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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  • Alexander Mercouris

    An outstanding post Craig.

    Viz some of the comments here, opposing liberal interventionism should not make one a regime apologist. Syria is a dictatorship and no one should pretend otherwise. That Assad is a dictator does not however give us either the right or the duty to attack his country even under the pretext of removing him.

    As to the doctrine of so called liberal humanitarian interventionism (so called because it is neither liberal nor humanitarian) as the examples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Libya all show, where the Romans made a desert and called it peace we now make chaos and call it freedom.

  • banquo

    The Libyan scenario of a “western” created “opposition” has shown that that model leaves a country less happy than they were before.

    The Syrian situation is that there is an elected government with multiple parties. The Syrian Government created a group, of these politicians, to amend the Syrian constitution. This will now be put to the people of Syrian for their consideration. There are also plans for an election of a new parliament in a few months which will allow, once again, the Syrian people to decide on the form of government they would like.

    The crusader coalition ably abetted with he dictators of the Gulf States are in no position to comment, fund or arm any terrorist organisation.

    The idea that a new set of political parties can be imposed into a government with no legitimacy from the Syrian people is farcical.

    Any call for a ceasefire should be aimed at all parties. The armed terrorist should be disarmed, the Syrian Police should regain control of all areas, the idea of splitting the country into areas of ethnic groupings should not occur and the introduction of any relief supplies should be undertaken by the Syrian Government.

  • 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.)

    This is my third attempt to post this.

  • gyges

    If the journalists had been embedded within the Syrian gov this tragedy would nver have happened. What’s more, their reporting would have been as fair and objective as a journalist embedded within a Western invasion force.

  • Njegos

    Mary –

    Thank you very much for reminding of us who Marie Colvin really was – a brave woman but a deluded liberal interventionist.

    The irony is that if she had had her way, NATO would be creating a dozen Sirtes as I type.

    Incidentally, I recall no outrage in our morally superior mainstream media when NATO bombs destroyed that TV studio in Belgrade, killing several journalists. On the contrary, we were simple murdering apologists for Milosevic. Seems that our outrage is reserved for the mistreatment and murder of our front-line moralisers, not hacks of a lesser civilisation who decline to wear NATO-tinted spectacles.

  • Njegos

    The BBC:

    “Marie Colvin’s editor at the Sunday Times, John Witherow, and Syrian opposition activists had earlier speculated that the Syrian army may have used technology to pinpoint the journalists’ location.”

    So what? I can speculate too. And while we are at it, what about the technology NATO murderers used to pinpoint the TV station in Belgrade?

    I guess only NATO should be allowed the technology to kill journalists.

  • Freeborn

    Who says Assad’s rule is brutal?

    Wsshington and Tel Aviv that’s who!

    Two bloated imperial regimes who want puppet states installed across the Middle East and Central Asia.

    Paul Craig Roberts demolishes the specious moral high ground on which the imperialists and their controlled opposition lackeys would erect their case for war here:

  • DownWithThisSortOfThing

    …or “creative destruction” in the words of imperialist propagandist Niall Fergusson
    That term has been around in economics since the late 1850’s.
    The truth is that Gadaffi was awful
    That’s that settled then, although I prefer facts to assertions of “truth”. Like the facts presented in the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary “The Murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher”.
    There was a flood of non-stories about Yvonne Fletcher in the lead up to the destruction of Libya to keep reminding people of why Gadaffi was so ‘awful’.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    The Plan for Syria – from my knowledge.

