Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 17, 2020

After Recruiting For ISIS Anand Gopal Justifies The War Crimes The U.S. Committed While Removing It

Apologists for war crimes are a dime for a dozen. With a new piece in The New Yorker Anand Gopal has joined that trade.

Headlined America’s War on Syrian Civilians the piece starts out with some hand wringing about the total destruction of Raqqa in 2017 by an extremely violent U.S. attack on the ISIS held city.

For four months in 2017, an American-led coalition in Syria dropped some ten thousand bombs on Raqqa, the densely populated capital of the Islamic State. Nearly eighty per cent of the city, which has a population of three hundred thousand, was destroyed. I visited shortly after ISIS relinquished control, and found the scale of the devastation difficult to comprehend: the skeletal silhouettes of collapsed apartment buildings, the charred schools, the gaping craters.

It follows some mumbling about the historic and current view of 'human war'.

Then comes this monster of a paragraph:

The U.S.-led coalition waged its assault on Raqqa with exacting legal precision. It vetted every target carefully, with a fleet of lawyers scrutinizing strikes the way an in-house counsel pores over a corporation’s latest contract. During the battle, the coalition commander, Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend, declared, “I challenge anyone to find a more precise air campaign in the history of warfare.” Although human-rights activists insist that the coalition could have done more to protect civilians, Townsend is right: unlike Russia, America does not bomb indiscriminately. The U.S. razed an entire city, killing thousands in the process, without committing a single obvious war crime.

Aaron Maté quoted that paragraph and remarked:

Aaron Maté @aaronjmate - 14:24 UTC · Dec 17, 2020

A masterclass in US war crimes apologia from @Anand_Gopal_ in the New Yorker: “unlike Russia, America does not bomb indiscriminately. The U.S. razed an entire city [Raqqa], killing thousands in the process, without committing a single obvious war crime.”

Gopal is, as usual, loose with the facts and disingenuous in his judgment.

First the U.S. not only "dropped some ten thousand bombs on Raqqa". It dropped much more:

From June 2017 until Raqqa’s liberation in October, U.S. aircraft dropped just under 20,000 total munitions.

Moreover it was not the bombs that were the most destructive in Raqqa but the artillery:

Coalition aircraft supporting the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa still managed to drop less munitions than the 18 guns fired by the Marines in northern Syria.

The amount of artillery ammunition spent was enormous:

“They fired more rounds in five months in Raqqa, Syria, than any other Marine artillery battalion, or any Marine or Army battalion, since the Vietnam war,” said Army Sgt. Major. John Wayne Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“In five months they fired 35,000 artillery rounds on ISIS targets, killing ISIS fighters by the dozens,” Troxell told Marine Corps Times during a roundtable discussion Jan. 23. “We needed them to put pressure on ISIS and we needed them to kill ISIS.”

To put the numbers in context: During all of Operation Desert Storm, both the Marines and the Army fired a little more than 60,000 artillery rounds.

In the invasion of Iraq, just over 34,000 rounds were fired.

During the five months on average one round of least 10 kilograms TNT hit Raqqa every 6 minutes - day and night for five long month. This was on top of the aerial bombing. The artillery ammunition that was used has a circular error probability of 50 meters. That means that half of the rounds fired hit more than 50 meter away from the intended target. These were not surgical strikes. This was a kind of warfare that minimized the regard for civilians still living in the city and maximized the destruction.

Gopal does not even mention the artillery and the destruction it created in Raqqa. His claim that this was not indiscriminate fire but that the army "vetted every target carefully" is obviously nonsense that does not hold up to reality.

Moreover what Gopal totally ignores, as Aaron Maté also points out, is that the U.S. war in Syria was (and is) by definition illegal and a crime.

Anand Gopal quoted Maté's tweet and accused him of a lack of 'reading comprehension':

Anand Gopal @Anand_Gopal_

Reading comprehension may not be your strong suit, but the point of the article is to critique the way the US uses the legal designation of “war crime” to legitimize war

I have read the New Yorker piece and that intent, if it exists, is in no way discernible in it.

As Matè responded:

Aaron Maté @aaronjmate
Replying to @Anand_Gopal_

1/ I don't think integrity is your strong suit.
The point of the sentence I'm quoting is to make the laughable argument that "unlike Russia, America does not bomb indiscriminately." Do you actually believe that? How do you know it?

2/ And the impact of your legalistic "critique" of war crimes law is to presuppose that the US has right to "raze an entire city" in Syria and "kill thousands in the process", without questioning what right we have to do that. I wonder why that thought doesn't occur to you?

3/ If you think I have problems with reading comprehension, and you actually think you can defend writing such a statement, would you like to come debate it on @PushbackShow?

There followed no reply.

I especially like Maté's allusion to Gopal's integrity. That is indeed in doubt.

In May 2017 this blog published a piece that analyzed claims about Syria Anand Gopal's  had made during an interview with Democracy Now. Back then Gopal had claimed that the U.S. had no 'regime change' policy in Syria.

The piece presented the vast evidence that 'regime change' in Syria had been,  was (and is) the official U.S. policy and remarked:

Gopal is daft, or a lying piece of shit, when he claims that the U.S. did not and does not pursue "regime change" in Syria. Does Anand Gopal really believe that the bombing of Syrian Army positions and infrastructure is just ‘After-Dinner Entertainment’ at Mar-a-Lago, not an active "regime change" policy?

Gopal further claimed that ISIS in Syria was 'caused' by the Syrian government. An absolute lie as ISIS was created and armed by the U.S. to achieve its 'regime change' aim in Syria. The piece provided ample evidence for that and concluded:

"Regime change" in Syria has been and is the declared policy of the U.S. government since 2006 and it continues to be the aim, even when it is, at times, not always openly promoted as such.

Gopal claims it was the Syrian government that caused people to join the Islamic State. Gopal's own (criminal) promotion of how to join ISIS contradicts his assertion.

