A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: imperialism

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I was watching “12 Years a Slave” with my almost 11 year old son yesterday, and within minutes of watching the movie he begged me to switch it off, specifically, during the scene where the lead character, Solomon Northup, wakes up to find himself shackled and whipped into enslavement. Although my son has a higher tolerance for TV violence than I do, he was particularly distressed by this scene, or to quote his words “disturbed because he was being forced against his will and I put myself in his place. I can handle violence but not slavery”.  

It got me thinking about how justice is not merely experienced rationally, but also originates in our emotions and intuition which we express as moral outrage. It also reminded me how justice-seeking, compassion and outbursts of moral indignation are defining features of childhood which society—capitalism specifically—tries to control and harness as we grow up through various mechanisms. Emotional/intuitive justice is eclipsed by purely rational, western liberal notions of justice as “fairness” as found in “procedural” justice.

The mechanisms capitalism employs to enforce this shift include western theories of “human nature” which perpetuate the myth that the default human character is one marked by aggression, the hunger for power and self-interest, and is hence, naturally disinclined to social and economic justice, and requires hegemonic political power to restrain it.

Another mechanism is the psycho-pathologization of justice-seeking behaviour and the refusal to submit to domination, by branding them “disorders”  like “anti-social personality disorder” and “oppositional defiant disorder,” whose hallmark “symptoms” are the “failure to conform” to social and political norms and in the case of the latter, “arguing” and “anger”.

The mainstream media is also guilty of disabling our gut reaction to injustice. Western media coverage of imperialist military aggression and political domination serve to at once justify and rationalize these injustices while desensitizing us to the suffering of their victims. It also achieves this by dismissing anti-imperialist leaders as demagogues who command “personality cults”, and in so doing, reducing the just causes they represent to the irrational impulses of the raucous mob.

 Our inherent sense of justice is also stifled by western academic standards which require “emotional distance/detachment” in the social sciences, so that we are forced to adopt neutral positions in the face of gross social and political injustices. Thus for example, intellectuals who decry the injustices of American and Israeli aggression and occupation are discredited as “emotional”, while those who publish papers on how best to secure US “national interests” are deemed “scholarly”. In this manner, works guided by notions of naked self-interest and brute power are elevated to the status of “knowledge” while those guided by a social conscience are stigmatized as irrational rambling. 

As people who pursue justice, we should always strive to naturalize moral outrage, by inculcating it in our children and refusing to be stigmatized medically or professionally for expressing it. We must work hard to retain those child-like outbursts of moral outrage which are the essence of our humanity.

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Get your stomachs ready for the latest addition to the mainstream media handbook of terms which have been so drastically redefined as to lose all meaning: Russian “imperialism” vs. western “globalization”. LOL. Talk about distortion of the century meets euphemism of the millenium . I mean even if non-Marxists choose to ignore Lenin’s definition of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, conventional, bourgeois liberal definitions of imperialism refer to economic domination and exploitation as the defining features of imperialism. I vividly recall the text book we studied in history class in my London state-funded school identified natural resources, cheap labour and new markets as the primary motives of imperialism. But according to this new lexicon, imperialism can be reduced to territorial expansion and irredentism, which quite comically renders states like Ethiopia imperialist and more comically still, suggests that the US is anti-imperialist in so far as it rejects Russian territorial expansion. Meanwhile, the US’ military expansion across all corners of the globe via military bases, installations and occupation forces can be chalked up to “globalization”, much like its domination of the world economy. But by all means, lets all stand united in the face of “rampant” Russian imperialism which “threatens the vision for a more global world economy.”

