Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 6, 2017

Correspondence with Noam Chomsky

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 9:21 pm

I was responding to Chomsky’s comments in a Democracy Now interview from yesterday:

In 2012, there was an initiative from the Russians, which was not pursued, so we don’t know how serious it was, but it was a proposal to—for a negotiated settlement, in which Assad would be phased out, not immediately. You know, you can’t tell them, “We’re going to murder you. Please negotiate.” That’s not going to work. But some system in which, in the course of negotiations, he would be removed, and some kind of settlement would be made. The West would not accept it, not just the United States. France, England, the United States simply refused to even consider it. At the time, they believed they could overthrow Assad, so they didn’t want to do this, so the war went on. Could it have worked? You never know for sure.


I wrote:

Noam, I understand that you are busy addressing many different topics but your knowledge of Syrian politics is superficial at best.

Yes, in 2015 the Guardian reported on the claim made by former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari that when Vitaly Churkin proposed a deal in 2012 that would have resulted in Assad stepping down in exchange for peace, the USA, Britain and France said no.

I was not surprised to see the Islamophobic left taking this at face value 2 years ago.

Writing for CounterPunch, Peter Lee considered this “an instance of neoliberal ass-covering, as if the Western allies were just waiting for Assad ‘to fall’” while Information Clearing House, a reliably pro-Assad website, reposted the Guardian article with the obvious intention of showing how Putin stood for peace and the West for war. Then there is David Swanson of Lets Try Democracy who concludes: “peace has been carefully avoided at every turn.” (http://davidswanson.org/node/4914)

The only problem is that Churkin was not the ultimate authority on such matters. Much closer to Putin and certainly speaking for him, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated just four months later: “We will not support and cannot support any interference from outside or any imposition of recipes. This also concerns the fate of Bashar al-Assad.”


His response:

Afraid I don’t see your point. I quoted the proposal accurately, made clear that it was not an official proposal, and pointed out correctly that the West refused to explore it, expecting Assad to fall.

I see nothing here that suggests any modification in that comment.


I followed up:

Yes, you don’t see my point.

The 2012 proposal had zero significance. Even the Kremlin dismissed it as bogus:

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2015/9/16/syrian-president-bashar-al-assad-blames-west-for-refugee-crisis

The Kremlin denied a claim by a senior negotiator Wednesday that Russia had offered in 2012 to make Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down in an “elegant way”, saying it never called for regime change.

“I can only once more repeat that Russia is not involved in changing regimes. Suggesting that someone step aside – elegantly or not – is something Russia has never done,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, quoted by TASS state news agency.

(clip)

I haven’t heard back from him.

11 Comments »

  1. “The Kremlin denied a claim by a senior negotiator Wednesday that Russia had offered in 2012 to make Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down in an “elegant way”, saying it never called for regime change.”

    We should probably trust Ahtisaari over the Kremlin here. Why would the Kremlin admit to having waffled on the issue of “regime change” in the past. Of course they would deny it.

    It’s quite likely that the alleged proposal would have led nowhere in any case, but this should be analyzed in greater depth, not merely asserted. I can certainly understand why Chomsky thinks he’s right, since his narrow point has not been refuted.

    Comment by Maxim L — April 6, 2017 @ 10:47 pm

  2. Please ask Chomsky why he didn’t mention the paid mercenary terrorists from 100 countries who’ve been killing and destroying for over 6 years as the bad guys in Syria, who he thinks sponsors them, and why.

    Comment by Jerry Alatalo — April 6, 2017 @ 11:01 pm

  3. looking forward to an interesting exchange. hope neither of you corner yourselves into taking untenable positions.

    Comment by Maxim L — April 6, 2017 @ 11:15 pm

  4. Interesting that the Assadist Jerry Alatalo is also a 9/11 Truther. Makes perfect sense actually,

    Comment by louisproyect — April 6, 2017 @ 11:37 pm

  5. So Russia denies being involved in regime change, but is apparently supposed to support people who claim it is or was. I don’t get what the pro head choppers “leftists” are upset about. Well known Trotskyists like John McCain and Rachel Maddow are presently calling for military action against Syria. Louis must be confused.

    Comment by georges — April 7, 2017 @ 1:35 am

  6. I don’t get what the pro head choppers “leftists” are upset about.

    Speaking for myself, it is the sight of dead toddlers. But I suppose that for someone like you, it provides the same pleasure as jacking off.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 7, 2017 @ 1:37 am

  7. Louis,
    Only stopped in here after becoming interested because you were communicating with Chomsky, and suggested (seeing it’s a genuine conversation between you and he) you ask for his opinion on paid mercenaries… Your categorization of me as an Assadist is slightly over-reactive, but it seems the country of Syria and its people have been the victim of not-so-covert operations similar to Reagan administration use of the contras against Nicaragua, and one simply feels that the use of violence as a business tactic is wrong.

    Regarding 9/11 truth, to be completely honest with you the information we’ve come across has led to the belief that 9/11 occurred as a result of actions by people never named in the official 9/11 Commission Report, and that the report was a whitewash. From your response, one can assume your stance on the official report is that it described reality, so we simply disagree on the matter. Perhaps you consider yourself and Chomsky as friends, but on the issue of 9/11, honestly, it seems nearly impossible to explain how a man of Chomsky’s stature hasn’t come to realize 9/11 was the greatest false flag deception of the 21st century.

    I believe Chomsky knows 9/11 was a deception, but as many others are puzzled as to why he hasn’t spoken out. One might not hold any hopes he’ll “come around” on this most vital issue seeing it hasn’t occurred in the over 15 years since the event and all the unarguable facts revealed, but good gracious one wouldn’t wish to take such monumental truth to the next world without speaking out.

    This is a tough room 🙂

    Peace.

    Comment by Jerry Alatalo — April 7, 2017 @ 4:36 am

  8. > it is the sight of dead toddlers

    How come every time the US invades the Middle East some propaganda story about “dead toddlers” killed by heartless soldiers pops up [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayirah_(testimony) ]?

    Comment by Adelson — April 7, 2017 @ 5:49 am

  9. The U.S. invaded Syria? Didn’t the zombie mercenaries object?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 7, 2017 @ 11:55 am

  10. Meanwhile, the few remaining real communists were fighting to turn the imperialist war into a civil war just like Lenin did earlier.

    I take it that your comment here is equivalent to James P. Cannon going to prison for opposing WWII. Such risks Internet trolls take.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 7, 2017 @ 2:09 pm

  11. The reason western diplomats ignored Ahtisaari’s report was because they had to deal with Churkin every day and knew it was bullshit. You just have to examine what Churkin was actually *doing* (as opposed to what he was whispering in Ahtisaari’s ear) in the UN- voting down every Security Council resolution that had even a whiff of removing Assad about them – and even claiming that resolution’s which had no such implication did to justify voting against them.

    Comment by Tettodoro — April 7, 2017 @ 3:04 pm


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