Hours after Moon of Alabama published that piece Gopal deleted his ISIS recruitment tweet.

The same Anand Gopal who had supported the 'rebels', recruited for ISIS on Twitter and lied about the 'regime change' war is now justifying the war crimes the U.S committed when it destroyed Raqqa and killed thousands civilians who lived there.

Integrity is, indeed, not his strong suit.

Posted by b on December 17, 2020 at 18:58 UTC | Permalink


thanks b... another apologist for the empire... who whudda thunk it? if the usa had said openly - we are going to destroy syria and any civilians that get in the way - it would have been a lot more honest... but we can't expect honesty from the usa in any usa publication.... fortunately we can get a better insight into obscure authors such as yourself and aaron mate.... at some point i hope this changes.. a more accurate overview on how the war industry are quite happy with the results of their work, just as the politicians are quite happy with the results of their catering to the war industry and all of them are happy with how wall street generates such profits from all of this... they could give a fuck about innocent people in faraway lands dying, especially if they have the wrong skin colour or religion... they are all really sick people pushing this shit..

Posted by: james | Dec 17 2020 19:09 utc | 1

Yes, and do note again when the crime of Raqqa was committed--2017, while Trump presided over the carnage.

The only way for a sitting US president to NOT become a war criminal is to cease ALL extraterritorial activities by the Outlaw US Empire and totally obey the UN Charter and the US Constitution. To properly perform the duties of his office, (as with every previous president going back to Ike) Biden must arrest Trump for the many crimes he committed, Raqqa being but one. But, we can be rather confident that Biden will not do his duty and have Trump or any member of Trump's team arrested.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 17 2020 19:17 utc | 2

biden won't arrest trump for war crimes because he is going to commit more war crimes.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 17 2020 19:24 utc | 3

every time the cia tortures someone, gina haspel is there with forceps to make sure their civil rights are protected to the utmost.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 17 2020 19:26 utc | 4

i always like seeing aaron mate as a guest on the jimmy dore show.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 17 2020 19:28 utc | 5

I would take Maté's integrity over that clown's any day!

Posted by: michael lacey | Dec 17 2020 19:32 utc | 6

Mr. B

Mr. Gopal is a Hindu and hence such statements as his.

When it comes to the Middle East, every commentator needs to clearly state his and his parents' religious affiliation and national origin.

Every commentator on Middle East, except Chinese and Japanese, has a religious agenda, in my opinion.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 17 2020 19:36 utc | 7

pretzelattack @3--

Yeah, Biden & Clinton should've been arrested by Bush in 2001.

As noted by this recap, at Putin's presser, a BBC reporter apparently tried to frazzle him only to get this retort:

"'Now, about us being harmless and squeaky-clean. Compared to you, yes, it is a fact, we are harmless and squeaky-clean because we agreed to release from an unequivocal Soviet dictate those countries and nations that wanted to develop independently. We heard your assurances that NATO won’t expand to the East but you didn’t keep your promises.'"

The list of UK war crimes in Syria is very long and much is in the public domain. The official transcript hasn't extended to the BBC reporter's question but will be posted when it is.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 17 2020 19:49 utc | 8

Raqqah was always going to be a hard task, and destruction was inevitable. But, for example, the terrorists are still holed up in Idlib, under Turkish patronage.

Everyone thought there would be an assault on Idlib. Not so far. Diplomacy is still at work, and in the long run the terrorists will be found and called to account for their crimes.

IIRC in the earlier days, the Syrian Govt. had offered to allow US and the West to work with them to destroy the terrorists. They refused. And then, in arrogant contravention of the UN Charter that prohibits it, occupied Syria and commenced policing actions, all with the authority of a loaded gun pointed at the head of the Syrian government.

Many lives could have been saved in Raqqah. But it would not have been telegenic, and would have taken years.

Lavrov noted in September 2018 in reference to Idlib, a somewhat similar situation to Raqqah:

"we are facilitating local agreements between units of the moderate opposition and the government troops as was done in other de-escalation zones.

We are facilitating the formation of humanitarian corridors and safe zones for civilians.

Let me recall that we acted in the same way helping the Syrian army during the liberation of Eastern Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta.

I do not want to make comparisons, but to paint a complete picture, let me recall that there were no local conciliations, and nobody even tried to establish safety or humanitarian corridors when the Air Force of the US coalition bombed Raqqa and Mosul.

What happened and is still happening in Raqqa is a humanitarian catastrophe.

But this is not talked about for reasons I don’t understand. Maybe this is not politically correct. "

Posted by: powerandpeople | Dec 17 2020 20:01 utc | 9

nice quote from putin.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 17 2020 20:03 utc | 10

wrt "this monster of a paragraph": I was unfamiliar with Gopal, and had I read that unawares, I would have taken it as all-out brilliant sarcasm.

He's serious?


Posted by: vinnieoh | Dec 17 2020 20:05 utc | 11

It seems that Jimmy Dore is causing some people's anuses to hurt lately. I wonder if that could have anything to do with him putting pressure on the faux leftists in the US House of Reps?

Don't forget according to Biden's team that for America to be able to afford Medicare for All another country full of well-tanned people will have to be destroyed and their oil stolen.

Remember how the brainwashed believed that the Russians and Syrian military would do horrible things to Aleppo? You don't remember? Here, let me refresh your memory:

UN Details Assad and Putin’s War Crimes in Aleppo (Daily Beast)
Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in Aleppo: rights group (Reuters)
Report Rebuts Russia’s Claims of Restraint in Syrian Bombing Campaign (The New York Langley Times)
We Are All Accomplices to the Slaughter of Aleppo (Foreign Policy)

Russia and Syria are guilty of bombing thousands of civilians. The rest of the world is guilty of doing nothing.

