Trotskyist Delusions: Obsessed with Stalin, They See Betrayed Revolutions Everywhere

The trouble with some Trotskyists is they’re always “supporting” other peoples’ revolutions, says Diana Johnstone. Their obsession with permanent revolution in the end provides an alibi for permanent war.

By Diana Johnstone  Special to Consortium News

I first encountered Trotskyists in Minnesota half a century ago during the movement against the Vietnam War. I appreciated their skill in organizing anti-war demonstrations and their courage in daring to call themselves “communists” in the United States of America – a profession of faith that did not groom them for the successful careers enjoyed by their intellectual counterparts in France. So I started my political activism with sympathy toward the movement. In those days it was in clear opposition to U.S. imperialism, but that has changed.

The first thing one learns about Trotskyism is that it is split into rival tendencies. Some remain consistent critics of imperialist war, notably those who write for the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS).

Others, however, have translated the Trotskyist slogan of “permanent revolution” (turning a bourgeois revolution into a working class one) into the hope that every minority uprising in the world must be a sign of the long awaited world revolution – especially those that catch the approving eye of mainstream media. More often than deploring U.S. intervention, they join in reproaching Washington for not intervening sooner on behalf of the alleged revolution.

A recent article in the International Socialist Review (issue #108, March 1, 2018) entitled “Revolution and counterrevolution in Syria” indicates so thoroughly how Trotskyism can go wrong that it is worthy of a critique. Since the author, Tony McKenna, writes well and with evident conviction, this is a strong not a weak example of the Trotskyist mindset.

McKenna starts out with a passionate denunciation of the regime of Bashar al Assad, which, he says, responded to a group of children who simply wrote some graffiti on a wall by “beating them, burning them, pulling their fingernails out.” The source of this grisly information is not given. There could be no eye witnesses to such sadism, and the very extremism sounds very much like war propaganda – Germans carving up Belgian babies in the First World War.

The Issue of Sources

Trotsky: His permanent revolution turned into permanent war.

It raises the issue of sources. There are many sources of accusations against the Assad regime, on which McKenna liberally draws, indicating that he is writing not from personal observation, any more than I am. Clearly, he is strongly disposed to believe the worst, and even to embroider it somewhat. He accepts and develops without the shadow of a doubt the theory that Assad himself is responsible for spoiling the good revolution by releasing Islamist prisoners who went on to poison it with their extremism. The notion that Assad himself infected the rebellion with Islamist fanaticism is at best a hypothesis concerning not facts but intentions, which are invisible. But it is presented as unchallengeable evidence of Assad’s perverse wickedness.

This interpretation of events happens to dovetail neatly with the current Western doctrine on Syria, so that it is impossible to tell them apart. In both versions, the West is no more than a passive onlooker, whereas Assad enjoys the backing of Iran and Russia.

Much has been made of Western imperial support for the rebels in the early years of the revolution. This has, in fact, been an ideological lynchpin of first the Iranian and then the Russian military interventions as they took the side of the Assad government. Such interventions were framed in the spirit of anti-colonial rhetoric in which Iran and Russia purported to come to the aid of a beleaguered state very much at the mercy of a rapacious Western imperialism that was seeking to carve the country up according to the appetites of the US government and the International Monetary Fund”, according to McKenna.

Whose “ideological lynchpin?” Not that of Russia, certainly, whose line in the early stages of its intervention was not to denounce Western imperialism but to appeal to the West and especially to the United States to join in the fight against Islamist extremism.

Neither Russia nor Iran “framed their interventions in the spirit of anti-colonial rhetoric” but in terms of the fight against Islamist extremism with Wahhabi roots.

Organic U.S.-Israel Alliance

In reality, a much more pertinent “framing” of Western intervention, taboo in the mainstream and even in Moscow, is that Western support for armed rebels in Syria was being carried out to help Israel destroy its regional enemies. The Middle East nations attacked by the West – Iraq, Libya and Syria – all just happen to be, or have been, the last strongholds of secular Arab nationalism and support for Palestinian rights. There are a few alternative hypotheses to Western motives – oil pipelines, imperialist atavism, desire to arouse Islamist extremism to weaken Russia (the Brzezinski gambit) – but none are as coherent as the organic alliance between Israel and the United States, and its NATO sidekicks.

It is remarkable that McKenna’s long article (some 12 thousand words) about the war in Syria mentions Israel only once (aside from a footnote citing Israeli national news as a source). And this mention actually equates Israelis and Palestinians as co-victims of Assad propaganda: the Syrian government “used the mass media to slander the protestors, to present the revolution as the chaos orchestrated by subversive international interests (the Israelis and the Palestinians were both implicated in the role of foreign infiltrators).”

No other mention of Israel, which occupies Syrian territory (the Golan Heights) and bombs Syria whenever it wants to.

Only one, innocuous mention of Israel. But this article by a Trotskyist mentions Stalin, Stalinists, Stalinism no less than twenty-two times.

Stalin: Bolshevik Revolution ended in him.

And what about Saudi Arabia, Israel’s de facto ally in the effort to destroy Syria in order to weaken Iran? Two mentions, both implicitly denying that notorious fact. The only negative mention is blaming the Saudi family enterprise for investing billions in the Syrian economy in its neoliberal phase. But far from blaming Saudi Arabia for supporting Islamist groups, McKenna portrays the House of Saud as a victim of ISIS hostility.

Clearly, this Trotskyist delusion is to see the Russian Revolution everywhere, forever being repressed by a new Stalin. Assad is likened to Stalin several times.

More About Stalin Than Syria

This article is more about the Trotskyist case against Stalin than it is about Syria.

This repetitive obsession does not lead to a clear grasp of events, which are not the Russian revolution. And even on this pet subject, something is wrong.

The Trotskyists keep yearning for a new revolution, just like the Bolshevik revolution. Yes, but the Bolshevik revolution ended in Stalinism. Doesn’t that tell them something? Isn’t it quite possible that their much-desired “revolution” might turn out just as badly in Syria, if not much worse (jihadists taking over the country)?

Throughout history, revolts, uprisings, rebellions happen all the time, and usually end in repression. Revolution is very rare. It is more a myth than a reality, especially as some Trotskyists tend to imagine it: the people all rising up in one great general strike, chasing their oppressors from power and instituting people’s democracy. Has this ever happened?

For these Trotskyists, this seem to be the natural way things should happen and is stopped only by bad guys who spoil it out of meanness.

In our era, the most successful revolutions have been in Third World countries, where national liberation from Western powers was a powerful emotional engine. Successful revolutions have a program that unifies people and leaders who personify the aspirations of broad sectors of the population. Socialism or communism was above all a rallying cry meaning independence and “modernization” – which is indeed what the Bolshevik revolution turned out to be. If the Bolshevik revolution turned Stalinist, maybe it was in part because a strong repressive leader was the only way to save “the revolution” from its internal and external enemies. There is no evidence that, had he defeated Stalin, Trotsky would have been more tender-hearted.

Countries that are deeply divided ideologically and ethnically, such as Syria, are not likely to be “modernized” without a strong ruler.

McKenna acknowledges that the beginning of the Assad regime somewhat redeemed its repressive nature by modernization and social reforms. This modernization benefited from Russian aid and trade, which was lost when the Soviet Union collapsed. Yes, there was a Soviet bloc, which despite its failure to carry out world revolution as Trotsky advocated, did support the progressive development of newly independent countries.

No Excuse for Bashar

The Assads: Son succumbed to neo-liberalism.

If Bashar’s father Hafez al Assad had some revolutionary legitimacy in McKenna’s eyes, there is no excuse for Bashar. In the context of a global neoliberalism, where governments across the board were enacting the most pronounced forms of deregulation and overseeing the carving up of state industries by private capital, the Assad government responded to the heightening contradictions in the Syrian economy by following suit—by showing the ability to march to the tempo of foreign investment while evincing a willingness to cut subsidies for workers and farmers.”

The neoliberal turn impoverished people in the countryside, therefore creating a situation that justified “revolution”.

This is rather amazing, if one thinks about it. Without the alternative Soviet bloc, virtually the whole world has been obliged to conform to anti-social neoliberal policies. Syria included. Does this make Bashar al Assad so much more a villain than every other leader conforming to U.S.-led globalization?

McKenna concludes by quoting Louis Proyect: “If we line up on the wrong side of the barricades in a struggle between the rural poor and oligarchs in Syria, how can we possibly begin to provide a class-struggle leadership in the USA, Britain, or any other advanced capitalist country?”

One could turn that around. Shouldn’t such a Marxist revolutionary be saying: “If we can’t defeat the oligarchs in the West, who are responsible for the neoliberal policies imposed on the rest of the world, how can we possibly begin to provide class-struggle leadership in Syria?”

The trouble with these Trotskyists is that they are always “supporting” other people’s more or less imaginary revolutions. They are always telling others what to do. They know it all. The practical result of this verbal agitation is simply to align this brand of Trotskyism with U.S imperialism. The obsession with permanent revolution ends up providing an ideological alibi for permanent war.

For the sake of world peace and progress, both the United States and its inadvertent Trotskyist apologists should go home and mind their own business.

Diana Johnstone is a political writer, focusing primarily on European politics and Western foreign policy. She received a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and was active in the movement against the Vietnam War. Johnstone was European editor of the U.S. weekly In These Times from 1979 to 1990, and continues to be a correspondent for the publication. She was press officer of the Green group in the European Parliament from 1990 to 1996. Her books include Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary ClintonCounterPunch Books (2016) and Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western DelusionsPluto Press (2002).

212 comments for “Trotskyist Delusions: Obsessed with Stalin, They See Betrayed Revolutions Everywhere

  1. Abe
    May 11, 2018 at 13:18

    Delusion is an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.

    Delusions have been causing quite a hullabaloo here at CN.

    In their loud reactions to Diana Johnstone’s recent article:

    “Keith” firmly maintains his belief that the article is an “attack” on “the last bastions of Marxist thought”.

    “Oakland Pete” firmly maintains his belief that the article is “attacking” an “entire school of Leftist thought”.

    Louis Proyect firmly maintains his belief that the purported “attack” is a “broadside against Trotskyism”.

    Our comrades’ “honest” impressions are very obviously contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality, in this case, Johnstone’s actual writings.

    Johnstone’s several qualified remarks about “some Trotskyists”, “these Trotskyists”, “inadvertent Trotskyist apologists” and “this brand of Trotskyism” make it clear that Johnstone is not addressing Trotskyist or Leftist and Marxist thought in general, but a given “Trotskyism” (exemplified by McKenna) that conspicuously aligns with U.S imperialism.

    Johnstone fairly and accurately describes McKenna as “a strong not a weak example of the Trotskyist mindset”, no doubt due to McKenna’s obvious enthusiasm for what he calls “Trotsky’s great, prophetic writings”.

    Proyect has acknowledged as much.

    In an August 2016 blog review of McKenna’s book, The Dictator, The Revolution, the Machine: a Political Account of Joseph Stalin, Proyect notes the following: “Familiar with the Trotskyist movement that made rejection of Stalinism the centerpiece of its program, McKenna finds it wanting even though much of his analysis is based on Trotsky’s writings”.

    McKenna’s rejection of “the shadow of Stalinism” he sees everywhere certainly confirms his “Trotskyist mindset”, however much McKenna may find the Trotskyist movement in general “wanting”.

    Indeed, comrades McKenna and Proyect both loudly find ” the radical and revolutionary Left” in general to be “wanting” due to its insufficient passion for the Israeli-Saudi-U.S. Axis “regime change” project in Syria.

    McKenna and Proyect obviously go out of their way not to mention Israel unless they’re invoking some Israeli “authority” about what happened in Syria.

    McKenna, in his portrayal of “Revolution and counterrevolution in Syria”, cites Arutz Sheva, the media organ of the right wing Religionist Zionist movement embraced by the Israeli “settler” movement.

    McKenna also cites figures like Michael Karadjis, a member of the Socialist Alliance organization in Australia, an enthusiastic supporter of Al Qaeda terrorist affiliate groups in Syria. The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) identified Karadjis as one of the “Australian pseudo-lefts complicit in US war drive against Syria.”

    In 2013, WSWS took note of the propaganda efforts of efforts of Karadjis: “Blatantly denying well-established facts, such as the dominant role of Al Qaeda-connected sectarian militias among the so-called rebel fighters, and the active role of the CIA along the Syrian-Turkish border in coordinating the flow of weapons, money, and foreign Islamist fighters into Syria”.

    Proyect, in his portrayal of “Diana Johnstone’s attack on Tony McKenna”, features a quote from a senior Israeli government minister copied from a 2012 article by Karadjis. Proyect basically duplicates Karadjis’ narrative about Syria and the Palestinians.

    Karadjis recently averred on his blog (April 21 2018), “Yes, the US is allied to Israel and to Saudi Arabia. So what?” He also claimed, “As for Israel, it has never aided the rebels”, which contradicts Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, who acknowledged Israeli aid for al-Nusra in 2015.

    McKenna’s article certainly has a lot more links than Proyect’s copy-paste effort to help us “read Tony’s article as it was intended”. Those links reveal McKenna’s reading “comfort zone”.

    The largest single source of citations for McKenna’s article on Syrian “revolution” was a book published in December 2015 titled, Khiyana: Daesh, the Left, and the Unmaking of the Syrian Revolution.

    The book’s opening essay on “Socialism” boldly declared that “After Trotsky’s death Permanent Revolution was falsified by reality”, and “Trotsky’s theory became a fetish – a ready-made alternative to trying to understand that world”.

    These observations by an author names Assad al-Anar evoked no impassioned cries of “attack” from either McKenna or Proyect. Proyect even went so far as to declare (in an April 12, 2016 post on his blog) that the article “deserves to be published separately as a pamphlet”. Curiously, the “Contributors” page of Khiyana provides no information about this al-Anar.

    In fact, both Proyect and Karadji contributed essays Khiyana, although McKenna does not refer to those particular essays in his ISR article. Drawing more than a quarter of his references from a single text would make the game too obvious, even for McKenna.

    But McKenna’s article does indeed draw its most frequent references by far (14 out of 56 notes) from the Khiyana essays of Edinburgh-based Sam Charles Hamad (5 citations), and London-based “socialist activist” Mark Boothroyd (9 citations),

    Scottish-Egyptian polemicist Hamad is notable for his highly selective outrage, his enormous enthusiasm for U.S.-enforced No-Fly Zones even after the catastrophic NATO destruction of Libya, and his promotion of “anti-anti-imperialism”.

    Boothroyd, founder of a group called Syria Solidarity UK, declares that British anti-war activist reluctance to embrace “regime change” intervention in Syria “reeks of hypocrisy”.

    Proyect and Boothroyd share enthusiasm for a primary “regime change” intervention propaganda canard: the notion that alleged chemical incidents in Syria were government perpetrated “attacks”.

    Boothroyd in Khiyana (page 50) cites Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat as an authority on “attacks” in Syria.

    Apparently there’s no “hypocrisy” in the fact that Higgins and Bellingcat work on behalf of the Atlantic Council, the “regime change” think tank.

    That is of no concern to Boothroyd or Proyect, who writes fawning articles praising Higgins’ “online investigations”.

    Accessing their websites and publications to discern reality, what we find contradicts the truth” firmly believed by these “honest” purveyors of Western imperial “regime change” intervention propaganda.

    The peculiar delusions of this “honest” brigade propaganda purveyors are all too evident.

    So when “honest” comrades loudly declare that their comments are “censored”, or firmly believe some “analysis” is “accurate”, please understand that they feel “no obligation” to agree with what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument.

    • Abe
      May 11, 2018 at 15:10

      In my December 2017 email exchange with Robert Parry, I observed that the propaganda troll “surge in the comments sections of investigative journalism and independent media sites is designed not to convince, but to sow doubt, distraction and general chaos.”

      Parry replied. “There seems to be a pick-up in troll comments, which often are phrased as someone who once supported our work but is now disappointed or as someone who once supported us but is tired of our comments on some specific topic. While I’m sure there are real people who feel this way, it is often an effective way for trolls to distract from the content and turn some other readers against us.”

      That’s important to remember when some delusional poster declares that what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument is somehow “dishonest”.

      It’s especially important to remember when some “Trot” troll makes a statement like “I’ve donated a lot in the past, but you’ve stained Robert Parry’s legacy and can expect no more” (“Oakland Pete” May 4, 2018 at 6:50 pm)

    • Abe
      May 11, 2018 at 16:31


      “Kevin” [not “Keith”] firmly maintains his belief that the article is an “attack” on “the last bastions of Marxist thought”.

      Facts matter.

      That’s important to remember when some delusional poster declares that what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument is somehow “disingenuous”.

      It’s most important to remember when some delusional poster starts lecturing about “dubious journalism”.

    • Abe
      May 15, 2018 at 18:48

      Lev Trotsky insisted on scrupulousness with “the facts”.

      In a series of notes not intended for publication, Trotsky wrote “The dialectic does not liberate the investigator from painstaking study of the facts, quite the contrary: it requires it. But in return it gives investigative thought elasticity, helps it cope with ossified prejudices, arms it with invaluable analogies, and educates it in a spirit of daring, grounded in circumspection.”

      (Trotsky’s Notebooks, 1933-1935: Writings of Lenin, Dialectics and Evolutionism, Translation by Philip Pomper. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. page 92)

  2. Bob Beal
    May 11, 2018 at 05:50

    Trotskyism is the Marxism of the 21st Century
    By Joseph Kishore, 7 May 2018
    “,.., embodied in the political program and practice of the Fourth International, founded in 1938, and continued in the struggle of the International Committee against Stalinism, Social Democracy and all forms of opportunism, centrism and pseudo-left politics. As North stated, “Marxism does not exist in the abstract, or as a set of conclusions formulated more than a century ago. Rather, it exists as the real movement that represents the continuity of the conscious struggle within the international working class to develop the program, perspective and practice of world socialist revolution.””

  3. Kevin
    May 10, 2018 at 09:10

    To be perfectly honest, this is probably one of the most disingenuous articles I have read in a long time, which troubles me because its been posted on a site that I have come to associate with proper journalistic standards. I would not even classify this as Opinion or Analysis, but rather a blatant polemic that attempts to pierce well beyond McKenna to malign and discredit an entire political ideology. Johnstone takes McKenna and almost immediately turns him into the archetypal Troskyist, declaring his enthusiasm as equivalent mark of proper understanding and representation of the ideology in its actual form. This is after a retrospectively awkward attempt to create a distinction between the those that McKenna supposedly represents and those of the WSWS (World Socialist Web Site), awkward because by her own statement: “[Since…] Tony McKenna, writes well and with evident conviction, this is a strong not a weak example of the Trotskyist mindset,” she is implying that the WSWS is some strange anomaly within Communist/Trotskyist circles. For those who are unaware, the WSWS is the official daily news outlet of the Fourth International, which is the global political organization founded by the Leon Trotsky. This seeming contradiction is not even addressed, but rather, after establishing the existence of an adamantly anti-imperialist sect of Trotskyism, the author never mentions them again and goes on to treat McKenna as the true face of the Trotskyism.

