Death of the Syrian ‘Moderate’ Fantasy

Exclusive: Neocons and liberal hawks sold the fantasy that Syrian “moderate” rebels were a viable option when all they did was help arm Al Qaeda jihadists and worsen the bloodshed, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

By Jonathan Marshall

The neoconservative and liberal interventionist case for arming Syria’s rebels lost its last vestige of credibility this week with the routing of Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces by Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in northwestern Syria.

U.S.-backed Syrian “moderate” rebels smile as they prepare to behead a 12-year-old boy (left), whose severed head is held aloft triumphantly in a later part of the video. [Screenshot from the YouTube video]

Washington think-tank warriors and editorial writers have long looked to the FSA as America’s natural allies in the Syrian conflict — so-called “moderates” unblemished by the Assad regime’s cruel record of repression, or the Islamists’ preference for cutting the throats of apostates.

In her memoir Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recounted her hope that “if the United States could train and equip a reliable and effective moderate rebel force, it could help hold the country together during a transition . . . and prevent ethnic cleansing and score settling.”

In much the same way, the Reagan administration hoped — and failed — to cultivate “moderate elements” in Iran’s army through its covert arms deals with Tehran in the mid-1980s. The truth of the matter — exposed again this week — is that the FSA and other “moderates” never had the popular support or the grit to take on more fanatical warriors in Syria.

On Tuesday, the Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate that rebranded itself last year as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), attacked the FSA in Idlib and Aleppo provinces with heavy artillery, suicide bombs, and even cyber attacks. Within a day, they largely succeeded in wiping out local FSA forces.

JFS explained that it was punishing the FSA for “trying to divert the course of the revolution towards reconciliation with the criminal regime” of President Bashar al-Assad. The FSA recently joined other non-extremist rebel groups in Kazakhstan for inconclusive talks with the Syrian government.

If Washington had provided the FSA with portable anti-aircraft missiles, as advocated by influential interventionists like Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute, those dangerous weapons would now be in the hands of one of the most extreme and lethal factions fighting in Syria with the possibility that they could be used for terrorist purposes such as shooting down civilian airliners.

Similar debacles, complete with weapons transfers to extremists, have taken place many times over the past few years. In September 2013, FSA forces in the northern city of Raqqa surrendered abjectly to Islamists, despite outnumbering them. One top rebel commander said, “There is no such thing as the FSA [here]. We are all Al Qaeda now. Half of the FSA has been devoured by ISIS, and the other half joined Jabhat al-Nusra.”

Collaborating with Al Qaeda

Many FSA commanders learned their lesson and began to collaborate with Nusra Front, essentially fighting under Al Qaeda’s command. Those that steadfastly remained “moderate” paid a heavy price.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

In September 2014, the Washington Post’s national security columnist David Ignatius described visiting the commander of Harakat al-Hazm, the largest CIA-vetted (i.e., “moderate”) rebel group in Syria. They had just been “chased from their headquarters” by Nusra Front, and forced to abandon their U.S.-provided anti-tank missiles and other lethal equipment.

“At some point, the Syrian street lost trust in the Free Syrian Army,” the despondent commander told Ignatius. He explained, as Ignatius put it, that “many rebel commanders aren’t disciplined, their fighters aren’t well-trained and the loose umbrella organization of the FSA lacks command and control. The extremists of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra have filled the vacuum.”

An Arab intelligence source confirmed to Ignatius, “the FSA is a kind of mafia. Everyone wants to be head. People inside Syria are tired of this mafia. There is no structure. It’s nothing.” Based on this experience, Ignatius declared flatly, “The problem is that the ‘moderate opposition’ that the United States is backing is still largely a fantasy.”

His conclusion was borne out a month later when Nusra Front vanquished the Western-backed Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front in Idlib province. Worse yet, the following summer, the Pentagon graduated 60 rebels, hand-picked and trained at a cost of half a billion dollars, only to have them fall apart and flee when attacked by Nusra Front.

One month after that debacle, another group of rebels handed over their U.S.-supplied trucks and ammunition to Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage — repeating the process of U.S. taxpayers arming Al Qaeda in the name of promoting “moderates.”

