Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 10, 2017

Syria - The Alternet Grayzone Of Smug Turncoats - Blumenthal, Norton, Khalek

Max Blumenthal is a well connected and known author who has done work on the Palestinian cause from a somewhat leftish perspective. He is also an arrogant and ignorant showman.

Blumenthal currently edits the Alternet Grayzone project. In their recent writings he and his co-writers profess to dislike the al-Qaeda led opposition in Syria. Yet it is exactly the same opposition they earlier vehemently supported.

Yesterday the Real News Network interviewed Blumethal on his recent piece about CNN's al-Qaeda promotion. The headline: Max Blumenthal on How the Media Covers Syria. During the interview Blumenthal laments the failure of progressive media on Syria:

In my opinion, they have abrogated their mission, which should be to challenge mainstream narratives and particularly imperial narratives on issues like Syria. I understand there are massive human rights abuses by the Syrian government, but that's not reason enough to not explore what the West's agenda, the Gulf agenda is for that country, what the consequences are, to actually get into the geopolitical issues. Instead, we've seen Democracy Now propagate generally a regime change narrative.

I don't believe they actually have a line on Syria. It's more a fear of actually taking on the official line. I haven't found a single article in the Intercept challenging the regime change line on Syria.

Blumenthal is outraged, OUTRAGED, that "progressive" media peddle the Syria conflict along "the official line".

Yet in 2012 Max Blumenthal resigned as columnist from the Lebanese paper Al Akhbar English because the paper did not write along "the official line". He publicly (also here) smeared and accused his Al Akhbar collegues for taking a cautious or even anti-opposition position on Syria.

The Al Akhbar writers challenged the mainstream narratives while Blumenthal, with his resignation and his writing about it, solidly aligned with the imperial project. Back then he himself went along "the official line". Then as now the Real News Network helped him along:

I noticed that it was publishing op-eds by people like Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, who were just openly apologetic of the Assad regime, if not cheerleading Assad as this kind of subaltern freedom fighter leading what she called a front-line resisting state, or Sharmine Narwani, the blogger who was nickel-and-diming civilian casualty counts, [..]
...
This just was really too much for me.
...
My problem was that the opinions at Al-Akhbar's website in support of the Assad regime, which I've identified specifically by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb and Sharmine Narwani and by the editor-in-chief, Ibrahim al-Amin, were not based on any journalistic fieldwork. They're based on poring over YouTube clips, looking at textbooks, or really disturbing citations by Amin of anonymous regime sources, including documents that he cited which he referred to as investigations of people detained for trafficking weapons.

At that time Max Blumenthal was sitting in the U.S. stenographing Syrian opposition propaganda. Yet he accused Sharmine Narwani and other writers living in Lebanon and Syria of lack of journalistic fieldwork and of "poring over YouTube clips". Narwani wasn't amused by his ignorance:

I have made two trips to Syria in the past six months – the first to interview a wide range of domestic opposition figures, most of whom have spent years languishing in Syrian prisons; the second just a week ago, to spend time with the UN Observer team and learn about the changed military landscape throughout the country.

No journalistic fieldwork? How would Max know? He has done none on Syria, yet he presumes to condemn the dogged pursuit of truth by others.

Al Akhbar early on recognized the foreign sponsored insurgency in Syria for what it is. Max Blumenthal took the easy route of joining the anti-Syrian propaganda train. Even worse - he publicly smeared the writers at Al Akhbar who were searching for the least harmful solution for Syria.

Now Max Blumenthal has found an outlet that pays him for writing along the very line he condemned when he resigned from Al Akhbar. Nowhere do I find an explanation by Blumenthal for his change of position. No public apology for smearing his former colleagues has been issued by him.

 

Max Blumenthal's sidekick and often co-author at the Grayzone project is Ben Norton. In his own latest piece Norton blames various pundits and main-stream media for pushing for regime change in Syria. Conveniently he does not mention that he himself wrote along that line.

[NOTE: Norton replied to this piece in an email to me. I have published his statement, and my response to it, in the comments below.]

In January 2015 Norton accused the Syrian government of besieging Palestinian refugees in a suburb of Damascus: ‘No to martyrdom by hunger in Yarmouk camp’: Palestinian refugees protest Assad’s siege. Norton had never set a step inside of Syria. His reporting was solely based on opposition talk and videos.

Others did fieldwork. Three month before Norton published his piece Sharmine Narwani had written about her recent visit to Yarmouk:

At the entrance of the camp, I was greeted by armed Palestinians who are part of a 14-group ‘volunteer force’ formed for the purpose of protecting Yarmouk and ejecting the rebel fighters deep inside the camp.
...
The stories these fighters tell me is nothing I have read in English, or in any mainstream publication outside Syria. Theirs is a story that is black-and-white. Thousands of Islamist fighters invaded and occupied Yarmouk on December 17, 2012, and Palestinians and Syrians alike fled the camp, literally beginning the next day.

The Syrian government wasn't besieging hungry Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk. Most of those had long moved away from the camp. It was isolating al-Qaeda  groups who had taken control of the camp by force. Professor As'ad AbuKhalil accused Norton of lying about the real situation:

Ben Norton on Yarmouk camp
This article seems to reproduce word-for-word the talking points of the Syrian exile opposition. In the case of the Yarmouk camp, there are two killers: the Syrian regime and the Nusrah front and other Bin Ladenites on the other side. The residents are victims of both sides. Norton does not mention the role of the rebels in using the camp for their won ends, and in shooting at aid convoys.

There was plenty of information available that the Yarmouk camp was an al-Qaeda occupied zone. Ben Norton ignored it and instead parroted opposition propaganda.

Norton is now accusing other media of doing what he himself did over several years of the Syria conflict: falsely attributing every calamity in Syria to the government while repeating the taking points of the head-chopping Takfiris and the forces behind them. Nowhere have I found an apology or explanation by Norton for his change of sides.

 

Another author at the Alternet Grayzone project is Rania Khalek. She lately had some trouble for taking a stand against the armed insurgency in Syria. It came after her own turn on the issue.

Last month Khalek lambasted the media for ignoring the misdeeds of the opposition: Ignored By Western Media, Syrians Describe the Nightmare the Armed Opposition Brought Them

American media outlets from right to left seem to imagine that there is a democratic mass movement living in Al Qaeda’s Idlib. Or they insist that the uprising was always moderate and democratic until Assad’s bombs transformed protesters into armed and radical insurgents, a common talking point that permeates any discussion of Syria.

Yet in late April 2011 the same Rania Khalek wrote (also here) along the "common talking point" she now condemns. She (falsely) accused the media of missing the alleged misdeeds of the government against the "protesters". She pushed the "common talking point". Her witness of the media missing the news were the same media she accused of missing it:

Dear Media:
...
I thought I would take it upon myself to fill you in on the less newsworthy items that you missed.
...
Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has stepped up his deadly crackdown on protesters as well, by unleashing the army along with snipers and tanks to open fire at demonstrators.

In her rant about the media missing the news, Khalek links to an Associated Press news piece reproduced at the Guardian site. In it an anonymous witness makes the government-is-shooting claim. It seems to me that the one who missed the really newsworthy issue, the anti-Syrian propaganda campaign, was Khalek herself.

 

Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek were part of the propaganda campaign for war on Syria. The al-Qaeda insurgents were the good ones, no matter what. Everyone else was to be smeared as "Assadist" or worse. In October 2016 all three of them turned their coats and "re-branded" (thread). Suddenly they were "progressive" and against the sectarian head-chopper gangs. To cover their tracks they deleted their former pro-war marketing.

Max Blumenthal's original screed against Al Akhbar at MaxBlumthal.com is no longer available as his site has been "suspended". Some tweets by Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek, later deleted by their authors, have been archived here. Norton made claims along the false line "Assad empowered ISIS", Blumenthal propagandized the "barrel bomb" myth, Khaled feared being poisoned by the "regime" while invited to eat with Syrian soldiers and other journalists.

