Ending Baathism in Syria requires a major war

Ending Baathism in Syria requires a major war.

Syria has a population of 22million that is massively divided along religious and ethnic lines (10% Kurds). It has a Baathist tyranny better supported among that population than was Gadaffi who had considerable support and so a big war is in the very early stages of developing. The tyranny is very well armed and trained, and has ‘undegraded’ command and control, with massive numbers of police thugs, spies, and so forth. So, this will take some time and will involve Turkey for sure. Turkey is being quite open about being the regional power that will act if it must, and the Kurdish issue and PKK is clearly central to this.

Syria also has had a national conscription system that now leaves a great legacy of trained men who are now willing and partly able to take on the lawful tyranny in a civil war. Both sides have just observed what happened over 9mths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt etc., in this year of continuous spring. So soldiers who are thinking about mutiny will be encouraged as the situation develops and the core forces of repression will be somewhat shaken by the visions they have just been witness to.

Fortunately for the masses of people in revolt, the Islamic cultural reality of Friday prayers and mass gatherings throughout the country to mobilize around, and the egged on or ‘shame’ factor of not being left behind when others have been brave and fought and grabbed their freedom ought not be underestimated. Confidence really ought to be up on the side of the revolution and down a bit at least among the tyranny despite its large support and vast quantities of military assets. Large scale mutiny is the most hopeful start to the next stage of ridding Syria of Baathists, but from at least the Turkish side, I can’t see how this fight can be left alone to develop as a ‘pure’ civil war for very much longer.

As I see this the Syrian army becomes muscle bound very quickly in most of the larger cities that have had the big demonstrations against Assad, and is quickly exhausted in the smaller towns especially near all the borders, and no doubt along the Euphrates river and Nth. East of that line. They are effectively an army of occupation and can obviously be spread too thin trying to hold everything so they currently are running around trying to appear to be everywhere. But spying and the in and out arresting duties of the secret police and so forth is the only way this regime can even continue to exist in huge parts of the country.

The young fighting men can and will be pissed off and fight back, as well as leave and cross the border into Turkey as we have seen in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. They will be greeted by the soldiers that have deserted and are already there as a determined rebellious armed force planning for either a long war, or rapid growth if the situation changes. This force will in the face of almost weekly reports of mass slaughter start to mount reply attacks deliberately to gain greater recognition and further stimulate recruitment. They are not refugees but a fighting force already trained and intent on overthrowing the people that they have fled from and who are still systematically killing their friends and family members, so they will find ways to fight right now and that keeps some of this fighting near the Turkish border.

The Turks are already permitting the establishment of an insurgent force and the Syrian tyranny can’t hit across the border as the Turks would respond immediately and massively. Turkey will remain the most important country able to impose the military action (similar to the NATO effort in Libya) and no other country has the stomach for this IMV. Turkey’s leadership has a vital interest identified and seems determined to advance its democratic reform program within Turkey that requires dealing with Kurdish liberation issues, and simultaneously with the current PKK that has been and still are hosted in all the neighbours.

Turkey has no territorial ambitions but regularly has crossed its borders and beat up on the PKK and is still doing so right now so it looks like the perfect storm for a war to develop.

The Syrian tyranny is continuing to systematically murder the Syrian people and can’t stop this brutality. They can’t undo the way they rule with terror police as the core to their control across a vast part of the country. They can only now exist by holding guns over the people of very many towns and villages and cities of Syria. The Syrian army is now an army of occupation that fears intervention from the far larger Turkey. The army has too much to do and is rotting so it has no prospect of stopping the small fights and the constant flight that the activities of the secret police etc., ensure will continue. Eventually it will be unable to patrol near the border for fear of hit and run, then hit and advance attacks that will be mounted near population centres. They will not be able to use air power against the freedom fighters.

No doubt if war breaks out the western international community would turn a blind eye and hope for the end of the Assad regime as one aspect of the outcomes that in some cases would happen in days of a mass Turkish incursion. The Turkish armed forces would not have to liberate large Syrian population centers, all they have to do is prevent the Syrian forces from surrounding and suppressing the people they are currently intimidating near the Turkish border and then allowing the rebel force that they currently protect in Turkish territory to return and be protected in very much larger form in Syrian territory. They would then hand over all the arms required by the new Syrian regime that they recognize and try to continue to take steps back over time as the Syrian civil war is fought. Seems straight forward but wars don’t work to plan, let alone time-tables, and other sides usually have a bit to say. What we have here in abundance is other sides.

But though I feel sure that a large war is coming and how it gets going won’t matter much this is too complex for me to get a handle on. What follows from the current suppression of the Syrian masses by the Baathists is that a war of liberation must breakout if democracy is part of the demands that are thrown on the table. These demands are on the table and Turkey must comply with the international body that approves of the end of the war. The UN determines when the end is and the new government is given the UN seat. Given that 3,000 are already dead and lots more are disappeared the war is going in one sense already.

Once Turkey gets involved then the NFZ and or destruction of the Syrian air forces in a big war comes up and NATO naval forces would also get drawn in with blockade work and U.S. spy assets etc.. The Syrian army would be rapidly isolated in large areas of Syria and then systematically destroyed if it lacks air power. If this war were to eventuate Turkey is bound to follow through and cut up the army that is spread too thin trying to hold down large population centres. That will end the period of secret police activities and see heavy arms rapidly distributed to the population that is more than willing to put them to use. That is I suppose the ideal first stage for putting a stop to the way the Baathists run Syria.

The Baathists can now enter population centers unopposed, but provided the opposition run around and avoid much fighting they can’t stay and comfortably regain control everywhere at once. Neither can they do what the Russians have done in Grozny because that will bring on the required intervention. If they can’t use heavy weapons and can’t avoid continuous small arms skirmishing then they will over time be driven from the bigger cities that are in revolt. The soldiers cant stay in their tanks and can’t avoid snipers and so the insurgents will be able to organise and grow. IMV Turkey wants to intervene and will intervene if the Baathists use air power, or they start to use the heavy weapons.

Without air power the Syrian army eventually won’t be able to enter some of the larger cities without being defeated because the supply of anti-tank weapons etc., will flood in from Turkey with the blessing of the whole world. Then the civil war will unfold and finally ought to draw in the U.S. from the Mediterranean. NATO ought to be redeploying from the Libyan theatre now. There will be much work for the A10′s.

I can’t see a ‘cheaper’ way of ending the Syrian Baathist tyranny as they are far too strong at the moment, just like the Libyan tyranny was before they were seen to be about to defeat the rebels in Benghazi and the intervention was launched. That was when I hoped for Egyptian intervention. It would have sped the liberation that has now come to Libya even without that intervention and with all the costs to the libyan people.

77 Responses to “Ending Baathism in Syria requires a major war”

  1. 1 Dalec

    Your post reads rather like that of any apologist for Imperial conquest from Rome onwards. “those savages need the civilising touch of cold steel eh”
    I guess it would not occur to you that there may be ways other than Imperial genocide to “civilise the lesser races” – as they would say.
    That you entirely fail to mention any of the complicating factors such as the role of Israel and the danger to Lebanon and the occupied territories astounds me,

  2. 2 Arthur

    Syrian Baathism is a good deal less virulent than Iraqi Baathism (think Mussolini cf Hitler).

    Regime is better described as Alawite than as Baathist. A major issue is that the Alawi minority (10%) was historically persecuted under non Alawi regimes and has good reason to expect persecution again once they lose power (especially as Salafis seem to be stronger in Syria than in other recent revolutions). They might even want to stage a fighting retreat to their own mountain areas and maintain autonomy.

    NATO (including Turkish) intervention might conceivably take a less apocalyptic form – preventing sectarian civil war and protecting all minorities.

    So far I gather the main Kurdish parties have not clearly sided with the revolution (apparently because the main revolutionary forces have not clearly accepted Kurdish demands for autonomy).

    Also the Sunni merchants etc have not yet broken with the regime. Turkish and other NATO intervention might be quite decisive in speeding that break. If so, then once that part of the ruling elite breaks away, again a less major war might be required.

    An indication that the regime could suddenly crack is the sheer hysteria of Assad’s claims about a regional catastrophe. The (directly contradictory) claims about Israel can be dismissed as merely standard Arab dictator rhetoric, although particularly pointless when Israel is so obviously preferring “stability” in Syria rather than yet another islamist regime surrounding it. Only people like Dalec would even pretend to take Assad’s rhetoric on this seriously, so it does sounds like the language of a regime about to crack.

    Nevertheless I agree that the Syrian regime appears to have a stronger base than Gaddafi’s and it was surprising how long the fighting lasted in Libya despite the outcome having been obvious from the start. So there could well be a longer and tougher fight in Syria as patrickm suggests, despite the above counter indications.

  3. 3 Arthur

    Ok, I shouldn’t feed the troll but I can’t resist.

    Can anyone, including Dalec, explain what he might mean by “danger to Lebanon and the occupied territories”?

    Hamas has already distanced itself from the regime, moving its Damascus offices to Egypt. Fateh has always hated the regime for its attempts to dominate the Palestinian movement (so much so that they even sided with the Iraqi Baathists against the Syrian Baathists and used to cheer when Syrian planes were shot down in Lebanon – even though they were shot down by the Israelis).

    Is Lebanon supposed to be afraid that Syria might not be able to interfere as much, or that an islamist regime in Damascus would be less likely to let arms get through to the Lebanese resistance??

  4. 4 Dalec

    Arthur; First question: How come a person who does not wholly agree with your position is a troll?
    My fear is that given a large scale conflagration in Syria, Israel will no doubt use it as cover to expel all the Palestinians from the occupied territories. The re-occupation of Lebanon will be a strategic neccessity. Make no mistake the dream of a greater Israel and Israeli rule over the “untermench” Arabs in the region is not dead; it is alive and well and is strongly supported by Imperial US under the cover of “humanitarian intervention”.
    A Turkish invasion of Syria? Maybe that would cause enough death and destruction to sate your appetite.

  5. 5 Arthur


    thanks for sharing.

    I was genuinely curious, there is no way to GUESS that somebody might believe overthrow of the Syrian dictatorship will “no doubt” result in Israeli expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied territories and re-occupation of Lebanon.

    I am not in the least bit curious as to why you believe this stuff.

  6. 6 patrickm

    It is apparent that King Abdullah’s thinking re ‘his’ Jordan is to make sure that whomever leads the government has the ability and intent to change the status of Jordan as required by the peaceful pressure from the streets, and ensure a smooth transition to a fully fledged western style bourgeois democracy so that he can stay on his throne in the manner of the British royal family. King Abdullah intends to ‘lead’ his people from 1 or 2 steps behind! Still we mustn’t complain as this is decades of progress ahead of Assad etc.

    Hypothetically, I wonder if Assad sent his less Baathist yet nevertheless Baathist troops to annex Abdullah’s realm as Saddam did to Kuwait if Steve would continue to sprout his current line over Kuwait! Nevermind thankfully after what happened to Saddam he wouldn’t dare do it.

    I suspect that Steve knows he would oppose such an invasion now and just can’t admit to getting it wrong back then. No matter we all move on; it’s just that some – like Hitchens – understand just how far they have moved on.

    King Abdullah of Jordan … the first Arab leader to explicitly ask for the embattled Syrian leader’s resignation. “I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down and make sure whoever comes behind me has the ability to change the status quo that we’re seeing.”

    The Arab bloc also called on member states to withdraw their ambassadors from Syria and said new economic and political sanctions would be put into effect later this week.

    At least 40 Syrians were killed in fighting on Monday between forces loyal to Assad and insurgents in a town near the border with Jordan, local activists said, in the first case of major armed resistance to Assad in the region.

    They said troops backed by armor killed 20 people – army defectors, insurgents and civilians – in an assault on Khirbet Ghazaleh in the Hauran Plain, and in fighting that ensued near the town. A similar number of troops were killed, they added.

    and this is interesting
    ‘But Claire Berlinski, an Istanbul based journalist and academic, said Ankara’s economic problems precluded it from playing a significant role in dealing with the crisis.

    “Turkey can’t play the role the world is assigning to it. It’s a developing country with huge problems of its own,” she said by e-mail. “The economy may be ‘booming’ by international standards, but everyone knows a crash is coming.”

    Berlinski added that the Euro zone crisis could well spread to Turkey, further destabilizing the country’s vulnerable economy.

    Turkish authorities, she said, “need to look as if they’re on the right side with Syria, and they obviously want to look as if they’re on the American side, whatever it is. But they can’t afford to be adventurous. And frankly, I don’t blame them.”’

    Last November the Syrian tyranny had the entire population of Syria intimidated and ‘good’ relations with most of its neighbors. Last week saw the Arab League, after 8 months of Syrian Arab Spring with now 3,500 plus dead civilians, force Syria’s Assad tyranny to at least (and at last) make their cheap statements about ending violence and withdrawing the tanks from the streets and releasing the arrested etc.. IMV this was a ‘reasonable’ attempt (given who is involved) to prevent the further descent into civil war. The goal of preventing this descent into civil war is a worthwhile goal despite who it is that says so.

    The consequent very quick suspension from the League after the further killings is good news as is the urgent talk about applying further economic sanctions and more political pressure. The abstention of Iraq in that vote ought not be considered firm evidence of Iraqi government support for the preservation of the Assad tyranny because of other evidence that the Iraqi government have advocated that a transition from the current tyranny to a democracy be undertaken in an orderly manner whatever that means exactly.

    Of the 22 members Lebanon, Yemen and Syria voted NO and Iraq abstained; 18 voted for suspension! That is a very solid understanding that the Assad regime cannot holdout as is nor reverse the direction that the mass of the Syrian people are going in, and so can’t in any long run sense win -a thus entirely preventable- civil war. The test of strength is not really required. But I would bet this test of strength will happen despite the strategic situation! Utterly revolting waste but as Mao was fond of saying ‘where the broom does not reach the dust will not vanish of it’s own accord’.

    Unlike Gaddafi, Assad would I think at some point bolt for the exit if it remains an option, so I am glad it currently still is, and hope it stays that way for as long as possible, but obviously at some point this option closes because it will harm the interests of the ruling class that offers the bolt hole as their own people will hold it against them. Then his options will become an international trial (clearly he is guilty of serious crimes against his people) and so subsequently jail or death at the hands of his people. Obviously if he bolts that will speed the collapse as the army will then shatter as only Assad provides the legitimacy (and he has lost that). So I live in hope he will reflect on the fate of other tyrants of late and choose that bolt option earlier rather than later, or not at all.

    This view (that Assad is doomed) despite any spin is no doubt a view shared with the other 3 countries despite their vote (as well as shared by Turkey and China, Iran and even Russia). China after the fact of the Arab League expulsion (and surprised by it no doubt) has simply been the first to throw the Assad regime under the bus. Putin/Russia will (at sometime) get around to this as well while Iran can stamp its frustrated diplomatic feet all it likes but that is really about all it can do.

    No one outside Syria will fight any part of a war to try to preserve Assad.

    The Arab League has tried to get onto the front foot and make it clear that it has effectively finished with Assad and so Iran and Russia can huff and puff all they like for the next few weeks or whatever, but they will not fight about this if or when a provoked Turkey finally intervenes to help the Syrian people protect themselves.

    The sober truth is that if this violence spins into a larger scale of mass murder of the people demanding their human rights, more of the army will mutiny and rapidly IMV, or eventually at any rate secure the full armed control of some northern border towns. Turkey will have already been forced to increase their ‘meddling’ with the supply of weapons to a developing bourgeois democratic peoples army that pretty well only requires those arms to start to fightback and spread it’s control.

    I bet those arms in large quantities are already on their way forward. Any Turkish high command will be now months down the track of planning for the start of this quite possible war, and would have what amounts to a few weeks worth of logistics and then follow up supplies well placed. This stuff is not coming by camel train but via overnight semi trailers placed forward near the border. Turkey has plenty of air power lots of troops, good access to U.S. intelligence assets that the U.S. would be happy to share, loads of buildup time and plenty of special forces.

    It is now clear to everyone that the Syrian regime is strategically finished and the offer to Assad of refuge if he takes it now or at any rate ‘soon’ is not unrealistic or inappropriate. Naturally he deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars but that is not the best way to encourage him to bring on the regimes implosion. The Arab League(AL) encouraged the regime to talk to the opposition in Cairo. Talks are now happening in Cairo with that opposition and the AL.

    The question of recognition of the opposition council is now coming up even though this is still premature. The AL would like to keep the threatened Turkish intervention from happening against even a suspended AL member. But I think the only thing that can prevent that intervention now is for the Assad regime to implode. The reports of additional troops heading to Homs is not good.

    I don’t think the regime can dismantle itself willingly and hand over power through a peaceful election process. Or that a big enough mutiny will occur to tip the balance in favour of the people in large parts of the country and the Assad forces withdraw from them and a new shared power and slow reform and transition situation emerge, and I don’t think Assad will bolt for quite a while but I hope I am wrong as an implosion as Assad ‘saves’ himself is possible.

  7. 7 Steve Owens

    In August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait.
    “In October 1990 the Syrian airforce backed by the US …. attacked the (Lebanese) Presidential Palace….”
    Please don’t lecture me on hypocrisy.

  8. 8 steve owens
  9. 9 steve owens
  10. 10 patrickm

    These reports are important and events are obviously moving much faster than even a month ago. Today’s news report from Libya of the capture of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who will now face a trial with a death penalty attached is every bit as important, as any news directly out of Syria, or the bordering countries; because the Arab Spring – a rolling revolution – must now be seen by the Arab masses as one ‘event’, where the various people have what Yanks used to call The Big Mo. (Momentum)

    IMV the very large Syrian armed forces would have to be one of the most unstable armed forces, not to have already been dragged through a big war ever. Little more than 8 months into the end stage struggle to rid Syria of the Assad tyranny and this relatively massive force is visibly ‘spinning its wheels’. We can reasonably predict that a vast number of these soldiers will abandon the tyrant before this war ends. The troops are just not going to have the deep motivation to fight to the death as this fight goes on and probably on for quite some time.

    The newly emerging western left will in the end cheer almost any intervention that finally gets launched by the Turkish government and NATO. That would be a big turn around in thinking from 2 decades ago, but the precedent of intervening in Libya’s civil war has now been set and the region is leading not NATO.

    The Arab Spring is not a struggle for the lousy levels of freedom and dignity apparent in our so ‘enlightened’ western streets. Nothing so grand as the right to sleep in a tent, in a park for a month or so!

    The Arabs are not struggling at the level afforded western working people under 21stC bourgeois nanny state democracy. Their spring event is at the current unreformed Islamic level of freedoms. Their current levels are only approaching western standards of almost a century ago with respect to women’s rights and gay issues …well etc.

    The Arab Spring is clearly uniting the many to defeat the few and around the very simplest of demands and it has an infectious momentum. No wonder the Arab League is now effectively standing shoulder to shoulder with Turkey despite them never wanting to. This is not working out the way either planned.

    This situation happened to anti-war leftists over Libya. Events suddenly found leftists standing where they had never expected to be. The Arab demands are very simple, and the Assad response to those demands has produced a completely predictable fightback. These demands really will unite the vast majority of the people in any country behind any guns they can get hold of and the way the events play out really will affect the neighbors.

    All the governments following Jordan are now developing policies that concede the basic demands of the masses for politics and elections and regular transfers of governmental power. They all know this is not going to blow over and things return to the pre-Iraq election days. That’s when Syrian troops were driven from Lebanon, as on memory the very first impact of the liberation of Iraq.

    Mind-numbing stability is regionally finished and even a long forgotten, though once protected, Shiek-doms stir. http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=1762300

    The peoples’ of Kuwait unsurprisingly continue with some very low level struggle. (similar in a sense to Australia) That low level is still head and shoulders ahead of many in their neighbourhood, and they have been stumbling along (again much like Australia) for the 20yrs they have been free of brutal Iraqi Baathist tyranny. A Baathism we have been reminded that was far more virulent than the mass-murderous Syrian Baathism of 2011.

    The whole world is trying to stop the Syrian Baathists murdering unarmed demonstrators in the thousands in 2011. The people of Kuwait carry on their struggles (economic, political, theoretical disputes) in a political environment similar to Jordan. That’s undoubtedly lower in the historical pecking order than liberated Iraq, but way ahead of Bahrain and Syria. No question of the international community having to mount a ‘no-brainer’ war (as was required this year for Libya) over Kuwait, nor even think about building a united-front of all classes to make war to end the regime, as is the current task for Syria.

    Thinking about war is what progressives ought to do about the Syrian Baathists current slaughter, and that’s where we westerners will come up against a diminishing number of the usual suspects widely thought to be of the left. No doubt Fisk will soon be all over their ABC with his drivel, but the non-interventionists are shrinking.

    To get to that current Kuwait reality really did require a war of liberation. It required a rejection of the politics of Bob Brown Greens, and unity with the (current Libya style) Adam Bandt type Greens. It required support for and unity with real world forces of the ruling-classes, as led by the likes of Major General Jim Molan . It required rejection of a well known style and type of anti-imperialism, as once again in 2011 displayed by Jeff Sparrow and Professor Richard Tanter.

    On reflection the Libyan violence can’t but appear to the masses as anything other than a pointless waste of life and resources, and the Arab peoples’ focus is now understood to be on freedom for Syrians. The unavoidable armed struggle that’s breaking out now, when over, will also be seen to have been utterly pointless and will have a further affect on the next ‘front’. (Could be Palestine or possibly non Arab who knows)

    After more than 8 months of broad and regionally contextual unrest the troops would all assume that they are going to be dragged through a big civil war, and that the neighbors will intervene at some point, as will the west in some manner. The common troops are undoubtedly as well informed about the big issues of their time and region as any ever have been, and they are already out of their barracks and widely deployed across the country wrestling with their conscience, and their self interests, and balancing that against their fears every day.

    These various troops have just watched what amounts to their own potential fate over a year of Arab spring uprisings, where the powerful end up falling, and the people win progress and the army always cracks up.

    The Syrian officers are mostly the isolated Alawite sect and the rank and file are mostly Sunni. These troops have to put down the mostly Sunni demonstrators and that is just not going to work for another 8 months, so it is no wonder that the Arab League has seen the future and called upon Assad to stop and talk about the transition that is coming, with or without the bloodshed.

    All the troops (both officers and men) have seen the fate of the powerful army of Libya. The net and alternative mass media has not been closed. The vital issues of confidence in the cause, and in the leadership and the ability to instill fear in the opponents are not going Assad’s way. Momentum is with the rebellion.

  11. 11 steve owens

    What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends


  12. 12 steve owens
  13. 13 GuruJane

    You betcha, steve owens. They’ve dusted their hands off after Libya and now all are going after Assad as the purple fingers are raised in their wake. And with the Arab League in the lead!

    Then, after Assad, Iran?

    Not long before a fame/fortune-seeking pseudo Left historian writes the first revisionist account connecting the dots between the Bush/Blair removal of Saddam/Baath, then war to defeat the fascist/salafis until Iraq’s constitutional democracy was safe and the subsequent departures of Mssrs Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi and soon Assad.

    Truly epoch making.

  14. 14 steve owens

    Guru I praise anyone who helps free the Syrian people. I however agree with Robert Fisk who stated the Syria will be decided by people in tanks rather than by people with AK47s. Where will those tanks come from? And speaking of Israel here’s a piece from someone I usually disagree with by it proves that theres some common ground with almost everyone.

  15. 15 steve owens
  16. 16 patrickm

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/archives/2007/01/04/scourging-the-surge/#comment-298702 @120

    January 11, 2007 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    “Now the question of Saudi Arabia is interesting because social development is so bad there. But one thing is certain. The current regime is doomed. As is the Syrians and Iranians. The region is heading for change and propping up tyrants has only made things far worse. I do not know enough about Saudi Arabia to comment yet but I do know that millions of guest workers feature in the equation, as does the fact that the oil is mostly in the Shia region of Saudi Arabia. Anyway we probably have a few years for that problem to fully develop and by then there will be sufficient progress throughout the region such that all current analysis would be rendered hopelessly premature.”

    I now feel sure that the Saudi ruling-elite, irrespective of them trying to arm devout Sunni in Syria, and hoping to bring into being another Sunni Islamic state- do not want mass revenge killings of Shia and any regional war. It is fortunate for the revolution that they are forced to undermine their own political arrangements by arming what must then become democratic revolutionaries. The devout that they arm will sooner or later participate in elections in Syria that are meaningful.

    At the point where the Saudi ruling-elite welcome the emergence of a democratic Syria (marked by that country holding those elections) change will be ‘rapidly’ on the way for Saudi Arabia. Whatever level of war in Syria is required to bring about the revolutionary transformation that very transformation and the consequences for yet another Arab leadership will shake the resolve of the Saudi ruling elite to be brittle in resisting the demanded changes that emerge on their home front. Those demands are going to emerge from a very youthful society, tech savvy and well connected during a golden period of political progress in the ME. The revolution is advancing in Egypt. Democratic Palestine really is coming. The U.S. desperately need the war for greater Israel ended. A far more democratic Jordan is ‘odd’s on’ (if that’s the correct expression) to arrive without a war. The staggered regional development produces regular victories and examples for the broader Arab peoples’.

    The new reality must spark democratic demands from the Saudi people, and these demands will be very difficult to refuse. A few years on we can predict attempts will be made to manage the Saudi transition as Jordan is currently being managed. That management, to be effective has to bring to one of the most religiously ‘fraternal’ societies for the one sect liberty for the other great sect. Liberating the Shia peoples’ within Saudi Arabia throws the old issues and their order once more on the political table http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libert%C3%A9,_%C3%A9galit%C3%A9,_fraternit%C3%A9. Bahrain at some point within this process must be surrendered to its people, despite them being majority Shia.

