Syria, campism, conspiracy theory

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Mike Harman
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Jun 26 2018 20:42
Syria, campism, conspiracy theory

Split from https://libcom.org/blog/international-anarchist-unity-05062018?page=1

baboon wrote:
don't want to derail this interesting thread in any way but just a reference of response to a point in AndrewF's June 13 post about pro-Assad "apologists": http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201806/15164/british-imperialis...

R Totale wrote:
This will definitely turn into a derail if continued (tbf, largely my fault for starting it), but: FFS, et tu, ICC? How is it that you can denounce pretty much everyone alive as being integrated into the state or duped by the bourgeoisie or whatever, with the sole exceptions of Robert Fisk and Piers Robinson? You need to tell your close sympathiser to give their head a good wobble if they really think that the sodding World Socialist Website is a reliable source on the subject of conspiracy theories.

Mike Harman
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Jun 26 2018 21:00

Related, both Chomsky and Seymour Hersh put quite a lot of effort into questioning a chemical attack by Assad, but it turned out both were relying on Theodore Postol, who in turn was relying on Maram Susli - a conspiracy theorist associated with far right groups like Generation Identity. Hersh went on fucking infowars with Alex Jones.

With the ICC article, it links to the WSWS's interview with Piers Robinson, where Robinson recommends Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett. Both are well known conspiracy theorists with far-right associations.

The Red/Brown alliances piece details this quite well, but it's interminably long, so quoting the sections on both:

Vagabond wrote:

Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett, who went viral last year, is a reporter [archive] and Editor at SOTT.net [archive]. SOTT.net is owned [archive] by the Quantum Future Group, which has Arkadiusz Jadczyk as President and Laura Knight-Jadczyk as Vice President [archive]. Unfamiliar with Laura Knight-Jadczyk? Laura Knight-Jadczyk is into various conspiracy theories such as 9/11 Trutherism [archive] (note her using Chossudovsky as source), Denver Airport conspiracy theories [archive], New World Order conspiracy theories [archive], HAARP and UFO conspiracy theories [archive].

Bartlett’s own writing quotes conspiracy theorists extensively [archive] and she has reshared anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Brandon Martinez’s assertion that 9/11 was a false flag on her blog [archive] as well as conspiracy theories claiming Assad is resisting “the Rothschilds” [archive]. Among her other associations one can find:

This did not however stop Ajamu Baraka from hosting her [archive] or progressive liberal Jimmy Dore from promoting her [archive]. Jimmy Dore had himself previously quoted [archive] an article from conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to “explain” what is happening in Syria and later quoted Theodore Postol (whose source is an Infowars contributor and associate of David Duke) concerning the Khan Shaykhun attacks [archive]. It appears that the Western Left would rather host Western conspiracy theorists and fascists rather than speak to Syrian leftists who know more about the situation in Syria, just like how Michael Moore preferred repeating the WWP’s line by calling what would eventually devolve into Da’esh a “revolution” in 2004.

Vanessa Beeley

Vanessa Beeley is listed as an Associate Editor of 21st Century Wire on its About section (which also lists Andrew Korybko and Marwa Osman as special contributors). 21st Century Wire (again, note what may or may not be a coincidental similarity to LaRouche’s 21st Century Science and Technology?) claims to be an “independent hyper blog offering bold news”. However, its features editor and founder is Patrick Henningsen, who used to be an InfoWars Associate Editor, and still associates with the far-right, such as the white nationalist Red [archive] Ice [archive] TV [archive] and the David Icke-affiliated Richie [archive] Allen [archive] Show [archive] (Henningsen has himself been [archive] a long [archive] time [archive] RT [archive] contributor [archive]). Other special contributors to this conspiracist fascist outlet include Nazi sympathizer Marwa Osman, Duginist Andrew Korybko, Andre Vltchek (a Khmer Rouge apologist [archive] and Cambodian Genocide [archive] denier [archive] whose own website lists him [archive] as a writer for the New Eastern Outlook, Investig’Action and Global Research), Tim Anderson [archive] (about whom I have already written) and Tim Hayward (a Professor of Environmental Political Theory at the Edinburgh University [archive]).

https://libcom.org/library/investigation-red-brown-alliances-third-posit...