    By the end of January 2011 the United States of America, Britain and Israel decided to support Colonel Riad al-Asaad and sponsor an FSA plot to destroy Syrian independence and to split the country.
    The plan was publicly supported by Israel’s prime-minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who thought it possible to create a number of separate entities within Syria implicating unrest and resulting in civil war between them.
    Britain in her role would plan to separate Syria from Iran in order to further isolate Iran and to prepare for a military intervention against Tehran. The United States had secretly agreed to separate Hezbollah from it’s bases in Syria and to block any country that refused to enter into negotiations with Israel.
    Weapons and phones would be secreted to ‘terrorist’ groups within Syria and it is known that captured phones have US and Israeli SIM cards.
    Terrorist groups, some trained by British ex security personnel and Israeli commandoes infiltrated into Syria by boat from the Mediterranean, probably landing between Om al-Toyour and Latakia. In early April 2011 Israeli trained ‘terrorists’ staged an attack in Latakia and in Daara another ‘terrorist’ group caused mayhem in the south of Syria killing more than 10 people by April 20th. Before year end more foreign fighters would cross the Syrian border from Iraq.
    By April 22nd the ‘terrorists’ were using automatic fire in central Damascus. The unrest prompted more than 2 million Syrians to take to the streets in a massive show of support for President Assad.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    ” 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.”

    That portion, above, of your post I fully agree with. Some questions for you and others:-

    1. Where in the Middle East does one find a “democracy” where the will and wishes of the people is respected and/or duly represented?

    2. Does the traditions of familial and/or hierarchical inheritance of power, in the Middle East, not militate against any idea of smooth transference of Western style democracy from the West into the Middle East?

    3. If anyone – gave the answer to the first question as – Israel – in anticipation I ask the following:-

    i) How can a country that disenfranchises some 20% of its population, based on the minority’s ethnicity and/or religion – can one with any honesty say that that state is “democratic”?

    ii) With statutory provisions that discriminate against a large sector of the population – do those laws not bear more in common to the pre Brown v. Topeka Board of Education 1954 US anti-discrimination Supreme Court case, than do such practices reflect the higher ideals of a representative democracy?

    iii) Does a respectable country, consistently and flagrantly violate international law, and claim land beyond the recognised 1967 boundaries, and then truly and honestly state that, as in any responsible democracy – the rule of, and respect for the law operates?

  • Courtenay Barnett


    ” The doctrine of “liberal intervention” is a screen for resource grab.”

    And that is precisely the point.

    One has to make a realistic choice between:-

    A. Respect for sovereign rights of nations; or

    B. A might is right approach to international relations;

    C. The military “solution” imposed on countries like Iraq and Libya, in what is veiled as “humanitarian intervention” – but in truth is fascistic attempts at resource domination.

    I invite all to add to this list – as regards what are, in real politic terms, the other options.

  • felix

    @Mary the press is surprisingly uninquisitive. Is there a body? Has there been an autopsy? The YouTube footage is quite bizarre and unsatisfying. Marie Colvin supplied supplementary matierial for the Sunday Times 20 July 2003 article putting the David Kelly narrative into the public domain, penned by Nicholas Rufford…

  • Courtenay Barnett

    When the following is said – why should any honest person disagree:-
    “In Syria we see the current move to reduce all resistance to imperial rule to submission”
    When a US General speaks honestly and directly about the hegemonic intentions of the United States of America – why should one be blinded, deluded or in any way in doubt about the provable pattern of wars of aggression in pursuit of global hegemony?
    Just watch and listen –

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    ” Syria – no fair elections, severe restrictions on freedom of assembly and media, thousands of political prisoners”

    So -where in the Middle East appear any different?:-

    – Iraq?
    – Israel?
    – Yemen?
    – Saudi Arabia?
    – Bahrain?

    Would be happy to hear the answer that sensibly belies the larger and more pertinent observation:-

    “In Syria we see the current move to reduce all resistance to imperial rule to submission”

