A Leftist Response to Leftist Delusions on Syria

This excellent piece was written by Shiar in response to Stop the War’s Lindsey German (who can’t even get the Syrian president’s first name right) and was first published at the Syria News Wire.

“Being anti-imperialist yet West-centric,” writes Shiar, “just does not work: it is still Orientalism. This Orientalist (and statist) world view is so dominant within the Western Left that even a mass, popular uprising is reduced to a Western-manufactured conspiracy (which is, incidentally, the same line as that the Syrian regime has been repeating). It not only ignores facts on the ground and the complex political dynamics at play in those countries, but also overlooks those people’s agency and reduces them to either some inferior and stupid stereotype (Islamist terrorists) or some romanticised mythical version that is compatible with the dominant Western values (pro-democracy, peaceful, etc.).”

I have no idea where you get your news about Syria from, but it strikes me that it’s probably mostly from the Guardian, BBC and other establishment mouthpieces (when it comes to foreign policy anyway). For how else can one explain your sudden realisation that Syria is only now “descending into hell”? Really?! All this death and destruction over the past 26 months has not been hellish enough for you? Only now, when your beloved mainstream media start to recycle some state propaganda nonsense about the conflict in Syria taking (yet another) dangerous turn or crossing some ‘red line’, do your alarm bells start to ring?

You see, information sources are not just about information; they also shape your perspective. As a Leftist activist, one would have thought you would mention – at least once, in passing – the popular uprising or the revolution, what Syrians think and want, or anything remotely related to people. Instead, all you obsess about is big politics from a statist perspective: regime change, foreign intervention, regional war, Israel, Iran, bla bla bla. Continue reading “A Leftist Response to Leftist Delusions on Syria”

I, Claudius

I, Claudius is a 1976 BBC Television adaptation of Robert Graves’s I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Written by Jack Pulman, it proved one of the corporation’s most successful drama serials of all time.

It starred Derek Jacobi as Claudius, with Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, George Baker, John Hurt and Patrick Stewart.

Graves’s I, Claudius is in the List Muse 100 Best Novels of All Time and the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

For the DVDs try here in the UK and here in the USA.

Source: Wikipedia; For an episode guide see here. There’s a documentary on the series here and there’s a humourous tribute to the show by Sesame Street here.

1. A Touch of Murder

Continue reading “I, Claudius”

Ambiguous drone policies cast doubt on Obama’s lofty pledges

An earlier version of this appeared in The National last week.

It was a “season of fear,” he said. Government trimming facts and evidence “to fit ideological predispositions”; making “decisions based on fear rather than foresight; setting aside principles “as luxuries that we could no longer afford”. “In other words,” he concluded, “we went off course”.

We “cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values”, he said. Institutions will have to be updated with “an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability.”

It was a fine speech: thoughtful, bold, idealistic. US president Barack Obama delivered it at the National Archives in Washington, on May 21, 2009.

Last Thursday, when President Obama again addressed the question of national security, he sounded equally high-minded. But where in his first speech he had to address the excesses of his predecessor; this time he had his own to consider. The most serious of these were born of Obama’s inability to deliver fully on promises he made in 2009.

At the National Archives speech, Obama had vowed to end torture, shut down CIA black sites, and close Guantanamo. It was the clean break he had promised his base. But faced with a Republican backlash, Obama caved. Torture and black sites were abolished, but Guantanamo remained. Torture memos were released, but torturers roamed free. And to shield himself against charges of weakness, Obama escalated the covert war.

Continue reading “Ambiguous drone policies cast doubt on Obama’s lofty pledges”