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Sarin in Syria: chemistry, and cui bono?

Philip Roddis

The exchange below took place a few days ago, below the line of an OffGuardian piece on the corruption of the UN’s Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as shown in its handling of last year’s Douma incident.

Louis Proyect is one of many on the marxist left I think dead wrong on Syria – see my post from last year on Workers’ Power. He professes bafflement that marxists could defend evil Assad.

Me, I’m baffled that any marxist could buy, on such negligible evidential basis, the demonising of a third world leader who stands in the way of imperialist powers with multiple motives (oil pipeline, privatisation, Golan theft, hurting Iran and Russia) for crushing Ba’athism – and with a record as long as your arm of lying at every turn as to the why of it.

Moving on, Proyect claims – I’ve heard the Guardian’s George Monbiot do the same – that sarin is hard to manufacture; certainly beyond the capacity of Islamist groups working to bring down Assad. Since neither Proyect not Monbiot are experts, I’ll turn to those who are.

Let none accuse me of cherry picking. This piece, from Wired two years ago, is vehemently of the view that Assad does have sarin, and does use it.

[Sarin] is not especially hard to produce, in terms of both resources and expertise. “A competent chemist could make it, and possibly very quickly, in a matter of days,” says John Gilbert, a senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, who spent much of his Air Force career assessing countries’ WMD capabilities. Producing sarin doesn’t require any kind of massive facility; a roughly 200 square foot room would do.

Author Brian Barrett, eager to make the case that Damascus could have rebuilt sarin stockpiles after the OPCW oversaw their destruction in 2014, inadvertently blows Proyect’s and Monbiot’s argument clean out of the water!

We should also note the Tokyo subway attack of March 20, 1995. Perps? Aum Shinrikyo, a bunch of doomsday wingnuts originating as a yoga and meditation group devoted to a mishmash of deities with Hindu deity Shiva – the destroyer – in overall charge and channelled through head wacko Shoko Asahara. Says wiki:

Tsuchiya [a member] had established a small laboratory in Kamikuishiki in 1992. After initial research (at Tsukuba University, where he had studied chemistry) he suggested to Hideo Murai – a senior Aum advisor who had tasked him with researching chemical weapons, out of fear the cult would soon be attacked with them – that the most cost-effective substance to synthesise would be sarin.

He was ordered to produce a small amount – within a month, the necessary equipment had been ordered and installed, and 10-20g of sarin produced via synthetic procedures derived from the five-step DHMP process as originally described by IG Farben in 1938, and as used by the Allies after World War II.

Murai then ordered Tsuchiya to produce 70 tons. When Tsuchiya protested that this was not feasible in a research laboratory, a chemical plant was ordered to be built alongside the biological production facility in the Fujigamine district of Kamikuishiki, to be labelled Satyan-7 (‘Truth’). The equipment and substantial chemicals were purchased using shell companies under Hasegawa Chemical, already owned by Aum. At the same time, in 1993, cult members travelled to Australia, bringing generators, tools, protective equipment (including gas masks and respirators), and chemicals to make sarin.

Are we seriously to suppose the ‘moderate Islamists’ operating in Syria with barely hidden aid from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and – not least through the likes of White Helmets – the West are less resourceful than this bunch of millennial crazies?

It amazes me, perhaps because I still deem them deluded but sincere, that so many fail to see that on Syria, and much besides, we are being lied to on a monumental scale and will continue to be so lied to until we wake up and demand the truth.

Scribbler for some sixty years, and for fifteen a photographer too, Philip Roddis began blogging in the early noughties by inflicting film reviews on an unsuspecting public. Soon he was doing the same with illustrated writings on wanderings in Asia and Africa. He writes “to help me think, and because I like to be read”, and finds photography's problem solving aspects "a break from those of writing, as well as an aid to writing and to reflective travel”.

His blog is Steel City Scribblings

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Scribbler for some sixty years, and for fifteen a photographer too, Philip Roddis began blogging in the early noughties by inflicting film reviews on an unsuspecting public. Soon he was doing the same with illustrated writings on wanderings in Asia and Africa. He writes “to help me think, and because I like to be read”, and finds photography's problem solving aspects "a break from those of writing, as well as an aid to writing and to reflective travel”. His blog is Steel City Scribblings

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vexarb
vexarb

Meanwhile from the real world where one breathes a purer air, comes a letter of appreciation to Syria. Note who signed it:

“I recently traveled across Syria and met with Members of Parliament and with President Assad. The Syrian people I encountered are joyous at the expulsion of the terrorist armies and at the restoration of law and order. They often volunteered that they had great affection for President Assad. The Syrian government has devoted great effort to rebuilding Christian churches and mosques that were destroyed by the terrorists.

I last visited Syria in 2016, and Syria was then under pressure from Western-backed terrorists on every side. Today, there is excellent security, and I was able to drive unhindered from Damascus to Aleppo. Syrians are tirelessly rebuilding the country and 1.5 million refugees have already returned home to Syria. The war would have ended by now had the U.S. and U.K. not thrown their full diplomatic and military weight behind al Nusra and ISIS in Idlib Province. We claim that we’re concerned about protecting civilians, but people of Idlib don’t want to live under violent tyranny any more than people did in Aleppo. I pray that all Syrian people will soon be free. May God bless the Syrian Arab Army and its allies.

Senator Richard H. Black
13th District, Virginia”

Guy
Guy

Thank you for submitting this letter from Senator Richard H.Black .It provides hope for many of us that all is not lost in our Western society.
Cheers.

Louis Proyect
Louis Proyect

Checking in to see if anybody can document Syrian rebels using sarin gas against Assad’s military. I can’t go through all the comments that seem to be the standard stuff about how the dastardly Zionist, CIA, Trotskyites are behind the conspiracy to destroy the Middle East’s only true democracy but in the outside chance that a critical-minded soul wandered into this conspiracy-mongering, anti-Marxist cauldron, this might help you understand the class dynamics of what took place in Syria:

https://louisproyect.org/2016/12/14/the-economic-roots-of-the-syrian-revolution/

Bye-bye for now.

Dave Hansell
Dave Hansell

You need to go to Specsavers for that myopia mate. Pre-assuming what you aim to deduce and reframing the discussion to fit your own little reality as a methodology of refusing to engage with the questions put ‘aint impressing the grown up’s here.

