Visit ArabTopics.com

Identifying the Real Hypocrisy

As with many of those who express a view in the continuing debate about the wisdom of launching yet another “humanitarian intervention” in Syria, I have found myself under attack from those calling for more war. The charge against me and many like me is one of hypocrisy.

So where are my double standards? I have consistently objected to all western efforts to interfere militarily in the Middle East over the past decade. I have argued that all states in the Middle East, including Syria, are seen by western governments simply as chess pieces in a great game called the Battle for Oil.

But critics want to use a different stick to beat me and others who resist their on fervour for intervention. Here is how Louis Proyect, a diehard interventionist who blogs under the title “The Unrepentant Marxist”, sets out the accusation:

With his long time commitment to the Palestinian cause, [Cook] seems to have trouble understanding that those under attack in Homs or Aleppo have much in common with those living in Gaza. While he is obviously trained enough to understand and communicate the plight of one group of Arabs, another group gets short shrift because it is perceived as inimical to the interests of peace.

In other words, I and many other supporters of the Palestinian cause are not being consistent in denying to the people of Syria the support we wish extended to the people of Gaza. This is an argument I hear being used with increasing frequency by the interventionists, in an effort to recruit to their cause the large numbers who back the rights of the Palestinians against decades of occupation and oppression.

But Syria and Gaza are not alike on many levels, making the comparison deeply unhelpful. And in so far as there may be similarities in their situations, I actually hold a consistent position that differs markedly from the interventionists.

First, Gaza is not like Syria because Palestinians live under a belligerent occupation, not in a unified, if failing state run by a dictator. There are very few decades-long occupations, but there are lots of dictators the world would be better off without.

Occupations are regulated by international law, which in Gaza’s case is almost entirely ignored, whereas states have the luxury of being largely ring-fenced from such accountability within their own domestic spheres. International law is mostly there to regulate the relations between states, not what goes on inside them. I may wish it were otherwise but I have to live with the reality that this is the current world order, and that such law exists precisely to prevent powerful states, either on spurious or selfish grounds, from destroying smaller states.

The comparison with Gaza is also unhelpful because it is possible to be in favour of external efforts to remove the occupation in Gaza without that also requiring us to be in favour of external efforts to overthrow the state apparatus in Syria. Doing the first may lead – potentially – to liberation; doing the second leads – inevitably – to chaos, as we saw in Iraq and Libya.

Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem need help in freeing themselves from the rule of a belligerent foreign state, one in which they have no stake or voice. The people of Syria – if Syria is to survive and not end up as a series of feuding ethnic cantons – need to find a common cause, a sense of nationhood they can agree on. That, by the way, was a long and painful path Egypt was just beginning on when the Egyptian military – backed by decades of US money and armaments – decided to halt it.

The only thing that changes in Syria by intervening or by arming either side is that each is able to inflict more bloodshed on the other. Ordinary civilians are dying on both sides of the civil war in greater numbers because we have fed an industry of fighting and death by providing factions with guns and rockets.

The only hope for Syria – as what remains of a rapidly collapsing state – is through bringing those sides willing to talk to negotiations to create a new order in Syria. It will not be Sweden.

Also to be addressed is the paradox that for the Syrian government to negotiate safely it needs to ensure its strength within the global system of nation-states; but with such strength it has less interest in making concessions to the rebels. This is a paradox that relates to the current world order. We may not like that order, but it is the only one that exists at the moment.

The implication of critics like Proyect is that the Palestinians are in a civil war themselves and that doubtless I would be in favour of intervention to help them. Again, the situations are different. The civil war between Palestinians is being fed and manipulated by Israel to keep the Palestinians weak and divided so that the occupation can entrench. It is part of a familiar colonial settler project.

The Syrians are in a civil war because there is bitter competition between sectarian groups for dominance of the state apparatus. In short, there is not enough sense of Syrian-ness. If there were, one of two situations would have arisen: Assad would have mass support still, or the rebels would have been able to tip the balance in their favour and take over through a popular revolution. That revolution might have been bloody but it would have been liberating. Instead we are in a protracted civil war, which each side sees as a zero-sum game.

Exacerbating this problem is the exploitation by other states of the Syrian state’s current relative weakness. Those states, chiefly Saudi Arabia, are feeding the conflict and trying to distort its nature. They are further damaging the fragile sense of Syrian-ness. On the other side, Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon are playing their part in interfering in favour of the Syrian government, propping it up with military support.

These last factors point to a more realistic way of interpreting events in Syria. Syria is caught in a power game, with the US and Saudi Arabia trying to keep Iran and its ally Syria weak on one side, and Iran desperately trying to keep its few remaining allies, among them Syria, as strong as possible in its battle against efforts by Israel and the west to undermine its sovereign integrity. Ignoring this as the main framework for understanding what is happening in Syria inevitably leads to erroneous analysis and faulty solutions.

What is needed now in Syria to lessen the bloodshed is reduced negative western intervention in Syria and much greater western positive engagement with Iran (certainly much more positive than the measly deal struck at the weekend). Syria’s best hope of a solution is through the west coming to a respectful accommodation with Iran.

A last point about the Palestine and Syria comparison. In so far as there may be some similarity in their respective situations, I certainly do not favour western military intervention on behalf of the Palestinians. This is not related to what is allowable in international law, which, as I noted earlier, treats these two situations differently; I am talking only about what I personally believe makes most sense.

