Category Archives: Radical Islam

“Democratic Capitalism in the Last Stages? Capital as Agency in Wolfgang Streeck’s Analysis of the Crisis,” by Kees van der Pijl

This is an excellent paper discussing Wolfgang Streek’s latest and popular book, Buying Time. People like to bash Marxism, but as a tool for analysis of capitalism it is unsurpassed. But no capitalist will ever admit that. Everything in this paper is 100% true (except for the suggesting that the Charlie Hebdo attack was a false flag) but no US newspaper, newsmagazine, TV News or radio news will ever tell you this true story. Instead they will recycle an endless series of lies from the capitalists.

The capitalists do not want you to know what they are doing, and this is why they operate in secret, lie constantly and use codewords and memes. This is because the capitalist project is not good for the vast majority of Americans. Only perhaps the top 20% benefit from the capitalist project in the US. As the paper shows, Western capitalists have been trying to get out from under the Social Contract that they made with labor and society as a whole after World War 2 as a measure to head off Communism.

This project hays been operating in stages since  the 1960’s, and we are now near the final stage. Every one of these stages has been good for the capitalists and bad for wage labor, society, and I would argue democracy.

This is because the capitalist project lately is a profoundly antidemocratic one. Any project that redistributes wealth from the bottom 80% to the top 20% is hardly democratic.

Further if your project is to redistribute wealth from the bottom 80% to the top 20%, it would make sense to lie about your project and not admit that you are doing that. Instead of harming the bottom 80%, you say you are helping them. The capitalists also argue that those who seek to redistribute wealth from the top 20% to the bottom 80% (the Left) are actually harming the bottom 80%! As the capitalists own all the media in the West, there is no contrary narrative to this wild lie.

Any project that seeks to harm the majority at the expense of a minority must disguise its aims. As this is generally the project of capitalists and conservatives in general, both capitalist and conservative discourse is typically profoundly dishonest as they both seek to convince the bottom 80% that an elite project to harm them is actually going to help them.

What would happen if the capitalists and conservatives were simply honest about their redistributive aims? They would have to say that they were pushing a project to redistribute wealth upwards from the bottom 80% to the top 20%. Further they would have to say that their project is going to harm wage labor every step of the say.

What is the likelihood that such an elite reverse Robin Hood Project would fly? Never estimate the American voter’s tendency towards conservative masochism and supporting their class enemies economically. Nevertheless, I doubt that even the hyper-masochistic American working and middle classes would go along with a project to take from the bottom 80% and give to the top 20%.

Since conservative and capitalist projects are always designed to take harm the masses and help an elite through upward wealth redistribution, conservatism all down through history has typically been extremely dishonest. If you are running an elitist project, you can’t exactly come out and say so.

This is perhaps my biggest beef against conservatives – their extreme and continuous dishonesty in public discourse. The extreme and near continuous lying of conservatives only confuses the masses and poisons the well of public discourse.

Talking with a conservative is like trying to have a conversation with a psychopath. How can you possibly have a productive conversation with a pathologically lying sociopath? This is what political discourse in the West has boiled down to in he last 35 years.

Furthermore, when one side is lying constantly, this makes a mockery out of claims of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. What good is freedom of the press if the press is all owned by pathologically lying sociopathic capitalists? How can alternative or dissident voices even make themselves heard if the only way to talk to the public is to be rich enough to own a printing press, TV station or radio station?

Democratic Capitalism in the Last Stages?
Capital as Agency in Wolfgang Streeck’s Analysis of the Crisis

Paper for the 5th EU experts’ Discussion, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin, 11-13 December 2015

Kees van der Pijl
Centre for Global Political Economy
University of Sussex

Abstract

Wolfgang Streeck’s Gekaufte Zeit/ Buying Time contains a compelling analysis that points to the origins of the current crisis in the wave of strikes of 1968-69. It caused the capitalist class to try and wrest free from the post-war social (-democratic) contract forced on it by labor.

However, not only does Streeck not pay attention to imperialism and war, he also tends to assume that capital-as-agency governed the entire period since, attempting to postpone the full social impact of the crisis in three different ways, restricting democracy as it went along. However, the three periods he distinguishes (inflation, state debt and private debt) were directed by changing coalitions of capitalist interests uniting behind a different concept of control – corporate liberalization and two versions of neoliberalism.

This highlights that in 2008, when these remedies all had exhausted themselves, capital-as-agency in command was the bloc of forces led by speculative money-dealing capital, which in the 1990’s had captured the states of the West and steered them onto a path of high-risk, high-reward policies both in the economy proper and in international affairs. This explains why after 2008, solutions to the crisis followed this particular political-economic orientation, with more risk-taking in all areas on the agenda.

The debate on the crisis of 2008 continues to produce significant works, often concentrating on the fact that although the crisis was caused by neoliberalism, tackling it has not included a clean-up of the worst features of that particular form of capitalism such as off-shore, financialization, or the flexibilization of labor(e.g. Mirowski 2013).

Wolfgang Streeck’s Buying Time (here cited from the German original, Gekaufte Zeit, Streeck 2013) in this connection claims that the options for a democratic capitalism to find a way out of the crisis after three attempts to postpone its effects have been exhausted. It is the argument of Buying Time that will serve as a framework for organizing my reflections here.

Streeck’s conversions, first from and then back to a historical material position, are best left for the gossip column. Yet whilst it is a laudable step to pick up where he left off as a Marxist, the readings back from his earlier days are not sufficient to cover all aspects of the current situation.

More particularly, his argument that we must conceive of capital as agency, a self-conscious social force, remains incomplete. It misses the dimension of capital/class fractions as moments/components in the process of class formation, their different abilities to weld class compromises with forces outside their own ranks, and the successive concepts of control (German, Herrschaftskonzepte) that guide them and society at large along a path of a certain necessarily limited rationality.

Corporate liberalism and neoliberalism are such concepts. Since these different concepts have very different implications in the sphere of, say, whether or not violence plays a role in the formulation of policy, we must pinpoint their precise composition in terms of ruling blocs. That this shortcoming is not immediately evident in Buying Time is also because Streeck does not really deal with imperialism, war and repression as aspects of a capitalism in crisis.

Fractions, Class Compromises, Concepts of Control

Streeck begins by taking his distance from the structuralist premise of Theodor Adorno (in whose honor the lectures brought together in Buying Time were delivered) and the Frankfurt School theorists. They employed a notion of capital as apparatus, not as agency; as means of production instead of class.

Thus difficult class-theoretical questions, e.g., concerning the difference between managers and property-owning capitalists, small and large capital, and so on, could be avoided. But a theory of capitalism from which capital as agency is absent, remains anemic (Streeck 2013: 43-4, 44 n., 47).

This is indeed the beginning of all wisdom, but it is not enough. To understand capital as agency we must realize that capital as such, as a totality, is never a given. When we look at it in class terms, we will see different axes of capitalist class formation, contesting the terrain among each other as they seek to build coalitions of interest casting their nets beyond the immediate concerns of firms/sectors from the process emanates – fractions of capital.

Forming from vantage points such as productive versus money capital, international, national, or sub-national/regional, and the like, fractions of capital in the process of class formation seek to transcend the initial principles which they must uphold to survive by developing a tentative, broader concept of control, a program for managing a broad range of political-economic terrains.

Such a program requires the political-ideological talents of organic intellectuals who arise in the same process and who earn the patronage of powerful interests expecting to gain from it.

These ‘intellectuals’ (professional politicians, corporate executives, participants in private planning groups, writers) may in fact be the first to see an opportunity and start the process. But they always are the ones who take the initial project forward into the sphere of politics, where it either blossoms out into a comprehensive concept of control, or not.

For as Gramsci writes, politics is an immediate impulse to action which is born on the “permanent and organic” terrain of economic life but which transcends it, bringing into play emotions and aspirations in whose incandescent atmosphere even calculations involving the individual human life itself obey different laws from those of individual profit, etc. (Gramsci 1971: 140).

Hence groups that do not obtain any material reward, but only symbolic concessions, may yet become part of the constellation of forces supporting a particular concept of control: say, an armaments policy that benefits the military-industrial complex in real terms also satisfies the chauvinism of people who stand to lose from a warlike stance in terms of income, life-chances etc.

In that sense, a political-economic fraction profiting from a specific conjuncture will succeed in making their particular interests appear as the interest of the entire capitalist class or even society at large (Hickel 1975). We can think of export-oriented capital when foreign trade opportunities are on the rise, finance in a period of restructuring when fixed capital is being liquidated, and so on.

A successful process of class formation culminates in a stage where so many real and symbolic concessions have been made (‘symbolic’ generally referring to political aesthetics, often by conjuring up a threat that feeds into bellicose chauvinism) that no rival concept of control can hope to cover all these fields.

One concept of control thus becomes truly comprehensive in that all political efficiency and success is premised on it and all social forces, even those from whom the whole process emanated to begin with, must subordinate their immediate, short-term interests to this program (Bode 1979).

At the heart of each such constellation of forces, then, we must assume there are key class compromises that lend coherence to the starting point from which a concept of control can be developed before it merges with the conjunctural conditions under which other interests will be inclined to sign on – at a diminishing rate of actually inflecting the final result (which by the way, as a formula of the general interest, is never spelled out but is experienced as self-evident ‘common sense’).

Only when a concept loses its comprehensiveness and unravels will it be recognized as the particular project of special interests and lose this common sense quality.
So when Streeck proposes to enlarge the notion of a legitimization crisis (originally formulated by Adorno’s student, Jürgen Habermas) by substituting the two actors identified in that theory, the state and the citizen (Habermas 1973) by three (the state, capital, and the wage-dependent population), what is still lacking is which fraction is providing the capitalist class interest with a specific thrust.

Also, closely related, we must know whether or not and to which extent the ‘wage-dependent population’ is either part of the initial class compromise, a later entrant, or not rewarded at all except perhaps with symbolic gestures or sentiment.

Why is this important? Streeck’s argument is that the crisis of a capitalism seeking to liberate itself from the democracy imposed on it after 1945 really dates from 1968-69. Since then, ‘capital’ (acting through the state) has tried three methods of postponing its full impact – inflation, state debt, and private debt – until in 2008, the entire edifice came crashing down.

That suggests four crises of restructuring in which ‘capital as agency’ acted under different concepts of control, reflecting different fractional vantage points based on entirely different class compromises, a different balance between material and symbolic rewards, etc.

Thus in the last crisis of 2008, ‘capital’ was the capitalist coalition formed (as I will explain) by speculative, money-dealing capital, immersed in high-risk operations both economically and politically, connected to the apparatuses of covert action and violent power projection that must compensate for the fact that it hardly makes any real concessions any longer outside the oligarchies in command.

The environment too is only seen as an object of speculative gain, with an emissions exchange the typical (and useless) form of dealing with the crisis of the biosphere. Other ‘solutions’ too will carry the stamp of this particular coalition and the concept it operates under, and it was the same for the previous crises of restructuring. In each case, a different ‘anthropology’ is involved as well – from the responsible, ‘embedded’ citizen-worker of the 1950’s to the atomized, ‘elementary human particle’ of today.

From this perspective, the immediate future, bar a political landslide away from capitalism altogether, may be much bleaker than Streeck envisages. Even his (already bleak) prediction that democracy may be abolished altogether under the factual directorate of high-risk, covert operators will exclude any negotiated reduction of democracy and instead involve provocation and war, covert action-induced emergencies and a suspension of rights.

This is what is happening before our eyes. So whilst for capital as a whole we cannot be sure where it will be heading in seeking a way out of certain profitability constraints from a fractional viewpoint in combination with the tendency in the conjuncture of profit distribution, the degree of probability in fact increases.

Even if we follow Streeck’s understanding of a legitimization crisis as arising from the dissatisfaction of capital with democracy and the obligations imposed by it and his thesis that the functioning of the capitalist economy is not a technical but a political issue as are growth and full employment, we should again specify this for the separate, fraction-to-‘imagined totality’ trajectories of each post-war concept of control.

Crises indeed are not technical malfunctions but follow from legitimization crises of a special kind (Streeck 2013: 49), but these can be understood in a much more specific sense. In fact he says a lot that enriches our understanding of a concept of control and its inherent class compromises, as when he writes about capitalism presuming a social contract in which legitimate mutual expectations are laid down formally or informally (Streeck 2013: 51).

Again a differentiation in terms of fractions works to enhance this understanding of capitalism as a time-bound, historically specific social order in need of legitimization, which crystallizes in different forms in space and time; forms that are negotiable and are negotiated anew once the malfunction of a particular format of the social contract, that is, the comprehensive concept of control, becomes evident.

I begin with the post-war concept of corporate liberalism (my terminology) because it was the crisis of this form of capitalism in 1968-69 of which the full impact according to Streeck was postponed several times until it exploded in 2008.

Corporate Liberalism after the War

Corporate liberalism is the liberalism governing relations between bodies internally organized along their own principles, so ‘sovereign’ in their own domains. It was based on the class compromise forced on capital by organized labor with the strengthened Soviet bloc adding its weight to the balance of forces and decolonization announcing potential further shifts to the detriment of the West’s pre-eminence in the global political economy.

Economically it rested on Keynesian countercyclical state intervention, capital controls (allowing the Bretton Woods system of a gold-dollar standard with fixed exchange rates to function), and the spread of demand-led, Fordist mass production.

This was what Streeck calls the ‘very specific settlement’ in which capital had to make an effort to prolong and renew its social license, whilst allowing politically determined social goals to govern the profit economy and yet avoid a spillback to fascism or yield to the temptations of the Soviet-type planned economy (Streeck 2013: 51).

In the terms introduced above, the fraction of capital positioned centrally in this set of intersecting influences and lending substance to the original New Deal and post-war Marshall Plan projections of a corporate liberal capitalist social contract was productive capital.

The class compromise at the heart of the corporate liberal concept of control was that between capital and organized labor in production. In this sense we can speak of an epoch of democratic capitalism, at least for the North Atlantic political economy – not for Vietnam, or Indonesia, and other areas for which no parallel Yalta compromise (which in Europe included the legitimate presence of large communist parties outside the Soviet bloc) had been agreed.

As such it is the strongest corroboration of the thesis that in capitalism, democracy does not depend on the bourgeoisie but on the presence in force (including, in the state apparatus) of organized labor (Rueschemeyer et al. 1992). Streeck notes that in the course of the 1950’s and 60’s, election turnout increased everywhere (2013: 87).