Those of us who inhabit the reality based community have encountered all this anti scientific approach too often in the past – almost exclusively from those of the Karl Rove persuasion like yourself who simply avoid the awkward questions by talking about stuff no one has claimed and hoping no one notices.

You stick to clutching your comfort blanket with your thumb up your bum and your brain in neutral in the corner of the playground if it’s too hard for you.

George
George

“Bye-bye for now.”

Only “for now”?

bevin
bevin

Let us make this really clear, for you Louis: the war in Syria between the government and sundry jihadi mercenary militias sponsored and supplied by the imperialist powers, most notably the United States and the UK and their allies in the Gulf, including both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, was part of a notorious strategy, to control the Middle East.
Your opinion, it would seem, is that the involvement of Al Qaeda, Israel, supplying inter alia field hospitals, MI6 and the CIA is part of a concerted effort by the NATO powers to protect a proletarian revolution against Assad and the Syrian bourgeoisie.
That is what NATO is all about: protecting working class militants and their attempts to seize power and transform society from reactionary bourgeois regimes such as the Baath in Syria.
Readers will recall, that to your applause and with the support of Professor Achcar the same forces-headed up by your colleagues BH Levy and (don’t be shy!) Hillary Clinton-rushed into Libya on the same pretext: to preserve a revolution against a dictatorship.
Now, Louis, tell us what is happening in Venezuela ? Are the Lima group attempting to assist in the liberation of the working class there from a dictatorship? Is that what is behind the attacks on Iran, too? Has the Empire, in its last attempts to achieve hegemony, ‘gone straight’ and thrown in its forces with the masses?

Guy
Guy

If I could I would give you thousands of thumbs up .You do have a sharp mind and a wonderful way of expression.But don’t expect any logical response from Louis.
Cheers.

todd
todd

I would say that it is possible that the Jihadi’s supplies of sarin gas was limited. If there isn’t enough gas to change the course of the war militarily, you might try to use strategically to enable foreign intervention.

mark
mark

Ask Carla del Ponte. She’ll provide you with all the documentation you need.
Or ask the Turkish police who caught your cannibal throat slitter chums red handed with canisters of sarin.

Haltonbrat
Haltonbrat

Roland Dumas, former French Foreign minister, in French TV debate, provides very succinctly accusations for the cause of the Syria conflict : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeyRwFHR8WY.

JudyJ
JudyJ

Thanks for the link, H. It reminds me of the lone voice of Alexander Nekrassov when he has been invited to participate in the weekly BBC Dateline topical panel discussions. Such individuals are there just to be patronised and made out to be fools. The other panellists in your link adopt the same smirks as the ones on Dateline. They clearly think that being smug wins the argument. As with Dateline, they are unable to refute the observations; they are beyond the point where they think that is necessary, or that it is necessary that they themselves provide evidence to back up their own parroted contentions.

Guy
Guy

What possible reason would he have to lie.I am presently reading the latest book by Thierry Meyssan’s book “Right before our Eyes ” .Very enlightening indeed and would recommend it to anyone wanting to know the French angle in Syria.

Maggie
Maggie

What is wrong with the picture heading this article? Not one of these people are suffering from noxious fume inhalation.
Why are there other people standing around, totally un concerned? They would be attending to those who were ‘injured’ if there were any.. They are all crisis actors. This is a false flag drill…..
The photo is designed to make the sheep gasp in terror.

CAB
CAB

Let’s imagine that a sarin attack has occurred underground. Some people make it out above ground where they cough and try to get a grip on their experience.

Other people who were already above ground – perhaps were never below ground – are viewing the secene.
A policeman is giving aid or advice to someone.
That’s what the photograph is. Maybe you were expecting a more Hollywood style chaos.
If it’s a set-up, it’s pretty piss poor, wouldn’t you say ?
I’d sack the bloke with his arms folded for a start. He’s useless at hysteria.

Meteor
Meteor

What to make of this?

“In an interview with Alternet.org, the independent investigative reporter Seymour Hersh was asked about Hillary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi Libya consulate’s operation to collect sarin from Libyan stockpiles and send it through Turkey into Syria for a set-up sarin-gas attack, to be blamed on Assad in order to ‘justify’ the US invading Syria, as it had invaded Libya.”

https://www.mintpressnews.com/215993-2/215993/

Guy
Guy

Thank you for the link.To go further into this,Christof Lehmann certainly needs a mention.
https://archive.is/SVm5p

BigB
BigB

I haven’t got time to read all the comments: but if no one has done already – anyone requiring evidence (such as Louis) – need only visit Tim Hayward’s blog. Among the Working Groups analysis of any alleged chemical weapons abuses by Assad: are a series of guest blogs by Professor Paul McKeigue. After detailing how we can realistically, if subjectively, assess a mound of conflicting evidence (using Bayesian Calculus for the mathematically minded (If it was good enough for Turing to assign to ‘Ultra’ codebreaking – it’s good enough for me)). He then turns his attention to the alleged sarin attack at Ghouta (2013).

The question is raised: if ‘President Gassad’ deployed sarin on residents of Damascus – why did one of the victims (designated ‘M-015’) slit his own throat in Kafr Batna morgue? To make a point?

https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/who-is-responsible-for-chemical-attacks-in-syria-guest-blog-by-professor-paul-mckeigue-part-2/

The imperialist narrative Proyect prefers is refuted: but a more sinister narrative appears. The victims of these attacks are real. And they really are dead: even the one that survived the original gas attack (M-015). There were around 85 men, women, and children in the ‘Sun Morgue’: how did they die? Sarin? Or something much darker and more sinister?

https://www.pdf-archive.com/2017/04/08/murder-in-the-sunmorgue/murder-in-the-sunmorgue.pdf

This is a detailed report into the same alleged sarin attack: that proposes that the victims were murdered in the ‘Dark Morgue’ before being laid out upstairs in the ‘Sun Morgue’. Which is more consistent than one of the victims surviving: only to slit his own throat (some of the other victims have their throats covered: which has sinister implications in the light of M-015’s murder).

