Tag Archives: Syria

Welcome to Camp Reality!

Post dedicated to John, who came up with the name Camp Reality.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re from an authoritarian country whose dictatorial leaders rob the population of the nation’s natural wealth, squirreling it away in Western banks and real estate. It’s so bad that you had to leave your homeland. But, as it turns out, the regime you fled publicly attacks the United States and blames economic problems on being “surrounded by enemies?” Now, every time you try to explain the plight of your people to American leftists who are in many cases fighting for the same social justice you’d like to see in your country, you’re accused of being a secret millionaire, billionaire, or a dupe of the CIA. You try to explain why the sources they are using are worthless and you suggest other info, but they act as though their access to internet makes their opinion equal to yours, even if they’ve never had so much as a passport. Is there anything you can do? NOW THERE IS! 

You can recommend your friends take a very special summer vacation to Camp Reality (TM)! At Camp Reality, they won’t be able to hide from the truth using the internet and confirmation bias to pick sources of information which confirm their worldview. No, here at Camp Reality, they’ll get the most realistic hands-on experience of living under a 21st century authoritarian kleptocratic regime! Inspired by the groundbreaking work on racism by Jane Elliot, Camp Reality teaches people who live in the privileged West who like to live vicariously through countries, regimes, and people they may never have encountered in person what it’s actually like to live under those regimes they have deemed to be “anti-imperialist” simply due to public rhetoric and propaganda.

After signing an extremely detailed 45-page legal waiver which temporarily suspends any rights they might have under their own government, entrants to the camp will have their choice of three different “difficulty levels” based on three different types of real-world authoritarian regimes.

 

Level 1: Easy Mode

This mode is designed to replicate conditions in a 21st century soft dictatorship, specifically the Russian Federation. In the early days you’ll experience chaos as corrupt officials and police either fail to protect your property or actively help criminal groups. After week one, attendees may breathe a sigh of relief when a new leader promises to bring stability. All seems well and you’re prospering until you start to realize that the old gangsters have just been replaced by new ones, and now the state becomes more and more overbearing. Eventually the “economy” starts to decline, the leader changes the constitution so he doesn’t have to leave office, and suddenly you can be facing criminal charges for sharing a joke on social media. If you speak out, you’ll be deemed a traitor who hates your country, often by simulated leaders whose own simulated family members live in luxury in Europe. Hopefully your business doesn’t get raided by someone connected or wiped out when the leader starts a needless war and invents “counter-sanctions” in response to the sanctions he provoked with his own short-sighted actions.

Level 2: Hard Mode

This mode is modeled after countries like Venezuela. Your leader endlessly rants about “Yankee imperialism” while his cronies skim money out of the state oil company and stash it away in Yankee banks and real estate. After a while, the store shelves are empty and you’ll spend at least one whole week trying to scrounge for food. You’ll get a chance to tell simulated Western social media users about the conditions in your country, only to be told that you’re just some “millionaire who lost his land” or a dupe of the CIA calling for military intervention for “regime change.” These people will then bombard you with articles from “your” country’s state media and the state media outlets of government friendly regimes to tell you what’s really happening.

Level 3: NIGHTMARE! 

This mode is based on Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime. We ask that attendees choosing this mode please read the legal waiver very thoroughly and wear comfortable, NON-FLAMMABLE clothing.

After surviving attending Camp Reality, your friends and family members will have learned a valuable lesson in empathy and how social justice without internationalist solidarity can often be a slippery slope to fascism. But don’t take our word for it, read these testimonials from actual attendees of Camp Reality!

“Since I came of age around 2003, I used to compare every international crisis to the Iraq invasion of that year. After attending Camp Reality, I learned that not every regime the US government criticizes is really just trying to fight for its people against the influence of transnational corporations. As it turns out, some regimes really do just suck, and criticism from the US government isn’t the same as openly advocating for a massive invasion as the Bush administration clearly did in late 2002 to early 2003!”    -Carla, 32,  Hard Mode

 

“I used to think the only reason Western media was so critical of Putin is because he made Russia strong again and he opposed NATO. After spending a month in a simulated regime modeled after Putin’s I realized that NATO encirclement was really just an excuse for authoritarian measures and for why my country lagged behind Europe despite massive wealth in natural resources. I also learned that when I posted about this online, I was accused of being a traitor and a Western agent even though I really just wanted to see my country succeed. I think the best touch was how when I brought up problems, people would tell me about something terrible in America as though that had any relevance to the issue I was trying to discuss. It’s the same thing I used to do online!”   –Ryan, 26, Easy Mode

 

“Oh God! Oh God! I…I…I can’t….I don’t even…Who, who are you? Am I safe? Is this safe?!”    –Meghan, 28, NIGHTMARE!

So why delay? Tell your insufferably edgy little shit of a cousin to put their money where their mouth is today and send them to CAMP REALITY!

