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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why Green Party's @DrJillStein should drop her presidential bid

Politics in the United States may have reached a new low on Friday when a Maine legislator took the governor up on his challenge to make a voicemail message public:
“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the governor’s phone message says. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cock sucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cock sucker. You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”
LePage's answer to a question from Andrew Ritchie, a black audience member at a town hall meeting in North Berwick on Wednesday, might have been one of the reasons Gattine called the governor a racist. The governor said:
“Let me tell you this, explain to you, I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state. Now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state,” LePage said. “I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn.”
On Thursday, Gov. LePage told WMTW News 8:
"Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers."
The Maine governor has a long history of making racist statements. He started collecting drug dealer data after he made this one, blaming the heroin epidemic in the second whitest state in the nation on black people, at a January town hall in Bridgton :
“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys – they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
When the Maine ACLU heard the governor's statement that 90% of those being arrested for drug crimes were black or Hispanic, they demanded to see the arrest records, saying that if the governor's numbers were true and 90% of those arrested for drug dealing in Maine were minorities, there was very likely some serious racial profiling going on because according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2012, 38 percent of people arrested for drug trafficking nationally were black.

Using current (8/26/16) Maine government data, my own calculations show that blacks make up 6.1% (559/9159) of all those either in prison or on parole/probation for all crimes and 12.2% (237/1936) of those in similar jeopardy for drug crimes. You may be struck by the low numbers - for a state's prison population - I know I was. There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is that black people are only 1.3% of the state population, so the percentage of black people in the Maine criminal justice system is extremely disproportionate. This speaks volumes about the racist reality of the criminal justice system headed by Gov. LePage. The good news is that black people are only 1.3% of the states population so as yet, relatively few black people have had to live under the political rule of a chief executive like LePage.

This could well change next year, if Donald Trump is elected president. He has run the most racially charged campaign in living memory. He has campaigned from one racist statement to the next. About Mexican rapists, Muslims terrorists, a Mexican-American judge, Syrian refugees hiding ISIS, Black Lives Matter killing cops, and so on. These are the themes he is using to rally his troops, and recently he has brought into his campaign a number of prominent white supremacists, including Lauren LePage, the Maine governor's daughter. She had been the executive director of Maine People Before Politics, described by the Press Herald as "an advocacy group formed to advance her father’s agenda."

Donald Trump is not a Republican


The reason the last two Republican presidential nominees, the two living Republican presidents and the Republican governor of the state in which it was held were not at the convention that nominated Donald Trump is because they recognized he isn't just another GOP presidential candidate. In 2016, the Republican party has been hijacked by a white supremacist movement that sees Donald Trump as its leader and they are attempting to install a white nationalist administration that is likely to pursue racist and fascist policies that go far beyond those of the Obama administration, or any other presidential regime in living memory.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes VDARE as "an anti-immigration hate website" which "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites."
Paul Manafort, a GOP stalwart, had been brought in to rein in the campaign somewhat. Now he is out. Meet the new team:

Stephen Bannon is Trump's new campaign chairman. He is also the current chairman of Breitbart News. Ben Shapiro was the editor-at-large of Breitbart News for four years, and he said "Under Bannon's leadership, Breibart openly embraced the white supremacist Alt-Right." Breitbart News has become central command for the politely named Alt-Right movement.

Dylann Roof was part of the 1488 movement
The most extreme elements of this alternative right are the 1488ers, the numbers stand for the 14 words in the Nazi slogan "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children," and the 8th letter of the alphabet twice to signify "Heil Hitler."  According to the Anti-Defamation League "the numbers form a general endorsement of white supremacy and its beliefs. As such, they are ubiquitous within the white supremacist movement - as graffiti, in graphics and tattoos, even in screen names and e-mail addresses, such as aryanprincess1488@hate.net. Some white supremacists will even price racist merchandise, such as t-shirts or compact discs, for $14.88."  1488 showed up in Dylann Roof's manifesto too, and he was suppose to be a lone, unconnected, racist killer. Now that you know what to look for, you will start to notice it.

But most mainstream Alt-Right supporters aren't that extreme, according to Allum Bokhari, a reporter for Breitbart, "They want to build their homogeneous communities, sure — but they don’t want to commit any pogroms along the way. Indeed, they would prefer non-violent solutions...The bulk of their demands, after all, are not so audacious: they want their own communities, populated by their own people, and governed by their own values."

Trump is part of an international white nationalist movement


A caller to Rush Limbaugh's radio show said of the Atl-Right "it started in the last few years in Europe because of the Muslim invasion. And I think it’s... They’re beginning to get people over here, youngsters between 18, 25, 26, to convert to what they call ‘the alt right.’ I think it’s gonna be pretty intense. I think you should keep an eye out for it.” That statement is important because it connects the dots between the Syrian civil war and the rise of white nationalism in Europe and the United States, and because it points out that these white nationalists are recruiting the same young white workers Left groups like the Green Party should be going after. Bokhari says "The French New Right also serve as a source of inspiration for many leaders of the alt-right." What Trump is seeking to install in the White House is the national wing of an international white supremacist movement.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's new campaign manager, like Bannon, is one of Robert Mercer's people. His billions make The Donald's hidden fortunes look like chump change. She was head of the Ted Cruz Super-PAC that the hedge fund billionaire had put $13.5 million into. Now it is being converted into a Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC with a new million dollar investment. His daughter, Rebekah Mercer lives in one of Trump's Upper West Side [of New York City] buildings, is a Heritage Foundation trustee and director of the Mercer family foundation. Daddy provides the money and Rebekah sees to the details of how it is spent, and their fingerprints have been all over the Trump campaign recently. According to The Hill:
Stephen Bannon, the Trump campaign’s newly appointed CEO, is “tied at the hip” with Rebekah Mercer, said a source who has worked with the Mercers in their political activities.
...
“The Mercers basically own this campaign,” said a source who has worked with Rebekah Mercer in her political activities.
If it continues to be a winning campaign, these white supremacists will own the White House.

Iowa castration


Donald Trump was at the Iowa Republican “Roast and Ride” biker rally Saturday organized by Joni Ernst, the successful 2014 Iowa Senate candidate who famously re-introduce the term "castration" into our national political dialogue after Obama was elected. Writing for Wonkette.com, Matt Carpenter said that before her castration remark gained her a national audience, "she was an unknown, prattling on about the imminent invasion of jackbooted U.N. thugs."

Although she talked about pigs, the real target of her castration comment was not lost on the English speaking world. When she was picked to deliver the Republican response to Obama's SOTU address last year, the UK's Daily Mail went with the headline "Iowa's hog-castrating senator Joni Ernst will deliver Republican response to State of the Union address – and GOP aide hopes she 'cuts someone's cojones off'"
BIKERS FOR TRUMP on their way to Cleveland.
These bikers are an important Trump constituency. Chris Cox claims to have 30,000 members in his "Bikers for Trump" which he says he is now converting to a volunteer security force. Lion's Guard, the militia being organized to protect Trump, claimed it is a peaceful and exclusively on-line group. Then a militant contingent of Lion's Guard bikers showed up at a Trump rally in Phoenix.

Jerry DeLemus, a Trump campaign official from New Hampshire, traveled to Oregon "to assist the small cadre of armed men who are seeking to provoke a standoff with federal officials there," according to ThinkProgress. He has a history with the Bundy crew. In 2014, RawStory named him "chief of security" at Bunkerville when they were holed up in Nevada.

Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the number of hate groups in the US was 892 last year, up 14% from the year before. Of those, they classified 276 as militias. Most of these consider themselves among Donald Trump's "Second Amendment people." SPLC summed up their concerns about what they see happening this way:
From the candidacy of Donald Trump to the British decision to leave the European Union (EU), from the rise of a radical movement of antigovernment county sheriffs to a metastasizing rage aimed at political and economic elites, something important and incredibly dangerous is happening in the Western world.
It has been said that Trump foreign policy adviser Walid Phares “was a high ranking political official in a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon's brutal, 15-year civil war.” So its safe to assume his team already has people with that skill-set should they decide to go that way. Right now, he is trying to win the election so anyone who opposes Clinton is his friend.

With these white supremacist leaders now firmly in command of Trump's campaign, he has been trying to expand his support so that he can win by attempting to deceive voters desperate for change, but put off by his extreme rhetoric. Earlier this week he made a number of fake appeals to black voters, in front of white audiences, and he appeared to soften his stand on immigration, but at the Saturday biker rally the tough talk was back:
On Day One, I am going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country – including removing the hundreds of thousands of criminal illegal immigrants that have been released into U.S. communities under the Obama-Clinton Administration.
...
In this task, we will always err on the side of protecting the American people – we will use immigration law to prevent crimes, and will not wait until some innocent American has been harmed or killed before taking action.
...
I am going to build a great border wall, institute nationwide e-verify, stop illegal immigrants from accessing welfare and entitlements,...