Full stomach-churning Reuters opinion piece here

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We saw it in Syria and now we are witnessing it again in Ukraine and Venezuela; namely, using the politics of protest to engineer anti-democractic movements which seek to overthrow popular and/or elected governments in the name of democratic freedoms. And we aren’t merely talking about undemocratic groups here, but anti-democractic movements which are opposed in principle to democracy (takfiris and jihadis in Syria; right-wing fascists in Ukraine; reactionary neo-liberals in Venezuela). In all these cases, governments are being rebuked, pressured and sanctioned for exercising their constitutionally prescribed and universally recognized duty to maintain law and order and to protect national security, public safety and national unity. And as we witnessed in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”, democracy and revolution are now redefined in the public imagination as any popular outpouring of anger irrespective of the nature of its demands, the medium through which it is expressed, or its intersection with the interests of global capital.

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My take on the EU’s blacklisting of Hizbullah’s “military wing” as terrorist organization in Nour Samaha’s AJE piece “Hezbollah: The EU’s new ‘terrorists’” :

“This is 100 percent related to Hezbollah’s role in Syria, the fall of Qusayr, and the defeat of the Syrian rebels,” Amal Saad-Ghorayeb….“The West understands the Syrian regime is not going to fall, and so this has pushed the EU to come out with this decision,” she said. “This is a PR war where they’re trying to brand Hezbollah as terrorists, and equate them to groups like al-Qaeda.” 

Hezbollah is seen as an important resistance movement by many Shias and others belonging to different sects in Lebanon, and European efforts to scare supporters away from the group will be futile, according to Saad-Ghorayeb.

“Hezbollah is a community, it’s a people based on a grassroots movement,” she said. “You can’t destroy this.”

“While there is the concern that any Shia who now supports Hezbollah either based in Europe or traveling to Europe will have to think twice, I don’t think this will push people away from Hezbollah,” she said. “Rather it will anger the Shia community.”

Both Sayigh and Saad-Ghorayeb agreed that logistically speaking differentiating Hezbollah’s military wing from other aspects of the organisation may be a cause for concern.

“The military wing is very clandestine,” said Saad-Ghorayeb, “no intelligence agency knows the names of the fighters to freeze their assets and deny them visas, so does this mean they’ll start penalising the families of martyrs or their relatives?”

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So let’s see if I understood this correctly: when the US reluctantly declares its intent to NOT intervene in the transitional process and allow Syrians to decide that process for themselves, it is an imperialist power serving its own agenda. As such, the Syrian opposition is begging for “assurances” that its patron will continue to intervene politically and/or militarily, in order to serve the Syrian people. Makes sense. 
"Opposition members said they were concerned by comments from Kerry in Moscow, echoing Russia, that the decision on who takes part in a transitional government should be left to Syrians.
"Syrians are worried that the United States is advancing its own interests with Russia using the blood and suffering of the Syrian people," said National Coalition member Ahmed Ramadan. "We are in touch with the U.S. side and need to be assured that there is no change in its position on Assad."
Equally hilarious is the absurd notion that these proxy figures, who lack political agency, will actually have a say in who will they will dialogue or share power with:
"No official position has been decided but I believe the opposition would find it impossible to hold talks over a government that still had Assad at its head."

Full story here

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I don’t think any photo epitomizes the contrast between the visceral oppression of the imperialists and the humanity, love and compassion which drives those that seek liberation.
 

I don’t think any photo epitomizes the contrast between the visceral oppression of the imperialists and the humanity, love and compassion which drives those that seek liberation.

 

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Aside from the shameless hypocrisy of the British and French decision to arm the foreign and local terrorists and executioners in Syria, aka, “Syrian rebels” or “resistance fighters” as they are now officially called, another stomach-churning aspect of this joint announcement is the language French and British leaders used to justify their intent to violate the EU arms ban. When asked yesterday if the UK would be willing to break the ban, David Cameron responded "We are still an independent country. We can have an independent foreign policy…” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius responded to the same question today by asserting that “France is a sovereign nation,” adding that both France and were prepared to “lift the embargo” even if there was no international support for the decision. 

