Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 17, 2018

Fisking Douma

Filed under: journalism,Syria — louisproyect @ 5:51 pm

Robert Fisk

With Syria and Russia claiming that East Ghouta is under “full control”, we can understand why Robert Fisk would saunter in with his sleeves rolled up to do some investigative reporting for the Independent. Meanwhile, Syria says that it is “too dangerous” for OPCW to do their own investigations even if it is safe enough for Fisk or any other malleable journalist. Could Syria be buying time to cover up evidence? Who would suspect them of that unless they were for “regime change” and funded by the Rothschild Bank, I guess.

Fisk’s article is really the sort of thing that could occupy an entire semester in a journalism class as an example of what not to do. Fisk is essentially Judith Miller but in a kind of reverse-kryptonite version. Instead of being embedded with the American invasion like Miller was, Fisk is escorted around by Syrian troops. Instead of functioning as a propagandist for George W. Bush, Fisk serves another master in Damascus. Is there anything that Miller and Fisk share in common? Certainly. It is the Islamophobia that allowed both to justify their support of war crimes in the name of stopping al-Qaeda.

In an article titled “The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack”, Fisk relies on the word of a physician named Assim Rahaibani who refers to the rebels in Douma as “terrorists”, Fisk adding that this is “the regime’s word for their enemies.” Would a journalism class question the use of relying solely on someone like this? Even Fisk has to admit, “Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?” This of course is a rhetorical question because he never had any intention of getting any other version except one that would serve Bashar al-Assad. In seven years of reporting on Syria, there has never been an attempt to get outside his pro-regime comfort zone.

Even though he was not an eyewitness to events that took place in another clinic, Dr. Rahaibani assures Fisk that no chemical attack took place there. He claims that because of a conventional bombing attack, “huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived.” (Generally, dust clouds float upwards but let’s not trouble ourselves over this rather minor defect in an article filled with Goebbels-like fabrications.) This led to an onrush of people suffering hypoxia or oxygen loss. Then after a White Helmet member on the scene shouted “Gas!”, a panic began and people started throwing water over each other. That’s what he was told by the medics in that location, in any case. Nothing more to see here. Move along, folks.

Not every doctor agrees with Rahaibani. In today’s Guardian, Martin Chulov describes what they were up against:

The head of the largest medical relief agency in Syria claims that medics who responded to the suspected gas attack in Douma have been subjected to “extreme intimidation” by Syrian officials who seized biological samples, forced them to abandon patients and demanded their silence.

Dr Ghanem Tayara, the director of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM) said doctors responsible for treating patients in the hours after the 7 April attack have been told that their families will be at risk if they offer public testimonies about what took place.

A number of doctors who spoke to the Guardian this week say the intimidation from the regime has increased in the past five days, a timeframe that coincides with the arrival in Damascus of a team from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which aims to determine whether chemical weapons were used. All the medics insisted on anonymity, citing the fear for their lives and those of their families.

“There has been a very heavy security presence on the ground ever since the attack and they have been targeting doctors and medics in a very straightforward way,” said Dr Tayara, a Birmingham-based physician, now in Turkey where he is supervising the departure from Syria of some of the Douma medics. “Any medic who tried to leave Douma was searched so vigorously, especially for samples. At one medical point, seven casualties were taken away. The Russian military police were heavily involved. They were directing things.”

Fisk has the temerity to explain the absence of OPCW investigators as if it were simply a matter of bureaucratic delay, like getting your license renewed at the Motor Vehicles Bureau:

At the same time, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently blocked from coming here to the site of the alleged gas attack themselves, ostensibly because they lacked the correct UN permits.

Russia claims that security concerns have led the UN to delay giving permission to the OPCW investigators but if you spend 5 minutes looking into this question, you will discover that this is a lie. Yesterday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “The United Nations has provided the necessary clearances for the OPCW team to go about its work in Douma. We have not denied the team any request for it to go to Douma.”

Continuing in Milleresque fashion, Fisk writes:

There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had “never believed in” gas stories – which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed Islamist groups.

