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“Why I read Counterpunch less often than I used to”

Steve Church

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Patrick Cockburn’s recent article is one example of why I read CounterPunch less often than I used to. Or, at the least, why I have become more critical of their editorial stance. With this article, I have the impression I’m reading a Bernie Sanders speech, of being Judas-goated into the camp of what I consider a kind of useless caviar Left. While maybe not as bad as The Guardian (I prefer OffGuardian), there are too many weasel words, phrases, and statements that reek of Establishment consensus. That if you’re going to refer to the head-chopping proxies, armed and funded by the US and its good buddies, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and other assorted vassals, as “rebels” rather than the paid lieutenants of the criminal gang in DC, London, Riyadh or Paris, you’re basically saying it’s okay to murder at arm’s length, to somehow plausibly deny any real, true, strong connection to the crime or the perpetrators. Plausible Deniability being spook-speak for basically lying, when timidly asked, about any crime they’ve just committed.

Here’s one example:

Pundits are predictably sceptical about the agreement reached by Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi on Monday to head off an imminent offensive by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces directed against rebels in Idlib province

See what I mean? No qualifications or explanations of who these “rebels” are or why they are there. If they’re “rebels”, they must be the good guys, right? We all love a “rebel” when he’s creating mayhem in another country or in some movie theatre.That statement is also a subliminal reminder that if they’re “rebels”, they must be “rebelling” against something, and that “something” must be bad, hinting that Assad must be bad, even though words like “brutal dictator” or “thug” weren’t used.This time.

And speaking of “brutal dictators” or “thugs”, it’s pretty obvious that the US is now, as has been for quite a while, a dictatorship, and a brutal one, at that.As are most of its allies/vassals in the West and elsewhere to differing degrees. We’ve even got our own murderous “proxy army” right here, in the “Homeland”. It’s called the Police, who go around murdering with impunity, armed with surplus military gear. How many homeless, uninsured, hungry, and dubiously incarcerated (modern day slaves, working in private prisons) do we have? Do you think that minuscule percentage of the people (or their paid hitmen/women in Congress – Oligarch money put them there in the first place) who actually run things give a rat’s ass about any of this? That’s what they do. All of them. They look around the entire planet to find (or create the necessary conditions for creating) the weakest possible “enemies”: People who just want to be left alone to figure out their own futures, on their own terms, who don’t have imperial aspirations or the military means of carrying them forward even if they wanted to, but, for most part, don’t. They’d rather spend what means they have on their own populations. Call that behaviour what you will, but it certainly doesn’t include a blind obedience to the diktats of the Money Men and their military enforcers.

But our “Left” editors at CP have a difficult time of saying that up front.The term “rebel” also supports the claim/point of view that the conflict in Syria is a “civil” war. It’s total nonsense, but here it is:

The Syrian civil war long ago ceased to be a struggle fought out by local participants. Syria has become an arena where foreign states confront each other, fight proxy wars and put their strength and influence to the test.

“Long ago”, Patrick? It was never a “civil” war. In fact no wars are “civil”, but that’s kind of beside the point here. The conflict in Syria was aided and abetted, if not instigated, by the US and its local (and not so local, but closer to the scene, allies, ie, France and the UK, the FUK of FUKUS) allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, two theocratic states who hate the idea of having a secular, tolerant, independent state in their neighbourhood, especially one friendly to/allied with other independent states like Russia and Iran.

Why can’t you say that? Why can’t anyone, except for belittled independent journalists (Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett come to mind) let us know what’s really going on? What really happened?

It’s a sad day when we we are pretty much denied by the MSM the reports of a couple of female journalists who apparently were really “there”, on the ground, as they say, and all the while tout the female #metoo movement. There’s no coherency in all this.But yes, I’m giving too much credit to the #metoo movement, and all the cat fights that ensue. Still, it takes up too much space in whatever media space you choose.

On to other stuff.

