Death in Syria 95

The killings of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik are deeply sad, as are the killings of all those millions of innocents who have died in the conflicts of the last decade whose names do not get such global sympathy. That is not to decry the sympathy; the world needs more of it, not less.

The Assad rule of Syria is brutal and it would be good if it were to end. There is no doubt the indiscriminate nature of the bombardment of Homs is vicious and wrong. But the same was true of the NATO destruction of Sirte. The idea that the answer to such deaths is to intensify the killing to a more industrial scale is crazed. The deliberate escalation of civil war in order to back a new winning side to gain leverage over economic resources appears to be the new standard method of advancing the interests of ruling western elites.

The truth is that Gadaffi was awful, but the life of ordinary Libyans is no better for the war, death and destruction and there is no practical improvement in human rights – indeed an awful lot more arbitrary rule, rape, brutalisation and killing by armed militias.

Life in Iraq is materially still massively worse than under the awful Saddam Hussain. The doctrine of “liberal intervention” is a screen for resource grab. The fact its practical effects on the countries upon whose inhabitants the necessary death – or “creative destruction” in the words of imperialist propagandist Niall Fergusson – is rained, are the opposite of those claimed, is hidden by the media simply declaring “Mission accomplished” and moving on. The awfulness of everyday life today in Iraq and Libya is not shown.

I hope Syrians can save themselves from their own government, their own militias, and above all from the awesome death-dealing of NATO.

95 thoughts on “Death in Syria

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  • Methuselah Now

    Don’t forget the industrial focused bombardment in Sri Lanka and Yemen, and the the targeting in Bahrain.
    Of course, if the Assad regime had real interest and professionalism to copy our thinking, they’d go to every house with about 30 cops each, multiple camera crews, and arrest the “protestors” (+ bombers) there and then, and have them in court to serve many years in an overnight 24/7 court, and then be congratulated for the efficiency of sending the right message.
    Or, how about learning from our Israeli friends as in Cast-lead and similar, of not just the bombardment with limited media coverage and our western politicians/allies saying the killing/murder/destruction is only to deal with the “terrorists”, but going from the start of a street of houses, and ignoring the front door, and just going straight through the side breaking down every wall to the end.
    Kind regards,

  • Azra

    and the next in line for that Liberal Intervention is Somalia. The cokehead has come out today with the phrase “we cannot ignore Somalia”, put in plain English ” we cannot ignore unexplored gas, oil and minerals of Somalia”.
    Wherever they go, there is death and destruction. When will this thirst for money and power will end?

  • Mary
    Marie Colvin: they all know the WHO, but in fact the press can’t even answer the HOW.
    Any bets on the Mossad? They have quite a record. {} You only had to have seen and heard the media storm yesterday to know that things were not quite as straight forward as the corporate media were saying especially Murdoch and the BBC.
    Ms Colvin’s pieces from Iraq were mostly fictional.

  • glenn_uk

    When “our” side kills journalists, it’s a terrible mistake, regrettable, a tragic error and so on. Never have I heard reports made by recently deceased journalist played back, again and again, about how babies and other innocents met a heart-breaking demise. Not when “our” side has been doing the bombing. We hear next to nothing about it when “our” side kills Al Jazeera journalists, even though there’s strong evidence they were deliberately targeted.

  • Neil Saunders

    I do not recall so much clamour over the death of the journalists in the Palestine Hotel, from U.S. tankfire, in Baghdad or the prospect of Bushy,jnr. attacking Al-Jazeera – oh but the latter are onside now !!

  • Jeremy Hartley

    Craig, I think you are spot on in this piece. This piece very succinctly tells it the way it is.

  • Jay

    for your informatio damascus is the oldest continualy inhabited city what was so bad about assads regime surely if you were hardworking and honest there was no problem what was the problem abject poverty or no macdonalds and burger king. Page 7 guardian 2nd d week jan 2011 taliban offer to educate school girls. Only page 7.

  • Chris2

    The great problem facing humanity is the massive campaign being waged by imperialism to establish complete domination over the world.

    What is at stake is the possibility of establishing human freedom: under imperialism all hope of men and women living and thinking as they wish will disappear. The entire planet will be farmed, with a view to maximising short term profits, until it is exhausted and it crumbles into deserts, poisoned ponds and atmospheric catastrophes, all wreathed in dangerously elevated levels of radiation.

    As to popular opinion, that will play no part in moderating the actions of ruling class which cynically combines police terror, supervisory careers and bribery with full spectrum ideological domination. There is no functioning democracy today, absent a revolution there will be none tomorrow.

    In Syria we see the current move to reduce all resistance to imperial rule to submission; next in line are Iran, Belarus, Russia and China. With the caveat that, any stage, these countries’ rulers may take up careers in the highest levels of the imperial system. There is no need for war if rulers will just do as they are bid and content themselves with a share of the plunder.