My question, as always, with this stuff:

- why are people obsessed with the specifics of who carried out chemical weapons attacks or whether or not they were false flags, when there is plenty of disastrous conventional bombing in Syria?

- why can't any of the major anti-war journos (and Chomsky) who push this stuff manage to stay more than a step or two removed from fash?

- surely the reliance of anti-war arguments on a conspiracy by the US/NATO to implicate Assad using chemical weapons suggests that if Assad has used chemical weapons, it would be fine to bomb him? If you oppose US intervention in Syria, then you would oppose it in the case of confirmed chemical weapons usage too? Or not?

- The US-led coalition has carried out many, many aerial bombings in Syria, killing thousands of civilians, such as in the assault on Raqqa. Why is there such focus on extremely limited bombing of Assad military positions (often empty due to advance warning) rather than areas held by IS with civilians?

This kind of whitewashing is regularly pushed by the Marcyite groups in the US (especially the PSL and ANSWER coalition, and the WWP), as well as the CPGB-ML and CPB in the UK, but didn't really expect to see it from the ICC.

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R Totale
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Jun 26 2018 21:16

I would be interested if Baboon, or anyone from the ICC, could explain a few things about that article, like, when you talk about how "those that make any critique are labelled as "conspiracy theorists" and "pro-Assad apologists"" and "The Guardian began a campaign against the Sheffield University professor, Piers Robinson", and then link to an interview* where he tells his readers "Talk to Vanessa Beeley or Eva Bartlett": do you think that Vanessa Beeley - a woman who has literally said that meeting Assad was her "proudest moment" - has been unfairly and inaccurately labelled as a pro-Assad apologist? If not, and you agree that Beeley, at the very least is a pro-Assad apologist, then can you understand why linking to an interview where Robinson recommends her work might somewhat undermine the case that Robinson himself is being unfairly smeared as pro-Assad? I could continue on, but you get my drift.

* an interview from a deeply odd conspiracy theorist WRP splinter, no less.

Mike Harman
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Jun 27 2018 10:47

This is also eyebrow raising:

ICC wrote:
Seymour Hersch, the investigative journalist who fleshed out this story, also reported in 2016 that there were plans in the US to send Sarin gas from Libya in order to set up the Assad regime with the blame for an attack, athough that's not been confirmed

The footnote goes to https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/04/28/seymour-hersh-hillary-... which indeed makes that claim.

But it links to this interview as a source: https://www.alternet.org/world/exclusive-interview-seymour-hersh-dishes-...

Hersh states that the US set up a 'rat-line' of arms (does not mention chemical weapons) from Libya to Syria, but does not claim that this included Sarin or was part of a 'set-up'.

So Zeusse is adding claims from the Hersh interview that Hersh himself does not make.

Lots of Zeusse articles on globalresearch: https://www.globalresearch.ca/author/eric-zuesse and Strategic Culture (which I'd not heard of before) appears to be linked from the Voltaire network: http://www.voltairenet.org/auteur125099.html?lang=en

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R Totale
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Jun 27 2018 12:25

Oh, didn't realise I cross-posted there. Anyway, one more for the list of questions:
If US/UK imperialism is so desperate to escalate the conflict with Assad that they'd carry out false flag attacks to create a pretext for further intervention, then when Assad hands them a pretext by violating the deescalation zone around Deraa, you'd expect them to be all over it. Instead, they've just gone "you're on your own there" and backed off: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/24/us-tells-syria-rebels-not-ex...

Can anyone explain why this is, if they're so committed to escalating their involvement that they'd stage a false flag attack?

Mike Harman
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Jun 27 2018 15:00

And one more:

ICC wrote:
Why the Syrians would drop chlorine or sarin on Douma when the jihadists were giving up their heavy weapons and being bussed out the next day is a legitimate question.

