Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 24, 2017

In Defense of Amnesty International’s report on mass killings in the Saidnaya prison

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 6:34 pm

(A guest post by Brian Slocock)

The publication of Amnesty International’s recent report documenting the mass executions that are taking place in Saidnaya prison in Syria has generated a torrent of responses from the Syria Extermination-Denial band.

One of them, broadcast on the Russian Sputnik channel spin-off “Hard facts” has veteran Assad cheerleader John Wight interviewing former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, a figure whose credentials might appear to give him some credibility.

In the space of some 11 minutes, both parties managed to avoid engaging with the detailed analysis and evidence provided in the 48-page Report. Instead they produced a lot of flannel about the sins of Amnesty and the ominous “timing” of the Amnesty report ­ they don’t have the courage to openly assert that Amnesty released the report in order to sabotage the Syrian peace process – probably because it’s so patently absurd – but the dog whistles are there aplenty for their intended audience.) If we strip away all this padding we are left with four objections to the Amnesty case

  1. All Amnesty’s witnesses are anonymised
  2. Saidnaya could not possibly hold the number of prisoners Amnesty claim
  3. The Amnesty report relies on the “discredited” Caesar torture documentation.
  4. Some business about Amnesty getting the date of Saydnaya’s emergence as the country’s main political prison wrong

We can pass over the fourth ­ it’s trivial and more suggestive of clutching at straws than anything else (although it is useful to have Ford’s confirmation that the large Saydnaya complex has been Syria’s “main political prison” “for “many years” before 2006, acknowledging the long and continuous history of political repression in the country.

On the first of the remaining points: Of course the witnesses insist on being anonymous – if they weren’t they would face the prospect of themselves or family members joining the victims whose fate they are testifying to. Wight comments that the Amnesty report “would not stand scrutiny in a court of law”. But no one is in a court of law. Amnesty is aware of the identity of its witnesses, and has interviewed them, they have no obligation to expose them to mortal danger just to meet some spurious test of veracity set up by Wight.

On the second point, Ford says that “none of the authors of the report have actually been to Saydnaya, but I have – I had occasion to go to Saydnaya numerous times”. However, this dramatic claim to eyewitness authority quickly evaporates when he adds “I did not enter the prison”. (So what exactly he was doing there? It seems an unlikely sightseeing destination)

Despite his rather limited (if oft repeated) engagement with Saydnaya, Ford claims that his sighting of the building allows him to assert that it is “literally impossible” for it to hold the 10-20 000 prisoners that Amnesty claims. His assessment is that it could hold “only about one-tenth that number”.

It’s possible to test that assertion by calculating the dimensions of Saydnaya from satellite photos. The main Saydnaya “red building” comprises 3 wings, each of which is about 90 x 20 metres, with. 3 – 4 floors. giving it a total capacity of about 18 000 square metres. The second “white building” where both detentions and executions take place, seems to be on two levels, adding another 4000 square metres of capacity. After allowing for essential functional space – offices, torture chambers, staff canteens, gallows ­ it would seem reasonable to estimate that something like 20 000 square metres is available for detention facilities. If Ford’s estimate that Saydnaya only holds 1000-2000 prisoners were true, then that would make it a very comfortable place indeed (it would meet the British Certified Normal Accommodation standard – something very few British prisons do.) But Saydnaya is in Damascus not Wandsworth, and very different rules apply there.

Intense overcrowding is a well-known feature of political prisons, an integral part of breaking prisoners’ spirits. There is plenty of testimony from Syria, and from other counties, that densities of less than 1 square metre per prisoner are often imposed. Human Rights Watch has collected testimony of densities as high as 3 prisoners per square metre. That would allow Saydnaya to hold the numbers Amnesty suggests; and certainly their figures are far more realistic than Ford’s. As Ford says, “when you get this basic fact wrong, you have to question the veracity of the rest”.