Blumenthal had also propagandized against the Libyan government under Ghaddafi. The war against Libya was waged by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Blumenthal's father Sid works for Clinton and had hoped to profit from the war on Libya. Max Blumenthal spread the myth that an anti-Islam movie was the cause for the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi. The real reason was a quarrel with al-Qaeda groups about CIA controlled weapon shipments from Libya to Takfiri insurgents in Syria.

Norton deleted many of his anti-Syrian blog posts and tweets when he turned from fevered insurgence supporter into a "Grayzone" critic of the U.S. war on Syria. Some of his writings smeared public supporters of the Syrian government as mostly anti-Semites and Nazis. Like here colleagues Khalek deleted older tweets when those were no longer consistent with the new editorial line she now follows.

 

Even in the first days of protests in Syria the Saudi financing behind the exile opposition and the "protests" was already well documented. On April 9 2011 12 soldiers were killed and 23 wounded in a confirmed ambush in Banyas, Latakia. This was freely available neutrally sourced information. The "resistance" in Syria was obviously not peaceful or spontaneous but well financed by sectarian outside forces. It was organized, violent, militarized. It flashed up at the borders in Latakia near Turkey in the north and Deraa near Jordan in the south well before it migrating further into the country. A sure sign that cross border support and supplies played a significant role.

It was also quite clear how the situation was going to develop. As I predicted on April 25 2011:

The most likely scenario is massive sectarian strife with salafi-Sunni attacks on minority Christians and Alawites.

Unlike in Egypt there is no sign that the army will abandon the ruling government. [...] There is no sign that a majority or even significant minority of Syrians has any interest in violent regime change.

My current assessment is therefor that the regime will now put up a bit of a fight and, if it can stomach to do that harshly enough, it will win this fight.

The evidence that outside forces pushed an organized armed insurrection under the disguise of "peaceful protests" was there for everyone to see. It was possible to anticipate where this would lead to. Yet Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek did not care to look for facts. They were fiercely on the side of the opposition even as the opposition killed random people and government followers left and right. Now, as the fates of the sides have turned, they sanctimoniously oppose their former favorites. Now they lambast other writers for repeating the sorry propaganda they themselves proffered for years.

In his recent RNN interview Max Blumenthal proclaims:

[The other side of the narrative] hasn't happened in progressive media. It's why we're pushing, why we're trying to fill the void at the Grayzone project at AlterNet and provide a critical perspective on what the U.S. and its allies have been doing in Syria and what the consequences could be. I think we're probably the only progressive outlet that's consistently doing that.

Oh - f*** you Max.

The BlackAgendaReport 21centurywire, Shermine Narwani and many, many other outlets, including Moon of Alabama, have consistently written on Syria since day one. They immediately recognized the sectarian insurgency for the imperial project that it was and never fell for the "peaceful demonstrator" scam Blumenthal and his fellow hacks propagandized.

Blumenthal knows this well. His piece about the "White Helmets" for Alternet Grayzone was obviously sourced (if not plagiarized) from earlier work by Vanessa Beeley and other authors at the above sites. Likewise his current piece, co-written with Norton, about CNN's cooperation with al-Qaeda's Bilal Abdul Kareem is also partly sourced from a Vanessa Beeley piece published in August 2016. To then market Alternet Grayzone, which only exists since last fall as "the only progressive outlet that's consistently" "provide[s] a critical perspective" is worse than marketing talk. It is an outrageous lie.

Any writer, me included, can err in the evaluation of the available facts. One can learn of new facts and one's opinion can turn out to be wrong and change. But one obligation to readers is to stay honest, to admit when one went wrong and to explain why ones opinion has changed. A certain humbleness is an essential ingredient of good writing.

Yet none of that can been seen in the output of Blumenthal and his fellow writers. No apology has been issued by him to the colleagues at Al Akhbar who he publicly smeared and accused. Neither Norton nor Khalek have explained their change of position. Blumenthal now publishes pieces based on the archive material of those progressive outlets which have long had a critical view on the Syria issue. Yet he claims that no such outlets exit.

If they are helpful for the cause Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek are welcome to join those writers who all along published against the imperial designs for Syria. It would feel much better through if their newly discovered "progressiveness" on Syria would not have the distinct stink of mere opportunism.

Posted by b on July 10, 2017 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

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Egyptian Daily Releases Documents of Saudi Crown Prince's Support for ISIL, Al-Qaeda

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960418000768

Posted by: TJ | Jul 10, 2017 11:32:01 AM | 1

Great article! My only quibble would be over the final sentence, which might have been put more strongly as say '... more than mere opportunism: the stench of the kind of dastardly so-called 'journalism' that has been indispensable to the empire's wars of aggression, covert bloodly subversions, and the death and maiming of millions.'

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jul 10, 2017 11:42:34 AM | 2

Interesting, yet we can find scores of such journalism among the ranks of this undertaking, and I do mean undertaking. Seymour Hersh is well known as a limited hangout mouth piece for the establishment. Even the now somewhat apparently anti-establishment stalwart Chris Hedges wrote an article titled "Defectors Cite Iraqi Training for Terrorism'" for the NYT back in 2001 as two CIA controlled defectors were sent his way in the lead up in making the casus belli to the public by the undertakers corp against Saddam Hussein in the run up to the genocide unleashed against the Iraqi people. In the world of reportage on current events one must keep in mind the underlying agendas of the major participants, many hidden behind governmental bodies claiming national interests, and take a caveat emptor attitude or expect to be taken up the garden path to your own execution.

Posted by: BRF | Jul 10, 2017 11:50:56 AM | 3

More fine work, b. Thanks for the corrective on Blumenthal, in particular.

Posted by: anondooronron | Jul 10, 2017 12:03:04 PM | 4

Thank you for this very principled stand in the cause of true journalism, b.

These are the worst kind of people, the ones who believe in nothing, except their own aggrandizement. They will serve any master, and ride any bandwagon. All people are redeemable and can change, but not to admit one's former errors shows it as empty posturing. As it is wisely said, you don't go down for the crime, you go down for the cover-up.

Posted by: Grieved | Jul 10, 2017 12:06:14 PM | 5

thanks b.. blumenthal seems schizophrenic...

Posted by: james | Jul 10, 2017 12:09:02 PM | 6

It was the Arab Spring Kool-Aid. Many on the left thought the Zeitgeist was going to magically transform politics in the region. They tended to lump Syria in with Bahrain; they also cheered when Gaddafi was lynched. Some of us here at MoA were guilty of cheering on Morsi's ouster in 2013. Legitimate revolutions have a tendency to become doormats for enormous counterrevolutions.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 10, 2017 12:09:12 PM | 7

ot - @1 tg.. i was wondering how long that would take....nothing like an internal feud among ex friends... ""A leaked document in Qatar's embassy and a letter to Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on October 26, 2016, show Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed's support for certain key al-Qaeda members in the Arabian Peninsula,"

Posted by: james | Jul 10, 2017 12:13:57 PM | 8

Hypocrisy of stenographers (especially those sitting in Beirut and reporting on Iraq/Syria)on display:

https://twitter.com/LizSly/status/883265996638871553

Posted by: Yul | Jul 10, 2017 12:27:18 PM | 9

Thank you!!!

Posted by: vanessa beeley | Jul 10, 2017 12:31:26 PM | 10

Excellent post. Shame on other journos.

Posted by: Pvp | Jul 10, 2017 12:43:17 PM | 11

Related,
His papa:

New Hillary Clinton Emails: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sidney Blumenthal Urged Libya Military Action
http://inthesetimes.com/article/18485/hillary-clinton-emails-anne-marie-slaughter-sidney-blumenthal

Posted by: Anon | Jul 10, 2017 12:50:18 PM | 12

@9 Vanessa?!

Seriously, if you're the REAL Vanessa Beeley, then I am honoured to be in your company. I hold you and Eva Bartlett in the highest regard - you are TRUE journalists... TRUE heroes

And thank you for your efforts on behalf of the truth and the plight of innocents in the Middle East

Posted by: xLemming | Jul 10, 2017 12:54:48 PM | 13

@12 addendum... and you too b! Vielen Dank!

