Trump’s Latest Attack: An Answer to Glenn Greenwald

by John Reimann, North Star editorial board member on April 11, 2017

Glenn Greenwald, the influential “left” journalist at “The Intercept” has written a confused and in some ways dishonest article on Trump’s latest attack on Syria. Of course, Greenwald is right to denounce this attack, as we have. Trump, and US capitalism, are incapable of doing anything in the interests of the working class either at home or abroad. As out-of-touch as it may seem, only a movement of the working class can resolve these problems. (How such a movement might developing the present situation is another question.) Failing to even begin to see that, failing to even have a clue as to the role of the working class as the subject – not the object – of history, Greenwald casts about in utter confusion. It wouldn’t be so bad, but many socialists are influenced by him and those like him. So, let’s take a look at his article:

Sloppy at Best; Dishonest at Worst

He starts off by correctly condemning Trump’s attack on the air field, including his rush to do so. But right away, Greenwald runs into trouble, mixing up this correct condemnation with the implication that it’s equally likely that it wasn’t Assad’s forces who were guilty of the gas attack. While he’s right that we shouldn’t just take the word of the US government (or any other) for it, he ignores the fact that the only other explanation for what happened is the explanation coming from Putin & Co. — that the gas came from the bombs exploding at a chemical weapons plant, and the chemicals combined in mid air to form sarin. All the chemical experts so far say this is so unlikely as to be almost ruled out. Maybe they’re wrong, but Greenwald is sloppy at best, and dishonest at worst, for ignoring this.

Dishonest Implication

Greenwald correctly points out that Assad has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians, but he then writes: “The CIA has spent more than a billion dollars a year to arm anti-Assad rebels for years, and the U.S. began bombing Syria in 2014 – the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by Obama – and never stopped. Trump had already escalated that bombing campaign, culminating in a strike last month that Syrians say destroyed a mosque and killed dozens”This is downright dishonest. There’s no other way of saying it. He’s clearly implying that the policy of the US government has been and continues to be to arm “anti-Assad rebels” and that the previous attack back on March 6 was part of this. In fact, he even implies that the previous attack, too, was or might have been aimed at Assad. That is flat-out untrue and it’s hard to imagine that Greenwald doesn’t know it. Even under Obama, the policy was to support Assad, on the one hand by arming the Kurds, who in effect were fighting on Assad’s side, and by restraining the Southern Army from attacking Assad’s forces.

Democrats and Tulsi Gabbard

He then continues to attack the Democrats for supporting Trump. Of course he’s right, but what does he expect? Something different? He excepts Tulsi Gabbard (D. HI) from his criticism, but he fails to mention that she is a Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim bigot who supports the right-wing, sectarian Modi administration in India. He doesn’t mention that Gabbard recently traveled to Syria as a guest of the fascist Syrian Social Nationalist Party. Greenwald leaves all this out because, underneath it all he sees no alternative to the capitalist politicians, but by failing to explain who Gabbard is, he helps foster the illusions in her that are fairly widespread on the left here in the US.

Trump’s Russia Connection

Greenwald mixes up, confuses and misrepresents issue after issue. He pretends that there is nothing there as far as the attacks on Trump for his Russia connections. As this blog site has documented in a number of articles, Trump is inextricably linked to Russian capitalists, and given his entire orientation, it is impossible to imagine that this does not have a powerful influence on his policies. The problem for his capitalist critics, which Greenwald entirely misses, is that Trump is sacrificing the global interests of US capitalism for his own personal financial interests.

Greenwald writes about the “wimp” factor and Trump wanting to prove he’s strong as if this were a personal matter. It has nothing to do with that. To the extent that Trump represents the mainstream of US capitalism rather than his own personal interests, he and his advisors understand that this bombing is part of a general change in US strategy and they want opponents of US imperialism – especially the North Korean government – to understand that.

US Media

Then Greenwald goes on to correctly criyicize the US media. Because he doesn’t understand the class nature of society, he calls the US media “state media.” No, just like the state itself, it is an organ of the capitalist class, and that class almost always bands together whenever its state – its government – goes to war. Interestingly, he also says that the criticisms of RT — which IS actually state run – is “hysteria.”

Class Question

And that really gets to the heart of the matter. On issue after issue, Greenwald completely misses the class conflict, the clash of interests between workers and employers, between the working class and the owners of capital – the capitalist class. As a result, while he correctly condemns Trump’s most recent attack on Syria, he misses the main reason it should be opposed: Because as a member of and representative of the capitalist class, Trump cannot and will not do anything to empower his real enemy: The Syrian working class and their sisters and brothers the world over, including here in the US.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Reza April 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm

I’m a fan guys, so this is a friendly note: Can the editors please copy-edit the pieces that get posted.

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SocraticGadfly April 11, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Actually, I don’t think Assad did it either.

