How The New Yorker Mis-Reports Syria

Exclusive: The New Yorker and editor David Remnick were catastrophically wrong about the Iraq War, but they continue publishing the same one-sided propaganda on the Syrian conflict, as Jonathan Marshall describes.

By Jonathan Marshall

Only 6 percent of Americans surveyed in a new national poll say they have a lot of confidence in the media — a result driven by a widespread perception that news stories are one-sided or downright inaccurate. That finding came to mind as I heard New Yorker editor David Remnick introduce an April 17 segment on Syria on the New Yorker Radio Hour.

“For the last five years Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has framed the revolution in his country as a conspiracy fueled entirely by foreign powers,” Remnick claimed. “His security agencies have . . . killed hundreds of thousands and displaced possibly half of the entire country.”

The New Yorker editor David Remnick

The New Yorker editor David Remnick

The New Yorker is famous for its fact checkers, but Remnick evidently failed to consult them. Even a casual listener might have questioned his remarkable attribution of Syria’s entire death toll and refugee crisis to Assad’s security agencies, as if ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other rebel forces were mere innocent bystanders.

In fact, the dead include somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 pro-government forces, comparable to the number of opposition fighters killed, and human rights organizations report that “Opposition armed groups in Syria have indiscriminately attacked civilians in government-held territory with car bombs, mortars, and rockets.”

But what about Remnick’s claim that Assad’s crackdown was driven by paranoia about foreign conspiracies? Like a feature article in his magazine’s April 18 issue, Remnick’s shorthand attempt to portray Assad as insane as well as ruthless fails the test of good journalism.

The article by Ben Taub, which describes efforts by international rights activists to smuggle government documents out of Syria for future war crimes trials, says that Assad “declared his intention to suppress dissent in the brutal tradition of his father” during an address to the Syrian nation on March 30, 2011, shortly after the outbreak of anti-government demonstrations in several cities.

Taub makes his point with a few choice quotes from the speech: “Syria is facing a great conspiracy, whose tentacles extend” to foreign powers that were plotting to destroy the country, [Assad] said. “There is no conspiracy theory,” he added. “There is a conspiracy.” He closed with an ominous directive: “Burying sedition is a national, moral, and religious duty, and all those who can contribute to burying it and do not are part of it.” He emphasized, “There is no compromise or middle way in this.”

Forgotten History

The quotes are accurate, but the missing context tells us important facts both about the origins of Syria’s violent conflict and what’s wrong with much advocacy journalism today. Assad certainly did see foreign conspiracies at work in Syria, but he was not paranoid. Unlike most of Taub’s readers, Assad knew that the first military coup in Syria’s modern history was instigated in 1949 by agents of the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency.

That was not the last foreign covert intervention in Syria. In 1957, according to official papers summarized by The Guardian, “[Prime Minister] Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbours, and then to ‘eliminate’ the most influential triumvirate in Damascus. . .

“Although historians know that intelligence services had sought to topple the Syrian regime in the autumn of 1957, this is the first time any document has been found showing that the assassination of three leading figures was at the heart of the scheme.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In 2005-6, as I documented previously in ConsortiumNews, Washington and Saudi Arabia began secretly backing Syria’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood with the goal of ousting Assad. Further details of that covert operation emerged just weeks after Assad’s March 30 speech, when the Washington Post reported that “The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country.”

The recipients were described in State Department cables as “moderate Islamists” and former members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The paper continued:

“The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad . . .

“The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad. . . .

“Syrian authorities ‘would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,’ read an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time.”

Barack Obama and George W. Bush at the White House.

Barack Obama and George W. Bush at the White House.

In his March 30, 2011 address, Assad referred explicitly to the challenges his regime faced in 2005 and to recent anti-government violence incited by “satellite TV stations” — an obvious reference to Barada TV. So when Assad complained in his speech that “our enemies work every day in an organized, systematic and scientific manner in order to undermine Syria’s stability,” he was not merely delusional.

Acknowledging Fault

But Assad also took care to acknowledge Syria’s genuine internal problems and overdue reforms, “so that satellite T.V. stations will not say that the Syrian president considered all that has happened a foreign conspiracy.” Toward the end of his speech, Assad reiterated, “Since some people have short memory, I will refresh their memory once again by saying that not all of what is happening is a conspiracy, because I know that they are on the ready in their studios to comment.”

Despite Assad’s best efforts, Taub and Remnick evidently never got the message.

