Wednesday, September 04, 2013


While working out today, I was watching the Congressional  Committee hearings on a possible US military response to chemical weapons use in Syria.  Interesting, but nothing more.  

Like apparently most people I am horrified by the use of gas, but less then thrilled with a unilateral bombing attack by the United States.  That said.  I believe there are other options, or perhaps it would be better to say, there should be better options.  I also believe that those of us on the left, those of us who call ourselves progressives, Marxists, anarchists, anti-war activists, etc. could and should say more than just that we are opposed to a unilateral US military strike. It is important to say that, but it isn't enough.  It is important for people like me to also state up front that we support the multitude of working people in Syria, as everywhere, in their struggle against Empire, the local State and government, and all the rest of the players within global capital.  We support revolution and the creation of a new world entirely at all times and everywhere.  However, that, too, is not always enough and certainly not immediate enough.

So what other options are there?

The other day I got to thinking about this and tried to come up with some other option in situations like this.  Before I lay it out here, I will state up front, there is a lot that would be easily criticized with my suggestion.  In fact, my suggestion probably makes more sense as a goal for the future, if it makes sense at all.  However, one of the reasons for this is merely to get us, you and I,  to think about these things in more than just a knee jerk way.  I am going to go out on a limb here and actually make a concrete suggestion, a dangerous thing to do sometimes on the left.  However, I have my reasons and I invite comments and criticisms.  I invite your concrete ideas though, not just empty rhetoric and critiques.  Here is what I wrote on my facebook page:

Thinking aloud here about Syria and similar situations.

There should exist some way for the WORLD to respond to this sort of shit. I, however, don't kmow what that is. Perhaps, the International Court of Criminal Justice should have a military arm. If anyone does anything, perhaps, the first step beyond simple, and often useless diplomacy, could be declaring certain areas within Syria, probably near a border, should be declared a safe haven for refugees and defended by air power (which stated right up front will be used in the event of any intrusions), and if possible some group of peacekeepers from Norway or China or Spain or Senegal, or Vietnam, or S. Africa, or somewhere...rather then just a senseless bombing run. Meanwhile, rather then just presenting the evidence to the UN, it should be presented to like the Arab League, ASEAN, the OAU. Like many, I am weary of the world just turning away while atrocities of all kinds are committed. I also understand the horror of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, but for the dead, I am not sure they care all that much if it is a chemical weapon, a bomb, an artillery strike, or a bullet. In Syria alone, how many hundreds of thousands of non combatant dead without Chemical weapons is too much.

Notice also that my proposal does not even rely on proving who used the chemical weapons, merely that they were used. The warning about messing with the safe havens would also apply to everyone. It also makes irrelevant USA (or anyone else's) past actions. The only thing that matters is here and now...

Perhaps, in a more ideal world, the safe havens themselves could become autonomous zones, similar to what the Zapatistas have created, where people could learn and create a whole new way of living together, governing themselves, and creating a new world (see for example,

Okay, that said, I would love to hear other ideas and, again, I realize there are a number of problems with the above scenario.

The post below is a statement of a number of groups scattered around the middle east and north Africa about the overall situation in Syria and which makes a clear statement that all of the discussions, well most of them, going on today miss the point entirely.  I post it to remind US that there are "good guys" out there.  I post this to remind US that we can remain true to our principles in these situations and we don't have to choose between two sets of bad actors.  We don't have to choose between the Empire, fundamentalist religious reactionaries, tin horn dictators, the USA, this State or that State.  The following is from Europe solidaire sans frontieres.

We Stand Behind the Syrian People’s Revolution - No to Foreign Intervention Sunday 1 September 2013

Over 150 thousand were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).

Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice.

The only exception was some Gulf countries, more specifically Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, their aim was to control the nature of the conflict and steer it in a sectarian direction, distorting the Syrian revolution and aiming to abort it, as a reflection of their deepest fear that the revolutionary flame will reach their shores. So they backed obscurantist takfiri groups, coming, for the most part, from the four corners of the world, to impose a grotesque vision for rule based on Islamic sharia. These groups were engaged, time and time again, in terrifying massacres against Syrian citizens who opposed their repressive measures and aggressions inside areas under their control or under attack, such as the recent example of villages in the Latakia countryside.

A large block of hostile forces, from around the world, is conspiring against the Syrian people’s revolution, which erupted in tandem with the uprisings spreading through a large section of the Arab region and the Maghreb for the past three years. The people’s uprisings aimed to put an end to a history of brutality, injustice, and exploitation and attain the rights to freedom, dignity, and social justice.

However, this did not only provoke local brutal dictatorships, but also most of the imperialist forces seeking to perpetuate the theft of the wealth of our people, in addition to the various reactionary classes and forces throughout those areas and in surrounding countries.

As for Syria, the alliance fighting against the people’s revolution comprises a host of reactionary sectarian forces, spearheaded by Iran and confessional militias in Iraq, and, to much regret, Hezbollah’s strike force, which is drowning in the quagmire of defending a profoundly corrupt and criminal dictatorial regime.

