Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 07, 2013

Syria: False NYT Claim May Serve U.S. Policy Change

The New York Times suggests that the admittance that "mistakes were made" in recent interviews with Syrian government official and its president is something new and unexpectedly conciliatory:
President Bashar al-Assad himself has declared that he and his government have made mistakes and that they share some blame for the crisis with rebels. Mr. Assad told the German magazine Der Spiegel, in an interview to be published on Monday, that he could not claim that the insurgents “did everything and we did nothing.” Reality, he said, has “shades of gray.”

After years of describing the country’s civil war in black and white, as an international terrorist conspiracy, Syrian officials in recent days appear to be trying to sound more conciliatory, as global powers try to arrange peace talks in Geneva to end the bloody stalemate, and as international weapons inspectors began on Sunday to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal.

The claim that the Syrian government has so far painted a black and white picture and that the "mistakes were made" message and offers to the opposition are something new is pure propaganda and defies the historic record. 

May 18, 2011: Security forces made mistakes, says Assad

Syria’s president says the country’s security forces have made mistakes during the uprising against his regime and that thousands of police officers are receiving new training.
August 10, 2011: Syria's Assad: "Some mistakes had been made"
Syria's President Bashar Assad met with envoys from India, Brazil and South Africa on Wednesday and "acknowledged that some mistakes had been made by the security forces in the initial stages of the unrest" and reassured the delegations that reforms were coming, according to a statement from the envoys.
July 5, 2012: Assad: We can make mistakes
UC: Do you regret the fact that last year you crushed the first democratic protests by using arms?

BA: Well, at the end of the day we are human also. We can make mistakes. You can always say, it would have been better if we did not do this, but did that, etc. And this is very normal.

August 29, 2012: President Bashar al-Assad's interview with the Syrian TV station, Addounia
President al-Assad: [...] There were mistakes that happened, there were transgressions that happened, there were violations, thefts, some of which was uncovered but in a limited number and those were referred to the judiciary many months ago. Everyone who made a mistake or wanted to prolong the crisis for different reasons must be held accountable.
November 9, 2012: Assad: There is no civil war in Syria
Asked if he has any regrets, he said: “Not now,” although he acknowledged that “when everything is clear” it would be normal to find some mistakes.
July 11, 2013: Bashar Al Assad: Baath party made mistakes in Syria
Ruling party leaders removed in a reshuffle this week had made mistakes while in office, Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad told the Baath party’s mouthpiece in an interview published on Thursday.
The NYT's false claims of the historic standpoint of the Syrian government may serve to allow for a change in the U.S. position towards it. If the longstanding position of the Syrian government can be depicted as something "new" that claim allows the U.S. politicians to also take a new stand to towards it. "Look, Assad has changed his position and now we can change our position too."

There is hint of such a change of the U.S. position in today's remarks by Secretary of State Kerry:

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry offered qualified praise Monday for the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, crediting Syrian authorities for cooperating with a United Nations mandate to destroy the nation’s chemical stockpiles.
“I think it is also credit to the Assad regime for complying rapidly as they are supposed to,” Kerry said at a joint newspress conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose government helped craft the Syrian chemical disarmament plan, averting threatened U.S. airstrikes against Syria. “Now, we hope that will continue. I’m not going to vouch today for what happens months down the road. But it is a good beginning and we should welcome a good beginning.

Posted by b on October 7, 2013 at 13:00 UTC | Permalink


This is broadly the same excuse they are offering themselves for talks with Iran: the new Iranian govt is "more conciliatory." They see Syria and Iran as a sort of 'little Satan' and 'big Satan' duo.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 7 2013 13:54 utc | 1

It all sounds like someone slowly getting himself of a, particularly barbed, hook.
If there is a policy change the BBC hasn't got its memo yet:

Posted by: bevin | Oct 7 2013 13:56 utc | 2

US should be grateful to Assad. SAA probably has eliminated more Al Queda terrorists since 2011 than US has since 9/11.

Posted by: Andoheb | Oct 7 2013 14:03 utc | 3


You are absolutely correct to emphasize that the Syrian position on the issue of "mistakes being made" hasn't changed that much. While the Western policy was to polarize the situation on a sectarian line, everywhere in the region should I say, the Syrian government, after a period of maybe 3 months of "faux pas" during the begining of the crisis, was trying to subdue the extremism and bring the crisis back from a military/security level to a political one.

On the other hand I'm still not convinced that the US administration has taken the decision to change the strategic direction of her policy in the middle-east. Mid to end of October will be, both internally and externally, a time-frame to watch for any sign of such a change.

Posted by: ATH | Oct 7 2013 14:33 utc | 4

The disturbing thing about what you accurately point out is that NYT is in lock-step with the administration's policy and like a loyal sentinel, always on alert to navigate in the same direction at the slightest hint of official shift in direction. The reporting suggests shameful correlation with government position, thereby maintaining journalistic fealty to institutional state power instead of the journalistic fidelity it owes its readership.

Posted by: Metni | Oct 7 2013 15:11 utc | 5

so imo here is how the script goes... end the syrian bloodshed. bring down tensions with iran. let oil come down to $80. let the arab spring rear its head in SA.

Posted by: RT this | Oct 7 2013 17:10 utc | 6

@RT this #6: nice idea, but assuming the Obama team have that much initiative, which I doubt, do they have that much time? It would take years of economic pressure to get a result in the Gulf. And would the other parts of the US power structure, which ride the petrodollar gravy train, let them do that?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 7 2013 17:22 utc | 7

This insurgency MANPAD attack video will turn off all U.S. support for them.

Posted by: b | Oct 7 2013 17:24 utc | 8

Lovely little video, that. Thank you, b.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 7 2013 17:58 utc | 9

@Rowan Berkeley #7

1. obama is just a cog in the machine inside the belly of the beast.

2. saudis are already bribing their population with boatloads of money for not rising up. expect the costs to multiply.

3. couple in the disillusioned alqaida fighters returning from syria...

Posted by: RT this | Oct 7 2013 18:23 utc | 10

Well then, RT This, I don't understand.

so imo here is how the script goes... end the syrian bloodshed. bring down tensions with iran. let oil come down to $80. let the arab spring rear its head in SA. Posted by: RT this | Oct 7, 2013 1:10:42 PM | 6

Who is it who is supposed to be doing this, executing this 'script'? Because as I said, other parts of the US power structure are full of people and entities which are riding the petrodollar gravy train and have no desire to see it diminish in any way, quite the contrary.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 7 2013 19:01 utc | 11

“... end the syrian bloodshed. bring down tensions with iran. let oil come down to $80.”

This makes sense: the US dollar is under enormous pressure. And, without the dollar as reserve currency, the entire imperial project is liable to collapse. The band-aids applied by the Federal Reserve are clearly useless. The entire system is under all manner of new pressures. It is about to blow, 2008 was a dress rehearsal.

So it makes sense to kill off the “insurgency” in Syria, though it will not be easy to do it. The bonus being that Assad’s victory will no longer need to look like a defeat for the Empire: it can be spun, as was Lavrov’s coup, as a US diplomatic triumph.

As to Iran: the sanctions regime has had the predictable result of schooling both governments and merchants into the ancient arts of currency swapping, barter and precious metal deals. All of which are anathema to bankers using the reserve currency of petrodollars.