The fall of Aleppo, explained in 4 minutes (Vox)
Aleppo Is Falling. What Does This Mean For Assad, ISIS and Russia? (NBC News)

The number of civilian casualties in Aleppo is a tiny fraction of the slaughter in Raqqa.

Today Aleppo is even open for tourism.

Until the city was liberated by the SAA from US control late last year bodies were still rotting under the rubble in Raqqa.

Any effort to disguise the empire's barbaric war crimes in Raqqa is complicity in those war crimes.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 17 2020 20:11 utc | 12

powerandpeople @9--

The situation in Raqqa is talked about but nothing gets published in the West's BigLie Media because its incapable of being honest. Indeed, BigLie Media omits all topics it can't be honest about unless it's okayed as part of the Imperial Narrative, and then the talk is all lies. Syria as a discussion topic hasn't arisen at MoA for quite awhile; but now that the election and other garbage is over with, that will hopefully change, although the greater issue of events within Southwest Asia do get looked into.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 17 2020 20:12 utc | 13

Mr. Vinnieoh

In India, hatred for Islam and Muslims is so widespread that even middle class Hindus with professional and managerial jobs would find nothing wrong with the razing of Taj Mahal.

Furthermore, many Hindus are specifically working to counter the charitable works of Indian Christians (mostly Catholics) among the Dalits as well as other poor and wretched Indians.

Religious civil war in India is a distinct possibility, in my opinion.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 17 2020 20:26 utc | 14

There is no lack of statistics, facts, and testimonials to assemble to prove the lack of US authenticity. Many here, no doubt, could do just that.

But you'd probably have better luck pimping your sister at Sunday morning services, than getting a hearing for that.

Recall the words from that near-forgotten American favorite Home on the Range:

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

Good night all, and bless our courageous tropes.

Posted by: vinnieoh | Dec 17 2020 20:30 utc | 15

It is a minor point but worth making that the nature of the attack on Raqqa-the enormous number of bombs dropped and the constant artillery barrage- is typical of the US military which will do anything, so long as its at the expense of foreigners, to keep its own casualties down. This is not done out of any fine feelings towards the troops but in order to dampen down war critics in the United States, where the arrival of ten coffins in New England causes more of a stir than the death of ten thousand civilians in Fallujah or Mosul.
In the case of Raqqa, where the 'enemy' had been recruited, trained and paid by Israel and NATO, there is an added incentive for killing everything: no survivor is going to be able to tell the world how the CIA recruited him, Israel treated his wounds and the British taught him how to write Press Releases on behalf of the jihad against Alawis.
Then, of course, there is the matter of the ethnic origins of the ISIS recruits. Undoubtedly a large number of those killed were Uighurs, others Chechens, others again Albanians or Bosniaks, for whom the war in Syria is just training, a well paid way of honing the art of killing while waiting to be ordered home to terrorise China or Russia or any regime less than fully committed to NATO and what is laughingly referred to as the Free World.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 17 2020 20:33 utc | 16

CEP of 50 meters is pathetic in current era. The reason to use artillery in that manner would be someone had a big stack of shells they wanted to use up and didn’t care what got hit.
It’s not even good training for the crews to operate that sloppy.

Posted by: oldhippie | Dec 17 2020 20:35 utc | 17

Thanks, b, this is helpful.

I recall finding the article in question via a news aggregator a few days ago, republished on the SOHR website (which I usually ignore, but I was intrigued by the title). Frankly, I was surprised and happy to see any degree of criticism directed towards the abhorrent activities of the US in Syria, and at first I took the article's overly legalistic tone as being meant to convey mockery. Confusion set in as I continued reading, with the author equating US destruction of Raqqa with the Syrian/Russian liberation of Aleppo. At the end, I was unsure what to make of the whole thing, but in spite of the flaws pointed out by Maté and our host, I think seeing Gopal's description of Raqqa might still wake some Americans up to the wanton destruction being carried out in their name and with their tax dollars.

Posted by: farm ecologist | Dec 17 2020 20:44 utc | 18

The other technical point would be such a relentless high volume barrage could not occur if the defenders had counter-battery capabilities at all. So the attackers were, technically, simply engaging in random slaughter. Shooting fish in a barrel.

Hopefully wide access to drones would make a repeat performance impossible.

Posted by: oldhippie | Dec 17 2020 20:49 utc | 19

Posted by: bevin | Dec 17 2020 20:33 utc | 16

Thanks for bringing up Fallujah and Mosul, it was no different back in Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia. Somebody makes lots of money supplying all those bombs and shells. Can't just have them sitting around profitlessly in inventory. War games don't use up nearly enough.

Posted by: Bemildred | Dec 17 2020 21:07 utc | 20

Fyi | Dec 17 2020 20:26 utc | 14

I try as best I can to learn what is happening in India, but as you say, most commenters have an agenda, so I keep reading and sorting. India does seem sad and pointless and scapegoating seems to be in vogue. As in much of the West, distracting and looting seems the modus operandi of leadership.

Posted by: vinnieoh | Dec 17 2020 21:39 utc | 21

This bastard Anand Gopal is also a war criminal for righting this piece of shit for his Sahab , no surprising behavior here britishized Indian mentality can’t let go or live without of having a Sahab

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 17 2020 21:50 utc | 22

bevin | Dec 17 2020 20:33 utc | 16

A minor quibble: Some, though not all but possibly many, may not even know who or what has recruited them. Take for instance the 9/11 hijackers. Were they here today to view flyovers of Raqqa, Fallujah, Mosul, and many places elsewhere in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen do you think they'd get it if that sneering face told them "Look upon what you helped enabled us to accomplish"?

Posted by: vinnieoh | Dec 17 2020 21:50 utc | 23

Final war crime we won't even rebuild the infrastructure we destroyed, the buildings, electrical plants, and bridges on the Euphrates. We won't let other countries help rebuild their infrastructure and are preventing the Syrians from rebuilding it themselves by sitting on top of their oil fields.