How did he find these “many people”? Strolling down the street or through dating services provided by the Syrian secret police? Fisk is sure to add that he “walked across this town quite freely yesterday without soldier, policeman or minder to haunt my footsteps, just two Syrian friends, a camera and a notebook.” Odd that this being the case, he could not find a soul that opposed Assad. If you had no knowledge of East Ghouta, you would probably take Fisk at his word. But if you understood that the religiously observant and poverty-stricken agricultural belt around Damascus was the first to rise up, you’d have to be skeptical. Fisk says that “a surprising number of Douma’s women wear full-length black hijab.” Well, I am surprised that he is surprised since the city’s make-up was well known to genuine reporters like Aron Lund, whose integrity is beyond reproach:

Many inhabitants of the Ghouta and the bulging suburbs of eastern Damascus were new arrivals, escaping from drought-stricken parts of Syria to compete over low-paying, menial jobs. They bristled at the glittering wealth, the class divides and the corruption of the capital. Others were part of the Ghouta’s original population, but among them, too, anti-regime sentiment grew alongside the social crisis of the early 2000s. In conservative Sunni towns like Douma, known for its piety as “the city of minarets,” the Sunni-fundamentalist teachings of Salafism were gaining ground. The Salafists excoriated the secularism of the ruling Baath Party and its rapacious corruption as two sides of the same coin.

Well, those Salafists will no longer trouble East Ghouta. In fact, after Assad is finished with these pockets of discontent, he will be free to reconstruct Syria as a place that has been purged of the Sunni poor with their hijabs and their AK-47s. In an article titled “Creating a New Syria: Property, Dispossession, and Regime Survival” Erwin van Veen describes the coming gentrification that would have made Robert Moses green with envy. Who knows? Maybe Jared Kushner has begun consulting with Syrian investors about mega-projects co-funded by Saudi Arabia:

An additional consequence of Law no. 10 is that it will enable large-scale demographic engineering by reallocating appropriated property to new owners. This will not necessarily be sectarian in nature as the majority of both Syrians and regime-loyalists are Sunni. Rather, it will create large loyalist urban centers to underpin the regime’s power base and limit the return of refugees, who are largely not perceived as supporters of President Assad.

In addition to remaking urban centers as areas of repopulated loyalist concentration, the strategy will probably also involve undoing the existence of impoverished Sunni-belts around Syria’s main cities from which so many rebels were recruited. Insofar as these poorer suburbs are currently depopulated due to rebel recruitment, casualties, and flight, the regime is likely to use Law No. 10 to appropriate the land (in many such areas, property rights were not well established even before the war) and to then prevent their resettlement if and when refugees return. Any Sunni populations that have not fled but are still living in such suburbs at present will also be at risk of forced displacement and dispossession commensurate with the extent of their perceived disloyalty to the regime. It is clear that the regime has no problem initiating displacement on a large scale when it suits regime interests. Dealing with the suburban belts in this fashion will remove a source of resistance against the regime once and for all.

Richard Hall, a former editor at the Independent, took to Twitter to debunk Fisk’s reporting:

Robert Fisk is allowed access to Douma before OCPW inspectors are allowed in. Doesn’t speak to any witnesses of the attack, only a doctor who didn’t see it, but says everyone “knows what happened.”

Fisk seems perplexed why victims of the attack did not hang around in Douma when the government took over the area. And doesn’t seriously deal with the fact that those who stayed behind might not be able to speak freely.

Fisk is among a handful of journalists given regular access by Syrian government. He and others are shepherded in on minded trips when it is useful for the government. Journalists who do make it in and write something that counters the government narrative are not allowed back.

Fisk notes in his piece that he was granted access to the site before chemical weapons inspectors. As were a number of other journalists who — let’s be generous here — toe the government line. That feels like an attempt to muddy the waters ahead of an independent investigation.

In his own critique of Fisk, Scott Lucas of EA Worldview provides a translation of an interview that a Swedish reporter conducted with a Douma resident. Somehow the reporter managed to make it into Douma just like Fisk but without the predisposition to absolve Assad. The Douma resident stated:

We were sitting in the basement when it happened. The [missile] hit the house at 7 pm. We ran out while the women and children ran inside. They didn’t know the house had been struck from above and was totally filled with gas.

Those who ran inside died immediately. I ran out completely dizzy….Everybody died. My wife, my brothers, my mother. Everybody died.

Women and children sat in here, and boys & men sat there. Suddenly there was a sound as if the valve of a gas tube was opened.

It’s very difficult to explain. I can’t explain. I don’t know what I should say. The situation makes me cry. Children & toddlers, around 25 children.

