On Syria: Use Your Principles, If You Have Any

This is an article about Syria. In it, I won’t be going into depth about who did what to whom and where and when and how. I won’t be analyzing the shadows in photographs or whether that dead child is actually from Gaza or Pakistan. Doing so as the basis of one’s arguments is stepping willfully into a carefully laid propaganda trap. This will primarily be a discussion of principles.

On the Left we’ve been bombarded with repetitive pleas to pay attention to and agitate for the Syrian “rebels.” This always takes the form of berating: we’re not doing enough, we’re not vocal enough. Never does it consider that a true Left stance must be anti-imperialist. This means our positions cannot coincide or dovetail with the grand designs of the West’s ruling classes.

The “do something” Left seems only capable of ignoring that something is always very much “being done,” and that’s precisely why Syria was thrust into chaos. In 2014 fake Left poseur Molly Crabapple was kindly offered space in the historically leftist The Guardian newspaper to exhort her fellow goth liberals to support a no-fly zone in Syria. Two years later her comrade Hillary Clinton amplified that plea in her run for president. If your arguments are useful to power, you are its pawn. If you don’t see it as your job to at least oppose anything the ruling class has planned, you’re not on the Left and have no business addressing people who are.

In this vein I’m sick to death of fact- and analysis-free pleading from my stable of Facebook liberals, armed with dumbfuck juvenile narratives citing the pure, reasonless evil of the Assadoputinist mass-murdering totalitarian thugs, changing their avatars to FSA flags.

Just look at this clip of this smarmy mealy mouthed worm from The Hill, who has never stepped foot in Syria, challenging reporter Vanessa Beeley, who had just spent three days in liberated East Aleppo and was joining in from Damascus. “Did you ask the dead babies and children what they think?” He spoke in sound bites and click bait-caliber outrage of things he read third hand from probable liars. She, on the other hand, spoke passionately, her voice trembling with the reality that she had witnessed, the scenes of devastation and also relief of a people brutalized and imprisoned for years by religious-fanatic contras. The crystal-clear difference between these two journalists, one an utter fake parroting Beltway propaganda from within the Beltway, the other an independent scribe simply reporting what she had seen and heard directly from Syrians. Liberals batted it aside. “It’s on RT,” one disingenuous Facebook ass said, as if the venue changed the authenticity of the live video exchange and the facts presented.

(We don’t even have to do intellectual acrobatics to expose the anti-democratic aims of the rebels; they very plainly state it for us.)

That they are wrong about how to do anti-imperialism doesn’t make them bad people, and all the invective I spew comes from frustration. Frustration with a self-identified Left that has no principles, no demands, no intellect, no standards. Frustration with people who are willing to ally themselves with liberals to undercut the Syrian state thereby allowing the West and its puppets to better propagandize and ultimately destroy Damascus for ruling-class plans of economic domination. Frustration with assholes who embrace the Euro exceptionalism it requires to accept as fact that various Oriental types: Russians and especially Arabs, are slaughtering children for no reason at all, or as an “inevitable” “reaction” to whatever.

Hm. Actually, you know what? Fuck them all. They should have learned long ago to keep their stupid mouths shut when they don’t KNOW ANYTHING. Especially when they act on cartoonish stereotypes to demand the destruction and subsumation of an entire socialist nation to Western financial capital. They are bad people for reveling in and broadcasting their total stupidity and intellectual venality. How many more wars will they allow themselves to be lied into supporting, even after every other one is exposed as based on total fucking lies? How many more incubator babies have to not exist and mass graves not be dug up for them to take one second pause from squawking for the next psy op on cue like a trained parrot? These dimwitted dupes are addicted to being on the side of power. They still see themselves on the side of essential, innate cultural and institutional Euro-American virtue despite the truth that it was all a scam outing every single time, the racist pigs. I wish Bashar the Butcher ™ would personally drop some of them out of planes stuffed inside barrel bombs.

