The Arab masses are in revolt and here we are denouncing them for getting aid from American imperialism.

          • http://notmytribe.com tony

            Yes, Pham, we should denounce those thorougly confused and oftentimes outright reactionary forces in Arab countries who do get aid from the US imperialist government, CIA, and Pentagon because to do so is to be part of no ‘revolt’ at all. Your obtuse blindness to think that it is somehow a revolt against authoritarianism to get monies and military hardware from the Pentagon and NATO to fight governments the imperialists don’t like is simply incredible coming from a supposed Leftist.

            And when certain forces are getting monies and terrorist ‘internationalist’ funneled by the US through allies like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey should be a red flag to you, Pham, that there is no ‘revolt’ occurring at all, but rather an effort at a counterrevolutionary realignment managed by US imperialism.

            • Todd

              You and the other musclebound anti-imperialists read this one yet, tony-kins?

              Leon Trotsky
              Learn To Think
              A Friendly Suggestion to Certain Ultra-Leftists

              http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/05/think.htm

              (Nowadays, I’d imagine he’d have sub-titled it, “A Friendly Suggestion to Certain Stalinoids”)

              • http://notmytribe.com tony

                Todd, I don’t think that pulling what you think of as some sort of scripture from polemics of he past is any more helpful to talking about politics today than it is when a Christian pulls out Moses to lecture others about there ideas of religion. Leon is not God. Leon is not Moses. Lenin isn’t either. Nor is Marx. Marxism is not a series of fossilized scriptures that Marxists simply refer others to go read as they think they have so well that they are the great theologians of Red.

                Marxists that pull out their scriptures are what make us often times look like total morons to nonMarxists, Toddkins. If you have a point to make personally, make it in your own words. YOU have a mouth of your own, Comrade. No need to simply link others to GOD and think that that is all there is to it. If you are so no bound by muscles in your own head then I think that you ought to be able to better express yourself than merely linking to your holy writings and urge others to see that God is on their side.

                HONESTLY! Some comrades who act like Baptist preachers really can irk the hell out of others. If I am an ‘ultraleftist’ as Todd has told me he thinks, then I think he is a fool who has simply poured concrete on himself. Now what were we talking about before Todd pulled out his Trotsky Bible on us?

                • http://perelebrun.blogspot.co.uk/ David W Kasper

                  Quotes from Trotsky regarding Libya or Syria are a nauseating as they are irrelevant. Trotsky died before my grandmother was born, and he wasn’t the Communist Nostradamus.

                  And – the idiotic meme that leftists who oppose imperialist bombing and invasion by other means are ‘pro-Qadafi’ or ‘pro-Assad’ stinks of the idiocy that claimed destroying Iraq was “to stop Saddam”. Stop insulting our intelligence and try demonstrating some of your own. All i can see is wishful-thinking bullshit and Obama-isms, as peddled by the slickest PR team on Earth.

                  • Todd

                    “Trotsky died before my grandmother was born”

                    And this excuses you from thinking how?

                    “the idiotic meme that leftists who oppose imperialist bombing and invasion by other means are ‘pro-Qadafi’ or ‘pro-Assad’ stinks of the idiocy that claimed destroying Iraq was ‘to stop Saddam'”

                    Well, it’s a lot more precise than just calling them fools and revolutionary phrase-mongers.

                • Todd

                  “Leon is not God. Leon is not Moses. Lenin isn’t either. Nor is Marx. Marxism is not a series of fossilized scriptures that Marxists simply refer others to go read as they think they have so well that they are the great theologians of Red. ”

                  No.

                  But tony and the Stalinoids need to (wait for it) “Learn to Think”.

                  How serendipitous for you that there’s a wonderful little piece out there that’s _just_ for you and your friends.

                  “If you have a point to make personally, make it in your own words.”

                  Yes, and see where that’s gotten you . . . .

                  Trust me, Sonny: if I need to, I’ll build from scratch. But I have no problems accepting the help of an expert.

                  • http://notmytribe Tony

                    Todd, to be called a ‘stalinoid’ when I am totally nothing at all like that at all, shows how little thought you have given to any of the issues at hand here.

                    ‘But tony and the Stalinoids need to (wait for it) “Learn to Think”.’

                    I gather that you neither know what Stalinists have had as their politics through the many decades nor where, what, and how I have totally disagreed with all their positions? For you it probably doesn’t mean much though to find yourself being so ignorant, since calling me a ‘stalinoid’ is about as insipid as how insipid liberal Democrats always seem so ignorantly inclined to call Republicans ‘fascists’.

                    Sorry to respond to your insult a month late. I just now noticed how you gratuitously insulted me for no damn reason at all, since you had nothing to say about anything other than labeling me ‘stalinoid’. And stop calling people ‘sonny’, would You? It makes you sound like you’re Proudhon or some other Rip Van Winkle, when I gather you’re quite young instead.

  • http://laughingfish.blogspot.com Christian

    I like this article, and I am glad it is written.

    The American left barely exists. The self consciously “Anti-Imperialist” American left, in a country of 300 million people, can probably be housed in its entirety in one of our smaller to middle- sized sports areas. It’s influence is marginal, but unfortunately this rarely translates into approaches of humility. Gazing into the darkness of our political life, often from the vantage of a dingy apartment in some gray, overcrowded, stressful, expensive city of hostile, preoccupied strangers, many of our Anti-Imperialist leftists comfort themselves with dogmas and rigidity. This is understandable. Why do you think Mormon missionaries forego reading non-Mormon literature during their missions? Why do they pray so hard at night and spend so much attention on the neatness of their uniforms? It is difficult to be a missionary, a barer of truth in an apathetic, sinful, and oft unfriendly world. Insulating oneself within the mother-bosom of dogma, icons, and sacred writ is a useful way to strengthen oneself, regardless of how well it retards one’s own development as a critically thinking individual.

    I think the “hard left” in the US picked its sides and stuck with them before, and independently of, any facts or developments in Lybia. If you believe certain dictators are better than others, and ought to be supported, despite their authoritarianism, because they have nationalized such and such a resource, or initiated such and such a social program to try and win popular support, you are going to have a hard time finding the right side to be on when one day the people tire of their dictator’s rule. The US “Hard Left” is a collection of aged and unsuccessful revolutionaries who developed politically in the 1960s and 70s. They grew up with a view that authoritarian one party states, and charismatic third world dictators, ought to be supported as liberators because they were fighting against capitalistic exploiters. Long after the capitalistic exploiters had been chased away, and the new emperors began developing their own ways of exploiting people, the fawning and dictator-worship remained. So what if Ghadaffi’s kids were entertained on Caribbean islands by American pop stars while they guzzled cases of Champagne? Their dad has said the word “socialist” before! Therefore he deserves our support. Of course!

    I don’t care what the “correct” anti-imperialist line is and I don’t care to try and rank the nation’s countries on a “socialistic” hierarchy where individual freedoms and political rights can be exchanged for social services or a cut of the pie. I also don’t care whether or not a third world dictator is able to buy the support of some of his people by putting gas and oil profits back into infrastructure, because guess what? Global warming is real and Ghadaffi and Chavez’s development of their national resources is, globally, a step in the wrong direction that will contribute to catastrophic changes in weather patterns and sea levels.

    If you want to be a usefully political citizen you have to learn to be a critical thinker first. This is a world that is being destroyed ecologically by powerful people who make comfortable living for themselves by keeping the majority of people politically and economically powerless- and more importantly- confused. You can’t trust anyone or any group to do your thinking for you, you have to do it for yourself. That is a practice the hard left organizations in the United States generally (not always) do not train their members in.

    Our left does not know what it means to fight to win. They have won little, over my life time. They have been very adept at fighting loosing battles and spouting slogans into the air. If you’re not expecting to win anything anyway, it’s pretty easy to say whatever you want. Being “right” and letting other people know it becomes more important than being effective. Like college sophomores trying to impress one another in a dorm with their knowledge of obscure subjects, our domestically unsuccessful revolutionaries are quite vocal in their instructions to people actually fighting revolutions abroad. These instructions are not usually helpful, but of course, why would they be? There is fundamental disagreement about who “the enemy” is. It is my opinion that most of the allegedly Marxist American organizations thought Ghadaffi was closer to socialism than a post-Ghadaffi Lybia would be. After that point the case was closed. They would have preferred to see Benghazi leveled than to see the different classes, individuals, and parties within that country decide for themselves what political policies their nation should adopt.

    People who fight to win, and actually win, often prioritize effectiveness over the integrity of principles. When the people you are fighting have tanks and bombers and snipers and are shelling and bombing you and you can expect to be murdered within a few hours, days, or weeks, at that point military efficiency and effectiveness, not intellectually correct political positions, will be of great value.

    Those whose conception of a revolution anywhere today involves a self consciously Marxist, feminist, grass roots network of democratically functioning workers’ councils, with its own movement controlled independent media and accountable leaders, and, heck, commitment to non-violence and secularism to boot, can expect to be disappointed by what actual revolutions actually look like. This even more so in the Middle East. Revolutions are not academic exercises in political correctness. They start with the humans we have today, whose political development has been determined by the real world and the legacy of past victories, failures, promises, and betrayals, and whose resources, allies, and agendas are confused, vacillating, and often contradictory.

    Al-Jazeera has been criticized on this page for being controlled by the Qatari monarchy. Hence, I suppose, it must be incapable of ever telling the truth or functioning independently. It must have been illusion then, when I noticed in 2010 and 2011 that Al-Jazeera supported the Egyptian Revolution wholeheartedly from Day One to the great distress and embarrassment of that governments’ principle military sponsor, the United States of America.

    I also noticed someone in this discussion posted a link to a Huffington Post article, but no one here then criticized the Huffington Post. Did you know the Huffington Post is run by member of the bourgeois class? Did you know they like to not pay their writers, and that many left writers recently stopped writing for them in protest of its policies? Did you know that the Huffington post website is getting paid by Sears to advertise a new grill they are selling, and while the capitalistic owner of the Huffington Post is being paid by sears for the use of their site, Huffington Post writers are themselves often not paid? Isn’t that a terrible example of capitalistic exploitation? They are even supporting Barack Obama for God sake! So why is a link to their website posted here, and no one points this out, and no one says that everything on the Huffinton Post cannot be believed because it is obviously controlled by a member of the ruling class?

    That is because we know the Huffington Post continues to post many useful and relevant articles, despite its short comings. The Huffington Post likes gay people having rights too, and has news about that. The Huffington Post directs scrutiny against the misdeeds of Wall Street. The Huffington Post likes people being able to have health care and thinks Wal Mart workers get a raw deal and that they deserve a better one.

    The Huffington Post is an ally of justice, and of oppressed people. At the same time, it functions as an imperfect entity, containing within itself relations of injustice and oppression. Often it sides with oppressors, and is content to celebrate the charity of exploitative billionaires at the same it laments the condition of poverty in America. It is contradictory and imperfect.

    As is everything. Everywhere.

    Navigating our political world, we must pledge our allegiance to genuine principles, not to organizations, presidents, or parties. All of these can, have, and will fail us. All of them can be corrupted. You can make use of some of them by doing so critically, and you must constantly evaluate what you get from something, verses what potential bad thing might happen later if you get involved with it. By reading the above Huffington Post article, I contributed to advertising revenue and market share of an exploitative and capitalistic news agency. I did so because I felt it was worth it to understand this discussion.

    It disappoints, but does not surprise me, that an individual here found a problem with the idea that, “the international left base its positions regarding imperialist intervention on what the 0.2% of the world’s population who lived in Libya might have wanted.” Is this not, then, revealing?

    I believe whole heartedly that Libyans and no one else had the right to determine how a revolution in Libya should proceed.

    A revolution is made by a people. When you have a movement, and the power structure represses it, you have to decide whether to retreat, re-organize, and try again later, or whether to respond and escalate and accept the consequences of that escalation. Revolutions are highly escalated political dialogues between rulers and ruled people. The right to determine when to risk that escalation, and when to open the pandora’s box of armed conflict, is the right of free people everywhere. When a people decides to have a revolution, it is done not through a ballot box or through an online internet survey. There are those ahead of the game, and those who lag behind it. There are those who lead and those who follow. There are hotheads who invite premature and catastrophic oppression. There are conservatives who mask the protection of their own vested interests and positions behind concerns for “peace” and “orderliness.” Politically “Combined and Uneven Development” is the rule. It cannot be otherwise.

    I might also take this opportunity to remind our laptop revolutionaries that an actual revolution is a bloody awful and horrible thing. If you embark on a revolution you know that you are going to risk everything and everyone that you love and that is important to you. You may even loose yourself, and you may find yourself doing terrible things in order to prevent them being done to you.

    If and when a revolution is necessary, that is to be determined by an internal dialogue among the people waging it. When it does occur and you find yourself in a military engagement, you are no longer fighting on moral terms. You may have to make compromises and temporary allegiances with untrustworthy, and even politically suspect allies. May I remind you that we in the United States are no longer ruled over by a monarch because of our alliance with the reactionary, slave holding, French aristocracy in the 1770s and 80s? Should black Americans in the 1860s have opposed the intervention of the North in the civil war that freed them because the North was ruled by capitalists?

    Were the Viet-Minh wrong to accept the help of the Americans in their fight against the Japanese during World War Two?

    Certainly, the Americans later betrayed them. Cold war politics led them to side with the French, and assist their re-conquest of their former colony in exchange for French anti-communist political support. In doing so they turned their backs on their old allies. The Americans ultimately behaved dishonorably and against the goals of the Viet-Minh in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Still, if it was 1943 and you were in Vietnam fighting the Japanese, even if you could see in the future that the Americans might betray you, would you still refuse their gifts of arms and the military training OSS officers were willing to provide for you?

    A revolution has the right to choose its own allies, make its own mistakes, and succeed or fail as it will. I support the right of Libyans, Syrians, and everyone else who can expect to be murdered by a dictator’s henchman to secure whatever military support they can from where ever they can get it to support their cause. I’ll leave the long term consequences of such alliances for them to determine the potential benefit, or liability of. No one is going to shoot me tomorrow or shell my house if I fail to win. As such I am not about to substitute my own uninformed and distant opinion for the decisions made by actual revolutionaries actually fighting a revolution.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      This is easily the best, most insightful, and most humble comment ever written by someone on The North Star site. Thank you!

    • Bee.Sat

      Great comment except for:

      ” I also don’t care whether or not a third world dictator is able to buy the support of some of his people by putting gas and oil profits back into infrastructure, because guess what? Global warming is real and Ghadaffi and Chavez’s development of their national resources is, globally, a step in the wrong direction that will contribute to catastrophic changes in weather patterns and sea levels.”

      Inconsistent with the rest of your comment.

      • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

        Not really. The rest of his comment is about how the world is filled with contradictions.

    • Aaron Aarons

      “May I remind you that we in the United States are no longer ruled over by a monarch because of our alliance with the reactionary, slave holding, French aristocracy in the 1770s and 80s?”

      What a strange formulation! It wasn’t “our” alliance with anybody, unless “we” identify with the slaveholders of the southern colonies. The latter were more than happy to remain Englishmen until slavery was abolished in Britain in the early 1770’s, with the threat that it would soon be abolished in the colonies. In fact, it was the fear of such action from the British PARLIAMENT, not the KING, that motivated these so-called “revolutionaries”.

      BTW, another important motivation for the war for independence from Britain was that the latter was more-or-less abiding by its treaties with indigenous nations to the west of the colonies, thus interfering with the land-grabbing appetites of those “freedom-loving” colonists.

      The only peoples who could have fought for real “freedom” in that time and place were the indigenous peoples and the mostly-enslaved Africans. They, unfortunately, didn’t have the material ability to do so.

      • http://notmytribe Tony

        I agree totally with your assessment of the American ‘revolution’ you have just made, Aaron. Funny that it still gets called a revolution though Virginia was the most powerful of the colonies, Virginia brought to the table the principle colonists rebelling against the British Empire, and 1/3 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners who were mainly Virginia based!