“We all discuss, criticize, and have our disagreements because we have not met many of the needs of the Syrian people,” Assad further conceded. “That is why it was easy to mislead many people who demonstrated in the beginning with good intensions. We cannot say that all those who demonstrated are conspirators. This is not true, and we want to be clear and realistic.”

Assad devoted much of his speech to explaining why reforms had moved so slowly since he took office in 2000. His message disappointed many Syrians, especially political critics living abroad. But, to the applause of other Syrians, he promised over the course of the following month to “identify the measures that need to be taken” for reform.

Unmentioned by Taub, Assad followed through with some significant steps. He fired unpopular governors of two provinces, named a new prime minister and cabinet, dismantled his unpopular National Security Court, and lifted the emergency law.

On April 16, Assad spoke to ministers of his new government, telling them that the most effective way for Syria to resist regime change was to carry out reforms and attend “to the needs of the Syrian population.”

Sounding not at all like a ruthless dictator, he also decried the loss of life during recent anti-government demonstrations, saying “the blood which has been spilled in Syria has pained us all. . . . We are sad for the loss of every Syrian and for all those who have been injured. We pray to God to provide solace to their families and friends.”

Assad discussed plans to lift the country’s state of emergency. He called for better training of police to help them “cope with the new reforms” and “protect demonstrators” while still preventing “sabotage.” He cited detailed proposals for improving the fight against public corruption. And he stressed the need for economic reforms to reduce unemployment and the despair felt by young people with no prospects.

Said Joshua Landis, a leading U.S. academic authority on Syria, Assad’s speech “was about as good” as he could have made it, and a big improvement on his March 30 address. “For those who continue to believe in the possibility of reform and not regime-change, this speech was reassuring.”

Photo from Wikipedia: Syrian women and children refugees at Budapest railway station

Syrian women and children refugees at Budapest railway station/ (Photo from Wikipedia)

But anti-government demonstrators took Assad’s limited reforms as a challenge, not an opening. As I recounted previously, protesters declared one major city a “liberated zone,” prompting a massive crackdown by Assad’s security forces and gun battles between soldiers and armed opponents. Key opposition leaders also rebuffed national dialogue meetings sponsored by the Assad government in June and July of 2011, when the death toll was still low.

As Landis later commented, “Western press and analysts did not want to recognize that armed elements were becoming active. They preferred to tell a simple story of good people fighting bad people. There is no doubt that the vast majority of the opposition was peaceful and was being met with deadly government force and snipers. One only wonders why that story could not have been told without also covering the reality that armed elements, whose agenda was not peaceful, were also playing a role.”

The New Yorker, like much of the Western media, still prefers telling simple stories of good and evil when it comes to Syria. But quality journalism requires more than story-telling. It requires factual accuracy, context, and nuance, professional attributes needed more than ever during passionate times.

A less biased look at Assad’s words and actions would not absolve him of repression and war crimes, but might suggest that Syria’s opposition had peaceful alternatives to civil war.

We’ll never know, of course. But we do know for certain that by demanding nothing less than “regime change,” Assad’s opponents and their foreign backers contributed along with Assad’s own actions to one of the great humanitarian catastrophes of our time.

Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012). Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; and Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.” ]

27 comments for “How The New Yorker Mis-Reports Syria

  1. Michael K
    April 26, 2016 at 09:56

    Jews are 2.5% or so of the us population, but wildly over-represented in the news media. This is a FACT – and anyone who feels their muscles tighten at mention of this ought to pause and ask why.

    Many Jews have deep ties to Israel. Israel is run by parties that were they not Jewish would be described as “far right”
    – but one must not criticize Israel, Israeli/Jewish racism/supremacism, or talk about Jewish political, financial and media power…

    And wy?

    Have Jews been oppressed in the US? Maybe some – but they are far and away the most wealthy and powerful ethnic or religious group.

    That power acts as a prism warping reporting – Israel’s Likudniks have long wanted to destroy Iraq and Syria. From Oded Yinon to Bernard Lewis to PNAC.

    How much can we really discuss media or foreign policy if no one will talk about Israeli expansionism, religious racism, and the power of organized Jewish/Israel lobbies in the Us, UK, Canada, France, and beyond?

    Why can’t people who claim to adore free speech practice it when it comes to Israel and Jewish influence in media?

  2. April 24, 2016 at 22:05

    So much of Middle Eastern nation dismantling, seems to come from the US acting at the behest of Israel. Isn’t it time to eyeball the preponderance of US politicians who are citizens of both the United States and the state of Israel and ask, what’s wrong with this picture?

