Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 09, 2018

Blumenthal, Norton, Khalek - The Turncoats Deliver A Poor Excuse - by Daniel

by Daniel
lifted from a comment

I see b’s Twitter linked to the "Moderate Rebels" discussion of Blumenthal / Norton / Khalek. I hope y’all don’t mind my posting the below. I originally wrote it as an "open letter" to the above triumvirate, but changed pronouns for this audience.

Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek talk about their late “evolution” on the war against Syria in this episode of “Moderate Rebels.”

For those who don’t know, each was pro-"opposition", anti-Syrian government for years, but changed positions sometime in around 2016.

I'm glad to hear Max finally directly address his anti-Syrian stance from 2011 to 2016. He acknowledges that Sharmine Narwani was correct all along. It would be nice to hear him actually apologize to Sharmine and other journalists he disparaged, but especially to the Syrian people who sure could have used the support of a well known Arab/Palestinian Rights advocate with a large audience and influence.

Yes, Max "didn’t take a serious look at what was actually going on" in Syria. And didn't for five more years. He began writing for Al Akhbar in Lebanon in July, 2011. As a journalist, he was obligated to inform himself about what was happening before writing about it. Syrian police and military had already been massacred by then. Post office workers had been thrown to their deaths from the roof because they were "government supporters." The violence of the "protesters" was even being reported in Israeli newspapers.

He says he "didn’t think it was going to become, you know, the 7-year devastating conflict that it became." That is apparent. Libya was already descending into the F-UK-US “Mission Accomplished” with NATO bombers warming up to finish the job. Perhaps Max’s dad had assured him that Syria would follow the same pattern his emails with Hillary Clinton show he had helped plan and define in Libya.

BTW: Has he ever addressed his father's role in the destruction of the once most prosperous country on the African continent? I haven't read or heard anything from Max on Syd Blumenthal's pre-Qaddafi "removal" explanation that Libya had to be destroyed to:

  1. Steal their nationalized oil.
  2. Confiscate the hundreds of tons of gold and silver Libya held.
  3. Prevent Libya from establishing a gold-backed currency and pan-African development bank to compete with the US petro-dollar and IMF, and lift Africa out of neo-colonial subservience.

Yeah. Max was "pretty quiet on Libya and not really - didn’t really make any coherent statements on that either."

That newspaper that Max publicly maligned and quit ("grandstanding" as he now says) "had taken an anti-imperialist agenda." Did that paper ever reject any articles Max wrote defending "the Syrian revolution"? I didn’t think so. Who had "an agenda"? Because it sure sounds like it was Max who was so focused on his new book release and two upcoming book tours that at the least he abandoned journalistic values. Or did he fear that "being associated" with a paper that also published articles critical of "the revolution" could hurt book sales?

After all, he thought it was all going to be over soon anyway.

It would also be nice for Max to explain why, once he changed his position on Syria after Russia had helped turn the tide, he, Ben and Rania scrubbed all their anti-Syrian/pro-"rebel" posts from the internet without explanation. How Orwellian.

But he "just haven’t really had the chance to sit down and write" an apology and explanation.

And once Russia stepped in, Max was "pretty relieved" he didn’t "have to engage in" the Syrian disaster and so he "sort of tapped out." Wait. I thought he just said that was when he finally "tapped in" and began investigating and writing about what had really been going on.

So, he goes on to say that after the "eastern Aleppo operation", he "started to come to" his "senses" "BECAUSE I STARTED TO REALIZE THAT AN INTERVENTION AT THIS POINT BY THE US WOULD BE A RECIPE FOR CATASTROPHE"! Wait! What? It was too late for "intervention", so Max changed horses? And then he finally took a few weeks to read what he could about Syria and do his "due diligence."

Another BTW: Why did Max write those articles on the White Helmets without crediting Cory Morningstar, Vanessa Beeley and other journalists whose work he so obviously relied on? I read those articles, and saw NOTHING that I hadn’t already read at 21st Century Wire. What "independent investigative journalism" did Max and Ben do?

Rania says she has Druze Syrian relatives, and somehow that kept her from investigating and reporting on the sectarian "rebels" in Syria. Huh? Everything I hear is that most Syrians don’t really classify people by their religion. Yes, as she says, the Syrian war has engendered the most deluded propaganda. Yes, the reporting (MSM that is) was horrible. But those are not excuses to avoid it. Those are reasons for her to have deeply investigated and reported the truth.

Ben notes that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine always supported the Syrian government against the Zionist-supported "rebels" and wrote that quite clearly by 2013. Ben specifies that one cannot support Palestinian Liberation AND the "rebels" in Syria. Yet, he did. For years. Ben's explanation of his "evolution" on Syria is the least legitimate of this group. But they ran out of time while Ben was talking, so maybe he’ll do better in episode 3.

[Daniel added an additional comment here.]

b says:

Here is an earlier piece on Moon of Alabama which includes evidence for the claims Daniel makes:

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

The most abhorrent issue with their talk is that these folks whine and lament how they are being condemned by supporters of war on Syria for their "brave stand" against the war. This from the folks who for five long years harshly condemned everyone who was pro-Syria in their writings and public talks. From the folks who in two years have found no time to write an apology to those who they condemned or publish an explanation for their deleting of the tweets and blog-posts that documented their former position.

For a further discussion of the turncoats self-serving exculpation in the Moderate Rebel (what a stupid name) podcast see this partial transcript by Red Kahina and these threads (also 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) by her as well as this one by Nyusha.


Posted by b on May 9, 2018 at 19:54 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Syria isn't the only topic Blumenthal wrote lies about. Him, his cohort mentioned here, and many other presstitutes destroyed their credibility to the point where no deed no matter how valorous can regain it for them--By their actions, they committed journalistic suicide.

It appears greed yet again trumped integrity. It's always for A Few Dollars More.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 9 2018 20:25 utc | 1

My only concern is that if this is the reception people can expect for changing their mind and talking about it does that discourage anyone else from doing the same?

Posted by: UserFriendly | May 9 2018 20:29 utc | 2

They should apologise to those they maligned. But is a vilificatory focus on the insufficiency of their repentance really helping the anti-imperialist cause?

Posted by: Richard C | May 9 2018 20:43 utc | 3

@ 2: excellent point..

Blumenthal, and his vocal support for the Palestinian people deserves kudos. If he has changed his stance on the Syrian debacle, good. I don't know too many people who are always
prescient enough to get everything right from the get-go, so, even without an apology, he deserves credit for finally getting it right.

Posted by: ben | May 9 2018 20:43 utc | 4

b you are really beggin for problems, isnt this the second time you attack Blumenthal? Those people are the least to be attacked like this.

All have been wrong some time, me, even yourself, why rub it in like this?

Posted by: Anon | May 9 2018 20:50 utc | 5

re 5

All have been wrong some time, me, even yourself, why rub it in like this?
Does that mean you now support Asad? Difficult to believe.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 9 2018 20:57 utc | 6

hey daniel! nice to see that post you did on the other thread getting highlighted here!! kudos..

Posted by: james | May 9 2018 21:04 utc | 7

I became familiar with Max Blumenthal through Democracy Now. His position on Syria was inexplicably appalling, but at least he had the decency to eventually call them out:

Democracy Now & guest slammed for backing ‘neocon project of regime change in Syria’

Posted by: Tobin Paz | May 9 2018 21:06 utc | 8

b. I'm genuinely honored that you chose to post a comment of mine. Thank you. And thank you for correcting my errors in spelling Al Akhbar and Ben Norton's actual surname.

Once I catch up on the "news," I'll be back to check comments.