I am also going to cancel all unconstitutional executive orders...

Now, what is Hillary Clinton going to do?

She has pledged amnesty in her first 100 days...
...
This is not to mention that Hillary Clinton wants a 550% increase in Syrian refugees.
According to Jill Stein and the Green Party. It makes little difference whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becomes our next commander-in-chief. From their point-of-view its six of one, half dozen of another, but I would suggest that it will make a great deal of difference to undocumented workers in the US, starting with Day One. It will also likely have an effect on Syrians attempting to escape Assad's barrel bombs.

Enter the Green Party


The Washington Post also found her indifference towards the final election outcome difficult to understand, even as she made light of a job very far from anything in her experience:
Ms. Stein did not exactly convey a sense of awe about how tough the presidency is. “I don’t believe that it is rocket science,” she said of administering the federal government. But that blitheness may not be surprising from a politician who cites climate change as a global emergency — and then argues the country would be no better off electing Ms. Clinton, who promises to continue Mr. Obama’s progress on warming, than Mr. Trump, who has said the whole thing is a hoax invented by the Chinese.
The Washington Post editors pressed the question further in their sit down with her:
ARMAO: How would you feel the day after election if your votes, the votes you get, make a difference between Donald Trump getting into the Oval Office and he gets elected? How would you feel?

STEIN: I will not sleep well if Donald Trump gets elected, and I will not sleep well if Hillary Clinton gets elected.

ARMAO: That doesn’t really answer my question.

STEIN: Well, it tells you how I’m going to be feeling on that day. I will be continuing to build our power base, because, as Frederick Douglass said, power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.
Jill Stein's full interview with The Washington Post editorial board run 70 minutes long. A search for "white" in the transcript turns up 4 instances of "White House" and nothing else. She mentions "racism" twice, as a term Martin Luther King [Jr - sic] would have used and a legacy we need to get rid of. She also speaks of "the crisis of police violence and racist violence that’s before us." Nowhere in this hour plus talk does she as much as mention the extreme white supremacist aspects of the Trump campaign that almost everyone else is buzzing about. The same can pretty much be said about the Jacobin interview we will look at shortly.  She completely ignores what for many has become the central question of this election year and the key difference between the two contenders, like it or not we face a binary choice here, and then she blows off the incredulous WashPost editor by paraphrasing a black revolutionary that has been dead for 121 years. Now, how clever is that?

Jill Stein also sees herself as the leader of a revolutionary movement, and she has done a lot of good work. She is aware that the strategy she is asking her supporters to follow could well result in a President Donald Trump and he will most likely be bringing his white nationalist campaign leadership into the White House, but she has given no thought to how organizing might be affected by a fascist in the White House. She says Trump is a fascist yet she assumes he will be just like Clinton, Bush or Obama and that is a very dangerous assumption. There are a great many indicators already that just isn't the case.

What do you mean by "white nationalist"?


There is an important reason why Jill Stein and the Green Party are doing their best to ignore or down play the influence of white nationalists in the Trump campaign. If they can get over 5% of the vote, they should receive $20 million in gov't funding, so they want your vote.

In spite of the fact that she has absolutely no chance of winning. They want your vote.

Even if voting for Jill helps put Trump over the top. They want your vote.

They don't believe in voting strategically to effect the outcome of the election if it means choosing among possible winners that are less than ideal. Ideal in this case being represented by Jill Stein, never mind that she is clueless with regards to what is going on in US politics domestically as illustrated by her failure to comment on the white supremacist influences in the Trump campaign, and clueless internationally, a question we have addressed in the past and will touch upon again below.

In pursuit of your vote, the Green Party and its supporters are advancing arguments along two lines, both of which are treacherous IMHO:

1) Donald Trump is just another Republican candidate. Nothing special to see here folks. So what if he wins? I will fear no evil!

2) and in case you don't entirely buy into that bit of willful blindness: He has absolutely no chance of winning so you should feel free to make a symbolic vote.

Both of these arguments are extremely dangerous because they disarm people in such a way as to make a Trump victory all the more likely and don't prepare people to continue the struggle under what could be very different conditions.

To support the first point, they focus their fire on Clinton while keeping quiet about Trump's white nationalist connections. They perform a great service to the Trump campaign because they want the people to see him as just another reactionary GOP candidate like Romney, McCain or Bush, and he isn't. They find themselves cleaning up the Trump campaign to make it an acceptable alternative.

In a piece unabashedly named “The Spoiler” Speaks, Jacobin Magazine started with the second point when Bhaskar Sunkara interviewed Jill Stein recently and it accused those concerned that a vote for Jill Stein might put Trump in the White House of "inflating the faint chances of a Donald Trump presidency."

I hope they are right but I also think they are playing with fire to disarm people with such a remark. Unless Jacobin can show me where they predicted a year ago that Trump would trounce seventeen other Republican candidates and emerge as the party's nominee, I am not likely to believe their predictions going forward, and since The Donald has been seen recently paling around with Nigel Farage, it would be good to remember how many people failed to predict the success of the Brexit vote that has been driven by many of the same forces.

I also find it interesting that many of these Left voices are ready already to announce "Mission Accomplished" with regards to defeating this attempt to have a white nationalist administration follow the Obama presidency, and base their predictions on their faith in bourgeois political polls. There are serious indications that because many are reticent about being open with their support for a racist, Trump poll numbers may seriously underestimate his vote. That's what happened with the Brexit vote. They know this. They aren't stupid, but they won't mention this and continue to promote the poll numbers to argue that it is safe to vote for Jill Stein. This is also part of their treachery.

In making their, "no worries, Hillary's got it in the bag" argument they also ignore the possibility that the election could be stolen, a real or fake "October surprise" could stampede people into voting for Trump, or even the remote possibility of an extra-legal seizure of state power.

As fantastic as it might sound, this final option should not be entirely discounted. The majority of the fast growing right-wing militias are coming under Trump's leadership. Also, seemingly forgotten by a Left eager to convince us Trump represents no special danger, is former Air Force officer Michael L. Weinstein's important work in exposing the control an Evangelical Christian network has been gaining inside the US Air Force. His Military Religious Freedom Foundation has responded to the Trump campaign with one of its own: Help Build The Wall Separating Church and State in the U.S. Military And BTW, Brietbart, and Trump's new campaign manager, Steve Bannon, ex-Navy, are all mobbed up with these Pentagon Evangelists. The closer the vote, the more possible any of these scenarios become. This racist assault on the White House needs to be defeated by a landslide if its not to be repeated in four years or attempted by a coup.

Honoring the title of their piece, Bhaskar Sunkara jumped right into the question of Jill Stein siphoning off enough progressive votes to put Donald Trump in the White House:
I guess among liberals a lot of this pushback is because of this fear that you could possibly play the spoiler. This type of fear was brought up in 2000, then again in 2004.

What would you say to a Bernie Sanders Democrat in a swing state that likes your politics... but is planning to vote in November for Hillary Clinton?
Jill Stein responded:
Donald Trump doesn’t stand alone. He’s part of a right-wing extremist movement that is getting traction now all around the world.
This is true and more. He isn't just part a worldwide right-wing extremist movement. He is the leader of a white supremacist movement in the United States and the question is why should we be indifferent to the possibility, no matter how slim, of this movement taking over the executive branch of the United States government?
This isn’t happening by accident. This is because of neoliberal policies...throw working people under the bus.
I would go further and say that neoliberalism lays the basis for fascism as the next step in its futile attempt to resolve the growing contradictions of capitalism.
These are the policies of the Clintons and the centrist Democratic Party...Hillary has always been in bed with the banks.
By blaming everything from imperialist wars to capitalist crisis on the Clintons, Jill Stein supports Trump's demagoguery and obscures the systematic nature of the problem.
She supported the Wall Street deregulations that lead to the financial meltdown and the economic misery that gives rise to demagogues like Donald Trump.
These have been the policies of capitalism ever since the Clintons invented it. The economic misery engendered by the financial meltdown has created opportunities for the Left as well as the Right to rally ordinary people to its banners. That the Right can only do so by demagogue means doesn't exactly excuse the Left's failures in this regard. The same can be said about the claim by both Jill Stein and Donald Trump that Clinton's wars created ISIS. US imperialist wars in the Middle East have created the conditions for the rise of extreme right-wing movements like Daesh among the Muslim masses, this is true. These same conditions can lead to revolutionary movements, and has in Libya and Syria, among other places.

