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Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Imperialism of Fools

Chris Williamson: Nicaragua, a “Beacon of Hope”.

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Chris Williamson in Brighton: Top Supporter (Tony Greenstein) on far-left.

This has now been tweeted.

The case of Chris Williamson is well known.

The man is so far gone that it hard to imagine the suspended from Labour MP  taking any notice of reality but here is an article, this year, from Labour Briefing by Mike Phillips, a Spanish speaker who knows Nicaragua,

New human rights report condemns Nicaraguan government

Mike Phipps 

A new report has slammed the Nicaraguan state for abuses carried out in the aftermath of last year’s protests. Crackdown in Nicaragua: Torture, Ill-Treatment, and Prosecutions of Protesters and Opponents, published by the US-based Human Rights Watch and based on work by an independent group of experts, appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, says that some of the abuse amounted to torture.

“Many of the people detained during the crackdown on protests were subject to serious abuses that in some cases amounted to torture – including electric shocks, severe beatings, fingernail removal, asphyxiation, and rape,” says the report. “Many injured detainees were reportedly denied medical care in public health institutions and doctors who provided care said they suffered retaliation.”

The prosecution of protestors has also violated the norms of due process, argues the report. “Protestors have been held in incommunicado detention, subjected to closed door trials, and denied the right to confer privately with their defense lawyers.”

The report further accuses the government of targeting journalists and cracking down on independent media outlets. It further cancelled the legal registration of nine civil society organizations. Top officials who bear responsibility for the abuses, far from being held to account, have been promoted by President Ortega.

The full report is available here https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/06/19/crackdown-nicaragua/torture-ill-treatment-and-prosecutions-protesters-and#page

 

Williamson, a vegan, is no doubt an authority on identity politics.

This is another strand he is following:

His supporters have had another setback with this news today:

Labour suspends Liverpool Momentum co-chair over alleged antisemitism

Jewish Chronicle.

He allegedly shared messages on social media that used antisemitic tropes around philanthropist George Soros

The co-chair of pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum in Liverpool has been suspended by Labour pending an investigation over allegations of antisemitism.

Chris Cavanagh – who is a close ally of suspended MP Chris Williamson – is accused of sharing messages on social media that contravened party rules including several that used antisemitic tropes around philanthropist George Soros.

The JC can reveal that Mr Cavanagh, a member of West Derby Labour Party, was informed of his suspension from the party earlier this month.

It is unclear whether he has also been suspended from his role as co-chair of Liverpool Momentum.

Last July, Mr Cavanagh had helped organise a Momentum meeting as part of Chris Williamson’s ‘Democracy Roadshow’ in which the Derby North MP – now facing expulsion over his repeated interventions in the party’s antisemitism crisis – attempted to unsettle Labour MPs deemed unloyal to Jeremy Corbyn.

During the meeting at Liverpool’s Quaker Meeting House, which the JC attended, one speaker was loudly applauded after he said: “What could be a greater threat to our democracy than a foreign government who is trying to veto the person we want for Prime Minister?

“Of course, I’m talking about the Israelis with their foot soldiers in Labour – the LFI [Labour Friends of Israel], the JLM [Jewish Labour Movement]. They are trying to take our democracy away from us.”

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From the Anti-Imperialism of Fools to Anti-Semitism?

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The Far Right, the Left, and Anti-Semitism

A Very Public Sociologist.

Phil was one of the first people on the left to signal out, in 2015,  the The Anti-Imperialism of Fools.

Its main feature was to support anything “against” imperialism, primarily the USA.

a certain intellectual dishonesty about their positions. Stop the War write op-eds that, let’s be generous, white wash the enemies of the US and UK, but do not link it with a clear intellectual framework for making sense of these position-takings. For the uninitiated, it suggests opposition to Britain’s wars is a gateway into apologising for some of the most disgusting regimes and terror groups on the planet. Therefore to understand the politics of Stop the War, one must delve a little into political history.

Yet Stop the War has more or less carried on as if none of this has happened, as if the USA is the only active agent in the world and – implicitly – the designs and manoeuvres of rival states and enemies are benign or, at least, less harmful. This is why Putin never gets as much stick as Obama, why leading members of its steering committee have occasionally associated with sundry undesirables, why the Kurds get no support while IS are clumsily and favourably compared with the International Brigades. It’s why it appears that authoritarians and totalitarians get a free pass while democratic countries are criticised and mobilised against.