Posted by: Daniel | May 9 2018 21:10 utc | 9

I was a follower of Max before the 2011 turmoil. I thought he was OK. He knew what was going around in Palestine and I was pretty sure he was an advocate for the better. I dont know what to think anymore. What is right and what is wrong. Can someone enlighten me :-(

Posted by: Your mother | May 9 2018 21:14 utc | 10

@ Daniel

Thank you for putting down what most of us who have been following The Arab spring since Tunisia know about those 3 turncoats aka Triumvirate.

@ Anon #5

Speak for yourself. Those who do follow the ME knew and realised what was the goal back in Dara'a in February 2011. It has started since 1980's and Assad didn't want to be another b---h of the US. Colin Powell thought he could sway him with threats back in 2003 and then Robert Ford - so called Ambassador went on with his task when he got the job in Damascus together with Eric Chevallier who was MAN enough to realise what was happening.

Posted by: Yul | May 9 2018 21:14 utc | 11

Posted by: Daniel | May 9, 2018 5:10:21 PM | 9
(Thanks to b for the recognition)

I agree with b. Your comment was thorough, well-articulated and verifiable.
...and flushed out some Moral Equivalence ideologues of the Thomas L Friedman variety.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 9 2018 21:20 utc | 12

Black Agenda Report of course has got it right since day one since Blacks more than any other group know not to trust Western establishment narratives and discourses on human rights and humanitarian intervention. Their articles on Libya from 2011 are but one proof of this.

Margaret Kimberley's latest on Trump and Israel is excellent as always: here.

Posted by: George Lane | May 9 2018 21:22 utc | 13

Oh please! The first attack on Max Blumenthal was embarrassing enough. Moon of Alabama is very fortunate to have gained as much respect as it has; it's very foolish to squander people's patience with this vindictive tripe. By the way I'm also offended by the fact that someone presumed to edit my Nom de Comment "nationofbloodthirstysheep" when I made what I think was a useful comment on the Gulf of Scripal Incident. If I had wanted to post under the name" nation of sheep" I would have done so.

Posted by: NOBTS | May 9 2018 21:24 utc | 14

Max Blumenthal's support for the Palestians, especially those in Gaza, has been solid. As we all know Gaza is led by the Muslim Brotherhood. As we all should know is that it was the MB in Syria that began war against the Syrian government. It took about a year for Islamists mercenaries to arrive and begin to dominate the opposition to Assad's government. Of course, the Saudis and Qatar were financing the MB forces from the beginning.

I noticed that many westerners who were involved in Palestinian's struggle for their rights immediately backed the MB in Syria in the first year of the Syrian war. Recall how they came out and supported the MB when they seized the Yarmouk refugee camp in opposition to the Syrian government. Many good hearted, but absurdly naive, youthful people who supported the Palestians, came out and attacked Assad.

Max is one of those people. He is young and hopefully is capable of reform. We should accept his apology.

Posted by: ToivoS | May 9 2018 21:27 utc | 15

I wasn't aware of Max Blumenthal saying "Alternet Grayzone is the only progressive outlet questioning the main line". I always prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt and respect how these writers have changed their minds and are sticking to it, but this statement leaves a bad taste in the mouth, considering the outlets that have been questioning it since the beginning. Perhaps he meant "mainstream-alternative progressive outlets", or "foundation-funded independent outlets". Thanks b and Daniel for the background of which I was not aware.

Posted by: George Lane | May 9 2018 21:27 utc | 16

@2 userfriendly and @5 anon...

it is one thing for them to be wrong and another for them to never acknowledge it.. it is kinda like bush 2 and his war on iraq... no acknowledgement and as obama used to say, instead of accountability we just have to move on.. bullshit.. these folks would do well to acknowledge when they are wrong.. i don't know that any of them have..

Posted by: james | May 9 2018 21:43 utc | 17

@15 toivo. but did max apologize for being wrong and attacking others for 4 or so years? i never caught sight of that..

Posted by: james | May 9 2018 21:44 utc | 18

Unlike what people believe this came to the benefit of Iran, Russia and China and only affected the US

Posted by: James | May 9 2018 21:47 utc | 19

UserFriendly #2 and Richard C #3 -

I wish to identify myself with the remarks above.

This all sounds childish to me. Fixation on the degree of sincerity of an apology is for the playground. They had a view they changed their view from new evidence or by reflection or both. They may have done some harm by simply being human as we all can and do regularly, we humans being human and all.

Posted by: Babyl-on | May 9 2018 21:50 utc | 20

These people fully acknowledged their error and were suitably contrite. One should bear in mind the fog of propaganda surrounding the so-called Arab spring; CIA Isis recruiters were very active in the pro-Palestinian movements. I actually knew some young people on the streets of Oakland and Berkeley who had been convinced that the Wahhabi Takfiris were a persecuted minority and were nearly swept away.

Posted by: NOBTS | May 9 2018 21:55 utc | 21

Let's be quite clear about this, even if it means going off-message. The Ba'thist regime is not very nice, but it's a million times better than a jihadi regime in Damascus. It's why Asad has retained the support of Syrians.

The Syrian students I know have been asked to repay their scholarships. Up to 300k euros. They can't and so are forced to remain refugees. Even the Alawites. It's not improbable that Asad will forgive them in the end, but suicides are in prospect. They could cope if it weren't for the war.

The war is going well, but hard on those conscripted. I wonder whether it isn't really a volunteer army now, after all the deaths. The hardened army is very small, but enough to knock off Ghouta, and enough to put a big hole in Idlib, some time ago. my opinion is that Idlib won't resist and will collapse, but we'll have to see.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 9 2018 21:56 utc | 22

Thank you Daniel and b.

Posted by: ritzl | May 9 2018 21:59 utc | 23

While these three did get it wrong about Syria and may not have given the best explanations of what changed their minds, they actually come off as pretty contrite, more than I thought they would be capable of. The podcast is useful for exposing how the Syria issue has crippled the bds movement in North America and the role of gulf state money in that process. I look forward to what they have to say about the particularly insidious role of IS Trotskyism in destroying the anti-war movement in the anglophone world. Its fine to score points against these people for their very real past mistakes, but from an organizing point of view, what matters more is to understand the situation we're in now, and they are contributing. With formerly reliable outlets like Counterpunch getting worse on this issue with every passing day, it seems odd to be attacking those who have rectified their mistakes.

Posted by: Peter Gose | May 9 2018 22:00 utc | 24

"it seems odd to be attacking those who have rectified their mistakes. "
I certainly hope that it is just "odd". I would hate to have to think that the attacks were due to their relative effectiveness and the expanded reach of what they have to say. It's sad to consider that in the best case envy might be a motivation. The worst case is unthinkable.

Posted by: NOBTS | May 9 2018 22:09 utc | 25

Been a student of US History and its Empire since 1960s--50+ years--and I'm being told integrity no longer matters. Can someone tell me when the USA lost its integrity regarding its own basic law and the UN Charter it helped create, how hard it is to discover that fact, and why it matters? In our Orwellian Age, just how important is one's credibility, and why should we trust someone who sold hers/his for A Few Dollars More?

Posted by: karlof1 | May 9 2018 22:09 utc | 26

@25 NOBTS,

Perhaps their heretofore "expanded reach" was dependent on their message of the moment's usefulness to the existing power structure and their willingness to sing on cue? It wouldn't be the first time political capital earned for good cause has been spent in favor of the enemy. Liberal "performative contrition" is meaningless. If those three have done it once, they'll do it again. They are now of no service to the people except as examples, and absolutely replaceable.

It's obvious you're trolling or shilling. Move on to your next assignment please.

Posted by: Jonathan | May 9 2018 22:26 utc | 27

15;Hamas is a MB?egypt was under MB, since sisi had a strangle hold on goverment.

Posted by: dahoit | May 9 2018 22:27 utc | 28

Thanks Daniel for your comment and to B who elevated it to a full post. Daniel's comment should serve as an inspiration to the rest of us!