That pattern continues. Citing FSA officers, the ardent think-tank interventionist Thanassis Cambanis admits that “Nusra routinely harvests up to half the weapons supplied by the Friends of Syria, a collection of countries opposed to Assad, and has regularly smashed FSA factions that . . . Nusra thought were getting too strong or too popular.”

A Strategy That Backfired

In 2015, former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who has long advocated a more muscular policy of arming moderate rebels against the Assad regime, confessed that the strategy had backfired.

Map of Syria.

“For a long time,” Ford said, “we have looked the other way while the Nusra Front and armed groups on the ground, some of whom are getting help from us, have coordinated in military operations against the regime. I think the days of us looking the other way are finished.”

Joshua Landis, the respected Syria expert and head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, goes further and argues that trying to buy moderate allies with money and arms was doomed from the start.

As Landis told an interviewer recently, “Many activists and Washington think tankers argue that the reason the radicals won in Syria is because they were better funded than moderate militia . . . No evidence supports this. Radicals . . . fought better, had better strategic vision and were more popular. The notion that had Washington pumped billions of dollars to selected moderate militias, they would’ve killed the extremists and destroyed Assad’s regime, is bunkum.”

Bunkum it may be, but mainstream pundits continue to demand that Washington support anti-Assad forces in Syria — whether in the name of saving lives, fighting tyranny, or making life uncomfortable for the Russians. We can only hope that President Trump ignores them and confines his wars to Twitter.

Jonathan Marshall is author of many recent articles on arms issues, including “How World War III Could Start,” “NATO’s ProvocativeAnti-Russian Moves,” “Escalations in a New Cold War,” “Ticking Closer to Midnight,” and “Turkey’s Nukes: A Sum of All Fears.”


42 comments for “Death of the Syrian ‘Moderate’ Fantasy

  1. Michael K Rohde
    January 28, 2017 at 20:44

    I suspect that the love affair with FSA had more to do with Israel’s Mossad than our CIA. We rely on Israeli intelligence which is often biased, wrong or lies to further the occupation and the free billions Israel loots from our treasury every year. The reality is we have no credibility in that part of the world because our “allies”, Great Britain and Israel, have been breaking promises and agreements in the ME for decades, as we have been fomenting regime change to please our oil company executives and any creditors or bond holders who rely on interest payments from that part of the world. We have no policy except to please the people who are profiting from the never ending war. Israel has conned us out of 3 years of their Gross National Product in about 30 years and have no reason to turn off the free money their fellow travelers and our own jewish citizens split up between themselves. Turn off the money and it all goes away.

  2. David Smith
    January 28, 2017 at 14:14

    The entity “Michael Kenny” is not a real person. The entity’s post was written by the same professionals who write Ashton Carter’s blatherings.

  3. January 28, 2017 at 13:06

    I continually read on this website that Assad is basically no good. Is this the consensus of those that controll this website? I don’t believe in the history of the U.S.A. That a president has ever had a more favourable rating with the public than Assad has with the Syrian public. Correct me if I am wrong . When is the last time anyone in the U?S.A. Has had a 90 Percent rate at election time? As a non American it is quite clear to me that most Americans are afflicted with a disease called regime change. Most of the time it has been targeted at countries around the world. Now it seems this disease is spreading so fast that you want to regime change at home. I think it may be time for each and every American to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves exactly what they stand for. Have a nice day.

    • Greg Herr
      January 28, 2017 at 13:21

      I support the right of the Syrian people to their home and their peace. I support the Syrian government’s efforts to protect that home and secure that peace. Putin’s actions in Syria are in line with that support and in no way reflect your contention that he has made himself “quasi-colonial overlord of that country”.
      I am not inclined to think or hope that the usual suspects will cease and desist their dirty war on Syria. But that is what should happen, and any move by the Trump Administration towards that conclusion I support.
      Michael Kenny, your comment reflects a rather crass outlook and would seem to imply you are in favor of whatever it takes to remove Assad and “win”. For my taste, “winning” isn’t about murder, mayhem, and hegemony…it is about respect and support for the dignity and human rights of all people.

