Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 24, 2017

The Witchfinders

Filed under: Counterpunch,Syria — louisproyect @ 5:38 pm

Jonathan Cook: tireless propagandist for Assad

 Jonathan Cook wrote an article for CounterPunch on Wednesday that connected Israel’s bombing of a non-existent nuclear plant in Syria 10 years ago to the sarin gas incident in Khan Sheikhoun this year. By casting aspersions on the journalists and scholars who tried to clear Bashar al-Assad of having anything to do with Khan Sheikhoun, George Monbiot’s article exposed him in Cook’s eyes as “The left’s Witchfinder General” and just as culpable of promoting “regime change” as the lying neocons of yore.

Cook was reacting to Monbiot and “many others” that challenge the versions put forward by Seymour Hersh, Gareth Porter, and Theodor Postol. The first two blame the civilian deaths on the accidental bombing of fertilizer and/or pesticides that generated a toxic cloud with sarin gas-like symptoms, while Postol implicitly blames jihadists for mounting a false flag incident by setting off a sarin gas bomb when nobody was watching. Since Monbiot’s article credited me as a blogger who “patiently explored and demolished” Postol’s theories (his account went through several iterations), I have vested interest in this discussion as a fellow Witchfinder General  (or at least a Corporal).

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22 Comments »

  1. Even if Assad has gassed his own people, that does not justify Western imperalist intervention.

    Comment by WeatherEye — November 24, 2017 @ 6:37 pm

  2. You are right but the West never had any intention of intervening. In fact, until March of 2011, Assad was getting the red-carpet treatment in England and France.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 24, 2017 @ 6:46 pm

  3. Right, no intention of intervening in Syrian affairs by the US at all… http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/watched-manage-leaked/

    Comment by Bill J. — November 24, 2017 @ 9:43 pm

  4. You cite Phil Weiss whose heading on the article stated that Kerry was for “managing” ISIS but his actual words do not state that at all.

    “And we know that this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, that Assad would then negotiate. Instead of negotiating, he got Putin to support him.”

    If you want to project your Islamophobic fantasies into a man whose boss’s main intervention in Syria was to smash ISIS, be my guest. But don’t expect anybody outside the Global Research/Moon of Alabama milieu to take you seriously.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 24, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

  5. By all means Louis DO take seriously an OPCW “report” that fails to send investigators to the site of the alleged chemical attack (Khan Sheikhoun) or its alleged source (Shayrat Air Base) and relies on samples in which the custodial chain couldn’t pass muster with a class of kindergarteners sitting in judgement.

    Comment by Bill J. — November 25, 2017 @ 3:37 am

  6. So, Bill J., what is your version? Like Seymour Hersh’s, that bombing fertilizer can kill a hundred people? Or Robert Parry’s, that jihadists set off a sarin bomb in order to cause Donald Trump to become so upset that he would invade Syria and replace Assad with Nusra? Don’t you realize how idiotic you have to be to believe such things? Have you been checked for early onset of dementia lately? Or, for all I know, you could easily be a drooling 82-year old troll.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 25, 2017 @ 1:11 pm

  7. You clearly deserve a promotion above corporal grade. One hopes monbiot’s articles and references will shake the truther generals of the left, enough to respond. Especially the reference to “America is facing an epistemic crisis, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/2/16588964/america-epistemic-crisis“, which analyses a disturbing and far broader tendency for reputable commentators to adopt an Alex Jone’s style of ignoring evidence, to further their commercial success.

    Comment by seaspan — November 25, 2017 @ 1:52 pm

  8. My faculties are fine Louis, that’s why I insist on plausible evidence to support an accusation rather than be stampeded into a rash reaction. When you tell me that you have conducted an investigation of war crimes without physically inspecting any of the crime scenes or establishing a transparent and contiguous chain of custody of all incriminating physical evidence then I see red flags.

    In this particular case my suspicion increases when the only parties that benefit from the conclusions of such an “investigation” are the very same entities actively seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government.