1. We, the U.S., abetted the civil war.
2. We went full Dresden on cities like Raqqa and Syrian infrastructure.
3. And we are preventing Syria's reconstruction.
(4.) and bragging how, next to Israel, we are the most moral army in the Galactic Federation.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Dec 17 2020 21:50 utc | 24

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 17 2020 19:36 utc | 7

Well said but I also ad ethnic and racial to religious agenda, is just like having Jewish Holocaust survivor and a new Jewish DNI and wanting them to negotiate with Iran on US Iran interests ? Cant see how seriously nutyaboo can’t be disregarded by the Jewish holocaust survivor or if America’ interest can come first.

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 17 2020 21:55 utc | 25

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 17 2020 19:36 utc | 7

In other words one needs to be a detective to find honest opinion pieces in western media, first look at the writer his/her background and affiliation than in most cases easily you can expect what the message and propose will be. Motif is the key here, by now I have 30 years of experience with western rags but the sweet ones are the ones I am wrong. Like it’s over fifteen years I have not read anything Tom Freedman writes, reading the title and the writer I can figure out what his message is on who is for.

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 17 2020 22:04 utc | 26

Aaron Mate' is one of the few journalists that has consistently impressed me, both in the substance and the manner of his craft.. keep it classy Aaron.

Posted by: Et Tu | Dec 17 2020 22:16 utc | 27

A fleet of lawyers sanctioned the almost complete destruction of most structures in the city.

With lawyers like that who needs precision.

Posted by: Intp1 | Dec 17 2020 22:28 utc | 28

Ah, good ol' New Yorker ... can always count on them to support the empire's latest narratives, digested for the educated and the very very liberal.

Great piece. And Mate, what a trooper ... the patience that man has.

Posted by: Caliman | Dec 17 2020 22:48 utc | 29

Is it Gopal or Goebbels?

Posted by: Michael Weddington | Dec 17 2020 23:10 utc | 30

Mr. Kooshy

Regrettably, most Jews of my acquaintance, be they Iranians or foreigners, are either soft Zionists or hard Zionist.

Men such as Mr. Lobe of the Lobe Log fame, or the members of Neturei Karta are indeed rare exemplars of moral courage.

It amused me when one of my Jewish friends from elementary school days was referring to Israel, in Persian, as his country all the while living in California. I always considered him to be an Iranian.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 17 2020 23:24 utc | 31

Mr.Christian J. Chuba

US, in the Middle East, cares not about anything except Jews. They do not even care about what has happened to Christians in Iraq or in Syria while in their own country they have all manner of ecumenical prayer breakfasts and other such kitsch.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 17 2020 23:30 utc | 32

If the US-led coalition needs fleets of lawyers to scrutinise every upcoming bombing strike on a list oozing upwards on a screen 24/7, I wonder why in the first place the US didn't just apply for a blanket legal indemnity with the Department of Justice or the International Criminal Court against potential lawsuits by the Syrian government or individual Syrian citizens over the bombing attacks. Such indemnity would also cover the US war crime of not rebuilding destroyed infrastructure, preventing the Syrians from rebuilding such infrastructure and obstructing them as well in their attempts (by sanctioning Damascus and any other nation that assists Syria in its reconstruction efforts).

I am not surprised that Anand Gopal has fallen into the trap of arguing how many angels can sit on the head of a pin without considering whether angels even exist in the first place. There surely are millions of other slicers 'n' dicers just like him who are blinded by pseudo-technical and legalistic arguments.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 17 2020 23:37 utc | 33

Deny everything and make counter-accusations! ---Taking a page from the Book of Cheney.

Gopal is yet another stooge. Remember the job advert for the NYT Russia position? In short, it was 'We dont care what you know, just repeat what we say' Stooges and shills like this need to be hung out to dry and good on Mate' for taking him to task. It's a good use of this new information technology, call the toadies out and make of them a mockery! Fuck'em, they deserve it.

The USA is the muscle for international bank cartels, the blood-money maker for the MIC, and sadistic in it's application of force. International Criminal Court? Not a chance. Of course they went "Full-Dresden" because who's gonna do anything about it? What really makes it extra-evil is the outright lying.
This is one of the few areas they can be countered. The other areas is countermeasures and Russia has done decent job of this. Uncle Sam and his attendent poodle only understand force and pain, thus to lead them it has to be with the threat of cattle prod. It ain't 1970, the little people have caught up and armed up with Russian gear and Chinese knock-offs. That didn't help the late citizens of Raqqa though.

Posted by: Chevrus | Dec 17 2020 23:45 utc | 34

"Religion is poison"

(he got some things right)

Posted by: Duncan Idaho | Dec 18 2020 0:32 utc | 35

Which means, according to Goebbels Gopal that this kind of incident was vetted and intentional:

In one tragic incident, a Coalition air strike destroyed an entire five-storey residential building near Maari school in the central Harat al-Badu neighbourhood in the early evening of 25 September 2017. Four families were sheltering in the basement at the time. Almost all of them – at least 32 civilians, including 20 children – were killed. A week later, a further 27 civilians – including many relatives of those killed in the earlier strike – were also killed when an air strike destroyed a nearby building.

So, Mr. Gopals team of executioners somehow decided that killing children would not constitute a war crime ...

I'm beginning to wonder if Hinduism turns human brains to shit as a matter of course or if people like Mr. Gopal are simply suffering from mental deterioration due to a shortage of beef in their diet.

And with that I'm off to have a great big bloody cow steak burgher.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 18 2020 0:46 utc | 36

@ 8 karlof1... thanks for sharing the link on putins speech recap..

Posted by: james | Dec 18 2020 1:07 utc | 37

more blah blah blah that will be forgotten in a day. For something to really occur, Syria MUST sue USA and it's "allies" in international court of law, the same way Iraq will be, according to RT.
Otherwise, this is more circle jerking waste-of-time by armchair warriors. Wake me up when Syria is filling the lawsuit. Otherwise, stop wasting my time.

