Having last week expounded upon the duplicity of the western “liberal lefts” position on the Imperialist-sponsored fascist coup in Ukraine, a particularly egregious example of the same petty bourgeois sophism so pervasive within western civilised dissent has once again reared its ugly head. In what can only be described as emo agitprop, the west’s flagship of misinformation and Imperialist propaganda recently published an article on Syria by self-proclaimed “leftist Artist” Molly Crabapple.
The article covers a demonstration organised by an anti-government Syrian activist, who has chosen to read the names of 100,000 victims of the Syrian war standing outside the White House for 72 hours. The intended symbolism of such a demonstration is quite difficult to ascertain, particularly considering a sound historical analysis shows that western Imperialism – ergo: the White House – bears huge responsibility for the deaths of those very people now being used to “guilt” the western public into supporting some form of further “action” against the Syrian state – meaning, (overt) US military intervention, NATO freedom-bombs, etc. Moreover, it seems that both Crabapple and her subject have forgotten, or are intentionally omitting the fact that over half of those victims met their deaths at the hands of the western/Israeli/wahhabi monarch-sponsored fundamentalist dominated militia; the very same militia Crabapple is now lionizing as “revolutionaries”.
Naturally for the Guardian, the narrative fulfills just about every western falsehood propagated on behalf of the reactionary insurgency since it began, by doing so, it provides an opportunity to expand upon and expose the role that western left-opportunism has played in buttressing said falsehood throughout the Syrian crisis. Further still, it provides a chance to counter the twisted theories and phrasing being used to attack anti-Imperialists and anti-revisionists from within the western petty bourgeois “celebrity-left” camp, through which Crabapple and Co. postulate the absurd notion that westerners with the tendency to focus on the role of western Imperialism represent “perverse Orientalists”.
Barring the usual “40 year dictatorship” slogans so typical of the deluded and self-righteous cheerleaders of western bourgeois “democracy”, the historical context for Crabapple’s Syrian “revolution” is built via the rosy portrayal of a wave of protests that “swept the world”. In Syria, a “police state and neoliberal reforms” are the central material factors used to explain the crisis. These puerile simplifications are employed to distort and minimise the primary role of western predatory Imperialism, either that, or simply through blind stupidity and laziness.
In such a decontextualised analysis, there is no space available to document the years of western-led economic sanctions and subversion; nor is any space permitted to analyse the sociopolitical effects of the five-year drought that had decimated Syria’s agricultural industry prior to 2011 – causing widespread impoverishment to the disaffected rural sections of society, there is no economic analysis whatsoever. More importantly, there is no space afforded to document the decades of western support and collusion with Saudi Arabia’s overt and covert sponsorship of fundamentalist ideologues, with the direct aim of unleashing them and their sectarian hatred upon Syria (or any other target in the region, see: Libya, Hezbollah, Iraq, etc) when political needs required; no space is given for the direct sponsorship of western Imperialism toward the ex-pat “SNC” puppet administrators travelling between hotel suites in Ankara, Doha and Riyadh, or the thousands of US State Department-trained “activists” and NGO workers flooding media and commentary with false or bias accounts, staged photos and misinformation. Any critique of the western corporate media, and the complimentary “tailored analysis” industrys disgraceful servitude to western government narratives is completely omitted – regardless of the fact that both form essential components of modern “soft” Imperialism.
To suggest western Imperialism has invested in any of these individuals, policies or organisations with any sort of altruistic intention is comparable to suggesting over sixty years of historical evidence to the contrary is worthless; negating any value in historical materialism and dialectics. Omission of context and crude historical revisionism are entirely deliberate and further prohibit the prospect of reaching a sound political or moral examination of events and their evolving processes. Dialectics, logic, critical distance and contradictory evidence are replaced with emotionally driven narrow-framed discourse to remove the wider context, therefore western culpability, and form the false depiction of a “popular peaceful uprising versus despotic regime”.
Crabapple informs us that “it took four months for Syria’s protests to become an armed insurgency”. This blatant lie is a most crucial one in upholding the US-NATO false narrative on Syria. Yet, as we shall see, while the celebrity-lefts continue to blindly recycle the lie, it has long been refuted, in even the most loyal organs of western Imperialism itself.
