Comments on a recommended websiteSeptember 16, 2015
The recommended Website is https://consortiumnews.com/ and the linked articles plus associated comments are about the US political scene and about Syria. To understand the comments it is necessary to read the articles, which are all well formulated and partly informative.
I enjoyed the article and I’m even able to comment now after two early comments were not accepted (probable because of software flaws and not because of their critical content).
The articles on Consortiumnews are not unaffected by the captivating propaganda of Western news organizations (brutal Assad regime), they often use carelessly and thoughtlessly the propagandists terminology (Syria’s “civil war” instead of invasion, aggression, terrorist insurgency), but show a genuine desire to break out of the ideological cage and present alternative storylines.
Concerning the Middle East, I still miss the environmental and social dimension:
Water grab by the South-eastern Anatolia Dam project and by Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. Increased desertification of the Middle East and long lasting droughts. Overpopulation with no future for young men.
Unrealistic expectations raised by media presentations of a clean and luxurious Western consumer paradise. A paradise which is clearly unachievable and even in the most affluent countries exists only for a tiny minority on top of the food chain.
The neocon project is probably not substantially different from other organizations and pressure groups which were used throughout history by the ruling elites as “control rooms” or operation centers to coordinate policies and propaganda. One could also discuss if the neocons are indeed central coordinators or just one of an assortment of likeminded groups. There are surely interconnections with AIPAC. ALEC, US Chamber of Commerce, The Family (The Fellowship), Bilderberg, and various billionaire-funded NGO’s, foundations, think tanks.
I also would like to have more infos about the inner working and the members of the neocon project. Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan were mentioned, in the US administration I made out Ashton B. Carter, Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, Samantha Powers. There are for sure many more and a list of names just to get started would be helpful.
Is Hillary Clinton a neocon? Was Bill Clinton a crypto-neocon? Are the neocons bipartisan?
This would be worth writing a book about but a seasoned journalist like Robert Parry can maybe manage to compress the most essential information into a future article. Thank you in advance,
This article is mostly acceptable, though a few annotations and corrections are necessary.
Putin can indeed be blamed partly for the Syrian mess, because a more decisive support of the Government in the early stages of the uprising or bombing campaigns against Jabhat al-Nusra and IS in 2013 would have quelled the insurgency. Russia also should have moved against Turkey, but Putin didn’t want to jeopardize trade with Turkey. He proposed even a “Turkish Stream” natural gas pipeline, but negotiations about this project fortunately have collapsed, so Russia doesn’t have to take care anymore about Turkish sensibilities.
I don’t agree with the sentence: “So, although it’s surely true that Syrian security forces struck back fiercely at times in the brutal civil war…” This appears to be a concession to the popular presumption, established via million times repeated catchphrases (butcher Assad), that Syria is a brutal totalitarian dictatorship, where the Sunni majority is suppressed by an Alawite clique.
The classification of the Syrian war as a “civil war” is debatable, it could as well be seen as an undeclared war of aggression by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, the USA).
I also object to the sentence: “The obvious solution would be a power-sharing arrangement that gives Sunnis more of a say.”
Sunni are represented sufficiently and pols in 2012 and 2013 showed, that the majority of Sunnis support Bashar al-Assad. Sunnis are represented in the government as well as in the security apparatus and account for between 60 and 65 percent of the regular army. Many high ranking officers are Sunni.
Even a West Point analysis had to acknowledge that
In Syria’s 30-strong cabinet only two ministers are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defense minister.
Beside that, who should take part in a power sharing transitional government? Who of the external opposition figures has enough support of the Syrian population to justify an inclusion in a power sharing government; who could be entrusted with reconciling the war-torn nation?
This article completely misses the point and it starts already with the three introductory questions, who’s formulation seem to deliberately lead away from the essence of Islamic terrorism.
The first question:
“Is ISIS driven essentially by theological and religious motivations? Or pragmatic political considerations?”
IS is driven by testosterone, by social tensions, lack of opportunities for young men because of overpopulation and resulting unemployment, by media propaganda, depicting a perfect clean world where affluence and a luxurious life can be easily achieved, by alienation in an artificial technical world which many don’t understand and which has led us far away from our primal needs.
Theological and religious motivations (what is the difference between the two?) are just a tool to enhance and smoothen the flow of terrorism applicants and sugarcoat the personal motivations of the participants. Pragmatic political considerations are of course guiding the organizers, sponsors, enablers of the terror groups (USA, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, some other Gulf monarchies and NATO members).
The second question:
“Is ISIS essentially a medieval movement in character — or a “modern” movement?”
Humans have biologically not changed much since medieval times, society has changed, technology has advanced. IS members, like their forbearers in medieval times (Vikings, Huns, Mongols, later marauding mercenary armies) are driven by biological urges, but they use modern technology.