    When the Assad regime falls and the fingers finally get stained (if that is achieved in 5 years the revolutionaries will have done well, and I fully expect them to do more than well but I am a hopeless optimist) the Iranian peoples will be hopeful and the young seething with hatred of their ruling-class and their paid thugs, and they will have Friday’s. The Saudi regime will be facing its young people every Friday as an absurdity.

  17. 17 patrickm

    First up, just to inform anyone who might not be aware and to introduce what I have been thinking about re Syria. Here is the ad for The Monthly Argument: June 14 2012.

    Hi Everybody Our next debate is on the uprising against the Assad regime in Syria.
    Topic: Syria: Should there be an international military intervention?
    Not surprisingly, there’s good interest in this particular debate amongst Melbourne’s Syrian community – and it’s coming from those on both sides of the intervention question, so we’re expecting the issues to be hotly argued.
    Date: Thursday, June 14 (debate itself starts@ 7pm, drinks and nibbles available from 6:15pm. Those wanting to attend thepre-debate buffet dinner should phone Graduate House (9347 3428) by 5:30 pm on June 8.)
    Location: Melbourne University Graduate House (220 Leicester Street, Carlton).Location Map.
    Inclined to support intervention:
    Charles Richardson (philosopher, longstanding Crikey political commentator, Director at Above Quota Elections)
    Strongly in favour of intervention:
    Arthur Dent (formerly known as Albert Langer).
    Inclined to oppose intervention:
    Dr Sally Totman (Deakin University. Senior Lecturer in Middle East Studies)
    Strongly against intervention:
    Robert Bekhazi(Lebanese/Australian who imports alcohol and kitchenware from Syria, member of Australians for Syria)
    Chairperson: Brian Pola
    Some pre-debate reading/listening material from our speakers:
    Robert Bekhazi:
    What’s Up with Syria?(Richard Stubbs’ interview with Robert Bekhazi and Dr Benjamin Mc Queen)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fnDI2u3rew(James Carleton interviews Robert Bekhazi)
    Some Syrian Australians Support the Syrian Government(Robert Bekhazi on ABC Radio Breakfast)
    The Syrian MosaicEncounter. Radio National
    Charles Richardson:
    Syria: Counting the Cost of the West’s Stability Fetish
    Violence in Syria: Bashar al-Assad makes public appearance
    Russia goes its own way over Syria
    Egypt’s Islamists prepare to govern
    Can the peace option work in Syria?
    Bahrain’s year of failed revolution
    Arab spring: Saudi Arabi backs Syria rebels
    Sally Totman:
    Interview on Radio Adelaide Breakfast Show ( May 29 2012)
    Australian Institute of International Affairs: Q&A with Dr Sally Totman


    I’ve had a good look and listen to the above material.

    What are we to make of the attacks against the UN inspectorate force, and the removal of bodies from the recent massacre event? What will weapons suppliers to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) the leadership of which is based in Turkey make of the events? Particularly, what will Sunni weapons suppliers make of these events? IMV the answer is obvious – weapons supplies will be ramped up all round. These events must be seen as a desperate move by a faction of the Assad supporter base that will bring on further defections and spread the civil-war that is not now imminent but underway. The events of this last month are as close as you get to the sound of the starter’s gun to the middle stage of the Syrian front of the regional revolution.

    What of the ongoing stand-off artillery attacks that can now be seen every day? It’s obvious that such actions are conclusively divisive. Syria has not held together under Assad but the majority of the Syrian peoples’ are not yet armed well enough to deal with him and whatever minority his supporter base finally consists of , but the arms are flowing and the recruits are abundant for the FSA. The supportive minority have a looming problem.

    The international community is not yet prepared to openly launch their part of the required war but Assad has lost control of several large cities and will not be able to regain control of them. He is not strong enough to be able to go house to house, and he will not be permitted to starve out the abundant freedom fighters, nor turn entire towns to rubble in the way that Putin destroyed Grozny. The international community that really counts has been slowly drawn into the fight. It is now clearly speaking out unconcerned with Russian or Chinese objections. Regime change is not optional, so Assad who from the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’ was obviously strategically stuffed is starting to be abandoned by the Russians who sound exactly like the pseudo-left as they warn everyone that ‘we’ don’t want another Iraq or Libya because ‘we all know what disasters they were’.

    Assuming Assad won’t quickly flee (to Russia?) how is he going to be defeated?

    The Iraqi’s do not have an air-force worth comparing to Syria; or Turkey; or Saudi Arabia and won’t line up with the Iranians who do; so they can’t project any conventional power across open deserts through their and Syria’s Sunni regions and don’t want to anyway. Iraq has a defensive structure built into its armed forces as a result of what they have been up to for many years and want to get on with their own issues. The key point is that the Iraqi people have an open media so they know and hate what Assad is up to just like the rest of the world. The region of Iraq that borders Syria is Arab Sunni, and Kurdish and anti-Assad refugees are seeking refuge. Since Assad did not take the early advice from the the Iraqi government and international community nothing can now be done for him, and for the present at least for the minority that he still ‘leads’. I think the Iraq government must wash its hands of the Assad regime. If the Assad supporting minority in Syria do not begin to face the feared blow-back large scale ethnic cleansing then Iraq will not be drawn in. If the Lebanese Shia get drawn in then this situation would probably change. But the Lebanese Shia (leadership) would be wanting Assad gone and power sharing implemented now (rather than see themselves dragged through another [15years last time] war to then reach negotiations that would end in the same result).

    In August 2011, Charles Richardson noted that on the issue of condemning the Assad regime ‘The most surprisingly trenchant statement, however, came from Saudi Arabia’s king Abdullah, who condemned the “killing machine and bloodshed” and bluntly declared the situation in Syria was “not acceptable”. “Either it chooses wisdom on its own or it will be pulled down into the depths of turmoil and loss,” he vowed.

    Richardson was aware that; ‘…Saudi Arabia, [is] easily the most repressive state still to be relatively untouched by protests’, and believes that; ‘If revolt should break out in Saudi Arabia,however, (In the current climate, he ought to think like a well advised King, and say when revolution occurs, because blind Freddy knows that this period is the region wide ‘Arab Spring’, and the Saudi Arab people will not remain at the back of the bus for ever) there’s little doubt that the regime would be every bit as ruthless as Gaddafi and Assad have been.’

    I think there’s NOW room for quite a bit of doubt. If the ‘Arab Spring’ had started in Saudi Arabia (SA) then his statement would be true. But it did not and lessons are often learned as we saw with the U.S. ruling-elite after 9/11. Demands from the peoples’ for suffrage (for both men and women) and such things as regular free and fair elections of a parliament will obviously come to SA. A youthful and well-to-do, tech equipped population profile is very important. The vast majority of these young people will obviously reject the local conservatives and follow the local ‘progressives’ (whatever that actually means in their context) who are conducting the struggle from within Islam.

    Having no doubt, implies that the tiny Saudi ruling-elite can never learn from the fate of others. But I think they will do more than ask themselves if they are really doomed to violently confront the masses over these demands. They would be better off managing the introduction of this novel new system that the rest of the region is adopting. I think they are thinking hard about this stuff even now and will think about what’s to be done much harder after Assad goes down. The Saudi regime is now going to play a big roll in bringing Assad down and sooner rather than the drawn out later of a ‘pure’ civil-war

    It’s fair to say that rear-guard-actions are always dragged out in one way or another however ‘… Saudis, siding with Arab rebels — first in Libya, now in Syria — is a dangerous game, but they evidently believe that they have little choice.’ They do have little choice but there is still choice, and there are ample opportunities to make new and just as catastrophic errors of judgment and or lesser mistakes for themselves later. I don’t think Richardson properly grasps the way their lack of any real choice over maintaining stability is unfolding. The Saudi King is not ‘moving quickly to cut loose those who, in his eyes, are giving autocracy a bad name’; but is obliged to assist the Sunni masses who form the majority in Syria. (After having assisted the Sunni minority in Bahrain) The Saudi King is therefore ‘no doubt’ planning for and managing change that has come to his door like it or not. The Saudi regime will most probably manage the 21st century bourgeois democratic revolution in the manner that the King of Jordan has shown the way on.

    ‘…the spectacle of a Saudi monarch pushing for “reforms that are not merely promises but actual reforms” induces the sort of cognitive dissonance that must give encouragement to the kingdom’s opposition forces.’ More than that, it will self evidently require changes of the regime because it will already be affecting all the subject classes.

    Richardson said ‘…if you thought the west was conflicted in its response to Syria, given its long love-hate relationship with the Assads, that’s nothing compared to the consternation we’ll see in Washington if Saudi Arabia blows up.’

    Bereft of a foundation solid enough to ground his understandings on, Richardson effectively just goes for a swim in the swamp, and ends up saying, well anything can happen.

    The conflicted west formula is to miss the change from the U.S. ruling-elite that really counts. Did that elite change policy direction years ago? Yes they did. When Condi Rice spoke to Mubarak years ago western leftists did not take her seriously. Mubarak is now in jail! He now wishes he took her seriously. The Egyptian reform process is still unfolding just like everywhere else in the region is but the important point is that stability has been smashed and nowhere is going to return to the way the region was on 9/11/2001.

    What is conflicted is not so much the U.S. Ruling-elite but ‘progressives’ who would love to support democracy BUT don’t we all know…

    Mark January 10, 2007 at 10:56 pm | Permalink …
    Who exactly does he imagine would replace the Saudi or Egyptian regimes if they were overthrown? Bourgeois liberals? Or Wahabbist nuts…

    Even back in 2007 bourgeois democracy was all very well, but Islamist parties would form governments! So good liberals, progressives and venerable leftists could go quiet and claim that the U.S. would be too conflicted to really adopt the ‘destabilising’ policies that draining the swamp demanded. They all just had to go into denial, and mock, or remain silent rather than honestly and openly work through the issues. As we saw until Libya broke the spell for a great many, and opened up room for the real debate in reality western anti-war leftists and progressives were substantially backing right-wing ‘realist’ policies throughout the ME! Rather than recognise the region wide revolutionary consequences of liberating Iraq, we we were all told that Bush and Rice and all the talk of democracy was just the same as it ever was etc..

    A very good response to that thinking came from…

    Barbara B January 13, 2007 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Ah well. Firstly the good news, you don’t have to be a LastSuperPower unreconstructed maoist to come to my conclusion.
    …As result I maintain (a) there was nothing ever mysterious about the appearance of Islamism (b)it should never have been demonised but recognised as legitimate – and particularly so by the Left (c) that as long as some form of direct elections/empowerment of the people remains part of its government structure/ or declared policy then it should be vigorously supported by the Left and held to account if it lapses into fascism after gaining power (d) that the reactionary, totalitarian, Islamofascist wing of “Islamism” – again, no mystery in Christian development-just recall Savanarola, German National Socialism etc – should be clearly labelled for what it is by the Left and vehemently opposed at all times. That’s what demonstrations should be about, imo. In fact I can’t understand why they are not.
    Chris: modernisation of the Christian world took several hundred years. You seem to think it should happen in the Middle East Muslim world overnight just because it seems so obvious and logical to you. The attitude towards women is similar to that which prevailed in Christian west in 15th century, and most Christian women internalised/defended/accepted it then just as many Muslim women do today. But the economic imperative will change this over time.


    Assad obviously did not want to be using tanks and mass terror killing of Sunni. When the region was gripped by the old U.S. policy that supported stability, humiliation of the Arab peoples’ was the common lot. Iraqi liberation as marked by elections and real negotiations between contesting political parties launched the much delayed ‘Arab Spring’ that has shattered the fear of local tyrants. Self respect demands that peoples’ keep up with what the neighbors have. This stuff takes some years to filter through but once it starts there is only concession or repression. Friday’s won’t/can’t be dispensed with.

    Richardson at the 8 month point of the Syrian front said ‘…the Syrian government has agreed to the League’s peace plan for Syria: an end to violence, withdrawal of troops from cities, release of prisoners and negotiations with the opposition.

    The Syrian uprising has dragged on for nearly eight months with a cumulative death toll of several thousand. But although often seeming on the verge of tipping over into full-scale massacre or civil war it has not done so, and this morning’s breakthrough offers some hope that the worst might be over.’

    That was foolish then and has now become self evidently so. We now know the Syrian army can’t go into the cities it’s shelling without taking heavy casualties and desertions.

    This is the big difference between Syria and Libya. Assad has lacked the manic ruthlessness that Colonel Gaddafi displayed; no one really doubted that had Gaddafi gained the upper hand he would have engaged in exactly the bloodbath that he promised (just as Assad’s father did in 1982). Whatever else might have been the pros and cons of Western intervention, the need to protect civilians was all too clear.
    Syria is less clear. There, Assad has at least made the effort to sound like a reformer and peace maker, deploring the violence while conspicuously failing to stop it. But as the months go by and casualties continue to mount, it becomes harder and harder to imagine a resolution that doesn’t involve a complete change of regime. The endgame in Libya will have given Syria’s opposition more confidence in demanding just that.

    Well I expect Syria is clearer for Richardson today! The left ought to be calling for intervention long before ditherer in Chief Obama gets around to it. But what has Richardson been saying?

    If Assad ‘… is just playing for time, hoping to wait out his opponents and reserving the option of a bloodier crackdown to come, then a Libyan-style foreign intervention may yet become an option.’

    Well he has been!

    ‘Assad has had more genuine support among influential sections of his country’s population, then things are not so hopeless. As international sanctions start to bite, and as the regime’s reformist veneer becomes more and more transparent, that support may dwindle to the point where either Assad or those in his inner circle (not to mention his few remaining allies) see the writing on the wall.
    If Western assistance can speed that process then it certainly should be given, but it’s unlikely that there’s much we can do — Turkey, Russia and of course the Arab League itself are much better placed. And while it is distressing to watch people being killed, the example of Iraq is there to remind us that untimely intervention can lead to blood and chaos on a vastly greater scale.’

    Oh really! How about rethinking what has led to the current region wide revolution and admitting that it was never in prospect before the so called untimely liberation of Iraq and the destruction of the massive fascist army at the very heart of the swamp?

    ‘American and European concern about the violence in Syria is no doubt genuine; when protests began there it seemed as if the Americans’ first instinct was to support Assad. Great powers like stability and Assad was a classic case of “the devil you know”, but his intransigence eventually exhausted Western patience.’

    The lastsuperpower writers have been explaining US policies to support ‘destabilisation’ in the region for years but IMV Richardson still does not get it and it limits his analysis!
    US failure to achieve ‘…regime change in Bahrain, despite its huge military leverage there, is just another sad case of realpolitik at work.’

    NO its not. This is a genuine problem for the U.S.. What it is is an indication of what it is really able to do and it can’t even get an end to the failed war for greater Israel that it has desperately needed for years. When the Shia masses gain control of their country – Bahrain – the U.S. will be required to leave and will. But it wasn’t the U.S. that propped up the regime it was the Saudi’s!

    Richardson has however moved along a bit;
    “Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was treated openly as a friend by the US; the policy of preferring stability to democracy was generally quite explicit, despite a short period of doubt under George Bush jnr.”

    Short period of doubt?? Rice spelled it out loud and clear when she said that for sixty years my country has followed the wrong policy that failed and we are changing it! There was no short period of doubt but a comprehensive change in direction. It used to prefer stability and thus favoured tyranny just like the Israeli ruling-elite. The Israeli government still do. But there is nothing they can do about it. The U.S. kicked off the bourgeois democratic revolution and it is running!

    Rather than; ‘And it can’t be denied that the policy of pursuing “stability” paid some dividends.’

    it must be fully understood that the real dividend was that the peoples’ of the ME rightly hate the U.S. ruling-class (as any leftist up to and including the venerable Noam Chomsky will agree) to the extent that some people born and bred in the ‘moderate’ Arab ‘allies’ delivered 9/11 as the first fully franked installment. They came out of the U.S. sustained swamp and bit like hell. The next time they came out could be even worse. So now of course that swamp is being drained as the only way of strategically fighting the war that was declared, ready or not over a decade ago. The wrongly and stupidly named ‘war on terror.’

    Rather than;
    ‘The intervention in Libya has put Western policy makers on the spot; they simply cannot credibly claim that massacres by Arab autocrats are none of their business.’

    It has put anti-war leftists in the spotlight.

    Faced with the clear requirement for escalation and all that it implies, we are fed hope that the situation won’t just descend into more bloodshed and even all out region wide war.

    Charles Richardson ought to ask himself WHY there is now ‘…the much wider assertion of democracy as a norm: when challenged, even the UN now has to come down on the side of freedom. That’s a big achievement.’ Why does he still doubt that the U.S. with all its ugly past is now really backing the revolution that it stood in the way of for 60yrs? Will the U.S. ruling-elite betray the Syrian peoples’, or be part of the project to ensure they are liberated and we come to see purple-stained-fingers in yet another country? Did the U.S. fail in their war aims in Iraq as Noam Chomsky asserts, or did they succeed?

  18. 18 patrickm

    Ex Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie tell us from personal experience that the comparison between the west and Islamic world is one of life and death issues. Ayaan Hirsi Ali fears the Arab Spring turning into the Arab Winter and I suspect that fear drives the absurd position of Robert Bekhazi.

    In the US the last fifty years of changes has, for southern blacks who often became ‘strange fruit’ pre WW2, seen just as dramatic changes fought for and won as what will have to be fought for across the swamp. Syria is more like these western countries were (especially the US) between the world wars – only worse. Apparently there are 18 sects in Syria yet this police state is obviously nothing like the modern, tolerant and vibrant multicultural societies that have emerged in the western world over the last sixty years or so. In the west conservatives have been beaten back on all fronts whereas conservatives are still very strong in the ME and thats specifically because the tyrannies left only the mosque as the place and Friday prayers the time to even begin to resist them.

    For example elections in Syria as Robert Bekhazi freely admits are not just a joke but a complete joke where Assad gets 98% of the vote and his minority sect is openly wielding disproportionate power. Nevertheless Robert Bekhazi who claims to be a supporter of democracy is still claiming that Assad has majority support of the order of 55% on memory. It’s this claim that underpins his opposition to the armed overthrow of the Assad regime. If it were true that Assad could and would win elections his current conduct is very strange indeed but never mind that; it’s the initial point that Robert Bekhazi concedes – the point that there is massive electoral fraud that obviously cant be addressed by another election or any opinion polling provided by Assad- that requires armed resistance. It is that struggle by all democrats all progressives that must be supported. Only an armed struggle against the secret police and so on can sort this issue out. Kill them or be killed by them. Those forces involved in that very basic struggle become unavoidably associated with anyone else who is fighting against Assad democrat or not. So we have seen a multi sided war break out and the question of what ought the neighbors and the western powers do comes up.

    What obviously scares Robert Bekhazi is the emergence of an Islamic dominated country. He says if you think Assad is bad what is coming is even worse. No doubt if what was going to emerge was an advanced western style country then he would be all in favor of a speedy intervention. What concerns the non-interventionists is what brings on the same line that was prominent with Gaddafi. Al Qaeda is involved and Assad has to be kept in power to stop these Islamic terrorist sorts coming to power. Al Qaeda is calling for the overthrow of Assad and that can’t be helped any more than can their bombing carry on be stopped in the short term. That truth of Al Qaeda involvement is however irrelevant.

    Robert Bekhazi claims to be in favor of democracy and claims that the Syrian peoples were / are free to peacefully take to the streets and peacefully demonstrate and advocate that their admittedly corrupt government stop being corrupt. From this point on we are asked to abandon our minds and blame the current large scale violence on the Al Qaeda types and those sectarians who for years did not take to the streets. What had changed that they in 2011 did take to their streets? The obvious answer is that the young became brave and took to the streets after Friday prayers. They did not gather in small groups and build a protest movement that got bigger. They gathered in big groups at the only venue that was open to them to gather unmolested but still watched by the spies and secret police. They took to the streets when and where they were so overwhelming that the spies and police had to much work to do. Those police and spies had to come back later and work overtime and they did. Peaceful change became impossible.

    Robert Bekhazi is fearful that the Sunni majority of Syria will create an Islamic state and an Arab winter will settle in on all the sects of Syria. It’s a reasonable fear held by reasonable people so the issues have to be worked through. What is the chances of a Sunni winter coming to Syria? Would the earliest western intervention help or hinder the emergence of any feared winter? Western intervention is currently underway as is intervention by neighbor governments as well as non government players. It can’t be prevented and the quicker it gets ramped up the better off the Syrian peoples will be.

    Western intervention as it develops will empower a broad spectrum of political forces but particularly the political forces that unite around the Free Syrian Army. That army came into being of necessity. It has an appropriate charter and is the current leadership of the anti Assad forces that are inevitably diverse and Islamic in flavor. The FSA will grow stronger as the US, Turkey and all the others provide them with the sophisticated weapons that they require. The use of helicopter gun ships and the steady supply of such equipment to Assad by the Russians as the regime has ramped up it’s violence over the last month invites further escalation. NATO led by the US ought to intervene yesterday.

    The country of Syria is younger than Australia and has never known anything but brute force. Syria has changed profoundly since Assad the elder ran the show and conducted mass murder and routine brutalities that Robert Bekhazi regrets but freely admits was real. Robert correctly points out that he did this while the West and the US most notably looked the other way! Syria had apparently changed from that by 2010 when the Assad the younger was proclaimed by many as a moderate and a modernizing reformer.

    I imagine that the horrendous events that have unfolded since the Monthly Argument over Syria was organised would have changed peoples position and that plus (I anticipate) the debate itself will produce instead a positive agreement on the types of interventions that are required rather than a genuine argument for and against intervention.

    To that end I have some questions for Robert Bekhazi who declares that he supports the peaceful reform of Syria into a genuine democracy where elections are not rigged and the rights of all minorities are protected under a constitution presumably up to at least the standard to be found in Iraq or perhaps better!

    1.Ought the Free Syrian Army exist and if so does he approve of it’s founding declaration?
    2.Ought they get weapons from any and every source without exception in the furtherance of that declaration?
    3.Ought Syrian troops defect and put themselves at the service of that declaration
    4.Ought Assad stand down and leave Syria and go to Russia or anywhere that he can run to?
    5.Ought what remains of the Syrian army command take charge and declare a cease fire and a ‘return to barracks’ style withdrawal from offensive actions and the implement an immediate real protection of all the Syrian peoples in full co-operation with the UN Anan process and with the full intention of empowering the Syrian peoples to develop a constitution and establish a democratic system of government?

    The following US view is worth a look
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303753904577452742201722640.html?mod=googlenews_wsj in particular the Related Video with ‘Assistant features editor David Feith on Russia’s abetting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’. I think the Obama elite HAS given up on the ‘reset’ with Russia formula and that even the ditherer in Chief will understand that Assad can’t be permitted to keep winning and that US forces must be forward positioned for what now looks like an inevitable intervention.

    Inclined to support intervention:Charles Richardson would now I bet openly declare support for very many levels of intervention.

  19. 19 patrickm

    Yesterday’s news was that UN observers have stopped their patrols and are staying in their current locations till further notice. Today’s news is that they are being withdrawn from the front lines and the internet shows the shells still landing in Homs. The other day the Russians boasted that they are sending more ground to air missiles to Assad, and sending back some serviced, repaired (? modified, upgraded) helicopters. Putin got himself photographed inspecting attack helicopters, after Clinton made a big issue of attack helicopters being supplied to Assad. Putin has had to send some troops to ensure a bit more safety for their naval base, perhaps because the Syrian armed forces are a bit busy and can’t give any guarantees these days. Reminds me a bit of when the US back in the hey day of realist politics got thrown out of Lebanon after the spectacular bombing and a couple of hundred body bags. All this activity was happening the week before Putin is to meet the ditherer in chief at the (now quite regular) G20 crisis meeting.

    It’s all tough guy Putin, both abroad and at home where the anti Putin opposition is growing (in both breadth and depth) in response to his thuggery. The two major opposition parties have apparently united and are organising behind demands for an early presidential election. That seems like a reasonably no lose situation for them because even if that demand isn’t won it will build the momentum and strengthen any movement to roll him when the full term election does come round. If Putin just rigs that election then we will see the Arab spring move on to Russia and that will be after another five years of the peoples of the world experiencing the regular downfall of tyrannies. Assad Syria will be gone by then and Putin and the Chinese will have lost more international standing as a result of them standing in the way of the Syrian masses receiving the help that they so badly need.

    Anyway all the peoples’ south of Turkey’s northern border need have no fear of Putin! His revanchist policies will it’s true pointlessly kill plenty of Syrians but as a long term result both phoney ‘bourgeois democratic’ Russia (and utterly phoney ‘communist’ China) will lose more prestige and influence outside their own borders rather than return to any superpower status. The curious thing is that if it were not for the current round of bourgeois economic madness descending on the masses, the bourgeois revolution itself would not be rolling along quite as quickly as it is! Truly strange. The phoney and revoltingly opportunist ‘radical’ leftists in Greece actually make such little sense that they just got defeated by the conservative party that was running the show through the build up to the financial wreck! Nobody is making any sense at all and not a communist revolutionary in sight let alone a communist revolution. The proletariat still seem to be at the “somebody else will have to fix this” stage of denial.

