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Tonight we are learning about what is already being termed another "Houla style" massacre in Syria. Given the deafening silence from the US left with regards to Assad's atrocities in Syria, the ordinary observer, not schooled in the "anti-imperialist" perspective, might well conclude that while the left may care a lot about the Palestinians, they obviously don't give a fuck about the Syrians.

They may also conclude that these leftists are really more anti-Israel than they are pro-Palestinian the way they were more anti-NATO than they were pro-Libyan.

They don't get that while Israel's atrocities are what they are, and Egypt's Mubarak and Tunisia's Ben Ali were clearly tools of imperialism, Libya's Mummar Qaddafi and even Syria's Assad have received the left's goodhousekeeping seal of approval and should be given a pass when they try to roll over popular opposition with tanks.

The BBC News had an interesting segment tonight, an interview with a Chinese activist named Shen Tong. Shen Tong has a rather unique life history. He was an activist in Tienanmen Square 23 years ago and targeted by the Chinese government. Later he was able to escape to New York where he created a successful software business, but when Occupy Wall Street broke out, he found that he was called back to his activist roots and got fully involved. From his point of view both were popular struggles for social justice. Separated by 23 years and 10,000 miles, they were the same struggle.

Violence and the coming world revolutions.

Why the left should have an uncompromising stance with regards to the use of military power against peaceful protesters.

I'm afraid the final struggle against capitalism may be a very bloody one. Before it is overthrown worldwide, the use of military violence against peaceful protesters, as practiced by Mummar Qaddafi and Bashar al-Assad, could well become the norm in many countries including in North America and Europe.

It is against the future interest of the people everywhere for the left to tolerated a regime's use of such violence against a popular opposition anywhere, as it did with regards to Qaddafi's violence in Libya and, most shamefully, continues to do with regards to the plight of the Syrian people today.

After Qaddafi initiated the use of military power against the non-violent Arab Spring, in February 2011, regimes in Yemen, Bahrain and most significantly, Syria, followed suit. The gloves were coming off.

I think it extremely important, and I mean on a world historic level, that Qaddafi's use of military violence against a popular uprising did not succeed in Libya. That reason alone is enough to support the outcome, regardless of future developments in Libya. Successes tend to be imitated and if Qaddafi had shown that the violent beat down could keep him in power, neighborhoods around the world would be more likely to come under artillery fire in the future.

It is now equally important that Assad not prevail. If for no other reason than his widespread use of military power against a largely peaceful opposition, for wantonly shelling rebellious neighborhoods, he must go down! Anyone on the left, that is to say, anyone who thrives to be a true champion of the people and their future must demand it.

"Rules of Engagement" for the class struggle

Fundamentally what groups like HRW, AI and UNHCR are about is trying to establishing some basic "rules of engagement" for the class struggle. What will and won't be allowed. No land mines, no cluster bombs, no torture, no shelling of neighborhoods, etc. This is not the same as an end to all violence against the people, nothing will but an end to capitalism, the last system of the class exploitation that gives that violence its energy. In the meantime, any effort to minimize the level of violence used against the people is welcomed.

Of course, any attempt to enforce "rules of engagement" any attempt to bring a level of civility to warfare will ultimately crash upon the rocks of desperation, but since we will win by numbers, not by violence, anything that lowers the level of violence, even if in only a particular sector or short period, works in our favor.

The left must also be involved in establishing and enforcing "rules of engagement" for popular uprisings. I think we should now have "rules of engagement" that say if you shell rebellious neighborhoods, if you use helicopter gunships against popular assemblies, etc, you will go down! A worldwide network of activists will immediately direct its focus on you. The view we should be promoting is that if you do that, as Qaddafi did and Assad is doing, you will immediately become the target of the full force and fiery of the world's people!

Every head of state who violates these rules of engagement should end up like Qaddafi did. I disagree with the protesters in Tahrir today demanding a new sentence of death for Mubarak. I say let Mubarak live with his life sentence, he never opened up with his tanks in his efforts to stay in power. Let Ben Ali escape to Saudi Arabia, his army didn't open fire on the protesters. In every successful uprising, the rulers will be tempted to use massive violence to save themselves. They must all be taught a lesson. They must all know that if they don't, they may be allowed to live, but if they do, they will come to the same ignoble end that Qaddafi did.

The neoliberal trend that is in the leadership of NATO also currently sees these attempts of dictators to use massive violence to stay in power as counter-productive to their goal of imperial domination with stability. In this regards, they have some tactical  agreement with us. The army brass in both Egypt and Tunisia are very much influenced by both NATO and this neoliberal thinking. That is why they refused to open fire when first Ben Ali in Tunisia and then Mubarak in Egypt ordered them to. Better to ditch the one man that had become identified with the dictatorship and preserve as much of the old order as possible than to have an all out fight to the end with the risk that the imperialist loose all their influence. This is what has almost happened in Libya.