And I’m pretty damned sure he didn’t do it in 2013, and so were Sy Hersh, Robert Parry and others.

Cui bono, as for who’s more likely than Assad?

If anyone, possibly the man in the picture at my blog is behind it, just as he was in 2013: https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2017/04/once-again-lets-slow-walk-syria.html

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Schlump April 11, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Kurds are not fighting on the side of Assad. US wants regime change and partition. US backs the Kurds…so does Israel. They want a Kurdistan across northern Syria and Iraq to hamper Shiite rapprochement between Iraq, Iran, and Syria. So it is sloppy and dishonest to say that just because the Kurds are allegedly fighting ISIS they are also allying with the SAA and Assad. Greenwald is a moron and sloppy too. The alleged chemical attack scenes were filmed by The White Helmets–they are an Al Nusra security group—looks staged…again, any story coming out of this that takes The White Helmet scenery and doctors treating Sarin victims with bare hands in sandals has to be viewed as either sloppy, overly credulous, or downright dishonest. This is a sloppy article that is better than what Greenwald wrote—a very low bar.

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SocraticGadfly April 11, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Also, I don’t believe in seeing every issue in either US politics or world geopolitics through the issue of class. (And, related, there were plenty of wars before capitalism, and arguably, chimpanzees are waging ware when one troop attacks another.)

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Essence of Truth May 1, 2017 at 4:03 pm

It might be a good idea to get your facts right before calling someone dishonest.

“While he’s right that we shouldn’t just take the word of the US government (or any other) for it, he ignores the fact that the only other explanation for what happened is the explanation coming from Putin & Co. — that the gas came from the bombs exploding at a chemical weapons plant, and the chemicals combined in mid air to form sarin. All the chemical experts so far say this is so unlikely as to be almost ruled out. Maybe they’re wrong, but Greenwald is sloppy at best, and dishonest at worst, for ignoring this.”

Beautiful strawman here. Greenwald never claims Russia’s initial speculation as to the possible cause of the chemical attack is right. You also ignore that other means of delivery such as a canister mounted with an IED, a rocket launcher or a mortar could have been used. In fact, studies of the crater formed by the explosion indicate it could not have generated from an air attack. The carcass of the pipe used to allegedly deliver the gas indicate that an explosive charge was placed on top of it to release its content.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/assessment-of-white-house-intelligence-report-about-nerve-agent-attack-in-khan-shaykhun-syria/5584867

You also seem content to ignore the fact the last time the US accused Assad of a chemical attack in 2013 in Ghouta, a UN report determined Assad could not have been responsible and that instead, the rebel opposition was the most likely culprit.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-un-mission-report-confirms-that-opposition-rebels-used-chemical-weapons-against-civilians-and-government-forces/5363139

“This is downright dishonest. There’s no other way of saying it. He’s clearly implying that the policy of the US government has been and continues to be to arm “anti-Assad rebels” and that the previous attack back on March 6 was part of this. In fact, he even implies that the previous attack, too, was or might have been aimed at Assad. That is flat-out untrue and it’s hard to imagine that Greenwald doesn’t know it. Even under Obama, the policy was to support Assad, on the one hand by arming the Kurds, who in effect were fighting on Assad’s side, and by restraining the Southern Army from attacking Assad’s forces.”

The CIA has been funnelling arms to the Syrian with the help of Turkey and the latter has been actively providing training and support, including for chemical weapons, to the al-Nusra Front. What Greenwald is alleging has been heavily documented. The only way to explain your accusation of dishonesty is your own ignorance and/or ironically, dishonesty.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

“Greenwald writes about the “wimp” factor and Trump wanting to prove he’s strong as if this were a personal matter. It has nothing to do with that. To the extent that Trump represents the mainstream of US capitalism rather than his own personal interests, he and his advisors understand that this bombing is part of a general change in US strategy and they want opponents of US imperialism – especially the North Korean government – to understand that.”

How can you suggest there has been a change in US strategy? And how does that preclude Trump use of the military as mean to boost his approval rating?

Obama steadily escalated US military conflicts abroad during his presidency and the US has been bombing Syria for the best part of three years. Nothing has fundementaly changed since Trump has taken over and only poorly informed individuals think it has. Trump has simply augmented US bombings and disengaged himself from the approval process.

I’m not even sure what’s your intent in pretending Greenwald does not understand the US media. Corporations own the government so to make a distinction between the two is redundant. Also, the attempt to ridicule his attempt to put perspective on the west dismissal of RT – because it is state run – demonstrates you have no idea of how it functions. RT is not state run, it is state funded like a certain PBS. While its journalist will not have editorial liberty of attacking the Russian government, many of them, who previously worked in western media have said they have complete freedom to discuss anything else. If anything, they promulgate less propaganda than the US mainstream media.

Confused and dishonest? I think a good look in the mirror should be in line for yours truly.

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