In due time you’ll understand the title if you haven’t figured it out already. Our society, increasingly so these days considering the 0 or 1 designation of computer circuitry, offers ubiquitous binary choices. Paper or plastic. Republican or Democrat. Black or White. Communist or Capitalist. The list goes on and on. Of course, any intelligent individual knows there are many more possible permutations than “this” or “that.” There’s “the other thing” so often overlooked and I prefer to make “thing” plural so it’s “this, that and the other things” and not just “this, that and the other thing.” But I’m weird that way and most people prefer to keep it simple, or are entrained to accept and submit to binary simplicity — and so they support the simplicity, dutifully and honorably, like the well-trained lapdogs they are.
This simple, foisted binary equation is, expectedly, active and present in the news coverage and analysis of the latest events related to Syria and its ongoing brutal civil war. It’s Good Guys/Bad Guys. In Western Media circles, America and NATO are the Good Guys and The Russians are the Bad Guys. In Russian Media circles, it’s obviously the opposite with the Russians as the Good Guys intervening in world affairs to save the day from the Evil Empire that is America. This simplified narrative has always worked. It works as well today as it did ten to twelve thousand years ago when civilization first founded the concept as one of its central tenets.
I have news for you — REAL NEWS. There are no Good Guys. They’re all bad all the time. Once you get that straight, the whole Clusterfuck in its inglorious and ingenious madness, starts to make sense. Note the operative wording — “starts to.” It never makes total sense. There is no such thing as total sense. If it exists, it’s unattainable with our limited cognitive capacity.
Pursuant to that, since it needs to be underscored time and time again, I have as much opprobrium for American foreign affairs as I do for Russian foreign affairs. Both are two sides of the same Bad Guys coin. One is no better than the other. Russia, as I’ve always contended, is a cruder version of the Western System of avarice, exploitation and corruption. America is Vito Corleone and Russia is Tony Soprano. They’re both murdering criminals, but Vito is more respectable about it than Tony. But they’re still murdering criminals when you strip away the veneer — and in Russia’s case, there’s very little veneer, if any, to strip away.
What America has done by helping stoke the Syrian civil war is sickening. BHO has the nerve to lament, and politicize, the most recent tragic school shooting in Oregon whilst for the past four years or more he’s been arming terrorists in Syria and by virtue of that he is complicit in the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and he’s responsible for the massive refugee crisis fueled by the diabolical civil war. Hypocrisy at its finest and most sadistic.
Since we know stated official explanations of military adventures are lies, the only way to know what those objectives were or what the objective was, and is, is to look back in retrospect and see what’s come of the endeavor or endeavors. If we look back at America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq coupled with its campaign in Libya and now Syria not to mention Ukraine and Afghanistan but I will for posterity, you have to conclude the one strategy that ties all of this together is the strategy of failing states. Why would they want to fail these states? That’s what we need to be discussing, not whether or not the purposeful objective is to fail them. Failing these states is now a forgone conclusion. But why? You tell me. I have my own ideas, but it’s no longer an argument that they’re purposely failing states.
I recently had the pleasure of a mercenary follow me shortly on Twitter before unfollowing me — a mercenary mind you who has allegedly mixed it up in Libya aiding the “rebels” there in their “successful effort” to topple Muammar Gaddafi and who has now formed an organization who’s stated goal is to recruit a mercenary force of Christians to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, but presumably anywhere the Islamic State resides, which if the mainstream press is to be believed, is everywhere. His name is Matthew VanDyke (no relation to Dick and Jerry) and the “news” organization Vice is quite fond of him. I wonder why? I’m pretty sure I know why, but how about you tell me — even though I’ve disabled comments. There are other more clever ways to let me know. Here’s a snapshot of his Twitter page. If you recollect from earlier posts, I have no love lost for mercenaries of any stripe, be they Russian or American stripes. They only serve to inculcate and perpetuate endless conflict, bloodshed, suffering and death. They are tools (and opportunists of course) of death and destruction as much as any ordinance.
Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire blog did an excellent job of exposing VanDyke’s hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of America’s meddling in Syria in general and also more specifically. I have reproduced Cannon’s blog post in its entirety because I know many don’t like to click on links. Here’s the link to the post and I implore you to visit Cannon’s blog if you already haven’t. I don’t necessarily agree with Joseph on everything, but he does have some excellent analysis and reporting nonetheless as does Marcy Wheeler at EmptyWheel blog here, at least as it relates to reporting on the Syrian civil war.
Hypocrisy, ISIS, the CIA, and Syria’s endangered Christians
This post follows up on the preceding one, which includes two embedded videos from Syrian Girl.