Even if you do not go for this: you still have to answer the question of why M-015 was killed after surviving the gas attack. And why the concerned and benevolent rescuers – and presumably medics – walked unconcernedly past someone who was clutching his t-shirt, whilst bleeding profusely from the neck. Corpses do not do that.

On the one hand: we have Eliot Higgins and Proyect pushing the imperial narrative. On the other: I give you Paul McKeigue and Denis R O’Brien: with a narrative of murder for mass propaganda. Add in Ted Postol; the ‘Indicter’; Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli; Mother Mariam; etc …and all the other ‘Assad apologists’ …I’m confident that I know what is going on in Syria. If anyone like Louis wants to refute that: let’s start with victim ‘M-015’. He did not kill himself. He was murdered for a ‘red line’ false flag. Murders that Proyect is an apologist for.

Gezzah Potts

You nailed it in one comment BigB. I was telling a couple leftist friends years ago what was happening in Syria, and who was supporting, funding and arming the ‘moderate rebel freedom fighters’ Aka jihadist headchoppers; and their response was pretty similar to Louis P. They read The Guardian and other ‘liberal’ media here in Australia.
As for the false flag chemical weapons attacks, these same people I know were highly sceptical of journalists like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett and even Robert Fisk after he visited Ghouta himself.
The mainstream media are fully complicit in massive numbers of deaths, false flags, the destruction of entire countries, the promotion of such creations as the White Helmets, the promotion of ‘R2P’ aka Imperialism, and whoring themselves for the 0.01℅. These people are complicit in war crimes as well.

falcemartello

As most things CUI PODESTA (BONO) never gets looked at with all these imperial aggressive methods on the rest of the world.

falcemartello

Louis Proyect. Fake Marxist. Well known NYC anglo-zionist Trotskyist. Sell out like most of so called left wing western shills. We In Napoli know the type well. Famous Gramsci quote,”Troskyist are the hores of the fascist.” Considering the origins of the Assad family and their political leanings hence being one of the most left wing governments in the ME his father was one of the original Bathist Arab nationalist like Nasser and co. But why let little facts blur the illusion of pax-americana and their pseudo Marxist denigrating any one whom stands in the way of the Imperial court coming from London,Paris or Washington.
POAT SCRIPTUM: QUI TACET CONSENTIR VIDETUR

Stephen Morrell
Stephen Morrell

It’s a bit misleading to label the third-campist ‘state caps’, et al. ‘Trotskyite’, despite these groups labelling themselves that. As most here likely know, Trotsky’s last major political battle was exactly with those who would no longer defend the USSR (Burnham and Shachtman) and wanted to dress up their capitulation to liberal hysteria over the Hitler-Stalin pact as the USSR being ‘bureaucratic collectivist’. If he were still alive, the likes of Cliff et al. would never have been Trotsky’s followers because he would have been pilloring them at every opportunity.

Now, Proyect. I think one key to his stubborn refusal to acknowledge overwhelming empirical evidence or mount a coherent argument around the Syrian situation is that he has a bit of a cult following. If you look at this exchange I had with him about the details of the various OPCW Douma reports, suppressed and official, you’ll see he had a lot fanboys jumping in with ad hominem attacks against anyone who questioned the pronouncements of their leader. A textbook bubble.

https://louisproyect.org/2019/06/01/was-the-douma-chlorine-gas-attack-a-false-flag/

Philip Roddis

Stephen I’ve followed with considerable interest your exchanges with Louis Proyect. I note that the man does not rely entirely on the rottweiler ad hominems that make his style so repulsive. (And this from a man who invokes the notion – already problematic for a Marxist and hence (a) materialist and (b) anti-imperialist- of Enlightenment Values!)

He also makes use of non sequitur, childish logic, guilt by association, misrepresentation and arguments plausible enough to convince the lazy and/or credulous – as well as the closed of mind. (Though to be fair there’s plenty of that last on all sides, a point I’ll return to in a moment.)

I applaud your calm, factually grounded and logically coherent responses in the face of a mix of speciousness and aggression, not just from Louis but his admirers too.

I concur with your assessment of Assad – summed up by the very Trotskyist term, Bonapartist. One drearily predictable consequence of so polarised a situation as the imperialist predation on Syria begets is an oversimplifed picture. Not all who refuse to buy so transparently empire serving a narrative on Assad are willing to embrace his sainthood. In any case there’s too much we can’t at this stage know.

But here too Trotsky is useful. Of late, by which I mean these last twenty years, his formulation of “critical but unconditional defence” has never seemed more pertinent and useful. I’d like to write a slightly longer piece, drawing heavily on your exchanges with LP. Would you object?

Also, I’d like to communicate with you more directly than BTL comment permits. If you feel inclined, you could make a brief comment on one of my blog posts, linked from my profile, above. I’d then have your email address and you’d soon have mine.

In any event, thanks for your valuable input.

Stephen Morrell
Stephen Morrell

I can’t say I’ve heard of quite the formulation, ‘critical but unconditional defense’. Anyway, Trotsky used the term ‘unconditional defense’ in reference to external military attacks or internal counterrevolution against the USSR. He placed no conditions on that (eg, whether Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler or not; whether he killed/purged millions; ate babies). What mattered was that the USSR was a workers state (degenerated), and this gain needed to be defended against capitalist imperialism. The state caps and third campists all placed a condition on defending the USSR: that the Stalinist bureaucracy not offend the ‘morals’ and ‘democratic’ sensibilities of the imperialists. This is what impelled them to erect their anti-Marxist theories of a ‘new class’ society, as a cover for their pro-imperialism and anti-communism.

This is different in the situations where the conflict doesn’t involve a workers state. Then one must examine the role of any imperialist powers in the conflict. All things being equal, if some non-imperialist country is in conflict with another, where otherwise Marxists wouldn’t take a side, but instead an imperialist power sided with one, then Marxists would side militarily with the country fighting the one in alliance with the imperial overlord. If both have an imperial overlord, then again Marxists would take no side. If there were two non-imperialist countries at war and neither had an imperialist overlord, but the outcome would advance or retard the prospects of socialist revolution, then Marxists would take a side. In short, this is all very conditional. Nothing is unconditional in these considerations.