        Simply put, the major property owners in the main body of the colonies wanted slavery to continue, since their property and power depended in having slaves under their thumb, whereas Britain itself did not need or want slaves there in the Homeland, since there were no huge agricultural enterprises using slavery inside Britain itself.

  • http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Clay%20Claiborne/ Clay Claiborne (@clayclai)

    D. Kasper-

    Yes, this I must deal with because this has become a favor line of attack on the Libyan revolution by some folks, including anti-interventionists, pro-Qaddafi force, and apparently you. I will quote from stuff I have already written, to show you I have not been “mum” on this question.

    But before I do that, remember those African mercenaries fighting for Qaddafi that many on the left insisted weren’t there? Well some of them are in Mali now and when a Mali army base surrender to them, they killed everyone. How do you think they dealt with Libyans? From a Tuareg mercenary:

    When the protests began in Tripoli, his unit was attached to the infamous 32nd brigade, led by Qaddafi’s son Khamis, and was sent to disperse the unarmed marchers. “That was easy,” he said with startling nonchalance. “We would kill three or four in the front of the crowd and they all ran away. It was very easy.”

    He fought throughout the revolution and said many Tuaregs were forced to fight for Qaddafi:

    After Tripoli, he and his fellow Tuareg mercenaries fought in several battles east of the capital city along the coast, including at Misrata. As the fighting intensified, Libyan officials began rounding up Tuareg living in Libya, threatening to imprison them and their families if they didn’t join the fight, though many had no military training. Some deserted and joined the rebels, but most stayed with the forces loyal to Qaddafi.

    Which gives you an idea how Qaddafi really treated his African supporters.

    Now on to an exchange from the comments of my Libya in the news today piece. This has to do with a grotesque YouTube video that has been widely circulated by the above mention groups to prove that the Libyan revolution is racist to the core.

    First a Qaddafi supporter posted the RT version of this video with this comment:

    Here’s a disturbing video of blacks being tortured

    A shocking video has appeared on the Internet showing Libyan rebels torturing a group of black Africans. People with their hands bound are shown being locked in a zoo-like cage and forced to eat the old Libyan flag.

    ­“Eat the flag, you dog. Patience you dog, patience. God is Great,” screams a voice off-camera in the video published by LiveLeak on February 28.

    I found a version on Youtube that had subtitles. This is my response:

    They aren’t being tortured because they are black.

    Here is the same video but with sub-titles so we can tell what they are saying, which is stuff like:

    “Dog Eat the flag! Dog Eat the Flag!
    You dog come here! Eat this flag! eat it, yea, Tawergian! Yea dirty Dog!

    Note that while being called a dog is derisive, it is not racists. In fact, this particular video proves the opposite point because while the title, whoever posted this version on YouTube gave it, Libya: Blacks treated like Apes in the Zoo by rebels is factually true, it is misleading. Race or color plays no role in what is being said by their tormentors. If the video had been titled Libya: Tawergians treated like Apes in the Zoo by rebels it would have been much more accurate, because they are being abused, no doubt by people from Misrata, not because of the color of their skin, but because of where they were from.

    I dealt with this question also in my diary last Saturday and gave another example, so to repeat what i said there:

    One focus of the report is the persecution of people from Tawergha. They document many such abuses:

    Another challenge is to tackle the widespread discrimination and xenophobia against sub-Saharan Africans and dark-skinned Libyans from Tawargha and other parts of Libya where support for al-Gaddafi forces during the conflict was reportedly high. The 30,000 residents of the town of Tawargha, who were forcibly displaced during the conflict, are still barred from returning to their town, where their homes have been looted and burned down. They remain in poorly resourced camps in Benghazi, Tripoli and elsewhere in Libya and face an uncertain future. So far the NTC has been unwilling to take on the militias and local authorities in Misratah who are determined not to allow the residents of Tawargha to return home.

    Because most people from Tawargha are black, much has been made of these revenge attacks by some in the pro-Qaddafi and anti-interventionists camps. They see them as racists attacks, pure and simple, and display them as proof that the revolution is “not progressive in anyway.”

    While racism by Arabs against black Africans in Libya is a problem of long standing which I have examined elsewhere, most notably in Racism in Libya, there is reason to believe that the suppression of Tawargha and its people has much less to do with racism than these people think and more to do with simple revenge. Certainly, there is enough reason in the realities of the war immediately past to understand the animosity between these two groups without falling back on any color difference. The descriptions of the abuses in the Amnesty document don’t look like racism, in fact many can be read the other way entirely. For example, they describe the abuse a 45-year-old army officer from Tripoli of Tawargha origin while he was being held at a militia’s detention facility in Tripoli:

    [He said] “They also subjected me to electric shocks through live wires while I was lying on the floor. They put the electricity to different parts of my body including my wrists and toes. At one point I fainted and they threw water at me to wake me up.

    He said that he believes that the only reason he was detained was that a colleague reported him to the militia for being of Tawargha origin.

    Another way to say that is to say that he wasn’t detained because he was black, they already knew he was black, he was detained and tortured after they found out that he was from Tawargha.

    I am in no way trying to justify the mistreatment of Libyans from Tawargha. That has to end and that town eventually has to be restored. I only point this out because so many people on the left are only too happy to brand this treatment racist and use it to condemn the whole revolution.

    You’re one of those people and you should be a shame of yourself.

    I have recently noticed that I have about 60 Libyans following me on Twitter, including the Libyan Youth Movement and the NTC Labor Ministry. Hopefully, they also read what I have to say here. If I can I want to have a positive influence on their struggle. I want to fight racism in Libya and encourage reconciliation between the people of Misrata and Tawargha, and I can’t do either if I, like you, confound the two for the purpose of attacking the Libyan Revolution and the great victory they have already won.

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      Yeah, there’s nothing racist about calling blacks “dogs” and making them eat a flag. It was probably all in good fun.

  • Die

    You, Clay Claiborne, and the Unrepentant Fascist are all gonna die.

    • http://WSWS.ORG Josh Laurel

      Yup, and hopefully soon.

      • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

        The Social Equality Party talks big and bad on the internet, but I remember you comrades standing across the street from Zuccotti Park during the occupation clutching your stack of leaflets, hoping someone would walk up to you and ask for one instead of handing them out to passersby and talking to the non-Trotskyist 99%.

        Internet bravery is inversely related to political bravery in the real world it seems.

  • http://notmytribe.com tony

    This Leftist ‘humanitarian imperialist’ commentary misses the point entirely that it is not our job in the imperialist countries to support nationalist rebellions in countries like Syria and Libya against their governments. It is our job to oppose the imperialism of OUR OWN US government and its allies who want to restructure the MIddle East entirely. It is our job to build an antiwar movement that disallows their constant ‘interventions’ abroad.

    It is also our job to see the geopolitical battlefield and not merely fall in line with the latest humanitarian imperialist claptrap put out by people as disparate as Hillary Clinton and Louis Proyect, a left over ex SWP member who is now super cyber stalinoid commie par excellence, ruling over a discussion list where he expels people offline routinely who disagree with his pro imperialist politics hidden as ‘unrepentant marxism’.

    Further, the commentary by Pham Binh is full of utter absurdities of analysis such as this one… ‘Today, Libyans enjoy freedom of speech, freedom to protest and organize, and most importantly, freedom from fear of state repression.’ and this one ‘The biggest obstacle to Syrian self-determination today is the Assad regime which increasingly rests on Russian bayonets drenched in Syrian blood.’ Is Pham Binh for real here?

    The biggest obstacle to Syrian self determination is not the Assad regime, nor is the biggest obstacle to all the Arab countries to the self determination of the Arab people as a whole found in their overwhelmingly, imperialist imposed and determined national governments. People like Clay, Louis, and Pham don’t get that though! The GREAT obstacle to Syrian self determination comes from the international allies of the anti Assad government forces who are all screaming for regime change and onwards to Iran for regime change theer and then onward to China and Russia. The humanitarian imperialist Leftist wants to not acknowledge this reality though and rather counterpose a false analysis to it instead.

    It is truly sad to see people calling themselves socialist and marxists that cannot seem to see any difference between counter revolutions led by US imperialism, and real revolutions not tied to imperialist government support. Their blindness is appalling.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

      If it’s absurd to say that Libyans enjoy freedom of speech, you should provide some evidence that they do not enjoy that right. Marxism is supposed to rest of evidence, facts, and material reality, not subjective preferences, moralism or ideology. Put up or shut up.

      • http://notmytribe.com tony

        The evidence that armed gangs keep shooting at each other and murdering people long after the fall of Gaddafi means nothing to you Pham? I consider that quite some evidence that Free Speech is not exactly in ‘free’ reign there at all. But you go right ahead and consider that free speech stands supreme in affirmation in Libya now that Gaddafi was taken out by US government backed forces, if that’s what your little ol’ marxism heart so desires, Pham. Hey, I guess you believe that free speech reigns supreme in the US, too….uh right?

        Todd just pulled out scripture on me, and I guess that Pham wants me now to give him a group of links to ‘references’ by American academics showing that free speech is not really present in Libya at this moment? Is that it, Pham? Is that what you want me to do for you?

        ‘Marxism is supposed to rest of evidence, facts, and material reality, not subjective preferences, moralism or ideology. Put up or shut up.’ sex Pham.

        Links to marxist scripture and scholarly academics from schools of marxist theology for the woinkers or it’s not ‘marxism’, Comrades! It’s not enough to assume that most all comrades already know that the fighting still goes on in Libya by varying gangs and that’s proof in its self that we have not yet seen established a Western sense of ‘free speech’ there. I guess one can assume nothing these days???…. not from those calling themselves marxists at least. They insist on seeing REVOLUTION when what is in play is COUNTERREVOLUTION (if anything even as nationally independent of the Pentagon as that).

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street

          So because two militias engage in a firefight Libyans do not have the legal right to publish newspapers and blogs? You failed to post even a single link that shows Libyans do not have freedom of speech.

          • http://notmytribe.com tony

            You know what gets short shifted in times of continuing warfare like we see going on in Libya, Pham? Why it’s ‘Free Speech’, Dude! Imagine that? People don’t much want to open their mouths and talk very much when they are getting shot down for doing much much less than that even.

            Use you mind some, Pham! ‘You failed to post even a single link that shows Libyans do not have freedom of speech.’ Think!

        • Todd

          Trotsky’s “Learn to Think” is scripture (and therefore to be ignored as much as possible) according to tony.

          No doubt you’ve already figured out where Trotsky went wrong in his points, tony; why don’t you regale us all with your incisive (and no doubt metaphysical) critique? I see you and the other Stalinoids have been doing _very_ well so far . . . .

          • http://notmytribe.com tony

            Todd, Trotsky formulated his ideas while being an activist starting out over 100 years ago in times that were considerably different (pre WW1, in fact) than ours. Plus, his actions and positions re: ‘national self determination’ were quite inconsistent in terms of what Trotsky actually did and I don’t believe should be any sort of scripture for any marxist today. He lived and was active as revolutionary in a society very different than present day US society, Todd.

            You, Clay, Pham, and Louis might want to debate ENDLESSLY history of the past and show in your own heads at least, how superior and super correct your God Leon was supposedly in making ALL his decisions in way gone past political issues, but I don’t, and most people living in the real and current world don’t either.

            Your approach to current events ( and especially re those dealing with national self determination and imperialism) is basically that of a wannabe doctrinaire marxist dinosaur stuck in the swamp and already becoming well fossilized, Todd. But go right ahead and lecture us on Trotsky’s always right methods, according to you, if you so want? It will certainly keep us from having to use any sleep aids at bedtime when it happens, no doubt.

            Besides, nobody thinks that any of you doctrinaires have the slightest real or special even knowledge of what was actually happening in the world back pre overthrow of the Czar, and in the many years that came later for that matter. I doubt that you have much a clue about what has been going on in the last decade or two even.

            • Todd

              LOL! You’re funny, tony!

              You have a notion embedded in your brain, and you can’t go beyond that. Yes, Trotsky was indeed a product of a society that was different from today. However, the actual point of “Learn to Think” wasn’t an analysis of Trotsky’s time, just a piece of advice to certain leftists who, like you and your ilk, don’t think, only react from embedded notions (and those notions had to come from someone else; I find it difficult to believe them springing fully armoured from your forehead all by themselves).

              As for debating the past, if I were you, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea. It suggests you care as much about the future as any bourgeois who wants his money (not to mention proudly proclaiming an anti-intellectualism that has no place among leftist revolutionaries).

              • http://notmytribe Tony

                Todd, I hardly think that it is up to you to direct anybody’s thinking or not. This is so bizarre what you have wrote, that it defies even beginning to respond to… But I’ll give it a try none the less. … lol…

                ‘just a piece of advice to certain leftists who, like you and your ilk, don’t think, only react from embedded notions (and those notions had to come from someone else; I find it difficult to believe them springing fully armoured from your forehead all by themselves).’

                Are you suggesting that others have embedded mind controlling ‘notions’ in our heads, whereas you are free of such? Who could have ‘embedded’ us with these horrific ‘notions’, Todd? Good God! Save us from them, Comrade! They’re eating our brains away! No way we could have thought any ‘notions’ are our own, because Comrade Todd says we’re too dull and ‘anti-intellectual’- unlike his noted self. Whooohhhh!!!!!!

                • Todd

                  “Who could have ‘embedded’ us with these horrific ‘notions’, Todd?”

                  The same people who taught you to mindlessly cheerlead for Ghaddafi and those like him.

                  “Save us from them, Comrade!”

                  Believe me, I and other people here are trying . . . .

                  “No way we could have thought any ‘notions’ are our own,”

                  Ah, now this is an interesting contradiction!

                  You’re behaving in exactly the way I and others have been telling you the Libyans and Syrians are behaving: not as simple puppets of a foreign power but as individuals capable of thinking for themselves and directing their own affairs (and making their own mistakes). There’s hope for you yet if you’re capable of getting that much more familiar with the people you’ve been needlessly attacking.

                  It also, sadly, demonstrates your thoroughly petty bourgeois insistence on claiming all your ideas as your own personal property as if you cannot imagine yourself being influenced by or taking possession of the thoughts and ideas of another (whether that’s really the case or not).

  • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

    The Western powers are already making plans to run the Syrian government and privatize the economy. See Voltaire:
    HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION, HIGHEST STAGE OF CAPITALISM
    The “Friends of Syria” divvy up Syrian economy before conquest

    Proving that the West’s Syrian preoccupations have nothing to do with expressed noble motives of democracy and civilian welfare, the Conference of Friends (sic) of the Syrian People is preparing a plan to pillage the economy upon occupation. In grand colonial tradition, a Working Group, co-presided by the Emirates and Germany, is studying how to share the spoils after Syria is vanquished. http://www.voltairenet.org/The-Friends-of-Syria-divvy-up

    According to German diplomat, Clemens von Goetze, who, along with a colleague from the United Arab Emirates, had co-chaired the meeting last week, the “Working Group” not only has plans for emergency aid for the immediate aftermath of the regime change, but he finds “it is a good time already to start now for a long-term perspective of the country once change comes in Syria.” …

    The “Working Group” set up several sub-committees along the lines of special issues. The member countries have officially agreed on an international division of labor, with Germany in charge of “economic policy and reform.” According to reports, the explicit goal is a “long term strategy” [3] for the transition “from a centralized economy to a market economy.” The “Working Group” will set up a secretariat, with Germany and the United Arab Emirates each providing 600,000 Euros. It will be headed by Gunnar Wälzholz, of Germany, who had been the director of the Afghanistan branch of the German Development Bank (KFW).

    • Brian S.

      Yes of course western powers and other international players will try and turn situations like that in Libya and Syria to their advantage. But they can “plan” all they want: in the event of a popular Syrian victory the Syrian people will have something to say about that. We can see this in Libya: in the real Libya (as opposed to the fantasy Libya you have invented) even the insecure NTC has shown a significant degree of independence in its foreign relations. There are good reasons to believe that a new government with a democratic mandate will be even more assertive . There will be widespread public debate on these issues, to which the international left could have a modest contribution to make. But not if it follows you to take the side of reaction and repression.