So while the White Man’s sovereignty is not dependent on any international consent for its existence, anti-imperialist nations like Syria do not enjoy a similar right to issue such self-proclaimed professions of sovereignty like France can or chart an “independent foreign policy” like Britain’s.  The sovereignty of insubordinate nations like Syria is not merely dependent on the “international community’s” [shorthand for US and Europe] recognition but can be trampled on with impunity and justified in the most counter-intuitive and morally bankrupt terms. More than this, imperialist powers not only get to dictate and violate other nations’ sovereignty, but also to invoke the term as a legal and political defense when rationalizing their own disputed intent to destroy another nation’s right to remain sovereign.   

One need only look up the concept of sovereignty in the White Man’s very own introductory text-books to see how brazenly hypocritical the western approach to Syria’s sovereignty is. Quoting from Michael Roskin et al’s “Political Science: An Introduction”: “Sovereignty means “national control over the country’s territory, boss of one’s own turf. Nations are very jealous of their sovereignty and governments take great care to safeguard it. They maintain armies to deter foreign invasion, they control borders with passports and visas and they hunt down terrorists.”

Yet bizarrely,  when a state like Syria which still enjoys [international] legal sovereignty and has a seat at the UN,  tries to reassert “control of its territory” and “be the boss of its own turf” by “hunting down terrorists” and foreign fighters, it is not merely denied this right but threatened with invasion and punished with externally funded, armed and trained proxies. But what else can the Empire do when its ultimate aim is not  regime change  but to strip the Syrian state itself of sovereignty by plunging it further into an endless and bloody civil war that can only result in the destruction of Syria the state?

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The old colonial powers stage a comeback: the UK and France, whose sovereignty doesn’t rely on the approval of other nations, according to its FM (in contradistinction to anti-imperialist nations’ like Syria whose sovereignty can only be determined by western powers it seems) are in a huge rush to arm Salafi Takfiri and Wahhabi terrorists and just plain old sectarian executioners. You see, even if they end up in these “wrong hands” as Hague admitted recently, its well worth the “balance of risks”. This balance is so lopsided, that these same groups which the respected British charity, Save the Children, has accused of using children as human shields, soldiers and informers, are now lauded as “resistance fighters” by Hague and Fabius. Apparently the only way to stem the bloodshed and defuse the regional sectarian war that Hague brazenly warned of last week, is to arm sectarian child killers, executioners and terrorists. Way to go leaders of the “civilized” liberal western democratic world! Abu Qatada is surely beaming at you with pride.

Full report here

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Hizbullah’s media office issued a statement on Hugo Chavez’s death which I have translated below:

It is with great sadness that we received news of the passing of the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez. Along with the free world and the oppressed of the world, we lost a dear friend …who spent his entire life standing beside the downtrodden and oppressed, and who boldly defended the Third World’s rights to progress and prosperity.    

Neither Hizbullah nor Lebanon as a whole can forget his genuine support for Lebanon in the face of Zionist aggression, which was most clearly demonstrated during the July war in 2006. Just as the Arab and Islamic people cannot forget his courageous stand in support of the Palestinian people’s right to liberate themselves from the yoke of occupation, and the right of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

President Chavez represented a bulwark against America’s imperialist policies and refused to make any concessions to successive US administrations, nor to submit to US pressures or incentives, proving that countries can take an independent and progressive path without relying on US custodianship.

We in Hizbullah offer our most sincere condolences to the family and comrades of the great and late [leader] and to the brave Venezuelan people as a whole, and we declare [our intent] to stand by their side during this great misfortune. We hope that the late leader’s comrades will complete his mission to protect the Venezuelan people’s freedom, independence and prosperity as well as his support for the oppressed and downtrodden in the world, and to retain the approach he adopted throughout his life in confronting American and Zionist conspiracies.

Hizbullah

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That’s right, two-thirds of the Iranian people are willing to brave western sanctions and lend support to their government’s pursuit of its nuclear program, as reported by the Washington Post here. Moreover, a more detailed analysis of the findings on the Gallup website  reveals that although 85% believe the sanctions have hurt Iranians generally while 83% say they have been hurt  personally  by them, they still want Iran to pursue nuclear power. RESPECT. 