The sanctions only made sense as a declaration of war, which is what, in international law, they were. Unless the intention is to follow up the trade war with a military attack sanctions make little sense. Washington, fixated by the “success” of its sanctions against Saddam, is only now beginning to see what is clear everywhere else: the unipolar delusion is dead. Sanctions hurt Iran but, in the long term, they hurt the empire more.

On the other hand: “let the arab spring rear its head in SA’ makes no sense to me.

Both the US and the Saud family kleptocracy depend upon each other. Without the Sauds the current petrodollar deal, in deep trouble anyway, will collapse, as will the reserve role of the dollar.
Which will leave the US exposed as large, extraordinarily expensive and inefficient military machine without much else to justify its hegemonic conceit.
Washington doesn’t know much but it knows that it doesn’t want trouble or change of any sort in Riyadh or Jiddah.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 7 2013 20:06 utc | 12

The US regime has to keep up with the now very apparent fact that the rebels in Syria are by a good margin Al-Quaida, and has to be eliminated, and whos better for the task than the Assad government? Add to this the fact that the Syrian government has to bee given enough slack to guarantee the destruction of the chemical weapons, the US really has no choice but to rewrite their previous narrative.
Even with Iran, now to be best friends with the US, there is no incentive to go after Syria anymore.

Posted by: Alexander | Oct 7 2013 22:04 utc | 13

It remains for Asad to make peace with the non-jihadi rebels. There have been signs, but he would be wise to do so. I don't know what the problem is, if they haven't done so, but he would be wise to make progress. There's no way out for him without that, though maybe Mahir doesn't think so.

Posted by: alexno | Oct 7 2013 22:19 utc | 14

alexno, what do you think is Assad referring to, when he admits that "errors were made"? the point is that it's very difficult and very dangerous for a non-jidahist rebel to quit, at this point

Posted by: claudio | Oct 7 2013 23:15 utc | 15

President al-Assad to envoy of Palestinian Authority President: Palestinian issue and rights will remain a priority for Syria

Oct 7, 2013

President Bashar al-Assad on Monday affirmed that the vicious attack targeting Syria will not change its pan-Arab principles.

President al-Assad, during his meeting with Abbas Zaki the personal envoy of the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, asserted that the central nature of the Palestinian cause and adherence to the legitimate historic rights of the Palestinian people will remain a priority for Syria.

The President noted that the current events in Syria didn't change the attitude of the Syrian people towards their Palestinian brethren in Syria; rather the events increased their solidarity and cohesion in the face of the terrorist attacks that target them both.

For his part, Zaki said that the Palestinian people support Syria in the face of the aggression targeting it, pointing out that targeting Syria is the same as targeting the Arab nation, because the attempts to deplete the resources of the Syrian people and army is part of a larger plan which seek to divide the countries of the region and weaken them to serve Israel's interests.

Posted by: brian | Oct 7 2013 23:45 utc | 16

Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria

Posted by: brian | Oct 7 2013 23:54 utc | 17

I can't take anything John Kerry says seriously. One minute he is calling Assad a "thug and murderer" and now he thinks Assad deserves a pat on the back?

It probably won't be long before we see Kerry and his wife dining with the Assads again.

Posted by: Calig | Oct 8 2013 1:52 utc | 18

12 Washington doesn’t know much but it knows that it doesn’t want trouble or change of any sort in Riyadh or Jiddah.

Change there is automatic and guaranteed.


The United States will pass Russia this year to lead the world in production of oil and natural gas, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports.

America has been closing in on Russia since 2008 thanks to a boom in both oil and gas production, primarily on private lands. This year it’s on track to out-produce it by a substantial margin. Saudi Arabia is third overall and remains the world’s largest oil producer—though the United States may be on track to take that title as well.

2) comment section of the article below is interesting as well

The largest oil exporter in the Middle East has teamed up with the second largest consumer of oil in the world (China) to build a gigantic new oil refinery and the mainstream media in the United States has barely even noticed it. This mammoth new refinery is scheduled to be fully operational in the Red Sea port city of Yanbu by 2014. Over the past several years, China has sought to aggressively expand trade with Saudi Arabia, and China now actually imports more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States does. In February, China imported 1.39 million barrels of oil per day from Saudi Arabia. That was 39 percent higher than last February. So why is this important? Well, back in 1973 the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil sold by Saudi Arabia would be denominated in U.S. dollars. This petrodollar system was adopted by almost the entire world and it has had great benefits for the U.S. economy. But if China becomes Saudi Arabia's most important trading partner, then why should Saudi Arabia continue to only sell oil in U.S. dollars? And if the petrodollar system collapses, what is that going to mean for the U.S. economy?


The following is how the deal was described in a recent China Daily article....

In what Riyadh calls "the largest expansion by any oil company in the world", Sinopec's deal on Saturday with Saudi oil giant Aramco will allow a major oil refinery to become operational in the Red Sea port of Yanbu by 2014.

The $8.5 billion joint venture, which covers an area of about 5.2 million square meters, is already under construction. It will process 400,000 barrels of heavy crude oil per day. Aramco will hold a 62.5 percent stake in the plant while Sinopec will own the remaining 37.5 percent.

At a time when the U.S. is actually losing refining capacity, this is a stunning development.

Yet the U.S. press has been largely silent about this.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 8 2013 3:17 utc | 19

"Change there is automatic and guaranteed..."
True, but the US will insist on oil selling for dollars. If that ends the reserve currency will be in deep trouble. The US relies upon its control of the world's reserve currency, once that is lost it is exposed.
As to the oil and gas news this is of very little significance: the US is pumping out the dregs, as to its gas production it is trading its aquifers for short term profits. It is running out of water.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 8 2013 3:30 utc | 20

Get a load of the raving lunatic representing the FSA.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 8 2013 3:33 utc | 21

It is only a hunch on my part, but it is entirely possible that US may feel, especially with the Democrats in power, that the Saudis are getting a too big for their britches. A similar case to Qatar, with possibly a similar solution.

Bevin and Rowan are right. The US wants no part of chaos in Saudi Arabia, but I do think they'll be looking for a way to cut out the excesses of the Saudis one way or another.

I realize I just made some pretty sweeping statements about the US and AQ being natural allies (and as some random guy commenting on the internet, I'll now shamelessly contend the opposite) but perhaps Syria could be a test case for this US trying to pull away from Al Qaeda and move towards a reconciliation with Russia and China. Can there be any doubt that a demand of Russia and China would be for the US to pull the leash on one of its most vicious dogs?

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 8 2013 3:43 utc | 22

20) I am not so sure the US will insist on the Dollar as reserve currency. It has not just got upsides but very serious downsides too, like an industry not being driven by internal demand (that means hardly any industry as imported stuff is cheaper) and dependency on the world's economic cycles. Fracking is an ecological problem, but the US is a large country not densely populated - they won't notice it for quite a while and as everybody sensible invests in alternative energy they might escape the consequences. Inflation can be stopped by Federal Bank high lending rates - just as they create money they can withdraw money. What the US need is a slow process - and I guess they are getting that.
Much of what happened in the Middle East recently - Libya, Syria - was not so much caused by the US actively pursuing their agenda - but by allies to whom this agenda was outsourced, and had own diverging agendas.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 8 2013 4:39 utc | 23

"I realize I just made some pretty sweeping statements about the US and AQ being natural allies..."
Peter Dale Scott makes a pretty good case for it at Japan Focus Asia Pacific Journal:

Posted by: bevin | Oct 8 2013 4:46 utc | 24

@ Posted by: bevin | Oct 8, 2013 12:46:02 AM

Thank you - having skimmed the contents of that page you linked to, I've set aside time later in the day to sit down and read it thoroughly. The titles of some other articles on that site are also intriguing.


