In this crusade, armchair liberal trothawks sally forth to save “intelligentsia” like themselves from Saddam, sorry, Assad. Vilifying the majority of Syrians’ electoral decisions which are also supported by polls, the white knight trothawks claim to represent the wishes of Syrians and in particular “revolutionaries”, though the Syrian Communist parties at this juncture defend their country and the Syrian government. Similarly, Israel and the US abhorred Gazans’ choice of Hamas (as Rice sleazed “I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming … I don’t know anyone who wasn’t caught off guard by Hamas’s strong showing”). In the wings, Israel assists Al Qaeda “revolutionary” affiliate Al Nusra whilst smearing its old adversary and supporter of the Syrian government, Hezbollah, hoping to weaken it in preparation for a convenient time to steal South Lebanon real estate, its “unfinished business”, where Hezbollah previously defeated the belligerent, expansionist zionist entity.
Obligingly, the Pythonesque knights zero in on Russia, who, unlike the empire and its dirty cronies – NATO, the GCC and Israel – was invited by the sovereign Syrian government to intervene. However, trothawks do not recognise sovereignty for they are white knights embracing “no borders”, endowed with noblesse oblige to charge in wherever cartoon superheroes are required to support “democracy” and other glorious western values traditionally foisted upon foreign nations without consent prior to capitalist exploitation. Russia has its own legitimate interests, yet is demonised by knightly trothawks who cheer for empire’s “revolutionary” death squads and “regime change”, for the good of Syrians of course.
Ironies multiply. Pick a side, must be our side, bellow the trothawks. Wahhhhh, those who are not for us must be against us!!! if you don’t support the US contras and condemn Putin, you must be a Putinist, no, a Stalinist, Assadist, tankie, paternalist, orientalist, dummy anti-imperialist and whatever else they can scrounge into their desperate smear campaign against the real anti-imperialist left. Bush and his predecessors’ nationalist chants and the ridiculous Cold War deception are revived. As post-intervention rivers of blood flow on in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the empire’s abhorrent divide and rule strategy in the region is crystal clear, despite transparent trothawk attempts at disappearing the imperial record under the rubric of “Arab spring”. Oozing colonialism and petty bourgeois racism, trothawks and neocons alike see these perpetual strategic imperial destabilisations as necessarily fixed footy matches with the role of empire to be hushed up and sanitised. Like the capitalist elite, they ride like engorged ticks on the back of empire, as valkyries screeching for the heads of those who challenge their absurd reductionism.
Happy thanksgiving, gawd bless Amerikkka, the turkey was better than last year’s. What do you want for Christmas? South Lebanon?
1. Trothawk (noun) – warmonger who professes grassroots organising capabilities, does not fight, supports other non-combatants building grassroots nationalist movements, opportunistically chooses proxies to fight on their behalf, loves RtP, bombs for “democracy” not “social justice for workers”. The cry of the mating Trothawk is “tell me what to think about this. What are the other Trothawks doing?” Also see “Lovebirds of War” https://www.kadaitcha.com/2015/09/10/lovebirds-of-war/
2. “The Gaza Bombshell” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/04/gaza200804
3. “Lebanon, Israel and the next Middle East war” http://www.lebanonwire.com/0804MLN/08043009KT.asp
4. Trothawks for bombs. “We do call for action to protect civilians in Syria, including limited military action to enforce a no-bombing zone.” http://www.syriauk.org/2015/11/why-we-are-not-supporting-todays-stop.html
“While holding up a paper copy of the 2012 DIA report declassified through FOIA, Hasan reads aloud key passages such as, “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
“Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.”
‘The cables gave the public a recent window into the strategies and motivations of US officials as they expressed them to each other, not as they usually expressed them to the public. In the case of Syria, the cables show that regime change had been a long-standing goal of US policy; that the US promoted sectarianism in support of its regime-change policy, thus helping lay the foundation for the sectarian civil war and massive bloodshed that we see in Syria today; that key components of the Bush administration’s regime-change policy remained in place even as the Obama administration moved publicly toward a policy of engagement; and that the US government was much more interested in the Syrian government’s foreign policy, particularly its relationship with Iran, than in human rights inside Syria.’
‘The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.
The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”
Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria. The channel is named after the Barada River, which courses through the heart of Damascus, the Syrian capital.’
‘Several U.S. diplomatic cables from the embassy in Damascus reveal that the Syrian exiles received money from a State Department program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. According to the cables, the State Department funneled money to the exile group via the Democracy Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. According to its Web site, the council sponsors projects in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America to promote the “fundamental elements of stable societies.”
The council’s founder and president, James Prince, is a former congressional staff member and investment adviser for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Reached by telephone, Prince acknowledged that the council administers a grant from the Middle East Partnership Initiative but said that it was not “Syria-specific.”