Posted by: xLemming | Jul 10, 2017 12:56:29 PM | 14

It is beyond me why Norton the low intellect gets such a large following. I guess people really do just follow whoever they feel spouts their desired narrative and never use their brain properly or question writers critically. Norton is currently also on a rampage to promote and excuse the Venezuelan military junta's actions, totally disregarding the facts on the ground, the history of Chavism of the last 19 years (I doubt he ever was in Venezuela or speaks Spanish at all). If this is journalism then I know why I stopped following it.

Thanks for pointing him and Blumenthal out, there are many more like them on the left.

Posted by: Alexander P | Jul 10, 2017 1:09:35 PM | 15

It was the Arab Spring Kool-Aid. Many on the left thought the Zeitgeist was going to magically transform politics in the region....

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 10, 2017 12:09:12 PM | 6

How about half-full glass view? Perhaps we should cheer Blumenthal, Norton etc. for having a better view of the situation even before the Kool-Aid did not leave their system completely. This stuff can kill, so recovery may be long and with reversals.

By the way, generalizations are slippery. Some Beirut-based media, like al-Masdar News, take notes from SAA and allies (although now al-Masdar has some frontline correspondents on its staff too). Sometimes I wonder how it works. Are some of Beirut cafes only for supporters of one side or another, or there is some civil exchange?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 1:12:20 PM | 16

As the opportunity for regime change in Syria slips away, the fake progressives are now permitted by the PTB to reverse their former course.

There is no need for them to recant their former testimony. An insufficient number of their readers are paying attention. Some have forgotten that which was earlier reported. It is offensive that "Assad Must Go" (regime change) could be posited as a liberal/progressive worldview. (Though Obama & Clintons were painted as liberals.)

It is right and just to call out these phonies. They will read about themselves here and worry a bit. Thanks to our host for the research and details.

Posted by: fast freddy | Jul 10, 2017 1:25:11 PM | 17

Great expose b

But treating them as 'journalists' seems rather too kind. They seem to be part of the propaganda effort that wants desperately to control the narrative. It isn't surprising that this new stage of the conflict requires a fresh effort.

IMO, a new primary narrative developing from what had been a secondary narrative: Assad's brutality caused the rise of a brutal opposition. Good Folks(tm) are fighting against both the extremists and Assad. They need protection from US and other states.

How to effect that protection? International support (led by USA) for Safe Zones, autonomous (self-governing) areas, Sunnistan, etc.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 10, 2017 1:35:13 PM | 18

To the list of the many wise voices who saw the Syrian "revolution" for what it was from the get-go, I would suggest adding http://willyloman.wordpress.com/

Posted by: frances | Jul 10, 2017 1:39:47 PM | 19

Embarrassed to say I had forgotten Max's previous "stand" on Syria. I follow Norton and Rania also.

They really do owe us an explanation of why they changed their tune. Deeper knowledge of the situation? Or is it really just opportunism now that the tide has changed in favor of Assad? I did see a video of a panel with Rania after she had been to Syria in the last few months.

At any rate, I will have to be more careful of using their assessments so freely in my blogging, etc.

Thanks for this trenchant reminder to beware of facile commentary.

Posted by: LindaJ | Jul 10, 2017 1:50:17 PM | 20

The people being eviscerated here are living in the American bubble and believed what they were being told until they fought through it to find their own position on Syria. They should be commended for it. The only legitimate criticism is that they apparently have not explained the process that led them to change their position, though Rania has on Facebook at least. They should be celebrated for eventually breaking from the pack, which takes no small amount of courage living in the U.S. Fire should be directed at those who still push the U.S. narrative.

Posted by: Joe Lauria | Jul 10, 2017 1:58:14 PM | 21

Excellent article! To be completely fair, Rania Khalek has at least tried to explain her changed Syria stance, during an interview with Mint Press News. https://youtu.be/0p_8cbjtda4?t=2m59s As for Norton and Blumenthal, nothing.

Posted by: Greg M | Jul 10, 2017 2:07:07 PM | 22

https://gsm1988.blogspot.com/2017/07/robbie-martin-and-credibility.html Here is an article I wrote in which I talk about Blumenthal, Khalek, and Norton and their respective 180's with regards to Syria. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0caTUA-yRAQ&t And here is a podcast about the matter.

Posted by: Greg M | Jul 10, 2017 2:09:53 PM | 23

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/sep/13/egypt-libya-hollywood-film Max Blumenthal within two days of the Benghazi Attack wrote an op-ed for the Guardian placing blame on a film critical of Islam, which became the Clinton State Department's official narrative. Max's father Sidney emailed the article to Hillary, who responded with "Your Max is a Mitzvah!" http://gawker.com/which-friend-of-sid-blumenthal-did-hillary-try-to-hook-1745354641 http://images.gawker.com/srw2ejwpjexx9cj4nnym/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636.png

Posted by: Greg M | Jul 10, 2017 2:14:31 PM | 24

I find myself in the seemingly difficult situation (w.r.t. this issue, anyway), that I greatly admire Max Blumenthal for his strong ant-Zionist stance and, of course, a great admirer of b for his progressive, anti-imperialist position.

Posted by: chet380 | Jul 10, 2017 2:20:58 PM | 25

Trump is planning provocative operations in Syria

Posted by: nmb | Jul 10, 2017 2:23:51 PM | 26

Jun 7, 2017 Father Of Omran: armed groups used my son for propaganda by HANDS OFF SYRIA

https://youtu.be/y4c3zpnE_-0

Posted by: Brian | Jul 10, 2017 2:24:29 PM | 27

During 2015-16, longtime, stalwart commentators at CommonDreams.org (I wrote as EnemyofWar) daily wrote very critical comments about the large stable of faux-progressive writers and Dem-party sycophants using readily available facts and reason to call-out such writers for what they were doing--Knowingly lying in the service of Imperial Propaganda Promotion. Our thanks from CommonDreams.org was to be censored then blacklisted--banned--from commenting: My account's "suspended" until 1 July 2153!! Moyers, Winship, Blumenthal, Kolhatkar, Escow, and many more, including CD's staff writers, were outed as little more than HRC promoters, faux progressives, obfuscators and liars. And the Troll Wars were intense. The vast majority of outstanding commentators who'd been with CD since its inception were banned despite having the Truth on our side.

In a way, Russia did "interfere" in the election--Its media printed truthful stories contradicting what the so-called progressive/alt-left media was publishing, and we used those factual articles to make our case against HRC; Sanders, after he turned; Dem-Party; and especially Obama and his posse of criminals. If you wanted to get the dirt on the latest leaks about the DNC, then you read RT, Sputnik, Fort Russ, or other English-language publication. News about what was actually happening in Ukraine, Syria, and the very undemocratic actions of the EU, PACE, and NATO, often could only be found in those and other alt-media--many later falsely accused of producing Fake News. Irony became golden when the political spectrum flipped about October when The American Conservative published articles more progressive than the so-called progressive media.

Yesterday, my wife's 24 year-old daughter posted a video of George Carlin's skit "The Sanctity of Life," which proved to be an excellent sermon--she hadn't heard it either, although I'm well versed in Carlin's work. These turn-coat writers are often within his skits, not necessarily as individuals since he doesn't name them. I do think Carlin had the correct approach--use of honest cynicism to point out the numerous contradictions existing within Western Culture--which ends up educating and benefiting the audience. Perhaps when it comes to criticizing the Press, we ought to take an hour to revisit Carlin's 1999 National Press Club performance and note its relation to today's realities, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB9SkT-wtso

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 10, 2017 2:24:43 PM | 28

I'm with you Piotr @ 15. I think it's a good thing that most on the left have come around. I think the point of b's post is to question Blumenthal's claims of superiority on the issue. Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street had many of us believing momentarily that systemic change was at hand. There's a great lesson here. When things are looking hopeful expect a massive reaction.

That's why we should be cautious about the recent good news in Iraq and Syria. A peg to hang our hat on though is that all the contradictions in the U.S./Saudi position are becoming more and more difficult to manage.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 10, 2017 2:25:11 PM | 29

In the meantime, one has to congratulate Pentagon, CIA or whoever for recruiting genuine moderates to take over south-eastern Syria from the hands of ISIS. As we know, "vetting" is a difficult process, and training in the use of modern weapons and the principles and benefits of democracy is not easy. It reminds me a cartoon showing a person with a cart full of goodies in supermarket line for "Express: 10 items or less". The cashier asks "Are you an English major who cannot count or a math major who cannot read"?