    Meanwhile push has come to shove over Syria and the US won’t be able to help themselves if only for the sake of kicking Putin and the Chinese in the goolies. Clinton is getting her way. The US ruling elite ought to be able to work out as easy as I can that they are on a clear winner in supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Whatever the Russian thug president does he won’t be able to commit to a long war to defend Assad. If Putin can’t remember what the US did to a muscle bound Russian army in Afghanistan though arming the local Jihadists and Al Qaeda with stingers and so forth then he is going to get another lesson big-time in Syria.

    This is where reasonable people start to think about the issue that arises once again. Robert Bekhazi would remind us all that the last time that the US and the Saudis were arming one side of a conflict was Afghanistan. It did not work out so well for humanity as a whole and progressives in particular. Is that what the Saudi regime is going to be up to this time round? It’s not what the Libyan, Turkish, Jordanian, US and rest of NATO will be up to! The US will be walking and chewing gum this time round.

    Steve Owens said ‘Guru I praise anyone who helps free the Syrian people. I however agree with Robert Fisk who stated that Syria will be decided by people in tanks rather than by people with AK47s. Where will those tanks come from? And speaking of Israel here’s a piece from someone I usually disagree with but it proves that theres some common ground with almost everyone.

    Syria will not be determined by people in tanks anymore than Vietnam was. Yet the absolute last stage of the Vietnamese war (of liberation from colonial oppression and for the holding of democratic elections mind) ended dramatically with the vision of a North Vietnamese tank smashing through the presidential gates and then the tank driver jumping out and rushing forward carrying a flag . That’s how it goes. People of the You Tube generation may get the wrong idea. Tank units do get formed but only when those tanks are surrounded with infantry. The infantry acquire the artillery. In the final analysis the infantry fought and won the war.

    Today I heard that the Saudis have announced that their order of 300 advanced German tanks is to be increased to 600 and possibly 800. That is not just saying something it is doing something with a shit load of money! It has arms race stamped all over it. But an arms race with whom? What do the Saudi ruling elite think these tanks might come in handy for? Do they think like Fisk and Steve? Are they just prudently preparing for any eventuality including the possibility of a regional war? They will have to intimidate a lot of their own people anyway no matter what happens in the future and tanks do more than just a little intimidating, so perhaps 6-800 sounds like nice round number to increase their current 1200 odd number by. 2,000 fully paid for and mostly very modern tanks. But how does that compare to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Army

    In Syria 2012 neither side can avoid fighting a war of men in tanks but only one side will even try to decide the issues with them and that’s because they have so many of them at present. When they do get forced to retreat to the Alawite area they are going to present a very tough nut to crack and Assad may well hold on there for some further years. In the long term tanks are very thirsty beasts prone to supply problems. Ultimately the small number of men in tanks will be defeated once more by the masses of people with their AK47s, RPG’s, Stingers and so forth. It takes a long time to do it and there are massive casualties along the way but once people’s armies get going they learn to avoid the enemy strong points melt away and reappear where the enemy is weak. The real tiger as set out in the above wiki will however become the paper tiger. It’s all there in the military writings of Mao. I just hope that this fight gets shortened with the addition of NATO ‘artillery’ to smash Assad’s as quick as is possible. Like Arthur I am very strongly in favor of intervention for the sake of the Syrians and all humanity. I would love to see Assad’s tanks and artillery etc. smashed by US A10’s as part of another NFZ war against tyranny.

    Putin is both bluffing and thrashing about warning Turkey, Saudi A, and so forth to stay out of Syria. Syria is already changed and the arms flow can’t be stopped because the regions peoples’ are involved. Many of Assad troops are stuck with border duties and yet the borders are porous. His army is rotten with sectarian divisions so it must be deeply infiltrated with supporters of the Syrian peoples’ resistance.

    There is only one way to resist Assad who started the killing and that is with the gun. His police thugs and spies and so forth are in some large cities and towns now being shot rather than sullenly complied with. He can no longer run a police state like Putin runs Russia. Assad has to make war on big regions and the majority of the peoples’ in Syria and this is both apparent to the world’s people and sickening to them. Putin has been making war in parts of his empire for many years but now the Russian peoples’ are growing weary of him and his methods.

    When democratic Syrians do oust Assad and after the constitution and elections period the new government will require a Russian withdrawal. Russians won’t be keeping a base like the US have in Cuba. The Russians are losing more than just prestige and there is nothing they can do about it. Whatever time this revolutionary war takes to sweep aside the Assad regime a great outcome is that it will be bad news for Putin. There will be no US or NATO base replacing the Russian base either. No Ottoman, French, Russian or anyone else. That will be the end of the long era of bases in Syria. To get to there a war is underway and weapons are flowing to both sides. Naturally the Syrian revolutionaries are (as is always the case) happy to get them from anywhere and anyone they can.

    After the early demonstrations met with bloody repression the fightback began just like in Libya. Now (18 months later) the old Syria is gone and the helicopter gun ships are now at work and the evidence is clear and on the net. Artillery is pounding away killing civilians every day and most young Syrians will not be happy with that so the pro Assad part of the population will continue to shrink. But after whatever period of brutal slaughter this goes for a Balkan style period of division is very probable. The armed forces continues to suffer from a rising level of defections and the following report is very encouraging http://www.albawaba.com/news/sources-senior-alawite-officers-want-oust-assad-430165

    Meanwhile every Friday Islamist organised masses take to the streets and for the rest of the week work in other ways for their liberation and the FSA emerged and now stick to their knitting, so change is unfolding and has been from the start Islamist. The Friday of Dignity in Syria : The start of revolution

    Christopher Hitchens, as the following article from 2007 demonstrates, was another reasonable person wrestling with Islamic issues. How are atheists to deal with this religion that’s mostly straight out of the middle ages, within the general struggle for modernity globally and across the recognised Islamic countries in particular? Modernity IS the international progressive project in more than one sense but there is widespread confusion as to who and what is capable of modernising any country that has an Islamic majority or large minority. http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_1_urbanities-steyn.html

    The Islamic issue has been so disorienting that the right wing realist position of propping up tyranny rather than promoting democracy where Islamist parties could win has often been the stand of people that have otherwise thought of themselves as of the left. More often than not the anti war left and pseudo-left have simply gone silent. Rather than tell a lie they choose to say nothing and thus ‘lie’ by omission. They neglect rather than confront the issue of democracy.

    Revolutionary democrats stick to our knitting March 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm and accept the protracted nature of what we have been on about since the revolution was put back on the agenda in the 21st C

    There has been very great confusion over this issue over many years and this has shown up starkly over Syria. Egypt is showing a way forward. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/world/africa/islamist-candidate-is-apparent-victor-in-egypt-as-military-cements-its-powers.html

  20. 20 patrickm

    Years ago when Saddam was under UN sanctions a massive tanker industry transported oil from Iraq through Syria and off to beyond. Tens of thousands were employed in the transport of oil and nobody even attempted to stop it. Now oil products for Assad will only cross the border from Lebanon, or arrive from the sea from Iran or Russia; and then move to the far flung parts of the civil war as huge soft targets for the masses of already trained resistance fighters and their numerous untrained followers. No fuel will come from Iraq, Turkey, Jordan or through the Golan Heights from Israel. All this fuel moves around a country with the world’s greatest spy satellite system currently ‘parked’ above and at the FSA’s disposal, and the nosiest neighbours anywhere on the planet. The rest of the world is keen on stopping the fuel supply that feeds the mechanised army of Assad and it ought to be the No.1 .priority of the FSA.

    The FSA currently ‘control’ only where they move about or through and when discovered they face artillery and air attacks that they have no answer for, except further ‘dispersal’ and thus more movement; and thus more temporary control. Their job is to stay armed and in ‘control’ of their streets, and then sneak up and ‘cut the elephants tendons’, and ‘poison’ his water holes. His water hole is fuel. Assad’s army is fuel dependent. It can’t resort to fighting on foot as it is vastly outnumbered. This ought to be a war on fuel tankers not a war of tanks. Obviously shutting down the tankers quickly shuts down the tanks.

    At last the ME can have a war fought about controlling the flow of oil and its products. The quicker everyone in Syria is reduced to walking around the quicker the revolution will sweep the country of the current men in tanks. The FSA will then have to fuel its newly acquired tanks and they won’t have any fuel supply problems from their Jordanian / Saudi Arabian rear as they advance. The rebels major interests are now tactical supply issues – food, weapons and munitions and medical supplies and facilities. All supplies are at the front lines in enemy hands, or on the border and the whole war depends on vulnerable fuel supplies or walking.

    So what’s happening at the moment?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/world/middleeast/palestinians-in-syria-drawn-into-the-violence.html?pagewanted=all This item is on the Palestinian situation in Syria and may be of interest to others.

    Over the last month the Syrian revolution has moved up a cog with the Syrian army tearing holes in itself with killings, desertions and sabotage of all sorts. Even a few Generals have now defected Video: Syrian army is ‘destroyed physically and mentally’, says …

    Whether it’s 60%, or 20% of the country that the army has lost control of, what is clear is that the rebels are rapidly taking ‘full’ control in many towns and cities across the country. Formalities aside, it is the ‘FSA’ that is growing rapidly and the world’s MSM is getting out many examples of armed Syrians in their hundreds, (many with an obvious military background) at war with what is clearly a heavily mechanised army of occupation.

    The attacks on the Palestinians is indicative of a regime that is imploding and undoubtedly 80%+ of the Palestinians (who have tried their best to stay out of it) will now join the revolutionary forces and later make another great contribution by helping to clean up their own political house.

    The recent film footage is dramatically different to what came out of Libya and small wonder at that. There is no clear front-line instead there are lines all over the place. People are in control of where they stand and contest the ground to as far away as their ‘guns’ are effective. Assad’s army has bigger guns and an air force so he still claims to be able to contest for the whole country, but it’s not working. An example of that contest resulted in the Turks losing 2 airmen and a war plane and the Turkish government sending columns of troops to the border and warning Assad not to approach their mutual border or they will view these moves as hostile and act accordingly. The Turkish actions whatever the exact words were pretty plain ‘speaking’ if you ask me. So even when the Syrian army tactically wins, it strategically loses.

    The very latest news http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/06/30/uk-syria-crisis-idUKBRE85R0CT20120630 is that the UN Security council permanent members have supposedly settled on imposing a unity government on Syria “on the basis of mutual consent”. I think it was only last week when Assad swore in a new cabinet. This big power political pontifications is obviously far too little and far too late and is going to have nothing to do with the next stage of this revolution. We can note however that China and Russia have apparently agreed to democratic elections to eventually resolve the issue. That’s a good laugh. But what else could they do? That’s how the world has been since WW2. That’s what the UN is about.

    ‘Peace envoy Kofi Annan said after talks in Geneva the government should include members of Assad’s administration and the Syrian opposition and that it should arrange free elections.’

    RRRight.!! The report also included this more realistic comment;

    Middle East analyst Hayat Alvi of the U.S. Naval War College said he doubted the Assad government would accept the plan and enforcement of it would be almost impossible.

    “The U.S. and other Western powers will not find any flexibility on the part of the Syrian regime, and its allies, namely Russia,” he told Reuters from the United States.

    “The proof is in the Assad regime’s continuous acts of violence against the Syrian people, even while the diplomatic wheels have been turning. The wheels clearly are going in circles without moving forward.”

    It’s all going faster, but still nowhere and everybody knows that can’t last. The heavy weapons attacks on the revolutionary peoples is at the scale where intervention is rapidly ramping up and Clinton is leading the political charge with the clear demand that Assad must go.

    There is no going back for Syrian people who – constituting the vast majority in their particular locale, and who are widely represented across the breadth of the country and are after 16 months of bloody struggle against the police state apparatus of spies secret police and arrests. They are now armed and in control of ‘their’ streets. Their demands – being elementary bourgeois democratic demands – will have to be met. The UN Security Council reps and NATO etc., have now all made that clear. But leaving aside the unreal mutual consent formulation, the job of removing the Assad tyranny is still to be fought through, and as part of this, the real economic sanctions on Assad are growing and countries will be policing them better as time goes on. Meanwhile the FSA is fighting across the breadth of Syria.

    The Syrian state can’t send in negotiators to make demands of the rebels to go back to the way things have been in the past, nor to trust Assad into the future. That past of unrestrained tyranny is gone and this brutal thug state is just not big enough to surround these rebels and trap them in a country wide ‘prison’ and wait them out. The army is not large enough nor reliable enough for the task of shelling and starving the people into submission’ and the international community of countries will not permit it anyway. The loyal part of the army is however large enough to do exactly that policy on some strategic areas, and they eventually will in order to shape the ‘reliable’ enclave that the regime will eventually retreat to. Ethnic cleansing has become part of this war and will become Assad policy in retreat. But Assad can’t hold Damascus.

    Heavy weapons are now being extensively used and intervention has started but there is still no direct intervention but I think there will be. I hope so.

    The neighbouring countries and NATO will lift the level of this intervention as this humanitarian crisis deepens, and undoubtedly their actions of imposing and enforcing sanctions as well as providing the intelligence and weapons will help to ensure that it will deepen. The Assad economy is being shut down by the peoples’ struggle and the external sanctions, and neither Putin nor the Iranian theocrats can stop that and virtually nobody else out side Syria would even want to. But it’s now July 1., 2012 and the shelling goes on.

    Because the ‘economy’ can’t work, the rebels will have to run out of fuel and many other supplies as well and first. Eventually the Syrian state forces will need all the fuel in the country! Then the war will enter a new stage where the logistic demands force their way to the top of the list. The demands for ‘humanitarian corridors’ have been there from the start of the UN involvement because everyone could see what is now inevitable. But the regime could not concede the humanitarian corridors without conceding the war and still can’t IMV. So we are only left with a couple of alternatives until such supply corridors eventuate and the war enters yet another stage.

    The FSA currently walks across the borders and finds refuge. At some stage the neighbours principally Turkey will be drawn into ensuring safe ‘humanitarian’ rebel territory exists on the Syrian side of their border. That’s the logic when legitimate ‘…government should include members of Assad’s administration and the Syrian opposition’ the Turks will recognise the new Syrian government as soon as it controls a chunk of land on the Syrian side of their border. These regions will probably be called humanitarian corridors because they will run from the Turkish border to various towns and cities, but because the Syrian army will be excluded from that side of the ‘corridors’ (with or without a fight and over a longer or shorter period either way) the first corridors will become a rebel region, and that’s as good as being half pregnant. Once a rebel territory exists against a border the war is in a whole new phase.


    ‘Refugees International, a Washington-based refugee advocacy group, warned this month that the Syrian refugee crisis could threaten the political stability of Lebanon and Jordan.
    Jordan is also dealing with persistent Arab Spring-inspired demonstrators seeking political and economic reforms.
    “The longer these refugee situations continue, the more complex they become,” Mr. Harper said. “It never becomes simple.”
    According to the U.N. refugee agency, several organizations have been providing financial support to the most vulnerable refugees in the border towns of Ramtha and Mafraq, while local communities are playing host to refugee families: But resources are being exhausted, and some refugees who are renting apartments are at risk of eviction because they can no longer pay the rent.
    Ghalib, 33, who asked that his family name not be used for safety reasons, said he had been in Jordan for five months but was planning to return to Syria. “I have no more money to pay the rent or even for water and our life has become very difficult,” he said. “So I will be taking my family back with me and I will join the Free Syrian Army.”

    The Turkish government is pointedly deploying troops close to the Syrian border and warning Assad to pull back from the border before the next clash. When there is a clash then Turkey will act. The FSA requires that border access. The FSA has no choice and so there will be clashes near that border and the prospect of Turkish casualties is very high. A part of the Syrian army in revolt or the FSA from an attack will at some stage have to take control of a border crossing and nearby village on the way to establishing a viable logistics route for any pre-humanitarian-corridor that must come into existence.

  21. 21 patrickm

    After posting I noticed an incident where Syrian helicopters approached ‘close’ to the Turkish border. The Turks ‘scrambled’ fighter aircraft and apparently the Syrians drew back. This is just the sort of case I was thinking about and the report also includes news of air strikes on the PKK in Iraq over the last few days.


    ‘Erdogan said the military’s rules of engagement had been changed and that any Syrian element approaching Turkey’s border and deemed a threat would be treated as a military target.’

    IMV that means the real news is the effective establishment of a Turkish enforced No Fly Zone right along the length of the Turkish border to an unspecified depth but possibly 4 miles. Some time soon a No Fire Zone (NFZ) directed at shutting down the internationally unacceptable artillery shelling – will also be enforced along the border. At some point if Syrian elements fire within, or if their munitions land within X miles of the border it will be deemed a threat and the Assad forces will be required to desist or face attack by Turkish forces. Despite all the risks from war the Turkish ruling-elite won’t allow endless shelling of civilians and refugees (turning border towns and villages to rubble in the manner of Putin’s shelling of Grozny and as Homs is increasingly resembling) near Turkey’s borders. Syrian civilians and the unavoidably intermingled FSA will thus come under the protection of the Turkish military.

    Given how events have unfolded over the last 18 months it’s hard to imagine either side backing off and therefore any clash would escalate into a full on air war, and also see the Turks move forward rapidly on land and liberate some large towns on the road towards Damsacus, and thus a tank war will be underway. Any town or village that is currently under Baathist shelling will welcome the Turkish tanks with coffee and flowers. They will thus drive on towards Homs. Violence rages in Homs, 19 killed in Syria

    The western anti-war movement might hold a candlelight vigil, but Assad’s war against the people of Homs is underway right now and his war would be ended quickest with Turkish troops violently intervening. This would bring real liberation to these people. It will not enable a restored Turkish imperialism but will result in free and fair elections and a rapid Turkish withdrawal.

    Back in early 2008, I never thought that Assad would fight a civil-war that he was obviously then and still is now strategically doomed in fighting! I thought he would cover himself with the glory of having negotiated the return of the Golan Heights from Israeli occupation, and then after domestic pressure built would hold and lose an election and step back. I had bought the idea that he was a reluctant but nevertheless realistic ‘reformer’ tyrant, interested in moving his country gradually; culturally; politically; and economically; westward in line with his and his wife’s life experiences.
    I think that is the example of the Jordanian King.

    I thought (more hoped) Assad would step back from the alternative of trying to cling to power via mass-murder, as these 2 options were the only real alternatives. Self interest I thought would see him try to avoid the Serbian leadership’s fate. Even after months of ‘unrest’, killing and repression had unfolded in Syria, (and after the fate of Gaddafi was settled) I held out hope that Assad would turn back from the failing repression but I was obviously wrong.

    Now, regardless of what Assad chooses Syrian thugs can’t stop being thugs and won’t give up their guns until forced too. They are not merely serving Assad. They fight for their privileged way of life and like being thugs. They rationalise that whatever the unfortunate shortcomings or unpleasant realities of them being in positions of authority and wielding power over others, the alternative of losing that power is worse. Just as Assad has chosen for himself they will fight until they become fearful for themselves and only then cut and run. They can only be killed or surrounded and captured or forced to cut and run into areas where they are concentrated in ‘ethnic’ enclaves or until they flee the country and become someone else’s problem.

    Communists have (even if we occasionally forget) always understood this reality and the saying ‘where the broom does not reach the dust will not vanish of its own accord’ best describes it.

    Democratic revolutionaries, now that they are armed and fighting will pursue the thugs and unite with the FSA and the broadly uniting Syrian peoples will win because they can and will unite the many -live and let live Syrians- to defeat the few well armed thugs. So a conservative but relatively (in middle eastern terms) tolerant, non-sectarian country that is in compliance with the founding declaration of the FSA will be established. It is those very basic demands that are what the fight is all about.

    With or without an intervention (that can’t come quick enough from my POV) Damascus will eventually fall to the revolutionaries and then the Balkan style enclaves will still exist for however long they last – but this war can’t stop until these ‘less vicious than Iraqi Baathist’ enclaves are over-run and democratised. That offensive stage will be a particularly difficult period and could well drag in some foolish sectarian Lebanese forces; nevertheless after the shooting finally ends Syria ought then hold together in the power sharing manner that Lebanon does currently.

    Assad it seams is yet another (if less isolated) garden variety tyrant impressed by and confident with his collection of tanks. He is making day to day decisions without any apparent ability to think and act strategically. The day to day conduct of those in power is what brings this situation about. They just take one step at a time, and get through their day making that one next decision after another. Thats a process reasonably described as ‘winging it’. It is the bourgeois method and is practiced by almost every government across the planet. They can’t tell the truth to the peoples and bring their populations along in an investigation of reality. They operate differently to revolutionary governments and though they desperately need to know what is the reality of the world – because they are trying to make it continue to work- they can’t declare class interests or side with the vast majority who are the exploited proletariat and it seems to me they very often loose their way.

    Despite the horrendous cost to the working peoples across the world, 20th C history has ultimately refuted the tyrants world view and slowly the weak really have become the strong and the 21st C is not about to reverse this great trend. Democratic thinking and behavior far better than on a par with Jefferson and Lincoln is the foundation of the modern working peoples strength. The working people fight big wars and the Syrian war is a big war.

    As we have just seen in Egypt bourgeois democrats lead and this Syrian bourgeois democratic revolution where Islamists constitute the MAIN force but not the LEADING force and it is this reality of what the peoples are really fighting for that is what traps the Saudi Autocrats into their own backlash beginning on the morrow of free and fair Syrian elections and following the Egyptian road.

    Leftists are all, by definition, pro-liberation. The only valid dispute is over how liberation is to come about and last year we saw a great debate unfold over Libya. Revolution unfolded and western intervention unfolded and theories of imperialism were put to the test. Those theories failed spectacularly. Now Libya is to hold elections!

    Syria is just another country in the region that radical pro-liberation leftists had declared was the strategic target for change after 9/11 provoked the strategic shift in U.S. Ruling-elite thinking. Anti-war leftists and the outright pseudo-leftists scoffed at this theory. Radical pro-liberation leftists declared that the Iraq war was a clear rejection of post WW2, U.S. realist policies and was with the destruction of such a massive fascist military an obvious war of liberation!

    But radical is a really a mealy-mouth word. Pro-liberation leftists proclaimed that the Syrian masses would come to want what the neighbours in Iraq had achieved after less than 5 years of bourgeois democratic revolution. We all knew that an ‘Arab Spring’ would sooner or later break out starting with peaceful demonstrations for very simple demands. We also all knew that eventually peacefully demonstrating masses of people would be met by police state thuggery, and have always said so. There is nothing radical about this.

    I am a little stunned by the stupidity of this war and I now don’t believe that an Assad led rump enclave can survive (like say Serbia does) for ‘very’ long, but the enclave possibly can if he goes into exile soon. He ought to face a trial and he will only remain out of the dock if he is under Putin’s protection in Russia or something similar.

    The FSA as it gets the upper hand will not stop advancing while he remains to be captured in any part of what was at the start of this Syria. Hillary Clinton is absolutely correct in insisting that Assad must go and in providing assistance to the opposition forces. The pseudo-left reject this as outside meddling by the U.S. ‘imperialists’. They word for word repeat the views of Putin and the Chinese that ‘only the Syrians can sort out Syrian issues’! Pseudo-left’s – as the artillery pounds on – concentrate on exposing the hypocrisy and machinations of their own “imperialists” not on liberating the Syrian peoples’.

    Interventionist leftist thinking emerged from the investigation of current reality. We think that No Fly Zone’s ought to be imposed on Assad’s regime. We think no fire zones ought to be imposed and no go zones ought logically to follow. The Assad regime will face all of these impositions over the course of this civil-war. Charges under international law ought to be laid now (in this bourgeois owned and run world) and after what’s gone on they will. That’s not how it used to be.

    Clinton is right to focus on the Russians and the Chinese. They will pay a price.

  22. 22 Steve Owens
  23. 23 Dalec

    Is this the future for Syria?

    What are he odds on a New Persian empire rising out of the ashes of the attempt by Western Imperialism to make the ME in its image?

    Why am I not surprised ?


  24. 24 Steve Owens

    Dalek that is an interesting article but Im no clearer on the question of what is to be done?
    All the outside actors have their own agendas.
    The US has a rivalry with Russia and Assads fall would suit the US.
    Saudi Arabia has a rivalry with Iran so Assads fall would suit the Saudis.
    Iraqs government is dependant on the votes of a party whose militia has sent fighters to support Assad so I see liitle real assistance coming from Iraq. Im not too clear about the motivation of Turkey.
    But who should we support?
    Well large groups of demonstrators peacefully demanded greater democratic freedom. The regimen answered this call with bullets and tanks just as the current dictators father did.
    My position is that progressives outside Syria have but one position and that is to support the democratic opposition. What is up for grabs is how to support the opposition. That the opposition is also supported by some pretty ordinary characters is but a fact of life that is beyond our control.
    My position on Syria is as it was on Libya and Iraq to listen primarily to the voices I think most accurately represent the people, the democratically inclined people and then do something that makes sense.

  25. 25 Dalec

    Steve, it took hundreds of years for our rather imperfect democracy to emerge as part of the industrial revolution. Step off a bus in any small village almost any-where in the ME and you step right into the 14th century. In the cities it is not all that more advanced. When I was in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia I noted that thousands of people would gather in my suburb in (segregated M&F) circles in the parks every evening and basically pray and be preached to in the way they had been doing for many hundreds of years, even my graduate hosts would participate.
    It is one thing for the blue finger brigade to blather about “democracy” in iraq for example, it is another entirely to institute economic and social structures that underpin and maintain democracy and to destroy the old reactionary institutions that will drag them back to feudaslism.. It also, BTW, a never ending struggle in established democracies to maintain and extend the freedoms and rights that have been so dearly won.
    In Iraq it is clear that the people are now threatened by the possibility of a new dictatorship, it might be a “better” dictatorship than that of Saddam but a dictatorship nonethless. It is also clear that Iraq and Iran are collaborating and that both support the Assad regime.
    The old feudal structures must be destroyed before any real democracy can emerge in these countries. This is a task that will take years , especially as there are many interrnational corporations who are most adept at the manipulation of existing feudal structures in order to make vast profits and most adept at assisting these regimes to cover their tracks with a thin veneer of democracy.

