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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Contradictions on Syria: Patrick Higgins Strikes Back!

[This was sent to me by a friend who saw it on his facebook page. Higgins'
full response is here, my comments are in the blue blockquotes.]
A Brief Response to Clay Claiborne

In response to this blog post: http://claysbeach.blogspot.com/2015/08/jacobins-war-on-syria.html

I am actually surprised he engaged me on Mao. In my experience, the framework of 'Syrian revolution' fans is purely 'humanitarian' and moralist, never materialist.
Meet the materialists

The basic premise circulated--ironically repeated by this author--is that the white supremacist, depleted uranium droppers of the US military should destroy supposedly more 'barbaric' militaries in the global South the moment any such calls are made.
This is all rhetoric.

Ho Chi Minh & Viet Minh took weapons and training from US OSS officers
How this differs from boilerplate R2P is beyond me.
Are you sure you want to admit that?
This logic has been buttressed in recent times by claims that US imperialism was 'passive' in the face of the suffering inflicted by the Syrian army.
My claim is that US imperialism has been supportive of Assad. See these for details:

Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
John Kerry and his 'dear friend' Bashar Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?
Obama planning drone strikes against Assad's opposition in Syria
Allies say US holding back fight against Assad in Syria
John Kerry: US agrees with Russia on Syria, Assad stays
How Obama helps Assad: US tried to start war between FSA & al Nusra Front
Obama's "Red-Line" was nothing but a Green Light for Assad's Slaughter of 70,000
Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims

Obama blocks ICC war crimes prosecution of Assad
The Courtship Continues: Obama stopped French strike on Assad
How Obama has supported Assad's gas murder always
Is Obama finally coming out of the closet about Assad?
C.I.A. Said to Steer Arms away from Syrian Opposition
Obama still seeking $500 million to arm Syrian rebels!
Obama and Israel Love Assad
Obama on Syria this week: Like I've been saying... 
Hillary Clinton's early role in facilitating Bashar al-Assad's crackdown in Syria

I also hold that "Left" chants about how Obama is for "regime change" in Syria have played an indispensable role in helping him sell the story that he is really against Assad and for the democratic forces. He saying he opposes Assad is one thing. Having a bunch of "anti-imperialists" who support Assad claiming he is for "regime change," now that really helps to sell the story.
But you cannot set up covert training centers for militarization and claim passivity.
They don't claim passivity, they claim to support the revolution. Doesn't mean its true. Covert training centers could be for show. Who have they trained?
 And if we can agree that the Gulf-Israel-Turkey alliance is supported by US imperialism, the claim of passivity rings even more hollow.
Can we also agreed that the Gulf monarchies are Arab countries and their support of the Syrian people's struggle is by popular demand?.
Here is the part of On Contradiction the author (wisely, for his sake) fails to quote:
Wisely, I only use a few hundred words and failed to quote most of its 14,700 words.
'When imperialism launches a war of aggression against such a country, all its various classes, except for some traitors, can temporarily unite in a national war against imperialism.
Excuse me. Wasn't Mao talking about China after it had been invaded by Japan? Didn't the Imperial Japanese Army slaughter as many 300,000 Chinese civilians in just six weeks in Nanking the same year Mao wrote this? Are you trying to imply that Syria has been subjected to "foreign military invasion" like that? Give me a break!

Meet the traitors:


At such a time, the contradiction between imperialism and the country concerned becomes the principal contradiction,
Not the "central" contradiction?
while all the contradictions among the various classes within the country (including what was the principal [he means "central"] contradiction, between the feudal system and the great masses of the people) are temporarily relegated to a secondary and subordinate position. So it was in China in the Opium War of 1840, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 and the Yi Ho Tuan War of 1900, and so it is now in the present Sino-Japanese War.'
So do you think the 15 March uprising was wrong because imperialism had already launched a war of aggression against Syria or do you think that the 15 March uprising was that war of aggression? Or do you think that as long as imperialism exists overthrowing the rulers of oppressive governments is out of the question because "anti-imperialists" will say its a US supported "regime change" coup?
By their actions--carrying out attacks on the Syrian state on these orders
What orders?
and with the funds of the US, Saudi, Turkey, and Israel
Are you talking about pennies on the dollar or Assad regime propaganda?
--the major rebel groups have not only taken the side of imperial aggression, but have taken its form as well.
So the revolution is really imperialist aggression, is that your point? Did this imperialist aggression begin when Mohamed Bouazizi lite himself on fire or when youth in Homs wrote anti-government slogans on the wall? 
The author wants examination of Syria's internal dynamics. Well, that's what I was setting when I said this: 'Here it must be said that while international connivance against Syria — one involving varying degrees of coordination between the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and other parties — has played in important role in the tragedy before us, the ruin of Syria is really a product of these powers’ relationship with reactionary forces in Syria and elsewhere.' And Mao states in On Contradiction that imperialism often advances through alliance with 'domestic reaction.'
Since imperialists often make alliances with domestic reaction, then obviously any domestic group courted by the imperialists and certainly any that would enter into an agreement with them, must be reactionary. The is how Higgins understands Mao.
So the question becomes, who represents the forces of domestic reaction* in Syria? The government, says the author. But are we simply supposed to assume this is the case? A major contention in my article is that a movement is not revolutionary by the sole criterion that it is combating an oppressive government. Here is a question that the author should be made to answer:
Syrian torture method