In this case, the students showed to be a bit short of the fighting spirit (presumably, with good marks in civics classes) and surrendered ca. 10 villages and more than 1000 sq miles of Syrian Desert to SAA in 12 hours. Before you criticize their driving skills (why the full 12 hours?), you must know that this is a difficult terrain with lava fields etc.

Strategically, with possible additional advances in the near future, Druze-majority Sweida governorate will be secure from the east, and smuggling routes to the three remaining opposition enclaves in the Damascus area will be several times longer.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 2:29:47 PM | 30

@20
So the "eviscerated" ones were hapless victims of the American bubble and brainwashed to believe whatever the bubble bubbled at them, until at least they "fought" their way (heroically!) out of the bubble "to find their own position on Syria" and are now being doubly victimized by being "eviscerated" instead of being properly "celebrated" for their extremely extraordinary and courageous feat of escaping, and then publicly signalling having achieved, deprogramming from the matrix while still residing within the confines of
the matrix and vulnerable to its punitive genius. ....hmmm. One might grant you one point: that bs can fertilize subsequent loveliness, flowers and the like.

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jul 10, 2017 2:39:09 PM | 31

It would seem that if Max B. has "turned" wrt Syria, then the turn is AWAY from the regime-change crowd. It also seems that he has been at least mildly truthful about Apartheid Israel.

Does he not get some points?

Posted by: ACitizen | Jul 10, 2017 2:43:16 PM | 32

xLemming@12 Re: the 'real' Vanessa Beeley - I would say yes.

https://twitter.com/VanessaBeeley/status/884451438587523072

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jul 10, 2017 2:47:40 PM | 33

this site is normally a fantastic breath of truthtelling. But this story is needlessly nasty. Who cares how someone like Max came around to changing his mind. The point is he got there, and is now fearlessly telling the truth. He's an ally, and squabbles like this are toxic and pointless ...

Posted by: Paying Attention | Jul 10, 2017 2:51:43 PM | 34

I think for these three people, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek, first and foremost they care about being perceived in public as being on the "the right side of the issue" and market themselves as mavericks. In late 2016, the pack leader must have finally recognised that they were all shilling for the eventual losing side (congratulations) and so a collective decision was made to pivot away from shilling for Western and Gulf-backed terrorists in Syria for fear their reputations as 'mavericks' may never recover from that crushing defeat. What can't be erased however, is that every so-called "journalist" who pushed the Arab Spring-Neoliberal-R2P fabricated line on Syria since 2011 and disseminating MSM and Guardian propaganda - they themselves played a role in promoting the West-Gulf Proxy War against the people of Syria and thus played a instrumental role extending this bloody conflict - and therefore one can say, metaphorically or not - like the MSM operatives who did the same - they have the blood of Syrians on their hands. Clearly, for 4 years they were promoting, unwittingly or not, a fraudulent narrative on behalf of the international criminal syndicate who started and propagated this war in Syria. What's even more egregious though - is that they were nasty - they went out of their way to actually attack other independents who at the time could see right through the idiotic Arab Spring-Regime Change narrative. This is the mark of a psychopath, and birds of a feather flock together. If they said they were too stupid to know what was really happening, you just might believe it. But a proper mea culpa? With that level of arrogance, it's doubtful.

I think it's worth pointing out also that ALTERNET receives funding from the usual suspects, including Cloud Mountain Foundation https://www.activistfacts.com/foundation/1172-CloudMountainFoundation/, the New World Foundation (closely tied to the Clinton set and New York's liberal elite)and in the past Alternet has taken large sums from Open Society Institute (George Soros) of George Soros. So the work these people are doing is being subsidized by some of the biggest establishment cash dispensers in the US. You cannot really call yourself a "journalist" if you are on the establishment's foundation payroll. To suggest otherwise is quite disingenuous.

The fact that RT America has these clowns on their shows should be an embarrassment for RT.

I doubt any of them care though because it pays the rent, and that's all that seems to matter these days. And I hear the rent in Brooklyn is expensive - and because he's East Coast liberal pseudo royalty, Max needs to be living in an acceptable zip code.

What a bunch of frauds and cheap copycats.

Posted by: Max B's Gimp | Jul 10, 2017 3:01:53 PM | 35

I do respect Max Blumenthal. The article above is so black - white again, it sounds like propaganda. I dont know if the author himself was in Syria and if so, if also before "the revolution". In any case, may-be everybody should reed the article Edward Dark wrote in May 2013 called "How we lost the Syrian revolution". And read what he is communicating now to see how genuine people in Syria who wanted a change in the political situation in Syria lost any possibility to express it because of the interference of the West. It is very sad. And it is indeed cynical that any criticims of the political situation in Syria before "the revolution" has become taboo.

Posted by: Antoinette Dhooghe | Jul 10, 2017 3:11:56 PM | 36

Paying Attention@33 - "Who cares how someone like Max came around to changing his mind."

I do, for one. You make it sound as trivial as someone changing their clothes.

"...The point is he got there, and is now fearlessly telling the truth..."

He changed his shirt? Fearlessly? Wow... what a damn hero. Sounds like contract writing, not journalism.

"...He's an ally, and squabbles like this are toxic and pointless ..."

You're thinking of an echo chamber and confirmation bias. 'Squabbles like this' are what journalism and the critical thinking process are all about. It has little to do with whether you like the particular shirts Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek are wearing today.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jul 10, 2017 3:22:55 PM | 37

Max Blumenthal left the "American bubble" long time ago. He wrote a number of books very critical of Israel, and while I have not read them, because of his association with Mondoweiss, I think he was close to anti-Zionist "one state" position. He was not one of the "constructive critics of Israel" longing for good old days of Mapai domination, before the wretched Revisionists took over.

The mechanisms of effectiveness of "Cool Aid" are more varied than simply opportunism. In a conflict like Syria, especially in early stages, there is no "objective information". If someone was "sure who is right" early on, it can be a lucky turn of his/her preconceptions. Assad AbuKhalil (Angry Arab) was perhaps objective, but his stance was "pox on both houses", and this is tad too convenient.

Back to Max. His work on Palestine was much better than "somewhat leftish perspective". And one that topic he is not ignorant. Showmanship for a good cause is not a vice. However, since he is a good writer, I would greatly appreciate an introspective essay "My years as unwitting imperialist flak". Subtitle: It can happen to you, or to your loved ones.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 3:29:10 PM | 38

This "they evolved, saw the light, changed their position" is a nice story. But it may be overly hasty, not nasty, to delay embracing them as newly minted exemplars of gutsy honest journalism.

The heart of the matter is this: are these previous either witting and slick and thus sinful propagandists (likely), or unwitting thus dupes and inadvertent and ignorant propagandists, (unlikely), now converted to becoming genuine, full fledged truth seekers and truth tellers? Or is their 'adjustment' a mere tactical veneer?

An extended period in purgatory would seem more appropriate than immediate applause or a public hanging.

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jul 10, 2017 3:33:04 PM | 39

Thank you for this post. I have not had the details at my fingertips, but I clearly remember Blumenthal shilling for the mainstream western view of the Syrian conflict. I also have noticed that he recently changed his tune. Blumenthal seems like an opportunistic snake. I didn't like his take on the Alison Weir affair either.

Posted by: RudyM | Jul 10, 2017 3:40:17 PM | 40

B. may be right, but I do recommend watching https://youtu.be/0p_8cbjtda4?t=2m59s (posted by 21), because Rania Khaled explains quite reasonably her earlier position and the change she underwent in her opinions. It is detailed and interesting. (I do agree with her that sometimes it is easy to fall under the spell of relentless US propaganda, since it is very effective. Reminds me of a time, when - reading only the NYT in the 1990s - some of us thought that Yugoslavia's Milosevic deserved swift action. Yes, we were totally duped.). Granted, she should have known better being from the region... but better late than never!