Over the weekend he has developed this point, making clear his own opposition to “Israel’s racist despoiling of the Palestinians”and support for “pro-Palestinian politics.”

Phil begins by observing that,

“One thing very few people on the left seem willing to admit is that since 2003 the anti-war movement here has been subject to a process of infiltration by currents of opinion, and sometimes organised groups, behaving like the local representatives of the British far right.”

There is no doubt a lot more to say about  Netanyahu, and Israel.

But this is a post about the British left.

A key strand since 2015, and which this Blog has called, following the French example, “confusionism”, is the way that conspiracy thinking has crept into this “anti-imperialism”.

In 2003-5, this was mainly about opinions. In particular, there was a current of opinion within the movement, which grew stronger the occupation of Iraq went on, to say that 9/11 was an American inside job. That strand of opinion was assisted, inevitably, by the need for people – who were against the war – to find websites which would give an honest, objective account of what was actually happening in Iraq. This meant disassociating from mainstream media, going to anti-war news sites. In the US a large number of these sites were hosted by the so-called “libertarian” right and saw no reason against promoting conspiracy theories, 9/11 Truth accounts, etc. Movements such as Stop the War did try to keep these sort of opinions out – banning them from our platforms, etc. But this was a matter of silent gatekeeping – the left didn’t like to admit we had a problem in a movement we led – we would never say openly that we were worried about X or Y Stop the War group. The only time when the left in Stop the War came out publicly against the right was George Monbiot who in two Guardian pieces tore into the 9/11 Truth movement. In retrospect, that was a sign of the sorts of difficulties the left has been having in 2018-19: not least in the very many people who saw themselves on the left but posted in the Guardian comment threads criticising Monbiot.

That’s to say nothing of those in recent days ranting about the ‘Zionist’ media attacking Corbyn….

Or this, from conspi Rachel Swindon:

Phil then focuses on anti-Semitism.

Like the “conventional” far right, today’s anti-war anti-semites have grown through a process of individual activists building up a social media infrastructure which at a certain point they have monetised on YouTube, Patreon, etc, enabling previously isolated individuals to become full-time organisers on behalf of a certain political argument.

Probably most of my friends haven’t heard of them but that doesn’t meant they haven’t been able to achieve an influence much larger than they deserve.

A typical individual is Vanessa Beeley who was at one stage associated with an anti-war group in Frome, but has built up a Twitter following of 40,000 people which she uses to applaud dictators everywhere – Assad, Putin. And to say that the people she dislikes are in the pay of the Jews.

This, and Beeley to the fore, has been the subject of many posts here and on other critical left Blogs.

Williamson, who has praised Beeley, is a good example of indulgence towards this conspi thinking

The point about Williamson is that over the last 12 months he has liked the social media accounts of each of the four people/groups I’ve just mentioned, used his own social media to boost their profile, and treated them like the allies in a shared political project which he undoubtedly regards them to be. In so far as this part of the far right has a “shield” in official politics, he provides it.

Every time someone points out to Williamson that he is promoting anti-semites he goes through the same cycle of denial, insisting that his allies are good socialists being unfairly targeted for their views on Israel, belated admission, apology, promises not to do it again.

Perhaps some trying to justifying Williamson will disagree, violently, but to this writer it’s a fair summing up.

As indeed Comrade Dave Osler does in the Independent.

Once house room is granted to such relentlessly self-preening charlatans as Vanessa Beeley, Gilad Atzmon and David Icke, it’s a perilously short step to political judgments centred on the shoddy output of propaganda-driven state broadcasters, half-arsed alt-left websites and the crankier fringes of the Trot diaspora.

Before you ask, this isn’t a snipe from the right. I’m a long-standing lefty who has proudly donated to Jeremy Corbyn’s electoral efforts and knocked on doors for John McDonnell and Diane Abbott for many years.

Nor do I wish to exaggerate the extent of the problem. Thankfully this nonsense remains predominantly the province of a few hundred headbangers on social media, although even that minimal degree of traction feeds the Daily Mail with “vile Labour Twitter troll” stories as if by conveyor belt.

But branding the White Helmets Israeli stooges, or postulating a Rothschild Zionist grip on global central banking, is just the type of dimwitted aperçu that ensured antisemitism renewed circulation among radical young people during the anti-globalisation and Occupy movements, and sometimes emerge in the real world.