How many of them are cheering at the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey in alleged retaliation for the “taking” of Aleppo? Even if not outwardly, many liberals are smirking in satisfaction at the “justice” of this assassination. I fully expect to see hot takes from the Game Theorists in the coming days [that didn’t take long], but in the meantime, check out these optics! The killer is already a meme for his couture Islamism. There’s a lot of photo dissection from well-meaning sleuths but this is a trap. We can unpack the bullshit without so much amateur blood spatter analysis.

What we won’t see is mention of the direct naming of foreign intelligence agents apparently in Aleppo. The Syrian ambassador to the UN rattled off a list of US, Turkish, Israeli, Jordanian, Qatari, and naturally, many Saudi citizens he says are attempting to escape the city. We’ll see dizzying spin applied to the American jihadi Bilal Abdul Kareem’s display of “fighters” wearing suicide bomb belts because, allegedly, they don’t trust the Syrian Army not to kill them when they board the evacuation buses from East Aleppo. We’re not supoosed to wonder why this Genghis Khan-like force doesn’t just swoop in and bomb the shit out of them instead of acting out a bizarre charade to evacuate and then kill everyone. I guess minds of pure sadistic evil are truly unknowable. And of course, the great drama of Bana Alabed, the 7-year-old girl trapped in East Aleppo under a cascade of Evil Assad’s barrel bombs, has come to an end with her being cuddled on the lap of ISIS-backing Turkish President Erdogan. I’m not joking or exaggerating.

“Thank you for supporting the children of Aleppo and help us to get out from war. I love you.” 🙄

But again, dissecting photos and memorizing rebel-faction alliances is, in my opinion, a distraction from principles. In many cases I think the citing of these antfucky factoids is meant as a purposeful overload of discourse. Just peep this diarrheal comment on my Facebook, on a post where I simply posted a photo of happy women cleaning a church in East Aleppo. One of my “friends” posted this to “correct” my view of the conflict:

I seriously overestimated you, overrated you, really thought you were a sharp, cultured, politically savvy kid with the brain power and logic of a Greek philosopher. I guess you have just let me down. Big time. I don’t know where to begin to school you on what has been happening in the Mideast for the past 5 years. To mix and mangle all players and label and paint them with one single broad brush is not only ignorant, it’s just factually wrong. Ahrar Al-Sham is not ISIS. ISIS is not Nusra, they are rivals. They fought one another. ISIS is allied with Assad because they were created by him, CIA, Mossad (they never attacked Israel and have been consistently fighting Syrian rebels, Nusra and the Kurds. ISIS is the ace in the hole that Assad has been playing against the West. “Either me, or SIS!” The West gobbled it up, meantime Assad went on to gas his people just like Saddam did, drop made-in-Iran barrel bombs indiscriminately on heavily populated areas in Idlib, Homs and Aleppo. He then brought Russia in to do the dirty work because his military was a joke (or should we say Putin invited himself in). Putin claimed he intervened to fight ISIS but he ended up doing anything but. His true motives were to gain a firm foothold in the Mideast, test Russia’s new weapons and sell these new weapons around the world (Russia weapon sales skyrocketed since they started the bombing in August 2015) as well as an oil pipeline. Putin outfoxed Obama after the red line debacle and then went in and aided and abetted the killing of mostly Syrian civilians. You can bet that they never attacked ISIS, or maybe sparingly did for propaganda purposes, but instead focused solely on weakening and destroying the FSA. Now, Hezbollah: true they were heroes at first after they drove Israel out of Southern Lebanon in 2000, but then once the Syrian war started they got sectarian (they are Shia, and Assad is Alawite, an offshoot of shiism) and backed Assad at the behest of Iran. Iran always wanted to achieve a “Shiite crescent” extending from Qom, through Baghdad, Damascus and then Beirut. This was its chance., Iran mobilized Hezbollah which is its proxy in the Mideast, funded and armed by Iran, and threw its support behind the Syrian dictator. Hezbollah turned terrorist overnight in Syria began slaughtering Sunnis and raising its sectarian flag. Yesterday’s heroes turned today’s zeros. The triumvirate – Iran, Hezbollah and Russia – were instrumental in saving Assad from a certain defeat. The rebels failed to rally behind a credible political leadership, failed to unite on the front line, and were plagued by inner fighting, and the presence of ISIS, which was fighting the FSA, Nusra and the Kurds, made it worse and turned Western political opinion against them. But the real tragedy is that the biggest victims were the civilians who were not spared by Iranian militias, Hezbollah’s soldiers and Russian relentless air attacks. The FSA was supported by Gulf Countries for their own personal gain, which was a proxy war with Iran but all that support was financial, unlike Iran’s, which was both financial and boots on the ground. Anyway, here’s a[n Ezra Klein] video that will explain to you the Syria in 5 minutes: [video]

