The Crisis in Aleppo

What are we going to do about Aleppo?”

gary-johnson

This question seems to be thrown around a lot at the moment now that the Syrian government is reclaiming control of the city. There are, however, a number of problems with this question.

The first glaring problem is the use of the pronoun “we”. If, by “we”, you mean the Syrian people, then perhaps you have some ground to stand on. If, by “we”, you mean the governments of the West, then “we”, instead of “doing” something, need rather to think about the consequences of “our” actions.

Aleppo is in a crisis, unquestionably. The fact is that Aleppo has been in a crisis for five years. So let’s rewind to 2011 in order to understand how we got here.

When the Arab Spring protests began and spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, they were supported almost universally (including by myself) as displaying the political potential of people who had previously been deemed as “anti-democratic” or at least “undemocratic”. The rhetoric in the West has often centered around this virulent strain of Euro-centric “enlightened” thought.

For years (especially after the invasion of Iraq), pundits in the West got away with absurdly racist statements like:

The problem with Iraq was that the Arabs needed a dictator to keep them in line. They don’t understand liberal democracy. They have a violent religion. These people have been fighting each other for thousands of years.

In 2011, this presumption was decisively shattered as it became clear that real political representation was what the Arabs were dreaming about.

That also means that Iraq wasn’t thrown into a civil war because Arabs need a dictator, but rather because a brutal invasion and occupation by an imperial power fractured an already unstable society in a nation-state that was constructed to fail from the beginning.

There are a couple of lessons that we should have learned from Iraq.

You can’t terrorize a population into democracy.

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So in 2011, the initially peaceful protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria were seen as opportunities to develop liberal democracies in dictatorships, the space opened for a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy (successful only in Tunisia).

In Egypt, many were under the illusion that after two weeks, when Hosni Mubarak stepped down, that the peaceful protests in Egypt had achieved their goals and that peaceful transition had been accomplished. As Egypt sunk back into dictatorship, the world saw the evidence that the Egyptian military had never really let go of power.

However, there were two countries where events seemed to be somewhat analogous: Libya and Syria. So let’s take a look at the The Tale of Two Countries.

The sparsely-populated protests in Libya were not anywhere near as successful as the protests in Egypt. Whereas the protests in Egypt in 2011 had remained peaceful, the anti-government protests in Libya turned violent by mid-February of 2011.

When the protesters in Libya picked up guns, the police and military responded comparatively tepidly. However, journalists in the West were decrying “massacres” and warning that Gaddafi was about to slaughter every man, woman, and child in Libya. They said this daily, despite absolutely no evidence of such massacres (not totally dissimilar to today in Syria).

Those who had picked up guns began lying in order to coax the West into “helping”.

It was apparently the West’s job to bomb Libya into oblivion in order to save Libya. Was nothing learned from Iraq?

The West went to the UN and got a security council mandate to institute a “No Fly Zone”. This was, apparently, to keep the Libyan air force from dropping bombs on civilians. It should be noted that the Libyan air force was doing no such thing, as we now know. That mandate was reinterpreted by NATO to mean that they could start destroying Libya from the skies. The US began bombing key military points, destroyed the Libyan air force, and pumped money and arms into the hands of the “rebels”.

Now is the point where you should be asking yourself: “What if Libya had done that to the US?”

Imagine that in 2009, Libya had started funding the Tea Party protests. The protesters felt like the government wasn’t listening and they started receiving money and arms from Libya, who also promised to protect them. Thereafter, the Tea Party-ers began shooting at all the police and anyone who wasn’t joining the movement.

What would happen here?

Almost overnight in Libya, the spark of revolt ignited the wildfire of civil war. Thousands of people were killed on all sides, escalating the death toll (not reducing it, as Obama had assured us all). Massacres did occur, because of the invasion. Libya’s civil society was torn to shreds through the bullets and the bombs supplied by the West. And where did that get us?

Gaddafi was tortured and assassinated, his supporters were slaughtered in reprisal killings, the Libyan economy completely collapsed, all governmental institutions broke down (today, there are two competing governments), the (previously increasing) GDP went into free fall, terrorism spread (including people allying themselves with ISIS), and tribal warfare persists to this day.

So what was the result of NATO intervention to “protect” the Libyan people?