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A Very Special Message

So I was happy to see the blog is once again getting a lot of engagement, seemingly due mostly to one of my recent posts, The Foreigner’s Guide to Appropriate Protests. I was a bit less amused to find that some of this attention is due to it being shared on several conservative and liberal subreddits. So while I made a decision to make this a humorous/satirical site a while back, forgive me for getting a bit serious for a moment.

If you’re one of those centrist liberals or conservatives who enjoyed the piece, here’s a special message for you: Fuck you, you hypocrite.

Yes, Western, particularly American leftists are ignorant about the situation in the rest of the world and arrogantly lecture people on how to behave in their own countries, but people like you not only do the same thing with protest movements abroad, but you even do it to your own people. You ignore the cause of a mass protest to focus on a window getting smashed or an upended trashcan. You whine about the lack of “civility.” Conservatives in particular are extremely fond of deliberately misinterpreting the message of a protest movement so that they can knock down a strawman, e.g. “All lives matter.”

And for the leftists whose nerves were struck by that satirical work- tough shit. You make fun of conservatives for not knowing the difference between Shiites and Sunni (though you probably couldn’t say what that is if asked right now), or for not knowing that Iranians aren’t Arab, but the truth is that so many years after 9/11 and Iraq, you’re not really that much more informed. What you’ve got is a serious case of Dunning-Kruger syndrome about the outside world, which is what happens when your frame of reference for how informed you are is comparing yourself to the dumbest people in the country. Think I’m being unfair? I just spent about half of my Twitter day slowly explaining to a bunch of self-proclaimed leftists that no, the Taliban wasn’t created or set up by the CIA, that it in fact didn’t exist as a fighting force until 1994, well after the US had all but abandoned Afghanistan, and no, they didn’t fund Bin Laden and he and his Arab volunteers actually weren’t a significant force in the mujahideen. Yes, I’ve been reading a lot of books on Afghanistan in recent years, but a lot of this stuff isn’t too hard to find. For example, you can learn about the role of Afghan Maoists in the Afghan-Soviet War from Wikipedia, of all places.

These days much of my timeline is filled with Syrians, Venezuelans, and Afghans all making a futile effort to get Western, mostly American leftists to actually listen to them and acknowledge that they might actually know a little more about their own countries’ history than people who may not even have a passport. Indeed, they may even know more than Oliver Stone or…gasp! St. Chomsky! The really infuriating thing about this is how all that intersectionality and respecting “lived experience” flies right out the window when it comes to a foreigner voicing an “incorrect” opinion. Look, being from a country doesn’t automatically make someone right, but at the very least, it demands you act a little less arrogant, and maybe listen more than you talk. Ask some follow up questions for a change. Again, it’s amazing that people who will call out someone for “mansplaining” will happily lecture a Syrian or Afghan on the politics of their own country, to which they’ve never been, whose language they cannot speak, based on shit they heard on RT or Democracy Now! 

You want to know the secret as to why I’ve never been a Chavez/Maduro backer despite being a socialist and at one time a self-identified Marxist-Leninist? It’s not just because Chavista Venezuela was never even remotely socialist. Part of it has to do with Venezuelans I’ve met over the years (oh I’m sure they were secretly millionaires in disguise though, right?) of course. But one of the biggest reasons was simply living in another authoritarian state where the leadership blames all its failures on shadowy Western conspiracies. That, and I’ve had friends who either lived under similar regimes. What you learn from this experience is that virtually all these regimes operate the same way. They all have a ruling class that siphons off money, usually form the export of natural resources, into the offshore accounts of the leader and his cronies. When times are good and commodity prices are high, some of that does manage to trickle down in the form of social safety nets. But when times get rough and it comes down to social programs for the masses or more luxury villas for the ruling class, the latter wins every time. And if the US and its allies criticize this or better yet, levy targeted sanctions- so much the better.

All of these regimes use similar tactics. Harassment of dissidents with plausible deniability. Consolidation and control over the media. Pro-regime rallies consisting of paid pensioners, public school and university students, and state workers. Constant promotion of bullshit conspiracy theories. Most of all, there’s always some kind of narrative about how the regime is coming under pressure because it has some great worldview that is opposed to the greedy Yankee hegemony. In Venezuela it was “21st century socialism.” In Syria it’s Baathism. In Russia it was “sovereign democracy.” In virtually every case, we’re told that this is an expression of the country’s sovereignty and self-determination, and the only reason why the US or the West criticizes it is because this country is going its own way and now kowtowing to the imperialist hegemony. The problem is, that in most cases the vast majority of people in those nations were never asked if they wanted to live under a corrupt and authoritarian regime that steals their country’s national wealth in exchange for supposedly “standing up to the West.” Believe it or not, but most of these people want things like food, shelter, and the opportunity to better their lives without having to have personal connections to the right family, bureaucrat, military officer, etc.