"Why the Americans would drop two atomic bombs on Japan when the Japanese were already ready to surrender beforehand is a legitimate question."

baboon
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Jun 27 2018 20:57

The UK is currently involved in wars of wholesale slaughter in Syria, Iraq and Yemen - amongst others. To first of all denounce one's "own" country for its involvement in imperialist war is not to support any other side when it is based on a consistent position of internationalism. Neither Robert Fisk nor Piers Robinson defend any sort of proletarian positions but the responses to their, generally insipid, critiques from the main factions of the British bourgeoisie are symptomatic of the treatment that anyone gets who questions their versions of the "truth". Terms like "Pro-Assad apologist" and "Moscow's useful idiots" are expressions of subtle repression in the context above. Someone on here talks of "whitewashing" - who, what? Be clearer, what's being "whitewashed" and by whom?

I thought that the interview with Piers Robinson with the WSWS was very interesting and worth a mention. Most of us learn and try to understand what we know from bourgeois media outlets and that by definition includes left wing varieties like the WSWS. Robinson and his team have consistently revealed the mendacity of the British state's war propaganda including the origins of the war in Iraq, its continuation in the Middle East and the whole "humanitarian" smokescreen that it uses. I also thought that his "Briefing note: update on the Salisbury poisoning" was very well researched and shows how the question remains open. His brief mention of Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, a mistake in my opinion, doesn't at all detract from his overall work.

The article makes the point that the chemical poisoning could be an "irrational act" but it also makes the point, in relation to all the wars in the Middle East, that not only are tens of thousands of people getting blown apart by all sorts of explosives, but also that longer-term sicknesses, a by-product of “conventional” explosives, will probably extract a considerable human toll.

In a similar way, why the Americans dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima when the Japanese were ready to sue for peace is a legitimate question. It wasn't irrational at all from the perspective of US imperialism because its aim was to send a very clear message to Russia, which had its own ambitions towards Japan and the Far East.

Mike Harman
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Jun 27 2018 21:17
baboon wrote:
Terms like "Pro-Assad apologist" and "Moscow's useful idiots" are expressions of subtle repression in the context above.

There are people in both the US and the UK who specifically defend Assad though. This ranges from everything from "Assad is the only option that isn't IS" to "the CIA is funding the white helmets (who are actually Al Qaeda) to re-use trained child actors to stage chemical weapons attack videos", to "Russia is intervening to protect Syrian national sovereignty against NATO takfiris".

Some of these people are campists (i.e. willing to support any state aligned against the US), some go further into conspiracy theory.

Just because some people with a genuine anti-war position get charged with being pro-Assad, does not mean that it's not accurate when someone actually is pro-Assad.

A good way to avoid being labeled as an Assad apologist is to:
1. Not do apologetics for Assad
2. Not appear with/promote people who do apologetics for Assad, just because they're superficially 'anti-war'

Baboon wrote:
I thought that the interview with Piers Robinson with the WSWS was very interesting and worth a mention. ... His brief mention of Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, a mistake in my opinion, doesn't at all detract from his overall work.

He appeared with Vanessa Beeley on the 21st Century Wire podcast, hosted by Patrick Henningsen too, was this another slip that doesn't detract? http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/10/15/episode-206-sunday-wire-the-media-...

Or also on the WSWS site he mentions starting a media watch organisation with Mark Crispin Miller: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/05/25/robi-m25.html

WSWS wrote:
We need to look at these mechanisms of information manipulation. And my research interest in propaganda has carried on since then, to this point with Mark Crispin Miller, David Miller, Chris Simpson and myself setting up the Organisation for Propaganda Studies. Its primary aim is to encourage research and writing into questions of propaganda and manipulation and how that can undermine democracy.

Mark Crispin Miller is a 9/11 truther:
http://markcrispinmiller.com/2010/02/how-did-the-world-trade-center-simp...

Also still pushing the MMR/autism link:
http://markcrispinmiller.com/2016/04/everything-youre-reading-about-vaxx...

baboon wrote:
In a similar way, why the Americans dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima when the Japanese were ready to sue for peace is a legitimate question.

It's not a legitimate question as to whether or not it happened though.

baboon
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Aug 6 2018 14:58

https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-allies-in-yemen-dont-defeat-al-qaeda-th...

Another example of the USA's and Britain's fraudulent "War on Terror", seeing AQAP paid off and integrated into the forces of democracy and their Gulf allies.

