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Military Escalation in the Wake of the U.S. Presidential Elections? Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria

by Shamus Cooke, via Global Research

With Hillary Clinton’s victory in the bag, there’s a growing fear that her presidency will begin with a bang: regime change in Syria. Clinton has said as much. Last year Reuters reported that “removing President Assad” would be Clinton’s “top priority.”

This regime change sentiment was echoed more recently by her foreign policy adviser, Jeremy Bash, who said that Clinton would “…work to get Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, “out of there.”

More spectacularly has been Clinton’s repeated insistence during debates that a “no fly zone” should be implemented in Syria, which, as the Libyan experiment proved, is a euphemism for regime change and war.

The fact that such blatant warmongering can go unchallenged is itself a major PR victory for the establishment. The anti-war movement seems speechless, immobile in the face of yet another war.

This paralysis is due, in part, to the Left’s splintering over Syria, where vicious infighting over a consistent anti-war perspective has spoiled debate.

Instead of focusing on stopping the next war, the Left continues to bicker about who deserves the most blame for the Syrian catastrophe. As a result, working people are left in the dark about the U.S. role in the Syrian war. They don’t know the U.S. has been leading a proxy war against the Syrian government, and they are unprepared for the full-scale military intervention that remains a real possibility.

The vast educational void around Syria is being filled, in part, by mainstream politicians, such as moderate Congressional Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, who sounds “radical” when she recently wrote in an online petition:

The war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad is creating more devastation, human suffering, and refugees…Have we learned nothing from Iraq and Libya? We must end our [U.S.] war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad now.

If only most Left groups spoke as clearly as Gabbard about Syria, whose petition is only radical because the Left has so thoroughly minimized the U.S. role in funding, arming, training, and coordinating the proxy war against the Syrian government.

A key mistake some Left groups make is focusing their anti-war actions on “all sides,” wrongly believing that this alone is an internationalist approach against imperialism and war. But a critical component gets ignored when this principle is clung to.

Stopping the U.S. war on Syria requires that U.S. activists actively educate and focus on the U.S. role, so that people can be agitated into action and mobilized by the tens of thousands. The principled “pox on both houses” approach leads, in practice, to inaction, making it an empty phrase when what is needed is a concrete strategy for effective on the ground organizing.

The essence of a revolutionary, internationalist approach to anti-war strategy was summarized by Leon Trotsky, when he said “In the struggle against imperialism and war the basic principle is: ‘the chief enemy is in your own country.’

The quote is a guide to action for those living in imperialist countries, and the U.S. remains the world’s foremost imperialist country. Syria is not an imperialist country.

The focus, therefore, for U.S. anti-war activists should be on the U.S.’ actions abroad in order to mobilize to stop it. An internationalist approach is working to minimize the harm that your imperialist country can do to the working class abroad.

All anti-war organizers should base their actions on this premise, since this truism allows for the most effective anti-war strategy when put into practice. Straying from this principle can get you into serious trouble.

It’s in your own country where you actually organize people on the ground, where they can be educated and mobilized directly against the government to apply direct pressure.

Writing the occasional anti-war article that analyzes the various bad actors is fine, but when it comes to the realm of action and organizing, focus is required. You cannot organize effectively against all sides. Your efforts must be prioritized where you can have the most impact, and where your efforts cannot be co-opted by your government as war propaganda.

Your own government is the enemy because its foreign policy is dictated by the same U.S. corporations that exercise power domestically, who exploit workers in the U.S., who don’t pay taxes in the U.S., and who fund anti-worker legislation domestically.

Some of these same corporations want raw materials, contracts, and new markets abroad, and will bomb the world to smithereens to get it.  The fight against war always starts at home.

As Fred Halstead wrote in the groundbreaking work “Out Now,” the anti-Vietnam war movement was strong when it focused on educating and mobilizing U.S. society, from students, veterans, union members, etc., while also directly agitating U.S. troops stationed in Vietnam, who were emboldened by the mass rallies they saw at home. When U.S. soldiers began organizing against their officers by refusing to fight, the war could no longer continue. The excellent documentary “Sir No Sir” shows the power of organizing active duty military personnel.

The anti-Vietnam war movement didn’t focus on the violence of the North Vietnamese, or the role played by China and the U.S.S.R., they focused on the role played by the U.S., and because of this they were able to effectively educate and mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, stop the war, and effect a cultural change in the U.S. where for decades it was politically impossible to enact direct military intervention.

A similar approach was used by the Russian revolutionaries in World War I, where a massive anti-war movement was created, not by agitating against the Germans — who were arguably the aggressors — but by focusing first on the Czar of Russia, and then on the Russian capitalists who wanted to continue the war after the Czar’s downfall. The mobilization for “peace” grew to be one of the pillar demands of the successful revolution.