The global wave of wildcat strikes in 1968 and ’69 then signaled to the capitalist class that social protection and countercyclical crisis management had lasted too long, and capital found that its maneuvering space for further concessions had been closed (Streeck 2013: 53). As full employment was undermining workplace discipline, managers were reminded of Kalecki’s 1943 thesis concerning the need to maintain a certain level of unemployment to cushion labor militancy.

Capitalists now began to prepare for evacuating the post-war social contract, abandoning their erstwhile passivity and restoring their capacity to act and actively shape social relations instead of being ‘planned in’ by democratic politics (Streeck 2013: 54). As noted, the capitalist crisis that we are experiencing today according to Streeck has its origins at that juncture.

For since that time, the state postponed the full social impact of the crisis by throwing money into the breaches in order to neutralize and defuse potential social conflicts – inflation, state indebtedness, expansion of private credit markets and finally, in 2008, buying up state and bank debt by central banks; through these phases, capital has wrested free from the post-war democratic compact with labor by steadily reducing democracy and citizen’s rights.

Thus a phased unfolding of the fundamental tension between capitalism and democracy through a progressive liberation of the capitalist economy from democratic intervention, indeed a removal of democracy from capitalism by removing the economy from the sphere of democracy. What awaits us now is possibly the suspension of the remaining democracy itself.

This is the Streeck thesis. I will now go through these different phases, beginning with inflation. Like the New Deal prefiguring comprehensive, North Atlantic corporate liberalism, all these changes were initiated by the United States, although sometimes the rise to pre-eminence of different fractions occurred in or via other component parts of the English-speaking West, or as I call it, the ‘Lockean heartland’.

‘Europe’, that is, the expanding Franco-West German compromise out of which today’s European Union evolved, followed the trend. It also necessarily suffered from the successive crises/transitions, because the continental European economies are structurally far less amenable to the neoliberal departure(s) from corporate liberalism – the further to the south (beginning with France relative to Germany), the less.

The Decade of Inflation and Its Architects

The first instance of ‘buying time’ following the crisis of 1968-’69, the decade of inflation, was not neoliberal, it was charted by productive capital under its compromise with labor – indeed deepening the compromises on which post-war capitalism had been built in the first place. ‘The inflationary money policy of the decade following the strike wave around 1968 secured social peace in the context of a rapidly expanding consumer society’ (Streeck 2013: 62).

Inflation enlarged, at least seemingly, the ‘cake’ to be distributed without really making it larger. Inflation not only prolonged the class compromise with organized labor but also brought out the underlying compromise on which the stand-off with the Soviet bloc, agreed at Yalta in 1944 (again, the division of Europe), had been based.

Détente resulted from the eroding bloc discipline in the two zones of limited sovereignty. The Atlantic ruling class had to deal with a Gaullist rebellion leading elements of the European capitalist class to explore economic opportunities in the east, and with Greek pressures for democracy (which were only kept in check by a NATO-supported military dictatorship from 1967 to ’74).

In the 1970’s the West also came up against a ‘Eurocommunist’ challenge, respectful of Yalta but not necessarily of corporate liberal capitalism. The Soviet state class in turn faced the 1968 Czechoslovak ‘spring’, likewise a politically hybrid development it feared it might not control, Romania’s explorations beyond the Yalta divide, and so on. The United States also ran up large deficits in order to continue its doomed war in Vietnam, a costly disaster that in August 1971 forced it to cut the dollar from gold.

The point here is that this decision, which opened the decade of inflation, was essentially an action following the logic of the corporate liberal concept of control and its core class compromise with labor. So it was not just ‘capital’ which ‘bought time’ but to a particular fraction of capital and its organic intellectuals (politicians, economists, and so on) doing it for capital, in this case, productive capital first.

The decision to end the (already restricted) exchange of dollars for gold had mercantilist overtones, with the ten percent import duty the clearest sign of the interests of productive capital dictating it. Likewise, abandoning the fixed exchange rates of Bretton Woods was not originally conceived as a step towards a liberalized financial regime, on the contrary.

In the Nixon administration only George Shultz, and at a further remove, Charles Kindleberger among economists, thought along the lines of making US deficits a foreign investment proposition. The others were still corporate liberals focused on Keynesian deficit spending having to be recouped later in the business cycle (Bassosi 2006: 34).

Productive capital concerns also expressed themselves in the incomes policy advocated by the head of the Federal Reserve, Arthur Burns, a hard Rightist no doubt, who was irate about the wave of strikes and who, to quote the New York Fed’s own report, was strongly opposed to any attempt ‘to “buy” low levels of unemployment by tolerating inflation’ (cited in Panitch and Gindin 2012: 141 – note the terminology, the opposite of the Streeck thesis).

Even so, the authoritarian undertow of the incomes policy was aimed at enforcing the corporate liberal class compromise on the terms prior to the 1971 turnabout. Even more ominously for the still marginal neoliberal tendency, the productive perspective was echoed in the 1975 proposal for a national economic planning body (Panitch and Gindin 2012: 143).

Elsewhere I have documented the autonomization of the managerial cadre in the context of the crisis of the 1970’s, and their role in the ‘planned interdependence’ of the period – the credit-financing of the industrialization aspirations of the Third World coalition for a New International Economic Order as well as Soviet bloc modernization with inflationary dollars accumulated in the London Eurodollar and Eurocapital markets.

In Europe, too, the productive capital perspective and its inbuilt class compromise with organized labor were still guiding policy, not only via the rise of the Left in southern European and Social Democratic governments or majority coalitions in the north. Even in Britain, a Tory prime minister, Edward Heath, after a visit to West Germany returned with the idea of fostering ‘finance capital’ combinations modeled on the continental model whilst attempting to rein in labor militancy by (mildly) authoritarian legislation.

Yet this drew the fire of the employers’ organization CBI for …spoiling the relations with organized labor (cited in Overbeek 1990: 160; on Heath and capital groups, Ramsay 2002: 12-13). The key step was of course British entry into the European Community in 1973, a step again motivated by Heath’s expectation it would stimulate Britain’s industrial modernization (Overbeek 1990 157).

In sum, Stephen Gill writes, ‘the dangers in Nixon’s policies… were the way they nurtured “domestic” forces, and, by undercutting the welfare of key allies, undermined the international consensus which was needed to manage the system effectively’ (Gill 1990: 136, emphasis added).

In the second half of the 1970’s when the capitalist economies were hit by a marked decline in the growth rate in spite of rising inflation, a period of stagflation set in that eventually, in 1979, led the US Federal Reserve to intervene and raise interest rates to around 20 percent, thus terminating inflation until the present day (Streeck 2013: 63; see the statistics in Panitch and Gindin 2012: 142, table 6.2).

Thus the proliferation of the class and international compromises of the corporate liberal epoch, bolstering the forces opposed to the operation of liberal capitalism nationally and internationally, provoked a counteroffensive, not from capital per se but specifically from money capital. This explains why such a sharp turn was made after the inflationary prolongation of the post-war compromises.

The Turn to Systemic Neoliberalism

From Wolfgang Streeck’s perspective, capital in the late 1970’s ‘withdrew its consent from the postwar social contract by denying it the necessary investment funds,’ and the history of the system since the 1970’s can be understood as the struggle to free capital from social regulation forced on it after the war.

Capital no longer trusted a state which almost everywhere had fallen into the hands of Social Democratic governments or coalitions (Streeck 2013: 54-5, cf. 45). What was in order was to end the inflationary prolongation of the post-war social contract with organized labor, a high-risk operation given the resistance that was to be expected on the part of the trade unions and which had to be broken at all costs (Streeck 2013: 64).

However, it was not capital as such acting here but a different fraction leading capital and imbuing society as a whole with its particular perspective. In other words, the capitalist class and the managerial cadre and all other auxiliary and subordinate social forces switched the pursuit of their interests and expectations to a concept no longer formulated from the vantage point of productive capital.

Instead it was formulated from the vantage point of what ‘was needed to manage the system effectively’ (as above). It is as important to recognize the internal struggles within the capitalist class as to see the struggles with labor, in international relations etc., if we want to be able to predict the shelf-life of a particular format of capitalist development and especially, to see the political crisis moments in the transition phase from one concept of control to another, as the ‘outgoing’ leading fraction continues to pursue solutions typical of the concept unraveling.

So the head of the CBI protesting that anti-strike legislation was spoiling relations with organized labor, cited above, was simply arriving late at the party.

Now the fraction perspective available to ‘manage the system effectively’ can be any one. But in the conditions of capital abrogating the post-war class and international compromises and intent on shifting production to locations outside these compromises and hence, liquidate previous positions including breaking the mold of the national state compartmentalization in order to establish a global political economy, in the circumstances was money capital as the embodiment of capital in general.

For production to take place, the cycle of industrial capital must ‘land’ in what David Harvey calls, ‘human resource complexes… to which capital must, to some degree, adapt’ (Harvey 2006: 399); after which it resumes its ‘circulation’ in the form of commodities for sale.

Under the compulsion of competition, capital in money form is then reinvested, not mechanically in the same type of activity but only after a survey of all productive opportunities, which implies a comparison of all ‘human resource complexes’ in relation to markets, transport costs, and the like.

Under the compromise with organized labor, and various ramifications such as capital controls, state countercyclical policy, etc., the human resource complexes were very much fixed in national spaces, but this was now to be opened up.
If the ‘moment’ of liquidation of fixed assets and the attendant relations of production assumes the quality of a systemic correction, as it did between the crisis of 1974-75 and the early 1980’s, the commanding heights of the cycle as a whole, money capital, must be given the maneuvering space in which it can perform this reordering.

This then was the juncture at which the revocation of the post-war social contract ushered in the epoch of neoliberal capitalism, but with the emphasis (initially) on the systemic aspect, not the predatory neoliberalism that would follow. It was intended, first of all, to bring back the income share of the capitalist class to the pre-war level and everywhere produced rapidly increasing inequalities (Streeck 2013: 58; Piketty 2014).

For the core Lockean heartland, 1979 was the cut-off date in which the entire set of compromises on which the previous era of corporate liberalism had been based, was called into question. Besides the abrogation of the class compromise with organized labor in production, it also was the year of the NATO missile decision, intended to scuttle détente and launch a new round of confrontation with socialist forces as around the globe obstacles to the restructuring production were to be removed.

This time the new Cold War was really ‘waged’, not as a posture on the basis of an (incomplete) international compromise as at Yalta, but as a fight to the end. 1979 was also the year of the Volcker Shock, which squeezed inflation from the system by raising real interest rates to around 20 percent and thus kicked the world into the debt crisis.

This was the crisis of sovereign debt, Streeck’s second instance of ‘buying time’. It worked to cut the classes and states profiting from inflation down to size economically just at the time when a violent crusade (announced already by the fascist coups in Chile, Argentina, and other Latin American countries, as well as the ‘Strategy of Tension’ in Europe) was launched against them.

The new posture of the capitalist class, formulated from the vantage point of systemic money capital, entailed a class compromise with asset-owning middle classes. Propertied middle classes had been mobilizing against the corporate liberal consensus and exploiting its ‘legitimacy crisis’ from the late 1970’s, but they were only a subordinate force in the transition.

At such a juncture alternative concepts are being formulated, all striving for comprehensiveness. Yet only one will triumph in the end – for as long as it lasts. It then also captures and reorganizes the state. Streeck mentions that the taxpayer movement resisting levies, and agitating under the banner of ‘starving the beast’ (the state), no longer trusted as the embodiment of the general interest (Streeck 2013: 103).

One is reminded of the fact that this class compromise and hence the ascendant concept of control is shaped by class struggle as was the case with corporate liberalism in the 1930’s.

However, the neoliberal concept that took the place of corporate liberalism in the transition period necessarily came to rely on ‘the beast’ again (a strong state), because every concept of control finds its ultimate expression in the state/group of states in the sense of the specific format of class relations condensing at that level (Poulantzas 2008: 307). As with changing capitalist fraction roles, we are looking at changing forms and orientations of states.

The tax revolt as a process of class formation fed into a form of state relaxing the tax burden on the upper income groups; governments reduced taxation and then borrowed from those it no longer taxed, obviously aggravating the public debt (Chesnais 2011: 113).

Privatization policies also gave asset-owning middle classes a chance to profit from booming stock markets, whilst rising asset prices, notably of real estate, allowed middle classes to borrow against the value of their (mortgaged) property.
However, as Streeck highlights, after the restrictions on democracy by rolling back trade union power and blunting the ability to strike, the contraction of debt and reduction of public services to pay for it to middle classes no longer taxed at former rates also further reduces democracy.

Democracy, he writes, is about the identity between the population as the principal and government as the agent, which should be sufficiently strong to make the former subscribe to the debt obligations incurred by the latter – irrespective whom they voted for and whether the credit was ever destined for them (Streeck 2013: 138). Of course as public provision withers, the readiness to pay taxes can only further decrease (Ibid.: 176).

In addition to the compromise with asset-owning middle classes, there also evolved a subordinate compromise in production with new groups entering the labor market such as women and the young and other hitherto marginalized categories of workers, in the sense that flexibilization of labor to some extent corresponded to their individualized lifestyles (Streeck 2013: 60).

Here the role of postmodern culture with its rejection of hierarchies and established rights also contributed to shaping a popular base for attacking organized labor in the name of ‘combating rigidities’, a notion spreading with the new volatility of finance (Harvey 1995).

All this of course does not compensate for the momentous loss of influence of labor, ‘the wage-dependent population’, which would double in size once China as well as the Soviet bloc and its outliers were thrown open for investment in the late 1980’s.

In the Anglophone Lockean heartland the systemic neoliberal concept crystallized first; outside it, Streeck argues, the neoliberal orientation of the European integration process too dates from the 1980’s, when the de-democratization of the economy and the bracketing of democracy from the economy began (Streeck 2013: 147-8).

He cites a 1939 article by Hayek which argues that moving decisions to a supranational level already implies a neoliberal tendency (Streeck 2013: 144-5). In Europe, the newly founded European Round Table of Industrialists after a brief flirtation with protectionism reflecting the outgoing corporate liberalism (notably in France under Mitterrand, the 1980-83 period), became the spearhead of making continental Europe conform to the ascendant concept of systemic neoliberalism.

It fell in line with abrogating the class compromise with organized labor as it identified inflexible labor markets as hampering ‘competitiveness’, which in a sense was true, coming after the defeats of the labor movement in the United States and Britain and other Anglophone heartland countries (van Apeldoorn 2002: 67-8).