Posted by: Hoyeru | Dec 18 2020 2:40 utc | 38

Karlof @2

Biden would then have to first arrest himself for 8 years of war crimes and crimes against peace.

Posted by: Piero Colombo | Dec 18 2020 2:50 utc | 39

B., this piece is most definitely one of your best takedowns ever. And major props go to Aaron Mate for showing the world in real time what a dissembling pissant Gopal is.

Posted by: Rob | Dec 18 2020 3:09 utc | 40

farm ecologist @17

"I think seeing Gopal's description of Raqqa might still wake some Americans up to the wanton destruction being carried out in their name and with their tax dollars."

Some... perhaps. If the little we now know about Germans 1930-45 and the Israelis is any kind of guide, though, I'd say that many many more Americans will feel justified in going back to oblivious sleep by all these lawyers vetting the targets (so that the individual citizen doesn't feel obliged to check.)

Posted by: Piero Colombo | Dec 18 2020 3:11 utc | 41

Mr. Hoyeru

Why are you then hete?

Leave us be to waste our time.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 18 2020 3:16 utc | 42

@ b who wrote
Gopal further claimed that ISIS in Syria was 'caused' by the Syrian government. An absolute lie as ISIS was created and armed by the U.S. to achieve its 'regime change' aim in Syria.

I suspect if pressed, Gopal would say that Syria being Syria caused the US to create ISIS in Syria....don't y'all understand Newspeak.....

I agree with other commenters writing that most Americans don't have a clue about anything international nor have ever heard any words other than freedom and democracy applied to international dealings...and of-course the global private financial folk are doing God's work......the shit show continues creating war crimes daily doesn't it?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 18 2020 3:54 utc | 43

From June 2017 until Raqqa’s liberation in October, U.S. aircraft dropped just under 20,000 total munitions.

Hmmm...can anyone refresh my memory about who the Commander in Chief was at this time? Also, how does the anti-war Trump faction react to such data? Is this one of the few times where it's acceptable to "not pull out" (cue: George Carlin), and who was REALLY responsible for the defeat of ISIS, the U.S.A., or Russia and Assad?

Posted by: _K_C_ | Dec 18 2020 5:00 utc | 44

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 17 2020 22:04 utc | 24

Oh, but there are plenty of "honest opinion pieces" in the Western mainstream corporate media. It's just that all of the opinions are essentially the same. One doesn't find one's career progressing much when one has honest opinions that conflict with those of the oligarchy, Western private finance and the "Defense" Department.

Posted by: _K_C_ | Dec 18 2020 5:02 utc | 45

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 18 2020 3:54 utc | 41

Sad, but true. But even the ones who DO have international travel/work experience are still prone to support the OTHER rightwing "resistance" political party and vote for ghouls like Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. True, the vast majority of my Trump supporting friends and family stateside have never ventured any further than a canned experience resort in Mazatlan or Cozumel, but honestly what difference would it make anyway? They always voted Republican and suddenly lost their memory about voting for Bush/Cheney TWICE once Trump came around spouting "MAGA" and "no new wars" nonsense.

Posted by: _K_C_ | Dec 18 2020 5:05 utc | 46

Posted by: Hoyeru | Dec 18 2020 2:40 utc | 36

Armchair "warriors"? Project much?

Besides, everybody with a functioning cerebral cortex and willingness to understand the true nature of "international law" or "rules based order" knows that the U.S.A. and its lapdog/accomplices have a stranglehold over the situation. A lawsuit from Syria wouldn't make it over the transom if Patrick Mahomes threw it for them.

Posted by: _K_C_ | Dec 18 2020 5:08 utc | 47

we had to destroy Raqqa to save it

nice piece, b.

i now like to read the grayzone gang (Norton, Mate and Blumenthal) about as often as I can....and on their twitter accounts too.

Posted by: michaelj72 | Dec 18 2020 5:15 utc | 48

@#9 There was an alternative. The Syrian Army negotiated with ISIS in civilian areas they controlled. Instead of destroying the city that they had surrounded, the Syrian Army gave the mercenary jihadists safe passage to ISIS held territory. It worked. These ancient cities and town were largely preserved. The US policy is to kill the hostages along with the kidnappers. This is done on purpose. The purpose is to kill, simply kill.

Posted by: Frederick Dean | Dec 18 2020 5:52 utc | 49

I find it quite telling that since the ex spook turned "Humanitarian" jumped out of his apartment window and the UK and Canadian governments re-homed their operatives (white helmets), there haven't been any reports of gas attacks by the Syrian government.

Posted by: k | Dec 18 2020 7:49 utc | 50

During the five months on average one round of least 10 kilograms TNT hit Raqqa every 6 minutes - day and night for five long month. This was on top of the aerial bombing. The artillery ammunition that was used has a circular error probability of 50 meters. That means that half of the rounds fired hit more than 50 meter away from the intended target. These were not surgical strikes. This was a kind of warfare that minimized the regard for civilians still living in the city and maximized the destruction.

How in the hell do you validate targets at the rate of one every 6 minutes?

Posted by: Seer | Dec 18 2020 9:14 utc | 51

Some additional context:

In 1981 an Iraqi division fired an average of 1.000 artillery shells per day.

On the 15th of September 1916 the German Reserve Field Artillery Regiment 45 fired 34.800 rounds (Battle of Flers–Courcelette, part of the Battle at the Somme).

Posted by: m | Dec 18 2020 9:33 utc | 52

The U.S.-led coalition waged its assault on Raqqa with exacting legal precision.

The wording "exacting legal precision" sounds rather amusing, considering that the very presence of the American army in Syria is a direct violation of international law. Essentially a crime. But the author talks about a certain "legal(!) precision".