U.S. Left groups needn’t focus on the “evils” of Russia or the Syrian government; huge resources are already spent on this by multi-billion-dollar media conglomerates. Demonizing the enemy of U.S. imperialism doesn’t help U.S. workers in terms of mobilizing to stop the war. In fact, demonizing “the enemy” helps keep workers passive, since it makes the war appear “moral.”

A good example of this grave mistake comes from the International Socialist Organization (ISO), whose recent article criticizes the new antiwar coalition ‘Hands Off Syria.” The article reads:

U.S. Hands Off Syria is exclusively focused on opposing U.S. military intervention and what it claims is Washington’s determination to achieve regime change in Syria. But this means the coalition and those who endorse it ignore the main source of the barbaric violence and repression in Syria today:  the Assad government, its allies within the region and the Russian empire that backs Assad to the hilt….”

Hands Off Syria keeps true to the antiwar maxim “the chief enemy is in your own country,” and the ISO ridicules them for it.

The same article goes on to slander Hands Off Syria by accusing them of “…supporting a dictator like Assad and an imperialist power like Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

This “pro-Assad” slander has been aimed at anyone — this writer included — who focuses their fire on the U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict. The smear campaign has ruined the discussion around Syria, helping to mis-educate people who might otherwise be organized into action.

The ISO fails to mention in its article that Hands Off Syria specifically mentions that “It is not our business to support or oppose President Assad or the Syrian government. Only the Syrian people have the right to decide the legitimacy of their government.”

The ISO calls Hands Off Syria “pro-Assad” because the group says, correctly, that Syria has the right to self-determination. In a nutshell “self-determination” means that non-imperialist countries, like Syria, have a right not to be interfered with by imperialist countries, such as the United States.

All revolutionaries have a duty to uphold this core tenant of anti-imperialism. Watering this principle down — because “Assad is a brutal dictator” — is another example of undercutting both theory and action around anti-war work.

The main demands of the Hands Off Syria coalition are completely supportable from an internationalist, socialist perspective, and deserve mention, since they went unmentioned in the ISO article that attacked them:

  1. An immediate end to the U.S. policy of forced regime change in Syria and full recognition and compliance by the U.S., NATO and their allies with principles of international law and the U.N. Charter, including respect for the independence and territorial integrity of Syria.
  2. An immediate end to all foreign aggression against Syria, and serious efforts toward a political resolution to the war.
  3. An immediate end to all military, financial, logistical and intelligence support by the U.S., NATO and their regional allies to all foreign mercenaries and extremists in the Middle East region.
  4. An immediate end to economic sanctions against Syria. Massive international aid for displaced people within Syria and Syrian refugees abroad.

Hands of Syria is a united front coalition that should have existed for several years; its late arrival is due to the gutter-level Syria debate among Left groups. So attacking this big step forward in anti-war work only detracts from the anti-war movement, and thus empowers the U.S. government to act with a freer hand in Syria.

To read the full article, use this link.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached out shamuscooke@gmail.com
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19 Comments

  1. Yes the left in the west has become an imperialist tool. I recall the same left wing arguments when NATO destroyed Libya. They also used the same arguments when NATO destroyed Yugoslavia. It is so sad being of the left and raised left that in the west one cannot have any reasonable discussion with any so-called lefties in the west. They have all become imperialist progressives and have nufin to do with left. I might add luv how here in the USA the use the term left to describe MSNBC or CNN . I think we r in real troubled times, intellectually, morally and economically and the establishment r trying to take it all and damming the whole world to a nuclear winter.
    They talk about ASSAD as brutal dictator. In Syria free education free health care subsidized housing. Libyan’s under Qhadaffi very similar and I might add, Lybian’s had the highest standard of living in Africa. So these so-called lefties if they were to really be left of center of the political spectrum they would not be making the arguments for regime change. What has happened since 2001 and military hostilities by the west towards the rest of the world should be tried at the Hague . UN charter states no country has the rite to military hostilities toward another country.

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  2. michaelk says

    How on earth can one describe Russia as an empire and an imperialist state? This is plainly ridiculous. Russia’s been shrinking, not expanding, and losing vassal states and territory over the last few decades. Where exactly, precisely, is the Russian Empire supposed to be? How many overseas territories and bases do the Russians have? Christ, one could count them on the fingers of one hand and still have enough fingers left to juggle!

    Is the Russian intervention in Syria not perfectly legal under international law? Is that supposed to be an example of imperialism in action?

