Middle East

Debating an apologist for Putin/Assad

Yesterday (Dec. 17), we had a chance to debate with an apologist for Putin/Assad (and Iran’s Rouhani and their client, Hezbollah) on WRFU’s World Labor Hour. (Hear it here, starting at about 60 minutes in.)

Our basic principle should be (as the IWW says), “the working class and the employing class (i.e. the capitalist class) have nothing in common.” This not only applies to the representatives of the US capitalist class, but also of the Syrian and Russian capitalist class, meaning Assad and Putin, as well as Iran’s Rouhani and the Hezbollah.

The essence of the situation is that there was a popular uprising against that representative of the World Bank, Assad, in 2011. Faced with massive repression, the uprising became militarized and was unable to find a way forward as a “people’s” political revolt. We don’t know who, exactly, is organizing against the regime right now, although as recently as March of this year there were protests throughout Syria against both Assad and the Islamic jihadists. But in another sense, it really doesn’t matter since the present strategy of Putin/Assad is mass murder.

It was interesting to hear what this apologist for them had to say in response.

Mass Murder Becomes “This Implementation”
She started off by denouncing any call for US intervention, but that is a false flag, designed to distract, as I had made perfectly clear that I was opposed to that.

Then she commented: “I have no doubt that people were killed during this implementation (meaning the Russian

Aleppo, Gaza and Grozny (Chechnya). Can you tell which is which? Does it matter? These are all crimes against humanity, but the left liberals and "socialists" cover up for the crimes of Putin. (Hint: Pictures are in chronological order from top down.)

Aleppo, Gaza and Grozny (Chechnya). Can you tell which is which? Does it matter? These are all crimes against humanity, but the left liberals and “socialists” cover up for the crimes of Putin. (Hint: Pictures are in chronological order from top down.)

forces’ bombings of Aleppo and elsewhere). I think this is always going to happen during conditions of war. but it was not intentional.” All she’d have had to do was add the terms “collateral damage”, and she’d have sounded exactly like a US State Department spokesperson defending the latest drone or other outrage by US forces in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere.

As in Grozny (Chechnya), the reactionary Putin capitalist regime targeted the people of Aleppo, directly contrary to the false claims of the Putin/Assad apologist. It is little different from what the criminal Israeli regime did in Gaza with the backing of their US allies (including the working class “savior”, Bernie Sanders).

Eva Bartlett
She talked about the RT reporter Eva Bartlett, who’s spent a good deal of time in Syria: “She is independent. She’s boots on the ground,” she said. This is a reporter for that organ of the Putin administration, RT, who has been in Syria as a guest of the Assad regime, as I pointed out on the radio show. And given Assad’s long, long history of arrest, torture and murder of any critic of his regime, there is no way that Bartlett could have survived there had she been honestly reporting what has been and is happening.

Capitalist “Legitimacy”
Then this defender of the World Bank stooge Assad commented “The Syrian government… is legitimate, just as Russia is operating within international law.” This is the fall-back position of all the left-liberal defenders of these representatives of the capitalist class of their particular countries (Assad, Putin, etc.). That they are operating within capitalist legality. It shows that they have not the slightest connection with the working class, not in their own country nor with the global working class movement. Who cares if these regimes are doing what they and their class have made legal? Under that cover, we would have to defend what the governor of North Dakota did when he called up law enforcement from the surrounding states to attack the protesters at Standing Rock. All of that was done under the law, too.

On this basis, the US government’s war in Vietnam was perfectly okay because the US was invited in by the “legitimate” government of South Vietnam!

Defending Hindu Nationalist
Then this defender of capitalist legality defended US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbert as being “too good to be true.” This is a member of congress who is an anti-Muslim bigot and a supporter of India’s vicious Hindu nationalist president, Modi. (Gabbert was also happy to meet and consult with Donald Trump recently shortly after Trump’s election victory.) Oh, yes… “too good to be true”.

World Working Class
This left liberal who was on the radio show is not alone. All sorts of life-long socialists, from Jeff Mackler to Richard Mellor*, are also giving some measure or other of support to Assad, Putin, etc. The problem is that all they can see is US imperialism, and they have lost sight of the role of the working class as an independent force in history. Therefore they flail around looking for an alternative.

It’s true that that role is more difficult to see today than almost any time in many decades. But outside of orienting towards it, what alternative is there?

In this particular case, what can the workers’ movement do?

Build Direct Links
First of all, there are the Syrian refugees throughout the US and Western Europe. Socialists and other supporters of the workers’ movement should be trying to make links with them and through them try to establish direct links with the Syrian movement, both what remains of it in Syria as well as in the refugee communities in Turkey, etc. Through that, a discussion could be developed so that the workers’ movement can start to learn the lessons of what has happened in Syria and the lessons of the Arab Spring. Also, some forms of worker-to-worker aid could start to be developed. What form that would take is impossible to say from here at this point. But it would be completely impossible to establish such links on the basis of any support – either overt or covert – for the criminal and near-genocidal policies of Assad/Rouhani/Putin/Hezbollah.