Proyect cut off the exchange with him by closing access to the comments section so he could have the last word. My (unseen) reply to his ‘last word’ was:

“The report you cite has nothing at all to say about ‘class struggle’. It summarises the implementation of necessarily vicious neoliberal economic policies by Assad; the migration of people from the countryside to the cities, driven there by severe drought; and it reports on the jockeying of various factions of the ruling class of which the Assad clan is an integral part. Your own rendition of this is more edifying, but class struggle still isn’t there.

“It’s rather difficult to mention or discuss actual working class struggle in Syria when there’s virtually none, when the population of ~21 million comprises only ~4 million workers with a ~20% unemployment rate. The economy has been wrecked not only by the civil war but by crippling sanctions imposed by the imperialists. The Syrian organised working class, such as it’s permitted to exist, is playing no independent role in this mess.

“However, the notion that the Syrian civil war is a ‘revolution’, or represents ‘class struggle’ is a ludicrous, reactionary fantasy. The Syrian civil war is a communalist bloodbath fueled by the imperialists who’ve chosen a side, the Salafists, al-Nusra, etc, as part of their aim of ‘regime change’. To tart this up as something akin to the Spanish Civil War is a disgrace and only serves as a cover for supporting US imperialism’s Syrian regime-change efforts.”

By all means use the material there for a more detailed article. I don’t claim any copyright or IP.

I’ll be in touch at some point.

Philip Roddis

Thanks Stephen. I’m juggling tasks and unfulfilled promises, as always with my writing, but will pen an assessment of LP as soon as I can.

Re the extension of “critical but unconditional defence of the Soviet Union’ to other struggles against imperialism – in this case by imperialised nations – I can’t be sure Trotsky advocated this. Some groups on Trotskyite left – including IS/SWP up to the Birmingham Pub Bombings – did so extend it: most markedly in relation to the Provisional IRA, an organisation far more challenging to defend, for British socialists, than the USSR.

Stephen Morrell
Stephen Morrell

Hi Philip,

Getting into some weeds here.

We know that Trotsky advocated supporting the struggle of oppressed nations against the imperialist and colonial yoke, in line with Lenin’s attitude to the national question (as in Proyect’s ‘gotcha’ example of Algeria).

I don’t know of examples where Trotsky denounced indefensible acts of indiscriminate terror against innocent people carried out by those struggling for an otherwise just cause, as in something analogous to the IRA’s Birmingham pub bombings. There may be examples, but I’m not aware of them, and I’d be extremely surprised if he defended any acts of indiscriminate terror. The IRA committed many indefensible terrorist acts (pub bombings) but also defensible ones (eg, when taking on the UDF, etc). The IRA are a bourgeois nationalist formation.

My understanding of the logic of Trotsky’s position, again in line with Lenin’s on the national question, was that struggle by the oppressed nation against the forces of the imperialist power was defensible regardless of whether it was led by ‘progressive’ or reactionary bourgeois nationalists. If it enlisted the help of a rival imperial power (not just supplying arms which is neither here nor there, but in a military alliance), or as occurred in WWI vis-a-vis colonial possessions of the two imperialist camps in the war, then revolutionary Marxists take no side in the conflict.

However, to both Trotsky and Lenin, terrorism in general, whether discriminate (ie, directed against the imperial power’s military or political hierarchy) or indiscriminate (directed against innocent people) was ‘liberalism under the gun’ and ultimately a counterproductive strategy to be counterposed with one of proletarian revolution.

So, I think supporting or defending national liberation struggles was conditional on whether this support/defense furthered or hindered world revolution. In contrast, defending the USSR militarily was formulated as ‘unconditional’ because not to do so always betrayed the revolutionary cause by failing to oppose imperialist or internal efforts at counterrevolution in the USSR.

For the same reason, Trotskyists and Marxists were on the side of the USSR militarily in WWII despite one gang of imperialists also being on the same side and providing some (relatively) minor material support to it. And even if the USSR’s military hypothetically were fighting side by side with one imperialist side against the other, Marxists would still defend it.

The Trotskyists in WWII took no side on US/UK vs. Nazi Germany or Japan, despite Cannon and Trotsky’s opportunist ‘Proletarian Military Policy’ (another discussion); but sided with the USSR against Germany and would have sided with the USSR against Japan if Truman didn’t stop that happening by A-bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I don’t know if this makes things any clearer, though.

Philip Roddis

I think, by carefully proceeding and readiness to question all our beliefs, we do make things clearer. We are in agreement on much, and your final reply to Proyect – so typical of his style that he would not publish it – is admirable.

Was the provisional IRA a bourgeois nationalist group? Undoubtedly. Were they fighting imperialist domination? Same answer. Do we pick and choose between ‘defensible’ and ‘indefensible’ Provo acts? I find that a tougher call. As a bourgeois nationalist group (with left and right factions) all of their acts had the same defects. Ditto Sinn Fein’s, the two representing a dialectic – Armalite and Ballot Box – playing out for decades in the context of Ireland.

The question at the time was whether criticism or defence of individual acts – as opposed to critical but unconditional defence of the Provos as a whole – helped or hindered not just a working class doubly oppressed, but the cause of a united Ireland free of British rule. At the time, I and my group took the view, which I’m willing to reexamine, that a la carte criticism played into the hands of British rule. We’d note, for instance, that the decision to take the fight to the British Mainland was driven largely by recognition that bombs in Belfast and Derry had far less impact than bombs in Birmingham and Guildford. And that in any case, both the Armalite and the Ballot Box – however used – represented the limitations of nationalist struggle.

I’m neither defending nor criticising those acts now. It’s a long time since I thought about this question. But I still have the niggling thought that “discriminate” and “indiscriminate” terror aren’t neatly separable categories.

On the defence of the USSR, I of course agree entirely.

Frank Speaker
Frank Speaker

One doesn’t need to be a Marxist to understand what’s going in Syria. People on the right and centre can equally see what’s really occurring there. Trotskyists and Bolsheviks claiming virtue in such matters is hypocritical of them to say the least, the 20th century was littered with countless tens of millions of victims of their political games and their own empires.

bevin
bevin

“… the 20th century was littered with countless tens of millions of victims of their political games and their own empires.”

