Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 25, 2013

A Syria Expert - Twelve Month Ago

Twelve month ago an often quoted academic and so called expert on Syria tweeted the following:

Aleppo falling to FSA. Rebels take al-Syrian Jadide, heart of Christian area. #syria #aleppo
4:46 AM - 25 Oct 12

al-Syiraan Adime just fell to rebel militias as well. Center of Aleppo fallen. #syria #aleppo
4:52 AM - 25 Oct 12

Syria Regime Gives up Aleppo. FSA sharpshooters on top of all buildings in a-Syrian jadide and Qadime, Christian heartland #Syria #Aleppo
4:54 AM - 25 Oct 12

Shooting has stopped totally in Aleppo. Eerie silence overtakes city as government relinquishes control and Rebels take over. #Syria #Aleppo
5:09 AM - 25 Oct 12

@FareedZakaria #syria Aleppo has fallen to rebels. Government gives up control as eerie silence decends over city.
5:12 AM - 25 Oct 12

Those hilarious illusions though, ended a few hours later:
Gov tanks descend on Faisal street - main road near al-Syriaan jadide, Rebel troops retreat into Ashrafiya. #syria #aleppo
12:33 PM - 25 Oct 12

Depending on the insurgency's propaganda for information, working with a simplistic sectarian mental model of the complex Syrian society and having zero experience in the art of war is the base of such sorry expertise.

Experience based realistic interpretation of all available facts would certainly provide for better analysis. Unfortunately there are few real practitioners of such a process in U.S. foreign policy discussions.

Posted by b on October 25, 2013 at 12:37 AM | Permalink

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They're still legends in their own minds ...


The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

Posted by: john francis lee | Oct 25, 2013 1:04:03 AM | 1

Oh Mr Landis or should I call him Mr CIA. Yes, unfortunately we live in a world where perception trumps reality.

Posted by: Hilmihakim | Oct 25, 2013 1:34:07 AM | 2

While it is amusing that a Syria expert got it so wrong (remember Brian Whittaker at the Guardian saying 90% of Aleppo had fallen ?), this conflict is far from over. Good analysis of the current situation and why things are going to come to a head in 2014. There is far too much at stake for the Americans to simply back off:

The approaching year 2014 will be decisive in the fate of Syria as Russia’s Middle Eastern frontier.

It is next year that
a) it will become impossible to further postpone the resolution of internal problems in the U.S.,
b) chemical weapons in Syria will be destroyed,
c) the moratorium on the development of the largest gas field in the world, the Northern field on the border between Qatar and Iran, will end, and d) Qatar will finish building its fleet, create infrastructure for delivering LNG (a port on the coast, a series of super gas tankers, and regasification terminals in the EU), and gain a stake in European gas transport systems.


Link to ACLU

Posted by: lacilir | Oct 25, 2013 2:43:18 AM | 3

I agree that Joshua Landis has turned out to be a disappointment as a Syria expert. He had a great chance, but somehow what he says doesn't have a prominent position. He was the Syria expert in the old days, that is, when they weren't any others.

Posted by: alexno | Oct 25, 2013 3:16:46 AM | 4

Hamas is getting lonesome
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/hamas%E2%80%99-return-resistance-camp-complicated

Hariri and the Turks directly implied in kidnapping people in Syria
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/azaz-diaries-detention-sakr-erdogan-and-abu-ibrahim

Posted by: Mina | Oct 25, 2013 7:27:06 AM | 5

Highly trusted sources have revealed that some gulf countries are on the course of gradual rapprochement with Syrian official authorities after reaching a conclusion that all their past policies were mistaken. Some sources said they would not be surprised to see top level Gulf officials in Damascus soon. http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=117654&cid=71&fromval=1&frid=71&seccatid=271&s1=0

Posted by: harrylaw | Oct 25, 2013 7:34:23 AM | 6

Yep, the tectonic plates are moving
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/84739/World/Region/Iraq,-Turkey-vow-to-open-new-chapter-in-relations.aspx

Posted by: Mina | Oct 25, 2013 8:05:05 AM | 7

Syrian experts? This site, and Penney's, have been more accurate and informative than anything recieved from the so-called "Syrian experts".

Posted by: ben | Oct 25, 2013 9:45:23 AM | 8

The Syria story perfectly illustrates how propagandized we are. At best, the Syria story is one with lot's of grey, Assad is more tolerant than perhaps any leader in the region, though still an autocrat. But, our media gave us a simple black and white narrative. Reporters seldom seem to question how they get in touch with the insurgents that call them. It's really frightening to hear people who are either lying to themselves, or us so glibly.

Posted by: scottindallas | Oct 25, 2013 9:47:36 AM | 9

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/24/former-spy-chief-overheard-acela-twitter?commentpage=1

Michael Hayden gets spied upon

Posted by: scottindallas | Oct 25, 2013 9:48:35 AM | 10

Penny's latest:

http://pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.com/

Posted by: ben | Oct 25, 2013 9:50:23 AM | 11

Anyone to brief McCain? He's not aware the US are traning the FSA!
http://youtu.be/RC7YEw1jgFU

Posted by: Mina | Oct 25, 2013 9:56:53 AM | 12

good old Joshua Landis...he has long been a 'friend of syria' and working to back the jihadis

Posted by: brian | Oct 25, 2013 10:38:47 AM | 13

what ever happened to Landis that he should shill for alqaeda? and seek the dissolution of a secular state and its replacement with an islamic dictatorship?

Posted by: brian | Oct 25, 2013 10:41:25 AM | 14

Assad is more tolerant than perhaps any leader in the region, though still an autocrat. ...

Posted by: scottindallas | Oct 25, 2013 9:47:36 AM | 9

what a bizarre statement...you mean western states arent autocracies?

Assad is one of the best leaders in the world today...the idea he is at best 'tolerent' only undelines the commenters insistance assad is a dictator if benign.

the idea of good government is foreign to a lot of peoples thinking rooted as it is in the delusions of 'representative democracy'

Posted by: brian | Oct 25, 2013 10:45:06 AM | 15

@ 1.
Hugely important and relevant - especially that innocent-looking word "discernible."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 25, 2013 11:36:00 AM | 16

will these muslims wage jihad on germany? and they wonder why muslims are being branded by cartoonists as terrorists
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/German-TV-European-jihadist-teenagers-fighting-in-Syria-329480

remember when muslims were outraged by the danish cartoonist who painted mohammed as a bomb wielding terrorist? they are confirming its true

Posted by: brian | Oct 25, 2013 12:30:44 PM | 17

Re #9, Scott & #15, Brian: I think that the illusion of 'democracy' cannot really ever be plausible in the non-metropolitan countries. 'Metropolitan' here is jargon for the old 'first world' countries. To put it at its very simplest, the neo-colonial setup allowed the rulers of the metropolitan countries to provide their own working class with a superior ('middle-class') standard of living, at the expense of the working classes, or peasant classes, or generally the masses, in the non-imperial countries. This happy state of affairs (for some) seems to be coming to an end, thanks to 'globalisation', which has cancelled the privileged position of the working classes in the metropolitan countries by exporting their jobs to the non-metropolitan countries. But given the way it was, under the neo-colonial system, the non-metro countries could not create the illusion of 'democracy' because the masses of their populations were at or below subsistence most or all of the time. A sort of sham 'democracy' could be created, as in India for instance, but it was a very obvious sham; voting blocs were bought and sold by neo-feudal landlords and employers, the political parties were basically giant protection rackets, and so on. Such a country could only really improve its prospects by telling the West to shove its phony 'democracy' demands, and becoming a straightforward autocracy. Some theorists (not left-wing ones) refer to these as 'developmental dictatorships'. Marxists would not use such a phrase because it implies that such a state of affairs might be better than the available alternatives. But a good example would be Egypt under Nasser. No-one would have pretended for a moment that it was a 'democracy', but it clearly was the only possible way forward for Egypt. And Ba'athism was very similar in its aspirations to Nasserism (if there is such a word). I expect bevin will have a word or two to say about this...