While attacking Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek for their failure to apologise to people they had previously slandered on their podcast show may seem poor form, I think that what Daniel says and B adds is relevant information to consider "going forward", as the cliche goes, when next the trio cover another or a new Middle Eastern issue, or even revisit the situation in Syria if that should change. Will Blumenthal et al stand steadfast in their opinion or will they revert to supporting the forces trying to topple Assad if they sniff that the tide is turning against the SAA and its allies?

Posted by: Jen | May 9 2018 22:29 utc | 29

@29 jen.. i agree... it is worth reading daniels comment @163 in 'trump ends the nuclear deal' thread as well as @156 george lanes initial comments to this post of daniels too..

Posted by: james | May 9 2018 22:33 utc | 30

i usually try not to judge people by their family connections but blumenthal's dad is such a noxious neoliberal asshole it's hard to believe the apple could have fallen that far from the tree.

a lot of the so called "left" is also infected with the "every revolution is good cuz leaders are teh suck amirite?!?!?" disease. whether it's - as a great article i recently saw suggests - the residue of marxism or just teen angst writ large, they just assume any leader that isn't a 100% pinkwashed socialist-feminist-____ist should be overthrown by the "wisdom of the masses". too bad they fail to see the hands of the "elite" behind every protest and youtube meme.

this also explains the reflexive stupidity that oozes from western mouths every time putin is mentioned (because high approval ratings and legit election wins don't count if it's backwards gay-hating slavs).

while he and the others do write about israel, that falls into the "so you want a damn cookie?" category. opposing israel is opposing every foul part of human nature (especially historical european tendencies) distilled in one arid shithole of a colony pretending to be a country. his hissy fits about gilad atzmon aren't exactly profiles in courage either and offer a glimpse of the "third way" mentality he seems to have inherited from his father.


BAR is indeed great. they have morals and convictions and they actually stick to them consistently. freedom rider is especially good and her recent piece on israel is as good or better than anything on mondoweiss or EI.

extra fun historical context:

the inhabitants of what is now called the GCC or gulf states or whatever were one of the heaviest users of african slaves during the slave trade. this included the barbary pirates that the US marines were basically created to destroy when they committed the dreadful sin of kidnapping white people from the southern beaches of europe. that's where the marine song comes from and the "shores of tripoli" and etc. so the marines have basically been killing muslims for hundreds of years.

as for why the arabian peninsula has so few black folks compared to the west: they castrated all the males. oddly, one slave helped the moors conquer spain (the term "moors" being that time's "muzzies").

Posted by: the pair | May 9 2018 22:38 utc | 31

UserFriendly @2:. . . If this is the reception people can expect for changing their mind . . .

Journos, pols, and other public figures that take strategic positions as it is convenient to them are deplorable.

Anyone that was honestly wrong would be contrite.

= = = =
Richard C @3: . . . Is a vilification focus . . . Really helping

Yes it is, especially for those taking strategic positions.

= = = =
Anon @5: All have been wrong some time . . .

Morons, trolls, and opportunists are right as often as a broken clock.

= = = =
NOBTS @14: . . . It’s very foolish to squander people’s patience with this vindictive tripe

I guess you have no family or friends among the millions dead injured and displaced.

= = = =
Babyl-on @20: They had a view they changed their view . . . being human and all

Not good enough Babyl-on. As a long time patron of the bar I think you should see that more clearly than others.

= = = =
Peter Gose @24: . . . They actually come off as pretty contrite . . . And they are contributing

I always feel that it is best to explain your mistakes and not simply apologize. Very instructive and restores confidence. And if they were “burned” by being misinformed, they should be / would be vindictive toward those that misled them.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 9 2018 22:52 utc | 32

So... it suits the existing power structure that these people should be speaking relatively truthfully at this point? If that's the case then I suppose the majority of Moon of Alabama's followers ( I contributed €50 by the way) would be in the same boat. The only way I can see this working out for the ruling elite is if being on the right side i.e. the left side, is totally marginal and pathetic, so thoroughly divided and conquered as to be irrelevant.

Posted by: NOBTS | May 9 2018 22:54 utc | 33

Posted by: ToivoS | May 9, 2018 5:27:22 PM | 15

The context you give is correct. There was an Obama Muslim Brotherhood strategy. Libya was part of it.

Posted by: somebody | May 9 2018 23:03 utc | 34


In major escalation, Israel attacks southern Syria as Putin has bromance with Bibi Netanyahu

Posted by: Observer | May 9 2018 23:15 utc | 35

I read Max's book Goliath recently. It's very damning of the rightward turn of the Israeli govt AND the Israeli people. People in the US are nowhere near as xenophobic as a majority of Israelis are now. I admit I had not paid much attention to support he would have had for the "Syrian rebels." But the point is to be made and it would be interesting to know of his thoughts on his father's actions with respect to Libya. Maybe Max realizes he's late to the party and is having a me too moment.

somebody 34
The Team Obama love affair with MB was obvious. I thought it interesting that the Egypt military put a stop to their plans once they achieved power there. They were useful for the initial protest violence in Syria until more support could arrive.

Posted by: Curtis | May 9 2018 23:17 utc | 36

Not all who identify as Trotskyist support the bankrupt position on Syria promoted by the ISO and, originally, by Blumenthal et al. See by Socialist Action. Also other, earlier Syria articles on that site.

In a future piece, I will address what Trotsky stood for and use that criteria to differentiate among the various groups that call themselves Trotskyist today.

Posted by: Bruce Lesnick | May 9 2018 23:24 utc | 37

Bruce @37, this is true. The proud Trotskyists at the WSWS are consistently anti-war and have called out several socialist organizations for being pro-NATO intervention in Libya and Syria. I find their philosophical positions woefully reductive and uninteresting (one of them told me once that both "analytic" and "continental" philosophy are "non-sense" and that the only true philosophy is Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism, and also that the Frankfurt school is the root of the perversion of Marxist philosophy), but nonetheless they do extremely admirable and important work in reporting on the ground in places like Amazon distribution centers or interviewing immigrant families terrorized by ICE. They have been speaking out loudly on Google censorship as well, which is laudable.

On this topic of pro-intervention leftists, see Whitney Webb's response to the open letter signed by Chomsky, Judith Butler, and others, calling for the humanitarian US military to save Rojava and "increase support for the SDF": here.

Posted by: George Lane | May 9 2018 23:40 utc | 38

Thanks so much. The silence is deafening.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 9 2018 23:40 utc | 39


It now appears as though a war may have broken out between Syria and Israel. Israel claims that "Iran" attacked it at the Syria/Israel border at the Golan Heights. See NOW (Syrian) News :

Posted by: blues | May 9 2018 23:44 utc | 40

Notwithstanding Israel's attack on Syria, minutes ago, it should be noted, IMHO, that Max Blumenthal is simply a "Limited Hangout". And in it for a "Few Dollars More". h/t Karlof1

Posted by: fast freddy | May 9 2018 23:56 utc | 41

So I read in “Breaking News” that IRANIANS have fired TWENTY MISSILES AT THE HOLY SACRED LAND OF ISRAEL. Or so it is claimed, along with how the “Iron Dome” intercepted most of them.

Query whether “Iron Dome” is maybe a bit of a fraud, , or whether “the hand of YHWH” is involved in shielding the Israelites, who claim to be YHS}WH’s Chosen People, .

So the Likudniks, who most resemble the Israelites from the first eight or nine books of the Torah, violent, deceitful, putting the Philistines to the sword, taking their land and cattle and enslaving their women and children, always falling away from the Commandments but always forgiven by YHWH, are building another brick BS box to add to the structure that will, if the dual-citizens that stand atop our Imperial government have their way, lead to some kind of “war on Iran.”

I wonder what it feels like to get vaporized in a nuclear explosion... Expect it won’t hurt for long — less painful than having to watch as the Fokkers who own us slow-walk all of us into economic and environmental collapse, maybe quick-stepping now toward an answer to that neocon-naive question, “What good are all these wonderful weapons for if we never USE them?” C;mon, all you Revelation Believers and Armageddonists, GET IT OVER ALREADY, WILL YOU? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US!