This unfortunate situation has also struck a major section of the traditional Arab left with Stalinist roots, whether in Syria itself or in Lebanon, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab region – and worldwide – which is clearly biased towards the wretched alliance surrounding the Assad regime. The justification is that some see it as a “resilient” or even a “resistance” regime, despite its long history – throughout its existence in power – of protecting the Zionist occupation of the Golan Heights, its constant bloody repression of various groups resisting Israel, be it Palestinian or Lebanese (or Syrian), and remaining idle and subservient, since the October 1973 war, concerning Israel’s aggressions on Syrian territories. This bias will have serious ramifications on ordinary Syrians’ position regarding the left in general.

The United Nations and the Security Council, in particular, was unable to condemn the crimes of a regime, which the Syrian people rejected continuously and peacefully for more than seven months, while the bullets of the snipers and shabbiha took demonstrators one by one and day after day and while the most influential activists were being detained and subjected to the worst kinds of torture and elimination in the prisons and detention centers. All the while, the world remained completely silent and in a state of total negativity.

The situation persisted with small difference after the people in revolution decided to take up arms and the emergence of what became known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – whose command and soldiers came, to a large extent, from the regular army. This led to the horrific escalation of crimes by the regime.

Russian imperialism, the most important ally of the Baathist regime in Damascus, which provides it with all sorts of support, remains on the lookout to block any attempt to condemn those crimes in the Security Council. The United States, on the other hand, does not find a real problem in the continuation of the status quo, with all the apparent repercussions and destruction of the country. This is despite the threats and intimidation utilized by the US president, every time someone in the opposition raises the question of the use of chemical weapons by the regime, up until the latest escalation, when it was considered crossing a “red line.”

It is clear that Obama, who gives the impression that he will go ahead with his threats, would have felt great embarrassment if he did not do so, since it will not only impact negatively on the president, but also on the image of the mighty and arrogant state that he leads in the eyes of subservient Arab countries and the entire world.

The imminent strike against the Syrian armed forces is led by the US in essence. However, it occurs with the understanding and cooperation of allied imperialist countries, even without rationalizing it through the usual farce, known as international legitimacy (namely the decisions of the UN, which was and remains representative of the interests of major powers, whether in conflict or in alliance, depending on the circumstances, differences, and balances among them). In other words, the strike will not wait for the Security Council due to the anticipated Russian-Chinese veto.

Unfortunately, many in the Syrian opposition are gambling on this strike and the US position in general. They believe this would create an opportunity for them to seize power, skipping over the movement and of the masses and their independent decision. It should not be a surprise, then, that the representatives of this opposition and the FSA had no reservations on providing information to the US about proposed targets for the strike.

In all cases, we agree on the following: The western imperialist alliance will strike several positions and vital parts of the military and civilian infrastructure in Syria (with several casualties, as usual). However, as it was keen to announce, the strikes will not be meant to topple the regime. They are merely intended to punish, in Obama’s words, the current Syrian leadership and save face for the US administration, after all the threats concerning the use of chemical weapons. The US president’s intentions to punish the Syrian leadership does not stem, in any way or form, from Washington’s solidarity with the suffering of children who fell in the Ghouta massacres, but from its commitment to what Obama calls the vital interests of the US and its homeland security, in addition to Israel’s interests and security. The Syrian army and its regional allies, led by the Iranian regime, will not have enough courage, most probably, to fulfil what seemed to be threats by their senior officials that any western attack on Syria will ignite the entire region. But this option remains on the table, as a final option with catastrophic results. The imminent western imperialist assault does not intend to support the Syrian revolution in any way. It will aim to push Damascus into the bargaining table and allow Bashar al-Assad to retreat from the foreground, but keeping the regime in place, while greatly improving conditions to strengthen the position of US imperialism in the future Syria against Russian imperialism. The more those participating in the continuing popular mobilization – who are more aware, principled, and dedicated to the future of Syria and its people – realize these facts, their consequences, results, and act accordingly, the more this will contribute to aiding the Syrian people to successfully pick a true revolutionary leadership. In the process of a committed struggle based on the current and future interests of their people, this would produce a radical program consistent with those interests, which could be promoted and put into practice on the road to victory.

No to all forms of imperialist intervention, whether by the US or Russia.

No to all forms of reactionary sectarian interventions, whether by Iran or the Gulf countries.

No to the intervention of Hezbollah, which warrants the maximum of condemnation.

Down with all illusions about the imminent US military strike.

Break open the arms depots for the Syrian people to struggle for freedom, dignity, and social justice.

Victory to a free democratic Syria and down with the Assad dictatorship and all dictatorships forever.

Long live the Syrian people’s revolution.

Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt) - Revolutionary Left Current (Syria) - Union of Communists (Iraq) - Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco) - Socialist Forum (Lebanon)

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