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 25, 2013 12:33:04 PM | 18

'transition to democracy' means transition to US control

Posted by: brian | Oct 25, 2013 12:52:25 PM | 19

Democracy in a tribal society? How is that supposed to happen? And to make it worse, as in Iraq, with the little help of a parliamentary system which ensures ethnic cleaning in every constituency in order for the local majority to achieve total control?
No democracy without SECULARISM!
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/4379/17/Secularism--is-key--to-democracy.aspx

Posted by: Mina | Oct 25, 2013 1:01:40 PM | 20

would joshua landis be a jew?
certainly an agent who pretends to care for the syrian's syria.
if you make a comment at syria comment, dont call the "rebels" rats. too impolite.

Posted by: delta | Oct 25, 2013 1:39:30 PM | 21

"Democracy in a tribal society? How is that supposed to happen?"
Most tribal societies are democratic. The best examples, in my limited experience, being the governments of the Six Nations or the Wendat/Huron, in which all major decisions were taken not only collectively but after exhaustive debate, aimed at producing consensus. Women held rights of veto over decisions taken by men.
But all "tribal" societies are inclined towards democracy simply because most economic production is communal to an important degree while military affairs are of vital importance to everyone. Primitive societies live too close to the margins to be able to indulge in the luxury of leaving matters of life and death to chieftains. Nor have they been educated to follow orders or suck up to the powerful. All men are equal, as Hobbes understood, though they differ in experience and health. Heirarchies almost always originate in foreign conquests, varieties of imperialism.

Rowan and Mina both advance exceedingly eurocentric (yes I know Mina, but that simply underlines my point) views, which is not surprising given the neglect and misrepresentation of indigenous societies which is central to imperialism's historical self justification.

Democracy is difficult in any society under capitalism but it is nowhere more difficult (as in impossible) than in the metropolis.

Of course democracy means rule by the people rather than rule involving all manner of safety valves and illusions of power sharing. As we have seen, in the last dozen years, when the ruling class feels threatened or sees an opportunity to consolidate its rule constitutions and laws are rapidly dispensed with and the sham of representation is reduced to to the farces currently on view in Congress, Houses of Parliament and National assemblies of all sorts.

Surely the governments closest to democracy at present are those in which the masses are closest to power? Bolivia, is one example, Venezuela another.

As to Syria may I recommend:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/25/al-qaedas-corridor-through-syria/
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-251013.html

plus Pepe's latest effusion also at AToL

Posted by: bevin | Oct 25, 2013 1:47:49 PM | 22

I meant to add Russell Brand's piece in the New Statesman, to be found, inter alia here:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/10/25-0.

He explains some of the problems with "democracy" in the Metropole.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 25, 2013 1:50:27 PM | 23

The problem in the case of Arab tribalism is that:
- the tribal areas are, of course, not the cities; i. e. completely different mode of functioning in the cities, producing the wealth, and the countryside, producing children;
- tribalism in the Arab world means that the locals want to keep a margin for their "customs" and do not accept any interference from the state, i. e., if in some tribes women do not get their share of inheritance, even though it is against the correct islamic principles, they don't care; same about the legal age for being married (they marry "private" and declare the wedding when the bride has the correct age, if they ever declare it). For this reason they are completely hypocritical when they say they want "shari3a islamiyya" (which they apply already far more than in cities, cf status of women as reproducers for the tribe with simply no representation or power on anything) because they are the first who do not let national law be implemented in their areas.
Dealing with tribal custom, the state has to accept that the land belong to this or that tribe, and that if they have special customs, nothing should be done against it because it will put in jeopardy the 'contract' of non-aggression they have with the state.

Cf Iraq, Yemen, Egypt...

Posted by: Mina | Oct 25, 2013 2:45:26 PM | 24

@23

Please don't give celebrity trash like Mr. Brand anymore kudos than they deserve which is exactly none. That piece you linked to of Mr. Brand's "hard-hitting" analysis is warmed-over tripe served from the mouth of a cog in the fake left propaganda machine that has so deftly neutered any and all true leftist movements in the West.

What is Bono no longer penning pieces?

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 25, 2013 3:16:18 PM | 25

Please don't give celebrity trash like Mr. Brand anymore kudos than they deserve which is exactly none. That piece you linked to of Mr. Brand's "hard-hitting" analysis is warmed-over tripe served from the mouth of a cog in the fake left propaganda machine that has so deftly neutered any and all true leftist movements in the West.

What is Bono no longer penning pieces?

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 25, 2013 3:16:18 PM |


What's the matter? Are you one of those folks still angry over the Andrew Sachs incident?

If you had bothered to read Brand's piece, you would have discovered that his message is far removed from the usual leftist consessions. Under his clown persona, he was allowed to push genuinely radical points to a world audience.

Posted by: [Name Redacted] | Oct 25, 2013 3:34:56 PM | 26

@26

"Under his clown persona, he was allowed to push genuinely radical points to a world audience."

Exactly, under his clown persona, he was allowed to push genuinely radical points to a world audience.

Oh, I'm glad you asked me to read the piece, I do just love when people feel the need to defend fake left celebrities they don't personally know as if I just spat at their grandmother.

Here, let's listen to how Comrade Brand issues cutesy calls for revolution but not just any type of revolution - a fun New Agey type of revolution!! Hooray!!! Just what the billions of poor people need to combat the capitalist oppressors: more fun and meditation!!! I'd better subscribe to Comrade Brand's Twitter Feed for more instruction!!

I especially love the part where he pays homage to one of his favorite performers Zionist non pareil Sasha Cohen:

Perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement to counter Ukip, the EDL and the Tea Party; for an ideology that is defined by inclusiveness, socialism has become in practice quite exclusive. Plus a bit too serious, too much up its own fundament and not enough fun. The same could be said of the growing New Age spiritual movement, which could be a natural accompaniment to social progression. I’m a bit of a tree-hugging, Hindu-tattooed, veggie meditator myself but first and foremost I want to have a fucking laugh. When Ali G, who had joined protesters attempting to prevent a forest being felled to make way for a road, shouted across the barricade, “You may take our trees, but you’ll never take our freedom,” I identified more with Baron Cohen’s amoral trickster than the stern activist who aggressively admonished him: “This is serious, you cunt.”

A bit too fucking serious, actually. As John Cleese said, there is a tendency to confuse seriousness with solemnity. Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn’t lack razzmatazz.