Prince said he was “familiar with” Barada TV and the Syrian exile group in London, but he declined to comment further, saying he did not have approval from his board of directors. “We don’t really talk about anything like that,” he said.
The April 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus states that the Democracy Council received $6.3 million from the State Department to run a Syria-related program called the “Civil Society Strengthening Initiative.” That program is described as “a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners” to produce, among other things, “various broadcast concepts.” Other cables make clear that one of those concepts was Barada TV.’
“He is currently the director with responsibility for internet communications for The Best Plans Project and is also involved with the Democracy Council in San Francisco in the construction of a new web presence for the American International School in Gaza.’
‘Go back a while to early 2006, and you have the state department announcing a new “funding opportunity” called the “Syria Democracy Program”. On offer, grants worth “$5m in Federal Fiscal Year 2006”. The aim of the grants? “To accelerate the work of reformers in Syria.”‘
‘ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments,  found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and 26 percent for the Syrian Opposition Coalition.’
‘And even worse, rather than publishing findings in a peer-reviewed academic journal, the findings from the “Secret Survey” are publicized in the media with articles in places such as The Business Wire, the LA Times, CNN, the Free Library, Daily News. I believe that the point of this research is to shape an anti-Assad agenda and anti-Assad atmosphere in the US. Personally, I am also against the Assad regime and believe he must go — and research of this kind has a place in foreign policy. But, at the same time –it is unreasonable to engage in this type of ethically dubious research and expect your reputation as a research to remain in tact! ‘
RELEVANT WIKILEAKS CABLES
‘Some programs may be perceived, were they made public, as an attempt to undermine the Asad regime, as opposed to encouraging behavior reform. In an effort to assist any Department level discussions on the SARG’s attitude toward human rights, this cable describes a possible strategy for framing the human rights discussion as an area of “mutual concern” for Syria and the U.S.’
‘DRL funded four major Syria-specific programs in the previous fiscal year. The grant recipients were (1) Freedom House, which conducted multiple workshops for a select group of Syrian activists on “strategic non-violence and civic mobilization;” (2) the American Bar Association, which held a conference in Damascus in July and then continued outreach with the goal of implementing legal education programs in Syria through local partners; (3) American University, which has conducted research on Syrian tribal and civil society by inviting shaykhs from six tribes to Beirut for interviews and training; and (4) Internews, which has coordinated with the Arab Women Media Center to support media youth camps for university-aged Syrians in both Amman and Damascus. In addition to these programs, the Embassy provided input on DRL grants awarded to Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), International War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), and The International Research and Exchange Board (IREX). Though Post does not directly monitor any of these programs, we have appreciated the opportunity to meet with representatives of CIPE and IWPR. ‘
‘In addition to smaller local grants, MEPI sponsors eight major Syria-specific initiatives, some dating back to 2005, that will have received approximately USD 12 million by September 2010. A summary of MEPI produced material on these programs follows: -Aspen Strategic Initiative Institute, “Supporting Democratic Reform” (USD 2,085,044, December 1, 2005 – December 31, 2009). The institute, situated in Berlin, works with indigenous and expatriate reform-oriented activists and has sponsored conferences in international locations that brought together NGO representatives, media, and human rights activists from the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S., paying particular attention to Syrian Kurds. MEPI noted that “while this program has offered little intrinsic value and will not likely be continued beyond the terms of the grant, the program did give NEA a unique opportunity to meet Damascus Declaration officials in Europe who were later vouched for by Riad Seif” (a Damascus Declaration signatory currently serving a two and a half year prison sentence). -Democracy Council of California, “Civil Society Strengthening Initiative (CSSI)” (USD 6,300,562, September 1, 2006 – September 30, 2010). “CSSI is a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners” that has produced a secure Damascus Declaration website (www.nidaasyria.org) and “various broadcast concepts” set to air in April. -Regents of the University of New Mexico, “The Cooperative Monitoring Center-Amman: Web Access for Civil Society Initiatives” (USD 949,920, September 30, 2006 – September 30, 2009). This project established “a web portal” and training in how to use it for NGOs. MEPI noted, “this program has been of minimal utility and is unlikely to be continued beyond the term of the grant.” -People in Need, “Strengthening Civil Society” (USD 611,304, September 30, 2006 – June 30, 2009). This project provided training for young activists using the model of Eastern European democratization. -Berlin Society, “Local Women’s Center” (USD 316,592, September 25, 2006 – August 31, 2009). This project funds a women’s center in Syria which, in turn, provides Internet access, as well as computer and literacy classes, and legal and