      • Brian S.

        My apologies, the Reuters article does include a mention of possible future privatisation: but my main comments still stand.

  • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

    This article demonstrates what I have said about the kind of governments installed by the U.S. and NATO. They are neoliberal. They attract foreign investment by selling off the people’s assets and the people’s resources to transnational corporations, on favorable terms for the transnationals with low or no taxes or tariffs. This is because the United States and the NATO powers are themselves neoliberal states. The governments are mere managers for the accumulation of transnational corporations.

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/04/libya-elections-business-idINL6E8I166N20120704
    Elections mark new start for [privatising] Libya economy–Reuters

    The election is expected to lead to reforms and investors want to know what those policies will be. In May, the economy ministry issued a decree enabling foreign companies to set up joint ventures, branches and representative offices in most sectors, more easily.
    “Businesses are looking with great hopes towards the elections,” David Bachmann, head of the commercial section at the Austrian embassy in Tripoli, said.

    HUGE POTENTIAL; SECURITY RISKS
    Gaddafi isolated Libya’s economy from much foreign competition, reserving licences and contracts for his own circle, so the prospect of a more open market is attractive to new entrants.
    Dependent on oil, Libya needs basic infrastructure development as well as investment in property, consumer industries and telecoms after a fifth of transmitter stations were destroyed in the war. It will also need foreign investment and expertise to increase oil and gas production.
    Its tourism industry is largely unexplored, despite stretches of beaches and well-preserved Roman ruins. [Tourism is an important industry for transnational corporations]
    Various fairs drawing international businesses have allowed companies to cultivate relations. Industry Minister Mahmoud Al-Ftise said there were plans to increase privatisations, and Libya was interested in more foreign investment.
    “We would like to have a participation from foreign and local private business so we can see results because we would like to have competition among the business,” he told Reuters.

    However security remains a concern. Bouts of violence are deterring foreign firms from bringing back all their expatriates on the ground for now. For those who were once used to living in villas or flats in Tripoli, they now find themselves confined in secure compounds without their families.
    Libya’s interim government has struggled to impose its authority on a country awash with weapons. Attacks on diplomatic and aid missions in the east have highlighted the ongoing volatility.
    Last month, Tripoli’s international airport was seized by an armed group for several hours.
    “Security is a concern and when you hear of such violent incidents as we have recently, you worry and it may deter some foreigners from coming here,” one European businessman said during a recent trip to Tripoli.
    “But you have to weigh the risks against the opportunities.”

  • Brian S.

    Do you actually read your sources? You should you know, they are often quite informative.
    As your Reuters article says, “Many international businesses came to Libya in recent years” – so no selling off of Gaddafi’s socialist paradise, just back to business as before. “Despite the fact that most major public-sector projects are on hold, there is nonetheless a great deal of planning going on across many ministries and government agencies,” You’ll note the phrase “public sector” here. Some reference to joint ventures (already common under Gaddafi) but no mention of privatisation. So:
    Is Libya pursuing “neo-liberal” economic policies : no because its just starting the process of reconstruction and doesn’t have any clear economic policy; but it hasn’t done anything that could be classed as “neo-liberal”, that I can see. (e.g the petroleum industry remains 80% in the state sector).
    Is the post-election government likely to move in a “neo liberal direction”: who can say, but looks unlikely: Libya is relatively rich , with a rapidly recovering economy, so has no need to go cap in hand to international financial institutions or foreign donors. All the parties in the election are emphasizing “social democratic” objectives – like health and education (along with security); some are talking about some privatisation in the future, but are emphasizing that this would only be on the agenda after reconstruction is completed; it is likely that Islamists, of a moderate variety, will have a significant presence in the new government, and their agenda has usually had a significant “social” and nationalist component. The interim government has insisted that oil contracts can’t be reviewed until after the new government is formed, and early indications are that they don’t plan any major easing of current terms.

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      No mention of privatization? Read again (from what I posted above):

      “Various fairs drawing international businesses have allowed companies to cultivate relations. Industry Minister Mahmoud Al-Ftise said there were plans to increase privatisations, and Libya was interested in more foreign investment.”

      Also, the energy sector may be 80% state-owned, whatever that means, but if you studied the ongoing efforts by imperialists to privatize Iraq’s oil sector, what they eventually came up with were long-term (20 year) production-sharing agreements, on terms favorable to the transnationals.

      The Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, was also a “state” asset for decades, but it was controlled by businessmen on behalf of foreign oil companies (the comprador class, which changed into a transnational capitalist class). When Chavez changed the PDVSA board of directors, the U.S. and the local TCC fraction carried out a 48-hour military coup against him with the active participation of the corporate media.

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      Libya To Offer New Production-sharing Contracts

      VIENNA–Libya will offer new production-sharing agreements to international oil companies on improved terms to existing contracts, but this won’t happen this year, said the country’s Minister of Oil and Gas, Abdurahman Benyezza Wednesday.

      Libya isn’t currently planning to revise the terms of existing contracts with foreign oil companies, but there may be a process to equalize the terms of new and existing contracts in the future, he said.

      “At the moment we are working on the [contract] models. We’ll have to study and see where we can improve,” Mr. Benyezza told reporters at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries International Seminar in Vienna. ” Production-sharing agreements will be the main type of contracts of course. New ones will not be [offered] this year.”

      Whether existing contract holders will also be offered the same terms as newcomers has yet to be decided, he said.

      “We are not in a process to change [existing] agreements at this time,” he said. But in the future existing terms will be evaluated, “not to create inequality of contracts,” he added.

      Libya intends to invest $10 billion on raising oil and gas production capacity from existing fields and $20 billion on new exploration in the next decade, Mr. Benyezza said.

      Write to James Herron at [email protected]

      (END) Dow Jones Newswires
      06-13-12

      • Brian S.

        And your point is?

  • http://notmytribe.com tony

    Russia and China are now definitely anti-imperialists too, because they don’t like being targets of the Pentagon themselves. So what is the position they are taking about the US government’s efforts to attack both Iran and Syria?

    China joins Russia in staying away from Syria talks
    July 06, 2012 @ http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/afp/china-joins-russia-in-staying-away-from-syria-talks/528943

    This alone should be instructive to all those comrades cheering for regime change in Syria because our super comrade marxists simply want Assad out and whoever inninstead. But some comrades seem rather determined to understand absolutely nothing here unfortunately. However, it seems that Russia and China also feel CORRECTLY that they are under attack from Western US run imperialist Empire as well. Will all the humanitarian ‘socialist’ imperialists of the US soon be joining in with some propaganda chorus demanding why Putin must be removed from power as well as Assad?

    What do you think, Comrade Pham? Putin must go, too, because there are people in Russia rising up against him and yada yada? Will you soon be telling us that Putin is a case where ‘anti-imperialism goes wrong’ as you put it, also? Regime change for Russia to help out the ‘Russian revolutionaries’ and yada yada?

    • Todd

      “However, it seems that Russia and China also feel CORRECTLY that they are under attack from Western US run imperialist Empire as well.”

      Well, duh, they feel under attack because _their own imperial ambitions_ are being attacked, not because they’re maintaining a principled and muscular anti-imperialist stance.

      You really don’t believe Russia and China are just two more authoritarian bourgeois states, do you?

      • http://notmytribe.com tony

        Todd, it seems that it never has occurred to you that Russia and China have a huge need to maintain their own countries fairly well intact, since that is key to them being able to maintain their own self determination and keeping out of the foreign control, partial or complete, of US and Western European imperialism. For your ‘humanitarian imperialist Leftovers crowd,the issue of self determination always seems only to ever revolve around helping some small nationality be split off one country or other, when imperialism is directly attacking the regime in power.

        Leftover humanitarian imperialist socialists like yourself almost always see self determination in terms of how to best split some small group or the other off from some weaker nation state declared enemy by the Empire’s own imperialist bourgeoisie, so that their own capitalists can then better feed off what then results when the imperialists capitalists can integrate the small splitoffs back into the orbit of their own control. However, since you people are very marxist wombat party doctrinaire delusional, you don’t really seem to understand much of what you are doing in actually aiding imperialism along.

        ‘You really don’t believe Russia and China are just two more authoritarian bourgeois states, do you?’

        Of course they are now principally just that…. weaker than the US militarily, authoritarian CAPITALIST states. What the Hell do you think China and Russia now are, Todd, if not that? The socialist international still? Do you still see China as being principally a non capitalist state like so many US liberals do?

        • Todd

          “it seems that it never has occurred to you that Russia and China have a huge need to maintain their own countries fairly well intact,”

          I didn’t know they were being invaded! Who’s doing that?

          Instead, I see bourgeois powers jockeying for position.

          “For your ‘humanitarian imperialist Leftovers crowd”

          Just out of curiosity, who here has actually stated approval for imperialist powers to invade a country willly-nilly? Instead, there’s been lots of approval for the removal of bourgeois dictators and their apparatus, even if it involves a bourgeois imperialist getting involved; you and others like you, on the other hand, seem not to approve of this removal and want things to remain as they are: a bourgeois dictator firmly in place, aided by his brutal flunkeys, and doing the bidding of an imperialist power who happens to throw a personal fortune his way.

          “Of course they are now principally just that”

          Then why did you evince concern over these two bourgeois states being attacked by another bourgeois state? Why not shriek in horror that Canada must surely be on the list for American jack-boots?

          No, boy. You still are under the fixed idea that Iran, Russia, and China are somehow part of a socialist vanguard. Your ilk scream only when your precious notions get smashed by reality.

          • http://notmytribe.com tony

            Todd, you and the other humanitarian imperialists simply do not get it, do you?

            ‘No, boy. You (Tony) still are under the fixed idea that Iran, Russia, and China are somehow part of a socialist vanguard. Your ilk scream only when your precious notions get smashed by reality.’

            You simply do not get the idea that whether a country is socialist are not has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with why we American marxists oppose an attack by US imperialism against it. Louis thinks it does, for example, so he went out and mobilized in opposition against the US imperialist attacks against Yugoslavia because he thought that the country had/ has some remnants of socialism about it, BUT NOW is supporting attacks on Gaddafi and Assad’s countries because they didn’t/ don’t.

            You are the one, alongside Louis Proyect, who thinks like you are now accusing us of doing, Todd.

            • http://notmytribe Tony

              I am very far away from the politics that you and Louis and Clay represent as supposedly being marxist, Todd. I think though that you all that I mention here are a total embarrassment to the Marxist Movement in the same way that those Marxists who supported their own capitalist governments in Lenin’s and Trotsky’s time also were.

              • Todd

                I can see why you feel that way: you think it’s somehow declasse to read Marxist theory and history.

                (Although I do see a reference to the past in your post. Congratulations! Keep it up!)

                • http://notmytribe Tony

                  Todd, for you to be speaking to me about marxism and how you think you are all that , a Great Marxist genius, while celebrating the arrival of Mahmoud Jibril into power in Libya, who you think of as a revolutionary achievement, is enough to turn anybody’s stomach.

                  Here is a picture display (a slideshow) for you that gives only one small portion of bio about the guy who is an American imperialist agent par excellence. I give you a picture display, because I am absolutely sure that any reading of marxist literature you study will find you still with absolutely no comprehension of revolutionary politics anyway. Maybe you can understand a simple picture book history instead. Maybe you will be inspired to find more bios of the leader of the NATO installed EX GADDAFI OFFICIAL turned US agent and read them, and even ponder the info some? Maybe????

  • Louis Proyect

    Putin must go, too, because there are people in Russia rising up against him and yada yada?

    As it turns out, there is a Russian Marxist opposition to Putin:

    http://www.chtodelat.org/

    One of its members is a guy named Thomas Campbell who is a subscriber to Marxmail and a good cyberfriend. These are the kinds of people I am trying to connect with. Others of course are free to build support for Putin, just leave the Marxism to others who are more eager to make class distinctions.

  • http://notmytribe.com tony

    Louis, Putin is merely a Russian nationalist and it means absolutely nothing to you if US imperialism smashes up Russia, does it? Smash apart Sudan, smash apart Libya, smash apart Iran, smash apart Russia? Lou, you don’t care! In your opinion, there is nothing important about defending the national self determination of Russia or China against Western Imperialism at all, because Big Shot Comrade Lou is ‘eager to make class distinctions’ and can’t be bothered with the petty defense of nations trying to defend themselves from the Pentagon.

    In summary, the problem is not ‘when anti-imperialism goes wrong’, it’s actually when socialists don’t bother being anti-imperialist, but instead side with the imperialists. That was the problem in Lenin and Trotsky’s era, and it still is today. You say that others are on the side of Putin and Assad, but which side are you actually on, Lou? Why Sweet Jesus! You are on the Pentagon’s side, aren’t you?

    Lou, you going to overthrow Putin with ‘the Russian Marxist opposition to Putin’ starring your friend, comrade associate/ candidate member Thomas Campbell? Will you need any help from Hillary, too… perhaps? The line of your illogic is so comical really, that it makes one want to cry, Louis. You think of yourself as a marxist scientist but you come off much more as a Gerry Healy style clown, or some like twaddly squat. No sex scandals though… good for you!

    And are you ever going to allow discussion of anything real at all on YOUR list EVER? Or will it just be more of what you pass off as discussion directed ALWAYS entirely by yourself, the Supreme Leader, (which is mainly examination of your own collective belly buttons) over that way on YOUR cybercommie spot, Lou? Kick em all off… any who dare try to get the least away from your strings with any independent speech not approved of by the Unrepentant Boss, eh? Funny how some of your political buddies talk about Libya having free speech around. Shoot! Free speech doesn’t even exist on YOUR talk list, Lou.

    Your sycophants that stay online over there are truly an embarrassment to the disintegrated exTrot movement and so is the close linkage you have with the Green Left Weekly clubhouse, too. They should all be ashamed of themselves really, since you constantly push comrades offline and the sycophants just stay all passive and accepting of your constant censoring of others’ opinions, Louis.. It’s an abusive family you head up over there, Buddy. Reminds me a lot of when I was in the SWP.

    Myself? I’d rather not regroup with the likes of the humanitarian imperialist crowd you are grouping with. Not if it means I can only say what you will allow over on YOUR list. That mindset is why we have no antiwar movement and no socialist party of any consequence, and all your snortle while you censor others nonstop Lou ain’t going to change it for the better in the least.

    Hey! And why aren’t you, Clay, and Pham out there with Pentagon Hillary when they do the photo shots of those ‘Friends of Syria’? It would be appropriate if you were. Those pics of Hillary at the podium with signs of ‘Friends of Syria’ behind her are truly priceless, Louis. And behind the ‘Friends of Syria’ backdrop for Hillary are you, Clay, Pham and NOT certainly the ghosts of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky who you claim to represent. If anything at all, you represent merely the ghost of Milosevic, Lou. How sad that is. So stop the crap about people who oppose your line as being those who supposedly are building support for Saddam, Osama, Gaddafi, Putin, or Assad. You can’t believe how much like a Right Winger it makes you look like when you parrot that sort of bullshit. It’s kind of the Right Wing of the socialist movement dittoheaded version (copied from Rush almost) of when Far Right Wingers wave the US flag and tell others to leave their country and go live in Cuba, etc. Sicko, Comrade. None of us are big fans of Putin and you damn well know that, even as you mouth off that petty nasty little line of yours. It’s like if I were to cal you a genocidal maniac simply because you backed Milosevic up when the Pentagon was aiming its guns in that direction. In short, you snide remark is a deliberately false and dishonest argument on your part, as you well know.

    In summary, the problem is not ‘when anti-imperialism goes wrong’, it’s actually when socialists don’t bother being anti-imperialist, but instead side with the imperialists AND TAKE AIM TOGETHER. That was the problem in Lenin and Trotsky’s era, and it still is today. You say that others are on the side of Putin and Assad, but which side are you actually on, Lou? Why Sweet Jesus! You are on the Pentagon’s side, aren’t you? You and the US war machine are aiming at the same target!