Wait, are you saying that British comedians have a history of jumping to the front of protest "parades", Mr. Brand? Oh well, never mind. You're right, why shouldn't revolution be fun, right? Forget all that murder, war crimes, blah blah blah yawwn the US/West is responsible for over the last...zzzzzzzzz

It's just a big laugh riot - or should be according to Brand - huh?

More pathetic nonsense:

We now must live in reality, inner and outer. Consciousness itself must change. My optimism comes entirely from the knowledge that this total social shift is actually the shared responsibility of six billion individuals who ultimately have the same interests. Self-preservation and the survival of the planet. This is a better idea than the sustenance of an elite. The Indian teacher Yogananda said: “It doesn’t matter if a cave has been in darkness for 10,000 years or half an hour, once you light a match it is illuminated.” Like a tanker way off course due to an imperceptible navigational error at the offset we need only alter our inner longitude.

Capitalism is not real; it is an idea. America is not real; it is an idea that someone had ages ago. Britain, Christianity, Islam, karate, Wednesdays are all just ideas that we choose to believe in and very nice ideas they are, too, when they serve a purpose. These concepts, though, cannot be served to the detriment of actual reality.

Seriously, I'd rather watch a neverending loop of the Bono Apple commercials than spend another minute reading this equally trite pabulum.

But the kids love it.

Exactly.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 25, 2013 3:59:04 PM | 27

re 21 would joshua landis be a jew?
certainly an agent who pretends to care for the syrian's syria.

Let's not go too far. Landis is an American with a Syrian wife. Not too competent, but not a secret agent. He has wavered between support for the government and support for the rebellion. His view could change again. He is not a demon.

Posted by: alexno | Oct 25, 2013 4:14:29 PM | 28

"Like a tanker way off course due to an imperceptible navigational error at the offset we need only alter our inner longitude"

Oh gawd. What a blithering asshole this guy is. He is the standing guy in the corner of the party, alone, because within five minutes of his appearance he had already bored the crap out of anyone that was foolish enough to listen to his psuedo-intellectual dribble.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Oct 25, 2013 4:37:11 PM | 29

Scottindallas @ 10 --

Too bad the Tweeter's phone didn't have a record function....

Posted by: jswbone | Oct 25, 2013 4:48:37 PM | 30

@29

As terribly inane as it is, it's purpose is deadly serious: to help derail any serious leftist/activist movements in the West by creating a palatable, fun, kid-friendly - read: non-serious - version of the real thing cf. the hippie/counter culture movement vis a vis the anti-war/leftist movements of the 60s in the US. Let's all go mediate with Russell instead of actually doing something worthwhile. Too bad drugs aren't as "cool" as they once were or Mr. Brand's vaunted addictions would not have been viewed as liabilities and he could have openly celebrated them. Oh well, at least he goes for the chicks!!!!(wolf call)

Judging by how widely I've seen left-leaning websites gobble Brand's sh!te up, I must admit TPTB are highly adept at choosing their stooges.

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 25, 2013 4:51:24 PM | 31

Posted by: ben | Oct 25, 2013 9:45:23 AM | 8

"Syrian experts? This site, and Penney's, have been more accurate and informative than anything recieved from the so-called "Syrian experts".

Thank you very much for that vote of confidence :)
It pleases me greatly that you appreciate my work as much as you do

As for Josh Landis? He is no Syrian 'expert' of any kind?
In my opinion he has always been a NATO mouthpiece- selling the agenda Along the lines of 'brown moses'
Their expertise is inflated so they have that "appeal to authority" kind of credibility- speaking in propaganda/ad hominem terms

And while I have not always seen eye to eye with b on all views expressed, which would be completely abnormal anyway, b has indeed put out some solid info


Posted by: Penny | Oct 25, 2013 5:21:18 PM | 32

J Sorrentine @ 25

"Please don't give celebrity trash like Mr. Brand anymore kudos than they deserve which is exactly none."

Is this that horrid Russell Brand person that was married or something to the 'wanna be' singer Katy Perry?

When I read the mention of him and your reply, I thought could it be?

I like your take on Bono. I mean U2 as a musical entertainment is one thing, but, as world saviour I always wish he would go away.
Him and his wife and their Louis Vuittion luggage :))

Posted by: Penny | Oct 25, 2013 5:27:32 PM | 33

Russell Brand

Whines about Global Warming, regularly flies in a private jet.

Any more fake heroes to dazzle us hoi polloi with today?

Posted by: foff | Oct 26, 2013 12:57:16 AM | 34

american nat sec tweets: amusing gross and surreal!
'NATSECWONK 7 Nov Mary Matalin is a disgrace for calling out President a 'sociopath'
'NATSECWONK 2 Jul heres the bottom line: @wikileaks can go f*ck themselves
'NATSECWONK 1 jul Cant we round uo a group of patriotic americans to fly to moscow , head for the transit lounge and beat the f*cking shit out of Snowden?

http://www.scribd.com/doc/178324303/Tweets-of-natsecwonk

here he is
'The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Jofi Joseph, who helped negotiate policy on Iran as the director of the non-proliferation section of the White House National Security Staff, was fired last week when he was discovered as the man behind an anonymous Twitter account bashing the Obama administration and its foreign policy.

From the @natsecwonk account, Joseph vexed his colleagues with candid and often insulting opinions of White House staff. National political figures and journalists, including the Daily Beast reporter who discovered his alias, were also hit with Joseph's snark.'
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/the-best-of-outed-white-house-national-security-staffer-s-harsh-tweets

Posted by: brian | Oct 26, 2013 1:40:50 AM | 35

Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 25, 2013 3:16:18 PM | 25

what makes you think Brand is a fake? envy of his public profile?

Posted by: brian | Oct 26, 2013 1:42:19 AM | 36

Posted by: alexno | Oct 25, 2013 4:14:29 PM | 28

he may not be a demon, but any support for al-nusra puts him in demon territory

his wife may be syrian but she cant be too patriotic

Posted by: brian | Oct 26, 2013 1:44:22 AM | 37

FYI gender bender! best place to be a woman: view these maps http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-24650912 note lack of data for Libya

Posted by: brian | Oct 26, 2013 2:02:27 AM | 38

More tectonic movements
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/saudi-restores-libyan-spy-chief%E2%80%99s-role-global-shadow-broker

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2013/Oct-26/235853-ibrahim-mediating-between-qatar-and-syria.ashx#ixzz2imTeJRsx

I don't think Landis deserve all this criticism. Surviving between hyper-sensitive Baathists and the US ultra-Zionists is not so easy and I would certainly read some of his posts with this in mind. His website remains a reference source (including the comments and the posts by other researchers) to understand what happened since the beginning of the hijacking of the Arab Spring by Qatar.

Posted by: Mina | Oct 26, 2013 8:30:41 AM | 39

Another article on al-Akhbar today is unusually good on this.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 26, 2013 10:18:13 AM | 40

One of the things that Brand mentioned was that:
"The right seek converts, while the left search for traitors."

What Brand writes is worth reading. He is one of the very few commentators that I have read who realises that the wave of rioting that took place in England after the killing of Mark Duggan was of enormous significance. These riots were put down with such ferocity because the state understands how explosive the current situation in capitalist society is. They don't care about the "Marxists" whose organisations thrive because they are largely irrelevant politically, but they do care about the sort of "kids" with whom Brand feels kinship. And they know how fragile their rule is: the system lives one riot away from a revolutionary situation.