    It should be noted that at no point does the author actually attempt to pull any level of substantiation from primary source materials (actual quotes from Trotsky); she simply makes vague and generalized statements of the Russian Revolution and Revolution itself and comments on the actions taken by the Bolsheviks outside of honest context. But this is ultimately secondary to Johnstone’s attempt to make an apologist for American Imperialism as the somehow a voice for entire movement and tangentially associated organizations. Her goal is not to reprimand one Trotskyist but to condemn them all, since to Johnstone McKenna is an expression true Trotskyist thinking. The grounds for this collective reprimand this is, I assume (especially considering previous articles written on the subject) seemingly based on the assumption that Neo-Conservatism/U.S. Imperialism possesses a direct lineage from Trotsky despite the fact that: (1) the founding thinkers of Neo-Conservatism, outside of each other, were not all associated, even by degrees removed, with Trotskist thought; those that had been either were either expelled and disillusioned writers of a warped ideology or their proteges, and (2) Imperialism and Interest Driven Intervention have existed with the American political landscape for well over a century and well before Trotsky, Lenin, or Marx. The driving animus of the authors assertions, then, operates on the rather specious claims that the “Internationalism” espoused by Neo-Conservatives is the same or the logical conclusion of the Internationalism described and promoted by Trotsky. To simply stop at Trotsky is, in the end, not really a conclusion to a well presented argument but rather an politically and rhetorically expedient stopping-point in what is–if we continue to follow the course of blame through association–nothing more than a regressive logical argument.

    That this article is so obviously polemic in nature, and disingenuous in its treatment of Trotskyist, which the author initially admits is not a monolithic group, that one has to ask the serious question of what the purpose of this article is. To be sure it’s not about correcting those who ostensibly claim ties to Communist thought but act in a divergent and contradictory manner, since the author positions is that McKenna is a thorough-bred Trotskyist and those his words and action are in line with said thinking. The goal is not to explain the connections, as tenuous and muddled as they are, between Neo-Imperialism and Trotskyist thought as attempted in other articles on the site. Nor is it a critique of a single writer or publication. What we are left with is an attack against a rather marginalized group of political thinkers and activists who comprise only a small portion of what would be considered the American Left. Why Trotskyists? Why not Liberal Interventionists or “Leftist” Humanitarian Interventionism? Why not Interventionism in general? The pin hole focus of this article rand the timing (we have just passed the 200th birthday of Marx and have seen the centenary of the Russia Revolution pass with the past year or so) raises questions as to why petty-bourgeois writers are attempting to attack the last bastions of Marxist thought through such dubious journalism. That McKenna is wrong and short-sighted in his position is a valid criticism, but Johnstone goes well beyond that point and seeks to, with very little evidence or even sound logical argument, to attack an entire school of Leftist thought in a time of great social, economic, and geopolitical tension. That McKenna is not the true target is obvious, but true intentions of the author and the article remains obscure.

  4. May 9, 2018 at 17:04

    Not all who identify as Trotskyist support the bankrupt position on Syria described in Johnstone’s article. See by Socialist Action. This piece was written before Johnstone’s article, though its date on the web site is later.

    In a future piece, I will address what Trotsky stood for and use that criteria to differentiate among the various groups that call themselves Trotskyist today.

    • Abe
      May 9, 2018 at 22:45

      Mr. Lesnick,

      Your piece completely ignores Israel’s direct military involvement in the ongoing Israeli-Saudi-U.S. Axis assault on the people of Syria.

      Only once and in passing do you mention Syria’s bellicose neighbor to the south:

      “We’re asked to believe that our government – which supports right wing, business-friendly repressive governments around the world, from Saudi Arabia and Israel to those installed by US supported coups in Egypt, Ukraine and Honduras – is deeply concerned about freedom and democracy in Syria.”

      In fact, Israel frequently attacks Syria, continues to illegally occupy Syrian territory, and is escalating military aggression by the day.

      Perhaps you’re aware of today’s news.

      Before you lecture us on Trotsky, please complete your roster of imperial aggressors who cannot tell the truth about their “dirty war” in Syria.

      Otherwise your position on Syria will remain as bankrupt as that of the 1%.

      • Oakland Pete
        May 10, 2018 at 15:53

        First, thanks to Bruce and Kevin for taking this on. I was feeling a little isolated here. As for the typical dishonest comment from Abe: Bruce has no obligation to address everything you think he should in every comment he makes. Socialist Action has spoken about Israel and Saudi Arabia enough times to make its position on that and related issues clear. Your comment implies that Bruce, or Trotskyists, deny Israel’s attacks on Syria, and that is simply a lie – even if just an implied one.

        I hope that Consortium readers notice that the supporters of Johnstone’s article, which has divisiveness as its motive, resort to false characterizations of its critics, insults, sarcasm, and ridicule; while critics of the article have taken pains to explain our views and provide history and links to clarify the issues. That does not mean any of us support all of Louis Proyect’s positions, but I believe his analysis of Johnstone and her associations is accurate.

        Just for the information of readers: Not all I’ve written on this has been published by CN. They are not only running an article that they knew would bring a strong reaction, especially in support of it from unreconstructed stalinists who cannot let go of the old and tired falsification of history that is their trademark; but the editors have censored some comments that might further enlighten readers about the issues raised. So before expressing that moment of clarity some have, please do the accused justice by accessing their websites and publications to discern the truth for yourselves. That does not mean McKenna, who is part of that ex-Trotskyist milieu that our movement rejected and expelled back in 1940.

      • Abe
        May 11, 2018 at 16:02

        The Socialist Alliance article on “Big stake in Syria war” does not include Israel in the list of “aggressors”.

        The Socialist Alliance site’s May 8, 2018 article notes “Syria’s fight against the U.S., Saudi, EU aggressors and their ISIS and Al-Qaeda plenipotentiaries”.

        But writer Bruce Lesnick makes no mention of Israel’s ongoing direct military attacks against Syria, and Israeli support for Al-Qaeda affiliated forces in Syria.

        In fact, the Socialist Alliance site’s most recent mention of Israeli aggression against Syria was a May 7, 2013 article by Jeff Mackler. See

        That was five years ago, at least according to what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument.

        Now good comrades like “Oakland Pete” will insist that it’s all a “lie” and that the facts are a “slander”, and will seek to “further enlighten readers” about the issue.

        Because, you see, reality is “dishonest”, at least according to our delusional “Trot”.

      • Abe
        May 11, 2018 at 20:58


        The Socialist Action [not Socialist Alliance] article on “Big stake in Syria war” does not include Israel in the list of “aggressors”.

        The Socialist Action [not Socialist Alliance] site’s May 8, 2018 article notes “Syria’s fight against the U.S., Saudi, EU aggressors and their ISIS and Al-Qaeda plenipotentiaries”, but no mention of Israel.

        In fact, the Socialist Action [not Socialist Alliance] site hasn’t mentioned Israeli attacks on Syria for five years. Jeff Mackler got busy with more interesting things like running for President of the United States.

        Facts matter.

        So let’s be clear.

        Socialist Action is a Trotskyist political party in the United States.

        The Socialist Alliance is an organization in Australia. Members include comrade Michael Karadjis, a pseudo-left cheerleader for Al Qaeda terrorist affiliate groups in Syria.

        Karadjis’ personal fan club includes Louis Proyect and Tony McKenna.

        Anyway, at least according to some delusional “Trot”, Socialist Action is “under no obligation” to mention Israel’s attacks when they sound off about who has a “Big stake” in the war in Syria.

  5. Maria S Calef
    May 8, 2018 at 21:02

    pseudo revolutionaries! they are the divil in disguise. No revolutionary that respect his position will aprove under any circumstances imperialist intevention, and depredatory wars no matter what! Imperialist wars are colonialist war, depredatory war. No Assad government but we defend the self determination and sovereignity of the government of Syria and reject strongly USA meddling, destabilizing that contry, and destroying Syria.

  6. May 8, 2018 at 18:19
    • Abe
      May 8, 2018 at 19:59

      Adoring Bellingcat fanboy scribbles latest two-step shuffle. But hey, it’s got “lots of links”.

    • Abe
      May 11, 2018 at 23:39

      Understand the delusional mentality of people like Louis Proyect. Clearly he expects his readers not to double-check his sources.

      Given the pattern of his citations, it’s obvious that he is committed to Israeli-Saudi-U.S. Axis “regime change” intervention and firmly believes nobody notices when he puts rouge on the vampires’s cheeks.

  7. Steven A
    May 7, 2018 at 22:37

    Glad to see Diana Johnstone’s writings gracing Consortium News. I always look forward to everything she writes, and have been keenly sensitive to her long absence.

    War propaganda from any ideological quarter is always a proper topic for criticism. Johnstone took pains to note that her criticisms don’t apply to all who might label themselves Trotskyists, although I have to say that obsession with Stalin and “Stalinism”, as pointedly documented by means of the contrasts Johnstone skillfully makes, is a key diagnostic for laymen like myself of tendencies, lets say, related to Trotskyism. Practically, we have no choice but to make use of political terms that are never completely precise. Obsession with the factional history of Trotskyism seems to be another diagnostic. Does a general audience of people prominently concerned with war propaganda in the media really need to be inducted into the minutiae of “Schachtmanism” or the like?

    Turning to a concrete point alluded to in Johnstone’s article, William Van Wagenen has written detailed refutations of the contention that Assad deliberately Islamized and militarized the uprising. See: Did Assad Deliberately release Islamist prisoners to militarize and radicalize the Syrian[…]?
    (at The Libertarian Institute site which is currently down) and Did Assad “Islamize” the Syrian Uprising? at his own blog, Pissing Outside the Tent. I believe the former is an expanded version of the latter, though I can’t confirm this at the moment. Van Wagenen’s article Should anti-Imperialists support the Syrian Revolution? is more generally supplementary to Johnstone’s article:

  8. John M. Morgan
    May 7, 2018 at 21:44

    Wow, I think Diana Johnstone nails it very well! Some people’s view of reality is distorted beyond recognition by their ideology.

  9. Broompilot
    May 7, 2018 at 19:59

    Whenever the discussion Syria comes up, the stability that the Assad family brought to that country is seldom if ever mentioned. Prior to their coming to power in the early 70s, governments lasted an average of 2.5 years, I believe. Something similar can probably be said for Iraq and Libya, and there are surely millions of snuffed out and ruined lives that these encouragers discussed here by Diana Johnstone should answer for.

  10. Mild -ly- Facetious
    May 7, 2018 at 16:59

    Marvelous veins of history and historical research attached to this essay from Diana Johnstone. It reopened my curiosity into McCarthy era persecution of Jews as “socialist” Communists.

    At that time of Jewish ‘blacklisting’, Jews in the “arts” were viewed as ‘communist sympathizers’
    — what they actually did was attempt to build bridges of understanding and recognition of the “others” ( non-whites) through books, plays, and film — based upon their struggles in Nazi Germany and in atheistic Soviet Russia.

    American Jewish authors, playwrights and screenwriters throughout the 30’s 40’s and 50’s sought to ‘bridge-the-divide’ of understanding & recognition of the struggles and plights of “the others” living&working in “land of the free and home of the brave” America, where many were Excluded by means of race or religion or country-of-origin.

    Jews were always outspoken in the demand for equality and equal rights — it is one reason they were targeted by McCarthy in his Red-Baiting scheme to punish/blacklist Jewish playwrights, authors, and screenwriters.

    A new version of Anti-Jewish style ACTIVISM has emerged under the McCarthyism of Donald Trump whose view of MAGA envisions an America of a Mayor Majority Euro bred citizenry, with Tens-of-Millions less non-white foreigners within the scope of USA boarders.

    The divisions in US and/or World culture are being collectivized by means of social media as never before at any time in world history.

    Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico. He was not in the camp of the Trump- ians — He’d made peace with revolutionary activism.

    Trump’s political shoutout is to build more Ziggurats, more Towers to Heaven embossed w/his name in Gold.

    Trotsky wrote/said, “What is revolution if it is not a mad rebellion in the name of conscious, national, purposeful and dynamic principle of life, against the elemental, senseless, biologic automatism of life… ?”

    Trump favors automatons, kiss-ups and those who’d lie for / “take-a-bullet” on behalf of / “be loyal to” / ‘kiss-my-ring” and”bow down to”

    Trotsky would rather be killed, would choose death, over against submission to ruthless tyrants like Stalin or TRUMP.

    • Mild -ly- Facetious
      May 7, 2018 at 18:03

      This is specially relevant in this era where “Liberals” are denigrated and labeled evil “socialists” as a curse word by GOP ‘Real Americans’ ——

      Divided nations quickly fall prey to authoritarian “Presidents” —

      This is much easier to accomplish when DATA is controlled by AI, algorithms, and Data Mining Aps.

      Place Trotsky in the vein of whistle blowers who escaped autocratic punishment for a few years, until the bureaucrats murdered him,
      much like our own Martin Luther King, also murdered by his own government, as he Boldly Spoke Against American Oppression.

  11. mike
    May 7, 2018 at 14:43

    Trotsky, Schmotsky. Trotting out Trotsky as some kind of analogy to U.S. imperialism has become a hobby horse of those who have a bone to pick with the left. Paul Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Gould, and now Diana Johnstone could have made their respective points without invoking the ghost of Leon if they wanted to. So what if some of them grew up in the rarified Bronx air where Trotsky was a household word. I think that is cool. But to conflate Trotskyism with the neo-cons is a stretch.
    Johnstone asks, “Revolution is very rare. It is more a myth than a reality, especially as some Trotskyists tend to imagine it: the people all rising up in one great general strike, chasing their oppressors from power and instituting people’s democracy. Has this ever happened?” Ooh, smug. Then she launches into a riff on globalized neo-liberalism (with no mention of Trotskyism BTW) as if this were as natural as sunshine when , in fact, it just another way to provoke, well…worker uprisings, general strikes and, hopefully, democracy. If you want to make an omelette, sometimes you have to flip a few police cars.
    Anyway, below is a link to the Proyect article:

    • Jams O'Donnell
      May 8, 2018 at 16:00

      No – one is “conflating Trotskyism with the neo-cons” – she is merely saying that blinkered ideologues with poor insight into the reality of US imperialism are prone to blind identification with reactionary forces.

  12. charles hammerstein
    May 7, 2018 at 11:16

    Solid, rare, common sense!

    • Oakland Pete
      May 7, 2018 at 16:44

      So if Mike and Charles think this is all just “Trotsky, shmotsky”, why did they read the title and then open the article? Obviously, just to inject their sarcasm. By the way Mike, I included that link a while back. Those who were paying attention found and used it long before your witty (not!) lead in. A lot of others were interested in this, or the article would not have so many comments. If you two have something so much more relevant to say than Johnstone (it was an editorial decision to run the article) or the other commenters, write an article of your own. And before you respond as I think you will, yes I have.

      • Mike
        May 7, 2018 at 17:19

        Someone is hitting the koolaid

        • Oakland Pete
          May 7, 2018 at 18:32

          I think it’s the guy who says “schmotsky”. Go back to the main page of Consortium and see how many comments each article has. Obviously this article with “Trotsky” in the title has generated more interest than all the others combined. You ridicule that and then keep commenting yourself with your adolescent remark. You make a fool of yourself.

      • mike
        May 8, 2018 at 10:16
        • Oakland Pete
          May 8, 2018 at 19:10

          Mike: The WSWS article about Shactman is good, and the points made are valid. The problem that I keep referring to is that as you might have noticed from the article, Trotskyism EXPELLED Shactman’s tendency. So for Johnstone to assign Shactman’s ideas to Trotskyism in her effort to discredit it is disingenuous. And no, she did not condemn one faction of Trotskyism or anything similar. She condemned Trotskyism as a whole, because she jumped from using Shactman’s ideas to citing the fundamentals of Trotskyist thought. It was a disingenuous jump that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny of its logic.

          For those who think this is all obscure or irrelevant: Then why did you read the article to begin with? Why do you comment on it? Why try to discredit those who shed light on the issues with relevant history? This would be a good discussion were it not for those who use sarcasm and insults in their polemics.

          For those who are interested: Every Trotskyist current has a website and a newspaper. Here in the U.S. the recognized section of the Fourth International is Socialist Action. They aren’t the only current and I don’t endorse them, but they have a perspective on Syria as representative as can be claimed by anyone. Check them out, and check out others. Better yet, attend an anti-war demonstration and read what they say. Don’t take Johnstone’s word for it. She doesn’t speak for anyone in the Trotskyist movement.

        • Oakland Pete
          May 10, 2018 at 18:12

          So now that Mike has read what the WSWS article says, which confirms what I wrote, perhaps he might review his taste test on that kool-aid. Or at least admit that he leads with insults before ascertaining the truth.

          • Mike
            May 14, 2018 at 00:43

            The koolaid thing was bad – my apologies. The Smotsky remark was an attempt at humor and deflate DJs references to Trotsky. The fact is, if you read beyond the opening shot, you would see that I do not disagree with you. I have noticed the conflation of Trotskyism with the neocons and, without knowing the full background until recently, nevertheless, smelled a rat. Just how can one be a pro-imperialist Trotskyist anyway? It makes no sense (hi Abe!)

  13. SM
    May 7, 2018 at 10:44

    This little teacup storm provides a nice opportunity to say a few more things about the Trotskyist ‘movement’ that most might find obscure, but actually there’s some method behind it. It is a profound mistake to characterise Shachtmanism as ‘ultra-leftism’. Max Shachtman, and the quintessentially petty bourgeois James Burnham also, came to transmit the alien politics essentially of the New York petty bourgeois milieu directly into the US SWP. The Hitler-Stalin pact in particular whipped up such an anti-Communist furore that this directly led Shachtman to drop defending the Soviet Union. James P Cannon was unable to stand up to Burnham and Shachtman in the ensuing six-month faction fight in 1939-40 in the SWP, centring on the class nature of the USSR, without the direct intervention of Trotsky (from Mexico). Trotsky’s intervention was able to save the SWP but at a great cost: they lost 40% of their membership. Trotsky himself didn’t expel anyone. The SWP already had been weakened by the loss of significant layers of its more dynamic working class cadres, which made it vulnerable to alien political influences that can profoundly change the ‘instinctual’ political reflexes of an organisation to world and domestic political events in spite of a formal revolutionary program.