Point three: Ford suggests that Amnesty’s case is seriously undermined by their reference to the well-known “Caesar” portfolio of torture photographs, commenting that they have been discredited by the work of “a very good investigative journalist by the name of Rick Sterling, and also by Human Rights Watch. Sterling, however, is not an “investigative journalist” of any standard but a pro- regime publicist, whose article on the Caesar portfolio is a clumsy set of misrepresentations of the evidence and its interpretation. Ford lifts his account of the HRW review of the Caesar material straight from Sterling, claiming that it established that “46% of the photos showed dead Syrian soldiers, victims of car bombs, and other jihadist violence, and there was no evidence that the others were the victims of any particular form of detention.” This is a rampant distortion of HRW’s finding: true, they discovered that as a forensic photographer for the Syrian military authorities, “Caesar” was assigned to take several types of photographs: detainees who died in custody; dead soldiers and others who died in violent attacks; and photographs of the sites of the attacks: 54% of his photos were of dead detainees; 46% fell into the other two categories. As HRW noted, the range of Caesar’s photographs confirmed him to be to be an official a forensic photographer, reinforcing his credibility.

Moreover, the different categories were clearly distinguishable, and HRW was able to carry out an analysis of the dead detainees which produced detailed evidence that they had either been killed or died of malnutrition. They documented 6786 detainee deaths, and were able to identify which branch of the security services was responsible for each case. They also managed to locate several relatives of the dead who were able to identify them, despite their physically degraded conditions. No one who has seen these photos – as I have – could doubt that they had died as “victims of a particular form of detention”. In short, the HRW analysis demonstrates almost the exact opposite of what Sterling (and Ford) claim.

If this feeble mish-mash is the best Assad’s “counsels for the defence” can muster, then no one with a functioning intellect is going to take them seriously.

10 Comments »

  1. Utterly convincing. “Feeble mishmash” indeed. John Wight may be shameless, but he certainly ought to be ashamed.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — February 24, 2017 @ 8:19 pm

  2. Funny how you turn those critiquing the report into the ‘counsel for defence’ when really what they are doing is showing that there is little or no hard evidence in this report. Amnesty is the defendant and is found wanting. We have their word that those witnesses are reliable. Just as we have the reputation of the NYT to convince us that those ‘state department spokesmen who names we cannot reveal’ are telling the truth and not some self-serving political message.

    Given Amnesty’s revolving door, its documented State department friendliness, in Haiti, Venezuela and other places, and its recent track record of unreliability we can safely dismiss it “What can be asserted without evidence” after all, ” can be dismissed without evidence.”

    Comment by Kurringai — February 24, 2017 @ 9:34 pm

  3. I dealt with Sterling’s idiotic “reporting” on the Caesar photos here:

    https://louisproyect.org/2016/03/04/a-response-to-rick-sterlings-claim-that-torture-did-not-take-place-in-syria/

    Comment by louisproyect — February 24, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

  4. “Caesar” was assigned to take several types of photographs”

    Of course, ” Caesar” uses an alias to remain anonymous, because there are 12,137 forensic photographers in the Syrian military , and this alias prevents the Syrian military bureaucracy from figuring out his identity. What nonsense!

    Comment by georges — February 24, 2017 @ 10:39 pm

  5. I love how all these cockroaches come out of the walls in defense of Assad, the genocidal dog whose number one ally, the Iranian regime’s jihadi detachments, killing Syrians by the thousands and pillaging Syria, have mass torture and mass execution records of their own that are now paling by comparison to what they’re accomplishing in Syria.

    But, people like Wight or Kurringai or Georges need not worry: No human rights organization can keep up with these barbaric thugs. The people of our countries, however, do know what is happening in our countries. And we will not forget or forgive the assholes who stood with the genocidal dicks who are slaughtering us.

    Comment by Reza — February 25, 2017 @ 12:15 am

  6. I think that the those who doubt the accuracy of these reports are really only pretending to doubt the accuracy of these reports. This type of things happen all the time on all continents. Why should it not be believed in this case? I even find it puzzeling why anyone would try to deny it. If I were in charge of the United States I would outlaw the KKK. And if the KKK had 20 or 30 million or even 300 million members for that matter and they did not disband their activities I would shoot them all in the back of the head myself. I imagine that if some member of the KKK was president he might shoot me in the back of the head. Thats what politics is, conflict. Of course that conflict can be waged by non violent means but humanity can not allow itself to be chained to the dumbest most stubborn percentage of its population. Violence is even justified by a small minority against an overwhelming majority when the desires of that majority are to abuse the lives of a minority. For example a majority that is convinced to wage a war of aggression. In Syria, as I see it all the sides involved see themselves as defenders of justice against the abuses of others. When one looks at world history of the last 70 years the views of all sides would seem reasonable to a member of that side. Murder is one thing.