If Brand were black I suspect that J Sorrentine and others would afford him more respect, because they would understand that the enormity of the generations of persecution of black Americans is such that even a wealthy entertainer might persist in identifying with the masses of his race. Perhaps Harry Belafonte and Paul Robeson can be taken seriously? Perhaps Leadbelly's political views are still worth listening to?

Well, in English terms, Brand is black. He is a member of a class which has for long centuries been exploited, persecuted, used as cannon fodder, plundered, raped and despised. And he knows this. And he hates the establishment and the system. Millions of English people, especially young people, who are being treated like shit by the ruling class, know where he's coming from and are in sympathy with the tenor of his views.

Of course he might turn out as Bono has, but right now what he is saying is important. And the pre-condition of his career following the Bono trajectory is an era of declining militancy, increasing neo-liberalism and the domination of its ideology. That era has ended, the coming period will be one in which the socialism or extinction question is decided.

By the way what Brand writes ought to be judged as we judge everything else, not as a complete package but as a series of discrete observations each worthy of being held up to the light of reason and experience and rejected, accepted, misunderstood, laughed at or puzzled over on their own merits. Identifying them as the products of a persona one finds offensive is nothing more than bigotry in the very English form of snobbery.

Brand comes from Ian Drury's Essex. Does anyone remember Ian and the Blockheads? "I could be the spark that starts the revolution. I could be an inmate in a long term institution..." Russell does.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 26, 2013 11:05:29 AM | 41

The Kurds have managed to take an important checkpoint at the Syria-Iraq border which was used to bring in weapons and djihadists. It seems they have managed to take back up to 70 percent of the North-East.
The Syrian army is now busy in the area between Damascus and Homs. If they manage to control it, the djihadists will be deeply weakened.
Qatar is trying to get the two abducted bishops freed.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2013/Oct-26/235882-sleiman-qatar-exerting-maximum-efforts-to-release-bishops.ashx#ixzz2ipfMiKSX

Posted by: Mina | Oct 26, 2013 11:13:29 AM | 42

Ian Dury, not Ian Drury: "Sex & drugs & rock'n'roll, what my mind & body needs..."

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 26, 2013 11:32:31 AM | 43

Dury indeed:
"Sex and drugs and Rock 'n' roll, is what my brain and body needs" is how I remember the lyric.
Looked it up:
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Is all my brain and body need
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Are very good indeed...

Posted by: bevin | Oct 26, 2013 11:44:16 AM | 44

Talking of riots, this news from the WSWS could indicate trouble to come in US supermarkets.

'Benefit payments from the US government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, will be slashed drastically on November 1, the first across-the-board cut in food stamp benefits in US history.
The cuts will amount to $5 billion per year, and a total of $11 billion through 2016. The average household of three will receive a benefit cut of $29 a month, or $319 per year.


“The depth and breadth of the SNAP cuts that take effect in November are unprecedented,” wrote Dottie Rosenbaum and Brynne Keith-Jennings of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). “Past cuts have affected specific states or groups, but they have not affected all participants nor been as large as these cuts.”
"The CBPP noted, “The cut is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s ‘Thrifty Food Plan.’” Once the cuts go through, SNAP assistance will amount to less than $1.40 per person per meal, according to the CBPP.
"One in seven Americans receives food stamp assistance, up from 9 percent of the population in 2008 to nearly 15 percent in 2012. The program helps feed 48 million people, up from 26 million in 2007....."

Posted by: bevin | Oct 26, 2013 11:48:45 AM | 45

for 41

clearly a case of "Can get fooled, again" . . . . and again and again
repeat chorus
ad nauseam

Posted by: foff | Oct 26, 2013 11:49:23 AM | 46

who is russell brand?

many of the expert posters at syria comment (landis) mouth the govt line re syria and the invading thugs.

Posted by: delta | Oct 26, 2013 1:03:23 PM | 47

@38 "gender bender"

Thanks brian. I'll definitely keep that in mind next time I undergo a sex change! What would I do without the beeb?

obob (AKA "Putin's Pig.")

Posted by: oboblomov | Oct 26, 2013 1:25:19 PM | 48

It's odd when you consider both the Angles and the Saxons came to Britain from Germany. As did the House of Windsor.

Posted by: dh | Oct 26, 2013 1:45:49 PM | 49

Ooops that was supposed to be on the Merkel thread.

Posted by: dh | Oct 26, 2013 1:46:45 PM | 50

Don't know about Ian Dury and the Blockheads, but I do remember that one hit band called Thunderclap Newman and Something in the air, here is one verse...
Hand out the arms and ammo
we're going to blast our way through here
we're got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolutions here.
I also remember Arthur Askey singing Busy Bee and George Formby singing In my Grand Dads flannelette nightshirt. These last two not in the slightest revolutionary but the latter certainly risque.

Posted by: harrylaw | Oct 26, 2013 2:45:17 PM | 51

And don't forget the Goons walking backwards for Christmas.

Posted by: dh | Oct 26, 2013 2:47:39 PM | 52

@51

Ah but remember, that was just a song, mere words and music.

At the end of the day the thing to take away is that for all the stirring revolutionary sentiment, there was no revolution, certainly not in the UK nor any of the other Anglo lands.

And any man that is bedding Jemima Goldsmith, a sister in law of a Rothschild, is extremely unlikely to represent anything but his own pathetic narcissistic desire to appear somewhat relevant. Even if he does come from essex.

Essex never really was much of a place for revolutionaries, certainly not this century, despite the ridiculous fantasies some people have posted here.

Russell Brand, with his brain-dead, frankly embarrassing, Channel 4 "yoof presenter" chat-show host persona contributed more than his fair share to help create the apathetic borderline-moronic feral "yoof" of the UK.

To attempt to paint him now as a spokesman for discontent is laughable. Yet another media con.

Posted by: foff | Oct 26, 2013 6:38:12 PM | 53

egypt and syria: morsi was bad news

'Last week, with the U.S. edging closer to an attack on Syria, nationalist rhetoric inside Egypt reached an even higher pitch. Hamdeen Sabahi, the leader of the Popular Current who came in third in last year’s presidential election, told a television interviewer, “If Egypt is going to be attacked, it will come from the north, from Syria. An attack on Syria is an attack on Egypt.”