    As to the human race it is destined for slavery, in which malnutrition and disease shorten lives largely spent in fratricide and despair, punctuated by occasional periods of overwork.

    The point about the Syrian regime is that, with all its faults, it depends upon the goodwill of the Syrian population to survive. The regime likely to replace it will do as it is ordered by police and paramilitary working for international finance: not only will popular pressure be ignored, it will also neither be armed or financed by agents of the empire.

    Unsurprisingly in the van of the imperial forces heading towards Damascus are the social democrats and evangelicals who have been enthusiasts for Empire, and have feasted off the wealth of its victims since Cotton Mather saw Philistines surrounding the chosen in New England, and John Stuart Mill and TB Macaulay took leading roles in the milking of India.

  • Ingo

    It has to be called the age of leviathan, clearly, because this is what we have become, judge jurors and executioners. Thanks Craig for pointing out the madness and psychopathic tendencies of the elites to steal and clobber, rather than to diplomatiocally agree to trade, from war to war, another great article.
    To think that some can’t be bothered to vote, cause it rained, the car wouldn’t start, etc. that there is no mainstream party in Britain, bar the Greens, opposing this utter delirum at the centre of British Foreign policy, will be tangental to our future relations with others in Europe. Sarkozy and Merkel seem to say yes and amen to this fait a compli and I have not heard many crow about the nightmare that is about to become Somalia, Syria and Iran.

    This should not happen in our name and one ought to gather and talk about it, a garden party of sorts. Sorry I’m not diverting, this idea comes naturally with 17deg. C today here in Norfolk, bliss, it induces smells of BBQ’s and grilled lamb, whilst in reality I’m digging in horse muck, late, followed round by a blackbird and a red robin.

    We ought to offer others a choice when it comes to future expressions of democratic valor.

    @ Clark your bits have arrived and are fitted, microshite accepted it instantly, thanks, I shall relish taking it back.

  • Mary

    O/T Cameron is REALLY busy today. First Somalia with Hillary and Ban. He has now roped in P. Charles at some gathering in North London entitled Business in the Community. He is following the Liam Fox line of let’s be nice to business, reduce their taxes and cut the red tape. Everyone else can go hunt.
    David Cameron to criticise ‘snobbish’ attacks on business
    Mr Cameron will defend the government’s work programme, led by private sector firms .
    Related Stories
    RBS bank’s loss doubles in 2011
    British Gas owner profits up 1%
    Fox calling for business tax cuts
    Prime Minister David Cameron will defend business later saying attacks are motivated by “snobbery” and that it is a force for “social progress”.
    The prime minister will urge people to resist the “dangerous rhetoric” of those who say business is inherently self-interested and cannot be trusted.
    All parties have urged more responsible capitalism after a row over bonuses.
    You will note that this BBC bilge is not news. It is some sort of press release for the ConDems.

  • Levantine

    “The Assad rule of Syria is brutal and it would be good if it were to end… The truth is that Gadaffi was awful” — Craig Goebbels Murray
    Excepting this largely defensive war, Syria is on a fine path of political evolution. The 165 Gulf Cooperation Council observers reported from the ground that the Syrian govt forces don’t commit war crimes. We are now supposed to believe they have suddenly started to commit them in Homs?
    If you can’t get a sense of the extent of media lies, are you quite fit to make comments?

  • Quelcrime

    I know you’ll probably accuse me of being too ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ but can you give us some reliable sources of information about Syria to support your criticisms of President Assad? I’ll admit I rarely read the press about Syria these days because I’d learn more from Enid Blyton, but the impression I’ve got is that there are terrorist/rebel groups in receipt of moral, financial and military support from foreign powers who are in open conflict with the Syrian state security forces. I don’t know where to get solid information; perhaps I’ve got lazy but it seems harder to come by than it was with Libya.
    I think it’s pretty clear that life in Iraq and in Libya, for (most of) those still alive to experience it that is, is worse now than it was under Saddam and Gadaffi.
    The doctrine of “liberal intervention” is a screen for resource grab.
    Not always. Sometimes it’s just to get rid of a government which is frustrating the US economic agenda, or showing others that there are viable alternatives to pandering to the Yanks. “Liberal intervention’ has been invented because the thinner waffle used to justify Vietnam doesn’t wash any more.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Ingo, Chris2 and Neil Saunders have clearly dissected the anatomy and scheme of the ‘new standard method of advancing the interests of ruling western elites’ in a way that filters Anglo-American attempts at moral philosophy, the corrupt ethics that puts value to the art of regime change; ‘creationoia’ is the gangland mentality of divide and rule that attempts to turn an ‘Arab Spring’ into an ‘Arab Winter’ of decay and death on a grievous and gigantic scale that evokes the hideous death rattles of Fallujah, Haditha and Ishaqi and the crimes against humanity in Tripoli from a blood thirsty multi-fossil called NATO.
    This is the stench of truth that abates the tyrant and equates the Western alliance and their think-tanks to serial killers, child-murderers and paedophile priests dressed to deceive.