The transition was accompanied by Delors’ move from the helm of Mitterrand’s failed Keynesian experiment to the European Commission, supposedly for a second try at the appropriate level (the level at which, as Streeck cites Hayek, the odds are against any sort of compromise with labor).
In fact therefore he managed the neoliberal wave by announcing the completion of the European internal market and modeling European policy along the lines of the German high productivity/low inflation export strategy (van der Pijl et al. 2011: 392).

In the course of the 1990’s, governments began to worry about the share of debt service in their budgets whilst creditors starting worrying about the ability of the states to pay back their debts. Once again the United States took the initiative to curtail social spending and restore a balanced budget under Clinton (Streeck 2013: 66).

O’Connor did not yet recognize in 1973 that the growing burden of debt service itself would be a major factor in the fiscal crisis (Streeck 2013: 109; O’Connor 1973). One can look at the debt state in light of ‘buying time,’ but one can also see it as the emergence of a new political formation.
The privatization of state assets in the process reduced the state role in the sphere of social protection, tasks which were now delegated to the market (Streeck 2013: 110). Also states resorted to forms of advanced financing in order to avoid breaking constitutionalized limits on public debt.

Public-Private Partnerships are such a form, in that states ask private firms to provide credit for public works (building hospitals etc.) that are then paid back over decades, usually at very unfavorable rates for the public purse given the relative incompetence of governments faced with international lawyers assisting the companies in drawing up PPP contracts (Streeck 2013: 174n.).

Here I would add the element of criminal complicity given the ease with which ministers move from public office to the private sector they had been dealing with when in office, as in the case of the British NHS (Pollock 2004).

The Final Round: Privatizing Debt under the Auspices of the ‘Financial Services’

As a result of the assault on social spending, a new legitimization deficit threatened, which was responded to by a new round of liberalizing capital markets to provide further means of payment, in this case by creating private debt, or ‘privatized Keynesianism’ (C. Crouch). This is the third way in which the fund of disposable resources is increased and purchasing power is created to try to close the gap with the promises made in the post-war period (Streeck 2013: 68-9).

Again I would argue that we must specify the forces involved in this third phase of buying time in order to know who was in charge when it collapsed in 2008 and who wrote the script for dealing with that collapse and its aftermath.

Here the fact that the restructuring away from nationally compartmentalized, compromise-rich corporate liberalism to a globalizing capitalism under a neoliberal concept required lifting the restrictions imposed on money capital in the 1930’s plays the crucial role.

For if money capital in the sense of quasi-social capital necessarily had to guide this process if it was to bring about a restoration of capitalist class power relative to the forces ranged against it nationally and internationally, all aspects of that regime had to be loosened.

The financial repression achieved by the New Deal’s centerpiece, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, separated high-risk, speculative international financial operations from low-risk, national deposit banking; only thus was productive capital able to accommodate to the militancy of the labor movement at the time.

The Volcker Shock of 1979 inevitably enabled a resurgence of this commercial form of money operations too. Here the abandoning of the fixed exchange rate regime in 1971 did play a role even if it occurred under the auspices of a productive-capital bloc (interestingly also including Paul Volcker in a key role as a Treasury official).

Inflation expanded the amount of US dollars circulating across the globe and accumulated outside the reach of the US financial authorities notably in the city of London, especially after the OPEC cartel and others demanded an inflation correction beginning in 1973. Their dollar holdings caused the offshore Eurodollar and Eurocapital markets to balloon and served as a key source for borrowing by the Soviet bloc and the Third World coalition (Burn 2006).

Capital in money form, ‘finance’ thus got back in its stride across a broad front, step by step undermining the separation between speculation and deposit money (Glass-Steagall was formally revoked in 1999). This is best understood by looking once again at how money functions as a means of market exchange first, symbolized as the M (money) in between two forms of goods or services, C (commodities), so C – M – C.
This includes what Marx calls ‘money-dealing capital’, say, trade in currencies or commercial paper. The profit that is made here is commercial profit, buying cheap and selling dear. Once money becomes capital, and is invested in production, the cycle assumes a different form, M – C (..P..) C’ – M’, and profit is based on surplus value obtained as unpaid labor in production (..P.. , and denoted by ’, the value increment).

In developed capitalism, money-dealing capital, ‘trade in financial services’, remains operative. Unlike investment money with its ‘systemic’ view of the whole cycle, it is only marginally connected to the production of surplus value; it preys on it from the outside, via the profit distribution process, not directly (in the Institutionalist tradition of Thorstein Veblen, all forms of capital prey on production in this sense).

Peter Gowan captures the shift with finance that occurred in the 1990’s when he writes about the rise of proprietary trading and financial arbitrage that ‘trading activity here does not mean long-term investment…in this or that security, but buying and selling financial and real assets to exploit – not least by generating- price differences and price shifts’ (‘speculative arbitrage’, Gowan 2009: 9, emphasis added).

Here we are looking at money capital with a completely different, in fact ‘irresponsible,’ attitude even from a capitalist point of view, hence the label ‘predatory’ neoliberalism. The financial operators driving it forward by exploiting new accounting rules and legal loopholes after the definitive collapse of state socialism in 1989-91 assembled allies among politicians and (‘micro’-)economists into a rapidly widening array of forces eager to share in the bonanza.

Streeck highlights how this frenzy was underpinned by a new theory of capital markets; which were now considered able to self-regulate rather than remain under state supervision (the ‘efficient market hypothesis’) (Streeck 2013: 69). Amidst the high-velocity movement of funds flowing through offshore jurisdictions, asset bubbles became a regular feature of 1990’s capitalism, culminating the predatory raid on Asian economies in 1997-98.

Just as corporate liberalism had produced the responsible citizen-worker and systemic neoliberalism the heroic late-20th-century bourgeois, predatory neoliberalism shaped an anthropology of its own in the form of the postmodern homo economicus, nervously finding his/her way in a jungle of potentially fatal choices in which all certainties have been suspended.

Across the spectrum, predatory neoliberalism fueled an attitude of anti-politics, since as Streeck emphasizes, its ideological mantra is that markets distribute wealth through general rules, whereas politics brings into play power and connections.

Once the idea has settled that the market is natural condition, its ‘decisions’ can be presented as falling from the sky and all politics dismissed as driven by ‘interests’ (Streeck 2013: 97). Organizing for anything becomes suspect as interest-driven power-play, ultimately entailing new Auschwitzes or gulags.

The language of the epoch, still widely spoken today, is replete with demagogy, in which ‘our side’ is endowed with an inherent goodness in the confrontation with successive incarnations of evil – from Milosevic to Saddam and on to Putin. This aesthetics of politics takes the place of material compromises for which the space is closing down. Speculators in fact gambled away many of the assets the middle classes had counted on to bolster their wealth and even their social security.

The aesthetics of politics, the invocation of highly emotive themes such as the ‘tsunami’ of foreigners invading our land, civilization in danger, the threat of terrorism and war, thus substitutes for real material concessions, although pockets of compromise, carried over from the earlier phases, remain, both with organized labor and with asset-owning middle classes.

The thrust, then, especially after the turn of the millennium, has been in the direction of unrestrained predatory neoliberalism with no barriers against risk-taking and with demagogy riding high. This is not a general condition of capital as such, but the operation of the system from the vantage point of money-dealing capital, immersed in risk and (often exorbitant) reward and relying on deceit to obtain social consensus.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with the international posture both of China and of post-Soviet Russia not able to really challenge the pretensions of the US to lead the ‘international community’, promote ‘good governance’, etc., the risk-taking inherent in predatory neoliberalism has also spilled over into adventurous, high-risk foreign policy maneuvers with an enhanced role for covert action.

At this juncture the European project too switched to predatory neoliberalism with the establishment of the Eurozone. As majorities for social protection became less and less possible as a consequence due to the adhesion of eastern European countries, the European Commission in the 1990’s forced through the privatization of large slices of the public sectors of member states in the name of competition law.

Under EU Commissioner Mario Monti, the German public banking system’s competition rules, long an irritant to the private banks, were finally eliminated (Streeck 2013: 150, 150n.).

Streeck provides some important pointers such as the fact that in the first decade of the 21st century the European Court of Justice became the chief executor of the ‘Hayekization’ of the EU, or the ‘European Union as a liberalization machinery’ (Streeck 2013: 148).

The Court’s rulings concerning the right to strike and codetermination in the name of untrammelled service provision and capital movements turned the EU into a machinery for liberalization. Its high point was the Eurozone, in which the freeing of the capitalist economy from democratic constraints reached its pinnacle (Streeck 2013: 151; an earlier, positive analysis of the Court’s role is in Cohen-Tanugi 1987).

Streeck calls the Eurozone a frivolous experiment as it removed the possibility of highly heterogeneous economies to defend themselves without simultaneously abolishing the national states and national democracy (Streeck 2013: 250).
The euro was indeed a project of and for money-dealing capital. The committee consisting mainly of central bankers that worked out the euro project in 1988-89 could not miss the pre-eminence of this form of capital even if it had wanted to – certainly after the European Exchange Rate Mechanism collapsed under the attacks of speculators in the early 1990’s.

Hence it recommended that the Euro’s role as a means of exchange would remain confined to the Eurozone, making the euro an investment object first of all. To attract short-term money flows, its interest rate (the sole monetary policy instrument of the European Central Bank at the outset), was set just above the US rate (Chesnais 2011: 90, 120; Varoufakis 2013: 198-9).

The mistaken but widely-held assumption that after the crisis of 2008 there existed a sort of pure capitalist vantage point with its anchorage in the states of the West which would be able to see that speculation had gone too far, etc. overlooks that capital as agency only comes about as a result of a build-up of a class coalition around a certain fraction, which thus is able to generalize its particular interest as the general capitalist interest and even the general interest altogether.

The collapse of 2008 happened when the formula of the general interest was predatory neoliberalism advanced by money-dealing capital. There was no other capitalist or popular force that had been able to contest its hegemony.

The idea that a crisis of this magnitude produces a rethink again abstracts from real power relations; the bail-out may briefly have looked like a return to Keynesianism but in fact was about saving the banks with public money and consolidating the capture of the state by a bloc of forces operating under the auspices and with the world-view of high risk/reward money-dealing capital.

This socially irresponsible fraction, relying for social consensus on political aesthetics and demagogy, will not be able to find solutions that are rational even for capital as a whole because its rationality is far narrower. There is no other form of capital waiting in the wings, and this is in fact also argued by Streeck (as when he writes that it has become practically impossible to determine what is state and what is market and whether the states have nationalized the banks or the banks have privatized the state, 2013: 71-2).

However he also appears to assume a sort of commanding heights from which successive episodes of ‘buying time’ have been tried by capital as such, whereas in fact we are looking at never-ending struggles in which money-dealing capital has been able to reap the fruits of privatization, liberalization and flexibilization of labor on a global scale.

A Terminal Crisis of Democracy?

As with capitalism, Streeck also tends to assume that there is a hypothesized ‘democracy’ which ‘failed to recognize’ the counterrevolution against the social capitalism of the post-war era, just as it ‘failed to regulate’ the financial sector in the 1990’s (Streeck 2013: 111-2). Just as he tends to turn capitalism into a spectator witnessing its own corruption by speculation, he presents democracy a witness of its own demise.

I should add immediately that this tendency in Streeck’s argument is contradicted by his own often acute observations concerning the real relations of force (as when he describes the creditors of the indebted states as a second constituency, a sort of shadow citizenry far outstripping the power of the original constituency, the people (Streeck 2013: 118-9).

In fact capitalism, as I have argued above, never exists outside its own momentary constellation of social forces, so it cannot by definition ‘correct’ any supposed aberrations in how it functions. That instance, a sort of independent regulator within the bounds of the system does not exist. The same with democracy: democracy denotes the degree to which the population at large can influence the operation of the forces that govern it, both the formal government and the relations of production.

Here the claim of the Communist Manifesto that all history is the history of class struggle should guide our understanding or Gramsci’s argument about Marxism as absolute historicism, an absolute humanism of history, for that matter (Gramsci 1971: 465).

Only in the context of the real relations of force, in all their complexity, can we discover the ability for change; not by appealing intuitively to the good conscience of a social order. Because ultimately capital as agency appears to stand outside its own field of operation and thus retains an ability to ‘try’ different solutions, the notion of class struggle remains underdeveloped in this otherwise important book.

More particularly absent is how class struggle reverberates in and is relayed through the fraction structure of capital as it strives to establish itself as agency embodying the general interest of capital. Hence the struggles within the capitalist class (nationally and internationally) remain in the dark, and democracy merely registers how in the development of class and fraction struggles, class compromises crystallize.

Here an echo from an earlier period appears to take the place of a developed class analysis when Streeck writes about Marx’s idea of countertendencies as in the case of the falling rate of profit, a familiar trope for the readers of Capital Volume III (Streeck 2013: 15, 15 n.).

The succession of instances of buying time seem to arise from one fundamental malfunction due to the operation of these countertendencies which are conjunctural and necessarily temporary as the incorporation of more spheres of life by capital clashes with the logic of the social life-world (Streeck 2013: 16).

Yet here the author tends to overlook that the analysis of Capital volume III takes the analysis of class struggle of Vol. I and the analysis of fraction struggles in Vol. II to an even more concrete level, and without taking these prior struggles into account more explicitly, the tendencies/countertendencies argument remains superficial, not identifying the real dynamics animating successive constellations of forces.

This again affects the understanding of what awaits us after 2008. Again Streeck’s analysis is highly relevant in its main conclusion. Each of the instances of ‘buying time’ was accompanied by a defeat of the wage dependent population that made it possible to introduce and deepen neoliberalization (Streeck 2013: 76).

The end of inflation, by a secular weakening of the trade unions and the termination of their ability to strike in conditions of durable unemployment; the consolidation of the state budget by cuts in and privatization of social provision and curtailment of social citizenship and a commercialization of many aspects of social security, granting new opportunities to insurance companies stepping in as guarantors of social security. The crash of 2008 then also robbed many of their savings, whilst entailing further cuts and job losses (Streeck 2013: 77).

Since the 1960’s voter participation in elections has fallen substantially; the lower the income group, the steeper this decline has been. It is not a sign of satisfaction but of resignation: ‘The political resignation of the lower strata protects capitalism from democracy and stabilizes the neoliberal turn that is at its origin’ (Streeck 2013: 90, cf. 87-8).

Democracy is slowly being replaced by a pure spectator sport, a form of entertainment for the middle classes, in which emaciated, essentially similar political parties temporarily play as if they are enemies only to conclude Grand Coalitions between them – a strategy that Streeck rightly argues is probably the most appropriate form of government anyway in the era of states having to answer to creditors’ demands first (Streeck 2013: 127-8).