Thieves broke into your house, turned everything upside down, killed your dog. But they were "legally precisive" and only stole the silverware.

Townsend is right: unlike Russia, America does not bomb indiscriminately.

The traditional, primitive technique of American propaganda is turning it upside down, marking white with black. Another unconvincing attempt to accuse others of what the United States itself is constantly doing.

Posted by: alaff | Dec 18 2020 11:37 utc | 53

The adverse impact of Oligarch controlled and owned nation state comes into view! The nation state system (NSS) has removed the protective safety and security shield it promised those it governs. The NSS uses the rule of law to deny human resistance to NS abuse.

No human is safe. No human anywhere on the planet is safe from a private party or vested self-interested private party in charge of, or with the influence sufficient to control, just for a minute, a powerful nation state.

At the head of every nation state is a slew of puppets in service to the oligarch or vested self interested private parties who collective associate themselves as owners of wealth and as directors of the behaviors of all nation state owned sheep[the deplorables].

Unless a second government composed of the governed<=governs those who govern, things will continue to deteriorate.

The Oligarch will continue to use the nation state system to extract from humanity, all that humanity can provide, and place the rewards of that extraction outside of the reach of the nation state governed sheep. The NSS will destroy any non Oligarch governed community, any nation state regardless of its leaders adherence to the private oligarchs, if that NS has within it boundaries resources desired by the private self interest Oligarch or if that nation state has within its borders a business that competes with the Oligarchs in charge of a more powerful nation state.

Eight of the 9 layers (7 of which are private parties with special wealth making interest) use and abuse humanity in order to accomplish the purpose of their respective layer.

Posted by: snake | Dec 18 2020 12:12 utc | 54

vinnieoh @23: "Some, though not all but possibly many, may not even know who or what has recruited them. Take for instance the 9/11 hijackers..."

The following comes from firsthand knowledge, so I have no links (links do exist, for those interested in looking).

How do the Israelis always know where the Palestinians that they want to assassinate are so they can blow them up with missiles from drones and helicopters? Is their sigint just so awesome? Their humint all-knowing? Their huge honkers help them sniff out their prey? What is it?

Apply your own intellect and try to come up with a plan for doing what the Israelis need done given their circumstances. You are a smaller population trying to control a larger population made hostile by the fact that you keep kicking them out of their homes and taking all they have. You don't have magic (or its technological equivalent) and you certainly don't have unlimited personnel, but you do have practically unlimited amounts of money. Your task is to identify the 5% to 10% of the occupied population who become sufficiently radicalized by your assholery to pose a threat to your efforts to take over their land.

The classic police state approach would be for you to monitor all communications and hide undercover agents everywhere. Position your spooks on every street corner, in every coffee shop, and in every classroom. Carefully infiltrate your spooks into every union, neighborhood organization, and ultimately sneak them into the radical organizations that arise organically in response to your being a bunch of shitheads.

That takes a whole lot of manpower, and it is far from foolproof. Radicals intent upon defeating your evil plots will slip through your slimy tentacles, no matter how many of those tentacles you penetrate their society with. You need a better approach.

The Israelis came up with a better approach, and it revolutionized the art of being a group of total dickheads screwing over a larger population. It is really quite simple. Instead of trying to find, infiltrate, and destroy all of the radical organizations that incessantly pop into being, you create those radical organizations from the top down using your bottomless pool of cash, and attract all of the radicals out of the general population into those organizations. Organizations that have more resources appear stronger and thus more attractive to the radicals. Genuine radical organizations are always resource-starved, so they cannot compete with the resource-heavy artificial ones in recruiting fresh radicals. As a result genuine radical organizations are either dissolved or they merge with the artificial ones, but always in subordinate roles.

Basically, instead of going out to find the radicals you attract them to you. Now you know where they all are and what they are doing. Even better, you are now in command of those very radicalized individuals who want to take you down. Sweet! If you need to thin their ranks you just hatch a fake plot to do whatever and send the ones to die into a kill zone that your military has set up somewhere. Not only do you get rid of some radicals but you build a reputation of omniscience and invulnerability around your military. Alternatively you can steer two or more of your controlled radical organizations into conflict with each other, killing more radicals and building the reputation of your opponents as being a bunch of idiots who kill their own.

But the Israelis took things a leap further. With a bit of preparation these controlled radical organizations can be used for all sorts of dangerous plots that otherwise your own intelligence services would have to do, and false flag operations become so trivially easy to arrange and almost impossible to trace back to you that they are hard to resist. Why not do false flags all the time if they are cheap (nobody you care about dies) and zero risk?

It is safe to say that all radical organizations in occupied Palestine are controlled by Israeli secret services. As well, many of the radical organizations across the Middle East are also controlled in a like manner either by Israeli or Saudi secret services. It is just cheaper and less resource intensive to create and control those organizations than it is to fight genuine ones.

The 9/11 hijackers were members of an artificial organization such as the ones described above.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 18 2020 12:25 utc | 55

Unlike The New Yorker’s propagandist Anand Gopal, Patrick Cockburn of The Independent saw the destruction with his own eyes. He had this to say about the “coalition’s” war on Raqqa:

The claim by the coalition that its airstrikes and artillery fire were precisely targeted against Isis fighters and their positions is shown up as a myth as soon as one drives into the city. I visited it earlier in the year and have never seen such destruction. There are districts of Mosul, Damascus and Aleppo that are as bad, but here the whole city has gone.

Even the at times dodgy Amnesty International had to admit it was bad:

Given the level of violence in Iraq and Syria, it is difficult to prove that one place is worse than another, but this has now been established with a wealth of evidence in this Amnesty report entitled War of Annihilation: Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa – Syria.

Cockburn also notes that:

The reality in Raqqa, despite claims of the precise accuracy of modern weapons and great concern for civilian life, is that the ruins look exactly like pictures of the aftermath of the carpet bombing of cities like Hamburg and Dresden in the Second World War.