Findings like these only underline how detached from reality the US’ and Europe’s Realist-driven foreign policy is. The reality is that some nations are not motivated solely by economic interests nor do they cow in the face of military threats. Imperialism has helped forge a nationalist, resistant and justice-seeking political identity and culture among the peoples it oppresses as a matter of foreign policy. And where this political identity is weakened, as in religiously diverse Syria, it is only on account of Empire’s divide-and-rule tactics to sow sectarian strife. 
Excerpts from the WaPo article:

But, judging from a new Gallup poll, the sanctions do not seem to be successful at two major, secondary goals: turning Iranian public opinion against the nuclear program and against national leaders for behaving in a way that has invited sanctions. Last year, The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Scott Wilson reported that the Obama administration sees public discontent as an intended effect of the sanctions. But an overwhelming majority of Iranians told Gallup that Iran should continue its nuclear program, even when the question was specifically phrased to remind them that economic sanctions are a direct result of that program.

Gallup asked, “Given the scale of the sanctions against Iran, do you think Iran should continue to develop its nuclear power capabilities, or not?” Almost two-thirds of respondents, 63 percent, said yes. Only 17 percent said no; 19 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.

The poll also found that Iranians are almost five times as likely to blame the United States for sanctions as they are to blame their own government. Even fewer blame Europe or the United Nations, though both are instrumental in the crippling economic sanctions. Pollsters asked, “Which of the following groups do you hold most responsible for sanctions against Iran?” Out of the seven choices, the most popular by far was the United States, with 47 percent. Only 10 percent blamed the Iranian government; 9 percent said Israel; 7 percent each named “Western European countries” and the United Nations. Three percent said “someone else,” zero said “no one,” and 17 percent declined to answer.

Sanctions do not, based on this poll, seem to be rallying Iranians against their leaders or the nuclear program, but rather reinforcing popular antagonism toward the United States. To the extent that Iranian leaders are worried about popular support, this poll suggests that nuclear development and defiant foreign policy will continue to be winners.

 

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I was going to deconstruct this delusional rant , point by point but then realised that as Borzou’s post below indicates, it would be in vain as he is clearly impervious to logical reasoning or empirical evidence. How dare this native informant masquerading as a respectable journalist (who interviewed me numerous times in the past btw) lecture us on journalistic ethics? How dare he judge what constitutes extremism on behalf of Syrians who are being raped and executed solely on account of their sectarian affiliation? How dare this colonized House Iranian claim we “make cursory mention of the regime’s brutality”’ because we “won’t have any credibility if you don’t”? How dare he say this when he is the one absolving the barbaric groups that make up the FSA from their heinous war crimes. How dare he think we give a damn about appearing credible to the white man, as if corporate media represents the zero point of neutrality; as if Borzou and his ilk are the measure of objectivity and methodological rigor. We acknowledge the regime’s excesses because unlike MSM and its information warriors like Borzou, we can be objective even when we aren’t neutral, not because we seek recognition from the mainstream media spin machine. This post below is nothing but a cheap shot at colonizing reality, or reality enforcement administered by imperialist lackeys like Borzou who have lost all credibility as an independent journalist in the eyes that count: OUR eyes.

How to defend Bashar Assad in 10 easy steps

by Borzou Daragahi on Monday, December 31, 2012 at 6:34pm ·

This is my guide for Syria analysts and journalists who want to defend Bashar Assad while continuing to retain their credibility in the West. 

1. Keep mentioning Jubhat al Nasra and other Islamic jihadi groups without mentioning that the vast majority of armed groups are not nearly as extreme, are mostly locally based folks defending their towns and villages.

2. When referring to the armed opposition keep using the magic word: AL QAEDA

3. Make cursory mention of the regime’s brutality (you won’t have any credibility if you don’t) but avoid resurrecting the roots of the conflict in peaceful opposition to Bashar’s dictatorship. Avoid mention of wanton use of air power against civilians in bread lines and in their homes. 