As Trotsky himself used to note, with a scratch comes the danger of gangrene. In a climate where 2.6 million Britons think the Holocaust was a myth, no potential Labour standard-bearer should get away with posting offensively photoshopped pictures of the gates of Auschwitz, on any pretext whatsoever.

Tom Watson is right to brand incidents like that a cause for deep shame. So it’s pleasing that Labour left figures such as Jon Lansman are on the case, as demonstrated by the excellent Rothschild Conspiracy Exposed video released by Momentum last week.

Meanwhile, matters are compounded in some quarters by wilful refusal to engage with current affairs, especially in other countries, which comes as an inevitable corollary of making the very words “mainstream media” a dread insult.

Put simply, the Beeb, The Economist and Financial Times have serious sources in Venezuela and Syria; one-man blogs written from bedrooms reeking of hamster urine do not.

Less of The Canary and more Marx: How Labour should deal with the conspiracism in its midst.

Confusion can naturally spread further as this indicates.

This is where ‘taking sides’ can lead.

But anti-Semitism seems to be at its heart.

Note this from the Gilets Jaunes protests this weekend.

The Left’s long history of antisemitism

The hard-Left’s division of the world into good and bad makes it blind to its own racism.

With ready-made tropes about Jewish world domination never more than a few clicks away online, populist ‘anti-elitism’ rhetoric – of either the Left or Right – easily lends itself to antisemitism. Portray capitalism as a sinister cabal of individuals controlling the economy, and antisemites invoke long-standing tropes about Jews controlling the banks.

As a recent paper on European antisemitism put it, prejudice against Jews is “residual yet perpetual”. A 2009 survey found that 31% of Europeans blamed Jews for the global economic crisis.

This is a good starting point, but the rest of the piece is not so easy to digest.

It is true that groupuscules who run bodies such as Labour Against the Witch-hunt have encouraged a climate in which anti-Semitism  and anti-Zionism (itself an ambiguous term) have sometimes run together.

But there is much to contest in the claim that there is some kind of “long history” to left anti-Semitism. We can begin from the fact that our glorious dead, Jean Jaurès onwards, fought tooth and nail against anti-semitism at a time when a parallel populist confusionism reigned in the minds of some on the left.

Nor can Corbyn be blamed for something with the deeper roots that Phil, and others (this Blog for example), have traced.

It was the Marxist, August Bebel who popularised the expression,  Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools,  (Der Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus der dummen Kerle”.

Today there are many on the British ‘hard’ left who are fighting anti-Semitism tooth and nail, and stand with comrade Jon Lansman on the issue.

No photo description available.

 

 

On the French left this spirit is very far from dead:

Le non-sujet de l’antisémitisme à gauche – Pour une critique radicale de l’antisémitisme.

BRENNI CamillaKRICKEBERG MemphisNICOLAS-TEBOUL LéaZOUBIR Zacharias

Morning Star backs Nicaraguan regime repression against accusations of human rights violations.

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Portada de El Nuevo Diario (Nicaragua)

39th Anniversary of Nicaraguan Revolution: Regime Chief Says Bishops in “Coup Plan”.

Nicaragua strongman blames ‘satanists,’ bishops, U.S. for unrest.

Agence France-Presse July the 20th.

Daniel Ortega says the protesters, financed by the ‘North American empire’ and domestic business chiefs, had been conspiring to mount a coup d’etat against him.

Standing on a stage alongside the Cuban and Venezuelan foreign ministers and his wife Rosario Murillo, who is also his vice president, Ortega spoke as if his security forces had finished with the public dissent after armed offensives launched over the past week.

“The satanists have to be exorcized,” he said.

“It has been a painful battle. Painful because we have confronted an armed conspiracy financed by internal forces we know and external forces,” he said.

The 3 months of unrest in what used to be one of Latin America’s safest countries has seen more than 280 people killed, most of them protesting youths, according to rights groups.

Ortega made no mention of those deaths, instead rattling off a list of two dozen police officers he said were killed by “terrorists.”

Le Monde today is moved to Editorialise on the anniversary speaking of the regime’s moral disarray and excessive use of force (“déroute morale, provoquée par un usage excessif de la force”).

The Spanish language press has talked for some time of the violence of Ortega’s henchmen, the “turbas sandinistas“.

Faced with the mounting violence most of the international left has backed the protests against the corrupt Nicaraguan regime’s bloody repression.