  26. 26 Steve Owens

    Dalek, Are the people of the middle east any less prepared for democracy than were the people of India in 1947? What was the alternative? More empire?
    Eygpt has had a revolution, an election and now has the potential to institutionalise democracy. What is the alternative? Invite Mubarak back?
    The elections in Libya have gone very well.
    Clearly achieving and maintaing democracy is an ongoing struggle. Here in South Australia we are ruled by a party that lost the popular vote as was the USA under President Bush’s first term.
    Iraq is a mess but once the place had been invaded, once the people were demanding elections what alternative is there?
    Syria is a mess and once Assad is gone it may continue to be a mess but what alternative is there to supporting those who are campaigning for a democratic Syria?

  27. 27 Dalec

    Steve, India is a democracy? Tell that to the Kshudras and the Dalits. Also so long as you ignore the Caste system and the corrupt feudal ruling class,systematically rigged elections etc it could be called democratic. Likewise Indonesia – also called a democracy; again democracy there is a thin veneer pasted over a totally corrupt feudal regime.
    The struggle for democracy is definitely a struggle that will eventually expose and destroy the old feudal regimes, even replacing them with more open and transparent capitalist institutions the world over. However it takes time. Even established deoocracies such as the UK have active feudal remnants.
    I guess my point is that the establishment of democracy by conquest and the imposition of external constraints is basically a sham. A necessary sham perhaps but not sufficient.

  28. 28 Steve Owens

    Gee Dalek your a bit tough.
    The Economist Intelligence Unit rates India as the 39th most democratic country in the world. OK its in the “Flawed Democracy” catagory along with South Africa and France.

  29. 29 steve owens

    Gaurdian has started a live blog about fighting in Damascus

  30. 30 steve owens
  31. 31 patrickm

    With the launch of operation Damascus Volcano – Syrian Earthquake by the FSA and the coordinated attack on the Assad ‘crisis cell’ command, events are moving into a stage of insurrection across vast areas of Syria. The main immediate goal could be to split the army further, concentrate the die-hard pro-Assad elements and literally enable more mass defections and then see just how much of the country the FSA ‘controls’ after a few days / weeks and then co-ordinate a few more defections and so on. The Syrian people are on the move and a refugee flood has started into Jordan and less so Turkey. Many Iraqi refugees in Syria are reported as heading back to Iraq and the Iraqi government has sent a couple of divisions to the border. Border crossings have now been seized on the Turkish border near Aleppo and into Iraq and Jordan.

    Whatever happens large numbers of the Syrian army have jumped and still are jumping sides and the FSA is both working to a big picture plan and are now setting the agenda. With all the defections Assad can’t possibly know where to turn and who to trust. His immediate experience now is one of betrayal and he knows he is under close observation by at least some ‘traitors’ and so there is a high probability of him facing a personal attack. So all this will escalate the formation of the Alawite enclave and Assads withdrawal to it.

    This operation is an insurrection so we will know what’s happening in days rather than months. The FSA is probably now in substantial control of not just Idlib and Homs (and many sections of the corridor between that remain under attack) but a very big part of Syria’s largest city Aleppo in the north. If they were not able to already strongly contest for the loyalty of most of the troops around Aleppo then they would probably have launched operation Aleppo Volcano. Very large demonstrations are happening in Aleppo but there are very few armed rebels currently on the streets.

    Assad can hold large areas of Damascus for the present but probably not for months. However he will now loose control of the Druze south and the Kurdish nth east regions. These have been relatively quiet regions that he would have lost underground control of during the time he has been pointlessly trying to regain control in and around Homs. Assad has been seen to fail in this drawn out attempt and his regime is hated across the breadth of Syria outside his core supporters territories. After he works out who has jumped ship already Assad will have to pull in his loyalist forces. Those remaining troops are going to be required to fight along the Idlib Damascus corridor if there is enough of them and there should be or back further to back to the ‘enclave’ if there isn’t enough.

    Assad has already been forced to pull in most of his loyal troops from the Golan Heights border and all other borders are leaking defections out, and arms and reorganised fighters back in, and those FSA troops are working to a coordinated big picture plan. Armored vehicles are being abandoned in many places as the people form up as fighting infantry. Assad’s capital is now having to be held down against well trained infantry backed by the masses, and a humanitarian catastrophe seems unavoidable if the city can’t be pacified quickly by the Assad loyalists (and it can’t be) or the insurgents don’t win quickly.

    With the Syrian people moving en-mass to this extent, Assad will with what’s left of his army – when he can work that out – be forced to withdraw to an Alawite enclave.

    I note that FSA spokesmen specifically stated ‘all foreign officers on Syrian soil that are allied to the regime are “legitimate targets” — including Lebanese Shi’ite Hizbollah militia, members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Iraqi militants, and pro-Assad Palestinian factions.’ It seams that the sting is in the tail here and it is directed at the Palestinians mostly. Both sides make much of this ouside interference but it could hardly amount to much when the situation has reached the level of insurrection in the biggest cities.

    Syria was quite recently a unified country ‘run’, by fascists with a mostly sullen but compliant mix of peoples’, half of whom were ‘purchased’ and the other half intimidated but with everyone under intense police state surveillance, fear and control. This model is obviously broken.

    That unified Syria has, for some months now, ceased to exist. It stopped existing after a year of growing cycles of peaceful demonstrations followed by repression, arrests, violence of all kinds and targeted murder. When this high level of violence and intimidation failed, openly random murder in the streets was resorted to. The resulting funerals were followed by less peaceful demonstrations and so on until we have arrived at the point where the Syrian ambassador to Iraq defects. That ambassador is a Baathist party ‘Sunni tribal leader’ from the region of Syria that borders Iraq, he is not interested in living in a more religious country and nor do most of the Syrian army that is jumping ship.

    The strategic position of the Alawite dictatorship in Syria is really doomed and we should all note that for many months now the Iraqi government has not taken any position that can be misunderstood as any defense of Assad, so clearly the Iraq government is not trying to preserve the Assad regime.

    As for the Iranian theocracy, even if they must stick with Putin and the Chinese (and they must), they have still most probably strategically given up on Assad. Even while still appearing to support this dead duck they will still think that they would be just putting good effort after bad if they really do put effort in. They will know that they will all have to abandon ship at some point because Iran’s tyranny (as the 2nd year of the Arab Spring progresses) obviously fears their own people rebelling against their tyranny in the face of the still unfolding democratic victories elsewhere. Iranian democratic rebellion is coming for them. If the election rigging Iranian tyrants solidly jumped into a regional conflict they would have to send more of THEIR army – their supporters – to be killed and wounded, and that would have 2 effects. The first would be that they would have less supporters, and the 2nd would be that they would piss off the friends and families of their ex-supporters. They would be sure to loose any fight to preserve the Assad regime anyway and the entire effort would just tend to liberate the Iranian people all the quicker!

    What progressives ought to and will support to one degree or another is intervention! The supply of weapons and intelligence is as essential as the political efforts to isolate the Assad tyranny, and what’s more that is as clear as was the supply of the same to the Vietnamese by the U.S.S.R..

    The big picture is that a unified, functioning, ‘peaceful’ fascist Syria no longer existed once armed resistance became (out of necessity) a way of life for those able to acquire a gun and fight back. Armed resistance developed not out of an argument among the peoples’ over its necessity but the experience of being unarmed in the face of fascist repression over quite modest demands for a vote that actually means something. Any debate over arming took place in the obvious context of the democratic ‘spring’ in the whole region and took place first in private living rooms in response to the TV news and then very rapidly in public in discussions every Friday at the Mosque. What’s more the people know that their INTERNET and phone ‘talk’ etc., is all on record, and that they must now either win or eventually pay a backlash price for speaking out.

    There had been a grand tradition, well supported by the regime, of ‘speaking out’ in demonstrations after gathering after the Friday prayers, at least when Israel was slaughtering people in Lebanon or Gaza and so on. When the Zionists were up to no good, robust demonstration could quite spontaneously take place and everyone could agree as the orderly mob moved about the streets pointlessly chanting. There were plenty of opportunities for generally agreeable demonstrations (even in foolish support of shoe throwing Iraqi journalists) when they were directed at the Great or Little Satan. But in 2011 that tradition of ‘tolerance of peaceful demonstrations’ was ‘misused’ because the people’s public chants and ‘private chats’ were directed at the ‘father’ of the country and the system. These demonstrations and social media divided those that were still happily purchased and so had functioning lives, from those that – having been inspired externally – started to feel slightly less intimidated and were concerned at how their country functioned to exclude them from any say let alone power. The demonstrators took a stand and it bears repeating that they all now know that they are on record and will pay if the state can regroup and catch up with them. Everyone now knows there is no going back!

    Supply of U.S. weapons etc., obviously helps these people who can’t go back and yet some western progressives still complain of U.S. meddling!

    Blow us all down, but the Syrian masses started to demand what the Great Satan had years ago enabled right next door in Iraq. BUT, the Syrian peoples’ didn’t have to mention, or even notice THAT because they could demand what the Tunisians were demanding instead! The unarmed and fully intimidated wanted free and fair elections and the rights to form political parties and all the rest so they can all talk about Libya or Egypt. No one has to notice or grow fond of the US ruling elite when Iraq holds its next round of elections but the Iranian people will notice these elections! So will the people of Saudi Arabia and the sullen masses in Bahrain.

    Revolution had moved on to Syria and the lightly armed and thus less intimidated Syrians demanded these bourgeois democratic norms. The peoples’ most of all wanted to be free of an unrestrained police force, and their spies and thugs just like everywhere else in the ME wanted. They wanted a country with a separation of powers. Of course they wanted the standard of living of 21stC industrialisation, but they don’t want a Chinese or Russian style government and they never will. They want the checks and balances of a western society sure, BUT most wanted this with the ‘moral virtues’ of a conservative Islamic society. They apparently want western bourgeois democracy circa1916 without ever spelling that out and often never understanding that this is exactly what the demands are all about.

    Being largely Islamic and incessantly mentioning Allah every time something bad, good or just surprising happens they tend to unsettle 21st C western progressives who are well aware of how oppressive Islamic counties like Iran and Saudi Arabia are, but they wouldn’t shock the Irish or the Russians of 1916. Constant appeals to the almighty and gathering for prayers on one day of the week seems very familiar historically speaking and utterly unremarkable. Yet the western masses have moved on so far and so relatively fast that most ‘active’ youth have no experience to reflect on and often look on in genuine fear at what seems ubiquitous Islamic carry on. In the ME God seems a lot greater when some mere mortal destroys an atheist era soviet tank with a well armed Great Satan made and supplied anti-tank missile.

    IMV Assad allowed his state structure to respond to the ‘spring’ as if this was all going to be business as usual and ‘it’ did so without any Assad strategy. The automatic response developed over months was just marked by increasing brutality. The state machine led and Assad just followed and then the volume of funerals ended any doubt on both sides, and the window for Assad concessions and slow reform had come and gone. By the time Assad’s artillery was pounding away on a day by day basis he could no longer choose. The lightly armed and thus less intimidated resistance had found methods, and most importantly other ‘state’ sponsors to ensure they would become more heavily armed. The resistance is well led and is steadily and strategically building their capacity. They know the Assad regime is finished and that ‘they’ are going to eventually win their demands. With determined Turkish/US/Saudi etc support they could and can fight their war with growing confidence. They have now moved on to an insurrection but that will not end the war in the whole country.

    Syria as a fascist state can no longer function without dealing with constant armed resistance. War of the oppressed against the oppressor must now continue as it has become the only way for the democratic peoples to even try to live. Wherever guns have been taken up the famous American saying ‘from my cold dead hands’ now applies. Demonstrations that now occur are protected by the armed people who worked out how to live by fighting back and killing their oppressors. Police snipers are not now run from but anticipated and hunted in advance. They are caught and shot or chased off under fire.


    The regimes police and their all important spies and stooges have been dealt with in numerous places. Militias have formed up for the protection of the people and they are operating as a full time way of life. The revolutionaries are now full time ‘professionals’. Their basic job is to survive and they can only do so if they drive the enemy from their midst and enlarge the extent of their authority. They now work at this task every day and thus there is no longer any unemployment in Syria. That’s not how things stand in Libya, or in Egypt where other forms or stages of genuine bourgeois democratic revolution are just as surely underway.

    The state authorities that served the formerly unchallenged fascist rulers of the united Syria are currently imploding along both ‘ethnic’ and curious political lines and so the regime has now collapsed into a more concentrated Alawite regime. Loyalist police have been widely defeated across non Alawite areas.

    The fascist Assad regime still draws widespread support from the more liberal elements of the Alawite and Christian communities that fear domination from an Sunni Islamic majority, but they have lost almost all Sunni support across the political spectrum. As the high profile defections reveal even the fascist inner circle Sunni’s are jumping ship. The Syrian state seems close to ‘imploding’ but is very far from finished in a core or rump sense. My side of this war (as was predicted by everyone) is suffering far more casualties than Assad’s forces yet the rebels are still rapidly growing while Assad’s official forces continue to shrink. However I would bet ‘his’ informal forces are still growing.

    Clinton is right to say the FSA led opposition is getting more effective and that time is running out for Assad but then she diplomatically says ‘but there is a chance to save the Syrian state from a catastrophic assault that would be very dangerous not only to Syria but to the region’ and here I think she is quite wrong. There are not 2 sides that could make a deal and thus call a halt to the fighting. The ‘only game in town’ called the UN Anan process was destroyed by Assad playing for time and not grabbing that plan; now Assad can’t stop his side from fighting and generally brutalising people even if he wanted to, and the FSA is not even vaguely in total control of the opposition, but they won’t stop either. So I think the assault can’t be stopped now. [well rereading this a few days later I was right about that] The Syrian civil war must go on now until all the thug elements flee or surrender. More often than not it would prove fatal to surrender in this environment so they will therefore try to withdraw, and ethnically cleansed enclaves will emerge and the war go on. The rump will have to be overrun by the FSA if Syria is to be held together so this raises the question of whether the rump has the right to self determination and so more confusion will break out among western progressives!

    It looks like this war is going to be a very grim affair and though the image of a burning tank somewhere in Syria is becoming common it’s still not as common as the image of an artillery shell exploding in many Sunni towns and suburbs. That rump state will be well armed and overrunning it could be the most difficult and costly stage of the revolution. If at all possible it ought to be politically reincorporated after Assad flees to Russia and that is getting ahead of ourselves. But the democratic revolution requires that eventual reincorporation. Unincorporated it would remain a fascist state where the majority of the peoples are Syria’s most open to bourgeois democratic modernity so their inclusion is good for the revolution. How this unfolds depends on a great many variables and we would be getting ahead of ourselves to think about that just now…

    BTW attacking petrol tankers of course is nothing new, this is an example of recent news in Syria;


    But what is sauce for the goose… on the road coming north from Pakistan


    and even more sauce yesterday on the road south from Uzbekistan


    The bourgeois democratic revolution is obviously doing very poorly in Afghanistan / Pakistan!

    When the revolution erupts in Iran there will be better prospects for the peoples’ of Afghanistan. Nevertheless the revolution has to be fought and won by Afghan ‘infantry’ and one of the minor enemies of that infantry is the western anti-war movement; a major enemy is the impending capitalist crisis. The war in Afghanistan just can’t be won unless a peoples’ army is created from the very ground up. Even then it could not be won without Pakistan as a huge source of counter-revolution being shut down by a Pakistani revolution. A revolution is quite beyond external players, nevertheless the social revolutionaries and their revolution must be protected and nurtured for many more years. So far, there has been almost no revolutionary transformation even attempted in Afghanistan.

  32. 32 patrickm

    Large scale Turkish involvement in direct attacks on Daesh and the establishment of a large occupation zone on the ground inside Syria appears to be in the offing.

    It is a game changer and is a vital intervention to deal with Daesh. Putin and Assad might not like it but the area that Turkish troops will attack is controlled by Daesh and that can’t be permitted to go on.

    While it is not surprising that Turkey under President Erdogan is at last compelled to fight Daesh inside Syria there are bound to be counter attacks inside Turkey and this is big news.

    The zone inside Syria will protect the Kurdish western flank permitting them to attack Daesh to the south as well as providing the FSA etc with the opportunity to focus on Aleppo. This is great news.

    Assad will be compelled to stop air attacks on the north to a very large extent and that will extend to Aleppo and the ‘barrel’ bombing there at some point.

    Obama’s dithering and failure to assist on the ground is now ended by the direct action of Turkey in the North that will involve the US from the sea and from the south as opportunities arise to attack Daesh and as further international protection for the Turkish forces.

    Every US marine general worth their shoulder pips would want to be involved in the digging out of Daesh. Let’s hope that Obama gives them full scope to do so! US prepared Syrian troops from Jordan bases are still some months away from being ready, but if the Turks are involved on the ground events could change very rapidly just as it did when the enemy swept out of Syria into Iraq and shocked the ditherer into belated action.

    Anyway events inside the Turkish state are now centre stage so that could take many months or just a few days.

    I have always thought this war would be mind numbingly complex. Even now there are commentators who think that Erdogan is wanting to defend Daesh and attack the Kurds! They are in for quite a shock.

  33. 33 Steve Owens

    I’m afraid I don’t share your enthusiasm. The government of Turkey are talking about establishing a safe zone in northern Syria. Kurdish militias are not happy about this because they want to extend and consolidate in northern Syria. A US defense spokesperson came out and said that the US military sees no good reason for a Turkish safe zone being established.
    Having seen the disgraceful behaviour of Turkish military whilst Kobane’s fate was in the balance I can but feel little enthusiasm for the idea that the Turkish government are up to any good.

  34. 34 patrickm

    I start with the observation that the Syrian complexities are quite beyond me and accept that I may well have this wrong. However DAESH must be fought and the Kurds do not have to be. The Government of Erdogan etc., have made real progress with democracy and they are under threat from their deep state in exactly the same manner as were the Egyptian Islamist government and that is what Erdogan is. He is IMV the best of the Islamists that are required to fight both the conventional fascists of the old regimes, and the Islamofascists that they all pretend are their only opposition.

    This is the key question of who to unite with as we follow our usual formula of unite the many to defeat the few. Naturally, the Turkish government have their own warts to be sure, but there are only so many players involved and only so many interests even if that is a good many involved in this cluster f***. Naturally, if we are prepared to unite with the Great Satan that for years has been so dreadful in the preservation of the swamp and has such a terrible anti-people structure to its armed forces that it even produced the stupidity of the Abu Ghraib atrocities (while it’s political leaders sought to run a war of liberation) then we have to look at Turkey with similar expectations.

    Unity and struggle is always the method to employ.

    Turkey is functioning with elections and the oppression of the Kurdish and other minorities has been wound back under the leadership of this current political leadership and they ARE threatened with a deep state military just as vile as is on display in Egypt, so we must take that continually into consideration. Remember how the idiotic pseudoleft damaged the fight in Egypt and let the deep state regain an undemocratic tyranny.

    Under no circumstances ought we fall for that in the case of Turkey. Long term unity is called for and nothing is as we would like it to be. The fascists like Assad, Al Qaeda and DAESH et., remain as the principal focus even while Kurdish cross border national aspirations are in play and the Turks carry on like British imperialists clawing their way out of the Irish crap.

    Always the first answer to questions of liberation ought to be more democracy on both sides of any border rather than focus on ending the existence of the border as the priority. The border still exists as it was drawn through Ulster by the British imperialists but the reason has now almost gone!

    We have to think about this.

    BTW I have been wanting a safe zone established for years!

    Would you be happy if Syrian refugees that are currently forced to flee to Turkey were instead protected by Turkish soldiers inside Syria rather than as they have been for several years now inside Turkey? They have been protected by the Turkish military. That military is directed by a better government than it’s officer elite and the deep state sorts (of what was the rotten old Turkey) that is always plotting against that government! So why not spread that protection? They have stated that they are not going to let a Kurdish state emerge between Turkey and the rump remains of Syria, well at least we understand what envelope we are working in.

  35. 35 Steve Owens

    Patrick it bafels me that you have confidence in your analysis.
    Over 10 years ago you argued that the US should invade Iraq because such a lunatic shouldnt be in posession of WMD. There was no WMD but you thought that your analysis was sound.
    You then argued that the invasion was justified on the basis that it would bring democracy. Over 10 years later and Iraq sits at 111 on the democracy ladder 8 places behind Cambodia and 11 places behind Venezuela yes in a group that isnt even considered to be democratic but you still think that your analysis is sound.
    You predicted that an invasion would lead to a lessening of the terrorist threat ie your mosquito argument. Over a decade on and mosquitos are even found here in Australia and you still think that your analysis is sound.
    You argued that the invasion would lead to a two state solution, it hasnt and somehow you still think that your analysis is sound.
    You argued that the invasion would lead to widespread democratic change in the middle east. 10 years on and you still think that your analysis is sound.
    Now you cheer the entry of Turkey into the Syrian conflict and what do we find. Turkey sets up a safe zone mainly to stop Kurdish people setting up a zone and Turkish planes attack Kurdish positions.
    I have been around the left for almost 40 years and have met many people who are very commited to their analysis but completly unable to discard it when reality proves it false. Are you one of these people or is your analysis sound?

  36. 36 patrickm

    Steve; From my POV it’s great to see the U.S. flying directly out of Turkish bases to make war in Syria. Do you agree with this? I think you do. It’s great that the Kurds in Syria are working so closely with the U.S. as the all important ground forces to destroy DAESH and it’s good that the Turks are not attacking the PKK in Syria – known there as the YPG, but that is only for the political point of some form of plausible denial of being the PKK. Do you agree? I think you do. The Turks are well aware of what the YPG really is, but they are not going after them even while the Turkish based PKK are killing Turkish soldiers and police. That inclines me to think that the attacks against the PKK in some bases in Iraq are really ‘a warning’ to return to the peace negotiations. The Turks are still getting on fine with the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, and that is a good sign even if I am theoretically more inclined towards the PKK. There is nothing simple about any of this.

    We both know the whole situation is unstable and there are forces that would want the opposite of peace between the Turks and Kurds, and who are working towards it but the long process of destroying the fascists of DAESH and the Assad government has begun, and Turkish forces are now going to be involved in the efforts to provide secure areas WITHIN Syria and the fulcrum of that effort will be the area between the Kurdish controlled region to the Nth.East and Aleppo. So this does split a potential Kurdish Syrian ‘proto state’. Yet, as far as I know the Kurds were never in control of that region despite what some map makers think. I think the Kurdish region snakes around in the more mountainous region and I think that if you disregard the borders and just look at where the various peoples’ live you will see what I mean. Lots of Kurds live in this region or did to be sure but DAESH are in control right now.

    However, the Kurds are working with the U.S. and will continue to do so. So will the U.S. somehow sell them out in the manner that they sold out the Shia to Saddam when they liberated the people of Kuwait from the fascists? I don’t think they will. I think that the Kurds have established their autonomy in a big chunk of Syria and it’s going to be protected by the U..S as they continue to be armed to take on DAESH. I may be wrong, but that’s my current view from the logic of what is good for the U.S. and that this is good for the revolutionary transformation of the region I think is also obvious.

    I’m a cruise missile Marxist. The fact that I remain a Marxist baffles many people. The fact that I support such armed struggle – as outlined in this thread- by and in unity with capitalist / imperialist states baffles many people that think themselves Marxists. My political stances have baffled many people that do not engage in open honest debate. My experience is that these type of leftists – genuine or pseudo types- take ‘stances’ and do not follow the practice of unite the many to defeat the few. They always want to split over some principle or another rather than continue with the protracted struggle that confronts us in practice. So, they have no understanding of what is really at stake in places like Nepal; Egypt; Libya; Syria; Palestine; or anywhere else really. The Ukraine or places like Georgia and Ireland are entirely beyond the range of thinking open to them. They do not grasp the national struggle issues involved with various people’s liberation, any more than they grasp independence issues involved with various countries social and economic well being – especially in this global environment. (And not being genuinely concerned with the well being of the masses even fail over the 3rd great issue of our era the people want revolution).

    Look how they line up behind a scoundrel like Obama who less than 18mths from the end of his 8yrs of political power flicks the switch to vaudeville and global warming hysterics in the Northern hemisphere summer. Classic! Without a doubt the pseudoleft are even further to the right than this pathetic self interested narcissistic showman!

    The Neverland organisations that still exist are reactionary in all but name and your inability to point me towards any worthwhile site from your past tells me that you accept you just won’t find proletarian revolutionaries inhabiting any Neverland organisation. Progressives are what progressives do, and so proletarians enter the current long run economic crisis without any political formations worth being involved with.

    So, in Europe we have seen residue formations throw up clueless temporary unity ticket groupings like SYRIZA and PODEMOS that then fall over at the first attempt at political power. Europe is obviously ahead of Australia in the Global Capitalist cycle. That cycle is only now – almost a decade after the GFC announced the coming economic ice age – hitting Australia hard but it is now doing so and I still think my analysis sound!

    None of the ‘left’ political formations can follow the supply chain – that I have used for many years as my guide to what is and is not a progressive political formation, and convince the workers that they could join with them as a political formation in the interests of the class. They are trapped in their green muck.