Fisk’s reporting has gained so much notoriety over his service to the Baathist dictatorship that it has helped to coin a term: “fisking”. (I have subsequently learned that it was the rightwing that first used the term but that does not let his reporting since 2011 off the hook.) It is not just his embedded reporting from Syria that has come under scrutiny. Brian Whitaker, a long-time editor and reporter for The Guardian, is something of an expert on Fisk. This article on his personal website Al-Bab should reveal how questionable Fisk is across the board:

Robert Fisk, the veteran Middle East correspondent, once offered this advice to would-be journalists: “If you want to be a reporter you must establish a relationship with an editor in which he will let you write – he must trust you and you must make sure you make no mistakes.”

It was good advice, though perhaps more a case of “do as I say” than “do as I do”. Even if you disagree with Fisk’s articles or find them turgid, there’s still entertainment to be had from spotting his mistakes.

On Wednesday, for instance, anyone who read beyond the first paragraph of his column in The Independent would have found him asserting that Saudi Arabia had refused to take its place among “non-voting members” of the UN Security Council. He described this as an unprecedented step – which indeed it was, though not quite in the way Fisk imagines: the Security Council doesn’t have “non-voting” members (unless they choose to abstain). Presumably he meant “non-permanent members”.

Perhaps that is excusable, since the UN is not Fisk’s speciality. But he does specialise in reporting about the Middle East, and so we find him in a column last year informing readers that Syria had a stockpile of nuclear weapons – or, to be more precise, quoting President Obama as saying that it had:

“And then Obama told us last week that ‘given the regime’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad … that the world is watching’.”

Obama’s actual words were: “Given the regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons, we will continue … etc.”

Fisk is at his most comical when he gets on his high horse and immediately falls off. Writing with (justified) indignation about the killings in Baba Amr last year, he began:

“So it’s the ‘cleaning’ of Baba Amr now, is it? ‘Tingheef’ in Arabic. Did that anonymous Syrian government official really use that word to the AP yesterday?”

Well, no. Obviously a Syrian official wouldn’t use the word ‘tingheef’, since it doesn’t exist in Arabic.

Let me conclude with a link to an article written by Idrees Ahmad, the fearless academic who has become the subject of an investigation by the administration at the University of Stirling after Assadist Tim Hayward lodged a complaint for Idrees’s ongoing critique of Assadist propaganda. Like Whitaker, he has been following Fisk for years and has focused on his Judith Miller-style embedded reporting:

In this context when one of Britain’s more celebrated war correspondents—a person known for his acerbic diatribes against docile western journalists—enters Aleppo and sees a destroyed ambulance righteous fury is sure to erupt. And Fisk doesn’t disappoint. There is the familiar bombast of superlatives. Things are “ghostly”, “ghastly”, “frightening”, and “horribly relevant”.

But it is the object of Fisk’s fury that is a surprise. Fisk is not angry at an ambulance being bombed. Indeed, he heavily implies that the bombing was merited. Fisk devotes much of the article to implicating the Scottish charity that donated the ambulance. In his curious legal brief against medical aid, Fisk’s allies are not facts but suggestion, insinuation and innuendo. His method is insidious and part of a pattern. It merits closer scrutiny.

For the past four years Fisk has reported from Syria embedded with the regime. The regime herds him to the places it wants him to see and the people it wants him to interrogate—and Fisk appears to yield to the controlling arms of his handlers with the somnambulant innocence of a debutante. On more than a few occasions he has echoed the regime line without demur.

Take Daraya. After a horrific regime massacre, Fisk arrived at the site “in the company of armed Syrian forces” riding an “armoured vehicle” and after interviewing a few frightened survivors, wrote that contrary to “the popular version that has gone round the world”, the massacre was the outcome of a “failed prisoner swap”; the men who committed the crime “were armed insurgents rather than Syrian troops”.

In Daraya, however, no one was aware of this “prisoner swap”. And even his own interviewees didn’t support his conclusions. Most gave evasive answers. And the only interviewee he cites as supporting his theory casts further doubt on it: “Although he had not seen the dead in the graveyard,” writes Fisk, “he believed that most were related to the government army”.

The record was quickly set straight by the American journalist Janine di Giovanni who sneaked into Daraya disguised as a local and interviewed survivors without the intimidating presence of regime forces. (The Free Syrian Army had left two weeks earlier.) Di Giovanni revealed in precise detail how the offensive began, what weapons were used, and how the slaughter was carried out. Human Rights Watch corroborated her report.