Then we have the term “arena” used as a descriptor for an invasion. As if we’re sitting in the stands in the Colosseum watching an entertainment or in one of the corporate-sponsored arenas of the NBA. War has suddenly morphed into spectacle and sport. This kind of linguistic sleight of hand is clever and maybe downright deliberate. But maybe he couldn’t come up with a better way of stating it.Just goes to show how the whole idea of “otherness” and spectacle have come to invade the consciousness of much of the so-called Left.

There is a striking note of imperial self-confidence about the document in which all sides in the Syrian civil war are instructed to come to heel.

“Imperial self-confidence”? Do you see what I mean? It’a a ”document”. Not an invasion. There’s absolutely nothing “imperial” about it. It’s an open declaration of what they see as a solution to a problem. In other words, “Here’s what we’d like to do, given the circumstances.” It’s an invitation to dialog, not a pre-emptive invasion.

And then, here we go again:

Moscow helped Assad secure his rule after the popular uprising in 2011 and later ensured his ultimate victory by direct military intervention in 2015.

“Popular uprising”? Right, just like vicious coup in Ukraine was a “popular uprising”? The US supposed, I guess, that the Syrians were just as venal as the Ukrainians. Or, if they had figured out that Syria would be a harder nut to crack, why not just simply create a reason to send money, arms, and the cooperation of its ideological opponents to do the dirty work? Not the same situation at all. But Cockburn would have us accept these fairy tales that anyone who hints that they might want to make an independent decision must be categorised as a dictator, a thug, someone who needs to be punished, not by his own people, but by the US. By proxy, of course. Can’t forget that.

And then there’s this “direct military intervention”. As if Russia simply decided, unilaterally, that enough was enough. Assad asked, invited, if not begged for Russia to help him out. They are allies, after all. Again, not quite the same thing. Cockburn may believe all his nonsense, or he’s being very careful not to upset too many “humanitarian intervention” Lefties who still believe that Assad is a “thug” or whatever, as probably a good many of his readers, and those of CounterPunch do.

… but politicians and commentators continue to blithely recommendisolating Russia and pretend that it can be safely ignored.

Again, “safely ignored”? Then what about all the Russophobia constantly hyped by the MSM? That’s not what I’d call ignoring something. The architects for total world dominance by the US and its vassals (or should I say Israeli-US dominance?) are probably shaking in their collective boots at the new geo-political reality staring them in the face. It’s not what I’d call “blithely recommending”, but it might pass for UK diplomatic-speak saying, “How did we get ourselves into this mess?” Or, on the other hand, it could mean, “We have to do something, quickly, anything (does the Skripal case come to mind?), to turn this thing around. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense, if it’s a total fabrication. We’ll use our tried and true method of simply repeating our version, ‘creating our own reality’ as the Yanks are so fond of doing.”

Plus, Russia doesn’t need to show the world it’s a power player. It has been since Mr Putin began turning Russia away from, in Taibbi’s words, “the vampire squid”. Granted, he hasn’t quite succeeded completely, has had his setbacks, but without spending trillions, he has stymied the overthrow of yet another middle eastern nation. At least for the moment. Things could get nasty.

If you read the entire article carefully, you’ll find all kinds of these little hidden exits where the author can argue pretty much anything, if you were to put the question to him. It’s the intent, deliberate or not, that I have a hard time swallowing. Too much wiggle room.

I’l like to add that Jonathan Cook has just written, in my view, two excellent analyses of the interplay of media and socio-political consciousness. Must read. The articles to which I am referring are here and here.

My problem is, when reading an article like this, I have the impression of submitting to a lecture by someone conveniently “left”, and of a certain stature, who can be trotted out when necessary. Not a pleasant feeling (and yes, I admit that “feelings” are counter-productive, or not necessarily the best lens through which you can examine any particular phenomenon, in some sense, because marketing depends mostly on emotions) in that I sense a lack of empathy, a certain comfortable distance from what is actually happening.Some may call it “objective reporting”. But it affects me as a subtle sort of propaganda. It reinforces the “us against them” paradigm but in this “imperialistic” manner, if I may say. I refer to my “spectator” reference above. We’re invited to see this from afar, as if we were pushing around armies on a map. Cook’s argument, that we need to step back from the screen in order to see the big picture, does, in no way, contradict what I’m trying to say.