  4. Michael Kenny
    January 28, 2017 at 07:59

    The real underlying point in this article is not Syria as such but the dismay of Putin’s American supporters that Trump hasn’t, well … come up trumps and simply capitulated to Putin as they had hoped. That pushes Syria back into centre stage as Putin is enormously vulnerable there. Having made himself the quasi-colonial overlord of that country, he has got himself irreversibly bogged down and now has to prop up his puppet, Assad, for all time. He can’t just “declare victory and leave” because, by definition, leaving is defeat. The naval base is miiltarily useless and couldn’t even be defended in wartime but is a prestige object the loss of which is precisely the kind of defeat that could discredit him with his elderly Soviet-generation supporters back home. But he can also never “win”. The US can lower the boom on him at any time and if one strategy doesn’t work, it can always try another. That explains, I think, the rather nervous-sounding plea in the last paragraph.

    • Michael K Rohde
      January 28, 2017 at 20:47

      Sounds like Russia might be trapped over there like we are. The only difference is they aren’t making 4 billion a year at it like the Israelis.

  5. exiled off mainstreet
    January 28, 2017 at 03:51

    Those backing the el qaeda cut-outs are traitors to civilization even if there past record indicates earlier scepticism of the yankee imperium. They’ve more than jumped the shark, they’ve gone over to suborning war crimes. Meanwhile, moonofalabama’s latest post indicates that the Trump “safe zones” may be less of a dangerous sell-out than feared at the outset.

  6. January 27, 2017 at 20:12

    Moderate rebels and the term civil war were all loaded and false phrases invented by the establishment in order to formulate their narrative. To this day u have in the media with various journo’s and politicians still referring to the conflict as a civil war , that Assad barrel bombs his own civilians and that Assad has gassed his own people. Recent interview with REP Gubbard from Hawaii has just recently returned from Syria and the schill Journo on CNN still spoke of Assad gassing his own people and killing his own people. All the above mentioned lies have been debunked but still they continue lying and no one is calling them out for it. For example the UK political establishment IE: PM May has stated that Assad can stay . How arrogant and moronic. of a statement. Truely these people think that we r living in the 19 century. It is estimated that close to half million foreigners have invaded Syria to fight for the takfiris for a nominal fee, but here in the west we still get moderate rebels.
    Post Scriptum: The sad reality is that the western governments and the GCC should all be held for trials against humanity. Nurenbourg and UN charters star that these recent acts from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria have more than enough reasons to try the west and the GCC and lets not forget about the crimes the state of Israel has committed against the people of Palestine.

  7. Winston
    January 27, 2017 at 17:33

    Moderate for public consumption.

    “Nobody believes in it. You’re like, ‘Fuck this,’” a former Green Beret says of America’s covert and clandestine programs to train and arm Syrian militias. “Everyone on the ground knows they are jihadis. No one on the ground believes in this mission or this effort, and they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis, so they are sabotaging it by saying, ‘Fuck it, who cares?’”
    “I don’t want to be responsible for Nusra guys saying they were trained by Americans,” the Green Beret added.
    US Special Forces sabotage White House policy gone disastrously wrong with covert ops in Syria
    There’s More Propaganda Than News Coming Out of Aleppo
    There is more than one truth to tell in the terrible story of Aleppo
    Our political masters are in league with the Syrian rebels, and for the same reason as the rebels kidnap their victims – money

  8. David Hart
    January 27, 2017 at 04:11

    Excellent article on the history of this fiasco can be found in The Polemicist by Jim Kavanagh:

    “Whether Russian intervention to rescue the actually-existing Syrian Baathist government was a “good” or “bad” thing has been a contentious issue within the left. The answer to that depends on whether one sees the conflict that’s been raging in Syria since 2011 (at least) as: a) predominantly an indigenous democratic revolt against a monstrous tyrant, dominated and directed by Syrians in the nation’s interest, even if also manned by Syrian and some foreign jihadis and armed, financed, and abetted by the U.S., Turkey, the Gulf monarchies, and Israel; this is the dominant Western narrative, ubiquitously promoted in the media, or b) one of a series of imperialist jihadi proxy wars that, at best, hijacked whatever Syrian democratic elements existed at the outset—a war that is dominated and directed by foreign jihadi and state actors, and that seeks to destroy the last bastion of secular Arab nationalism, in order to create a weak, divided, sectarian non-state that suits those foreign interests; this is a version of events found only in the foreign and alternative press.

