Western and Third World leftists, as well as some of us here in the region, often romanticize governments, movements and individuals in the Resistance Axis. The truth is that our side which represents politically just causes can be grossly unjust on the interpersonal and social levels, in professional settings, in the domestic political arena, and in the economy to name but a few. Our camp is not immune to corruption, crime, violence or even treachery as Hamas has demonstrated all too well. Sometimes it is greed and opportunism which drives some Arabs to sell out to the imperialists and their cronies, but often-times it is disillusionment with our camp for all of the above. In times of such disillusionment and outright disgust with such injustices I remind myself that I am not supporting the Resistance Axis or its constituents per se, but its struggle against imperialism and Zionism. And if Iran, Hizbullah, Syria, and Palestinian groups were to abandon this struggle, then we should abandon them. This is beyond partisanship and ideology; it is identity and being.
There is a time for analysis and commentary, a time for triumphalism, and a time for just feeling one’s feelings and being human. I saw this photo the other day by the Lebanese photographer, Mimo Khair, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this little girl, Reem, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who lost both her parents in the war. On her hand is written “I love you”….. Nor can I remove the image from my mind, of a Syrian refugee I walked past the other day in Hamra, Beirut. She was a young mother squatting on the pavement, surrounded by her toddlers, almost oblivious to them as she was to her own existence. There are of course hundreds of thousands like her living in squalor all over Lebanon, but this woman broke my heart in particular because she was too downtrodden to beg, too despondent to acknowledge the money she was handed out, too dehumanized to care. The Syrian refugees don’t need our liberal humanitarianism, nor our lefty class solidarity, nor our bourgeois “tolerance” for their presence in our midst. They just need their country back.
The war on Syria has not only exposed the politicization of the western intelligence community, but also the militarization of journalism, American journalists in particular. And I am not talking here about the BBC-coined “journalism of attachment”, which enjoins journalists to abandon the Euro-American paradigm of social science inquiry and with it, all pretenses at “critical distance” , “emotional detachment” and “objectivity”— which, ironically, us natives have always been scolded for lacking—and fully embrace their emotions when reporting news stories. Nor am i referring to the “embedded journalism” that characterized western media coverage of the 2003 Iraq invasion. No, this new trend in US journalism far exceeds the western journalist’s role as participant-observer and his/her default, establishment- friendly position .
Now we have a new phenomenon where the journalist assumes an unabashed role as war mobilizer-observer; his/her role is not merely to sympathize with or popularize the notion of military intervention, but to steal the initiative away from war-weary policy makers by actively agitating for war and rallying the public and military-industrial- complex for military conquest. This journo-warlord-ism can assume various modes of expression, ranging from the warmongering histrionics of establishment shills to the sneaky, underhandedness of so-called anti-establishment lefties’ not-so-secret itching for a US-led invasion of Syria.
An example of the former is Christiane Amanpour’s hysterical outburst on a CNN panel on Syria this week, which made Ad-Dounia Tv ‘s anchors look like paragons of objectivity. Speaking in a language and tone that violates every single standard of professional journalism that methodological imperialists have been shoving down our native throats for the past several decades, and with flagrant disregard for the scores of mainstream media reports (see here, here, here and here) that are now questioning the Obama administration’s flagrantly fabricated chemical weapons charges against the Assad government, a wide-eyed, finger-wagging, impassioned Amanpour exclaimed: ”I can barely contain myself at this point. And as bad as it is to decapitate somebody it is by no means equal, we can’t use this false moral equivalence. The president of the United States and the most moral country in the world, the most moral principles in the world…cannot allow this to go unchecked…. I am so emotional about this.” Lending an even stronger air of self-delusional psychosis to the mix was Reuel Marc Gerecht’s rationale for Assad’s alleged resort to chemical warfare: “There’s a reason why Bashar al-Assad used them, he needed to. If you look at the casualty rates in Syria, the regime is not doing very well.”
Not to be outdone by Gerecht’s and Amanpour’s complete denial of reality and outlandish explanations for Assad’s purported motives, in an article this week, Max Blumethal of “I quit Al-Akhbar because they allow the type of freedom of expression that journalists in my country can only dream of” fame, (recall his diatribe against myself and other al-Akhbar writers here) quips in with this precious insight: “Many residents repeated to me the rumors spreading through the camp that Bashar would douse them in sarin gas as soon as he crushed the last vestiges of internal resistance—a kind of genocidal victory celebration.” Like many others before him, Blumethal seems to be invoking the maniacal, psycho-killer theory given that all vacuous explanations on offer are counter-intuitive and defy basic logic.