In other words, to use Cook’s analogy of being scrunched up against the IMAX screen so we can’t interpret the entire picture, we have to take the word of whoever is sitting at a comfortable distance as to what’s going on. What may seem contradictory is the fact that some journalists may actually be present at the scene about which they are reporting. Compare the reporting of Vanessa Beeley or Eva Bartlett to Cockburn’s piece. That is to say, they are, in a sense, close to the screen. So do they have necessary perspective to provide us with an accurate view of what is going on? While we, the readers of the reporting, aren’t even in the theatre.

Cockburn works for a mainstream publication, part of the present power structure. What are we to make of that?

I’ve no personal beef with Mr Cockburn, nor is this really about him. He does what he does for his own personal reasons. I can choose to read his stuff or not, agree with him or not. That’s not my point. The only reason I’m writing this is that, given the present circumstances, I tend to carefully parse what I do read. Call me a nitpicker if you like. This particular article happened to make me grimace, contained an element of dissonance that made me stop and consider its possible effects. That, plus the fact that I saw this article on a self-proclaimed, left-leaning, “muckraking” web site.The writer is of less importance than the message conveyed. Language is important and, outside of personal intimacy, it’s the only means we have of communicating. 

I think we do ourselves an intellectual favour by entering into that contradictory world of being up close and distant at the same time.

Note: All bolds are mine.


  1. Fricht says

    You should listen to him on moderate rebels.
    Cockburn is smart enough to know how to keep his job.

    As far as I remember, he always called them rebels, but always specifies what a nasty bunch they are. He always called ‘fantasy’ the policy of fighting ISIS while wanting to oust Al-Assad.

    But yeah, I don’t read counterpunch neither.

  2. I not so frequently read Counterpunch, but the impression I get is that if any Western “jourbalijo” has to have a realistic chance of being published in the so called mainstream media, he or she has to stick to some basic points, making sure to mention or at the least imply that

    “Assad is a dictator, who is bad, and deserves to be removed, even though the opposition is even worse.”

    “The Syrians rose up in peaceful protest in 2011, and the protest turned into a violent revolution only after a regime* crackdown, even though the opposition is now completely in thrall to jihadi headchopper terrorist scum.”

    “The West did not do enough when it should have, even though it poured in money and weapons, and should not make the situation worse now by interfering.”

    *Always use the term “regime”, it makes sure to explain to your readers whom they need to hate.

    This is far from the exclusive preserve of Cockburn. Fisk of the Independent has access even to Syrian generals (including Suhail al Hassan), but makes certain to insult and belittle the Syrian government and military in just about every article he writes. In all probability he would not get published otherwise.

    Not that I have that high an opinion of the OffGuardian either, which is why I don’t read it that often, to tell the truth.

    And I no longer read the Guardian at all.

    • Paul X says

      Both Fisk and Cockburn are historians as well as actually being there on the front lines. Just because they don’t support certain views of the conflict and use words the activists don’t like it is absurd to ignore what they have to say.

  3. I, too, read Counterpunch less now, but not for the reason given here. I don’t think the present author, Steve Church, read Patrick Cockburn’s article correctly. Church says they are not “rebels”, but paid foreign mercenaries, and takes Cockburn to task for not making that clear. And yet Cockburn clearly states:

    “The Syrian civil war long ago ceased to be a struggle fought out by local participants. Syria has become an arena where foreign states confront each other, fight proxy wars and put their strength and influence to the test.”

