Owen Jones claimed he wasn't denying Assad's responsibility for chemical attacks in 2013. What else are we to make of this passage, other than as exactly that?
"At times of war, failing to participate with sufficient zealotry in the vilification of the current public enemy number one is treated as apologising for evil, or even as near-treachery. In the summer of 2013, that applied to the Assad regime after it allegedly gassed hundreds of innocent civilians to death."
The rest of the piece is a strange mish-mash too. He starts of by talking about the barrel bombs in Syria, but then just says that Assad doesn't flaunt his attacks, and goes off on a tangent. Clay Claiborne* has answered the standard claim that, "We knew that jihadis were fighting against Colonel Gaddafi in 2011, and as we bombed Libya, we were their de facto allies. Thanks to western intervention, large chunks of Libya are now under their sway."
"And let’s drop the pretence that the west did not effectively back jihadis in Syria either." Jones has two pieces of support for this claim. One is that a hostage reports that he was handed over by people who he thinks were FSA back to Jabhat al-Nusra. Even if this is the case, it doesn't mean they were even allies, just that they had a minimal level of co-operation in that locality. The other is a vague account of an intelligence report by someone in the CIA saying that hadn't got a clue what is going on in Syria, with nothing to do with any American or Western support for the Syrian opposition at all. The lesson here is not that Western intervention is always the major evil anywhere in the Middle East, but if you don't support those fighting against a régime armed with billion dollars of weaponry, they will find them from somewhere, and will less interested in Western notions of democracy the more they are abandoned to horror without the means to defend themselves. The war on terror and Owen Jones aren't polar opposites, they are both ways of saying the agency of those concerned should be ignored and their suffering allowed to continue.