Posted by: Dubhaltach | Oct 8 2013 7:00 utc | 25

24) I agree with you if you say co-dependence, tools, de facto collusion. Allies they are not. That would imply common goals as in "an islamic emirate in the whole of the Middle East" or at a minimum the ability to coordinate action as in "getting rid of secular, nationalist, pro-Iranian regimes first which the US also happen to hate". US officials cannot ignore their own terrorism list or be in danger to be sued legally. Al Qaeda would not be able to explain cooperating with infidels to their followers. Almost certainly both parties outsource coordination to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States like Qatar or Kuweit.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 8 2013 9:06 utc | 26

P D Scott has been writing and re-writing that article for a decade or so. His results always appear on the awkwardly named 'Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus' website, and always have millions and millions of carefully linked footnotes, which are a wonder of intertextuality. But in terms of historical digging, he is among the best. Similarly, he has been working on the JFK assassination ever since it happened, and has unearthed the most arcane contradictions eg in Mexican Embassy records and other places where no one else would look.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 8 2013 9:28 utc | 27

8 b.) it is working :-))

Washington Post - The awkward politics of Banksy’s satirical Syria video

Posted by: somebody | Oct 8 2013 9:42 utc | 28

Full transcript in English of Assad's interview with Der Spiegel magazine, published 7 Oct 2013:

The Der Spiegel interviewer reminds me of a generality I've said before: The leadership and people of the nation of Germany are equally as benighted as the Anglophones are in foreign affairs questions. This particular interviewer begins by insinuating that Assad is an agent of corruption and tyranny, and goes on to say explicitly that Assad doesn't have legitmacy to govern, and Assad oversees an army that has committed atrocities. The interviewer says that good evidence exists that the Al-Houla and Al-Ghouta massacres were commited by the Syrian goverment's side. The interviewer says: "As a result of the gas attack against your people, you forfeited every right to be in your position." And: "Five million people have become refugees.... The reason for this exodus is that people are fleeing you and your regime." And: "For the international community, you are responsible for escalating this conflict, which has no end in sight. How can you cope with such guilt?" And: "Isn’t it puzzling that we, in the West, have a completely different assessment of the situation [overall in Syria]?" In reply to that last question Bashar said: "Your region [the West] is always late in recognizing reality [in Syria] and is extremely slow in understanding this reality.... You have a reality deficit.... In Europe you rely too much on the United States in your [foreign] policies and too easily adopt its policies."

The Der Spiegel interviewer also says that Assad is "ignoring reality". So it comes down to a question of whose reality is real; and whose reality is fictitious and delusionary. It is clear to me that the West including the Germans, with a few exceptions, do not have the reality right.

Bashar also said in the interview, and he's said this in the past about non-Syrian Arabs too, "some Europeans have come and signaled that they are persuaded by our political position, and that they share our analyses and explanations of the situation, but they cannot say this in public because it’s politically difficult for them at this moment in time." Delusionary beliefs get their believability re-inforced in the real world whenever the beliefs are ensconced in a politically dominant position. The mass media remains a strong and vital force in making something politically dominant, and the mass media in the West in incurably atrocious in foreign affairs.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 8 2013 14:07 utc | 29

In case you didn't have time to read the full interview, here are some other quotes from Bashar in the interview with that bollocks from Der Spiegel:

Bashar: "What is important for me is to win the trust of the Syrian people and not the West. What is important for me is Syria not the West."

Bashar: "The army represents Syria; otherwise it would have disintegrated long ago."

Bashar: "When we [the Syrian army] liberate a certain area, as we have done in many areas of Syria, it doesn’t mean that we are winning, because the terrorists withdraw to another area and destroy it."

Bashar: "The brutality we are witnessing in Syria is incredible."

Bashar: "A negotiated solution with the armed groups is not possible. My definition of the opposition is a political program or entity that doesn’t carry weapons. If the armed groups were to lay down their weapons and return to normal life, it would be possible to talk to such people."

Bashar: "At this particular time, I realize more than ever how much I love my country.... The situation in Syria worries and saddens me.... I am not worried about myself."

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 8 2013 14:14 utc | 30

In the Der Spiegel interview, Bashar Assad said, 7 Oct 2013: "Let me be clear about this: this conflict is being brought to our country from the outside world.... We could solve the problem in a few months" in the event of stoppage of the outside support that's coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. . My comment: I disagree; I say the outsiders are merely a supplemental force, and their impact is constantly exaggerated.

Just 60 days ago, on 6 Aug 2013, Bashar Assad said, more accurately: "Although the external factors are strong and influential -and we all know this truth- but the external role, no matter how strong, has a [MERELY] helping or hindering effect; it could either accelerate the solution or prolong the crisis. As we repeatedly said, this external role is contingent on the INTERNAL gaps we have in Syria. When we put all external factors aside, and we say that there are terrorists, thieves and mercenaries who are killing for money and there are Syrian extremists... we are talking about a production of the Syrian society.... [Components of the society] have unleashed beasts [alt translation: monsters] into the field."

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 8 2013 14:19 utc | 31

Instituting neo-liberal economic "reforms" in the midst of a drought and an economic downturn was one clear mistake. This policy only exacerbated unemployment, social tensions and gave jihadist recruiters an wider opening.

Posted by: Gareth | Oct 8 2013 14:34 utc | 32

I've been comparing the Spiegel and SANA transcripts of the interview. There are a number of minor discrepancies, but the most interesting is this one. First the Spiegel version:

If you admit to having 45 storage depots for such weapons, how do we know that is correct?

Now the SANA version:
You say you have 32 stores, while Western intelligence services put the figure at 50.

I believe you people in the US are blocked from getting SANA, but there is a copy at Global Research

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 8 2013 14:58 utc | 33

@ #32: The neo-liberal economic reforms in Syria, which were started in the early 1990s by Hafez Assad and expanded in the 2000s by Bashar Assad, were successful both economically and politically. Politically, there is almost nobody in Syria today who argues that the reforms were inappropriate. There is a larger number who argue that the reforms were too slowly paced and still not extensive enough. Syria still has economically illogical subsidies for the price of fuel and some other basic commodities. Bashar Assad and top-level economic advisors agree that the subsidies are illogical from a purely economic efficiency standpoint, but the subsidies remain in place becuase they are politically popular, and this is one item that illustrates that the government has been and continues to be sensitive to, and responsive to, the opinions of the masses. As another point, contrary to #32, the economic liberalization program did not exacerbate unemployment. Syria had a large growth in job creation during the last 20 years, and the last 10 years. In the years just before the rebellion broke out in 2011, the unemployment rate in Syria was lower than it was in Spain, despite a higher number of new young entrants to the job market in Syria.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 8 2013 15:04 utc | 34

@ #33 : I believe you're mistaken when you say you believe people in the USA are blocked from getting to the SANA.SY website. What is the basis for your belief? To my knowledge, the US government does not try to block any Internet sites, and has no facilities in place to do any such blocking. Certainly that used to be true, and although I don't keep up with changes in US law I think I would've heard about it if they'd instituted a blocking system and they'd put the likes of SANA.SY on a nationwide Internet block.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 8 2013 15:15 utc | 35

I can't remember, I just read it somewhere. I'm in England. If it's not true, so much the better.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 8 2013 15:18 utc | 36

As linked to by Guest77 at #21 above, Al-Jazeera TV interviewed an official spokesperson of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Zakaria. Colonel Zakaria is an articulate speaker on behalf of the FSA. He makes it crystal clear that there isn't a slightest chance that the FSA would enter into any dialog with the Assadists. He also conveys a clear and simple picture of what the FSA thinks it's fighting for, namely it's fighting against a "murderous regime" (and not fighting for anything beyond that -- so it seems from listening to what the FSA spokespeople say and don't say). .