    I’m less interested in Counterpunch now because they’re stuck in old left vs right paradigms, with “sides” instead of ideas. Which has led to the unwelcoming of authors like Diana Johnstone, CJ Hopkins, and Caitlin Johnstone. The site lost some of its brightness and confidence when Alec Cockburn passed away, and since the “Russian troll” scandal, they seemed to retreat even further.

    • I agree I may have stretched things a bit. You’re correct in pointing that out. My point was that it was never a civil war, and that saying it began as a civil war reinforces the West’s narrative, thus the “wiggle room” to which I object. It may be a minor point, a bit of niggling on my part, but it’s those little details that made me grimace. Totally agree with your second paragraph.

  4. Thomas says

    Some of the Counterpunch’s writers are quite bad and not that different from mainstream media writers, like John Wight and Louis Proyect. However, it’s worth reading. I like that they have different opinions on their site. Alternative media can easily be too one-sided.
    I am willing to go far to support governments against NATO, IMF etc, but that doesn’t mean Putin or Assad are leftists or great guys. I would like to see a more realistic view on these issues. There certainly was protests agains Assad among normal people in Syria, but of course there would never have been a war if it wasn’t for jihadists and the West.

    • padre says

      My only question is, what has Putin to do with you, he is the president of Russia, why should he behave to your liking?And don’t start pouring out the usual “democracy, human rights, dictatorship” nonsense, because it doesn’t work any more!Stand up to real dictators and human rights abusers and clean up your “democratic” country first!

  5. “Then we have the term “arena” used as a descriptor for an invasion.” – yes and the other truly weird word used I’ve never understood is the word THEATRE. Say what? Are the putting on a performance for an audience to watch and applaud or express praise for?

    • Estaugh says

      In the ‘theatre of war’, the ‘audience’ is the target.

    • Gary Weglarz says

      Harry – I quite agree. It is one thing for someone in the public eye to remain silent on 9/11 for fear perhaps of their family’s safety. It is quite another for such persons to publicly ridicule and attack anyone who dares to challenge or question the official 9/11 narrative as in the case of Cockburn, Chomsky, and many other so called “leftists.”

      • harry stotle says

        Especially when such critiques, if we can apply such a grandiose term to the bluster churned by the likes of Monbiot, Chomsky and Cockburn, are devoid of any discussion of the mountain of evidence that makes the 2 plane 3 tower conspiracy theory so laughable.

        Don’t these commentarors understand that any credible investigation should start with careful examination of the evidence, even though a great deal of it was destroyed in the case of 9/11 rather than an a priori narrative which the facts have to be distorted in order to fit with?

      • Off-Anything says

        I have a theory about the so-called “leftists,” who defend the official conspiracy theory. Look at some of their names, e.g., Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Goodman Gilad Atzmon, Greenwald, and ask yourself what they have in common. If you can’t figure it out, ask their rabbi. These people don’t hesitate criticizing Israel when it comes to the treatment of Palestinians but they know that Israel will face an existential threat when a significant number of Americans know about 9/11 (not to mention the USS Liberty and JFK).

        Alan Sabrosky (yes, a Jewish name but not a dual-citizen) put it clearly:
        3:40: “Mossad did it. If they do understand that, Israel is going to disappear from this Earth. 
        “If Americans ever know that Israel did this they’re gonna scrub them off the earth and they’re not going to give a rat’s ass what the cost is” … 5:25: “the Zionist are playing this as an all or nothing exercise. If they lose this one… they’re done”

  6. Frankly Speaking says

    Full Spectrum Dominance continues unabated.

  7. Gary Weglarz says

    During the last year Counterpunch has stopped publishing the work of the excellent anti-imperialist writers Diana Johnstone and Andre Vltchek. More recently they have stopped publishing the quite savvy political satirist CJ Hopkins who refused to get on board with the “Russiagate” nonsense. Meanwhile Counterpunch continues to publish the despicable regime change propaganda of Louis Proyect and Melvin Goodman, among others, and shamelessly promotes the Russiagate psyop.

