What Pluto authors are saying about Syria

Syria CC

Neil Faulkner, author of A Marxist History of the World (Pluto, 2013), wrote for Counterfire last week about the ongoing situation in Syria.

He argues that while a British attack on Syria has been stopped, the Western powers remain highly militarised imperial states – the need for an anti-war movement remains as great as ever. We’ve reproduced the first few paragraphs below. You can read the full thing on Counterfire’s website, here.

The Commons vote against attacking Syria is an historic victory for the global anti-war movement. It marks a serious fracture in the power of Western imperialism.

But, as John Rees observes in another article on this site, a wounded beast is an aggressive and dangerous one. History teaches that imperialism in decline is liable to lash out in ferocious violence.

The last two decades have been shaped by the contradiction between a declining US economy and enduring US military power. It is the weakening of economic leverage that has driven US rulers to launch a series of wars in the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The balance between dollar and gun has shifted to make the world a more fractured, violent, and deadly place.

Saturday’s anti-war demonstration should therefore be both a celebration of victory and a protest against the still murderous instincts of our rulers.

Nonetheless, we may be bearing witness to a shift in the tectonic plates of global power.

Jadaliyya co-editor Bassam Haddad (The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings; Pluto, 2012) has also appeared on Democracy Now! and MSNBC to discuss Syria. The following transcript comes from the 1st September interview on MSNBC (reproduced from Jadaliyya, here):

Craig Melvin (CM): How will the president’s announcement today, and first of all, the president’s announcement today, and unilateral action, how do both of those things be seen by other Arab nations?

Bassam Haddad (BH): Well, to begin with, I think it’s a horrible idea. What we have right now is a very uncalculated adventure that might have grave consequences for the United States and for people in the region, notably the Syrian public that we are trying supposedly to protect.

What we are doing in effect is launching a war, basically declaring a war on a sovereign nation on evidence that has not surfaced yet, and I do not think that we should be concerned with the reactions to the president’s words from Iran or Hezbollah. I think we should be concerned about what is happening here in the United States, and look at some of the serious dissenting voices, and perhaps acknowledge that because of the international and regional opposition to this problematic move or impending move – I think the president is stuck.

And one of the reasons he is going to congress, which apparently historically he did not have to do that, is basically to just make sure that he can say that he is keeping his word regarding the red lines. But I think it is an uncalculated adventure and it is not going to bode well for the United States or the Syrian people and for all concerned.

CM: What kind of support does the US have in Syria right now?

BH: There might be support for a strike, and a lot of what is happening in Syria in terms of external intervention and external movements is mostly a result of desperation.

It is not the right metrics we should be paying attention to right now. I just want to say a couple of things regarding the danger the other speaker alluded to regarding Syria using chemical weapons vis-a-vis Israel. In the past six years Israel attacked Syria with airplanes, with jet fighters, and Syria did not respond at all. Of course, we all know it is because Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons and nuclear warheads more than anyone can count.

And I agree with you Craig that there needs to be a debate. The problem with the discussion, not only on this show but on all shows, is that there is no serious engagement, a serious public debate in the US on these issues generally, regarding the US Middle East policy. What we have is commentary on a very limited set of options that are already predetermined by policy. And this policy is based on unrealistic presumptions and assumptions regarding how the United States is a benevolent actor in the world in terms of its foreign policy.

In the Middle East, this is not the case. The record is actually…it stinks, really. And, for us to continue to talk as if all of these [issue regarding the US role] are givens is the actual problem. The only solution to this [crisis] is a political solution that the United States, as the most powerful country in history, not just on earth, can actually start by a serious discussion with the Russians and other players. However, the problem is that we are not ready to actually have these discussions because it will take compromises; compromises that the United States is not willing to make in terms of its support of very problematic dictatorial or racist regimes, like the state of Israel and like dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

This is the problem. We are not willing to budge on other issues, so our bargaining power with Russia or other states is very limited. These are the issues that I think we need to discuss in light of what is happening in the region and in light of us getting it wrong almost every time since we fraudulently attached and invaded a country in 2003, the country of Iraq, on false premises.

He also appeared on Democracy Now! on 30th August. You can read the transcript of that interview on Jadaliyya, here.

Pluto has already reported on Noam Chomsky’s remarks in the Huffington Post on this blog, see our earlier article here.

Chomsky T02739Haddad coverFaulkner T02521

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