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      I was on the side of both revolutions before U.S. imperialism got involved. I’m not going to switch sides just because U.S. imperialism got involved. That would be tailism in reverse.

      You should sort your personal issues with Proyect out in some other forum. This neither the time nor the place.

      • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

        Is this a good time to ask whether it is ethical for the editor to be using the name of OWS to promote himself, and by association, his positions in favor of U.S./NATO wars in the Middle East?

        • Todd

          Should we also inquire after your own identification with a group involved in 9-11 conspiracy theory?

          You’ll find that certain kinds of mud are _awfully_ sticky when you try to throw them.

          • Aaron Aarons

            “It disappoints, but does not surprise me, that an individual here found a problem with the idea that, “the international left base its positions regarding imperialist intervention on what the 0.2% of the world’s population who lived in Libya might have wanted.” Is this not, then, revealing?

            “I believe whole heartedly that Libyans and no one else had the right to determine how a revolution in Libya should proceed.”

            I’m the one who made the “revealing” remark and I stand by it. I see no reason to treat the borders of “Libya”, or of “Syria”, as sacrosanct. What should matter to the international left, above all else, is the global struggle against Earth-destroying U.S.-led imperialist capitalism. How we react to local or regional conflicts should be decided with that in the forefront.

            • Aaron Aarons

              This was a response to ‘Christian’, not to Todd.

          • Aaron Aarons

            I have no idea which “group involved in 9-11 conspiracy theory” Diana Barahona may belong to. Everybody who has an opinion agrees that the 11 September 2001 attacks in the U.S. were the result of a conspiracy. The difference of opinion is over who was and who wasn’t part of the conspiracy. Every theory about that matter has serious holes in it, including the theory promulgated by the forces that have the resources to do a thorough investigation if they wanted to, rather than torturing people to give them the answers they want the world to hear.

            BTW, are you the same Todd who used to answer my comments on Proyect’s blog with personal abuse – something Louis tolerates, or even participates in himself, when aimed at people he disagrees with? Welcome to a site where you have to restrain yourself a bit.

            • Todd

              “Everybody who has an opinion agrees that the 11 September 2001 attacks in the U.S. were the result of a conspiracy.”

              And everybody who has half a brain knows what’s meant by “9-11 conspiracy theory”.

              “BTW, are you the same Todd”

              Oh, yes: I am certainly your nemesis, still faithfully seeking to clean up the crap you drop everywhere.

              • Aaron Aarons

                Everybody with half a brain knows that labeling an analysis or hypothesis as ‘conspiracy theory’ is a way of declaring that it is unacceptable to entertain such ideas and that you might, if you are, e.g., Democracy Now!, have trouble getting foundation funding in the future if you treat such ideas seriously.

                I just deconstructed the phrase by using it in its literal meaning, which, I’ll admit, doesn’t require any more brain power than, e.g., pointing out that the emperor is naked. It often does, indeed, require more mental agility to obfuscate than to clarify.

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

          Because you can’t win the argument you try to attack my political affiliations. Of course if I agreed with your position you wouldn’t even be raising the issue. Sad really.

  • http://notmytribe.com tony

    This idea that the Pentagon was not behind the rebellions in Libya and Syria at first but now has moved in and taken them over is entirely bs, Pham. Do you truly believe that the US government was out of any building of opposition in those countries until just weeks before now? If you do truly believe this, then I think that you are incredibly naive. Can I sell you some swamp land in the Everglades, perhaps?

    For you to believe, Pham, that the Syrian and Libyan oppositions were not largely constructed by the US government, is about as naive as if you were to believe that Occupy is not heavily infiltrated by police agents. The US and its allies are behind the construction of much of the opposition in Iran, also. It is idiotic for US socialists to be unaware of this. Will you someday soon be thinking and telling others that the opposition in Iran just completely blew in on its own?

    As to why I bring up some what you call ‘personal issues’ with Proyect? I do it because the guy runs a major website for socialists where he cuts off ALL discussion about Syria and Libya like the one NorthStar is now allowing us to have on this site. The fact that he does that, is very relevant as to the character and legitimacy of his own arguments here, I believe. It says that he is not truly honest about wanting to discuss this issue of war and peace, but simply wants to do what he does on HIS own site. However, he is not moderator here and can’t pull off the total censorship that he would if he was in control over deciding who can say what and when.

    It is relevant to arguments being made, too. When ‘free speech’ is not even allowed on socialist run English language sites, then it stretches credulity when folk like yourself and Clay want to preach to us about the supposed new ‘freedom of speech’ you are sure that Libyans are now enjoying in their poor war torn country. The last attempt I made to converse some on Lou’s site was on the issue of the separation off of Sudan by the US, of the new ‘South Sudan’. Lou keeps such a cowed crew of readers over there, that everybody was literally scared to discuss the issue at all about whether it might not have been such a great thing for them to be supporting the balkanization of Sudan as hey have done. I was given the boot before much could ever be said about how cheerleading the split off of South Sudan after all the ‘Save Darfur’ efforts by Israel and many liberals to push for calling for US military interventionism had now created quite a mess up where US imperialism was running wild in Africa. You see, the ‘personal issues’ I have with Lou are that he has personally kept discussion about these issues completely out and off of HIS list, yet he is over here all supposedly innocently wanting to discuss now with us, what he has up to now been responsible for prohibiting in HIS own little discussion hut.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      If you think the Pentagon was behind the Libyan and Syrian revolutions, I’ll let you in on a little secret: the Kremlin was behind Occupy Wall Street and the State Department was behind the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. True story!

      • http://notmytribe Tony

        No, Pham. There are no things that eh Pentagon, US government, and the CIA are doing behind hte scenes. You can call up Julian Assange now and tell him to just know it off. All is OK by Comrade Pham Binh of the Occupy Wall Street Class War Camp. (Love that officer’s title you go by, Pham!)

  • Todd

    “For you to believe, Pham, that the Syrian and Libyan oppositions were not largely constructed by the US government, is about as naive as if you were to believe that Occupy is not heavily infiltrated by police agents.”

    Why not take that paranoia a little further? Why can’t you be a police agent?

    Leaving that aside, you seem incapable of believing (much less acknowledging facts) that any country other than the US can field its own opposition to the bourgeois dictatorships ruling over them. Further, you show a distinct inability to notice that getting rid of bourgeois dictatorships, even if it is for a bourgeois democracy, is a step forward.

    If you don’t want to get rid of bourgeois dictatorships, why not be open about? Fascists quite openly disdain democracy of any kind; what makes you so spineless? I don’t think you’d call yourself a conservative (who openly cheer democracy while seeking to undermine it secretly) since you pooh-pooh too easily the notion of anything having to do with the past, but you can’t certainly be a principled libertarian either because I think then you’d be as eager as any of us here to see a political dictator gone (so they could be replaced by thousands of private dictators, but that’s another matter).

    • http://notmytribe.com tony

      The knowledge that Syria and Libya had oppositions constructed by the US and its allies is pretty much documented with lots of facts, Todd, and is not based on my personal paranoia at all. Many of the opposition figures were vetted inside the US even, or in France. The same reality is seen with cop infiltration of Occupy. No personal paranoia there either.

      Monies have been paid out, grants given, salaries paid, and the trace of some of those monies is in rather open evidence at times. Your willful refusal to not admit that this information is out there is a sign of what about you, Todd? That you are living in made up fantasy land, perhaps? A fantasy land where you accuse marxists of paranoia when they mention that monies flow from the CIA, Pentagon, and their allied think tanks into ‘oppositions’ in places like Libya, Syria, and say …Venezuela while we’re at talking about this.

      • Todd

        So as far as you’re concerned, there was absolutely no internal opposition in Libya or Syria that wasn’t simply a puppet of the US? This is what you believe? Despite the fact that both countries had histories of amicable (and subordinate) relationships with the US, and that both countries were/are brutal political dictatorships?

        “Your willful refusal”
        Don’t lie to my face with what I’ve written, shmuck. Nobody here, least of all me, has said this wasn’t in evidence.

        How about answering the question I posed: why aren’t you open about your love affair with bourgeois dictatorships?

        • http://notmytribe Tony

          I don’t answer you because it is a stupid assertion that I am supposedly loving bourgeois dictatorships simply because I oppose cheerleading regime changes made by US imperialism as you are doing, Todd. And YES, of course there was internal opposition against the Libyan government of Gaddafi and the current government of Assad. That still is no reason to support regime changes imposed by the US government, Pentagon, and NATO.

          And who are you calling ‘schmuck’? Talk about infantile nonsense here! You do demonstrate ‘willful refusal’ to use any common sense about these issues IMO. That’s the reason you have to resort to so many silly assertions and blatant name calling when you get called out some on your talking points.

          ***Monies have been paid out (by the US), grants given, salaries paid, and the trace of some of those monies is in rather open evidence at times.***

          So now you are saying, Todd, that you have agreed that this above is all true, you just don’t seem to think it amounts to anything?…I guess. …as I hear you trying to tell us now. Well I am sorry if I was unaware that you and I are in agreement about the intervention of the US in what I consider a major and DOMINANT way into CREATING the Libyan anti Gaddafi dissident groups. You don’t see that money and protection by the US as all that important though. Can you explain why you feel that it is not a big factor some, Todd? Because many of us in opposition to your point of view consider this transfer of funds and creating of organization for the anti Gaddafi forces, to be direct precursors to the US-NATO bombings of Gaddafi’s military forces. Therefore they are important issues for how we DO see the events under discussion.

          • Todd

            “I oppose cheerleading regime changes made by US imperialism as you are doing, Todd.”

            So you’re in favour of the Ghaddafi and Assad regimes, then, since you oppose their removal and paint any internal opposition to them as entirely the product of US imperial machinations.

            “And who are you calling ‘schmuck’? ”

            Guess. I know you’ll get it sooner or later.

            “Can you explain why you feel that it is not a big factor some, Todd?”

            My question isn’t “Did the US help the revolutionary Libyan forces topple Gaddafi in return for something?”, but “Why on God’s green Earth are you so opposed to the removal of bourgeois dictators?”

            You’ve got to ask the right questions if you want the right answers.

            “Therefore they are important issues for how we DO see the events under discussion.”

            The problem is that’s ALL you see (and I’m pretty sure from your other comments that you’re being deliberately blind to other matters, but that’s another argument).

        • admin

          No name calling.

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      “Everyone knows – but nobody talks about – NATO’s command and control center in Iskenderun, in Turkey’s Hatay province, near the Syrian border, set up months ago to organize, train and weaponize the motley crew known as the Free Syrian Army. Everyone knows Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the CIA are advising and weaponizing these Syrian NATOGCC “rebels” with essential Turkish help in the logistics/safe haven front.”
      Pepe Escobar, Why Turkey won’t go to war with Syria”
      http://www.voltairenet.org/Why-Turkey-won-t-go-to-war-with

  • jojo

    The imperialists has no progressive role whatsoever to play in the rest of the world.It has been so for more than 100 years. However nasty are Assad, Sadan, and others petty dictators they cannot be comparable, they are not at the same level in nastyness with the imperialists from Western Europe and USA. The imperialists are at the root of of whatever bad the situation of the Middle East is. These people in the Western who write about progressive role for the Imperialists, who defend military intervention by the USA and NATO in Siria, Irak, or Libia, they cannot be marxist revolutionary, but people who got used to live off surplus values pruduced by the workers of the rest of the world. As 1914 was the historical moment when the Social Democracy went to the side of their national bourgeoisie, the invasion of Libia was the moment when majority of leftwing people in the capitalist countries of the West took off they mask and showed themselves to the rest the world, what I always suspect them to be, a bunch os parasites living off the blood of the working class locates outside Europe and USA who now became the leftwing arm of Western Imperialism.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      No one said anything about imperialism being progressive, sorry. Try to deal with the arguments as they actually are, not as you wish them or imagine them to be. It was the Syrians and Libyans who demanded military aid from U.S. imperialism because they were desperate.

  • David Thorstad

    Well, the Muslim Brotherhood has already been chosen to head the next government in Libya, even before elections. And sharia will be its promised basis for law. Good-bye all kinds of personal freedoms if that comes to pass, especially for women. The revolution in Egypt isn’t completed yet, but so far it has been in complete accord with the desires of American imperialism (as was the Mubarak regime). He who pays influences policy. Pham is egregiously in error (as was Louis Proyect in his comment) in equating what they call the “‘anti-imperialist’ left” with Marcyite Manichaeanism. How facile and erroneous! One wonders if they have actually read the positions on the left in various countries (in languages perhaps they don’t understand, such as French, German…or even English). Pham’s approach (not to mention the odious commentaries by Clay Claiborne) suggests a kind of love affair with NATO and imperialism for their supposedly progressive bombing campaigns or CIA involvements (currently in Syria). How simplistic to label those who, in accord with longtime Marxian thinking, oppose imperialist intervention in local rebellions, not to mention their almost open support for Muslim fanatics who are so far the main beneficiaries of the Arab Spring rebellions. The sad truth is that nobody cares what the American “left” (what remains of it, that is) says about such matters, because there is no American left left. This all has a kind of navel-gazing quality. Since you, and the left as a whole, such as it is, have no influence whatever either in the USA or abroad, your criticisms of those who at least oppose their “own” imperialism and its crimes abroad come across as little more than puffery and pontificating. The house of cards rests on thin polemics and identification of Muslim fundamentalism (or worse, Al Qaeda, which is involved in Syria, mainly because Sunnis are out to destroy Shiites and Alawites to bring to fruition their apocalyptic views) as “revolutionaries.” If the left in the Arab countries that are rebelling had any real power, it would have to regard such “revolutionaries” as deadly foes, and the same goes for American leftists who see in radical Islam a progressive force for good. Articles like this one confirm me in my belief that much of American leftism is irrelevant and too pathetic for words.

    • http://thecahokian.blogspot.com/ ish

      “Pham is egregiously in error (as was Louis Proyect in his comment) in equating what they call the “‘anti-imperialist’ left” with Marcyite Manichaeanism. How facile and erroneous! One wonders if they have actually read the positions on the left in various countries (in languages perhaps they don’t understand, such as French, German…or even English). Pham’s approach (not to mention the odious commentaries by Clay Claiborne) suggests a kind of love affair with NATO and imperialism for their supposedly progressive bombing campaigns or CIA involvements (currently in Syria). ”

      Thank you David!
      (PS David haven’t seen you in years; I was Ian Daniels when last we talked)

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      “One wonders if they have actually read the positions on the left in various countries (in languages perhaps they don’t understand, such as French, German…or even English). Pham’s approach (not to mention the odious commentaries by Clay Claiborne) suggests a kind of love affair with NATO and imperialism for their supposedly progressive bombing campaigns or CIA involvements (currently in Syria).”

      Funny, I was reading the signs in English by Libyan and Syrian protestors. What have you been reading?

    • http://www.voltairenet.org/en Diana Barahona

      The Muslim Brotherhood seems to have cut a deal with the U.S. whereby they will be allowed to govern states such as Egypt and Libya, and in return they will manage the economies on behalf of the transnational corporations. To transnational capitalists they offer a good combination of populist rhetoric and superficial social assistance to maintain their political legitimacy, while they can be expected to uphold and extend the same neoliberal economic reforms that have impoverished the people and caused them to rise up in the first place.

    • JohnDurandal

      Actually a secular liberal party has won the elections in Libya.

  • http://notmytribe Tony

    Once again I will try to get this through moderation, Todd. I find your age baiting to be of a kin to those Right Wingers (in their teens to their 30s) who drive by the aging (in their 70s and 80s) PEACE protesters in my local area screaming at them to get a job. Your calling me ‘sonny’ earlier is YOU trying to pretend to us all that your politics are based on maturity and mine are supposedly based on immaturity, and it turns out though that I am actually somewhat older than you, I do believe.