    Such alien political pressures vis a vis the Soviet Union essentially were no different than those faced by Tony Cliff (or others like Karl Kautsky in earlier times). Each couldn’t stomach defending the Soviet Union in the face of petty bourgeois or straight bourgeois reaction, whether it was to the desperate measures of the Bolsheviks’ “war communism” (Kautsky), or against the Hitler-Stalin pact (Shachtman, Burnham), or to the cold war and North Korea defending itself from the US/UK/UN imperialist juggernaut (Cliff). These renegades from Marxism erected ‘left’ sounding ‘theoretical’ covers for their capitulation to bourgeois reaction to justify their abdication of military defense of the Soviet Union: ‘bureaucratic collectivism’ in the case of Max Shachtman; ‘managerial revolution’ in the case of James Burnham; and ‘state capitalism’ in the case of Tony Cliff (and before him, Karl Kautsky). After all, a whole new ‘ruling class’ sounds way more ‘left’ wing than a bureaucratic caste, doesn’t it; and a social revolution rather than a political revolution to eliminate Stalinism is more ‘radical’ sounding too. Yet when the chips are down, somehow these ‘ultra left’ positions always devolve into siding with imperialism. Form can hide content only for so long.

    Is there a point to this somewhat obscure stuff above? Well, it’s a concrete historical example that sheds some light on why a number of renegades from Trotskyism have ended up in the camp of reaction, and why some think (their notion of) Trotskyism is some kind of rightwing movement. And not least because the term ‘Shachtmanism’ has been bandied about somewhat. First, let’s leave aside the suppression of the Kronstadt uprising, which Lenin and Stalin also supported and which Paul Avrich (no friend of the Bolsheviks) shows evidence that it would quickly have turned into a bridgehead for the counterrevolutionary Whites if it wasn’t put down. By some lights this should make Lenin and Stalin also ‘right wingers’, not just Trotsky.

    But what is it that makes some ex-Trotskyists become so reactionary? First, remember that not all reactionaries started out that way either. Some were ex-liberals, or ex anarchists who became right wing libertarians; Mussolini was an ex-socialist; British reactionary Malcolm Muggeridge was an ex-communist. And so on — the list of apostate ex-leftists is long. In the case of ex-Trotskyists, it is probable that their political development in reaching Trotskyist positions meant they had to take an intellectual wrecking ball to a larger number of political ideologies along the way than the average leftist: particularly against Stalinism, social democracy, anarchism and liberalism. And most of this happens in youth when their brains are most active and creative and their disgust with the irrationalities of capitalism is at its height. After this period of youthful exuberance, especially in periods of reaction or when the realities of entrenched capitalism eventually wear them down, most retreat into conventional apolitical existences. But some who still have a political ambition and can’t reconcile the revolutionary outlook with the immensity of the task at hand will take to a political outlook that they didn’t really have to deal with intellectually when younger on their way to Trotskyism: straight bourgeois reaction.

    When you read any Marx, Engels, Lenin or Trotsky, their writings invariably contain polemics against others, now obscure, who also were trying to oppose bourgeois politics and come up with solutions to the many impasses of capitalism, as Marx et al. did. They didn’t bother taking on bourgeois ideas directly because these are either rather bankrupt or were dealt with effectively by other thinkers long before, and therefore it was not necessary to spend too much energy reinventing the wheel.

    So, put yourself in the place of a renegade from Trotskyism who is nonetheless still political: you can’t see the prospect of a revolution, or its prospect now scares you into thinking, like Shachtmanites, the Cliffites or liberals in general, that a new more oppressive society than capitalism will be its result. And Marx et al.’s teachings of the pitfalls of social democracy, anarchism, Stalinism, liberalism, bourgeois progressivism and all the rest still stick: then your now broken revolutionary spirit and older brain is probably going to make you quite susceptible to reactionary politics.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 7, 2018 at 11:59

      I would not disagree with any of this, but Shactman and his followers began with a critique of the USSR that was ostensibly from a left position. The ultimate logic of their position, lacking an analysis based on Marxism, led them to a position that was effectively pro-imperialist. This is what happens in real life, not in an abstract analysis that imagines a bar graph where some mode of thought has a quantifiable left/right rating. This is the very definition of “ultra-left”: It starts as that, but its logic leads to its opposite.

      The same phenomenon can be found in anarchism. Kronstadt, a classic example of this, began with a rebellion ostensibly from the left. The rebels used the advance of the counterrevolutionary white military on Petersburg as a threat to the Bolsheviks. The winter ice pack was melting, and in about three weeks the city would be in danger if the garrison at Kronstadt were not to defend it. The time for negotiation with the rebels there was gone, no matter whether those demands had merit or not. The Bolsheviks made a difficult decision and put down the rebellion by force. The Kronstadt rebels took their chances with a tactic of threatening the return of reaction, and that was a fatal mistake.

      That decision is second guessed to this day, but the reality of the situation, unlike the hypothetical arguments put forth by anarchists, is that the revolution’s existence was at stake. Now we have a situation that calls forth similar questions of principle: Oppose the military intervention of the west in Syria because that is wrong, or stand aside and take no position because both sides are “bad”? I oppose imperialist intervention, but a lot of left takes the latter position. Trotskyists have debated this question, and the main current of thought is to oppose imperialist intervention there. This is in keeping with the ideas of Trotsky and the history of the movement he founded.

      However, many of those on the left who stand aside on this vital question of imperialist war are former Trotskyists who are Shactmanites or variants of his followers. If you examine that current, some of his concepts are the same as those nominally on the left who are drifting into the camp of neo-liberalism under what we call “alien class pressures”. If Diana Johnstone had confined her criticism to them, as I have in many discussions of this question with political associates, she would have a lot more support. The problem here is not one of ignorance of the politics of the situation. Johnstone is a veteran of these issues, and has argued well on them in the past.

      But now Johnstone uses that valid criticism to attack a large group of activists who do not hold those views. Her logic jumps from this valid criticism, to attacking those to whom it doesn’t apply, to making a case for their basic ideas (which she distorts) being the cause of their errors. She creates needless division and tries to de-legitimize a political current with which she disagrees for reasons unrelated to her positions stated in this article. She has manipulated the gullible and uninformed into alienation from a significant section of the anti-imperialist left.

      In doing so, she has called into question her motives. All readers should be aware that she is not confused on these subjects. Again, she is a veteran and knows exactly what she is doing. So what are her motives? That is shown by the article to which I provided a link, by Louis Proyect, who has commented here. Johnstone is another activist who, like the Shactmanites, began in one place, became alienated from it, and sought out those who shared the ideas that created that alienation. In her case, just like with Shactman, she found those co-thinkers among those who were the very enemies she might have had originally. So while she came from a different direction, she wound up using the same thought processes as those she decries. I call it mobius strip logic.

      Read that article by Proyect. You don’t have to agree with all he says; I don’t. But he is right about one thing, and that is what drives this article: She has become a fascist sympathizer. She is so much that she is willing to sabotage unity in our movement by slandering a large base of its supporters and most active organizers. This is not the only instance. She pointedly does this with anti-fascist activists. This “coincidence” makes her possible motives very dark, indeed. The only constant that can be seen is increasing support for fascist positions, like her enthusiasm for European fascist parties.

      All readers of this article should take a step back from its superficial “logic” to see its intent: It divides us among ourselves. How can that serve the cause she purports to stand for? The simple answer is that it doesn’t. Instead it serves her new political allies.

      • Tom Larsen
        May 7, 2018 at 16:07

        First, she correctly notes the split on Syria within groups calling themselves Trotskyist, then further on she blames all Trotskyists for views that not all them share. I agree this seems like she’s attempting to disparage Trotskyism in general rather than the questionable views of some of them. It’s like a version of the old saw that Marxist invariably leads to authoritarianism. And I also agree, her argument becomes far weaker because of it.

  14. the New Squirel
    May 7, 2018 at 02:35

    “the people all rising up in one great general strike, chasing their oppressors from power and instituting people’s democracy. Has this ever happened?”
    I’d propose Cuba as an example were this happened.

  15. Jacob Freeze
    May 6, 2018 at 22:23

    The dim-witted Diana Johnstone is a TERRIBLE source, and this hate-piece aimed at Tony McKenna is a particularly egregious example of her cross-eyed perspective. But in spite of Johnstone’s hateful gibberish, McKenna is anything but an apologist for US intervention. For example…

    “For every hour in his last year in office, [Obama] dropped on average of nearly three bombs on other countries. He expanded by 130 percent the number of military operators who were active internationally during the Bush administration. He launched attacks or military raids in country after country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. And, under his watch, the use of drone technology became endemic.”

    “The outrage towards the obscenity of the real, visceral acts of mass slaughter in the Obama era seems strangely muted, when compared with the recent response to the words of obscenity said to have been sputtered by bellicose, blundering, and tantrum-prone President Trump.”

    • Gary
      May 6, 2018 at 23:21

      Duh – how does Mckeena making an excellent point about Obama’s imperial brutality somehow invalidate Johnstone’s critique of Mckeena’s imperial war mongering in regard to Syria – rendering it “hateful gibberish?” Is there some mysterious logic to your point that we’re missing?

      • Skip Scott
        May 7, 2018 at 06:14

        This seems to be the latest assault on CN’s comment section. Quite a while back, Michael Kenny used to wait until the comment section was slowed for a particular article, and then put his BS at the end, and then of course never respond to a rebuttal. I have noticed the same thing beginning again this past week or so, with some new names. And now with this new comment format, their ridiculous BS goes to the top of the page.

  16. Abe
    May 6, 2018 at 21:51

    In Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 (2006), historian Geoffrey Roberts addressed Stalin’s early relations with Israel:

    “After the war a de facto alliance developed between the Soviet Union and the nascent Israeli state. Although there was some sympathy for the calamity that had befallen European Jewry at the hands of the Nazis, the main Soviet motive was self-interest. The Soviets did not trust Arab nationalism, which they identified as being overly influenced by the British and Americans, and they saw Zionism as a useful counter to western influence in the Middle East. Moscow’s preferred option for the settlement of the Palestine problem was the establishment of an independent, multinational state that would respect the interests of both Jews and Arabs. When it came to the crunch, however, the Soviets were prepared to vote for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.” (p 339)

    According to Roberts:

    “The foundation of Israel in May 1948 was quickly followed by the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. In September Tel Aviv’s first ambassador arrived in Moscow. Golda Meyerson (better known as Golda Meir who later became Prime Minister of Israel) reported home on 12 September that 20,000 people had celebrated the declaration of the State of Israel at a Moscow synagogue. On 6 October Meyerson reported that on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) huge crowds packed the Great Synagogue in Moscow and that in the street she was met by thunderous cheers and ‘cries’ in Hebrew. Other reports by her testify to the developing contacts between the Israeli embassy and members of the JAFC [Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, one of a number of anti-fascist organisations set up by the Soviets during World War II]. In all probability it was these events that finally turned Stalin against the JAFC. Under no circumstances would he countenance independent political activity. The only displays of nationalism and patriotism allowed were those approved and sponsored by the Soviet state. In November 1948 the Politburo finally resolved to disband the JAFC on the grounds that it was a centre of anti-Soviet propaganda that regularly submitted anti-Soviet information to foreign intelligence agencies.” (pp 339-340)

    Stalin’s political opposition to Zionism and Jewish nationalism culminated in the 1953 severing of Israeli-Soviet diplomatic relations.

    “The purge and repression of the JAFC coincided with the onset of a Soviet domestic campaign against ‘rootless cosmopolitanism’ whose main theme was the necessity of combining proletarian internationalism with Soviet patriotism and a respect for Russian culture. Although not specifically aimed at Jews, the anti-cosmopolitan campaign had anti-Semitic connotations and took place in the context of virulent anti-Zionist propaganda that climaxed with a break in Soviet diplomatic relations with Israel in 1953.” (pp 340-431)

    Addressing the “actual evidence” concerning Stalin’s personal attitude toward the Jews, Roberts agreed with historian Zhores Medvedev, Russian author of Stalin and the Jewish Question: New Analysis (2003, in Russian), that Stalin was “not so much anti-Semitic as politically hostile to Zionism and Jewish nationalism, which he saw as threats to his power.” (p 341)

    Roberts observed:

    “Officially the Soviet state was opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and Stalin made many public statements to this effect. In his birthplace of Georgia there was no Jewish ghetto and the predominant tradition there was the assimilation of Jews, a policy Stalin favoured when he came to power in the USSR. Stalin was surrounded by Jewish officials, or officials with Jewish wives, and he continued to fête Jewish writers and artists even at the very height of the anti-Zionist campaign of the early 1950s.” (p 341)

    Roberts noted a “highly revealing statement” Stalin made to the plenum of the Central Committee in December 1952: “Every Jew-Nationalist is an agent of American intelligence. Jew-Nationalists think that their nation was saved by the USA (there they can get rich, become bourgeois, etc). They consider themselves obligated to the Americans.” (p 341)

  17. Youri
    May 6, 2018 at 17:47

    good article! and funny evolution or regression many Trots display, they all become like Christopher Hitchens or David Arronovitch or Nick Cohen or Bill Maher a bunch of cruise missile liberals or drone deaf progressives hehe! I don’t always find myself agreeing with Ms.Johnstone on some issues like Yugoslavia although Michael Parent and Tariq Ali’s arguments against the NATO bombings are convincing but on this issue and her arguments of the National Front actually being more left then people give them credit for, she is spot on! Sadly so much of the left that has jumped the shark on Syria just read anything of Amnesty International and Human rights Watch then watch anything on the Middle East through the lens of Al Jazeera and other Qatari sponsored news outlets and now all of sudden you have Democracy Now, The Intercept, Counter Punch going through a multiple personality disorder, and Jacobin just buying into the R2P BS regarding Syria though Intercept and DN! has more to do with the wealthy donors sponsoring them to.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 18:02

      Perfect logic, completely in tune with Diana Johnstone. Are we listening now? The breathless praise for DJ also extols… The National Front! Read the rest of what DJ writes and you will find her admiration for LePen, Golden Dawn, and free speech for nazis and the klan. This is the true face of what she’s written: she attacks Trotskyists with false arguments, convincing the ignorant and gullible, when her real cause is not anti-imperialism, but instead building sympathy for fascism.

      • Mike
        May 7, 2018 at 17:26

        I don’t see where we have a problem

  18. May 6, 2018 at 16:01

    All you people who hate Israel so much should never forget that Joseph Stalin voted for its formation after WWII. Just one of his foreign policy triumphs that goes hand in hand with making Greece safe for Western banks and selling out Ho Chi Minh.

    • ToivoS
      May 6, 2018 at 17:49

      Hey Louie, this comment of yours is a string of nonsequiturs. I simply cannot see the logical link in your chain of subjects.

    • Peter Anafiotis
      May 7, 2018 at 05:55

      Please, Louis: When and how did Stalin make Greece safe for western banks? “and…” How do you connect Stalin, Greece and Ho Chi Minh?

  19. Zoja
    May 6, 2018 at 15:49

    Most people don’t understand that communism/socialism can be developed only in a sertain situation in a very specific period of time, like it happend in Germany, Russia. it can’t lasts long if others countries don’t support their ideology.

  20. May 6, 2018 at 13:08

    Josh Mason, a former editor at In These Times, explains in an online PEN forum (April 8, 1999) that the magazine stopped using Diana Johnstone’s articles on the former Yugoslavia because they didn’t meet the publication’s journalistic standards:

    We felt we couldn’t publish her stuff not only because she was insisting that there was no Serb role in the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia after the facts were long in, but because her friendship with Milosevic’s wife Mirjana Markovic, going back to her time as student in Yugoslavia in the ’60s, colored her writing to the point of dishonesty. For instance, in a piece on the Serbian opposition, she presented Ms. Markovic’s party as Serbia’s main democratic opposition.

    “Johnstone is a longtime friend of a group of officials in Milosevic’s wife’s political party–stays with them when she’s in Yugoslavia, depends on them (often exclusively) as sources for her articles, etc.”

    Many links here, reviewing Johnstone on Kosovo,

    • Drew Hunkins
      May 6, 2018 at 14:43

      ‘In These Times’ had an anti Serb bias virtually from the get-go. Ms. Johnstone wrote the definitive book on the Western powers (IMF, Washington imperialists) attack on Yugoslavia: her adroit and superlative book “Fool’s Crusade.” This book along with the great Dr. Michael Parent’s book “To Kill a Nation” are the best works on the topic.

      It’s crucial to note that it were the Serbs who were most resolute in keeping the socialist Yugo politico-economic system alive amidst all the Western violence, hostility, propaganda, destabilizations, and covert campaigns.

      Ms. Johnstone is a godsend.

    • MarB
      May 7, 2018 at 02:21

      Diana Johnstone on the Balkan Wars
      by Edward S. Herman
      (Feb 21, 2003)


      for the record … those repeating the blatant lies, oakland Pete for example… and misrepresentations that Diana Johnstone somehow supports fascism and the Front National… you have not read Johnstone’s articles … you are swallowing whole the rubbish propagated by Louis Proyect in his spurious , very nasty attacks on a range of journalists he deems pro Assadist … including the founder of this blog, Robert Parry….
      Johnstone was merely stating the fact which ought to be acknowledged that the front national shared many policies with Melanchon the independent socialist candidate… including getting out of Nato , rapprochement with Russia instead of a perpetual war footing , and a general multi-polar approach to geopolitical problems… she merely pointed out the similarities and contrasted those to Macron’s liberal imperialist elitist policies….
      go back and read the articles…

      How anyone can construe that Johnston is pro fascist from stating the obvious similarities in the Anti imperialist left and Right… and her reasoned denunciation of AntiFa which any sane person either fears, loathes or believes to be agents provocateurs is beyond me…… try her last 2 or 3 articles… read them rather than relying on Proyect’s smears

  21. May 6, 2018 at 10:28

    Diana Johnstone has failed to distinguish between those, who, in 2018, label themselves ‘Trotskyists’ and Leon Trotsky himself. The Russian Revolution of October 1917, of which Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin were the two principle organisers, was humanity’s best hope in the early 20th century for the permanent elimination of war, injustice and poverty from the planet.

    Sadly, the Russian Revolution failed to spread, most notably to Germany. As a consequence humanity got German Nazism, Italian Fascism, Stalin, the Second World War and 60 million dead.

    For his efforts to prevent that, I consider Leon Trotsky to be a giant of the 20th Century. Were he around today, in 2018, I have no doubt that Trotsky, unlike most of today’s ‘Trotskyists’, would be supporting Syria and he would be doing so far more consistently and effectively than President Vladimir Putin now is.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 12:28

      Agreed, with a caveat. DJ has taken the problems of one faction of former Trotskyists and applied them to actual Trotskyism. She uses what are valid criticisms as a polemical springboard to attack those to whom the criticisms do not apply. Those knowledgeable on this understand that Trotsky himself, along with his movement, had long debates on this ultra-left phenomenon known as Shactmanism, and rejected it. DJ manipulated readers by advancing a valid argument, getting agreement, then using that as a psychological springboard to slander the very people who had rejected those ideas by assigning those ideas to them. This is the method of used car salesmen, not honest academics or activists.

