[Vredeslijst] Antwoorden: Vredeslijst Verzamelmail, Volume 45, Nummer 9

Ali Jansen a.ja op planet.nl
Ma Sep 16 12:08:00 CEST 2013

  Beste mensen,

Onde3rstaand bericht  ga ik niet helemaal lezen omdat het in het Engels 
is. Ik zou het wel kunnen , maar hetkost me teveel tijd. Graag voortaan 
alle berichten(ook) in het Nederlands.
Vredesgroet, Ali Jansen

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Onderwerp: Vredeslijst Verzamelmail, Volume 45, Nummer 9
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>Onderwerpen van vandaag:
>    1. Syria and the failure of the international left (Jeff)
>Message: 1
>Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 17:41:00 +0200
>From: Jeff <meisner op xs4all.nl>
>To: vredeslijst op ddh.nl
>Subject: [Vredeslijst] Syria and the failure of the international left
>Message-ID: < op pop.xs4all.nl>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>Sleeping with the Enemy: The Global Left and the 'No to War' Discourse
>Sep 15 2013
>by Khalid Saghieh [http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/contributors/23435]
>The threat of a military strike on Syria has not aroused the enthusiasm 
>many. It has succeeded, however, in bringing the Syrian revolution to 
>discussion table. Until now, Syria has been notably absent from the 
>list of
>priorities on the Western agenda, apparently a matter of little 
>interest to
>governments and public opinion alike, to both the left and the right.
>For the past two and a half years, the Syrian revolution did not manage 
>entice Western governments to push for an end to the tragic spiral of
>events. As long as each of the opposed parties in the Syrian conflict 
>the capability and volition to ensure Western interests in the region, 
>make the investment of interference? Such was the gist of General 
>Dempsey’s remarks 
>on the Syrian situation two days before the Ghouta massacre. Such
>indifference, however, was not exclusive to the governments of United 
>and European countries. Public opinion similarly lacked interest in the 
>of thousands of deaths as well as the destruction of cities and 
>villages. It
>was not until death in Syria crossed one of the West’s red lines—by 
>evidence of the use of chemical weapons—that the people in Syria became 
>matter deserving of interest. At that point, the warships moved into
>position. Meanwhile, antiwar sentiments and commentary opposed to 
>military intervention moved against them.
>I am not concerned here with sorting out those who supported the strike 
>those who protested it. I am also unconcerned with the right-wing 
>put forward in this context that combined hatred for the Democratic 
>with Islamophobia to end up with what is practically a defense of the 
>regime. Rather, I am concerned with the debacle that came to painful 
>through the positions taken and discussions had by those on the left 
>side of
>the political spectrum in reaction to the threat of a Western military
>strike on Syria.
>Among the first to throw this debacle into sharp relief were the 
>activists who participated in anti-war protests and, in doing so, 
>received a
>double blow. On one side, they saw themselves standing side-by-side 
>people holding up pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad and, on 
>other side, they were surrounded by general anti-imperialism slogans 
>any particular relation to the Syrian people. The real tragedy, 
>does not lie here. The sight of anti-war demonstrations drawing 
>sections of the far right and far left is familiar. The real tragedy
>emerged through the discourse that came, in the end, to dominate the
>left-wing opposition to the military strike. This discourse took its
>vocabulary from the tracts of the far right and, instead of turning its 
>on imperialism, turned them on the Syrian people.
>Indeed, a kind of role reversal happened between imperialism and its
>enemies. President Barack Obama did not exactly wear himself out 
>an ideological banner for his next war. This time, there would be no 
>for democracy” or war in the name of “freedom for Afghan women.” Not 
>“freedom for the Syrian people.” This would be a war, rather, about 
>“red lines” and “national security.” Here, imperialism appeared totally
>bare, stripped of its characteristic self-presentation as the gate of
>redemption for the peoples of the world. To find a discourse singing 
>familiar refrain, one must move to the opposite side, where important
>anti-war left wing activists and thinkers have taken it upon themselves 
>promote the “white man’s” ideology, having paradoxically borrowed and
>redeployed an imperialist discourse in the name of fighting 
>They do not object to the idea of using the military strike to redeem 
>Syrian people. Rather, they object to it on another basis: the 
>Syrians do not deserve to be redeemed 
>  because they have not proven their radical qualifications and
>secular-democratic orientation, so we should not interfere on their 
>In making its case against military intervention, the discourse of
>opposition to the military strike thus fell into the trap of cultural
>imperialism when it thought it was standing against military 
>Perhaps most disturbing of all, some have attempted to “apply” the 2003
>invasion of Iraq to the Syrian situation, or at least read the latter
>through the lens of the former. It has evidently escaped this group 
>that the
>very same discourse at the core of George W. Bush’s ideological mantra 
>been reconstructed to the letter by the Syrian regime and its allies. 
>It has
>gotten to the point that you can find a full sentence from one of 
>speeches on the war against terror in the mouth of either Hizbollah’s
>Secretary-General (who, at long last, is obsessed with the “takfiris”), 
>select leaders of the secular Arab left. In the name of resistance to 
>military strike, the Bush discourse thus flutters between lines spoken 
>leftists who fought the Iraqi invasion tooth and nail. Perhaps the
>neoconservatives’ spirit has finally possessed them.
>It was the same imperialist trap that pushed other leftists to switch 
>to the call for peace. Theirs is an auspicious call, yet surprising in 
>it comes directly after the moment chemical weapons were used, as if 
>wielded them is asking the victims to embrace Sarin gas after inhaling 
>The sense of surprise does not last long upon realizing that these are
>peaceful calls of despair
>  from all that moves on Syrian soil. Perhaps those who sounded this 
>call do
>not see a need for a conflict to begin with, so long as those fighting 
>in it
>do not match the profile according to the imperialist catalog, itself.
>The danger of the global left’s discourse in its many permutations is 
>only that it dons imperialist garb in making its supposedly 
>argument, but that its logic betrays its opposition to any sort of
>interference whatsoever—whether imperialist or otherwise, under UN 
>or not, in or out of line with international law. Those who have built 
>discourse oppose military intervention not because of the intervening
>power’s identity, but because of the people on whose behalf that power 
>be intervening. They oppose intervention not because of the objectives 
>the former, but because of the lacking qualifications of the latter.
>The issue here is not one of sorting the “good leftists” from the “bad
>leftists.” I do not think that such a categorization is possible, 
>However, I am haunted by a question: What makes a sincere leftist 
>slip into becoming a retouched version of the Islamophobic right? It 
>that there is an elephant in the room. Is it the ghost of the Soviet 
>Eurocentrism? Priorities of geostrategy?
>I do not know what the elephant is. But I know the ant. I know that the 
>revolutions, since their beginnings, were revolutions without specific
>promises and claims. They were revolutions against oppression and 
>more than they were revolutions aimed at implementing premeditated 
>and ideas. To borrow from Walter Benjamin, these are “revolutions 
>by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than that of liberated
>grandchildren.”* Perhaps, in this meaning, a revolution like that which 
>emerged in Syria has not emerged in the other Arab countries. The
>revolutionaries of Syria appear in this game to be effective 
>those who do not have a voice and who can't speak to Western academic
>circles, even the left-wing ones among them. Mount Qasyun alone hears 
>voice and awaits their arrival, no matter how long it takes.
>* Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in 
>Illuminations, trans. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken Books, 1968): 
>[This article was originally published in Arabic on Jadaliyya. It was 
>translated into English by Angela Giordani]
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