The youthful activists who launched the campaign to unseat Morsi joined in the posturing. Mahmoud Badr, the spokesman for the Tamarod (Rebellion) Campaign, released a statement calling on Egypt to close the Suez Canal to warships involved in a potential strike on Syria, saying he “supported the Syrian Arab army in the face of the upcoming U.S. military strike against Syria.” Anyone who supported foreign intervention, he said, is a “traitor.” The group’s Facebook page is emblazoned with an image of an American flag in flames.'

http://world.time.com/2013/09/03/what-syria-means-for-egypt-pro-assad-mood-marks-return-of-arab-nationalism/

Posted by: brian | Oct 26, 2013 8:02:36 PM | 54

Posted by: Mina | Oct 26, 2013 8:30:41 AM | 39

hypersensitive what?
in fact anyone with conjones can survive,,,,

Posted by: brian | Oct 26, 2013 8:12:13 PM | 55

On 4 May 2012 Joshua Landis said: "Universities have now slipped over the edge. They have become part of the boiling ocean of Syrian discontent. Next fall, they will probably not open." http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=14503 . Repeating himself on 11 May 2012, Joshua Landis said: "Most [universities] are trying to limp to the end of the academic year, but they will probably not be able to open in the fall. Students are becoming mobilized and radicalized." http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=14568

Today in Syria most of the universities are open and operating. A minority are not operating but that's is due to the fighting successes of armed hooligans who have never attended a university in Syria. One of the biggest universities in Syria is Al-Baath University in Homs City. It is open and operating at full capacity. Damascus University is the largest in the country. It is operating normally. Tishreen University in Latakia is the third-largest and is operating normally. The operating universities are also taking in students who were attending universities in places that the Syrian security forces failed to secure. On the whole the university students of Syria have NOT "become mobilized and radicalized" and have NOT "become part of the boiling ocean of Syrian discontent".

Aleppo University, the second-largest university in Syria, is located in an area in Aleppo city that I think is government-controlled, but I think the university is not operating. Its website is not operating (ref) . The Syrian ministry of higher education has made an administrative decision enabling Aleppo University students to attend other universities in Syria: ref , ref , ref , ref . I can't be sure what's happening at Aleppo university today because I wasn't able to find definitive info about it on the Internet. However, silence from government sources generally implies bad news (i.e. bad from the government's viewpoint), and hence I take it that Aleppo university is very likely out of operation.

Info in Arabic about university operations today is at
Syrian Ministry of Higher Education ,
Damascus University ,
Al-Baath University (Homs) ,
Tishreen University (Latakia) .

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 26, 2013 8:22:12 PM | 56

I developed a contempt for Joshua Landis's thinking in 2011 when I used to visit his blog fairly regularly. I haven't read anything by him for well more than a year now. The problem was primarily that he didn't practice evidence-based reasoning. His output was littered with cocksure big assertions that would need to be evidenced before they could be given credence. About half of his assertions happened to be correct -- but it would not be possible to find out from him which of his assertions were correct because he didn't deliver the necessary evidence. It wasn't merely that he didn't take the time to present the evidence in certain contexts; he never presented the evidence anywhere. No doubt he still doesn't.

What Joshua Landis says repeatedly in the following quotations is likely to get simply debunked by the test of future time. If it doesn't, it wouldn't imply that he was wise; it would merely mean that he got half-lucky.

On 15 Jun 2011 Joshua Landis said: "There is not going to be any package of reforms that is going to save this regime.... Eventually the Alawite rule of Syria is going to collapse. It is going to be replaced by Sunni rule." -- ref.

Joshua Landis, 26 Jan 2012: "Syria's Assad regime is doomed, but the battle will be long and bloody.... Syria's transition away from minority rule is likely to be lengthy and violent." -- ref.

Joshua Landis, 12 Apr 2012: "Syria's problem is that it does not have a strong sense of national community. A minority rules. We're going to see that minority fall I believe in the next several years." -- ref. .... And Joshua Landis, 8 Apr 2012: "This is a broad based social uprising that the Assad regime will not be able to destroy." -- ref.

Joshua Landis, 12 Feb 2012: "I have been very consistent during 15 years of analysis in arguing that the Assad regime is incapable of transitioning to democracy.... I was quick to explain that the Syrian Revolt broke out because of the “deeply sectarian” nature of the regime." -- ref.

On my information and belief, contrary to Joshua Landis's, the institutions of State have fully transitioned to democracy, the uprising is not broad-based, Syrians have a strong sense of national community (shared among a majority of the population, and obviously rejected in some quarters), and the rebels are going to be militarily defeated in the next several years. Either me or Landis is dead wrong. To assess whether it's me that's dead wrong, I'd need a presentation of evidence. And this is what Landis never did, not even partially, during the period that I was reading him.

Landis often referred to the Assadist and Baathist rule as "the Alawite rule" and "rule by the Assad family". In reality, the great majority of the Baath party members are Sunni in their religion and that's true as well for the individuals at top ranks of the Baath Party and at the top ranks of the Syrian government. And it has been true continuously for the last half-century. Landis once did say, in opposition to his usual language: "Baathist rule has been built on the Sunni-Alawi alliance." -- ref . What's that, "the Sunni-Alawi alliance"? The governing class in Syria is predominantly Sunnis, and this class of governing Sunnis is politically opposed to the more conservative, pious, purist, Salafi forms of Sunni Islam that exist in the society, and these secularist-leaning governing Sunnis have the political support of the minority sects in Syria. In Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Jordan, countries where the governing classes are overwhelmingly Sunnis and the minorty sects are politically inconsequential, the Secularist-verus-Islamist divide is also the big political divide. Landis's view of Syria is much influenced and distorted by the reference-point of Lebanon, a big error by Landis. Other Sunni-dominant countries would be a better reference point because the divide in Syria is first and foremost a divide amongst Sunnis.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 26, 2013 8:50:42 PM | 57

I don't think the idea of Syria 'transiting to democracy' is even a good one.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 26, 2013 11:26:57 PM | 58

I always thought that because Landis wife is supposedly Alawi. He would have a more discerning eye concerning the Syria situation. He would/might have better intelligence than most or any other Syrian expert. However his demonization of the Syrian government and the unfair prognosis he became known for convinced me of either his bias, his being a tool or maybe his wifey does not like Assad and she is feeding him some of the garbage he puts out.

Posted by: Fernando | Oct 27, 2013 2:58:25 AM | 59

Parviziyi,
Thanks for your remarks. Strangely my selective memory had not fixed these statements.
My understanding is that he was an intermediate in talks between the Syrian and the US govs. I didn't read his blog before March 2011, but he referred at times to some earlier posts which show he was trying to help the Baathists and the US establish some connections, for example by organizing lectures for the Syrian ambassador in US universities. Going a bit further, he seems to have played a role in helping the couple of students who were behind the fake "Gay Girl of Damascus", which in itself was an attempt to show the West that "there were some 'liberals' even in Syria" get their jobs at Edinburg university.

Nevertheless, without his posts on the Banyas ambush and the Jisr al Shughur massacre, LeMonde/Guardian would have sold the Qatari script without hindrance.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8686582/Syrian-opposition-admits-armed-insurgents-are-operating-on-fringe-of-uprising-against-Assad-regime.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/13/world/middleeast/13syria.html?_r=2&ref=middleeast
http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/landis-in-the-news-archive/landis-in-the-news/ (these archives are useful to search any old article by keyword)
http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/04/15/syria-and-the-delusions-of-the-western-press/

Posted by: Mina | Oct 27, 2013 5:55:46 AM | 60

I see now that Merkel's phone was a secure Blackberry. that is a bit surprising due to the hoopla that went on when Obama got his from the NSA. from CNET

Posted by: dan of steele | Oct 27, 2013 7:22:34 AM | 61

Landis is a decent person who drank from a poisoned well by Syrian American expats. His information sources are mainly from Syrian expats who claim to know it all when in fact they know little to anything at all. I wish he would stick to his academic and analytic side instead of jumping from one side of the conflict to the other.

