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Syria & “Ugly American” Chauvinism

After an extended break and a false start at resuming our activities, Return to the Source is back at it. We appreciate the readers and comrades who have stayed with us through this long period of inactivity and hope to provide some insightful pieces in the next few weeks. The project we’re most excited about presenting in the next two weeks is an extended essay on Cambodia that comes at the end of a collective study on the history of Kampuchea by several comrades. We’re hoping to ignite some discussions on several topics that Marxist-Leninists in the US don’t discuss often – the Khmer Rouge, Democratic Kampuchea, Cambodia’s war with Vietnam, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, and the overthrow of socialism in this often-overlooked southeast Asian country – and offer conclusions from our study. Without further ado, though, we begin with Syria.

A little over a month ago, the US war machine kicked into high gear and came as close as ever to striking Syria in the almost three years of unrest. Although the US, Western Europe, Saudi Arabia and Israel have intervened on behalf of the so-called rebels since the conflict began – with the latter actually striking Syrian military facilities twice in 2013 – President Barack Obama’s appeal to Congress for war authorization represented a new stage in the conflict. Repeating lies and nonsense about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons, the US sought to build a case for war that eerily paralleled the build-up to the war in Iraq, which began a decade ago in March.

Several factors torpedoed this proposal. Russia, Iran and China firmly came out against military intervention by the Western powers in Syria, with Russia and Iran threatening material consequences for a strike. Moreover, a dramatic change in strategy by the Assad government in the last year – fighting the conflict as a civil war rather than relying solely on counter-insurgency measures – broke the nearly two year stalemate and gave momentum back to the Syrian Arab Army. In other words, Assad is winning the conflict. Though this was part of the reason for the West’s increased threats of military force, it was dialectically a factor in their calculus to avoid intervention.

However, another factor sunk the President’s proposal for military force: that of popular protests by people in the US. From California to New York, Chicago to Florida, and everywhere in-between, anti-war activists took to the streets and organized demonstrations pressuring Congress to not authorize a strike on Syria. As the votes tallied higher against military action – not incidentally coming largely from the Republican right-wing of Congress – and as public opinion reached a low-point with a stunning 91% of Americans voicing opposition to the proposal, it was quietly withdrawn by the Administration.

Though the protests against the war on Syria were far smaller than those protesting the build-up to the war in Iraq a decade ago, they were significantly larger and more targeted than the movement against President Obama’s strike on Libya. In part, this owed to the courageous activism and organizing of countless Syrian-American organizations, not least of which was the Syrian-American Forum. This strong strategic alliance between the anti-war movement and the bulk of the Syrian-American community played a significant role in stopping the Administration’s threats of war.

Despite overwhelming unity within the active anti-war movement against intervention and against the US and Saudi-backed rebels, several so-called “leftist” organizations remained obstinate and continued calling for the downfall of President Assad’s government, even during the height of the US’ pro-war propaganda campaign. These organizations preferred to continue supporting an imaginary “Syrian revolution” free from Western, Saudi, Israeli, or al-Qaeda influence against the “tyranny” of the Assad government instead of taking a stand in principled solidarity. While they played no significant role in the anti-war movement during this latest victory, it didn’t stop national chauvinist leftists like those in the International Socialist Organization (ISO) from slandering the activists who resisted war. Read the rest of this entry

China-Bashing, Syria & The “Degenerate Left”

The Syrian Armed Forces defending national sovereignty from foreign-backed terrorists

The Syrian Armed Forces defending national sovereignty from foreign-backed terrorists

The US State Department’s formal recognition of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) is no small occurrence in the imperialist world’s campaign to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. To pretend, as many on the US left do, that the US and France have not actively struggled against Assad by materially supporting the rebels is no longer possible, even from a standpoint of technicalities. Arms and ammunition continue to flow to the rebels in Syria, and whether this lethal aid is delivered by the Central Intelligence Agency or puppet regimes in the Persian Gulf makes no difference to the fundamental imperialist mission afoot in Syria.

The US may not launch a military strike in Syria – no small thanks would go to China and Russia for providing material solidarity in the form of military deterrence – but the cruise-missile leftists at The North Star cannot continue to claim that “that, from the standpoint of the U.S.-Israeli alliance, there are no good options or outcomes as a result of the Syrian revolution.” (1)

In response to the chemical weapons allegations that emerged last week from Washington, Pham Binh – the author of “Lybia and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong” – penned another screed denouncing the anti-imperialist left in favor of the rebellion. Binh claims that the threat of military intervention against Syria is empty, but he goes further in his denunciation of anti-imperialism by asserting that the US and Western Europe have a vested interest in seeing Assad remain in power. Read the rest of this entry

Syria: U.S. talk of chemical weapons a pretext for war

Bashar al-Assad, the New Lion of Damascus

Bashar al-Assad, the New Lion of Damascus

The following article appeared in Fight Back! News on December 9, 2012. In the last week, the US has made increasingly explicit threats against Syria and the parallels with the build-up to the war in Iraq are striking. Unfettered by the uncertainty of re-election, the Obama administration has fewer obstacles to committing to a Libya-style NATO invasion of Syria to topple the nationalist government of Bashar al-Assad.

Return to the Source stands firmly with President Assad and the Syrian people, unequivocally upholds Syria’s right to self-determination, and demands that the US and Western Europe cease all subversive activity with the foreign-backed rebellion. We hope that the anti-war movement in the US takes a decisively anti-imperialist stand with the Syrian government against all foreign aggression.

Reposting an article does not necessarily constitute an endorsement by Return to the Source.

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Syria: U.S. talk of chemical weapons a pretext for war

By Fight Back! News Staff, December 9, 2012

Almost ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it’s déjà vu all over again.

Last week, the U.S., France and a host of other imperialist governments once again threatened the Syrian Arab Republic with military intervention. Echoing the rhetoric of the Bush administration in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a press conference in Brussels to drum up fear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would use chemical weapons to end the 21-month-old unrest. Similarly, President Barack Obama ominously spoke of “consequences” for the Assad government if chemical weapons were used. France and Britain have also joined the U.S. in scare-mongering rhetoric designed to build quick and panicked consensus for military intervention in Syria. Read the rest of this entry

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