On the same Al-Jazeera TV program a commenter says correctly that any contact for dialog between the FSA and the Assadists would not only be contrary to the FSA's longstanding core values but would also further undermine and marginalize the FSA's would-be leadership role in the rebellion, especially now that the FSA's leadership is rivalled more and more by the Islamist fighting groups that are totally outside the FSA and have no intention of dialog with the Assadists.

As linked to at #29 Assad reiterated on 6 Oct 2013 that a negotiated solution with armed groups is not possible, to which I add that that statement by Assad is for real and will not be revised.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 8 2013 17:11 utc | 37

@Rowan Berkeley #11 & @bevin #12

By 'script' i meant 'this is how things are likely to unfold', and not necessarily that someone is running it from behind the curtain.

Lessening tensions in the ME (viz a viz Iran and Syria) would bring the price of oil down. This would put pressure pressure on the saudi wallet. As given the colossal subsidies the people in that country enjoy, I read somewhere, that $80 oil is the bare minimum required by them to stay afloat. Lesser tension in ME also means disillusionment in the rank and file of the salafi armies. This would put further pressure on the saudi regime.

Yes, a good chunk of the US establishment is wedded into the petrodollar economy. But those guys are having to save their asses from multiple dimensions across the world these days (economy, debt, asia etc etc). Dont think that they would have the bandwidth for so much forward thinking.

Hence, my expectation that spring would arrive in SA sooner than later.

Posted by: RT this | Oct 8 2013 17:31 utc | 38

That's basically the same bullshit the zusa thugs pulled off with Iran.

Iran has shown many good-will signs and offered many constructive initiatives over many years to de facto prove - and allow control - of its non weapon oriented and completely peaceful nuclear programs. zusa and their thugz gang simply chose to ignore everything and to continue their witch hunt.

As for Syria of course the zionist gang has lost the game and of course the Syrians will win the war against the payed terrorists. I'm happy though to see that Assad is not simply going for killing them and that's about it. From what can be seen, Assad follows a very nice plan in desiring to avoid bloodshed and offering opportunities to the terrorists to give up in way or another - where obviously the ways will be to send them back where they came from to create havoc there.

There is a very unfortunate aspect to basically all criminal terroristic endeavours of the zionist scum; the attacked countries understandably are quite happy to merely somehow escape and survive. In basically all cases, however, there is *tremendous dammage* done - which the zionist thugs are basically never forced to compensate.
The dammage done to Iran probably has crossed the 1 trillion $ and similarly the Syrians are left with dammage in the 100s of billions.

It seems only logic and just for the ME countries to terminate israel and strip off everything of any value. Similarly zusa will experience a horrible (to them; for everyone else it will a joy) payday.
While I believe that the currently raising powers (mainly BRICS) will show themselves to be fair and humane, it will be perfectly justified to basically rip out major zusa industries and other assets to compensate at least partially the dammage suffered. Furthermore zusa will be interdicted any military facilities and devices other than the most basic self-defense (like coast guard).

Ceterum censeo israel delendum esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 8 2013 20:30 utc | 39

'He makes it crystal clear that there isn't a slightest chance that the FSA would enter into any dialog with the Assadists'

not good for FSA then, as the 'Assadists' are the syrian people...FSA is still free of syrians! hence the need to recruit abroad from afghanistah chechnya UK france jordan saudi tunisia libya etc

Posted by: brian | Oct 8 2013 23:38 utc | 40

'He also conveys a clear and simple picture of what the FSA thinks it's fighting for, namely it's fighting against a "murderous regime" (and not fighting for anything beyond that -- so it seems from listening to what the FSA spokespeople say and don't say)'

he must be privately astonished then that those he thinks needs FSA support: the syrian people, support the 'murderous regime'

Posted by: brian | Oct 8 2013 23:41 utc | 41

Bashar Assad and top-level economic advisors agree that the subsidies are illogical from a purely economic efficiency standpoint, but the subsidies remain in place becuase they are politically popular, and this is one item that illustrates that the government has been and continues to be sensitive to, and responsive to, the opinions of the masses. As another point, contrary to #32, the economic liberalization program did not exacerbate unemployment. Syria had a large growth in job creation during the last 20 years, and the last 10 years. In the years just before the rebellion broke out in 2011, the unemployment rate in Syria was lower than it was in Spain, despite a higher number of new young entrants to the job market in Syria.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 8, 2013 11:04:33 AM | 34

sos we have the people vs the neoliberal may not be aware but neoliberalism is not doing so well usa for 'economic efficiency' WTF is that!? go ask Detroit

Posted by: brian | Oct 8 2013 23:44 utc | 42

"an official spokesperson of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Zakaria. Colonel Zakaria is an articulate speaker on behalf of the FSA"

If by "articulate' you mean "screaming at top speed" then maybe you are onto something.

The colonel was a disaster. It has been years since I cringed through a television performance that bad. Even Fisk couldn't keep a straight face. He accuses the Syrian government of killing 150,000 people, a claim that one would not even hear if one happened to be listening in on a phone call between a certain clothing shop in Coventry and a Western newspaper.

To compare him to Assad's cool demeanor, measured statements, and thoughtful discussion of the issues Syria faces - they are light years apart. If the FSA is trying to come off as anything other than desperate, lying, out of touch potential Arab dictators (he looked every bit General Sisi's brother), then they failed miserably.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 9 2013 0:11 utc | 43

As for the neoliberal reforms, on the eve of the fighting, even the Economist - a paper that normally drools over a whiff of economic liberalization - admitted it was a disaster for the Syrian people.

The steady introduction of market reforms since 2005 has yet to make a big difference. Opening up business has so far benefited only a few. Property has been bought for speculation. Food prices have risen faster than wages. Quite a few industrialists have seen their businesses founder in the face of cheaper goods from China and Turkey. Plans to ease the pain by creating a welfare safety net have fallen behind. People scrimp to pay for private education and health care because state provision, due to be overhauled in the next five years, is so bad. “The growing wealth gap is threatening the middle class,” says a local economist.

The country was also greatly affected by the 2008 food crisis:

The fact is likely that what real opposition to the Syrian government there was was due to the Syrian state foolishly moving towards the neo-liberal model while other parts of the globe were re-embracing socialism.

The war has of course brought on a return to government involvement in the economy. On top of that, Syria now knows who its friends are. It will no longer have to play the economic fool in order to gt in good with the kleptocrats of the EU and USA.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 9 2013 0:18 utc | 44

@43 "...Even Fisk couldn't keep a straight face. He accuses he Syrian government of killing 150,000 people..."

By he I mean the FSA colonel of course.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 9 2013 0:20 utc | 45

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 8, 2013 8:11:00 PM | 43

yes so what sort of game is Parviziyi playing? the screaming colonel seems to be saying that the FSA have killed noone! and does he ignore the majority of his FSA and alqaeda are NOT syrian? but foreigners who are happy to kill syrians

Posted by: brian | Oct 9 2013 0:25 utc | 46

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 8, 2013 8:18:48 PM | 44

some useful info thanks..Its off barthist govt would embrace an economic strategy that hands over the economy to foreigners and private gamblers/speculators

Posted by: brian | Oct 9 2013 0:27 utc | 47

@24 bevin

Sobering article.