THE BATTLE FOR NICARAGUA’S STREETS

June 21, 2018 US Socialist Worker (no relation at present with UK publication of the same name).

The two-month old uprising in Nicaragua against the government of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo (Ortega’s wife} has turned into a city-by-city battle for control. Students began the protests with opposition to cuts to Social Security, but now, the chief demand of the spreading movement is the resignation of the Ortega-Murillo government.

At one point, the government seemed to teeter, but government-backed paramilitary forces are waging a campaign of terror to intimidate the population into submission. Meanwhile, the government is negotiating with a fractious grouping of opposition representatives in an effort to resolve the crisis. Ortega has indicated he may be willing to accept early elections in 2019, but not leave power any sooner. But it’s unclear whether this is a sufficient concession to demobilize the anti-government protests.

Oscar René Vargas is a Nicaraguan sociologist and political analyst who was a militant in the Sandinista revolution, and is now a critic of the political and moral degeneration of the FSLN and the Ortega government. This article first appeared in Correspondencia de Prensa and was translated by Lance Selfa.

The Guardian reports today, Tom Phillips: Nicaragua: what’s driving the uprising and what comes next?

The initially student-led protests in April were met with a shower of police bullets and since then Nicaragua has been gripped by a highly unpredictable wave of violence and government repression. Victims have included several babiesan altar boy and numerous teenage protesters as well as police officers and some government supporters.

Journalists critical of Ortega’s government have been targeted or threatened. Key roads and cities, including the former Sandinista stronghold of Masaya, have fallen under rebel control.

Recent weeks have seen violence intensify as government troops and paramilitaries began clearing protest camps and roadblocks that had brought swaths of the country to a standstill.

“It is an ugly moment,” said Geoff Thale, a Central America expert and activist from the Washington Office on Latin America advocacy group.

“Paramilitary groups and snipers and others have aggressively … tried to dislodge people from the National University. They’ve tried to dislodge tranques [roadblocks] in Masaya. They have pushed around priests, they have gone into churches. It is really pretty intense.”

Meanwhile Nicaragua’s government and its supporters have blamed the bloodshed on “coup mongers”, “terrorists” and “criminals”.

..

Nicaraguan officials have repeatedly cast protesters as criminals and “terrorists” involved in a US-backed conspiracy. The vice-president, Rosario Murillo, has accused the “satanic” opposition of driving the violence and attacked what she calls a “false” anti-Ortega media witch-hunt.

In response to these accusations Tom Phillips notes,

However, there is widespread and growing consensus within the international community that Nicaragua’s government is in fact largely responsible for the bloodshed.

This week 13 Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay – called for an immediate end to the repression and the dismantling of paramilitary groups and denounced “the acts of violence, intimidation and the threats directed towards Nicaraguan society”.

The United Nations accused Ortega’s government of “a wide range of human rights violations … including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, and denying people the right to freedom of expression”. “The great majority of violations are by government or armed elements who seem to be working in tandem with them,” a UN spokesperson added.

Uruguay’s former leftwing president José Mujica also spurned Ortega, admitting the Sandinista “dream” had gone astray.

These reports stand in stark contrast with the Morning Star which appears hell-bent on denying the facts:

Nicaragua celebrates 39th anniversary of the revolution and defeat of coup attempt.

Morning Star July the 19th.

A government offensive is underway, dismantling roadblocks that have damaged the Nicaraguan economy and been used to launch attacks against Sandinista supporters and the police.

The coup attempt began on April 18 following protests over pension reforms.

Mr Ortega announced a national dialogue backed by most layers of Nicaraguan society including trade unions and the country’s official student body.

Despite this, opposition groups continued to wage violent attacks, demanding the resignation of Mr Ortega. On Sunday an arsenal of weapons, including bomb-making equipment and home-made mortars, was found at the occupied National Autonomous University of Nicaragua.

Fearing potential attacks on today’s celebrations, critics warned that international organisations have sided with the coup-plotters.

They accused Amnesty International and “fellow coup apologists” such as Bianca Jagger and SOS Nicaragua, along with media organisations including the Guardian, BBC, Telegraph, Washington Post, New York Times, Al Jazeera and CNN of covering up human rights violations committed by opposition activists trying to oust Nicaragua’s legitimate government.

This article is far from alone in the self-styled Paper of the Left’s coverage.