    Torture is another matter though. I would never toture a member of the KKK. I would’nt even be tempted to do so. Yet I would be at least a little bit tempted to torture someone like Ted Bundy, or someone who tortured prisoners to gain tactical information.

    Personal Ethics is actually not all that difficult. Rule number one, treat others the way you wish to be treated. Rule number two treat other the way that they treat others. That is the way to hold those who do not follow rule number one accountable for not following rule number 1. Political Ethics can be summarized by a few rules toö. Rule number one do the greatest good for the greatest number. Rule number two do not follow rule number one when it does not make any sense.

    Ok if you are not laughing now there is something wrong with you. Yes of course rule number two is wide enough to drive a Mack truck through. But anyone should be able to see that sometimes rule number one rule of politcal ethics breaks rule number one of personal ethics. This paradox makes our existance in this universal simulation a big sick joke. We humans are the are the butt of that joke. As the saying goes, sleep is good, death is better, but never to have been born is the best of all. (That does not mean that one should committ suicide as once one has been born then one has duties, but I would never condemn someone who committs suicide)

    It would be nice if we could hold people accountable for torturing people. Certianly some effort should be made to do so. Freedom from torture should be the most cherished human right of all mankind. But considering how wide spread the problem is, those who we prosecute can justly claim that they have been singled out for prosecution only because they are on a losing side.

    Yet ending torture by military forces is perhaps one goal that humanity can achieve before its time expires. Despite the best efforts of the simulation programers we humans managed to wipe out small pox. If the militaries of the world would accept MY PROFFESSIONAL HELP I can set up a low cost program to retrain military and police forces world wide to wage war with out resorting to the torture of prisoners.

    Am I ready for SNL??

    Comment by Curt Kastens — February 25, 2017 @ 1:30 am

  7. People like Kurringai know that this Amnesty report and the Caesar photos are fake because they have probably never met a Syrian. Well, maybe they have, just not any on the wrong side. You see, when I speak to Syrian, and Syrian Palestinian, refugees in Sydney who tell me they recognise former friends or neighbours or teachers from the Caesar photos, people they once knew who disappeared, I know it is factual. But tyrant-love is all-consuming. You know that the Pinochets and Suhartos and at least 100 other well-known tyrants have murdered and tortured at will; yet somehow it couldn’t be true of a nice many like Bashar Assad. Because, after all, these reports and photos could all be part of the propaganda necessary for the US to launch another regime-change war. One wonders when that ever gets rusty, when reality ever begins to knock on your head: after 6 years of the most sensational slaughter – or, if you prefer, 6 years of war-propaganda with fake slaughter reports – why is it that the US intervention in Syria (since September 2014) remains entirely a war against opponents of Assad, and not against the regime? When does all this alleged war propaganda get a result?

    Comment by mkaradjis — February 25, 2017 @ 5:59 am

  8. Dear mkaradjis,
    “Why is it that the US intervention remains a war against opponents of Assad?” That is a very thought provoking comment. As I recall the chain of events leading up to where we are now went like this. 2001 World Trade Center Counter Attack and Syria joins the USA in its increased war of terror on the planet.
    Syria was a place that the USA could send people to get tortured to claim that the US did not torture. At that point Syria was an ally of everyone. One decade later an uprising in Syria takes place. Although Syria was an ally of everyone at that point it had a long history of cooperation with the Soviet Union and then with Russia. So the Assad regime claims or in fact really is the target of a western plot to topple it. Perhaps those fears have even been reinforced by the Russians and the Iranians. It had after all been reported at various times and places that the material support that Iran gave the Lebonese Hezbollah and perhaps even such support to Palestinians flowed through Syria. That alone would be reason enough to believe that the leadership of the USA would say, you know what, Assad is good but now that protests have broken out we have a chance to do even better.