We begin by taking a belated look at Matthew VanDyke, a confounding native of Balmer. Some call him a terrorist. He calls himself a filmmaker and a revolutionary fighting for what he considers “democracy” in the Middle East.
(Never forget that the neocons also said that they were fighting for “democracy” when they engineered the Iraq invasion.)
Cynics will counter that a true revolutionary wouldn’t have a column in the Huffington Post. Despite his support for a group recognized as a terrorist organization by the State Department, VanDyke has suffered no reprisals. I’m sure he’ll never find himself listed on any “no fly” list. And I’m sure he’ll never be smeared by the mainstream media’s punditocracy.
VanDyke wanted to work for the American government. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, he was lucky enough to go to Georgetown University in Washington for a master’s degree. He entered the two-year Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2002.
“I educated for the three letter agencies. ‘Why Al Qaeda Targets the US’ was my thesis.” But despite his dreams of fast tracking into the CIA he failed. He blames it on the lie detector tests required.
VanDyke says that he was never allowed in the CIA — a disclaimer very familiar to those of us who have read a lot of books and articles about the Agency. (That said, I feel sure that he did not join the Agency in any official fashion. Plausibly deniable assets never do.)
VanDyke now poses as a “freedom fighter,” wrapping himself in the mantle of the Arab Spring.
Some time ago, he joined up with the Syrian rebels — who, as regular readers know, are mostly jihadis: ISIS and the Nusra Front, with the Free Syrian Army playing the role of “moderates.” The FSA exists mostly as a fig leaf to please Washington. The leader of the FSA has gone on record as saying that he welcomes the help of Al Qaeda and its offshoots.
I don’t know if VanDyke is CIA, but he certainly is a hypocrite. If you go to his website, you’ll see an ad for a fundraising effort that seems, at first glance, to be quite admirable:
But the Syrian Girl video embedded at the top of our previous post gave us a glimpse of a startling admission from VanDyke in an internet chat, just last year:
If you can’t immediately spot the contradiction, you haven’t been paying attention. When VanDyke speaks of “the revolution,” he means the revolution against Bashar Assad. And when VanDyke speaks of “the foreign fighters,”he means the jihadists who have joined ISIS.
Dig it: The guy was pro-ISIS on July 30, 2013. Yet now he claims to be against ISIS.
Does that counts as hypocrisy? Yes, I believe it does.
Not only that. If VanDyke is so freakin’ upset about what is happening to the Christians of Syria, then why did he join the rebellion against Assad? Although Assad is no-one’s idea of a nice guy, he has always allowed Syria’s sizable Christian community to practice their faith in peace.
That is why the Christians (most of whom would prefer an orderly transition to democracy) have taken Assad’s side in the civil war. Here’s a headline from a recent story in Time:
Syrian Christian Leaders Call On U.S. To End Support For Anti-Assad Rebels
The stories told by five top Syrian Christian leaders about the horrors their churches are experiencing at the hands of Islamist extremists are biblical in their brutality.
Bishop Elias Toumeh, representative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, tells of the funeral he led ten days ago for the headless body of one of his parishioners in Marmarita. Rev. Adeeb Awad, vice moderator of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, explains how the rebels blew up his church and then pointed the finger at the regime…
See the trick? See how it works? “The rebels blew up his church and then pointed the finger at the regime…”
Those words encapsulate the ongoing scheme to deceive the world into blaming Assad for the sins of his foes. The success of this trick depends on the ignorance of the American people, most of whom do not know the difference between Assad and his opponents.
These atrocities against Syrian Christians are the work of the “foreign fighters” whom VanDyke considered comrades-in-arms.
But they are emerging as part of a concerted push by Syrian Christians to get the U.S. to stop its support for rebel groups fighting Syrian president Bashar al Assad. “The US must change its politics and must choose the way of diplomacy and dialogue, not supporting rebels and calling them freedom fighters,” says Nalbandian.
Hey, VanDyke: If you’re so fucking concerned about Syria’s Christians, why don’t you do as they advise?
And why don’t you apologize for buddying up with those “foreign fighters” (read: ISIS) in the anti-Assad alliance?
Here’s a story from Christianity Today, published back in 2011…
“We do not support those who are calling for the fall of the regime, simply because we are [for] the process of reform and changes,” said Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, at a religious summit in France.
In late May, International Christian Concern, an evangelical ministry to the persecuted church, released to Christianity Today an anonymous open letter from a “trusted Syrian source” that explains why many Syrian Christians support Assad’s regime. The two-page letter calls for help from the larger Christian community. It says in part:
• “Christian service has flourished remarkably in Syria. We regard Syria as a model Arab country when it comes to freedom of worship.”