  37. 37 patrickm

    I have just reviewed this thread and I say my analysis generally is sound but I will just remind everyone that this Turkish nationalist V Kurdish nationalist struggle could go any direction in a tactical sense. Short term it’s anybodies guess as to how it might continue to unfold. Events have moved along in the 4 weeks since I posted my predictive thoughts above and the complexity of the Turkish Government’s position has from my observation baffled the western MSM as much as it has all the pseudoleftists that I’ve noticed.

    People have good cause to be confused. The Turkish governments have been at war with the PKK – who are separatists whatever the merits – for many decades and this warfare has cost tens of thousands of lives. So that war has never gone away even if it has lessened in intensity and become a real peace process under the current Turkish leadership. I’m sympathetic to the confusion but not to the notion that Erdogan and his politics are sympathetic to Daesh or Assad. That politics and his leadership is as good as the region can expect and that is surely nothing much to write to another continent about.

    The Kurds are from my POV an occupied people that have been continually and brutally oppressed as a matter of state policy since the modern state of Turkey came into being 100yrs ago, and earlier oppression goes without saying really but their oppression has been just as clear in every other country they have been divided among. I’m glad they have mountains and Mao to work with.

    But Syria, Iraq and Iran all have histories as bad as the Turkish oppression and that has improved beyond recognition since Erdogan has led the Turkish state. The deep state is another matter! They are as reactionary as the Egyptian mob!

    The peace process over the last decade or so has delivered real progress and with continuing goodwill would likely deliver more progress in the future but that goodwill might not be there when up against Turkish national issues; so though it’s desirable that the process be continued with it’s worth considering who would seek to disrupt this process. I doubt that the Kurds would want the disruption and I very much doubt that most of the elements led by Erdogan have any deep interest either. But they are Turkish nationalists that have no interest in seeing the current borders of Turkey modified. PKK activity has always been considered ‘terrorist’ whatever the savagery of the ruling Turks has been over these many decades and now that the politics in Turkey has changed and some genuine democracy has been forced on the Turkish ruling classes subsequent events have been genuinely confusing to everyone. The key thing is that the Kurdish struggle still goes on but may now be manageable from a Turkish perspective as a struggle for greater democracy or even autonomy. I doubt that this could be smooth even so.

    As a communist I’m always hopeful that imperialist countries withdraw from imperialist policies without being dragged through the various nationalists struggle but I’m never surprised when those struggles break out. Old fashioned imperialism is a handicapped starter for this century though (as Putin to his great cost is slowly finding out) and the level that globalism is at now – in the now resumed democratic revolution context – is also having a huge positive impact for the democratically minded masses. At anyrate future demands can be left for the future as the current struggle is sufficient to bring an armed peace about between the Turkish state and Kurds in both Syria and Turkey and into Iraq.

    Reflect on the Japanese invasion in WW2 interrupting the Chinese civil war and the complicated ceasefires and ‘peace’ that often broke down. If all these processes were smooth at the end then they would probably never have developed into armed conflict in the first place. Peace and democratic development and genuine liberation is still the goal of the Kurdish people. They mostly want their own country and that is going to break up Turkey if it comes about. On the other hand the Kurds birthrate is beggining to have a familiar effect on Turkey anyway and this will continue and democracy will impact soon enough.

    That the US are now given the go ahead to fly missions out of Turkey is not surprising to me and is a good sign. Nor is the central issue of the PKK and the 40 year long war escaping me if you consider this thread. Even last years crucial developments that we re-posted has in no way escaped my notice. This war and region is mind numbingly complex as I have always thought and what is solid one days flips over the next. But currently the US act for the YPG as their air force and the YPG sort of act as the US ground forces in the fight against Daesh and neither the Turks nor the US are attacking the YPG.

    I have always thought that ultimately this conflict has to see Turkey get involved in fighting Daesh and protecting Syrians in Syria and that means from Assads troops that must be stopped as well! Given we both know the YPG is not being attacked by the Turks what do you make of this?. But more than just some isolated PKK bases are being attacked in the Iraq area of where the Kurds live and in Turkey the war is very close to resuming. Some PKK in Turkey continue to disrupt the shaky peace process as do some in the Turkish state to say the least and that this weak process could come unstuck or even spin out of control back to full on conflict is more than possible of course. It’s probable that another round will unfold. Then what?

    The fact that people pretend that the YPG are not the PKK is cute but it is the same PKK in reality. It shows just how well the PKK has been led and we must hope that the peace process continues with the great focus being on the spread of democracy rather than the separatism. But some Kurds draw dramatic maps from a Turkish nationalists perspective!

  38. 38 patrickm

    Steve; You are no doubt surprised that the US – based now out of Turkey – are working closely with the YPG! I’m not.

    The US has now been forced by the Turkish government to declare it is making war not just on Daesh but on the ‘root of all evil in Syria’ the Assad regime!

    There was nearly 2 yrs of ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government and that has currently broken down and I hope it is quickly reestablished but these things take longer and cost more lives than either of us care to think about as a rule so I will stick to the strategic analysis and not get side tracked by these regular and expected setbacks.

    ‘My’ analysis on the US ruling elite starting a region wide revolution was more that just sound; it is the only analysis still standing. ‘My’ analysis remains focused on protracted armed struggle and this struggle post 9/11 is now into it’s 2nd decade as a rolled gold solid revolutionary response to a reactionary attack. It is THE strategic response required to bring about the revolutionary transformation where people like me and you can even live in the region.

    The only way forward for this region is via the long struggle for democracy led by Islamists as they fight Islamofascists and Erdogan fits most of the bill here. This fight is underway nightly on the news but for pseudoleftists and their openly isolationist right wing mates all is doom and gloom. The really terrible period of fascist peace and stagnation in this region is really over. Now progressives have a chance. Yet the very pivot point of that change – the disarming of the biggest collection of fascists fully structured up in a massive mobile army AND their entire State structure goes without positive remark but not by me. Thank whatever gods you like that this started with at least than amount of instant progress. To bad the COW didn’t roll right through Syria in hot pursuit of fascist heavy weapons and those that use them against the democratically minded peoples. That was not on offer more’s the pity. Yet despite the terror bombing and complete depravity of the enemy we still have idiotic proclamations of what a terrible mistake the liberation of the Iraqi people was.

    SURE the best way or indeed the only way to make revolution in Iraq would be for the unarmed Iraqi masses to make that revolution from the bottom up!

    What utter junk that is now refuted in the very practice of yourself and Geoffrey Robertson cheering the US flying bombs out of Turkish bases.

    People will remember that some young US activists set up The North Star and tried to debate us older Australian dreadnaughts and we had the devil’s own time convincing people with that peace/anti-imperialist/trot background that the US were not going to support the Assad regime. Months ran into years as the ditherer in chief refused to do what must be done but our line on what was in US interests held solid and now is the only line still standing. Yet what became of TNS? Sadly the pseudoleft destroyed it as a site for open honest debate. That is the essential state of the entire anti-war movement. It had looked so impressive while sprouting dead end drivel in an attempt to prevent the launch of the revolutionary transformation of the ME.


    Now confusion is heaped upon more confusion…see Daniel Mcadams for example and lets discuss where such openly right-wing thinking has gone pear shaped.

  39. 39 Steve Owens

    Patrick you regularly chide the left that it expects the unarmed Iraqi people to throw themselves against the very well armed military of Saddam
    “SURE the best way or indeed the only way to make revolution in Iraq would be for the unarmed Iraqi masses to make that revolution from the bottom up!

    What utter junk that is…”
    This is such a straw man. Ive never met anyone who has argued that unarmed people should attack well armed people.
    The people of Iraq have always had guns. In the North the Kurds ran a couple of armies, in the South The SCIRI had a well supplied military outfit. Weapons in unlimited supply from Iran.
    Saddam himself had a conscript army that by definition must have contaied large numbers of anti Saddam people to whom he suppied weapons and trainning too.
    Plus weapons were always legally obtainable in Saddams Iraq people could buy guns apparently sales of ammunition rose by 50% shortly before the invasion. After the invasion I remember the argument about how many AK47’s each household could maintain with the authorities wanting to put a one gun limit on every house which would have been a reduction in available weapons. This was shortly after the invasion. Where do you think these weapons came from the AK47 fairy perhaps?

    I cut this from a blog I was reading
    “February 3, 2009, 12:51 AM
    I was in Iraq in 1986…when Saddam was our friend and he was fighting Iran. There was no gun control in Iraq. You could buy an AK 47 from a vendor on the sidewalk. I saw guns for sale in all kinds of little shops. Anyone, even a foreigner could buy guns. Cash and carry, no paperwork of any kind.”


    Well-armed under dictatorship: Pre-war Iraqi civilian ownership

    To this total of at least 4.2 million firearms lost by the Iraqi military, privately owned firearms already in civilian hands before the war began must be added. The obvious assumption is that an authoritarian regime would tightly control public access to guns (Jackman, 2003). Surprisingly perhaps, compared with common assumptions about life under an authoritarian dictatorship, pre-war Iraq appears to have had relatively permissive ownership laws. Although gun ownership was not high by international standards, it was not unusually low either. Iraq reinforces the broader conclusion that gun policy is rarely straightforward, even in tightly controlled societies.

    For politically loyal Sunnis, the Iraqi government reportedly made licences easily available. According to one report, the greatest barrier to civilian gun ownership before the war was the USD 150 licence fee (King, 2003). This entitled licence holders to buy as many weapons as they pleased from legally licensed dealers. Even before the war, it reportedly was normal for households, even in urban centres like Baghdad, to have several guns (Mite, 2003).

    Other groups were able to acquire weaponry, but at greater effort and with varying success. Kurds were able to arm themselves extensively through well-organized smuggling and deals with corrupt officials. Iraqi Shi’ites were more isolated, but still appear to have acquired large numbers of firearms from illegal sources. Shi’ite ownership certainly became much more common after the end of Ba’athist rule. One report noted, ‘Every household in (predominantly Shi’ite) Basra has two or three guns’, including weapons from before as well as those taken after the collapse of Army resistance (The Economist, 2003). Another maintains that the average Basra household now has two to four guns (Jadwa, 2003).

    Although exact data are not available, it appears that even under Saddam Hussein, public firearm ownership was commonplace, especially but certainly not exclusively among the Sunni minority. If officially oppressed Shi’ites were able to acquire guns relatively easily, the total number of firearms in the hands of Iraqi civilians compares to the situation in Lebanon and Jordan. In those countries, with historically similar per capita wealth and gun cultures, public ownership is estimated at roughly 15–25 guns per 100 people (Jackman, 2003).

    Among a population of some 24 million Iraqis, the lower standard would equal a pre-war civilian arsenal (excluding the armed forces) of around 3.2 million firearms or more. Again, this figure should be used as a starting point for understanding a public weapon inventory that almost certainly was larger, even before the war. Iraq’s combined civilian and military small arms stockpile can be conservatively estimated at between 7 million and 8 million firearms, with the potential to be considerably higher.

  40. 40 patrickm

    Thus you have stumbled upon a refutation of anarchism, and good evidence for taking a closer study of Lenin and his Georgian and Chinese followers.

    Steve; I will work through issues with anyone – left, centrist or of a rightist persuasion. These terms can only be useful when specifically defined for a particular purpose. I exchange views in order to really understand the world and move on to change it.

    Other people can see what you are doing and draw their own conclusions.

    I note that these days YOU don’t expect the unarmed Iraqi people to throw themselves against the very well armed military of DAESH even. Let alone a fully functional mobile army, such as an undegraded Iraqi Baathist controlled monstrously big, well trained and equipped ‘killing machine’. I further note that the machine was only able to be kept in any sort of external check by other regional and world powers but that there was no check on it internally. These days you call for the rescue of people, and the making of war on any force that demonstrates what fascists are always doing until they are killed or disarmed. So these days you think very differently.

    Naturally, you have never met anyone who has argued that the unarmed oppressed people should attack the well armed oppressors. But you do know of all the confused leftists and pseudoleftists in particular that were opposed to the destruction of the fascist armies heavy weapons systems by the Great Satan, and who now complain about the warfare that the anti-democrats of all stripes are able to wage even without such systems!

    I understand YOU won’t unite with those who call for hands off Syria! I think YOU want Australian air power not only deployed and used in Iraq but also in Syria. I think YOU are already ahead of the ALP types like Plibersek who is bleating about how dangerous this is.

    So OK, you know that ‘The people of Iraq have always had guns.’ and you also know that ‘In the North the Kurds ran a couple of armies’. Just as YOU also know that these armies co-operated with the COW and advanced on the Baathists in coordinated attacks as the war of liberation got underway. You just didn’t know it was a war of liberation at the time – despite these Kurdish forces liberating more land and people with every step they took and every fascist they killed.

    I note that you think ‘in the South The SCIRI had a well supplied military outfit. [with] Weapons in unlimited supply from Iran.’, and that you can’t stop right now to mention or explain how they got slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands when sold out by the realist Bush senior. But we both know that you know they got slaughtered as described and hated the U.S. for this betrayal and thought it was going to be the same this time and it wasn’t. The people that they (the majority) voted for formed the government! How about that. Now they started to fight from the front foot, and the Baathists and other anti- democrats fought from a vastly different possition of strength also.

    The way you have presented the situation, unsuspecting people might think that Saddam was almost about to be pushed over by the Iraqi people in utter contradiction to the reality of Assad in Syria. After all Assad had a ‘conscript army that by definition must have contained large numbers of anti- [Assad] Saddam people to whom he [also] supplied weapons and training too.’ You know that push over was nothing like true.

    And then – to top this all off – you say (without linking to your source (I tracked it down and the link already unfolded in the comments a convincing argument as to why the Iraqi people were not going to use their AK47’s against such a tyranny so I return to that Kruzr contribution and see what was explained in debate.

    ‘I cut this from a blog I was reading
    “February 3, 2009, 12:51 AM I was in Iraq in 1986…when Saddam was our friend and he was fighting Iran. There was no gun control in Iraq. You could buy an AK 47 from a vendor on the sidewalk. I saw guns for sale in all kinds of little shops. Anyone, even a foreigner could buy guns. Cash and carry, no paperwork of any kind.”

    1986 and the sell out of the Shia and their mass slaughter was still 5 years down the track of humanity’s descent from the trees.

    The next thing is you then follow up with a smoke screen of the how and why of armed Iraqis. You presumably do this fact dump on us without comment or link for the purpose of exposing how foolish I am.

    What I have gleaned from your bad behaviour and disingenuous ‘fact dump’, and initial thoughtless bleat is that the Iraqi people were even ‘Well-armed under dictatorship:’ Good oh!

    NOW I say this is very curious bleating on your part because this is the same population that you wanted the international community to rescue when the rag tag killers of DAESH started to slaughter them last year!!

    So you present a cash and carry abundance of weapons for all who want them and yet also
    ‘For politically loyal Sunnis, the Iraqi government reportedly made licences easily available. According to one report, the greatest barrier to civilian gun ownership before the war was the USD 150 licence fee (King, 2003). This entitled licence holders to buy as many weapons as they pleased from legally licensed dealers. Even before the war, it reportedly was normal for households, even in urban centres like Baghdad, to have several guns (Mite, 2003).’

    Just to prove that Assad and Syria and DAESH in Iraq are different to when the bad COW started killing Baathists who were around heavy weapons systems you quote.

    ‘Other groups were able to acquire weaponry, but at greater effort and with varying success. Kurds were able to arm themselves extensively through well-organized smuggling and deals with corrupt officials. Iraqi Shi’ites were more isolated, but still appear to have acquired large numbers of firearms from illegal sources. ‘

    ‘Shi’ite ownership certainly became much more common after the end of Ba’athist rule. One report noted, ‘Every household in (predominantly Shi’ite) Basra has two or three guns’, including weapons from before as well as those taken after the collapse of Army resistance (The Economist, 2003). Another maintains that the average Basra household now has two to four guns (Jadwa, 2003).

    Your point seems to be that in the ME about 20 small arms per 100 people is the expected rate and we can guess that is bound to be going up in Libya, Yemen and Syria; so Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey are bound to follow a similar ‘gun culture’. Yet the masses face tyranny all round; the region is a swamp and protracted struggle for progress against the democratic peoples’ powerful enemies is obvious.

    But what does this all mean when YOU think that Robert Fisk is right when you quoted him explaining that solving these issues in Syria was all about tanks? Review your earlier comments and explain why you walk both sides of yet another street.

    The trouble for you in being ‘engaged’ in this manner over years (in order presumably to protect others from the bad communists) is that you inevitably present as just holding all views because you really hold none other than your fundamental opposition to the actual liberation launched by the COW.

    You hold to a fundamentalist anti-Iraq-war stand, and construct temporary ‘beliefs’ to justify continuing to do so.

    Making war on the fascist regime of Saddam is now presumably presented as a doddle for the well armed Iraqi masses! This while simultaneously calling for rescue from the rag tags of DAESH.

    Are we to take it that the COW ought not have liberated the people of Iraq because that liberation started the killing now rampant in the whole region? People say this. Are you still one of those?

    From my POV Saddam’s fascists and all the other oppressors were regularly killing my sort as and when the lawful tyrant saw fit, despite the population having a large small arms stockpile, so I wanted ‘rescue’ war before even you wanted it.

    But we both want it now!

    Actually against an army the people were and are essentially unarmed (despite any machetes, bayonets and small arms) and you ought to know it. That’s why the people always require a people’s army. You really ought to read Mao and Lenin.

    As part of this process of coming to understand all views I put forward views that I honestly hold and still believe these views to be (the quite conventional views) of the revolutionary left. So I don’t claim that everyone who is a reformist leftist is not a leftist because they don’t hold that ‘all political power comes out of the barrel of a gun’ or some such Mao style formulation.

    But we are both ahead of the Greens and ALP types who want the troops home from Iraq and never want them sent to bomb Syria.

    You pull these diametrically opposed views out when no one is noticing and just play at winning an argument and exposing a bad communist who advocates violent revolution. That won’t do when we are both trying to convince others that we think Australia must step up and rescue the region by fighting fascism.

  41. 41 Steve Owens

    Patrick I dont understand when you say that I hold diametrically opposed views or that I set up smoke screens or that I walk both sides of yet another street.
    Let me repeat the positions that I have held since the proposed invasion. I opposed the invasion on the basis that I expected the outcome to look like Somalia.
    Once the invasion occurred I supported swift COW hand over of power and withdrawal on the basis that this action might prevent Iraq spiraling into a violent abyss.
    Once it was clear that COW was staying I supported a position that COW as the occupying power had a legal responsibility to maintain law order and the safety of the Iraqi people.
    I supported the holding of elections and broke with any organization that voiced support for the resistance beyond peoples fundamental right to organize self defense.
    In Libya I supported NATO intervention to save the rebels about to be slaughtered in Benghazi.
    In Syria I supported calls for a no fly zone as called for by the Syrian opposition. Obama fell short of this and although I was disappointed I realize that the US was never going to take action in Syria that would prove decisive.
    As things currently stand I support giving the Kurds the support that they ask for as they fight. I see little point in giving the Iraqi government any military support as a lot of what they get ends up in the hands if IS.
    As to extending bombing Syria well I think that we should bomb at the direction of the Kurdish fighters on the ground.
    Always my thinking is guided by what I think is in the interest of the people and what the people on the ground are asking for.

  42. 42 patrickm

    Steve; you continue in concert with all pseudoleftist zombie groups to cling to remnants of a bankrupt and contradictory narrative. They can’t do anything about this, but you must in order to make sense with your post Libya war making stance. Central to your confusion is your refusal to note that the liberation of ALL the – even vaguely progressive – Iraqi peoples’ was genuinely sought by the COW and begun for most of them with the invasion. Reflect upon the people that were involved in toppling that statue, and then reflect on the fact that years later there was a mausoleum to Saddam that had to be pulled down! You can and do note that liberation was not the case with the Kurds in the mountains because the Kurds came down from their positions fighting alongside the COW and liberated more territory and people. They had already taken up the gun and had for years been fighting for their liberation. If you refuse to accept that this war was a real liberation for other Kurds not up in the mountains PLUS all the others then you supporting sending Australians and U.S. troops now is most peculiar. Neverland never changes so the pseudoleft don’t support sending troops now anymore than then. They just stand in some gutter and bleat ‘hands off x,y or z country’ and yabber about imperialism.

    It turns out that the war all along satisfies your ‘well I think that we should bomb at the direction of the Kurdish fighters on the ground.’ formula because you know that the Kurds would have directed the total defeat and destruction of the Baathists without any doubt at all. This formula is what you now resort to when fighting neighbourhood fascists who might be just a little less bad as Arthur reminded us, and neither of us doubt that! November 1, 2011 at 2:25 am

    “Syrian Baathism is a good deal less virulent than Iraqi Baathism (Think Mussolini cf Hitler). Regime is better described as Alawite than as Baathist. A major issue is that the Alawi minority (10%) was historically persecuted under non Alawi regimes and has good reason to expect persecution again once they lose power (especially as Salafis seem to be stronger in Syria than in other recent revolutions). They might even want to stage a fighting retreat to their own mountain areas and maintain autonomy. NATO (including Turkish) intervention might conceivably take a less apocalyptic form – preventing sectarian civil war and protecting all minorities. So far I gather the main Kurdish parties have not clearly sided with the revolution (apparently because the main revolutionary forces have not clearly accepted Kurdish demands for autonomy). Also the Sunni merchants etc have not yet broken with the regime. Turkish and other NATO intervention might be quite decisive in speeding that break. If so, then once that part of the ruling elite breaks away, again a less major war might be required. An indication that the regime could suddenly crack is the sheer hysteria of Assad’s claims about a regional catastrophe. The (directly contradictory) claims about Israel can be dismissed as merely standard Arab dictator rhetoric, although particularly pointless when Israel is so obviously preferring “stability” in Syria rather than yet another islamist regime surrounding it. Only people like Dalec would even pretend to take Assad’s rhetoric on this seriously, so it does sounds like the language of a regime about to crack. Nevertheless I agree that the Syrian regime appears to have a stronger base than Gaddafi’s and it was surprising how long the fighting lasted in Libya despite the outcome having been obvious from the start. So there could well be a longer and tougher fight in Syria as patrickm suggests, despite the above counter indications.”

    As we saw, and you forget the Kurds to a great extent sat on their hands and Assad left them alone; then Iraqi Baathists and DAESH got stuck into the Kurds and it is that attack that brings forth your formula NOW. But who in their right mind would doubt that the Kurds (if they could direct a COW airpower to bomb the fascists that gave Halabja fame) would direct bombing till not one of them dared to gather beside a truck bomb let alone a military parade!

    This war of liberation was genuine progress not just for the Kurds, who marched with the COW as all made war against the fascists, but for the Shia and all democratically minded peoples’ of Iraq who we support against fascists still. If 2015 fascists have earned their bombing well the Kurds will tell you loud and clear that so had the fascists in 2003. The fascists had earned their targeting simply by being in the way of human devlopment and freedom. Death to fascism is a motto to live by.

    Steve, you are – these days – a supporter of the war making delivered from the air in the north above the Kurds from 1991 to 2003 by the U.S.. That’s a very protracted NFZ airwar you NOW support and it was waged without a strategic plan by U.S. realists with no end in sight for many years. You can’t have thought about winning that war because you didn’t support it at the time. But now you have changed your view and do in retrospect support it so you now might understand why the Kurds put up pictures of their liberator George W Bush. It was GWB that brought that air war – that you now support – to a victorious conclusion as a by-product of liberating the rest of the Iraqi peoples’ from the tyranny that regularly murdered the Kurds. The NFZ ‘protection’ war had been fought and then it was brought to a victorious end by GWB. You support rescue war so there you go! No one from Neverland will support the bombing war then or now!

    Now, as it happens unlike Geoffrey Robinson you are not interested in the unlawful nature of the removal of the lawful tyranny in Iraq and the elimination of the Baathists Kurd killing air forces, but only – these days – argue about the efficacy of the undertaking. What you formerly thought was an imperialist undertaking made for the sake of something that you considered ‘oil’, a good shorthand term to march behind in “no blood for oil” Neverland anti war marches, is according to your new perspective not efficatious ONLY in the cost sense. That is to say it has brought about entities that you insist western goverments send military forses to assist but that you think was too costly in progressive humans lives. Presumably you still don’t care about the lives of fascist killers of those people we wish to see liberated as you understand the kill or be killed. It was an extension of the air war you now support and you still don’t think this extension was a good idea. You now say it was a bad call because it was just going to make things worse. Well not doing the fighting in Syria has clearly made things much worse on that front! The question of the efficacy – of the sightly earlier Iraqi phase – of this broader war now requires a rethink as you follow the once ‘sit on the hands Kurds’ and with them unite with the Great Satan and Abbott’s mob to fight both DAESH and Assad. My view has always been that fighting the ‘mother of all ME fascists’ is better done with many well equipped professionals turning up for the task rather than a few even very progressive locals even if they are all armed with AK47 and other small arms. Now after following the Kurds with this formula my thinking ought to apeal as a matter of fact no brainer to you.

    In practice you have long conceded the war was a war of liberation not one of imperialist aggression and so you parted ways with those that excused the so called resistance. Those Iraqis always had a peaceful way forward if they were interested in democracy or national liberation or the independence of their country. You saw on the TV news reports the Iraqi market yesterday and Assad’s work today. There was never a justification for the fascists war that they launched against the Iraqi masses who did want progress and there is none for Assad. The COW stood from day 1 with the modernising liberated masses who you claim to listen to, but who up to that point had no choice but to stay silent. People who spoke out got killed by fascists and even today the innocent are blown up shopping for food. The war did not go over to one of liberation that you now support, but rather this war against these same oppressive people that you now understand and support was ever so! Liberation!