I have never argued for the US and Europe to start arming Palestinian militants in the hope that the Palestinians can end the occupation by slaughtering settlers and soldiers. The level of military support the Palestinians would need to challenge or defeat Israel militarily would result in only one outcome: a sustained bloodbath that would lead to large numbers of dead both among Palestinians and Israelis. Something less than massive military support for the Palestinians would lead to a bloodbath chiefly on the Palestinian side. I favour neither outcome.

More useful and ethical would be a drastic reduction in, or better still an end to, military support to Israel from the US and economic support from the EU, or at least tying continuing support to genuine concessions from Israel to the Palestinians. Making Israel more militarily vulnerable to its neighbours, for example, would be an effective way to get it to the negotiating table and force it to make meaningful compromises.

So, in short, I and most other supporters of the Palestinians wish nothing less for the Syrians than we do for the Palestinians.

A final, related point about the revolutionary fervour of many of the supporters of greater western intervention in Syria. People who have monikers like the “Unrepentant Marxist” doubtless believe in a global workers’ revolution, but they are deeply misguided if they believe it will or can start in Syria.

The real hypocrisy lies with these armchair revolutionaries. Eager to foment a revolution, they want to build it on the bodies of Syrians, a people who have little hope of liberating themselves in a world where their tiny state is no more than a pawn being shuffled around a board controlled by other, much stronger states. If the revolutionaries really want to effect change, they would be wiser – and far more ethical – concentrating on the revolution needed first in their back yards.

Source: 
Dissident Voice

Dear friends of this aggregator

  • Yes, I intentionally removed Newsbud from the aggregator on Mar 22.
  • Newsbud did not block the aggregator, although their editor blocked me on twitter after a comment I made to her
  • As far as I know, the only site that blocks this aggregator is Global Research. I have no idea why!!
  • Please stop recommending Newsbud and Global Research to be added to the aggregator.

Support this site

News Sources

Source Items
WWI Hidden History 50
Grayzone Project 78
Pass Blue 148
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva 14
John Pilger 416
The Real News 367
Scrutinised Minds 29
Need To Know News 2224
FEE 4136
Marine Le Pen 288
Francois Asselineau 25
Opassande 53
HAX on 5July 220
Henrik Alexandersson 772
Mohamed Omar 318
Professors Blog 10
Arg Blatte Talar 40
Angry Foreigner 18
Fritte Fritzson 12
Teologiska rummet 32
Filosofiska rummet 94
Vetenskapsradion Historia 143
Snedtänkt (Kalle Lind) 203
Les Crises 2452
Richard Falk 147
Ian Sinclair 95
SpinWatch 57
Counter Currents 8108
Kafila 410
Gail Malone 34
Transnational Foundation 221
Rick Falkvinge 94
The Duran 9133
Vanessa Beeley 93
Nina Kouprianova 9
MintPress 5413
Paul Craig Roberts 1525
News Junkie Post 58
Nomi Prins 27
Kurt Nimmo 191
Strategic Culture 4380
Sir Ken Robinson 20
Stephan Kinsella 84
Liberty Blitzkrieg 836
Sami Bedouin 62
Consortium News 2420
21 Century Wire 3330
Burning Blogger 322
Stephen Gowans 80
David D. Friedman 149
Anarchist Standard 16
The BRICS Post 1500
Tom Dispatch 477
Levant Report 18
The Saker 3969
The Barnes Review 507
John Friend 420
Psyche Truth 146
Jonathan Cook 135
New Eastern Outlook 3623
School Sucks Project 1760
Giza Death Star 1771
Andrew Gavin Marshall 15
Red Ice Radio 593
GMWatch 2104
Robert Faurisson 150
Espionage History Archive 34
Jay's Analysis 882
Le 4ème singe 89
Jacob Cohen 206
Agora Vox 13880
Cercle Des Volontaires 429
Panamza 1974
Fairewinds 111
Project Censored 907
Spy Culture 463
Conspiracy Archive 75
Crystal Clark 11
Timothy Kelly 536
PINAC 1482
The Conscious Resistance 741
Independent Science News 71
The Anti Media 6287
Positive News 820
Brandon Martinez 30
Steven Chovanec 61
Lionel 279
The Mind renewed 438
Natural Society 2573
Yanis Varoufakis 918
Tragedy & Hope 122
Dr. Tim Ball 100
Web of Debt 138
Porkins Policy Review 393
Conspiracy Watch 174
Eva Bartlett 583
Libyan War Truth 310
DeadLine Live 1909
Kevin Ryan 62
BSNEWS 2031
Aaron Franz 214
Traces of Reality 166
Revelations Radio News 121
Dr. Bruce Levine 138
Peter B Collins 1482
Faux Capitalism 205
Dissident Voice 10206
Climate Audit 222
Donna Laframboise 405
Judith Curry 1105
Geneva Business Insider 40
Media Monarchy 2217
Syria Report 78
Human Rights Investigation 90
Intifada (Voice of Palestine) 1685
Down With Tyranny 11158
Laura Wells Solutions 41
Video Rebel's Blog 421
Revisionist Review 485
Aletho News 19360
ضد العولمة 27
Penny for your thoughts 2874
Northerntruthseeker 2255
كساريات 37
Color Revolutions and Geopolitics 27
Stop Nato 4694
AntiWar.com Blog 2904
AntiWar.com Original Content 6604
Corbett Report 2242
Stop Imperialism 491
Land Destroyer 1154
Webster Tarpley Website 1051

Compiled Feeds

Public Lists

Title Visibility
Funny Public