Do these experiences of mine make me an expert on Venezuela? Hell no. But living so long under Putin, plus the experiences related to me by people who lived under other dictatorial regimes has given me an ability to understand and filter information a little bit better because I’ve personally witnessed things that are near-identical to what these people are describing. Could I be wrong? Perhaps. Maybe these near identical things are just a coincidence, i.e. Maduro’s a genuine leftist who really is under siege by the US and this is responsible for his situation as opposed to his own mismanagement, while Putin is totally lying when he says similar things. But you know what? Occam’s Razor says we live in a capitalist world where states are run by ruling classes, not their working people, and it also says that if some country has some great popular ideology, it would probably be a lot more successful and the masses would support it. It’s a rule of thumb, but a pretty useful one.

The basis of a moral society, a socialist society, must in large part be empathy. It must be the concept that other people, in your community or thousands of miles away, have many of the same desires you have. If you have the desire for a better life and the will to resist oppression, you must recognize that other people also have a right to these things, regardless of their government’s relationship with the US. If not, you’re essentially dismissing those people as inferior, something less than human.

A while back, I encountered a rather burnt-out individual who turned on the left due to encountering so many leftists who refused to listen to anything Syrians had to say about their country, instead dismissing them as dupes of the CIA and Islamophobic caricatures of “jihadist headchoppers.” According to this individual, Western leftists are racists who “want these problematic people to die,” people referring not just to Syrians but also Afghans, Ukrainians, Nicaraguans, and other nationalities whose right to resist is denied by the privileged Western left.

I decided that person is far too burnt out and angry to have any use in politics, but after seeing how some icons of the American left write about Afghans and now Venezuelans, it almost makes me wonder if on some subconscious level maybe these people do want all those masses whose reality contradicts their personal narrative to die. Not so much to be killed, but to simply disappear, to be erased. If all these people would simply be silenced one way or another, the Western leftist would never have to struggle with the failings of their simplistic worldview. It’s so easy to dismiss someone’s lived experience, contemporary or historical, if you can just write them off as a kulak, a bourgeoisie, a jihadist, a dupe of the CIA. Then you don’t have to feel bad about your fetish for Soviet aesthetics or your admiration for a regime in a country you’ve never visited.

I realize this is a hard pill for a lot of the Western left to swallow, but look at it this way. You’ve been doing things more or less the same way for a long time now. Where are your results? What genuine US imperialism have you genuinely prevented? Who is in power in your country and what policies are they promoting? For nearly all my life, you’ve had a parade of neoliberals and fascists. You’re at a point now where voting for neoliberals has often becoming your only way to keep literal fascists out of power. Hell, the fascists in America are some of the dumbest people on the planet and yet they’re still running circles around you. So with that track record of solid failure after failure, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start reevaluating your movement and your ideology to see if there aren’t any flaws in there that might actually be benefiting the far-right and hampering your own success.

Or you can dismiss me as an “ultra-leftist” or “Ukrainian fascist” (because associating ethnic groups with political ideologies is fine for some countries!), and we can watch this all play out. Me, I’ve already seen this show. All those things you think can’t happen here; I see them happening. So if you don’t know what life is like under people like Yanukovych, Putin, Maduro, or perhaps worst of all, Assad, keep on doing what you’re doing, and one day you’ll get a taste of it right here.

 

Anarchism and the Military: A Wake-Up Call

So I saw something that never ceases to drive me up the wall when I hear anarchists talking about it, despite how much more sympathetic I have grown to anarchism over the past few years. This rant, which I’ve managed to suppress for many years, was provoked by a Youtube video by an anarchist whose identity I will conceal because I like a lot of their other work. In fact, I like their work more than most of the other Youtube anarchists because unlike them, this individual doesn’t seem to think citing Homage to Catalonia is such a great source to “prove” that anarcho-syndicalism can work. But they touched on a topic that anarchists have often expounded on with zero practical knowledge or expertise, and it’s one of those core issues that any revolution is going to have to solve if its advocates want to get beyond bike co-ops and squatting.

First, a little context. The individual in question was explaining one of the basic concepts of anarchism, the idea of abolishing unjustified hierarchy. For those who aren’t aware, this concept means that if some form of authority can’t be justified by providing some social benefit, it should be abolished or at least severely curtailed. Now the author brings up a common objection, namely how such a community would defend itself without a disciplined, standing army. And here, dear readers, is where we find ourselves face to face with one of anarchism’s biggest flaws.