    Instead of accepting this and moving on, you fudge that fundamental question and you are doing so in this thread that is about how progressives are to defeat Baathism in Syria. You say you opposed the other bit of liberation on the basis that you expected the attack on the fascists to produce an outcome to make Iraq (despite the Kurdish 20% of that population) look like Somalia. Naturally, I dread to think what you propose be done in Somalia and remind you of what has come out of this area and into Kenya as but 1 example of a world where monsters come out ready or not. Turns out you are a curious kind of fighting internationalist who is openly supporting some peoples’ with ‘your’ cruise missiles, like the French intervention in Mali and general action against say Boko Haram, but what of the Somali democrats however relative that term is in that part of this little planet? Hands off Somalia is a chant that Neverland will drag out, but you like me have to work out what to do.

    At least you know for sure that pirates must be, and will be suppressed off that coast as proletarian ship crews go past this international choke point, so you clearly take an internationalist stand at sea. I guess your general defence of capitalism protects you from the more idiotic and reactionary objection to modern navies being built and maintaining a general law of the seas to an extent at least as progressive as Jefferson?

    But on land, once the Iraqi peoples’ liberation had begun – at the so called ‘mission accomplished’ point- and the fascists had had their heavy weapons removed from them and that huge army had simply dissolved itself into ‘their’ terrorised population and therefore slightly disrupted the fascists and almost all (because few -unfortunately- had been killed) had just gone quietly underground to prepare their long war to regain control. YOU supported the idiotic call for a swift COW hand over of power and withdrawal on the (I’ll bet you think on sober reflection ridiculous) basis that this action might prevent Iraqi fascist fighting to regain power and setting of bombs and killing people on sight and continuing their full time violent business. YOU at that time thought that without any external non sectarian troops in Iraq, fascists and sectarians thugs would not do what Syria has NOW demonstrated (again to all that required the lesson) what they DO actually get up to. You have now learned what Mao insisted was the reality of “dust not moving without the broom”. You have grown older and wiser as the fight for regional transformation unfolds.

    Once it was clear that COW non sectarian troops were staying you finally supported them continuing to fight the fascists – but – you refused to call this revolutionarily transforming of Iraq from a plaything of the fascists into a modern state a revolution. Rather you – Geoffrey Robinson style – called it a demand that the COW ‘maintain law order and the safety of the Iraqi people’ against one must note the Iraqi people!! Naturally, you fudge this last bit and I say appeal to the pandora example as your model. I say YOU call for the second opening of this box! I say rather ‘If you don’t fight you lose’ and I say YOU, are in the ranks of the fighters.

    NATURALLY, ‘you supported the holding of elections and broke with any organisation that voiced support for the resistance beyond people’s fundamental right to organise self defense.’ and of course that is why there was no long and victorious mobilization of western peoples in the manner of the Vietnam war period but rather the complete collapse of the reactionary pseudoleftist and openly conservative anti Iraq war movement. When it became apparent that these utter rats were prepared to call this monstrous conduct resistance you firmly broke with the likes of Tariq Ali and fuckwits like Guy Rundle and every single pseudoleft organisation like the ISO but at least Rundle later joined you over Libya!

    ‘In Libya you may well have supported NATO intervention initially ‘to save the rebels about to be slaughtered in Benghazi.’ But YOU continued to support NATO intervention led by the reluctant U.S. under ditherer in Chief Obama because there was then NO choice but to continue until the ‘NFZ’ WAR was won. Of course the Libyans are still engaged in the revolutionary struggle and that does not now surprise you. No one can say how long it will take a country in this region to develop a society as liberal as a western country like Australia but it will be far longer than any progressive would like. You now grasp the protracted nature of the revolutionary transformation of this region. You accept protracted struggle as the reality of life as the region resumed a struggle against tyranny held up by the US realists for 60 bloody years.

    In Syria, if I remember correctly you supported calls for a no fly zone WAR led by the U.S.. It is not there yet and the Assad air force bombed again today. We few Australian cruise missile Marxists called for the NFZ war years before people understood that this was in U.S. interest and the peoples’ interests as well. We did so even before some Syrian opponents of Assad and the Turkish government and while the – sit on their hands – Syrian Kurds did just that!

    Obama betrayed the democratic peoples’ of Syria and you were no doubt disappointed. Apparently though you thought that the U.S. was never [such a big word brought along from Neverland] going to take action in Syria ‘that would prove decisive’ whatever that really means. Yet McCain was advocating different actions from Nobel peace prize Obama so NEVER is really foolish. After all what is in U.S. interests for starters? People – not just pseudoleftists- are very confused over just these issues.

    Now you twist and turn because you are a cruise missile something or other but as things currently stand you support giving ‘the Kurds’ [whose government you continually attacked on this very site] the support that they ask for as they fight. But when the Kurds were not yet caught up in the fighting you had ALREADY supported intervention. The Kurds stayed out of the fight as long as they could and you can’t blame them! Assad did not attack them! Assad is dropping barrel bombs today and not on the Kurds! You have forgotten who it was that was fighting when you called for war. I have not forgotten, but I don’t just follow the Kurds.

    Despite the Baathist trained DAESH enemy now being held back in the north of Iraq by the Kurds and being more devastatingly active in the other parts of Iraq you find it difficult to advocate close cooperation with the elected Iraqi government [even as the Shia in particular get ruthlessly bombed in their marketplaces!!] though you know that Australian attack aircraft are not going to end up in Baathists nor DAESH hands! I just remember how you used to moan about the Kurdish government. (With some good cause as well) Australians are bombing for the Iraqi government just as they are bombing for Kurds and as they ought to be for the FSA etc., in Syria but some moronically say it’s not our business and we have no legal authority. The ALP and Greens are dragging behind yet again – yet what do you have to say? Fudge anyone?

    Ah you ‘don’t understand that you have held diametrically opposed views about tanks and small arms in the 4 years of this very thread, or that you set up smoke screens, or that you walk both sides of yet another street. Look through the thread and try honesty.
    All those countries in the middle east
    they all reactionary communities
    all one sect towns
    so you have to watch
    what you’re voting in
    with old NOTBUSH
    oh NOTBUSH
    NOTBUSH shitty intit?

    So how is your honest review of this thread on Syria going? That record is why I have confidence in my analysis and why you have had to give up on making any sense of the world.

    Is the region a political cultural and economic swamp that is being drained by the complex revolutionary struggle launched by Bush in strategic response to the disaster of 60 years of rotten realist policies?

    How you going with defining just what kind of cruise missile type you are? Follower of the Kurds is it? For you there is only one kind of Kurd and when the people call for the approved action there is only one kind of people. YOU will always find what you want.

    How is the war for Greater Israel going? Surprised that the U.S. and Israel are not getting on so well? I’m not. Still confident that we dread nought Marxists have not got a handle on capitalist society?

  43. 43 patrickm

    One of the current Syrian lines but it is not Steve’s line.
    This line is sort of close but then again not close at all.
    This reports a good intervention by an unreliable ally.
    This is some of the old gang trying to sail on but the old boat won’t float.
    Here is a legal justification at least as far as DAESH but not the root of all evil in Syria – Assad – me thinks.
    Roger thinks that ‘Nobody appears to have enunciated the strategic end-state that RAAF bombing of Syria is supposed to produce. What if bombing ISIS targets just over the border gives Jabhat al-Nusra a leg up over its Islamist rival? Syria is not simple and never will be.’

    Well at least more people have started to think about an issue that was clear to me as a complex fight that anti fascists leftists had an interest in 4 years ago!

    As for Steve Owens, well whatever orders arrive from the Kurdish authorities is what Steve will follow now.

    So at least Steve approves of a BIG deployment to the region to be ready (and able) to follow the orders. After all one would never want to worm out of fighting with the excuse that it could not be done even if we wanted to.

    Steve has told all that he needs no lecture on right-wing realist hypocrisy. People can and ought to review Steve’s contribution to this thread. It started on November 16, 2011 and a very big war has unfolded since then. Now we have thousands of Syrian refugees on the border of Macedonia. Are these people saying free us from Assad and Daesh?

    Where will Steve get his orders from now?

  44. 44 Steve Owens

    Patrick the problem for your position is that IS exists as a result of the invasion of Iraq. No invasion no IS. Most of the contributors here have had the good sense to chuck it in rather than embarrass themselves further. Iraq is not a democracy, the mosquitoes are now rampant. You say that I’m taking orders when the fact is that I am open to the arguments made by people whose lives are on the line rather than those who live in safety half a world away. But just back to the main point. No invasion No IS. Those who supported the invasion are responsible for bringing us IS just as Barry used to harp on the point that the anti war camp were responsible for the ongoing crimes of Saddam is if.

  45. 45 patrickm

    This line is sort of close but then again not close at all.

    So it’s pretty close.

    But the problem is that IS exists and Assad too. As a result of the ‘invasion’ of Saddam’s areas of Iraq alongside the Kurds of the other parts of Iraq. No invasion, no liberation – no liberation no fightback from enemies like Baathists and IS!

    No fightback from the reactionaries – no ditching of the NoWar groups by Steve and unity with the U.S. and Australian bourgeois forces and with the Kurds.

    The Kurds still have all the issues that you have written about over the last few years! Yet you propose to bomb at their direction. Syrians are bashing down the border of Macedonia and what are you complaining about? 2003 Iraq! Good one! Mosquitoes are now rampant and Obama the Ditherer has been POTUS for how long? The quicker he is history the better.

    You say that we fellow cruise missile warriors ought to bomb at the Kurds direction! The fact is that you are not open to the arguments made by people whose lives are on the line. You are just making the very old and discredited realist argument for why tyranny must be kept in control of all their vast killing machine.

    No Invasion No Liberation.

    Those who supported the invasion are responsible for bringing us a fight for freedom and human progress that stands any kind of chance.

    The anti-war camp led by the likes of Obama are responsible for the ongoing crimes of all the enemies of progress to the extent that they can but won’t do something about it!

    You won’t march with the NoWar crowd now so stop your bellyaching about working out how to change the fight from back foot to front foot cause there was always a fight. Stop pretending you are not on the side that you are. No you are not still in Neverland and no you are not still on the wobbly old fence. You are advocating the bombing of Syria and the ALP is blathering about the legality of it. You want them and this blather out the way and the bombing got on with. Thats what makes you so angry!

    Thats your lot in life always a decade behind.

  46. 46 Steve Owens

    When the Leaders of Imperialism made an argument that the war was to promote democracy those of us in the anti war movement laughed that anyone would be sucked in by their obvious arse covering. Well at least Rumsfeld has finally admitted that he didn’t believe the statements that he made.
    As to Imperialists seeing the invasion as leading to wider democracy remember Cheney when Mubarak was about to go down. ‘Oh no not Hossnie hes a good guy’
    And please stop the mock horror about Obama he is no different to GW they both represent the same class interests just different timing GW when the ruling class would OK adventurism and BO when that same ruling class is much more measured.

  47. 47 admin

    BTW -1999-
    ‘the French announced they would use the Arabic-derived term “Daesh” to replace their previous name, EIIL ( L’Etat islamique en Irak et en Syrie).

    The four competing names are only a handful of those used by Isis, which emerged in 1999 when it was established by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who allegedly ran a terror training camp and orchestrated bombings and beheadings in Iraq.’

    His group was initially known as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, before changing to the simpler al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) after pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s network in October 2004.

    Since then, the group has operated under numerous guises until its current leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared it the Islamic State in Iraq (Isi) in 2006, adding the “and al-Sham” to make “Isis” in 2013.’

    So the Jordanian established Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad that followed the Yemeni born Saudi and his Egyptian 2IC and became al-Qaeda in Iraq and murdered the Shia and other Sunni more than anyone; then when Zarqawi was killed and what was left of his jolly band were thrown out by the Iraqi peoples and the COW that by this time Steve was demanding stay fight and these enemies of all progress regrouped in Syria then grew into a Baathist trained and led ‘monster’ in Syria and left unattended by Obama came back (after years of murdering democratic Syrians and even killing Assad loyalists) to murder Iraqi peoples that now fight with Steve approved Australian air power and ground trainers. Steve wants to hide behind a fig leaf Kurd comand structure! Steve wants to send the planes to bomb in Syria provided he gets a Kurd on the ground calling in the strike! Sure you do!

    How is that honest look at your record going?

  48. 48 Steve Owens

    It is going fine than you.
    “…Zarqawi was killed and what was left of his jolly band were thrown out by the Iraqi peoples and the COW…” That is an interesting statement. By the Iraqi people I guess you might be including the Awakening Councils. aka The Sunni militias. Don’t you think that your account of IS is a bit odd? You make no mention of the Awakening Councils or give any sense of why IS after being defeated by the Awakening Councils just drive back into Iraq and face no problem from the Awakening Councils that so thoroughly defeated them in 2007-08
    Still sometimes we learn more by listening to what people don’t say rather than what they do.

  49. 49 patrickm

    What about a Moroccan who starts shooting people on a train in Europe? http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/21/europe/france-train-shooting/ what inspired this man? Was it YOUR war in Libya or YOUR war for the Kurds or YOUR rescue war against this man’s Jihadist/Baathist/Sunni mates killing Kurds and others in Iraq. Or was it my war against Al-qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and against Baathism and Al-qaeda in Iraq or Kuwait?

    What is the strategic stand that western masses ought to take in your world view. You favor a capitalist system economically fair enough. We can put that aside as there is no proposal at the moment to deal with the issues that this system is throwing up but as for imperialism. Hmm.

    You have now resorted to the old pseudoleft tropes as a pretence that you have anything at all to say about the world of 2015 but my article on Imperialism published nearly a decade ago (2006-03-26) has dealt with those bankrupt shibboleths that you now don’t really believe.
    http://www.lastsuperpower.net/Members/patrickm/papertiger/view?searchterm=paper%20tigers That decade has been very good confirmation of the line expressed by me then but you keep blankly repeating that you think not and join in with the old crowd calling the liberation the disaster that the US must never repeat and that those that launched it ought to be jailed and that yes it’s a good thing but there were never so many Jihadists when Saddam ran the joint. You also join in with the line that the US lost the war! Anything rather than face up to your current predicament.

    Actually you are at the old ‘stare blankly and pretend stage’ of yet another of your useless cycles.

    At least anyone can see you now want capitalist countries led by the Great Satan to bomb the enemies of all progress at the direction of any Kurd on the ground with a radio! Kobane is on record! The U.S. bombed you cheered. Good oh!

    Even Bishop today, on 23 August, is still bulshitting about seeking legal advice about bombing targets in Syria so the Libs have slipped far behind 2015 Steve. Bishop and Abbot currently just supports the ‘rescue’ bombing that you also support over in Iraq but the 2015 Steve wants those bombs dropped in Syria last week. Good on you!

    You are not the slightest bit interested in assisting imperialist conquest but because you know that it’s not an issue you are rather concerned with (some twisted form of) unity against the common enemy. What is at issue for you is the well being of the peoples on the ground who are fighting for one of 3 clear and supportable issues connected with revolutionary transformation of an entire region. You support that transformation because every lefty HAS to support that transformation YET how this old society ‘dust’ is to vanish, well perhaps that becomes a job for Syrians holidaying on the border of Macedonia in your universe. Millions of refugees and you think your stupid Stop the War groups that you will no longer work with anymore were right about something once!

    You still SAY ‘When the Leaders of [some big capitalist countries] Imperialism made an argument that the war was to promote democracy those of us in the anti war movement [BACK THEN] laughed that anyone would be sucked in by their obvious arse covering.’ Because they obviously had imperialist motives and good leftists were anti imperialists and their first duty on the home front was to oppose their ruling class! But that is where you were all wrong! No anti war people even thought the issue through in a respectful debate at the time. None, zip, nada. Wall to wall oil! As you still say it was a good ‘shorthand’ for imperialist motives. So they must have failed and now you support the new war! Bomb to rescue you chant! Bomb at the direction of the Kurds you insist. Spend your efforts telling us how bad the Kurd leadership is then… ah well perhaps no one will notice how two faced you are.

    Imperialism? NOT ANY MORE for Steve. Launch those cruise missiles you chant! Smash the enemies of the Kurds as directed by Kurds. Yet what about Assad? Oh yes menace them till they hand over the chem weapons (but remind everyone they aren’t that important)! Then (at some point) demand a NFZ war to stop the barrel bombing of Syrians who want a vote. But what now of the Assad loyalists? Hundreds of thousands dead and no end in sight and who is to be blamed for these deaths? Well the COW in Iraq of course! After all have we communists not claimed that launching a bourgeois democratic revolution against tyranny that was formerly blocking that regional transformation with the protection of the right wing realists was the whole point?

  50. 50 Steve Owens

    Nice rant but the question still stands. The Awakening Councils defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq. Now IS drives into Anbar province and there is no resistance from the Awakening Council. What happened to the Awakening Council?

    Its OK Ill answer my own question The Awakening Councils are asleep at best because the Iraqi government rounded up their leaders and executed them
    Oh and yes don’t bother to tell me what a bad man Adel al-Mashhadani was because in war you are not dealing with saints you deal with what you can deal with.

  51. 51 patrickm

    You write
    ‘nice rant’
    and I read;
    can’t dispute calling for the bombing ahead of Bishop who with the blistering speed of the current crop of capitalist societies ruling elite thinks the war in Syria is really complex!
    thinks the moroccan could have been ‘tipped over’ by the Libyan war as much as any
    following Hawking and Judge Geoffrey now waves at the Stop the War remnants but won’t join with them nor them with him!
    won’t take any responsibility for developing a realistic strategy for winning such a mind numbingly complex revolutionary war on multiple fronts
    when did the imperialists stop their ‘obvious arse covering’ and this become a struggle that has WW2 similarities that required the united front style
    a deliberate choice to not use the terms, Daesh, cruise missile type, protracted war
    how does Steve come to be relying on imperialist armed forces to rescue people and support the Kurdish war making while clinging to the theories of imperialism still sprouted by Stop the War types?
    and I read
    obviously no strategy; obviously no solution for millions of refugees
    he want’s me to read the guardian FFS!

  52. 52 Steve Owens

    Bombing Syria? Really whats the point. Turkey is keen that neither IS or the Kurds control another area on their border. Saudi Arabia is hopelessly compromised as IS looks a lot like Saudi Arabia. Im happy that people give support to the Kurds for as I wrote some time ago the Kurdish story is the only happy story in the Syrian civil war (that was a pre IS statement). Im happy for support be given to the FSA but what do they control? Im not ready to join forces with Andrew Bolt and argue that Assad is the lesser evil, so apart from giving the Kurds a leg up I dont see much point in bombing Syria.
    In Iraq I cant see much point in pushing IS back if only to let the Iraqi government back in. They are completly hopeless and there is only hope if enough Sunni tribes can be brought on board but after what the government did to the Awakening Councils I can see why they might prefer despots of their own stripe.
    As to no solution for refugees my solution is to welcome refugees and I think the last item I linked to was not the Guardian but Stars and Stripes or is that not good enough either?

  53. 53 patrickm

    Only Stop the War types can now say – Not In My Name.

    You ask what is the point of extending the bombing – that YOU have already authorised in your name. So Iraq where YOU are currently bombing is where you must start. It appears that what you are here claiming is that you have only authorised some form of ‘rescue’ bombing in Iraq, and if Daesh stop advancing then your authority lapses. This, presumably, is bombing that stops Daesh from advancing even further but you are not clear on this. If Daesh were not attacked wherever they are they will continue to build up for their next attack just as they did in the recent past that led to your rescue intervention.

    This ‘dust will not vanish of it’s own accord’ reality is well understood by you, so you say nothing in opposition to the current bombing and continue to accept that Australian military personnel are correctly deployed and fighting. So YOU can see even through the complexity of this conflict that attack is the primary method of winning a war, and progressives are at war. So then you ask what is the point and answer yourself ‘giving the Kurds a leg up’ in this war. That is to say give help with the extremely complex liberation of the various Kurdish people in Syria from among those many millions dispersed across the region.

    Then you bring up Andrew (what war for greater Israel) Bolt, and mention that he thinks Assad is the lesser evil compared to Daesh and you say you are not yet prepared to accept his formula. His formula has no place on this site in a discussion with me as I have in this thread always advocated war against Assad. I have always agreed with the Turkish government that the Assad regime must go. The regime can’t just replace their leader and continue. The old method of holding down the other peoples’ of Syria in a larger fascist state is finished and they can’t now after what they have done retreat to a rump fascist state and get on with suppressing democrats, and the general transformation of the region and providing a port for Putin and resume trade and so forth.

    I have always thought that Assad was the root cause of what has unfolded in Syria, and that Obama’s refusal to fight has caused a real disaster that in the end still requires a major war. The only change 4 years on is that the required war is to be fought over the now dead bodies of all those Syrians both the best and the rest. The way that the Assad side has fought has ensured that the western preferred democrats have been well shaded by the western loathed Daesh to the point that it seems like a great idea to some to prefer leaving the root cause in place as a lesser of two evils. That seems a good strategy from Assad. It is foolish for the revolution.

    Neither Assad’s type of tyranny nor a Daesh style horror can be left to fester in this strategic part of planet earth. The fact that he has brought on a civil war that has produced and will always produce ethnic cleansing – causing millions to CURRENTLY be in Turkey and now years later causing some to be walking to Germany is to say that for years they were out of sight in Turkey! Obama had policies all along and they are only better than the Netanyahu approach to the ME. Bolt is an apologist for the war for greater Israel that he is still in denial about! Now you want to muddy the waters of an investigation about how to bring modernity to the planet by throwing in ‘realist’ crap.

    Just so you understand;
    60yrs of that crap created an even worse swamp than the region already was.
    Everything the realists did made it worse. Just like the realist Obama has.

    The question is about extending YOUR bombing west into an area called Syria where the same Daesh is in control of both territory and all manner of people; so you have mentioned Saudi Arabia to the south where I agree a very backward society exists with a despicable owning class in control. You throat clear with reference to Turkey to the north that has a government in contention with it’s deep state structure in a similar manner to Egypt. Turkish nationalists of all stripes (from the most democratic to the most reactionary) have been for many decades fighting a major Kurdish separatist civil war with tens of thousands dead. A couple of years ago the current government and the separatists managed to get a ceasefire and negotiations happening and I think that is a good thing and I feel sure you do as well.

    But if you will stop your distracting talk about other fronts and problems we can talk about extending your bombing into Syrian territory. The current bombing is in your name. What we are talking about stripped of the cloud of dust thrown IMV so that you can later say it was never in your name, is bombing the same forces at different coordinates AND it should also be about bombing Assad’s mob as well. The Turks have just reached an agreement with the Obama administration; what do you say they have signed up to?

    The point of politics is to stand for something important or in other words strategic. Politics must be bigger than self yet not a distraction like the local footy team or church that basically distracts the masses. Social activity can be either pleasant and something that helps build friendships and healthy bodies etc., or opiate like mindlessness of excess alcohol, drugs and religions and pseudo-politics. Working people who spout the views of the owning classes as the rightful betters fit to rule are not involved in anything with a class point of view. The point of the well to do house slave might be to live a good long life and good luck to them, but that is not what this site is supposed to be about and will not be in the future.

    If people serve self then there is no real connection to nation or country or class. Any country will do for a self server and no national issues matter and most important of all the devil take the hindmost of the people is their practice. That type of person could be a refugee. Who can tell when you see a refugee? Refugees come in all type and manner. After the failure of some fascist war or another the remnants of that type flee as well; so please stop the pretence that refugees are a simple issue. There are no simple issues on this thread.

    Some relatively good people see no future for themselves fighting the enemy and would leave the fighting for others. These sorts just want something for themselves so that they can say I’m all right and to hell with anyone else! We have all seen the type. People who never pull their weight and just shirk all the hard jobs. People who are far too good for the hard work that they leave to others. They are not the direct enemy but they might sell people out or betray people and thus become an enemy if that appears to be in their interests. All sorts of people fall into the range of people who might be refugees in the hundreds of thousands holidaying in Greece or walking to Holland. No resort to a Neverland simpleton’s chant on refugees is going to work at this site.

    How to identify real friends and real enemies and how to unite all who can be to fight as few real enemies as can be fought is the question that concerns fighting leftists. Progressives ought only fight those that must be fought and negotiate a way forward if that is possible with others; that is our basic stand. That basic stand is not just about rights but also about responsibilities. Neverland refugee’s talk only of rights.

    In the case of WW2 it was total war requiring unconditional surrender – a fight to the death and in similar manner there is no way past Assad and Daesh and Iraqi Baathists and Al-qaeda. We progressives are locked in a war to the death; but the Turkish state is not locked in a total war with the Kurds though it has been at war right or wrong for many years and costing many tens of thousands of lives. They can negotiate and ought to. The Kurds can go forward with a peaceful solution. These options are open and this is not the case with the fight with Al-qaeda. Total defeat is required. They can’t be left in control of territory. The Al-qaeda/Daesh Caliphate can not be established and sustained AND neither can Assad carve out his own fascist enclave to retreat to.

    This is not to say that the Alawites etc., that he has misled will not require protection from all manner of enemy that his Baathist strategy has spawned, they will, and that is a very strong argument for NATO boots on the ground. This war has a very long way to run and western progressives can contribute to the victory of the democratic revolution provided we target the hands off brigade that has been led by the realist reactionary Obama who stands well to the left of the ‘anti-imperialists’ of any anti-war rabble.