Posted by: GoraDiva | Jul 10, 2017 3:48:21 PM | 41

Surely you must realize that the US is fighting ISIS etc. It has always been fighting ISIS. I, for one, look forward to glorious Hollywood epics depicting the true extent of the US fight against ISIS, and the equally glorious parts played by western media pundits.

Forward!

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 10, 2017 3:48:55 PM | 42

I have a lot of time for Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal, mostly because of their anti Zionist views, and commend them on their change of mind well illustrated in this interview with Chris Hedges.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6C249jh7wQ

Posted by: harrylaw | Jul 10, 2017 3:52:45 PM | 43

the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. his dad is (was?) a bigshot in the clintonian circle and there's nothing they love more than disguising lust for neoliberal regime change (in the name of their god The Market) as "concern" for whatever group they can convince to stage a color revolution before getting bombed when it doesn't go quickly or smoothly enough. they all love narratives as opposed to reality which is why they also continue to pretend the israelis are rational actors who can be dealt with as human beings.

speaking of which, gilad atzmon (another writer who wasn't tardy to the party and has written about the syrian regime change scam for years) has long documented blumenthal's hypocrisy and holier-than-thou attitude as part of the "anti-zionist zionist" crowd. makes sense that max would want syrian "freedom" from assad in the welcoming arms of the "resistance". just as he thinks the palestinians can be "rescued" by the 6 or 7 members of the israeli "left" who are so selfless they only want to keep the land stolen before 1967. saints among men!

it's probably part of the "third way" mentality that affects his father and the other clintonian mental defectives. they think they can "rise above" any ingrained conflict and be the Smartest Guys in the Room. they focus less on reporting what's happening than "i'm saying this and you're not - what's your problem, brah!?!?!" it's an odd form of pissing contest.

Posted by: the pair | Jul 10, 2017 3:55:29 PM | 44

@34 well said on all points. identical to what i might have posted had the caffeine kicked in yet.

Posted by: the pair | Jul 10, 2017 3:57:50 PM | 45

B asks why such a turn around or partial turn around in people's assessment.

According to my theory, and it was validated tens of times, such a unexplicable change of narrative happens when operation "suppress " such a narrative existing and documented on independent mafia fails and hence they aim to control it, and that what Blumenthal is doing, controlling moderates narratives, whitewashes what needs to be whitewash while finding villains among those already discarded by vested imperial interests. He is simply acquiescing to what majority already know trying to twist is as a damage control and fog of war confusion operation, erase inconvenient traces and links.

Of course any sane person parsing internet would have known by 2012 what was going on, even probably before Assad himself, even Russia agreed for election of new Syrian leader, knowing true support for Assad among population, but that had to be suppressed by people like Blumenthal.

It was like in case of housing collapse already reported by real estate agents in late 2005 sales drop 30% to 70% while prices reported growing, all in the background of MSM great housing market propaganda.

Posted by: Kalen | Jul 10, 2017 3:59:02 PM | 46

Snefjella@ 37: But it may be overly hasty, not nasty, to delay embracing them as newly minted exemplars of gutsy honest journalism.

It is not like one can control the admission to The Institute for Gutsy Honest Journalism. In the absence of an introspective confession, one can only guess what tactical consideration influenced people like Max. From the little I could observe, within the milieu of leftist opponents of the State of Israel as it exists (a combination of arts, sciences, grotesque superstition and cruel oppression) there was a challenge for "intellectual honesty", avoiding the error of pro-Soviet Communists and fellow travelers of Stalin years. "Do you deny the crimes of Baath regime or you do not"? In those years I frequently read a website of that nature where I have encountered this controversy. I am guessing that both that group of Israeli writers, and Max, while non-conformist, did not abandon the hope of "reforming the system from within". In itself, I think that this is the correct sentiment, but it carries risks. Like a nurse working with patients during a deadly epidemic, one can suffer from an intellectual infection.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 10, 2017 3:59:08 PM | 47

Norton and Blumenthal were either anti Gov or pro opposition, then went radio silent for AGES, and it seems like they both swapped about 5 months ago, once the course of events was decided. It's like all those NYtimes journalists who figured out Iraq was bad after a few hundred thousand people were dead. Fucking dipshits

Posted by: Pespi | Jul 10, 2017 4:05:19 PM | 48

Vanessa you are a wonderful courageous woman. I greatly admire you for your courage, honesty, and sheer determination. If only there were more people like you.

Posted by: Anon Y Mouse | Jul 10, 2017 4:21:30 PM | 49

As the opportunity for regime change in Syria slips away, the fake progressives are now permitted by the PTB to reverse their former course.

I think so. There seems to be a widespread pattern of "realizing one's error" when it is too late to matter. Coming out against the Syrian rebels now gives people like Blumenthal a chance to boost his alternative/progressive bona fides (at least, as you say, among those not paying attention).

I still have Alternet bookmarked but I hardly ever look at it. When I go to the main page, there are too many "most orgasmic first ladies" type articles.

Posted by: RudyM | Jul 10, 2017 4:30:55 PM | 50

It's absurd to make excuses for these sociopathic left-poseur 3-letter agents, or to applaud their ostensible "change of heart". Change of heart is sometimes a real thing, but it only manifests after passing decades, not merely in a few years. Maybe ten years ago I would read the Common Dreams, Think Progress, AlterNet, etc., but when a Moment Of Truth arrived, they would always start walking backwards. They have gradually shown their true colors, and it's definitely not pretty.

Posted by: blues | Jul 10, 2017 4:32:55 PM | 51

The US imperial wars would not be able to go forward without the lefties who propagandize for them. Such lefties do well to switch their stories so as to keep their credibility on the Left. That way they can continue to be useful when it comes time for the push for the next war.

Posted by: paul | Jul 10, 2017 4:34:36 PM | 52

Berman@45 The impediments to achieving integrity in journalism are many and of long standing, of course. Doestoyevsky notes in some of his letters written roughly early in the second half of the 19th century that the European press just about always got it wrong when they wrote about Russia, and skip forward to Orwell and I think it was in Homage to Catalonia that he described as just about totally misleading the newspaper reports about of the Spanish War, among various examples.

Or as Solzhenitsyn wrote: the truth is bitter. And so who wants that? And I think it was an editor of the Lancet medical journal who referred to a darkness at the heart of modern science - ie: when politics and corporate interests collide and collude with science, a broken peer review system and dishonesty flood in.

So yah, this truth thing, as first Bush might have put it, is a hot potato.

Nevertheless, in the nuclear age, with monstrous missiles on hair trigger, and the Japanese filling, what, millions of big plastic bags with the radioactive residue of the 'peaceful use of the atom', we need to get our shit together: and the Pacific Ocean features much death and a continent of a swirling trillion plastic bags, etc etc, so there is more to the picture than these horrific satanic wars of aggression and covert disempowerment of the human prospect, that have caught much of the attention at Moon of Alabama and kindred.

We need to go to a new level, normalized. Not perfection; that's inhuman. But shooting for excellence in terms of integrity, with all its conventional drawbacks and dangers, is now required, imo: It can't remain marginal. That's the beauty of Putin, and was the promise of one of Trump's personna: ditching political theater for sometimes telling it like it is. Moon of Alabama and Paul Craig Roberts in my opinion qualify as examples of the necessary standard.

And people who have a history of being slick bs babblers like Blumenthal, won't get my applause or trust easily, even if they perform cartwheels of seeming veritas on the road to Damascus.

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Jul 10, 2017 4:37:28 PM | 53

Most likely Blumenthal will respond to this "attack", MoA image will take I hit I am afraid.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 10, 2017 5:04:50 PM | 54

shoutout to Black Agenda Report for being consistent- they are really quality, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Yoshi-chan SuperHyuga | Jul 10, 2017 5:23:08 PM | 55

Certainly you're right, and it looks like the rats are fleeing a sinking ship. But then again this is just common moral weakness of some not so important people and you should not overrate it. There are more interesting matters to be indignant at.

Posted by: Pnyx | Jul 10, 2017 5:36:41 PM | 56

I stopped reading Blumenthals articles when he left his job at the lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar - because they said someting postitive about Bashar Al-Assad.