 

41 Comments »

  1. Thanks for this take-down of the disgusting Robert Fisk. The direction he’s taken really shows the sorry state of the “left” around the Western world.

    Comment by oaklandsocialist — April 17, 2018 @ 8:56 pm

  2. Bravo! Truth be told. Another excellent investigative piece. You are a rare voice in the wilderness, it seems.

    Comment by seaspan — April 17, 2018 @ 11:11 pm

  3. viewpoint of Syrian revolutionary left:
    https://anfenglish.com/features/tev-dem-co-chair-a-new-phase-has-begun-in-syria-26167

    Comment by tony — April 17, 2018 @ 11:50 pm

  4. There might be a translation problem here but this makes no sense: “”We are not a party to this issue, we are neither on the side of those who used chemical weapons, nor on the side of the attackers”.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 18, 2018 @ 12:51 am

  5. Yes. Translation issue. Think they are saying that they are not party on either side to events in Douma.

    Comment by tony — April 18, 2018 @ 1:29 am

  6. Louis, I expect you’ll want to smear Pearson Sharp of OAN News as well. His report substantially endorses Fisk.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 18, 2018 @ 3:55 am

  7. […] latest lie is to provide an alibi for Assad by claiming that the gas attack on Douma was not gas but ‘oxygen starvation’ […]

    Pingback by Douma: Robert Fisk will lie for Assad and Putin until the last Syrian child… | Situations Vacant — April 18, 2018 @ 4:50 am

  8. Pearson Sharp of OAN News + a video report on Agence France-Pressse + another video report on German ntvde, each report pointing towards same conclusion, a staged gas attack. Surprise? Definitely not, Just another false flag operation,merely confirming what for weeks the Russian government has been saying would happen. But what are the odds on MSM picking-up on the story. Dare they? After all, governments might fall..

    Comment by jacobo — April 18, 2018 @ 5:13 am

  9. stan@stanm3 instead of ntvde

    Comment by jacobo — April 18, 2018 @ 6:04 am

  10. Thank for this good piece. However, there should be one clarification here: I don’t think that the word ‘tingheef’ exists in Arabic. The word for cleaning is ‘tandheef’ and that is what Fisk was expecting/knew. So, I suspect there was an issue with spelling and pronunciation of the word by the AP, and Fisk seized on it.

    Comment by Nadim Mahjoub — April 18, 2018 @ 11:09 am

  11. OAN News? Priceless. This is a rightwing outlet that stumped for the child molester Roy Moore when he was a candidate for Senator from Alabama. OAN accused those who opposed his predatory background as drug addicts. More recently, it has been pushing a conspiracy theory that Parkland School survivor David Hogg is part of a Deep State operation because his father is an FBI agent. Its support for Assad is consistent with that of other far-right figures such as Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter and David Duke.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 18, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

  12. @Colwell and Jacobo Things are not as simple as you seem to think. First, the Fisk and AFP interviews are inconsistent: the first confirms the accuracy of the earlier videos of Douma (and therefore presumably some similar death toll), but does not attribute it to a chemical bombing but the aftermath of a conventional artilllery bombardment); the latter seems to suggest that it was just some bad attacks of asthma (sic). Second, the OAN and AFP crews were ushered in to what is described as “the main Douma hospital ” (shown in the AFP video) for their interviews. But Fisk in his account is very clear that the patients were treated in an “underground clinic”. I.The ONN video also has a lot of guff about people in a food queue expressing their love for Assad. It seems fairly obvious that this operation was a classic Syrian security PR operation.

    Comment by Brian S — April 18, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

  13. Reblogged this on YALLA SOURIYA.

    Comment by Yallasouriya — April 18, 2018 @ 2:50 pm

  14. If it was a stitch-up, why on earth did they allow AP in? In their florid report AP devote barely more than a couple of sentences to their visit. https://apnews.com/93e36f8d50f34687afc97f61fee407cf?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP

    Comment by Tom — April 18, 2018 @ 3:12 pm

  15. Thank you Louis, jacobo, Brian. That’s pretty much what I was hoping for. Also, how should we account for Fisks’ previous attitude to Assad? I read one of his books years ago and he clearly disliked Assad the elder. Yesterday I saw a comment that said Hafez destroyed his house. Why would Fisk now adopt a position that is supporting evil, opposing the FUKUS missile attacks?