  3. David Tettodoro
    April 24, 2016 at 07:59

    A crude whitewash of the Asad regime. Mitchell’s proceeds by selectively cobbling together sources that often don’t say what he claims they do (in some of his other pieces they even say the opposite). For example, he quotes from the Washington post report to bolster his claim that the US was plotting against Syria in 2011, but conveniently leaves out the passage “Some embassy officials suggested that the State Department reconsider its involvement, arguing that it could put the Obama administration’s *rapprochement* with Damascus at risk”, because it doesn’t fit his narrative.
    He plays fast and loose with statistics on deaths (he relies on Wikipedia but doesn’t check the sources they use) and avoids any figure for *civilian* casualties (at least 100 -130,000 civilian dead – the vast majority at the hands of the regime and its allies).
    He also doesn’t understand anything about the nature of the regime – accepting Asad’s vague reference to reform as gospel. But regimes like this depend on putting up a hot air smokescreen for their real behaviour. Thusthe recinding of the state of emergency was irrelevant because the Syrian security authorities are above the law, and could continue doing what wanted regardless.
    The best comment on Asad as “reformer” is provided by one of Landis’s overseas Syrians:
    “Personally, I felt all along that Bashar is incapable of reform. He is inexperienced and weak. Today, he decided to go along with the gang in his immediate family. His rule is purely a family affair. No Sharaa, no Buthaina, no battikh. Today, he has become the declared leader of the gang. He stands naked. All past propaganda tricks are gone. He’ll survive this round. He is ready to order the tanks to crush the people. Corruption, steeling the country’s oil revenues, abu Ghraibs dungeons, the security thugs…… will go on with vengeance. What happens in a year, two, or three is any one’s guess. The geopolitical situation could very well determine the fortunes of this lot.”

  4. bayoucoyote
    April 22, 2016 at 10:58

    Lunch video that will shame the said propagandist above along w/members of the Syn O’ Satan..

    Saudis To Kerry: We Created ISIS…And CIA Knew

  5. Lucy Emery
    April 22, 2016 at 08:31

    This is not the only instance of bias at The New Yorker. We gave up our subscription after many, many years because of the change in tone.

  6. Dieter Heymann
    April 22, 2016 at 07:32

    Syria was to be the core of the Arab nation promised during WW1 for military assistance of the Allies. After the war the Arabs were fopped off with the unstable construction of Iraq. Saudi Arabia did not even exist at that time. The former Ottoman Empire in the Near- and Middle East became colonized in the form of Mandates and other constructs. Saudi Arabia did not enter that world until its oceans of crude oil were discovered.

  7. richard young
    April 22, 2016 at 03:58

    Unfortunately the problem of our (US) Government’s insistence upon “regime change” of non-subservient foreign governments is not limited to the Middle East. Our Government (whether run by Democratic or Republican officials) continues its decades-old policy of undermining, destabilizing and/or overthrowing non-subservient governments everywhere south of the Rio Grande — and particularly so-called “populist” democratically elected governments which choose to prioritize the welfare of the vast majority of their citizens over that of a tiny but overwhelmingly rich elite in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras and elsewhere. Sadly, the Obama Administration has been just as active in “regime change” activities in Latin America as was the Bush Administration, the Clinton Administration, the first Bush Administration and the Reagan Administration. One might think that in our allegedly Number One Democracy of the world, the merits of our Government’s incessant intermeddling in the internal affairs of other democratically elected governments might be an item for discussion by the current candidates running for President. The closest approach thus far has been Trump’s promise that he will build a wall along our entire southern border with Mexico, and require the Mexicans to pay for it. And so it goes, here in the Land of the Obedient and the Home of the Craven.

  8. Rob Roy
    April 21, 2016 at 16:42

    It seems apparent that the writer and none of the commenters actually have read the New Yorker article, “The Assad Files,” April 18, 2016. I suggest you all do, then make a comment. I’ve read it and the documentation is not made up. You won’t think so either. The torture described is nearly unbearable to read and the description is real. Now, I agree that Israel and the US want to take over and control Syria. Years ago I read the US plans for invading Iran, Iraq and Syria, later to add four more ME countries. I know well the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the US and Israel and find the arrogance of both countries disgusting. They publicly act as if their hands are clean but they are as dirty as Assad’s. Power, money and control is the motto of America and Israel and woe to anyone who gets in the way.