Libya today is a nightmare.

So why did NATO intervene in the first place?

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What could it be?

And no one seems to be addressing the lies that went along with that invasion (just as the lies that lead to all imperial invasions, be it in Vietnam, Serbia, Afghanistan, Somalia, or Iraq). Somehow people forget what they were told to justify each and every war.

Obama said that there were massacres happening and that more were inevitable. Obama said that the invasion would save lives (he even invoked a new international paradigm: The Right to Protect). Obama said that NATO would bring peace and stability (along with democracy) to Libya and to the region. He presented the roving bands of men with guns as the architects of a future, democratic Libya. And he argued that by bombing Libya, the US would bring about the end to a war.

Not a single one of his claims turned out to be true. This is what happens when people in the West ask the question: “What are we going to do?”

In fact, as Alan Kuperman demonstrated in his article in Foreign Affairs, the war in Libya escalated and continued directly due to the Western intervention.

On top of this, he argues that it was the invasion of Libya that encouraged some Syrian protesters in the summer of 2011 to pick up guns in the hopes that NATO would also support them against Bashar al-Assad and start raining bombs over Damascus. Indeed, it wasn’t until the summer (when the Libyan “rebels” were winning) that Syrian “rebels” began their “armed struggle”.

That means, we can reasonably assume that without the West’s invasion of Libya, there might have been no war in Syria in the first place.

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Those “rebels” in Syria 2012 successfully drove out government forces (police, military, government supporters) from most of the city of Aleppo through the use of suicide car bombs and house-to-house fighting. In eastern Aleppo, the different factions (the Free Syrian Army, Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and countless others) set up their little statelets and declared themselves “liberated”. Aleppo was the epicenter of the civil war.

Last year, the government set up a full siege of the city, trying to encourage people to leave. Recently, the government (along with Russia) established humanitarian corridors available to everyone, including rebels. The rebels responded by shelling civilians and burning the buses for the sick and the elderly.

Today in Aleppo, we’re told that the Syrian government (along with Russia) is murdering civilians on the scale of Srebrenica or Rwanda.

After all, Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government have a lot to gain from massacring the Syrian people, right?

Do you remember the obvious lie that Assad’s forces were the ones using chemical weapons against civilians? Do you remember how everyone repeated that lie even after journalists like Seymour Hersch proved that those claims were false? Do we have any reason to trust “reports” about Syria anymore?

Never mind the fact that these “reports” are coming with the caveat that “no one really knows” or the blatant and indiscriminate use of “unverified sources” telling us that Russia and Syria are using precision missiles repeatedly on hospitals, executing women and children, and carrying out war crimes of the highest caliber, all based on little evidence.

Where are these “reports” coming from?

From exactly the same people who were telling us of the “massacres” in Libya and the impending massacres yet to come back in 2011. We’re told that this information is reliable, just as we were told in 2011. What possible reason could we have for trusting them this time?

It’s the same people who said that the rebels in Libya wanted Western-style democracy (which is, of course, always worth killing for). Today, we can see that those who armed themselves in Libya were not acting in the interests of building a liberal democracy. They were no “humanitarians” picking up guns. They wanted power.

Of course the rebels in Libya were going to tell Americans and Europeans that Gaddafi was committing atrocities. It helped them. In that same way, the rebels in Syria are obviously going to tell Americans and Europeans that Assad is committing atrocities, regardless of the veracity of those claims.

So, given the high probability that “we” caused (directly and indirectly) the war in Syria, let’s ask the most important question.

What must be done to end the war?

It seems like the most obvious question, yet the one that’s never asked.

For the past five years, this war could have been ended at almost any point. From the beginning, the government seemed poised to make reforms. Once the war broke out, the UN got involved immediately in order to try to quell the violence.

Kofi Annan had a six-point peace plan that was accepted by the government to find a peaceful, political solution.

Who rejected it? The roving bands of men with guns.

And after Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi and then Staffan de Mistura brought forward another peace plan. Again, the government accepted.

Who rejected it? The rebels.

Another peace plan. Another acceptance from the government. And yet another rejection.

At what point do we stop calling them “the men with guns” and “rebels” and start labeling them as terrorists, opportunists, and sectarian murderers. After every ceasefire attempt, both sides accuse each other of breaking the ceasefire and the war resumes.