I long ago rejected the notion that there will be some kind of retribution in some kind of “afterlife” where the people who are bast@rds and sh!ts in this life have to atone, somehow. Anyone who might be a candidate for eternity in the fiery lake obviously shares that disbelief. Fork ‘em, if only we could reach them and stop them somehow...

Posted by: JTMcPhee | May 10 2018 0:05 utc | 42

no proof necessary when israel makes a claim... and it becomes front page news immediately in the west.. lap it up baby...

Posted by: james | May 10 2018 0:39 utc | 43

oh and let me aim a quote from pat lang - "Any sort of incident or provocation will be accepted by the US as causus belli." that is indeed how low the usa has sunk to...

Posted by: james | May 10 2018 0:42 utc | 44

Sigh. You'd think that the left, whose only real power comes from solidarity, would be natural coalition builders, but they aren't. I feel like all I ever see is ideological purity tests and an eagerness to shun and expel people over differences rather than try and reach people where they are and work to change their views to match your own. It just gets me so depressed because the right does not have this problem at all; the bible thumpers showed up en mass for the pussy grabber. I'll just add this to my list of reasons not to procreate and to commit suicide before the climate change shit hits the fan.

Posted by: UserFriendly | May 10 2018 0:43 utc | 45

am i the only idiot here who thinks the idea of iran lobbing some missiles into israel from the golan heights is like an oversized pack of lies? maybe i should take out a regular subscription to the times of israel to get the '''real'''news..

Posted by: james | May 10 2018 0:44 utc | 46

This makes no sense at all. I can't even tell what we are supposed to be getting so angry about. Is it that these three people sound insufficiently repentant? Is it their tone of voice we are judging? Or is it that they took too long to reach their current positions? Personally I couldn't care less, as long as today they're pushing the conversation in a positive direction. And I don't think there are many people out there communicating more effectively than Blumenthal and Norton.

Posted by: David G. | May 10 2018 0:46 utc | 47

@47 userfriendly... bullshit.. it isn't about left and is a lot more nuanced then you make it out to be..

Posted by: james | May 10 2018 0:47 utc | 48

For JTMcPhee @44 regarding those "Revelation Believers and Armageddonists" who tipped the Electoral College scales in the U.S., giving the world All-About-Him instead of You-Know-Her: sort of like a choice between Genghis Khan and Atilla the Hun (or Hen).

Left Behind by Jesus

Jesus loves the rich, you know
Ask them, they will tell you so

Help the poor? Why that's a crime!
Best to work them overtime

Off the books, though, lest they say
That you owe them extra pay

Jesus loves those tax cuts, too
Just for some, though, not for you

See a poor kid that's a clerk?
Send him to Iraq to work

Jesus loves the army, see?
Just the place for you and me

Not the rich, though, they don't serve
What a thought! What perfect nerve!

If you think this life's a pain
Wait till Jesus comes again

Then on Armageddon Day
He will take the rich away

Sure, you thought that you'd go, too,
Not that you’d get one last screw

Just like your retirement
That the rich already spent

Jesus with the winners goes
Losers, though, just get the hose

What on earth would make you think
That your lord's shit doesn't stink?

After all he left you here
With the rich, so never fear

They'll upon your poor life piss
In the next life and in this

Jesus loves the rich, so there!
Don't complain it isn't fair

Jesus said to help themselves
Then he'd help them stock their shelves

So they did and he did, too
What has this to do with you?

Jesus loves the rich just fine
Why'd you think he pours their wine?

Jesus votes Republican
Ask them: they'll say "He's the One!"

Still a few loose coins around
That the rich have not yet found

Gotta go now, never mind
If you end up left behind

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2006

Posted by: Michael Murry | May 10 2018 0:54 utc | 49

>> UserFriendly | May 9, 2018 8:43:43 PM | 47

This "solidarity" concept is stupid. There are people who call themselves "leftists" who demand loyalty to Hillary. Um, no, we cannot have "solidarity" with Soros' minions. We never needed "solidarity" to begin with. No significant social movement ever really depended on "solidarity". We must think for ourselves, not just follow the party line.

Posted by: blues | May 10 2018 1:00 utc | 50

@38 Wow, even the WSWS Trotskyists buy into that right wing shit about the Frankfurt School now? Man, that 'cultural marxism' conspiracy theory is so virulent even some Marxists believe it...

Posted by: Massinissa | May 10 2018 1:01 utc | 51

The only surprising thing here is how many pro trolls jumped in the defense of the spent trio. The three have been used up, sacrificed by their owners and there is no going back. Most of the usual good commenters here understand this well - credibility is a bit like virginity - one can go onto an operating table to regain it, but it is never the same.

When will the ordinary people understand, like the smart commenters here, that many regime agents pose as anti-regime activists and journalists, to be sacrificed by their creators at some important moment. Internet is full of such.

Posted by: Kiza | May 10 2018 1:15 utc | 52

@38, Massinissa, yes they got a bit angry when I made that connection with right-wing libertarians and their Cultural Marxism argument about the Frankfurt school being the source of the downfall of Western civilization. To be fair, they would reject that whole argument as well, but they nonetheless hold the Frankfurt school to be a perversion of Marxist thinking to be rejected entirely, with no usefulness or value whatsoever.

Posted by: George Lane | May 10 2018 1:24 utc | 53

I study and work with mental illness (mostly others' sometimes my own), and all I can say is, wow, Israel is a beautiful case. B.E.A.yoootiful!

Posted by: jezabeel | May 10 2018 1:27 utc | 54

As I think further about all this, why do I give a fuck about these intramural cat fights among journalists and blogers. We the consumers are not in the least interested in your petty emotional bruises over improper apologies. This crap goes on day after day in the press - journalists carping at one another and pissing off everyone they subject to it. The Intercept practically has a section devoted to fights with other journalists. I want reporting, the reporting I have seen from those who are sullied here is of high quality nothing in it indicates duplicity of any kind instead it shows almost encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and issues. I am really not interested in the complete moral biography of each and every journalist, are you?

Posted by: Babyl-on | May 10 2018 1:29 utc | 55

>>> blues | May 9, 2018 9:00:48 PM | 52
Clinton? left? LOL Thats the best laugh I've had in awhile. I meant the actual left.

Posted by: UserFriendly | May 10 2018 1:43 utc | 56

James @ 30: Thanks for the tip and also for your consistent support for my comments across the MoA comments forums.

Posted by: Jen | May 10 2018 1:50 utc | 57

As I think further about all this, why do I give a fuck about these intramural cat fights among journalists and blogers. We the consumers are not in the least interested in your petty emotional bruises over improper apologies. This crap goes on day after day in the press - journalists carping at one another and pissing off everyone they subject to it. The Intercept practically has a section devoted to fights with other journalists. I want reporting, the reporting I have seen from those who are sullied here is of high quality nothing in it indicates duplicity of any kind instead it shows almost encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and issues. I am really not interested in the complete moral biography of each and every journalist, are you?

Posted by: Babyl-on | May 9, 2018 9:29:32 PM | 57

As you "think further about all this", consider:


When will the ordinary people understand, like the smart commenters here, that many regime agents pose as anti-regime activists and journalists, to be sacrificed by their creators at some important moment. Internet is full of such.

Posted by: Kiza | May 9, 2018 9:15:03 PM | 54

Then ask: Is it really the case that "....many regime agents pose as anti-regime activists and journalists, to be sacrificed by their creators at some important moment"? Is that the case, or is it not? Because if it is, in fact, the case, then we must address it. I mean, it would be kind of stupid to just ignore that, right?

Well I have seen it several times with my own eyes. So as one of "we the consumers" I cannot just go and dismiss it as a "cat fight".