    • Liam
      April 22, 2016 at 20:18

      Let me guess, they wrote Barrel bombs 50 times, then they stated chemical attack 50 times followed by Putin, Putin, Putin while ignoring the Saudis, Qatar, Turkey’s funding of ISIS all the while quoting some guy in a flat in England who calls his Facebook page International Observatory of Something or Other”. Man, US ‘reporting’ has taken a nose dive. And its no wonder, there aren’t even any US reporters actually on the ground in the war zones anymore. Its simply dish out the propaganda from behind the cubicle at the cheapest rate. No wonder Americans distrust the media. For real reporting about Syria people need to check out Southfront each day. They actually have people on the ground and provide fact based analysis and maps of the ongoing war.

  9. April 21, 2016 at 15:14

    They obviously fired Seymour Hersh and sent him across to London Review of Books for a REASON.

    Why ISIS Exists: The Double Game

  10. Douglas Baker
    April 20, 2016 at 22:43

    Am reminded of MIT Professor Theodore Postol’s comment on Eliot Higgin’s remarks in a joint conversation with New Yorker black listed journalist, Seymour Hersh, that almost applies to New Yorker editor, David Remnick, “As far as his analysis, it so far lacking in any foundation it’s clear he has no idea what he is talking about.”, except he does, as a plumber below the sink with his hands on the on/off information flow, he chooses to go with a propaganda streaming that is wrong and dirty as was the case of The New Yorkers’ lines on Iraq.

    • April 21, 2016 at 10:29

      I keep learning a lot from pros like Jonathan Marshall and those who have commented above. I am grateful.

      It’s going to be hard for me to give up the New Yorker cartoons. But I guess it’s time, when cartoonish editors write cartoonish pieces — and, worse still, blacklist the very best investigative reporters, like Sy Hersh.

      Quo usque tandem abutere Remnick patientia nostra…..!


  11. Tristan
    April 20, 2016 at 21:50

    It is not surprising that the level of propaganda as reflected in the referenced statement by the New Yorker’s editor is now, oh so common. Propaganda in this modern era of innovation and profit seeking is commonly understood as news, or opinion, by most. This level of unabashed thought management, intertwined with surveillance, is not an accident. Orwellian is the best descriptor that comes to mind. Yet, consider how such information management is used to enrich those already wealthy beyond common understanding. The U.S. Empire is built upon war, war machines, and the threat of war, or the threat of terror, or the threat of [you name it]. As the economy has been altered to suit the needs of a small sliver of what mistakenly is called our society, the need to define the theft and destruction as good is required. There then the need for foes, foreign and domestic, is required.

    An example comes from an article on, Where we find this statement, “[U.S. Defense Secretary] Carter has said, the US wants Persian Gulf nations to help Iraq rebuild its cities once IS militants are defeated.”

    The article where I found this is not part of the MSM information management. Yet, in it we find some of the traces of such. This is due to the source of the statement, the Pentagon. Note what the sentence is articulating, Sunni Gulf nations, Saudi Arabia, etc…, who are funding the Sunni militants (extremist or not) who are fighting both the Syrian gov’t and the Iraqi gov’t, should help rebuild Shia Iraq once the militants, whom those very same Gulf nations are funding, have been defeated.

    Reality, even when reported contains these pearls of propaganda due to the very nature of U.S. foreign/war/free market capitalism and its need to dominate the thoughts of subjects in a manner which defies reality, yet is cast as such.

    As a result we, the peons, are constantly discovering that the agenda of the Empire is always finding a way to use the force to bend minds to submission. Either through toady propagandists as illustrated by our MSM, more specifically here the New Yorker’s editor, or by phrasing and subtle misdirection.

    • Liam
      April 22, 2016 at 20:09

      It is noteworthy also that the US and UK made Saudi Arabia head of the UN Human Rights Council. I believe this was conducted so they could cover up the war crimes once their ISIS proxies overrun Syria and finish wiping out its two million Christian’s. Qatar is also being considered for the leadership of UNESCO. The hypocrisy is astounding. Here we have two of the countries responsible for the Islamic States rise, financing and training, along with the destruction of historical sites, and they are the ones placed in power and being empowered to bring justice. It truly is despicable and I believe Obama truly is a Trojan Horse. I write that as a hardcore progressive, anti-war guy who voted for him back in 2008. Man, we got duped. The democratic party is completely in denial about what Obama turned out to be.