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R Totale
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Sep 20 2018 19:10

Absolutely disgusting stuff from Anarkismo here:

Quote:
Was there another possible outcome? Yes. A pragmatic alliance between Assad and the Kurds, which would have allowed for Assad to remain as president and the Kurdish to get a degree of autonomy, stood a real chance of defeating Turkey and its proxies, while keeping a certain autonomy from their foreign patrons. A far cry from the scenario every party would have wished for, but no doubt the best possible scenario that could have come out of this absolute humanitarian disaster called Syrian Civil War.

So, the revolutionary anarchist communist approach is to... complain that things went wrong when the PYD didn't actually line up to help Assad massacre the opposition from day one. WTF? Obviously members of Anarkismo-affiliated groups, if any of them read here, are under no obligation to take my advice, but if I was in their shoes I'd be asking some serious questions about the editorial group putting this kind of crap up.

Mike Harman
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Sep 20 2018 21:15

That article is fucked.

I googled the author and the name is similar to that of a Syrian Ba'athist minister - not sure if that's coincidence or a consciously chosen pseudonym, but I could not easily find other articles by them online.

On the proposed alliance between Rojava and Assad, I don't think I've seen this Amnesty report on Raqqa mentioned on here (although maybe it's in one of the long threads) - the fact that Raqqa was full of civilians as well as ISIS has been a bit glossed over by the people who glorified the assault on it, and it was mostly ignored by the campist anti-imperialists since it was against IS rather than Assad.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/06/syria-raqqa-in-ruins-and-...

YPG was of course heavily involved in this offensive alongside US and other support: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/isis-raqqa-battle-offens...

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R Totale
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Nov 17 2018 14:27

What with Tucker Carlson being one of the most prominent mainstream faces of the red-brown Assadist alliance, does anyone know if any of his lefty anti-imperialist guests like Greenwald or Blumenthal have spoken out to defend their old mucker Tucker against the antifascists and antiracists being mean to him? It would seem a bit ungrateful if they haven't.

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Soapy
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May 28 2019 11:22

Leaked opcw report confirms douma attack was staged
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/28/doum-m28.html

Mike Harman
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May 28 2019 12:39

The WSWS isn't actually citing the OPCW report but a Piers Robinson conspiracy theory analysis of it.

This is the official report from the OPCW:
https://www.opcw.org/media-centre/news/2019/03/opcw-issues-fact-finding-...

https://www.opcw.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019/03/s-1731-2019%2...

Excerpts:

Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon on 7 April 2018 in Douma,
the Syrian Arab Republic, the evaluation and analysis of all the information gathered
by the FFM—witnesses’ testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis
results, toxicological and ballistic analyses from experts, additional digital
information from witnesses—provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic
chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine.
The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.

The analyses indicated that the structural damage to the rebar-reinforced concrete
terrace at Location 2 was caused by an impacting object with a geometrically
symmetric shape and sufficient kinetic energy to cause the observed damage. The
analyses indicate that the damage observed on the cylinder found on the roof-top
terrace, the aperture, the balcony, the surrounding rooms, the rooms underneath and
the structure above, is consistent with the creation of the aperture observed in the
terrace by the cylinder found in that location.
2.15 At Location 4, the results of the studies indicated that the shape of the aperture
produced in the modulation matched the shape and damage observed by the team. The
studies further indicated that, after passing through the ceiling and impacting the floor
at lower speed, the cylinder continued an altered trajectory, until reaching the position
in which it was found.
2.16 Based on the analysis results of the samples taken by the FFM from the cylinders,
their proximity at both locations, as well as the analysis results of the samples
mentioned under paragraph 2.6, it is possible that the cylinders were the source of the
substances containing reactive chlorine.
8

ajjohnstone
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May 28 2019 14:24

Jonathan Cook

https://dissidentvoice.org/2019/05/the-western-media-is-key-to-syria-dec...

Robert Fisk

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/27/the-evidence-we-were-never-meant...

Mike Harman
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May 28 2019 14:40

For completeness, here's Robert Fisk in the Independent making similar arguments to the WSWS/Robinson https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/douma-syria-opcw-chemical-weapons-c...