Once the underlying causes of the crisis have been distorted beyond any semblance of reality, whitewashing the “rebels” and their Imperialist sponsors role as the instigators and primary actors responsible for excacerbating the crisis, Crabapple then attempts to bolster the false distinctions between the supposedly moderate and extremist rebel groups with the double fabrication that Al Qaeda took six months to enter the fray, and that Saudi Arabia took twenty months to “officially” start supplying arms; portraying the fundamentalists emergence at around February to March 2012. This is quite the perversion, and once again can only be interpreted as pure stupidity, or outright disingenuity in the aim of furnishing the imaginary “secular moderate freedom fighters” with unwarranted moral platform.
Contrary to this crude and uninformed analysis, and long known by anyone paying attention, the dominant proto-Salafi militia such as Ahrar-al Sham – who form the vanguard of the insurgency throughout, and are inextricably linked to both the overt Al Qaeda elements and the ostensible “moderates” in thrall to Imperialism – openly admit to planning a violent sectarian insurgency before any protests in Syria began. These militia, who share much in common with their overtly extreme counterparts, were most certainly active in the first weeks of the crisis, as evidenced by the oppositions own death-toll accounts; the one hundred-plus Syrian soldiers and police killed during March-April 2011 alone belies the fantasy that the violence erupted simply through state oppression of peaceful protesters.
Further contradicting the “peaceful protester-moderate rebel” narrative, corresponding incidents of organised violence against state security became widespread by the middle of 2011 (see: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), the massacre of 120 soldiers in Jisr al Shugour (20 miles from the Turkish border) in June 2011 provides but one prominent example. Either Crabapple is oblivious to all this, or is deliberately omitting it for the same reasons listed above. In attempting to skirt the issue, Crabapple regurgitates the western opportunists evidence-free conspiracy theory that the soldiers were executed by their own superiors for refusing to fire on protesters: further dehumanizing the Syrian army.
Another critical falsehood follows, and one that has been endlessly spewed to form unwarranted moral platform in the face of compelling contradictory evidence. Crabapple claims that “crimes are committed on all sides. But only the Assad regime, with its superiority of force … could kill on the scale and with the consistency that turned war crimes into a tactic of war.” Again, this is a blatant lie and distortion of the facts. The theory that the Syrian airforce’s bombardment of rebel encampments in civilian zones equates to a larger percentage of the death toll is complete logical fallacy void of any material evidence. The opposite is in fact true; according to the US Chief of Staff, 90% of deaths in Syria have been incurred by gunshot or ground-to-ground artillery; weapons which the rebels have had, and used, in abundance since the early stages. It has been amply documented that every stage of western, Turkish or Gulf initiated military support to the rebels has resulted in a huge increase in the both the death-toll and civilian displacement – most notably in the period between late 2011, when Russia and China made it clear they would block any Libya-style No Fly Zone attempts, and July 2012, when the CIA and the Gulf states dramatically increased the arms shipments to rebels.
Death tolls provided by anti-government activists such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – used as a principal source for western media, the UN, and western “humanitarian NGO’s” no less – show it is the fundamentalist rebels that are likely responsible for the majority of killing. In its latest tally, the SOHR claims that 55,000 Syrian army and national defence force personnel have been killed during the conflict, accounting for almost 40% of total deaths, whereas rebel deaths – including 10,000 foreign fighters – amount to 33,000, accounting for almost 25% of the total, leaving roughly 50,000 civilian deaths, or 35% the total.
Using these figures; if one were to equally divide the civilian deaths between government and opposition forces, then the “revolutionaries” would be responsible for close to 80,000 people killed, or around 55% of the total – unless of course one were to posit the absurd theory that thousands of disparate fundamentalist militia have the ability to kill twice as many professional soldiers than they lose, while avoiding a considerable toll on the civilians within the urban zones they invade and militarize.
The equally false portrayal that a majority of Syrians oppose the government is omnipresent throughout such commentary on Syria, and of course, this is another blatant lie. An example of just how far-removed from reality this perception is was exposed way back in January 2012 – at the height of domestic anti-government sentiment and western agitprop – when a Qatari-funded YouGov poll found that 55% of Syrians, a massive majority considering the political conditions, still supported their government. This percentage has undoubtedly continued to rise as the conflict has dragged on, primarily as a result of the barbaric practices employed by the rebels in civilian areas they encamp, ethnically cleanse, militarize, and generally terrorize the remaining inhabitants of; the sentiment is only intensified through the prolonged incompetence of the ex-pat puppets in five-star hotels elevated to the lofty position of “the sole representatives of the Syrian people” by virtue of Imperialism alone. Needless to say, the poll and its results were completely whitewashed from western media narratives and was most observantly ignored by the western petty bourgeois opportunists, who find themselves parodying William Hague when claiming to speak on behalf of the “Syrian people”.