HUGE cache of arms has been found at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) as the Sandinista government launched an offensive against armed right-wing terrorists over the weekend.

Morning Star. Monday July 16th.

Vargas and many, many, others, tell a very different story.

It’s time Labour spoke out against this brutal and corrupt regime.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Venezuela Hyperinflation at the One Million Mark as Maduro Regime Faces Breakdown. 

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Venezuela Hyperinflation Index Reaches the One Million Mark

…just two years ago, when we launched the Bloomberg Cafe Con Leche Index, a coffee cost 450 bolivars. Or that today’s price is the equivalent of almost one-fifth of the monthly minimum wage. Or that to buy a cup with the most common bill in circulation — the 100-bolivar note — you’d need to gather up a stack of 10,000 of them.

Libération 22nd of June, François-Xavier Gomez.

In Venezuela, the minimum wage has now been raised  to 1 dollar.

For the fourth time this year, President Nicolás Maduro has raised the minimum wage for Venezuelans. On the 1 st July it will pass to  million bolivars, against 1 million since 1 st May To this sum is added a monthly food voucher for a value of 2.2 million bolivars. On 1 st January, the minimum wage stood at 250,000 bolivares. The inflationary spiral that is devastating the country’s economy renders any attempt at conversion useless. The government keeps the figures of the price rises hidden from its own public, while external sources (World Bank or International Monetary Fund) put them  at 2,700% for 2017, with a forecast at 13,800% for this year.

These incredible  figures mean that a month’s minimum salary will buy you, ” deux bouteilles d’huile, ou un kilo de poulet, ou une douzaine d’œufs” two bottles of cooking oil, a kilo of chicken and a dozen eggs.

More than 120,000 Venezuelans have formerly asked for asylum in Peru alone – outnumbering those fleeing to the USA,  which is overwhelmed by the flood of refugees who total more than  353.000 of whom 16.000 are children. They have added to a country’s difficulties where already 60% work in the ‘informal’ economy.

The Maduro ‘Bolivarian revolutionaries’ – once the best known example of ‘populism’ claiming to be on the left and a central  inspiration for some European left leaders, such as the Spanish speaking Jean-luc Melechon (MÉLENCHON : “CHAVEZ, C’EST L’IDÉAL INÉPUISABLE DE L’ESPÉRANCE HUMANISTE, DE LA RÉVOLUTION“) – are trying to hold onto power through repression.

El estado de derecho está “virtualmente ausente” en Venezuela.(Noticias ONU).

Rule of law ‘virtually absent’ in Venezuela, UN report says. Government forces carry out killings with impunity.

Guardian 22nd of June,

Government security forces in Venezuela carry out unjustified killings without any apparent consequences, as the rule of law is “virtually absent” in the country, according to a new report by the United Nations.

The UN human rights office called on the government to bring perpetrators to justice and said it was sending its report to the international criminal court (ICC), whose prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation in February.

The report published on Friday cited “credible, shocking” accounts of extrajudicial killings of young men during crime-fighting operations in poor neighbourhoods conducted without arrest warrants. Security forces would tamper with the scene so that there appeared to have been an exchange of fire, it said.

“The failure to hold security forces accountable for such serious human rights violations suggests that the rule of law is virtually absent in Venezuela,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights. “The impunity must end.”

Perú, desbordado por la migración venezolana

El País 29th of June.

Más de 120.000 venezolanos han pedido asilo en el país andino, que ahora supera a Estados Unidos en número de solicitudes

In the left-leaning Vice Tommy Walters reported last week  on those who seek to deny these realities.

Why Are People on the UK Left Supporting Venezuela’s Authoritarian Regime?

Prominent Labour figures held a gathering in London to show their solidarity with a human-rights abusing government.

The obvious irony of denouncing other countries’ human rights records while simultaneously ignoring the Venezuelan government’s own crimes seemed to be lost on many. It would only have taken Williamson a second to find the numerous videos and reports from international human rights organisations documenting unlawful detentions and the repression of protesters in Venezuela. As the VSC builds closer links with UK trade unions, such as Unite and the Transport Workers Federation, the Venezuelan government continues to imprison its own union leaders.