medical advice. -International Republican Institute (IRI), “Supporting Democratic Reform” (USD 1,250,000, September 30, 2006 – August 31, 2009). “The project supports grassroots public awareness campaigns and the conduct and dissemination of public opinion polling research. Recent results include the distribution of two video compact discs compiling footage recorded by citizen-journalists and a 240-page report documenting thousands of human rights abuses.” -Solidarity Center, “Building Trade Union Capacity” (Approx. USD 50,000 of a multi-country USD 3,000,000 program, September 1, 2007 – December 31, 2009). This project funds “pilot research” on Syrian trade unions and has connected domestic labor activists and their counterparts in the Middle East and North Africa. Senior staff have visited Syria for meetings with the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions. -Etana Press, “Community-Based Libraries” (USD 584,904, June 1, 2008 – February 28, 2010). “This project supports the establishment of a community-based library/bookshop.” MEPI noted that over 500 visitors have visited the library to date “though it is not yet fully operational.” -MEPI has also proposed continued programming for IRI and the CIPE, as well as supporting independent journalists through joint efforts with NEA/PI. ‘
”Zeitunah told us security services had asked whether she had met with anyone from our “Foreign Ministry” and with anyone from the Democracy Council (Comment: State Department Foreign Affairs Officer Joseph Barghout had recently been in Syria and met with Zeitunah; we assume the SARG was fishing for information, knowing Barghout had entered the country. Jim Prince was in Damascus on February 25, and it is our understanding he met with Zeitunah at that time, or had done so on a separate trip. End Comment). She added that her interrogators did not ask about Barghout by name, but they did have Jim Prince’s. ”
“Zeitunah’s report begs the question of how much and for how long the SARG has known about Democracy Council operations in Syria and, by extension, the MJD’s participation. Reporting in other channels suggest the Syrian Muhabarat may already have penetrated the MJD and is using MJD contacts to track U.S. democracy programming. If the SARG does know, but has chosen not to intervene openly, it raises the possibility that the SARG may be mounting a campaign to entrap democracy activists receiving illegal (under Syrian law) foreign assistance.”
‘It is unclear to what extent SARG intelligence services understand how USG money enters Syria and through which proxy organizations. What is clear, however, is that security agents are increasingly focused on this issue when they interrogate human rights and civil society activists. The information agents are able to frame their questions with more and more specific information and names. The charge that Hasani received USG funding vis-a-vis the Al-Andalus Center is especially worrying since it may suggest the SARG has keyed in on MEPI operations in particular. ‘
In 2010: Thanks to the US “human rights” interventions and “plausible deniability” cover, Syria arrests human rights activists. Prince seems to have kept at arms’ length from Barada TV head Attasi:
‘Attasi confirmed reports we had heard from other contacts about the SARG,s interest in chasing down the financial and political support structure behind Barada. Security agents called her in for questioning in October and repeatedly asked her about her affiliations with the U.S. Embassy and whether she knew Jim Prince and someone named “Ugo” (or “Hugo”), the latter of whom agents described as being involved with People In Need in Prague. Attasi truthfully denied personal knowledge of the individuals as well as ever having visited the Embassy, though she claimed to have “indirectly” sent a warning to Ugo. ‘
At around the same time the United States was forming death squads and torture chambers, the Bush administration plotted the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Leaked documents made available by WikiLeaks show that the United States planned, once again, to deploy the El Salvador option in Syria. The plan “was to use a number of different factors to create paranoia within the Syrian government; to push it to overreact, to make it fear there’s a coup” including “foster[ing] tensions between Shiites and Sunnis.
‘Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a spectre that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria’s borders.’
‘ 63% of Syrians think the Free Syrian Army have a completely or somewhat negative influence in Syria, compared to 36% who think they have a somewhat or completely positive influence’
Preplanning: ‘However brutal and repressive Bashar al-Assad may be, he is currently the leader of a sovereign state which is still recognised as legitimate by most other countries in the world. And despite a civil war that has been raging for over four years, the opposition groups supported by a range of other Middle Eastern countries as well as by the USA have singularly failed to dislodge him. While David Cameron calls Assad “one of ISIL’s greatest recruiting sergeants”, the indisputable fact is that ISIL stepped into the vacuum created by the civil war itself.
It is an open secret that the USA, mainly through the CIA, has been funding, arming and supporting the Syrian opposition from the outset. Undeterred by the disastrous results of ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya, the US, UK and other western powers have been determined to see regime change in Syria and have been trying for four years to help that along by supporting the Free Syrian Army and other military groups trying to oust Assad.’
Poll of Libyans (March 2014): 32% say the country is better off “since the revolution” while 41% say it’s worse off.