Click here for full article.

Posted by: Dork | Dec 18 2020 12:33 utc | 56

FYI, Information Clearing House has just published Anand Gopal's New Yorker article.

Posted by: TN | Dec 18 2020 12:52 utc | 57

Everybody knows that the best Legitimizers who legitimize the deeds of the strong are the one's who believe their messages themselves.

We naive Legitimizers are even more effective when we have different skin and names slightly different than those of our conquerors.

I love them.

And I love you.

Posted by: Anand Gopal | Dec 18 2020 13:12 utc | 58

Surprisingly, your "rebuttal" seems to hinge on the idea of your naivete.

Posted by: Digital Spartacus | Dec 18 2020 14:07 utc | 59

Anand Gopal @58

Being able to deliberately lie while simultaneously believing your own lie is an acquired skill. Nobody is born with such mental contortion abilities. I doff my hat to your moral and cognitive flexibility.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 18 2020 14:27 utc | 60

The legalistic American approach to carpet-bombing Raqqa appears similar to its approach for carpet-bombing Berlin and other German cities toward the end of WWII. In January 1944, the US replaced General Spaatz with General Doolittle as head of the Eighth Air Force in Europe. This was the lead-in for substituting the precision bombing of military targets for a combined Anglo-American operation to carpet-bomb German cities. As the story goes, General Doolittle was reluctant to carpet-bomb civilians so, to assuage his conscience, he made euphemistic efforts to justify the raids by always citing "nearby military targets". Hence, it was never American policy to carpet-bomb German cities. It just happened. [?]

Posted by: GoDark | Dec 18 2020 14:58 utc | 61

There is a special place in Hell for all these miserable people who apologize for murder, as well as those who profit from it.

Posted by: Perimetr | Dec 18 2020 15:02 utc | 62

William Gruff @60

If you (genetic form of the word) can make yourself believe the lie you are telling - and can then make yourself believe that because you believe it it’s not a lie - you are probably a sociopath and would make an excellent politician.

That is how former Canadian Prime Minister, and prolific liar, Brian Mulroney rationalized his lying. “It’s only a lie if you don’t believe it,” he wrote in a book of memoirs published after he’d retired from active politics. It did not occur to him that normal people do not think this way and, in fact, tend to look very unfavourably upon people who do.

Posted by: Dork | Dec 18 2020 15:03 utc | 63

The Intercept is publishing more fake Russian hacker news.

Posted by: Fec | Dec 18 2020 15:12 utc | 64

I don't trust anything from CISA.

"CISA’s October 22 alert said that the hackers exploited a critical vulnerability in Netlogon, Microsoft’s authentication protocol, allowing them access to valid usernames and passwords of all users of the network."

Posted by: Fec | Dec 18 2020 15:16 utc | 65

From the comments here, on the recent Russian fake hacking post:

"Wikileaks first publicised its hacking of the infamous Vault 7 emails demonstrating that the CIA had the ability to attach certain metadata to its own hacking activities, to insinuate that Russian or Chinese hackers were responsible."

CozyBear? BerserkBear? Methinks they protest too much.

Posted by: Fec | Dec 18 2020 15:19 utc | 66

William Gruff | Dec 18 2020 12:25 utc | 55

You did put the right meat in the right places on my bare bones remark, to conjure the homunculus I had in mind. (I thank Carlos Fuentes (Terra Nostra) for introducing me to that word. That book was loaned to me by the mother of a Guatemalan immigrant friend. Their family were descendants of the Spanish aristocracy that comprise the colonialist aristocracy of CA and SA. The mother left Guatemala with her children during the counter-revolutionary actions there by the US. Though she was of the aristocracy she had been a nurse and I believe she witnessed many things that she would not ever speak of. Unlike most of the other Americans in her new life here - unaware and oblivious to the full evolution and flower of The Monroe Doctrine - I WAS aware and tried to engage her on the particulars of her former life. She kept me at arms length, and I always suspected that she suspected that I was some sort of spook minder sent to monitor her political engagement. So sad; what a world, what a world.)

Posted by: vinnieoh | Dec 18 2020 15:34 utc | 67

"The U.S. razed an entire city, killing thousands in the process, without committing a single obvious war crime."

Yes, and in Vietnam, America would also destroy a village in order to save it. Orwellian American Logic 101.

"The same Anand Gopal who had supported the 'rebels', recruited for ISIS on Twitter and lied about the 'regime change' war is now justifying the war crimes the U.S committed when it destroyed Raqqa and killed thousands civilians who lived there.

Integrity is, indeed, not his strong suit."

No, but you have to admit that whitewashing American war crimes and pimping for ISIS terrorists are two remarkable attributes possessed by the talented Mr. Gopal

BTW, if the United States were truly waging a War on Terrorism (which it isn't), why hasn't Anand Gopal been sent to America's Gitmo Gulag to be waterboarded yet?

Or better yet, simply drop a Predator Drone strike on Gopal's head. ;-)

As George W. Bush once asserted, if you support terrorism, that makes you a terrorist too.

Posted by: ak74 | Dec 18 2020 16:43 utc | 68

At Nuremberg, German journalists were prosecuted for complicity in war crimes.

I hope that I live long enough to see another war crimes tribunal do the same to the chickenhawks in the American media.

Posted by: Mike from Jersey | Dec 18 2020 20:20 utc | 69

Ok, Gopal is a monstrous moron.
What about The New Yorker?
How could they publish this atrocious paragraph?
Where were their famous fact checkers?
What happened to this publication?
It’s all Russiagate bullshit and malarkey lately.

Posted by: DG | Dec 18 2020 20:40 utc | 70

At Nuremberg, Julius Streicher was condemned and executed for stuff that was published in his weekly "Der Stuermer".