    Counterpunch has lost any and all credibility at this point. It is simply another arm of the establishment media promoting Western interests no matter how much innocent blood is spilled in the process. About the only thing more odious than the usual mainstream media figures promoting the regime change slaughter of innocents is when publications claiming to be “progressive” do so.

    • bevin says

      The one that I miss most is the incomparable Mike Whitney, one of the long serving regulars with a thoroughly independent mind and a Runyonesque turn of phrase.
      Whitney regularly cited WSWS articles, which are often extremely shrewd, my guess is that to the members of the ISO cult this is verboten.

    • DunGroanin says

      One of the greatest side effects of the MSM narrative fail is how many of flailing mockingbird project deep cover media agents are being outed to shore up the crumbling ramparts of propaganda.

      Lemmings! Someone should set up a website listing them and their compromising writings.

  8. “safely ignored,” implying that Putin and Russia are dangerous. I always thought that Cockburn was a legendary journo of the Left. Not now. Maybe he was on the people’s side, but now he’s shown himself to be on the establishment’s (power’s) side. Like Chomsky. – And I still haven’t finished reading all of my Chomsky books. 🙁

  9. Salford Lad says

    Counterpunch can no longer be relied on for factual or truthful news. It has been undermined a few years back on the death of Alex Cockburn ,possibly by the usual suspects and is now ‘controlled opposition’, beware.

    • Robbobbobin says

      Beware? Of such a caution in a publication that uses the excuse of technical incompetence to pass off filtering by themselves (i.e pseudo incompetence in support of a honeypot or whatever) or others (i.e the genuine incompetence of useful dupes) as beyond their control? Why?

  10. Munkle says

    The Guardian has revealed itself to be a Neoliberal gatekeeper, water carrier by it’s role in attacking dread “conspiracy theories” like 9/11. In this the Guardian reveals itself by using the same cheap, transparent tactics as other fake news rags, erecting and knocking down straw men, employing tones dripping with sarcasm and mockery, and generally doing what Deep State organs do to discourage critical thinking. The irony is the newspaper’s main audience is far ahead of it, as the progressive left is now firmly onboard with 9/11 truth if you ask them. They know the Deep State’s crimes don’t stop at arming terrorists to overthrow Assad and implement Israel’s long-term goals of Arab government regime change. Let the Guardian die a slow death, and kudos to what it once was.

    • mark says

      I agree with most of what you say – but the Guardian always was a piece of Zionist toilet paper, going back to the old Manchester Guardian. It was shilling for Israel even before Israel existed.

  11. James Connolly says

    On Syria, the CP editor Jeffrey St Clair seems to be very much in the US mainstream regime change camp, smearing anti-imperialists as “the Sputnik left” or “Assadists.” Other than that he’s a good read, as is Paul Street.

  12. Paul Harvey says

    There has always been what Peter Dale Scott would call a ‘negative imprint’ when it comes to events the left leaning media will either not cover or will subtlety (or not so subtlety) spin in a way that echoes the dominant ideological discourse of the State – examples would be critical examinations of CIA backed coups, the JFK administration, the sixties assassinations, state sponsored terrorism and drug dealing, 9/11 and more recently the originals of the Arab Spring, Libya, Ukraine, the chemical weapons of Syria and the Russiagate-Skirpal poisonings – examinations that are invariably termed as ‘conspiracy theory’.

    Once you understand the contours of this ‘negative imprint’ it becomes obvious which media functions as proxy units of NATO’s psychological warfare division and Counterpunch has increasingly shown itself to be part of the synthetic left.

    For Cockburn to call the events of 2011 in Syria a ‘popular uprising’ and a ‘civil war’ is for him to engage in a 180 degree reversal of actuality (as the excellent article by Steven Sahiounie, The Day Before Deraa: How the war broke out in Syria, illustrates – linked in a comment below).

    Having said all that, I am hopeful that sites like Off-Guardian, Global Research and the excellent Consortiumnews along with numerous blogs like Land Destroyer are the long term catalysts for a genuine ‘left leaning’ media network.