It must feel good to get that old anti-communist chestnut off your chest. The bad news is that there isn’t any money in it any longer.
Let’s be reasonable: the deaths that you are talking about came either from wars- and in every one of them the Communists were fighting in self defence against imperialist and fascist attacks. Or from famines. And most of these were caused by trade sanctions and deliberate attempts to starve people cheeky enough to try and organise their economies and societies in non capitalist systems.
Even those deaths that came from purges such as those carried out by Stalin, had their origins in the constant pressures of containment by imperialists. Pressures that included the organisation of guerrilla armies (eastern Europe post 1944) and the deliberate introduction of animal and plant diseases to discredit socialist governments.
Take a look at what is being done to Venezuela and Iran today, where people deprived of the chance to purchase food and medicine are dying and you will see what the Communist states had to deal with, throughout their existences.

Igor
Igor

Now apply that same logic to Jewish deaths in WW2 when Germany’s infrastructure was destroyed, and food and medicine were in short supply.
Oh, wait, you can’t, because it is immoral, and illegal in some jurisdictions, to do that.

Martin Usher
Martin Usher

I’d have thought that the experience of the last 30 years would be enough to adequately demonstrate the difference between a political ideology and its specific implementation in the context of a particular state or culture. Put simply, a lot of what we associate with ‘communism’ is really ‘Russianism’ — you can not only see correlations between actions during the Stalinist era and Tsarist times but also between later communist Russia and today’s Russia (the latter being why Cold War II seems to be such an easy sell). What this has to do with a 19th century economic theory derived from Enlightenment era thought is anyone’s guess (if you’re going to blame anyone then you should at least call it “Leninism” or something!).

The same processes can be used to parallel thought in dissimilar countries during the same period. Its common practice to use the bait and switch of comparing, for example, 1930s Germany with contemporary Britain or the US. Most people don’t remember what it was like ‘back then’, what people thought, how they felt, how social attitudes shaped society’s responses to challenges. Instead they adopt something closer to a modern movie treatment (e.g. confusing Nazi Germany with Inglorious Bastards).

One particularly egregious mental sin,is to conflate the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany and to refer to the USSR as an ’empire’. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of that period’s history will know that the two societies had nothing in common. These notions are a product of 1980’s Reagan era propaganda; I remember when they were first floated and thought ‘surely nobody’s going to be taken in by this?’. Obviously, I was wrong — it turned out to be a very successful propaganda coup.

vexarb
vexarb

“… says John Gilbert, a senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, who spent much of his Air Force career assessing countries’ WMD capabilities.”

From whose website (CACNP) I gather: “beginning in 1988. He established the chemical and biological operations division … (now part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency), and was a member of U.S. national Chemical Weapons delegations and negotiating teams in Geneva, The Hague, and Moscow. He has trained several hundred arms control inspectors for the United States, including those conducting missile, nuclear, and chemical inspections, biological weapon fact-finding visits, and other operations.”

So John Gilbert must have been around when Shrub Bush and Tony B.Liar were thrilling the world with horror stories about Iraq’s completely non-existent WMD. What did he say at the time?

The time when both Dr.David Kelly (RIP) MI6 Weapons Expert, and Scott Ritter, Chief UN Weapons Inspector were fired and publicly disgraced for telling the truth.

That time, what did John Gilbert say?

Philip Roddis

No idea what he said. It’s not relevant. His name came up in a narrowly specific context – “is saring hard or easy to make?” – and that’s the long and short of it.

Igor
Igor

All that I can say is that “John Gilbert” doesn’t exist on the Internet outside of this current role. The only available information originates from one source:
https://armscontrolcenter.org/about/meet-our-experts/#JGilbert
Somewhat spooky career.

vexarb
vexarb

@Philip. Yes; and I noticed his reply was as ambiguous as a Delphic oracle. “All you need is a room of a certain size”. Which is why I looked him up. I presume his view on Iraq’s WMD was equally Delphic, unlike the plain “None!” of experts Dr.Kelly (RIP) and Scott Ritter whose careers were abruptly terminated.

Philip Roddis

Hi vexarb. Not sure where this is going. I say Gilbert’s political views, and any putative lack of moral courage, are beside the point. Barret quoted him to make an anti Assad point whose effect is to undermine Louis Proyect’s anti Assad point. Igor, for reasons beyond me, suggests he has a ‘spooky career’, while the link he supplies suggests a minor expert of little interest outside his discipline until many commentators, within and without MSM, picked up on his claim of sarin being easy to make.

To be clear are you (and Igor too if reading) saying sarin is hard to make? If so, Gilbert is not the only expert you need to counter – besides the Aum Shinrikyo attack, there’s this from New Scientist:

If not, what are you saying? I’m used to dealing on occasion with non too bright people who take my citing an authority, to make a narrow but pertinent point, as wider endorsement of that person. (For instance I often cite Goering’s quote at Nuremburg, re the ease of getting people to fight their leaders’ wars, but am not a huge fan of the man.)

But I know from other comments you make that you are an astute commenter. Am I missing something here? It has been known!

Philip Roddis

Damn. The only link I intended is to a New Scientist piece of Match 25, 1995 – days after the Tokyo attack. It’s not important. Do a search on “is sarin
hard to make”.

vexarb
vexarb

@Philip: “I say Gilbert’s political views, and any putative lack of moral courage, are beside the point.”

And I say any Oxy-Moron Military Intelligence Expert’s “lack of moral courage” is not only highly relevant but entirely to the point when it comes to assessing any public pronouncement from such a source. What such an Oxy-Moron Military Intelligence mouthpiece says is less important than what authority assigned him to say it — and so on up the chain of command.

I have not read your article because, after a brief titter at the opening I rapidly tired of St.Theresa’s Sarin comedy Sarin at the Westminster Theatre of Tragic Farce. Why speculate whether someone could have made Viagra in their kitchen when that plot comes from the same dream merchants who brought you: Serbian genocide of Croats, Serbian genocide of Albanians, Saudi demolition of WTC, Iraqi WMD, Iraqi anthrax in the mail, Russia shooting down MH17, and now Bashar Assad MD turned poisoner?

Whatever Sarin was used in Syria came from the same source as this Captogon (courtesy of Oz Sceptic BTL SyrPer:

Syrian security forces have just deprived terrorists of more than 400,000 Captagon pills!
https://www.globalresearch.ca/syrian-security-deprive-cia-terrorists-400000-captagon-pills/5686666
On 17 August, authorities in the suburbs of Damascus seized a truck filled with a large quantity of this Amphetamine-type Stimulant (ATS), known as Captagon.
comment image

“capta-GONE!!!”