In contrast to Amanpour however, Blumenthal belongs to the second category of journo-warlord-ism, which groups liberal and pseudo-leftist imperialists who are basically too cowardly to call for military invasion outright and hence, must resort to equivocation and verbal gymnastics to get their message across: “Indeed, there was not one person I spoke to in Zaatari who did not demand US military intervention at the earliest possible moment. ..Like most Americans, I am staunchly against US strikes, mainly because I believe they could exacerbate an already horrific situation without altering the political reality in any meaningful way. The Obama administration has made clear that its “unbelievably small” strikes would not be not aimed at toppling Assad but only, as Obama said, to send a “shot across the bow.” However, I believe that the refugees trapped in Zaatari deserve to be heard. “
If ever there was an equivocal anti-interventionism this is it: “I am staunchly against US strikes..[but] I believe that the refugees trapped in Zaatari deserve to be heard;” or put differently “I really don’t support military intervention but I am really in favour of military intervention.” More than this, although I am widely recognized as a progressive, anti-Zionist, I will only support a regime-change type of intervention that goes well beyond a limited strike, a full blown invasion no less.
And there you have it comrades, the new breed of journalist as proactive, war mobilizer-observer who emotionally reports his/her subjective reading of “facts” while urging reluctant policy-makers to abandon diplomacy, political dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the conflict in favour of bombing the living hell out of other countries.
Listening to US officials warn about Hizbullah’s alleged intent to use chemical weapons, the threat to the “planet” Assad represents, and other related bogus claims which the mainstream media has now dutifully and unquestioningly internalized , I recalled something I did when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I really wanted to listen to Boney M’s new album so i took an empty cassette and wrote “Boney M” on it. I then played it and heard nothing but white noise. I remember feeling really disappointed that my attempt to manufacture music with my scribbling had failed, but I kept rewinding it over and over hoping the music would somehow decide to play. The moral of this story? Six year old, mini-me was no more irrational than the western policy-makers and corporate media who believe that if you repeat a lie long enough it will become reality. Also, I was cuter.
For the past 2.5 years now, we have been hearing the same refrain by supporters of the Syrian opposition as well as Third Wayers (yeah, remember them? LOL), about the “hijacking” of their “revolution” by undesirable takfiris on the one hand, and the Empire and its lackeys on the other. But their very publicly articulated desire to see the US go beyond limited airstrikes, and later, their collective expressions of betrayal and disappointment at the Obama administration for failing to immediately bomb their country into submission—with some prominent social media activists even making nostalgic references to war criminals, Bush and Blair, for their “boldness” in contrast to Obama—reveals that this uprising was never hijacked. No, this was the nature of the opposition from the very start. I am not talking here about the al-Qaeda-dominated rebels fighting on the ground, but the so-called, “moderate, secular, non-sectarian” political/ hotel-lobby opposition. It is an opposition which remains undeterred by the specter of the Iraq-ization or Libya-ization of its country. An opposition which pursues the type of political pluralism which would reduce high treason to a legitimate point of view that is entitled to popular representation. An opposition which seeks to institutionalize the type of freedom of expression that not merely tolerates, but craves, re-colonization, and which countenances sectarianism; an opposition that seeks to constitutionalize the destruction of their state, the Syrian Arab Republic. It is an opposition to the very principle of democratic opposition, whether it is defined by decolonized progressives or by hypocritical western liberals.
Both in Kosovo and Libya, US presidents bypassed Congress although their declared aims were far more ambitious than in Syria. In Kosovo, the Clinton administration sought to “seriously diminish his [Milosevic’s] military capacity” and push the Serbs out of Kosovo; in Libya, the Obama administration’s goal was regime change. And yet, in Syria where administration officials have repeatedly stressed that the US’ aims are neither regime change nor even “changing the balance of forces on the ground”, Obama has announced his intent to seek Congressional authorization, although Congress might not convene for another 10 days, giving skeptics and opponents of the war plenty of time to present their case, hence Obama’s assertion that a military strike was not “time sensitive” and could take weeks. At the risk of sounding prematurely triumphalist, the fact that Obama is taking a major gamble in calling for a Congressional vote, right on the heels of the British parliament’s no vote, despite the professedly “limited scope” of the intended strike, can only be explained as a climb-down. So ironic that a power which supposedly enjoys the “writ of the international community” behind it and which is facing an “isolated Syria” is forced to take such precautions. Irrespective of whether a strike is launched, the deterrent power of the Resistance Axis and Russia can no longer be denied.