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 18, 2018 @ 3:37 pm

  16. If it was a stitch-up, why on earth did they allow AP in?

    What makes you think that reporters were being kept out? My article cites a Swedish journalist who reported from Douma. They are not likely to make much of a difference since very few people read AP or read Swedish. It was OPCW that had to be kept out.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 18, 2018 @ 3:49 pm

  17. Also, how should we account for Fisks’ previous attitude to Assad?

    Fisk, like Chomsky, Cockburn, Hersh and Tariq Ali, was very good 15 years ago. The problem is that they are superimposing what happened in Iraq on Syria post-2011. I tried to make that clear with my reference to Judith Miller.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 18, 2018 @ 3:51 pm

  18. I was addressing Richard Halls’ assertion about (govt-)minded trips. Presumably AP and the Swedes won’t be allowed back. There seem to be so many bald assertions of this kind these days. I agree the lack of access for OPCW is a concern, but I can imagine they are in much more danger than the journalists are (from elements on either side, depending which set of crazies you believe brought on this episode.) And with tensions as they are, the fall out from an attack on an OPCW team would be catastrophic.

    Comment by Tom — April 18, 2018 @ 4:41 pm

  19. Why would Fisk now adopt a position that is supporting evil … .

    People change all the time. When will conspiracists begin to understand: the surest proof that something is possible is that it has happened? A particularly clever or valid motive is not required.

    L. Proyect: “The problem is that they are superimposing what happened in Iraq on Syria post-2011. … .”

    Why make it more complicated than that?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 18, 2018 @ 5:03 pm

  20. You quote the director of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations. But don’t they favour the overthrow of the Syrian goverment and have links with SAMS who are funded by USAID? You also quote favourably Martin Chulov and Kareem Shahin, but aren’t they both far away in Beirut and Istanbul? Whereas Fisk was at least on the ground in Douma. These things have to be considered, surely.

    Plus you chastise and defame Fisk based on one report , out of hundreds over the years, which you claim misattributed the cause of an atrocity, and getting a technicality wrong about the UN and other such minutiae which you yourself admit is trivial. And could you not also be accused of falling foul of the same presumptuous colonial arrogance and when you impugn all those local residnts in Douma he interviewed as staged props and mouth pieces of the Syrian security forces?

    Plus I would be interested in your opinion of those rebel forces who had previously occupied Douma. Would you accuse anyone of raising questions about their political nature of islamophobia? Or do you consider that a legitimate question? I ask all these questions in good faith and the spirit of comradely inquisitiveness

    Comment by Martin Crook — April 18, 2018 @ 10:05 pm

  21. But don’t they favour the overthrow of the Syrian goverment and have links with SAMS who are funded by USAID?

    For me, the litmus test is not AID funding but bombing hospitals. Anybody who bombs hospitals and who pimps for tyrants bombing hospitals like Fisk (and probably you) belongs in the 9th Circle of Hell.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 18, 2018 @ 10:17 pm

  22. If you are correct it is indeed shameful what Fisk and these other western reporters are doing. But at least we have reliable sources of information like the White Helmets who we can trust to give us the unvarnished truth. Since we know they arose organically, started by Syrians without any aid from outside, they can be seen as neutral, an unimpeachable source of accurate information. And, fortunately, mainstream news outlets, in their quest for truth, are broadcasting these stories.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 19, 2018 @ 3:40 am

  23. The growing problem we are facing in the world today is this rank partisanship, that (for example) wants others in the 9th circle of hell. People are not excusing atrocities merely by questioning the one-sidedness of a narrative, or by fearing an unseen agenda, or even by believing that an accused might be innocent. It’s just that we know all sides lie, and all sides bomb hospitals these days.

    Comment by Tom — April 19, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

  24. All sides bomb hospitals? Yes, if that means Saudi bombing in Yemen. But in Syria, it has been used as part of the regime’s scorched earth strategy, especially in East Aleppo.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 19, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

  25. Well, there was a US strike reported on a hospital in Mosul, with the same reason given as in Aleppo (rebel occupation.) And, if you’re at all conspiracy minded you might read something more into the following Amnesty report. At the very least you might see little difference ‘in a war zone’ between having a facility bombed vs having it rendered non-functional:

    “More than two months after the area was recaptured, there is virtually no functioning medical facility in eastern Mosul. A few small clinics provide the most rudimentary primary care — hardly sufficient for a war zone.”