Then i thaugt that Blumenthal was just like Juan Cole who warned against going to war against Libya.

Both were against war, but both supported war when Obama wanted to make war...

Posted by: Trond | Jul 10, 2017 5:37:45 PM | 57

You did not mention the excellent work by Alastair Crooke and Aisling Byrne from Conflicts Forum as well as interviews and articles from a number of other excellent people.

Posted by: Osama | Jul 10, 2017 5:42:25 PM | 58

Anon @52--

"This 'attack'" as you term it is what's known as Setting the Record Straight or Getting Down to the Truth of the Matter, and is writing that burnishes MoA's image while degrading that of those trying to neuter the sting.

The key is to examine ALL published information critically before accepting or rejecting it regardless of the source.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 10, 2017 5:43:05 PM | 59

Well said b!
Trust is important when trying to find sources of information- it's good to have the background on these writers.

Posted by: James | Jul 10, 2017 6:00:40 PM | 60

b. wrote: "Any writer, me included, can err in the evaluation of the available facts."

Sorry if someone else has made the same point (too hard a day at work to get through all the comments) but in your case this is astonishingly rare. I am constantly amazed at how here and over on PL's site you hit the nail smack on the head. Or if you're not sure, you say so.

On another note I liked Finian Cunningham's take on the Trump-Putin encounter on Sputnik.

Posted by: Lochearn | Jul 10, 2017 6:01:45 PM | 61

Paying Attention @ 33: I do care about how Max Blumenthal came to his St Paul-like Damascus conversion moment on Syria if only because his changed stance may be just a shift in the way he can help control and police debate on the situation in Syria now that the Syrian government and its allies have defeated ISIS. Blumenthal is what we would call a gatekeeper (similar to Noam Chomsky who has also at times changed his mind on issues relating to Syria) judging what is and what is not acceptable discourse. Part of the role of being gatekeeper is knowing when the direction of discourse shifts and being able to keep up with it in order to monitor it. In this respect, what backflips over Syria Blumenthal and maybe Norton have had to do is entirely consistent with what they're supposed to do as gatekeepers. They may even have been told to do so.

Posted by: Jen | Jul 10, 2017 6:13:51 PM | 62

=>> Lochearn | Jul 10, 2017 6:01:45 PM | 59

If by "PL" you mean P. Lang, I must say I have on occasion been given the impression that he is one of those many, many very smart people who through some strange evil voodoo have this ferocious aversion to "Evil Leftists". How on earth did this crazy meme get started? I have a feeling it must have begun with all those soft-headed college professors who pushed the kids too far to what they believe is the "left".

It's a mystery!

Posted by: blues | Jul 10, 2017 6:22:26 PM | 63

Dear b. I think you are being way to hard on Max and the other naive boobs who thought that the Syrian Arab spring was a progressive movement. I too remember pulling my hair out in 2012-2013 reading their naive crap and thinking they had no idea what was going on -- namely the US imperialists agents had infiltrated the organizations that made up the Arab Spring. One of the biggest boobs at this time was the Mondoweiss website. One of their reporters, Allison deger, was in Palestine at that time. She came back with all of these big sob stories about the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp being oppressed by the Syrian government.

One thing people like Max and Mondoweiss did not realize is the the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) had infiltrated and taken over Gaza and much of the West Bank. Max, et al listened to these jihadists and considered them progressive fighters for independence of the Palestinian people. When the Syria Arab spring broke out and all of these MB jihadists popped claiming to represent Palestinian right in Israel and the West Bank, these silly fools believed they were supporting justice for Palestinians.

In any case let us forgive Max for his stupid analyses in 2012. Even if his father was a Hillary mole. Please do not blame my for may father's sins.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jul 10, 2017 6:36:50 PM | 64

Khalek tried to sit on the fence, have a bit each way. Tho...propaganda machines, nor the truth, do not work like that. She discovered the futility of of attempting to have such a voice inside any mainstream feature. Again, the 'repair from within' is impossible.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Jul 10, 2017 6:36:53 PM | 65

I find myself in the seemingly difficult situation (w.r.t. this issue, anyway), that I greatly admire Max Blumenthal for his strong ant-Zionist stance and, of course, a great admirer of b for his progressive, anti-imperialist position.

If allegedly anti-Zionist individuals support wars and other interventions that fit with long-standing strategic goals of Zionist military strategists, what are we to conclude about their anti-Zionism?

Posted by: RudyM | Jul 10, 2017 6:43:17 PM | 66

www.twitter.com/RedKahina has been putting her finger on this very subject and cast of characters for as long as the present invasion of Syria has lasted. She never ceases to skewer the faux humanitarians like Khalek and Blumenthal with their "regime" and their "rebels".

Posted by: ruralito | Jul 10, 2017 6:47:52 PM | 67

@ 61

Yes I did mean Pat Lang. You make a very interesting point. I sort of feel sorry for old Pat. He's such a smart guy but he just doesn't get it. He's blinkered by the old Cold War Commie stuff, not realising that democratic socialism is the exact opposite of communism. For a genuine leftist I always think of the late Pete Seeger, musician and fine man. I think the elites have manufactured a new brand of leftism (LBGT, minority rights reign supreme) that is extremely divisive but harmless to their interests, just as they cooked up Marxism or Communism. The workers in America and Europe and elsewhere did not want the boss' farm; they just wanted, as they still do, more relative equality. That is where the battle really lies.

Posted by: Lochearn | Jul 10, 2017 6:47:55 PM | 68

I've read it... now. In the future I am not gonna to read similar stuff.

While you goal and aim in unknown to me You repeat yourself over and over again. But probably that's just me.

Second thing who is audience. English speaking Anglo-saxnos, and non AS?

Now, just now I have understanding of Stalin's labor camps. For re-education. So-called re-education (western circles call it "paradigm shift") is only possible under harsh conditions. If you think that your target audience pay attention what you wrote you are delusional.

And then belief in "left" and "right" political position. What BS, no such thing.

Posted by: Chauncey Gardiner | Jul 10, 2017 6:49:58 PM | 69

Response to Max Blumenthal remarks about Alison Weir:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eGVMwhIN_8

Posted by: RudyM | Jul 10, 2017 7:01:26 PM | 70

Many thanks once again, B. Most helpful. I'd been looking up to Blumenthal for the terrific work he's doing on Palestine. I had no idea he was on Israel's side and the US, CIA, DoD, Saudis, etc on Syria.
--Ronald

Posted by: Ronald | Jul 10, 2017 7:01:43 PM | 71

Keep exposing 'em, b. God bless AL Gore's Internet and it's sleuths.

I seem to remember a similar line of anti-Assad fervor emanating from counterpunch, too. Joshua Frank, co-editor there, called Assad a "scumbag" for reasons similar to Blumenthal and Norton's assertion of starving Palestinian camps. Looks as though just like those two, Frank and co. at counterpunch need to do a little more work understanding and less articulating political along lines that fit their innate liberal desire to see legitimate gov'ts as regimes.

For that reason and for trashing Linh Dinh and his brilliant "Postcards from the End of America" contributions, along with their climate change propaganda agents, means no money for counterpunch from this small-time philanthropist. Them and PBS can go piss up a rope with all their fundraising. (Love ya Rick Steves, though...not your fault.)

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jul 10, 2017 7:08:48 PM | 72

@61 and @66

Totally agree re both "leftist" and PL. And don't forget that other misused term "cultural marxist". If it is not about economics, it is not socialism (democratic or otherwise). It may be progressive, it may be (non-neo) liberal, but it is not socialism!

Posted by: dynkyd | Jul 10, 2017 7:12:57 PM | 73

Max Blumenthal is slime that has crawled from the lake sensing the tide has turned. I like the way b. clinically dissects such filth. I certainly could not.

The fact the world is at a crossroads was higlighted by the meeting between two experienced US businessmen (Trump and Tillerson) and two highly experienced politicians (Putin and Lavrov) in a talk about politics. That's all the US side could muster. Just as its ships collide with merchant ships, its F35 is a flying disaster, so two novices from the great power are sent to talk very complex stuff with two experts.