    So stop lecturing others as to the need for them to be acting their age, Todd. That is no political argument at all and shows me that you are simply lacking in good personal character.

  • Manuel Barrera

    Binh: “What’s tired is the left’s counter-revolutionary anti-imperialism. The Arab masses are in revolt and here we are denouncing them for getting aid from American imperialism.”

    I’m not sure to whom you refer here, Binh, but I for one am not denouncing the oppressed Syrian masses for seeking aid from American imperialism. I Denounce American Imperialism For Giving It because I know what that aid includes. Never mind the “strings” it will include, that aid is designed to assure that imperialist interests are upheld, to provide an opening to be a friend to the next potential dictator Imperialism hopes will arise in the aftermath of Assad’s demise, and, most important to Imperialism is to do its best to create adequate breathing space for the Zionist Fortress Europe (AKA Israel). I say these are Imperialism’s intentions. Note that I did not say they are either the revolutionary Syrians’ intentions or that Imperialism will be successful in what amounts to a gamble. Note that Assad continues his genocide and that the Syrian masses in opposition comprise virtually every class and exhibit as much class division–and accompanying class interests. Where is NATO and the USA? Do you seriously believe that the U.S. is really just biding time to “win over” a few more countries? They/We haven’t had any compunction about conducting secret wars, raids, drone attacks, and other such activities throughout the rest of the world? Why would the Imperialists wish to “stage” a request for support from the Syrian masses before gettin’ all down and dirty? Unless, of course, they may have more strategic reasons not the least of which would be to allow world ire against Assad to grow while Assad continues a systematic campaign to weaken the Syrian mass opposition so that all that may be left against Him would be the Armed militias of mercenaries, disaffected troops (and generals), and, yes, armed but likely smaller numbers of revolutionary Syrians (you know, because Assad is sort of killing their families and the activists seeking true mass action).

    To be sure, one could argue that world opinion matters to people like Obama and his hench (wo)man Clinton. But it doesn’t anywhere else? Nor does it seem to matter to them that we are being bankrupted by endless wars. Or, perhaps the U.S. is simply hoping to engage the rest of the imperialist world to help foot the bill (hence NATO)? Whatever their reasons for wanting to “help” the Syrian people they are NOT interested in helping the Syrian Masses–which I define as the Syrian people in revolt. Imperialism may be hoping to step in and do some “saving”, especially of a nearly exhausted, downtrodden, and hopeless people who may be willing to acquiesce to other military “strongmen”, anybody but Assad.

    I would never denounce the Syrian masses for seeking any help wherever it may come; not because I think Imperialism can play a productive role, but because the revolutionaries in Syria may have no choice if they are to live to fight another day. That neither prevents me from Denouncing with My Loudest Voice for U.S./NATO to Stay Out nor does it Absolve me of the duty to weaken Imperialism’s hand by supporting with all my might the revolutionary uprising of the Syrian people against the Murder, Dictator, and Imperialist Puppet Assad. I Am Not Syrian! It’s Not My Right To Support Freeing the Hand of the Reason That Assad Exists In The First Place: U.S. and World Imperialism. It is My Duty To Oppose That Murderer andTo Oppose His Potential Murderer because both of them are the murderers–directly or indirectly–of the Syrian people and the Syrian Masses (the Syrian People emerging in Revolt). The Syrian people are divided over Assad’s regime–it’s unfortunate that the Arab Spring was not as strong in bring overwhelming majorities to oppose the murderous regime of Assad and Ghadaffi. The uprising of the Syrian people–who I refer to as the Syrian Masses–will become the Syrian Masses and it is our task to support the growth of a mass uprising that reflects the will of the entire Syrian people.

    Bringing imperialist troops–make no mistake, Imperialism is not simply interested drone strikes or supporting the opposition military–would truncate the NEEDED development of a true mass uprising. It is not revolutionaries opposing Imperialism that would murder the people but Assad. It is not revolutionaries opposing Assad and seeking for their Syrian sisters and brothers to rise up rather than rely on Imperialist murderers with ulterior political/military agendas that are being reactionary or counter-revolutionary.

    Finally, I want to issue this warning to you, my brother–no, my comrade–Binh. Engaging in epithets about others being “counter-revolutionary” because they don’t want to support Imperialism is, to say the least, a very dangerous path. There have been many individuals throughout history who have trod that road and they are strewn at the border of the class line or carrying, sometimes literally, the arms and materiel of the Imperialist war machine. I urge you to be careful–There is no one in the confines of this discussion who deserves to be considered the class enemy (of course, excepting the occasional plants that Enemy may have placed among us). We All Wish To See Imperialism Defeated. We All Wish for the Syrian People to be victorious in their battle against capitalism. Assad in on the side of Imperialism and Imperialism is a murderous and treacherous Master. He and THEY must Always Be Opposed. I know this is hard and I know how our hearts ache to see the Syrian people suffer at the hands of Imperialism’s murderer. But These Are the Issues That Determine Our Revolutionary Mettle; We Cannot Falter, There Will Be No Imperialist Solution To the Liberation of the Syrian People.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      Manuel, no one in any of these debates is for supporting imperialism. Nobody in Libya or Syria was for “supporting imperialism,” nor has anyone there called for American or NATO troops to invade.

      The best way to beat imperialism and capitalism is the full triumph of democracy and democratic revolution. Neoliberalism can only be stopped by the self-organized masses, as Latin America has shown us over the past decade. Strongmen and tyrants of the “left” variety will eventually cave in, cash in, and privatize as Ghadafi began to towards the end of his reign.

      Leave no mukhabarat behind.

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  • http://www.workersliberty.org Sacha Ismail

    I’m not very well and need to re-read this article with a clearer head. Would be interested to know what Pham Binh makes of this
    http://www.workersliberty.org/libyaissues

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      You comrades beat me to the punch by almost a year, so I salute you. The only criticism I would make is that the piece suffered from a lack of concrete analysis of the forces involved on the ground in Libya — the Berbers, the cells in Tripoli, the heterogeneous makeup of the NTC. Evidence is the best evidence against the hijacking claim that the Trotskyist left advanced to abandon support for the revolution, putting them into the same came as their mortal Stalinist enemies who opposed the Libyan revolution from the jump.

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  • Ed

    I think this article deserves a thoughtful response (some of the comments have been less than thoughtful), but I can’t agree with your arguments, because they lump too many things together, there’s too many short-cuts.

    1) You lump together all those who opposed NATO’s bombing campaign in Libya under the heading ‘anti-interventionists’, but we need to recognise different shades of opinion in this camp. There are certainly people on the Left who have learnt nothing from history, Stalinists or crypto-Stalinists, with a soft spot for dictators as long as they can be presented as in some way ‘anti-imperialist’. I don’t tend to meet many of these people in the physical world, though they make a lot of noise on the Internet.

    But equally, there are many people who detest Gaddafi and Assad, and recognise that the rebellions in Libya and Syria had / have strong indigenous roots, but didn’t feel they could support NATO. There were many good reasons for this: one obvious one being that western military action in the Arab Middle East has invariably had harmful consequences, from the Anglo-French war against Egypt and the French war in Algeria back in the 50s all the way to Iraq in the last decade. Since we can’t predict the future, just make informed guesses based on past experience, in itself this was a powerful reason for people to oppose NATO going to war in Libya or Syria. I would say the burden of proof must lie with those who argue things will be different this time, not with the ‘anti-interventionists’.

    2) You lump together the radical left in the NATO states, with those states themselves, as in this passage:

    “The Western left mistakenly prioritized its anti-imperialist principles over its internationalist duty to aid these revolutions by any means necessary. By any means necessary presumably includes aid from imperialist powers or other reactionary forces.”

    This just confuses the issue, because it won’t be the ‘Western left’ who order air strikes in Libya or Syria, it’ll be the ruling establishment in those countries. It won’t be the Left which determines the nature of the intervention, or its limits, or the political conditions attached to it. At most, the Left can get out of the way – you may argue that the correct policy was to get out of the way, but this is not the same as actively providing support.

    Nor, for that matter, would it be the Libyan or Syrian rebels who determined the nature or limits of the intervention. They might say, for example, that they wanted air strikes but no ground troops. But they could not guarantee that this would be what happened.

    3) You lump together all those who oppose the regimes in Libya and Syria, when you speak of “the moment the Syrian and Libyan revolutions demanded imperialist airstrikes and arms to neutralize the military advantage enjoyed by governments over revolutionary peoples”. Of course, a revolution can’t ‘demand’ anything. It is a historical event, not a thinking historical subject capable of doing or saying anything. We wouldn’t say that ‘the Russian revolution’ decided to pull out of the war at the end of 1917 and sign the Brest-Litovsk treaty. It was the Bolshevik party that decided to do this.

    In the case of Libya, I’m willing to grant that, so far as I could tell from the outside, the majority of those fighting against Gaddafi welcomed the air strikes. This is something that the anti-imperialist left has to take account of; it has to be taken very seriously indeed. I don’t think it is the last word on the subject, however. Take the case of Kosovo, for example. It certainly appeared then that the majority of Kosovar Albanians supported the bombing campaign against Serbia. They had certainly been the victims of an oppressive regime. But many people on the Left who recognised this still opposed that war, including Gilbert Achcar (who took a very different view on Libya).

    I think what many people are concerned about is a ‘slippery slope’ argument. If we say that we should support the bombing campaign in Libya, because Gaddafi’s opponents want it, on what grounds would we oppose the Iraq war, since many of Saddam’s opponents supported it? You can say Iraq is different, because that was a ground war, with troops on the ground, not just air strikes. But that was the only way Saddam could have been overthrown at the time—the Libyan rebels only called for air strikes, because they felt that was all they needed; if that hadn’t been enough, would they have started calling for troops on the ground, and would we have supported or opposed that demand? This is what I mean by a slippery slope. In the case of Libya, I think we got lucky: the worst fears among anti-interventionists weren’t realised, Gaddafi was overthrown without NATO sending in troops and getting a firm grip on the country. But it might not have worked out that way.

    4) You lump together the cases of Libya and Syria, just as you lump together all opponents of those regimes. In the Syrian case, we certainly cannot say that the ‘Syrian opposition’ or the ‘Syrian rebels’ are unanimous in calling for NATO air strikes, because there are two competing umbrella groups for the opposition, one based outside the country and strongly in favour of western intervention, the other based inside Syria and strongly opposed to it. And there are good reasons for believing that the consequences of NATO intervention in Syria would be much worse than in Libya. Gilbert Achcar, who as you know did not join the anti-interventionist camp over Libya, has made this argument well:

    “Yet, whoever imagines that the Libyan scenario could be replicated in Syria is sorely mistaken. The Syrian opposition must be aware that the cost of allowing direct foreign military intervention (as opposed to indirect intervention such as providing arms) in Syria will be much higher than in the Libyan case for several reasons, the most important of which may be summarized as follows:

    “The military situation in Syrian is very different from what it was in Libya. The latter country is characterized by the presence of urban centers separated by often vast stretches of quasi desert territory. In such circumstances, air power becomes essential, especially since the areas controlled by the Libyan rebels were almost devoid of supporters of the regime. Thus, the regime resorted to air power in its counter-revolutionary offensive, and foreign air support was therefore highly effective in protecting the rebel areas and limiting the movement of regime forces outside of inhabited areas, all this at a relatively limited cost to civilian life. By contrast, Syria’s population density is much greater than Libya’s, and so is the mix of opponents and supporters of the regime, preventing the Syrian regime from making extensive use of air strikes. Therefore, a no-fly zone over Syria will either have a very limited benefit if it is to remain a no-fly zone in the strictest sense, or it will have devastating consequences in killing and destruction if it is to take the form of an all-out air war against the regime as happened in Libya. Since the Syrian army’s defensive capabilities are much more significant than those of Gaddafi’s forces, the scale and intensity of the combat would be much greater in Syria, not to mention that the Syrian regime is not isolated as Gaddafi was and any foreign military intervention in Syria would thereby ignite the entire region, which is but a set of powder kegs.

    “Meanwhile, no Syrian city currently faces the danger of a large-scale massacre in the way Benghazi did, or even a fate comparable to that of the Syrian city of Hama in 1982, when the Assad regime was able to isolate it from the rest of the country.

    “The strength of the Syrian uprising lies in that it acquired a very broad extension, and the fact that the rebels did not make the mistake of taking up arms, which, had it happened, would have greatly weakened the momentum of the popular uprising and allowed the regime to eliminate it more easily.

    “The Syrian rebels have thus far relied upon forms of struggle such as night-time protests and Friday demonstrations (not for religious reasons, but because Fridays are official vacation days and it is difficult for the regime to prevent gathering in mosques), so that most of the participants do not get exposed. This style of guerilla-like demonstration is the appropriate method when a popular uprising faces brutal suppression by an overwhelming military force.

    “Unlike Gaddafi’s caricatural regime, which years ago turned towards establishing strong economic, security, and intelligence cooperation with various Western states, the Syrian regime in the eyes of the US is still a stumbling block to its projects in the region, since it is allied with Iran and Hezbollah and sustains a range of Palestinian forces opposed to US-sponsored capitulation.

    “Acknowledging this reality does not in any way suggest that one must therefore refrain from supporting people’s demands for democracy and human rights, whether in Syria or Iran. It requires, however, to be taken into account in the way the Iranian opposition does, which completely rejects foreign military intervention in the affairs of its country and defends its country’s right to develop nuclear power in the face of Israeli-American threats that attempt to prevent it from doing so by claiming that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

    “One of the principal focuses of the Syrian revolution’s strategy must be to win the Syrian army’s ranks over to the revolution’s side.The Syrian opposition correctly criticizes the regime for its opportunism, citing its intervention in Lebanon in 1976 against the Palestinian resistance and the Lebanese National Movement, as well as its joining with the US-led coalition in the 1991 war against Iraq. Those who criticize the Syrian regime’s duplicity with regard to the national cause must not accredit its claim that it is currently fighting Western powers’ “agents,” by requesting military intervention from those same Western powers. The national opposition must not allow the regime to outbid it in the defense of the national cause, and it must realize that since Syria’s territory is partially occupied by Israel with the support of Western states, it must not seek help from the enemies of Syria and its oppressors. Were they to intervene, these powers would surely strive to weaken Syria strategically just as they weakened Iraq.”

    http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2384

    I also found this more recent article to be very interesting, an attempt to chart a path between apologetics for Assad and support for NATO intervention:

    “In fact, opposing foreign intervention may have a very high cost in terms of human life given that the regime might be capable of unleashing its full wrath on dissenters in the absence of external restraint. Some third wayers might argue that it is a painful price one has to bear if the issue is indeed about organic revolution and not either a grand struggle for power or merely saving lives in the short term. A better articulated radical third way stance may help clear out much of these positions. Such a stance means, for example, seeking to overthrow the regime, but not at any cost. It means refusing to “dialogue” with the regime, but accepting negotiations under certain terms that ensure an exit strategy that safeguards the sacrifices of the Syrian people while preventing the usurpation of the uprising by external powers.”

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/assad-apologists-ostrich-syndrome

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      1. Yes, there are differences of opinion in the anti-interventionist camp. The Stalinists by and large opposed the Libyan revolution from the get-go; the Trotskyists dropped it like a rock once NATO got involved.

      I would be interested to see where in this article I ever made the argument to “support NATO,” because I can’t find it.

      2.) “This just confuses the issue, because it won’t be the ‘Western left’ who order air strikes in Libya or Syria, it’ll be the ruling establishment in those countries. It won’t be the Left which determines the nature of the intervention, or its limits, or the political conditions attached to it. At most, the Left can get out of the way – you may argue that the correct policy was to get out of the way, but this is not the same as actively providing support.”

      Staying out of the way of airstrikes on Ghadafi’s forces was a way of actively providing support; blocking those airstrikes would have aided Ghadafi in smashing Bengazi, Homs-style. Look at things from the Libyan revolutionary’s perspective, not the perspective of someone living in London, Brussels, or New York City.