In the past, when I would ask anarchists about this topic, their answer was simply “guerrilla warfare!” This they would back up by pointing out examples such as the Vietnamese National Liberation Front, the Afghan-Soviet War, and the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this case, the author brings up Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, pointing out that while they are obviously horrible from an ideological point of view, their ongoing existence proves the efficacy of decentralized irregular forces holding off highly advanced military forces. Okay, now that I’ve articulated that I need to take a pause…

spongebob

This is a very, very bad idea that anarchism must do away with if it is ever to have any practical success in the modern world. Where do I even begin? Well if we start with pretty much every example anarchists give of successful guerrilla warfare, and contrary to common belief there are more failed insurgencies than successful ones even in the heyday of the guerrilla in the post-WWII 20th century, none of them were won by forces emulating anything remotely resembling anarchist principles. Vietnam is a really obvious example, and I should also point out that the idea of Vietnam as an insurgency is somewhat mistaken. As one author more accurately described it, it was more like a “low-intensity conventional conflict.” The popular notion of the war was that it was fought mainly by peasants in “black pyjamas” who tended the rice paddies during the day and took up arms at night. This, to anyone with a cursory knowledge of the conflict, is totally wrong. The core of the Vietcong were the so-called “main force” units, which had uniforms. Then you had regional forces, and finally those villagers taking potshots after work or setting punji traps were local militias with limited combat value. And of course as the war went on, the Communist side increasingly resorted to using North Vietnamese Army regulars. Lastly, this whole war was controlled by a state with a rigid hierarchical system.

The Afghan Mujaheddin were far more decentralized, by contrast, but they were largely supported and given shelter by authoritarian states like Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China, not to mention the liberal democratic US. Besides that, decentralization didn’t necessarily work out better; even before the toppling of the Najibullah government in 1992, the various factions, most notably those of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmad Shah Massoud, were already fighting amongst each other. After that, civil war broke out between various warlords until a certain enterprising young religious student named Omar decided to put a stop to that shit and kicked off a holy war by hanging some corrupt officials in Kandahar from the barrel of a tank gun. You probably know this movement as the Taliban, but what many Westerners don’t know is that one reason why the Taliban were so successful in the civil war apart from Pakistani support was that they were often embraced by the local population (especially Pashtuns), because they brought order and stability to a populace that was weary of years of chaotic civil war.

And what about Al Qaeda and the Islamic State? Well this comparison is terrible because while yes, Al Qaeda has shown remarkable resilience, they have rarely if ever controlled any  geographical territory apart from tenuous control in some locales in Syria at times. The Islamic State, on the other hand, improved on this by trying to establish some kind of territorial state, but at the same time this doomed it to destruction because it brought its fighters, infrastructure, and existence into the open to be bombed mercilessly by the coalition. Also when it comes to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban, it’s also important to keep in mind that suicide tactics are a regular part of their doctrine. This has made ISIS particularly difficult to fight on the ground, as we saw with the battles for Mosul and Raqqa. Apart from sowing countless improvised mines and boobytraps, imagine having to deal with this on a daily basis:

The point I want to make here is that ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban all recruit people who are willing to die intentionally, which incidentally is one factor that enables them to carry out an ongoing insurgency against a far more advanced adversary. It’s a lot easier to carry out a successful attack on a much better-equipped adversary if you remove the part about surviving from your mission planning. Somehow I don’t see the folks at punk shows or co-ops signing up to drive VBIEDs, so differences in ideology alone aren’t the reason why this isn’t a viable option for anarchist defense. And before moving on I should point out that even in those other cases of successful unconventional warfare, the guerrillas typically took far more casualties than their enemies, to the point of sometimes losing every engagement above the tactical level. As a result these conflicts spanned many years, if not decades in the case of Vietnam’s struggle for unification and independence. Obviously it takes iron will and discipline to carry out such a conflict, and while I would not say that you must have a rigid hierarchical political/military to achieve that level of discipline, any successful revolutionary movement banking on a decentralized guerrilla warfare strategy has to achieve it somehow.

When we look at anarchist military history, it’s not too promising. Nestor Makhno was said to wage a guerrilla struggle, which is true to an extent, but one problem is that sources on Makhno are hard to come by, often either written by his partisans or detractors. Southeast Ukraine doesn’t lend itself well to guerrilla warfare, which is why Makhno’s hit and run tactics were more likely a matter of mobility as opposed to using restrictive terrain the way the Vietcong used the jungle or the Afghan Mujaheddin used mountains. Cavalry allowed Makhno’s forces to show up were they were not expected, and mounting machine guns on horse-drawn carts, the famous “tachanka,” made it possible to rapidly strike an enemy and retreat before they could adequately react, particularly if they were foot infantry. Still, Makhno lost. Now here most anarchists would say that this is because the Bolsheviks stabbed him in the back, and because they refused to send adequate arms and supplies to his Revolutionary Insurgent Army of Ukraine. This argument, however, is irrelevant. In order to abolish the state and then defend the society with which you replace it, you will inevitably have to resort to force. If you cannot supply your revolution with the necessary arms, that’s on you. The Bolsheviks found a way to do it. The Poles did it. “The Bolsheviks wouldn’t give them arms” is really saying “they failed to properly organize their revolution.” As Omar Bradley put it: “Amateurs- strategy. Professionals talk logistics.” I could go on to Catalonia as well, but that’s just another Dolchstoßlegende (stab-in-the-back-legend) related to the “May Days of 1937.”