    Assad then falls back on the tactics of his father and uses brutal violence to put down the protests and intimidate the opposition. That move backfires and a civil war begins. As a majority of the people demand his downfall and most importantly at least part of the army defects to the opposition Assads forces start losing a war of attrition with those opposed to his rule. He resorts to desperate tactics possibly including the use of chemical weapons. I do not recall if the US had publically claimed that it was training and supplying the Free Syrian Army prior to that use of chemical weapons or not, I think that it was. But anyways at that point if not sooner Obama himself had said that Assad had to be removed from power. Not only that the US was now going to directly enter the war because Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people.

    So at that point it was THE OFFICIAL POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES THAT IT WAS SEEKING TO OVERTHROW ASSAD. At least that is clearly what they wanted the American people and the world to believe. Considering Syrias history such a policy certainly seemed consistent with US global strategy for the past 70 years. So, why question it? But then the Russians jumped in and said, hey we will make sure that Assad will not use chemical weapons again. Even better we will make sure that the Syrian Army destorys all of its chemical weapons stockpiles. So because of this offer the US military did not attack Assad’s focrces.

    Therefore it seems to me that a person thinking could go one or two ways on this story. Either the official story is true. The US leaders wanted to take Assad down but in the mean time changed their minds as they came to view the Islamists as the greater threat to their plans. Or all the public pronouncements were just smoke and mirrors to obscure what the USA was really hoping to achieve. If you believe that the US leadership NEVER wanted Assad to fall it might cause a person to wonder if there was not collusion on the part of the Russian and American leadership to create this apparent shift in US priorities in Syria from overthrowing Assad to fighting islamic terrorists.

    But even before the chemical weapons attacks the US backed Free Syrian Army was suffering from defections to other groups that are Islamic rather than secular in character which were recieving more outside support than the FSA was getting from the USA. One of these Islamic groups called ISIS merged the war in Syria with the war in Iraq when it took control of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq. Wasn’t it at this point that the USA began its bombing campaign against Islamic terrorism? It was also at this point that I recall that what ever support the FSA had among the left in the west pretty much evaporated.

    At some point in here because Assads forces were so badly “attrited” Iran had stepped in to support Assad’s government with Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries from Afghanistan. But even with that help it looked like Assad’s government would fall. War is damned expensive. One story is that the coalition of Islamic forces that were taking over Syria were financed through local sources, such as local oil fields, and looting and donations from Syrians abroad perhaps. But another common theory was 2 or more supposed US allies, such as Turkey and or Saudi Arabia were bankrolling the Islamic opposition,
    I forget how Assad pissed off Erdogan exactly but I rememeber that publically Erdogan took a very hard line against Assad. Erdogan was the leader of a NATO country so when he demanded Assads fall that would of course add fuel to the fire that those opposed to Assad are NATO and therefore US neo liberal stooges. It would also make claims that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are supporting Islamic opposition groups in Syria very plausible.

    But a question that I have about these claims is, how much independence do (did) Saudi Arabia and Turkey have. Would either of these countries carry out policies that contridicted the policies of the USA. If not then one could conclude that the rise of the Islamic terrorism is itself a US goal in the region.
    It seems that what happened in Turkey last summer figures in to the answer of what happens when an ally of the US decides to follow unapproved policies.
    Sadly we are not in a position to know What Erdogan did to cause the US to try to overthrow him. Of course at least 95% of the US population will think that it is nonsense to blame the USA for the actions of a few crazy officers in the Turkish military.

    Since I have asked the question of whether or not it is possible that the US and Russia colluded in shaping western perceptions in Syria I have to also ask the question of whether the USA and Russia have in some way colluded in the Ukraine?