  • Fedup

    On the day that we find Almost 1,000 people have been locked up for their roles in last summer’s riots, with many receiving jail terms double the usual length.
    To see Cameron waxing lyrical about the “Evil Assad”, and zioBBC airing the Free Syrian “activist” who is wearing camouflage combats, along with his bullet proof vest, and sporting a little arsenal of magazines for his sub machine gun. Somehow the collective outrage and indignations ring hollow. Although the dog and pony show goes on without missing a beat.
    Apparently the Arab Spring and the various uprisings have not alleviated the fears of those concerned liberals, and conservatives as well as the socialists of our era, about the downtrodden little Arabs cowering away under the jackboots of dictatorships. These concerned bunch of “do gooders” fully aware that the little Arabs will never muster enough courage to face off their tormentors. These do gooders, as ever conclude: the little Arabs are in need of the protection of the White Man to go and heroically kick the dictators in the goolies and rescue the cowering Arab masses and provide these with Freedom, apple pie, movies, popcorn, and pornography.
    Sure as hell the little Arabs’ friends are meeting in Tunisia to debate Syria, without anyone of the real Syrians involved, the invitation cards have been sent out, only to those who share the concerns of the concerned US/UK et al. Syria indeed needs no enemies with friends like these, who are ready to bomb the place into democracy and Freedom.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    The point is that aggression can take many forms – militarily – propaganda wars – telecommunications warfare – misinformation – disinformation – and we are all witnessing this.

    So easy to say – the people want “democracy” – but if you leap-frog and don’t look at the conditions on the ground, you may very well start to think that regime change offers some sort of panacea or Utopian solution for the people within the country that is ( with Western outside supplied armaments and logistical support of paid dissidents) is somehow going to see betterment for the people once the reactionary instigated change succeeds. Does anyone realistically that the NTC, support by the US/NATO is really an advance on what Gadaffi had done ( any and all of his failings duly admitted).

    Let’s consider what has just happened with regards to Cuba, by way of an example:-


    US Radio and Television Aggression against Cuba Recognized as Illegal by the World Radio Communications Conference

    The United States isolated once again in its anti-Cuba policy

    After two weeks of intensive discussions and negotiations, the World Radio Communications Conference at its session in Geneva, Switzerland, joined Cuba’s initiative of entrusting the Director of the International Telecommunication Union’s Radio Communication Bureau with the mandate to follow up on the interference provoked by the US Government’s radio-electric aggression to the Cuban radio and television services, and report to the next Conference to be held in 2015. The Conference so confirmed the validity of the conclusion adopted in its previous session, in which the illegal nature of the anti-Cuba radio and television broadcasts by US authorities by using aircrafts was recognized.

    In 2007, the Conference concluded that “a broadcasting station operating on board an aircraft and transmitting solely to the territory of another administration without its agreement cannot be considered in conformity with the Radio Regulations”.

    As a consequence of the overwhelming support of the international community to Cuba’s request, the decision was adopted in the Conference without a vote. Despite its political isolation, and proving once more its usual disregard for multilateralism and international law, the US delegation declared they felt no commitment to the conclusion and that it was the will of their Government to continue its policy towards Cuba – which is clearly hostile.

    Likewise, the Conference noted that despite the numerous requests by the ITU Radio Communication Bureau, the US Government has not ceased the interference caused by its illegal transmissions to Cuba’s broadcasting services.

    Wilfredo López Rodríguez, head of the Cuban delegation to the Conference and Director of Regulations and Standards of the Cuban Ministry of Informatics and Communications, condemned at the Conference the increased interference caused by US radio-electric aggressions to Cuba. He noted that on December 22nd and 29th, 2011, anti-Cuba transmissions were conducted by US authorities on broadcasting bands included in the International Frequency Register for use by Cuban stations.

    In his statement to the plenary session of the Conference, the Cuban representative appreciated the support of numerous delegations to Cuba’s demand for justice and respect for international law. As he condemned the radio-electric aggression imposed by successive US Administrations on the Cuban people since the very triumph of its Revolution, he reported that over 20 radio broadcasting antennas from diverse radio and television services transmit more than 2000 hours per week of anti-Cuba material, including speeches calling to the perpetration of terrorist acts. He concluded by reaffirming the unwavering right of Cubans to self-determination and, in that regard, assured that Cuba will continue to defend its entire sovereignty, including the management of its radio-electric space.

    Permanent Mission of Cuba in Geneva”

  • Jives

    I loathe anyone that kills people in faraway places simply beacuase they have coveted resources and a different coloured skin or set of values.
    How terribly desperately low.