I don’t want to question in what moral universe would a state like Israel, which is the very embodiment of genocide and moral obscenity and whose very existence is a crime against humanity, be deemed fit to judge alleged war crimes committed by other nations. Of course this question applies equally to the US as well but we are talking about Israel now. I dont want to employ any moral or value-laden arguments; i simply want to refer to euro-american standards of justice like ”fair trial” and “neutral arbitration” (which is why the west created not-so neutral institutions like the UN), as well as scientific standards for inquiry like “impartiality”. In what western legal universe would it be deemed fair to use as legal “evidence”, information provided by a party to the conflict, which has occupied the territory of the state in question, repeatedly attacked and threatened it, and publicly called for the overthrow of its government? In what legal universe would “evidence” or “intelligence” provided by such a state be deemed credible and reliable? In what legal universe would such a state be deemed an impartial observer of alleged war crimes? In what legal universe would it be considered fair to completely bypass a supposedly neutral arbiter of justice like the UN in favour of Israeli [mis] information?
Aside from Syrian traitors wildly cheering on and urging the West for more than “cosmetic” attacks on their country from the luxury of Western capitals, there is no greater “moral obscenity” than John Kerry’s usage of the term “moral obscenity” to refer to one the most flagrant cases of fabrication. Forget the West’s audacity in scrubbing the UK Mail Online leaks piece published in January 2013, which revealed a “U.S. backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad’s regime”.
Just look at the audacity behind the “legal” basis for the now imminent strikes on Syria in US officials’ discourse:
-US Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel: “I THINK the intelligence will conclude that it wasn’t the rebels who used it, and there’ll PROBABLY be pretty good intelligence to show is that the Syria government was responsible. But we’ll wait and determine what THE FACTS AND THE INTELLIGENCE bear out.” ….”
-US Secretary of State, John Kerry: “I also want to underscore that while investigators are gathering additional evidence on the ground, OUR UNDERSTANDING of what has already happened in Syria is GROUNDED IN FACTS INFORMED BY CONSCIENCE and AND GUIDED BY COMMON SENSE….. and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.”
There it is comrades: the US, in Hagel’s words, is “ready to go, just like that” based on a presumption of guilt that has yet to be substantiated (“I think”), and a mere “probability” of culpability, yet to be determined by “pretty good” (suggesting that the evidence may not be conclusive) facts and intelligence. Notice here how he doesn’t specify WHOSE intelligence or WHOSE facts the US is relying on, lest the UN investigation produce results deemed inimical to US strategic interests. Indeed, a NATO official admitted as much to RT when he said “NATO supports the ongoing investigation of the UN inspectors, but will continue to closely monitor developments and review the evidence that is presented both by the UN and from“other sources.”
And then we have Kerry’s novel contribution to what constitutes reality, facts and empirical evidence. Even though the investigators are supposedly conducting a professional and impartial investigation, the US believes it is entitled to reach its own prematurely conceived conclusions on the investigation, specifically, “our understanding”, about the results of their as yet, incomplete fact-finding mission. See, although the White Man claims he alone knows how to separate his objectivity from the human proclivity to subjectivity, his entirely subjective “understanding” (as opposed to knowledge) of facts is as good as objectivity because he is the White Man after all. And his notion of objectivity has always boiled down to little more than an inter-subjective understanding reached amongst fellow White [imperialist] Men.
Equally insulting to the non-White, oppressed peoples, intelligence is Kerry’s reversal of the Western scientific tradition which is rooted in the fact-value split: Kerry effaces this split that is forced down our non-White throats in every single social science course we study. Now, we are told to take as empirically valid, “facts informed by conscience”, a not so veiled acknowledgement that the imperialist’s conscience (an oxymoron that is surely not lost on many) informs and shapes his reading of facts. To put it in layman’s terms, these are facts The White Man deems to be facts because he says they are so.
And then of course the classic appeal to “common sense”, otherwise known as “enforcement reality” or “consensus reality”, whereby the hegemonic power imposes his version of reality on the rest of the world, such that anyone who dares challenge it, is accused of indulging in irrational fantasies. This is alluded to by Kerry’s qualification that “despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.” See all the Syrian government’s carefully constructed, convincing and rational arguments, as presented today by Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, and by many western experts who have questioned both the nature of the attacks and the Syrian government’s motives for launching them, are just irrational “equivocations” which defy the “undeniable” reality set forth by the ultimate arbiter of “common sense”: the invading White Man.
To sum up: Syria is guilty until proven innocent, by those who have already staged its guilt. And it is going to pay the price (with, ironically, far more casualties than the toxic weapons attacks inflicted) for this pre-determined guilt for a crime it most likely did not commit. If that isn’t the crudest form of intellectual/methodological imperialism and moral obscenity combined, I don’t know what is.