Posted by: blues | May 10 2018 2:03 utc | 58

I remember the first time Trump attacked Syrian forces was over a chocolate cake with chines president. Could this be the same treatment or a reply by Putin if he gave a green light to Syria they can reply in kind inside Israel, while Nuty is the guest of honor in Moscow?

Posted by: kooshy | May 10 2018 2:06 utc | 59

The ayrian government is not controlled by putin. They can choose to respond any way thry want to for the ongoing aggression and zionist invasion they dont need a "green light" from mosow you only need tosee how rt is covering the news to understand that russia has nothing to do with thi a

Posted by: Ikl | May 10 2018 2:11 utc | 60

>> canthama | May 9, 2018 10:15:16 PM | 65

I don't assume a commenter is controlled opposition "until they prove otherwise". But for anyone named "Hal Turner" (the FBI's honeypot blogger), I have severe doubts to begin with.

Posted by: blues | May 10 2018 2:44 utc | 61

UserFriendly @47,60,

What you say is true, sorry to say. One reason why it is true is that there has not been a viable American political left for at least a half century now and probably longer. There were some stirrings of legitimate left politics in a few of the civil rights groups (certainly not all) in the early 1960s, and for a long time the Black Panthers represented by far the healthiest left movement in the US since the 1920s-30s. But the mass potential for a real socialist politics came to an end, I think, with the assassination of King, and the local pockets of black nationalist resistance were bombed or shot or disappeared by FBI and police forces over the next decade. The remaining Vietnam anti-war movement was largely useless. Many of them are today the aging equestrians of the professional liberal #Resistance.

Occupy had some promise but was easily dissipated. The Democratic primaries demonstrated that a moderate social democrat could outearn corporate PAC financed tools via aattracting a huge number of small donations from people earning between 35K-100K (which is a *relatively* piss poor class of people, politically speaking). Some of this momentum carried over into socialist party gains and electoral victories in 2018, and in some states motivated a younger social democratic ("progressive" I suppose they call themselves) insurgency against Democratic Party empty suits. How lasting and successfull this development will prove to be is uncertain. My hope is that the 2020 Democratic primary season is much more destructive for internal party structure than that of 2016 was; ideally the party itself would implode, ceasing to exist altogether or remade entirely on an explicitly socialist, or at least social democratic platform, the #Resistance crew jumping over to the Republicans.

But I don't really expect any of this to happen.

Posted by: WJ | May 10 2018 2:46 utc | 62


Just go away. You are not going to fool anybody round here into taking you seriously with such comically C-grade troll phrases as "return to relevance" and "such a divisive post."

Posted by: WJ | May 10 2018 3:27 utc | 63

From Ben Norton via the link given by b above ("this episode"):

"We have been criticized, mostly by people who I think have been somewhat unfair, but I think there are valid criticisms, in that early on in the conflict we were kind of knee jerk response supportive of the opposition out of the idea that this is like some progressive revolution against an evil authoritarian regime etc., you know believing a lot of those talking points which we now know are significantly more complex, if not just flat out false."

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | May 10 2018 3:31 utc | 64

to b:
are any reference to SST censured ?

Posted by: Charles Michael | May 10 2018 3:35 utc | 65

First, thanks to many MoA barflies for the kind words. I am far more often than not impressed with the knowledge and analytical abilities of those Bernhard has attracted to this site… no doubt attracted by those same qualities in b. I have learned, and continue to learn much from y’all. So getting props from people I admire is really quite touching.

Most of the criticisms seem to be along the lines of ‘we should not criticize people who change their minds lest we scare off others.”

Of course we should encourage everyone to cut through the propaganda in every way we can. We are all swimming 24/7 in a 360 degree ocean of PR/Propaganda of a sort that Bernays and Goebbels could have only dreamt. I have no doubt that right this moment I hold some disinformation that was deliberately fed to me, and I hope that I am appreciative when someone else helps to lift a veil for me.

In fact, I have no doubt that some propaganda is designed for people like myself (and others here at MoA and elsewhere), whom the propagandists know are aware of their work, and so we are on the lookout for it. I’ll return to that thought.

And when one has a breakthrough as profound as making a 180 degree turn on an issue so great as a war, I absolutely agree that we should welcome that person with warmth and love.

But I also believe we should be skeptical of EVERY journalist/opinion maker who has a substantial platform. For in all but the rarest of cases, the fact of having a substantial platform means having a substantial financial backing. Not all financial backing is dubious of course, but I think we all agree that critical thinking should always be engaged.

So, how should a journalist with a large following who is also a significant opinion maker handle reversing directions on a war? Should that person scrub all previous work from the internet, and just start writing the opposite?

Or should that person help others to have a similar epiphany (most especially those readers who had bought the product this journalist had been selling for the previous 5 years)? In teaching there is a method termed “guided discovery,” whereby the teacher lays out a path for the students to use their own minds to come to the correct conclusion. I can think of no better time to use this method than when one is actually having that very same “discovery” process, or had just had it.

Max could have written articles revealing one piece of false propaganda after the other as he now says he and his cohorts did privately amongst themselves. Today, they complain that “leftists/progressives” attack them as “Assad apologists” and such. We all know that the first response to a new viewpoint that is opposite of one already deeply held is almost always rejection. And when the person presenting this new information had for years actually helped instill in the audience the opposite view, it’s only normal for people to become suspect of the journalist's motives.

But that’s not the path Max, (and Ben and Rania) chose. Was this a case of being a poor teacher, or something else… possibly something a bit more sinister?

Let’s consider other things in Max’s record. ,

In an earlier comment, I described the disinformation in Max’s book, “The 51 Day War” and in his characterization of fellow Jewish writer, Gilad Atzmon. At the least, as a journalist, Max should know better than to spread such incorrect and dangerous ideas.

And we cannot ignore that Max was amongst the first to blame a youtube video for the attack at the US Embassy Mission that killed Ambassador Stevens, his aid and later, two former Navy Seals (read: mercenaries). He wrote this even before the Obama Administration officially made that claim. How’d he know? And when his daddy sent Hillary Max’s OpEd (and again Max’s daddy had worked with Hillary Clinton in understanding why Libya had to be destroyed, and how to do that), Hillary wrote back,

“Your Max is a mitzvah!”

A Mitzvah is any one of the 613 Laws of Moses.

Another author Max vociferously and wrongly labels an “anti-Semite” and liar is Allison Weir. Everyone should read her in depth study of the origins of the Jewish State of Israel in the Levant, “Against Their Better Judgement” and frequent her website,

BTW: It was Max who coined the JSIL term for Israel which I frequently use. We can be critical of a source and still appreciative of useful and true information from that source. Even Controlled Opposition must reveal some true information not found in MSM in order to build the trust that allows them to then feed disinformation into our minds.

Check out this 4 minute video to see clearly how Max duplicitously slanders this good woman:

And here, Gilad explains quite well why he came to term Max an “anti-Zionism Zionist.”

So, back to my earlier question, “what would a propaganda designed for people who already know the MSM is propaganda look like?” I think I may have provided at least one answer.

Posted by: Daniel | May 10 2018 3:37 utc | 66


¿When the Kent State Cambodian War protesters were shot in the back by the Natiinal Guard?

¿When Billy Graham exorted 'Bomb the Gooks for Jesus!' at the Lincoln Memorial during those protests, and Time Magazine called him 'America's Preacher' while recently released tapes show Graham telling Nixon to nuke Hanoi??

¿When thr Hells Angels beat that guy to death at Altamont while the Stones were pleased to introduce themselves?

¿When has America NOT been a criminal enterprise?

