Friday, 12 July 2013

Issues in the current stage of Syrian revolution

Michael Karadjis pretty much nails it. I would add to his analysis of the failure of the Obama administration to provide arms, that if they are to obtain leverage over the opposition they will have to provide more than the small arms the rebels can get elsewhere, and there is a wing of the American ruling class (represented by John McCain) that does want to provide real weapons, so the president isn't entirely free from pressure from that direction.
There's a chess reference:
'The Saudi and Qatari offensive in any case does not entirely rely on full-scale sectarian war; if their particular hard-line Islamist supporters can distort the revolution enough for a Sunni Islamist-led regime to be “their” chess piece against Iran and against each other, and to not encourage democratic revolution (especially in places such as Shiite-majority Bahrain chafing under the Saudi-backed repression of the Sunni-minority princes), their purposes are largely served.'
I have got the the point where I disagree with him. I think the answer to the next question is yes, "should supporters of the Syrian revolution therefore be advocating our “own” imperialist rulers send massive quantities of arms to the rebels?"
If our governments have what they need, it would seem impolite not to recommend that it be supplied.
"We should not call on our governments to do anything whatsoever in the Middle East, other than to completely evacuate all troops, military bases, warships, embargoes and so on entirely from the region, and cut off all aid, military or otherwise, to Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, and any other repressive regime."
I know it's not a direct comparison, but I'm reminded of Malcolm X's regret that when a white girl asked him what she could do, his reply was nothing. Here's Trotsky:
"Let us imagine that in the next European war the Belgian proletariat conquers power sooner than the proletariat of France. Undoubtedly Hitler will try to crush the proletarian Belgium. In order to cover up its own flank, the French bourgeois government might find itself compelled to help the Belgian workers’ government with arms. The Belgian Soviets of course reach for these arms with both hands. But actuated by the principle of defeatism, perhaps the French workers ought to block their bourgeoisie from shipping arms to proletarian Belgium? Only direct traitors or out-and-out idiots can reason thus."
I think he's wrong here too. Geneva, like the Kofi Annan visits, is part of a process of shoring up Assad, the assertion that there is no prospect of a military victory for the opposition is based on a misreading of the course of events. If the government regains control over much of the country, however constrained it is by promises to the international community, it will mean torture and murder on a mass scale. While the opposition refuses to accede to a phony peace process, that falls short of a genuine transition, the régime can only expel the people, not sustain its rule over them.
"At the same time, while the Syrian opposition should in principle be able to get as many arms as it can from anywhere it can, it could be argued that just at the moment, it may be tactically wise to not emphasise this point (except if arms could get directly to those defending besieged places such as Qusayr yesterday or Homs today), in order to give maximum chances to the possibility of a ceasefire arising out of the US-Russian Geneva process." How one can support only direct arms shipments seems like quite a skilled operation.
'Eventuate' is a pretty crappy verb. Happen.
I agree with his list of reasons why direct intervention causes problems (and indeed, doubt it was quite as tide-turning in Libya as both supporters and advocates claim). But solidarity has to be support for solid weapons. Tony Cliff used to point out that you don't bring a copy of Socialist Worker to a gunfight.

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