  12. Realist
    April 20, 2016 at 16:56

    Washington says “Assad must go.” To be replaced by whom? ISIS? Al Qaeda? Surrogates of Erdagan and the Saudis? Not so long ago Obama used to say that there were hardly any “moderate” rebels–perhaps as many as five, he said with a straight face. What happens when the head choppers come to power, Mr. Obama? How is that a plus for anyone, American interests included? I don’t get the neocon obsession with targeting this one man. It seems no more than a perverse exercise in raw power, unless the object is to make the entire region a living hell. When Syria is checked off your list for regime change, is it next on to Iran? Does Killary have the battle plans already drawn up?

  13. Gregory Kruse
    April 20, 2016 at 16:17

    I used to love The New Yorker. Now I refuse to subscribe to it even for the low professional rate.

    • Rob Roy
      April 21, 2016 at 16:47

      Read the article first. “The Assad Files,” April 18. 2016, The New Yorker

  14. Peter Loeb
    April 20, 2016 at 13:38


    Jonathan Marshall’s article above is if anything much too tentative, too reluctant.
    The innuendo, indictments of the Assad regime, the denial of militant
    invasion, the blindness to the motives of the US and Israel cannot be
    merely accidental. They are purposeful.

    In reading MANUFACTURED CRISIS by Gareth Porter about Iran with
    threats built on fabricated so-called “evidence” and the like, it is easy
    to see similar actions to these misrepresentations about Syria.

    Whoever becomes the next President of the US will undoubtedly
    change some of the givens. The very concept of “regime change”
    is not only a non-starter but against international law (as agreed
    to in the UN Charter).

    This is not to maintain that Bashir al Assad is an angel. In fact, he
    is similar to many leaders in many nations. US leaders, Israeli
    leaders, leaders of Saudi Arabia…the list goes on.

    In this particular context, this non-angel (B. Assad) is the leader
    of a country which has been invaded, whose citizens have been
    murdered, whose cities have been destroyed… How in the hell
    (excuse) should one expect such a leader to suddenly become
    “humanitarian”?? If the US were to be invaded by forces determined
    to change its regime, if say New York City were captured by these
    invading forces, would one expect the US government to refrain
    from attacking the invaders holding New York because…some people
    would die? I doubt it. Would one favor uncompromisingly a
    “political transition” which is a code phrase for complete surrender
    of the Syrian government?

    That makes very little sense.

    But such phrases make for persuasive talking points.

    It should be added that anything resembling “regime change”
    has in fact resulted in death and destruction of societies elsewhere.

    To repeat, Mr. Marshall is much too “kind” in his description
    of participants in an international hate campaign against Syria.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Dr. Ip
      April 20, 2016 at 17:22

      “Regime Change” is actually just a euphemism for “Genocide Lite.” Of course genocide can never be “lite.” But under the guise of “Change” masses of people are being eradicated, not because they are inherently evil, but because they stand in the way of “progress” as defined by the current exceptional ones who, if we look a little bit closer, use phrases which scarily parallel the Master Race concept of the Nazis (e.g. the USA is now the Homeland = Fatherland [Heimat] of the Nazis). They have already expertly implemented the propaganda playbook from Mein Kampf, The Big Lie and the other dissemination techniques that vilify and objectify and make it easier to massacre the unwanted retrograde sub-humans.

      This is really scary stuff.

      And who do you enlist to fight for a return to sanity and ideals of Truth and Freedom and self-determination? The people in the capitalist West (still) have too much to lose (cars, TVs, smartphones, etc.). Those in the 3rd World have nothing at all to fight back with and their leaders are easily corruptible. And the lackeys of the elite in all parts of the world are gorging at the trough, afraid to look up and see what is really going on and even more afraid of becoming fodder if they open their mouths to speak the truth.

      The Dark Ages lasted for many centuries. Let’s hope the Dark Ages are quickly disposed of by the likes of Anonymous and the cyber armies who can wipe away the riches of the banks and the elites with a few well-directed keystrokes — if they aren’t just interested in stealing it all for themselves!

      Excuse me, I’m feeling a bit pessimistic today!