When Donald Trump says Obama and Clinton are the founders of ISIS, he is accusing them of helping to create ISIS in a very material way, the way those who accuse Bashar al-Assad of letting jihadists out of prison to join Daesh or buying their oil say he helped to create ISIS. What Trump is really doing with his "Obama founded ISIS" line is signaling to his white nationalist base his support for one of their favorite conspiracy theories. When Jill Stein says "Trump's right: Clinton's wars created ISIS" she is cleaning up Trump's charge so she can support it, but she is also doing something else as a supposed revolutionary, she is excusing the Left's failure to execute because imperialist wars have created the conditions for revolution as well as reaction.

Finally, after beating around the bush for a bit more, she gives us her bottom-line response to the fear that she could be a spoiler, i.e. draw enough votes away from Clinton to give the election to Trump:
Just understanding history, which your readers tend to do, I would remind them that the only solution to right-wing extremism is a unified left that truly supports radical progressive policies.
Is that how Hitler was defeated? Will strong rhetoric like that defeat Trump?

Running-mate Ajamu Baraka's Black Agenda Report uses convoluted language and twisted logic to name Donald Trump the lesser of the two evils in the example below. Could this be related to BARs support for Putin's politics in other areas?
Although both major party candidates acknowledge that the economy is benefiting only the One Percent, the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lies in how they “identify the source of the problem,” said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, the Duboisian scholar and Black Radical Organizing Committee activist from Philadelphia. “Clinton says that the policies of financialization, of Wall Street privilege, of trade deals like NAFTA and TPP, are not fundamentally wrong – that we should tweet them, not change them,” said Dr. Monteiro. “Trump, in essence, argues that the problem of the American economy is grounded in the export of capital, and that this is the source of the impoverishment of the American working class.” Monteiro believes “Trump’s stating of the problem is far more accurate than Clinton’s,” but neither of them “provide a solution to the problem.”
I am finding it quite interesting that those arguing against voting for either Trump or Clinton, find themselves arguing that Trump really isn't that bad. I think we are going to see these two arguments joined a lot, the same way people opposed to intervention in Syria feel the need to bad mouth the revolution.

#MAGA #WhiteGenocide #SummerOfChaos


None watching political events in the United States this week can doubt that the question of the role of white supremacists and white nationalists in our national government are at the center of the 2016 presidential campaign. On Friday Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were calling each other bigots. But Jill Stein can miss it. The word "white" and the word "racism" are foreign to the Jacobin interview as with the WashPost piece. She sees Trump's right wing extremism and she limits her vision to that. She leads a party that is maybe 3% black and she isn't speaking to these important concerns of black people in this election. In a recent Gallup poll 72% of black women said they strongly feared a Trump victory in November, which probably also means they will be voting for Clinton and fear Stein will be a spoiler. Her answer to their fears is a "Left" slogan which will leave them wondering if this unified left she is hoping to lead even sees the same presidential election they do?

I had earlier called her a Putin sock-puppet and Assad apologist. In response to the criticism that she has allowed herself and the Greens to be used by Russian imperialism, she responded:
This propaganda campaign that I’m kissing up to Putin is a total joke.
I went there to, basically, call for a peace initiative and an end to the bombing.
At a time when Russia was doing most of the bombing in Syria, she went to Moscow and criticized US bombing but not Russian bombing. She was attending an anniversary party for RT, one of Putin's main propaganda outlets. Trump adviser Michael Flynn was there as well. Judging by RT's coverage, Putin favors both the Trump and Stein campaigns. Of course, he knows who has a chance of winning. He's not an idiot.
People who said I went to cozy up to Putin, that’s Hillary’s trolls.
As many as half a million Syrians are dead. Assad and his supporters are responsible for 95% of the killing. Assad's biggest supporter is Putin. Jill Stein blames Clinton and Obama for what has been happening in both Libya and Syria. She doesn't tell Putin to stop the bombing when she is breaking bread with him so obviously anyone who is critical of her foreign policy must be one of Hillary's trolls. If you have any doubt that Jill Stein was actively supporting Putin's warmongering while in Moscow to celebrate the 10th anniversary of RT, you should read this piece in Sunday's New York Times: A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories One has to question why Putin's war propaganda arm has published 105 articles in praise of Jill Stein. Who's the useful idiot in that relationship?

She is sensitive to this charge because it is pretty clear that Putin would prefer a President Trump to a President Clinton, so he wouldn't mind it at all if Jill Stein did turn out to be the spoiler. And since Jill Stein and the Green Party already support Putin's chauvinist policies in Syria and the Ukraine and he completely supports her plans to disengage from NATO and cut defense spending in half, she might be open to charges she is a Kremlin agent and not just an extremely naive presidential hopeful.

Amy Goodman's Democracy Now is also a big Jill Stein supporter. This is not surprising since they share a similar "anti-imperialist" view of the world, and whether it be to support Jill Stein and the Green Party or in service to its supporters in Moscow and Damascus, Democracy Now has also tried to paper over the tremendous difference between this presidential election and past ones. In fact, most regular viewers could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton is actually the greater of the two evils, but on Friday she had two foreign quests that apparently didn't get the memo that there was nothing special about the Trump campaign and it threw her for a loop. First came the "anti-imperialist" Assad apologist Vijay Prashad:
VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, look, I mean, it’s—you can see from your news report at the beginning that, in domestic terms, there is a great difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has not only been absorbed by the white nationalists, but he himself appears to be a white nationalist.
Amy's response was to wonder with Vijay if God knew what Trump would do if he became president. Then came actress Emma Thompson:
EMMA THOMPSON: Well, there are no words, really. Nigel Farage is a—you know, I mean, he’s a nationalist. He’s a white nationalist. And that’s what Donald Trump is. And so, it’s very—it’s very distressing to hear—

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you mean by "white nationalist"?

EMMA THOMPSON: —to hear him at all, ever.

AMY GOODMAN: When you say "white nationalist," what do you mean?

EMMA THOMPSON: I mean, I feel that, in some ways, the less said about Donald Trump, the better. But I do see that it is a terrifying situation. And actually, Mr. Prashad, who I was listening to earlier, was so wonderful on the subject, because he said, from the outside looking in, one of the things that, actually, I—I mean, obviously, if I were an American citizen, I’d be voting for Clinton.
Amy Goodman's response was "Emma Thompson, we’re going to have to leave it there. That does it for our show," but I do hope she can find someone who can explain to her white nationalism and its relationship to the Trump campaign because right now she is promoting views that may help him become president.

Hillary Clinton's Wars


We are hearing a lot this election season about Clinton the warmonger and Clinton's wars, both from the Trump campaign and the Green Party. What exactly is meant by Clinton's wars isn't made exactly clear, but its safe to assume that both camps are alluding to her push for NATO intervention in Libya as Sec State and her infamous “We came, we saw, he died,” joke about the death of Gaddafi is often cited as an example [ and corrupted to "We came, we saw, we killed" by Vijay Prashad on Democracy Now.] . Since wars is plural it may also include her vote for the Iraq war, which was a lot of politician's war, as well as her expected or suspected role in the Syrian civil war.

Both the Alt-Right isolationists and the "anti-imperialist" Left share a common view that sees an imperial US policy as the main instigator of the trouble in Libya and Syria, just as it was in Iraq. In 2003 NATO invaded Iraq with 239,000 NATO ground troops, took out Saddam Hussein and put in what they thought were their own people. This was the classic regime change operation and local opposition to the regime was irrelevant. The regime change operation was planned in Washington with little Iraqi input and little thought about the day after. Then a massive fighting force was sent in to execute it.

Tunis, January 2011
What happened in Libya and Syria was quite different. In both countries, mass demands to end forty year old dictatorships arose as part of the region wide Arab Spring in 2011. In both both Libya and Syria, protesters started fighting back after their peaceful demonstrations were met with gun fire. Armed resistance turned into an armed insurrection in both countries. Gaddafi was only a little ahead of the curb compared to Assad but he was the first to confront the United Nations with a government facing Arab Spring opposition that showed himself willing to use his full military might, including tanks, artillery and a modern air force, to put down the revolt.