Walters summarises,

Today, any remnants of the optimism of the deep social reforms of Maduro’s revolutionary predecessor Hugo Chávez are long gone, replaced by a successor who turns to violence and coercion to keep his citizens in line. Emblematic of this is the perpetual imprisonment of Leopoldo López, an opposition leader who is currently under house arrest, and has been described by Amnesty Internationalas “deprived of his freedom” in a “politically motivated attempt to silence dissent”. At the meeting, Amnesty International was widely discarded as being funded by “neo-liberals”, while the single mention of López dismissed him as an illegal provocateur “rightly convicted of fermenting street violence”.

To explain the dismal economic performance, the VSC blamed US imperialism, while ignoring the role of Chavez’s years of high borrowing and over-reliance on oil revenues. The Venezuelan economy had been contracting for four years before Trump imposed sanctions last year.

True to form the last few days have seen the Morning Star has rushed to defend the predatory clique running Venezuela in the name of ‘socialism’.

OLIVER VARGASresponds to an article by liberal hipsters Vice and its misrepresentation a recent Venezuela Solidarity Campaign event.”

Calling the above an “episode in red-baiting” the author flays around trying to find the cause of the economic difficulties of the country in the policies and actions of the comprador clique that’s taken over the mantle of left populism.

Nothing to do with them: it’s about:

The fact that the price of oil crashed almost overnight in the first year of Nicolas Maduro’s presidency is ignored.

The crippling sanctions are ignored. The siphoning of essential goods across the border by Colombian paramilitaries is ignored.

The distorting effects of currency speculation by international finance are ignored.

The economic impact of the wave of opposition riots, vandalism and blockades is ignored.

Maduro must have the healing powers of a living saint to keep people in monthly eggs and cooking oil, with a bit of poultry, in these conditions and after all these attacks!

With an airy wave of the calloused toiler’s hand Vargas dismisses reports (by the UN amongst others) about repression.

“Intimidation”, you’re having a laugh, “After all, Chavistas have been putting up with personal insults for much longer.”

The real problem is “pernicious terrorism that citizens have suffered at the hands of the opposition.”

With a call to order Vargas thunders:

Chavez represented the first successful defeat of the “end of history” and US triumphalism.

In those times of defeat for the left, Chavez built an economy that provided both significant GDP growth together with equality. He combined that with a thoroughly internationalist outlook that encouraged social movements around the world.

The huge changes in the country together with popular mobilisation mean that those who had been excluded from politics for 500 years were finally able to take leadership of their own country for the first time.

Maduro is the continuation of that legacy, though with an incredibly difficult external situation as the key factor separating them.

For all these reasons, I expect Chavez will pass into popular folklore as Che Guevara has done. Western writers may oppose that and the movement he represents but if they’re to write on it then it is incumbent on them to at least try to objectively understand why Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution still have the energetic support of the poor majority in Venezuela.

Human Rights Watch will disagree:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 29, 2018 at 5:08 pm

The Anti-Imperialism of Idiots.

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The ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots

This morning I was struck, listening to Europe 1 to hear people in Syria, including Kurds, saying that they welcomed bombs on Assad’s military resources, though they doubted that the present air strikes would have any real effect.

Amongst other thoughts were the need to respond to this criticism in the Guardian,

Labour calls for the attack on Douma to be “fully investigated”. That sounds unarguable. But then what? Jeremy Corbyn issued the same call after the chemical attack that killed at least 74 at Khan Sheikhoun a year ago: demanding there be a “UN investigation and those responsible be held to account”. The UN duly investigated and in October concluded unambiguously that the Assad regime had used sarin gas. But Corbyn greeted that verdict with silence. So unless there’s a plan for action once guilt is established, demanding an investigation sounds a lot like an excuse to do nothing in the hope that soon we’ll all be talking about something else.

And then, the nature of the Syrian civil war and the anti-war movement comes up….

Not to mention the complexities of the far from admirable leadership of  East Ghoutta:

La Ghouta orientale, tombeau de la révolution syrienne  (Le Monde yesterday).

Les exactions des insurgés et le siège cruel imposé par le régime de Bachar Al-Assad ont provoqué la chute de cette ancienne oasis agricole, située aux portes de la capitale Damas.

The abuses by the insurgents and the Assad regimes cruel siege have brought down the old agricultural oasis located at the doors of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

This has to be read in full.  The Anti-Imperialism of Idiots.

A British Syrian whose been  involved in human rights and social justice struggles in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East since 2000.