Again, what would be the response of the United States government if groups of angry Americans picked up guns and started shooting police and military personnel?

The myth that these people are looking to build some sort of Western liberal democracy has long been debunked. Aside from those in Rojava and an admittedly few members of the remnants of the Free Syrian Army, not a soul has been talking about democracy from among the ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra, ISIS, or the countless other groups that spring up and then separate after a few weeks.

Just as in Libya, those in Syria picking up arms against the government are interesting in one thing: power.

And who has supported them in this goal? The West.

Since the beginning of the war, the so-called rebels in Syria have been trained, encouraged, and bankrolled by the West.

And why is the West so interested in destabilizing Syria?

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It’s clear that the West has a lot to gain from a war in Syria. Iran and Hezbollah are weakened. Russia is stuck putting resources into defending an ally. Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s influence is extended in the region.

Far from ending the war, this policy has had only one consequence: prolonging it. And prolonging has been great business for the West, because they’ve managed to expand their position geopolitically. That’s a hard fact for those who are sympathetic with the fantasy of overthrowing the last Arab nationalist government.

Even if one has good intentions filled with hope about a free, united, democratic Syria, then it must at least be admitted that the tactics were flawed from the beginning of the “armed struggle”. In the past 100 years, violent insurgencies have been successful 25% of the time, whereas non-violent insurgencies have been successful 50% of the time.

The weapons from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US, and the West fueled the war from day one. We can easily see why Syria is in shambles. The indiscriminate use of violence by these countries has also been widespread and has gone unreported.

Why is no one talking about Turkey’s invasion of Syria and separation of the Rojava cantons?

And those who thought that the government and its supporters were going to sit back and let themselves be violently displaced were clearly looking at the situation though some sort of kaleidoscope.

Assad is a member of the Alawi religious minority in Syria, “Syria’s most-hated ethnic group. The majority of the rebels trying to overthrow the government are Sunnis who are not exactly happy with the fact that a Shi’a religious minority seems to have control of the state. So let’s look at it from the perspective of the Alawi community. If Assad gives up power to violent rebels (even the so-called “moderate” ones), the Alawis will most likely be the victims of the most brutal genocide of the 21st century.

Despite all those who want to talk about “impending massacres”, it seems that no one talks about that one.

It should’ve been apparent from the beginning that this was an unacceptable option for those in power. Assad was never going to relinquish power when that threat looming. Look at what ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra are capable of.

Look at the rebels who have filmed themselves desecrating and even eating the corpses of their victims.

Why was the US (who cares oh-so-much about “protecting people”) so quiet about ISIS before ISIS starting spreading into Iraq (specifically Erbil, where US Oil Firms are located)?

Because, in spite of all the rhetoric that Assad’s government is the acme of Machiavellian politicking, we know who the true Machiavellians are – the Gulf kingdoms (Western-backed dictatorships), President Erdogan, and, of course, the US government (and its European lackeys), who have been all too willing to make alliances with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in order to destroy Syria from within.

So what are “we” going to do about Aleppo?

We” have already done so much to Aleppo. Aleppo is one of the primary victims of imperialist meddling. What the West should do about Aleppo is what the West should’ve done from the beginning: stay out.

For it is only by staying out of Syria that we all can hope that one day soon, the war in Syria will be over.

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Dismantling the Alt-Right Mythology

There seems to be a new trend in the media: attempts to explain alt-right fascism. It seems like the logic goes like this: if you present the generalized arguments of the alt-right, the leaders of the alt-right fascists, and a scattering of random facts about this “movement”, then consumers of that media will be able to reach their own conclusions.

I violently disagree.

The constant explication of the alt-right fascist ideology does nothing but normalize (and therefore promote) its presence in dominant political conversation. The mythology of the alt-right doesn’t need to be explained, it needs to be destroyed.

Here, the intention must be to expose this incipit, racist poison at its roots and extirpate this cancer infecting the body politic. One way or another, the alt-right movement must be dismantled.

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Society must be defended.