  • Michael Stephenson

    I remember Craig said a new Werritty development he was privvy to was going to be in the next issue of private eye. Is it in the edition that was released yesterday? Anyone know what it is?

  • Mary

    By the neocon’s darling and Colvin’s close friend, Judith Miller.
    She annoyed her anti-war friends by continuing to defend America’s war in Iraq. “We’ve gotten rid of him!” she would say repeatedly, unwilling to utter Saddam Hussein’s name. “The people of Iraq now have a chance to live decent lives.” She trusted Iraqis. With some luck, she would say, they might live in a free, prosperous country.
    Famous last words. Literally.

  • craig Post author

    Syria – no fair elections, severe restrictions on freedom of assembly and media, thousands of political prisoners. To take a year at random before the current turmoil, here is an extract from Amnesty’s 2008 report

    Political prisoners

    Some 1,500 people were reportedly arrested for political reasons, including prisoners of conscience. Hundreds of others arrested in previous years remained in prison. The majority of more than 170 people sentenced in 2007 after grossly unfair trials before the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), Criminal Court or Military Court were alleged to be Islamists.
    •On 11 March, the SSSC convicted 24 men from the Qatana area, near Damascus, of being part of a “group established with the aim of changing the economic or social status of the state” and “weakening nationalist sentiments”, apparently solely on the basis of “confessions” which the men alleged were obtained under torture. The SSSC sentenced them to between four and 12 years in prison. Arrested between May and November 2004, the men had been held incommunicado for over a year at the Palestine Branch of Military Intelligence, Damascus, notorious for torture and other ill-treatment. The SSSC failed to investigate the men’s torture allegations.
    •On 10 May, the Criminal Court convicted Kamal al-Labwani of “scheming with a foreign country, or communicating with one to incite it to initiate aggression against Syria” and sentenced him to 12 years’ imprisonment. The charge related to his 2005 visit to Europe and the USA where he met human rights organizations and government officials and called for peaceful democratic reform in Syria. Kamal al-Labwani previously spent three years in prison for his involvement in the peaceful pro-reform movement of 2000-2001 known as the “Damascus Spring”.
    •On 13 May, the Criminal Court convicted Michel Kilo and Mahmoud ‘Issa of “weakening nationalist sentiments” and sentenced them to three years’ imprisonment. They were among 10 people arrested in May 2006 in relation to the Beirut-Damascus Declaration, a petition signed by 300 Syrian and Lebanese nationals calling for the normalization of relations between the two countries.
    •Of some 40 people arrested for attending a meeting on 1 December of the unauthorized umbrella grouping, the National Council of the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change, seven remained detained incommunicado at the end of the year.

    The Assad regime is a nasty dictatorship. political opposition to it is a good thing. NATO intervention for quite other reasons is not.

  • Rocki

    Look, I married into a Syrian family and at this moment I fear greatly for my family and do not want them bombed into oblivion by the mass murdering machine NATO.

    The greatest problem for the West is that the do not understand the Arab mentality and have no interest to even try. Telephone lines are still open regardless of the propaganda saying otherwise and at the moment my family who are in Damascus are not as concerned as I am.

    My family have no problem with Assad he is a much kinder person than his father and yes loved by many which is more than I can say for Cameron and Lansley in your country.

  • Rob King

    “Creative destruction”. That one would have had a place of honour in Orwells 1984. It would be funny. Only, it isn’t.

  • lysias

    Actually, Joseph Schumpeter used that phrase “creative destruction” about capitalism in his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. (Indeed, the Wikipedia entry Creative destruction says Werner Sombart used the phrase “schöpferische Zerstörung” in his 1912 work Krieg und Kapitalismus.

    So, Orwell, who died in 1950 and whose Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in 1949 (I think he wrote it in 1948) had his chance to comment on the phrase in his work, although — as far as I know — he did not. (Nineteen Eighty-Four is in a sense a commentary on James Burnham’s 1941 work The Managerial Revolution.)