I want to say something deep and insightful that ties all these events together, but after my son went to bed in tears because he is afraid of the next terrorist bombing, and my daughter wonders out loud which area of Lebanon will be next, and under which circumstances would we be forced to flee to England, I can only come up with this quasi-academic synthesis that borrows some concepts from the Realist school of International Relations: Fuck you and your American-backed revolutions. Fuck your collaborator opposition movements. Fuck your freedom. Fuck your priorities. Fuck your takfiri-Zionist tolerance. Fuck your abandonment of Palestine. Fuck your destruction of Syria and now Lebanon. You servile, opportunistic, unprincipled, colonized Arabs have destroyed the region and my homeland. Fuck you motherfuckers. I hope that was Realist [with a capital R] enough for you.
Note here how after enumerating the various reasons why it is highly unlikely the Assad government would have committed political suicide by using chemical weapons while UN observers are in Syria etc., Fawaz Gerges makes this rather sinister qualification to his own argument: “”It’s illogical, though we have learned in the last two years that irrationality is as important as rationality when it comes to the Assad regime”. It is precisely this type of psychopathologization practiced by mainstream media, academia and the political establishment— Assad is “detached from reality”, “delusional”, “irrational”, etc.—that sets the stage for such false flag ops like this latest chemical weapons massacre which can then be blamed on the Assad government, irrespective of the absurdity of such an accusation. Pundits can simply dismiss the flagrant illogic of these accusations by pointing to the “regime’s irrationality”.
It is no coincidence that the Bir al Abed bombing occurred on the anniversary of the July War, while today’s massacre of Dahyeh’s residents occurred on the anniversary of Nasrallah’s annual victory speech (to be held tomorrow), and just days after the Zionists’ botched raid in South Lebanon earlier this month. It is no coincidence that these bombings began right after Hizbullah’s role in liberating al-Qusayr , for which it was punished by the EU [and the treasonous GCC regimes] with a terrorist labeling, ironically. This is not an attack on Lebanon’s Shia, even if its aim is to provoke sectarian strife; it is an attack on the resistance for confronting the US-Israeli scheme in our region, whether in Lebanon or Syria or Palestine. It is an act of terrorism which aims at demoralizing the resistance’s supporters who have historically refused to be cowed by Zionist terrorism. Whether this act was executed by takfiris, who have claimed responsibility for these attacks and threatened more, or by Israel’s local agents, the enemy of the resistance remains one, and it is one which shares the same strategic aim of destroying Syria , Hizbullah and the resistance axis as a whole. The fact that fingers can be pointed just as easily at Israel as to takfiri jihadis only underlines the multifarious nature of Hizbullah’s enemy, which has required it to expand its concept of resistance by fighting the Empire and its local minions [Arab regimes] and unwitting tools [takfiris] on multiple fronts.
Foreign Policy magazine has published a thought provoking and brilliant analysis of the Saudization of anti-Shi’ism which details how sectarian discourse has shifted to doctrinal sectarianism, which is far more divisive and exclusionary than its older, ethnic/national variant. What I find particularly terrifying about this shift is that it has the effect of depoliticizing [while militarizing] identity-driven conflicts and essentializing them so that they become seemingly irreconcilable. Nasrallah referred to this shift in his last speech when he said ” At first, they didn’t refer to it as “Shia” [threat]. Today I want to call things by their name; they didn’t say Shia, they used to say the Iranians or the Majoos or the Persians, were attacking the eastern gate of the Arab umma…. They made a new enemy and then realized that their language which used the words Persian and Majoos etc. didn’t serve their project. So they gave their invented enemy another name: the Shia expansion.”
The full article penned by Fanar Haddad, is here . Excerpts below:
"The overthrow of Saddam Hussein changed all that. Since 2003, ajam, a term that was ubiquitous in what was regarded as anti-Shiite sentiment in Iraq and beyond, has all but disappeared from public usage. In its place has emerged a style of anti-Shiism that was largely the preserve of clerical circles of the Saudi Arabian variant. This is a discourse of exclusion primarily based on religious otherness that is embodied by the word rafidha. This new form of sectarian animosity frames the Shiites as suspect not because of the allegedly ambiguous national loyalties of some nor because of the so-called “ethnic impurity” of others but because of the beliefs that define the sect as a whole.