We should add: It may be that some of the opponents of Assad have some illusions in seeking US military support. That would be almost inevitable at this point. As we stressed time and again on the radio show, socialists would have to be absolutely adamant in their opposition. Inviting in US military support of any kind would be like asking the wolf to guard the hen house against the fox.

Update: We have received a reply to this article from the person referred to above. It was sent as a personal e mail. Unfortunately, we were refused permission to reprint it here. She is welcome to respond to this report at any time, however.

*since this article was written, Richard Mellor has apparently changed his position of support for Assad & Co.

7 replies »

  1. Correction: Tulsi Gabbard is not ‘phobic’ of Islam. She clearly and continually states the difference between the spiritual practice of Islam (practiced peacefully by millions of pluralistic, secular Muslims world-wide) and political Islamism (groups like ISIS and al Qaeda who follow an ideology of totalitarian, political militancy, based upon a fanatical interpretation of the Quran). This is the difference that is spoken of here. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tahir-gora/moderate-islam_b_3314561.html
    Tulsi Gabbard speaks strongly against religious bigotry. She is an advocate for the separation of church and state and the religious freedom of all people: https://medium.com/@TulsiGabbard/transcript-tulsis-speech-at-the-reason-rally-in-washington-d-c-this-month-85b1f2d577ea#.h26okzao5
    Also, Tulsi Gabbard is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has diplomatically met with critics and supporters of Modi alike to foster economic ties between the US and India. You can read more about the topic here: https://medium.com/@Harihar/rep-tulsi-gabbard-on-islam-vs-islamism-c87b1ceefb1#.otzml75eh
    Tulsi Gabbard met with Donald Trump at his request to speak about her bill “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” https://medium.com/@TulsiGabbard/the-u-s-government-must-stop-arming-terrorists-79e51e9b3d56#.5sbb19xlv and about ending the US/Saudi Arabia/Turkey/Qatar-led regime-change war in Syria before the neocons got to Trump to escalate the war. She states:
    “This was an opportunity to advocate for peace — and I felt it was important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect to counteract neocons’ steady drumbeats of war, which threaten to drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government.” https://medium.com/@TulsiGabbard/my-meeting-with-donald-trump-dadffadf36b5#.9tceysukj

    • “Angel” is mistaken. There are numerous articles reporting on Gabbard’s Islamophobia. These include this one: http://ahtribune.com/us/2016-election/sanders-for-president/589-bernie-sanders-tulsi-gabbard.html As this article shows, she is also an ardent defender of the racist state of Israel. Gabbard also has a history of other far right positions, such as opposing gay rights (although she opportunistically changed her position on this when she ran for higher office). See: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/11/tulsi-gabbard-is-not-who-you-think-she-is.html This same article also details her former links with religious cults, such as a spin off from the Hare Krhishna sect. Gabbard’s support for Modi and the Hindu sectarian party the BJP is also documented, including her have spoken at a fundraiser for the BJP. See this article, for example: http://qz.com/628124/tulsi-gabbard-the-first-hindu-in-the-us-congress-on-modi-hinduism-and-linking-islam-to-terror/

      Then there is the issue of her private meeting with Trump. As a socialist, I start from the view that any private meeting with ANY major capitalist politician represents a betrayal of the interests of the working class, but in this case it goes beyond that. Trump is not just “any” politician; he bases himself on extreme chauvinism/xenophobia, on racism, and is the essence of the idea that the more capitalists profit, the more this advances the interests of workers. He has appointed people who are open Islamophobes, racists, militarists, and top corporate CEO’s. What’s needed is not to try to “work with” this enemy of the working class and, in fact, of the planet, but to declare war on him. Meeting in private with him represents just the opposite. As far as what was the topic of the meeting, Gabbard can make her claims, but we simply don’t know.

      • Your Hinduphobic bigotry is showing, whoever you are.

        You didn’t read one thing I posted but instead threw up a hit piece (paste) which the author uses as his sources a Hinduphobic, bigoted right-wing conspiracy theorist and a HInduphobic, bigoted convicted pedophile. So much for your socialist standards of rejecting typical right-wing religiously-bigoted ideology.

        Millions of Hindus world-wide follow Vaishnava Hinduism. Calling it other than what it is – a mainstream denomination, if you will, of Hinduism, is meant to sow hatred and intolerance. http://www.hinduheritage.info

        Regardless of what you say, Tulsi lends her strong support in Congress to LGBT rights and marriage equality, and she’s appreciated for this. She was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign this year as recognition of that fact.

        The QZ article you posted refutes the false accusation you’re making against Tulsi but you probably didn’t bother to read it.
        If you look at the questions and answers in that QZ piece, when asked about Islam vs Islamism:

        QZ: “You took on the US president for his reluctance to name ISIS as an Islamic extremist group. Do you still stand by this criticism?”

        TG: “In order to defeat the terrorists who have declared war on the United States and the rest of the world, we need to understand their ideology. In other words, the war can’t be won just militarily. We must defeat them in the ideological war, not just on the battlefield. In order to defeat their ideology, we need to recognize what their ideology is.