The third question:
“Is the movement durable?”
IS was just one of many terror groups who were invented and funded by the already mentioned agitators and meddlers in the Middle East (see the list above). In an evolutionary process IS by natural selection turned out to be the most effective group. It has developed its own dynamic but is still depending on the mentioned sponsors and enablers. Without the steady flow of supplies and apprentices from Turkey, without the trade of oil and antiquities via Turkey, without the amplification of their propaganda via Western media and internet companies, IS would be finished in a few month.
If the USA would start a bombing campaign in earnest, IS would be finished in a few weeks. Where should they hide in these barren lands?
The author doesn’t forget to use a classical propaganda trick: “…. in Syria feeding off the tragic breakdown of order under Assad’s gross and brutal mishandling of early Arab Spring rioting.” How does Mr. Fuller know? Was he there? Or did he just read Western propaganda and accept it as truth?
Did he consider the high death toll of Syrian police in the early days of the riots? (much higher that the casualties of the demonstrators). Does he know that Syrian policemen didn’t wear weapons and when they finally were equipped with weapons as the unrest progressed they had to account for every bullet they fired.
The remaining text of the article is a compendium of commonplaces, some right, some wrong, but all detached from the reality of IS. It is not worth the effort to take this text apart sentence by sentence.
To sum it up: This is typical smokescreen journalism and unworthy to be published on this website.
It is easier to write a comment in response to an article than to formulate an article with a logical and easily understandable structure. It is often easier to document, analyze, and conclude from an outside observation post. Mr. Fullers CIA years have seemingly shaped his thinking and despite a honest intention to present a rational and fact based view he seems to be trapped by deep-rooted presumptions. Presumptions which are unfounded but deeply engraved in the brain by lifelong indoctrination.
Most of us suffer from such presumptions, which cloud our judgement and hinder us to find appropriate answers to the many challenges of life.
The article mentions: “…the rollback of sectarianism as a driving force in the region…”
Western intelligence agencies have supported Islamic radicals since Nasser’s days. Said Ramadan was likely a CIA agent. Huma Abedin, Arif Alikhan, Mohammed Elibiary, Rashad Hussain and other members of the US administration were linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. What about Charlie Wilson’s war? Turkeys AKP is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. What about the funding of a broad range of Islamic terror groups by Saudi Arabia and Qatar via Kuwaiti banks? What about the support of IS by Turkeys MIT, the support of Jabhat al-Nusra by Israel and Turkey, the unhindered transfer of fighters and equipment through Turkey and the sale of looted industrial machinery, antiquities, and oil from Syria via Turkey?
Most Iraqis believe that IS basically = US, and there are countless indications for that beyond the farcical bombing campaign of the so called “coalition,” which stirs up a lot of desert dust but achieves nothing except an obfuscation of the fact that IS is a creation of the West.
Sectarianism was latent in the Middle East but it was rekindled by the neocolonial powers and it blossomed due to constant funding from Gulf potentates (US allies) and Western agencies.
No rollback of sectarianism is necessary, just stopping funding and stopping arms sales to the region would do the trick.
The article mentions: “…freeing up of energy/pipeline options across Asia.”
Is that desirable, when the menace of global warming would dictate a reduction of fossil fuel use?
The article mentions: “Assad obviously is far more likely to listen to tested allies than heed the plans of enemies dedicated to his overthrow.”
Syria’s President Assad will listen to any well meant advise, but he is perfectly capable of leading the country by his own judgement. He managed the precarious situation caused by the various invasions and incursion from Turkey, Jordan, and Israel (via the Golan Heights) remarkably well and he always had and probably still has the support of the majority of Syria’s population.
His one big mistake was the introduction of Western inspired economic reforms at the start of his tenure, thereby increasing inequality and hardship for the rural population (especially in drought-stricken Daraa). His vision of a “free-market economy” has long since been abandoned by the necessity to establish a war-economy.
The article mentions: “U.S. and Turkey stepped up support to nominally moderate and secular armed opposition.”
Was there ever a moderate opposition? The FSA brigades were right from the start either ruthless criminal gangs, marauding mercenaries, or fanatic Islamists.
The article mentions: “As ruthless as Assad had been in crushing domestic opposition…”
Wow! How does Mr. Fuller know? Was he there? Or did he just read Western propaganda and accept it as truth?
Did he consider the high death toll of Syrian police in the early days of the riots? (much higher that the casualties of the demonstrators). Does he know that Syrian policemen didn’t wear weapons and when they finally were equipped with weapons as the unrest progressed they had to account for every bullet they fired?