Politics as entertainment and theatre reminds one of the thesis of Guy Debord in one of the signal texts of the 1968 movement (Debord 1967).

Here too a fraction analysis would work to deepen the argument. For the lingering assumption that there remains a conscientious democracy that can intervene as such tends to also assume that this theatre will obey the laws of the theatre in that it is orderly staged, the audience knows its place etc., whereas if predatory neoliberalism runs the show as it does today, there is nothing orderly about the response to the crisis in this respect either.

Indeed whilst economically the system is running aground amidst rampant speculation, the abolition of democracy too obeys the laws of high risk policies, involving covert action and provocation, terror scares to bolster the forces calling for a state of emergency, and military adventures, today in the Middle East and North Africa as well as on the borders of Russia, soon to be enlarged with a more pugnacious policy towards China.

Under such circumstances, the abolition of democracy will not take the form of a peaceful spectacle fooling and entertaining the audience but of repression and war.

Of course in the EU the abolition of democracy has already passed through a phase of high-handed demagogy of which the handling of the Greek Spring and the prevention of a Portuguese one are the key instances (in Portugal the Left was not even allowed to translate its election victory into forming a government).

After all the president of the Bundesbank in mid 2012 already declared that if a country does not meet its EU budget obligations, national sovereignty should be automatically transferred to the European level and consolidation measures will be adopted for which in the national parliament may not exist a majority (Streeck 2013: 155).

After Greece and Portugal, France’s subjection to limited democracy was not a matter of enforcing budget constraints any longer but obtained by a terror scare, the declaration of the state of emergency and the suspension of civil rights.

As the consequences of the wars in the Middle East and North Africa are spreading to Europe via the refugee crisis, fragments from the warring parties in these regions (Turks vs. Kurds, jihadists fighting secular regimes) inevitably link up with destitute, marginalized groups in societies here. In that sense the attacks in Paris in November 2015 (perhaps unlike the Charlie Hebdo attack which still had a strong whiff of a double-agent operation) are certainly a sign of things to come.

In this situation we should certainly heed Streeck’s exhortation that critical intellectuals have a duty not to be primarily concerned with their reputation by repeating the mantra that there is no alternative and not be intimidated by the ruling technique of dismissing opposition as populism (Streeck 2013: 219). At the same time, we need a sharper eye for the actual forces the critics are up against if they want to be effective.

References

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Bode, Ries. 1979. ‘De Nederlandse bourgeoisie tussen de twee wereldoorlogen’, Cahiers voor de Politieke en Sociale Wetenschappen, 2 (4) 9-50.

Burn, Gary. 2006. The Re-emergence of Global Finance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Chesnais, François. 2011. Les Dettes Illégitimes. Quand les Banques font Main Basse sur les Politiques Publiques. Paris: Raisons D’agir.

Cohen-Tanugi, Laurent. 1987 [1985]. Le Droit sans L’état. Sur la Démocratie en France et en Amérique, 3rd ed [preface S. Hoffmann]. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.

Debord, Guy. 1967. La Société du Spectacle. Paris: Buchet/Chastel.

Gill, Stephen. 1990. American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gowan, Peter. 2009. Crisis in the Heartland: Consequences of the New Wall Street System. New Left Review, 2nd series (55) 5-29.

Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks [trans. and ed. Q. Hoare and G.N. Smith]. New York: International Publishers [written 1929-’35].

Habermas, Jürgen. 1973. Legitimizationsprobleme im Spätkapitalismus. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Harvey, David. 1995 [1990]. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Harvey, David. 2006 [1982]. The Limits to Capital, rev. ed. London: Verso.

Hickel, Rudolf. 1975. ‘Kapitalfraktionen. Thesen zur Analyse der herrschenden Klasse’. Kursbuch, no. 42 (December), pp. 141-154.

Kalecki, Michal. 1972 [1943]. ‘Political Aspects of Full Employment’, in E.K. Hunt and J.G. Schwartz, eds., A Critique of Economic Theory. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Mirowski, Philip. 2013. Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste. How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown. London: Verso.

O’Connor, James. 1973. The Fiscal Crisis of the State. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Overbeek, Henk. 1990. Global Capitalism and National Decline. The Thatcher Decade in Perspective. London: Unwin Hyman.

Panitch, Leo and Gindin, Sam. 2012. The Making of Global Capitalism. The Political Economy of American Empire. London: Verso.

Piketty, Thomas. 2014. Capital in the Twenty-First Century [trans. A. Goldhammer]. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Pollock, Allyson M. 2004. NHS plc. The Privatization of Our Health Care [with C. Leys, D. Price D. Rowland and S. Gnani]. London: Verso.

Poulantzas, Nikos. 2008 [1976]. ‘The Political Crisis and the Crisis of the State’ [trans. J.W. Freiburg], in The Poulantzas Reader. Marxism, Law and the State [ed. J. Martin]. London: Verso.

Ramsay, Robin. 2002. The Rise of New Labor. Harpenden: Pocket Essentials.

Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, Stephens, Evelyne H., and Stephens, John D. 1992. Capitalist Development and Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Streeck, Wolfgang. 2013. Gekaufte Zeit. Die vertagte Krise des demokratischen Kapitalismus [Frankfurter Adorno-Vorlesungen 2012]. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

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Van der Pijl, Kees. 1984. The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class. London: Verso.

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“Ayatollah Khamenei: ‘Westerners Mourning French Tragedy Should Pause for a Moment,” by Eric Walberg

Great piece by Eric Walberg on Ayatollah Khamenei’s latest speech. Khamenei is a very wise man, and he doesn’t support terrorism against the West. He’s not a Salafi Jihadi. He’s Shia, and the radical Sunnis think that the Shia are infidel heretics who need to be killed. I enjoy his speeches, and I also enjoy those of the leader of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah.

Shia Muslims are generally a lot easier to get along with than Sunni Muslims. For one thing. they have been persecuted themselves by Sunnis for centuries, so they have an idea of what it means to be a persecuted on the basis of one’s religion.

In Hezbollah controlled areas of Southern Lebanon, the Shia leave the Christians completely alone. There are many Christian villages there, and Hezbollah lets them do whatever they want. They are not subject to Sharia or Muslim dress codes, and Hezbollah doesn’t enforce Sharia anymore even on the Muslims it controls. Shia Muslim women in Hezbollah controlled areas are not even obliged to wear a headscarf.

There are also Sunni, Christian and Druze members of Hezbollah, and the non-Shia Hezbollah members experience no discrimination.

You can go into Hezbollah-controlled areas of Southern Lebanon and walk into a bar and order a beer. It’s not a problem at all.

The Shia have always been the more progressive Muslim sect as, like Catholics, they believe that Islam is a living religion that must be continuously interpreted to keep up with the times. Hence, Islam is continuously being interpreted by Ayatollahs as Catholicism is constantly being interpreted by Popes to be relevant with the times in which Shia Muslims are living.

This leads to a lot interesting thinking and rulings. Iran’s Ayatollahs have decided that transsexualism is compatible with Islam, and one of the highest ranking Iranian clerics is a transwoman or a man who has now turned into a woman.

Prostitution is also quite common in Iran, and the Ayatollahs see prostitutes are more of a persecuted group of women who need protection than carriers of vice. Recently there has been a lot of talk among the Iranian leadership about making prostitution legal and housing prostitutes in houses with madams overseeing them.

This would be done under the rubric of temporary marriage, a Shia custom that allows Shia to have sex even outside of marriage.

In fact, in the extremely religious city of Qom, the headquarters of the religious clergy, there is a thriving prostitution scene, and the male religious students studying there regularly buy prostitutes. There are many prostitutes plying their trade in Qom.

This also is done under the rubric of temporary marriage. The male religious student simply selects a prostitute, and the two of them go to one of the many religious clergy in town and say they want to have a temporary marriage. The clergyman then grants them a temporary marriage lasting usually about three days.

The student and the prostitute then go somewhere to have sex. Somewhere often means one of the large local cemeteries where believe it or not, prostitutes ply their trade in the underground tombs! The three day marriage often lasts more like a couple of hours, as the two do the deed and then part.

A high ranking woman in the Iranian government has made use of temporary marriage to have sex with ~50 male clerics over the years. She has been quite outspoken about her religiously sanctioned promiscuity, and apparently the Ayatollahs are just fine with it too.

When it comes to Islam, the Shia are clearly a different bird altogether.

Ayatollah Khamenei: “Westerners Mourning French Tragedy Should Pause for a Moment”

by Eric Walberg

The leader of the Islamic Revolution has once again addressed Western youth who either for the most part are misinformed about Islam because of the bias in media and society in favor of Israel and Zionism, or are Muslim but living in a climate of Islamophobia and in desperation have drifted to the militant jihadist movement which began in Afghanistan in 1979 with US blessing and is now a permanent feature of world politics. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls on them to “reconsider the threat of terrorism in the world, its roots and to find a deep insight into Islam.”

The tone of the Ayatollah’s reflections is calm and friendly, the content intelligent and at the same time heartfelt. You can feel his spirit of universal love and his anguish at the suffering that terrorism brings. It is sad to note that Western media and politicians have an obsession against Iran despite Iran’s constant reaching out and attempts to help the West fight terrorism. The reasons, of course, are Iran’s staunch support for Palestine and its refusal to submit to the dictates of imperialism. Both unforgivable ‘sins’.

These are not rational reasons. Following 9/11, Iranian intelligence shared information with US intelligence – until President Bush found out and put a stop to it. Iran made intelligent proposals to resolve the nuclear energy stand-off for the past decade, all rejected by the US. The world is blessed by Iran’s support for Palestine, as the Arab states are just not up to the task.

Like his earlier appeal, once again the Ayatollah calls for dialogue on the most painful matters to “create the grounds for finding solutions and mutual consultation”, or the situations will continue to spin out of control.

For the Ayatollah, each life is important and each unnatural death is a tragedy. “The sight of a child losing his life in the presence of his loved ones, a mother whose joy for her family turns into mourning, a husband who is rushing the lifeless body of his spouse to some place, and the spectator who does not know whether he will be seeing the final scene of life – these are scenes that rouse the emotions and feelings of any human being…whether they occur in France or in Palestine or Iraq or Lebanon or Syria. The Muslim world shares these feelings and are revolted by the perpetrators”.

The supreme leader explained that Muslims have suffered far more than anyone else due to colonial occupation and the trauma that Israel inflicts daily on Palestinians. Westerners mourning the French tragedy should pause for a moment.

“If the people of Europe have now taken refuge in their homes for a few days and refrain from being present in busy places – it is decades that a Palestinian family is not secure even in its own home from the Zionist regime’s death and destruction machinery. What kind of atrocious violence today is comparable to that of the settlement constructions of the Zionist regime?

“This regime…every day demolishes the homes of Palestinians and destroys their orchards and farms. This is done without even giving them time to gather their belongings or agricultural products and usually it is done in front of the terrified and tear-filled eyes of women and children who witness the brutal beatings of their family members.

Shooting down a woman in the middle of the street for the crime of protesting against a soldier who is armed to the teeth – if this is not terrorism, what is? This barbarism, just because it is being done by the armed forces of an occupying government, is it not extremism? Or maybe only because these scenes have been seen repeatedly on television screens for sixty years, they no longer stir our consciences.”

The Ayatollah laments the ongoing invasions and violation of the Muslim World by the West, “another example of the contradictory logic of the West. The assaulted countries, in addition to the human damage caused, have lost their economic and industrial infrastructure. Their movement towards growth and development has been thrown back decades.”

The Ayatollah looks to the youth of today, who he hopes will be educated to understand the beauty of Islam, and its compatibility with both Christianity and Judaism, its long history of peaceful relations, its rejection of imperialism and colonialism. They must “discover new means for building the future and be barriers on the misguided path that has brought the West to its current impasse.”

The Iranian leader optimistically assumes that people in the West mostly understand of the true nature of modern politics. That Westerners understand the role of the US in “creating, nurturing and arming al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their inauspicious successors, [that] these forces behind terrorism are allies of the West, while the most pioneering, brightest and most dynamic democrats in the region are suppressed mercilessly.”

I wish his words reflected the reality that I see around me in Canada. People are willfully ignorant about these matters, not wanting to see their governments as guilty of nurturing terrorism. My goal in writing is to inform people in these matters, but it is hard to get the message out. It is primarily time-servers who are welcomed by the mainstream media to ‘inform’ citizens.

I admire the Iranian leader’s honesty in pointing out that it is Western ‘culture’ that promotes “aggression and moral promiscuity”, and tries to destroy other cultures. “The western world with the use of advanced tools is insisting on the cloning and replication of its culture on a global scale. I consider the imposition of Western culture upon other peoples and the trivialization of independent cultures as a form of silent violence and extreme harmfulness.”

He does “not deny the importance and value of cultural interaction, but warns against “inharmonious interactions”. That conjures up the image of Westernized youth sneaking into a Russian Orthodox cathedral or a Tehran public place and loudly promoting a Western ‘human rights’ agenda with Western photojournalists on hand, waiting to send some distorted image out on the internet. The upshot is either Russophobia or Islamophobia, whereas the real violation is of national dignity.

This shows that Western culture is in fact non-culture, and promotes apathy, decadence, or nihilism which oppresses us all today. But, disillusioned as I am with Western media and its brainwashing, I was heartened after the Paris bombings to hear sensible Canadians reject the jihadists’ plan to promote Islamophobia, forcing Muslims to join them in their will-o’-the-wisp Caliphate.

There are many Muslims in Canada now – eleven of them are members of Parliament in the ruling Liberal Party. A 30-year-old Afghan woman Maryam Monsef is Minister of Democratic Institutions. Muslims are first rate Canadians – hard working, quiet, educated, devout. They are slowly transforming Canada for the better, including acting as examples of what Islam can do to benefit society.

I am also encouraged by the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister, ousting the ultra-Zionist Iranophobe Stephen Harper. Muslim Canadians voted for Trudeau en masse. All eleven Muslim MP’s are Liberals. He has a silver bullet against terrorism: the only way to fight ISIS responsibly is to ‘do the right thing’, and expose their policy of violence as bad for Muslims, bad for everyone. Already thousands of communities across the country have pledged to sponsor Syrian families and are busy hosting fundraisers.