I was a founding member of Tahrir-ICN a network connecting anti-authoritarian struggles across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Co-author (with Robin Yassin-Kassab) of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War (Jan 2016)

Contributor to Alford, Wilson (eds): Khiyana-Daesh, the Left and the Unmaking of the Syrian Revolution(April 2016)

These paragraphs are particularly important.

Once more the western ‘anti-war’ movement has awoken to mobilise around Syria. This is the third time since 2011. The first was when Obama contemplated striking the Syrian regime’s military capability (but didn’t) following chemical attacks on the Ghouta in 2013, considered a ‘red line’. The second time was when Donald Trump ordered a strike which hit an empty regime military base in response to chemical attacks on Khan Sheikhoun in 2017. And today, as the US, UK and France take limited military action (targeted strikes on regime military assets and chemical weapons facilities) following a chemical weapons attack in Douma which killed at least 34 people, including many children who were sheltering in basements from bombing.

The first thing to note from the three major mobilisations of the western ‘anti-war’ left is that they have little to do with ending the war. More than half a million Syrians have been killed since 2011. The vast majority of civilian deaths have been through the use of conventional weapons and 94 per cent of these victims were killed by the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance. There is no outrage or concern feigned for this war, which followed the regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators. There’s no outrage when barrel bombs, chemical weapons and napalm are dropped on democratically self-organized communities or target hospitals and rescue workers. Civilians are expendable; the military capabilities of a genocidal, fascist regime are not. In fact the slogan ‘Hands off Syria’ really means ‘Hands off Assad’ and support is often given for Russia’s military intervention. This was evident yesterday at a demonstration organized by Stop the War UK where a number of regime and Russian flags were shamefully on display.

I no longer have an answer. I’ve consistently opposed all foreign military intervention in Syria, supported Syrian led process to rid their country of a tyrant and international processes grounded in efforts to protect civilians and human rights and ensure accountability for all actors responsible for war-crimes. A negotiated settlement is the only way to end this war – and still seems as distant as ever. Assad (and his backers) are determined to thwart any process, pursue a total military victory and crush any remaining democratic alternative. Hundreds of Syrians are being killed every week in the most barbaric ways imaginable. Extremist groups and ideologies are thriving in the chaos wrought by the state. Civilians continue to flee in their thousands as legal processes – such as Law No.10 – are implemented to ensure they will never return to their homes. The international system itself is collapsing under the weight of its own impotence. The words ‘Never Again’ ring hollow. There’s no major people’s movement which stands in solidarity with the victims. They are instead slandered, their suffering is mocked or denied, and their voices either absent from discussions or questioned by people far away, who know nothing of Syria, revolution or war, and who arrogantly believe they know what is best. It is this desperate situation which causes many Syrians to welcome the US, UK and France’s action and who now see foreign intervention as their only hope, despite the risks they know it entails.

One thing is for sure – I won’t lose any sleep over targeted strikes aimed at regime military bases and chemical weapons plants which may provide Syrians with a short respite from the daily killing. And I will never see people who place grand narratives over lived realities, who support brutal regimes in far off countries, or who peddle racism, conspiracy theories and atrocity denial, as allies.

Here is one outstanding idiot:

The far-right in Europe is against the air strikes:

From the French left (notably Jean-Luc Mélenchon) to parts of the right and the far-right (including Philpott’s split from Marine Le Pen’s party) there is opposition to the air-strikes.

Le chef de file de la France Insoumise, comme une partie de la droite et de l’extrême-droite a vivement critiqué samedi les frappes menées contre le régime syrien Libération.

The leader of the mainstream right party, les Républicains,  Laurent Wauquiez, has expressed doubts about the use and the objectives of the airstrikes (Syrie : Laurent Wauquiez ne comprend “ni l’utilité ni le sens des frappes punitives“)

Response?

Don’t bomb Syria – No support for Assad

Socialist Resistance.

they will not force Assad out of power. Indeed it is not clear that the imperialist powers want to see an end to this barbarous regime and certainly they are opposed to self-determination for the people of Syria.

The entire Labour Party must back Corbyn in his opposition to more bombing and war and we should make sure that party banners are highly visible at demonstrations opposing military intervention. We need to be demanding an end to the war and all foreign interventions, including those on behalf of Assad from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. We must continue to offer political and material support to the secular and democratic opponents of the dictatorship and Labour must call on European governments to offer sanctuary to Syrian refugees.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2018 at 10:44 am