    • Paul X says

      But there was a popular movement against the Syrian Government. Many saw it as part of the so called Arabic Spring. Syrians watched TV too. To be sure within days (if not hours!) armed groups had infiltrated the protesters, fired on security services and kicked off a war – not a civil war but one of vicious sectarianism organised by Saudi, US, Israel etc against the non sectarian socialist Republic (I wonder which bit they feared the most?). They supplied the money and the weapons, as they still do. But to imagine that one day Assad woke up and decided it was time to shoot some protesters is fanciful. Syria was attacked. It faced foreign backed (and often foreign in fact) fighters. It could only fight back

      • mark says

        Assad tried his best to be conciliatory when initial protests broke out. He promised reforms, replaced officials with local people, and sent unarmed police armed only with batons to control demonstrations. Then mysterious unidentified snipers appeared on rooftops and fired into the crowd, killing women and young children to incite hatred. The same people (CIA, Mossad, SAS, Saudi mercenaries?) also killed many unarmed police officers at the same time – just like Maidan. This was all scripted well in advance. Syria was targeted for destruction by the Neocons from the late 1990s. The SAS was training jihadis in Jordan and Turkey from 2006. .

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Syria figures prominently in the Zionazi planning document, the Oded Yinon Plan. It is to be eviscerated into four parts, and, as Smotrich, the Deputy Knesset Speaker declared a few years ago ‘Damascus belongs to the Jews’. And more besides, as part of Eretz Yisrael. As for civilian deaths, as the highly influential Yesha Council of Rabbis and Torah Sages declared in 2006, under Talmudic Law, killing énemy’ civilians is not just permissible, but is, in fact, a ‘mitzvah’ or good deed.

  13. Paul X says

    Cockburn, along with Robert Fisk are the two best foreign reporters we have. They have decades of experience in the Middle East and both are authors of historical note; Cockburn’s Age of Jihad and Fisk’s monumental work on the Conquest of the Middle East are masterpieces of analysis while also being dramatic recollections of life in Algeria in the 1990’s, largely ignored by the MSM as well as on the front line in the Iran – Iraq war. Naturally both were in Baghdad when America launched their massive missile attack. Fisk has recently toured the Idlip border and discovered, contrary to the MSM that there is no massive Syrian-Russian military build up. Who else has produced works like it? I think your criticisms of Cockburn’s language niggardly and silly. It’s quite obvious when you read him where his sympathies lie. He says things the stringers darent say.

  14. Marshalldoc says

    Well said! I only arrive at C.P. via other links since I’ve already too much incoming info, but have been frequently disappointed by the ‘western-friendly’ stances offered.

    • Well no, they’re not. Cockburn recites from the official “Narrative” to cover the operation and engages in War Prorpaganda to support a war of aggression – a covert one, but a war of aggression none the less. There was no popular uprising, it was a Color Revolution panned and ordered from Washington. There was no civil war, it was a massive regime change exercise sending in their Jihadist paramilitaries recruited from outside the country. Cockburn has had seven years to say it.

      • Paul X says

        But he’s been saying it for years! Read his Age of Jihad.

        • Yes! Counterpunch is getting lamer, but not because of Patrick Cockburn. I’m thinking Jeffrey St Clair, Louis Proyect, etc.

          • Did you understand what the author of the above article was saying about Patrick Cockburn? Otherwise, Yes, Louis Proyect is nasty. I discovered that Jeffrey St. Clair is not nice when I sent him an email pointing out that one of his links had been hijacked me and was insulted for it. You’re going to find that just about every ‘solid’ progressive org isn’t so solid that it doesn’t offer a link or two to some faker (person or org).

  15. Makropulos says

    Thank you for the links to the Cook articles – especially the one about the increasingly desperate attempts to get rid of Corbyn. As far as I’m concerned, this neo-liberal media “jumped the shark” a long long time ago. These pawns of corporate power are becoming increasingly more isolated and ineffectual. They are now talking to themselves in a little echo-chamber which may explain why their voices are becoming increasingly shrill and idiotic.