    I still think that the USA has bad intentions towards Russia. Russia is to the 21st century so far what Turkey and China were to the 20th century. But I do not know what kinds of short term deals can be made between the two sides.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — February 25, 2017 @ 12:11 pm

  9. “That alone would be reason enough to believe that the leadership of the USA would say, you know what, Assad is good but now that protests have broken out we have a chance to do even better.”
    Unlikely. Overthrowing a reliably pragmatic and repressive regime that had never touched Israel and had regularly done Washington’s bidding was not considered in US interests. Initial US reaction was, in Clinton’s words, that Assad was a ‘reformer”. So even though the US had demanded Mubarak step down (more or less immediately) and had stepped in to ensure Gaddafi fell, it did nothing of the sort in Syria. Obama’s call for Assad (himself) to “step aside” (ie, to save his regime) happened about 8 months after the uprising began, ie, about 8 months after Obama had made a similar call on Mubarak.

    “I do not recall if the US had publicly claimed that it was training and supplying the Free Syrian Army prior to that use of chemical weapons or not, I think that it was.”
    Absolutely not, though apparently it had sent them some ancient radios and “ready-meals”, which, according to FSA colonel Akaidi of Aleppo, his men ‘refuse to eat.” However, the CIA had stationed itself on the Turkish and Jordanian borders since 2012 to ensure that the existing arms pipeline (mostly from post-Gaddafi Libya) did not allow any anti-tan or anti-aircraft missiles to get through to the rebels, and to steer any arms away from rebels they did not like, and generally to limit arms even to the rebels they disliked less.

    “But anyways at that point if not sooner Obama himself had said that Assad had to be removed from power. Not only that the US was now going to directly enter the war because Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people.”
    No, as explained it was sometime before, in late 2011, that Obama decided, after 8 months of slaughter showed that ‘reformer” Assad was never going to end the massive instability that threatened the whole region, but rather was intensifying it, that he should “step aside.” But countless US leaders made clear that meant that the military, police *and security* forces needed to be enhanced in the process, that the regime must remain intact, that only the ‘Yemeni solution’ was sought.

    “So at that point it was THE OFFICIAL POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES THAT IT WAS SEEKING TO OVERTHROW ASSAD.”
    No, it was not. Never at any point. Even the alleged proposed strikes then – if we assume Obama was ever serious about them, which I do not – were very, very clearly marked as “punishment strikes” and not as any attempt to overthrow the regime.

    “Considering Syria’s history such a policy certainly seemed consistent with US global strategy for the past 70 years.”
    What, that the US overthrows dictators that do its bidding, and help popular rebellions establish democratic regimes? Well, I guess we haven’t been living in the same “past 70 years”.

    “If you believe that the US leadership NEVER wanted Assad to fall it might cause a person to wonder if there was not collusion on the part of the Russian and American leadership to create this apparent shift in US priorities in Syria from overthrowing Assad to fighting Islamic terrorists.”
    Appears to be large-scale evidence for this, though not sure how much of it was conspiracist “collusion” as opposed to common interests.

    “But even before the chemical weapons attacks the US backed Free Syrian Army was suffering from defections to other groups that are Islamic rather than secular in character which were receiving more outside support than the FSA was getting from the USA.”
    Ah yes, the “US-backed Free Syrian Army” was just never getting as much help from its US “backer” than any other participant – whether Assad or jihadists – were getting from their backers, yet people still insist on using that adjective without seeing the apparent contradiction. Such an Orwellian adjective, as I explain here: https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/downing-warplanes-orwell-and-us-backed-rebels/

    “One of these Islamic groups called ISIS merged the war in Syria with the war in Iraq when it took control of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq.”
    ISIS was not “one of the Islamist groups” involved in the uprising against Assad, but an invasion from Iraq that from the outset spent most of its energy attacking the rebels rather than Assad.

    “Wasn’t it at this point that the USA began its bombing campaign against Islamic terrorism?”
    Yes, that provided the pretext for the US to come out more in the open. Bombing ISIS gave the US an opportunity to also bomb Nusra, and often enough even other anti-Assad Islamist groups who are not transnational jihadists; it also gave Assad the opportunity to pose as a US ally in the ‘war on terror,” by finally beginning to bomb ISIS, often in tandem with the US.

    “It was also at this point that I recall that whatever support the FSA had among the left in the west pretty much evaporated.”
    Well, too much of the left never supported the FSA, to their shame. But not sure what this ad to do with the onset of US bombing – the left opposes US bombing, doesn’t it? So when the US began bombing Syria but ensuring it bombed Anyone But Assad, indeed, sharing intelligence with Assad and with Russia, why would this have led “the left” to be more anti-FSA than before? But what it did lead to was for the US to drop the pretence of ‘supporting” the FSA.