Posted by: MikeA | Oct 27, 2013 1:15:59 PM | 62

They wanted to get read of Iranian influence and Hezbollah?
They've got al-Nusra!! What a success story
http://www.aymennjawad.org/13960/the-islamic-state-of-iraq-and-ash-sham-billboards

Posted by: Mina | Oct 27, 2013 2:46:17 PM | 63

Posted by: MikeA | Oct 27, 2013 1:15:59 PM | 62

if he were a decent person with half a brain by now hed be aware of what is really happening in Syria...esp as before he blocked me on his blog, i was informing him

Posted by: brian | Oct 27, 2013 5:22:04 PM | 64

I don't think the idea of Syria 'transiting to democracy' is even a good one.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 26, 2013 11:26:57 PM | 58

'transiting to democracy' is code for implementing a US puppet regime

Posted by: brian | Oct 27, 2013 5:33:17 PM | 65

@57 interesting

'What Joshua Landis says repeatedly in the following quotations is likely to get simply debunked by the test of future time. If it doesn't, it wouldn't imply that he was wise; it would merely mean that he got half-lucky.

On 15 Jun 2011 Joshua Landis said: "There is not going to be any package of reforms that is going to save this regime.... Eventually the Alawite rule of Syria is going to collapse. It is going to be replaced by Sunni rule." -- ref.
Joshua Landis, 26 Jan 2012: "Syria's Assad regime is doomed, but the battle will be long and bloody.... Syria's transition away from minority rule is likely to be lengthy and violent." -- ref.

Joshua Landis, 12 Apr 2012: "Syria's problem is that it does not have a strong sense of national community. A minority rules. We're going to see that minority fall I believe in the next several years." -- ref. .... And Joshua Landis, 8 Apr 2012: "This is a broad based social uprising that the Assad regime will not be able to destroy." -- ref.

Joshua Landis, 12 Feb 2012: "I have been very consistent during 15 years of analysis in arguing that the Assad regime is incapable of transitioning to democracy.... I was quick to explain that the Syrian Revolt broke out because of the “deeply sectarian” nature of the regime." -- ref.'
==========================

Lets debunk the fellow now:
1. 'this regime.... Eventually the Alawite rule of Syria is going to collapse'

'regime' is a word used for enemy states by the US suggesting the govt is unsavoury illegitimate and even unlawful…..
What 'Alawite rule'? When there are many sunnis in government.

2. 'Syria's Assad regime is doomed, but the battle will be long and bloody'

Assad regime'?

3. 'Syria's problem is that it does not have a strong sense of national community'

On the contrary, a million syrians massing in Damascus in support of the 'Assad regime' tell us other wise

4. 'This is a broad based social uprising that the Assad regime will not be able to destroy'

That musty be why the saudis have had to recruit abroad! From chechnya libya tunisia afghanistan pakistan UK France Belgiu Australia china etc etc But so far this 'broad based uprising seems free of christians and alawites…

5. 'Syria's transition away from minority rule is likely to be lengthy and violent'

Minority rule? You mean US France UK etc have majority rule? 'Representative democracy' is is by definition 'minority rule': rule by political party: as no state on earth has 'rule by the people'.

6. '"I have been very consistent during 15 years of analysis in arguing that the Assad regime is incapable of transitioning to democracy'

Translation: he wants a state ruled by a US friendly regime…and his 15 years of opposition to syrias current rule shows he has never been anything but an opponent.
As for 'transitioning to democracy': this is code for a puppet regime contrlled by the US

Posted by: brian | Oct 27, 2013 5:45:22 PM | 66

@57 nice and useful analysis

Posted by: brian | Oct 27, 2013 5:47:17 PM | 67

I thank Mina for the link at #63. Islamist rebels have been in control of Al-Raqqa city in north-central Syria for the last six months. They've put up many artistic billboards with Islamist messages or slogans, around the city. By reading the billboards (in English translation) one can learn about Islamist political positioning in Syria. Another link to the same article is http://jihadology.net/2013/10/22/musings-of-an-iraqi-brasenostril-on-jihad-the-islamic-state-of-iraq-and-ash-sham-billboards-in-raqqa/

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 27, 2013 7:41:32 PM | 68

Landis sometimes could do the right thing:

By a remarkable coincidence, the events in Banyas attracted the close attention of one of America’s chief Syria watchers: Dr. Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Landis’ wife is Syrian, and her cousin, Lt. Colonel Yasir Qash`ur , was one of the two Syrian army officers who died in the incident.
In an April 13 post titled, Western Press Misled: Who Shot the Nine Syrian Soldiers in Banyas? Not Syrian Security Forces, Landis debunked the claims reported by Agence France Presse and the Guardian. He also highlighted the pathetic ordeal of one wounded soldier badgered by anti-government activists but denying that he had been shot by security forces—only to have the video go out on Youtube the West with the canard attached.
Landis, an extremely circumspect and careful observer, wrote bluntly:
A number of news reports by AFP, the Guardian, and other news agencies and outlets are suggesting that Syrian security forces were responsible for shooting nine Syrian soldiers, who were killed in Banyas on Sunday. Some versions insist that they were shot for refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators.
Considerable evidence suggests this is not true and that western journalists are passing on bad information.
My wife spoke this morning to one witness who denied the story. He is colonel `Uday Ahmad, brother-in-law of Lt. Col. Yasir Qash`ur, who was shot and killed in Banyas with eight other Syrian soldiers on Sunday April 10, 2011. Uday Ahmad was sitting in the back seat of the truck which Yasir was driving when he was shot dead on the highway outside Banyas. Uday said that shooting was coming from two directions. One was from the roof of a building facing the highway and another from people hiding behind the cement median of the highway. They jumped up and shot into the two trucks carrying Syrian troops, killing 9. Col. Uday survived. Here is video of the shooting shown on Syrian TV sent by my brother-in-law, Firas, who lives in Latakia.
* Video of one soldier purportedly confessing to being shot in the back by security forces and linked to by the Guardian has been completely misconstrued. The Guardian irresponsibly repeats a false interpretation of the video provided by an informant.
1. This is what the Guardian writes: “Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces.”
The video does not “support” the story that the Guardian says it does. The soldier denies that he was ordered to fire on people. Instead, he says he was on his way to Banyas to enforce security. He does not say that he was shot at by government agents or soldiers. In fact he denies it. The interviewer tries to put words in his mouth but the soldier clearly denies the story that the interviewer is trying to make him confess to. In the video, the wounded soldier is surrounded by people who are trying to get him to say that he was shot by a military officer. The soldier says clearly, “They [our superiors] told us, ‘Shoot at them IF they shoot at you.’”
The interviewer tried to get the wounded soldier to say that he had refused orders to shoot at the people when he asked : “When you did not shoot at us what happened?” But the soldier doesn’t understand the question because he has just said that he was not given orders to shoot at the people. The soldier replies, “Nothing, the shooting started from all directions”. The interviewer repeats his question in another way by asking, “Why were you shooting at us, we are Muslims?” The soldier answers him, “I am Muslim too.” The interviewer asks, “So why were you going to shoot at us?” The soldier replies, “We did not shoot at people. They shot at us at the bridge.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/04/15/syria-and-the-delusions-of-the-western-press/

Posted by: brian | Oct 27, 2013 8:32:39 PM | 69

@64 Brian, yes I hear you. But, and I might be dead wrong, I still believe that deep inside, Landis knows what is going on in Syria. It's just not easy for a paid analyst to say, oops, sorry, I f***ed up. And he won't get calls for interviews as a Syria expert if he did not subscribe to the conventional manufactured wisdom of "the regime is falling". He thought he would be risking being irrelevant if he didn't jump on the revolution bandwagon.