    I stand firmly in the latter camp. I’m not going to rehash the case, which I and many others made a number of times over the last five years. I will say that I don’t see how any leftist could continue to cling to the dominant Western narrative now that we have the American Secretary of State admitting that: 1) the US poured an “extraordinary amount of arms” into Syria to help the opposition; 2) the US wanted to “manage” ISIS, and watched approvingly as ISIS grew stronger and become threatening to Damascus itself; 3) Russia entered the war in order to prevent an ISIS victory, and did so; and 4) the Russian intervention, which “changed the equation,” is legal, because Russia is invited in by the “legitimate regime,” and the US has no legal basis for intervention, because the US hasn’t gotten the UN to swallow the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine as a substitute for international law.

    But there are people still in the first camp, whose sincere commitment to democracy, social justice, and anti-imperialist I do not question. I just disagree with their political judgement. And I vigorously disagree with the rhetorical tactics many of them use to defend it. But that will be the topic of another post.

    My position, shared by many people who also hold a sincere commitment to democracy, social justice, and anti-imperialism, requires no denial that that the Syrian Baathist state is a brutish affair. Baathism in Syria, as in Iraq, was the CIA’s preferred alternative to communism, and Hafez al-Assad, like Saddam, killed thousands, including leftist dissidents. Both regimes had cozy relationships with American machinations in the region when it was convenient. These are regimes that deserve to be dispatched to the dustbin of history. Nevertheless, there was good reason that I and tens of millions of people around the world objected to the invasion and conquest of Iraq in 2003, which, as we foresaw, led to the demise of the country into sectarian chaos. Neither then nor now would calling us “Saddam’s apologists” be sign of anything but the weakness of the speaker’s political case.”

    • Gregory Herr
      January 27, 2017 at 17:18

      David, I am glad the author is in “the latter camp”, as he says, and appreciate the thoughts. I have reservations about the sincerity of people whose “rhetorical tactics” (his polite reference) are disagreeable. And besides, any commitment to “democracy, social justice, and anti-imperialism” requires support for the elected government of Syria. It’s interesting he brings up social justice because it could be argued that the elected government of Syria is more interested in social justice than many other governments.
      When he says the Syrian “regime” deserves “to be dispatched to the dustbin of history” iit sounds as though he agrees with the motive of regime change if not the present tactics.

    • Sam F
      January 28, 2017 at 08:23

      Yes, there has been some misplaced sincerity here and there in opposition to Assad, but largely based upon the careless notion that any unplanned rebellion is preferable to a dictator who keeps the lid on extremism and provides well for the people. That argument is used by the US right wing ziocons when they want a civil war and chaos to benefit Israel (as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, et al), but they take the exact opposite position in Iran and SA where they install dictators, claiming that the US is threatened by he socialism needed for development there.

      Consider the interventionist record:
      They never have a record of humanitarian projects and intentions.
      They never have a plan of intervention that started with years of development aid and eventually required limited force.
      When they “succeed” they invariably cause genocide and leave a disaster, and it always turns out that they had no plan.

      How is that benevolent or enlightened? I see no case at all for their “sincere commitment to democracy, social justice, and anti-imperialism” as anything but naivete, or an excuse to dupe the naive into serving as fronts.

      • Sam F
        January 28, 2017 at 08:36

        Incidentally, I mean that last question as a question. I could enthusiastically support R2P and interventionsim to promote democracy if it was an international effort, developed from a broad humanitarian aid program, and generally was very well planned, caused few disasters, and generally achieved its goal. But I see the exact opposite. And I see the most extremely sleazy motives, and the invariably disastrous results.