Posted by: lysias | Dec 19 2020 2:10 utc | 71

Mr. Lysias

Americans ought to have hanged the late Ezra Pond as well, a traitor and a malicious mean man.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 19 2020 2:27 utc | 72

"It vetted every target carefully". Then carefully vetted what was left after the carefully vetted targets were destroyed, carefully vetted what was left and what was left after.
And then there was nothing left except papers full of carefully vetting.

Posted by: Patrick Armstrong | Dec 19 2020 16:34 utc | 73

@ Fyi | Dec 17 2020 20:26 utc | 14

Hindus, Sikhs, and other groups in India have every reason to hate Islam, which in the course of invading and ruling India for 800 years, slaughtered tens of millions. Today's Sikh community, having done massive amounts of research into the Islamic conquerors' own records, put the number of murdered Indians at 80 million.

Take a look at these:

The Islamic Conquest of India
August 11, 2020 Authored by: Will Durant

Mughal India ~ The Biggest Holocaust in World History

And there's a lot more, provided by respected historians down the ages -- you just have to be willing to look, and you will see.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Dec 19 2020 20:18 utc | 74

I should add that the above comment is in no way meant to justify anything done by Gopal, whom I despise.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Dec 19 2020 20:25 utc | 75

Posted by: DG | Dec 18 2020 20:40 utc | 70

Whats your point? Don't you know what the New Yorker exists for?

Posted by: TN | Dec 18 2020 12:52 utc | 57

As far as I can tell, you're lying. If not, what's your point?

Posted by: Dork | Dec 18 2020 15:03 utc | 63

You yourself seem to be a consummate liar. Or just a shill?

Posted by: AntiSpin | Dec 19 2020 20:18 utc | 74

Hate talk. Do you get off on that?

Seriously, what are you people doing here?

Posted by: Jams O'Donnell | Dec 19 2020 20:50 utc | 76

@ Jams O'Donnell | Dec 19 2020 20:50 utc | 76
"Seriously, what are you people doing here?"

I think it would be more logical for us to make that inquiry about yourself . . .

Posted by: AntiSpin | Dec 19 2020 22:10 utc | 77

Posted by: AntiSpin | Dec 19 2020 20:18 utc | 74

By using the word 'Holocaust' these 'respected' historian already invalidated their research.

Posted by: Hangar | Dec 20 2020 0:30 utc | 78

@ Hangar | Dec 20 2020 0:30 utc | 78
"By using the word 'Holocaust' these 'respected' historian already invalidated their research."

How do you know?

Did you read the articles that I included?

If not, then you are not sufficiently informed to comment on this matter, one way or the other.

This is one topic on which nearly everyone who is commenting has no actual knowledge of the subject, and refuses to look at any of the evidence.

There are two kinds of persons in this world -- those who believe what they believe because they want to believe it, and those who believe what they believe because they have studied, and have seen sufficient evidence to convince them that their belief is solid.

The first group bases their assertions on other, baseless assertions, or on nothing. The latter group bases their assertions on demonstrated facts.

I prefer to have discussions only with the latter group, whatever views they may hold.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Dec 20 2020 3:34 utc | 79

Mr AntiSpin

And the Hindus, did they not massacre Buddhists in India and thus extinguished that religion in India?

Before Muslims, were not Hindu Kingdoms in constant warfare against each other? Killing millions of Hindus, in turn, in centuries before Islam?

And who will redeem and pay for the persistent gang rapes of Dalit women, the castration of their men, and general murder and torture of Dalits by Hindus?

And let us not forget the nasty habit of burning widows alive with their husbands.

More recently, we have Hindus mudering Sikhs in Delhi and massacaring Muslims in Gujarat.

Should not Hindus hate themselves for all these Millenia of muder of fellow Hindus and rapine of Dalits?

These are all on one side of the leger. There other side of it are men like Sultan Mahmud and Aueangzib, without a doubt murdering intolerant Muslim conquerors and potentates.

Those would be the other side of the ledger.

The raped, the butchered, the burnt, the tortured, and those who carried out those dastardly deeds are beyond the reach of either human succor or human justice. God, will redeem those he choses and adjudicate among the rest. But those alive today have nothing to do with them.

During the Partition, the Hindu mobs had run with their blood lust, killing and raping millions of Muslims. It did not bring back the dead, it did not harm the dead Aurangzib and his courtiers, and it did not help the Hindus or India one whit.

Be my guest, go and continue on your path of religious hatred and watch as everything you hold dear evaporate or burn around you. The mixed residential streets in which you can walk all over India, with their owners' names affixed to the mail boxes, indicating religion and caste, will be no more as tens of millions will migrate within India seeking communal safety as other tens of millions will be murdered. Tamils and Karnatakans, both Hindus, will be in perpetual wars with each other while Muslim Telugus and Hindu Telegus will be mudering each other in Heydarabad.

Indian Union will cease to exist as Hindus (and Sikhs) demonstrate that they are not fit to govern a diverse land such as India: unlike the Christian English and the Muslim Mughals.

Your choice.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 20 2020 4:43 utc | 80

Mr. Patrick Armstrong

Yes, the conceit of War as Rational Action.

Posted by: Fyi | Dec 20 2020 4:48 utc | 81

@ Fyi | Dec 20 2020 4:43 utc | 80

I provided you with a small amount of the mountain of best evidence that exists. You have not provided any sources, at all.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Dec 20 2020 16:48 utc | 82

Mr. AntiSpin:

On Dalit women:

On Hindus destorying Buddhism in India:

I suggest you do your own further research.

But, by your response, I judge that you are on the path of Hindu Violence and self-immolation as Indian Union burns around you.

You will regret it.

Posted by: fyi | Dec 20 2020 17:20 utc | 83

It would be no huge loss if the U.S. just collapsed already. Its time is due from playing Empire Games. Its the same tale as Icarus flying to close to the sun, because he didn't head the warnings.

Posted by: Dude | Jan 7 2021 21:31 utc | 84

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