Terry Nelson, Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization, says Manitoba’s plans to bring refugees in from other countries should not be impacted by events in Europe. “There’s been an invitation for 2,500 Syrian people to be here in Winnipeg,” he said. “They should not be judged by a small minority of people that are terrorists. We live in the greatest country in the world. The most peaceful country in the world. We are blessed.”

The Ayatollah’s message is here.

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“Problems” and “Solutions”

Discuss Severaid’s quote and my examples given below, agreeing, disagreeing or expanding on the notion.

The chief cause of problems is solutions

– Eric Sevareid

I think this guy is onto something.

Examples:

War on Terror – Solution was all out war on “terrorism” – really just disobedient Muslim states and some international guerrilla/terrorist groups.

The “solution” did not solve the problem at all, and in fact it made it much worse and introduced quite a few new problems.

The “solution” to the “Muslim terrorism problem” did nothing to alleviate the problem, and the problem only expanded massively, in the process destroying much of the secular Muslim world and replacing it with ultra-radical, armed and ultraviolent fundamentalists. Several new failed states were created out of functioning but authoritarian secular regimes.

A wild Sunni-Shia war took off with no end in sight. A new Saudi-Iran conflict expanded to include all of the Sunni world against Iran and some Shia groups.

The policy was incoherent – in places (Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Libya) secular nationalists were overthrown and replaced with radical fundamentalist regimes (Iraq, Palestine) or failed states teeming with armed fundamentalist actors (Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Mali). In other places, fundamentalist regimes were overthrown and secular nationalists were put in (Egypt).

We alternately attacked and supported radical groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. An awful Russia-Turkey conflict took off on the Middle east with the US and NATO siding with Al Qaeda and ISIS supporting Turks. The US attacked and armed fundamentalists to attack Shia Iranian, Hezbollah and Houthi armies waging all out war on Al Qaeda and ISIS. In Yemen we actively attacked the Shia who were fighting Al Qaeda while supporting Al Qaeda and fundamentalist Sunnis with intel and weaponry.

Some Kurds were called terrorists and support was given to those attacking them. Other Kurds were supported in their fight against ISIS. In actuality, all of these Kurd represented the same entity. There really is no difference between the PKK, the YPG and the rulers of the Kurdish region. Meanwhile, Kurds fighting for independence were supported in Iran and Syria and attacked in Turkey though they were all the same entity.

Billions of US dollars and thousands of US lives were wasted for essentially no reason with no results or actually a worsened situation. Russia, one of the most effective actors in the war against Al Qaeda and ISIS, was declared an enemy and attacks on them by our allies were cheered on.

A horrible refugee crisis was created in Europe.

Muslim populations in the West were substantially radicalized.

Instead of ending Islamic terrorism, Islamic terrorist, conventional and guerrilla attacks absolutely exploded in the Middle East and to a lesser extent in Europe, Canada, Australia and the US. It also exploded in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Thailand, the Philippines and of course Syria and Iraq. There was considerable fighting and terrorism in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco and Jordan. The Palestinians ended up much better armed than before and the conflict exploded into all out war on a few occasions.

Terrorism and guerrilla war exploded in Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Somalia and Kenya with some new attacks in Niger, Mauritania, Chad and Uganda. Somalia took a turn for the worse as a huge Al Qaeda force set up shop there and the country turned into the worst failed state ever with nothing even resembling a state left and the nation furthermore split off into three separate de facto nations.

The “solution” failed completely and simply ended up creating a whole new set of problems that were vastly worse than the original problem for the which the solution was directed.

Technology: Technology itself could be regarded as a lousy fix to many problems.

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Turkey’s Blockade of Russian Naval Vessels’ Access to the Mediterranean, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Completely Cut Off

This is huge news. If Turkey cuts off the Russia’s access to the straits, that would constitute an act of war on Turkey’s part. What will Russia do next? What will NATO do?

Turkey Blockades Russian Naval Vessels’ Access to the Mediterranean, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Completely Cut Off

Superstations95.com, with Notes Added by Global Research

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Straits of Bosporus and the Daranelles.

The Strategic Role of the Bosphorus Straits and the Dardanelles linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean

[Editor’s Note: The closing of the Bosphorus Straits by Turkey would constitute an Act of War directed against the Russian Federation. A recent report by Sputnik states that in this regard:]

In times of war, the passage of warships shall be left entirely to the discretion of the Turkish government, according to the document.

From a legal perspective, Turkey has no legal grounds to create obstacles for Russian vessels carrying cargo, including military cargo, Russian lawyer Vladimir Morkovkin told RBK. Turkey can ban non-friendly vessels from navigating through the Straits only if at war, the expert explained.

After World War II, Ankara made several efforts to gradually strengthen its control over the Straits. In 1982, Turkey tried to unilaterally expand the regime of the Istanbul port over the entire area of the Straits. The decision was harshly criticized by neighboring countries, and Turkey stepped back.

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20151126/1030827768/turkey-russia-bosporus-strait.html#ixzz3t61VcKve

We are at very dangerous crossroads. Russia’s maritime access to the Mediterranean is largely controlled by NATO countries and their allies (i.e. 1. Bosphorus and Dardanelles; 2. Suez canal, 3. Strait of Gibraltar)

GR Editor, Michel Chossudovsky, December 1, 2015)

*     *     *

Turkey has begun a de facto blockade of Russian naval vessels,  preventing transit through the Dardanelles and the Strait of Bosporus, between the Black Sea and Mediterranean.   

According to the AIS tracking system for the movement of maritime vessels, only Turkish vessels are moving along the Bosphorus, and in the Dardanelles there is no movement of any shipping at all.

turkish-straits-2.gif

Closeup of Straits of Bosporus and the Dardanelles.

At the same time, both from the Black Sea, and from the Mediterranean Sea, there is a small cluster of ships under the Russian flag, just sitting and waiting. The image below shows the situation with the ships using the GPS transponder onboard each vessel:

RussianShipsStoppedAtDardanelles

Closeup of the Dardanelles shows Russian ships backed up on either side of the strait.

In addition, shipping inside the Black Sea from Novorossiisk and Sevastopol in the direction of the Bosphorus, no Russian vessels are moving. This indirectly confirms the a CNN statement that Turkey may have blocked the movement of Russian ships on the Dardanelles and the Strait of Bosporus.

There is a Treaty specifically covering the use of these waterways by nations of the world.  That Treaty is the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.

It is a 1936 agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles and regulates the transit of naval warships. The Convention gives Turkey full control over the Straits and guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime. It restricts the passage of naval ships not belonging to Black Sea states. The terms of the convention have been the source of controversy over the years, most notably concerning the Soviet Union‘s military access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Signed on 20 July 1936 at the Montreux Palace in Switzerland, it permitted Turkey to remilitarize the Straits. It went into effect on 9 November 1936 and was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 11 December 1936. It is still in force today, with some amendments.

The Convention consists of 29 Articles, four annexes and one protocol. Articles 2–7 consider the passage of merchant ships. Articles 8–22 consider the passage of war vessels. The key principle of freedom of passage and navigation is stated in articles 1 and 2. Article 1 provides that “The High Contracting Parties recognize and affirm the principle of freedom of passage and navigation by sea in the Straits”. Article 2 states that “In time of peace, merchant vessels shall enjoy complete freedom of passage and navigation in the Straits, by day and by night, under any flag with any kind of cargo.”

The International Straits Commission was abolished, authorizing the full resumption of Turkish military control over the Straits and the refortification of the Dardanelles. Turkey was authorized to close the Straits to all foreign warships in wartime or when it was threatened by aggression; additionally, it was authorized to refuse transit from merchant ships belonging to countries at war with Turkey.

Turkey has now invoked its power, but has not publicly stated whether they are blocking Russian Naval Vessels because Turkey is “threatened with aggression” or whether Turkey considers itself to be “at war.”  Last week, Turkey shot down a Russian military jet over Syria and this has caused a major rift between the two nations.

This latest development of blockading Russian naval vessels is a massive and terrifyingly dangerous development.  Blockading Russia and preventing its Black Sea fleet from traveling to the rest of the world, or back to its home port,  is something that will not sit well with the Russians.

Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of 150,000 Russian troops and equipment into Syria, but then ALSO ordered the deployment of 7,000 additional Russian Troops, tanks, rocket launchers and artillery, to the Russian Border of Turkey at Armenia, with orders to be “fully combat ready.”

It is important to note two things:

1) Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as is the United States and most of Europe, AND;

2) Turkey took the first shot at Russia when they intentionally shot down a Russian jet last week.

It is important to remember these facts because, as a NATO member, Turkey can invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty which requires all NATO members to come to its defense if Turkey is “attacked.”  So if Russia decides to fight back against Turkey downing its military jet, the Turks might call NATO and claim they’ve been “attacked” thereby calling-up NATO forces to go to war against Russia.

It bears remembering, however, that Turkey shot first.  Turkey was the nation which “attacked.”

Before NATO and the world get dragged into a war between Russia and Turkey, the citizens of the world must be ready to remind our leaders that Turkey Shot First.

Why did the Turks shoot?  Because Turkey has been allowing the terrorist group ISIS to sell the oil it has stolen from countries it is conquering.  The oil is transported from the wells in countries where ISIS has seized power, is taken by truck to Turkey, and is then sold at cheap prices on the black market.

This black market selling results in over 1 Million dollars per DAY flowing into ISIS to keep it equipped and supplied for its ongoing terrorist activities.  Only a fool would think that all this is going on through Turkey, without some Turkish officials having their hands out for money from the illegal oil sales.  Put simply, Turkey appears to be in business with ISIS and Russia is harming that by attacking ISIS in Syria.

So Turkey shot down one of the Russian planes that was attacking ISIS.  Russia is quite furious; with the Russian President stating the shoot down was “a stab in the back of Russia” and was carried out by “accomplices to terrorism.”

It would be shocking if NATO were to defend Turkey under such circumstances because by its actions, Turkey is providing material support to the terrorist group ISIS.  For NATO to defend that would make all of us accomplices to terrorism.

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US Lying Like Crazy about the Russian Jet

The to-do about Turkey shooting down the Russian jet continues. The US recently said that their data shows that the Turkish view of events is correct and that the Russian jet did indeed violate Turkish airspace.

However, a group of Belgian physicists recently calculated that there is no way that the Turkish account can be correct based on the laws of physics. In other words, the Turks are lying.

It is probable that the Russian jet never even went into Turkish airspace at all. Further, it is also probable that no Russian jet has ever violated Turkish airspace. What probably happened on the occasions when Turkey was accusing the Russians of violating Turkish airspace was that the Russian jet flew within five miles of border. For years now, Turkey has said that its airspace begins five miles inside the Syrian border.

The navigator of the jet who was rescued insisted that the jet never violated Turkish airspace. He is probably telling the truth. The Russians have released radar maps proving their case. The Turks have also released maps supposedly proving their case.

There are problems with the Turks’ case.

First of all, it appears that there is no way that this downing could have taken place unless it was pre-planned. Indeed, the Turkish Vice President himself gave the order to take down the jet. There is no way that the VP could have been contacted in the supposed 17 seconds when the jet was over Turkish airspace in order to give the shootdown order. That’s just not possible. The only way that could have been true is if the Turks had plotted to down the jet as a pre-planned attack.

Indeed a former high ranking commander in the US Air Command stated that the only way that that attack could have happened at all was if it was pre-planned because he said 17 seconds was too little time to make a decision to down a jet. In other words, a top US NORAD official insists that the attack was pre-planned.

The US says that the Russian jet did indeed violate Turkish airspace based on US evidence (not presented). They also said that the jet was engaged over Turkish airspace. There is no way on Earth that that could be true. The jet was engaged instead 3-4 miles west of where it supposedly crossed the border, and when it was hit, it was 2.5 miles inside Syria.

There is no way that the missile could have been fired when the jet was over Turkey and ended up hitting the jet four miles away 2.5 miles inside Syria. The only conclusion based on where the plane was hit is that the Russian jet was simply shot down inside Syria – 2.5 miles inside Syria for that matter. Even if the Russian jet did violate Turkish airspace (probably not even true), it is never proper to fire on a jet that violated your airspace long after it left your airspace.

Considering the jet was downed 2.5 miles into Syria, the suggestion is that it never violated Turkish airspace in the first place and was simply shot down over Syria, and then a lie was invented that the jet had been over Turkey instead.

The Turks said that they gave many warnings to the Russian jet. However, even if the jet was only over Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, there is no way that the Turks could have given all of those warnings in only 17 seconds. It makes no sense. Anyway, the navigator said that they never received any warnings. He is probably telling the truth.

Even if the jet did violate Turkish airspace (probably not even true), the proper response is not to shoot it down. Planes violate other countries’ airspace all the time. For instance, Turkey violated Greek airspace 2,244 times last year. You need to decide if the plane’s intent is hostile or not. A jet momentarily going over the edge of your airspace for 17 seconds in what looks like an inadvertent move is never reasonable cause to shoot down a jet.

Even if the Turks did give warnings for five whole minutes (How could they give warnings for five minutes when the jet was only over Turkey for 17 seconds?), you are not supposed to shoot down a jet just because it is not picking up or heeding your warnings. In that cases, the Turkish jet could have paralleled the Russian jet. If the Russian jet was really over Turkey, the proper response would have been to escort the Russian jet out of the country, not to shoot it down.

Turkey would have done something so crazy and stupid unless they had the go-ahead from the US and NATO. The Arab press is now reporting that Obama gave the green light for Turkey to shoot down the Russian jet when he met with Erdogan in Turkey just recently. This story is probably correct.

The real reason that the jet was shot down is probably based on a number of factors.

First of all, for the past 3-4 days, Russian jets had been bombing a Turkmen jihadi group armed by both the CIA and Turkey that fights in this area which is the home to many Turkmen villages. Turkey regards the Syrian Turkmen as “Turks” as if they were citizens of Turkey itself. That Turkmen unit is armed and supplied by Erdogan, and Turkish officers and fighters are all mixed in with them.

In other words, that Turkmen jihadi group is Turkey’s baby. The Russians were bombing Turkmen who Turkey regards as fellow Turks and its de facto citizens, attacking the very force that Turkey has been raising by hand over time.

The Turks were growing increasingly furious over that few days of Russian attacks on the Turkmen jihadi group. The last warning the day before the jet shootdown had been ominous.

In addition, Russia had started bombing ISIS’s oil tanker trucks a few days before. Turkey profits greatly from the sale of ISIS oil. The ISIS-Turkey oil trade is run by none other than Erdogan’s brother himself. Support for ISIS is a family business in the Erdogan family, as Erdogan’s sister runs a hospital near the border that is dedicated to treating wounded ISIS fighters. The Russian bombing of ISIS’ oil business really hit the Turks where it counts.