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/04/bombed-in-their-homes-civilians-in-mosul-blame-reckless-coalition-forces/

    Comment by Tom — April 19, 2018 @ 1:11 pm

  26. Okay, it is obvious to me that you are not putting the rebels and Assad on the same level in terms of war crimes so we have no quarrel.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 19, 2018 @ 1:21 pm

  27. Well, I don’t wish to quarrel. I would ask you though what you think of rebels forcing residents to stay, to be starved, bombed and gassed, in rebel-held areas such as Douma. This has been widely reported, not just by people like Fisk. Is it not a war crime?

    Comment by Tom — April 19, 2018 @ 1:50 pm

  28. I would ask you though what you think of rebels forcing residents to stay, to be starved, bombed and gassed, in rebel-held areas such as Douma.

    Very bad but not nearly so bad as starving, bombing and gassing the people of Douma, many of whom supported the Islamists just as Gazans support Hamas.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 19, 2018 @ 2:28 pm

  29. […] Here Louis Proyect takes on Fisk’s Douma story. And here Terry Glavin does the same. […]

    Pingback by Media, Propaganda and Truth | Qunfuz — April 20, 2018 @ 12:00 am

  30. “very bad but not so bad as starving, bombing and gassing the people of Douma…..” Except Fisk’s reporting indicates that there was no gassing, merely the media-savvy CIA-funded White Helmets carrying out another of their staged hoaxes so as to provide Trump, May & Macron with the visual material they need to justify firing off 103 missiles. And once again, Fisk’s account was corroborated by another reporter who was there who was there, Pearson Sharp of One America News. Seems to me that there’s no reason to believe that either Fisk or Sharp were doing anything other than reporting accurately and honestly on what they saw and heard. Very convincingly too, which explains the ad hominem attacks these both reporters are now enduring. Not surprising, cognitive dissonance can be maddening.

    Comment by jacobo — April 20, 2018 @ 1:42 am

  31. Pearson Sharp of One America News

    Are you such a drooling imbecile to have no idea what OAN Network is about? This is an ultraright “news” station that crusaded for the child molester Roy Moore who was running for Jeff Sessions’s Senate seat in Alabama. Those who pointed out that Moore liked to hang around shopping centers hitting on 16 year olds were labeled drug addicts. It also labeled Parkland school survivor David Hogg as part of a “deep state” conspiracy because his dad was an FBI agent. I don’t mind you posting shit here but do make an effort to be less obvious about the hard-on you have for Assad.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 20, 2018 @ 1:55 am

  32. And you Louis Proyect have been shilling for the phony moderate rebels for years , smearing honest journalists with bile that is indistinguishable from attacks on those same journalists by the MSM you are a shameless hack … who are your sources in Syria?

    Comment by MarcB — April 20, 2018 @ 7:44 am

  33. I don’t have to have sources in Syria to know that when Fisk’s only source on a dust storm rather than chlorine is a doctor who was not only not an eyewitness but someone who calls the rebels “terrorists”. It is really fascinating in an abnormal psychology manner to see people like you dropping all pretensions of objectivity when it comes to absolving the mass murderer Assad.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 20, 2018 @ 11:49 am

  34. After asking questions in good faith and even stating that I asked them in the spirit of comradely inquisitiveness, you still accuse me of “pimp[ing] for tyrants bombing hospitals like Fisk” and that I belong “in the 9th Circle of Hell”. Why all that bile and vindictiveness? You don’t even know me. I think you’ve lost some credibility and integrity if you can’t even conduct a mature debate without sinking to playground insults.

    Your lack of intellectual integrity and maturity is only underscored by the fact that you don’t bother to address to the substance of my criticisms and and observations. When did I even question or impugn the veracity of attacks on hospitals which you invoke as some kind of answer to my points. You’ve bared your ageing fangs, like some cornered weasel and hurled abuse as substitute for meaningful answers.

    How do you expect to convince people when you treat anyone with venemous contempt who questions your narrative as automatically Assad apologists? Where is the freedom to debate, question and through this dialectic, learn and persuade. Your approach smacks of a jaded dogmatic Stalinist, infuriated by the feckless and obtuse proles who won’t just imbibe the party line and get back to work.