There's a line in that Independent article which is quite telling, and I've seen it repeated in so many places:

We all remember how, after falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, we invaded Iraq on these false pretences and – within a few years – claimed that Iran was making weapons of mass destruction, and then threatened Iran with war, something we continue to the present day. What if we are now told that yet once more Syria is using gas against its enemies?

The narrative misses some obvious details:
- the WMDs pretext for war was not supported by even senior figures in the establishment (such as Robin Cook). There was a lot of talking about going for a fresh UN resolution etc.

- there was a massive anti-war movement which mostly did not focus on the issue of WMDs or UN resolutions or not, it opposed the war on principle, not on the basis of intelligence assessments.

- also despite numerous reports of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, there's not been significant military action against Assad - some symbolic strikes against targets with pre-warning. On the other hand there has been constant bombing of IS targets by the US led coalition which Piers Robinson et al have no interest in. There's also very little discussion of all the conventional bombs being dropped by Assad and allies.

So instead of just opposing the war, you've got people trying to find a smoking gun that the OPCW is manufacturing the case to take out Assad - this while it increasingly looks like relations are going to be normalised despite all the evidence they're supposed to be manufacturing.

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R Totale
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May 28 2019 20:12

OPCW and the leaked Douma document: what we know so far

If people don't think the Syrian government bombed Douma, then what other narrative do you think is more likely?

baboon
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May 28 2019 20:25

Assad deserves the epithet "butcher" and belongs to the ranks of the increasingly ubiquitous "strong leaders". His military intelligence, like all the military intelligences active in wars in the Middle East are quite capable of laying down false events.

But it's Mike Harman's second point that I want to deal with where he suggests that there was a significant movement within the bourgeoisie against war with Saddam. There was a campaign of obscurity, a lot of it centred around the "authority" of the United Nations so there were plenty of empty words based on pacifist-type themes. There was also the propaganda, rabid at times, about weapons of mass destruction: Secretary of State Powell in the UN telling bare-faced lies, the British press showing a chlorine drum in a water-treatment works and an ex-RAF signalling unit in the sands of Iraq that looked like a heap of rusting junk, and called these weapons of mass destruction. The British and Americans knew what weapons Saddam had because they sold him a lot - he was their stooge.

The decision was made by the Americans to go to war in Iraq and it was a decision that was going to be implemented whatever its allies thought - they were even told that they were either with the US or against it.The allies, somewhat freed they thought from the necessity of a US nuclear umbrella and tending to go in their own directions after the collapse of the Russian bloc, were faced with a choice. Instead of the new world order of peace and prosperity, ie, the victory of capitalism, reality was turning out to be very different, very quickly. The US wasn't going to let a new imperialist bloc emerge and used the war against Saddam to try to hold its bloc together and these centrifugal tendencies and these wars have been the issue ever since with the US becoming somewhat weaker overall. Generally speaking all the major allies submitted to US demands with France going from anti-war to its heroics on the battle-ground, If I remember right only Germany stayed out and even refused to use its AWACs. The British bourgeoisie joined the war after a decision was taken in its national interest and the ethical foreign policy of Robin Cook was always going to come up against the realities of imperialism.

Mike Harman
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May 28 2019 21:00
Baboon wrote:
But it's Mike Harman's second point that I want to deal with where he suggests that there was a significant movement within the bourgeoisie against war with Saddam. There was a campaign of obscurity, a lot of it centred around the "authority" of the United Nations so there were plenty of empty words based on pacifist-type themes.

For the record I think it was flimsy and legalistic, just there was some public questioning of the intelligence assessments and basis for going to war in the establishment. I'm not saying they were seriously trying to stop the US going to war or anything like that. However it's not like the US and UK 'tricked' everyone into believing in WMDs and this meant they could go to war without opposition - millions of people ignored all that and opposed the war regardless. It's not like people were sitting there writing obscure technical analyses of the intelligence to try to prove Saddam didn't have the weapons, they just opposed the war regardless.

The anti-war movement itself was dominated by the SWP and corralled into A-B marches, with mass disruption fading out after a few promising moments like the school and (not explicitly anti-war but incredibly well timed fire strikes, there was also probably a lot of people on the big demos who might not have gone on the marches if the UN had been fully behind things but who knows. the UN is not endorsing military action against Assad this time either.