    Comment by Bill J. — November 25, 2017 @ 10:27 pm

  9. Let me try this one more time, you jackass. If Assad is innocent, what happened in Khan Sheikhoun? Hersh/Porter: accidental bombing of fertilizer and/or pesticides. Postol: jihadi false flag. Or maybe you think it was a Martian invasion?

    Comment by louisproyect — November 25, 2017 @ 11:12 pm

  10. Colin Powell’s chief of staff, Lt. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson is hardly a Assad apologist. He said immediately after the chemical weapons incident, that his intelligence sources said the bomb had hit chemicals on the ground. You can see it in his interview at the 3:30 mark.

    Comment by Ken — November 26, 2017 @ 4:55 am

  11. 3:30 mark on https://youtu.be/Ah14yOHWrGY

    Comment by Ken — November 26, 2017 @ 4:55 am

  12. I deal with Wilkerson and other “experts” here: https://louisproyect.org/2017/04/11/experts-coming-to-bashar-al-assads-rescue/

    Another reply to Wilkerson on phosphates: https://louisproyect.org/2017/07/08/phosphorus-phosphates-organophosphates-and-phospine/

    Comment by louisproyect — November 26, 2017 @ 1:20 pm

  13. Here’s a novel idea Louis, let’s have the OPCW conduct a plausible investigation and actually find out. When a party makes an accusation it’s on that party to prove the claim. Hardly unreasonable. In the meantime we still await the first independent investigator to set foot in Khan Sheikhoun. Let me know when that happens.

    Comment by Bill J. — November 26, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

  14. I guess you are saying that a bomb dropped on cow manure killed a hundred people. Interesting.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 26, 2017 @ 11:27 pm

  15. Bill you might as well give up trying to have a rational discussion. This guy obviously has some kind of emotional problem. Best to leave him to his name calling and move on. Life’s too short.

    Comment by Ken — November 27, 2017 @ 3:52 am

  16. Bill, you have already made a conclusion about the Assad’s regime innocence, and there is absolutely nothing that will convince you — Not even with an official UN investigation, which is about as independent and reputable and thorough an investigation as is humanly possible given the circumstances. You know that…. Now it’s down to a very basic question: What if you are wrong? What if, in fact. the Syrian regime actually used Sarin, and 100 civilians died a miserable death Or even if 1400 civilians before that. And without any doubt? I talk to westerners like you who simply dont care. They acknowledge it is possible, but even so Assad has every right. So unshakingly supportive are they, they have adopted the exact position of the regime that the whole country should burn to ashes before allowing its enemies to win. Total war. Let’s cut to the chase, You are not Syrian but American (presumably). You havent paid any price, or sacrifice. Would you be as fervant, uncompromising as you are now, with you and yours in horrendous war and sacrifice over 7 long years?, With already half your population displaced, a quarter in exile, and over 15 million dead? Would you be as fanatic as Assad’s regime advocating the total destruction of everything and everyone in your country, for total victory? Because in your unwavering support for Assad, that is exactly your position for Syrians…

    Comment by seaspan — November 27, 2017 @ 5:39 am

  17. Seaspan, you have to understand that as farce follows tragedy, these people are the latter-day counterparts of the Stalinist rank-and-file that after reading the Daily Worker came to the conclusion that Leon Trotsky was a Nazi spy. So, instead Bill J. and Ken argue Assad’s innocence after reading Seymour Hersh or Gareth Porter. In their own mind, they are defending the self-determination of Syria against Western imperialism rather than a homicidal mafia state. Ultimately, this can be understood as an inability to apply the Marxist method even though in their own mind they are courageously defending Marxism against Zionazis. Just as Leon Trotsky was a Nazi spy, I am an agent of Israel and the USA. It is absurd beyond words.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 27, 2017 @ 12:53 pm

  18. Ken, the Guardian journalist Kareem Shaheen visited the town. Saw nothing to back up the Russian and regime lies.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — November 27, 2017 @ 9:09 pm