    • Cook has gone native, and I mean that in a good way. He’s there, on the ground, and has a capacity for empathy and analysis that I admire, having lived and worked in the Middle East myself.

    • ab says

      Unfortunately video not available ito view in the UK.

      • Willem says

        In the Netherlands neither. Quite telling

        Try Jimmy Dore Timber Sycamore for more luck in case you haven’t heard the professor talk about this CIA plot.

        Or try Wikipedia

        It is not even a secret..

  16. flotsam says

    I agree in general about Counterpunch, but I think the article is a bit harsh on Patrick Cockburn. It should be noted that his article was originally in The Independent, not Counterpunch. So it is very much a MSM piece. And I think Mr Cockburn does an excellent job of reporting on the mideast, considering that he is constrained to make his work palatable for the MSM.

  17. Harry Law says

    International law is dead, ask the Iraqi’s, Iranian’s, Syrians, Libyan’s and Yemenis, thanks to the veto of the US in the UNSC on behalf of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Neither is there any political will on the part of European states, to them, going along with breaches of International law by the “Leader of the West” the US plus Israel is the easiest and safest option.
    Proof of this is the US American Service-members Protection Act which authorizes the U.S. president to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.” This authorization has led the act to be nicknamed the “Hague Invasion Act”, because the freeing of U.S. citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch government.
    Could there not be a more despotic state than Saudi Arabia yet they are the essential allies of the West, it makes you want to throw up. Chairman Mao said power grows out the barrel of a gun, unfortunately he was so right,
    How about this US clown…The Interior Secretary proposed a naval blockade of Russia as a way to push Moscow out of energy market.
    Speaking Friday at an industry event in Pittsburgh hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the US Navy can blockade Russia if needed in order to keep it from controlling energy supplies in the Middle East as it does in Europe.
    “The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade… to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” Zinke said.

    • mark says

      At the same time the US Ambassador to NATO has just threatened an attack on Russia to destroy its nuclear weapons. If we avoid a crazy Neocon war against Russia/ China/ Iran/ DPRK, it will only be by the grace of God.

    • Off-Anything says

      “The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade… to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” Zinke said.

      Mr. Zinke: this may not end well. Your armed forces have lost and have been losing wars against unarmed rice growers, “terrorists” armed with box cutters and more, in Afghanistan for many years. Considering the known performance of Russian torpedoes and Russia’s jamming capabilities, everyone of your battleships and aircraft carriers could share a meeting with the Titanic and the Bismarck within hours of the beginning of a serious conflict. One more thing: You don’t have allies. You have reluctant vassals increasingly ready to say, “enough is enough.”

  18. Runner77 says

    I’ve been wondering what’s happened to Counterpunch for quite a while now. The tipping point came for me back in April, when I read, with growing disbelief, Sonali Kolhatkar’s account of the Douma ‘chemical weapon’ attack. It’s bad enough having to read this stuff in the Guardian without it being reproduced on supposedly more enlightened websites. To describe Olivia Solon’s Guardian report as “corroborated by multiple sources” demonstrates just how superficial Kolhatkar’s report was; and ignoring the widely available recorded interviews of the medical staff involved – or caught up in – the ‘attack’ is sheer dereliction of duty. Enough is enough. I unsubscribed . . .

    • Paul X says

      It was Robert Fisk who was one if the first to enter the area, noting that there was no on-street evidence of any chemical attack and found a medical witness who gave a graphic account of armed men seizing children and hysterically hiding them down for video cameras when there was nothing wrong with them. Fisk also visited and photographed the immense network of underground roads and infrastructure built by very well resourced Jihadis. He also discoursed on the huge amounts of money required to employ just 10,000 ‘ fighters’ who required food, wages as well as guns. Multiply that by the number of such groups and you get an idea of how much Saudi Arabia and the UAE are spending on the war.