In Libya, the people responded to Qaddafi's use of massive military violence against peaceful protests with massive courage from the beginning and finally by waging a people's war that, for the first time in the Arab Spring revolts, sweep away not only the dictator, but also the dictator's army and all the organs of state power. In Libya today, they have reclaimed the term 'revolutionary' from the revisionist Qaddafi and they are creating a new Libyan state from scratch.

Certain refineries in France and Italy are designed to run on the type of crude that is Libya's specialty. So, with the world economic crisis and all, the EU, UK & US needed Libyan oil back on line ASAP, this and the fact that NATO cultivates a reputation of being the good guys that they have to uphold, meant that they were willing to give limited support to the Libyan opposition. The Libya opposition wisely kept that limited to air support and that air support was far from what many on the left have cracked it up to be.

It was far, far from the massive air campaigns than we have seen in the past over Vietnam and even over Iraq. I have written about this in the past, Renfrey Clark did a good piece analyzing NATO's air campaign over Tripoli. While thousands of 'so-called' strike missions were flown by NATO, most did not actually bomb targets. Of the targets that were hit, most were air defense targets and since the Libyan opposition didn't have any planes, that wasn't such hot news to them. That the UN investigation found only 72 civilians killed accidentally by NATO bombs, an extraordinarily low number, in the Libyan campaign is a testament not just to the accuracy of the NATO bombs, but also to their rarity.

But that won't stop the NATO leaders from claiming credit for the Libyan people's hard won victory over Qaddafi, of the anti-interventionist left giving it to them.

While on the subject of NATO, there is also the interesting way that the contradictions within NATO played out during the Libyan campaign. US anti-interventionists have been so quick to see the US masters of war as ramrodding NATO and even controlling the Libyan NTC, that they probably didn't notice that US forces carried out less than 20% of the air strikes, or ask themselves why. Defense forums and other NATO watchers became keenly aware of the power struggle being played out between the US and its European allies in the Libyan campaign, but i have yet to see anyone on the left address this.

If violent revolution has been more the norm than the exception, it is because those in power have shown time and time again that they will stop at nothing to stay in power. The left must never give such violence a pass or fail to support those people facing it. The almost complete failure of the organized US left to support "regime change" in Libya when the regime was raining cluster bombs on its people was shameful, and it's failure to demand "regime change" in Syria, as that regime daily goes from massacre to massacre is disgusting.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 10:48:25 AM PDT

  •  Clay there are things that I don't agree (3+ / 0-)

    with in your diary. BUT... I believe your first few paragraphs are dead on.

    "'Touch it dude' - President Barack Obama"

    by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 10:59:58 AM PDT

  •  The activist left that care only about the (3+ / 0-)

    Palestinian cause are currently holding their voices quiet while they complete their efforts at devising a scenario in which a story can be concocted laying blame for the Syrian massacres at Israel's doorstep.

    in three, two, one.......

  •  There are increasing indications (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that the Houla massacre was not committed by any "government supporting militias" as claimed throughout the MCM (mainstream Corporate media). Now that more is known about the victims it appears that many were families of government supporting individuals; one in particular, who has recently run for the parliament. He and much of his family were massacred by armed  gangs, who materialized out of nowhere,  seemingly penetrating through the rebel held stronghold without a hitch. Sure, they must have been those shabitah Alawites who just thought it'd be fun to kill their own...

    There was so much in the Houla story that didn't add up that even newspapers - always the last to know - are catching up. A conservative paper in Germany has just retracted it's Houla story, and others across Europe are beginning to hedge and peel off the official line.

    As for the latest massacre, we have again, the word of "activists". Who are they? the ones caught time and again uploading staged videos? can we believe anything?

    People should think seriously about this scenario - who benefits? what possible use to Assad would be another massacre - coincidentally launched just before a UN meeting? does this make sense to anyone other than those who are hell bent on repeating the Libya adventure?

    As a member of the left in good standing I hereby denounce the massacres and call for the responsible parties to be identified promptly. preferably composed of impartial bodies for a change? Perhaps if the so-called rebels stopped firing for a second on the UN people sent to check on the latest massacre rumors (who encountered small arm fire, mind you, on the way to the scene), we'd get some clarity before pinning the blame?

    •  here, try this link (0+ / 0-)

      for a more even-handed version of the state of affairs.

      •  What you are trying to pass off as "even handed" (1+ / 0-)

        Looks very much pro-Assad to me, still it makes my point. It doesn't really think this massacre happened. Like maybe its a complete hokes, complete with made up videos and child actors playing dead.

        The timing is suspicious, except this killing has been going on for 16 months now.

        They think the video is fake, that way they can say there is no proof and the eye wirinesses are all lying on Assad. Well what would you believe if those won't suffice? Except the YouTube account that posted that video has posted 103 others.  The account that posted the Al-Qbeer massacre video I used above has posted another 1182 videos. Hundreds of thousands of videos have been posted by Syria activists to YouTube and facebook in the last year, they can't all be fake.

        [T]he Syrian government troops raided a hideout of armed groups in a village of central Hama province, clashing with armed men and killing an unspecified number of them, Syria's state TV channel said on Wednesday.

        Two of the government troops were killed in the clashes that took place in al-Qubair village, the TV channel said, adding that the troops' raid was conducted after the local residents asked for help.