I’m not saying you can’t build an effective military force without resorting to traditional authoritarian hierarchies like we see in existing military forces. Yes, the system we see in the world’s best military (AMERICUH!!!) is hierarchical and disciplined, especially in the Marine Corps, arguably one of the finest fighting forces in history (crayon eating notwithstanding). However, the conventional military culture, even among the best of organizations, can often be extremely arbitrary and stifling, leading to things like stagnation, failure to adapt to new forms of warfare, and even nepotism and corruption. Nobody spends any amount of time in the military without acquiring dozens of examples of ineffective leadership and idiocy that is often impossible to convey to civilians who have never experienced it. Moreover, it’s not hard to make the case that military forces that encourage individual initiative and creative, mission-oriented tactics historically do better than rigid, authoritarian armies. So what I’m basically saying here is that your revolutionary forces need strong discipline and will, but this does not at all mean that this must be achieved via rigid hierarchy and authoritarian culture. That being said, it’s important to note that hierarchies of some sort tend to be inevitable in military organizations, but at least they need not be “unjustified.”

There is a wider lesson anarchists must learn as well from history. Remember that anecdote about the Taliban’s early successes in Afghanistan? There was a similar situation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, whereby ordinary Sunnis who might have had zero interest in building a Salafi-jihadist Caliphate accepted and even embraced the IS fighters due to instability and persecution. See whether it’s the Taliban or the Islamic State, while the rules they bring are Draconian with out a doubt, they often applied these rules in a very regular, predictable way, while often putting an end to all kinds of criminal activity and corruption wherever they took over. Consider this horrible dilemma countless people have had to make at certain points in history:

-Live your life without any assurance that your person or property will be respected. You are fair game for authorities who may be of another faith and/or tribe, or just random bandits who know there will be no repercussion for any malicious actions they take against you.

-Accept the authority of a strict authoritarian movement which, while imposing new rules on you, also will impose order and predictability protecting your property and person.

Humans do not naturally crave authoritarian systems or rigid hierarchy, nor do they inherently require them. But one thing we do naturally prefer is stability in favor of chaos. Therefore, any anti-authoritarian revolutionary movement, if it is to be successful, must one way or another establish relative stability and predictability. If your movement insists on deciding every issue with consensus-based councils, for example, it had better make sure people’s basic rights are well-protected and basic needs are met, otherwise people will inevitably seek out whomever can provide these things or convincingly promise them, even if those alternatives are also more authoritarian.

These facts are well-established by history, but they are not death-blows to anarchism or anti-authoritarian socialism, which incidentally is the only socialism really worth fighting for. It’s much better to look at them as challenges that need to be overcome by any movement that truly seeks to liberate people, regardless of what it calls itself. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria has given us a wealth of information to study in this regards. Unfortunately, many idealists overstate the extent to which politics in “Rojava” as it was once internationally known, were bottom-up and “stateless.” In reality, the PYD is quite hierarchical and the territory under their control isn’t exactly run by direct democracy. That being said, no objective observer can deny that they have made some stunning progress in some fields, most notably women’s rights.

Furthermore, many of the examples where the PYD has failed in terms of realizing the stateless, direct democracy it preaches can be reasonably explained by the exigencies of a bitter war and the precarious situation they face between Turkey, the Assad regime, Russia, Iran, and the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. The PYD have been described as being extreme pragmatists. Perhaps some, and perhaps even myself, might say they’ve been a bit too pragmatic. But whatever the case, any revolution will have to face the conditions PYD faces, if not worse. I suggest planning accordingly, because in the last thing socialism needs is yet another romanticized lost cause that was drowned in blood because those who fought for it  put theoretical principle over practical reality. The freest society on Earth is no use to humanity if it remains nothing but a besieged enclave or worse, if it is wiped out in a matter of weeks.

 

Transcript of Bashar al Assad’s Victory Speech, 2020

Bashar_al-Assad_in_Russia_(2015-10-21)_08

*Applause*

Thank you! Thank you all! Throughout this long and difficult conflict I have frequently expressed my deepest gratitude to you, members of parliament, my military from the chief of the general staff to the lowest-ranking recruit, and of course, to my foreign allies Russia and Iran. A thousand speeches would not be enough to fully express how much I feel indebted to all those who rallied to the flag during Syria’s darkest hour. There are so many who deserve boundless gratitude for helping us overcome our enemies, the so-called Free Syrian Army jihadists, the Kurdish separatist terrorists in the north, the Islamic State, and the most tenacious of all adversaries, the White Helmets, better known as Al Qaeda! Damascus was besieged by terrorists of every kind, some even disguised as little children, but you did not waver and because of your resolve we have triumphed!

But I trust you will forgive me when I dedicate this speech to another steadfast ally of the Syrian Arab Republic, one which up until now has never received my thanks, our thanks, for all its unflagging support for myself and the government I lead. Naturally I am speaking about the Western left and the anti-war movement it leads.