But then again, herein where the danger lies: Westerners who become experts in subjects they know that they know very little about.

Posted by: MikeA | Oct 28, 2013 1:06:54 AM | 70

foolish misled female muslims: out to save muslims who they are told by alqaeda are being killed by Assad?

'Some local activists in Syria said they feared the girls may have come into online contact with some of the foreign jihadists now fighting in Syria, and been lured by them to “join the jihad”.
“This has happened many times before,” said Ahmed, one local activist in touch with foreign fighters who have come to fight for al-Qaeda in Syria.
“A woman would not be allowed to fight on the front line; for women they interpret jihad to mean they must cook and clean, and sometimes have intercourse with the fighters”.'
http://breakingnews.sy/en/article/27890.html

right the islam they are defending and want to bring toi syria is the repressive brand

Posted by: brian | Oct 28, 2013 6:25:04 AM | 71

foff@53
Elliot Sperber's piece in Counterpunch may interest you:
"Russell Brand’s recent calls for revolutionary change (in his BBC interview and in his article in the New Statesman) have raised a considerable degree of discussion and controversy. Predictably enough, those on the right have reacted by generally dismissing the message. Not only do they characterize its substance as unrealistic, they question the capacity of the messenger; that this is an ad hominem is neither discussed nor, apparently, comprehended.

"Although largely agreeing with the message, those on the left tend to either uncritically root for the messenger, or fall into arguments over leaders and structure and organization, not to mention what the parameters of an international revolutionary subject would encompass. This is not to say that these general tendencies of the left and right are rigid or not fluid. Plenty on the radical left are criticizing Brand. Among other things, his objectification of “beautiful women” is – as Musa Okwonga, among others, have pointed out – patently sexist. (That the name New Statesman is patently sexist as well is, as far as I know, not under discussion.) In the end, however, Brand’s character flaws have little to do with the validity of his arguments.........."

Posted by: bevin | Oct 28, 2013 12:59:53 PM | 72

Obviously the Brand debate is going to break down into an argument between those who think it's OK to 'objectify beautiful women' and those who don't. Let's hear from Miley Cyrus.

Posted by: dh | Oct 28, 2013 2:07:52 PM | 73

Oh please. Just one month ago this comedian of yours wrote the following in the New Statesman:

Through Transcendental Meditation, twice daily I feel the bliss of the divine. Through the mental repetition of a mantra, eventually my chattering monkey mind recedes, gently banishing concerns of the past and drawing the inner eye away from speculation and want. I connect to a boundless consciousness that has no pal­pable relationship with my thoughts, fears or desires.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 28, 2013 2:31:38 PM | 74

Comedian of 'mine'? No thanks.

Posted by: dh | Oct 28, 2013 3:10:03 PM | 75

I didn't mean you in particular, dh. Here is the URL for Brand & TM™ if anybody wants to read the context (horribly strained wisecracks on every other line).

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 28, 2013 3:39:09 PM | 76

In reading through Max Blumenthal's Goliath, I came across this claim about Azmi Bishara:

... Rather than submitting himself to a highly politicized prosecution based on secret Shin Bet evidence, or standing trial in an Israeli courtroomwhere Arab citizens were sentenced at a dramatically higher rate than Jews, Bishara went into exile, eventually becoming the general director for the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, where he was eventually credited with convincing the Qatari emir to back the popular Syrian revolt against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Blumenthal doesn't have a footnote, so I have no idea how he sourced that.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 28, 2013 4:13:18 PM | 77

@ Brian #69 : Joshua Landis said on 3 Aug 2011: "There is no doubt that the vast majority of the opposition was peaceful and was being met with deadly government force and snipers." -- ref. I was paying close attention in the Spring and summer of 2011 and I strongly disagree with the second part of that statement. Joshua Landis's blog itself did not have any evidence to support the claim that peaceful opposition was being met with deadly government force. The government was allowing protests in all cities. There were thousands of videos of peaceful street protests from Syria at Youtube during that time period and I viewed hundreds of them myself at the time. Within a city, some localities -- relatively few -- were off-limits to protesters. Protesters who went into one of those prohibited localities were met with security forces who were enforcing the prohibition. A protester who resisted the security forces at that point was no longer a peaceful protester.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 28, 2013 4:41:31 PM | 78

In continuation from #78, the claim that the Syrian security forces used disproportionate force against street protesters in 2011 was (and is) false propaganda. The policy of the security forces was explicitly against disproportionate force, and the video evidence from thousands of videos is that the security forces on the ground overwhelmingly and almost totally complied with the policy in practice; and exceptions where the policy was not complied with were very rare and were only small-scale incidents. (There were also numerous fake videos at the time). The false propaganda was intended to undermine the legitimacy of the government, of course. It succeeded outside Syria, but it didn't succeed inside Syria.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 28, 2013 5:12:05 PM | 79

Posted by: dh | Oct 28, 2013 2:07:52 PM | 73

thats why there wont be any revolution

Posted by: brian | Oct 28, 2013 5:22:05 PM | 80

'where he was eventually credited with convincing the Qatari emir to back the popular Syrian revolt against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Blumenthal doesn't have a footnote, so I have no idea how he sourced that.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 28, 2013 4:13:18 PM | 77'

note the R (Regime) word

Posted by: brian | Oct 28, 2013 5:23:16 PM | 81

@80 No revolution? Well some students are very angry. Their rights to swing naked are being infringed. It's an outrage!!

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/09/18/school-removes-wrecking-ball-after-students-imitate-miley/

Posted by: dh | Oct 28, 2013 6:00:11 PM | 82

bevin | Oct 25, 2013 1:50:27 PM | 23

Thanks for the New Statesman link.
Here's Brand teaching Jeremy Paxman how not to interview someone who is twice as quick on his feet as a tired old empty rhetoric specialist. Brand heads Paxman off at The Pass and gradually gets him out of his comfort zone. Imo, it's people like Brand and his ilk who will inspire the great unwashed to rise up in new and different ways. Anyone who thinks the revolt will resemble a tr-raditional peasant uprising (ie the 1%) is seriously deluded.

http://www.correntewire.com/russell_brand_vs_jeremy_paxman_the_full_transcript
(10 minute youTube clip plus transcript).