      DJ’s politics have evolved in a similar way as she describes, but in a different direction: She grows exasperated with the weakening of anti-imperialist resolve on the part of Shactmanites (some of whom might define themselves as Trotskyists), finds some of that anti-imperialism voiced (disingenuously) by fascist groups, looks to them for validation of her own ideas, and slowly but surely grows to accept their basic positions. This is why she has openly endorsed European fascist parties and attacked their opponents in print.

      Sadly, her logic is taking a more complete path to attacks on anti-fascist activists, and now the left itself; including, ironically, the very political tendency that originally and more honestly addressed the problems she writes about. She has come full circle and joined those she originally opposed. Don’t be fooled by her seemingly logical arguments; she has slandered Trotskyism with full knowledge that she is being dishonest, and done so for her new politics: fascism.

      • John
        May 6, 2018 at 15:56

        So, you are the True Scotsman?

        Trotskyism is a reactionary right-wing ideology, as the events at Kronstadt (and the Bolshevik Counter-revolution in general) made clear to all but the most cultish of his followers.

        In her article, anyone with reading comprehension would recognize that, in the beginning she states “The first thing one learns about Trotskyism is that it is split into rival tendencies. Some remain consistent critics of imperialist war, notably those who write for the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). ”

        She then goes on to focus on the other tendencies within this uber-sectarian factional cultish ideology of reactionary conservatives known as Trotskyism.

        Thus, it is you slandering her in your responses here.

        Your devotion to a reactionary mass murderer who actively partook in the right-wing Bolshevik Counter-revolution (as opposed to the actual short lived revolution that took place in February, while Trotsky was living in the Bronx), is quite apparent. That the NeoCons are the direct lineage of Trotsky is fairly well understood outside of the ranks of his cult of personality.

        Thus, when you make absurd claims that DJ is somehow a fascist, a rational observer would see a pot and kettle moment.

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 20:01

          Follow the link to Louis Proyect’s article, and the links contained in it, and you will find her admiration for European fascism. She also takes special aim at anti-fascist activists here in the U.S. in separate articles, one of which was in Counterpunch recently. There is a consistency in these positions, and it is not anti-imperialism or free speech. It’s sympathy for fascism. But to use a link takes work, and it’s probably easier for you to keep your brain in idle.

          I read what she said about different factions of Trotskyism. I also read her title, which was not as you described. She did not attack Shactmanism, which her criticisms applied to, but Trotskyism itself. Shactman led a tendency that was expelled by Trotsky and the party Shactman was part of, the Socialist Workers’ Party. So what she was criticizing was a faction that was expelled for precisely these ideas; but she applied the logic to those who expelled them. Understand now, brainiac?

  22. Robert Emmett
    May 6, 2018 at 10:19

    On the presumption that exercising the brain is beneficial, compared to its opposite, here’s a bit of poetic thought, a gambit that has sustained humans for millennia (as opposed to, say, the DNC). Now you may be tempted to think, what’s going on here? Or, how does this fit the present situation to the utmost? And I may be tempted to ask you the same questions.

    Here goes: “There’s no need for anger/ There’s no need for blame/ There’s nothing to prove/ Everything’s still the same/ Just a table standing empty/ By the edge of the sea/ Farewell Angelina/ The sky is trembling/ And I must leave” (Farewell Angelina, B. Dylan)

    And there’s plenty more. I believe a recent Nobel songwriter foresaw that. Despite the tortured cries, two years ago, for the unsullied sanctity of high-born literature and against Dylan, by the most “serious minded thinkers” of our present era (at least in the general category of literature), they reveal themselves as not immune to the illness of the times. Kind of rings a bell and conjures a symbol of the ouroboros, a snake devouring its own tail, that betokens wholeness or rebirth through consumption of the present self to nothingness. Either literally or figuratively, I guess.

  23. Salil SARKAR
    May 6, 2018 at 07:20

    Agree with most of Diana Johnstone’s article. But don’t see what’s so despicable with Stalin and Stalinism. Sure that was a violent period: revolution, land reform (near civil war over collectivisation), industrialisation, preparation for war against Nazi Germany, the biggest war machine in history until then. The Soviets gave an arm and a leg to resist and beat them. To recollect: nazi Germany was helped along by all of Europe’s elites, including a part of the Brits. They were aided and abetted by giant US corporations and financial interests. That anti-fascist war cost 25 miillion Soviet lives (plus injured, mutilated, traumatised). Stalin’s regime did its best. Even a pro-Trotskite like Timothy Snyder re-estimates downwards the number of deaths attributed by a host of pseudo-historians and propagandists to the Stalinist regime. The Soviet victory under Stalin reversed the pro-imperialist power balance in the world and opened the way to revolutions in China, Korea, Indo-china, encouraged progressive trends in India, Indonesia, Japan, and prepared the terrain for national emancipation in Africa, Latin America. Not to talk of the increasing relevance of “western” working classes who gained economically in the class struggle against their capitalists. (Salaries and benefits in the rich countries went on a downslide after the collapse of the Sov Union).

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 12:38

      Stalin did not defeat nazi Germany in eastern Europe; the Russian people and the Red Army, founded by Trotsky himself, did. Stalin’s purges of the officer corps just before WW2 hindered that effort. History is full of examples of how the USSR under Stalin and his successors discouraged and undermined revolutionary movements in its quest to find compromise with the imperialist west. If Trotsky had led the USSR a better understanding would have led to a different outcome; but that’s past history. It should be enough to note that the Russian working class, like those elsewhere, did not find inspiration or leadership from stalinism; they largely shrugged off the demise of the USSR, because they did not see it representing their interests. If anyone is interested in what was wrong with Stalin, read “The Revolution Betrayed”, available from Pathfinder Press.

      • May 6, 2018 at 13:04

        Given the disparities in the aftermath of WW2, I believe Stalin acted in accordance with reality. The USSR had suffered immense damage, both in terms of its people and its industrial infrastructure. The US, on the other hand, had become the world’s colossus and by 1946 under Truman (instructed in Russian “perfidy” by Churchill) was already engaged in attacking the USSR both militarily and financially. The current attacks are obviously nothing new, just repeats of the same old same old. As Putin has explained, Russia does not look eagerly to a new war with the West. The US apparently does look forward to a new war with Russian once Syria and Iran are dealt with, thanks to Bolton, Pompeo, and perhaps their willing disciple DT.

    • Bill
      May 6, 2018 at 13:09

      the soviets lost a lot of men and could have been overrun because Stalin purged (murdered) thousands of officers before WW2 and then went ahead and purged the officers after the war was over…along with all those other people he killed. my mom was a communist before it became apparent that Stalinism had little to do with communism and everything to do with the totalitarian state. whatever the crimes of the west, those crimes in no way absolve Stalin of his excesses

      • Oakland Pete
        May 6, 2018 at 20:04

        True, and good point Bill.

      • GMC
        May 7, 2018 at 10:24

        I disagree – Stalin had sooo many enemies he had to purge the recorder 250 to 400,000, some of them innocent but there was no way to tell and he had an Empire to rebuild. He had to fight all the Western bankers, spies, governments, the old Trotsky boys { after he exiled him} and 2 or 3 Russian parties that were not innocent. By the time he actually came to power the millions were already dead and much of the wealth – looted by the West. I could care less about him but I have read enough about him in Russia and some truthful history from the West to come to this conclusion. Spacibo

  24. Lawrence Magnuson
    May 5, 2018 at 21:23

    I’ve had this week a respectable difference of views with a rather complete Libertarian, one who knows very well history and its forces. But like the fellow here who sees things through a Trotsky prism, this thinker is stuck deriding and analyzing the Soviet polity as if it were a present danger, still out there enforcing godless conformity. To understand the present, whether in Syria or along the Russian Arctic sea lanes, of course demands in important part finding what of the past is determining our historical moment, but sometimes explanatory paradigms , true to their time, even ones that try as their very core to proleptically predict the future, are found to be insufficient descriptors of even their own milieu. Revolution is an infrequent anomaly in history if an often necessary corrective attempt. The basis of what is called civilization is reckoned by the justices and injustices of emergent power structures; revolution itself wants what it sees as a better status quo not endless revolution–that has never been true. Who knows what Trotsky would have become? Probably not a Trotskite.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 5, 2018 at 22:30

      If I’m the one to which you refer, I don’t “view things through a Trotsky prism”. I actually have reservations about his fundamental concepts. But I am respectful of Trotsky and his ideas; and think they deserve truth, not fabrications. What most here don’t realize, and probably wouldn’t like, is that Ms. Johnstone is a fascist sympathizer masquerading as a radical. This is a problem on the left, that under the weight of so much misleading and powerful propaganda too many are confused and receptive to toxic ideas. Johnstone is not one of them; she is fully aware of what she is doing and writes articles like this that sound knowledgeable and are convincing. She reserves her strongest criticism for left movements, especially those that challenge fascism; and this is an easily discerned pattern. The Hillary critic is gone, replaced by an unrepentant reactionary. She never fails to remind us of her positive credentials, and her PhD, but it takes little research to discover that she is outed for her dark side in many forums. Readers of this article should do their homework and go beyond this one article about her. Just follow the links:

      But again, the real question is why Consortium runs an article with such an obviously divisive intent.

      • John
        May 6, 2018 at 16:02

        Interesting that, to slander Diana Johnstone, you cite an article by a pro-war “Marxist” exactly like the ones that Johnstone was talking about, which you claim do not exist:

        One look over what this pro-war “Marxist” has to say about the happenings in Syria should make it plain that you are providing more evidence to what Johnstone is claiming about your beloved cult of Trotsky (the reactionary mass murderer who led the slaughter of the actual leftists at Kronstadt) being willing to side with Western Imperialists by repeating their false narratives.

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 20:15

          I claimed they do not exist? You haven’t been reading what I wrote. Those who DJ described are FORMER Trotskyists, called “Shactmanites”, who were expelled by Trotsky and his party for the having same ideas DJ ascribes to… Trotsky and his followers! This was not an error, or a technical point. It was falsely ascribing ideas to the same people who condemned them. Certainly, they are real, and in my opinion deserve condemnation for what they say and do. But they are the antithesis of Trotskyism. No other political movement went through this; so if anyone disagrees with Shactmanism, they have Trotskyism to thank for exposing and expelling them. Johnstone turns that on its head, knowingly.

          As for Louis Proyect: I respect his exposing Johnstone in that article, and agree with the general principles he espouses there. That doesn’t mean we agree on Syria. It means we do not accept that the alternative to imperialism is fascism. There is no valid reason to embrace fascism on any level. It is the class enemy, period. For Johnstone to have done this is to betray the cause she purports to stand for. And yes, I believe the totality of her writings indicate not just a conditional sympathy for them, but drifting into their camp. Her associations with them are not incidental; they are continuous.

        • Abe
          May 8, 2018 at 22:21

          As for Louis Proyect:

          Proyect is an enthusiastic supporter of fake “citizen investigative journalist” Eliot Higgins of the Atlantic Council’s Bellingcat disinformation site.

          Here we have Proyect giving a reach around to Bellingcat’s fake “chemical weapons expert” Dan Kaszeta, who never met Israeli intelligence he didn’t like.

          Proyect swoons over the piles of propaganda about Syria shat by Higgins.

          Proyect’s associations with the Atlantic Council’s propaganda project are not incidental; they are continuous.

          His writings indicate not just a conditional sympathy for the Atlantic Council’s decidedly fascist form of imperialism, but marching into their camp singing “Red fly the banners, O!”

          Adoring Proyect fanboy, comrade “Trot” here, has flushed any illusions about his “anti-fascist” sympathies.

      • Mike
        May 7, 2018 at 17:53

        Pete – With that I agree; why would CN run such a thing? Do you think the neocons are direct descendents of Trotsky’s thought?

    • Mike
      May 7, 2018 at 17:47


  25. Abe
    May 5, 2018 at 20:45

    In Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2008), Sheldon Wolin observes that inverted totalitarianism primarily “represents the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry”.

  26. Piotr Berman
    May 5, 2018 at 16:51

    Some ideas like monotheism and revolution look much better at the time of inception than in practice, and that should influence the theory. It would be nice to have an inerrant, omnipotent and perfectly moral entity supervising the world and, at times, being influenced by our prayers, but there are some logical problems with the package: if the entity is influence by our prayers, was it making an error prior to it, not really, it never errs, or was it playing cute — but is it perfectly moral? In polytheism there are fewer logical problems because deities are not absolute, can err, can make moral slip, and have some limits.

    Revolution has even harder time to live up to the expectations. Once the issues are reduced to military power,the side that wins has superior organization and weaponry, and more often than not, fewer scruples than the opponents. ISIS is a perfect example among “Syrian revolutionaries”, organization, check, lack of scrupples, check, the resulting effectiveness yields some kind of charisma and also weapons — recruits and weapon flowing from the more disorganized revolutionaries. And among the rest of “revolutionaries” the most organized group was the twin of ISIS (both being the two splinters of ISI, originally the command was split geographically between east and west, then more genuine but never complete split evolved). More generally, revolutions may be disorganized from day one and fail to the ancien regime, descent to chaos after the victory, as the victors were superior in military arts and dissolving into factions once murderous discipline slacks off, or actually can make a decent job governing, except for emulating the vices of the abolished regime — but after much bloodshed. Success stories are rather rare, or extremely rare if you are more demanding than “well, they are not total crackpots, are they?”. However you define the success, intellectually one has to examine a revolution for symptoms that allow to avoid descent into bloody anarchy, or “even worse regime” etc, as it happens more often than not. But original Troskyist, or Trotsky apostates who became neocons (to undermine capitalism by enticing it to idiocy?) cannot be expected to look at their adored revolutions in such an impassionate manner.

  27. John
    May 5, 2018 at 16:47

    A factor that does not seem to have yet been mentioned in the discussion of the Syria conflict is weapons sales. The US’s is the world’s biggest arms merchant, much of the US economy is based on war profiteering. Thus, aside from the oil, aside from Eretz Yisrael, simply creating conflict that is thus used to justify more war profiteering is also a major factor.

  28. Stephen P
    May 5, 2018 at 16:45
    • backwardsevolution
      May 5, 2018 at 22:42

      Stephen P – thanks for that interview. It’s nice to see Damascus going back to the way it was, no more fear of bombings by the terrorists. Thanks for posting that.

  29. Drew Hunkins
    May 5, 2018 at 16:40

    Yes! Diana Johnstone is a godsend. This piece was long over due.

    Thank you so much Ms. Johnstone.


  30. Jeff Blankfort
    May 5, 2018 at 16:34

    Well said, Diana Johnstone. It is no coincidence or historical accident that many of today’s neocons began as Trotskyists.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 5, 2018 at 17:32

      Of all people. Don’t you understand she’s talking about you? Or do you wear two faces in our movement?

      • Drew Hunkins
        May 5, 2018 at 23:31

        How the heck is she talking about Mr. Blankfort?!

        Both Ms. Johnstone and Mr. Blankfort are monumental truth tellers.

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 20:21

          It sounds like you know Jeffrey. So do I. He claims to be a Trotskyist, or did until a couple of years ago. That’s how the heck she is talking about him. Read the title of the article if you still don’t get it. I wrote JB about this privately. I am disappointed in him, as I have admired his anti-zionist activism. I also admired Johnstone’s criticism of imperialism until she went through this pro-fascist turn – which has degenerated into lies about Trotskyism.

          Here’s the deal: Slander our movement and you will get a response – a thorough one. Don’t like it? Tell lies of your own. Oops! Too late! You just did.

  31. Garrett Connelly
    May 5, 2018 at 16:16

    My guess is the Trotskyists described are Cia operatives. One way top tell is that Cia agents are usually more educated about communist theory and history than the average run of the mill everyday revolutionary.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 20:27

      A good way to find out who knows about the theory and history to which you refer is to read it yourself. Then you will see that Trotsky and his movement already addressed these issues in his last years. I gave a reference to the book that describes it in another comment. It is “In Defense of Marxism”, available from Pathfinder Press. By the way, many of us “run of the mill everyday revolutionaries” are very well versed in history and theory. We are also well versed in human decency. That’s why we are Trotskyists, or close to it, and not CIA agents or fascist sympathizers.

  32. Mark Thomason
    May 5, 2018 at 14:12

    After the first flush of the Arab Spring, the response used by US allies everywhere was to crush the protests with overwhelming violence and torture. That happened in Syria, but also in Bahrain with Saudi help, and in Egypt. Note that at that time Syria was a US friend, and did torture of prisoners for the US on rendition, with CIA participation in that torture.

    So yeah, Assad’s first reaction was awful. That is what we were doing at that moment.

    Then the Saudis flooded into Syria with support for al Qaeda, that morphed into ISIS too. Suddenly, Assad was no longer the worst monster. Not a good guy is not automatically the worst of the monsters. Assad did not change or get better, but everything around him got worse. And that too was with US support and assistance, in this case via camps and money and arms in Turkey and Jordan.

    So who was the betrayed revolution then? Still the US, but the US as in Afghanistan had changed sides. That kaleidoscope move did not actually change what anybody else was, but it did change how it was reported in the US press.

  33. Jeff
    May 5, 2018 at 13:57

    Nothing so much changes as it stays the same….

    Rebellions/Revolutions are not fated to end in repression. That’s true only when what you started with was a repressive government. Thus Louis XVI led to Robespierre and Tsar Alexander led to Stalin. The United States didn’t have an authoritarian government before the American Revolution and, thus, didn’t have one afterwards. And, frankly, even after the explanation, I don’t see any connection between a Russian revolutionary trying to replace the Tsar and a leader trying to fend off the world’s most powerful nation’s efforts to make Israel the local hegemon in the Middle East.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 20:34

      A correction: You might characterize a government that committed genocide against the native inhabitants or imported slaves as “authoritarian”. Or you might buy into the myth that Kaepernick protests against. I’d ask an Indian or a black person how they feel about it.

  34. Abe
    May 5, 2018 at 11:35

    Protection of capital is the prime reason that NATO countries now account for 85 percent of the world’s defense spending, with the US spending more on military than the rest of the world combined.

    Peter Phillips discusses the US/NATO military-industrial-media empire operating in service to today’s ruling transnational corporate class (TCC) for the protection of international capital.
    [Listen to VIDEO 35:10-50:30]

    A media monitoring Sociologist and the former director of Project Censored, Phillips is the author of Giants: The Global Power Elite (2018).

    • Bob Van Noy
      May 5, 2018 at 14:05

      Excellent addition Abe, thank you…

    • backwardsevolution
      May 6, 2018 at 00:24

      Abe – thank you for posting that. It’s what I’ve been saying for a long time now. I remember looking into a fellow named Peter Sutherland (I think he died last year). He was the former Attorney-General of Ireland, brought in austerity when the 2008 crisis hit there, bailed out the banks, sat on the boards of various huge corporations (Goldman Sachs International, British Petroleum, a major U.K. bank, the list goes on). This guy was the driving factor behind the World Trade Organization, ran it. He then went to the U.N. Human Rights Council, serving as Special Representative for International Migration from 2006 to 2017. I mean, check him out on Wiki. This guy has been everywhere.