Based on the fact a majority of Syrians support the government, and would therefore face the wrath of the fundamentalist rebels rather than the army they see as protecting them, a fact which is further evidenced by the vast majority of internally displaced people fleeing “rebel liberation” for the refuge of government safe-zones; then the wilful misrepresentation of the death toll becomes evermore deplorable. It can only be explained by Crabapple and the opportunists being so indoctrinated by their own narrow parameters and dehumanizing terminology; they simply don’t see the tens of thousands of dead Syrian soldiers, their families, and the majority of Syrian civilians who support the government as people worth accounting for. Crabapple and the pseudo-lefts in turn defile the victims of the wahhabi mercenaries and Imperialism in Syria by attempting to blame their fate on the very actors protecting them, effectively turning the victim into the oppressor. The only other explanation is, once again, blind stupidity.
Over and above, it has long been known that western special forces, alongside Gulf, Jordanian, Lebanese factions allied to the Saudi’s, Turkish and Israeli counterparts, have been actively conspiring with, and militarily supporting, what are essentially fundamentalist militia – to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of tonnes of arms. It is these actors accountable for setting in motion the violent insurgency they had been planning since at least 2006, and now continue to do so without even the pretense of plausible deniability.
The argument the pseudo-lefts are now attempting to throw at western anti-imperialists is one of utter opportunism and deception. Crabapple mimics Zizek (and other servants of bourgeois intelligentsia), and asserts that the emphasis on predatory western Imperialism’s role when analysing conflicts and crises abroad – the emphasis espoused by westerners no less! – is in fact a “perverse kind of Orientalism” that removes and belittles the “agency” (another delightful abstraction implanted into petty bourgeois leftist discourse) of indigenous people.
How damning one might say, but where does this “logic” end? For instance, if one opposed the Imperialist rape of Iraq, then did one oppose the “agency” of Ahmed Chalabi and all the other reactionary cretins who allied with western Imperialism? Did they who opposed the Imperialist destruction of Libya – whose position has now been fully vindicated, despite the grotesque doublespeak of Bernhard Henri Levy and his acolytes – “deny the agency” of Al Qaeda, Salafi warlords and the criminals now running riot and destroying the remnants NATO left behind? The glaring contradiction is lay bare with the aid of a further simple example that may especially perplex the opportunists who feign support for Palestinian Resistance: if one opposes the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, is one opposing Zionist “agency”?
Applying this “logic” to the Syrian context, if western anti-Imperialists “deny the agency” of Syrians by opposing a fundamentalist-led insurgency sponsored by Imperialism, then what exactly do the opportunists deny when ignoring the majority of Syrians that oppose the wahhabi revolutionaries!? In the western liberal-left equation, this majority of Syrians simply don’t exist, they have no “agency” worth even considering, let alone their right to self-determination. The opportunists are in fact misrepresenting said “agency” they hold in such high esteem by falsely portraying a minority of localised dissent, alongside a fundamentalist insurgency orchestrated and sponsored by western Imperialism, as representative of the entire Syrian population. The opportunists accuse us anti-Imperialists of Orientalism and “denying agency” while committing the very act! A case of pure cognitive dissonance, or simply a feeble attempt at creating confusion.
Such fallacious arguments and semantic trickery is employed in the vain attempt to shut down critical analysis that does not abide by western bourgeois political ideology and partisan agenda. In reality, it is the western pseudo-lefts who act as the agents of western Imperialism, betraying self-determination and the foundations of internationalist socialism. To engage in such pointless obfuscation and theorizing is to deliberately obstruct simple material fact, historical dialectics, a “ruthless criticism of all that exists” and the correct examinations and conclusions to be drawn in the international sense.
Lenin was forced to spend great energy in combating the same strands of left-opportunism one hundred years ago, rightly describing it as “the principle enemy within the working class movement”. The modern celebrity-lefts distortions and twisted theories represent nothing more than the vile opportunism witnessed within the socialist parties during the outbreak of WWI, when the so-called Marxists chose to side with their national bourgeoisie against the bourgeoisie and the working classes of hostile nations. The European opportunists who chose to employ the catchphrases of social chauvinism and act as the agents of their own bourgeoisie in “defending the fatherland” are today reflected by the western “socialists” and “leftists” that endlessly obscure the international characteristics of modern capitalism and its inevitable antagonism, in turn diminishing the pre-eminent role, and therefore culpability, of western Imperialism.
Phil Greaves is a UK based writer on UK/US Foreign Policy, with a focus on the Arab World, post WWII. http://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/