For a variety of reasons, not limited to Europe's critical need for Libyan light sweet crude when they were emerging from the world financial crisis, a leading section of the western imperialists, including then Sec State Hillary Clinton, decided it might be best if they intervened to stop Gaddafi from continuing to carry out wholesale slaughter, as he did in Abdabiya on his way to Benghazi, and insure a relatively brief conflict. NATO didn't start it and they didn't win it. The Libyan thuwar never allowed them to put in ground troops. What they did do was level the playing field by denying Gaddafi the use of his air force and heavy armor. He had to leave his tanks hidden and fight with tactical vehicles just like the thuwar. Also NATO enforced an effective naval blockade that denied Gaddafi Assad's endless supply of bombs, but they didn't provide many weapons to the thuwar. Once when some rebels were trapped on a mountain in western Libya the French air-dropped some weapons.

Post-Gaddafi Libya
It was the Libyan thuwar that did the hard fighting and dying and defeated the regime. Now they will have to endure the decade of chaos and re-organization that generally follows every revolution. At least Libya today is safer than Chicago. Without NATO's assist, they might still be slugging it out against enormous odds like their brothers and sisters in Syria, and like Syria, the death toll would likely be an order of magnitude higher, but without NATO's no-fly zone, there still would have been a democratic revolution in Libya just as there was in Syria.

By the time the Syrian conflict started heating up, these same interventionist-minded imperialists had a "change of heart", if you can call it that. They decided that it might be better, after all, to let the dictator suppress the rebellion by any means necessary. Sec State Hillary Clinton went on a Sunday morning news show and announced that Assad would not be subjected to the Gaddafi treatment. It was a "weapons free" allowance from the biggest military power on the block and Assad kicked his killing machine into high gear.

Our anti-imperialists, like the Green Party and Democracy Now, miss all of this because they completely ignore or dismiss the struggle of these Arabs against their dictators. They see in these developments only the machinations of western powers. When they acknowledge Arab fighters at all they are either reactionary jihadists or western proxies, which is to say traitors or stooges.

Vijay Prashad  is an "anti-imperialist" Middle East expert  and  he also talked about the region on Friday and he made clear that as far as he was concerned, Iraq, Libya and Syria are like three peas in a pod, meaning the United States is equally responsible for "regime change" in all of them, meaning the indigenous people haven't played a large role in any of them. Never mind, several hundred thousand NATO ground troops in Iraq versus zero in Libya, regime change is regime change and is to be opposed. He told Amy:
Well, you know, the story in Libya is not dissimilar to the story in Iraq with Saddam Hussein or with Syria, which we’ve just been talking about... To assume somehow that in each of these societies there’s one bad guy who everybody hates is the most simplistic understanding of the Middle East. And the United States, you know, through NATO, conducted a regime change operation inside Libya, just as they did in Iraq.
This "anti-imperialist" view considers only state actors and divides the world into "imperialist" and "anti-imperialist" camps. Since Gaddafi and Assad said the right things, they considered them to be in the "anti-imperialist" camp and to be defended, never mind how they treated their own people. The suffering of people under "anti-imperialist" dictators, either before or during the uprising never troubled them as much as it did some people.

It may be difficult for them to acknowledge but I think their lack of concern and lack of support for the revolutionary struggles in Libya and Syria come from a deeply chauvinist place, one that insists on seeing their country at the center of everything. I know that is the case with regards to support for Assad and Putin on the Trump side of the house.

This brings us to the meaning of the agitational slogan "Clinton's Wars" whether brandished by the Right or the "Left." As applied to Libya, it is a doubling down on the white chauvinist notion that the US gov't, under Obama and Clinton's leadership, was the driver of what happened there. Both of them, both Donald Trump and Jill Stein deny the Libyan people their victory so that they can call it a crime (oh poor Gaddafi - the most mourned "victim" of the war) and pin it on Hillary Clinton. This is white chauvinist nonsense that can only benefit a right wing movement. Even if Jill Stein is successful in using "Clinton's Wars" to win votes away from Hillary, only the right wing will benefit.

Philip Giraldi, the ex-CIA spook that unites both the Right isolationism and Left "anti-imperialism" in one personality, being both a frequent contributor to the American Conservative and a member of Ray McGovern's VIPS, summed up his problem with the Clintons this way:
So the Clintons see their future tied to a mishmash of a country that is, a possible contradiction in terms, both “inclusive” and “diverse,” which will keep them and their like in power for the foreseeable future as opposed to a nation guided by citizens yearning for a “past” in which Americans were safe in their communities, sent their kids to good schools and had well-compensated jobs with health and pension benefits.
The Alt-Right racism Giraldi expresses above isn't contradicted in his mind by the "anti-imperialist" Left opposition to the revolutions in Libya and Syria because they are cut from the same white chauvinist clothe.

White on Greens and Blacks


Roger White wrote a very insightful piece about the challenges the Green Party faces in winning black support and participation, and although it was written almost a decade ago, it is still relevant today because, sadly, not much has changed since then. He begins by explaining why black voters tend to vote for the lesser of two evils:
Black voters in the US are like all other voters here with one exception. Many of our ancestors had to die for the right to vote for the lesser of two evils. Naturally, we want our votes not only to count (no slam dunk) we want them to make a difference. Because Blacks are not an electoral majority in any state or nationally, maximizing the worth of our choices by being a part of an electoral coalition that has a real chance to win power is a priority.

Black voters tend to register their anger and frustration at the political status quo simply by not voting, not by supporting third parties.
His focus is on race relations within the Green Party and he talks about the cultural barriers to entry black activists face:
The environmental, peace, and third world solidarity movements from the 1970s and 80s, the grassroots of the US Green Party, has always represented a policy majority and a cultural minority—a minority that Black activists found it difficult to relate to.
One of the main reasons people join the Green Party is because it provides them with a social network of like minded people that they feel comfortable operating in and things that they feel good about doing with them.
Another problem is proximity. The Green Party is heavily influenced by three main demographics—educated, urban, nonprofit activists; educated, university town professionals; and well-to-do hippies in the exurbs. All three bases of support have organizations and social networks that provide the party with multiple, reinforcing contacts with potential recruits, volunteers and leaders very few of whom happen to be Black.
And the attempts by Green Party activists to overcome these obstacles?
What do white activists do when there aren’t enough dark people in the room? Outreach.

Set up a table at the public university in town. Pass out fliers for the next meeting at the Saturday morning flea market. E-mail blasts to activist- of -color list-serves. Whatever works. Problem is—that shit don’t work. Moreover, white activists know that shit don’t work. But they get a double bonus. They can pretend to be doing something “pro-active” to bring in colored folks with the knowledge that few if any colored folks are coming in—at least not to stay (they’ve been known to slip out right before the vegan pot-luck). Multiracial organizing is not easy. Doing it in bad faith makes it harder.
I have been a black man heavily involved with the white Left ever since I lead a university SDS chapter in 1968, and I have come to the conclusion that the reason the Green Party, Veterans for Peace and so many other organizations on the "anti-imperialist" Left continue to be dominated both culturally and numerically by white activists is that they want it that way.

We tend to get involved in the social justice movement, less because of our own dire social situation and more because we feel a need to do something about all the wrong we see around us. This is a good staring point as activists tend to come from among those some safe distance from the very edge of existence. The problem comes when we put remaining in our own comfort zone ahead of the requirements of growing the social justice movement.

It has always been extremely important to these "anti-imperialist" Left groups to have a few people of color around, and even in leadership, so that they could make the claim to be "multicultural," as long as they supported the party line and otherwise kept quiet. If they began to critique chauvinism in the group dynamics or party line, that was a different matter. When that happens, the colored activist go from being seen as assets to being seen as liabilities because this "Left" continues to be so much paler than the people it seeks to lead and isn't really trying to change that. That is why White's critique of the Green Party's work with the black community has been largely ignored and so rings as true today as it did ten years ago.

Donald Trump and the Alt-Right crowd are enjoying such success with disaffected young white workers because the "anti-imperialist" Left has never confronted and defeated the white chauvinism in its own culture and political line and that is a prerequisite to struggling with those white workers against their own racist tendencies and winning them to a greater unity in the cause of social justice.

This is difficult and challenging work. It will take most Green Party activists out of their comfort zone but ultimately they have to choose between what is comfortable and what is necessary. This choice will also face those Green Party activists on 8 November. A vote or Jill Stein may feel good, but what is necessary this election year is for progressive people to just bite-the-bullet and vote to deny Donald Trump the White House.

The fallacy of the "lesser evil" framework.


