[Marxism] Fwd: Will the left hear the cries from Aleppo?

David McDonald davidbyrnemcdonaldiii at gmail.com
Wed Oct 19 10:52:04 MDT 2016


Dear Marxmailers: below is the text of an article I intend to publish
criticizing Ashley Smith's piece today in SW. Please respond quickly if you
think I am full of shit with your reasons, and thanks! Article begins:

This article represents a retreat from the Ashley Smith SW article
reprinted in Counterpunch on August 31.

In the first article Smith equates the imperialisms of the US and Russia in
Syria, saying neither is interested in helping the Syrian people. He
correctly, IMO, points out the essential quandry for the US, which is that
there is no way to preserve the Baathist regime without Assad. Russia, he
says, faces no such quandry since Syria is a long-standing client regime
going way back and stinging the US in Syria seems like a great idea to them.

OK. So far so good, kind of. I have reservations about certain
formulations, but those reservations make more sense as we watch Smith's
stance change so I will hold off for now.

In today's Socialist Worker article Smith goes a bridge farther: he opposes
the call for a no-fly-zone (NFZ):

"IT IS also true that calls for a "no-fly zone" have come from The Syria
Campaign and other voices organizing solidarity. *Socialist Worker* believes
such a call is mistaken--the U.S. empire would not enforce a "no-fly zone"
to stop the carnage in Syria, but to advance its imperial interests, and
would lead to greater violence.

But the calls for a "no-fly zone" have to be understood in the context of
the desperate circumstances that exist in Syria today. The primary motive
of Syrians who want the U.S. to patrol the skies is for *someone* to put a
stop to the slaughter of people in Aleppo and other besieged cities and
areas of the country. It is completely understandable that such a demand
would gain ground as the Assad regime and Russia are blowing up hospitals,
schools and even humanitarian relief convoys
<https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/03/syrian-and-russian-forces-targeting-hospitals-as-a-strategy-of-war>
.

And even so, other Syrian revolutionaries and solidarity activists
*don't* support
a "no-fly zone." They see the U.S. for what it is: a counterrevolutionary
force that wants to preserve the status quo, with Assad or without. And
they recognize that a "no-fly zone" would escalate the war, lead to more
bombing, kill more innocent civilians and create an even worse situation
for the popular movement.

Moreover, truth be told, the U.S. is not about to impose a "no-fly zone" in
Syria anyway. Blumenthal and others are making the mistake of believing
Hillary Clinton's rhetoric during an election campaign--something that
Wikileaks
and her own track record of saying one thing and doing another
<https://socialistworker.org/2016/08/01/clinton-is-the-one-who-should-be-ashamed>
has
taught us is profoundly mistaken.

The Obama administration and allies such as British Foreign Secretary Boris
Johnson are using the threat of a "no-fly zone" as a bargaining ploy to
push for more talks. Thus, after all the rhetoric and posturing about
Russia's escalating air war, Obama sent Kerry on yetanother meaningless
mission to Switzerland to negotiate a cease-fire
<https://socialistworker.org/2016/09/20/the-cease-fire-that-will-increase-war-in-syria>
with
Vladimir Putin and various regional powers. Of course, this failed.

Actually implementing a "no-fly zone" would risk full-scale war in Syria.

Several years ago, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Martin E. Dempsey gave
a presentation to Obama that estimated as many as 70,000 U.S. military
personnel would be needed
<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/world/middleeast/obamas-uncertain-path-amid-syria-bloodshed.html>
to
take out Syria's anti-aircraft system and then carry out a 24-hour no-fly
operation."

Suddenly everybody's a military tactician. Now there are Syrian
revolutionaries who call for a no fly zone and Syrian revolutionaries who
don't. I guess it's dealer's choice for the ISO & Socialist Worker. This
circumstance allows them to ratify the position of the rest of the left,
that it is impermissible to call for military action by the US imperialism
because it is imperialist. Of course they disagree about the *reason* for
not calling for a NFZ, and I hope that makes them feel better.

Please note that this is beyond leftish squeamishness. It's not just the
left that ought not call for a NFZ, but the Syrians in Syria getting
bombed, too. Why?

"IT IS also true that calls for a "no-fly zone" have come from The Syria
Campaign and other voices organizing solidarity. *Socialist Worker* believes
such a call is mistaken--the U.S. empire would not enforce a "no-fly zone"
to stop the carnage in Syria, but to advance its imperial interests, and
would lead to greater violence."

And, anyway (those silly Arabs!): "Moreover, truth be told, the U.S. is not
about to impose a "no-fly zone" in Syria anyway."

Well there you have it.

Plus in today's SW article there is a plea to take it easy on supporters of
Assad within the (alleged) US peace movement:

"The statement's refutation of Blumenthal's charges about the Syrian
struggle is spot-on, but the call to break off any political relationship
is mistaken.

First, Blumenthal and Khalek are important allies on the issue of
Palestine. We must be able to collaborate with them where we agree, while
vigorously rejecting their viewpoint on Syria."

How, I ask, is this stance not joining the Amen Corner in practice? The key
concession -- don't call for or support a NFZ -- is the key demand of the
Amen Corner. Of course SW is also opposed to no end of other imperialisms,
good for them.

You must hand it to whoever at Counterpunch figured out that the ISO was
moving their way and extended an arm.

Ashley Smith sums it all up: "Our slogan is neither Washington, nor Moscow,
nor Beijing, nor Damascus, nor Tehran, nor Riyadh, but self-determination
for oppressed nations and international socialism."

By my count they are now waiting for The Seventh Camp.



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