    “At some point in here because Assads forces were so badly “attrited” Iran had stepped in to support Assad’s government with Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries from Afghanistan.”
    Yes, the entire massive foreign foreign intervention is on Assad’s side. How ironic, when you see some of the absurd propaganda from the Assadists about Assad defending Syria from … foreign invasion!

    “One story is that the coalition of Islamic forces that were taking over Syria were financed through local sources, such as local oil fields, and looting and donations from Syrians abroad perhaps.”
    Depends who you mean by “Islamist opposition.” ISIS gets most of its cash by looting, taxing, controlling oil etc, yes. If you mean local Islamist forces, more from private sources in the Gulf and from Qatar, but mostly moderate Islamists. Likewise FSA. But most of them get little. Nusra originally had a lot more because, lie ISIS, it controlled Iraqi border regions, until ISIS expelled them in 2014.

    “But another common theory was 2 or more supposed US allies, such as Turkey and or Saudi Arabia were bankrolling the Islamic opposition.”
    Well, they were certainly providing a lot more than the US, so not sure what the point about “US allies” is. The US often blocked them when they wanted to provide more substantial arms that might actually make a difference.

    “I forget how Assad pissed off Erdogan exactly but I remember that publically Erdogan took a very hard line against Assad.
    At the outset Erdogan was Assad’s greatest friend (as was Qatar), but once thousands and thousands of Syrians began pouring into Turkey to flee Assad’s relentless slaughter, Erdogan decided having such a major factor of instability on his southern border was against Turkey’s interests. Turkey now has about 3 million Syrian refugees, more than half the entire Syrian refugee population of 5 million.

    “Erdogan was the leader of a NATO country so when he demanded Assad’s fall that would of course add fuel to the fire that those opposed to Assad are NATO and therefore US neo liberal stooges.”
    Actually it tended to lead to friction between Turkey and the US.

    “But a question that I have about these claims is, how much independence do (did) Saudi Arabia and Turkey have. Would either of these countries carry out policies that contradicted the policies of the USA.”
    So are you saying that when Erdogan sent the Mavi Marmara flotilla to break the siege of Gaza, he did that under US orders? Or when he hosted Hamas leaders and declared Israeli leaders war criminals, he asked for US permission first? Or when Saudi Arabia said it would shoot down Israeli planes if they used Saudi airspace to attack Iran, they first got the memo from the US embassy?

    “If not then one could conclude that the rise of the Islamic terrorism is itself a US goal in the region.”
    Yeh, I guess since the US intervention, its thousands of air strikes on Syria, are against “Islamic terrorists”, we should conclude that the US goal in Syria is to promote Islamic terrorism.

    “It seems that what happened in Turkey last summer figures in to the answer of what happens when an ally of the US decides to follow unapproved policies. Sadly we are not in a position to know What Erdogan did to cause the US to try to overthrow him.”
    I am not sure the botched Turkish coup was exactly a US operation, but I agree with you that Erdogan had done plenty (for good or bad) that pissed off the US. We cannot see Turkey, the Gulf states or anyone else for that matter as mere US proxies, just as Assad was not a proxy when he was ‘rendering” and torturing Islamist suspects for the US in the decade just before some think the US tried to overthrow him. Local capitalist regimes are under massive imperialist pressure but also have their own interests

    Comment by mkaradjis — February 26, 2017 @ 1:26 pm

  10. Dear mkaradjis
    Well there is a lot of material to cover here. First of all I agree that there is no chance that the leadership of the USA is going to support a socialist secular revolution in Syria. Nor should it. It is not the job of the US government to export democracy let alone socialism even if the US government was run by Karl Marx himself. OF COURSE it is also not the job of the US government to attack the opponents of Assad, even if they are Islamic fundamentalists, or foriegn mercinaries in the service of one side or the other.