Guy
Guy

Good work on the part of the Syrian security services .Now the terrorists will be deprived of at least some of their conscience numbing drugs.
Thank you for the link.

ttshasta
ttshasta

“When your enemy is nearly defeated, and final victory is at hand, gas your own people so that nations greater than yours will intervene and destroy you.”
– Tsun Tzu – The Art of War
(Reddit meme)
In 2014 Turkey’s Zaman Today newspaper had at least 4 articles concerning Turkish ministers accusing their government of supplying Sarin to Syrian rebels. How I wish I had done screen grabs, post Erdowan coup / clampdown these articles are scrubbed. A net search just now found similar reports.

lundiel
lundiel

I’ve never heard of him and supposed he was trolling….His comment didn’t make sense to me. The army of God were “lobbing” mortars into areas of Damascus. I thought the whole chlorine gas stuff was a false flag from the outset, otherwise we’d be hearing of terrorist attacks using chlorine all the time.
Anyway, I’m saddened at how the left has been fragmented. I no longer recognise some people as left at all. Liberal Fifth columnists apart, some who comment here seem to have more in common with Tommy Robinson’s views on culture and only differ in their views on Israel. Everything I’ve read about Syria, from the outset, makes me support the elected government, especially the efforts at reconciliation.
I’m getting on now and it’s very worrying to me that I have to sift through comments to know whether I’m speaking to a friend or an enemy.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

“It amazes me, perhaps because I still deem them deluded but sincere,”

You are surely not referring to Louis P. in this statement, I figure, because I think you’ll guess immediately where I’m headed, given that my comment to Louis P. has been edited out of your synopsis, above … ? and focusses on other’s responses below.

I’ve nothing against you making something out of our collective comments @OffG and formulating something coherent, for better presentation, but my specific question is related to the trolling designed to tout and perpetuate the lies by NATO & the OPCW and in which case, why not mention that Louis P. is paid & controlled opposition, which my comment highlights, with his direct goal & methodology clear to see for all … just as others’ comments highlight the ease with which sarin gas can be formulated … ?
All part n’ parcel of propaganda & perpetuating lies, with military trolling & ‘disciplined’ attacks on the true narrative … see?

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a troll, I recommend that you pull the trigger or at least let off a warning signal that indicates how heavily the narrative has been and is still being steered. If you want people to wake up and demand the truth, then evidence the orchestrated trolling as well, especially if the troll has not the testicles to respond, even . . . just a thought.

Philip Roddis

Tim I mean no disrespect. I edited out your comment purely for simplicity’s sake.

As a matter of fact I deem Proyect’s repulsive jibe at Vanessa Beeley far more damning, and far more revelatory, than anything I, you or anyone other than the man himself could offer.

Jim Scott
Jim Scott

These days whenever I read information that comes from either the US military, the UK GCHQ and particularly the CIAregarding claims about countries we are invading I immediately hold the statement up to a mirror to get the opposite view which is always the true picture. If it was claimed Gadaffi was murdering his own people I knew we were would be killing his people. If we said the White Helmets were rescuing children I knew that they were in fact making films to pretend they were rescuing children and if they said they were doing so voluntarily I immediately understood they were being trained and generously paid by the British and US military. I can guarantee my method of analysis as it’s always proven to give a 100% accurate outcomes.

Igor
Igor

John Gilbert is more likely a intelligence agent than a scientist. How else other than spies would one analyze an enemies WMD and delivery systems? Who would also be included on a team traveling to the Soviet Union to oversee destruction of missiles under the INF treaty. Colonel is a rank often used by military Intelligence agents. Gilbert retired with rank of Colonel.
You are right to question the source with such a background.

Rhisiart Gwilym
Rhisiart Gwilym

People STILL responding to the ‘Bonney’ troll(s), even when admin repeatedly requests total shunning. Do choke him/her/them, folks. Don’t even read his/her/their inputs. It’s dead easy to do. Treat them like that long enough and they’ll die away from here. I like the way Off-G admin goes very lightly on banning, thread-locking, etc., compared to many sites. But that does require sophisticated cooperation from – actually bona-fide – commenters. Just feckin’ IGNORE the shite-pile(s) doing zionistan’s business for it.

Proyect is a different matter. He’s become so famous as a serial own-foot-shooter that it’s actually quite a gas – to coin a phrase – to listen to his reality-detached babblings and then shoot them down in flames – which is ridiculously easy to do; as see right here in this thread. The final removal of all credibility from Louis Proyect is a worthwhile cottage industry.

But the right response to the talentless Tel Aviv-central troll-farm excreta is total ignoring. Seriously: don’t even read them. When you do, they’re half-way towards baiting you into an annoyed reply, already. That’s their basic purpose, folks: spreading confusion and derailment, aka hasbarollocks. Off ’em! Don’t Read. Don’t Answer, Don’t Engage! Your very own personal propaganda-cleansing function for every site you visit! What could be more democratic – and savvy?

Antipropo
Antipropo

Good point,well put, I won’t (engage, I promise)

mark
mark

The Controlled Opposition Faux Left, Counterpunch, Democracy Now, Guardian and the like, are quite happy to fall into line behind their Neocon paymasters and sing from the Regime Change hymn sheet, on tap, as and when required. Selective outrage a speciality.

Nobody bothers to notice the glaring hypocrisy of those countries which supplied chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein for use against Iran and the Kurds (US, Germany, UK) clutching their collective pearls over the latest sarin hoax by their pet proxy head choppers in Syria. “The children! The children!! Oh, the children!!!”

The UK gave Saddam Hussein anthrax. If there were gold medals for hypocrisy and double standards, the UK would have a chestful of them.

Frank Speaker
Frank Speaker

Meanwhile, we still sell arms to the Saudis to kill the Yemenese, and have our “consultants” helping their air force to remain airworthy throughout their evil campaign. Those same publications don’t even scratch the surface on the topic, of course.

