Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Russia Bombs Hospitals. Lefties Shrug

A member of the Syrian community holds aloft a placard displaying a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a rally in support of refugees that was part of a national campaign in central Sydney, Australia, October 11, 2015. The crowd, estimated at around one thousand people, called for an end to mandatory detention for refugees and for an end to Russia's intervention in Syria.      REUTERS/David Gray - RTS3XB8

 Sam Charles Hamad

 'Nowhere in any of Greenwald’s output will you find actual recognition of the victims of the Russian strikes and the circumstances that led to their deaths.  The mention of Syrian casualties of Russian strikes by Greenwald features only as a means to point out U.S. hypocrisy. 
 And this gets to the heart of the matter—Syrians facing brutality from the Assad regime and Russia can’t feature among the left because they are deemed to be unworthy of support due to their real or imagined proximity to the West.  By some delusional twist, Syrians fighting for liberation are deemed to be the aggressors representing imperialism, while the Assad regime and Russia are seen as being the resistance to such imperialism.  Amidst all the destruction wrought by the Syrian war, one perhaps small though significant casualty is the idea that the left could overcome the contradictions of its own history to reaffirm its founding principles.
 It claims to oppose Islamophobia, yet you can read a wide range of leftist writers invoking visceral appeals to Islamophobia and orientalsm by essentializing the Syrian rebels as “jihadis,” with deliberate obscurity.  It claims to oppose the “war on terror,” yet the Manichean logic of the Bush era is reproduced in support of Russia’s intervention.  It claims to be “anti-imperialist,” yet you have no less a figure as Noam Chomsky so absurdly and pathetically claim that Russia’s intervention in Syria is not “imperialist” since “it’s supporting a government,” while he endorses the conservative “realism” of Patrick Cockburn, whose writing has often come down on the side of the Assad regime. 
 The brutal array of crimes committed by the Assad regime, Iran and Russia against the Syrian people are swept aside in some imagined geopolitical game that leftists think is unfolding. Internationalism is about breaking down the barriers that separate people and uniting struggles around the world—it’s not about constructing these delusional, byzantine buffers that determine which struggles we can and can’t support. 
 If that is indeed to be a feature of the dominant form of leftism in the modern era, one which determines that one can be outraged by an American war crime in Kunduz but not a Russian one in Sarmin—I want no part of it.' 

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