People, especially working class people, make choices all the time between possible options, and almost never among those possible options is what the person would call their idea. Take for example, finding work. It is the fortunate job seeker that is forced to choice between a number of competing offers. Since almost nobody likes to work for a corporation, or have a boss, each of the jobs is likely to have features the job seeker won't like, evils - if you want to use a loaded moral term for them. The job seeker will weight these negative features against the expected benefits of the job, first and foremost being how much does it pay?, and then the other features of the job, including location, how alienating the work is expected to be and a great many other aspects, and then the job seeker will make a decision, from their very personal point of view, about which job is best for them and then accept that job offer.

The supposed guilt that goes with "accepting the lesser of two evils" will never enter into the consideration. Neither will the question of accepting jobs that haven't been offered. Working people well understand the need to make pragmatic choices and then fight for what is possible. Every striker knows that even if they get everything they are demanding, it won't be everything they need, and it would be folly to refuse to vote for any contract that was only "less evil"  than the other options. They could be on strike till they reached retirement.

Working people that aren't motivated by the white supremacy Trump panders to, or have fallen for his MAGA get rich con job, know that a Donald Trump presidency would be a major disaster for the United States. Black people, which frankly tend to be on the progressive edge of opinions, are very clear about the danger a Trump presidency represents to us. In a normal election, the Republican presidential candidate could expect to get between 15% [1976] and 8% [2000] of the black vote. It was less when Obama ran [ 4% rising to 6% for his re-election]. This year the GOP was hoping to get back some of that black vote, but with Trump as their nominee it doesn't look like that is likely to be the case. Most polling gives Trump between 2% and 0%, so below the margin of error. One Gallup poll found that 72% of black women had serious fears about the outcome of the election. Black people see a major difference where Jill Stein and the Green Party see more of the same. Maybe it has to do with the fact that black people regularly get beaten up and thrown out of Trump rallies and this doesn't happen at Clinton rallies, but unlike Jill Stein, they aren't losing sleep worrying about a Clinton presidency. They know it will be more of the same. That we can handle. Bringing anywhere close to the seat of power people who are discussing whether pogroms will be necessary to reach their ultimate goal is not a matter to be trifled with.

I think its important that white progressives stand with the black masses, in fact all people of color, in the US that will be voting overwhelmingly to keep Trump out of the White House by voting for Clinton. If Trump is elected, it will be almost exclusively by white voters and because enough people didn't vote for the other guy, who in this case is a women. If Trump is elected because enough white progressives voted for the "greater good," that fact will be remembered through the hard times and do great damage to the solidarity of the progressive forces.

Jill Stein should withdraw her candidacy


This does not mean that she should withdraw her advocacy of a better world or that she and the Green Party don't continue the important work of exposing the bankruptcy of both major parties and building an independent progressive party. It does mean they deal with real world conditions and practical choices. Working people will respect that and they will, listen to a Left voice that exposes the decadence of this morbid capitalist system and its two ruling parties but also counsels them to vote strategically to do what they already know needs to be done. Only a party that can lead the people from victory to victory along the difficult and winding path to a better world can expect to win and keep their support. The main task that faces working people in the United States in 2016 is to strongly reject this racist appeal to white workers, unite across ethnic and national lines, and deliver a resounding defeat to this attempt to take power by these white nationalists. This can only be done by electing Hillary Clinton the next president. There isn't time for anything else. Working people get that.

Since the Green Party is not in a position to take more votes away from Donald Trump than they will from Hillary Clinton, they should refuse to play the spoiler, a role that might long be remembered. They should continue to expose Clinton and the Democratic Party and run candidates for local offices but they should withdraw their 2016 presidential candidates and warn people that this Trump candidacy represents a new and virulent threat that must be defeated now. If they can claim some victory in achieving that, and that is the main task now, without deceiving people about what a Clinton presidency will bring, they will be in a much better place to build a really massive progressive party and seriously compete for the presidency in the future.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

My other recent posts relating to this unique election cycle:
Amy Goodman should address this extremely important statement by her guest
How Jill Stein Tweets for Trump
HuffPost item shows how @JillStein campaign whitewashes @realDonaldTrump
Trump tells his '2nd Amendment people election will be stolen to prepare for insurrection
Trump didn't threaten Hillary, he threatened violent insurrection
Meet Green Party's Jill Stein, Putin sock-puppet & Assad apologist

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Monday, August 22, 2016

The World’s Naked Disgrace

Originally published by Al Jumhuriya 22 August 2016, republished with permission of the author.

By Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Translated by Abdul-Wahab Kayyali [Original Text in Arabic]

On the third anniversary of the chemical massacre in Syria, this article discusses the criminals of the chemical attack, the criminals of the chemical deal, the close proximity between both criminals, and the Syrian state of today’s world.

Only two weeks after the horrific chemical massacre on the dawn of August 21, 2013 which killed 1,466 men, women and children, another horrific massacre occurred: the chemical deal between Russia and the United States. The carcasses of the latter massacre’s three victims were dumped near the mass graves of Al-Ghouta to poison the lives of Syrians, their country’s chances of rehabilitation, and the world today: the carcasses of truth, justice, and politics.

The Carcass of Truth

The beginning entailed the murder and burial of the truth. Despite regime loyalists’ celebration and distribution of baklava as a sign of happiness, the regime denied its responsibility for the massacre. Some of Syria’s erstwhile fascists spoke of spraying Al-Ghouta with Pif-Paf (insecticide). As for Bashar Al-Assad’s rabidly sectarian advisor Buthaina Shaaban, not only did she state that “terrorists” (all those who happen to resist the Assadist state) carried out the attack, but that the victims were from Syria’s coast – undeniably insinuating that they were Alawites – and that they were abducted from their homes and poisoned in Al-Ghouta so that the opposition can blame the regime. The strangest occurrence was when the United Nations (UN) heeded the Russian request not to identify the offenders in an international delegation’s investigation of … no, not the massacre, but the usage of chemical weapons.

That the international delegation’s mandate was restricted to confirm the usage of chemical weaponry – as if any confirmation was needed – was unbelievably despicable. What makes it even more despicable was that the requesting state, Russia, has denied the responsibility of the Assadist state all along. This showed that our world is corrupt from its higher echelons, that the international system very clearly wanted to lie to itself and to seven billion global inhabitants in order to absolve itself from the moral discomfort of protecting a rare public killer – Bashar Al-Assad.

Of course, it did not help that some Syrian opposition figures in the National Coordination Committee (NCC) contributed to the public campaign of blaming those resisting the Assadist state. Salih Muslim, a member of this committee and co-chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), volunteered to accuse the Assadist state’s oppositionists of killing themselves. None of these false witnesses have revised their stance in the last three years. Moreover, some anti-establishment Westerners joined the choir. Seymour Hersh wrote this long feature in the London Review of Books (LRB) about Turkey’s and Al-Nusra Front’s complicity in using chemical weaponry.

No one consulted the people of Al-Ghouta, a region that was and remains densely populated, or even communicated with them to ask if they suspected anyone else’s responsibility for the massacre – anyone but the Assad regime – or if they had noticed any suspicious activity before the massacre. This was neither a matter of oversight nor a lack of professionalism. It originated in a firm practice of denying local inhabitants the ability to speak for themselves, to say what they believe is true about their life and death. It is only the Western journalist or researcher, he/she who manages to cloak dishonest or weak words with shiny and often insensate packaging, who owns the right to speak and write about the massacre – neither the victims, nor their citizen partners. That is why this practice persists, and the global information system is a partner in crime.

All of the above entities and powers contributed in the murder of the truth, and the dumping of its corpse alongside the mass graves of the massacre’s victims.

The day after the massacre, the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), under the directorship of the brilliant Razan Zaitouneh and with the help of assistants on the ground, published a detailed report about the crime. A few days later, another report followed. These two reports were preceded by a few others on the usage of poisonous gasses. No one had a doubt that the Assad regime committed the crime. Alongside Razan, there was also Samira Al-Khalil, an activist and previous detainee, who published her daily observations at the time on her Facebook page. She also had no doubt about the responsibility of the Assadist state.

The testimonies of Razan and Samira from Al-Ghouta were perhaps one of the reasons why three months after the chemical weapons deal, they were abducted by a Salafi militia loyal to Saudi Arabia. A month after the massacre, this militia promoted itself to the rank of “Army.” A bit more than a month after the massacre, Razan received a death threat from a known person within this militia, incited by another known person within this militia (the current legislator of “Jaysh Al-Islam” – The “Army of Islam”). Samira was also the victim of incitement by known persons at the time – though we had no knowledge of their ties to the militia then.

Razan and Samira were abducted with Wael Hamada (Razan’s husband) and Nazem Hammadi (lawyer and poet) – both of whom worked with Razan in the VDC. Robert Ford, the former US ambassador to Syria, vaguely (and suspiciously) told some of his Syrian interlocutors not to accuse Jaysh Al-Islam of the abduction.