      • Peter
        January 29, 2017 at 06:58

        “sincere commitment to democracy, social justice, and anti-imperialism”. Reading Wendy Brown’s “Undoing the Demos” as a resounding critique of neo-liberalism’s brick by brick displacing of the very fabric of democracy itself and it’s place in government, with the (int’l) corporate agenda extended to include the NWO, one is left to ask….but which nation then is left which actually carries that true banner of the people?

  9. Joe J Tedesky
    January 26, 2017 at 23:38

    If you go to the link provided scroll down and read the comments. Between some of the slanted wording with the reporting of Rep. Gabbard’s Syrian trip, read what comments are sounding like if HuffPo is average American liberal.

    Read the coverage and comments here:

  10. Jeb Bushmeister
    January 26, 2017 at 20:25

    What does basic logic say will happen? Isn’t what is described here exactly what would always happen to a group of moderates caught between extremists on either side? Add to that that moderates who prefer civilized life to barbaric slaughter will leave the country.

    If the USA is looking for someone to support, they could support the independent Kurdistan that was promised in the WWI peace treaties.

  11. January 26, 2017 at 18:57

    More Info on Syria below:
    Just Back From Syria, Rep. Gabbard Brings Message: ‘There Are No Moderate Rebels’
    By Susan Jones | January 26, 2017 | 5:43 AM EST

    She returned with a message:
    “I’ll tell you what I heard from the Syrian people that I met with, Jake, walking down the street in Aleppo, in Damascus, hearing from them.
    “They expressed happiness and joy at seeing an American walking through their streets. But they also asked why the U.S. and its allies are providing support and arms to terrorist groups like al-Nusra, al-Qaida or al-Sham, ISIS who are on the ground there, raping, kidnapping, torturing and killing the Syrian people….

    “They asked me, why is the United States and its allies supporting these terrorist groups who are destroying Syria when it was al Qaida who attacked the United States on 9/11, not Syria. I didn’t have an answer for them,” Gabbard said…. (
    [read and see video at link below]

  12. January 26, 2017 at 18:49

    I believe we have war criminals in our midst, and they should be arrested. They are financing terrorists and pretending to fight them. They have opened the gates of hell in Syria and other countries. See link below.

    • OH
      January 26, 2017 at 19:26

      When the USA is helping Al Qaida right in front of our face and gets away with it, there isn’t much point in doing anything to save people’s trust in our govt, we are obviously better off without trusting our govt.

  13. jakester48
    January 26, 2017 at 18:37

    Signs of change – the British Foreign Secretary says today that Assad’s immediate removal is no longer the top priority of UK policy, indicating that it will be up to the Syrian people to re-elect him, or not, when they get the opportunity. I seem to remember that this was the Russian position a few years ago.
    This suggests a recognition in the West that there is now no hope of a “moderate” regime replacing Assad. When British PM Teresa May meets President Trump tomorrow they may find common ground on a position that could be successfully negotiated with Vladimir Putin, along the lines of letting Assad deal with his internal insurrection, while the US and its allies focus their efforts on destroying ISIS.

    • Jake G
      January 27, 2017 at 04:29

      What they say publicly and what they do are 2 hugely different things.
      Dont forget they funded, armed and trained these extremists from the start. Stopping that now would be like a confession.

  14. Bob Van Noy
    January 26, 2017 at 18:19

    I just read this article from the Guardian about Tulsi Gabbard visiting Syria and meeting with President Bashar al-Assad which is good news in my opinion. I’ll post a link below to the Guardian, as usual , the commentary is as illuminating as the article itself …

    “During her interview with CNN, Gabbard claimed the US was funding terrorist groups by assisting Syrian rebels and further pushed a talking point propagated by the Assad regime and the Russian government that there are no moderate rebels in Syria.” (From The Guardian)

    • Joe J Tedesky
      January 26, 2017 at 23:55

      Bob I tried to post a couple comments lately, and when I hit ‘post comment’ button my comment vanished….so I typed in my middle initial ‘J’ and it took. So forgive the new look with my name, and consider this a 2nd test, and then read the HuffPo version of Rep. Gabbard’s Syrian trip. Scroll down and read some of the comments.

