Monday, 30 November 2015

Bella's mistaken claim of 'truth' on Syria

Bella Caledonia has published an article by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, asking: What is to be done about Syria?

In an introductory tweet, Bella's editor announces the piece as "the truth about Syria". As a large number of comments on the article suggest, it's nothing of the kind.

The Bella editor is challenged on exactly why the site is playing host to such war narrative. His response to one such comment:
I’m confused about your outrage Kevin? It would be good to hear the basis of it? As the author writes: “The debate now is driven by fear and optics alone. The flawed logic guiding the rush to action might deliver some telegenic victories, but will certainly make things worse in the longer run.”
Bella, presumably, sees this as a statement of 'war aversion'. Yet, consider what the author says in his preceding lines:
But if global inaction after the August 2013 chemical massacre in Syria yielded a disaster—at the time of the attacks, 30 months into the conflict, close to a hundred thousand people had been killed; in the next 30 months, the number of the dead would treble—action now is unlikely to make things better. The action being considered in 2013 at least had the merit of good faith.
The strong inference here is that military "inaction" in 2013 was a serious mistake, leading to greater deaths. We're asked to believe that the action being considered by Cameron and Obama was initiated in "good faith". And we're also expected to accept without question the 'certainty' of Assad's responsibility for these attacks.

Whatever one's views on such issues, these lines should be enough to indicate the author's own real war agenda. Indeed, the very title of the piece plays immediately to liberal war sensitivities.

The author asks us to blame Assad for the rise of Isis, ignoring the West's key role. He won't countenance the possibility that bombing in 2013 would have led to even more deaths. The death count is all attributed to Assad. His 'reticence' about the rush to action now, as opposed to 2013, is because this one isn't specifically about bombing Assad. It's also contradicted by his actual prescription at the end of the piece for deeper militarist involvement:
This can be ensured either through the imposition of a no-bombing zone across Syria or by giving shoulder-fired MANPADs to the Syrian rebels.
This military aid, we're to presume, is for Cameron's proclaimed '70,000 moderate rebels' still ready to fight Assad. Robert Fisk thinks otherwise. Instead, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad takes the "indispensable Charles Lister" as an 'authoritative' voice on such matters. Writing at the right-wing Spectator, Lister also laments: "Had the West more definitively intervened in Syria early on, we would undoubtedly have more moderate, more cohesive and more natural ally-material opposition to work with." A Visiting Fellow at the conservative Brookings Doha Center, Senior Consultant to The Shaikh Group, and once leading figure at IHS Janes’ “Terrorism and Insurgency Center”, Lister is part of an establishment  'think tank' circle posing as objective scholars, what Glenn Greenwald exposes as "the sham 'terrorism expert' industry". 

Readers of the Bella article may rightfully ask why an author upholding such figures and 'military solutions' ever got commissioned by its editors.

In defending this, the Bella editor tweets that many of those commenting below the article are being "incredibly naïve about Assad."

Whatever the truth of Assad's own conduct in this conflict, that's a pretty patronising remark. Another Bella response appears to use the author's academic status as a seeming rebuke to those who have 'no such understanding' of the issues. The article is further lauded by Bella as being "a more nuanced view" of the conflict.

Alas, this is so much Guardian-type posturing.

The more urgent and direct question here should be: what is to be done about the West?

As Chomsky so often asserts, we should be doing all we actively can to challenge, expose and resist the mendacious actions of our own states and governments. Pilger makes the same essential point in asking us to see the West's dark record of aggressions over Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. That kind of opposition is, in itself, an act of humanitarian intervention in support of already war-afflicted Syrians.

Sites like Bella should be on emergency footing right now, standing with Stop the War and other such voices in helping to resist the war parties. It should be shining the most damning light on Nato's militarism, alongside the West's support for Saudi and other repressive regimes in inflaming this conflict. As copious links provided in the comments section show, the West's and their Gulf proxies' leading part in the disastrous attempt at regime change in Syria is all too obvious. 

Rather than invite the kind of militarist line being laundered and spun in this piece, Bella should be urgently promoting decisive commentary against war propaganda and more weaponry. Otherwise, what does Bella fashion itself as? A purveyor of Guardian-type war editorials and tortured call-to-war mitigations?

The war media are in full drive, joined, as ever, by liberal White Man's Burden appeals for dutiful intervention. Indeed, the first two paragraphs of this Bella article look like something straight out of a Guardian leader. "After Paris, Syria can no longer be ignored", announces the author. Shouldn't a supposedly critical, left-leaning site like Bella be asking more incisive questions about the role of the French state and their allies in all of this? Here's 10 key truths for a start.

The author of this piece, and his Pulse Media site, proclaim 'pro-uprising', 'people-defending' motives, while positioning themselves around the 'necessary intervention' argument. It would be facile to label them neo-cons. Yet, they employ a more insidious war-speak, using false emotionalism as a spur to 'external involvement'. As with Libya, they peddled this very line in 2013 over the proposed UK/US action against Syria, claiming: "An externally imposed solution is less egregious than dooming Syria to prolonged war." Any resistant voices, such as Stop the War, who have argued otherwise, who see the repeated folly of more bombs and militarism, are denounced for their "left infantilism." So much for 'nuanced analysis'.

That's essentially, what Bella has given a platform to here. I don't know whether that's down to 'naivety', or the site's own attempt at 'nuance', but it certainly suggests an absence of critical recognition and assertive activism.

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