Guy
Guy

The chemical weapon use was initially stated as a red line by the US government ,read Western governments ,which was then the signal to use chemical weapons to the cut throat jihadists .The West proceeded to blame Assad for any use of chemical weapons thereafter and still manage to do so even today through their managed org.of OPCW. Cui Bono is appropriately the right and first question to be asked in any proper investigation to find the perpetrator .The rest is history .
When elections are finally held in Syria , the world will see who is the leader that the Syrian people love but we can expect the same lies from the usual liars to probably continue.

David Macilwain
David Macilwain

It’s pointless to argue with the likes of Proyect, who will never respond to your most valid points and is ideologically fossilised. But it’s necessary to also use the right argument. In the case of Sarin in Syria, the question is not “Whose Sarin”, but “where’s the evidence?” Because apart from in Khan al Assal in March 2013, there is practically no evidence that Sarin was ever present and killed people. So the repost to those who claim the SAA used Sarin, that the “rebels” didn’t have aircraft or Sarin so it had to be Assad, isn’t valid. The object of the militants and their foreign agents was only to frame Assad in the minds of the Western audience, whose support for intervention must be found; any means to present this would do, so long as it appeared to involve the use of CWs.
That these toxins were used to gas children for the Ghouta hoax videos, or to kill the “victims of Chlorine bombs” in Douma is not part of the argument – but just confirmation that the Syrian army is fighting ruthless and barbaric terrorists backed by criminal gangs infesting Western governments.

Louis Proyect
Louis Proyect

I am still waiting for the evidence of Syrian rebels using sarin gas as a weapon against Assad’s military. I guess I’ll have to wait in vain for an answer.

Bootlyboob
Bootlyboob

I also like Bob Marley.

Philip Roddis

That is dishonest. You did not ask for “evidence of Syrian rebels using sarin”. You made the false statement that sarin is too diificult to produce for the terrorists to have access to it. The question you now ask is entirely different and of course I have no evidence for a claim I did not make. My claim, which I stand by, is that Syrian “rebels” had every motive, and in all likelihood the means, for using sarin in false flag ops.

BTW, do you wish to take this opprtunity to apologise for your hideous remark regarding Vanessa Beeley?

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Ho ho ho 😉 , and once again, I should have read the comments to the bottom, before commenting above, (Laughing at myself, addressed to you as constructive criticism), leaving me wondering still why you don’t briefly mention the methods of the team work going on in trolling, for which they are paid ?

Louis P. is paid opposition, clearly and of course he is wholly dishonest and may I now ask, what did you expect from a sitting duck ? That squeaks like a hungry baby-sparrow…

If it is an apology, then I think you’ll be waiting for quite sometime, until he’s grown up and Ms. Beeley is Knighted for the downing & outing of Military Intelligence Black Ops. & False Flags of the highest most despicable order, in the name of ‘humanity’ >>> highlighting the most obvious trolling is one way to support & enhance your consistently sound ‘narrative’, of their methods in covering up their collective dirty deeds.
‘Worth a mention’, was my thought …

Kind regards,
& best wishes,
Tim

Dave Hansell
Dave Hansell

And many of us – including those who, like myself, actually went through regular military NBC training and spent time at PD as a test subject whilst in the forces – are waiting for the evidence that it’s possible to treat people you claim have been attacked by nerve gas, both in situ and at any medical facilities, without proper NBC protective clothing and still come out unaffected.

It’s not as though the international protocols – which are based on practical science – on what the requirements are to safely (ie in terms of remaining alive) operate and treat human casualties in such contaminated zones are not easily available on the internet within a few seconds to even the most bone idle armchair warriors ( yourself obviously excluded Louise)

But the idea that we are expected to believe claims of nerve gas attacks – which NBC training advises takes deadly effect in seven seconds on exposure through skin or inhalation – in which those treated are shown operating in a claimed hot zone and treating casualties without protective gloves or other necessary ‘Noddy Suit” gear is laughable to the point of derision.

That people claiming to be grown up still peddle this science defying twaddle – even after claimed victims have made statements about staged and fake attacks to draw Western support – is perhaps the biggest mystery of all.

If I were Phil Roddis I would certainly be asking the cui bono question of those like yourself mate. Best you stick to counting the railings Louis and leave the science to the grown ups with actual experience.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

LMAO, classic Dave: I’ve just been trying to convince the author of something pretty much identical to that which you say, only I forgot the ‘yourself obviously excluded Louise’ bit, which I love … and then this was the ‘coup de grace’…

“…and treating casualties without protective gloves or other necessary ‘Noddy Suit” gear is laughable to the point of derision.”

Great comments, Dave 🙂
I firkin’ love the science, too …
Music to my ears & eyes & nose for
Logical Respect,
Tim

Dave Hansell
Dave Hansell

Having contributed to similar discussions on Phil’s blog in the past I don’t think Phil needs any convincing on the points in question. He’s certainly aware of my background and take on the nerve gas issue (including Salisbury).

In terms of debating the issues with those such as Proyect it seems reasonable to observe that everyone will have differing priorities as to which points to raise or leave out in limited space when writing about an issue.

My priority concerns happen to focus on the refusal of so many supposedly intelligent people to recognise and accept scientific reality when it conflicts with the belief system in their own heads. For someone with a systems engineering background it makes no sense.

Others might well give that a lower priority in favour of say, motivation – and Upton Sinclair’s observation is certainly at play here.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Fair comment: so from Upton’s to the Unders’ > “Syria”

Lol, ‘Never forget the music’, 🙂
Regards,
Tim

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Whoops, not quite sure what exactly happened there >>> mistake?
Hmmm, try again …

This was the track and perhaps admin might like to delete the massive attack link, which appears above ? The Satori remix of the Unders ‘Syria’ is also worth a listening …

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Ahem, it looks like google have got the hump with me today, after some comments elsewhere: lol, just search ‘Syria’ by the ‘Unders’ and the Satori remix and you’ll get the musical drift, yourselves … 🙂

Meanwhile, can admin delete some of this repetition please … ?

Kathy
Kathy

Thanks for recommendation on the track. I know that feeling when the wrong link seems to over ride. Not that I don’t love a bit of Massive Attack any way.I also wanted to say. My apologies for not responding to your comment a couple of weeks ago. This also applies to any one else who I may not have responded to previously and may not manage to in the future. I would love to enter into dicussion more fully. People often raise such interesting and relevant points, but I seem to get so little time and have to dip into OffG when I can.