The Carcass of Justice

Not only was the Assadist state unpunished for its crime, in fact it was given a license to continue killing Syrians with its other weaponry. It was granted a full mandate to continue punishing the Syrians who had revolted against it, with an international guarantee for its impunity. The barrel bombs that the regime used were a continuation of the chemical massacre, albeit with a much more lethal and destructive weapon – one that actually had and continues to have more devastating effects.

That is because the massacre was never a problem for the world’s most influential international actors, only the weaponry used to carry it out. The violation of Syrian sanctity of life was never a problem. The problem was the violation of a law enshrined by the most powerful many years ago to protect themselves from each other.

The reaction of the most influential state actors and international organizations to the massacre intensified a previous method of dealing with our causes, an example of which are the Syrian and Palestinian causes. This method is based on marginalizing justice, freedom and democracy, and denying the political agency and moral worthiness of Syrians, Palestinians, and others. This method is partial to regimes that are disciplined in dealing with the most powerful, and able to discipline the most vulnerable who fall under their rule. This also is neither a matter of oversight nor misjudgment. It emanates from the structure of international dominion in the Middle East, and representations of its inhabitants that are attributed to “culture” and “mentality” – in sum, to “Islam.” It is a method that is partial to “states” versus the corrupted heads of those they rule, albeit conditioned by stripping these very “states” of their sovereignty and their independence in return for protecting their rule.

Given that the chemical deal was carried out with the consensus of international powers and the submission of the UN, the logical conclusion to be made is that there simply is no justice in a world led by these powers. That he who cannot extract his right by the might of his fist will be crushed, not only without receiving any support, but without a description or testimony to what befalls him. No might, no right.

The chemical deal left Syrians completely exposed, in fact worthy of more massacres and destruction, in part due to the Daesh (ISIS) obsession that Western media outlets worked tirelessly to nurture – relegating to the darkness what befalls Syrians from the Assadists and their masters. That media obsession campaign only waned a few months ago, perhaps after Western media outlets realized that they were giving the fascist colonial “Islamic State” free publicity. This is worthy of additional research, but if in fact this assessment is proven, it reflects poorly on the West’s largest media establishments, and on the state of democracy in the West before the rest. It also shows the connection between assassinating the truth and assassinating justice, or the necessity of disposing from the truth in order to facilitate the assassination of justice. This is a connection we know well in Syria. The assassination of the truth, and the spreading of disinformation and fabrications was the gateway of the Baathists, and particularly the Assadists, to deny Syrians justice and politics.

The Carcass of Politics


The chemical massacre and the international outcry that followed it represented an opportunity to reach a somewhat just political solution in Syria. Such a solution would have been one that enforces an essential change in the political system’s formation, which would allow for the construction of a new Syrian political majority. Such a solution would have responded to the aspirations of Syrians, which they had expressed for two and a half years at the time. It would have also corresponded with the political instincts of the international powers, who refused to support the Syrian resistors militarily because they preferred … a “political solution.”

The global climate was perfectly suited for a serious push for change in Syria. Yet this was neither what the Russians, nor the Americans, nor the Israelis wanted – the latter of whom transmitted the special omen of the chemical deal. Three years since those disgraceful two weeks, the exact opposite has occurred. The international powers have provided the perfect conditions for the Assadists and their masters to reject a political solution that would end the prolonged national ordeal.

The chemical deal was a resolution to the problem of chemical weapons usage. It was not an objection to the massacre in which the chemical weapons were used. Neither was it a resolution to the problem of Syrian deaths, the number of which had reached 100,000 at the time. The problem that was resolved with the chemical deal concerned Israel, the United States, and Russia. It was not a problem that concerned Syrians – at all.

The chemical deal ignored Syrians’ political demands and their struggle, in a continuation of the Assadist method of denying Syrians their political demands and rights in their own country. As far as the Syrian is concerned, he/she who aspires for freedom, justice and dignity in his/her country, there is no difference between the parties who orchestrated the chemical deal and the Assadist state. What we were told by the criminals of the chemical deal is exactly what we were told by the criminals of the chemical attack: you are outside of politics, you are not to possess politics; you will be confronted with war, and war only!

This is how the corpse of politics was thrown over the corpses of justice and truth. It facilitated for the Assadist state and its partners the continuation of their killing enterprise, to reach half a million victims today. Their horizons for killing are as open today as they ever were, with no indication of a near closure.

The Geneva Conferences are the political continuation of the chemical deal: their patrons are those of the disgraceful deal itself, and they refrain from applying any pressure on the Assadist state whatsoever. In fact, one of the international patrons of the Geneva Conferences, Russia, is the leader of the Assadist state’s war effort today. Moreover, neither the regime nor its international backers have ever indicated their willingness to concede anything to those who oppose it, made any moves towards ending the oligarchy in Syria, or accepted the full withdrawal of international forces from Syria as a goal of this “peace process.” Not once has the regime or its international backers indicated their acceptance of any political concessions in Syria, or even committed to the delivery of food and medicine to besieged areas, let alone ending the sieges or releasing those miserably detained in Assad’s unparalleled torture chambers.

Amidst these conditions, the Geneva Conferences are an international effort to push Syrians towards destroying their cause with their own hands, after their country and lives have been destroyed by the Assadists, their masters, and their patrons.
The World’s Naked Disgrace

What is astounding about this story of public killing is the amount of impertinence: impertinence in lying, in misleading, in burying the truth; impertinence in protecting the public killer, in assassinating justice, in protecting war and guaranteeing its continuity; impertinence in facilitating the work of the Iranian and Russian invaders of Syria, and that of their subordinates. Today’s world is very naked in its disgrace.

For all of the above reasons, the American-Russian chemical deal was a much more abhorrent massacre than the chemical massacre – because truth, justice, and politics are the values that protect the lives of people. Thus, when all three are killed, people’s lives lose all sanctity or value, and their murder becomes permissible – perhaps even desired. This is exactly what happened on a wide scale in our country for the last three years under international patronage, after it had been happening for more than forty years under a patronage that was less global.

That is why, since that disgraceful day, the problem is no longer about Syria, it’s about the world. The world whose soul carries three huge corpses in addition to half a million dead human bodies is a poisoned world. The symptoms of this poisoned condition are seen in the rise of fascist currents all over the world, in the erosion of democracy everywhere, and in the deterioration of currents of liberation, renewal, and hope. The Syrian cause is a global cause, more so than any other cause in the world today. It is eligible to become a point on which the world’s political, intellectual and ethical paths hinge for decades to come.

Because the world is our cause, we Syrians should work tirelessly to show the Syrianization of the world, and the universality of our Syrian cause. Our first task is to show that the chemical massacre in Syria, and the chemical deal which ensued, are unforgettable Syrian and global incidents. In Syria and all around the world, we should crown the heroes and false witnesses of these incidents with their deserved disgrace.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Amy Goodman should address this extremely important statement by her guest

On Wednesday, Democracy Now did something it has rarely done in the past five years. Amy Goodman interviewed a guest who knew what he was talking about and he told us what is really happening in Syria. They called the segment:

Ten Times Worse Than Hell: A Syrian Doctor on the Humanitarian Catastrophe in Aleppo

Below, I have reprinted the entire transcript of the interview, but before you get to that, I want to highlight some very important statements the doctor made near the end of the interview and comment on those:
AMY GOODMAN: You met with President Obama a few years ago. You’re from his city; you’re from Chicago. You gave him a letter. What did you ask of him?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: I met with him in July 2013. There was a reception in the White House, and I had 30 seconds to talk with him. I delivered a letter on behalf of the Syrian American Medical Society and Syrian physicians, asking him to protect hospitals and protect civilians, the same way that we provided protection to Bosnia during the conflict. I told him that his legacy will be determined by what he does and what he does not do in Syria. He laughed, and he said that, "But my legacy will be determined by other things." I told him, "Mr. President, your legacy will be determined—the most important factor will be Syria." I still believe that Syria will determine his legacy. And the fact that President Obama did not follow on his pledges when he had these red lines and did not enforce it, I think this is what is causing the chaos and the extremism and the refugee crisis that we are facing right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Zaher Sahloul, thank you very much for being with us, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria, senior adviser and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society, has visited Aleppo five times since the war began. Last week, he addressed the U.N. Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to Denver, Colorado, to look at Hillary Clinton’s transition team.
I have made bold the section I want to draw your attention too. This is an extremely important statement. Here we have a doctor working on the ground in Syria and he is validating the view held by myself and many Syrian observers that when President Obama reneged on his promise to take military action if Assad ever used "a whole bunch of chemical weapons," it had a devastating effect on Syria and the region. The effects are now reverberating as far away as the Brexit vote in Britain and the Trump candidacy in the United States.