  • oddie

    there have been reports French and maybe other Special Forces are already in Syria, and the delightfully-named Ms. SLAUGHTER more or less confirms it here ***:

    24 Feb: NYT: How to Halt the Butchery in Syria
    by ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, Princeton, N.J.
    The Friends of Syria, some 70 countries scheduled to meet in Tunis today, should establish “no-kill zones” now to protect all Syrians regardless of creed, ethnicity or political allegiance. The Free Syrian Army, a growing force of defectors from the government’s army, would set up these no-kill zones near the Turkish, Lebanese and Jordanian borders…
    Establishing these zones would require nations like Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to arm the opposition soldiers with anti-tank, countersniper and portable antiaircraft weapons. Special forces from countries like Qatar, Turkey and possibly Britain and France could offer tactical and strategic advice to the Free Syrian Army forces. Sending them in is logistically and politically feasible; ***some may be there already…

    give thanx China has not bowed to pressure. our lust for war needs to be curbed by someone/anyone…

    23 Feb: Reuters: China says will not attend “Friends of Syria” meeting
    Russia, which along with China this month blocked a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that backed an Arab plan urging Assad to quit, turned down the invitation saying it did so because Syria was not invited…

  • anon

    Re: The murder of Yvonne Fletcher.
    You may be interested to know that the C4 investigation into the murder raised pertinent question in parliament.
    For anyone who isn’t aware of the C4 documentary, it accused the British and US of setting up the St James Square shooting. The evidence and interviews are quite compelling, as is the silence of the US and UK government in its response to the worrying accusations.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Agree 100% with Mary et al. about Maria Colvin.

    She was a fraud wherever she allegedly went.

    She was always the story whether she was escaping death in Chechnya, or working with the imperialists to save the Iraqis from Saddam.

    And her killing looks like planed martyrdom to me. She goes to the safe haven for journalists when foreign ones have been threatened with death by the authorties, and then gets killed.

    Of course, anyone could have done it, particularly the proven liar rebels, but the foreign press only reports what they are claiming.

    Let’s face it, real journalism started dying when the real
    Gellhorns ran out of work, and Colvin has belatedly decided to join them as the scribbler who triggered Assad’s ouster.

    Pathetic, but what else is new in today’s world.

  • writerman

    I don’t think our political leaders give a damn, not really, about the lives of ordinary people in Syria. They don’t care much for the lives of people in the UK, so why they’ed be interested in the people of Syria is beyond me.

    The ‘crusade for freedom’ narrative is a propaganda device designed to justify and legitimize a neo-conservative, neo-imperialist, foreign policy serving the interests of our neo-liberal economic model.

    Basically all these wars have virtually nothing to do with democracy at all, and everything to do with our economic and strategic interests.

    In a nutshell the wars are about the control of markets and access to and control of vital raw materials, primarily oil and gas. The empire, or country, that controls the oil resources of the Middle East, controls the greatest single source of wealth and power on the entire planet. And that country will be the United States.

    The importance of Libya wasn’t its people, but it’s oil. Syria needs to be brought down in the context of the coming war with Iran. The world is like a very big, and very bloody, chess board.

  • writerman

    Put very simply, one is a loyal vassal state, part of the Great Western Empire, or one is smashed to pieces; as in Yogoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia…

    A Big Problem is that seen from this perspective, the Empire doesn’t seem very nice, and the dogma that it’s a benign force for good in the world, even though it makes mistakes, seems very hollow.

    Our politicians, who basically are employed as the ‘political wing’ of the giant corporations, resemble hitmen from Al Capone’s Chicago, carving up ‘territory’, rather than international statesmen concerned with democracy and human-rights.

  • Mary

    I see that a good discussion took place here last night. I went off early as I overdid the work in the garden in that lovely early Spring sunshine. Now where is that linament?!
    O/T Just watching the unfortunate Mr Tappin being carted off to the US of A. Shillary says that he should go to trial there and that he will receive justice. Quite so Shillary. Guantanamo style? US jails?
    The reciprocal Extradition Act came in courtesy of Bush’s poodle, Bliar. We have made 57 requests to the US, they have made 134. Says it all.

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