        The ideology of these terrorists is “Islamism.” It is a radical political ideology of violent jihad aimed at bringing about an establishment of a totalitarian society governed by a particular interpretation of Islam as state law. Referring to terrorists as “Islamist extremists” is simply an accurate way to identify ISIS and other Islamist extremist organizations whose ideology is rooted in one form of Islamism or another.

        The majority of Muslims are practicing the spiritual path of Islam within their own lives in a pluralistic, peaceful way. So by calling organizations like ISIS Islamic or Islamist *extremists* [emphasis hers], we are making a distinction between the vast majority of Muslims who are not extremists and a handful of those who are.”

        Full rebuttal of the paste hit piece:

        This article uses a Hinduphobic and bigoted right-wing conspiracy theorist and a convicted pedophile as sources; it exists solely to smear Tulsi for their own purposes.

        Tulsi fully supports equality and LGBT rights, https://www.votetulsi.com/node/25012 She is against religious bigotry of any kind. https://medium.com/@TulsiGabbard/transcript-tulsis-speech-at-the-reason-rally-in-washington-d-c-this-month-85b1f2d577ea#.1nb7rurn0


        Supporting LGBT rights and equality:

        Tulsi promised to work to repeal DOMA (which she did), http://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/pelosi-reid-nadler-feinstein-lead-bicameral-amicus-supreme-court-marriage-equality-cases/ and stand up for equality and LGBT rights (which she has and does). https://www.votetulsi.com/node/25012

        Vaishnava Hinduism:

        Millions of Hindus world-wide follow Vaishnava Hinduism. Calling it other than what it is – a mainstream denomination, if you will, of Hinduism, is meant to sow hatred and intolerance. http://www.hinduheritage.info


        Tulsi met with Donald Trump at his request to speak on her efforts to end US involvement in the Syrian regime-change war before the neocons got to him and talked escalation of that war. Context is important. https://medium.com/@TulsiGabbard/my-meeting-with-donald-trump-dadffadf36b5#.gyb7i5m2f


        “Rohit Tripathi, a prominent Indian activist in Washington DC, believes these comments [similar to yours] are unfair and simplistic. “The moment she entered the US Congress, people were trying to use her for their own agenda,” Tripathi said. “I don’t think she is with the BJP or against the BJP. She is a progressive and believes the US military cannot solve the world’s problems.””

        Regarding the the bill to influence the outcome of India’s national elections: It was indeed an attempt to influence India’s elections and was opposed by other stalwart supporters of better treatment of religious minorities like Mike Honda and Ed Royce for the same reason. In fact in Tulsi’s statement on that bill, she confirmed her support of religious minorities:

        “I do not believe the timing of this hearing is a coincidence. The national elections in India begin on Monday and continue until May 12. I am concerned that the goal of this hearing is to influence the outcome of India’s national elections, which is not an appropriate role for the US Congress. Such interference with India’s elections would undermine our shared goals.

        The United States of America should always stand for religious freedom for all people in all countries and should always work to that end. In this regard, we need to be especially careful not to directly or indirectly contribute to sectarian strife in India or other countries. I am concerned that this hearing is an attempt to foment fear and loathing purely for political purposes, and that it’s being done to influence India’s national elections. This is wrong and it will contribute to further sectarian division in India and will undermine the national interests of the United States.”


        Changes in CA textbooks were supported by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome and many academics. http://www.hindueducation.org/californias-new-school-textbook-framework-to-have-richer-content-on-india-and-hinduism/

        Islam vs Islamism:

        The only way you could come to the conclusion about any ‘phobia’ of Islam is by listening to someone other than Tulsi, because she clearly states the difference between Islam (the religion practiced peacefully by millions of pluralistic, secular Muslims world-wide) and Islamism (groups like ISIS and al Qaeda who follow an ideology of totalitarian, political militancy, based upon a fanatical interpretation of the Quran). http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tahir-gora/moderate-islam_b_3314561.html

  2. Thank god someone finally exposed that fake leftist. Mass murderers like Putin, Modi and Assad are just as evil as their western competitors.

    • All too much of the “socialist” left takes the position “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Since US and Russian imperialism are rivals, therefore (based on this approach), therefore we must be “friends” with Russian imperialism and its ruler – Putin, who is considered by some to be the richest man in the world. How did he get that way? Hint: Think “kleptocracy”. When capitalism came roaring back in Russia, it did so on the most crude and reactionary basis. That’s why we have the Russian mafia. That’s also why Putin, for instance, is leading the charge in Europe against gay rights. This might sound like a tangential issue, but it’s not. Among other things, Putin bases his one-man rule on the totally reactionary Russian Orthodox Church, which harkens back to the good old days of Tsarism. Like the Tsar before him, the Putin regime has become a center for reaction throughout the Eurasian continent, working closely with and helping to fund almost every reactionary force in Europe – Jobbick in Hungary, the National Front in France, the Northern League in Italy, the BNP in Britain.

      We don’t have to support US capitalism to oppose this completely reactionary capitalist regime in Russia.

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