Posted by: Chipnik | May 10 2018 3:57 utc | 67

I actually earned a degree in journalism, even though I went to an undistinguished university and was persecuted by the head of the department. I could never support myself as a journalist because unlike Max Blumenthal, I didn't have the resources to travel to other countries and just do journalism. I had to do something else to support myself. Nevertheless, I knew what was up in Syria the minute I saw that al Jazeera had started churning out anti-Assad propaganda: this was early in 2011, while Libya was still in turmoil. There is no excuse for anyone not to have paid attention to Libya--Thierry Meyssan barely escaped with his life after NATO put out an order to kill him! And there is no excuse for anyone to have seen Syria as anything else than an aggression by the U.S., NATO, the GCC and Israel. This is not about some naive kid (and Max Blumenthal is neither young nor naive) falling for romantic propaganda: it is about the son of a highly placed CIA employee who himself claims to be a journalist, and who was the closest advisor to Secretary of State Clinton on the Middle East. As Sidney Blumenthal's son, Max had the best education, a hell of a lot of exposure to the deep state, and is independently wealthy. With these privileges, why wasn't it him who was in Turkey reporting on the U.S., NATO and the World Health Organization sending weapons and terrorists into Syria? Why was it Serena Shim, someone that Turkey, with the nod of the CIA, could murder with impunity? And what is Blumenthal reporting on right now? Nothing that will risk his neck or his reputation, God forbid. Taking risks is for people like Shim, who lost her life, like Wassim Issa, who just lost both legs, like Vanessa Beeley, who has had her name dragged through the mud by FBI agent Sibel Edmonds and the entire British media establishment.

Posted by: Diana | May 10 2018 4:07 utc | 68

The really funny thing here is you folks are ripping Blumenberg a new a**hole for “changing his mind” when you guys are so wrong about Syria. Blumenstock and his friends were closer to the truth before their conversion. That’s right, the story you guys believe about Assad being a bit of a hard a** but a relatively benign dictator is pure fantasy.

The Syrian Ba’athist regime is renowned for its savage brutality against even suspected dissenters. How you people can explain away the well documented record of this violence says something about your echo chamber state of mind. And yes the Syrian government and its Russian patron target civilian areas and hospitals. Again, this is credibly documented. You are buying into a propaganda narrative. Vanessa Beeley, for example, is a Ba’athist stenographer who is not telling the whole story. Before you all start hollering, and throwing furniture let me ask how many Syrians post here? Right.

Nothing I can say will convince anyone to change their mind and that’s okay because who am I and, besides, everyone here has the internet and knows how to use search. If you are brave or not completely brainwashed yet start with this article (you don’t have to agree with everything in it) to get a sense of where your chosen narrative is at its weakest.
Have fun!

Posted by: Porridge & Lager | May 10 2018 4:13 utc | 69


I wonder if Syria were to regain the Golan Heights of Syria and then blitzkreig beyond in a New 7 Day War, all the way to Haifa and beyond, whether the same Rabbinicals and Evangelicals who worship Zionism would defend Syria's right to 'the spoils of war' and then turn a blind eye as Syria blockades Haifa into a concentration camp the way Isreal has turned Gaza into one? Would they talk about Syrians being the New Chosen of Jaweh? Would they throw away their yarmulkels, and wear black and white Hezbullah scarves, just to be among the victors? Would Netanyahu be treated in the press like Arafat was treated, as a loser?

Posted by: Chipnik | May 10 2018 4:17 utc | 70

#13 Thank you George.

Posted by: Andrew | May 10 2018 4:19 utc | 71

I tend to give thanks for small miracles, given the dire straights the world of journalism is in. Blessed are those who repent and at least max, Rhania and Ben appear to have sincerely repented the error of their early days, and max, in particular, has done some truly great work, exposing the Chemical false Flags and the White helmets for what they were and are. Sure, he and others stood on the shoulders of some braver and more perceptive souls such as Sharmine Narwani, Vanessa Beely and Eva Bartlett, among the very - so very - few who dared question the dominant narrative starting in 2011.

I also think that perhaps people don't realize just how difficult it was to be a western journalist/reporter and have any kind of career back in 2011/2012 while questioning the dominant narrative. Very very few did in the west, if truth be said. yes, there were Syrian connected reporters and opinionators like the Syrian perspective, MOA and a few, all too few, others. But one could count the English reporters of truth on one finger. Not just Syria, but also Libya and probably even Egypt. So, not everyone is super-brave from the get-go. not everyone has the analytic skills and integrity of "b", but then b is not stuck with writing for the Guardian, is he? And he and Ziad fadel hand Sharwani and those few others we heard from, many times did not earn their living from writing geopolitic (I think I need to add The Saker to the list. I believe I discovered him only in 2013 or so).

So, if some who first wandered in the desert got some kahunas later, it's definitely better than never. IMO, it's kind of small minded to excoriate those who failed to see the full picture back as it was happening. Me, I see the glass as half full rather than half empty, and as I sit here i can only wish for more converts to the truth. Say Monbiot of The Guardian? now, that would be nice, wouldn't it?

I also would like to remind people just how caught up so many western liberals were in the spectacle of the Arab Spring (that wasn't much in the end, and we should think long and hard about why that was so). We - as in many of us - projected our wishes upon the Arab millennials and students, but little did we do - as in any of us - to research the sad, tragic realities in their own countries. The dependence of Egypt on tourism for example all but doomed their spring to another long Winter. We, who have jobs and/or comfortable positions somewhere and/or comfortable enough retirement that allows some to post here (and post well and thoughtfully for many, which takes time and is definitely a luxury), how could we even imagine what it means to have so little that to lose that meager income from tourists is a catastrophe? In the end the majority of the Egyptians went for bread and butter or Sisi would not have prevailed (please don't read this as defense of the Sisi regime. It's just me trying to understand why the revolution in Egypt did not succeed). But all this happened back in 2011 to 2013, and Syria seemed like one more exclamation mark on some elusive "Arab Spring". Of course, it was no such thing but I only knew that from reading far more widely than most people do, and I wasn't a journalist trying to eke out a living either. As commenters we have the luxury of writing as we see fit, without fear of being fired. Anonymously too, most of us. But for reporters out in the open, I reckon it must have been a little harder.

Actually, I am trying to work up a little piece on the mysterious - and not so mysterious - reasons Syria became such a red line for writers of all kinds, that to cross it back in 2012-2015 meant vitriol in the mailbox and who knows what else. Sure it became easier in 2015 once the Russians stepped in, but I am trying to figure out why that was the case. What was so special about 2016, other than that was the year the russians really helped turn things around? and it was election season in the US too. Still, I am struglgling to wrap arms around this strange conundrum of why Syria?

Finally, speaking about red lines and daniel's comment. Gilad Atzmon is the most obvious case of a red line those who write in the open cannot cross. No matter how pro-palestinians and/or anti-zionists they are. Gilad is a lithmus test and has been for quite a while now. Just another somewhat strange phenomenon, and snother occasion for yet another piece (which I will write under still another name - for good reason. After all, the mere mention of the name Atzmon could be enough to get one kicked out of "polite' society....and I do like the free food and drinks served in those societies - now and then....).

Posted by: Merlin2 | May 10 2018 4:33 utc | 72

Cheers to b, and all the rest who opposed this war from the very start.

Posted by: Pespi | May 10 2018 4:34 utc | 73

This is not only suspiciously vindictive, it’s a bore. Isn’t there something more pernicious to explore than Max Blumenthal’s lack of perfection? 1) The implication that he changes his positions for financial gain is laughable. If Max is trying to sell out, he’s going about it all wrong. 2) He’s under no obligation to explain his father’s actions. 3) You seem to be implying that he was quiet about Libya because of his father’s involvement. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do if you have a conflict of interest? 4) You don’t like the name “Moderate Rebels?” Dude your writing for a website called “Moon Over Alabama” Let’s just agree to judge on content rather than title.

Posted by: K.woods | May 10 2018 4:55 utc | 74

Porridge & Lager

. . . will make you fat and dim-witted.