Posted by: Lochearn | Jul 10, 2017 7:28:01 PM | 74

Damn b, you're relentless, and the truth should always be spoken. In my world, people should change their mind, when the facts warrant it. This also goes for Max B. I don't know of any writer who's done more to expose the horrors committed against the Palestinian people, than Max B. so, in my world, he gets a pass for being wrong in 2012.

Here's the video from TRNN..

http://therealnews.com/t2/story:19506:Max-Blumenthal-on-How-the-Media-Covers-Syria

Posted by: ben | Jul 10, 2017 7:36:55 PM | 75

@70 correction

Joshua Frank called Assad "Scum" not a scumbag. My bad.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jul 10, 2017 7:46:52 PM | 76

@74

Sorry to keep spamming. But Joshua Frank. Wow. What a dumbass.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jul 10, 2017 7:48:17 PM | 77

Funny, I was on the Alternet website just yesterday and read Blumenthal's piece there. In the comment section someone expressed very similar sentiments to what b is saying here. My response was that at least Blumenthal (and Rania Khalek) realized the conventional Western media narrative about peace-loving rebels vs. the monstrous Assad "regime" is BS and switched "sides" with both being targeted for public shaming and threats of violence by outraged "rebel" stooges and supporters. Khalek was even fired from her job at Electronic Intifada for having the "wrong" opinion.

How many people come out and candidly admit they are wrong about something? In my experience, not many. It's an ego-defense thing...kinda lame and annoying when it's from people I know well, but I really can't get worked up about Blumenthal not doing a mea culpa about being duped by propaganda and being taken in by his social group's groupthink dynamic. Actions are what ultimately count and I have no beef with Blumenthal, Khalek and others, like Tariq Ali, who have changed their position after learning new information, even if they haven't issued a formal apology and volunteered to stand quietly in the corner.

The left's penchant for trivial sectarianism and eating its own is legendary (and more than a bit silly and self-defeating, IMO).

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jul 10, 2017 7:49:59 PM | 78

@ 71

Cultural Marxistm was another brilliant elite attempt keep the thing going, especiallly when the great Solzhenytsin exposed communism for what it was. In Cuba Castro was the exception in the sense that he fought with Guevara over paying highly productive sugar workers more money. Guevara vehemently opposed such an idea, sticking to to the the old Marxist line. Such tensions caused the two to split with Guevara going off on his suicidal Bolivian mission.

Posted by: Lochearn | Jul 10, 2017 7:54:15 PM | 79

@64 RudyM

In response to @24 chet380...

I find myself in the seemingly difficult situation (w.r.t. this issue, anyway), that I greatly admire Max Blumenthal for his strong ant-Zionist stance and, of course, a great admirer of b for his progressive, anti-imperialist position.

..you write:

If allegedly anti-Zionist individuals support wars and other interventions that fit with long-standing strategic goals of Zionist military strategists, what are we to conclude about their anti-Zionism?

Maybe you missed that Blumenthal changed his position (and his work sparing no punches in taking down Israel)? Look at his actions, not only his (lack of) self-effacing words.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jul 10, 2017 7:59:09 PM | 80

Nice reporting on the paid shills in our world.

Just because it is not an election does not mean that there are not sheep dogs like Max out there being paid to keep the brainwashed herded.

I would accept Piotr Berman's challenge in his comment above to Max to prove his conversion:
"
Showmanship for a good cause is not a vice. However, since he is a good writer, I would greatly appreciate an introspective essay "My years as unwitting imperialist flak". Subtitle: It can happen to you, or to your loved ones.
"

I doubt if we will ever se such form Max or other that are paid sheep dog shills for empire/private finance.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jul 10, 2017 8:41:40 PM | 81

@66

"Yes I did mean Pat Lang. You make a very interesting point. I sort of feel sorry for old Pat. He's such a smart guy but he just doesn't get it. He's blinkered by the old Cold War Commie stuff, not realising that
democratic socialism is the exact opposite of communism."

Since the First World War (including the war itself, which was supported by the majority of socialists in every wartime country, except minority Russian, German, Greek, and Serbian Communist movements), 'Democratic Socialists' have had a long history of ignoring the colonialism and imperialism (where the bulk of the stolen wealth and general advantages come from) of their respective governments in favor of furthering mixed economy in the 'West,' usually for a limited period of time (eventually conceding to extreme 'neo-liberal' reforms). It's a contradiction similar to many Soviet governments passively conceding to many grassroots models of participatory democracy that 'unofficial workers collectives' experimented with throughout Soviet Enterprises and Banks (throughout the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's) without ever recognizing, assisting, and integrating all of these groups into a federal and traditionally democratic system. The gradual 'liberalizing' of the authoritarian political model was justified by a series of peace settlements and diplomatic frameworks in Europe (the Helsinki Accords in 1975 is a famous example) that convinced the Soviet leadership that 'the West' really was interested in world peace and friendly ideological competition. The 'liberalizing' process inconsistently acknowledged the deeper goals of revolutionary Soviet socialism, which involved including many basic tenets of classical liberalism, but subverting and surpassing the fetishist notion of liberal democracy and fundamentally linking capitalism to imperialism.

"For a genuine leftist I always think of the late Pete Seeger, musician and fine man. I think the elites have manufactured a new brand of leftism (LBGT, minority rights reign supreme) that is extremely divisive but harmless to their interests, just as they cooked up Marxism or Communism."

What evidence is there that Marx, Lenin, and Stalin were puppets of some vague 'elite' conspiracy? If anything, these men are more dismissed and hated now in Western press and mass culture than Napoleon, Wilhelm, and Hitler.

"The workers in America and Europe and elsewhere did not want the boss' farm; they just wanted, as they still do, more relative equality. That is where the battle really lies."

The problem is American and European workers (including non-white middle class migrants from Asia and middle class women) don't even acknowledge the inequality of states. A country like Nigeria can't start invading whoever it wants (imposing neo-liberal constitutions) or use unfair credit schemes (forcefully reducing other countries' tariff rates and flooding Africa with subsidized imports), but the United States and its allies (including vibrant democracies like South Korea) can and do, and American-European-Japanese-Korean workers don't care enough about this global financial-corporate-military supremacy.

Posted by: anonymous | Jul 10, 2017 8:57:36 PM | 82

@77

"Cultural Marxistm was another brilliant elite attempt keep the thing going, especiallly when the great Solzhenytsin exposed communism for what it was. In Cuba Castro was the exception in the sense that he fought with Guevara over paying highly productive sugar workers more money. Guevara vehemently opposed such an idea, sticking to to the the old Marxist line. Such tensions caused the two to split with Guevara going off on his suicidal Bolivian mission."

You seem like a person far too socially conscious to be citing Solzhenitsyn and using terms like 'Cultural Marxism (which was more of a college scam in the 50's and 60's, rather than a current conspiracy).'

There is good reason the top Soviet specialists like Getty, Manning, Fitzpatrick, and Viola reject literary hacks like Solzhenitsyn. He was straight trash, right down to the Nazi minimizing (which is a low for a Russian).

I know little to nothing about Cuba, so I'll avoid comment.

Posted by: anonymous | Jul 10, 2017 9:15:33 PM | 83

Ahhh, how quickly they forget and step away from what they've wrought. The Republicans now do it on Iraq. The Dems stepped away from Libya after that calamity. It's like the recent statements defending US right to attack Syrian govt plane going after their coalition and declaring their coalition does not attack Syrian government forces. When did the US change its coalition partners? The wind blows and they twist in it. The Ministry of Truth works overtime these days.

Only rarely do I check out alternet. Very left. Tendency towards Sanders over Hillary. Sex themes. And very occasionally a tidbit of reason.

Thanks for pointing out those we cannot trust in the pretend alt-media of alternet.

Posted by: Curtis | Jul 10, 2017 9:26:15 PM | 84

You are welcome, b!

Posted by: ProPeace | Jul 10, 2017 9:50:36 PM | 85

trouble in lefty paradise lol

the far right has been behind Assad from day 1

Posted by: Lemur | Jul 10, 2017 10:01:12 PM | 86

@52 anon.. i thought he already did @ 33? is there more? lol... paveway and jen took that stupid post apart pretty quickly..