Maggie
Maggie

Hi Tim,
Why are you still using Google? I thought everyone knew that Google is controlled and monitored by the Cabal. You will rarely find anything you are looking for with them.
Change to Duck Duck Go. They do NOT track you and have more choice.

Martin Usher
Martin Usher

I thought this subject was moot with the discovery of a cache of chemical weapons back in 2015 by the SAA. The chemicals may have included Sarin but were mostly WW1 era agents such as chlorine and mustard gas. These vintage weapons are not only a lot easier to store, transport and use by untrained personnel but will generate the appropriate photogenic effects on their victims while leaving the field relatively safe for the media. (As you pointed out, nerve agents are a bit tricky, they have the potential to be as much of a problem to their users than their intended targets. You wouldn’t want to be anywhere near an attack scene unless you were well trained and protected.)

(You’ll also recall that the Sarin attack in Tokyo wasn’t particularly effective, it only worked because it was used in a confined space. The attackers could only deploy it in a crude binary form without becoming victims themselves.)

Anyway, by the rule of rationality — i.e. people aren’t totally stupid — the only conclusion on can draw is that these attacks are false flag operations designed entirely to draw or justify a military response from the US and its allies. The Syrian government had nothing to gain and everything to lose from using these weapons while the jihadists had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Dave Hansell
Dave Hansell

Hush now, you spoilsport. You’ll burst Louis’s little bubble with your “cauldron of anti-marxist” dialectic of the appliance of science and inconvenient evidence.

mark
mark

Ask Carla del Ponte. She can supply any evidence you need.
Or ask the Turkish Police who arrested takfiri throat slitters in possession of canisters of sarin inside Turkey.

Louis Proyect
Louis Proyect

Carla del Ponte? That’s great.

On March 15, Mandel sent another complaint to Justice Carla del Ponte, the new chief prosecutor for the tribunal, who replaced Justice Louise Arbour in October. Mandel’s sharply worded letter protests the tribunal’s refusal to investigate NATO’s actions, saying that del Ponte has turned “the investigation into more of a farce than a judicial proceeding.” Mandel’s letter makes a solid case that far from being an independent investigator, the tribunal has conducted itself “as if it were an organ of NATO and not the United Nations.”

Alexander Cockburn and Jeff St. Clair, Counterpunch May 22, 2000

https://louisproyect.org/2013/08/31/carla-del-ponte-and-the-anti-imperialist-left-an-unprincipled-combination/

lundiel
lundiel

Seriously. How did you come to support the attempt to install a Saudia Arabian puppet government in Syria? Do you not see how it happened as a direct result of the attack on Libya? Why was it right to destroy Libya? Do you not understand it wasn’t a mass popular uprising and was planned in London, Paris and Washington? The following and identical attempt to ‘monsterise’ Assad doesn’t work with me because of the lengths the government has gone to rehabilitate rebels. Whatever you may say about Assad and the Syrian army doesn’t stack up, in reality, any more than it did in Libya. I’ve read a lot about life in Libya, especially from the viewpoint of British expat oil workers. They all said it was a good place to live, too quiet for their western tastes but very safe, free from state interference and the only complaint they had was that Libyans drove like maniacs. I bet many of them are sick at the loss of guaranteed housing, education and healthcare.
The problems rural people had under Assad and ongoing drought must seem wonderful to what has happened since. IMO anyone supporting the invasion of either country is not ‘left’ in any way.

Zan
Zan

The claim that Assad/SA used sarin is essentially a criminal indictment.

In a criminal trial, if Mr. X is accused of committing a crime, the prosecutor is obliged to prove beyond doubt that Mr. X committed the crime…

…the defense is not obliged to prove that Mr. YZ instead committed the crime. Although doing so is one tack of defense.

You’ve yet to prove beyond doubt, Mr. Proyect, that Assad/SA used Sarin. In fact, no one has proved this.

You don’t have to like Assad to be intellectually honest.

Francis Lee
Francis Lee

Syrian ‘rebels’ (sic) Oh, you mean Al Qaeda.

radH
radH

You write so much but you are illogical. It is the rebels and their supporters who want Assad to be associated with gassing people with chemical weapons. That’s exactly the reason why all of the supporting countries led by the US draw a redline targeting which (not rebels, not ISIS, not Alqaeda), but specifically Assad should not cross.

With such a one sided threat held against Assad it is only the rebels who benefit by gassing, not assad! The rebels know what scenario their mastaer wants to create hence they are not going to expose themselves as open peropetrators of the same crime only assads should be accused hence wouldnt never gass damascus knowing tthe world knows its held by assad. instead simple logic suggests they would only benefuit by targeting their own area and rushing to blame assad, Teresa May style. thats why your thining is so silly and all who follow you are as deluded as you, elliot higgins’ twin in crime.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig

Good piece, Philip!

Proyect claims – I’ve heard the Guardian’s George Monbiot do the same – that sarin is hard to manufacture; certainly beyond the capacity of Islamist groups working to bring down Assad.

Even if it weren’t easy to manufacture, Proyect and Monbiot some not to realize that there are other ways of acquiring sarin, such as stealing it, or smuggling it into Syria. For example, some have accused Erdogan of giving poison gas to the rebels:

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-2013-east-ghouta-chemical-weapons-attack-turkeys-alleged-role-in-supplying-toxic-sarin-gas-to-terrorists.

By the way, Philip, since you were a Trot back in the day, were you ever familiar with an Israeli communist group known officially as the Socialist Organization in Israel, but more commonly called Matzpen (‘compass’) after its own magazine? Gilad Atzmon mentions them in his classic book The Wandering Who? He seems to think that the US neocons originally got their ideas (and some of the rhetoric) concerning ‘democracy promotion’ in the ME from them. Just curious …

Philip Roddis

I’m reading Wandering Who myself, Seamus, but confess I’ve no recall of Matzpen.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig

Great book! I’m sure you’ll love it. Atzmon has become a favorite of mine in recent years.

Louis Proyect
Louis Proyect

Global Research? Isn’t that the website that claims that the Arab Spring was a CIA plot?

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-arab-spring-made-in-the-usa/5484950

George
George

Yeah that’s the one Louis. Good article, isn’t it?