One point about alt-right fascists – they claim a diverse set of ideological principles (despite apparently loathing diversity) – from white separatism, white nationalism, identitarianism, traditionalism, men’s rights activism, paleo-conservatism, and neo-monarchism (or all of these). They’ll claim different philosophical prophets from Alexandr Dugin to Oswald Spengler (or both).

This pathetic attempt to emphasize the differences within the alt-right hides the truth: they’re all touting classical racism, misogyny, and fascism.

If we can be sincere, most of them are really looking to start a White Christian ISIS in North Carolina.

While they pretend to have some new ideological shift, they’re repackaging the same old garbage from the Neo-Nazis and Right-wing Skinheads. They simply puff themselves up to be the harbingers of our future society (usually resembling Apartheid South Africa or, if they’re more honest, Nazi Germany).

Let’s analyze/deconstruct this idiotic repackaging:

  1. “White people are under attack.”

Nothing is more infuriating than this victim-complex among the alt-right fascists.

At the same time that they attempt to portray themselves as strong, they endlessly whine about how endangered white people are. White people are the majority of the population of a continent that only 500 years ago had a population of 0 white people.

The complexion of yogurt-soup is universally loved by the alt-right.

These horribly stupid racists occasionally go as far as to proclaim the existence of a “white genocide”.

That means a genocide against white people. In the United States. Right now. 

They’re really good at throwing that word around actually – genocide – simultaneously fabricating some sort of conspiracy against white people and, at the same time, trivializing true genocides.

There is no white genocide. Most cops are white. Pretty much everyone in the government is white (and about to be even whiter). In fact, aside from population sizes, it isn’t much different than Apartheid South Africa as it is.

The white ethno-state already exists. It’s called the US government.never-forget

For these fascists who like the “g” word, one thing is notable. It seems that there’s no time for the discussion of the genocide of indigenous peoples of the Americas or the genocide of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Or the Holocaust for that matter.

What does genocide mean to these people? Apparently not much.

2. “Americans are under attack.”

First of all, immigration is not out of control. The government knows how many people are coming in, where they’re coming in, who’s coming in, etc…

Second of all, when fascists think imagine “Americans”, they’re not thinking about the 350 million citizens of the US. And they’re certainly not thinking about the millions of people who live across the American continents.

They’re thinking about white people. And when they talk about immigration, the alt-right fascists don’t mean that immigration from Europe is out of control – they are talking about Spanish-speakers from Latin America, naturally.

Who are they thinking of?

Probably people whose skin tone isn’t comparable to milk-vomit.

If they start talking about undocumented immigration, they’ll be ready to throw out all sorts of bullshit numbers, rather than facts. Spend any time on the alt-right fascist sites and you’ll quickly discover that the concept of “truth” or “fact” becomes murky.

Just like their fascist god-emperor, who swerves between fiction and more racist fiction, the alt-right fascists can’t seem to keep track of basic human traits like logic and consistency.

These weak, racial chauvinists attack black people, Chican@s, and Arabs all around the country, while those in power often stand by silently. People of African descent were brought to America against their will and Chican@s are the descendants of indigenous people and white European imperialists.

The racists ignore every chapter of history in order to construct their mythology.

This is the fascist imagination. The fasci-nation.

Needless to say, every single one of these stupid white supremacists in the US is the direct product of immigration. Less than five generations ago, none of their ancestors were American. Not one.

So let me put this in another way:

Americans once were under attack – by white people.

(and they still are).

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3. “Men are under attack.”

Sad, fragile masculinity is no longer celebrated in all corners of society and, therefore, these men feel threatened, despite the fact that “men” make up about half the population.

What’s next? Male Genocide?

This is probably the most imbecilic component of modern fascism. The defense of “men” is a screen behind which Men’s Rights Activists aim for the reinstitution of the patriarchal family of the 1950s along with the ability to harass and assault women with impunity.

Men’s Rights Activists long for the days when women’s rights weren’t recognized, when men could rape without even facing any fall-out (which often still happens), and when a “man” was the “head of the household”.

Unsurprisingly, these are typically the same men who glamorize the fedora and idolize Humphrey Bogart or Marlon Brando.

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“Our heteronormative masculinity is incredibly fragile!”

There’s a reason they love actors, in particular. Men’s rights fascists live in a delusional reality, where everyone is playing a role. (Note the fedora in the picture above.)