More proof that alliances with dictators abroad means empowering those who desire an even deeper dictatorship at home.

And in the UAE there will be increasingly sophisticated infrastructure for a global reach, immune from popular oversight. A secret American-led mercenary army is being put together for the UAE by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater, who is now a UAE resident.187 In 2013 the UAE also hired Booz Allen, one of the National Security Agency’s most important contractors “to replicate the world’s largest and most powerful spy agency in the sands of Abu Dhabi.”

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 9 2013 0:43 utc | 48

@46 The FSA's game, certainly.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 9 2013 0:44 utc | 49


Syria's neo-lib economic "reforms" should also be seen within the context of American neocon pressure in 2005 -- Syria was feeling the squeeze from the US Syria Accountability Act and faced allegations about the Hariri assassination (which Bolton immediately blamed on Syria).

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 9 2013 1:53 utc | 50

@50 For sure.
RT is posting a breaking news suggesting the US may cut military aid to Egypt. I hate to take this half-built train of thought too far but if they do cut the aid, could this be seen as another sign of a US fallout with the Saudis and another win for the Israeli scheme of breaking down the countries around them?

As someone posted in the open thread, the Saudi-France meeting was "productive". Perhaps the House of Saud is hedging their bets.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 9 2013 2:00 utc | 51

@Rusty Pipes #50;
Neo-liberal policies ALWAYS have a strong internal incentive to them, because they make the local elite filthy rich. I really doubt that Syria was "forced" to adopt neo-liberal policies. In case of Iran I am sure that they are very much a willing partner for such policies, and to the extent that Iran may have been slowed down (eg. Iran not entering the full membership of WTO), it is the result of the lack of cooperation by the west rather than a reluctance by Iran.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Oct 9 2013 3:23 utc | 52

Israel Shamir is proclaiming victory in his idiosyncratic way and as usual his spiel is in Counterpunch. He says disparagingly "Europe is going through a stage of apostasy and rejection of Christ," which is the exact equivalent of calling us takfiris. He says, quoting the various rumour mills, that NATO fired two Tomahawks at Syria and the Russian fleet intercepted them. He says:

The most dramatic event of September 2013 was the high-noon stand-off near the Levantine shore, with five US destroyers pointing their Tomahawks towards Damascus and facing them - the Russian flotilla of eleven ships led by the carrier-killer Missile Cruiser Moskva and supported by Chinese warships. Apparently, two missiles were launched towards the Syrian coast, and both failed to reach their destination. It was claimed by a Lebanese newspaper quoting diplomatic sources that the missiles were launched from a NATO air base in Spain and they were shot down by the Russian ship-based sea-to-air defence system. Another explanation proposed by the Asia Times says the Russians employed their cheap and powerful GPS jammers to render the expensive Tomahawks helpless, by disorienting them and causing them to fail. Yet another version attributed the launch to the Israelis, whether they were trying to jump-start the shoot-out or just observed the clouds, as they claim. Whatever the reason, after this strange incident, the pending shoot-out did not commence, as President Obama stood down and holstered his guns.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 9 2013 4:07 utc | 53

What do I mean, no, it's the exact equivalent of him being a takfiri. Is it just me, or is there a gremlin that causes people in general to always do what they have just warned others against doing?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 9 2013 4:10 utc | 54

He says disparagingly "Europe is going through a stage of apostasy and rejection of Christ," which is the exact equivalent of calling us takfiris.

That is true, control of the desert religions.

Posted by: hans | Oct 9 2013 5:01 utc | 55

bevin @ 24: Good link, thanks.

Posted by: ben | Oct 9 2013 5:01 utc | 56

some dodgy 'journalism'
How do YOU live with the guilt Herr Spiegel!? Der Spiegel holds up a distorting mirror of president Assad...and wonders why journalism is in decline?

Editorial Note: Der Spiegel's interview of President Bashar al-Assad is not an interview at all. It's an attack and al-Assad takes them to the mat.

'In a separate document we have set Der Spiegel's translation of the interview into English over and against SANA's translation. There are important differences between the two including omissions, additions and textual changes. In some cases entire questions and answers are omitted or added. '

Posted by: brian | Oct 9 2013 7:03 utc | 57

shamelessly Der Spiegel still vaunts the 'Shabiha' did Houla lie, and claim to have had 'journalists' in Houla...this doesnt keep them from a lie of jihadi epic proportions

Der Spiegel: Was the Houla massacre also the result of mere individual failure?

President Assad: Neither the government nor its supporters are to blame for that, because it was the armed gangs and the extremists who attacked the families who supported the government. This is exactly what happened. If you want to assert something to the contrary, you need to provide the evidence and this is what you cannot do. We, however, and contrary to your claims, can give you the names of the victims who were killed because they stood against terrorism.

Der Spiegel: We have evidence. Our reporters were in Houla and talked to the victims and carried out thorough investigations. The U.N. experts reached a conclusion, after investigating the case, that 108 people in the village were killed, including 49 children and 34 women, victims of your regime. How can you deny responsibility and accuse the so-called terrorists.

President Assad: With respect to your reporters, we Syrians, know our country better, know the truth better and can fully document that.

Der Spiegel: The culprits were ‘shabiha’, members of the militias with links to your regime.

President Assad: Do you have any evidence to prove that?

Der Spiegel: We heard this from people we consider credible.

President Assad: I’ll be candid and even blunt with you: your question is based on wrong information. What you are asserting has no ground in reality. A lie is a lie, no matter how you phrase it or present it.

Der Spiegel: That’s right. So, you don’t acknowledge that your ‘shabiha’ took part in the massacre.

President Assad: What do you mean by ‘shabiha?’

Der Spiegel: The militias close to your regime.

President Assad: This name is actually of Turkish origin, in Syria don’t know ‘shabiha.’ The reality is that, when armed groups attack remote areas, and the army and police cannot provide sufficient protection to citizens, villagers arm themselves and create patrols in self-defense. It’s true that some of those fought with our forces, but these are not militias formed to protect the president. What concerns these people is their country, which they are defending against al-Qaeda terrorists that have been attacking them for months.

Posted by: brian | Oct 9 2013 7:30 utc | 58

'Der Spiegel: We heard this from people we consider credible.' credible is Der Spiegel?

Posted by: brian | Oct 9 2013 7:31 utc | 59

Augstein, the founder and editor of spiegel has been born into a crypto-jewish family and german friends told be that "augstein" is almost certainly a jewish name.

Seems credible to me. Whatever the political leaning of spiegel was, one thing he was always: pro-israel.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 9 2013 9:38 utc | 60

a better interview president Assad interview with TISHREEN:

Tishreen: Mr. President, forty years ago Syria fought the October war of liberation. In your view, how does Syria look today? How has the general landscape changed internally and externally?

President Assad: Many things have changed during the past forty years with the changing generations and circumstances. If we were to make a quick and brief comparison between that period and this one, - forty years ago the Arab states were united: culturally, ideologically, morally, politically, militarily and media wise against the Zionist enemy. Today, the Arab states are united, but against Syria.