  • Quelcrime

    Thanks, Craig
    It does seem to me though that direction of travel is important, as well as current location. For example, China is a dictatorship with human rights problems, but it’s moving gently in the right direction. Over the last thirty-five years it’s changed from being like 1970s North Korea to being like 1970s South Korea and better. The US is not a dictatorship in the same sense; its human rights problems are different and perhaps less pervasive, but over the last ten years it has change from being a state with a meaningful constitution to become a state which makes its own citizens and others disappear. It’s moving quite strongly in the wrong direction. In each country the propaganda keeps a large part of the population compliant, but among those I’ve read or met or whose views I am otherwise acquainted with, Chinese are much more aware of the lies they’re told than Americans, and have their eyes much more clearly on the direction that things need to move for their lot to improve.
    For this and other reasons I don’t fully subscribe to the usual arguments about democracy vs dictatorship. Dictatorship can’t easily be dismantled overnight. In a state with an entrenched bureaucracy it can only be done by revolution, which (especially as Uncle Sam is always lurking, waiting to stick his fingers in) is a risky business – there’s no guarantee you won’t end up with something worse.
    Is Assad trying to reform Syria? Could he have moved faster? I’m not in a position to say. But I am confident to say that Obama, Bush, Cameron, Blair and the like moved their countries firmly backwards, and they didn’t have to do it.
    I don’t think ‘country X has severe human rights problems necessarily equates to ‘country X needs to sack its head of state’.
    I know very little though, about Syria.

  • The Chef

    The thing is they’ve been calling for and implementing reduced taxes and less red tape for business since the days of Thatcher, there can’t be anything left to cut to give these freeloading exploiters of labour any other handouts, they’ve exempted them from the responsibility for the environmental damage they cause and leave behind and underwrite death-dealing nuclear plant which would otherwise be uninsurable time-bombs, and still laud and accept bungs from these public purse leeches. It’s been well described as privatising profits and nationalising losses. So much of business in the much vaunted private sector which the right adulate – is to great extent parasitic on meeting public sector requirements. Much of business too is unproductive, adds or creates nothing of value, there’s sales and marketing for examples but also consider florists, bookmakers and a whole lot more. As much as a third of our industrial and creative output is misdirected into fripperies, fashion and vanity, without which we would be so much better off. Nothing lasts, built-in obsolescence, cheese-like soft metals, water soluble motor cars, things are just cheap rubbish, unsolidly made and more often than not are thrown out as the impossibility of service of repair is designed in.

    I do not believe that these endless wars for booty and spoil are necessary, it will not be a huge shock to attempt transition to energy and food security on these islands, though the longer we go on refusing to face that need square on, from our own ingenuity and resources, and continue like savages and thieves rampaging across the globe, the more difficult it will surely become. There are no insurmountable scientific or resource issues, we continue on our present path because the power and control over billions of human beings, along with obscene wealth, appeal to those who seek and attain such worthless ego gratification.

    I read somewhere that prior to his father’s death Assad was an eye surgeon working in England, they’re going to have a more difficult time demonising him than with Saddam Hussein, the ‘Butcher of Baghdad’ (Fishmonger of Falujah?), though the Doctor of Damascus has a sinister chill. It doesn’t look as if the conditions our pet – rent-a-mob, go anywhere, kill anyone, no atrocity too big or small – Rebels, have created in Syria will be ideal for Assad’s planned referendum on a new constitution or a subsequent election, another victory for democracy there, I don’t think.

    We do not need external bodies or courts to try and punish our own leaders and politicians, we’re prefectly capable of recognising their evil and dealing with them ourselves. If we don’t we’re in for more of the same till we’re all obliterated in turn.

  • Jay

    Who and what are we proposing to arm and or assist. Who will take power if the Assad government falls? A re-run of Libya indeed:

    “As Al Qaeda moves fight to Syria, violence in Iraq drops sharply.

    The departure of Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters from Iraq to join the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria has had one benefit, Iraqi officials say: Violence has dropped in this country, in some areas by as much as 50 percent in just a few months.”

    AND before we get all teary eyed for Maria Colvin, here’s an article she wrote back in Dec 2000:

    “Saddam builds new atom bomb

    SADDAM HUSSEIN has ordered his scientists to resume work on a programme aimed at making a nuclear bomb, a defector warned yesterday.

    The Iraqi dictator, whose efforts to make atomic weapons were thwarted by United Nations inspectors after the Gulf war in 1991, revived the plans two years ago, the defector said.

    Scientists who had previously worked on the weapons programme were made to return to their duties in August 1998, four months before Saddam expelled the inspectors.”

    Would be considered speaking ill of the dead, to say NWO Hack?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    There may be life in Sheol but who wants their children to know this place. The ‘brushup’ on absolute rule is clear, it is rapidly degenerating in the West towards the iniquitous, saturnine and dark end where the tenets of power have moved from arrest and imprisonment to torture and death; where the tools of control and regime change manifest themselves in terror, premptive strikes, false-flag, genocide and broken states.
    I believe we must therefore leave the stage before the final curtain. I ask myself has Syria attacked and destroyed a civilisation; has Iran started a war in the last 120 years? Even a nuclear Iran is no threat to Israel who has 200 A-bombs that can be mounted on delivery systems now. Who is more responsible based on truth? That in the end must be the final analysis. Who can be trusted?

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