“Ba’athism promotes a unified Arab state through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary government and the creation of one-party states, and rejects political pluralism … it is a secular ideology that supports socialist economics to a varying degree, and public ownership over the heights of the economy … Ba’athists believe socialism is the only way to develop an Arab society which is truly free and united.” wiki entry
Speaking of the west, Washington ‘certainty’ is dutifully echoed in London, Paris and other regimes committed to war, cold for now, on Russia – and continuing control by proxy, by destabilisation and/or by Balkanisation of the middle east. That our rulers can still get away with this after all that’s happened since 2003 is eloquent testament to our credulity and the carte blanche we give them overseas.
‘I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.’ Leonard Cohen
This gushing piece by Elle Hunt, every word echoing the PR-speak of America’s $10 trn for-profit arms sector, speaks volumes on independence lost. Yet again Washington, to cheers in London, shows utter contempt for international law. Yet again the Guardian forgets the duty implied in its name: holding the powerful to account. Worse, it plays to a leitmotif of orientalist demonising: Good Guys with ‘surgically’ precise weaponry versus Bad Guys and their indiscriminate butchery.
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Hence to the dismaying ease with which a state displeasing Wall Street (metonym for western capital) can be so vilified that many on the left – with Monbiot of the 99% certainty a case in point – fail in that most elementary of internationalist duties: defending such a state from the aggression of their own imperialisms.
But let’s set aside claims of certainty; whether of the one hundred or merely ninety-nine percent kind. They have no objective value and can be likened to the way religious believers ‘know’ God exists. What is being voiced is not knowledge in any epistemological or jurisprudential sense of the word. Rather, what is being voiced – in good faith or bad, or likely as not that self-serving blend of the two our species excels at – is a belief. How can I say this with such confidence of my own? Because it’s a fundamental of justice that we presume innocence until guilt is proved, and guilt has not been proved. Worse yet, the accuser in chief has at best done nothing to initiate and at worst actively blocked impartial investigation of the claims against Damascus.
The entire US operation in Iraq and Syria is not being investigated properly. How can you liberate people from oppression when you are killing them by the thousands? But every request for an investigation, including the event in Idlib, is being completely ignored by a UN that is cowed by US pressure. Daniel McAdams, Executive Director, Ron Paul Institute
In fact the starkest certainty about Idlib is that we can’t know who released sarin on April 4. You don’t know. I don’t. George doesn’t. My strong sense is it wasn’t Assad. If I overstated this in a recent post putting the odds at a modest three million to one, I trust sensible readers to detect a modicum of tongue-in. Let me put it more safely: (a) we don’t know Damascus used sarin at Idlib (or Ghouta, 2013); (b) we don’t know it did not; (c) despite The Guardian’s putative motive (offered, with unsubstantiated claims of faltering progress by the Syrian Army, as an inset to a piece on the French ‘evidence’) it is more likely, on grounds of motive and risk of embarrassing Moscow, that it did not.
So what do we know? Quite a lot, actually. These things for instance:
- Led by Washington, western governments play up or fabricate factors supportive of, and disregard those counter to, the demonising of Assad. This prepares us for unlawful aggression in the name of humanitarianism, following the pattern laid down in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya of stable if repressive governance replaced by terror; prosperity and welfare by chaos and poverty.
- The west has strong material motives, discussed elsewhere, for overthrowing Ba’athism in Syria. In sum they include: privatisation, securing its preferred oil pipeline, locking out Russia and China, preserving and expanding Zionism.
- Syria – like Ukraine, Korea and South China Sea – is a potential flashpoint for thermonuclear confrontation.
- Western mainstream media (owned by big money or, like the Guardian and BBC, subject indirectly to market forces) have done little to raise awareness of, and a great deal to divert our attention from, point 2. Moreover, as any content analysis of those media will show, they have consistently, Guardian hardly less than Mail, eschewed impartiality – not to say jurisprudence – in favour of backing “our side”. Taken with point 3 it all adds up – yes, I’m moving here from fact to opinion! – to a damning indictment of those media.
- No credible ‘third way’ has ever been put forward as capable of replacing Syria’s elected government without plunging that multi-faith country into sectarian violence on a scale even greater than that already inflicted by the overseas funded ‘moderate Islamists’.
In a future post I’ll focus on univeralism, a principle invoked by two broad left figures, George Monbiot and Owen Jones, to justify positions which, while not overtly endorsing imperialist narratives on demonised states, have the doubtless unintended effect of aiding and abetting.