So, we are talking about two completely different things. At that time, the Syrian and Egyptian armies fought one battle against one enemy - the Israeli enemy. Coincidentally, in the last few weeks the two armies have been fighting against one enemy, but the enemy is no longer Israel. Today, the enemy fighting the Syrian and Egyptian armies is an Arab and Muslim enemy. Forty years ago, treason and collaboration with the enemy were hidden, while today they are openly declared and have become a choice for individuals, governments and for Arab officials: the choice of being a collaborator or not. They are no longer considered as taboos.

Posted by: brian | Oct 9 2013 9:42 utc | 61

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 9, 2013 5:38:59 AM | 60

please not more of the: its bad so it must be jewish. Non jews can be as bad...witness alqaeda or the non jewish european politicians..let alone Bush Cheney or Obama

Posted by: brian | Oct 9 2013 9:43 utc | 62

Axis of Logic has made a valiant attempt to draw up parallel texts of the Spiegel and SANA versions of the interview, here. But as it goes on, the two columns slip more and more out of alignment, so it gets harder and harder to see what's what, though he has also colour-coded the difference. Anyway, I listed a few of these yesterday, the ones that leaped out at me and seemed most important.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 9 2013 10:23 utc | 63

brian (62)

I'm not responsible for your associations.

I merely not that the man behind spiegel almost certainly was born into a crypto-jewish family. And I noted the fact that spiegel, according to what I hear from german friends, consistently (and sometimes going so far as to be ridiculous) holds and propagates pro-israel position.

If you subjectively read that as "jews are behind every evil" that's outside of my responsibility. It's certainly not what I think or what I write.

Ceterum censeo israel delendum esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 9 2013 10:29 utc | 64

US politics proceeds thru changing one’s mind on a dime, on contacts with buddies, funders, superiors, backdoors; it is run by a small political class with a limited set of funders or controllers, but of a large variety of interests, thus vulnerable to being confused in its planning and execution. (See also US > Egypt, a mess.) All are hunting for influence, power, political advantage, money, future deals, positions, or just protecting their present ones.

Turning Assad from an open-minded, modern, responsible leader who was reforming Syria ‘in the right direction’ - you gotta love these meaningless blanket expressions - with a sexy wife and the promise of new banking openings, to an evil dictator who killed his own ppl, right on parade with Stalin and Saddam, to someone who is now reasonable -- under presumed US pressure to be sure ! -- in the sense that he will give up CW, is biz as usual. Reminiscent of high school popularity and power plays.

The Pentagon seemed very gingerly about going into Syria, that might have been super important. e.g. WaPo 5 Sept 13

Russia and China issued many warnings about intervention in Syria. (Probably far more serious and stiff than what the MSM published.) As bevin at 12 points out, the underpinnings here are financial as well. China has warned the US about the debt ceiling, meaning the US ‘must’ avoid a default, because, a-hem, China holds 1.3 trillion (or some close number - Japan is second..) of US Treasury bonds. e.g. NY dailynews 8 Oct 13

One guesses it played a role in the Syria matter, threats may have been financial. The USA’s creditors can bring the US down - but with great pain to themselves, which they want to avoid. For now.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 9 2013 15:10 utc | 65

Syria on 7 Oct 13 raised gas prices by 25%.

For whom, one wonders? Motorists doing tourist trips around Aleppo? The few farmers still bringing produce to market or for that matter plowing their fields? Rebels who buy at the fixed price at Gov. controlled pumps for their trucks? err ... what?

See the biz as usual “Syria report” (titles, to read articles sub. needed) - if the title is gone that is time passing by, enter the title into search.

Note the tenders Syria is putting out: e.g. Supply 150,000 tons of white rice.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 9 2013 15:30 utc | 66

The USA’s creditors can bring the US down - but with great pain to themselves, which they want to avoid. For now. Posted by: Noirette | Oct 9, 2013 11:10:33 AM | 65
Look at that the other way round: the US could cause the economies of its creditors to crash by defaulting on its own debt. China happens to be the country the US is building up as the world's greatest military threat. So a crash in China's own economy would be very welcome. The US would swiftly refinance itself, because it is joined at the hip to the entire 'international banking community'. Then, it could order all the running dogs of south-east Asian Imperialism (South Korea, Japan, India etc) to declare war on China. They could do an R2P on behalf of any number of ethnic minorities (Uighurs, Tibetans, etc) and also on behalf of the sort of 'democracy activists' who can be conjured out of thin air by the thousand. Then, the US could declare their $1.3 trillion debt 'odious' and write it off. This would be a 'post-modern coup' to go down in history. Not much the US does will be worth space in future history books, if there are any, but this would be.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 9 2013 15:50 utc | 67

66 Noirette - the Syria report is based in Paris and would be opposition. The tenders I suppose are by/for humanitarian organisations not by the Syrian state which is unlikely to work through tenders but by Iranian/Iraqui/Russian cooperation/loans.

The official 25% price hike is meaningless compared to the inflation of the Syrian pound, it is also meaningless as Syria has been a war economy for quite a while.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 9 2013 16:32 utc | 68

I get from Shamir's essay no hints of "takfiri-ism" because he is not advocating violence against an apostate Western Europe, more like hinting in a roundabout way that a pro-Russian, anti-American attitude might be conducive to helping restore more Christian culture in the West.

Posted by: amspirnational | Oct 9 2013 19:19 utc | 69

In following video soldiers of the Syrian army have stopped an unofficial ambulence that is carrying wounded rebels. The soldiers take the wounded rebels out of the ambulence one by one and shoot them dead. From the point of view of my own values and principles, I welcome this aggressive behaviour by the Syrian army, and I'd like to see more of it. The video was uploaded yesterday.

The following is a video of rebels in possession of eight army tanks in western Outer Damascus province, and parading the tanks down a main raod with their flags flying on the tanks, dated 4 Aug 2013: . The rebels captured the tanks by force of arms from the Syrian army (and did not get them via army defectors). The following is another case of rebels with newly acquired army tanks in western Outer Damascus, uploaded 3 Oct 2013: . I take these videos -- and numberless other ones showing rebels in possession of multiple tanks -- to be evidence of incompetence on the part of the Syrian army. I don't take them to be evidence of formidable abilities on the part of the rebels.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 9 2013 20:38 utc | 70

As a correction on my post at #70, regarding the video where the soldiers shoot the wounded, the video's uploader says the soliders are Hezbollah, and I believe that's correct because the soliders are wearing yellow ribbons.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 9 2013 20:44 utc | 71


"unofficial ambulance"? Pretty *every* war party wouldn't accept "unofficial ambulances"; if they did, there would soon be "unofficial ambulances" all over Syria. The israel stop and menace even official ambulances.

Furthermore, those terrorists a) are no war party and therefore can't claim any rights and b) should be killed whereever one gets hold of them, no matter what. Wounded terrorists are terrorists, too, and they should be killed on the spot like other terrorists.

Ceterum censeo israel delendum esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 9 2013 21:45 utc | 72

@ #72 : "Unofficial ambulence" is an interpretation of the scene. The vehicle might've been transporting rebels who weren't injured until the vehicle was being brought under the control of the Hezbollah soldiers.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 9 2013 23:33 utc | 73

"...terrorists a) are no war party and therefore can't claim any rights and b) should be killed wherever one gets hold of them, no matter what. Wounded terrorists are terrorists, too, and they should be killed on the spot like other terrorists."