    As for Stars and Stripes or the more right wing Guardian I don’t care where you get your ideas from just stop being a disingenuous anti-communist and build a real argument.

    The revolutionary transformation of the ME and Africa is not currently a communist project and people who genuinely want to think this through are not interested in provenance issues. Issues of war are complex enough as your own journey from peace campaigner to cruise missile advocate has demonstrated.

    You say ‘Im happy for support be given to the FSA but what do they control?’ Well there are millions of displaced Syrians in Turkey and Jordan and beyond so who can say just now what a FSA is capable of doing as they are given the support that you are happy about. But don’t think you can be progressive by robbing the Syrian masses of all the ‘best and brightest’ refugees.

    Baathists and Daesh must be fought and therefore driven back otherwise they are not being fought, so despite any of the well known shortcomings of the Iraqi government forces your bombing will work with that government so the COW are vitally important for the revolution as they are not interested in the sectarian nonsense that the region is rife with. Welcome to the mind numbingly complex reality of revolutionary war in the ME.

  54. 54 patrickm

    Now that you are so pro Kurd you might recall this from April 27, 2003 and try and think what you were saying then.

    Also you might want to consider how central the issue of Mosul will become now rather than when the battle is unfolding and it will unfold.
    Operation Inherent Resolve is well named but is it well led?

    And this has the flavor IMV of what Chomsky had been on about years ago. Arthur conected the dots to the reality that had been faced up to by the tiny handful. That few were leading the GWB chaired strategy debate after 9/11. Rumsfeld was led not leading in that small goup. Bush decided on the basis of the better argument. You ought to emulate him. If he were to do it again it would be Rumsfeld’s small footprint tactics that he would replace with Mao’s thinking on troop numbers!

  55. 55 Steve Owens

    Australian warplanes in Iraq is not a game changer. Australian Warplanes bombing accross the border into Syria is not a game changer. What is a game changer is what the US is prepared to do. I think that Obama is looking at containment of his Syrian problem. I think that the only Presidential candidate who holds a position of boots on the ground in Syria is Lindsey Graham. So unless theres a road to Damascuss conversion or a President Graham I think that your idea of a big war to free Syria is dead in the water.

  56. 56 patrickm

    We know Obama had to be dragged by others to fight in Libya but in the end he authorised the air war and you supported the effort that he finally authorised. It was a disgrace that he personally let the situation develop as it did but that is exactly the problem with him and his politics. He didn’t just make a random bad call, he was not clued into the strategic reality of U.S. interests.

    As a 2nd term POTUS he’s a little more clued in all these years later but is such a self serving narcissistic creep that even at this late stage he is almost totally useless. He has gained much experience (for no point at all) and many good people who sought the democratic transformation of Syria have paid with their lives. The world waits for him to just fall away from the levers of political power that were of no real interest to him past holding them for his photo-ops.

    Compared to to the GWB Condi Rice duo what an utter waste of space he and Kerry are!

    What further damage will he do as he drags through the lame duck period we will just have to wait and see but he always was useless. Something to ponder is why so many could be taken in by him but that’s how poor this system is.

    So individuals sometimes matter even in Tweedledee / Tweedledum political battles. The point is that there is no left and right to the two party dictatorships. Anything can and has been thrown up by such political machine groupings. Same thing in Australia. Shorten! Abbott! It’s enough to make one become a political refugee.

    It occurs to me though that my progressive revolutionary issues revolve around the foundation issue of democracy and so in addressing that issue in so huge a manner GWB has despite all his weakness and backsliding from taking the next logical steps been the clear standout political leader so far in the 21st C. Who knows who will be the next POTUS but U.S. and all western interests will not change direction. The policies that the U.S. realists followed were always wrong – even when they appeared to be paying off for the handful of ruling elites that followed each other. The practice of all those decades was actually building a whirlwind of hatred for the U.S. ruling class and that hatred extends via classic reactionary politics to virtually all the U.S. and western peoples’. The revolutionary transformation of the region has been more than delayed.

    When Libya unfolded people like Rundle and others on sites like Larvatus Prodeo were convinced that the Tyrant would be permitted to kill the democratic revolutionaries and crush the revolution. I didn’t think so and events unfolded. I had a working world view they didn’t. That is how it has gone all this time. You won’t even try to work through the issues so you are obviously floundering.

    Libya was in a state of war (as it in many respects still is and will be for many years) when you finally broke with the Neverland residue. Like the issue of Bosnia years earlier NATO was solidly involved with Libya and will be even more so NOW as this dramatic refugee issue drags all these other countries in. The masses of mostly Syrian but also many others refugees out of Africa are beginning to stir like a swarm of ‘okies’ in 1930’s USA. Similar ‘move on’ scenes with various police etc., are playing out again but now not in one country and before a worldwide audience.

    Globalism is now a hot issue. Genuine internationalists are not to be found in the ranks of the pseudoleft that have for years told everyone ‘hands off’ everything that is bound to generate such flows of humanity. The internal flow of the ‘okies’in the U.S. was before a new deal was wrung out of the owning classes and often as not those wielding the clubs to move people on were those that had arrived first. So this is one of capitalism’s real and recurrent problems only this time the revolution will be televised.

    It really was only the full mobilisation for WW2 that soaked up the internally displaced unemployed the ‘surplus’ population unable to be profitably exploited. Suddenly a ¼ of the working age population were not required by the owning classes and had no choice but to solve their own problems as best they could. Just how similar this is to now when the 1st country that they walk through is often Greece on the way to a new ‘California’ is glaring.

    Count the number of states that the refugees moved through then and how far they travelled for the hope of a better life when they had no real choice and look at today’s trek to Germany! The whole Southern Europe and ME and Africa has 60% plus levels of youth unemployment and governments have already gone broke. What next for this system straight out of the filth of the sixteenth century? We are still dealing with exactly comparable religious nutters and born to rule types across much of the globe!

    The international disgrace that is the neglected war in Syria is peace prize Obama’s real gift to the world. An owning/ruling class elite awarded that prize. Assad has earned a NFZ war if anyone has and good on the Turks for keeping the pressure on Obama. Progressives call for this NFZ war. The pseudoleft call for hands off.

    The U.S. military contains a lot of professional soldiers in a officer caste that would want to fight Daesh and who can think as clearly as Petraeus. They would be IMV having to be held back by the Obama crew and yet as a result of events they are now having to be let off the leash. Turkey is being united with and fought out of now. Large U.S. forces are now deployed to the Mediterranean, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan as well as the Red sea and the peoples’ of Lebanon largely want no return to full blown civil war. The point is the Turkish government has played a leading role in dragging Obama along to do what must be done. Every effort ought be thus directed.

    As you see the Kurds were a bit ahead of you in April 2003 and while of course ‘Australian warplanes in Iraq [are] not a game changer.’ and yes ‘ Australian Warplanes bombing across the border into Syria [will] not [be] a game changer.’ having an air force might well be; at least it won’t harm the war now will it.

    You say that ‘ What is a game changer is what the US is prepared to do.’ So the questions for Australians like you and me concern what would you have the government of Australia do with Australia’s military forces in support of a general strategic approach known as Operation Inherent Resolve that you and me are supporters of?

    You ‘think that Obama is looking at containment of his Syrian problem.’ Good for you; so what do you think that means for various players and in particular the deal with Turkey that you have been asked about.

    Before election some of the well known Tweedle politicians say things like ‘there will be no carbon tax’ and Obama tried to say that the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem would stand, but after there has never been a word of it.

    What do you think [with respect to the strategic focus for Operation Inherent Resolve] is to be thought of as in the interests of progressives who are internationalists? That is if that is how you describe yourself. You see in all your teeny weeny replies while dodging questions and pretending to have a working world view no one would know where you really stand while being totally clear on what I think.

    Every conversation requires some definition of terms so you ought to define your concept of leftist. Presumably you see yourself as a fighting liberal? leftist of some sort though your focus here is always attacking communists. If you have any interest in understanding the revolution in Syria or across the entire region then review your contributions on this thread. There’s been lots of road to Damascus conversions over the time span of this very thread.

    You say ‘I think that your idea of a big war to free Syria is dead in the water.’ yet a big civil war has already gone regional; the regional war is in a place where U.S. and European interests are demonstrably vital; the enemy has shocked the world with the utter Nazi like savagery it engages in; and (perhaps as a result this savagery) got a big international COW together in Operation Inherent Resolve. Meanwhile the anti war pseudoleft are down to some zombies chanting hands off in the gutter. Now whatever is the current state of it, that very big and predicted war can’t be resolved while any Daesh style grouping continues to hold territory, nor while the root cause -being Assad Baathists- continue to suppress democrats. So what is to be done?

    Putin this very day snuggled up with the Egyptian gangster while everyone knows he is now ‘persona non grata’ across most of the world because he personally has bogged Russia down in a WW1 style revanchist imperialist ground war in Ukraine. So what is to be done?

    All this while a 1930ies style capitalist crisis is at least not off the agenda at any rate. You live in interesting times!

    Why not start contributing to work in either theory, economics or politics for the class rather than protecting the universe from communists? Know one is reading you here, and if they were you would later wish they weren’t.

  57. 57 Steve Owens

    It’s hard to understand why anyone would uphold Bush and Rice as positive examples.
    Rice was warned well in advance of 9/11 but did nothing
    Bush planned an invasion which today is a byword for failure.
    People who lead death squads now sit in government in Baghdad.
    People who were supposed to be suppressed by Iraqi democracy now rule substantial areas of Iraq and Syria.
    Israel which was supposed to be brought to heal has gone on to build many more settlements.
    “All this while a 1930ies style capitalist crisis is at least not off the agenda at any rate. You live in interesting times!”
    Look you can never rule stuff out because everything is possible but the question is Is a 1930’s style crisis likely and the answer is no it is not likely. The world has never been in better shape and it will only get better in the long run. My only regret is that I live in the present and not the future because the future is in the long run always better than the past and I expect this trend to continue.

  58. 58 patrickm

    Nice to see you following Julian Simon and as this site has clearly emphasised with Dave’s book Bright Future right up front we are fellow travellers on the future but clearly capitalism has generated these current levels of unemployment etc across the globe and it is now deadly to people where their societies are going backwards in absolute terms. This is for no other reason than it is not currently profitable to exploit more non owning class people that have nothing to sell but their labor power. This capitalist system slowdown in Australia is the same global event already costing peoples lives where they are out of sight in the less developed countries.

    Can we just accept that genuine marxists accept that the future is bright and just stick to the Fukayama argument that you are NOT making. I don’t think that capitalism is anything like the perfect or best form of human association even if it is better than all that has come before. If the world owning classes (the 1%) can’t make things work then the various working class people across the globe will have to make things work and really it can only now work as a globe so we are in uncharted water to be sure. You hold up some sort of Iceland capitalism as the way forward but I doubt you really take yourself seriously.

    Don’t pretend to be a Truther conspiracy nut. Rice wanted a strategy not ‘swatting flies’ and that seems reasonable even if it can be twisted by a fraud to come out as Rice was warned. What a scoundrel you are. Something is up; I can feel it in my waters; she was warned; my voodoo is never wrong she was warned. Right oh. You are not even pathetic.

    ‘Bush planned an invasion which today is a byword for failure.’ because let’s face it the US imperialists have not got the oil and the region is fighting from one end to the other! This region could have evolved peacefully if only the imperialists would just have bombed ??? at the direction of the Kurds. OH wait on this is getting confusing. Hands off has become she was warned why didn’t she put her hands on properly! But then that was not to fight in Afghanistan. Better police perhaps.

    You say ‘People who lead death squads now sit in government in Baghdad’. but then want Awakening squads left alone to run parts of Iraq and erect monuments to the biggest death squad runner of them all. Knuckle draggers run the world they own you know. Workers only work here if they have work for us. If they don’t have employment (exploitation; the extraction of surplus value) for us well at least it’s a comfort that the future is ALSO one where ‘The world has never been in better shape and it will only get better in the long run.’

    Strange that you are not comforted by the thought that those who suppressed democracy used to own all of Iraq and kill at will. Now they have a real fight on their hands! Now even you support bombing them.

    Israel bombed the crap out of Lebanon then left completely with a comprehensive deal. They have done no more building of settlements in Gaza and they have bombed the crap out of that as well. Pulled the settlers out and now fight with their dog as a most peculiar tail. The US loves Israel! Israel is so good for US interests. The great satan encourages the war for greater Israel to drag on! Oh wait on. That’s not reality. Never mind forget trends just throw dust.

  59. 59 Steve Owens

    The idea that Capitalism is creating a growing pool of unemployed across the world is just wrong
    The idea that I’m a truther about Rice is just wrong The Bush admin was caught flat footed on 9/11, The Bush admin was blindsided when the GFC hit. These things aren’t truther stuff they are just basic facts.
    I do take my self seriously about Iceland I believe that Iceland handled the GFC in correct manner they jailed bankers the repudiated the debt and they allowed their currency to devalue. tick tick tick.
    To point out that Israel builds no settlements in Gaza is odd. Why would anyone want to build a settlement in what is the biggest open air prison in the world?

    PS I don’t “just say” that people who ran death squads are now in the Iraqi government it is a fact. The ISCI which has 12 members in the government ran the Badr Brigades and the Sadrists who ran the Mahdi Army have 40 members in the government. “In the Shia Islamist dominated government in post-invasion Iraq, SCIRI controlled the Interior Ministry. The Iraqi Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, was a former leader of SCIRI’s Badr Brigade militia. In 2006 the United Nations human rights chief in Iraq, John Pace, said that every month hundreds of Iraqis were being tortured to death or executed by the Interior Ministry under SCIRI’s control.”
    I am under no illusion about the Awakening Councils but the fact remains that they defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq. Accommodation with them was not the policy of the Maliki government and as a result Sunni areas have become the domain of IS.

    Just in case people haven’t been following Iceland
    Or for a more exciting account people can flick over to Bill or Barry’s blogs which also run a favorable Icelandic story.
    While we are on economics hows the Australian Housing bubble debate going. Bill endorsed Steve Keens view that Sydney’s bubble would burst in 2008. I laughed about this and look Sydney’s house prices didn’t collapse as predicted but rose substantially over the next 7 years.
    I still don’t think that we will see the eventual collapse until we see a substantial rise in unemployment. A recession will do the trick.
    Patrick did you take a position on Steve Keens prediction?

    Here’s a useful chart about unemployment

  60. 60 patrickm

    Open conservatives have their ‘realism’ to fall back on despite their policies being those followed for the long decades that built the well known hatred of the west and the Great Satan in particular right across the swamp and far beyond. It’s a disaster they proclaim and all agree! What do we do now that our policies have been dumped by Bush they moan! Actually they are now incoherent foot draggers (like Netanyahu) as they attempt to cobble something together and restore the unrestorable. Obama was manna from heaven.

    Truthers have their conspiracies to explain what they know are a pack of lying rightists imperialists who really run the world (class society anyone) and they can explain why people say things like ‘we defend democracy’ and mean ‘we prop up tyrants’. Their shorthand is oil, and for them Rice was a liar who hid from or was too incompetent to spot the CIA voodoo about 9/11. Anti-war pseudoleftists have tiny neverland truthist style demo’s in the gutter to attend while they avoid thinking about the Rice speech in Cairo and instead sprout anything at all.

    Naturally most people who can tie shoelaces see all the above as intellectually bankrupt and do something else.

    But you western liberals now only have the ‘sophisticated’ liberal realism of the ABC/BBC/Guardian school as an acceptable grown up alternative to your youthful follies out there with spotty selling ‘greenleft’. Yet you know it’s just comfort chatter to hide within -as you are doing- while you wait to vote ALP on yet another round of tweedleling but what else can you do. Anyway capitalism is the best system after all and the ALP can tweak it!

    Meanwhile a war that is ultimately about human progress -and that progress requires a revolution to secure democracy- is being fought by flawed individuals who really do unite with the most unreliable of allies. Groupings that are often infiltrated by the enemy.

    Rather than move on and start honest work to think about the war you remind the world how dangerous communists were and that Israel is going nowhere and that nothing ever changes. This despite everything changing right in front of you.

    Real revolution looks very messy indeed so your ever so important tweedledee, Obama, rather than focus on the raging war fronts has flicked the switch to vaudeville to push the warming scare for his last few months and you shake your head. On the telly ‘sophisticated’ journalists -that you have remaining to nod along to- heave a sigh of relief and chatter ‘at least the planet might be saved in Paris’. So they get set to go on that next junket flight and you shake your head. All this green mush is causing you to twist and squirm a little uncomfortably. Do nothing Obama has once more become do something stupid Obama!

    Talk about neotenous inducing capitalism. You wonder where it will all end and a curmudgeon begins his late bloom in yet another old leftists living room.

  61. 61 patrickm

    1. You Steve have just directed any unfortunate reader to a guardian article from 2011 that actually CONFIRMS the idea that capitalism is creating a growing pool of unemployed across the world. It is you that is just wrong and BTW the year is now 2015. Contemplate the number of Chinese that are on reduced hours. How about the employed in the US that are on falling wages and falling hrs but are not ‘unemployed’. Pointlessly directing people to old stories in order to make no effort yourself as you pretend that unemployment is not currently rising is almost spam.

    2. No capitalist government predicted the GFC. All were blindsided. So singling out the Bush admin is just like a Truther stunt. You are throwing dirt about Rice being warned by the ‘Voodoo’ of the CIA and thus not being up to the job presumably when this is all feeble stuff compared to her address in Cairo to an audience that included Mubarak no less. That is announcing policy. That is change.

    3. We only have to look at what has gone on since! Revolution in some form or another is breaking out everywhere. People are fighting back everywhere.

    4. Putin just yesterday is doing his best with the new Egypt regime I see but is he not pathetic? Don’t they show up as exactly the problem that is blocking democratic development? Is not that development at just the most base level that all progressives can agree to? What is it you want to propose other than western bombers be directed by on the ground Kurds?

    5. I do not know what to make of the reports of Russian jets in Syria. On the one hand it is exactly what I would expect of Putin. If true it demonstrates Obama policy failure and yet more complexity. If it is not true this would not be the end of the Putin problem in Syria.

    6. Given that the entire history of realist policies generated 9/11 it ought to be the case that the entire school instantly became – like America first 1941- dramatically bankrupt and limped off to ingloriously die. But it did not. The very event ought to have wiped realists out as credible but it only smashed them in the argument at strategy level in the tiny elite of the US war cabinet. They survived even if they had to mutate everywhere else. The Next POTUS brought the policy zombies all to semi life as he has dithered away his time at the top. The left always said realist policies were a complete disaster for the peoples of the world. The GWB/Rice led strategic actions in response to the 9/11 event turned you and all your kind into nonsense talking zombies. It got so bad that you ditched your mates and won’t even cross the street to stand in a gutter with them and chant hands off anything. Stop pretending you are not able to understand basic facts. Stop looking blank when there is an huge problem in Syria and even GR is calling for a larger military effort. Make it plain that YOU are supporting the Australian effort – such as it is – spreading into Syrian airspace as it ought to so that these pilots can seek out the same enemy to kill them.

    7. Note who do the ABC put on today? Thats right the old realist scoundrel Richard Woolcott jabbering your old -realist/ABC/anti-war/anti-imperialist- line that the Iraq war was a disaster… There is no way past these kinds of blockages other than revolution and there is no easy way to take on such powerful enemies. Realists are the leaders of the movement that has the ABC/BBC clones constantly tut-tutting about how ‘we all know’ what a disaster GWB was and what a catastrophe removing the bad Saddam really was. The real disaster was sustaining this swamp and that is quite clear to all progressives that now want to make war with the more minor problems. No revolution could do what is now being done as we see in Egypt where progressives are now being systematically killed as they always have been.

    8. Just as the capitalists that were the cause of WW1 and WW2 got swept away so too are the liberal imperialist idiots that just gave the world a ½ century of failed war for Greater Israel when they were giving the world the idiocy of fighting communism in Vietnam. It is the anti communist realists and their policies and entire system of exploitation and resistance against the three great struggles of our era that generate the whirlwind. Your defence of capitalism is not just pathetic it is as boring as bat shit.

    9. Bush did not have the opportunity to talk the dribble that all those pathetic marchers could and did about oil, halliburton etc. Bush had to actually listen to arguments about what to do about the attack. That open enquiry required a strategic stand not just the reactionary response that all pseudoleftists took and stupidly expected others to also take because of some overriding theory of imperialism. Sweeping aside all that failed realist crap is 100% correct no matter how bad the swamp.

    10. Imperialism is not proving to be a going concern for the 21st C and Putin’s Russia and fascist China stand out as the menace to humanity that they are. Capitalism is not going to continue to produce enough progress to not notice refugees flooding through Greece. Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have not even begun to explode into all manner of struggle. Your precious capitalism is in more than need of just a few tweeks to get you back to scoffing.

    11. Truthers use anything at all to stick their feeble minded arguments together and that is what you do. You just play dumb when truthing. All capitalist governments were essentially ‘caught flat footed on 9/11’. Truther stuff starts with the basic facts and ends just as you do by cutting out reality. You are a classic blank staring ‘sophisticated’ truther.

    12 Take yourself seriously about running capitalism and note how the Greeks are ‘ticking’ all the right boxes as the sums continue to not add up. Capitalism could not be better run by you or your old mates. First you have to understand what is actually happening with unemployment just for starters and you have not got a clue.

    13. What is odd about Gaza and you truthers is that on 9/11 there were settlers all through it. They had their own private roads and everything as you well know; now ‘Why would anyone want to build a settlement in what is the biggest open air prison in the world?’ Answer that. That is what they did and you know it! Years later they pulled out all the settlers from GAZA and withdrew to then create what is so obviously a giant open prison. This prison is reliant on a compliant Egypt. But Egypt is slowly slipping into the armed conflict that people have no option but to wage against their oppressors. That Egyptian government stand will not last. Zionist policy -that began with the expansion and creation of the Greater israel project in 6 days of aggressive war of conquest in 1967- will have totally failed in yet another area. The war is failing.

    14. What Truthers don’t say is that Baathists used to run ALL of Iraq and now they don’t. That means that change is underway and that the former realists policies of stability have been dumped. Revolution is underway and truthers are in the way.

    15. The truth is the Iraqi people have been blown up in their markets and had their soft target powerlines destroyed all along by a ruthless enemy. The truth is the Iraqi masses have a complex war to fight and you now want them helped when for years you chanted hands off. You say you realised that western governments had a role to play long ago; fine.

    16. Nobody defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq. Chomsky can tell you that there is only one way to do it. That way will require a change to the entire region. There can be no accommodation with them nor Baathists either. So death to fascism must be the democrats motto. You are still under illusions about the Awakening Councils as just another of your consistent errors. There are problems on all fronts but at least there is a revolutionary war underway.

    17. The complexity of this region wide war was long ago recognised by those of us that advocated fighting for freedom rather than just living under the local oppressors murder regime without arming and fighting. But small arms will not do the trick of revolution. ‘Without a people’s army the people have nothing!’ Thank goodness there have been western liberators let loose by great policy change. Thank that same goodness there is no more stability.

    18. No matter how little effect our ruling elite’s efforts are going to have will you admit that you also support the extension of the Australian bombing into Syria and wish those pilots well. Apeing tweedledee parties as they try their very best to say nothing is your most foolish blank stare method.

    19. The fighting women in Syria need more help than the one that just arrived in Sweden. Refugees are going all over the place in jobless Europe so it could just as easily be Reykjavik. Can’t blame people of course. But WE know that young Kurdish women are going into battles on the same day that this refugee is checking out the nice new swedish shops. Now the Kurdish women can or might direct bombing but they require the bombing to direct. They might just cheer the bombing directed by just one of their number. They can’t all direct bombing can they. I suppose it reasonable to suspect that the one director of bombing that they are cheering may even be a special forces ‘trainer’ who brought in not only the radio to direct with but the expertise to correctly coordinate the bombing direct from Sweden. Sweden have a large arms industry. Devil take the hindmost girls in Sweden and those drowning in the aegean compete for resources just as do the young Kurdish women you claim to back nowadays. It’s not just the battle for Mosul that is looming either this war is like the Chinese revolution and the anti fascist struggle of WW2 big in terrtory and scope. It is patently protracted and vast in scope. If you won’t even deal with the very simplest aspects of the war you claim to support there is no point.

  62. 62 Steve Owens

    Patrick you may believe that Capitalism is “creating a growing pool of unemployment across the world but the article that I linked to stated that “The other important trend is unemployment, is that increasing? The answer is that global unemployment essentially unchanged from the year earlier and 27.6 m higher than in 2007.” The other very detailed chart that I linked to shows that in all the major Capitalist countries unemployment has peaked and is now in decline and predicted to decline further. Does this make unemployment or Capitalism good? of course not what it does mean is that we need to correct people who use the Capitalism is creating a growing pool of unemployed around the world because that argument can be easily refuted by reference to facts.

    Patrick the ILO estimates that world unemployment before the GFC stood at 5.5% in 2007 and now it stands at 5.9%

    Just on Greece No I don’t think that Greece is ticking all the right boxes. I was mistaken about Greece I thought that the Greek government would take Greece out of the Euro and stage an Icelandic like recovery. I thought that they were angling to be thrown out of the Euro so that blame could be placed on Merkle but I was wrong. When push came to shove they decided to live with austerity and all that goes with that.
    As to the USA, well I single the USA out for particular attention in being blindsided by the GFC,it was their banks (mainly) that caused the problems their rating agencies that gave bundled junk AAA ratings and their government which had abolished regulations that seperated investment banks from retail banks. It was their President that allowed Lehmans to fall over.