        So the government admits to having soldiers in al-Qubair village and killing there, but that's okay because we have their word that they were only killing bad guys.
        The observers tried to reach the area today but were first held back by the Syrian army which said that the area is too dangerous. The observers passed anyway and, the Annan mission said, were later shot at with small arms.
        I think the same force that tried to stop the monitors also later shot at them. We know the Syrian army didn't want them to proceed.

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 05:31:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  As I said in my other diary about (2+ / 0-)
      Perhaps if the so-called rebels stopped firing for a second on the UN people sent to check on the latest massacre rumors (who encountered small arm fire, mind you, on the way to the scene), we'd get some clarity before pinning the blame?
      How do you conclude it was rebels firing on the UN people? Is that what Assad told you? The UN also reported "The group initially was denied access."

      At least it should be clear who initially denied access to the UN monitors. It was the Assad regime. Now knowing that the Assad regime wanted to delay or deny the monitors access, we can draw further conclusions about who in Syria was in the best position to post shooters to further delay the monitors. On the other hand we know that the opposition was already trying to get the monitors there while it was still happening. We don't have to get all stupid and clueless about what is really going on in Syria as you would have us.

      Contrary to what you say we have absolute proof that the Houla massacre was started by "government supporting militias" The assault was started with hours of tank and artillery fire. Only the government has those. Clearly the government started the assault and the militias that entered the village after the shelling stopped were supporting the government absolutely.

      As far as your:

      People should think seriously about this scenario - who benefits? what possible use to Assad would be another massacre - coincidentally launched just before a UN meeting? does this make sense to anyone other than those who are hell bent on repeating the Libya adventure?
      There is no question that Assad has been trying to put down a popular opposition with massive violence for 16 months now. It doesn't have to "make sense", indeed it doesn't "make sense" but that is what he has done. He has murdered more that ten thousand Syrians in the last year.

      And clearly, nobody is hell bent on repeating the Libyan intervention and stopping the tanks this time. So don't get your panties in a bunch. Assad's slaughter will go on, as you wish.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 04:52:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  manufacturing perception (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is what your comment does. It repeats, willy-nilly all the propaganda points put forth by the media, which unquestioningly believe anything that an 'activist" tells them. Funny how they are called "activists" now. Not 'rebels' or "insurgents" but the much softer, misty-eyed 'activist".

        I did not notice you calling for similar reactions against the latest massacre by US drones of over 28 Afgani civilians. But hey, may be there was a "militant" among them, ie, military age male?

        To your first point - the government forces did indeed warn the UN observers that the region is dangerous (why wouldn't it be risky to travel with all the al-qaeda and other terrorist affiliated foreign 'activists" injected into the area, courtesy of Qatar, saudi Arabia, Libya, the US and UK?). However, they were NOT prevented from moving forward, only warned. When they encountered "small arms: fire, just who is most likely to have such arms? what makes you so sure it was the same government soldiers who just warned them? and why on earth would anyone in the Syrian military wish to precipitate an incident with the UN? you may have forgotten not long ago when UN observers were outright attacked and some killed by the "rebels". Or was it "activists"?

        So far, zero proof - based on your own interpretation - that there was a massacre and that if there was one, it was committed by anyone affiliated with the Assad government or acting for them (such as the mysterious alawite militia who materialized out of nowhere).

        And just how "popular" were those opposition rallies? indications are that while there is and was opposition to Assad, it was not the massive uprising you and the MCM suggest. certainly not one tenth as popular - relative percentage wise) as the uprising against Bahrain's despotic monarchial regime - about whose brutality you are not commending us to exert our sympathies nearly as keenly (could it be because they are allies of the current US regime? hey since we are using 'regime' so freely.... we too have a corporate regime, whoever is the president....).

        I think if you cared to read a little more broadly, not just the regurgitated propaganda you've been fed from seemingly all corners, you might get a different picture of the complexities in Syria a year ago, and what's going on now.

        My contention is not that the assad government is great but that it is no worse than Jordan's, which is similarly ruled - absolutely - by a monarch from a minority demography. many citizens unhappy with that/ sure! but why aren't we supporting the protesters in Jordan, where opposition was put down rather forcefully as well?  Basically I doubt you care a hoot about Syria or Syrians and I am suggesting that you are promoting an agenda, the end point of which is violent intervention a la Iraq, Afganistan, Libya, Somalia and the like.

        As you throw your lot with the great empire, you are at least consistent. It's just that we are no longer buying what you have to sell. Sorry. may be you might be luckier over at the right wing blogs?

        •  Correction (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          should say 18 Afgan civilians, for the most recent incident.

          But pray do tell - say there were 40 Syrians "massacred" by Assad  "regime". So, are you concerned more for them than the Afganis - for which massacre we actually have proof (though - ouch - it's from "locals") because it was not by drone? or is it that you have numerical thresholds for outrage - say - under 20 is whatever, but over 30 - that's an atrocity!

          So is it the method or the number of massacred by which you weigh your outrage/

          just wondering....

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