      “Nor, for that matter, would it be the Libyan or Syrian rebels who determined the nature or limits of the intervention.”

      The NTC most definitely did shape and limit the form of NATO intervention. They asked for airstrikes and rejected combat troops, and that is exactly what they got. Sending NATO ground troops into Libya against the wishes of the NTC, the Berbers, and other revolutionary forces would have been politically and possibly militarily impossible. Don’t forget when the British SAS tried to sneak into rebel-controlled turf they got arrested and kicked out. I have no doubt that if NATO tried to invade Libya the rebels would’ve attacked them. They all remember the Italian occupation.

      The NTC also continually rejected “requests” by NATO countries to extradite individuals accused of crimes in those countries. They didn’t bow down and allow themselves to be used and abused despite NATO’s theoretically stronger hand.

      3. “Of course, a revolution can’t ‘demand’ anything.”

      Sure it can. The Egyptian revolution demanded Mubarak step down; they wouldn’t settle for anything less. There was no “Bolshevik Party”-type organization in Egypt that enforced this demand. Similarly in Syria, Syrians held a protest under the slogan, “Day of International Protection,” demanding foreign intervention:
      http://www.france24.com/en/20110909-syria-assad-protesters-appeal-foreign-help-turkey-intervention-activists

      I think there is a difference between a revolution making certain demands and organizations making policy, which is what the Brest-Litovsk treaty was.

      Kosovo: an entirely different set of arguments since the KLA was waging a racist ethnic cleansing campaign against Serbs, Roma, and all non-Albanians living in the province before NATO even got involved.

      The Iraq example works against your case. In 1991, the Western left criticized Bush Sr. for allowing Hussein to fly his helicopters into the no-fly zones to crush the Shia and Kurdish uprisings. Based on what the Western left says today about Libya and Syria, it seems that they would applaud such inaction today. Furthermore, the drive to war in 2002-2003 was entirely made in Washington, D.C.; there was no uprising in Iraq at that time to oust the dictator.

      The “slippery slope” is one that the anti-interventionists predicted would lead to NATO combat troops in Libya. They were dead wrong. Every time the rebels ran into military difficulties, the Western left gravely predicted that NATO would be forced to intervene directly, on the ground, to break the military stalemate. They didn’t. It never happened. And so it turns out the only thing slippery was the basis of the Western left’s opposition to NATO’s military actions.

      There’s no substitute for concrete analysis, no absolute guarantees against “slippery slopes” now or in the future. My arguments on Libya and Syria are based on an analysis of Libya and Syria, today, in the here and now. So far you are the only critic (or opponent) person who has seriously responded to the arguments raised here. If the situation in Syria changes radically, my position will have to as well. If tomorrow Turkey takes military action and sends in ground troops, the revolutionaries will have to figure out what to do about that, and we will have to re-evaluate our positions and actions in light of those new developments.

      4. “…there are two competing umbrella groups for the opposition, one based outside the country and strongly in favour of western intervention, the other based inside Syria and strongly opposed to it.”

      As I have already shown, forces and people within Syria are now demanding “international protection,” presumably Libya-style airstrikes. The dichotomy you speak of was true in 2011 but the internally based opposition in Syria split over the question earlier this year.

      The reason I treat Libya and Syria as two cases of the same problem is because in broad outline, the situations are similar; murderous dictator decides to drown his people in their own blood, by any means necessary. The people are militarily mostly defenseless, which leads to splits in the army as soldiers and officers refuse to shoot their own countrymen on behalf of Assad/Ghadafi. Civil war develops, and the sides are very unequal militarily. Both governments were/are on Uncle Sam’s shit list and the Western left took identically wrong positions in both cases.

      In Syria, things are a lot bloodier and uglier because of the sectarian character of the regime’s popular base. Perhaps you could argue the same held true in Libya (Ghadafi’s racist policies towards Berbers and Black Africans), but Ghadafi’s regime did not rest on the support of a minority community the way Assad’s does in Syria. A lot of Alawites fear that the end of the regime will be the end of them, and there is a certain truth to that when the upper levels of the party-state apparatus are staffed by that minority group; they look next door at Iraq and see what happened to the Sunni communities at the hands of Shia death squads.

      I don’t see what the above differences between Syria and Libya mean concretely for Western leftists on the question of intervention. If you can think of any, please share.

      The longer and more drawn out the revolution (or civil war), the uglier and more destructive the sectarian dynamics in Syria will be. If the FSA got some real, Libya-style help, it would facilitate defections from Assad’s army and regime and make the whole process faster and less costly in terms of lives and in terms of unraveling the fabric of Syrian society. Achcar is correct that the military situation is not 100% analagous; however, Assad is using tanks, helicopters, and artillery salvos to smash and re-take towns. Airstrikes could put a stop to that. The Syrian military is already cracking under pressure; what do you think will happen once they see NATO throwing its weight onto the scale? Quite a few people have defected and lived to tell about it. The FSA could offer an amnesty at the same time airstrikes happen. That combination would do a facilitate defections and mutinies, which Achar is correct to point out is one of the key tasks facing the Syrian revolution now.

      I appreciate your comment. I’ve done my best to address your concerns head-on. The points/objections you raise are valid and I am cognizant of the many shortcomings of this piece; however, I tried to focus on what I think are the key arguments now on the Western left. If there was more debate along these lines generally on our end then I’d be more inclined to dissect every strain in the anti-interventionist camp. Until the differences within that camp become more pronounced (they even issue the same slogans, “hands of Syria!”) I won’t be doing spending time on those issues I don’t think.

      • Ed

        “Yes, there are differences of opinion in the anti-interventionist camp. The Stalinists by and large opposed the Libyan revolution from the get-go; the Trotskyists dropped it like a rock once NATO got involved.”

        I can’t speak too much about the North American radical left, but this is completely unjust to Trotskyists in Europe, with which I am most familiar, especially Ireland and Britain. And I say that as someone who would not apply that to myself.

        For example, Alex Callinicos of the British SWP greeted Gaddafi’s death as follows:

        “The role of the West helps to explain the ambivalent reaction by many on the left here to Gaddafi’s death. But in the Arab world there seem to be few mixed feelings. “Gaddafi is gone. Your turn is coming, Bashar!” demonstrators against the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Hama shouted on Friday last week … So we should have no qualms in joining the Libyan people’s celebrations of the tyrant’s demise. But we should warn them against trusting the Western powers that were content to work hand-in-glove with him while they suffered.”

        http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=26491

        Socialist Resistance, the British section of the USFI, had this to say in April 2011:

        “In Libya, the opposition initially took a position against foreign intervention – under the graphic banner “No to foreign intervention, the Libyan people can manage it alone”. Under the brutal heel of Gaddafi’s military assault, this position was drowned by voices calling for a no-fly zone. While we understand the pressures which led some in the resistance to make this call, and defend their right to do so, we do not agree with their decision.

        “We do not believe that there is any progressive role that western powers with their oil-soaked agenda could play in support of these uprisings. Their interest is to maintain control over the region’s resources; they are not tied to any one leader, but can be guaranteed to support and promote whoever will best further this interest. We oppose any western military intervention the logic of which is to divert the revolution towards western interests. Nor can their “humanitarian” actions be detached from either their historic or present role in the region. This includes the misnamed “No-Fly Zone”, which was designed and has been used in order to give a spurious “legality” to such intervention. We call for an immediate end to the NATO bombing of Libya, and the withdrawal of any undercover forces. At the same time, we call for the arming of the revolutionary forces, in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere, in order that they can resist state oppression.”

        http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2079

        No fair person could describe that as ‘dropping the revolution like a rock once NATO got involved’. That would have been roughly my view of things – I would have argued that instead of air strikes, the rebels should be allowed to obtain the weapons they needed to counter-act Gaddafi’s superior firepower. This was also, incidentally, what Gilbert Achcar argued, after sticking his neck out and taking a lot of flak for his position on Libya; he argued that after the immediate threat to Bengazi was lifted and Gaddafi’s airforce was disabled, the air raids should have ended and the rebel army should have been given weapons instead.

        Of course, these were all paper positions, the radical left didn’t have the strength to impose any course of action on the NATO states, whether that was stopping the bombings outright, supplying weapons, or anything else. The best we could hope for in this case was to reach a section of public opinion in western countries with our arguments: anti-war/anti-imperialist activity is at a pretty low ebb, even though public opinion is against the Afghan war, I don’t see any big demos taking place. Which is one reason why I don’t think the radical left should be tearing itself apart over this.

        Finally on the Trotskyist reaction, Richard Seymour, also of the British SWP, had some interesting comments in this recent interview (which was more thoughtful and nuanced than some of his more polemical blog posts while the war was going on):

        “It is true, as you say, that many people were torn over this war. Of course, a lot of people weren’t remotely conflicted. The pro-Qadhafi lot didn’t want to see the revolution succeed: as far as they were concerned, it was an imperialist proxy and nothing more. Most of the pro-war crowd didn’t see any conflict between a NATO-backed war and a revolutionary process: this illustrates the tenacity of the ideology of ‘humanitarian intervention’, or more broadly of the tradition of liberal imperialism that my last book dealt with. The more fertile, and to me more interesting, arguments have been had in the space where that tension does exist. Here, disagreements become heated, and therefore shed more light. And this is important because how we solve these problems now has a great bearing on how we approach similar problems, which we are better enabled to tackle, in the future.”

        http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/american_insurgents

        And this was the view of the (post-Trotskyist) French NPA:

        “The fall of the dictator Gaddafi is good news for the peoples. The NPA is entirely in solidarity with the revolutionary process which continues in the Arab region. To finish this process the peoples will need to vanquish the two faces of the counter revolution: that of the dictatorships, starting with that of Bashar al Assad in Syria, and that of the confiscation of their destiny by the imperialist powers. A new life opens for the Libyan people. Freedom, democratic rights, the use of the wealth originating from natural resources for the satisfaction of the fundamental needs of the people are now on the agenda.”

        http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2257

        “I would be interested to see where in this article I ever made the argument to “support NATO,” because I can’t find it.”

        In the context I was clear that I was referring to support for the bombing campaign in Libya, and for a possible bombing campaign in Syria, not ‘support [for] NATO’ in general as an imperialist military alliance. You clearly have been arguing for ‘support’ in the former sense.

        “Staying out of the way of airstrikes on Ghadafi’s forces was a way of actively providing support; blocking those airstrikes would have aided Ghadafi in smashing Bengazi, Homs-style. Look at things from the Libyan revolutionary’s perspective, not the perspective of someone living in London, Brussels, or New York City.”

        You’re just ignoring my point. ‘Staying out of the way’ is by definition a passive form of activity. It wasn’t the western Left that flew the planes, or ordered them to be flown. At all times, control over NATO forces was exercised by Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy etc. The practical support that we could offer to the Libyan rebels was very limited

        “The NTC most definitely did shape and limit the form of NATO intervention. They asked for airstrikes and rejected combat troops, and that is exactly what they got. Sending NATO ground troops into Libya against the wishes of the NTC, the Berbers, and other revolutionary forces would have been politically and possibly militarily impossible. Don’t forget when the British SAS tried to sneak into rebel-controlled turf they got arrested and kicked out. I have no doubt that if NATO tried to invade Libya the rebels would’ve attacked them. They all remember the Italian occupation.”

        This is a stronger point, because it’s true, the rebel forces in Libya weren’t simply helpless, they were in a position to shape the outcome. But it was no disrespect to the rebels to point out that the NATO powers were vastly more powerful than them, and to worry that they would be unable to prevent those powers from overstepping any limits they set down. As I said before, I think we got lucky in this case. That doesn’t mean it was inevitable that NATO wouldn’t get involved to a greater extent than it did.

        “ “Of course, a revolution can’t ‘demand’ anything.” Sure it can. The Egyptian revolution demanded Mubarak step down; they wouldn’t settle for anything less. There was no “Bolshevik Party”-type organization in Egypt that enforced this demand. Similarly in Syria, Syrians held a protest under the slogan, “Day of International Protection,” demanding foreign intervention:

        http://www.france24.com/en/20110909-syria-assad-protesters-appeal-foreign-help-turkey-intervention-activists”

        No, it can’t, and to say otherwise is just a misuse of language that confuses the debate. A revolution is an event, not an agent. In Egypt, the demand for Mubarak’s resignation came from a popular movement that was partly based on groups organised before 2011 but largely spontaneous, concentrated in the big cities, especially Cairo. At the time he went, it seems clear that the majority of Egyptians wanted Mubarak to stand down, so you could have said with only slight exaggeration that ‘the Egyptian people’ demanded his resignation.

        In the case of Syria, the example you cite simply proves that one section of the Syrian opposition called for foreign intervention. ‘The Syrian revolution’ didn’t demand anything, and claiming that it did is a form of verbal coercion that pre-empts debate. We need to ask how representative the people calling for intervention are, and whether their call is wise. We may then reach the conclusion that they are broadly representative of the Syrian people, and that their call should be supported; that has to be resolved by looking at the facts, so far as we can ascertain them. But your rhetoric just by-passes that stage of empirical validation.

        “The Iraq example works against your case. In 1991, the Western left criticized Bush Sr. for allowing Hussein to fly his helicopters into the no-fly zones to crush the Shia and Kurdish uprisings. Based on what the Western left says today about Libya and Syria, it seems that they would applaud such inaction today. Furthermore, the drive to war in 2002-2003 was entirely made in Washington, D.C.; there was no uprising in Iraq at that time to oust the dictator. The “slippery slope” is one that the anti-interventionists predicted would lead to NATO combat troops in Libya. They were dead wrong. Every time the rebels ran into military difficulties, the Western left gravely predicted that NATO would be forced to intervene directly, on the ground, to break the military stalemate. They didn’t. It never happened. And so it turns out the only thing slippery was the basis of the Western left’s opposition to NATO’s military actions.”

        I made the ‘slippery slope’ argument in a very precise sense: if we must support air strikes because Gaddafi’s opponents in Libya call for them, on what grounds do we oppose a full-scale invasion of Iraq if Saddam’s opponents are calling for it? Your argument suggests one answer, when you say ‘there was no uprising in Iraq at that time to oust the dictator’. Ok, that’s one fairly useful criteria: we could say that only if there is a real self-generated uprising against a regime, which has its own forces to bring into the fight, will we approve of air strikes by NATO powers; if the overthrow of the dictator requires ground troops, we won’t support that.

        Renfrey Clarke made an argument along these lines here (http://links.org.au/node/2300), which I think deserved a hearing, because it was an attempt to formulate some general principles that could guide us in situations like this (whereas I don’t think Gilbert Achcar did that in any of his contributions on Libya). Of course, there’s ‘no substitute for concrete analysis’, but pure empiricism won’t get us very far either, we need some principles based on past experience and conceptual tools to make sense of what’s happening.
        In any case, this takes us some way away from the argument that if the opposition in Libya, or Syria, or Iraq is calling for something, we’re duty-bound to support it. We are certainly duty-bound to give them a hearing and take their views very seriously. But ultimately we have to make our own judgement.

        “As I have already shown, forces and people within Syria are now demanding “international protection,” presumably Libya-style airstrikes. The dichotomy you speak of was true in 2011 but the internally based opposition in Syria split over the question earlier this year.”

        I don’t believe that you have ‘shown’ this; you have asserted it, but that’s not the same thing. The sources that I have been able to get hold of don’t suggest that there is a unanimous voice calling for NATO to intervene. This report, from a writer whose articles on the ME I have often found very useful, appeared in the NYRB last month:

        “So far, the regime is holding out. There have been few defections of senior officials from it, less an indicator of loyalty than of cold calculation that the opposition is a long way from achieving power. Few soldiers have deserted the army to join the rebels. Some people from Homs told me of their anger at the rebels’ Free Syrian Army, whose strength remains unclear, for making their city the crucible of the revolution, then abandoning the populace to its fate when the regime counterattacked. The UN estimates that approximately ten thousand people were killed during the fighting between March 15, 2011, and April 22, 2012; other estimates are higher and lower. There are reports that thousands more have fled from Assad’s attacks on cities such as Bashiriya in Syria’s northwest. Like Vichy France, Syria today is divided into regime supporters, résistants, and attentistes who await the outcome before choosing sides. Most of those I spoke to in all three camps rejected military intervention by the US, Britain, France, and, especially, Turkey to solve their problems.”