    Of all the issues that you responded to the one that I find most interesting is the one of whether or not local rulers are mere proxies of the USA. First of all starting with Israel I have no doubt that it is a mere US proxy. In the case of Saudi Arabia I have little doubt that it is a US proxy. There is no way in hell that Israel would attack Iran with explicit approval of the US government. There is no way in hell that Saudia Arabia would lift the smallest finger to stop that attack if Israel were to launch it. Even if Saudi Arabia decided at that time to make a break with the US the Israelis would shoot down those Saudi aircraft that tried to interfer so fast it would make the heads of the Saudi pilots spin.

    The issue of US proxies is related to the issue of US support for arch conservative Muslims in the middle east. The American system is a system accountable to no one except a very limted circle. Therefore I do not find it at all far fetched to believe that the leaders of the US governments would use the resources of that government to attack Islamic fundamentalists on one hand and SUPPORT such fundamentalists with the other hand. There is a motive for the this circle to carry out such a policy. First, it would keep a large part of a relevent population focused on a fake enemey abroad while the enemy at home has a free reign to plunder. There is another motive for this small circle to carry out such a strategy. That is as a plan B to plan A with plan A being the control of populations being carried out friendly military dictatorships. Plan B is to saddle such populations with backward thinking religous conservatives to prevent a society from advancing socially or scientifically.

    I have no doubt that the Turkish government had been a US proxy in the past. I think that Erodogan sought to change that situation. Althought I was not aware that he personally set the wheels in motion for the Gaza rescue flotilla from Turkey. I have wondered if Turkey was not at one point in the past anyways secretly helping Iran to arm Hezbollah.

    I myself do not think that leftist in the west have anything to apologize for or to be ashamed of in relationship to their actions or perceptions about Syria.
    They had and have good reasons to be suspicous of the leadership of the FSA. They had and have plenty of good reasons to be sceptical of the mantra that Assad is another Saddam who was another Pol Pot who was another Idi Amin, who was another Hitler who was another Stalin. Finally even if that were the case that is really a shitty reason for the USA to use its military to take sides in the civil war.

    The mad at the leftists leftists (will that get me on SNL) are always mentioning this word support, with out ever really defining it. What ever the people (leftists) of the west think or say about this side that side or the other side in the Syrian civil war has almost no impact on that war unless such thoughts and statements convince westerners to either pick up a gun and go join one side or the other or to drop the gun and not go and join one side or the other or to send money or not to send money to one side or the other. I doubt that what is going on in Syria is all that near and dear to the hearts of people or leftists who are after all not in that neighborhood. Therefore the whole subject of who is the worse or lesser evil in Syria is not even all that important for leftists in Europe or the USA. Let those leftists who live or are going to live in the region discuss it. Since the word support for one faction or another in Syria has never been defined let me define as follows.

    The most cost effective way for the the government of the USA to spread socialsim to Syria or anywhere around the world is to set a good example, give good advice, and share information with responsible enlightened people. If there are people in the USA, or Europe who wish to do more they should do it through NGOs that do not use government funding. If there are people, such as myself, who would allow capitalists or socialists or democrats to work through NGOs to spread their ideologies abroad, should such people wish to remain consistent and allow those who support religous fundamentalism (of any kind) have the same organizational rights in the USA or Europe. I myself am not a stickler when it comes to being consistent. Religions often have many of the same continuing criminal enterprise characteristics that governments have. Therefore if it were up to me there would be tolerance, with (undisclosed) limits to that tolerance that NGOs operated with.

    To give an example. If freedom from torture is the most sacred right of a civilized society freedom of speech has got to be a close second. Yet the rights of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals to live with out fear of being killed for their non coercive life styles trumps the rights of religions or religous supporting NGOs of using freedom of the speech and press to spread such a vile, backward, and hateful idea that LGBTs are criminals. The libertarian idea, often shared by leftists that one has to fight bad ideas only with the means of “gental” persuassion in a contest of words for peoples hearts and minds is not responsible or enlightened. The punch line is, and if this does not get me on SNL nothing will, religious conservatives fight back with any means at their disposal.
    Wait wait maybe this punch line tops that punch line.

    Some people would rather die than become enlightened, I say that it is enlightened to give them their preference.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — February 26, 2017 @ 8:32 pm


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