      My reason to instruct you, or any of those interested, is to see if you see what I see when reading the readers reactions over at HuffPo. In my estimation there are a lot of liberals out there to be saved, or they must kick us out. Before we all jump on the hate Trump for everything bandwagon, it would do us liberal thinkers well to see what’s going on inside our own house…that’s if there is a house. I’m for a total free think universe, but from time to time we all need to coalesce around an issue under one banner, with a common mission.

      See my comment posted below. I hope this works 4, 3, 2,

      • b.grand
        January 27, 2017 at 01:15

        Tulsi Gabbard on CNN with Jake Tapper: THERE ARE NO MODERATE REBELS
        CNN Exclusive: Rep. Gabbard on meeting with Assad

        • Joe J Tedesky
          January 27, 2017 at 02:32

          Great video…I though for a moment agent Jake was going to go all Jane Fonda on Tulsi’s answers…but Tulsi Sold it, at least that’s my opinion thanks for the clip

          • b.grand
            January 28, 2017 at 01:09

            Yes, she’s very smart with the sound bites.

            Tell Trump; “WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ “SAFE ZONES”

            Tulsi Gabbard and Dennis Kucinich walking around Damascus is proof:
            Voices of Syria: Songs from Damascus
            “In a small square next to a souk (market) in the Old City of Damascus, we came across a few Syrian college students hanging out after school.”

            SYRIA HAS SAFE ZONES………
            They are the gov’t controlled, SAA protected areas
            KEEP U.S. HANDS OFF SYRIA !!!!

          • Joe J Tedesky
            January 28, 2017 at 23:50

            Well said b.grand and i agree with you….No U.S. Safe Zones!

      • Realist
        January 27, 2017 at 16:33

        Now that’s interesting. My response to your post, Joe, which noted an interruption of service for this web site for most of yesterday afternoon, appeared on screen at the time, but today it is gone, reinforcing my belief that some hacking might be going on. It’s not like some agencies out there don’t have motives… and I doubt “the Russians” did it.

        But let me make another observation about these posts. It is noteworthy that if you download this site on different browsers you may see very different posts appearing, IE usually displaying rather fewer than Chrome. I’m not all that knowledgeable of computers so I can’t explain them (maybe the problem is in my box which Norton cannot catch), but these things seem amiss to me.

        • Joe Tedesky
          January 27, 2017 at 17:33

          I to have noticed everything your pointing out…it’s happened to me. Although, before I flatter myself that some ring wing warmonger is sabotaging by comments, I will appeal to Consortiumnews to open up the hood and for them to see if all the cylinders are in proper firing order.
          Thanks Realist, we need good scientist like you to aid in our quest for excellence…Joe

    • William Heron
      January 27, 2017 at 04:31

      The Guardian, bastion of pro Islamist terrorist propaganda. To think for 30 years I was suckered into believing what it wrote. What a fool I was.

      • napier
        January 29, 2017 at 12:46

        The Guardian has gone full neo-con. It’s quite crazy actually. I stopped reading a few weeks ago when they blocked my comment regarding their hypocrisy over fake news. Was the last straw for me. If you’re not in their neo-con echo chamber eco-system, forget about it.

    • Bob Van Noy
      January 27, 2017 at 13:39

      Joe, thanks for simply being there… I couldn’t advance to huffington commentary but I imagine she’s being cast as a traitor. Interesting that John McCain and Lindsey Graham can counter foreign policy but dare a democrat do it! I hope she continues this very bold posture so that she becomes the “spirited” competition. We see daily on this truly wonderful site authors and commentary speaking truth to power, so one hopes that politics will follow. It’s going to be a rough road…

      • Joe Tedesky
        January 27, 2017 at 17:41

        This sites track record on being right is pretty good…example, a lot of comments were warning of a ‘moderate rebel’ double cross long before the MSM barely reported it. In fact, there were, and still are times when I think that our State Department would be better advised to reading this sites comment board, instead of going to some corporate foreign invested ‘Think Tank’ where they get it all wrong. This would also be a good place to come where an opinion isn’t bought and paid for by AIPAC, or some Saudi prince.