The US probably had other reasons to encourage Turkey to shoot down the jet and start a rift between Turkey and Russia. There is a project to run Russian gas down through Turkey and the Black Sea to eastern Europe and then up to Austria. This project is called the South Stream, and the US has been anxiously trying to kill this project for some time now.

The US may also be trying one more time to deprive the Russians of the only warm water access for their Navy fleet as we did with the Crimea takeover by hostile Ukrainian Nazis determined to kick the Russians to of their Sevastopol seaport, their only warm water port. In order to salvage their desperately needed warm water port, Russia annexed Crimea, which had always been a part of Russia anyway. Annexing Crimea was an absolute necessity for the Russians.

Along the same lines, Turkey controls the vital Straits of Bosporus which is Russia’s only way to get out to the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, control over this strait is one of the main reasons why no one wants to make the Turks too mad. They could always close off that strait, and the world economy and especially the Russian economy would be harmed. Also Russia would lose access to its warm water port again because even if Russia retained the port at Crimea, it would do no good if Russian ships could not go through the Straits of Bosporus to get to the Mediterranean.

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“History of US-NATO’s ‘Covert War’ on Syria: Daraa March 2011 Another Islamist Insurrection,” by Tim Anderson

This is an excellent article that lays out what I had always expected, that what everyone believes, that the Syrian Civil War started when “Assad” opened fire on peaceful protests, is a great big fat lie.

Here is what really happened:

In February, a true peaceful reform movement began in Syria. This movement had begun as early as 2005 and involved secular protesters opposing corruption and the Baath Party’s monopoly on power (Wikstrom 2011; Otrakji 2012). This was a legitimate movement.

These protests continued for some time, possibly a month, with little drama. The protesters made some early demands, and Assad quickly tried to appease them by making a number of the changes that they had asked for. But by the time he had made the changes, the protests had been hijacked by Islamists who were not appeased by the changes and insisted that the regime must go (al-Khalidi 2011).

Only one month went by before some teenagers were arrested in Deraa by local authorities for writing the North African-influenced graffiti, “The people want to overthrow the regime.” They were reportedly abused by the local Deraa police. Assad intervened, the governor was fired and the teenagers were released.

There were reports early on that either these or some other teenagers had been tortured to death by “Assad.” Obviously these boys were not tortured to death.  There is a confirmed report of one teenage boy who was indeed tortured to death which was widely blamed on “Assad,” but he was later found to have been killed by the armed opposition.

On March 17-18, violence broke out at protests in Deraa. The Western media says that peaceful protests in Deraa were attacked by government snipers on rooftops who started shooting the peaceful protesters. This is the line that everyone knows about. However, it is completely untrue.

What really happened is laid out below. There were protests in Deraa on these days along with large pro-government protests – the presence of large pro-government protests is another lie that is spread by omission by the Western press – the media says that all early protests were anti-government, however, even from the very start, the large anti-government protests were almost inevitably met by equally large pro-government protests.

Actually, the police at these rallies in Deraa were armed with only riot gear. Army forces were present, but they were not at the rally itself, instead they were on the outskirts of town. At some point during the rally, all Hell broke loose. Unknown snipers began firing from the Al-Omari Mosque. It is important to note that these mysterious snipers opened fire on both protesters and police.

Yes, a number of protesters were indeed killed and injured at these rallies, but quite a few police were also killed an wounded by these very same snipers. It is absolutely not possible that “Assad” would have mysterious snipers open fire on both protesters and police, killing both.

Why would “Assad” open fire on his own police, killing and wounding them? It is senseless. There is an interview with a Syrian police officer who was at that rally on Youtube in which he states that the police had only riot gear and that snipers shot both police and demonstrators. He  states the numb er of killed and wounded among the police.

It was later determined after police raided the al-Omari Mosque that the snipers were Muslim Brotherhood people firing from the roof of the mosque with weapons that had been smuggled in from Saudi Arabia.

In fact, shipments of these arms had been seized at the Iraq-Syrian border by border guards earlier. They had been bought in Baghdad and were on their way to Muslim Brotherhood people in Syria (Reuters 2011). The weapons were paid for by Saudi Arabia. It was these weapons shipments that were later used in the shootings at the demonstrations.

You notice that snipers opened fire on both police and protesters. This exact same thing happened in Ukraine when Maidan people paid snipers to come from Lithuania and open fire on both the Berkut police and the demonstrators.

As soon as the shooting started, other violence ensued. The same day that the mysterious snipers opened fire from the al-Omari Mosque, Baath Party Headquarters and the local police station were burned down (YaLibnan 2011, Queenan 2011). Medical teams came to the site to help injured protesters and police but were fired on by by the MB snipers. Members of an ambulance team and a doctor were killed.

Even several days after these attacks, Assad was trying to calm things down. Assad issued an order that live ammunition should not be used even if security forces themselves were coming under attack.

Funerals for demonstrators followed the killings in Deraa. At every one of these funerals, mysterious snipers opened fire on both police and demonstrators (Maktabi 2011). Once again, why would “Assad” kill and wound his own police officers?

Early reports mostly from the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera stated that it was snipers working for the government who fired on the crowds (Al Jazeera 2011b). However, these reports made no sense, as Syrian police would never shoot at their own people, and anyway, they were only armed with riot gear. The Western press soon picked up on the line that it was “Assad” who was shooting at the protesters and police.

Saudi government officials later confirmed that the Saudi government has sent arms to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and that Saudi arms had been used by shooters at the al-Omari Mosque (Truth Syria 2012).

Only a week later, the “peaceful protesters” were already heavily armed and were carrying out attacks on the army. An army patrol was ambushed outside Deraa at the beginning of April only two weeks after the Deraa events, and 19 Syrian troops were killed (Narwani 2014). However, Assad ordered this attack covered up because he did not want to inflame tensions even further. For sometime after that, the government refused to comment on deaths of security forces.

The problem with the government cover up of security forces’ deaths was that while this cover up was going on, the Western media was reporting all of the deaths in this early conflict as “protesters” killed by the army (Khalidi 2011). In other words, if armed rebels killed 19 Syrian army troops at an ambush, the entire Western press would report this as “19 peaceful protesters were killed by the Syrian army.”

All through April, 88 Syrian troops were killed all over Syria by armed rebels. The government covered up all of these killings, and every one of these deaths was reported by the Western press as “Syrian troops killing peaceful protesters.”  The Western media blacked out all of these reports and simply refused to acknowledge them.

Reports soon came out, spread by the CIA-linked Human Rights Watch, that Syrian soldiers were being shot by other Syrian troops for refusing to fire on protesters (HRW 2011b). Even the extremely biased Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a one-man operation run by a Syrian exile out of London, said that reports of Syrian forces killing their own for refusing to fire on protesters were false. Nevertheless, the Western media was awash with reports of Syrian troops firing on their own who refused to obey orders to open fire on protesters.

The armed rebels soon set provocateurs loose to destroy and damage Sunni mosques throughout Syria. One jihadist from Tunisia admitted that he had been hired by the rebels to write graffiti on Sunni mosques saying, “There is no God by Bashar” (Eretz Zen 2014). This is a sacrilegious slogan made in an attempt to encourage Sunni soldiers in the Syrian army to defect. This interview can be found on Youtube.

By this time, there was a war on. Quite a few on both sides, both rebels and the Syrian army, were suffering casualties. Every day rebel sources gave a figure for the number killed that day with no explanation. Most of these deaths were of armed rebels and Syrian army forces, but they were all reported by the opposition as “peaceful protesters killed by the Syrian army.” The Western media followed suit and did the same, reporting all casualties of armed fighters on both sides as peaceful civilian protesters.

Since all of the many casualties among the armed groups were reported in the West as peaceful protesters, US officials began making loud demands that Assad step down because supposedly he was the one slaughtering all these peaceful protesters (Shaikh 2011, FOX News 2011).

For the next several months, every time a protest took place, armed Islamists appeared in the crowd and soon opened fire on security forces (Jaber 2011). Security forces would often fire back at the armed elements in the crowd and there would often be killed and wounded on both sides.

A vicious sectarian element was present in the protests from early on. By May, there were already chants of “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave!” (Blanford 2011). Soon this sectarian chant was heard at every protest.

For the next year, Human Rights Watch (the voice of the CIA) and other liars reported that the vast majority of the casualties were peaceful protesters (Clinton 2011). In fact by early 2012, a good report showed that of 5,000 casualties, 50% were security forces (OHCHR 2012: 2, Narwani 2014).

The lie was spread, spearheaded by Human Rights Watch, the protests had been overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011 (HRW 2011a, HRW 2012), when supposedly so many peaceful protesters had been killed that the protest movement was forced to take up arms to defend itself (Allaf 2012).

A Big Lie had been laid down. Even today, the vast majority of people who know about the Syrian Civil War say that the war started when the Syrian government opened fire on repeatedly on peaceful protesters, killing so many of these unarmed innocents that eventually by September 2011, the peaceful protesters were forced to take up arms as they had no other choice.

History of US-NATO’s “Covert War” on Syria: Daraa March 2011

Another Islamist Insurrection

By Prof. Tim Anderson
Global Research, November 29, 2015

 

 The following text is Chapter IV of  Professor Anderson’s forthcoming book entitled The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research Publishers, Montreal, 2016 (forthcoming).
arms-seized-by-Syrian-security

Arms seized by Syrian security forces at al Omari mosque in Daraa, March 2011. The weapons had been provided by the Saudis. Photo: SANA

“The protest movement in Syria was overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011”- Human Rights Watch, March 2012, Washington

“I have seen from the beginning armed protesters in those demonstrations … they were the first to fire on the police. Very often the violence of the security forces comes in response to the brutal violence of the armed insurgents” – the late Father Frans Van der Lugt, January 2012, Homs Syria

“The claim that armed opposition to the government has begun only recently is a complete lie. The killings of soldiers, police and civilians, often in the most brutal circumstances, have been going on virtually since the beginning”. – Professor Jeremy Salt, October 2011, Ankara Turkey

A double story began on the Syrian conflict, at the outset of the armed violence in 2011 in the southern border town of Daraa. The first story comes from independent witnesses in Syria, such as the late Father Frans Van der Lugt in Homs. They say that armed men infiltrated the early political reform demonstrations to shoot at both police and civilians.

This violence came from sectarian Islamists. The second comes from the Islamist groups (‘rebels’) and their western backers. They claim there was ‘indiscriminate’ violence from Syrian security forces to repress political rallies and that the ‘rebels’ grew out of a secular political reform movement.

Careful study of the independent evidence, however, shows that the Washington-backed ‘rebel’ story, while widespread, was part of a strategy to delegitimize the Syrian government, with the aim of fomenting ‘regime change’. To understand this it is necessary to observe that prior to the armed insurrection of March 2011 there were shipments of arms from Saudi Arabia to Islamists at the al Omari mosque. It is also useful to review the earlier Muslim Brotherhood insurrection at Hama in 1982 because of the parallel myths that have grown up around both insurrections.

US intelligence (DIA 1982) and the late British author Patrick Seale (1988) give independent accounts of what happened at Hama. After years of violent sectarian attacks by Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, by mid-1980 President Hafez al Assad had ‘broken the back’ of their sectarian rebellion which aimed to impose a Salafi-Islamic state. One final coup plot was exposed, and the Brotherhood ‘felt pressured into initiating’ an uprising in their stronghold of Hama. Seale describes the start of that violence in this way:

At 2am on the night of 2-3 February 1982 an army unit combing the old city fell into an ambush. Roof top snipers killed perhaps a score of soldiers … [Brotherhood leader] Abu Bakr [Umar Jawwad] gave the order for a general uprising … hundreds of Islamist fighters rose … by the morning some seventy leading Ba’athists had been slaughtered and the triumphant guerrillas declared the city ‘liberated’ (Seale 1988: 332).

However the Army responded with a huge force of about 12,000, and the battle raged for three weeks. It was a foreign-backed civil war with some defections from the army. Seale continues:

As the tide turned slowly in the government’s favour, the guerrillas fell back into the old quarters … after heavy shelling, commandos and party irregulars supported by tanks moved in … many civilians were slaughtered in the prolonged mopping up, whole districts razed (Seale 1988: 333).

Two months later a US intelligence report said: ‘The total casualties for the Hama incident probably number about 2,000. This includes an estimated 300 to 400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite ‘Secret Apparatus’ (DIA 1982: 7).

Seale recognizes that the Army also suffered heavy losses. At the same time, ‘large numbers died in the hunt for the gunmen … government sympathizers estimating a mere 3,000 and critics as many as 20,000 … a figure of 5,000 to 10,000 could be close to the truth’ He adds:

‘The guerrillas were formidable opponents. They had a fortune in foreign money … [and] no fewer than 15,000 machine guns’ (Seale 1988: 335). Subsequent Muslim Brotherhood accounts have inflated the casualties, reaching up to ‘40,000 civilians’, thus attempting to hide their insurrection and sectarian massacres by claiming that Hafez al Assad had carried out a ‘civilian massacre’ (e.g. Nassar 2014).

The then Syrian President blamed a large scale foreign conspiracy for the Hama insurrection. Seale observes that Hafez was ‘not paranoical’, as many US weapons were captured and foreign backing had come from several US collaborators: King Hussayn of Jordan, Lebanese Christian militias (the Israeli-aligned ‘Guardians of the Cedar’) and Saddam Hussein in Iraq (Seale 1988: 336-337).

The Hama insurrection helps us understand the Daraa violence because, once again in 2011, we saw armed Islamists using rooftop sniping against police and government officials, drawing in the armed forces, only to cry ‘civilian massacre’ when they and their collaborators came under attack from the Army. Although the US, through its allies, played an important part in the Hama insurrection, when it was all over US intelligence dryly observed that: ‘the Syrians are pragmatists who do not want a Muslim Brotherhood government’ (DIA 1982: vii).

In the case of Daraa and in the attacks that moved to Homs and surrounding areas in April 2011, the clearly stated aim was once again to topple the secular or ‘infidel-Alawi’ regime. The front-line US collaborators were Saudi Arabia and Qatar and then Turkey. The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian.

The enemy was ‘the secular regime,’ and Brotherhood members ‘have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success’ (Al-Shaqfa 2011). While playing down the initial role of the Brotherhood, Sheikho confirms that it ‘went on to punch above its actual weight on the ground during the uprising … [due] to Turkish-Qatari support’, and to its general organizational capacity (Sheikho 2013).