• Radical Muslim groups are “responsible for the disturbance” in the country. “Christians are the first to be persecuted when we talk about governmental change.”
• “We are seeking [Christians’] help to prevent what happened in Iraq and Egypt from happening in Syria. Christian service in Syria is in danger now.”
Last May, Virginia state Senator Richard Black sent a thank you note to Bashar Assad after the Syrian army rescued some Syrian Christians who were in grave danger from some of VanDyke’s pals in the rebellion.
“I write to thank the Syrian Arab Army for its heroic rescue of Christians in the Qalamoun Mountain Range,” the letter begins. Black praises the Syrian army’s efforts against the forces that have been challenging Assad’s power for several years, which the letter claims are “dominated by our arch-enemy Al Qaeda.” By protecting Christians in the country, Assad has “followed the practice of [his] father by treating with respect all Christians and the small community of Jews in Damascus.” Black provided The Post with a copy of the letter he sent.
Syria’s Christians universally support Assad (at least as the lesser of two evils) — a fact which you’ll find exactly nowhere on VanDyke’s website. As this critic puts it:
It’s also ironic that VanDyke calls himself a Christian, yet he is mobilizing funds to bankroll a pro-Syrian rebel documentary despite the fact that Syrian rebels have ransacked numerous Christian churches.
So what do we make of his little fundraiser? To my eyes, it looks like a classic “cover your ass” operation. VanDyke wants to distract you from noticing that he has supported the rebels who have murdered so many Christians.
If pressed, VanDyke would probably try to justify his exercise in hypocrisy by offering up some variant of the “Assad created ISIS” myth. The folks at National Review have a similar weakness for myth-making. They are dishing out propaganda designed to convince the public that Assad, not the rebels, has attacked the Christian community: See, for example, the outrageous and deceitful the story here. You’ll notice that the National Review article — unlike those cited above — does not quote actual Syrian Christians.
The saintly Mother Agnes, a brave voice for peace, has tried to tell the truth about the Christians of Syria. That’s why the neocons have besmirched and insulted Mother Agnes in ways that she might forgive, but I cannot. This remarkable woman does not stand with Matthew VanDyke. She stands with SyrianGirl.
I look at those faces and I see the face of St. Joan.
And I fear for their homeland. Obama is poised to strike Syria. Supposedly, his target is ISIS, but anyone who has followed the story knows that the fight against the Muslim fundamentalists will probably serve as a pretext for taking down Assad. In fact, Obama’s new war will only make ISIS stronger…
Everyone should just understand that the social science literature finds that external interventions typically extend, not shorten, civil wars, as Marc Lynch has pointed out.
At the same time, Obama appears to envisage arming and training the “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army, who have consistently been pushed to the margins by al-Qaeda offshoots and affiliates. Private billionaires in the Gulf will continue to support ISIL or its rival, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Succor Front, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda). Strengthening yet another guerrilla group will, again, likely prolong the fighting. Moreover, in the past two years, Free Syrian Army moderate groups have gone radical and joined Nusrah or ISIL at an alarming rate. Defectors or defeated groups from the FSA will take their skills and arms with them into the al-Qaeda offshoots.
The Islamic State (now popularly being referred to as DAESH), absent any information to the contrary about its inception, is the heavily enabled byproduct of The West’s, and America’s more specifically, destabilization of Iraq, whether that destabilization was intended or not. And now that byproduct, with quiet, hushed blessings replete with Toyota Pickup Trucks, spreads like a convenient poison and/or cancer to other targets of destabilization in the Middle East. Unlike computer viruses, real life viruses like the Islamic State/DAESH can and do go rogue despite how much control the controllers believe they have. I’m not sure if the Islamic State/DAESH is at that point yet, but it soon will be if things proceed as they have in the Middle East thus far, and Russia’s intervention is part of that proceeding.
You defeat the Islamic State or IS or DAESH (not ISIS or ISIL anymore) by not fueling it. Engaging it in combat is fueling it. Drawing combatants from around the world to its theater is fueling it. Instead of fueling it, you deprive it. You starve it. You create an environment that renders it infertile. A metaphorical barren landscape where its seed of destruction cannot grow. Engaging it militarily is giving it fertile soil — it’s giving it a purpose — a locus to center itself on. Where are the weapons coming from? The Islamic State/DAESH can’t operate without weapons, money, and all manner of logistical equipment. Deny it that, and refrain from failing states, and the Islamic State/DAESH will die on the vine. The Islamic State/DAESH is a monster of America’s own creation just as is the case with Al Qaeda and so many other terrorist organizations. These terrorist organizations have served their purpose well and will continue to do so well into the tumultuous future. As an observer with an opinion, you must realize that the Islamic State/DAESH and the multitude of terrorist organizations just like it must be destroyed in the exact opposite manner in which they were created.