The Ezra Klein hat tip sent me into a giggling fit. Vox dot com is this guy’s authority on Syria. When I pushed back on his characterization of Hezbollah, he flat-out admitted they were once heroes but now were essentially vampires. He posted a pap-crammed Washington Post piece by a Clinton operative meant to emotionally manipulate me and when none of this worked, he declared me a supporter of totalitarianism. People have allowed their own consciences to be weaponized by the Empire.

When “news” gives us as much proven, sourced facts as the dumbest whiny exploitative op-eds, and two weeks after the indiscriminate rape and pillage of a huge city we still have seen only images of people cheering and cleaning up rubble, people must know — MUST KNOW — that at least — AT LEAST — there is something suspicious about the narrative we’re being force-fed. But hey use Occam’s Razor: did these same assholes lie to us about every other thing? Yes?? Then why in holy fuck would anyone assume they’re telling the truth now?

To be an effective anti-imperialist — and by “effective” I simply mean not willfully becoming a regurgitator of imperial arguments for war — you must support the Syrian state against its powerful enemies. Yes, even if you don’t like Bashar al-Assad and think there needs to be reform or even a complete change of government. If you oppose empire you have no choice but to keep your opinions about Syria to yourself and instead vocally, adamantly support the Syrian Army and government in its fight for survival against all odds. Yes, censor yourself. There’s more at stake than your bourgeois individualist desire to express your personal political ideals in this moment when people are dying and the rulers of the world are trying to kill yet another independent nation.

But frankly, given the steps the Assad government has taken to accomodate all demanded political reforms — even enacting this preamble to the 2014 constitution: Syria is “the beating heart of Arabism,” at “the forefront of confrontation with the Zionist enemy and the bedrock of resistance against colonial hegemony on the Arab world and its capabilities and wealth” — if you dislike Assad I’m at a loss as to how to integrate you into any meaningful Left at all.

Long live Bashar the Lion. May the Empire meet its doom under his foot.


  1. les · December 24, 2016

    Yuo are too nice. Do people tell you this in real life?
    Imagine looking at NAZIS (even ironic ones but actually non-ironic) and going “You Guys Don’t Realize How Non-Communist Your Fascism Is! Wake Up, Sheeple! Stop Being Misled By Hitler! He Doesn’t Embody the Socialism You Claim To Love in National Socialism”.


    • Sassy Sourstein · December 24, 2016

      No, in real life even having minor disagreements on current events is like punching someone in the face, so I wouldn’t dare say the shit I say here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hedlund · December 24, 2016

    Arguing about Syria has discarded whatever tenuous connection “debate” might have with its Platonic ideal. Making even the most trivial case against the imperial narrative tends to require dozens and dozens of sources, accurate predictions and preemption of whichever fact-thin reinforcement of ideology they’ll google in 10 seconds to summarily dismiss your (sometimes) hours of work, and a near-monomaniacal tenacity to keep their attention from straying into irrelevancies. Honestly, it feels more like deprogramming at this point.

    And that “it’s on RT” dismissal, ugh. I empathize.

    This is one of those things that starts in school, I think. From the first moment you’re tasked with a research paper, you’re enculturated to recognize a fundamental hierarchy of credibility. As with all liberal heuristics, it fixates on form to the exclusion of content. Whatever can be said for prioritizing, say, peer review over Wikipedia (much, I think), the ultimate fallibility of all knowledge is obscured by this security blanket of socially sanctioned gravitas. A lesson like this is extremely — even perfectly — susceptible to the kinds of large-scale selection biases that play out in our mass media organs today. I glimpse its shade every time someone pulls that “RT lol” shit and then responds with some utter drivel from WaPo or, God forbid, Daily Beast.