By the time there was a ‘Free Syrian Army Supreme Military Council’ in 2012 (more a weapons conduit than any sort of army command), it was said to be two-thirds dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (Draitser 2012). Other foreign Salafi-Islamist groups quickly joined this ‘Syrian Revolution’. A US intelligence report in August 2012, contrary to Washington’s public statements about ‘moderate rebels’, said:

The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria … AQI supported the Syrian Opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media (DIA 2012).

In February 2011 there was popular agitation in Syria to some extent influenced by the events in Egypt and Tunisia. There were anti-government and pro-government demonstrations and a genuine political reform movement which for several years had agitated against corruption and the Ba’ath Party monopoly. A 2005 report referred to ‘an array of reform movements slowly organizing beneath the surface’ (Ghadry 2005), and indeed the ‘many faces’ of a Syrian opposition, much of it non-Islamist, had been agitating since about that same time (Sayyid Rasas 2013).

These political opposition groups deserve attention in another discussion (see Chapter Five). However only one section of that opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafists, was linked to the violence that erupted in Daraa. Large anti-government demonstrations began, to be met with huge pro-government demonstrations.

In early March some teenagers in Daraa were arrested for graffiti that had been copied from North Africa ‘the people want to overthrow the regime’. It was reported that they were abused by local police, President Bashar al Assad intervened, the local governor was sacked, and the teenagers were released (Abouzeid 2011).

Yet the Islamist insurrection was underway, taking cover under the street demonstrations.

On 11 March, several days before the violence broke out in Daraa, there were reports that Syrian forces had seized ‘a large shipment of weapons and explosives and night-vision goggles … in a truck coming from Iraq’. The truck was stopped at the southern Tanaf crossing, close to Jordan. The Syrian Government news agency SANA said the weapons were intended ‘for use in actions that affect Syria’s internal security and spread unrest and chaos.’

Pictures showed ‘dozens of grenades and pistols as well as rifles and ammunition belts’. The driver said the weapons had been loaded in Baghdad and he had been paid $5,000 to deliver them to Syria (Reuters 2011). Despite this interception, arms did reach Daraa, a border town of about 150,000 people.

This is where the ‘western-rebel’ and the independent stories diverge, and diverge dramatically. The western media consensus was that protesters burned and trashed government offices, and then ‘provincial security forces opened fire on marchers, killing several’ (Abouzeid 2011). After that, ‘protesters’ staged demonstrations in front of the al-Omari mosque but were in turn attacked.

The Syrian government, on the other hand, said there were unprovoked attacks on security forces, killing police and civilians, along with the burning of government offices. There was foreign corroboration of this account. While its headline blamed security forces for killing ‘protesters’, the British Daily Mail (2011) showed pictures of AK47 rifles and hand grenades that security forces had recovered after storming the al-Omari mosque.

The paper noted reports that ‘an armed gang’ had opened fire on an ambulance, killing ‘a doctor, a paramedic and a policeman’. Media channels in neighboring countries did report on the killing of Syrian police on 17-18 March.

On 21 March a Lebanese news report observed that ‘Seven policemen were killed during clashes between the security forces and protesters in Syria’ (YaLibnan 2011), while an Israel National News report said ‘Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed … and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched’ (Queenan 2011). These police had been targeted by rooftop snipers.

Even in these circumstances the Government was urging restraint and attempting to respond to the political reform movement. President Assad’s adviser, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, told a news conference that the President had ordered ‘that live ammunition should not be fired, even if the police, security forces or officers of the state were being killed’.

Assad proposed to address the political demands such as the registration of political parties, removing emergency rules and allowing greater media freedoms (al-Khalidi 2011). None of that seemed to either interest or deter the Islamists.

Several reports, including video reports, observed rooftop snipers firing at crowds and police during funerals of those already killed. It was said to be ‘unclear who was firing at whom’ (Al Jazeera 2011a), as ‘an unknown armed group on rooftops shot at protesters and security forces’ (Maktabi 2011).

Yet Al Jazeera (2011b) owned by the Qatari monarchy, soon strongly suggested that that the snipers were pro-government. ‘President Bashar al Assad has sent thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Derra for an operation the regime wants nobody in the word to see’, the Qatari channel said. However the Al Jazeera suggestion that secret pro-government snipers were killing ‘soldiers and protesters alike’ was illogical and out of sequence. The armed forces came to Daraa precisely because police had been shot and killed.

Saudi Arabia, a key US regional ally, had armed and funded extremist Salafist Sunni sects to move against the secular government. Saudi official Anwar Al-Eshki later confirmed to BBC television that his country had sent arms to Daraa and to the al-Omari mosque (Truth Syria 2012). From exile in Saudi Arabia, Salafi Sheikh Adnan Arour called for a holy war against the liberal Alawi Muslims, who were said to dominate the Syrian government: ‘by Allah we shall mince [the Alawites] in meat grinders and feed their flesh to the dogs’ (MEMRITV 2011).

The Salafist aim was a theocratic state or caliphate. The genocidal slogan ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave’ became widespread, a fact reported by the North American media as early as May 2011 (e.g. Blanford 2011). Islamists from the FSA Farouq Brigade would soon act on these threats (Crimi 2012). Canadian analyst Michel Chossudovsky (2011) observed: ‘The deployment of armed forces including tanks in Daraa [was] directed against an organized armed insurrection, which has been active in the border city since March 17-18.”

After those first few days in Daraa the killing of Syrian security forces continued but went largely unreported outside Syria. Nevertheless, independent analyst Sharmine Narwani wrote about the scale of this killing in early 2012 and again in mid-2014. An ambush and massacre of soldiers took place near Daraa in late March or early April. An army convoy was stopped by an oil slick on a valley road between Daraa al-Mahata and Daraa al-Balad, and the trucks were machine gunned.

Estimates of soldier deaths from government and opposition sources ranged from 18 to 60. A Daraa resident said these killings were not reported because: ‘At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed’. Anti-Syrian Government blogger Nizar Nayouf records this massacre as taking place in the last week of March. Another anti-Government writer, Rami Abdul Rahman (based in England and calling himself the ‘Syrian Observatory of Human Rights’) says:

‘It was on the first of April and about 18 or 19 security forces … were killed’ (Narwani 2014). Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad, himself a resident of Daraa, confirmed that: ‘this incident was hidden by the government … as an attempt not to antagonize or not to raise emotions and to calm things down – not to encourage any attempt to inflame emotions which may lead to escalation of the situation’ (Narwani 2014).

Yet the significance of denying armed anti-Government killings was that in the western media all deaths were reported as (a) victims of the Army and (b) civilians. For well over six months, whenever a body count was mentioned in the international media, it was usually considered acceptable to suggest these were all ‘protesters’ killed by the Syrian Army.

For example, a Reuters report on 24 March said Daraa’s main hospital had received ‘the bodies of at least 37 protesters killed on Wednesday’ (Khalidi 2011). Notice that all the dead had become ‘protesters’ despite earlier reports on the killing of a number of police and health workers.

Another nineteen soldiers were gunned down on 25 April, also near Daraa. Narwani obtained their names and details from Syria’s Defence Ministry and corroborated these details from another document from a non-government source. Throughout April 2011, she calculates that eighty-eight Syrian soldiers were killed ‘by unknown shooters in different areas across Syria’ (Narwani 2014).

She went on to refute claims that the soldiers killed were ‘defectors’ shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians. Human Rights Watch, referring to interviews with 50 unnamed ‘activists’, claimed that soldiers killed at this time were all ‘defectors’, murdered by the Army (HRW 2011b).

Yet the funerals of loyal officers shown on the internet at that time were distinct. Even Rami Abdul Rahman (the SOHR), keen to blame the Army for killing civilians, said ‘this game of saying the Army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this’ (Narwani 2014). Nevertheless the highly charged reports were confusing.

The violence spread north with the assistance of Islamist fighters from Lebanon, reaching Baniyas and areas around Homs. On 10 April nine soldiers were shot in a bus ambush in Baniyas. In Homs, on April 17, General Abdo Khodr al-Tallawi was killed with his two sons and a nephew, and Syrian commander Iyad Kamel Harfoush was gunned down near his home.

Two days later, off-duty Colonel Mohammad Abdo Khadour was killed in his car (Narwani 2014). North American commentator Joshua Landis (2011a) reported the death of his wife’s cousin, one of the soldiers in Baniyas. These were not the only deaths but I mention them because most western media channels maintain the fiction to this day that there was no Islamist insurrection and the ‘peaceful protesters’ did not pick up arms until September 2011.

Al Jazeera, the principal Middle East media channel backing the Muslim Brotherhood, blacked out these attacks and also the reinforcement provided by armed foreigners.

Former Al Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem was one of many who resigned from the Qatar-owned station (RT 2012), complaining of deep bias over their presentation of the violence in Syria. Hashem had footage of armed men arriving from Lebanon, but this was censored by his Qatari managers. ‘In a resignation letter I was telling the executive … it was like nothing was happening in Syria.’ He thought the ‘Libyan revolution’ was the turning point for Al Jazeera, marking the end of its standing as a credible media group (Hashem 2012).

Provocateurs were at work. Tunisian jihadist ‘Abu Qusay’ later admitted he had been a prominent ‘Syrian rebel’ charged with ‘destroying and desecrating Sunni mosques’, including by scrawling the graffiti ‘There is no God but Bashar’, a blasphemy to devout Muslims. This was then blamed on the Syrian Army with the aim of creating Sunni defections from the Army. ‘Abu Qusay’ had been interviewed by foreign journalists who did not notice by his accent that he was not Syrian (Eretz Zen 2014).

US Journalist Nir Rosen, whose reports were generally critical of the Syrian Government, also attacked the western consensus over the early violence:

The issue of defectors is a distraction. Armed resistance began long before defections started … Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation … Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters but … described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces … and every day members of the Syrian Army, security agencies … are also killed by anti-regime fighters (Rosen 2012).

A language and numbers game was being played to delegitimize the Syrian Government (‘The Regime’) and the Syrian Army (‘Assad loyalists’), suggesting they were responsible for all the violence. Just as NATO forces were bombing Libya with the aim of overthrowing the Libyan Government, US officials began to demand that President Assad step down.

The Brookings Institution (Shaikh 2011) claimed the President had ‘lost the legitimacy to remain in power in Syria’. US Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman said it was time ‘to align ourselves unequivocally with the Syrian people in their peaceful demand for a democratic government’ (FOX News 2011). Another ‘regime change’ campaign was out in the open.

In June, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dismissed the idea that ‘foreign instigators’ had been at work, saying that ‘the vast majority of casualties have been unarmed civilians’ (Clinton 2011). In fact, as Clinton knew very well, her Saudi Arabian allies had armed extremists from the very beginning. Her casualty assertion was also wrong.

The United Nations (which would later abandon its body count) estimated from several sources that by early 2012, there were more than 5,000 casualties and that deaths in the first year of conflict included 478 police and 2,091 from the military and security forces (OHCHR 2012: 2; Narwani 2014). That is, more than half the casualties in the first year were those of the Syrian security forces.

That independent calculation was not reflected in western media reports. Western groups such as Human Rights Watch along with US columnists (e.g. Allaf 2012) continued to claim even after the early 2012 defeat of the sectarian Farouq-FSA in Homs and well into 2012 that Syrian security forces had been massacring ‘unarmed protesters’, that the Syrian people ‘had no choice’ but to take up arms, and that this ‘protest movement’ had been ‘overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011’ (HRW 2011a, HRW 2012). The evidence cited above shows that this story was quite false.

In fact, the political reform movement had been driven off the streets by Salafi-Islamist gunmen, over the course of March and April. For years opposition groups had agitated against corruption and the Ba’ath Party monopoly.

However most did not want destruction of what was a socially inclusive if authoritarian state, and most were against both the sectarian violence and the involvement of foreign powers. They backed Syria’s protection of minorities, the relatively high status of women and the country’s free education and health care, while opposing the corrupt networks and the feared political police (Wikstrom 2011; Otrakji 2012).

In June reporter Hala Jaber (2011) observed that about five thousand people turned up for a demonstration at Ma’arrat al-Numan, a small town in northwest Syria, between Aleppo and Hama. She says several ‘protesters’ had been shot the week before, while trying to block the road between Damascus and Aleppo. After some negotiations which reduced the security forces in the town, ‘men with heavy beards in cars and pick-ups with no registration plates’ with ‘rifles and rocket-propelled grenades’ began shooting at the reduced numbers of security forces.

A military helicopter was sent to support the security forces. After this clash ‘four policemen and 12 of their attackers were dead or dying. Another 20 policemen were wounded’. Officers who escaped the fight were hidden by some of the tribal elders who had participated in the original demonstration. When the next ‘demonstration for democracy’ took place, the following Friday, ‘only 350 people turned up’, mostly young men and some bearded militants (Jaber 2011). Five thousand protesters had been reduced to 350 after the open Salafist attacks.

After months of media manipulations disguising the Islamist insurrection, Syrians such as Samer al Akhras, a young man from a Sunni family who used to watch Al Jazeera because he preferred it to state TV became convinced to back the Syrian government. He saw first-hand the fabrication of reports on Al Jazeera and wrote, in late June 2011:

I am a Syrian citizen and I am a human. After 4 months of your fake freedom … You say peaceful demonstration and you shoot our citizen. From today … I am [now] a Sergeant in the Reserve Army. If I catch anyone … in any terrorist organization working on the field in Syria I am gonna shoot you as you are shooting us. This is our land not yours, the slaves of American fake freedom (al Akhras 2011).

References:

Abouzeid, Rania (2011) ‘Syria’s Revolt, how graffiti stirred an uprising’, Time, 22 March.

Al Akhras, Samer (2011) ‘Syrian Citizen’, Facebook, 25 June, online: https://www.facebook.com/notes/sam-al-akhras/syrian-citizen/241770845834062?pnref=story

Al Jazeera (2011a) ‘Nine killed at Syria funeral processions’, 23 April, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/04/20114231169587270.html.

Al Jazeera (2011b) ‘Deraa: A city under a dark siege’, 28 April, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/04/2011427215943692865.html.

Al-Shaqfa, Muhammad Riyad (2011) ‘Muslim Brotherhood Statement about the so-called ‘Syrian Revolution’’, General supervisor for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, statement of 28 March, online at: http://truthsyria.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/muslim-brotherhood-statement-about-the-so-called-syrian-revolution/.

