Well, this is rich. Russia and China have vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have referred the conflict in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). More than 60 countries supported the French-drafted text calling for an investigation into "likely" war crimes committed by regime forces or "non-State armed groups." (BBC News, May 22) Will all those on the "anti-war" left in the West who called for ICC action "instead of" military action (as if ICC action would stop Bashar Assad from killing his people) now protest this? Just asking, Kevin Zeese. We feel we should add a parenthetical "(sic)" after the phrase "anti-war," because those who oppose any pressure on the Assad regime are of course enabling an actually existing war that has now cost more than 150,000 lives. Repetition of the mantra that "the USA is not the world police" is worse than meaningless when accompanied by silence over the blocking of UN and ICC efforts to hold mass-murderers accountable, which effectively means the world order is set by thugs.
Interestingly, Russia's blocking of the resolution comes just as Damascus has approved the only contract for oil exploration along the Syrian coast—with the Russian firm SoyuzNefteGaz! (Al-Monitor, May 11) It also comes just as Russia is massively boosting military aid to the Assad regime. Coincidence?
Will all the "anti-war" (sic) voices that have been quick to point to supposed US designs on Syria's oil to explain the supposed "destabilization" camapign against Assad have anything to say about this?
And the supposed "destabilization" camapign is largely imaginary. On Dec. 21, veteran US diplomat (ex-ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait as well as Syria) Ryan Crocker wrote in a New York Times op-ed: "It is time to consider a future for Syria without Assad's ouster, because it is overwhelmingly likely that is what the future will be." This echoes similar verbiage that same week from ex-CIA director Michael Hayden, who went so far as to pose Assad's survival in power as the "best" among "possible outcomes." (Best for whom?)
And while it remains questionable whether any significant quantity of war material from the West has actually reached the Syrian rebels, European governments have carried out a series of busts of figures suspected of collaborating with them. The most recent was in France, where Strasbourg police on May 20 arrested seven men who were suspected of fighting for the Syrian insurgents—although no weapons were found. Under current French policiy, any citizen who returns from fighting in Syria faces charges of being a part of a "terrorist organization" and is subject to arrest. (Jurist, May 17)
The "anti-war" left is simply getting everything backwards this time—essentially serving as the propaganda arm of a fascistic one-family regime that continues even now to use chemical weapons against its own people.
One part of the Left (Hugo Chavez supporters, ANSWER Coalition, the Castro brothers, Counterpunch, etc.) has actually supported Assad… They hope for the defeat of the revolution and the victory of Assad regime, a real possibility now, but probably not the most likely one. This is a formalistic position: Assad is anti-imperialist, we oppose imperialism, and therefore Assad is our ally. For this type of Left, one just needs to use the template of earlier posters and change "Hands Off Iraq" or "Hands Off Libya" to "Hands Off Syria."
A second group (Amy Goodman of Pacifica radio, etc.) has seen brutality on "both sides" and calls for an amorphous "political settlement." This has no relationship to reality, especially in terms of the uncompromising brutality of Assad regime, which has never once negotiated except to buy time, the better to arm itself to massacre the people.
A third group (anarchist Bill Weinberg, Syrian revolutionary Yassin al-Haj Saleh) has called for US intervention and is disappointed it did not attack… This is also unrealistic, as US has no interest in victory of Syrian revolution.
A fourth group…has opposed Assad and supported the revolution while remaining silent on intervention… While at least on the side of the revolution, this position too is formalistic, as is the ANSWER one…
Let me end by quoting our IMHO statement of Aug. 30, 2013, "Against U.S Attacks on Syria! Against the Assad Regime and Other Reactionary Forces! For the Grassroots Syrian Revolution!"
To which I responded in a comment on the IMHO website:
I must make clear that I have not called for US intervention in Syria. In raising tough questions about an anti-intervention position, I am often accused of supporting intervention; the reverse is also true. I've expended more energy on my website calling out the contradictions in the anti-intervention position, because that position has become virtually hegemonic on the left. Most of my readers are on the left, and I don't believe in preaching to the choir; I believe in challenging assumptions and provoking thought. I've repeatedly stated: If I saw an anti-intervention position that was serious about solidarity with the Syrians, I would support it. Alas, there is little to no interest in organizing to support the secular civil resistance in Syria. There are, even now, opposition groups in Syria that also oppose US intervention, such as the Revolutionary Left Current. Instead of reaching out to such groups, the "anti-war" left has chosen to rally around the dictator, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. I therefore have to oppose the actually-exisiting "anti-war" movement in the US this time around. That does not mean I support military intervention.
I should also point out that Yassin al-Haj Saleh, in his recent interview, also takes a far more critical view of Western military intervention than Anderson portrays.
So while ultimately, I suppose I share Anderson's position of supporting the Syrian revolution while opposing US military intervention, I can't merely state "Against US attacks!" and "Against the Assad regime!" (with exclamation points), as if there were no contradiction there. The Syrian left-opposition groups that oppose Western intervention, like the Revolutionary Left Current, are now a fairly marginal force within the civil resistance movement—which has itself been significantly sidelined by the armed insurgent groups. And the notion that anti-imperialist principles mean we must oppose even intervention against a genocidal regime strikes me as hardly less problematic than supporting intervention. I see this as a genuine moral dilemma. But I'm clear on this: We, as "anti-war" voices in the West, must put solidarity with the Syrian revolution front and center—not opposing purely hypothetical military adventures (as opposed to Assad's extremely real ones), or imaginary "destabilization" campaigns.