Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 12, 2017

Why in god’s name did the Socialist Project decide to recommend Alastair Crooke’s article hailing Assad’s victory?

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 3:54 pm

Alastair Crooke

Yesterday, I wrote a message to Marxmail condemning Socialist Project’s decision to regularly tweet Assadist propaganda, the latest installment of which is an article by ex-MI6 operative Alastair Crooke that appeared on Consortium News. Crooke, whose spooky past and name seem lifted out of a John Le Carré novel, was described as a supporter of Islamic “freedom fighters” and power-hungry clerics in a Mother Jones profile ten years ago but more recently has become the typical Assadist, sounding every bit as committed to the “war on terror” as all the other people writing for Consortium News, starting with its webmaster Robert Parry, a one-time investigative reporter who like Seymour Hersh is far more dedicated to covering things up today.

In email exchanges with Sam Gindin today, I was assured that the Socialist Project editor Greg Albo was only posting a link to Crooke’s article for informational purposes, only to allow readers to get inside the skull of a figure with a background in foreign affairs. Since the Socialist Project Twitter feed is an almost daily source of Assadist propaganda, I tend to doubt that but will not dwell on it. Gindin invited me to write a critique of Crooke’s article, which I will do after saying some brief words about the provenance of Socialist Project.

This is a collective of sorts that was initiated by Socialist Register editors, including Gindin, Leo Panitch and Greg Albo, who is the nominal editor of Socialist Project. I welcomed this initiative back in 2000 as described on their website:

At a meeting in Toronto in the fall of 2000, some 750 activists responded to a call to “rebuild the left” by developing a structured movement against capitalism. This call for a new political formation that would be “more than a movement, less than a party” was similar to other initiatives in Canada and around the world that have been undertaken as the traditional organizations of the political left have waned.

I suspect that Gindin, Panitch and Albo have not given much thought to Syria, at least on the basis of a search of Socialist Register where there are zero references to the country dated after 2009. Nor will you find a single reference to the Arab Spring. I would describe this as a dereliction of socialist duty and leave it at that.

Turning now to Crooke’s article, it basically describes Syria as suffering the same kind of “regime change” attack as Iraq in 2002 that was supposedly intended to bolster Sunni fundamentalism against Russian and Iranian interests: “Fired-up Sunni radicals have now been used by Western states to counter Nasserism, Ba’athism, the USSR, Iranian influence, and latterly to try to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”

Would you expect Crooke to explain why Bush’s invasion helped to install a Shia regime close to Tehran? Of course not.

One of the host of experts on Syria Crooke calls upon is a libertarian named Dan Sanchez, who has written articles like “Mises Never Gave In to Evil“. This is the same Mises who once wrote that “It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history.”

No wonder Sanchez is an Assad fan.

I have no idea who at Socialist Project deemed Crooke’s article worth linking to but wonder if they share his view that the Arab Spring was a vehicle supported by the West “to break up the nationalist-secular Arab world” and replace it with Islamists.

Crooke is encouraged by BRICS calling out Pakistan for providing aid to jihadist groups. As Charles Davis pointed out in a recent al-Jazeera article, George Bush’s brand of “war on terror” has spread internationally as a favorite tool to cover up of war crimes. Does anybody think that Modi, whose BJP carried out pogroms against Muslims, or China that has been suppressing Uighur rights for decades in the name of fighting terrorism have the moral high ground to lecture Pakistan?

Right now Myanmar is working with China and Russia to make sure that the UN Security Council is prevented from censuring the Assadist-like scorched earth tactics that has forced nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. Myanmar National Security Adviser Thaung Tun said he was counting on China and Russia, both permanent members of the Security Council, to block a UN resolution on the crisis. “We are negotiating with some friendly countries not to take it to the Security Council. China is our friend and we have a similar friendly relationship with Russia so it will not be possible for that issue to go forward.” About Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi blaming “terrorists” and “a huge iceberg of misinformation”, the less said the better.

Crooke is also encouraged by a statement made by his country’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt on behalf of General al-Sisi in Egypt who has killed, imprisoned and tortured members of the Muslim Brotherhood as part of a crackdown on “jihadism”. With the “axis of resistance” to jihadist terror now encompassing the White House, the Kremlin, the British foreign ministry, Assad, Robert Fisk, Seymour Hersh, Patrick Cockburn and thousands of other journalists and politicians, one can understand why the Socialist Project has decided not to swim against the current.