The imperialists would agree with you.
I do not: firstly there is the question of how you know that wounded people are terrorists. No doubt you simply shoot them first and don't bother to ask questions later. This is what Operation Phoenix was about, intimidating civilians by killing at will. It is what death squads in Latin America were about.

In the short term there may be, ill gotten, gains but in the long term the terrorist soldiers are demoralised and grow soft and inefficient.
Mao knew better, his soldiers took care of the wounded enemy and convinced them of the injustice of their cause. It makes a great deal of sense right now for the Syrian forces to make it easy for "rebels" to desert and to rally to the government: refusing to accept surrender, refusing to treat prisoners decently will only benefit the imperialist backed insurgents.

If the Syrian forces are executing wounded prisoners they are being very foolish and making things worse for themselves and their government.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 9 2013 23:44 utc | 74

"...So a crash in China's own economy would be very welcome. The US would swiftly refinance itself, because it is joined at the hip to the entire 'international banking community'. Then, it could order all the running dogs of south-east Asian Imperialism (South Korea, Japan, India etc) to declare war on China..."
No Rowan, the US is not omnipotent. It is in a very fragile condition. I agree with you that other nations are not going to "bring the US economy down" because they are as worried about instability as the US is. But that is not to say that the deepening crisis will not get worse. It will.
The Capitalist ruling class not only doesn't think ahead, it doesn't care what happens next. It agrees with, its most sophisticated spokesman and economist, Keynes, that "in the long run we are dead."
Your brief scenario assumes, as you generally do, that the United states can do anything it wants, and resistance is useless. Actually the US is beginning to look like a paper tiger, albeit one with a very expensive set of teeth.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 9 2013 23:56 utc | 75


Parviziyi, on the slight chance that this is not just another FSA propaganda piece (after all, we know nothing is out of bounds for them), we see far far worse from the FSA and Islamist terrorists against civilians and children on a weekly basis.

A video of soldiers (and I use that word generously) being killed on the battlefield is nothing compared to the constant murders, beheadings, and even canibalism we have seen from your friends in the Fake Syrian Army.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 10 2013 0:03 utc | 76

@67 Rowan / @75 bevin

I find much to agree with here with bevin, as usual.

I think, Rowan, you have two assumptions that fall short.

1) that the US is capable of putting together such a coherent foreign policy
2) that the Chinese will be such helpless victims of the "market" and the "economy" in the same way the US/UK are, even if the US/UK could put that policy together

Unlike the US/UK, the Chinese still have a functioning government and can counter any economic threat with government policy.

There has been much crowing that China is now a "capitalist" country. This claim is made by both by self-congratulating capitalists desperate to point to some success of something that might be called "capitalism" anywhere as well as self-defeating western leftist academics who seems to to look for any excuse for not pursuing an actual revolutionary policy. But China is not a capitalist country in the sense that the US is: a country where the capitalists are in the drivers seat and are carrying off everything that is not nailed down even if that means the complete collapse of the nations ability to function. And because of this difference, it is my opinion we cannot look at them as victims of economic crises of the type we see in the west.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 10 2013 0:42 utc | 77

In China, capitalism is means to an end.

In the US, capitalism seems to mean end of our means to do anything at all.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 10 2013 0:44 utc | 78

Crud. Someday I'll learn to proof read. That should be:

In China, capitalism is means to an end.

In the US, capitalism seems to mean the end of our means to do anything at all.


Rouge. Rogue. And so on...

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 10 2013 0:46 utc | 79

@ 67 Rowan

Not piling on here... just a small point.

If US were to default, it would be the end of it as a Superpower... hegemony would be unattainable. The facade of the richest country on earth, the most powerful, etc. etc. would be shattered.

US is not capable of waging war or influencing others to wage war on China at this moment, it would be totally incapable of doing so post-default. imho

Posted by: crone | Oct 10 2013 1:17 utc | 80

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 9, 2013 6:29:14 AM | 64

but you are responsible for your own, esp those that show little independence of mind...and being jewish crypto or not is not a sign of a criminal bent..witness rupert Murdoch

Posted by: brian | Oct 10 2013 1:48 utc | 81

China happens to be the country the US is building up as the world's greatest military threat. ....
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 9, 2013 11:50:59 AM | 67

worlds greatest military threat, real and imagined, is US of A...just ask vietnam cambodia laos afgthanistan pakistan iraq libya yemen etc etc

Posted by: brian | Oct 10 2013 1:51 utc | 82

bevin (74)

The imperialists would agree with you.
I do not: firstly there is the question of how you know that wounded people are terrorists. No doubt you simply shoot them first and don't bother to ask questions later. This is what Operation Phoenix was about, intimidating civilians by killing at will. It is what death squads in Latin America were about.(...)

I quote Parviziyi (to whose post I responded)

In following video soldiers of the Syrian army have stopped an unofficial ambulence that is carrying wounded rebels. The soldiers take the wounded rebels out of the ambulence one by one and shoot them dead.
(emphasis mine)

While you simply try to smear me the situation is quite different. It's not "civilians" that were killed; it were terrorists.

Note that in my post my argumentation wasn't based simply on the "non combattant" definition. It is based on the fact that those "civilians" as you like to call them usually aren't even Syrians; they are terrorists who have been sent to Syria and are payed for creating havoc and massacres among the Syrian civilian population.

It is utmost dirty from you to pervertly paint the payed murderers of civilians as "civilists" and to try putting me in the dark "imperialist" corner.

The Syrian army has *every right* and even the obligation to kill that terrorist vermin who tortured, raped and murdered in the most cruel manner; and not for "freedom" but for money and possibly because they like it.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 10 2013 1:51 utc | 83

brian (81)

And again you imply things I didn't say. And again: I'm not responsible for your associations.

I did *not* say (nor imply) that augstein, being most probably a crypto jew, was criminally bent (or otherwise a bad man). I merely noted that he most probably was born into a crypto-jewish family and that his spiegel magazine is very pro-israel.

Maybe that's just a coincidence. After all there are catholics and others who are pro-israel, too. But I'm sure enough free to note observations - and you are free to associate that in any way you like. But you are not free, to make your associations my burden.

And btw, as it happens from time to time, a general remark:

It is utterly senseless to point at me calling me anti-semite in any way whatsoever. I simply don't care batshit. one can achieve only two things with that ridiculous accusation; a) showing oneself incapable of clear thinking and b) marking oneself as a zionist friend.

Ceterum censeo israel delendum esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 10 2013 2:01 utc | 84

As a rare occasion I find myself in disagreement with all three of Rowan, Bevin and guest77.

a) China is a capitalist country. And capitalism is in the driver's seat in China(Once it becomes the dominant mode of production, capitalism cannot be in any seat other than the driver's).

b) China's economy is very much interconnected with that of the Western world. There is no such thing as a "local crash". One goes down everybody goes down. China's GDP is based on export to the West, the local consumer (ie. slave labourers called "migrant workers", and the peasents) can't consume the products of multi-nationals in China.
And the multi-nationals profit is DEPENDENT on slave-labourers in China. I am very curious to know what will the state of China's "emerging economy" will be in 2015-2017.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Oct 10 2013 2:17 utc | 85

I often wonder about the real Chinese geopolitical strategy. I know the US is absolutely desperate for people who can read Chinese newspapers and journals and who can be trusted to translate them intelligently, and this is no joke: one of the unique things about China is that command of the written language is sort of a class monopoly. The ordinary Chinese worker can read a couple of hundred ideograms, and doesn't need more. The educated Party member can read several thousand ideograms. It takes years and years to learn to read these things. Now as to China's policy, what I would like to know is whether Party economists still remember what they learned from Marx, or have been persuaded to forget it. Recently, the pseudo-'progressive' US economist Michael Hudson (beloved of CounterPunch) went to China and lectured the Chinese Academy of Economists that Marx's Theory of the Falling Rate of Profit was all hogwash. Being Chinese, they were too polite to argue with him, but one wonders.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 10 2013 4:55 utc | 86

Pepe has a thing on this:

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 10 2013 6:35 utc | 87

The Youtube video at #71 is certainly real and certainly not a fake: I can tell that from the way the soldiers comport themselves and from what they say in the audio and their manner of saying it.