Considering that, to all the dimwits who believe Putin, i.e. Boris of Arabia like Lawrence before him, will sweep into the Middle East and craft an everlasting peace is complete rubbish. Putin and Russia will be subjected to the prickly pear vicissitudes of the desert Middle East just as surely as any outside force before it has been. Russia is not immune to quagmires and that’s all the Middle East is — it’s one giant quagmire waiting for the next genius who thinks he can outsmart it. Just ask Dick Cheney who told us so in 1994 in answering the question as to why the Bush Sr. Administration didn’t go all the way to Baghdad in Gulf War I.
Dick was so convincing in that video, wasn’t he? I believed him. I still believe him. I don’t believe his bullshit cover story for invading and occupying Iraq ten years later just as I don’t believe Putin’s stated official goals for committing Russian weapons, personnel and intelligence to putting the Humpty Dumpty that is Syria back together again. Anyone who believes Putin has increased Russia’s presence in Syria as an effort to save the day is sincerely delusional and in serious need of medication. Putin most assuredly saw the time was right to take out his stick and poke America and The West with it again. But was Russia’s move anticipated? There is no doubt that The West and America are as corrupt as Putin if not more so and can disguise that fact with superior advertising and public relations in the form of a captive, yet highly professional, media that is nothing more than a glorified stenographer for the predilections of The Empire. No, Mighty Mouse, i.e. Putin, is not going to save the day, but instead he’s going to ruin it.
Frankly, I didn’t think Putin was this stupid or that he would ever get this desperate. He’s taken the lure — now let’s see if they can haul him up out of the water and into the boat. At this rate, I’d say they just may do it.
The irony is, Putin is doing exactly what America is doing in Syria — indiscriminate bombing under the guise of discriminate bombing because we all know, in this day and age, not only despite technology but most likely because of it, there is no such thing as discriminate bombing. It’s all indiscriminate these days and civilians are the de facto targets since it’s a known fact civilians suffer the largest casualties and yet bombing proceeds unhindered by such damning statistics. Collateral damage is the purpose and terror is the effect.
One thing’s for sure — Assad, if he wasn’t already, is now Putin’s bitch in perpetuity. One misstep, or any lip or infidelity or show of ingratitude, and Bashar will be Nemtsoved faster than he can say Borscht.
One would think Putin is not so imbecilic as to believe he can bring peace and stability to the Middle East. I don’t think he believes that, and I know he doesn’t possess the capacity to even make an earnest attempt if he was so inclined. So what the fuck is he doing then besides thumping his chest and thumbing his nose? I’m not certain. Maybe it’s just that. Maybe he’s showing the rest of the world that you don’t have to back down — that you can stand up to the Western pricks — that The West doesn’t rule the world, it only thinks it does and by virtue of the way it holds itself and conducts business with such entitled and arrogant authority, most client states and trading partners just fall in line. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s all conjecture. Of course, there’s also the added benefit that Putin gets to show off his new weapons and his revamped lean & mean military compared to Soviet times. Look at all the “to do” Russian media and its apparatchiks at venues like Moon of Alabama blog are making about Russia’s latest and greatest jet fighters and missile systems. These are the same apparatchiks that remind 24/7 that Putin has nukes ready & able to defend Russia at a moment’s notice and maybe even preemptively before that moment’s notice for safe measure. Nice. Nothing like threatening to save the planet by burning it to a cinder. Russia and its apparatchiks like the German sausage-fingered “b” at Moon of Alabama blog have no qualms about genociding the entire planet if that’s what it takes to free it from Empire. Putin has to love these rubes. I know I do — as I’ve always said, serendipitous, unwitting satire such as this keeps me out of business. Robin Williams death was symbolic. His services are no longer needed. Satire is now our reality and it’s redundant to satirize satire just as it’s redundant to satirize a satirical nickname/pen name as many are inclined to do with my pseudonym.
Pursuant to the aforementioned, how about a little poll so you can put your play money where your mouth is. Assuming Putin speaks the truth, which of course he doesn’t, and he truly intends to put the Humpty Dumpty that is Syria back together again and he manages to keep Assad in power in order to avoid a power vacuum as we saw in Libya and Iraq, how long do you think Assad has? Please vote in the poll below so we can gauge the audience’s confidence in Boris of Arabia’s plan. Who knows, maybe Vlad can succeed where Sir Lawrence didn’t a hundred years prior. And maybe, if you believe that, Elvis really is still alive and Jim Morrison too.