‘How much death and destruction would American terror warriors have to cause before their ostensible opponents rejected their claims of noble intent? During the thirteen years of the “war on terror,” actions of the United States government have consistently and predictably strengthened anti-American terrorist groups. To chalk this all up to stupidity — rather than unstated imperial imperatives — is to choose ignorance.’
‘U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday it might be possible for the Syrian government and rebel forces to cooperate against Islamic State militants without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad having first left power.
However, Kerry said it would be “exceedingly difficult” to achieve this if rebel forces that have been fighting against Assad for more than four years did not have some confidence that the Syrian leader would eventually go.
Kerry was asked at a news conference during a visit to Greece whether Assad’s departure was a precondition for Western-backed rebels to cooperate with government troops against IS, which has captured a swathe of Syria and Iraq and carried out a string of attacks in other countries.
“With respect to the question of Assad and the timing, I think the answer is … it is not clear that he would have to ‘go’ if there was clarity with respect to what his future might or might not be,” Kerry said.’
Interview between Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) and Gen. Wesley Clark, retired 4-star US army general and former supreme Allied commander of NATO during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: […] About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”
So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”
‘”The goal of the Riyadh meeting is developing a united front against Assad,” Khaled Khoja, said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We will share our new vision there. We have conformity over Syria’s future after Assad. We are meeting in Riyadh to avert claims that the opposition is a creation of different factions,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Khoja is due to attend the summit from Dec. 11 to 14, when the Saudi government has invited 65 opposition leaders to discuss the shape Syria in accordance with the Geneva communique, the document that sets out the need for a cease-fire and political settlement.”
‘The flaunting of high-sounding phrases is characteristic of the declassed petty-bourgeois intellectuals. The organised proletarian Communists will certainly punish this “habit” with nothing less than derision and expulsion from all responsible posts. The people must be told the bitter truth simply, clearly and in a straightforward manner’.
‘If war is waged by the exploiting class with the object of strengthening its rule as a class, such a war is a criminal war, and “defencism” in such a war is a base betrayal of socialism. If war is waged by the proletariat after it has conquered the bourgeoisie in its own country, and is waged with the object of strengthening and developing socialism, such a war is legitimate and “holy”.’
‘JAY: Now, you made a point in your article that the Americans have done very little bombing of these oil trucks. They kind of picked it up after the Russians started bombing oil trucks. How do you explain the Americans allowing this kind of flow of funds into IS?
PRASHAD: Well, I asked somebody in the State Department this. And you know, she’s not a spokesperson, not possible for her to speak on the record. But she basically said something that I found very unbelievable, which is that it’s taken them time to perfect their targeting. They didn’t want to hit civilians, they don’t believe that the truck drivers should be targeted, that they themselves aren’t, you know, a party to IS. They are merely driving trucks. So they had to finesse their operations.
Well, this sounded a little far-fetched to me. The United States has not been known, you know, as a humanitarian bomber when it’s bombed other logistical convoys in Afghanistan or elsewhere. So this seemed a little odd to me. Yes, it–of course, it appears directly that the American bombing, the few bombings now of oil convoys have followed the ration bombings of the oil convoys. But you know, I just want to say that even the bombings of the oil convoys, it will have a dent on ISIS’s Office of Resources. But the vast bulk of ISIS funding comes from confiscations, extortion, and taxation. And that is not going to be affected by aerial bombardment. So whether they bomb the trucks or not, ISIS funding is not going to be completely depleted.
What this attack at the ISIS oil is going to do is to put pressure on groups–on countries such as Turkey and Israel and others that are playing a duplicitous game in this international coalition against ISIS. I think that is far more important. It’s clarifying the politics. Where does Turkey stand vis-a-vis ISIS? Where does Israel stand?
JAY: Listen, we’ve been saying–and you and I have talked about this, I’ve talked about this in other interviews on the Real News. But the fundamental strategy of the United States and Israel in Syria was let everybody kill each other, as long as it takes. In other words, make sure no one side gets a real strategic advantage over the other. And if one gets too strong, strengthen one of the other sides. Do you think this has something to do with it, that they don’t–you know, they don’t want a complete collapse of ISIS.
PRASHAD: Well, look, it’s–. This is a plausible scenario. I’ve never heard it from anybody in a position of authority, you know, that they feel that they don’t want to see the collapse of ISIS. But what they do say, which comes close to that, is that destroying ISIS itself is not going to give the Sunni population of northwestern Iraq an sections of northern Syria, it’s not going to give the Sunni population confidence that they, you know, their sort of anxieties, their grievances, would be taken care of. In other words, just allowing the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul, to be overrun by the Iraqi army is itself not going to bring that Sunni population to understand that their needs would be taken care of by the Iraqi state, and the same of course in Syria.’