    “The ruthless criticism of all that exists” is always quoted with such a gleeful air, but it’s also goddamn exhausting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sassy Sourstein · December 24, 2016

      Yes exactly! You can make any informed case you like, based on a combination of proofs and they just slobber “Assad killed 8 squillon people…. barrel bomb?” and sit back and smirk. Facts have actually become a trap when arguing with people who have no principles or higher-level thinking processes. It just confuses everything — and the exhaustion is, in my opinion, part of the reason for the endless inundation of “news” with social media-sourced “facts” and their inextricable (without much useless effort) admixture with vapid pablum. It’s ON PURPOSE. Then if you go “forget it, fuck off” you have no intellectual rigor.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Tarzie · December 24, 2016

    Reblogged this on The Rancid Honeytrap.


  4. Doug Colwell · December 24, 2016

    It’s a bit funny how often I see articles about Syria that are objecting to the “Assad must go” stuff while they still spout the “butcher” line. Robert Fisk did this recently, and he actually says he’s doing it to fend off hate mail. I’m starting to think Assad is a pretty good leader, as national leaders go. I saw an interview (Koms Pravda) not long ago. The journalist asks about Kurdish autonomy, and Assad says (I’m paraphrasing) “it is not my decision to make. We can change the constitution only through our parliament”. That’s not how most autocrats respond.
    It also crosses my mind that he was not expecting to be the leader of Syria. So what did he decide to do with his life? Help people see.
    I think I like this man, and I don’t envy him his inheretence.


    • Sassy Sourstein · December 24, 2016

      These are good points. I’m not sure about the earlier history though I do remember back in 2000ish? when he came on board there being some pieces about “the reluctant London optometrist” etc. I would certainly not take on such a responsibility but if you either ensure this continuity of governance or see your country fall to imperialism maybe, if you have a conscience at all, you have no choics.


  5. Doug Colwell · December 24, 2016

    Opthalmologist, I think. I was recently corrected on this, but my spellcheck doesn’t like it.


  6. louisproyect · December 28, 2016

    What a crock of shit. Understandable why you wouldn’t use your real name.


    • Sassy Sourstein · December 28, 2016

      Lol eat shit you fucking imperial shill


    • les · December 28, 2016

      I call ironybro. That’s the only people who are out here. Orbiting ironybros with nowhere else to go. Idea that liberals followed you here to say “real name !” is laughable.

      Ironybros and the ironic bros who don’t love them. The internet activism story.


      • les · December 28, 2016

        LOL, is that THE louis project? I heard his name on line a few times, always mentioned by some obsessive tankie or other, but the impression I got was that they supported his good work. Googling him now, he seems like an anti-communist but he might just be a liberal Bernie-socialist type of thing.

        LMAO I never know who these people are and then I find out they have careers. So weird that he visits blogs just to seem like a sufferer of compulsive profanity disorder.


      • les · December 28, 2016

        Monsieur Louis Proyect, you should try to make better impressions because here you made a first impression on me, and it’s not winning me, a leftist, over and I can tell you that your general tone will only alienate the Bernieberals whom your type is supposed to keep herded and disciplined in the Democrat camp. Free advice.


      • les · December 28, 2016

        Also, serious Q for Louis,
        If I did what you do, would I get to tap any 20 something Brooklyn media chick tail or is it a cuck’s life for you, like for every man under 7 feet with less than 10 million dollars? I mean, do you get any action worth bragging about or only stuff that you’re kind of ashamed of?

        I want the stuff I can brag about, male or female. I DON’T want the stuff that people would not be jealous of. And you seem to belong to the VICE stratum of society, so I’m wondering about how they live.


    • No soy yo · December 28, 2016

      From Louis Proyect: “I am not in the habit of commenting on blogs that I am hostile to and would expect those hostile to mine to look elsewhere to play Lenin to my Kautsky, or Trotsky to my Max Shachtman….”

      blah blah blah on your BS of a blog w/ ridiculous politics. Marxist my ass. And Bernie’s a socialist. And Jacobin is radical.