The remaining parts of the article are less controversial but there is no mentioning of the following important factors:
Global warming, droughts, scarcity of water, desertification in most of the Middle East and northern Africa.
Overpopulation, weakening of traditional social structures (tribe, clan, family).
Cultural incompatibilities, brought to the fore by globalization and tourism.
Which all means: Even without Western-instigated wars there will be tension, volatility, social strife. There will be unrest (bread protests), mass migration, revolutions.
Don’t the rich countries have a responsibility to help and share their wealth which they gathered by exploiting the resources of the world? Advise alone — even well meant — will not be welcomed as long as the USA consumes twice as much energy and resources per capita as Europe and eight times as much as the rest of the world.
What about leading by example?
Including such considerations in the article (or at least mentioning them) would certainly have enhanced it.
The article concludes: “Washington does not have the luxury of playing dog in the manger in “managing” the Middle East, especially after two decades or more of massive and destructive policy failure on virtually all fronts.”
This formulation implies “good faith,” fairness, altruism as factors of US politics, it somehow smells of US superiority (exceptionalism), and The White Man’s Burden. Maybe I’m biased and overcritical and it wasn’t meant this way. Maybe it wasn’t suggested that the USA tried hard to benefit humanity but failed for whatever reason.
US politics didn’t fail the weapons producers (MIC) and big oil.
I cant go into details in the short form of a comment but main assumptions in this article cannot be left unchallenged and I’m ready to discuss open questions.
This is an excellent article, with not a single line being objectionable. A few minor notions as a humble contribution:
When Lewis writes: “…replace Bashar al-Assad with a figure who could rally moderate Syrians to restore a stable government…”, one has to ask, who this figure would be and how he or she would be chosen.
When in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Teheran millions of Iranians were on the street to enthusiastically welcome him. When Jean Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti in 2011, the streets of Port-au-Prince were full and people were climbing up trees, walls, and rooftops to get a glimpse of him. People were jogging along his motorcade, dancing and singing. When in 2002 Hugo Chavez returned to Caracas after the failed coup, thousands celebrated in front of the Miraflores palace, singing the national anthem and setting off firecrackers.
How many Syrians would pour into the streets of Damascus to welcome a Western installed puppet?
Lewis writes: “There are those who see Syria as a quagmire for Putin, a kind of matched pair to our own folly in Iraq.” One has to wonder, if the Iraq invasion is indeed regarded a folly by the US establishment. Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney don’t feel remorse and would do it again for sure. For Haliburton, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Northrop, and other military contractors the Iraq war was a rousing success.
One point could maybe have been emphasized more clearly: The USA has no business there and should leave Syrians alone. 1,200 military bases around the word should be enough to secure all strategic interests of the exceptional nation (to question these strategic interest, which center around resource exploitation, admittedly exceeds the scope of this article).
The author writes: “Or the West could cooperate with Russia and Iran in organizing a power-sharing “unity government” in Damascus that would allow Assad to remain in office for the time being while adopting democratic reforms.”
The White Mans Burden again.
It may not be in the imperial lexicon, but the article could have been crowned with the suggestion of the most logical, simplest, and cheapest solution:
Ami go home!
A brilliant text as always. Three annotations:
Obama will not make any moves that would amount to an appeasement with Russia because he doesn’t want to end like JFK. He will maybe make some historic remarks in the last speech before leaving office reminiscing of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech in 1960, where Eisenhower warned:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
And where Eisenhower pleaded for disarmament and peace:
“Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.”
Obama is probably already studying this speech to assess how much of it he can incorporate in his own farewell address.
Concerning actual policy changes, Obama is just a figurehead, which was made clear to him from the first day after his election victory. He probably knew it even before.
The withdrawing of Patriot missiles from Turkey suggests that there could be some kind of arrangement between Russia and the USA. Obama reportedly was furious that ordering Bulgaria and Greece to deny Russian cargo planes overflight happened without his knowledge. How much CIA and Pentagon operations may be go on without him knowing? The secret funds are bottomless.
This is called “deep state” or “permanent government.”
Beside this obvious constraints, what can one expect from a person who is used to sign weekly “kill lists” of undesirable individuals and who ordered the persecution of whistleblowers left and right?
The refugee crisis in Europe is a bonus for the USA, because it weakens and destabilizes an economic competitor (mainly Germany). The imperium has no friends, only vassals and allies (which will be thrown under the bus without hesitation whenever it is convenient).
Consortiumnews is one of the few bright spots in the pitch-black US media scene and it deserves support and encouragement. One has nevertheless to be aware that the organizers and contributors of this media project are fully immersed into the US way of thinking and despite their genuine efforts to think out (break out) of the box ever so often unintentionally purport US propaganda lines.
Comments by people who hail from other cultures and watch things from the distance may help to remedy this.