Crooke, like many others on the Assadist left (using the word left charitably), is positively gloating over Assad’s victory, since it has shown Wahabbism to be “thoroughly discredited by its careless brutality.” How remarkable it is for someone to write an article hailing Assad’s victory without even the slightest whisper that the man he is hoisting on his shoulders has used poison gas repeatedly, killed 13,000 prisoners, driven half the country into either internal or external displacement and is responsible for over a half-million casualties. If Syria had the same population as the USA, this would amount to 9 million deaths.

Crooke asserts that this victory was ensured by “the mostly Sunni Syrian Arab Army.” Odd, all along I thought it was Russian bombers, Hezbollah, Iran’s Quds Brigades, Shia mercenaries from Afghanistan and Iraq that did the trick. I guess I should have been paying closer attention to sources like Dan Sanchez to understand what was happening in Syria. In reality, it is doubtful that Assad would have made it past 2014 unless these outside powers had stepped in. In a speech made in July 2015, Assad stated that “the country’s army faced a manpower shortage and had ceded some areas to insurgents in order to hold onto other regions deemed more important”, according to the NY Times. It was just such a manpower shortage that led to the use of barrel bombs and poison gas. The barrel bombs were meant for wholesale murder in rebel-controlled areas and the sarin or chlorine gas was meant to frighten the survivors into submission.

With all due respect to Sam Gindin, I don’t think that Crooke’s article was meant as an example of how such people view the current situation in Syria. I am convinced that this is the editorial outlook of some leading Socialist Project members, at least those like Justin Podur, an ideologically committed Assadist. For all I know, it is Podur who is responsible for this garbage.

Back in 2014, Greg Albo signed an open letter titled “Odessa: The Last Warning” that repeated the Kremlin’s talking points about Euromaidan being a fascist plot. At the time, it suggested to me that the milieu around Socialist Register and Socialist Project were being drawn into the emerging “anti-imperialist” front based in the Kremlin. I have no idea whether Sam Gindin or Leo Panitch paid much attention to this development but I certainly did.

I was struck by this sentence in the letter: “If we allow the Banderovites in Kiev to do what they like in Odessa, then we will allow tomorrow the same crime to be committed by the ‘Golden Dawn’ in Greece, by Jobbik in Hungary or, even, by Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.” What a striking irony that these three fascist parties are all staunch supporters of Bashar al-Assad. That is a contradiction I will leave Sam Gindin and Greg Albo to resolve.



  1. I found three excellent articles that expose the so-called “anti-imperialists” who are pro-Putin, pro-Assad, anti-West, etc:




    All very well written

    Comment by John — September 12, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

  2. “Crooke asserts that this victory was ensured by “the mostly Sunni Syrian Arab Army.” Odd, all along I thought it was Russian bombers, Hezbollah, Iran’s Quds Brigades, Shia mercenaries from Afghanistan and Iraq that did the trick.” Yes, but it is even worse than that if we are talking about the victory over ISIS, rather than merely the victory over the rebels. Because the victory over ISIS has above all been achieved by three years of US bombing, mostly on behalf of the Kurdish-led SDF, not by the Assad regime at all. The ISIS capital after all was Raqqa; how amazing that the Assadist left cheered as Raqqa fell (to the US-SDF alliance) and claimed it was Assad’s victory over the US regime-change operation!! (or maybe it was only Blumenthal who was THAT deluded). Assad simply had hardly anything to do with it, though his airforce did regularly bomb Raqqa in tandem with US bombers, but in a clearly secondary role. In Deir Ezzor it is perhaps even more embarassing for their discourse, because there, yes, Assad’s forces and Russia did seize the city from ISIS, but following three years of close US-Assad cooperation in bombing ISIS (and when we say “bombing ISIS” in both Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, we need to remember that the civilian toll has been very very high, from both Assad and the US). Unlikely Assad would have taken DE without years of ISIS being “softened up” by US bombs.

    Comment by mkaradjis — September 13, 2017 @ 8:30 am

  3. This should be of interest to those following Iran’s regional ambitions:

    Iran cashes in on Syria intervention with Aleppo utilities contracts:

    Comment by Reza — September 13, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

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