Bob Dreyfuss betrays Syria in The Nation

We have already pointed out that Bob Dreyfuss is an intellectually dishonest coward. But his latest in The Nation is actually refreshingly honest, if utterly repugnant. The stateside Bashar Assad fan club rarely plays its hand so openly as he does in his new exercise in dictator-shilling, unabashedly entitled "US Should Back Syria's Assad Against ISIS"! Dreyfuss favorably quotes former US ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan Ryan Crocker's obscene remarks in the New York Times a few months back that "Assad Is the Least Worst Option." He also similarly endorses recent comments to the same effect from Leslie Gelb in the same NY Times that "leftists" once derided as an organ of the imperial elite. He writes with wide-eyed credulity that Assad has "wrongly been accused of covertly supporting ISIS." That's pretty hilarious. This is the same Bob Dreyfuss who has been arguing for years (see, e.g. his Jan. 26, 2006 performance on Democracy Now!) that Israel covertly backed Hamas as a stratagem against Fatah before things got out of control. But he summarily dismisses the notion that Assad similarly backed the jihadists as a stratagem against the secular opposition before things similarly got out of control. However, there are more fundamental faults here…

The betrayal of Syria's secular opposition by the entire world is exactly what led to the emergence of ISIS. The jihadists, with their own arms networks, filled the vacuum. Those (including Dreyfuss, of course) who argued against support for the Syrian opposition because they were jihadists engaged in a self-fulfilling prophecy. And not always unwittingly.

This is another example of what we may now call the pseudo-left (or, emphasizing its utter lack of analysis, Idiot Left) in political convergence with the paleocon right—that faction of the Beltway elite that have their money on Bashar Assad. This is a reaction against the neocon "regime change" hubris—as if the paleocon enthusiasm for "stability" under dictatorships were any more progressive. 

And this is indicative of a deeper problem still—the growing internalization of the imperial viewpoint in what used to be the "left." (We've noted before Dreyfuss' coziness with figures such as Lesie Gelb and outright love affair with ultra-paleocon Chas Freeman.) This is a most egregious example of what Syrian exile activist Leila Shrooms in her recent commentary derided as the paradoxical "State-centric discourse" of the left on Syria. There is more interest in playing policy wonk (as if those in the corridors of power give a hoot what we think) rather than what should be the critical work of progressives in the West: building solidarity with the secular civil resistance in Syria—which continues to exist, in spite of everything. As Syrians put their lives on the line to oppose a genocidal regime, the best "leftists" in the US can do is call for Washington to back the dictatorship? Just maddening.

  1. Leslie Gelb back-pedals on balkanization

    Lesie Gelb is another intellectually dishonest coward, quite evidently. The New York Times piece that Dreyfuss favorably cites is entitled "Iraq Must Not Come Apart," in which Gelb overtly back-pedals from his 2003 piece "The Three-State Solution,"  disingenuously stating: "Middle East experts dismissed the idea as a partition policy. My intent was not to advocate a policy, but to describe what I thought was the inevitable breakup of Iraq. I urged the United States to make this as peaceable as possible. It was my hope that these states would eventually form a loose confederation."

    Oh stop, Leslie. The 2003 piece was quite explicitly framed as a policy recommendation, and quite explicitly broached actual partition, not just "confederation." He wrote: "The general idea is to strengthen the Kurds and Shiites and weaken the Sunnis, then wait and see whether to stop at autonomy or encourage statehood." This was accompanied by the usual condescending rhetoric about how "a unified Iraq is not only ungovernable but also unnatural." As if any state on Earth were "natural," and as if the US had any business trying to "govern" Iraq! Imperial advocates of balkanization never seem to get that the United States is just as "unnatural" an entity as the weaker states they would dismantle. As we have pointed out before. We also noted in 2003 that Gelb's call for "natural states" along ethno-religious lines mirrored the logic of ethnic cleansers in the Balkans and elsewhere.

    We're glad to see Gelb repudiating these reactionary ideas, now that Iraq faces the very abyss. But he should have the courage to admit that he simply got it very, very wrong back in 2003. The same hurbis that allowed him to pronounce from on high the fate of another country apparently prevents him from now doing so.

  2. The Nation loves dictators?

    The Nation's betrayal of Syria follows its recent similar betrayal of Ukraine, with another one of their golden boys, Stephen F. Cohen, shilling for arch-reactionary Putin in the same unseemy manner that Dreyfuss now shills for genocidal dictator Assad. Why is The Nation still considered a publication of the left?

  3. Pseudo-left gets in on imperial balkanization act

    Oh yeah, the same fallacy of proclaiming other countries not "real" (while remaining blind to the "unrealness" of the USA based on the same criteria) has also been evidenced in "leftist" pronouncements on Urkaine. We recently had to call out AlterNet for spreading such transparent garbage…

  4. Did Assad back ISIS?

    The New York Times on Jan. 28 noted the (repeated) reports that ISIS has seized control of Syria's northern oilfields, and adds: "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is even selling fuel to the Assad government, lending weight to allegations by opposition leaders that it is secretly working with Damascus to weaken the other rebel groups and discourage international support for their cause." See also The Telegraph, Jan. 20; McClatchy, June 23.

  5. Assad: Arab Revolution is ‘fake spring’

    Bashar Assad, sworn in July 16 following his 100% predictable "re-election," called the 2011 Arab uprisings a "fake spring," and told his supporters: "Syrians, three years and four months…have passed since some cried ‘freedom’… They wanted a revolution, but you have been the real revolutionaries. I congratulate you for your revolution and for your victory."

    Note how this rhetoric mirrors much we have been hearing from the ostensible "left" in the West about how the revolutions not only in Libya but even in Egypt and in Tunisia were mere "astroturf" creations of Western intrigue. Remember when leftists used to support revolutionaries rather than dictators? Ah, the good old days…