  19. RL McRae says

    Good points Steve, I’m also much less of a fan/and more suspicious of Counterpunch than I used to be.
    But, I believe the rot has set in a lot deeper than just being about Cockburn or Counterpunch itself, and means we have to scrutinize just about everything written by left independent media as much as we suspect other sources!

    I see this in how what’s presented as ‘independent’ media like Democracy Now covers US imperial wars since the Libya Invasion of 2011. I like most of the listeners and viewers no doubt…only knew they were ruled by Gadaffi for a very long time and he frequently talks like an idiot. But after more regime change wars were added for the to-do list, I started paying closer attention and noticed that show host- Amy Goodman’s progressive radicalism mostly ended at US borders and just parroted the Pentagon talking points on the invasions of Syria and Ukraine, and talked to the same so called ‘experts’ that were on MSM!

    And, even worse as I see it, Democracy Now and other suspect left and progressive media like Jacobin and The Young Turks especially, were following establishment narratives on more and more subjects. One commonality they all seem to have is Money! Real independent media….even rightwing independent media like and the Libertarian Institute, never seem to be swimming in rivers of cash and building new expensive studios, hiring more and more staff and going on location all over the world…just like the MSM!

    So, I guess those of us who want real information and analysis on a range of subjects have to educate ourselves a bit more and keep our sources under scrutiny for their consistency. The more they start looking like MSM, the more likely they are getting funded by the same sources.

    Thanks again.

    • mark says

      Goodman and Democracy Now are bankrolled by Soros – that’s all you need to know.
      It’s another Faux Left Controlled Opposition organ like the Guardian.
      I never watch it now.
      I used to read Counterpunch but haven’t for years now.
      You might as well read the crap in the Guardian, there’s no difference.

    • Thanks, RL. Living outside the US and watching very little TV (don’t even have one where I am at the moment) leaves me free to think for myself. I garden and make jam. That seems to do the trick.

    • Thanks for the link and the kind comment, retro. It “sounds” or “appears” that the author was really there. In any case, he corroborates the well-known US playbook: create a problem to solve in order to shape the solution to one’s agenda. The R2P tactic. You’d think people would have caught on by now, which seems to be the case with most OffG readers.

      • I’ve seen the most intelligent, decent people react to the idea of abandoning their tv sets and the poison that they deliver with utter horror. And those who dispense the poison know that they have that lock on the people. The greatest weapon that the war-making Corporatocracy State has in its arsenal for use in its global pacification (of the people) operation is tv. Mix entertainment with propaganda and voila: victory!

        • Off-Anything says

          I agree with your analysis. TV & entertainment (we know who owns them) are instruments of pacification and dummification but stats reveal that most people are moving away from “bread & circuses.” That being said, the cabal doesn’t give up and George Soros’ ongoing social engineering experiment has resulted in several states legalizing cannabis and his young friend in Canada is about to do the same in just a few days.

          There is a sinister reason behind this: “There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing a dictatorship without tears so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods and this seems to be the final revolution.” Alex Huxley The Final Revolution, Berkeley 1962

  20. bevin says

    Cockburn writes for The Independent (which isn’t) and I assume that these pieces in CP are first published in that Russian kleptocrat’s organ.
    I agree about CounterPunch, incidentally, but I blame the problem, which began with the premature death of the incomparable (well almost) Alex Cockburn on the verminous Louis Proyect, the latest in the line of Kautskyites, impertinent enough to set themselves up as Popes of ‘Marxism’.

  21. Hope says

    The links to the Jonathan Cook articles are not working.

  22. vexarb says

    Good article. Stating the obvious, but in a stirring way. Hope it gets wider exposure, bringing the truth about Syria’s so-called “civil war” closer to the general public. Like Zola’s famous J’Accuse!.

    • Thanks, vexarb. Every now and then an article is like a stone that somehow slips into my shoe. This one had that effect.

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