      You’re not just an asshole, but you’re also a liar, since apparently you love going to blogs you’re hostile to (i.e., smart, leftist blogs that show yours to be a pro-imperialist, pseudo-intellectual liberal one) and make inane remarks, since I also see you w/ an equally asinine comment at OhTarzie.

      Liked by 2 people

      • wendyedavis · December 29, 2016

        well, the ‘unrepentent marxist’ louis proyect does have a recent piece entitled: ‘The Cassiopaea Experiment: the grotesque cult in Assad’s corner’, another he’d titled ‘Ben Norton completes his Stalinist turn’, but given the fact that tankies (a term sorta explained to me by tarzie) on twitter are howling w/ laughter at his scrubbing his earlier hundreds of tweets as an ‘anti-assadista’ (along w/ a few others who’ve now ‘seen the light’), it’s a pretty funny characterization….

        Liked by 1 person

    • diane · December 30, 2016

      oh lord, yet another: Anarchist™; Marxist™; Communist™; Socialist™; Demorat™; Pwogwessive™; Libertarian – who all only believe in a Republic of about 10 utter and monstrous ASSHOLES, at the end of the day, stating that:

      I’m [somehow?] fine using my actual name, despite all my faux [protected and verbal – not emotional, economic or physical] [protest] sacrifices [faux arrests, etcetera]™ for the [dumb™] and voiceless:
      so drunk with themselves that they do not even get how they betray their lies by demanding DNA from the oppressed.

      FUCK YOU.

      The shame is on you, you use your full name because you are one of only a handful out of billions who has full protection, via billionaire and millionaire, utter scum of the earth.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. wendyedavis · December 29, 2016

    sassy, this is fine stuff, and thank you for it; i may reblog it at café-babylon.net.

    do you recall the acronym PEP from a decade or more ago? ‘progressive except palestine’? this somewhat similar syrian iteration is far worse at dividing the ostensible ‘left’, but at the heart of it all do seem to be both ‘the new cold war against (revanchist) putin’, as well as msm lies, although even the NYT finally admitted that ‘the syrian human rights observatory’ was well…a con. a few recent columns at counterpunch have called out the dividing line of pro-Imperial ‘leftists’, but one recent one trashing evil putin calls out RT as unreliable state-sponsored media, and quotes amnesty and human rights watch on putin bombing civilians indiscriminately in the “civil war between Syrian and Russian government forces and rebel groups”. (anthony dimaggio; i won’t dignify it by linking it.)

    and of course there are the dem gatekeepers at the intercept doing fearless journalism on the wonders of ‘the white helmets’ (maz hussain) along w/ the Imperial fascist rubbish kevindooleyirl just exposed. but i do wonder if many of the rubbish-flingers and their devoted believers don’t somehow sense that the US is a dying empire and are flailing about to point the blame outward, since it just can’t be that it’s capitalism and non-democracy that’s rotting it away from the inside.

    meanwhile, in its abject fear of a multi-polar world, NATO is accumulating boatloads of nations to place ‘under its umbrella’, the dark hindu modi is the most recent: because nato can use bases there, pierre, gates, et. al. can help ‘build their economy’ in their own vision, etc. anyway, just a thought.


  8. les · December 29, 2016

    I actually can’t muster outrage at imperialists doing juvenile drive-bys on communists when, in all honesty, communists commit two cardinal sins.

    They give a free pass to all those who say nothing and passively accept the silent careerism of everyone who wants to climb the imperial social ladder while dodging any attacks from committed leftists. Keeping a low profile with your imperial shilling is basically rewarded by leftists.

    They are totally insular and cliquish. Communists form a tight kernel of loyalists and then cum in each other’s mouths with flattery and then don’t engage with the slightest outside criticism. Had someone other than Louis Proyect come by and suggested that the Assad regime is preferable to American imperialism, but is still a state based on elite hierarchies, they would have still been told to “eat shit, imperialist shill”. So much performativity on-line.