    A quote from a paper whose name I can’t mention.
    “Lehman had tried everything to avoid this fate. Its chief executive, Dick Fuld, had peppered his counterpart at Bank of America, Ken Lewis, with phone messages urging him to use his stronger institution to mount a rescue. Fuld even persuaded George Walker, a non-executive director of Lehman who was a cousin of President Bush, to put in a call to the Oval Office with a last-ditch appeal for a bailout, over the head of treasury secretary Henry Paulson. The president refused to answer the phone.”

  63. 63 patrickm

    27.6 m higher than in 2007

    apparently in 2011 and that is before the big downturn in China Australia Canada Brazil the Middle East and Ukraine and did we mention mighty Greece. I don’t even recall a flood of Refugees back in 2011 but hey that was 4 years ago. And please don’t pretend you are dealing with someone who thinks that capitalism does not go through periods of even labor shortages. These issues were all covered in Unemployment and revolution. The fact is that unemployment is spreading now and you ought to know this. But higher orlower in 2011 it never recovered to boom labor shortage times and is again spreading in 2015. I guess thats why the Chinese do not want to buy so much Iron etc and the price has gone south. Demand has fallen. Oh and remember underemployment is only slightly hidden unemployment.

  64. 64 patrickm

    You continue to confirm that unemployment even when counted is currently rising but you have not conceded even that minor point.

    No point going any further in this thread especially as now you want to take a further diversion. I simply note your concern that bad and stupid Bush would not even take a call from his relative and fix policy in the interests of this kin so that the music would not stop and the chairs be sat on. The implication that the current capitalist system in western countries like Iceland, Norway, Australia is fine with management being the only real issue and that Bush and others following bad policy brought on the last GFC is predictable from you – obviously wrong and not worth replying to- and off topic in this thread on Syria.

    You demonstrate with your lack of effort that you are not serious in working at the Syrian issue and I am, so I will just refer you to the above material and move on.

    This is the type of BBC report I was refering to above. It’s more than credible that Putin is getting deeper involved. Assad is the root of the problem and Obama has been shirt-fronted by puffed up Putin.

    This period of big issues involving major countries AND revolution right across the world gets ever more complex in some respects and far more clear in another more fundamental sense every time we dig deeper into the news.

  65. 65 Steve Owens

    This thread is about Syria and I am off topic. Excuse me one moment my head is still spinning. I’m taking this thread off topic? A quick look back at the thread to see how I have taken it off topic yes now I see August 26 I start talking about Obama and global warming oh hang on that was you. August 6 I start talking about Syriza and Podemos and GFC sorry no that’s you. OK on August 27 I started on about African refugees and a 1930’s style capitalist crisis no you again. On August 29 I indicated that world unemployment was on the rise oh sorry you again September 2 I talked about Increase in world unemployment the Greek economy, Economic downturn in China, Australia, Canada, Brazil, the Middle East, Ukraine and Greece Oh no it wasn’t me it was let me see yes it was you. I did make comments on Bush and Rice after you had raised them as examples and I did clarify my position on Greece after you had misrepresented it. I did provide evidence about world unemployment after you had raised the issue.
    Now you say that I wont even concede a minor point but my friend I have been conceding the point all along after the second biggest economic disaster in world history world wide unemployment has risen by .4 of one percent. I’m so worried by this that I intend to have a good Ly down.

  66. 66 Steve Owens

    If you look at the graphic about where the refugees are coming from it is clear that people are fleeing due to war not due to unemployment.

  67. 67 Steve Owens

    Just to get back to Syria I have taken several positions.
    Position one, support for people demonstrating against the dictatorship
    Position two, support for people who took up arms after the dictatorship attacked
    Position three, support for calls for a no fly zone
    Position four, against limiting Assad’s use of chemical weapons because it didn’t limit Assad’s use of chemical weapons and it drew a line under what support the USA was going to give.
    Position five, supportive of Rojava an area which at the time I described as the success story of the Syrian civil war.
    Position six, support for the Kurds after Rojava was attacked by IS.
    I have also passed a number of comments such as agreeing with Fisk that the rebels are out gunned and acknowledging that Obama wont do anything game changing because he has made an assessment of forces and he has come to the conclusion that the democratic forces can’t win.
    I have agreed with Kurdish commentators who describe Turkey as a useless ally because Turkey sees IS and the PKK as being equal threats.
    I have also commented that many of the gulf states are useless allies because IS has gained loads of material support from Sunni dominated regimens who see IS as a useful tool in their proxy war against Iran.
    PS I would like to invoke the great Donald Trump and reserve the right for myself to be smarter today than I was yesterday.

  68. 68 Steve Owens

    Just a slight correction to my last post. It shouldn’t read Sunni dominated regimens. The support for IS has not come from the regimens but has come from within those countries.

  69. 69 patrickm

    Speaking of Thatcher you ought to review why the spread of fascist rule out from Argentina – like the same spread out from Iraq almost a decade later -but with even less justification and the later had NONE- had support from some Pseudoleftists and was excused by many! Not many (but they did exist) openly admitted supporting the later Iraqi conquest but quite a few UPHELD the former aggression from fascists from the country of Argentina. Classic example of how the world has completely changed around the ears of those that grew up in the so called western left during these years.

    All Neverland Pseudoleftists wanted nothing done about either aggression. Thatcher 33 years ago faced down the same realists in the US that turned the blind eye to mass killings in Kurdish regions 6 years later. She made the world safer by standing firm against international aggression. You years later accepted that what made the Kurds safe from the ‘internal’ aggression by preventing the fascists from deploying to areas within Iraq where they were ALSO not wanted was a deployment of military from the other side of the world. NFZ war waged by the US known by some as the Great Satan and others as ‘imperialists’ but for you just a capitalist power that did something that you support just as NATO did in Libya and as you support NOW in Iraq against Daesh.

    Pointless for me to say you are not moving forward. Glacial progress is obvious..

    Just watched Petraeus on the 7.30 show and as you and he are I am a rational optimist as well. Yes we all agree that Baghdad is the most important issue for building the inclusive Iraq that can develop further democracy. So we are all standing on the side that does not include the Neverland and more important openly rightist realists. So can we do better than Petraeus?

    I think overthrowing Baathists in Syria and then completely suppressing them in the manner that fascists were defeated in WW2 is NOT as important as getting rid of them in Iraq was and still is. However fighting them in Syria is NOW on the agenda like it or not and Australian air power is available to attack them. That power ought to be used and using it invites trouble from the defenders of the fascists regime of Assad notably Putin.

    I recognise Assad as the ‘root cause’ of all this evil not sure what you think.

    I accept that there is no other realistic plan for left progress in the world other than the plan to get rid of all fascist organizations and suppress individual fascists. I accept that evolves to incorporate all those that later also evolve as various ‘neo-fascists’. The enemies are not sought out but as they present there is no other method than to deal with the enemy.

    We have to note that it’s very difficult to suppress those that say the right stuff as part of a united front. People who are democrats ‘by day’ and terrorists anti democratic fighters ‘by night’. Liars and infiltrators are harder to fight than open enemies of democracy. But we can only make real progress for humanity via more genuine democracy. Total suppression of the enemy currently appears by far the hardest part of this protracted struggle .

    Fighting in Syria is on any progressives agenda as an obvious component part of the very same fight in Iraq as there is no real or meaningful border. Daesh made the border issue plain when they drove around the roads killing anyone they felt like and causing some western people to call desperately for the US air force to start a rescue war. Western airpower is not enough of a contribution to this war. Australian airpower that is already committed ought to attack targets on either side of the old border.

    There was no real difference other than scale and media coverage to the ‘rescue’ in this instance to the earlier rescue that the French mounted in Mali against the advancing jihadists.

    Even liberals can now see how important defeating these Baathists and all their fellow travellers in Syria is. The key point is that Baathist Tyranny is the root evil of this war. Fighting all forms of fascism and defeating them one after another is the war that people who sing the international fight. Leftists are internationalists and believe in the progress that we are fighting for. Realist want stability and the peace of fascist rule will suit as well as any. Obama is at heart a liberal realist with overriding self interest being the guiding reality of his politics and that is the disaster of our current global politics.

    Yet this very agenda of defeating the enemies of all human progress is widely scoffed at in the liberal mass media. Stability and progress is impossible if tyranny rules in Syria and though 21st century liberals think themselves progressive, that old saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ is often as not most apt when considering the record of policy prescriptions they are now reflecting on. The honest and genuinely progressive liberal has taken several steps these last few years but always they are reacting to events. This is dramatically demonstrated in the case of Syria. The liberal analysis is a case of fighting off the back foot.

    These last five years did not drop from a clear sky. This thread -as but one example I could point to – started four years ago. Back then this terrible war for democracy was in broad outline easily foreseeable as was Assad’s response to Syrian people demonstrating against his Baathist/Alawite dictatorship. The prospect of his systematic killing was better than a fair bet back then and the fact that many thousands of the most progressive Syrians were killed during this period and the least progressive ‘let loose’ is now something vital to reflect on. As the events have dragged on in a horror of escalation liberals have reacted just as they have everywhere else that the media has directed their attention. The call to support rescue fighting while not accepting the responsibility to direct an offensive operation is a definition of reaction.

    Almost all liberals and every pseudoleftists have supported people demonstrating against the dictatorship. Most have gone the further step to ‘support for people who took up arms after the dictatorship attacked’.

    Where the great break happens is when there is a cost.

    ‘Position three, support for calls for a no fly zone’ That is a call for war and it now is a call for war in a Putin play pen.

    Position four, re chemical weapons has come and gone whatever you thought. Your possition is stark against the Iraq war launched despite the excuse being just that issue. Thank your god that they had a good enough excuse to make revolutionary war whatever GR thinks about the criminal conduct of overthrowing the lawful tyrant. How stupid this all seems all these years later when not only the 20% Kurds welcome visitors from the various COW countries and you agree with them being liberated but also a majority of the 60% Shia section of the country also welcome the troops that you now send in your name!

    Don’t worry the issue is exactly the same issue when you call for these same Australian troops to bomb Daesh and others in Syria in your name and I understand you are having trouble spitting this out. But when this happens and it will you will drag along while Neverland take to the gutter and you won’t join them.

    Position five, = further war. Good oh.

    Position six, ‘support for the Kurds after Rojava was attacked by IS’ = further war. Good oh again and whatever you think about Robert Fisk and tanks you are not following him anymore.

    Whatever Obama thinks and continues to stuff up he will be gone in 16 months and US interests will continue in the direction of support for the revolutionary transformation of the region. Even if ‘he has come to the conclusion that the democratic forces can’t win.’ the US are flying out of Turkey and attacking Daesh right now and that is good despite Neverland and I have argued this would come and more will come.

    Re Turkey and the Kurds; it was always going to be a difficult situation as I said from the very get go of this thread. It is like the British Irish situation of WW2 very very confusing to a lot of people and not the Irish nation’s finest hour. The enemy is interested in a regional war now the best thing would be not to give it to them. The best thing would be a restoration of the ceasefire and negotiations for more democracy and autonomy but this looks remote at present. The best would be ending the war for Greater Israel and the US can’t even get that!

    The Arab spring has skipped through summer and autumn! Lots of allies in this region are useless allies. Congratulations you are smarter today than you were yesterday.

  70. 70 Steve Owens

    Gaza, Israel got out of Gaza more fool them. look what they are missing

  71. 71 patrickm

    Do you think I have a missed something to do with your post? What is your point.

  72. 72 Steve Owens

    My point with Gaza is that we have been arguing about Israels withdrawal from Gaza. My point has been that this withdrawal was tactical and not in line with your position. I put the clip up to show that Gaza is no great prize.
    We at times have also argued about China’s recognition of the fascist government in Chile with you often stating that recognition was no more that a nod to the facts. Well as with Stalin offering an area for Hitler to develop a submarine base there is a little more to it than just an acknowledgment of reality.
    “The relations between the People’s Republic of China and Chile began in 15 December 1970, shortly following the election of Salvador Allende, and Chile became the first South American country to recognize the mainland Chinese government.[2][3] Following the 1973 Chilean coup d’état which saw the overthrow of the Allende government, China was one of only two Communist countries (the other was Romania)[4] not to have severed ties with Augusto Pinochet’s new regime, due to the latter’s continued endorsement of the One China Policy.[5] As a result, China chose not to recall its ambassador in Chile, while replacing the Allende appointed ambassador Armando Uribe with a Pinochet appointed one.

    The continued relationship was built on pragmatism and non-interference.[5] China supported Chile’s claim of sovereignty over Antarctic, and in turn, Chile allowed the Chinese to build the Great Wall research station inside Chile’s territorial claims. There was also an attempt at a joint venture to produce weapons between Norinco and FAMAE, aimed at reducing Chile’s military dependence on the United States.[5]” (Wikipedia)

    So revolutionary China arm in arm with a fascist regimen attempting to produce weapons. Well its not like Revolutionary China was supplying the Baathist’s in Syria with weapons, oh shit yes they were.

  73. 73 Steve Owens

    In 1969, then chief of staff Mustafa Tlass led a military mission to Beijing, and secured weapons deals with the Chinese government.[6][7][8] In a move calculated to deliberately antagonize the Soviet bears to stay out of the succession dispute then going on in Syria, Mustafa Tlass allowed himself to be photographed waving Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book, just two months after bloody clashes between Chinese and Soviet armies on the Ussuri river.[9][10] The Soviet Union then agreed to back down and sell Syria weapons. (Wikipedia)

  74. 74 Steve Owens

    My favourite counter insurgency expert David Kilcullen had this to say this morning on the radio.
    IS have made game changing move on the ground by becoming active in Allowite hills and suburbs of Damascus this puts the Assad regimen at existential risk there for we have seen the large military supply increase to Syria from Russia. The Iran US talks about Irans nuke capacity when finalised will allow the US Russia and Iran to sit down and nut out their shared problem which is IS.
    He sees that a deal could come about where Assad and close supporters go into exile but leave the regimen intact this will allow anti Assad fighters who the US supports to join up with the rump regimen.
    It may not be perfect but its better than Andrew Bolts idea that we should back Assad and better than David Petraeus who suggested arming al Nousra.

  75. 75 Steve Owens

    Just on Chile it is just crap that the Chinese could do no other than accept the reality of the fascist coup. The Cubans smuggled in weapons in preparation for just this event. When the fascists took to the streets the Cubans started distributing weapons to those prepared to defend democracy. The Cuban embassy was involved in 2 fire fights with the fascists and the Cuban embassy became a refuge for family members of people the Fascists were targeting.
    Now if the Cubans could do this why did the Chinese embassy do nothing?It is just not good enough for “revolutionaries” to say that the Chinese were just accepting the facts on the ground because that is the essence of appeasement.

  76. 76 patrickm

    I would fully endorse the statements that ‘A GLOBALIZED WORLD WITH OPEN BORDERS CANNOT PEACEFULLY COEXIST WITH FASCISM!’ and that ’FASCISM MEANS WAR’. So as there are fascists like Putin all over the world currently in charge of large military formations and busy making war the question arises; how do anti fascists unite to fight back? How do we intend to defeat the fascists? To the extent that western governments are still sitting on the fence then like Libya the situation will get worse till they get off the fence and in this case end the Assad tyranny as they simultaneously deal with Daesh types. It is a war of two fronts.

    IMV ‘a devastating regional war spreading from Syria throughout the region with profound implications for Europe and the rest of the world’ is already underway and thus can’t be avoided. Diplomacy and military actions must now proceed together but what is the diplomats tasks now? What are the military tasks? Who has real skin in the game?

    I think the evidence is overwhelming that Obama and Putin really are strategic imbeciles but Putin is the fascist not Obama. Obama is just a treacherous liberal that could care less even about ruling class national interests when there is a big price to pay. Dithering is as dithering does.

    Turkey, Britain and France cannot directly act against Russian meddling in Syria. It is now quite apparent that the era of imperialism is so long gone for these powers that they are in essence reliant on the US in leading them as a united COW or better still as a part of a united NATO action. Even though ‘they have no real rapid deployment capability, and no strategic airlift or sealift capability capable of moving any militarily relevant force within any reasonable time frame’ they don’t really require it. Turkey has the capacity to drive heavy columns straight down the rds to the sound of the guns and Britain and France could deploy strategically useful elements from all their various services to Cyprus and Turkey and even Jordan with a few days notice for some and weeks to months notice for others that ought to have been planning on contingent intervention for some years (refined and adjusted several times over by now) because this issue had already long ago got to the point of a vote in the british parliament over bombing in Syria, and we have had reports of the British using killer drones recently despite the vote. The vote would I think be different now.

    It is perfectly true but irrelevant that ‘by simply closing the Mediterranean and hence Syria to hostile shipping, which they can still do quickly, they can remind Russia’s military that Russia is not, never has been and never will be a mediterranean power’ but they will not push against Putin in this manner and he is well aware that they would not because it would mean war if they did. Yet Putin really is an imbecile! Unfortunately so was the likes of Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini and there were people like Yamamoto telling them so, but they could not stop the madness unfolding. They will all stand back and shrug that it is NOT ‘their duty to dispose of him quickly’ but only to increase in measured ways what they are doing now, and what they have been doing is so far been little and late. They are useless!

    Obama really is a strategic imbecile who has been up in Alaska preparing for the Global warming Paris event! This refugee ‘flood’ is unfolding in the media every day and he is MIA. In 15 months he will been gone! And when it comes to war making he wants to be gone! So it will be a year or more for everyone most probably including the US to mobilize a force capable of serious intervention in Syria.

    Turkey has long advocated removing the Assad regime and has all along pointed out ‘that there is no other way to avoid millions of refugees continuing to pour out of Syria.’ Yet the ‘stable’ democratic Turkish government have got nowhere with Obama and the situation has got worse and themselves much less stable. A war is resuming again in Turkey with not just the worst of the Kurdish nationalists but with all manner of anti Turk forces having an interest in seeing that it break out and bog the Turkish military down. Even the threat of it is beneficial to Assad and Putin.

    The executive in both Britain and France is terribly conservative and are still only managing the refugees rather than dealing with the source of those refugees. They are not even raising the alarm about Putin’s ridiculous intervention to establish and preserve something that resembles Israel.

    There could not be any Anglo ­French expeditionary force in 2015 or16. The ruling elites of both countries will manage the Syrian casualties but not take any of their own. There is no effective system that exists after the europeans deserted Bush and Obama deserted US leadership. There is nothing other than in effective thrashing about while the war goes on with those that are prepared to put boots on the ground. Enter the fascists led by Putin.

    In the midst of all this the West’s own little fascist – Netanyahu – is provoking the palestinians of East Jerusalem and is thus preparing public opinion to make more unilateral war on the Palestinians; even no doubt as he prepares to pull out of more of the West Bank and create yet another vast open air prison.

    Putin has made it impossible to simply declare war on Assad. No one can now announce ‘a no fly zone and an intention to start enforcing it’ without dealing with Russian air assets. It is now a hot war where russian helicopter gun ships must be shot down in numbers over an extended period. Russians fighting as martians might have to be copied as tit for tat. There was ‘European public opinion that would certainly swing behind a no fly zone and accelerate a rapid shift in US public opinion’ but they were not banking on war with Putin’s troops.

    The ruling elites won’t act quickly enough so the war ‘will take much longer and will be a much bigger and bloodier regional war than if they act immediately while Obama still dithers.’

    But just because FASCISM MEANS WAR progressives have to propose a fighting response to tyranny so… All air defences close to the borders of Turkey and Jordan must be extended deeper into Syria. That is to say that what is sauce for Putin in martian activity is sauce for everyone else in enforcing the shooting down of anything that is dropping barrel bombs on the Syrian people. Trouble is that really does require boots on the ground and until they are put in Putin will continue to implement real war for the establishment of the fascist enclave. Russians flying helicopters are going to be the direct enemy

    As for Germany; Merkel is not any sort of leader worth a cracker like say Mao and he most certainly did not permit uncontrolled sloshing about of peoples. The refugee issue is not resolved by open borders! It is childish to think that devil take the hindmost people are even 1st priority in a war where the people under attack are being barrel bombed for wanting to vote. Any form of NO FLY WAR NOW is the priority to stop the – Putin, Assad, Netanyahu – style policies of driving refugees off of their land! Country shopping for economic benefit is all well and good for the lucky ones but it will not solve anything for the proletarian classes who will lose their doctors engineers and so forth with the get up and who do go off to the ‘good life’ in the developed west. The west just can’t rob the undeveloped world of their best and brightest and then all the terribly progressive people feel so good about it!

    No one can pretend that Abbott for example did not stop people drowning! People were drowning they are now drowning in the mediterranean sea and no policy that yabers on about open borders will be acceptable currently. That desirable distant policy relies on what europe had to do to get its borders lifted. The US in the 19th C taking the huddled masses did not prevent the mass slaughter of the 20th C world wars. When people are being driven in their millions out of THEIR land and cities THAT is the issue.

    No rubble producing fascist enclave that generates mass deaths and refugees as policy can be permitted to keep going on with their policies!

    Obama and Putin’s are engaged in what appears to me as complete imbecility because of their own logic that includes in Obama’s case outright ruthless neglect. No ‘well executed misinformation campaign’ here just exactly the sort of disaster that we ought to expect from a collapsing international system. The revanchist see’s an opportunity and as his only tool is a hammer then it must be a nail.

    The ‘US and Russia are NOT cooperating to assist the Assad regime to move out of Damascus and retreat to a coastal enclave’ and so ‘that could NOT still count as America still exhausting every other alternative before eventually doing the right thing.’ but Obama might grasp at this stupid straw. It may look good to him now that it is happening anyway. Whatever he thinks I am sure Damascus can not be lost by Assad and the enclave held in the long term. So I do not think that Putin and Assad has conceded Damascus in any sense at all and I am sure Obama knows jack shit about what to be getting on with other than some climate change clap trap for Paris. The f..ing ‘leader of the free world’ is MIA over the refugee flow.

    Putin does not intend to ‘escort the Assad clan out of Syria’. He is joining the Iranians and making war. Of course if he was ‘providing temporary protection for the Alawi and other minority communities until international peacekeepers can arrive’ then of course ‘nothing should be said or done to prejudice that operation.’ But that is not what is happening because if it was he would not have sprung it on all of them. He is putting the enemies of Assad between a western anvil and his hammer and also bringing in his own anvil to smash western supported FSA types on as and when he chooses. He is fighting the western supported FSA types from the start.

    Without very big US backing Europe and Turkey simply do not have the stomach to stop the war in Syria that is however now a “clear and certain danger” to their vital national interests. They will continue to try and bumble along managing refugees and being humiliated by Putin bumbling around like a crazed loon with a hammer. The only international system that was operating was one of US superpower leadership and with Obama at the helm it is currently not functioning as well as on the way out strategically. So the situation will get even worse!

    Perhaps as Iyad El-Baghdadi @iyad_elbaghdadi says ‘The Syrian catastrophe was very preventable, if the world’s red line was “killing protesters” rather than “drowned refugee toddlers”.’ but that is the past and the question for all now is what is to be done to stop Assad and his great and powerful gangster friend killing democratic revolutionaries into the future.

  77. 77 patrickm

    It has been almost a year since the last comment on this thread. I said then; ‘Putin does not intend to ‘escort the Assad clan out of Syria’. He is joining the Iranians and making war. Of course if he was ‘providing temporary protection for the Alawi and other minority communities until international peacekeepers can arrive’ then of course ‘nothing should be said or done to prejudice that operation.’ But that is not what is happening because if it was he would not have sprung it on all of them. He is putting the enemies of Assad between a western anvil and his hammer and also bringing in his own anvil to smash western supported FSA types on as and when he chooses. He is fighting the western supported FSA types from the start.’

    The US through DSec Carter is still drawing the SDF – YPG distinction! http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2016/8-september-us-defense-secretary-says-syrian-kurdish-ypg I don’t think the Turk’s are drawing the distinction and even the Afrin YPG are under threat because they are west of the river!

    Note the Iranians are burying Pakistani volunteers so the feed of troops is spreading while the Aleppo siege is reimposed.

    Over in London Boris met with the KSA and various Syrians etc to essentially tell Kerry – Obama what is and is not acceptable! Apparently Obama put a ‘final offer’ to Putin at the G20. The next few days ought to be of some interest.

    There has been I think about 500,000 refugees since this thread was last opened and the maps have altered quite a bit as predicted. Who knows what casualties the HIRIS forces have inflicted but they are substantial and they are often as not criminal! With Turkey flooding in now the maps are going to alter quite a bit more! It looks like Putin has had his COW might shoved right up against what the US and Turkey and other western players have brought to the table as their COW. Personally I’d rather play the western hand now that Turkish tanks are rolling into Syria in these numbers. This is now a scramble to divide up a scramble so messy it will be. But it was achieved in Lebanon so it may be (short term) possible in this context as well – given the real prospect of slaughter of the Assad side by the Nusra types. Daesh are only 1st cab off this rank and none of this new FSA territory is going back to Assad! What of the SDF??

    Anyway the Turks keep coming http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2016/8-september-turkey-dispatches-43-apcs–and-180-new-troops this is 8 hrs old currently. This effort is starting to get big enough to get everyone’s attention. Who will be surprised if Lavrov and Kerry reach another deal soon? The Syrian’s and KSA not to mention Boris will be all ears. Wonder what the French and Germans are up to? They seem to be keeping their heads down at the moment.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/saudi-iran-war-words-escalates-hajj-row-160907104137364.html and what could possibly go wrong this time?

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