        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/07/syria-citadel-war/?pagination=false

        Now, either Charles Glass is lying through his teeth (and I doubt he is – comparing the Assad regime to Vichy France isn’t really the sign of an apologist), or there are still plenty of regime opponents who reject outside military intervention. And I would argue that they have good reason to.

        “The reason I treat Libya and Syria as two cases of the same problem is because in broad outline, the situations are similar; murderous dictator decides to drown his people in their own blood, by any means necessary. The people are militarily mostly defenseless, which leads to splits in the army as soldiers and officers refuse to shoot their own countrymen on behalf of Assad/Ghadafi. Civil war develops, and the sides are very unequal militarily. Both governments were/are on Uncle Sam’s shit list and the Western left took identically wrong positions in both cases.

        “In Syria, things are a lot bloodier and uglier because of the sectarian character of the regime’s popular base. Perhaps you could argue the same held true in Libya (Ghadafi’s racist policies towards Berbers and Black Africans), but Ghadafi’s regime did not rest on the support of a minority community the way Assad’s does in Syria. A lot of Alawites fear that the end of the regime will be the end of them, and there is a certain truth to that when the upper levels of the party-state apparatus are staffed by that minority group; they look next door at Iraq and see what happened to the Sunni communities at the hands of Shia death squads.

        “I don’t see what the above differences between Syria and Libya mean concretely for Western leftists on the question of intervention. If you can think of any, please share.”

        I quoted at length what I consider to be a very lucid explanation by Gilbert Achcar (who certainly wants to see the overthrow of Assad) of what the political and military differences between Libya and Syria are and what they ‘mean concretely’ for the question of NATO intervention. Your own response to these arguments is fairly breezy:

        “The longer and more drawn out the revolution (or civil war), the uglier and more destructive the sectarian dynamics in Syria will be. If the FSA got some real, Libya-style help, it would facilitate defections from Assad’s army and regime and make the whole process faster and less costly in terms of lives and in terms of unraveling the fabric of Syrian society. Achcar is correct that the military situation is not 100% analagous; however, Assad is using tanks, helicopters, and artillery salvos to smash and re-take towns. Airstrikes could put a stop to that. The Syrian military is already cracking under pressure; what do you think will happen once they see NATO throwing its weight onto the scale? Quite a few people have defected and lived to tell about it. The FSA could offer an amnesty at the same time airstrikes happen. That combination would do a facilitate defections and mutinies, which Achar is correct to point out is one of the key tasks facing the Syrian revolution now.”

        Maybe it could work out like that, but I fear that Achcar’s pessimistic scenario of the consequences of NATO intervention is more likely to be accurate. There’s a very real danger that instead of a quick overthrow of the regime leading to some kind of democratic system, Syria could degenerate into a prolonged sectarian war, like Lebanon in the 70s and 80s.

        “The points/objections you raise are valid and I am cognizant of the many shortcomings of this piece; however, I tried to focus on what I think are the key arguments now on the Western left. If there was more debate along these lines generally on our end then I’d be more inclined to dissect every strain in the anti-interventionist camp.”

        I suspect when you say ‘western left’, you really mean ‘north American left’; I don’t know a huge amount, but the impression I get is that Stalinist forces are far more relevant in NA than in Europe at the moment (as I said, I very rarely meet such people in real life, they just seem to exist on the Internet, where any clown with a modem can set himself up as a political tendency). For example, the guiding force behind ANSWER seems to be a fairly nutty Stalinist group; there’s no equivalent of that in Ireland or Britain (the main force in the Irish Anti-War Movement and the Stop the War Coalition is the SWP, which has its flaws certainly, but cosying up to the likes of Gaddafi or Assad or Milosevic isn’t one of them).

        • Ed

          First para should have read ‘would not apply that LABEL to myself’

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

          I’m glad some in Europe did not drop the revolution once NATO got involved; however, the British SWP was one of the loudest proponents of the hijacking conspiracy theory. Seymour even claimed that the revolutionary process was really just a “mirage” (see the embedded links).

          My opinion is that there was no way the revolution could have won without NATO airstrikes. It used NATO’s air cover to buy time, get better organized and trained, plan the final assault on Tripoli, and ultimately won. Without that air cover, nothing would have stopped Ghadafi’s tanks from hitting Bengazi again. His forces switched to white jeeps to try to confuse NATO fighters and up the risk of friendly fire, which worked to a degree.

          If it was okay for NATO to attack Ghadafi’s forces when they were at the gates of Bengazi why would it not be okay for them to attack his forces at the gates of Misrata or anywhere else? Ending the air campaign would have restored the spring 2011 impasse the NTC found itself in.

          I didn’t ignore your point re: active support. I didn’t understand it. Here’s active support: send weapons. Raise and send money. Send cameras. Send truth-finding missions. Send (ahem) volunteers. That’s what we did in Spain in 1936, no? In addition to that, we can add: organize hacktivist collectives to keep the internet up/knock Ghadafi sites down, run livestreams on our socialist Web sites. Both of the latter did happen, but independently of the Western left. I don’t think any of the organizations you mentioned did any of the activities I just mentioned, but I could be wrong. I’m not in Europe, so I don’t know. I do know they are doing some of this stuff for the Syrian revolutionaries in the U.K. now, so I suppose someone somewhere learned something out of all this.

          “I don’t believe that you have ‘shown’ this; you have asserted it, but that’s not the same thing. The sources that I have been able to get hold of don’t suggest that there is a unanimous voice calling for NATO to intervene.”

          I never suggested there was a unanimous voice calling for this. What I did say is that people in Syria are protesting under a slogan demanding imperialist “protection”. Have there been any demonstrations in Syria against imperialist intervention by the revolutionary side? Have you seen any photographs of Syrians in Homs, Aleppo, or anywhere else that read, “No Intervention!” because I’ve seen tons calling for the opposite.

          Is that a scientific poll? No. But will you ever get a scientific poll on the ground in the middle of a civil war? No. If you can find evidence that lots of Syrians would be very upset if Uncle Sam started blowing up Assad’s tanks and helicopters from the sky, I would very much like to see it.

          I don’t think anyone in the revolutionary camp is “pro-intervention,” in that they think, “hey, I love NATO! I would love it if they started blowing parts of my country up!” The people who are calling for this see it as a *necessary evil*, a desperate measure, nothing more. Surely it’s not their preferred method; then again, armed revolution isn’t their preferred method either. I’m sure they’d much rather vote Assad out, but they can’t. So here we are.

          The quote you posted doesn’t say anything about revolutionary Syrians being opposed to intervention. Did you post the wrong paragraph, or did I miss something?

          You may discount my analysis as “fairly breezy.” I personally did not find Achcar’s discussion of the military dimension convincing. Either way, we can’t base where we stand on these things on conjecture. Saying “no to intervention” in a U.S./European context means we don’t think it’s right for the F.S.A. to get American arms, cameras, money, logistical support because concretely that is how Uncle Sam is intervening right now. I don’t think you would support cutting off American aid to the F.S.A., would you?

          As for the Stop the War Coalition, I’ve heard a lot of people accuse the SWP of “cozying up” or not being critical enough of the Coalition’s pro-Assad elements. I have neither the time nor the energy to research that question (though to sort out who the liars are between competitive sects), but opposing imperialist aid to the F.S.A. does not help the Syrian struggle, it helps its suppression.

          • Ed

            “Here’s active support: send weapons. Raise and send money. Send cameras. Send truth-finding missions. Send (ahem) volunteers. That’s what we did in Spain in 1936, no? In addition to that, we can add: organize hacktivist collectives to keep the internet up/knock Ghadafi sites down, run livestreams on our socialist Web sites. Both of the latter did happen, but independently of the Western left. I don’t think any of the organizations you mentioned did any of the activities I just mentioned, but I could be wrong. I’m not in Europe, so I don’t know. I do know they are doing some of this stuff for the Syrian revolutionaries in the U.K. now, so I suppose someone somewhere learned something out of all this.”

            I think this is getting to the crux of the matter – it’s not easy to do all this stuff, it takes time, people, energy, money. The radical left is pretty small at the moment in most countries, it has very limited resources. I’m Irish – whenever Trotskyists and other radicals have tried to organise protests about our own economic crisis in the last couple of years, not foreign-policy issues, things that affect Irish people directly, they’ve still only got a few hundred people along.

            The main international campaign in the last few years has been Palestine solidarity; I’ve been involved with the group in Ireland, and we’ve done a fair bit of work; not everyone involved would consider themselves on the Left, but there’s a core of left activists, either members of socialist groups or independents. We’ve done fund-raising, but most of that money goes to fund our own work (postering, leafleting etc.). People have gone over to Palestine as observers, so I guess you could call that ‘truth-finding missions’, except they’ve usually had to fund it themselves. We raised a lot of money to send an Irish boat on the Gaza flotilla last year. We haven’t sent weapons to any Palestinian group – the possibility hasn’t even been discussed (for any eager spooks who might happen to be following this thread); if anyone brought it up, I’m sure people would point out that it’s not easy to obtain weapons and send them to another country in the post 9/11 age if you’re not a state or sponsored by a state (not that it was easy beforehand – just ask the IRA how much trouble they had putting their arsenal together). We certainly haven’t sent ‘volunteers’, if you mean some kind of International Brigade to fight with the Palestinian guerrillas.

            And that’s the way things stand with a campaign that’s been on the go for a decade (it was formed in 2000-1 in response to the second intifada). In the case of Libya, the uprising developed more or less overnight, there wasn’t a long-running opposition movement there that you could build solidarity for. Not long after the uprising began, NATO got involved, so that rendered the whole question of raising money or sending arms moot, the assistance that NATO was providing to the rebels was obviously on a whole different level from what any small left group could do. That’s quite apart from the disorientating effect that the NATO intervention had for people who have a well-founded distrust of western military action anywhere.

            So far as ‘hacktivism’ is concerned, I’m all in favour of that, I just know that I wouldn’t have a clue how to do it, nor would most activists I know; you need to have a special set of skills for that. But I’m all in favour of the people who have those skills doing it.

            The bottom line, I think, is that people could certainly be doing more to help resistance groups in Syria, within the limits of their capacities; but there’s a lot of other things they should be doing, too, there should be more protests against the Afghan war, for example (I can’t remember the last one I saw, even though public opinion is against the war), Syria is not a unique example of inaction. As I said, Palestine is the only example I know of really good, sustained activism lately, and even then it doesn’t reach the bar that you set above.

            “Saying “no to intervention” in a U.S./European context means we don’t think it’s right for the F.S.A. to get American arms, cameras, money, logistical support because concretely that is how Uncle Sam is intervening right now. I don’t think you would support cutting off American aid to the F.S.A., would you?”

            I wouldn’t raise the slogan ‘no to intervention’ (or ‘hands off Syria’, which you mentioned earlier), it’s too vague. I’ve no objections to an arms embargo being imposed, or other sanctions that target the regime; I’m not going to complain if the western powers twist Putin’s arm enough that he stops giving any support to Assad (I’ll note their utter hypocrisy but I won’t raise a hue and cry about what they do). Supplying arms is a grey area, because it could be a step towards direct military intervention by NATO, but I wouldn’t condemn the rebels for taking arms from the US when they’re still massively out-gunned by government forces. If people on the left are going to oppose NATO air strikes (and I think they should), they should be precise in what they say – ‘stop the bombing’ rather than ‘hands off Libya’.

            • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

              I don’t fault small or tiny groups for not sending millions in arms/humanitarian aid; what I do fault them for is for not making at least some kind of effort to establish links with groups that are engaging in these activities when they spend time and resources writing grand statements about what should be done by others in other countries. Some far left groups in the West have hundreds or thousands of members and have they actually taken any action or built any alliances with anyone in the Syrian or Arab communities? By and large the honest answer to this is no. This is doubly so for making links and building relationships with hacktivists. I don’t know the first thing about it either, but what better excuse to start finding out?

              The anti-war coalitions that used to mobilize around Iraq and Afghanistan are controlled by Stalinist forces in the U.S. The pro-revolution demonstrations were much bigger in early 2011 when the left could easily identify “good guys” (angry unarmed protestors) and “bad guys” (dictators, usually backed by American might). Once things got messy — the left’s good guys started begging bigger bad guys (Uncle Sam) for arms/airstrikes to knock off smaller bad guys (Assad, Ghadafi) that were murdering good guys by the hundreds and thousands — the left got confused and stood aside lest they help a “hijacked” revolution or worse yet, U.S.-Israeli imperialism. Mobilizing against Afghanistan isn’t realistic at this time; Americans are simply war-weary and Afghanistan is being wound down, not up, by the Obama administration. All eyes are now on Syria and the left is practically copying and pasting Russian, Chinese, and Syrian government statements about foreign fighters, Islamicists, and CIA/Saudi/Zionist interference.

              As for airstrikes, we need to ask ourselves what are the airstrikes hitting? Hospitals or Assad’s tanks? The two are not the same.

              Achcar opposes intervention because he thinks it’ll weaken the revolution and give Assad a P.R. boost. He also claims the choice on airstrikes is between a no-fly zone that exclusively hits air targets (helicopters, etc.) and an all-out air war that will kill lots of civilians in urban areas which isn’t accurate. Airstrikes may be the only effective form of military aid since training people to use heavy equipment like tanks, planes, and helicopters takes time that the revolution doesn’t have.

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

          In my previous comment I actually missed the key line in Charles Glass’s piece: “Syria today is divided into regime supporters, résistants, and attentistes who await the outcome before choosing sides. Most of those I spoke to in all three camps rejected military intervention by the US, Britain, France, and, especially, Turkey to solve their problems.”

          As I said before, no one in the Syrian revolution really wants outside intervention. It’s a tactical debate, not one over principles. Our main focus should be on doing whatever we can to help them, not on taking a hard line in their debates.

          • Brian S.

            Nice to see this discussion between Ed and Pham. I’ve always argued that we need to centre our judgements on “concrete analyses of concrete situation” . That’s why I find those who invoke “anti-imperialism” as a universal touchstone so barren, and why I find discussion like this so refreshing. It was that view that led me to adopt what I’ve referred to as a “flexible” position over Libya, about co-terminous with Gilbert Achcar. But the same process leads me to a rather different place over Syria, so once again in accord with Gilbert.
            But I also recognise that future events might produce a different assessment: at the moment there is still a small window for the internal resistance and international pressure to produce further fragmentation of the regime, and more favourable conditions for the revolution to move forward. But, as has been pointed out, lengthy prolongation of the current situation will produce the very conditions that “non-interventionists” hope to avoid: irretrievable brutalisation of both sides in the conflict, sharpening of sectarian polarisation, rise of jihadist meddling. And even if the balance of forces were to shift favourably, that doesn’t mean automatic collapse of the regime – it might just move Syria closer to a Libya-type situation: a desperate but socially isolated regime ranged against a combatitive popular rebellion. Either way we could reach a point where, as in Libya, the dangers of external intervention look less serious than the dangers of non-intervention. (of course its important that we unpack the term “intervention” – allowing it to be used without differentiation is to concede ground to our political opponents on these issues.)
            Of course we don’t get to decide this. But it will influence what we actively campaign against, and how we try to influence others to think and act.
            A word on how the left has responded in the UK. Its true that one can’t simply accuse the Trotskyist left of “giving up on the revolution” . But what has happened is that in an effort to reconcile “anti-imperialism” with support for the revolutions they have tied themselves in political knots and ended up in very strange places.
            The SWP’s Counterfire offshoot is the dominant force in Stop the War. As Gaddafi’s tanks approached Benghazi, they were calling demonstrations against NATO intervention,including a gathering outside Downing Street where they were ranged alongside Hoxha-ist pro-Gaddafi forces. They have agreed an “anti-intervention” positionin Syria, and their propaganda mirrors the stalinists. Their key figure, John Reese has produced a lengthy analysis which concludes:
            “Marxists cannot simply cry ‘victory to the revolution’ as we did in the 18 days of struggle against Mubarak. Over Syria we must say ‘No to Western Intervention’ and ‘Oppose all those in the Syrian revolution who call for Western intervention’. These forces should be exposed in article after article. Then of course we support all those in Syria who, like us, support non-intervention and the overthrow of Assad.”
            Judge that as you will.
            The Callinicos wing of the SWP have done better. They actively support the revolutions. have done some solidarity work, and Simon Assaf has written some interesting stuff. But they have ended up in a rather strange , ultra-left place, where in their eagerness to oppose all forms of intervention they oppose Annan’s attempts to negotiate a ceasefire on the grounds that it ties the hands of the revolutionaries.
            Thanks for the link by Ed to Richard Seymour. He has clearly shifted his position considerably from over the last year (when I had some sharp exchanges with him) , and there is value and intellectual honesty in this piece. But he is the principal author of the fantasy scenario that has found currency in parts of the left (e.g. Vijay Prashad): the Libyan revolution was great until NATO deliberately manouevred to subordinate it through intervention, at which point it was pretty worthless.

            • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

              Their slogan now might as well be, “Neither Washington, nor Damascus, but international bloodshed.” This is where a lot of the “Third Camp” socialist trends have ended up (by the way, that is where I come from politically).

  • Todd

    Tony wrote:

    “celebrating the arrival of Mahmoud Jibril into power in Libya, who you think of as a revolutionary achievement, is enough to turn anybody’s stomach.”

    More lies: where did I celebrate the arrival of this Jibril into power? I’ve been talking about the removal of bourgeois dictators.

  • Brian S.

    I’ve just discovered (thanks to some pro-Assad conspiracy sites) that the French TV station Canal Plus did a major documentary on Syria and the Free Syrian Army last December. Any of you who follow French might like to check out two videos available on line:
    1. The makers of the programme talk about their experiencse inside Syria:
    http://www.canalplus.fr/c-infos-documentaires/pid4040-c-en-premiere-ligne.html?vid=554108
    2. The progamme itself, available on Youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHQhAxtKOTA
    If anyone has francophone contacts who could put together a summary of some of this, that would be very useful. I am away for a few days, but when I get back, I can try and do something fairly basic, unless someone else has got their first (even better).

  • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

    The International Socialist Organization’s response to this piece:
    http://socialistworker.org/2012/07/16/siding-with-the-empire

    • Brian S.

      Just to comment on the way the ISO article uses its sources, at least as far as Libya is concerned.. It draws on two main sources to support its its argument:
      1. “20 members of the revolutionary military committee that led the uprising in Tripoli were trained in the Western Libyan mountains by NATO soldiers and intelligence agents according to journalist Anand Gopal.” http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/09/01/the_tripoli_uprising?page=0,2
      What does Gopal actually say? “NATO airstrikes pounded key government installations — with the aid of the 20 or so rebels from Tripoli whom NATO soldiers had trained in the mountains to dial in coordinates.” ” So, the “revolutionary committee that led the uprising” is actually just 20 foot soldiers doing some target spotting.
      But hang on a minute: Gopal does say “What appeared to be a spontaneous uprising was in fact the result of months of careful planning… ” Ah, the smoking gun! Not quite, because he then adds “carried out in tiny apartments and automobile back seats”. (no hand of NATO here) And what’s happened to hi final sentence “In Souq al-Juma, … [popular area of Tripoli which was a centre of the revolt] Locals are busy painting over the ubiquitous green doors, and armed citizens continue to patrol the streets.”
      2.”According to another on-the-spot reporter, Nicholas Pelham, the final assault on Tripoli was the result of a meticulous plan ‘hatched in capitals across Europe and the Arab world’ ” http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/sep/29/libya-how-they-did-it/?page=1
      A small slip in the quotation here – what Pelham actually said was, “Hatched in capitals across Europe and the Arab world, as well as in rebel operation rooms secretly organized in Libya itself,” Pelham does suggest some higher level coordination between the rebel forces and NATO, but his article records the central role of LIBYANS: what he describes is Rebel-NATO coordination, not subordination. Once again the thrust of the article cited is misrepresented: in fact provides offers extensive evidence of the grass-roots self organisation of the revolt: “the organization and scale of Suq al-Juma’s uprising was unmatched. Within minutes, the entire district had cobbled together barricades out of old fridges, burned-out cars, and other war detritus, and stationed armed men at its gates. Trucks drove through the streets distributing homemade Molotov cocktails and grenades called gelatine, and, later that night, guns they had bought over the previous six months at 3,000 dinars apiece. Based on a precompiled blacklist, vigilantes broke into the homes of a thousand regime henchmen ,… and disarmed them and hauled them away.”
      I would urge anyone interested in the real story of the Libyan revolution to read these two articles with an open mind, and then consider which side of this debate they provide support for.

  • Bob

    Sorry dude, but this response totally destroys your stupid article: http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/justifying-imperialist-interventionint.html

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

      Not every movement for greater political freedom is progressive for workers and the oppressed? I couldn’t disagree more. Workers are now going on strike in Libya thanks to the revolution’s victory. Do you think this is right-wing and reactionary? Do you think it helps neoliberalism to allow workers to organize openly?

      It’s also nice to see that I’ve united the ISO and PSL. Maybe left unity isn’t so unrealistic after all. :)

      • Tom

        If you read the article, it polemicizes against the ISO for having essentially the same pro-imperialist line that you do.

        And seriously man, if you’re trying to argue that Libya is in better shape now, or that it has moved to the left, then you are just completely insane.

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

          I read the article. What’s insane is defending regimes that tortured at Bush’s behest in the name of “anti-imperialism.” What’s next? Will PSL oppose women calling cops in rape cases because they are anti the bourgeois state?

          • http://notmytribe Tony

            Pham, I think that there is a damn good case for not calling the cops too often into America’s communities for about many many different things? Thanks for your apologetics now for America’s prison gulags alongside your support of the US and European militaries. What a great theoretician you are, Comrade!

            When I recently asked for police protection for threats against my life due to me exercising my free speech as a Member of Occupy they told me that threatening to kill me was just free speech being exercised and that they couldn’t do anything to protect me from their buddy Right Wing friends.

            Don’t worry though. If you do find yourself in prison and being raped there, I am more than sure that the PSL will actually call for the cops to protect your ASS.

        • Brian S.

          Well, 2 million Libyans disagreee – but what do they Know?

  • Rob

    THIS IS THE WORST ARTICLE I HAVE EVER READ YOU IDIOT

  • Tom

    Binh & Claiborne: Carrying on the heroic tradition of social-imperialists.

  • http://islamist.com ed

    My friend (from Libya) says there are two NATO’s.

    1. There is the NATO occupying Afghanistan and doing drone attacks on innocent families in Pakistan.

    2. there is the NATO that stopped Qaddafi from attacking and killing 100K+ Libyans (Qaddafi did manage to kill some 50K)

    One NATO we hate the other we like.. By any means necessary

    US Christian terror drones wipe out whole families in Yemen http://www.islamist.com/index.php/imperialism/2114-us-terror-drones-wipe-out-whole-families-in-yemen

    Islamist Libya appoints Women surgeon as Minister of Health http://www.islamist.com/index.php/revolution/1254-islamist-libya-appoints-women-surgeon-as-minister-of-health

    New Libya bans interest and usury http://www.islamist.com/index.php/revolution/1166-new-libya-bans-interest-and-usury

    Libya celebrates release from worship of Ghaddafi and return to worship of Allah

    Libya, the anti-Iraq A longtime tyrant has been sent packing, yet no foreign troops are on the ground. And it seems unlikely the U.S. will need to send in forces or the trunkloads of money it used to invade iraq.. http://www.islamist.com/index.php/revolution/1149-libyan-celebrate-release-from-worship-og-ghaddafi-and-move-to-the-worship-of-allah

    • Aaron Aarons

      Anonymous ‘ed’ says that his unnamed “friend (from Libya) says there are two NATO’s.
      […]
      “One NATO we hate the other we like.”

      Can your friend tell us who runs each of the two NATOs? Do they have separate command structures?

      • http://notmytribe Tony

        I love it! From the defense of the old Stalinist 2 stage theory of revolution by the humanitarian Left imperialists, we now also get the new theory of there being 2-NATOs. These folk are real genius theoreticians! And Aaron says he heard it from his ‘unnamed’ Libyan friend, too. Sure you did, Aaron…lol…

        • Aaron Aarons

          You really should read more carefully before attacking someone, Tony. It was ‘ed’ who wrote, “My friend (from Libya) says there are two NATO’s.” My response asking for more info about the ‘two NATO’s’ was obviously not an endorsement of the idea.

  • http://islamist.com ed
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  • A

    Please authors of these “know-it-all,” anti-revolution comments, do come to Libya and repeat these statements. It’s hysterically funny how you don’t realize how paternalistic you sound–because no matter what, the West always knows best, right? For shame.

  • APOPHIS

    How leftist “anti-zionists” are allied with Israel against Syria (plus Spanish Translation)
    http://lizzie-phelan.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Al Jonestown

    There is a historic example of what REAL anti-imperialism is, that is when German and Russian soldiers stopped fighting the First World War. Modern leftists only succeed in picking which side of the slaughter they are on. It is pathetic. No wonder the Occupy movement is dead.

    Empty political statements of modern “leftists” are meaningless in any case. Unless Pham Bhin is prepared to raise funds for the “Free Syrian Army” or go volunteer to fight the Assad regime, any statement of “support” is meaningless metaphysical idealism. It certainly does nothing to help workers find a way to fight back against their exploiters. All I see is more warmed over nationalist “liberation” B.S. from pseudo-leftists who can’t envision taking a class position on anything.

    As far as I’m concerned as a worker in the US, my first enemy is US imperialism, the imperialists who rule over me are my enemies supporting anything that makes them stronger is stupidity. Libya and Egypt aren’t free, they are still ruled by the same people that ruled before, the only difference now is that they have more Sunni fundamentalists being “represented” in their “free elections”. In case you haven’t noticed western democracy is just another capitalist lie like fascism or stalinism. You either have power or you do not. The death of the Occupy movement is a testament to this.

  • luke

    There is a valid reason for the US left not to directly call for US airstrikes: Some of us who spent years fighting against US intervention in Iraq are simply not in a position from which we would be able to do so without looking like fools. On the other hand, that does not obligate any of us to expend energy to defend a criminal who butchers people for doing what we do either.

    This is also rather like being on the street, and seeing a Nazi skinhead get into a fight with a cop and then get shot. Yes, I want to see the cop taken off the force before he shoots someone ELSE, but I’m not going to put my own ass on the line to defend that nazi skinhead either. I can’t support the cop, but will do exactly nothing to help the Nazi trash, and will not attempt to stop the shooting.

    If a missile warhead happens to spray Assad in the face with fire and hot steel like what happened to Salah in Yemen, you won’t hear me complaining about whose shoulder the rocket launcher was on.

    The orignal poster is right about one key point: we have no standing to tell someone else how to defend their own nation. That’s what I used to tell people in the antiwar movement who objected to insurgent tactics in Iraq circa 2004, or objected to supporting Palestine.

    • http://notmytribe Tony

      Luke, nobody is asking anybody to spend time defending Assad.

      ‘There is a valid reason for the US left not to directly call for US airstrikes: Some of us who spent years fighting against US intervention in Iraq are simply not in a position from which we would be able to do so without looking like fools.’

      You don’t want to look like a fool? Others don’t mind doing that though evidently. But that is not the issue here at all.

      ‘On the other hand, that does not obligate any of us to expend energy to defend a criminal who butchers people for doing what we do either.’

      You would not be asking anybody to defend Assad by speaking out against a push for US imperialism’s overthrow of his government. You opposed the uS invading Iraq and didn’t have to defend Hussein while doing that. So what the Hell is the problem with some of you stubborn as a mule comrades here with Syria?

      Oh, I know! You think that Assad is being overthrown totally by a REVOLUTION and you are all smarxist REVOLUTION GROUPIES, I see now. You can erase the roles of Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, Britain, France, and the USA from before your very eyes and delude yourselves all into only seeing REVOLUTION in caps! Well how damn clever! …NOT!

    • Brian S.

      There is a long Marxist tradition of understanding that processes initiated by those who we oppose, even for the worst of reasons, can nevertheless move the political (dare I say “historic”) situation forward from the point of view of the oppressed. Its a tradition that I think we need to revisit.
      There has often been some uncertainty about what moral/political stand to take in the face of such a prospect, but I think the “historic neutrality” expressed here is most often about right .
      I’m not quite sure that we should predicdate “doing the right thing” on avoiding lookign like fools, but I think it is something to be taken into account. In any event I have argued on the “Whither Syria” thread that the idea of redressing the balance by US/NATO airpower would be be wrong for other reasons. There is a good analysis of this by Gilbert Achcar on http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/1652 (it could be argued a little dated now, and I don’t agree with every word: but still valid in its essentials, I think).

      • http://notmytribe Tony

        Brian, you say that “’historic neutrality” expressed here is most often about right .’ WRONG!

        ‘Historic neutrality’ though would be you, Brian, trying to say we should pretend we are neutral and hate equally Assad and NATO/ Pentagon, which when you get down to it, means we turn our back on trying to build in the US any antiwar movement against the Pentagon when it attacks the Syrian government. I’m sorry but I have hated the Pentagon and NATO way before I had even heard of Assad or Syria. I am not ‘neutral’ about this. I say that we, that means you and I, Brian, should be building an antiwar movement and demanding no regime changes pushed by Pentagon fire power, whether in Libya, Syria, or Iran or anywhere, for that matter. Don’t go MIA on us, Comrade.

        See the news item below in regards to not being ‘neutral’, Brian…

        ‘On Saturday, China said it voted (on the UN resolution) in the true interest of the Syrian people, and, in its strongest rhetoric so far regarding the civil war, accused Western nations of sabotaging peace efforts by advocating regime change.

        “We are opposed to intervention in domestic affairs, imposition of regime change and support for military interference,” said Long Zhou, a counsellor in the Foreign Ministry’s division for international conventions and organizations.

        “The countries with such acts and remarks should rethink what role they have played and who indeed has been the obstacle in resolving the Syrian crisis,” Long told a news conference, arranged unusually with just a few hours’ notice.’

        Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/China+accuses+West+hindering+Syria+peace+efforts+repeats+call/7041535/story.html#ixzz22bPDWKmg

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  • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp

    http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/justifying-imperialist-interventionint.html

    This is one of the more amusing attempts to refute the arguments presented here. We find the Libyan and Syrian revolutions being compared to German and Italian fascism and the Tea Party for starters, then the politics of the Libyan NTC and the Syrian SNC are conflated with the political character of the entire movement of which they were/are an important part but not the whole nor the crux, and lastly we’re told imperialism isn’t a political choice (duh!) it’s a stage in the development of capitalism. No word on whether Ho Chi Minh’s collaboration with the agents of U.S. imperialism makes him a fascist/tea party equivalent.

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  • pause and think

    If a revolution happens in a country, supported only by the people from this country, then it usually becomes successful because it means the majority of people in that country want to do the revolution, it is also called democracy.

    If a revolution is supported by overseas power, it always goes wrong because the overseas power often support a minority group to rebel, get their benefit during the revolution, then leave the country in such a situation: armed minority, and unhappy majority. Then of course it goes chaos.

    There is real good democracy in the world but it can’t be driven by foreign power. When a foreign power get into a country, how do we know it is the majority or minority the foreign power is supporting? All the foreign supported color revolutions are wrong, only the original ones are successful.

    In most of the foreign driven color revolutions we only hear the voice from rebels, but we don’t let the anti-revels to talk, so there is a basic logic problem: how do we confirm which side represents the mind of majority?

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