  19. I like you Louis, you are a reminder of days gone by when my CPer parents were battling the Trotskyites at Union meetings, when both considered themseslves true communists accusing the other as seel out “Stalinists” while the other was surely in the pay of the CIA or FBI. Ring a bell? But I sometimes think you have memories that are so ancient as to be meaningless. My parents born before 1920 never called themselves Stalinist, and they never maligned Trotsky as you say. They supported the Soviet Union project, yes, to their dying day, And they considered Soviet people and their leader Stalin as heroes for defeating the Nazis, yes, But they also quit a CP in disarray and rejected Stalin when Krushchev revealed the truth about him — but to eventually drift back to the CP when the Stalin debate was over. They were working class and they fought their battles in their Union, or organised the unorganised, They were avid readers, and encouraged class consciousness by educating those around them about past working class heroes in the labour movement. They were involved in strikes, and were hopeful that one day a massive General Strike would overthrow the capitalist system. They really didnt debate about the revolutionary vanguard, or the Revolution in one country, or world revolution, or continual revolution, they just supported the one project that existed in the world, and necessarily had faith in it due to their belief that all bad things said about the Soviet Union were lies. But I can tell you with all I know about them, they would have had the sense to immediately recognise an enemy of the working class, given a free flow of information. They would never have supported the butcher Assad or such a bastard regime. They never blinded themseves to geopolitical chess board politics, or Imperialism as one country bordering on bigoted hatred. They were internationalists to the core. So let me conclude without a hint of irony, What you call the Stalinists of today are not what you called the Stalinists of yesterday (as much as I can tell). Speaking for my parents, of that I can assure you…

    Comment by seaspan — November 28, 2017 @ 10:43 pm

  20. Part of the problem with the Putin-Assad delusion, IMHO, is that it is such a badly blurred offprint of the Stalinist original. This is perhaps the immediate legacy of ’60s anti-imperialism, using the rhetoric supplied in part by a range of sources from General Giap to Chairman Mao to reinforce the anti-war movement, in which it was far more important to be clear in what you were against than in what you were for.

    Above all, it mattered to get a wide range of actual political orientations agitating in sync around a set of common goals. This had been the method of part of the later civil rights movement and the earlier front strategies of the CPUSA in its period of influence, and took an unexpected turn and got a vast infusion of helium from the essentially petty-bourgeois white antiwar movement.

    For most people–well, most white self-professed radicals–the decayed transcendentalism of Bob Dylan and the less-leftwing folkies and (later) rock stars, was was just as good as all the other sources.. They fused a highly individualistic and at root neoliberal individual moralism/immoralism with Stalinist rhetoric, coming up with a uniquely American synthesis based on the legendary (white) American gut instinct.

    This has gone on decaying and getting blurrier and blurrier until you get the BRICs-Assad-Putin-Qaddafi-Mugabe delusion, which is completely lacking in intellectual fiber of any kind and which, despite its endless revelations of supposed secrets and conspiracies, has no actual truth-based critical capability whatever. What matters about e.g. T. Postol is not evidence, analysis, or conclusions, but his resume, his individual essence. Ditto Hersh and so on. They’re all flying on the winds of song and selfhood.

    This, not the alleged fascism of Ronald Rump and company, is the thing that threatens to kill the left off for good. Alas, they are doing a fine job of it, as the comments on this posting unfortunately demonstrate. What to do?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — November 29, 2017 @ 12:38 pm

  21. Farans, you seem to me a “left” version of Dinesh D’Souza or Ann Coulter, putting everyone in their little boxes with labels that make you sound superior, all without a shred of reality intervening. You just innately know all about what “those people” are like. There is no grounded analysis that could possibly arise out of your insipid musings.

    Comment by David Green — November 30, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

  22. Insipid musings and lack of “grounded argument” indeed. Clearly David Green is looking into a mirror.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 2, 2017 @ 12:01 pm


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