[Marxism] (Don’t) Stop the War: Agnes meets the pseudo-pacifists

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Nov 16 19:14:11 MST 2013

(The putrid Mother Agnes is no longer going to speak at the Stop the War 
event. She dropped out after Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones said that 
they would not speak if she appeared.)


Alex Rowell
November 15, 2013

Later this month, Bashar al-Assad’s favorite nun, Mother Agnes-Mariam, 
is set to receive perhaps the most significant legitimization of her 
career, when she will speak in Britain alongside the former chairman of 
the Labour Party, Tony Benn, current Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy 
Corbyn, and more than half a dozen writers, including Guardian 
columnists Jonathan Steele, Seumas Milne, Tariq Ali, and Rachel Shabi, 
at an event sponsored by the Stop the War coalition.

Indeed, to judge from the event’s write-up on the STW website, Syria 
will take center-stage at the ‘International Anti-War Conference’, 
making Agnes something of a guest-of-honor: the description begins by 
cheering the “historic setback for the organizers of the War on Terror” 
engineered by Russia in September. Though the conference will also 
include such sessions as “Imperialism, war and resistance” and “The new 
scramble for Africa,” the main event will surely be “The Syrian war in 

Below, NOW imagines how that panel might kick off:

Jonathan Steele: Many thanks to all of you for coming to what I hope 
will be our most enlightening panel, on what is perhaps the most 
important and dangerous conflict facing the world today. Of course, we 
all know the mainstream media has been totally one-sided on the 
so-called Syrian “uprising,” and what’s needed more than ever is to put 
this war in its proper context, free from nefarious state-sponsored 

Mother Agnes-Mariam: You have to understand, all Free Syrian Army 
fighters are terrorists.

Steele: That’s a great place to start, thank you Mother Agnes. It’s a 
great irony that, while one of the most perfidious lies of the War on 
Terror propagated by Orientalist imperialism is that all Muslims 
carrying guns are “terrorists,” this has in fact turned out to be 
entirely accurate in Syria.

Tariq Ali: Some things are true even if George Bush believes them.

Steele: Indeed.

Seumas Milne: If I could just jump in here, on that point, what’s been 
especially depressing for me to watch is the decline of al-Qaeda in Iraq 
from a resistance force, as I described them in 2011, to a reactionary, 
counter-revolutionary one in Syria.

Ali: Hamas, too. Don’t forget they’ve become terrorists now as well.

Milne: Right, yes. The very Palestinian cause itself is threatened as 
never before by imperialism.

Steele: Is anti-Zionism the new Zionism?

Milne: We should have called one of our sessions that. Next year.

Steele: We could invite Galloway.

Milne: Definitely. But back to the point, obviously propaganda-wise what 
we’ve seen in Syria fits a familiar pattern. Just as the number of 
Stalin’s victims has long been inflated by capitalist agitprop, so the 
alleged crimes of President Assad have been hugely exaggerated, if not 
outright fabricated. And this is something I know Mother Agnes has often 
spoken very courageously about.

Agnes: Yes. Whether it’s the Houla massacre, or the chemical weapons 
attack in East Ghouta, there’s never been any evidence of Syrian 
government responsibility.

Owen Jones: I’ve said that too.

Milne: Me too.

Steele: We’ve all said that. It’s disgraceful how so-called journalists 
rely on YouTube videos for their reporting nowadays.

But I think more broadly the problem is a fundamental refusal to 
understand that Assad is not the problem in Syria. As I’ve often 
written, it’s the rebels themselves who are responsible for the 
continued violence.

Agnes: Assad is a merciful man. Let me give you a personal example. When 
I negotiated the handover of hungry civilians from Moadamiyah to 
government forces last month, not all of them were arrested.

Milne: Remarkable. Even though they were Sunnis.

Agnes: Yes.

Milne: And people have the gall to say Assad’s government is sectarian.

Steele: They use the same smear on Hezbollah, even though Sayyid 
Nasrallah has made it very clear that his fighters are in Syria to save 
Sunnis as much as Shiites.

Milne: And what do they get in return? Human hearts eaten out of 
corpses. I mean we’ve all seen that YouTube video.

Agnes: Can I just say, it’s so nice to be here in Britain. I deeply 
regret that, during his recent visit to Syria, I wasn’t able to meet 
with the head of your National Party, Nick Griffin.

Steele: [Coughs] Coffee break! Anyone fancy a coffee break?

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