What the Right-Wing Cranks & bs believers hate about Brand is that he's very popular and can connect with common people (ie the ones being shafted by the 1%) in a way that's amusing and memorable.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 28, 2013 11:00:34 PM | 83

Brand also has more courage, and a better sense of humour (in his little finger) than all the Right-Wingers on the planet - whose idea of humour extends no farther than Schadenfreude (delight in the misfortune of others).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 28, 2013 11:42:38 PM | 84

what the idiotic and completely gullible leftists don't get is that it's not the message but the messenger that we object to.

foolish people are blathering on about Brand supposedly sticking it to the 1% while completely ignoring the fact that Brand is banging one of the 1% and hobnobs with quite a few other 1%-ers.

add to that the man is merely promoting himself and has a show on tour at the moment and it's all just self-promotion

the BBC and Jeremy Paxman has interviewed Brand 2 times now in the last 3 years. You people really are too stupid to see when you're being conned

Posted by: foff | Oct 29, 2013 7:25:56 AM | 86

the gullible left seems to think that "the revolution against the 1%" will be lead by a man that is basically now a 1%-er

Posted by: foff | Oct 29, 2013 7:34:53 AM | 87

the revolution will now apparently be televised, according to the Brand fan-bois

Posted by: foff | Oct 29, 2013 7:36:23 AM | 88

Since when, and to whom, were smears & ad hominem more persuasive than a coherent argument? If Brand is 'banging one of the 1% and hobnobs with quite a few other 1%-ers' he's probably much better placed than your good self to know what he's talking about - wouldn't you say?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 29, 2013 8:11:05 AM | 89

you and the other Brand fan-bois have been dishing out plenty ad hom on this thread, Mr Blatant Hypocrite

"If Brand is 'banging one of the 1% and hobnobs with quite a few other 1%-ers' he's probably much better placed than your good self to know what he's talking about - wouldn't you say?"

no - I'd say that's a pretty dumb argument - if he wants to rant at the bankers all he'd have to do is pop round to his GF and her in-laws, instead he somehow manages to get himself invited onto the BBC to be interviewed by Paxman, twice in 3 years.

So your contention is that the Gov't funded BBC is promoting Brand, allowing him a platform, for what? Altruistic purposes?

Posted by: foff | Oct 29, 2013 8:37:33 AM | 90

What is Brand saying? Politicians and bankers can't be trusted? Nothing new there. Don't vote? Sorry Hoarse, until he comes up with specific answers he's just an entertainer.

Posted by: dh | Oct 29, 2013 9:37:07 AM | 91

Here is the Poster for the show that Brand is currently touring
http://i43.tinypic.com/talcer.jpg

Some people like him because he occasionally mumbles something vaguely "socialist-y" sounding, but when asked directly what he proposes he chickened out

"I don't know, Jeremy" was his answer to Paxman.

How does a guy like Brand manage to wrangle not one but two prime time interviews with Paxman, the BBC's top "Serious Politics" guy, presenter of it's flagship news program, in the space of 3 years?

Presumably someone(s) with power and influence has used some of their power and influence to get Paxman and the BBC to help promote Brand as some sort of Guru-of-dissent, an "authentic voice" of the disaffected "yoof", as some of the fantasisers here are claiming. Gosh, I wonder who Russell knows with THAT sort of power and influence. Bit of a mystery, eh? ;-)

his interview, the 2nd one with Paxman in 3 years, happens right at the time that Brand is touring a show whose imagery is that of Brand as "Messiah".


Damned convenient that, . . . for Mr Brand's bank account if nothing else.

Posted by: foff | Oct 29, 2013 10:32:42 AM | 92

Brand is a theatrical dissident - a minor part of a rich tapestry of dissent in the blogosphere, show biz and the alternative media. Expecting him to come up with THE answer to the world's ills is cringing denial of the piss-weak variety and tantamount to shooting the messenger. It's reminiscent of the critics of Assange, Snowden and Manning. He's putting his ideas out there in his own name which is 7 Leagues more than I, or anyone else here is doing.
That takes courage and I applaud him for it.
If the vast majority of people weren't such craven cowards, there'd be no need for people like Brand to remind us when enough is enough.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 29, 2013 7:09:12 PM | 93

I'm not sure how much courage it takes to talk revolution on TV. He is talking to a receptive constituency. It's not as if he's going to get arrested or anything.

I suppose he is getting his message out but most people know the problem already. He doesn't have to come up with THE answer. Just something other than more words would be useful.

Posted by: dh | Oct 29, 2013 7:39:49 PM | 94

No one asked him to come up with THE answer - that's just something you invented - - he could not even manage AN answer though

but the distinction is wasted on you anyway

Ok

We get it

you're Russell's Fan-Boi Numero Uno

Posted by: foff | Oct 29, 2013 7:42:43 PM | 95

revolution against something is pointless if there's no thought put into what you are having a revolution in favour of.

Mr Brand clearly has NO answers in that regard other than some vague 'socialist-y' sounding mumbo-jumbo

Posted by: foff | Oct 29, 2013 7:45:27 PM | 96

What is it with the gushing seemingly non-critical love that "leftists" give to MSM-created and supported "leftist" "heroes" as of late?

It's embarrassing, disgusting and dangerous for such a supposedly "savvy" group to be so wholly taken in by those that are paraded in front of the television and who - as stated - do in deed inhabit the same societal strata as the elite.

So, "shooting the messenger" now means that those on the left have to swallow the packages that the MSM rams down our throat, huh? That instead of pointing out the inherent contradictions in the bios of these "dissidents" or the gaping holes in the back stories of our "heroes" we should just applaud like a bunch of 5 year olds because we're just so HAPPY that our overlords have finally figured out that "leftists" - like the rest of the hoi polloi - like to turn on the boob tube and laugh along with their own reflections?

That if someone makes the obvious points mentioned above as to why people might/should be skeptical of the latest media hero du jour they are not trying to be wary or reasonable rather they are now "killing the messenger" at a time when I thought most people had a grasp of the concept the "medium is the message". My mistake.

For example, John Stewart, another leftish "hero", he is so funny, cute and dissident....oh yeah, and he's a multimillionaire whose brother is the COO of the NYSE's parent company. Yeah, it's probably a good thing that many of today's "leftists" get most of their news from his show every night, right? But I'm sure he's on the side of the little guy. Just like how Barack was a community organizer/ Constitutional scholar and how Bono gave his left nut for those kids in Mali, right? But this time is different, I'm sure.

And when did the left become such a bunch of pathetic - as noted - fanboys who every time there's a new hero feel the need to go parade around in masks depicting their new hero? What, isn't liking the "hero" on Facebook enough? I now have to Instagram myself in the hero mask to show that I'm seriously down with "revolution", man? Isn't THAT really "killing the messenger" as it breeds an inherent impetus towards conformity and idolatrous behavior both of which would seem to be things that our "heroes" would be very much against?

Brother.


Posted by: JSorrentine | Oct 29, 2013 8:14:08 PM | 97

@ foff & dh.

Brand ain't Jesus Christ.
If you're going to sit around whining about the fact that Brand hasn't got a bullet-proof formula to save you from your own helplessness and lack of imagination, then it's very likely that you're beyond salvation.
And the game isn't even over yet...
At least Brand isn't a Surrender-monkey.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 29, 2013 8:17:22 PM | 98

Better someone saying something even "socialist-y" than no one saying anything at all or indeed the pro-empire garbage that seeps out of the pores of most western celebrities.

It is foolish to be attacking him obsessively while there are real enemies out there.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 29, 2013 8:17:58 PM | 99

It is amusing that Brand's "don't perpetuate a corrupt system by voting for it" message has got the 1%'s water-carriers so spooked.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 29, 2013 8:30:13 PM | 100

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