Speaking of Hezbollah, the Israeli Minister of Home Front Defense, Gilad Erdan, speaking at a security conference in Israel on 8 Oct 2013, said: "Every tenth house in Lebanon has either a rocket launcher, or ammunition in storage", and Hezbollah has now over 200,000 rockets, he said. He said that if war errupted between Israel and Lebanon in a future year, Hezbollah would have greater capabilities than it had in 2006 to destroy Israeli civilian security and infrastructure.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Oct 10 2013 15:28 utc | 88

To perform the sort of analysis The Economist et all perform on China and Japan: the United States's culture places a huge emphasis on apologies and accepting blame. If someone says, "I am sincerely sorry, I did all of the bad things, I hope you have it in your heart to forgive me," they are forgiven. Holding grudges is seen as a tacky peasant sort of thing. So B is right, it seems to be the signal for a change in policy.

Posted by: Crest | Oct 10 2013 17:26 utc | 89

@86 interesting points about the class dimensions of reading Chinese, although for the US it is less a problem of finding capable readers and translators as opposed to people who understand and can critically analyze the political intentions, actions and long-term plans of Chinese elites that is harder to come by. I guess that is why Thomas Friedman still remains a China expert China Following Friedman's Advice

I found your reference to Michael Hudson as a pseudo-'progressive' confusing. Aside from Hudson's misunderstanding of Marx's classic definitions of rent and value his general argument over the dominance of finance over industrial capital and its vampire like effect of feeding off surplus value from the 'real economy' is not that controversial, although he speaks as if he discovered a new continent.

So aside from the fact that his analysis tends to at times be erroneous and reproduces a simplistic and politically problematic 'good' capital (industrial) versus 'evil' capital (finance) perspective - am I missing something?

Posted by: thirsty | Oct 10 2013 18:10 utc | 90

Not really. perhaps the phrase pseudo-'progressive' is misleading. By US standards he is a real 'progressive', because in US terminology 'progressive' means left-liberal. The US political spectrum is sort of squashed at the leftmost end. I'm english, and we don't have this problem: there are multiple varieties of more or less marxian leftism that are perfectly legit here, and no one has ever succeeded in excluding them from the leftmost end of the Labour Party, except when they can be shown to be acting as organised revolutionary entryists, as in famous case of the so-called Militant Tendency. So it's very hard for me to imagine myself into the US frame of reference when trying to pigeonhole Hudson, or indeed most of the Counterpunch people, whom I would be tempted to call 'decayed Trotskyites'.

Hudson anyway belongs to a school of thought that really comes from the right wing, technically, but passes itself off as leftish. This school blames the financial sector for all the malfunctions of the capitalist economy, and argues that the capitalist economy would function effectively if the financial sector was sufficiently reformed, though of course they differ on what that would involve. Right at the leftmost extreme of all this I think we can place the voluble & entertaining Webster Tarpley, because he wants more than just financial reform; he wants a partially government-managed economy, like the FDR New Deal. But he would be verboten at Counterpunch because of his 'conspiratorial' view of 9/11, and other events.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 10 2013 19:05 utc | 91

"The Youtube video at #71 is certainly real and certainly not a fake: I can tell that from the way the soldiers comport themselves and from what they say in the audio and their manner of saying it."

I never said it was "fake" in the sense you may be referring to. Like the gas attacks, it is certainly real violence. The head exploding The question is who is doing it.

Of course I'm just basing my statement on what we've seen of these "rebels" in the past. In any case it pales in comparison to the videos the Western-backed terrorists have proudly made and displayed, both in who is being killed and the manner of it.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 11 2013 1:12 utc | 92

This morning, Steve Inskeep did one of what appeared to be his regular interviews of Tina Brown, in which she gives her top literary picks. Seemingly by chance, her organizing theme was "Heroes." After glowing review of a couple of books, she also mentioned a "recent" Daily Beast series by Andrew Slater about a Syrian "hero" -- a former SAA sargeant who refused his superior's orders to shoot protesters in Deraa.

Nothing in this interview was as random as just a typical top book pick interview. Going to the Slater pieces at TDB, it becomes apparent that TDB was hosting a "Hero Summit" conference in Washington today -- a program that has been promoted for weeks. Since the Lobby was most recently loudly beating the drums for intervention in Syria in fact. Further, the "gripping" interview with the Syrian defector had been conducted almost a year prior -- and many aspects of the conflict have changed since then. When it was posted over a month ago, most of the commenters at TDB viewed Slater's series as a piece of warmongering propaganda. But not willing to recognize that the moment for this particular intervention had passed, Brown was in full Support Our Troops, Support the Brave Syrian Opposition mode.

What to do when you plan a conference based on one scenario and by the time it airs, the country's sense of what is the most gripping crisis (government shutdown) has shifted dramatically? More cowbell!!

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Oct 11 2013 2:02 utc | 93


So is Tarpley a Lyndon LaRouche creation or just a fan? They certainly seem to track closely. I could look it up but you seem familiar with Tarpley's thinking.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 11 2013 2:25 utc | 94

@94: I'm familiar with Tarpley's thinking, yes. But we are poles apart, philosophically. I just enjoy the way he does his thing. I don't think he's "a Larouche creation". He has his own background in the academic US Labour Left, as a historian. Larouche, like many cult leaders, has become more and more self-indulgent and divorced from reality as he has aged, and people have left because they can't stand it any more. Generally they will say that when he was younger he was a bona fide genius, not that he was misguided, or a villain, or a fraud. But they will say that frankly he has become senile, and a senile cult leader is a horrible thing. Tarpley and Larouche still share one fundamental attitude, on which I differ from them: they are followers of Leibniz, whereas I am a follower of Spinoza. Leibniz was a 'liberal progressive' Christian, to put it in today's terms, and so are they. Spinoza was not a Christian. I would describe Spinoza as a rationalist mystic. He doesn't pigeonhole easily. One can even be a Spinozist Marxist (eg Althusser). But Tarpley and Larouche are Leibnizians, which means they are Christians, but they do not belong to any existing church, because like Leibniz they hover slightly above the sordid details of church conflicts such as Catholic vs Protestant, and refuse to choose between these.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 11 2013 14:05 utc | 95

Very interesting. Thank you Rowan.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 12 2013 7:30 utc | 96

Late in the day: Rowan at 62. Absolutely! One of the reasons why it is so difficult (for me anyway) to interpret the debt ceiling raising by the US (or not, i.e. possible future semi- or partial default) beyond the partisan Red-Blue spite, power-jockeying and general entrenched hysteria, which one can pick over, as the MSM does. The wider implications are mind-bending and who is plotting what, what results might be, etc. is open to all kinds of conjectures and prognostications.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 13 2013 14:10 utc | 97

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