    • Sassy Sourstein · December 30, 2016

      Nope. Anything else?


      • les · December 30, 2016

        Yeah. You seem to chum it up pretty well with Nazis on Twitter unless they bite you in the ass personally.

        I can see why Facebook liberals and Facebook alt-right republicans are your obsession. You long for the embrace of their mob and lately, that’s gotten harder. Onward principles, tankie dude. No performativity to see here.


      • Sassy Sourstein · December 30, 2016

        No idea what Nazis you’re talking about or what your fucking problem is. Fuck off out of here if you’re not into it. Bye!


    • atomsksite · January 4, 2017

      “Had someone other than Louis Proyect come by and suggested that the Assad regime is preferable to American imperialism, but is still a state based on elite hierarchies, they would have still been told to “eat shit, imperialist shill”.”

      And we’d be right. Fuck those obvious “buts” and fuck the need to qualify everything we say by also being forced into stating the obvious. Of course the Assad regime is not communist, we know that perfectly well, but I’m not going to qualify everything I say any more so that it can be “acceptable” to goddamn liberals, who generally ignore the main point of anti-imperialism and latch onto the “buts”.

      If someone doesn’t know the obvious, if someone, like this dumbfuck Proyect, thinks that my stance against imperialism is “pro-Assad” and “Baathist”, I’m going to call him the dishonest, lying asshole that he is. I’m not going to pretend, not for a fucking moment, to stand on the same side with imperial apologist dipshits like him. I should not need to do that – especially not because the alternative offered is never *ever* about getting rid of the “state based on elite hierarchies” but installing a different and generally *worse* elite. No way I’m going to pretend that it’s about anything else.

      Finally, I’m certainly not going to qualify my points with “buts” towards the citizens of the Western empire, whose primary way to help is not by supporting some kind of real revolution in Syria BUT BY OPPOSING THEIR OWN EMPIRE.

      “They give a free pass to all those who say nothing and passively accept the silent careerism of everyone who wants to climb the imperial social ladder while dodging any attacks from committed leftists. Keeping a low profile with your imperial shilling is basically rewarded by leftists.”

      (Sorry for changing the order of the quotes, hope it’s not a problem.)

      I’m probably not getting your point, but isn’t your other complaint that we’re too unforgiving with everyone? Maybe I’m wrong but this is pretty much the main reason that I refuse to qualify my statements with those “buts”.


  9. Doug Colwell · December 30, 2016

    Louis somehow thinks the “rebels” in Syria are much like his beloved Sandinistas. He very carefully overlooks the aid and assistance given by western powers and tries to say “a pox on both your houses”. But since he claims the US isn’t involved it really comes down to “Assad and Putin are damned imperialists”. Well, maybe. I don’t think Assad is, myself. But it is truly bizarre how he cannot see the actual imperial hand in this. He really seems to thinks it’s a bunch of egalitarian freedom loving farmers and bakers fighting against the opressor. Now that I think about it , they do seem to be enjoying their freedom to cut off heads, put women in cages, eat organs and so on. My memory isn’t what it used to be, but I don’t remember the Sandinistas doing much of that.
    As far as les goes I’ve heard more is les but in this case I think les is just less.


  10. atomsksite · January 4, 2017

    Registered only (well, mainly) to say how awesome your (and tarzie’s and lorenzo’s) blog is.


  11. The Polemicist · March 2, 2017

    Spot on about the attempts to “emotionally manipulate” people and declare them “supporters of totalitarianism..”
    There’s the fundamental problem now that there’s an inverse relationship between America’s military power and its political strength. That centrifugal tension derives from the increasingly obvious discrepancy between America’s publicly-declared motivations and objectives, and the actual motivations and objectives–which cannot be publicly declared, but which the results of American actions make harder to hide.
    See my similar takes (which Proyect also summarily trashed), at: Syria, Interrupted Game Change, and No Apology: Syria, Interrupted (Part 2).


  12. S r · April 25, 2019

    Thank you so much for this commentary. I hope you write something about Assange soon. Seems everyone in the alternative media forgot that Wikileaks is a honeypot/psyop


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