They go by many different names, many of them claim to be Marxists, Communists. I’m sure some of you, and indeed even myself at one time, feared that their ideological leanings might prevent them from supporting our government, which is in no way Marxist or leftist and to be honest, is arguably rightist if anything. Some of us were afraid they might look upon our past actions such as jailing leftists or helping the CIA with its rendition program in the War on Terror and reject us entirely in favor of the terrorist uprising which was also totally orchestrated by the CIA, Mossad, and Saudi Arabia. But no, they were not discouraged by any of that. Quite the opposite.

Despite the fact that almost none of these people had ever been to Syria, or even anywhere in the Middle East for that matter, despite the fact that for many of them their only source of factual information about what was happening here was our ally’s satellite TV network RT and a collection of various Russia-connected blogs all citing the same sources, these people saw the truth of our struggle and boldly stood up to their own governments. When their imperialist regimes accused us of using chemical weapons as a pretext for a massive invasion on par with the 2003 Iraq War in 2013, 2017, and 2018, these intrepid anti-imperialists could not be swayed by the insidious propaganda of terrorist organizations such as the United Nations or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. On the contrary, they were more than willing to take the word of their far-right wing ideological opponents and speak the truth- that these chemical attacks never happened, that they were staged by the Al Qaeda White Helmets. Or the chemical attacks actually happened, but the rebels carried them out. Or the Islamic State. Or the White Helmets actually gassed civilians themselves. All of those are totally real things that actually happened, and the Western revolutionary left were not afraid to speak that truth to power.

Indeed, so loyal were they to our cause that they never flinched from entering into tacit alliances with those who could honestly be called fascists in order to get our message to their own countrymen. So determined were they in spreading that message, than when our neocon and neoliberal enemies tried to point out their strange and seemingly contradictory alliances, those brave leftists simply acted as though no such collaboration ever took place, or insisted that it didn’t matter. But it did matter. It mattered so much too us.

And that is why I’m announcing that the Syrian Arab Republic is prepared to give back to the Western left that stood so loyally by its side throughout this seemingly never-ending conflict. The revolutionary movement that dedicated so much time to defending our just regime deserves no less than our material and moral support in its own struggle, which of course is something I have always deeply cared about. I especially care about the local struggles of groups like Stop the War Coalition in the United Kingdom, the Communist Party of Great Britain (ML), and the Workers’ World Party in the United States, to name a few. That is why I say to the following to them and all their comrades worldwide:

We have not forgotten your sacrifices and struggle in our name. We have not forgotten how you put off your own organizing and issues in order to march in the streets with our flag and defend our regime no matter what it was accused of doing. We have not forgotten how you were totally unconcerned with your so-called credibility when you embraced and repeated our side of the story, indeed our sides of each story, when so many people called you cranks and conspiracy theorists for doing so. We have not forgotten how you were more than willing to enter into strategic alliances with self-identified neo-Nazis and white supremacists in order to spread our message- the message that anyone who opposed us was a bloodthirsty Wahhabist terrorist. We admire your confidence and resolve as you diligently and consistently lectured traitorous Syrian former-citizens despite never having been to the Middle East or speaking Arabic. Many people, lacking that kind of experience, would never want to appear so arrogant and condescending by telling a person what is really happening in their country when they have never set foot even in the region. But you were not afraid to do exactly that. You knew these people had to be terrorists and pawns of the United States and Israel, you were right, and you spoke the truth.

And because you did all this, it is now time for us to fight for you. Now that we have victory, peace, and a lot more living space in Syria for reasons you should not concern yourself with, I am ordering my generals to set up numerous educational and training camps for left revolutionaries. As a caveat I must say that you may be sharing your quarters with people who are your ideological enemies on the far-right in your home country, but from what I’ve seen you’ve managed to get along somehow for my sake and I’m sure you’ll work something out.

In addition to the free use of our infrastructure and facilities with which you can train legions of loyal, dedicated revolutionaries to struggle against your own exploiters at home, I offer you the use of our media facilities as well. Any leftist party who showed support for us will be able to obtain its own satellite network to reach viewers back home.

I was also especially touched by those of you who, after the last false flag chemical attack staged by the White Helmets in Douma, pointed out that the US government had poisoned its own people in Flint, Michigan. Others asked why no other countries were talking about bombing the US when police used tear gas on protesters at Standing Rock. Such rhetorical brilliance was so inspiring that I have decided to set aside some of our oil revenue toward providing the people of Flint the clean water they deserve! We will also provide any leftist organization in the US with high quality gas masks to protect themselves at their next protest, which will no doubt be in support of a cause I deeply agree with and care about.