And just how do you
propose to do that?
Is your Baathist
affinity showing again?


do the most powerful factions of the anti-government movement seek to provide more rights for more Syrians, or fewer, than provided by the Syrian government?
Which rights are theses? The right to vote in elections in which Assad gets 97% of the vote? The right to "be made to answer" using the pictured technique? The right of a democracy activist to have a live rat stuff up her vagina, or the right to be barrel-bombed?

There may be no experience in recent times that shows the complete bankruptcy of bourgeois "rights" as what the Syrian government is doing to its people right now and it is hard to imagine a statement that could more completely show the bankruptcy of the "anti-imperialist" than to talk about the "rights" bestowed on the Syrian people by its government while Syrians are drowning in the Mediterranean or suffocating in the back of trucks on foreign roads because they are so desperate to get away from the barrel-bombs that its government drops on it like "rights."
The answer is, [ If Hiigins get to say who is in the anti-government movement , and what their relative power is ] they seek to provide fewer rights, known by their pattern and stated intention of targeting the country's minorities for forced conversion and slaughter.
Please excuse my vulgarity but sometimes vulgarity is called for. So just let me say that nothing illustrates how fucking out of touch these "gentlemen and ladies" of the "Left" are with Syrian reality ( and how uncaring) more than Higgins' defense of more "rights" granted to the Syrian people by a regime that routinely does this to its citizens:

55,000 pictures of 11,000 Syrian "detainees"
Think they are phony?
Find the "continuity errors"
Be the first to prove even one was faked
Be a hero to Assad & "anti-imperialists" alike!
I have made my case for the realities on the ground: armed parties will dictate the politics of the anti-government movement, because that's what guns can do (Mao taught me that)
Did Mao teach you that armed struggle was unacceptable because that is what you seemed to say in the Jacobin piece? You praise the NCC for "its theoretical rejection of militarization." Mao taught the people that they should arm themselves because ultimately, that's where political power resides.
--it is decent to be honest, and not sentimental, about this reality. And the search for armed parties that provide more rights for more Syrians has proved fruitless (outside of the YPG, which finds itself in a unique position). If the author wants to make a positive case for any armed party in particular, I am all ears.
Its not your ears that concern me, its what's between them.
*By assuming that there is such a force as domestic reaction, I do not mean to say or imply that the country has not been invaded by imperial mercenaries.
Does that 10,000 include the 54, of is in now 10,054?

On the question of foreign military involvement in Syria, it will be interesting to see how Jacobin, Veterans for Peace and the rest of the "Left" respond to this breaking news from The Daily Beast:
Russia Puts Boots on the Ground in Syria

1 Sept 2015
Michael Weiss
The numbers are small, but Moscow may be looking at its own version of mission creep in the treacherous Middle East.

The end of summer. It means back-to-school shopping, tearfully ended beach-borne romances, Labor Day barbecues—and, it would seem, the increased likelihood of new Russian adventurism. As if Moscow weren’t satisfied with the game in Ukraine, the last month has seen a flurry of reports about its ever-expanding military involvement in Syria.

One report has even alleged that Russian pilots are gearing up to fly missions alongside the Syrian air force, dropping bombs not just on ISIS but on anti-Assad rebels who may or may not be aligned with the United States or its regional allies.

Several sources consulted for this story said the Pentagon is being unusually cagey about Russia’s reinvigorated role in Syria. A former U.S. military officer told The Daily Beast, “I’m being told things like, ‘We really can’t talk about this.’ That indicates to me that there’s some truth to these allegations.” More...

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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