      At the UNHRC he actually stated that their plan was FOR migration of people, the more, the better. This way these people get to come to Western countries (who cares who is put out of a job because of this) and then send their “remittances” (a lot of it untaxed money) home to the old country, thereby increasing consumer buying power in these developing countries. This was an actual plan.

      This is just one guy, but he definitely was a player, just like Mr. Phillips described in the video. They set policy, they move people, they create a fire under people without a care in the world for what it does to families. If it’s all good for the elite capitalists, then anything goes.

      I remember also looking into the G30. I thought, “What the heck is that?” I remember looking at the members, Paul Krugman being one of them. I take nothing he says seriously.

      This is why I feel for Trump. When he came in and got rid of the TPP, they must have shuddered in horror. His talk about a nation-state must send them reeling, and balancing the trade deficit with China (with so many multinationals actually taking advantage of the U.S./China relationship) must be making them furious. As Mr. Phillips says, Trump will be impeached if he goes much further.

      It’s not that I like Trump. It’s just that I see what he’s trying to do for the people of the U.S., but he probably will not be allowed to now. Got to keep the wars going – it’s good for business!

      Everybody should listen to this video. These people must be stopped. Thanks for posting it.

    • Mike
      May 7, 2018 at 19:40

      Great post. Thanks. I wonder, what would Trotsky do?

  35. Clarke
    May 5, 2018 at 11:35

    Whether you are a communist or a capitalist, how could anyone look at what happened in Libya and say that is what we need to do for Syria. Why is there even any debate about this. It’s madness.

    • John
      May 5, 2018 at 16:49

      If you are a war profiteer, then what happened in Libya looks like a cash cow.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 20:35

      Absolutely true. And Trotskyists think so too, in spite of what Johnstone says.

  36. Gary
    May 5, 2018 at 10:33

    Excellent post by Johnstone. The bottom line is if some ideologue openly supports Western imperial warfare against yet another nation the West has identified for “regime change” I don’t really care how said ideologue defines himself or what mental contortions he must engage in to justify such criminality.

    • Gary
      May 5, 2018 at 21:15

      PS – it’s quite interesting that I no longer find the work of either Diana Johnstone, or Andre Vlkchek (both true anti-imperialists) – carried at “Counterpunch.” Yet if I had the stomach for it I could read the pro-war, pro-regime change screeds of a “Louis Proyeck” and a “Melvin Goodman” (at Counterpunch) until my gag reflex gave out! Go figure?

      • Oakland Pete
        May 6, 2018 at 20:46

        If you knew the politics of all who publish in Counterpunch you might know better than what you write about it here. Yes, I know of opinions of their editors that leans away from Johnstone’s. But I do not know of any censorship there. A lively debate ensued in their pages after an article published by Ashley Smith there that took the positions Johnstone condemns. Most took Johnstone’s position on imperialism. But that is not the issue here. The issue is her condemnation of Trotskyism by ascribing positions to it that it does not hold, and which it has rejected. For me, the issue is also her motive, which I know of from other sources – but is further exposed by this dishonest article.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 20:40

      True enough, as far as you write. The problem here is that Trotskyists are Johnstone’s demons here, and they are the very people who debated this subject with a minority faction, and expelled that faction for those ideas. So why are so many here chiming in on this slander that turns those who stood against imperialism into the ones who support it? Maybe those who are quick to buy into the most recent line of argument they read should do some fact checking. I provided the links to do so. Engage brain! Think critically!

  37. ThomasGilroy
    May 5, 2018 at 10:15

    Whose “ideological lynchpin?” Not that of Russia, certainly, whose line in the early stages of its intervention was not to denounce Western imperialism but to appeal to the West and especially to the United States to join in the fight against Islamist extremism.

    Neither Russia nor Iran “framed their interventions in the spirit of anti-colonial rhetoric” but in terms of the fight against Islamist extremism with Wahhabi roots

    That you believe that Russia and Iran intervened to (heroically) fight the Islamists greatly simplifies a complex conflict (which you allude to in the article). Russia has an interests in Syra for two reasons:

    1. Russia has a Naval facility in Syria which is their only military base in the Middle East. Keeping Assad in power is critical to Russian geopolitical interests.

    2. The 2008 Medvedev Doctrine outlines Russia’s geopolitical goals. The second principle states:

    Second, the world should be multipolar. A single-pole world is unacceptable. Domination is something we cannot allow. We cannot accept a world order in which one country makes all the decisions, even as serious and influential a country as the United States of America. Such a world is unstable and threatened by conflict

    Clearly, the principle outlines a Russian strategy for challenging the US on the world stage – and to create a multipolar world. Russia uses fighting the “terrorist” in Syria as their raison d’être – just like the overthrow of Yanukovych in Ukraine was labeled a neoNazi-US coup by Russia. In both cases, Russia attempts to delegitimize a legitimate revolution by mostly peaceful protesters.

    Iran views Syria as an important ally. Syrian territory is used to supply Hezbollah with arms – an important deterrent to Israel. Iran also is using the war in Syria to set up military facilities. This is unacceptable to Israel which a couple of days ago bombed an Iranian weapons depot. The likeliihood of war between Iran and Israel has increased greatly.

    • Cassandra
      May 5, 2018 at 10:37

      “The likeliihood (sic) of war between Iran and Israel has increased greatly.” You hope.

    • Skip Scott
      May 5, 2018 at 11:05

      Much as I’m sure you hate the thought, we HAVE a multi-polar world, and Russia and Syria have vested interests in maintaining their sovereignty against our global imperial ambitions. Russia refuses to be our vassal, and Syria refuses to become another Libya.

    • Jeff
      May 5, 2018 at 14:08

      The coup that overthrew Yanukovych was labeled a NeoNazi-US coup because it was. I would also like to know what the legitimacy of the coup was so soon after a valid election and how you can call people who shot up so many government people peaceful protesters.

      • Garrett Connelly
        May 5, 2018 at 16:25

        Very logical questions.

      • joeblogs
        May 5, 2018 at 18:58

        Over the last few years, more information is coming to light regarding Israel and Russia’s alliances.
        Some time ago, Russian gas companies agreed to build gas platforms in the Mediterranean, in Israel’s territorial waters. This will allow Israel to profit from the proceeds of the gas well, when completed. Clearly Russian companies are no supporters of the BDS movement.

    • jacobo
      May 5, 2018 at 15:55

      And, pray tell, what sort of revolution is it that merely substitutes one group of oligarchic kleptocrats for another group of the similar crooks, as took place in Ukraine 4 yrs ago?

      • ThomasGilroy
        May 5, 2018 at 17:00

        Probably the best response to my post. Ukraine has a lot of corruption – and that is probably the biggest obstacle to European Union integration. The Yanikovych government was corrupt and the Poroshenko government is corrupt, and of course, resist change. None the less, being out from under the thumb of Russia was a step in the right direction for a sovereign Ukraine. There is no such thing as a sphere of influence in international law.

        • robjira
          May 5, 2018 at 17:21

          “There is no such thing as a sphere of influence in international law.”

          Tell that to the US/NATO, please; seems they didn’t get the memo.

      • Oakland Pete
        May 6, 2018 at 20:54

        The first oligarchic kleptocrats did not say they wanted to kill all the Jews, Russians, and communists. The new ones did, and have put their words into action. We don’t have to like the first guys to hate the second guys. There is always a door number three.

    • Garrett Connelly
      May 5, 2018 at 16:24

      What planet is the Ukraine you mention on?

      • Oakland Pete
        May 6, 2018 at 20:51

        Stick around, luvvy. We know what happened in Ukraine, and actually Johnstone gets this right.

  38. Unfettered Fire
    May 5, 2018 at 09:55

    Poverty begets violence. Violence begets revolution. Revolution begets tyranny. Tyranny begets policies (like neoliberalism) that create poverty…. and on it goes. The way I see it, we have two mindsets – those who believe that poverty is like a law of nature and will always be with us or those who refute this, see the obvious manipulations of manufactured scarcity and envision a world free of constrictive lies designed to stifle evolution.

    Stanley Kubrick’s soundtrack in 2001: Space Odyssey was brilliant. For most of the film, viewers were subjected to ad nauseam merry-go-round waltzes, metaphorically depicting centuries of unchanging plutocracy and feudalism. Then, like a bird escaping its cage, the colossal 2001 theme catapults the audience into an exciting new evolutionary territory.

    That’s the choice: a futureless loop of unending poverty and violence or a new socio-economic view that finally takes us off the safe though sickening ride intended for juvenile minds.

    “The neoliberals and their alter-ego, the neocons, do not have any good ideas for the Twenty-first Century. They have caused financial disasters and endless wars, and they tell us not to expect better.”

    • Bob Van Noy
      May 6, 2018 at 10:22

      Unfettered Fire, many thanks for your comment and that CN link, both of which expand on all of this current discussion. Too, it all flows with the commentary of Brad Owen who clearly has some cogent thoughts.

      I hadn’t seen that piece written in 2015 and I would have argued that I never miss a Consortiumnews article…
      All in all a very helpful addition, so congrats.

  39. Coleen Rowley
    May 5, 2018 at 09:55

    This is excellent!! It so very well describes my inchoate understanding and observations of the morphing that happened locally led by our Louis Proyect liberal Trotskyite followers who first won over the Quaker-inspired “Friends for a Nonviolent World” but eventually were able to dupe most of the umbrella “Minnesota Alliance for Peacemakers.” (See

    I would just add that this same (ever increasing) segment of Trotskyite revolutionaries not only form the basis of the neocons but also of (Albright-Powers-Clinton) neo-lib “humanitarian imperialists.” As long as they can concoct nice happy outcomes of bringing peace, love, human rights and happiness to the world through bloody revolutions–following the same exact logic as the “ticking time bomb hypothetical” i.e. “we have to torture to get info to find the ticking time bomb to save lives and end terrorism”—almost all of the naive, gullible wishful-thinking liberal idealists will fall for it without a shred of factual reality to support their wonderfully concocted, wished-for outcome. (At least this has been the experience here in MN. Amazingly enough the Trotskyites here, still claiming they were “anti-war,” not only brought in Syrian jihadists as speakers advocating bombing of Syria but also quickly began handing out hard-core neocon warhawk literature about Syria. I don’t think they even researched who the authors were on the war propaganda they were handing out as these were the same neocons who lied the U.S. into war on Iraq and other Mid-east countries that Israel wanted the US to bomb.

    Call me a cynic but the notion of good revolutions that bring a virtuous underclass or minority to power to institute equality, justice, peace, human rights for all is indeed a MYTH. When “leaders” (always the psychopathically gifted manipulators/predators who tend to rise to the top to become leaders) of minorities and the poor underclass achieve power, they almost always also get corrupted in the process. As Edward Abbey observed, “Power is always dangerous. It attracts the worst and corrupts the best.” This nature of the beast as to how power corrupts must always be taken into account when fashioning any understanding of advocacy for bloody “revolution” and Empire.

    • ToivoS
      May 5, 2018 at 14:11

      Good observation Coleen. When the Syrian War began in 2012 I thought of the Trots as an irrelevant sect of just a few dozen people. As the war progressed it became clear that their arguments were influencing a much broader group of activists on the left so Johnstone’s article is timely.

      I first noticed this with some who were supporters of Palestinian rights and attributed that to some misguided thinking that building bridges with the Muslim Brotherhood would help the Palestinians. This was first seen when the MBs took over the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. However, since then it spread much further especially to antiwar groups Britain and France.

    • jacobo
      May 5, 2018 at 16:27

      Louis proyect also adopted the neoliberal tactic of labeling as either useful idiots or Assad apologists anyone who dares to challenge his support for empire-USA’s support of jihadists in Syria. In addition he apparently believes that, had not thr Assad govt. put down the 2011 uprising, that the youth together with poor farmers displaced from their land by pronged drought, might have take overthrown the government. Yes indeed, with the jihadists in their midst from the get-go screaming for a secular democratic state, ho ho ho. And never mind that early in the uprising, the Syrian govt had offered to meet many of the rebel demands.

      • Oakland Pete
        May 6, 2018 at 21:00

        True enough. We must understand that to agree with someone on one issue does not mean we agree with them on all issues. I actually come to the same conclusions, from a less absolute starting point, that Johnstone does on Syria, Libya, etc; and disagree with Louis Proyect. The problem here is that we are commenting on an article in which Johnstone slandered those who agree with her superficially, but have different ultimate goals. Trotskyists are anti-imperialist, but are not motivated by fascist sympathies. Which brings me back to Louis Proyect: His article on her is spot on. She has crossed over to the other side, and is being disingenuous and manipulative in this article.

        • John M. Morgan
          May 7, 2018 at 23:51

          “We must understand that to agree with someone on one issue does not mean we agree with them on all issues.”

          OK, but then you turn around and attack Johnstone for agreeing with anti-imperialists who you label as fascist. To make your point, you want me to read Louis Proyect. He writes so much that I find dishonest and offensive that I have written him off. Send me directly to an article by DJ that you object to and I will consider it.

          I consider western imperialism to be the biggest scourge on the face of the earth. So I anyone who wants to sick the imperial military on anyone is either badly informed, deluded or has nefarious intent, IMO. You, and the editors at CounterPunch, seem to find it beyond the pale to make common cause with people you label as fascist but you excuse people who spread imperial propaganda and even promote imperial war.

  40. Skip Scott
    May 5, 2018 at 07:33

    What a fabulous article! It is great to see such a clear-eyed take down of a pseudo-intellectual like McKenna.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 21:01

      The article was about Trotskyism, in case you missed the title. It’s a pack of lies.

      • Skip Scott
        May 7, 2018 at 06:32

        I see no lies, and she talks of a split in Trotskyism that you yourself elude to. You just call them “Shactmanites” and “former Trotskyists.” You are splitting hairs.

        • Skip Scott
          May 7, 2018 at 06:38

          Where’s my editor? Obviously I meant allude, rather than elude. Needed more coffee to see it.

  41. RnM
    May 5, 2018 at 07:18

    A great article, Dr. Johnstone. Thank you!

  42. deschutes
    May 5, 2018 at 05:13

    I regularly read the website which is the main Trotskyist news website. First time I’ve heard of McKenna. His article is indeed terrible as Johnstone points out. But that said, if you read the daily offerings on the website, it definitely does not have the same perspective as McKenna’s as described here; to the contrary WSWS authors do a good job of accurately describing the Syrian conflict, i.e. that USA/Israel/Saudi regime are trying to do regime change in Syria by using proxy fighters along with their own troops in Syria. McKenna’s article as described here more accurately reflects a ‘liberal interventionist’ propaganda bent, as one would typically come across at The Intercept, which has some truly horrible journalists, and actually could be called ‘pseudo-left’ as describes them. That said, one of the things I don’t like about the website’s news reporting is always, always crying ‘the sky is falling’! WW III is always just about to happen! Every conflict or development means Russia and USA, or USA and N. Korea are just about to launch WWIII. This certainly takes away from their credibility.

    • mike k
      May 5, 2018 at 06:34

      But complacency about the possibility of WWIII can be very dangerous too. We are playing with nuclear fire, and unintended consequences and accidents do happen. We are at that point in technological development and exploitation of our world, that it is like walking through a mine field where many dangerous situations are threatening to explode. To be too relaxed about our very real situation is a psychological stance that could destroy us.

      • deschutes
        May 5, 2018 at 13:23

        Well, you can’t keep writing articles saying WWIII is immanent for the past 15 years as has done :-D

  43. May 5, 2018 at 04:53

    Today is the two hundredth anniversary of Karl Marx. I wonder, do contemporary self professed Trotskyists actually read the works of Marx? I cannot believe that someone who had read and understood the works of Marx, and saw their self as a Marxist, could take Mckenna’s position. What does he think would happen if Assad were to be defeated? Objectively (a term much liked by Marxists) he is supporting jihadis and western imperialism. As Marx would have readily seen.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 21:08

      You seem to be confusing McKenna with Trotskyism. Only this dishonest article by Johnstone does that. I was a self professed Trotskyist for half a century, and am still partly there. And I’ve read a lot of Marx. Have you? Have you read “In Defense of Marxism” by Trotsky? Because if you had, you would realize the views Johnstone ascribes to Trotsky are not his. They actually are the views of Max Shactman, a former Trotskyist who was expelled from the party for just this reason. You might try avoiding your hyperbole and substitute some research into the subject on which you comment.

  44. exiled off mainstreet
    May 5, 2018 at 02:38

    Unfortunate blowback from Israeli backed militarism and warmongering is the inference that the wars caused are Jewish backed. This provides a rationale for anti-semitism which could get more virulent if it were to become apparent that the wars caused were damaging and dangerous to the general public in the US and elsewhere in the western world.

    • jeff montanye
      May 5, 2018 at 03:53

      so true. the supreme irony of hitler’s defeat and the establishment of a jewish state, israel, in palestine as a haven, is that it has brought more hatred of (likud/zionist) jews than would have ever been the case had hitler’s victims remained in europe, near the places of their persecutions.

      the yinon plan, aka seven countries in five years, initiated by the attacks of ’01, and the responses to it, are pretty close to hitler striking from the grave.

      • Unfettered Fire
        May 5, 2018 at 08:48

        Hitler would’ve been equally pleased with the formation of the EU, which accomplished economically what he was trying to do militarily. Here is a great article (below) on the formation of the EU by none other than the remnants of the Nazi regime. Walter Hallstein and Walther Funk were the link to furthering this imperialist agenda post WWII:

        “Daniel J. Beddowes and Flavio Cipollini, who together authored a book titled The EU: The Truth About the Fourth Reich – How Hitler Won the Second World War, argue that Funk put the finishing touches on the plans for what is today the EU.

        According to Beddowes and Cipollini, “[i]t was Funk who predicted the coming of European economic unity. Funk was also Adolf Hitler’s economics minister and his key economics advisor.” The authors indicate that Hitler’s post-war plans foresaw a federalized, economically integrated European Union free of “the clutter of small nations,” and that these plans were themselves based on a belief held by Lenin, that “federation is a transitional form towards complete union of all nations.” Therefore, argue the authors, it is not by chance that the EU closely resembles Hitler’s blueprint for a unified Europe, and that most EU member-states are getting poorer while Germany is continuously getting richer.”

    • mike k
      May 5, 2018 at 06:43

      Being uncomfortable with the behavior of many Jews does not equate to anti-Semitism. Entertaining irrational hatred of all Jews, simply because they are Jews is anti-Semitism.