Assad’s opposition has turned him into a hero, not us. He is a veritable paladin next to the Jihadi headchoppers that would take over if he fell.

And how has regime-change ever helped anyway? Toppling Saddam was a disaster for USA in terms of international standing, financial cost, and the end result (increased Iranian influence). Libya after Qaddafi is a nightmare where ISIS conducts slave auctions. Afghanistan’s 18-year war is a quagmire of dumbfuckery so profound that it is only talked about in hushed terms when reauthorizations are needed. In Ukraine, the West ‘won’ a money pit.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 10 2018 5:00 utc | 75

@61 jen.. thanks.. i am happy you are here!

@73 daniel. your question “what would a propaganda designed for people who already know the MSM is propaganda look like?” - the intercept?

@76 diana.. good post.. thanks..

@80 merlin.. thanks for your post.. i am still conflicted on the arab spring.. on the one hand it seemed like a natural occurrence.. on the other hand it seems like the powers that be were waiting to take advantage of it too, especially in the case of syria...i suppose we could give max, ben and rania a pass based on the general view that the arab spring was upon the middle east and everyone knew what a brutal dictator assad was.. i think a few folks woke up during the ukraine shakedown 2014, and they might have got to thinking that indeed the yinon plan was still on track or that general clarks comments which i quote here were indeed relevant.. "As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off Iran."

that arab spring thing seemed like good cover for any number of tricks, not to mention regime change.. i have a hard time buying into the thought that someone who is supposed to cultivate critical thinking would overlook this myself.. maybe investigative reporters are supposed to skip the critical thinking class? i don't buy that myself.. i relate more to diana's comment @76 and think that it is fair to criticize max and any other number of public journalists, or bloggers.. i do it with other posters here and i get it when folks do it with b, as a few have here on this thread, even if i don't agree with them in this instance..

thanks to the many commentators here that continue to give me greater insight to overcome the blind spots that i carry around without being fully or even partly aware of them.. it's ongoing..

Posted by: james | May 10 2018 5:08 utc | 76

@ Daniel with the posting....congrats!

I agree with your assertions about the paid shills of our world....they are paid to get out in front of trains not of their creation and start a parade.

Your posting has brought a new "class" of trolls to MoA. Maybe we can open some of their minds and they will quit their day jobs.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 10 2018 5:46 utc | 77


Although par for the course for most people, your short sightedness, your disregard for factual evidence and your sheer inability for critical evaluation is exasperating.

It is because of people like you that offer sustenance to a predatory and exploitative elite that we find ourselves in the bind we are in.

People like you have completely bought into the narrative of the ostensible benevolence of presumably democratic governments. People like you have completely been sold on the desirability of the centralization of power. People like you have gladly waded into the self defeating fable of the righteousness of centralized education.

It is people like you that happily cheer-on our elites as they gradually divest society of their labor and their wealth by lowering interest rates artificially.

It is people like you that merrily support our elites as they progressively reveal themselves to be mere enforcers for predatory financial interests

It is people like you that rejoice in the orgy of government profligacy that gradually weighs down the creativity, the productivity and the mere right to existence of individuals the world over.

It is people like you that revel in the self declared virtue of transnational political entities that, time and again, are caught abetting and often, colluding with retrograde, sanguinary individuals the world over.

You are a deluded soul. Either that, or you have an agenda.

Posted by: guidoamm | May 10 2018 6:10 utc | 78

I know how hard it is for people to change their views, my self included. Sure you could say Max and Co. should have known better but what does that say about 99% of journalists on this planet who still firmly sticks with and probably believes the official NATO propaganda narrative?

I think having an article and debating this is both helpful and informative. However resorting to name calling like "turncoats" implies playing for a team. Tribalism and partisan hackery is something we should avoid at all costs. I've been accused of being a Putin lover and Assad lover by those who cling to the NATO narrative. The truth is I think both as assholes but I also understand the position they are in.

Is the Baath regime ideal? Fuck no. Would a Muslim brotherhood Regime be better? Highly doubtful. Would Al-Nusra or and ISIS Regime bet better? WTF? are you kidding me?? There is no black and white here, but some are much more gray that others. Same goes for journalists and people, none of us are without flaws. But the ability to change your mind and correct course is a good property especially in a journalist. This "no true Scotsman" mentality is a luxury we can't really afford in the fight against the onslaught of corporate pro WAR media.

Posted by: RogerK | May 10 2018 6:31 utc | 79

Serious tribalism here, quite ugly to see, no criticism is allowed.

People that are wrong must apologize lol, I mean get off your high horse.

Also attacking Blumenthal, Khalek, Norton, its like a teenager trying to pick a fight with a bodybuilder, and those who play with fire is going to be burnt himself by the same smearing.

Attacking people that is on your own side, also shows how misguided these blogposts are.

Posted by: Anon | May 10 2018 6:54 utc | 80

Tobin Paz #8

Democracy Now, pleeeeease the white wash agency for USA exceptionalism and other crimes against humanity. Next you'll be quoting the Guardian. Reposting content from either of these two is like passing round used toilet paper for another try.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | May 10 2018 8:58 utc | 81

I can understand the alround eagerness to condemn. It's a standard pattern of putting the bar very high for others. It's as people have to demonstrate how good they are themselves by condemning others. Julian Assange is far from perfect as well but he has done a huge service.
I think it was perfectly normal for a progressives to support the demonstrations and rebellion against Assad. This fit in with the Arab Spring and there was a legitimate aspiration for more democracy. There was also a violent component from the start , and there were strong exhortations to avoid all negotiations and avoid all compromise because Assad certainly was going to fall. It's to Max Blumenthal's credit that he caught on to the component which was there from the start and which quickly started to dominate: the intent , mostly from outside, to destroy or degrade the state. I think Blumenthal has done very good work on many fronts and I respect him.

I do not appreciate how he bashes people who have not caught on. It does not necessarily get easier over time to change your mind. The amount of propaganda on the issue has also increased. Once you're on the outside it's easy, but it is also easy to underestimate how hard it is to change your mind from the inside.

I understood the nature of the conflict from the start. Therefore I'm much smarter than Blumenthal. He should listen to me.

I can believe that Blumenthal is obfuscating his change of mind. But I've known about his change of mind for a long time from interviews so I never even noticed the obfuscation.
It's not pretty. Ok. So it's not pretty.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | May 10 2018 9:21 utc | 82

Fantastic piece by Daniel, it's nice to see that some people have some standards. Both Norton and Blumenthal have lied about various issues, not just Syria, though the way Max, Ben and Rania all changed positions at the same time on Syria is highly shady. Same with the deletion without explanation of their past work on Syria, Libya etc. Max has helped his war profiteer, Clinton employee father sell lies on various issues, we should't be grateful that he(or they) rebranded on Syria after he already did so much damage. We should be skeptical as to why.

Posted by: C | May 10 2018 10:31 utc | 83

#76 Thank you Diana. Perspective is everything. Max B has never been a journalist IMHO, merely a propagandist for the permanent state.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | May 10 2018 10:41 utc | 84

@ Anon who wrote: "Attacking people that is on your own side, also shows how misguided these blogposts are."

Unless you want to replace global private finance with totally sovereign finance you are not on my side. Are you on my side Anon? Do you think Max B is on my side ?

Take your obfuscating BS to some other blog you come in and say is misguided.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 10 2018 10:59 utc | 85

As C @ 91 says, the fact that Max Blumenthal et al experienced their Damascene moment (cough, cough) at about the same time is suspicious in itself. The timing of that moment too, with the Russian entry into the Syrian war in September 2015 and the turnabout in Syria's fortunes that started soon after, must also be considered. One might almost have guessed that Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek were planning and co-ordinating their move together, and looking for the right moment.