4. Keep talking about NATO, the Gulf countries and Western support for opposition; that will boost Bashar’s anti-imperialist creds among the campus leftists. 

5. Focus on faults of incompetent and disorganized Syrian opposition abroad instead of networks of activists and homegrown civil society already establishing governance inside.

6. Frame Russia as an honest broker trying to peacefully resolve conflict instead of a shrewd chess player that doesn’t give a damn about Syrian civilians and murdered tens of thousands of Chechens in an attempt to put down a rebellion in the 1990s.

7. Keep warning about consequences of Syria state’s collapse: sectarian war, refugees in Europe, rise of an Islamist state.

8. Keep raising rare instances of rebel misconduct and faked videos and frame them as emblematic of the overall opposition.

9. Make the opposition look intransigent; they’re the ones who won’t agree to a peaceful settlement, not the president who did no reforms for 10 years and dispatched shabiha to murder peaceful protesters when they spoke out.

10. Pray to God (even if you are an athiest) that the rebels don’t get to Damascus, open up the files and find out what you did for the regime, the details of conversations on how you got your visas and your access to officials.

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The Israeli commentator Ben Caspit writes “In its Middle Eastern-Islamist version, democracy comes off as a recipe for riots, trouble, extremism and instability.” I know many secular Arabs are now repeating this mantra but if we think more deeply about such sweeping Orientalist generalizations about the Arab and Islamic world, we should lay the blame for this “recipe” for chaos on the imperialist-Arab axis rather than on our political culture. It isn’t that our region is incompatible with democracy. It is just incompatible with mega doses of imperialist interventions masquerading as democratization.

This chaos is the outcome of half baked revolutions that have been overtaken by the Empire and its Arab lackeys who have turned newly created “democratic” spaces into open arenas for naked [mainly sectarian] power struggles, leaving a security void that Al-Qaeda and other extremists flourish in, and a political void that only well-organized Islamists backed by petrodollars, can fill.  

This chaos is what happens when the hegemonic liberal brand of democracy is grafted onto our societies, albeit in procedural form only.

This chaos is what happens when find ourselves still under the yoke of economic and political imperialism, despite having unseated authoritarian leaders, as our economies remain beholden to the IMF’s dictates, while  the US/NATO and  their regional allies continue to manipulate our domestic politics by propping political parties which serve their geostrategic interests.

Support for Islamists and others with sectarian agendas is not the product of political choice and pluralism, but the product of military intervention that arms and empowers these groups, granting them influence over locales they control.  Sympathy for the more extreme of these religious and/or sectarian agendas is not the natural outcome of democratic elections or popular uprisings, but of the intellectual and political colonialism that has been mediated by Arab monarchies. And they have done so by means of overtly sectarian media campaigns and narratives which aim to de-prioritize the Empire and its Zionist outpost as the Arabs’ main enemy by replacing them with the “Shi’ite threat.”

The real recipe for riots, trouble, extremism and instability is not democracy but the lack thereof. This is the product of the de-democratization of the region that has accompanied Empire-sponsored and/or Empire-hijacked, uprisings, and the ensuing military struggles and political processes whose micro-management is subcontracted to its GCC allies.

Our region and our political culture have never been averse to democracy, for what could be a greater expression of popular sovereignty than our rejection of imperialism and our resistance to Israel? This has been the cornerstone of OUR understanding of democracy as popular sovereignty and self-determination. It is precisely the undermining of this democratic, freedom and justice-seeking culture—this resistance identity— that has created this chaos and instability. And that is why we call them counter-revolutionary revolutions because they constitute a revolt against the once widespread revolutionary movement against our imperialist oppressors.

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Excellent response by Adel Samara to the statement by leading Third Wayers on Syria, the “Anti-Imperialist Camp”: 

Dear Comrades in the Anti-imperialist Camp,

Your appeal Syria: for a political solution. Yes to democracy, no to foreign military intervention!” (see below) reflects a deeply humanitarian attitude towards a conflict that has become of great concern for all progressive forces world-wide.