      • Ol' Hippy
        May 5, 2018 at 11:14

        When it comes to separating the Zionist state of Israel and the Jewish people that live there the lines are blurred so that people against Israel’s atrocious policies against the Palestinians are equated with antisemitism. That’s how their government wants it to be. Being against the state is used as a weapon to cow the US people and Congress especially, to be complicit in their militarism and imperial pursuits in the ME. Americans need to take a look beyond the MSM stance created to further Israel’s goals and see what they may be inadvertently supporting. How many Americans know that Israel is using snipers to kill peacefully protesting Palestinians in illegally occupied territory? How many Americans know the ISIL aka Daesh was supported in part by US interests, most likely the CIA? Russia was the main force that took out a big part of ISIL. The situation in Syria is far more complicated that most folks can imagine.

      • joeblogs
        May 5, 2018 at 19:03

        Then you are a fool.

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 21:09

          I like Hippy! Not Joe!

    • RudyM
      May 5, 2018 at 13:34

      They are Jewish backed. It’s just a subset of Jews. However, this subset takes full advantage of Jewish dominance in key areas, including the media; in addition to continued strong majority Jewish support for Israel, no matter what it does. (Yes, American Jews may criticize Israel, but at the end of the day they still want strong U.S. government support of the country. At any rate, that’s what the last Pew poll showed on the subject, several years back. Perhaps it’s changed.)

      • May 6, 2018 at 15:58

        They are Jewish backed. It’s just a subset of Jews. However, this subset takes full advantage of Jewish dominance in key areas, including the media; in addition to continued strong majority Jewish support for Israel, no matter what it does.


        How appropriate that this comment would appear under an article by Diana Johnstone who has described Marine Le Pen as a leftist.

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 21:13

          Not just this comment. Above you will find Johnstone’s supporters waxing nostalgic over Stalin. Thanks for pointing out her support for LePen. Take it further, Louis! You know how!

    • jacobo
      May 5, 2018 at 16:47

      Yes, and something that should motivate those (Jews and gentiles alike) who sense that antisemitism’s arising to stand up in opposition to Zionist Israel & its Israel-first American backers, along with supporting the BDS movement for Justice in Palestine.

  45. Mr Reynard
    May 5, 2018 at 01:33

    IMHO…… Stalin has redeemed himself, by terminating with an ice pick, the psycho humanoid reptilian ……

    • Oakland Pete
      May 6, 2018 at 21:14

      You’re a pig, period. And if your comment is allowed while mine is blocked, the hypocrisy of Consortium is exposed.

  46. May 5, 2018 at 00:43

    In reality, a much more pertinent “framing” of Western intervention, taboo in the mainstream and even in Moscow, is that Western support for armed rebels in Syria was being carried out to help Israel destroy its regional enemies.

  47. Abe
    May 4, 2018 at 22:13

    Nary a whisper about Israel in Tony McKenna’s March 2018 article, “Revolution and counterrevolution in Syria”.

    A major point of conflict between Syria and Israel is the illegal decision taken by Israel on 14 December 1981 to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan.

    In June 2007, it was reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had sent a secret message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad saying that Israel would concede the land in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement, and the severing of Syria’s ties with Iran and militant groups in the region. On the same day, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the former Syrian President, Hafez Assad, had promised to let Israel retain Mount Hermon in any future agreement.

    In April 2008, Syrian media reported Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Assad that Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace. Israeli leaders of communities in the Golan Heights held a special meeting and stated: “all construction and development projects in the Golan are going ahead as planned, propelled by the certainty that any attempt to harm Israeli sovereignty in the Golan will cause severe damage to state security and thus is doomed to fail”.

    Again in 2008, a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution 161-1 in favor of a motion on the Golan Heights that reaffirmed Security Council resolution 497 and called on Israel to “desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and, in particular, to desist from the establishment of settlements [and] from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan.” Israel was the only nation to vote against the resolution.

    Indirect talks broke down after the Gaza War began began at the end of December 2008. Syria broke off the talks to protest Israeli military operations. Israel subsequently appealed to Turkey to resume mediation.

    In March 2009, Syrian President Assad claimed that indirect talks had failed after Israel did not commit to full withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

    During his first term (1996-1999) as Prime Minister, Netanyahu said in May 2009 that returning the Golan Heights would turn it into “Iran’s front lines which will threaten the whole state of Israel.” He said: “I remember the Golan Heights without Katzrin, and suddenly we see a thriving city in the Land of Israel, which having been a gem of the Second Temple era has been revived anew.”

    In August 2009, Syrian President Assad said that the return of the entire Golan Heights was “non-negotiable,” it would remain “fully Arab,” and would be returned to Syria.

    In June 2009, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Syrian President Assad would have to negotiate without preconditions, and that Syria would not win territorial concessions from Israel on a “silver platter” while it maintained ties with Iran and Hezbollah. Syrian President Assad claimed that there was “no real partner in Israel.”

    In 2010, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “We must make Syria recognize that just as it relinquished its dream of a greater Syria that controls Lebanon … it will have to relinquish its ultimate demand regarding the Golan Heights”.

    Unsuccessful that its efforts to efforts to secure regional hegemony were being thwarted by an “uncooperative” Syria, Israel recruited its “allies” and resorted to more drastic measures.

    Terrorist groups have been set loose on Syria since the US, UK and their western and Gulf State allies launched a covert war in early 2011, dressed up by the media as a “revolution”.

    The “protest movement” in Daraa on March 17-18, 2011 in Syria had all the appearances of a staged event involving covert support to terrorists. The strategy in Daraa (repeated in Kiev in February 2014) involved roof top snipers targeting both police and demonstrators.

    The war in Syria has never been a “civil war” and the anti-government forces almost entirely are terrorist mercenaries, not “rebels”.

    Examining the “patterns” it becomes rather obvious that Israel is trying to achieve through terror what it was unable to achieve through non-negotiation.

    According to the prevailing Western propaganda narrative, the hapless West now finds itself “stuck” in Syria.

    In reality, Western involvement in Syria is not due to some unfortunate series of accidents or diplomatic fumbles, but because of its well-established patterns of “cooperation” with Israel.

    When a nation fails to be “cooperative” with Israel’s hegemonic agenda, “Islamic terror” pays it a visit.

    Europe, notorious for limping in its “cooperation” with Israel, apparently requires frequent visits.

    Countless “analyses” of Middle Eastern affairs perpetually proclaim that peace would reign o’er the Holy Land if only certain “uncooperative dictators” found the “will” to make the right “decisions”.

    In reality, Netanyahu has been the uncooperative dictator.

    For decades, Israel has worked tirelessly to ensure that it not surrounded by stable and economically prosperous states. Perpetual “threats” to Israel guarantee an unending supply of US military, economic and diplomatic aid.

    Israeli officials denied Israel’s support for terrorist forces in Syria until Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, acknowledged Israeli aid for al-Nusra in 2015.

    • JWalters
      May 5, 2018 at 00:37

      Thanks for that excellent, clear review of the historical highlights leading to the current Syria situation.

      • deschutes
        May 5, 2018 at 05:21

        JWalters – did you perchance grow up in SE Michigan? Just wondering :-)

        • JWalters
          May 6, 2018 at 18:48

          No, never been there.

    • Christopher
      May 5, 2018 at 02:26

      Very good pointing out the bullshit in other analysis. Did not think of terrorism and Israel as a way of keeping Netanyahu in power either but we gotta grow some fucking balls already and realize our mistake by supporting Isrswl hands down bl o matter what atrocities they commit. Uoir pointed about the various nonnstate actors are especially gratifying. Thanks abe

    • Ol' Hippy
      May 5, 2018 at 11:21

      As you point out the situation in Syria is far more complicated than most people know. You helped me fill in the recent past event before the present situation that I didn’t explore before around 2013.

  48. mike k
    May 4, 2018 at 21:49

    It’s fascinating to me that there are some who still think labels like socialist, democrat, republican, libertarian, etc. have any relevance to solving the deep seated problems of humankind at this possibly terminal juncture. This is like thinking that swimming lessons might serve to save one in a tsunami.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 4, 2018 at 22:18

      Except that the reason for these wars is profit. So “socialist” has meaning. Your metaphor is irrelevant. Otherwise, I have read and liked your commentary.

      • jeff montanye
        May 5, 2018 at 04:32

        not sure that “profit” really captures the yinon plan aka seven countries in five years that is this most recent series of imperialist adventures. larry silverstein did make $4.55 billion on the originating incident though, so there’s that.

  49. SM
    May 4, 2018 at 20:44

    Where to start? First, how on earth could one characterise McKenna or the International Socialist Review crowd as ‘Trotskyist’? These are one of many strains of cold-war ‘third campists’ who like to wear the label ‘Trotskyist’ (in certain milieux only), but can’t bear the thought of actually defending the USSR, or any of the remaining deformed workers states (Viet Nam, North Korea, Cuba, Laos, China), against imperialist attack or counterrevolution. Instead they conveniently label the (then) USSR and similar post-capitalist regimes as ‘state capitalist’ or even ‘capitalist’ (eg, China). In spite of its bureaucratic degeneration (personified by Stalin), Trotsky defended the USSR to the end, and outlined a Marxist (ie, historical materialist) understanding of why events in the USSR took the turn they did. Trotsky characterised the USSR as a ‘degenerated workers’ state’, never as ‘state capitalist’ or ‘bureaucratic collectivist’.

    Just as Stalin called himself a ‘Marxist’ and a ‘Bolshevik’ (after executing most of the latter), one shouldn’t be so naive as to take such self-appellations as good coin. McKenna is a straw man for ‘Trotskyism’ (or even a ‘brand’ of it), just as Stalin is a grotesque one for ‘Bolshevism’, and as ‘communism’ in the USSR was for ‘communism’.

    As the author rightly points out, most of the groups calling themselves ‘Trotskyist’, have a history of ‘always “supporting” other people’s more or less imaginary revolutions’, best encapsulated in Ernest Mandel’s fatuous notion of the ‘new mass vanguard’. The very best outline of the postwar evolution of Trotskyism is still:

    To the meat of this: The first is the liberal saw that a socialist revolution inevitably leads to ‘Stalin’. Any cursory reading of Trotsky’s (and Lenin’s) actual writings, rather than the twaddle in the liberal and ‘third campist’ academic bubble, will disabuse the reader of this. Both Lenin and Trotsky were acutely aware that things wouldn’t work out well in backward Russia if the revolution didn’t quickly spread to an advanced country. They saw that Russian backwardness and isolation was creating a state machine that was swallowing not only the soviets but the Bolshevik party itself (later characterised by Trotsky as the ‘soviet Thermidor’). They pinned their hopes especially on Germany coming to the rescue, which nearly happened in 1923. Instead the failure of the 1923 (‘stillborn’) revolution of Germany gave both Hitler and Stalin enormous impetus.

    The second saw is that the anti-colonial ousting of their colonial masters somehow represents ‘real’ revolution. Excepting China, Viet Nam, North Korea, Laos and Cuba, the anti-colonial revolutions didn’t overturn capitalism. They weren’t social revolutions but political ones that left capitalism untouched. And without exception they conform to Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution (not this ludicrous liberal falsehood promulgated by the author that ‘The obsession with permanent revolution ends up providing an ideological alibi for permanent war’): that backward countries with weak bourgeoisies that throw off the imperialist or colonialist yoke will not be able to accomplish the basic tasks of a bourgeois revolution without going over to a proletarian one. Otherwise they remain backward and at the mercy of the imperialists. And they all have.

    Yes, Assad is bad, but the imperialists are far worse, and anyone who takes their side for whatever fig-leaf they wear (eg, ‘humanitarian’ intervention) or false flag they fly is only feeding their rapaciousness. One positive of the Trump regime is that the fig-leaf is now extremely tattered, its false flags are being torn down almost in real time, and anyone who still can’t see through all this is truly benighted or seriously deluded. Otherwise, they’re lying.

    One of the most significant interventions into US class struggles of the 1930s, was the Trotskyist-led Minneapolis Teamster strike that shook the local rulers to their core, and was a key event in the formation of the CIO. If the author had come across these real Trotskyists in Minnesota 30 years earlier rather than the milquetoast variety calling itself ‘Trotskyist’ in the late 1960s, then she might have a different understanding of what constitutes ‘Trotskyism’.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 4, 2018 at 20:59

      SM: Obviously I can’t guess who you are by “SM”, but I suspect we might have met. I fully agree with what you’ve written, with some very minor reservations, but we are on the same page politically. I just think you have given Johnstone too free a pass on this. She went on a dishonest tear on our movement, and needs to be called out for it. This was not about the Shactmanite perspective. She barely mentions it in her tirade against trots. She also attacks anti-fascists. She has seriously degenerated from her earlier writings. !@#$% and the horse she rode in on.

      • Abe
        May 4, 2018 at 21:06

        “Trot” Protests Too Much (again):

        Oakland Pete
        May 4, 2018 at 7:46 pm
        “I’ll tell you one place I won’t be”

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 21:16

          I don’t remember describing myself as “Trot”. But then, I don’t live in an alternative universe. Take off the tinfoil hat, Abe.

        • Abe
          May 8, 2018 at 18:22

          It’s a good thing we’re not relying on your memory, comrade.

          Oakland Pete
          May 4, 2018 at 7:46 pm
          “My son, a fellow trot”

      • SM
        May 5, 2018 at 01:05

        I doubt many would know of Shachtman and the difference between his ‘theory’ of ‘bureaucratic collectivism’ and Cliff’s (or Kautsky’s) notion of ‘state capitalism’. And of course in the end when it comes to defending the gains of the working class, the ‘third camp’ has always landed in the camp of the imperialists because of their extreme Stalinophobia. I guess this is what Johnstone is picking up on. Shachtman ended up supporting the Bay of Pigs invasion.

        The most disgusting expressions of third-campist Stalinophobia were backing Pope Wojtyla’s Solidarnosc; and they actually manned Yeltsin’s barricades in the cannonade of the Russian ‘parliament’, proclaiming that ‘socialists should rejoice’ the counterrevolutionary restoration of capitalism in the USSR. Right at that moment 500 workers with baseball bats might have changed all that, and history. On a smaller scale, but just as consistently, the third campists have not been averse to running to the class enemy in dragging corrupt union bureaucrats through the bourgeois courts.

        Yes, Johnstone can be criticised for being a (ex?) supporter of the bourgeois Greens who are as anti-communist and just as Stalinophobic as the ‘third campists’ she decries. As for the multitude of her other misconceptions and distortions, space and time don’t justify a response.

        Finally, there is no Trotskyist ‘movement’ per se. Yes, the US SWP was the biggest expression of it in the Anglophone world before WWII, and the Fourth International was the movement’s global umbrella. After WWII the FI splintered not least because of the pressures of the cold war and a failure to properly understand the social transformations wrought by the Stalinist bureaucracy in Eastern Europe, and of the peasant-led revolutions that overthrew capitalism in China and elsewhere (see the link I posted). Cuba was the swansong for the once great US SWP (they thought Castro was an ‘unconscious’ Trotskyist), and my guess is that these were the milquetoast ‘Trotskyists’ that Johnstone happened across in the late 1960s. By that time they were reciting ‘Bring our boys home’, whereas actual reds took a side and campaigned for working class action to stop the war and supported such slogans as ‘A dime buys a bullet’ and ‘Victory to the NLF’.

  50. backwardsevolution
    May 4, 2018 at 20:40

    Who gave Israel that land? Who carved up the Middle East? Wasn’t that the British, Churchill? Smart on their part to divide it up into countries with many different religions and ethnicities – all the better to use divide and conquer techniques on them in the future – or I should say that while you’re using paid mercenaries to overthrow another country, you can always pretend its over ethnic/religious fighting.

    What happened with that Balfour Declaration? What really went on? Was it a case of the Jews saying, “Give us that land and we’ll watch over and create chaos in the Middle East, we’ll be your eyes and ears” and the British saying, “Yeah, you being there will always give us an excuse to come down hard on any country we choose to under the guise that “X” country is a threat to Israel”? A kind of symbiotic relationship: one gets a religious homeland and the other gets control over oil.

    I know the Jews claimed that Israel was their homeland, but lots of people claim lots of things and no one pays any attention. “Yeah, yeah, we feel sorry for you. Thanks for coming by. Next!” What went on that made this different? I do not believe for one second that Britain just gave them Israel out of the kindness of their heart. Something else went on. Was it an alliance between the two (the Jews and the British) to make sure that the Middle East, rich in oil and gas reserves, stayed under the control of the West forever? That no A-rab was going to dictate what the price was and who got it?

    I’m torn in my thinking because I see so much of the U.S. being run by U.S./Israeli dual-citizens. They’re everywhere, in every key post: academia, banking, television, newspapers, communications, tech, judiciary, Federal Reserve, Hollywood, military, think tanks, government policy, etc. How did this happen? This degree of control takes years of planning to ensure that the “right” people get into key positions.

    So which is it? Does Israel own the United States and dictate its policy out of a kind of paranoid necessity, realizing that without the oil and the West’s control over the Middle East, Israel is a sitting duck, or is it that Israel just controls the U.S. because it can, because it’s been allowed to?

    • Sam F
      May 4, 2018 at 21:23

      Both, I would say. Money power corrupted US culture producing plenty of zionist opportunists to be incorporated. The “Balfour declaration” was not a grant, just a declaration of sympathy, conditional to Palestinian rights. Then Jewish immigrants caused endless trouble there, knocked off a UK diplomat, and they just gave it up after WWII. Israel was created only because the UN had just been formed and Truman twisted arms there for zionist campaign bribes. The worst possible location for it. See Alison Weir’s Against Our Better Judgment.

      • jeff montanye
        May 5, 2018 at 04:06

        all true. and don’t forget the king david hotel bombing, run by menachem begin and the irgun, forerunner of the mossad, years before begin won the nobel peace prize (!) and boasted that he had invented modern terrorism in “all the world!”

        but as time travel appears to be in the future if at all, what are we to do? the best, simplest, cheapest, safest way to bring peace to palestine is to give (?) israel sovereignty in all of it, including gaza. they won; it’s over. now make all the palestinians voting israeli citizens. the palestinians would be immediately vastly better off, the rest of the world, particularly the u.s., wonderfully lightened of an excruciating burden, and, for those israelis who don’t want to wait for the next slap, knife, body or suitcase bomb, as good a chance as any and better than most.

        they are actually fairly similar people, in language, appearance, even religion. there would be about equal numbers of jews and muslims in israel so neither could dominate the other at the ballot box (unlike south africa) but might rather attempt to attract votes from the other side so as to be able to form a government.

        this is the one state solution which donald trump has added to the always just out of reach two state solution as endgames for palestine acceptable to the u.s.

        • Sam F
          May 5, 2018 at 06:19

          A one-state Palestine would be the US zionist problem times twenty.