@61/66/71.. yeah blues.. fully agree with you..

@62 toivo.. i don't agree.. i wouldn't make an excuse for them.. b is bang on here..

@64 rudy... home run on that one!

@73 ben.. i am not giving him a pass.. max does good work on the topic of israel/palestine, but he swallowed the kool aid on syrian regime change and would now like to cough it back up... that shows a lack of discrimination or discernment on his part.. and of course for some one who is supposed to be opposed to zionism, he could have fooled a lot of folks with his desire for regime change in syria.. next thing he will be flying for the al qaeda air force over the golan heights, or i guess it is too late for that..

Posted by: james | Jul 10, 2017 10:13:35 PM | 87

More trouble in righty paradise lol

The low road of the blue bourgists has been "behind" the far right from day 1.

Posted by: blues | Jul 10, 2017 10:20:15 PM | 88

It was the Arab Spring Kool-Aid. Many on the left thought the Zeitgeist was going to magically transform politics in the region....

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jul 10, 2017 12:09:12 PM | 6

I agree with this sentiment. I was working at the University of Oregon at the time of the Arab Spring, many of my friends and colleagues, myself included, were drinking that Kool-Aid by the gallon...Walk Like an Egyptian memes on the walls of many professors' offices. It was the Ukrainian Coup that flipped a logic circuit in my brain, leading me to investigate the so-called civil war in Syria. Incidentally, it was Colonel Cassad's website that led me to Moon of Alabama and Sic Semper Tyrannis, both of which have proven to be invaluable resources.

It has been disappointing to see many of the same folks who protested the Iraq War with me fall for the propaganda surrounding Syria. I attribute much of that to the canonization of Obama amongst many lefties.

Posted by: Jason | Jul 10, 2017 10:49:10 PM | 89

I protested the Iraq War months before G. W. Bush started it. For day after day.

Why the hell would you think some new "Democrat" would change it? WTF???

Stop the pervasive suckerdom.

Get strategic hedge simple score voting and get rid of the fake "two-party system".

It really is that simple.

Posted by: blues | Jul 10, 2017 11:11:20 PM | 90

@Lochearn et al, Solzhenytsin is praised to the heavens in the West. That's reason enough to be skeptical of his merits. Not to mention his retirement digs in Vermont and his slobbering over Ronald Reagan.

Posted by: ruralito | Jul 10, 2017 11:24:08 PM | 91

Blumenthal is first and last a Hillary Democrat. When he expected her to win, he took the official line that she supported. Once she lost, he opposes the line of the Trump Administration. For him, it is perfectly consistent. He's partisan, and all that he says is just "my side is right, the other side is wrong."

Posted by: Mark Thomason | Jul 10, 2017 11:27:18 PM | 92

@87 Jason

That's a good story. I get the impression many people here could tell a similar one. I used to think of myself as a progressive, but I don't bother with such divisive descriptions now. There's truth and obscuration, that's all.

Maidan triggered me into total focus, as it did with you. Perhaps it was because we had to seek out the true facts so diligently in that smoke-shrouded environment? I don't know, but recognizing truth became a survival skill.

Seems strange to me that so many people still cling to the words left and right. Funny how this thread is so tangled up in these labels, when really the story is only about journalists with slender credentials trying to take down journalists with really righteous credentials, and then when they change their positions neglecting to apologize or atone for their previous attacks.

It's not an epiphany if you can't talk about who you were before. What man can attempt to distort the sincerity and accomplishment of Sharmine Narwani and be proud of his record?

I wouldn't want to try to make sense of this story having only the tools of left and right to do it with. I would want at least an explanation. Maybe he'll read this and give us one.

Posted by: Grieved | Jul 10, 2017 11:39:09 PM | 93

ot - good article from elijah j.m. on how the kurds are being suckered by the us/israel strongly at this juncture..

Posted by: james | Jul 10, 2017 11:42:36 PM | 94

I think that when it comes to someone like Blumenthal who miraculously recovered his good senses when it comes to Syria, we are really witnessing the deep tectonic faults within the "Progressive" DNA. I believe it is something very fundamental and very deep. And of course potentially very dangerous. Space here will not permit to elucidate the points I have in mind, but suffice it to say that there is a kind of cognitive dissonance that's pervasive among those who consider themselves progressives.

WE saw that very clearly during the run of Hillary for POTUS. Not her per se (since she was and is as cynical as need be) but the sight of so many among Democrats who considered themselves "progressive" and/or "liberal" (big difference BTW between the two) who abandoned their anti-war and anti-wall street positions, literally on a dime, was breathtaking. IF you watch Democrats nowadays and their endless careening from one Russophobic tale to another, it'd be easy to dismiss them as convenient fools, but I prefer to look at the remarkable ability of p[eople to sustain self-contradictions. Because then I can better understand what real bubbles are made of.

Another example: Israel and the support it continues to carry among many of the "enlightened left" (cf the J Street crowd and the equivalent inside israel, such as it is). These people love to speak of "Jewish values", the "sanctity of life" and "Tikun Olam", but when it came to the atrocity that was the bombing of gaza in 2008/9 these same people either went into catatonic silence or took refuge behind some platitudes. I pitied them then and I pity them now.

Max Blumenthal and people like him always had to straddle a fence or two. In the Middle Ages, this was known as torture (the wooden horse). In the committed leftist case, it's their soul that is tortured. The progressive individual often has a tendency to view things simplistically - black and white. They call out the good guys and the bad guys. And in every situation they look to spin a narrative that has the sought after "clarity". Good to the left, bad to the right. Trouble is, of course, that in a world where one Empire rules (the US), anyone who aspires to be a member of the empire’s journalistic class, and who needs to make a career within the Empire bubble, will have to give a pound of their soul (not flesh) just to continue to work in their field. How one plays on this field if one happens to be something of a progressive, while keeping enough of their soul to remain more or less spiritually intact, is the challenge.

Few, very few can rise to meet this challenge. Max is may be learning. Since his writing is so good - and passionate when he puts his heart into it - frankly, I'll take what I can get. There is always a place for the reformed presstitute. WE have too few good writers - who are on the side of humans - to deny entry to those who seem to try. I am glad b pointed out the past (which I was aware of, at least in max's case). We have to remember what was, so we don't try to sanctify individuals too much. That being said, some day, I hope, max will have the courage to tell - just like many reformed anti-zionists did - what and why he came around. Sometimes, these nice jewish boys (and girls), and also nice not so-Jewish ones, need to do the Christian thing and ask for forbearance, if not forgiveness.

Posted by: Merlin2 | Jul 11, 2017 1:44:19 AM | 95

So, the Jacobin and DSA are arguing that we should arm the Salafist jihadis and you are trolling Max, Ben and Rania. Excellent work.

Posted by: tgs | Jul 11, 2017 1:55:08 AM | 96

Toivos
" One thing people like Max and Mondoweiss did not realize is the the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) had infiltrated and taken over Gaza anduch of the West Bank. Max, et al listened to these jihadists and considered them progressive fighters for independence of the Palestinian people."

Lol muslims infiltrated?
MB ARE progressive and is also elected in Gaza.

Posted by: Rizza | Jul 11, 2017 2:11:02 AM | 97

From my memory of the Vietnam era it was the more the left that brought that war to a close. From what I can see, any group that professes to be left/right capitalist/communist, whatever, is stuck in an ideology. Somewhat like a blinkered horse that can be driven anywhere. Ideologies and religions - all can be used because their followers can only see what they are pointed at.

Posted by: Peter AU | Jul 11, 2017 4:03:24 AM | 98

Max did allow he made have made a mistake (quitting), but what bothered me most, is his insistence the 10 - 13,000 prisoners were tortured and executed; my understanding is that that report has been soundly dis-credited.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Jul 11, 2017 5:34:06 AM | 99

=>> Peter AU | Jul 11, 2017 4:03:24 AM | 98

That's whhy I sometimes call myself an originist. Originism is for original thinkers who don't want to be led about by "thought leaders".

Posted by: blues | Jul 11, 2017 5:35:08 AM | 100

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