Allaf, Rime (2012) ‘This Time, Assad Has Overreached’, NYT, 5 Dec, online: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/02/06/is-assads-time-running-out/this-time-assad-has-overreached.

Blanford, Nicholas (2011) ‘Assad regime may be gaining upper hand in Syria’, Christian Science Monitor, 13 may, online: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0513/Assad-regime-may-be-gaining-upper-hand-in-Syria.

Chossudovsky, Michel (2011) ‘Syria: who is behind the protest movement? Fabricating a pretext for US-NATO ‘Humanitarian Intervention’’, Global Research, 3 May, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-who-is-behind-the-protest-movement-fabricating-a-pretext-for-a-us-nato-humanitarian-intervention/24591.

Clinton, Hilary (2011) ‘There is No Going Back in Syria’, US Department of State, 17 June, online: http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2011/06/166495.htm.

Maktabi, Rima (2011) ‘Reports of funeral, police shootings raise tensions in Syria’, CNN, 5 April, online: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/04/05/syria.unrest/.

Crimi, Frank (2012) ‘Ethnic Cleansing of Syrian Christians’, Frontpagemag, 29 March, online: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2012/frank-crimi/ethnic-cleansing-of-syrian-christians/.

Daily Mail (2011) ‘Nine protesters killed after security forces open fire by Syrian mosque’, 24 March.

DIA (1982) ‘Syria: Muslim Brotherhood Pressure Intensifies’, Defence Intelligence Agency (USA), May, online: https://syria360.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dia-syria-muslimbrotherhoodpressureintensifies-2.pdf.

DIA (2012) ‘Department of Defence Information Report, Not Finally Evaluated Intelligence, Country: Iraq’, Defence Intelligence Agency, August, 14-L-0552/DIA/297-293, Levant Report, online at: http://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/.

Draitser, Eric (2012) ‘Unmasking the Muslim Brotherhood: Syria, Egypt and beyond’, Global Research, 12 December, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/unmasking-the-muslim-brotherhood-syria-egypt-and-beyond/5315406

Eretz Zen (2014) ‘Tunisian Jihadist Admits: We Destroyed & Desecrated Mosques in Syria to Cause Defections in Army’, Youtube interview, 16 March, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ8awN8GLAk

FOX News (2011) ‘Obama Under Pressure to Call for Syrian Leader’s Ouster’, 29 April, online: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/29/obama-pressure-syrian-leaders-ouster/.

Ghadry, Farid N. (2005) ‘Syrian Reform: What Lies Beneath’, Middle East Quarterly, Vol 12 No 1, Winter, online: http://www.meforum.org/683/syrian-reform-what-lies-beneath.

Haidar, Ali (2013) interview with this writer, Damascus 28 December. [Ali Haidar was President of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP), a secular rival to the Ba’ath Party. In 2012 President Bashar al Assad incorporated him into the Syrian government as Minister for Reconciliation.].

Hashem, Ali (2012) ‘Al Jazeera Journalist Explains Resignation over Syria and Bahrain Coverage’, The Real News, 20 March, online: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8106

HRW (2011a) ‘We’ve never seen such horror: crimes against humanity by Syrian Security Forces’, Human Rights Watch, June, online: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2011/06/01/we-ve-never-seen-such-horror-0.

HRW (2011b) Syria: Defectors Describe Orders to Shoot Unarmed Protesters’, Human Rights Watch, Washington, 9 July, online: http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/07/09/syria-defectors-describe-orders-shoot-unarmed-protesters

HRW (2012) ‘Open Letter to the Leaders of the Syrian Opposition, Human Rights Watch, Washington, 20 March, online: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/20/open-letter-leaders-syrian-opposition.

Jaber, Hala (2011) ‘Syria caught in crossfire of extremists’, Sunday Times, 26 June, online: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/article657138.ece.

Khalidi, Suleiman (2011) ‘Thousands chant ‘freedom’ despite Assad reform offer’, Reuters, 24 March, online: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/24/us-syria-idUSTRE72N2MC20110324.

Landis, Joshua (2011a) ‘The Revolution Strikes Home: Yasir Qash`ur, my wife’s cousin, killed in Banyas’, Syria Comment, 11 April, online: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/the-revolution-strikes-home-yasir-qashur-my-wifes-cousin-killed-in-banyas/.

Landis, Joshua (2011b) ‘Syria’s Opposition Faces an Uncertain Future’, Syria Comment, 26 June, online: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/syrias-opposition-faces-an-uncertain-future/.

MEMRITV (2011) ‘Syrian Sunni Cleric Threatens: “We Shall Mince [The Alawites] in Meat Grinders”‘, YouTube, 13 July, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwz8i3osHww.

Nassar, Jessy (2014) ‘Hama: A rebirth from the ashes?’ Middle East Monitor, 11 July, online: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/12703-hama-a-rebirth-from-the-ashes.

Narwani, Sharmine (2012) ‘Questioning the Syrian “Casualty List”, 28 Feb, online: http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/questioning-syrian-%E2%80%9Ccasualty-list%E2%80%9D.

Narwani, Sharmine (2014) Syria: The hidden massacre, RT, 7 May, online: http://rt.com/op-edge/157412-syria-hidden-massacre-2011/.

OHCHR (2012) ‘Periodic Update’, Independent International Commission of Inquiry established pursuant to resolution A/HRC/S – 17/1 and extended through resolution A/HRC/Res/19/22, 24 may, online: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoISyria/PeriodicUpdate24May2012.pdf.

Otrakji, Camille (2012) ‘The Real Bashar al Assad’, Conflicts Forum, 2 April, online: http://www.conflictsforum.org/2012/the-real-bashar-al-assad/.

Queenan, Gavriel (2011) ‘Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings torched in protests’, Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21.

Reuters (2011) ‘Syria says seizes weapons smuggled from Iraq’, 11 March, online: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/11/us-syria-iraq-idUSTRE72A3MI20110311?hc_location=ufi.

Rosen, Nir (2012) ‘Q&A: Nir Rosen on Syria’s armed opposition’, Al Jazeera, 13 Feb, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/201221315020166516.html.

RT (2012) ‘Al Jazeera exodus: Channel losing staff over ‘bias’’, 12 March, online: http://rt.com/news/al-jazeera-loses-staff-335/.

Salt, Jeremy (2011) Truth and Falsehood in Syria, The Palestine Chronicle, 5 October, online: http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=17159.

Sayyid Rasas, Mohammed (2013) ‘From 2005 to 2013: The Syrian Opposition’s Many Faces’, Al Akhbar, 19 March, online: http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/15287.

Shaikh, Salman (2011) ‘In Syria, Assad Must Exit the Stage’, Brookings Institution, 27 April, online: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2011/04/27-syria-shaikh.

Sheikho, Youssef (2013) ‘The Syrian Opposition’s Muslim Brotherhood Problem’, Al Akhbar English, April 10, online: http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/15492.

Truth Syria (2012) ‘Syria – Daraa revolution was armed to the teeth from the very beginning’, BBC interview with Anwar Al-Eshki, YouTube interview, video originally uploaded 10 April, latest version 7 November, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoGmrWWJ77w.

Seale, Patrick (1988) Asad: the struggle for the Middle East, University of California Press, Berkeley CA.

van der Lugt, Frans (2012) ‘Bij defaitisme is niemand gebaat’, from Homs, 13 January, online: https://mediawerkgroepsyrie.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/bij-defaitisme-is-niemand-gebaat/.

Wikstrom, Cajsa (2011) Syria: ‘A kingdom of silence’, Al Jazeera, 9 Feb, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/02/201129103121562395.html.

YaLibnan (2011) ‘7 Syrian policemen killed in Sunday clashes’, 21 March, online: http://yalibnan.com/2011/03/21/7-syrian-policemen-killed-in-sunday-clashes-report/.

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Filed under Alawi, Christianity, Europe, Iraq, Islam, Jordan, Journalism, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Shiism, Sunnism, Syria, Turkey, US Politics, USA, War

Robert Stark Interviews Robert Lindsay about the Turkish Attack on the Russian Plane

Here.

New interview with me up! Feel free to listen to it and let me know what you think of it.

Topics include:

“Russian Warplane Down: NATO’s Act of War,” by Tony Cartalucci.
“Russia ‘Violated’ Turkish Airspace Because Turkey “Moved” Its Border,” By Syrian Free Press.
How Turkey has violated Greek Airspace 2,244 times.
“Turkey Did Not Act on Its Own. Was Washington Complicit in Downing Russia’s Aircraft?” by Stephen Lendman.
“Do We Really Want a ‘Pre-emptive’ World War with Russia? by F. William Engdahl.
The History of conflict between Russia and Turkey
“The Dirty War on Syria: The Basics,” by Prof. Tim Anderson.
US Endgame in Syria.
“Understanding ISIS”.
One of the Biggest Lies Ever Told: Hezbollah Blew Up the Marine Base in Lebanon in 1983, Killing Over 300 US Marines.
How Islamic imperialism is driven primarily by Saudi, Gulf State, and Turkish influence and how Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah serve as a counterbalance.
In the Belly of the Beast of the Deep State: A Look at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Why Robert Lindsay thinks Donald Trump has fascist aspects but is still better than the establishment candidates.
Sokal on the Cultural Left.
Robert Lindsay’s thoughts on Robert Stark’s recent interview with Matt Forney and why he disagrees with Matt that the Left destroyed cities.
Robert Lindsay’s thoughts on Robert Stark recent interview with Charles Lincoln about Cities and why he disagrees with Charles that single family homes are the ideal and that density is inherently bad.

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Who Are Ahrar al-Sham?

Ahrar al-Sham is one of the most powerful rebel groups in Syria. Together with al-Nusra, they now form the main core of the Army of Conquest which the Weste5rn media is selling as a moderate rebels. At the moment, the Army of Conquest is mostly funded by Saudi Arabia.

Many in the US are now agitating for the US to arm Ahrar al-Sham. They are said to be much more moderate than Nusra and they are not ISIS. Ahrar is not moderate at all. In fact, I think they are more radical than Al Qaeda or al-Nusra.

They have some links to Muslim Brotherhood, but ideologically they would be closer in outlook to the Taliban. Long War Journal had a good post showing their thinking and its alignment with Taliban style governance.

Of course all this is neglecting the role Al Qaeda played in its formation. Abu Khalid al Suri, a senior Al Qaeda official in Afghanistan-Pakistan, was dispatched to Syria early on and was one of the founders of Ahrar. Al Suri was killed in a ISIS suicide bombing in Feb. 2014 apparently while working on resolving the disputes between ISIS/Nusra/Ahrar.

The only thing that makes Ahrar appear more moderate than AQ or ISIS is the fact that they local and not interested in international terrorism as the other two are, ISIS in particular.

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Filed under Islam, Middle East, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Terrorism, USA, War

US Endgame in Syria

US strategy in Syria is not to allow Islamists to come to power, but to use them to force a political settlement – one in which Assad steps down and relinquishes power to actors who are keen to turn Syria into a western puppet state.

Pretty much sums it all up right there. Why do we keep saying Assad must go? Because as long as he is in power, we cannot put in our US puppet state.

Why is NATO supporting crazed Islamists like ISIS and Al Qaeda?

They are simply a convenient tool to use to get rid of Assad. We don’t really want them to take power. We think we can use them to get rid of Assad and then abandon them once we put our puppet regime in.

Even if we cannot put our puppets in power, just getting rid of Assad should be enough. Getting rid of Assad without replacing him with anything of similar gravitas would result in a failed state similar to Iraq, Afghanistan and especially Libya. The West would love to turn Syria into another Libya. Gaddafi is gone and with him the powerful anti-Western secular nationalist leader who was a threat to Israel and limiting the profits of oil commits in addition to mounting a serious threat on the dollar’s role as world reserve currency.  Now there is effectively no state in Libya, which is better than a powerful anti-Western state. Libya is no threat to US oil and economic interests, nor is it a threat to Israel.

Mission accomplished.

Some of the end goals of removing Assad:

  • If a failed state results, a Syrian failed state is no longer a powerful chain in the Iranian influenced Shia crescent of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah.
  • One of the last remaining threats to Israel, a powerful Syrian state, is gone. The resulting chaos is of little threat to the Israelis. Israel fears strong state actors, not disparate terrorist groups, and Israel thinks they can deal with Al Qaeda and ISIS. At any rate, Israel would much prefer even ISIS or Al Qaeda in power in Syria than Assad.
  •  A US puppet may even make a sort of cold peace with Israel similar to what almost the entire Sunni Arab Wold has done. The only real opposition to Israel in the world now at state level is Syria, Iran and the pseudo-state called Hezbollah. When it comes to Israel, almost all of the remaining Sunnis states are now US allies and have made a sort of cold peace with Israel.
  • The gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey to Europe can now go forward, although actually this is much more likely under the puppet state scenario. Qatar and the West want this pipeline very badly because of the wealth it will bring to Qatar and Western interests and because it will offer Europeans an alternative to Europe’s dependence on Russia for gas supplies, a dependence that is very annoying to the West. Furthermore, Russia will lose a lot of business with the completion of the Qatar-Turkish pipeline. The pipeline is already in the works, but Assad said no to running the pipeline through his country. Some people think this is the major reason for the war right there. Keep in mind that most wars are ultimately about economics under capitalism and especially capitalism-imperialism.
  • Hezbollah would be set adrift and lose its major funder and supplier. As it is, Iran runs weapons and funds to Hezbollah via its ally Syria. Syria is the middle link in the Iran-Hezbollah supply chain. A major enemy of Israel and the West is left without supplies or weapons.
  • The Shia crescent of Iran – Iraq – Syria – Hezbollah now has a huge gaping hole in it.
  • Removal of Assad is a huge blow to Iran because the resulting government, either Islamist or US puppets, will be Sunnis who dislike both Iran and Hezbollah. Iran would lose a huge ally and and a major source of influence in the Arab World.
  • Turkey removers a major thorn in its side. Turkey would like a puppet Sunni Islamist state in Syria ultimately.
  • A US puppet would crack down on the Kurds in eastern Syria.
  • A US puppet would open up Syria’s oil, gas and other resources to Western exploitation

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“The Dirty War on Syria: The Basics,” by Prof. Tim Anderson

The Dirty War on Syria: The Basics

By Prof. Tim Anderson

Global Research, November 23, 2015

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All you need to know about Syria. Everything here is 100% true.

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Filed under Eurasia, Geopolitics, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Terrorism, Turkey, USA, War