          A two-state plan in Palestine enforced by external powers is necessary, for at least three generations before any one-state plan could be viable. The situation there is far more polarized even than Ukraine: Palestinians would never be given equality; otherwise there would never have been an Israel. But the UN borders were not within its right to establish and do not make viable states.

          The two-state plan should recognize:
          1. The right of all persons to reside there who were resident by some prior date, or descended from refugees, based upon the difficulty of tracing injustice and the fact that most are innocent of wrongdoing;
          2. That any fair distribution will cause a temporary loss of resources for the Js, because resources were wrongfully taken, but will greatly improve their security;
          3. Each state must be planned to be viable in shoreline, ports, water, farm resources, roads, independent utility infrastructure, and residential, commercial, and industrial areas;
          4. Defense and police training should be UN supervised to prevent right wing militarism between factions; neither state may maintain military forces.

          The combined assets should be apportioned fairly between the two state groups:
          1. The gross assets to be cataloged and verified at several points, including all offshore and hidden assets, infrastructure, real estate, equipment and personal property;
          2. A census to be taken as of some prior year, to prevent packing residents or distorting the asset picture;
          3. A generous DMZ of desert or farmland between the states is reserved for later distribution, securing bonds later distributed; the cost of development required to make each state viable in infrastructure and structures is taken from the total assets before distribution to the groups;
          4. Distribution of gross assets between the two groups must compensate for the Ps deprivation of opportunity to accumulate property, while the Js accumulated property based upon resources taken from the Ps;
          5. Relocations are subsidized, and stripping or wasting of assets taken is accounted and deducted from the group gross assets, and the owner penalized within the group;

          The gross assets apportioned to each group are distributed within the group:
          1. A minimum share based upon age, and the balance distributed in proportion to each person’s prior assets relative to the group total assets;
          2. The distribution to each person is composed of shares in jointly held property (the DMZ etc.), residential or commercial real estate, or funds; those with homes and business property should retain that or obtain something similar in their destination state, and may owe a government mortgage if it exceeds their share, or receive a subsidy for planned renovation or construction. If they must relocate home or business, they are given choices by means of an agency allotment process, with subsidized relocation costs and financing for renovation and business equipment.

          Of course, special compensation cases should be provided for those who were forced to live in refugee camps, suffered injuries, or are survivors of wrongful deaths. When the DMZ is partitioned after several decades of peace between the factions, the land may be sold and those with shares compensated or given mortgages on the land.

      • backwardsevolution
        May 5, 2018 at 06:30

        Sam F. – thank you for your reply. It’s the “declaration of sympathy” that I’m having trouble with. I just don’t think our world leaders, then or now, give sympathy much consideration. Money, yes. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your’s,” yes. Blackmail, yes. But sympathy? I doubt it. Something happened there. I read one article that said the Jews were very tenacious in their pursuit – very! But I still think there would have been a carrot dangled in front of the signatories besides sympathy.

        Once they got Israel, though, I think they went to town to ensure they’d always be in total control and never vulnerable. They made sure that key people got into key positions, hired their own, and tossed a lot of money around, along with other incentives like blackmail. I remember President Wilson being told to appoint Louis Brandeis to some position or else some scandalous letters of Wilson’s might find their way into the public’s hands.

        Thanks for the Alison Weir book recommendation.

        • Bob Van Noy
          May 5, 2018 at 12:12

          backwardsevolution I’m with you here as I often am, in that, to react properly as a nation it’s vitally important to get the history right for once. I don’t claim to know how to do that but I suspect that a reconstruction of the international dynamics leading to WWI will be necessary. We surely don’t know that real dynamic, but many people do. I suspect that this was the history that so intrigued Carrol Quigley in “Tragedy And Hope” which caused such a stir when presented and published.
          Were it possible to openly assess and discuss that history, separate from grand political geopolitical and religious ideology; it might be possible to achieve a peaceable solution.
          Thank you CN and Diana Johnstone for this opportunity.

          • backwardsevolution
            May 5, 2018 at 16:56

            Bob Van Noy – “…to react properly as a nation it’s vitally important to get the history right for once.” Yes, well put! This is what we never get. Most of history is painted either black or white, the bad man versus the good man, but we never get to hear what might have caused the bad man to turn, what events led to this turning, or what the “good” man might have done to cause the turning, if anything.

            At Consortium we are able to discuss the “good” in the so-called “bad” man, we’re able to see that he’s been pushed into a corner or he’s been stabbed in the back, lies are being told about him, or maybe even come to the conclusion that he’s just insane and nobody has done anything to cause him to turn bad. At least we’re able to discuss the few things that accidentally surface, like a once-buried report, that gives us a glimpse into what might have really happened.

            You could drive a truck through the holes in history, and these holes are guarded and protected. For the few who do brave finding out the truth, their lives and their reputation are often destroyed. Some are even put in jail just for asking questions, or people have convenient accidental deaths.

            Never a dull moment, Bob. Thanks for your reply.

        • Sam F
          May 6, 2018 at 13:53

          True, b-e, the Balfour “sympathy” was likely improperly motivated by some means, although it conditions support to Palestinian rights that were promptly abused, so that UK later backtracked.

          Very true, Bob, that we must get history right before we debate policy, and money control of mass media prevents that. Facts must be settled before policy debate, even if they must be debated.

  51. Abe
    May 4, 2018 at 20:39

    Adoring Bellingcat fanboy Louis Proyect routinely gives Eliot Higgins a reach around over at the Atlantic Council’s “home of online investigations”

    After the Douma false flag incident in Syria, Proyect posted a “false flag” article complete with its own hilarious Inverted Hasbara (fake “anti-Jewish”) troll for Proyect to pretend joust in the comments.

    Of course, Proyect got kudos from a “regime change” enthusiast who posted a link to a British “anarchist” blogger insisting that the “international system itself is collapsing under the weight of its own impotence” because the Israeli-Saudi-U.S. Axis isn’t free to bomb whatever it wants to in Syria.

    And whenever Higgins has something “interesting” to Tweet, Marx brother Proyect positively trembles with delight.

  52. May 4, 2018 at 19:55

    “The trouble with Trotskyists is that they are always ‘supporting’ other people’s more or less imaginary revolutions. They are always telling others what to do. They know it all. The practical result of this verbal agitation is simply to align this brand of Trotskyism with U.S imperialism. The obsession with permanent revolution ends up providing an ideological alibi for permanent war.”

    Thank you.

    This finally explains to me a commenter at Common Dreams who always confuses me as he claims to be a true socialist who is for revolution and yet seems to support every US Imperial Project Neo-Con war that is out there as well as the LOTE argument to support the Democratic Party no matter what. I expect that from moderate Democrats, but it just keeps confusing me that someone who is ‘more a socialist than you’ would be spouting it.

    Now I understand.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 4, 2018 at 21:01

      You don’t understand squat.

  53. Oakland Pete
    May 4, 2018 at 19:46

    Diana Johnstone, who used to write intelligent articles that I forwarded with enthusiasm, has twice shown her collapse into idiocy. First she denounced anti-fascist activists from the comfort of her academic chair, while the rest of us have to actually duke it out with these punks. Where is her solidarity against the class enemy, the ugly tip of the spear of it, while those of us in antiwar and antiracist demonstrations depend on antifascists for protection? Gone south, apparently.

    Now she, and Consortium, have abandoned their focus on the war machine and the capitalist media that supports it to instead descend into sectarian stalinoid blather. DJ cites “this article by a Trotskyist” as if it represents all Trotskyism. How many factions did stalinism split into? They almost had a nuclear war a few decades ago when Maoists made common cause with imperialism. Yes, those who lay claim to Trotskyism have a lot of differences. But “a Trotskyist” does not represent anything more than himself. Anyone with experience in this movement knows that – as does DJ, who is arguing disingenuously here.

    This is offensive not just because those like Sanford, who apparently signs on to the opinions in this article (why wouldn’t he, with his “trotskyite communist” slur in his comment on the Consortium article on Russia), jump on the sectarian bandwagon of Diana Johnstone. It’s also offensive because many of us who have taken the lead in organizing resistance to these wars are specifically targeted for slurs like DJ makes in her hatred of anyone with whom she disagrees.

    We are on the front lines of this, lady. My son, a fellow trot, just returned from Palestine where he faced off against the IDF. I won’t go into my bonafides, because I’m not the type. But I have a half century of putting my neck on the block for causes you just write about. You sit back in your academic armchair and hurl your insults at the very people who fight the same fight you claim to – and we do the thankless tasks of organizing without getting our names published, because we have our hearts, not our egos, in this!

    I’ve seen this same syndrome from the flip side in the pages of Counterpunch, and we hear it on Pacifica Radio. The likes of Diana Johnstone, like those of St Clair, are full of arrogance to any one who speaks honestly. Johnstone does not, because all the positions she ascribes to Trotskyists are not ours, but in fact those of a very few who falsely characterize themselves as she claims. And we are not confined to the World Socialist Website.

    I’ll tell you one place I won’t be seen, and that’s Consortium. This new editor they have is a sectarian ass hole for going on this anti-Trotskysist campaign. Our movement has enough problems with the war makers and their class rulers. We don’t need this divisiveness from sectarian armchair radicals, and their right wing cheerleaders who gloat over the fallout from this, that have taken over left journalism. If I said more I would have to include the horse you rode in on, so I’ll leave it at that.

    • Abe
      May 4, 2018 at 21:01

      Trot Protests Too Much:

      “Won’t go into” the bonafides.


      “on the front lines” yada yada “just returned from Palestine” yada yada “faced off against the IDF” yada yada.

      Alas, the “thankless tasks” of Inverted Hasbara (false flag “anti-Israel” / “anti-Zionist”) propaganda trolls and the myriad horses they ride in on.

      • Oakland Pete
        May 4, 2018 at 21:29

        Wait a minute… I’m a Trotskyist AND a false flag? You need to get your head out of your ass and realize you just contradicted yourself. Ironically, I share her opinions on the ISO line or that one person she quotes. But when she goes off with insults against the very people who do what she writes about, she exposes herself as a phony. I’ve seen your comments in other articles. You’re a fascist, so no surprise you would like this slander on the left. After all, DJ has expressed her strongest criticism at those who fight fascism, exposing her real purpose in writing this. I hope DJ sees that those who support her are hostile to the views she claims to stand for and those she insults support her views. Because some people need to be reminded: This was not an attack on Shactmanism. This was an attack on Trotskyism. In other words, reactionary to the core. So Abe: If you live in the bay area, let me know and we can talk face to face about this. Same for Sanford.

        • John
          May 5, 2018 at 13:56

          Kronstadt showed Trotsky to be a reactionary. I find it ironic when those who continue his cult use that term to describe others.

          It is also intriguing when sectarians, (which, those who would self-identify as “Trotskyists” are, by definition) accuse others of being sectarians.

          I also find it intriguing that Trots, here, seem to be claiming to be the vanguard of anti-Fascism, when the vast majority of those who are actually fighting Fascists where the Fascists are (i.e. Charlottesville, the AmRen conferences, etc – as opposed to Left Coast “antifascists” who physically attack anyone who is not 100% onboard with IdPol nuances) are of the ideological strains that Trotsky himself ordered slaughtered at Kronstadt, while slandering them.

          I am all for a cautious red-black collaboration, hell, we even need to work with liberals and principled conservatives to be able to win this thing. I do recommend basic awareness, however, as between Catalonia, Kronstadt, and Ukraine, those who work towards actual freedom and egalitarianism have more than enough historical examples of what happens when one unreservedly trusts those who merely want to swap the Capitalist Class for the Coordinator class (despite the now obvious predictive capacity that Bakunin showed at the first SI, with his critique of Marx’s proposal).

          How can one claim foresight if one is incapable of learning from hindsight?

      • Abe
        May 4, 2018 at 23:10

        Sure, comrade “Trot”.

        You’re super busy out there killing “fascists” with that heroic, what was it, oh yeah, “son” of yours.

        But not too busy in the “fight” to invite some “fascist” over for a l’il “face to face” in the “bay area”.


        The Hasbara charades get loonier by the minute.

        • jeff montanye
          May 5, 2018 at 04:13

          trotsky was a kind of zionist.

          not sure whether pete is sayanim/mossad asset as you say but i have missed the trotskyist pushback on the idf. perhaps a link or more detail would help.

          • Oakland Pete
            May 6, 2018 at 21:31

            I’m not going to violate my son’s privacy by naming him. But go to the archives of Counterpunch from late August 2014 and you will see an article about the Zim Lines protests that I can tell you had trots among the organizers. If you can’t find it, comment back and I’ll look up the link and provide it. That’s just one example, but one that comes easily to mind.

            Your speculation that I’m an Israeli agent is laughable. Only a complete charlatan would write something like that. So is your comment that Trotsky was a zionist. You’re ready to float downstream, pal. You can’t even bother to use capitals or punctuation. And anything calling itself “duckduck” is to be taken seriously?

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 21:22

          But I notice you don’t take me up on it.

    • Skip Scott
      May 7, 2018 at 06:50

      “We don’t need this divisiveness from sectarian armchair radicals…”

      You sound like the Hillary camp of the democratic party chastising Bernie supporters. In other words, don’t speak, keep your difference of opinion to yourself, and fall in line. Sorry, I ain’t gonna march anymore.

  54. Greg Schofield
    May 4, 2018 at 19:32

    Diana Johnstone, again many thanks; keep writing!

    I have had similar problems trying to untwist such logic. I think that the classification of left and right based on ideological concerns has to be dissolved. These people are not on the side of working people, they are the opposite. On what basis can we coalesce as a force on practical issues?

    This is the end of Liberal democracy the ruling party and loyal opposition has coalesced into one party, the whole whig-tory opposition is in the dustbin.

    This is the end of the last Imperial world coalition, US foreign policy does not exist, it is US dictatorship.

    The managerial system over production and now social control has no future, it has outlived its purpose and become a social cancer.

    Note nothing about property as an abstraction, or revolution, or rights. Nothing positive either, for this is not a guide to action but a common perspective for action. The list is small and begins with a political structure, and economic manifestation and a social dilemma. To it solutions are needed and support condemned it is the anti-side of what is for the people.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 4, 2018 at 21:38

      I’m not just on the side of working people; I’m one of them. Who the hell are you or anyone to claim the voice of the working class? We get tired of PhD’s, and false leftists like you claiming to speak for us. And we also get tired of working to stop imperialism and then get attacked by those who claim adherence to our movement. DJ just attacked those of us who organize against these wars she writes about. Her purpose is divisiveness.

      • Greg Schofield
        May 5, 2018 at 02:23

        Labourer, driver, nurse, typesetter, high school teacher, researcher for few years, and yes I am, in my third score of years, doing a PhD on Aboriginal history.

        I do not pretend to talk for anyone least of all a whole class. I have since being at school taken the communist manifesto seriously. The above is the immediate interest of the class, world wide, for this epoch.

        What I can’t stand is ideologues and I have long tired of slogans instead of policy, and the tortured logic of those that defend the US Wars of aggression and paint themselves as progressives.

  55. rick sterling
    May 4, 2018 at 19:18

    Excellent analysis. Glad to see Diana Johnstone at Consortiumnews.

    • Greg Schofield
      May 4, 2018 at 19:33

      My feelings exactly.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 4, 2018 at 21:02

      Sorry to see Rick has left our movement. He has my reply privately.

  56. Marko
    May 4, 2018 at 19:13

    I don’t know if the two Johnstones who contribute here – Diana and Caitlin – are related by blood , but they’re related in their excellent writing style. Both cut right to the chase , and always with impeccable logic. The only glaring difference I see between the two is that Caitlin’s prose can get a bit ‘spicy’ at times. ( which I enjoy immensely , BTW )

    One thing Diana doesn’t mention here is that some fraction of these activists don’t agree that they , and the U.S. , “should go home and mind their own business ” , because for that fraction , it literally is their business , for which they’re better compensated than they would be if they held the opposing positions. In short , they’re sell-outs.

    • Greg Schofield
      May 4, 2018 at 19:34

      In agreement.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 4, 2018 at 21:34

      Caitlin does not insult her supporters or create divisiveness in our movement. She does not attack anti-fascist activists. Diana does. Her goal is to divide our movement. She did not attack Shactmanites; she attacked Trotskyists. She is utterly reactionary.

      • Marko
        May 5, 2018 at 01:27

        ” Caitlin… does not attack anti-fascist activists. ”

        Yes she does – and viciously – if they’re warmongering , claptrap-spewing hacks , like this fellow :

        McKenna , with that piece , would fit right in at CNN , BBC , the Atlantic Council , Brookings , or AEI – in other words , he’d fit right in with the bipartisan , wars-for-fun-and-profit-and-always-based-on-lies Establishment that Caitlin , myself , and I suspect , most readers here are not just sick of , but hate with a passion.

        I don’t have any particular beef with generic Trotskyists , nor , it appears to me , does Diana Johnstone. But if the particularTrotskyist will stoop to spouting empire supporting lies that encourage empire’s wars , he’s in a movement I want no part of. Divide and conquer those suckers right to hell , every day of the week.

        • Skip Scott
          May 7, 2018 at 06:51

          Well said Marko!

      • John
        May 5, 2018 at 16:35

        Caitlin does not attack anti-Fascists?

        Perhaps your memory is too short to remember when she did?

        Again, Trotsky showed himself to be a reactionary at Kronstadt. The irony of a member of his cult calling anyone else a reactionary is palpable.

        What is this “our movement” you speak of? The movement of the True Trotskyists (r) (c) ™?

        Or do you mean “our” as in the overall anti-war, anti-environmental destruction, anti-kakistocracy movement? If this is what you mean, does not adhering to labels like “Trotskyist” ensure division?

        Earlier, you complained about those who refer to the USSR as State Capitalism. Lenin himself used that term to describe the USSR’s stage of progression. (After he and Trotsky massacred the sailors at Kronstadt who felt it was time to move on from State Capitalism and actually implement socialism.)

        The irony of someone who pretends to be against sectarian divisiveness even using a term like “Shactmanite” (A term that in over 25 years of left-activism, I do not think I have ever encountered – of course, my left activism has, for the most part, been with groups that are not cultish followers of dead white men – instead I worked on things like setting up a free bike clinic for one of the worst housing projects in the country, and setting up a food not bombs group and things like that, so I avoided most of that silly infighting amongst groups who think voting Democrat is the path to change.) is really giggle-inducing, in that the irony is apparently unintentional.

        • Oakland Pete
          May 6, 2018 at 22:00

          I can’t claim to have read everything Caitlin has written. If she went off on anti-fascist activists, I would be surprised. But second guessing the tactics of those who stand up to the likes of klansmen and nazis does not go down well with those who do that. You are one of those they defend.

          I don’t know where you found my reference to state capitalism. You must be smoking the wrong brand while writing.

          Kronstadt is a long and difficult subject, and not the point of this discussion.