Devoid of information, basic history, and a functioning frontal cortex, these Men’s Rights Activists like to attack women in any situation that arises.

They especially hate feminists, because feminists expose how 10,000 years of patriarchy has functioned and placed men in an undeserved position in society.

Feminists fight against the constructed and fake power of those who have disgusting, external genitalia.

4. “Language is under attack.”

One of the most articulated characteristics of alt-right fascism is the communal hatred of “Political Correctness”. In fact, PC culture seems to be hated by everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Dumbass Trump.

So what the hell is political correctness anyway?

The push for PC-language is nothing more than a negotiation of finding words that encourage inclusivity of different people or, alternatively, discourage exclusionary language. So it’s an effort by people to not use wording that is racist, sexist, etc…

Why do people hate it so much?

Probably because they are racist, sexist, queer/transphobic, islamophobic, anti-semitic, etc…

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about PC culture. Not one of them seemed to be free of these poisonous ideologies.

Political Correctness might be the bane of white liberals and conservatives alike, but no one hates it as much as the alt-right fascists. To them, it is the great tragedy of “Western culture” that anyone would attempt to use English in any way that isn’t obnoxiously sexist and racist.

All the alt-right fascists turn into hysterical blobs of goo whenever someone says “people of color” or spells woman with a “y”.

The great irony of the fight against political correctness is that those who try to fight it end up engaging in the negotiations. They either follow PC culture to some extent (I’ve yet to see a video of Trump calling a black man what he really wants to) or establishing their own counter-attacks (Alt-Right Fascists attacking people for using PC language).

In the end, it’s pretty obvious who’s on the losing side of the PC culture wars.

(Hint: it’s them.)

———————-

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“Fascism is the Enemy of Women.”

Our struggle today needs to be united, strong, and clear. Neither white people nor Americans are under attack. Neither men nor language are under attack.

We’re under attack. And it’s alt-right fascism that is attacking us.

This is an ideology that exists and is spreading. In some ways, it’s obvious that the alt-right fascists will lose significant ground in the long run. However, in the short-term, they pose a huge existential threat to people of color, women, Muslims, and all of us on the Left.

We must fight them on the internet, on the streets, and in the government. We must allow nothing of their reactionary, right-wing drivel to be normalized or acceptable.

They are fascists, nothing less.

And it is our job to teach them that fascism is a losing ideology. Just as the fascists lost in World War II, these alt-right fascists shall also be defeated!

The Assassination of Walter Scott

In April of 2015, a white cop assassinated a unarmed black man.

Period. End of Story.

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There isn’t any more discussion needed. Any facts you want to hash out, like the fact that Walter Scott was running away, are superfluous.

Terms like “appropriate use of force” and “doing it by the book” don’t need to be thrown around. We don’t need pathetic apologetics like “Being a cop is hard work!” or “This wasn’t about race!”

Even the liberals, for the most part, get it. Just as they kind of got it with Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. The bullshit American media tells the story in an isolated context, without telling the full story or asking the real question.

How do we conceptualize “justice”?

That’s the story here.

When a representative of state power murders a civilian, what are we going to do about it?

There is indeed no such thing as a “justice system” in the United States today. That ought to be obvious to anyone who even takes a cursory glance at the society (and after all, the state institutions simply maintain a society and provide some semblance of logic to it).

We could throw out the numbers about African Americans and Latinos being thrown in prison at significantly higher rates than whites. We could look at the use of the death penalty almost exclusively for black men. We could look at how “laws” are specified to target people of color.

The government has defined “justice” for us here.

“Justice” in the US means letting white people off free and terrorizing and imprisoning people of color.

But, of course, under capitalism, it is not simply a game played on race, but is much broader. The full scope of the American “justice system” is the marginalization and brutalization of the poor (comparatively).

Predominately, in the US (and throughout the global imperialist system), those who are made poor are those who don’t share the white skin of the people in power.

So the next question: do we accept this definition of “justice”?

Do we accept “laws” that are meant to disenfranchise people of color?

Do we accept cops who come into communities and shoot civilians?

Do we allow state oppression to engage in domestic terrorism (or international terrorism, for that matter)?

If we don’t accept these things, then how do we conceptualize “justice”?

And what are we going to do about it?