Another thing these leftists have shown me is that we as Baathists need to remember the socialist aspect of Arab Socialism, one of the core ideas in the Baathist ideology. Now that we are no longer under imperialist threat, I hereby announce that we will be carrying out a new constitutional referendum with the goal of setting up not only a truly socialist society, but in fact a fully democratic communist society of which the leadership of the long-dead Soviet Union could only dream of. Our resources will be publicly owned so that every man, woman, and child will be guaranteed access to adequate shelter, food, clothing, education, and healthcare. This we shall achieve by instituting the combination of direct democracy and labor time calculation-based planning according to the theories of Paul Cockshott, an author whose work I have read extensively throughout this conflict.

Having established true functioning communism, I shall resign as president and remain merely head of the party, which will only minimally interfere in the administration of day-to-day life. More importantly, as the Syrian Arab Republic becomes the first territory living under functioning modern communism, it will become a beacon of light, spreading socialist theory and praxis throughout the world. Where the Russians and Chinese failed, we shall succeed!

And let me say this to my comrades in the Western left- this is only the beginning. You stood up for me and proclaimed the truth, that I am the Lion of Damascus and flame of secularism in a Middle East infested with hordes of bloodthirsty jihadists. For that I shall open the floodgates of my country’s wealth and back your revolutions because you backed our war for survival! Moreover, my allies Russia, as well as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, which I assure you have nothing to do with Russia and are an internal matter for Nazi-controlled Ukraine, agree with me one hundred percent when it comes to this new initiative. They have offered to send you whatever you need so that working people in your nations can fight for and seize the rights they so sorely deserve!

The right to rebel against tyrants is universal and just! It is not like that rebellion against me because I am in no way a tyrant and those were all head-chopping takfiri Al Qaeda Islamic State terrorists who were paid by the CIA and Israel. You are nothing like them and thus have every right to revolution and freedom!

So from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the Syrian Arab Republic, soon to be the Syrian Communist Republic, I say as emphatically as possible. Thank you, anti-imperialists! Thank you all! 

*Standing ovation and applause*

Oh the Places You’ll Go…to Die!

Recently Russia lost a high-ranking general in Syria. Lt. General Valery Asapov (nope, not Valery Gerasimov in disguise) was killed along with two colonels in a mortar attack near the town of Deir-ez-Zor. Apart from the high rank of the deceased, this wouldn’t be particularly remarkable were it not for the fact that Asapov commanded the “1st Army Corps” of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic in a conflict that Russia calls a “civil war” and swears it has no part in.

Isn’t it amazing how despite being a “civil war” and an “internal matter” of Ukraine, so many Russian military personnel have taken part with zero reprimand from the Russian government? Here we have a general who decided to go on vacation to fight in a conflict for a “country” his government does not recognize, and then he returned to the Russian army with zero consequences (possibly with a promotion) and got deployed to Syria.

Given Russia’s constant denials (against overwhelming evidence to the contrary) of any significant involvement in this “civil war,” you think they’d want to come down hard on all these “volunteers,” especially the military personnel who supposedly “went on leave” to fight for Ukraine. I guarantee you that if US military personnel took leave and then joined the YPG in Syria, or any other military force for that matter, there would be hell to pay. For starters that’s desertion, plain and simple. Yet the only deserters the Kremlin sees happen to be those who left the army because they say they were being pressured to sign contracts and fight in Ukraine. Curioser and curiouser.

Russian Defense Ministry Worried About Positive Image

 

MOSCOW- Recent photographs showing Russian soldiers assisting Kurdish fighters of the leftist “People’s Protection Units” in Northern Syria have become a cause for concern among the Russian military’s top brass. According to a source in the Russian Ministry of Defense, publicity surrounding the photos might reflect positively on the Russian armed forces, which have worked hard to cultivate an image of pure, unadulterated evil since 2014.

The concern over the threat of positive connotations may explain Moscow’s official denials of involvement. Speaking at a press briefing the day after the photos emerged on social media, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Russia is not involved in helping the Kurds in the North Syrian Confederation.

“All this talk of the Russian military doing something positive or morally correct is nothing but nonsense from the typical sources,” Peskov told journalists.

“I can assure all of you that Russia and its Armed Forces are working their absolute hardest to fulfill their duty of spreading misery to the fullest extent of our reach,” he added.

State media has also hit back at the allegations, calling them “hypocritical,” pointing out that US forces are assisting the same Kurds, and listing numerous historical examples of when the United States’ armed forces acted as a force for good. Sunday news presenter Dmitry Kiselyov reminded his viewers that the US military had been instrumental in such positive historical developments as the abolition of slavery and the destruction of Nazi Germany. He too denied that Russia was deliberately helping the Kurdish movement, insisting that Russia would never support a democratic movement favoring local autonomy, self-administration, and radical women’s rights.

“It’s absurd,” Kiselyov told his viewers.

“Why would we, a nation with a highly centralized authoritarian bureaucracy bolstered by a fascist-inspired imperialist ideology want anything to do with these so-called ‘democratic confederalists,’ who insist that women are something other than breeding stock, entertainment, and a means for obtaining kompromat?”