There is a qualitative difference between stigmatizing the Shiites as ajam and stigmatizing them asrafidha. Its potential repercussions on stability and social cohesion explain why authoritarian regimes in Iraq and elsewhere employed the former and repressed the latter. Multi-sectarian states like Iraq need a convincing veneer of inclusivity to survive. Iraq can afford to treat its miniscule Baha’i community the way Saudi Arabia treats its religious minorities, but its internal stability is hardly served by the explicit, unabashed, and ideological exclusion of culturally or demographically competitive sections of the population such as the Sunnis or Shiites. In dealing with Shiite opposition, ajam was a far more useful tool than rafidha for successive Iraqi regimes, as it allowed for selective exclusion: the state line throughout the 20th century was that some Shiites may beajam but that does not detract from “our brothers” the “noble Arab Shiite tribes.” This starkly contrasts with exclusion on the basis of doctrine which would place all Shiites beyond redemption until they renounce their beliefs and their adherence to Shiism.”
Western imperialism always likes to characterize the political behaviour of members of the Resistance Axis as being detached from reality, delusional, irrational etc. But I cannot think of a more irrational and ultimately self-destructive national security strategy than one which brands a popular grass-roots resistance movement, which is firmly rooted in an entire COMMUNITY, as a “terrorist organization”, despite having [UNIFIL] troops stationed in its midst ; a strategy which in based on the long-standing illusion that Hizbullah is a political party with an extra-legal military wing, as opposed to a quintessentially military movement with a political wing; a strategy which only chose to yield to US-Israeli pressure to designate Hizbullah’s resistance as a terrorist designation, when it scored military successes against al-Qaeda affiliated arch-terrorist groups in Syria; a strategy which has lifted the arms embargo on al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, who represent a very real threat to EU homeland security, in order to defeat resistance forces who are merely a threat to EU [neo-colonial] interests in our region ; a strategy which has opened EU member states to the charge that as State Sponsors of Terrorism in Syria and Israel, being labelled as “terrorist” by them, is nothing less than a badge of honour. Long live our “terrorist” Resistance!
It isn’t merely the [overwhelmingly Muslim], Arab people who reject Islamic extremism; The Egyptian army’s “coup” against the MB is but the latest manifestation of a political trend that began in Syria in 2011, and was also recently witnessed in Lebanon: Arab armies taking on the role of the guarantors of national unity and internal stability by refusing to allow their nations to succumb to the divisive and sectarian agendas of Amerikan Islam, be it in extremist takfiri or “moderate” MB form. The fact that Obama expressed his “deep concern” over the Egyptian army’s decision , only reinforces this reality and confirms the moral rightness of this trend . Nasrallah repeatedly warned of the US’ aversion to strong Arab armies who are capable of thwarting its sinister schemes in the region. And no matter how distasteful wars and coups are to the bleeding- heart -liberal- brigade, let us face it: there can be no genuine participatory democracy when US/petrodollar- backed sectarian agitators, disguised as democrats are presented as the only alternative.
In contrast to the sectarian tensions which have gripped Lebanon since 2005, there is nothing remotely organic or homegrown about the sectarian violence that Ahmad al-Assir represents. Mayadeen reports that the majority of the 30 terrorists killed are Syrian, and that Bilal Badr, an official in Fath al-Islam — which belongs to the al-Qaeda franchise— has been wounded in the fighting. Even the right-wing, March 14 Naharnet website acknowledges that “militants [in Ain al-Hilweh] from different nationalities belonging to Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam clashed with the army to ease the pressure on al-Asir’s gunmen.” In short, this is Jubhit al-Nusra et al trying to drag Hizbullah into a sectarian war inside Lebanon, and hence signals a new phase in the imperialist/Zionist/takfiri war on the resistance axis, using Assir as its Lebanese Sunni face. As such, referring to yesterday’s and today’s violence as a “spillover” effect, as though the violence were a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria [ itself a distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory ] is a huge misnomer as this downplays what is essentially an external plot to eliminate political and military resistance forces in the region by replicating the Syrian template in Lebanon. Having failed to achieve this aim in the past by means of successive Israeli attacks, backing opposition groups, imposing sanctions, etc., the counter-resistance forces have now availed themselves of an alien form of rabid, doctrinal sectarianism which has been grafted onto more manageable forms of political sectarianism, associated with more mainstream groups which oppose both Hizbullah and the Syrian government. Whether in Syria or Lebanon, destroying/weakening the national army and state institutions, which are seen as obstacles to this endeavour, is therefore part and parcel of this wider campaign. And it is a campaign which will not end once the fighting in Sidon and Ain al-Hilweh ends. As was the case in Syria, Hizbullah will have no choice but to play a leading military role in this new phase.