    • Anas M
      April 30, 2016 at 16:39

      Syria has been invaded by forces from Iran, Pakistani (Shia), Afghanistan (Shia) and Russia and all of those are aiding Assad in murdering his people and destroying the country. Unfortunately, you people in the US and elsewhere rely on what you hear in your media which is far from reality on the ground. Your media started calling the revolution “civil war” from 2011, I don’t know where you got this “Syria has been invaded for a regime change” as if Syrians were happy living under the rule of this butcher. Also, Joshua Landis can’t be taken as a source of information as his wife is an Alawite so he has been always pro Alawites eventhough he tries to make his views appear as balanced but his saying that Asaad tried to reform is nothing but BS this regime has ruled over 40 years and lied always about reform, how can a regime who is so corrupt reform itself corruption is from the top to the bottom in Syria. And during their rule whoever opened their mouths and criticised corruption or anything else and whoever called for reform was arreseted, sent to jail or killed. Before the revolution 60% of Syrians were below UN poverty level which is $60/ month while the Assad family was worth $120 billion. Syria produced 700-800 k barrels of oil/ year the revenue of which never went into the national reserve it was gooing straight to their accounts. Bashar Assad came to power by appointment not election so he was never a legitimate president and after he ordered the killings and destruction since 2011 he lost a legitimacy which he never had to begin with.

  15. Oddlots
    April 20, 2016 at 12:35

    If anything I think Mr Marshall is pulling his punches here. Remnick’s cynicism is perfectly matched by Ambassador Ford’s:

  16. TellTheTruth-2
    April 20, 2016 at 12:18

    Let’s face the facts. The Greater Israel Project calls for the elimination of Syria and, as long as the USA is controlled by neoCON Zionists and their AIPAC lobby, the President, Congress, and the Senate will BOW to Israel and murder Arabs for them. Cindy Sheehan was right: her son died for Israel. This will only end when the neoCONs are arrested and charged with treason and/or war crimes. When you agree, they’ll scream anti-semite at you so learn the difference between Judaism, a religions, and Zionism, a political movement that hides behind peace loving Jewish people and the Christian Zionists they dupe.

    • Larry
      April 20, 2016 at 14:18

      Israel is central to the Greater American Imperial Project, and that is the proper and only honest way to look at Israel’s existence, NOT that the poor, widdle defenseless cowering zionist-hypnotized zombie United States lambkins has no choice except to do mighty mythological thundering Superpower Supreme Overlord Israel’s exact bidding. That viewpoint is understandable enough but is still partly delusional and also racist – not antisemitic, just plain delusionally racist. Yes, Christian zionists and extreme Israeli zionists (like its current government) play the antisemite card, but that’s not what’s being done in this comment. So I’m not calling you, TellTheTruth2, antisemitic. I’m calling you perhaps mistakenly delusional and maybe unconsciously racist in this one regard, and politically myopic as well.

      Yes of course, and very tragically, Israel itself largely does what it wants to on its smaller scale locally in the region and works and lobbies to keep the Greater American Imperial Project policy from changing course (it wouldn’t significantly change course even if Israel disappeared tomorrow), and I wish to God it were different on both counts, but there’s no supernatural superhuman power inherent to zionism. Zionism just happens to not be contrary to the misguided American focus on using its own and its allies’ brute power in that region to keep the people of the entire Near East (and elsewhere) oppressed to the point of being neutered politically and militarily.

      Israel is only the useful aircraft carrier in the center of the American Imperium’s militaristically brutal Middle East policy prescriptions – and NOT the other way around. And in that regard, American policy in the region enhances its aircraft carrier-ally’s power in the process. And by the way I have been vocally and publicly 100% against what Israel has been doing in its neighborhood since at least the early 1970s, when I first became aware of the fatal flaw in the Israel story and its policy of atrocity – and I do understand the differences between the religion and the form of aggressive eliminationist zionism that has taken hold in Israel.

      • A.Arcanum
        April 20, 2016 at 21:18

        A cringe-worthy attempt at deflection. 1/10

  17. Regina Schulte
    April 20, 2016 at 10:37

    For me, a long-time faithful subscriber to the New Yorker, this is very, very disheartening
    and disillusioning.

    • Antiwar7
      April 20, 2016 at 12:41

      Their foreign policy coverage has been sadly one-sided and misleading throughout Remnick’s tenure. This is nothing new, unfortunately.

    • Herman
      April 20, 2016 at 21:11

      Alluded to by others but the documentation of efforts to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria seems always to be accompanied by Assad bashing. Those who have decided that Assad must go are many and their reasons have little or nothing to do with the plight of the Syrian people. Those groups engage in nothing but Assad bashing and must have a good chuckle at his defenders who sound wimpy when they seek “balance”.

      Aside from the seemingly necessary mention of Assad’s sins, a very good article

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