The Syrian people felt they had been stabbed in the back by his decision not to strike. Obama's treachery demoralize some revolutionaries that had stood up to years of Assad's propaganda and attacks. Many fighters left the Free Syrian Army and other revolutionary groups. Some just packed it in and started looking for a way to leave Syria. Some joined the hardcore jihadists that had been warning about western treachery all along.

The Assad regime, which had only killed about 140,000 Syrians before it used sarin big time, now knew for certain that the United States would never do anything to stop its bloodletting. The gloves came off. Although the regime was forced to part with most of its sarin, it now felt free to use all manner of weapons against its people, including other types of chemical weapons. Assad has slaughtered another three hundred thousand Syrians since the United States reneged on the pledge made by its president.  The rate is only increasing. Tuesday saw 200 air strikes on Aleppo in a 24 hour period.

The failure to attack Assad, even symbolically, after America promised and Assad murdered more than 1400 including 300 children was a great gift to Daesh and the other hardcore Islamists.  Their ranks began to swell. Within months after Obama's broken promise, Daesh had taken over Raqqa. Five months after Barack's broken promise, Fallujah and Ramadi fell to Daesh. Soon after, Mosul and Kirkuk fell in Iraq. So Dr. Zaher Sahloul is quite correct to say that Obama's decision has been a major cause of the chaos and the extremism and the refugee crisis that we are facing right now

Dr, Zaher Sahloul's very important statement should not just be passed over as it was. It deserves a response from Amy Goodman and Democracy Now because they campaigned very hard to demand that Obama not strike Syria after the sarin attack. They also hosted a parade of "experts" that claimed anybody but Assad did the massacre. And when Obama did renege on his promise, they celebrated it as a great victory for the US peace movement.

So when a guest that has been in the thick of it in Syria contradicts the Democracy Now line on who was responsible for the sarin attack and says that the position championed by Democracy Now and much of the Left against responding to the attack is largely responsible for the mess we're in today, I think it deserves more than a "thank you" and move on.

Below is Dr. Zaher Sahloul's very excellent interview in full:

Ten Times Worse Than Hell: A Syrian Doctor on the Humanitarian Catastrophe in Aleppo
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In the latest escalation of the war in Syria, Russia has begun launching airstrikes from Iranian air bases—an air base. The New York Times reports this marks the first time since World War II that a foreign military has operated from a base on Iranian soil. The move comes as fighting has intensified around Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Earlier this month, rebels fighting the Syrian government began a new offensive to break an ongoing government-backed siege of the city. The rebels have been led in part by an offshoot of the Nusra Front, which, up until last month, had been aligned with al-Qaeda. The International Committee of the Red Cross has described the fighting for Aleppo as, quote, "beyond doubt one of the most devastating urban conflicts in modern times." The United Nations is warning of a dire humanitarian crisis, as millions are left without water or electricity. This is U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci.

ALESSANDRA VELLUCCI: The commission is gravely concerned for the safety of civilians, including a reported 100,000 children living in eastern Aleppo city, where violence has reached new heights in recent weeks as asymmetric warfare intensifies over control of armed group-held neighborhoods and their principal remaining supply lines.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, a British aid worker named Tauqir Sharif described the dire situation in Aleppo in this video he posted online.

TAUQIR SHARIF: I’ve just had to watch a woman lose three of her children, who were killed—OK?—and crying over their dead bodies. Thirty people just got killed not far from here in place called Shaar [inaudible]. We were just there yesterday. In a marketplace, 30 people just got killed. So, we’ve had so many dead bodies. You can hear what’s going on here. So, my dear brothers and sisters, please keep us in your duas. We need to get the message out right now. Hospitals are being targeted. People are being killed. OK? And war crimes are being committed. We need a no-fly zone in Syria. We need everybody to start voting for a no-fly zone. This is a massacre going on. This is a genocide.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Last week, 15 of the last 35 doctors in rebel-held eastern Aleppo wrote a letter to President Obama calling for help in getting humanitarian aid to 300,000 civilians trapped in the area and an end to Syrian and Russian bombardment of the besieged city. The letter said that there is an attack on medical facilities every 17 hours, and doctors were being forced to decide who will live and who will die.

AMY GOODMAN: According to the humanitarian group Physicians for Human Rights, there have been more than 370 attacks on 265 medical facilities during the five-year conflict, as well as the deaths of 750 medical personnel. Overall, the death toll in the five-year Syrian conflict has reached close to half a million people. The ongoing war has displaced about half the prewar population, with more than 6 million Syrians displaced inside Syria and nearly 5 million Syrian refugees outside Syria’s borders.

To find about about more the humanitarian and medical crisis in Syria, we’re joined by Dr. Zaher Sahloul, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and senior adviser and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society. He’s visited Aleppo five times since the war began. Last week, he addressed the U.N. Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. He was a classmate of Bashar al-Assad in medical school. Dr. Sahloul is a critical care specialist in Chicago.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Doctor.

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: When you heard about the latest attack, even since you’ve just returned from Aleppo, Russia attacking from Iran, your thoughts? And then describe Aleppo to us.

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: I mean, my thoughts and my colleagues’ thoughts from Aleppo, which I keep contacts every minute with them, is the same, that everyone is bombing Syrians, and no one cares about ending the crisis. So it looks like the Russians are having fun bombing Syria from different parts, now added Iran to this, Iran bases. The coalition are bombing parts of Syria. They are bombing ISIS and also civilians. The Assad regime is bombing, you know, cities and historic sites and civilians, with barrel bombings and all kind of weapons. The Iranians are bombing Syrians. So everyone is bombing Syrians.

And this is really the story that is not being told in the media. I mean, when people know about Syria or hear about Syria, they think it’s something related to ISIS or that it’s something that is complicated. But what’s happening, that civilians are suffering every day. Children are being mutilated and killed with barrel bombs and air missile bombs. Hospitals are targeted. Schools are targeted. Fruit markets are targeted. And historic sites, like the Old City of Aleppo, are being destroyed. So this is the tragedy that we are living in. We had half a million people killed in Syria so far, half of the population displaced. And so far, we don’t have a light at the end of the tunnel.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms—you mentioned barrel bombs. What exactly are those, and who is dropping them?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: Barrel bombs are an invention of the Syrian regime. It’s a very cheap way to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. I’ve seen it, in my eyes, and the victims also of barrel bombs in my several missions to Syria, especially to the city of Aleppo. So these are barrels that—big barrels stuffed with TNT, half a ton of TNT, and shrapnels, metal shrapnels. And they come in all kind of sizes and shapes. And they’re thrown from helicopters on urban areas, on hospitals, on blocks, on civilian neighborhoods, on fruit markets, on schools. And it can cause a lot of destruction. I’ve seen them. I took pictures of the victims. I took pictures of the buildings that have been destroyed with barrel bombs. It’s a weapon of mass destruction. It’s a dumb bomb; it’s not a smart bomb. And it can kill a lot of people.

And the only thing I’ve seen—you know, when you go to Aleppo, and this is something that, you know, if you go there—and you will see children pointing to the sky, and then you see this dot, which is the helicopter, and you hear the sound, the chop-chop-chop of the helicopter. And then this dot will throw another dot, which is the barrel, and then you have 30 to 40 seconds to run and hide from the barrel, or you can pray, because you don’t know where this barrel will hit. And it’s happening day after day for the past three years. It caused a lot of displacement. Let’s not forget that 2 million of the people of Aleppo are displaced, either inside Syria or became refugees, because of the barrel bombing. And it’s done by the Assad regime, of course. No one else has helicopters.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how are the medical facilities and hospitals able to function on a day-to-day basis, if you could talk about that? I mean, what’s the relationship between the various rebel groups and the hospitals? Do they interfere with your work? And is the government paying for the salaries of these doctors? Or—talk about the system, how it’s operating.

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: So, right now what we have in Syria is we have different areas in Syria that are out of the control of the government. These are areas that are controlled by the different rebel factions. And also, of course, you have areas in Syria that are controlled by the Kurdish troops and areas in Syria that are controlled by ISIS. But we operate mostly in rebel-controlled areas, because there are million of people who are in need for medical and humanitarian aid in these areas, and the United Nations are unable to reach them from Damascus, from government-controlled areas. And we reach them from Turkey, from Jordan. And you have hospitals that already established in cities like Aleppo and Idlib and Marat al-Numaan and Saraqib and Hama and other places, Daraa. And these hospitals need support. The government do not pay salaries. I mean, this is false. They don’t pay salaries for areas that are outside of their control. So doctors and nurses depend on NGOs to support them, pay for their salaries.