          The movement I refer to is those who fight imperialism, and we are being slandered by a fascist sympathizer.

          If you have spent 25 years in left activism and never heard that term “Shactmanite”, you’ve been living in a bubble. But frankly, I think you’re BSing here, because you sure seem up on Kronstadt and Lenin’s writings, or would have us think.

          I’m not in a cult, or even a Trotskyist party. I don’t even claim adherence to Trotskyism. You project your bile in very irrational ways.

          A lot of dead white guys have good things to say. You might try reading some of their ideas.

          Trotskyists don’t advocate voting for democrats. Your comment to that effect shows you are completely ignorant about the subject.

          I’m all for bikes and food, but if you spend as much time researching the deeds of dead white guys as you claim, while claiming not to, you might put your efforts into something beyond that.

          By the way, did I tell you that you sound hopelessly goofy? You’re out of your league here.

    • Skip Scott
      May 5, 2018 at 07:42


      FYI, no relation between Caitlin and Diana. I agree with you, I like them both.

      • Marko
        May 5, 2018 at 15:56

        OK , good to know. Thanks , Skip.

  57. mike k
    May 4, 2018 at 19:06

    Of course the US will not call off it’s attack on Syria, because that might imply that it was a mistake from the start. And that is impossible for the exceptional and necessary nation which is never wrong.

  58. mike k
    May 4, 2018 at 19:03

    Of that we do not know, we cannot speak. So I’ll keep it simple. The war in Syria which has killed many thousands is an American caused and supported atrocity – one more in a long list for this murderous nation. It is not a “civil war”. It is an invasion of outside Islamic fanatics paid and armed by the US. Assad is not a monster – that’s all boilerplate propaganda. That’s all anybody needs to know about things in Syria right now. If the US would call off it’s invasion, things would settle down.

    • Realist
      May 5, 2018 at 01:36

      Thank you, Ludwig Wittgenstein (“Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.”) This is the first I’ve heard in the years dedicated to debating the Syrian war for regime change that it’s involved some form of conflict between the “Trotskyites” and the “Stalinists.” In fact, those are not terms I’ve heard applied to any of the many other foreign wars in which Uncle Sam’s armies or petro dollars have been sent in large numbers. The readership of CN who self-identify as a Trotskyite and especially as a Stalinist must be miniscule. I found the initial discussion thread started by Nonsense Factory which didn’t make a single mention of early twentieth century Soviet politics, but chose rather to focus entirely on contemporary economics and geopolitics, to be much more interesting and informative than the featured article. Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade, but both the Trotskyites and Stalinists can loathe me in equal measure for it. At least you’ve got that as common ground.

  59. Jerome Stern
    May 4, 2018 at 18:54

    The proper description of the people the author calls Trotskyists, those associated with the World Socialist Web Site apart, is ex-Trotskyists. Although some insist they are still believers in socialist revolution, domestically and internationally, this is a lie. The WSWS correctly calls these people the pseudo-left. They abandoned any real allegiance to Trotsky’s beliefs decades ago. A real understanding of the meaning of the phrase “permanent revolution” as used by Trotsky makes this perfectly clear: Trotsky argued that in developing economies, revolutions designed to achieve only western style parliamentary democracy and civil liberties together with anti-imperialistic objectives would ultimately fail if they did not go further and proceed to socialist revolution. Hence, the only kind of revolution a genuine Trotskyist would wholly support would be a socialist one. Also any true Trotskyist would find that the idea western imperialists would support the creation of genuinely democratic, independent governments in third world countries laughable.

    • John
      May 5, 2018 at 16:39

      So you are saying they are not true Scotsmen?

  60. Oakland Pete
    May 4, 2018 at 18:50

    Damn right Oakland Pete doesn’t like this, and I just opened it. I’ll get to it soon enough, but I thought Diana Johnstone and Consortium had more class than to write or run this rehashed stalinist bullshit. We don’t read Consortium for this. Shame on them. I’ve donated a lot in the past, but you’ve stained Robert Parry’s legacy and can expect no more. To the dustbin of history with them and this reactionary ass hole Sanford.

    • John
      May 5, 2018 at 16:41

      What was Kronstadt if not a blatant example of the reactionary nature of the Bolshevik counter-revolution?

      When a devoted acolyte of a reactionary mass-murderer calls someone else a reactionary, is that a solid indication that the person being called “reactionary” by the devoted acolyte of a reactionary mass-murderer is, in fact, a radical?

  61. F. G. Sanford
    May 4, 2018 at 18:28

    Well, “Oakland Pete” and “Patrick” will certainly be upset, but I feel thoroughly vindicated! Louis Proyect (somehow, I don’t think that’s his real name) will also be perhaps moderately agitated. Thank-you, Dr. Johnstone, for a thoroughly accurate depiction of this issue!

    • Sam F
      May 4, 2018 at 21:02

      Diana Johnstone has dissected McKenna’s errors, but the Trotskyite/Stalinist interpretation seems moot.
      DemRep subversions and regime changes to promote Democracy™ do not seek justice for the poor.

    • Oakland Pete
      May 4, 2018 at 21:04

      Of course Sanford would like this. In his other comment he attacks “trotskyite communists”. Fascism is alive and well, although it often hides behind PhD’s and pretends to be progressive. See you on the barricades, Sanford.

  62. nonsense factory
    May 4, 2018 at 18:27

    Interesting article; it brings up several different rationales for the regime change program targeting Syria – Israeli interests, Saudi interests, oil interests, much of it based on fear of Iranian regional influence.

    However, the best way to find out what the US government was really thinking about Syria is to look at at the Wikileaks State Department cables leaked by Chelsea Manning. They date up to Feb 2010, so it is not comprehensive up to the Arab Spring, but they are revealing.

    Another good approach, if you’re willing to concede that American corporate media serves as the propaganda arm of the US Empire when it comes to foreign policy, is to look at how the Syrian government is portrayed in the media over time. If a foreign government is being portrayed as “reforming”.

    What you find in the media and the Wikileaks cables is a very strong effort by the US government to bring Syria into the US-Saudi-Israeli axis from about 2008-2009; the effort seemed to have failed by late 2009/early 2010. The goal was to get Assad to cut economic ties with Iran, and to get in line with the Saudis and Israelis.

    The Qatar-Saudi oil pipeline vs. the Iran-Gazprom pipeline was a major factor, but there were many others this article doesn’t mention – Iran and Syria cooperating on central banking, on electricity deals, on railroad construction plans, on port construction – a full-bore economic cooperation deal between the Iranian and Syrian governments was in the works, and the US couldn’t disrupt it or, as the cables spell out, ‘wean Assad away from Iran.” They tried to lean on Turkey to accomplish this goal but the whole effort failed. Here’s the relevant quote; search Cablegate at Wikileaks for it if you like:

    “The major challenge ahead is to prevent Syria from using closer relations with Turkey as a means of resisting U.S. influence and pursuing policies that would make comprehensive peace less likely. In the long run, Asad’s increasing trust of PM Erdogan offers the best hope of luring Syria out of Tehran’s orbit.”

    Israel’s concern was always that good relations between Iran and Syria would mean Hezbollah would always be well-supplied and Israeli ambitions for further land grabs in south Lebanon (see also Golan Heights) would be permanently stymied. Israeli claims that Hezbollah would attack Israel without provocation are basically ludicrous.

    However, the cables really show that the US concern was about the economic threat of a Syrian-Iranian alliance, which would bring in Lebanon and open up a trade route to Europe that both China and Russia could exploit; this overland route would mean increased trade between these partners, and the further decline in importance of the American Empire; the eventual failure of the petrodollar recycling scheme, that Saudi Arabia plays such a key role in.

    Sure, Israel’s paranoia and concerns influenced the decision to go with regime change, but that’s merely a sideshow in the larger game being played – which really is about controlling the oil in the Middle East, and not just the oil, the cash flow generated from oil sales, controlling that is just as important. That’s the real driving force behind the Syrian regime change operation.

    As part of this effort to bring Assad in from the cold, to make Syria a client of the American Empire, US corporate media generally portrayed Assad as a moderate reformer in 2008; this only stopped after Assad rejected the Saudi/Qatar pipeline in 2009 in favor of the Gazprom-Iranian one.

    P.S. Another telling feature in the diplomatic cables: complete indifference to any human rights issues, zero mention of torture or democratic voting rights or anything related to such issues. Straight economic agendas are what they focus on.

    • JWalters
      May 4, 2018 at 20:15

      Thanks for this excellent run-down on the Manning documents. I wound’t say Israel is a side show, however, because there’s evidence that America and Britain are now controlled by the Zionists.

    • Sam F
      May 4, 2018 at 20:40

      I will suggest that this over-emphasizes the “control of oil” in the Mideast. Regime change does not control the oil supply. The US can buy oil wherever it pleases without militarism like everyone else. We do not attack gas stations before refueling. The US did not get free oil after defeating Iraq, nor better access to Iraq oil. If the US cared about a stable oil supply it would not have pushed KSA into self-destructive wars in Syria and Yemen.

      A Qatar-Turkey pipeline is a minor cost factor, as even the US imports oil in far greater quantities at similar cost.

      The “petrodollar” notion may be just a diversion by zionist economists. The exchange medium is merely symbolic, not determinative of power. Oil costs the same in any currency, and the dollars in circulation for oil purchases cannot be vast, and do not earn us anything. Do they sell treasury bonds, affect imports or exports, etc?

      The US concern about an Iran/Iraq/Syria/Lebanon front seems to be only the Israeli concern. Who fears greater trade between them and Russia/China? Their growth does not mean decline of the US. Israel is the problem.

      • Hans Castorp
        May 4, 2018 at 21:57

        “The US can buy oil wherever it pleases without militarism like everyone else.”

        That’s like saying there is no point in owning a filling station, since you can simply go to another gas station and buy as much fuel as you please.

        The actual goal is to control oil for strategic purposes, and to profit off it’s sale.

        • backwardsevolution
          May 4, 2018 at 22:48

          Hans – exactly, it’s control over the oil; creating surpluses and deficits of oil at the flick of a war and/or sanctions, thereby manipulating its price. It’s payoffs to Western multinational corporations who own those oil wells in foreign countries.

          Sam – “The exchange medium is merely symbolic, not determinative of power.” The U.S. dollar is the top of the heap and it’s determined by military might.

          • nonsense factory
            May 5, 2018 at 00:15

            Indeed, this can be seen in Wikileaks cables too, here’s one from US Treasury discussions with Saudi Arabia:

            “Jasser reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s support for the riyal-dollar peg, noting that the peg is in Saudi Arabia’s “cold-blooded self interest,” though he noted it sometimes felt like “we are alone.” Referencing past calls by China and others in the G-20 for an alternative to the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, Jasser said some have asked him why he does not give up on the U.S. dollar. He turned to a response he gave to a European newspaper that asked why Saudi Arabia hadn’t switched its peg to the Euro, “When oil is denominated in Euros, we’ll research it.”

            Israel gets $4 billion in aid a year from the US; but the Saudis and UAE pump something like $40 billion a year into Wall Street in the form of arms deals and financial investment and other contracts. Of course, the Israelis and the Saudis and the US government all share the same agenda, perpetuation of the status quo, and containing the threat of a Lebanon-Syria-Iranian economic cooperation agreement. It’s just pathetic; the notion of Iran doing business with Europe, China and Russia, of the fall of petrodollar recycling, drives them nuts.

          • b.grand
            May 5, 2018 at 01:00

            Another point is that some mistakenly assume that “control of oil” is the same thing as desire for oil. Disruption of [non-Saudi-UAE] ME oil serves the strategic denial of resources, especially to China.

            The US now has its own petroleum products to sell, from fracking, and disrupting Russian and Iranian pipelines to Europe serves US ambitions for customers there.

          • backwardsevolution
            May 5, 2018 at 06:08

            nonsense factory and b.grand – good posts. Thank you.

          • Bill
            May 6, 2018 at 19:49

            contro lof who gets the oil and also, control over what currency the oil is sold for…one theory about a contributing factor leading to the invasion of Iraq was that Sadam was wanting to sell his oil for Euros instead of dollars.

        • Sam F
          May 5, 2018 at 07:08

          With respect to all commenters, and accepting that the US may have a Mideast oil strategy that is irrational or serves only a faction, the evidence of a rational oil-based strategy does not presently look so strong to me:

          The owners of oil resources profit, but the US has never been able to take the resources.
          Nor has it been able to deny oil supply to China and others, who in fact buy most Iraq oil.

          1. Even if speculator profits went right to the DoD, manipulating the oil price by creating surpluses and deficits would not seem likely to pay for US wars in the Mideast. For consumer nations, gains during surplus periods would likely not exceed losses during deficit. So the link would have to be to insider trading by politicians.
          2. Military strength in defense may help sell treasury bonds, but military aggression just troubles the markets. Bonds are oversold and likely to be dumped, and the deficit does not serve the US.
          3. It is unclear that military power generally improves exchange rate: that appears to be due to trade balances etc. It might once have attracted oligarch money, but that usually goes to tax havens now.

          Disruption of oil supply from Iran or supply to China appears to be hopeless, as they can move it or buy it as well as anyone. China was recently buying more Iraq oil than the US, so no invasion gain.

          • nonsense factory
            May 5, 2018 at 23:31

            Here’s a very revealing Wikileaks cable from back in 1974 that might convince you of the centrality of oil money (not oil itself, but the revenue from oil sales, where it ends up, who the oil is sold to, etc.):

            1974 December 18

            Clearly the role of Israel is of great importance as well (note that Kissinger was willing to enrage the Saudis by delivering military aid to Israel in 1972-1973), but that role is much like it was under Britain in World War II – a colonial outpost serving the interests of Empire, and the #1 interest of Empire is control of the natural resources and cash flows deriving from control of those natural resources. The fall of the Shah of Iran was the greatest failure of this policy in the 20th century; now there’s an independent Iranian state that won’t follow US dictates. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are still in the pocket, and their close covert alliance with Israel involves things like Israeli spy agencies tracking UAE and Saudi dissidents to ensure the House of Saud, MbZ, etc. do not go the way of the Shah of Iran.

            Ultimately, Israel’s greatest fears are (1) being forced to publicly acknowledge its nuclear weapons arsenal and (2) being forced to give all Palestinians equal rights within a post-apartheid Israeli/Palestinian state in which everyone currently under Israeli military control would be allowed to vote in Israeli national elections; this would also entail equal immigration and land ownership rights for Muslims as well as for Jews; that’s their nightmare scenario they call ‘the destruction of the Jewish state”; the South African equivalent was the end of white minority rule. They can stave off this outcome as long as they keep serving the U.S. interest in protecting the petrodollar, propping up the Sauds, keeping Iran from gaining more influence and so on.

          • backwardsevolution
            May 6, 2018 at 00:49

            Sam F – I think you said you have not really followed “economics”. Is that right? Because I got started on the Internet because of economics. I can’t say I understand all of it (or even most of it), but following it I have learned that whenever they want to bankrupt a country (like Venezuela, Russia), one of the ways is through flooding the market with oil. All of a sudden, miraculously there is a glut, prices go down, and these countries really suffer. Go figure!

            Governments are there to protect the multinational corporations. Please listen to the video that Abe posted above, his post that begins with “Protection of capital is the prime reason…..” Listen to the whole video. These people do not care what happens to the U.S. It’s all international now.

            The stock market and the bond market are doing just fine with all the wars and deficits. They will implode when and if the above people in Abe’s post want them to. Totally manipulated, engineered, manufactured – everything.

            Thanks, Sam.

          • Sam F
            May 6, 2018 at 10:42

            Thanks for these thoughtful and informative responses.
            The concealed politics seems more complex than the economics.

            Required currencies recycle oil payments within trade blocs, forcing others to trade within blocs.
            Buyers must bargain suppliers to demand their currency by mutual defense etc.
            Likely the US deals with tyrannies like KSA so as to control them by helping them tyrannize.
            Likely the US aggravates supplier instabilities as with KSA/Iran so as to control suppliers.
            Likely Israel offers to prop up KSA but also likely causes instability so as to offer defense.
            Which would explain how both have insurgent connections and “intelligence” to “defend” KSA.
            Both profit by the instability so they are causing instability and will never stop it.

            Seems the US gains from the petrodollar just a trade discount at enormous military expense.
            Seems that US weapons sales profits there are a small fraction of that US military expense.
            The US does not need to control suppliers to do business, so it must be seeking other benefits.
            So it still appears to me that without zionist influence the US would not have Mideast wars.

            Seems that allowing the US petrodollar demand is not beneficial to KSA in itself.
            Seems that KSA should stabilize by liberalizing and peace with Iran, to ignore currency demands.

            Yes the US has attacked suppliers by creating oil gluts and embargoes.
            But if Iran were defeated would we have no KSA “defense” power to demand the petrodollar?

            I am glad to hear all contrary argument.

          • Hans Castorp
            May 7, 2018 at 17:33

            The DOD doesn’t need oil money to keep the war machine going. All they need are your taxes, and mine.

            The profits go to the oil conglomerates; i.e., the Pentagon’s true master.

        • Marko
          May 5, 2018 at 16:44

          Agreed. The 2007 Iraq oil law was a sweetheart deal for Western oil interests , with 30-yr no-bid contracts and the like. Too sweet , as it turned out , as several of the early contracts under the new law were later rescinded.

          Recent developments in the Iraq oil space might provide an interesting test case for determining why the U.S. blows up countries in the Middle East. Could Iraq have just put itself back on the target list ? :

          “The dangers of Iraq’s oil law :The measure creates an entity with sole responsibility for oil and gas development”
          – 4/30/2018 by Nick Butler

          “…. A petroleum law was passed this year that will transform the largely successful relationship between the government and operating companies. This creates a single entity with sole responsibility for all aspects of the development of the oil and gas sector across Iraq.  The new company — the Iraq National Oil Company, a revived and expanded version of the old INOC that was absorbed by the oil ministry in the 1980s — will: 

          • control all hydrocarbon revenues, and itself determine what is passed to the national treasury;
          • own all upstream, midstream, downstream, marketing and tanker interests and the associated pipeline and export infrastructure;
          • be the only authority to sign contracts with international companies investing in oil and gas and other parts of the energy sector;
          • have the power to create a fund to distribute the profits to every citizen;
          • control a new next generations or sovereign wealth fund;
          •invest in strategic projects in areas of the country in which it operates and in industrial and agriculture projects on any land it owns. 

          Within this remit there are few limits to the powers of those running the company……etc.”

          • backwardsevolution
            May 6, 2018 at 00:41

            Marko – “Could Iraq have just put itself back on the target list?” Start trying to share some of the wealth with the people (like Gaddafi) and they could find themselves being bombed back into the last century again. Good post.

    • Skip Scott
      May 5, 2018 at 07:38

      Thanks nonsense factory. Great post.

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