Despite official denials, sources within the Ministry of Defense say that the command is taking the issue of its image very seriously and is looking for ways to compensate for its potential improvement.

“They’re frantically searching for ways to offset the potential improvement of their reputation,” said Gennady Borisov, a retired Soviet/Russian General who now works for a Moscow-based think tank dedicated to security issues.

“Any potentially positive action on the part of the Russian armed forces is a serious black mark on their image, so all options are on the table- stepping up the shelling of civilians in Ukraine, bombing hospitals in Syria- these are just two examples.”

Borisov said that the Ministry of Defense may even decide to take even stronger, proactive measures such as dropping napalm on a maternity ward in a relatively peaceful area of Syria or releasing a video of Russian soldiers crushing newborn kittens.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say. It might sound revolting, but it’s nowhere near as bad as having people all over the globe think that our armed forces were involved in something positive.”

Didn’t I Warn You?

So today I woke up to find out that His Orangeness launched a series of cruise missile strikes against Assad’s military airfields in Syria.

I must say this was a bit unexpected, but look who we’re talking about here. But then again, I did predict something like this, as one Twitter follower reminded me:

That old tweet of mine was based on Trump’s assertion that he’d shoot down Russian planes for buzzing American ships in the Black Sea, something which, incidentally, isn’t really justifiable. So yes, I’m going to gloat about predicting this, because in general the situation developed more or less as I thought it would, if only a bit more quickly.

If you had been reading my blog during the run-up to the election, I wrote about how the idea of a grand bargain and partnership between Putin and Trump was highly unlikely. Trump might personally deal with Putin, if only because he loves people who flatter him, but contrary to the beliefs of Trump supporters, he is only a man with limited powers in a big, institutional system. Far more important is the fact that Trump’s whole campaign was based on this idea that America sucks, and he’s going to make it great again. When it came to foreign policy, the line was that America was weak, “always losing,” etc., and this was emboldening America’s enemies. One Trump ad even pegged Putin as one of those enemies.

Trump’s tough-guy routine and his tough-guy wannabe supporters pretty much guaranteed that he would clash with Putin over some issue at some point. It was inevitable. As I’ve written plenty of times before, there really is no foreign policy the United States can pursue that would appeal to Russia save for total isolationism, which looks like submission in the minds of Trump and Trumpkins. Since the latter are basically of a similar mindset, submission is anathema, and any military action is better than none at all.  It’s also interesting to note that the Trump State Department has had tough words for Putin over Ukraine, though I doubt the US will back those words with deeds apart from very incremental targeted sanctions. From the look of things, Putin still has a free hand to wreak havoc in the Donbas.

Still, this Syria operation is a major propaganda defeat for Putin. Remember, the Russian state media worked people into a euphoria over Trump in the weeks running up to the election. High profile personalities in Moscow’s circles of power cheered his victory, including the aforementioned Margarita Simonyan, head of RT. Pro-government astroturf activists actually threw a victory party for him in Moscow. And, although we cannot say that Russia swayed the election in favor of Trump, they certainly tried.

Now what have they got for all that ass-kissing? If we were to adopt the hilariously self-owning terminology of the alt-right, I’d say they got cucked. Hard. Truly this is the Great Cuckening. Up till now, Putin was winning in Syria propaganda-wise, and propaganda is everything to his regime. The United States and the rest of the West appeared impotent. They couldn’t establish a no-fly zone, they couldn’t save Aleppo, and Russia was dictating events on the ground in spite of some setbacks. This proved Russia was a great power capable of projecting military force and of course Putin is the wise chess player orchestrating it all. Then suddenly Cheeto Benito comes in from out of nowhere and bombs the shit out of Assad’s airfields. Those super-deadly S-300 SAM systems the Russians sent were useless. Supposedly the US warned Russia ahead of the strike but that’s even worse. The Americans tell the Great Leader Putin that they’re about to plaster his ally with Tomahawks and all he can do is maybe plead with them a bit before giving in and hanging his head in shame. That doesn’t go over well with the fanboys, be they vatniks in Russia or alt-righties in the West.

putincuck

Even worse for Putin is the fact that there’s not much he can do about this. I’m afraid at most he’ll try to ratchet up the violence in Ukraine, knowing that the US isn’t nearly as interested in Eastern Europe, but he’s already suffered a minor defeat there now that Ukraine got visa free travel to the EU. Chicken Littles are already screaming about how we’re on the eve of WWIII, but what they fail to realize is that Putin’s military, compared to the US and the rest of NATO, is a paper tiger. He could cause a fair bit of damage early on, but he wouldn’t be able to sustain such a war and his ruling class won’t allow it. And with Putin’s upcoming election and rising protest sentiments, the Kremlin media’s going to be scrambling to spin this and other inconvenient facts.

While I don’t trust Trump’s ability to solve the issue of Syria any more than I trust in his abilities to understand the basic duties of his office, this latest action shows how a moronic elephant bumbling around in a china shop can sometimes produce some positive results.