And many of these hospitals have been targeted multiple times. It looks like there is systematic targeting by the Syrian government, by the Russians lately, to hospitals, because these hospitals treat everyone, of course, including the people who are injured by the fighting and snipers and the shelling. But what I’ve seen in Aleppo is mostly civilians who are the victims of barrel bombings and shelling. I’ve seen children. I mean, I’ve seen, in the last mission, a child, Ahmad, his name, is five years old. He was a victim of barrel bombing. He has a spinal cord injury. He had a lung contusion. He was on life support. And during my stay, he was between life and death. Unfortunately, one day after I left, he died. He had cardiac arrest. I’ve seen a woman, Fatima, 25 years old, who was pregnant in her third month. Two barrels fell on her house. Her older son, Abdo, nine years old, was killed; youngest daughter, Eilaf, was killed. And she was brought to the hospital. She had internal bleeding. She was on life support. Her fetus, unborn child, was also dead. And she was survived only by one son, Mahmoud, seven years old son. I took his picture as he was in the emergency room. I tried to talk with him. He could not smile. He was very traumatized.

And you see this over and over in Aleppo. The doctors over there are overwhelmed by the number of casualties and victims. They cannot do enough surgeries to save everyone, especially that they are also, themselves, targeted. One of the doctors told me that he was working for 72 hours and that he does not mind working for a long time, but the worst thing that—the worst nightmare that he figured, that if he goes to his home and discovered that his wife and children are also killed or the target of barrel bombing.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the children? You have said that they eat cat food and grass?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: Well, I mean, that happened in Madaya. That happened in Darayya and other places in Syria under siege. Let’s not forget that, according to the United Nations, there are 850,000 people under siege, barbaric siege, by their own government in places like East al-Ghouta, Darayya, Madaya, Moadamiya, Alwa and Homs and other places in Syria. And in Aleppo now, which became under siege, eastern Aleppo, you have 300,000 people, among them 85,000 children, who are under siege.

When I was there, I visited an orphanage, that is also underground for protection. And the children over there had a play for the doctors who are coming from Chicago. We were three physicians who came from Chicago. And during that play, they were talking about that they are scared that they will have to eat grass and tree leaves and cat meat, the same way that the children of Madaya have done. And as you know, in Madaya, we had children who died because of starvation. Unfortunately, their fear became a reality right now. We have this whole area, 300,000 people in eastern Aleppo, that is under complete siege.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, you called for the international community to provide some kind of safe passage for medical personnel and for victims of the bombing. How would that work in practice, given, as you mentioned, all the various groups that have different control of different areas of a city like Aleppo?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: I mean, before the siege happened, this—that’s been going on for more than five weeks, the road to Turkey and to other places in Syria was open—the Castello Road. That’s the same road that I went to Aleppo through and left Aleppo through. And it’s right now blocked by the Syrian regime, and also assisted by the Russians and the Iranian paramilitias. So, if the United Nations oversaw this road, to keep it open, so we can have patients evacuated to Turkey. You have now all ICU beds in Aleppo are full with patients. And they are overwhelmed, so they need to evacuate patients. Children, who right now waiting for death, can be saved in Turkey and other places in Syria.

And also let the humanitarian aid into Aleppo. What the Russians have suggested a couple weeks ago is to have a humanitarian corridor where families are allowed to go to western Aleppo. Western Aleppo is controlled by the government. Of course, no one trusts the Russians in Aleppo. No one trusts the government that is bombing their children and bombing their hospitals. And no one took the Russians on their offer. What we are asking for is a humanitarian corridor that—with the oversight of the United Nations.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to another video by British aid worker Tauqir Sharif in Aleppo. On Tuesday, he posted online this interview with Malika, the head nurse of the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo.

MILAKA: [translated] It was Sunday, and the hospital was targeted from a plane. We got hit three times in a row. At around 1:20, we began moving all children from the second floor down to the first floor to save their lives. So the second strike was at 11:20, and again the hospital was hit. At this time, I was in the ICU, and we had a child who was two days old. His name was Ali Shibli. The room was hit, and I was injured. And, unfortunately, the air was also cut to Ali’s incubator. We tried a lot to resuscitate him, but in the end he sadly passed away. When we gave the baby back to his father, he was very upset, and he cried a lot. And so did I. We will stay here. We are not afraid. We will continue to work. If we leave these children, who will be here to help them? We will never leave our country. We will never stop our work.

AMY GOODMAN: That is the head nurse of the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo. Dr. Zaher Sahloul, you also have just returned from there. You were a medical school classmate of Bashar al-Assad? Do you know him? Have you spoken to him?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: Yes, I mean, we were in medical school for six years. We graduated together in 1988. We took together the oath, the Hippocratic oath, that every physician should do no harm and should save lives, even the lives of their enemies. I met with him after he became a president, three times. And my organization, Syrian American Medical Society, we used to do medical conferences in Syria and do medical missions before the crisis, so I met with him as the president.

And I remember one time I asked him—you know, I was naive. I came from the United States, and I told him, "Are you planning to do—to have democratic reform in Syria?" And he had this very long, triangulated answer; then he told me, "Syrians are not ready for democracy." And, you know, two months before the Arab Spring started in Syria, he was asked the same question by, I think, The Wall Street Journal, and he had the same answer. So—but, you know, when we talk with him, he’s very personable. I mean, he’s a humble person, especially when he was in medical school. No one expected him to be that brutal. No one expected him to oversee the destruction of half of his country and displacement of half of the population, killing half a million people. And, you know, this is a puzzle to us. But definitely, he has changed since he became—he took power in Syria.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you’ve said that the crisis in Syria is contributing to the rise of the Islamic State. Could you explain how you see that happening?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: I mean, definitely. The same pictures that you are showing and the same pictures that I’ve seen of children who are mutilated, who are killed, the women who are killed, the elderly who are killed—I mean, I’ve seen a disabled child who was deaf and mute, who was the victim of barrel bomb. I mentioned during my testimony to the Security Council the story of a child, Shahd, 10 years old, who was a victim of barrel bomb, and she was on life support, waiting for evacuation. The Security Council was not able to evacuate her, and she died, next day after my testimony. So these pictures and stories are circulated in the social media. They are used by ISIS and other extremist groups to recruit potential extremists, not only in Syria and the Middle East, but also in Europe and United States. There is a direct connection between what’s happening in Aleppo and what happened in Orlando, what happened in San Bernardino, what happened in Nice, what happened in Belgium. And unless we stop this crisis, unless we stop this gushing wound in Syria, we will continue to have terrorism and chaos.

We are suffering because of the implication of the refugee crisis in Europe and throughout the world. One out of four refugees in the world—we have 20 million refugees. One out of four of them is from Syria. In order to stop this crisis, in order to stop the Islamophobia and the xenophobia that is associating this crisis, we have to stop people from being displaced in Syria. And people are fearful from barrel bomb. I’ve went into medical mission to Jordan and Lebanon and Greece. And when I talk with people, "Why are you leaving Syria? Why did you leave Syria?" they mention the barrel bomb. They mention the Russian attacks. They mention the Assad regime brutality. So, in order to stop the refugee crisis, we have to stop the Assad regime brutality and the Russian attacks.

AMY GOODMAN: You met with President Obama a few years ago. You’re from his city; you’re from Chicago. You gave him a letter. What did you ask of him?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL: I met with him in July 2013. There was a reception in the White House, and I had 30 seconds to talk with him. I delivered a letter on behalf of the Syrian American Medical Society and Syrian physicians, asking him to protect hospitals and protect civilians, the same way that we provided protection to Bosnia during the conflict. I told him that his legacy will be determined by what he does and what he does not do in Syria. He laughed, and he said that, "But my legacy will be determined by other things." I told him, "Mr. President, your legacy will be determined—the most important factor will be Syria." I still believe that Syria will determine his legacy. And the fact that President Obama did not follow on his pledges when he had these red lines and did not enforce it, I think this is what is causing the chaos and the extremism and the refugee crisis that we are facing right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Zaher Sahloul, thank you very much for being with us, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria, senior adviser and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society, has visited Aleppo five times since the war began. Last week, he addressed the U.N. Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we go to Denver, Colorado, to look at Hillary Clinton’s transition team. If she is elected president, who would be in charge? Stay with us.

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