        I also noticed that Oliver Stone likes to read Consortiumnews…Stone loves Robert Parry’s reporting! I don’t know about you, but I would rather keep company with the Oliver Stone’s of our time long before I would even consider hanging out with the likes of some of our other leaders and celebrities.

        • Bob Van Noy
          January 27, 2017 at 20:14

          Great Point Joe. Actually when I look carefully at the researchers and critics of the Warren Report I see deep credibility on one side and complete disinformation on the other. Here is good company, for instance and Robert Parry fits in nicely…

          Jim Garrison, James W. Douglass, Gaeton Fonzi, Seymour Hursh, Mark Lane, Vincent Salandria, Peter Dale Scott, Oliver Stone, I.F. Stone, David Talbot, Gary Webb, C.Wright Mills, Carl Oglesby, Joan Mellen, James DiEugenio

  15. Bill
    January 26, 2017 at 15:49

    It’s another “brutal dictator” who is “gassing his own people” and he needs to be removed “for humanitarian reasons.”

  16. Chris Chuba
    January 26, 2017 at 11:43

    The fallacy of arming moderates can be demonstrated by the actual course of events. When Assad was losing in 2015 before the Russians entered the conflict, the FSA and Al Qaeda were engaged in peak collaboration in Northern Syria. Al Qaeda loved the FSA because they provided the facade needed to get advanced anti-tank and other weapons into Syria and protection against airstrikes. The FSA loved Al Qaeda because they were the good fighters and slammed, bomb laden trucks into Assad’s barricades.

    However, when the Russians helped Assad and his allies turn the tide, it was only then that the FSA and Al Qaeda alliance started to fracture as resources started to dwindle. Al Qaeda started looking on their weak sisters with suspicion because they would take Assad’s pardons and accept ceasefires that excluded them.

    So the next time the Tom Rogan’s of the world ‘predict’ that not supporting the FSA will drive them to the extremists, they should be slapped for not actually looking at events.

  17. Drew Hunkins
    January 26, 2017 at 11:30

    A few crucial points about Syria are in order since even a good chunk of the American anti-war left is deluded on this issue (primarily thanks to Amy Goodman and ‘Democracy Now’):

    1.) The Free [sic] Syrian Army was, from the beginning, at least two-thirds full of Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, ISIS.
    2.) From the beginning of the anti-Assad Syrian uprising and protests, there were simultaneously PRO Assad demonstrations that were every bit as large as the anti-Assad protests.
    3.) It was the anti-Assad protesters (some of them armed) who first started firing on pro-Assad gov’t officials.
    4.) Ever since all of this began in 2011 a majority of the Syrian people have always been in favor of Assad.

    • D5-5
      January 26, 2017 at 13:35

      It seems obvious why Syrians would back Assad, given what happened in Libya under US benevolence and R2P illusions, but I find that my liberal (that word now being nearly meaningless, I’ll say “not hard right”) neighbors, in hearing my mention of this support, regard me as a deranged lunatic. And a lot of that influence to them came from Democracy Now. Which leads to what is particularly disconcerting in the current Left Split, forced open by Trump. How to sort out the contradictions in Trump without outright dismissing him as a force toward needed change is difficult. Articles like this one are helpful in finally destroying the myth of “the moderates,” despite the continuing suspicions of them of the past several years.

      • Joe L.
        January 29, 2017 at 00:07

        D5-5… You should ask your neighbours is they ever watched US 4-star General Wesley Clark’s video from 2007 about US plans to overthrow the governments of 7 countries in 5 years – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran (his speech predating both Libya and Syria) –

    • b.grand
      January 26, 2017 at 15:10

      Are you the ‘real’ Dick Gregory? Sad if you have been so duped by the regime-changers.

    • Sekhmetnakt
      January 26, 2017 at 19:27

      This anti-war leftist was never fooled by the neoliberal garbage from Democracy Now. Probably because I get my information from places like this, Zero Hedge, Counterpunch, OpEdNews, and Information Clearing House.

    • Stefan
      January 27, 2017 at 07:44

      1. truth
      2. truth
      3. truth
      4. truth

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