You are right in stating that war against (not only in) Syria must stop for the sake of the Syrian people, the popular classes, women and children, and in the interest of the entire region as well.

It is not, however, enough to have a humanitarian stand that is not class and gender-based, especially when it comes from anti-imperialist forces.

It is obvious that the war is against Syria more than it is in Syria. It is a counter-revolution war launched by foreign regimes from the capitalist West to the backward pre-historic Arab regimes.

War in Syria will never stop unless war against Syria stops. The counter-revolution is in real war against Syria. The core imperialist regimes through their intelligence services, military experts and suppliers of war machines and facilities (weapons, technical/logistical tools, training…) will profit of that war as long as Arab regimes of the dark ages especially of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and AUE are paying the cost and even bribes to those recruited from Syria and dozens of other countries from all over the globe to commit most hideous crime against the innocent Syrian people. Turkey is also in a state of declared and de facto war against Syria.

Your point against foreign intervention is also most correct and timely, but foreign intervention is not limited to NATO intervention by air force or white–European soldiers on the ground. Arab rulers are destroying Syria on behalf of the white imperialist masters. It is a new form of imperialist aggression.

 Your declaration lacks another important point. It lacks a cry to all peoples of the world and especially those of countries whose rulers are in war against Syria. Those peoples must flood into the streets of their capitals and cities demanding an end to their ruler’s intervention in Syria and an end to war against Syria as a capitalist business camouflaged by democracy.

It is really strange and shameful, that some peoples of western countries call themselves Civil Societies, while their regimes are launching a real and media war against the Syrian people!

What is more astonishing is that you ignored in your declaration  the bitter lessons of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya that foreign aggression will never bring democracy to countries that are ruled by non-democratic regimes. This is not to mention that most of the countries which intervene in Syria do not allow the most basic human rights and are fighting secular Syria by fatwa from uncivilized and uneducated sheiks. 

Finally, it is not understandable that your call did not touch upon the double repression of women by the invaders in Syria and how women emancipation, though relative but substantial, in Syria will be under the rule of the fundamentalist politicized Islamic regime?

Full post here

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 There was once a time, not very long ago, when prioritizing the Palestinian cause above all else was a socially and politically constructed self-evident truth in the Arab world. Explaining to outsiders who asked why we loved Palestine was as impossible as explaining why we loved someone. Because it’s Palestine, would have been the natural answer. Regrettably, we have now entered a new phase whereby we need to respond to this question—asked from within our own ranks no less— with more compelling reasons. We now need to persuade supporters of the Syrian opposition who have always supported Palestine in the past, that liberating Palestine takes precedence over overthrowing the Syrian “regime”, or why imperialism and settler colonialism is a graver threat than internal repression.

But the imperialism versus authoritarianism debate is itself rooted in a deeper divide over the meaning of Palestine for Arab activists and intellectuals. As I wrote previously, Syrian oppositionists and some Third Wayers (assuming they still exist) “misunderstand the extent of Israel’s iniquity by locating it solely in Zionist aggression, human rights violations or in the circumstances of the occupation. The resistance camp conceives of Israel as the greatest injustice because of its very existence and the unprecedented nature of its oppression, which renders it not merely a human rights cause, but humanity’s cause.”

The difference in outlook became all the more stark to me when I read this description of the BDS movement and its priorities, by Ali Abunimah founder of the highly commendable website, Electronic Intifada:

Rather than fetishising “statehood”, the BDS campaign focuses on rights and realities: it calls for an end to Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands conquered in 1967; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respect for and implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees.

Although I am a huge supporter of the BDS movement and see it as a necessary complement to the armed struggle, and although I agree with the movement’s refusal to “fetishize” statehood, I take issue with its priorities as well as its willingness to settle for a truncated state with 1967 borders . Yes, Palestinian rights are of utmost importance and the Palestinian people are indeed subject to the grossest form of oppression and injustice which requires our collective efforts, but my unit of analysis is Palestine, not only the Palestinians.