They must surely know that they are playing the role of gatekeepers in demarcating how far dissent from the official narrative about Syria is allowed to go. The fact that some commenters here have taken their contrition at face value and question or criticise others who have reservations about the depth of the trio's actions demonstrates the power of that role, and why some of us might be justified in doubting their motives for acting the way they have.

Posted by: Jen | May 10 2018 11:43 utc | 86

Until Max Blumenthal does something that truly threatens the powers that be, like Thierry Meyssan and Serena Shim, I will regard him as another Sibel Edmonds--a government infiltrator posing as a dissident. By the way, if anyone wants to know what really happened at the beginning of the invasion of Syria, read Thierry Meyssan's writings from Libya and Damascus at the time: "John McCain, conductor of the Arab Spring" is amazing. So is another one Thierry published on Voltaire, The rebirth of the Syrian Arab Army

Posted by: Diana | May 10 2018 16:07 utc | 87

@83 uncle tungsten.. i agree strongly with you there!

Posted by: james | May 10 2018 16:35 utc | 88

If Blumenthal, Norton, Khalek must apologize for being wrong, maybe its time to apologize that you were wrong about Trump?

Posted by: Anon | May 10 2018 17:01 utc | 89

This pissing contest comes off very much like the scene in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" in which members of the People's Front of Judea badmouth the Judean People's Front. The ultimate insult was to call anyone with a different opinion a "SPLITTER!" From my point of view, Max, Ben and Rania have their hearts in the right place. (Has no one heard their saber-like takes on Ukraine?) They are not the enemy. In "Brian's" time, it was Rome, and in our time it is the Western Empire. Let's all keep that in mind.

Posted by: Rob | May 10 2018 17:37 utc | 90

I agree with many posters here that the criticism of "prodigal children" of anti-imperialism should be measured. This is a political cause, and we are not assembling an elite force that can smash most entrenched enemies. Instead, we should strive to analyze the reality, spread the word and convert.

And we have to accept that we differ on many issues, and very often we differ with our own past position. Back when the issue was Kosovo intervention, I though that this is good idea. Now I know that "Beware the Greeks when they bring gifts [Trojan Horse, for those deficient in classics]" should get another corollary "beware imperialists when they care about human rights".

And it is not just vicarious imperialists or people who maintain civil relationship with members of Hamas who may wrongly generalize. Assuming that Muslim Brotherhood is always and everywhere a force of evil violates the good principle "location, location, location". Like Marxism, MB ideology has gamut of different trends, and it is a bit to its credit that in Syria it did such a miserable job, being outplayed by Salafist -- they do not do a good job as a warrior cult, they are actually too normal for that.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 10 2018 17:50 utc | 91

Anon @91: my sentiments exactly.

If moonofalabama has searchable archive, I was posting that it is immensely speculative that Trump is a lesser evil than Clinton, in particular, his consistent praise of Bolton puts under question mark all reasonable fragments of sentences that one could collect from his tweets and speeches. Domestically, the guy is a wrecking ball, internationally -- it is still a bit open issue, I hope for malignity mellowed by ineptitude, I mean, the outcome leave a chance for recovery. Then again, Clinton is much less smart than some think her to be, so the grounds for opposing her more than Trump were illusionary.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 10 2018 18:00 utc | 92

I meant to add to my previous post (92) that requiring absolute ideological purity has been deadly to the left ever since the left began. It is one of the main reasons why a broad-based leftwing movement has never taken hold and lasted. A pox on these sectarian ideological squabbles. If the left wants to win, it must put them aside once and for all.

Posted by: Rob | May 10 2018 18:17 utc | 93

Splintering the opposition is very much in the interest of the powers that be.

Posted by: lysias | May 10 2018 18:21 utc | 94

Malignity tempered by ineptitude. Sort of like how Victor Adler characterized Habsburg rule in Austria: "Despotismus gemildert durch Schlamperei."

Posted by: lysias | May 10 2018 21:19 utc | 95

Those who argue for leniency for Blumenthal and the others would have us overlook the MANY betrayals of other so-called progressives. Such betrayals are too frequent to be just a matter of ‘bad apples’ or ‘bad judgement’.

These “turncoats” take strategic positions on issues to advance their career. Hillary, the “progressive that gets things done”, and Obama, the “community organizer”, are two notable examples. Another would be Bernie’s ‘sheepdog’ betrayal of his Movement - even after it was clear that Hillary and the DNC had conspired against him. Such people slyly conflate progressive ideals with divisive identity politics. By throwing off the moral core of progressivism they advance the interests of TPTB. Their many loyal sycophants and apologists rush to defend the indefensible and try their best to muddy waters BUT WE KNOW THE GAME by now so fuck off! You can’t piss down our backs and tell us it raining anymore.

‘Progressive’ pundits and journalists that become useful idiots instead of watchdogs are even worse because they claim to be truth-tellers. You don’t get to lead the next parade after you’ve led people over a cliff.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 11 2018 0:13 utc | 96

@96 lysias.. 'splintering the opposition'.. is that what you think this is here? personally, i don't! if blumenthal, et all have had change of view on syria and are convinced (now) that regime change is a bad idea here - great.. jump on the bandwagon to end this ramp up to ww3... my problem is i wouldn't trust in their judgment on other topics automatically, regardless.. i don't give it to anybody anyway, b included... i think it's important to challenge others and the beliefs they hold.. i am not impressed with scrubbing the past either.. blumenthal probably has lots to offer.. i never went thru any devotion to him, but someone i did was glenn greenwald.. after he went to the intercept, i feel like he went off the tracks and has become very inconsistent..

how about noam chomsky on his attitude towards syria? i've liked a lot of things chomsky has had to say over the years, but i'll be dammed if i buy into his concept about syria here.. his interview at democracy now was his own buying into the western propaganda... do i give him a pass? no...

i am not so into this left and right way of dividing people, ideas and values.. consequently this concept of 'dividing the opposition' doesn't really work for me.. so noam chomsky is basically on the side of saudi arabia/israel and the west here with regard to syria.. that is his right.. is he dividing the opposition? do i care? he reaches a lot more people then i, but it doesn't make his bullshit position on syria any better for me.. it makes it worse actually.. as for blumenthal - so he recognizes he was wrong for 4 or 5 years and came around.. great! i think it is fair for people to question why that happened how it did and why it took so long.. i don't see it as dividing the opposition in any way whatsoever..

@98 jr.. obviously i share your viewpoint here..

Posted by: james | May 11 2018 2:01 utc | 97

This is the worst time for anti-war group infighting.
We need to embrace everyone that wants to spread truth and peace.
We can deal with other stuff later. When we have survived.

Posted by: Levcek | May 11 2018 2:26 utc | 98

Commentators here who think Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek should be "welcomed" for their change of mind are, IMO, making a terrible mistake.

Their refusal to acknowledge people like Beely, Bartlett etc., is deliberate. Gore Vidal had labelled people like these as "good servants of the empire, all". They understand that their views are not tenable, and their change of mind now allows them to be taken as the "voice of opposition" on Syria. That would effectively marginalise those who truly opposed the empire and exposed it's crimes in Syria year after year.

People like Beely are dangerous to the empire, not the "loyal opposition" types like Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek. We should be extremely wary of them.

Posted by: anon | May 11 2018 3:08 utc | 99

A compilation of the transcript of the podcast and the various discussions on Twitter about the case:
textfile on pastebin

Much of this discussion has taken place through Twitter threads and replies which are not always the easiest to navigate. I have attempted to compile some of this into a more readable format. The Moon of Alabama post linked criticises them harshly, but Red Kahina's criticisms are far, far harsher and are accompanied by very large quantities of extremely damning evidence. I have attempted to reproduce her arguments below at great length; unless specified all of this is taken from her Twitter account, with all tweets (including recent retweets of old tweets) following this initial tweet made on May 8: ...

Posted by: b | May 11 2018 6:46 utc | 100

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