    So you didn’t address my points about the impartiality of the NGOs who testified to the gassing (they seemed to have connections with the US state department, like SAMS or the White Helmets, an observation that would not be controversial to make in other geopolitical Arenas contested by US imperialism, for example US AID funding opposition groups in Cuba, or Venezuela, Ukraine, which by the way is of course a violation of international law and the principle of non-intervention in civil wars) , you don’t address the point that Fisk was a journalist on the ground in the vicinity who spoke to many of the locals who you assumed we’re, under duress ALL just acting under orders of the Assad security forces which smacks of colonialist thinking and deprives them of any agency, and you don’t address the points about the two journalists that you sourced who weren’t even in the country when they wrote their reports. Lastly you didn’t address the question about whether anyone who questions the political nature of some of these groups like Nation of Islam, who reportedly controlled Douma, should automatically be accused of islamophobia and orientalist thinking. Is it not legitimate to question the motives of US imperialism funding groups like this, given their history in the Middle East and around the world?

    Comment by Martin Crook — April 22, 2018 @ 9:03 am

  35. Crook, I have written 305 articles tagged as “Syria” on this blog. What you need to do is click Syria and you will see that I have been answering scumbags like you for the past 7 years. On FB, I immediately unfriend anybody with Assadist politics like yours. The only reason I don’t answer your questions is that they are those that a District Attorney asks a hostile witness or the accused. You know that and I know that. I have no use for Assadist shysters like you so don’t waste my time or yours.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2018 @ 12:49 pm

  36. […] on why people want to believe Fisk, issues Sonali Kolhatkar also looks at here. Louis Proyect demolishes Fisk on Douma. More Fisk links via Robin Y-K, or via this unrolled […]

    Pingback by Bob’s roundup of the best writing on fascism, Syria, conspiracy theories, spin, fake news, etc – Shiraz Socialist (Second Run) — April 23, 2018 @ 10:03 am

  37. You really have lost the plot and continually hurl abuse now calling me a ‘Assadist shyster’ as well as saying I belong in the ,7th ring of hell even after repeatedly stating I only ask those questions in good faith in the Spirit of comradely inquisitiveness. How can you call yourself a Marxist or leftist? Is this how you would talk to some worker who came after Street and joined a meeting to ask questions? Do you really think that bye insulting and demonising anyone who challenges your narrative is really going to connect with ordinary people who just have legitimate questions? You answered again none of my questions I guess proving my point about your lack of intellectual integrity and by hurling abuse at me again just reaffirmed the point I was making. You assume that everyone must have a minimum borough of historical knowledge of the conflict and therefore anyone asking Elementary questions which contradicts your narrative must therefore be hostile and duplicitous. Mate you should just carry on blogging in your digital Ivory Tower. Because I don’t think judging by your character you still bother to be active or engage with people as equals who aren’t beneath you and who Dane to question your words of gospel. I don’t know what you’ve done but I am a working class activist who spent over two decades now in various movements solidarising with the oppressed, and simply for asking legitimate questions you’ve mugged me off. Well good luck being an angry, ranting, jaded idealogue who just shouts at people rather than engage with them in the Spirit of the dialectic and learning. You a Marxist? You must be having a bubble mate.

    Comment by Martin Crook — April 23, 2018 @ 2:36 pm

  38. Is this how you would talk to some worker who came after Street and joined a meeting to ask questions?

    No, I only speak this way to trolls. Now get lost.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 23, 2018 @ 2:39 pm

  39. Plus you didn’t pick up on my question about the wisdom, of wittingly or unwittingly supporting US imperialist intervention in Syria. I honestly don’t have the time to wade through hundreds of your articles, but I suspect the fact that you didn’t engage that point aside from clearly being someone with a seriously big chip on his shoulder and harbouring some bad blood, suggests that maybe you’ve lost sight of the fact that as well as being a staunch criric rightly of Assad and his crimes that we must also expose US and UK imperialism and its designs. No doubt you’ll come back to me and say well I did do this already in article X Y or z and I’m obviously just an Assad apologist for pointing this out but then I think people reading these threads can make up their own minds about how we have respectively conducted this debate.

    Comment by Martin Crook — April 23, 2018 @ 3:10 pm

  40. Oh I see, anyone who questions your divine Wisdom is a troll. How silly of me I should have realised.

    Comment by Martin Crook — April 23, 2018 @ 3:12 pm

  41. I genuinely used to read your blog with an open mind, not always agreeing with everything you wrote but respecting you as a commentator nonetheless, but I think by hurling so much abuse and bile at me simply for questioning your narrative, you’ve revealed your true colours and really done yourself a disservice this time. I think you’ve forgotten some of the essential precepts of communism comrade

    Comment by Martin Crook — April 23, 2018 @ 3:23 pm


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