    So much of the left seems to be suffering from some kind of mental disorder, a nasty mix of stupidity and ignorance.

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  3. “With Hillary Clinton’s victory in the bag” – are you sure about that?
    Amid claims of silent coup and counter-coup, this years “October Surprise” has yet to fully play out – prepare for an explosive finale.
    As I understand it, the current Weinergate email scandal is being manipulated from inside Washington (not the Kremlin!)
    Currently there are no allegations. The FBI is investigating Pandora’s Box – empty at the moment – but of all the worldly ills that may come out when the lid is lifted are racketeering, political cronyism, corruption, vote rigging by the DNC on the mild end of the spectrum all the way to high level espionage (by Huma Abedin) and paedophilia.
    The paedophile allegation comes from Steve Pieczenik – who claims to be the face of the counter-coup. He only came on my radar this morning but his credentials are impressive – his resume could be summed up as “consummate White House insider” going back to the Ford regime. He also has experience in psyops.
    Check him out – should be viral on YouTube by now.
    Manufactured or not – I very much doubt this is a baseless claim.
    Dedicated Right wing smear? Probably.
    Nevertheless, it appears that elements within the Washington intelligence community do not want HRC as POTUS. That this is the source of the current leaks surfacing through Wikileaks was attested to by former UK ambassador Craig Murray – a much more respectable source with nothing to gain.
    Whatever they have on her – when it’s let out of the box – I very much doubt that Hillary’s Hope will be left within.
    It looks to me as though Crooked Hillary may spend the rest of her short life in jail after all.
    Hopefully in a cell adjoining predator Bill.

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  4. The B I G Qs are, will the double become POTUS if HRC is elected. Will the double do time if HRC is indicted.

    http://rense.com/general96/doublefnl.htm

    From a physically-supported, worn out, very sick very HRC, with a doc in close tow to inject anti-convulsives (?), falling into the van after 911.. to a sprightly, younger version, with a ‘hooked/ nose.

    If you’re really Off-guardian. dear editors.. why not a spread on this vital subject?

    Like

    • Derek says

      Yes and Paul McCartney is an impostor as the real “Macca” died in a car crash in the 1960’s and was replaced with somebody that looked a little like him, he had plastic surgery to complete the illusion and over time he became A BETTER COMPOSER than the real one!

      Straight from the book of Jim “Sawdust bombs at Boston” Fetzer.

      Like

    • deschutes says

      Oh yes, it’s on the to-do list….think it’s coming after their recent Area 51 alien sightings exposé.

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  5. “removing President Assad” would be Clinton’s “top priority.”

    Thought that Hillary’s top priority was to invite Israeli PM Netenyahu to the WH so she could profess her undying love and loyalty to Israel and gladly support the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, while keeping open the American money and weapons sluice gate to Israel.
    Or maybe she’ll get her orders from ‘Nutty’ on how to go about finishing off Syria?

    The main impetus for the Vietnam War protests was the draft. Only the rich and connected could avoid service and that scared the Hell out of people, which finally mobilized them to protest the illegal and immoral war.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You really believe there are “western socialists” particularly Anglo-Saxon ones? I mean REALLY! There are just corrupt genocidal pretenders and nothing and nobody more. Servants of Anglo-Saxon desire to own entire planet Earth.

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  7. archie1954 says

    I’m not brilliant, I’m not smart, I’m simply an ordinary person who has the desire to know the truth. In today’s World the truth is for the asking. You can find it for yourselves, simply by looking outside the MSM. That is what I have done and I’ve managed to separate the lying American propaganda from the truth, as told by many different ethnic and social media. You have to use your minds to do the work, instead if just lapping up whatever CNN or any of the other Networks put in front of you. Come on, it isn’t that difficult. Just try please, you will be enlightened beyond your wildest dreams!

    Liked by 1 person

    • In reality many people havent the time to do wide-ranging research which is why Prof Tim Anderson wrote his fact-based book the Dirty War on Syria which is hugely sourced as one would expect from a serious academic;he rarely makes untested allegations. Its online isnt expensive and is now in German.However it remains amazing how easily some of the” Left “can fall for more of the same demonisation and misinformation yet again after Iraq and Libya,which is now openly acknowledged by the MSM as an economic basket case. Even the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee now recognises that there was no case for a no-fly zone in Libya and that MPs were duped by the MSM but is still seems not that many MPs have either read it or are independent enough (maybe) to admit a grave grave error in voting for it,or to concede that something similar may be being pursuedin the MSM over Syria and look again with an open mind. The whole phony ,self-serving ,predatoryagenda is being set by a small group of billionaires who now own the MSM

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