When I think of Palestine, the people are of course a leading component but not the only component of this concept. Palestine is, as Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah alludes to it, “not just the blood of a man, the fate of a woman, the crushed bones of a child, or a piece of bread stolen from the mouth of a poor or hungry person. It is the issue of a people, a nation, a fate, holy places, history, and the future.” Palestine is the land and the people, past, present and future generations. If we are to limit our understanding of Palestine to Palestinians then we would be forced to relinquish the Palestinian cause and to betray future generations of Palestinians, if the their elected representatives chose to abandon armed struggle and satisfy themselves with a Bantustan comprised of 22% of historic Palestine.

More than this, Palestine not only needs us, but we need Palestine: it is the  identity that once united us, the direction that guides our moral compass, the cornerstone of our political principles, the lens required for our awareness and understanding of imperialism, and a strategic necessity for the freedom and self-determination not only of Palestine, but of the entire region.

When I confine my understanding of Palestine to Palestinian individuals, I am effectively renouncing my need for Palestine. When Palestine is relegated to a human rights’ cause I open myself to the argument made by the Syrian opposition camp, that Palestinian blood is no worthier than any other Arab blood (itself a flawed argument).  When individual Palestinians are my unit of analysis rather than the trans-historical concept of Palestine, I also open myself to the charge—made by some supporters of the Syrian government who withheld support from Hamas in the recent Gaza war — that Palestine is no longer a priority given Syria’s higher death toll and Hamas’ abandonment of Assad. 

The only way we can ensure the Arab and Islamic world’s ongoing commitment to the Palestinian people is by making Palestine our unit of analysis and point of departure. And while we should never fetishize a truncated statehood, we should fetishize resistance and liberation for there is no other way to free the Palestinian people or the people of the region from the plague of Zionism.

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 Gone are the days when US administrations used to cloak their directives with the third person narrator voice and their injunctions in a passive prescriptive tone:  ”X should do this”, “y needs to do that”, “there must be z” etc. Gone too are the pretenses of the Syrian opposition’s autonomy, independent decision-making and by implication, popular legitimacy. Now, the US has abandoned all diplotalk and concerns for the Syrian opposition’s public image in favour  of a first person narrator voice and an active prescriptive tone that closely resembles that of colonial administrator. Earlier this week, Hilary Clinton announced the birth of a new opposition coalition — the Syrian National Initiative (SNI)— that is to supersede the SNC, in language that can only be described as that of High Commissioner for the Syrian opposition:

"And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution," she said.

We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure,” she told a news conference.

"We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice which must be heard.

As the references above demonstrate,  the US boldly asserts what its “ needs” in Syria are, “recommends [Syrian] names”, “makes things clear” to its clients, deciding what they “can be part of”, and judging whose voice is “legitimate”. 

Yet  in an audacious denial of reality, former SNC spokeswoman, Basma Kodmani declared that

“it was wrong to suggest that the US or any other government was involved in selecting the new council… She said: “Foreign powers have not been involved in nominations. The authority would selected by Syrians. It is a completely Syrian process. Names have not been designated, only groups and organisation which should be represented have been proposed.”

This despite Clinton’s reference to both “names and organizations” which Washington recommended.

More ironic still, is Riad Seif’s blueprint document for the SNI which clings to the self-delusion of “Preserving the national sovereignty and independence of Syrian decisions”. 

 A US official who spoke to Foreign Policy would beg to differ with the SNI’s self-professed autonomy :  “We need to be clear: This is what the Americans support, and if you want to work with us you are going to work with this plan and you’re going to do this now. We aren’t going to waste anymore time.”

In the final analysis, Clinton’s message can hardly be considered insensitive when neither the Syrian opposition nor its supporters appear deterred by the Zionist proclivities of some of their members, let alone by such passé considerations as the imperious tone of their American masters. Such are the priorities of those who see authoritarianism as the new imperialism.

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