elle · @ell3ctric

8th Oct 2014 from TwitLonger

Graeber and ISIS

Graeber really annoyed me with this because he’s being really deceptive about his intentions so I ended up writing a big response. This is directed at no-one in particular btw, just my thoughts and some context:

The international left hasn’t been ignoring Rojava! He’s completely erasing every position I’ve read on Rojava over the past year or so. What David is trying to do in this article is claim that a) he cares more b) because he cares more his position on the Syrian Civil war is more correct. Anyone excoriating the left on their moral failings is trying to sell you a war, without fail. Not in this article (though pro-empire dogwhistles such as ‘Syrian Revolution’ and ‘Agents of the Assad regime’ are a clue), but on Twitter he was supplementing this with call for western left to rally for NATO to arm the Kurds and supporting the airstrikes (he’s not ‘actively opposed’ to them) and going so far as to say that those opposed to them are invoking racial privilege. And he calls himself an Anarchist!

The truth is actually the opposite. Nobody has been ignoring Rojava. The west as well as the GCC has been intent on destroying it since the very beginning. The PKK have been on the US terror list ever since the Iraq war (the US wanted to use Turkey's Incirlik airbase) Obviously, the left hasn’t resigned itself to letting empire’s plans unfolding without a response. This is just TODAY (notably, not getting as much attention as the Hong Kong protests) http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/turkish-police-kills-least-12-clashes-anti-isis-protesters

The charter of the social contract the Syrian Kurds issued is inspiring, and should be noted in contradistinction to the inchoate or meagre statements proffered by ‘revolutionary’ forces, who have stated nothing so bold apart from recently issuing a few genial statements on women’s rights. (A reluctant PR exercise if ever there was one)

'We, the people of the Democratic Autonomous Regions of Afrin, Jazira and Kobane, a confederation of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Arameans, Turkmen, Armenians and Chechens, freely and solemnly declare and establish this Charter, which has been drafted according to the principles of Democratic Autonomy. 'In pursuit of freedom, justice, dignity and democracy and led by principles of equality and environmental sustainability, the Charter proclaims a new social contract, based upon mutual and peaceful coexistence and understanding between all strands of society. It protects fundamental human rights and liberties and reaffirms the peoples’ right to self-determination. 

'Under the Charter, we, the people of the Autonomous Regions, unite in the spirit of reconciliation, pluralism and democratic participation so that all may express themselves freely in public life. In building a society free from authoritarianism, militarism, centralism and the intervention of religious authority in public affairs, the Charter recognizes Syria’s territorial integrity and aspires to maintain domestic and international peace. 

'In establishing this Charter, we declare a political system and civil
administration founded upon a social contract that reconciles the rich mosaic of Syria through a transitional phase from dictatorship, civil war and destruction, to a new democratic society where civic life and social justice are preserved.”


As far as the narrative on the Syrian Civil war goes, its existence was actively ignored in the Western media when it was intent on claiming that what was happening was a wellspring of democratic-secular liberalism erupting, intent on overthrowing an evil dictator; rather than a gang of well-funded US and GCC reactionary contras intent on folding Syria into
the domain of western hegemony by overthrowing Assad; or if that was not possible, disabling its capability to exert influence so as to render it
marginal to its broader plans for the region. Its existence was ignored because they had, after securing their borders, struck an alliance with the Syrian Arab Republic and Hezbollah, which would have muddled the narrative somewhat. From the very beginning the Syrian National Council marginalised the Syrian Kurds in order to bargain with Turkey for intervention. The SNC’s line is your fairly standard Ba’athist line, which is
ferociously anti-Kurdish. But the SNC have no popular base, they represent no-one outside of themselves except to western journalists in hotel lobbies. Meanwhile JAN, ISIS and the ‘FSA’ continue apace. None of whom are friends of the Kurds.

Now that ISIS has become a pretext for intervention, the west has fallen in love with the PYD but only in so far as they allow the real flow of events within Syria to remain occluded. Better to grasp onto the romantic
daring do of the Kurds than consider the real interests at play. Turkey’s
participation in the anti-ISIS coalition was contingent on increasing pressure on Assad militarily (so, shock horror, not really an anti-ISIS bombing campaign after all) and the rollback of any assertion of Kurdish independence. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/10/turkey-united-states-syria-isis-kurds-assad.html

My friend rene made some good points about the logic of some of the US’s bombing campaign so far http://ask.fm/Renatus84/answer/118243864823

The west has been largely *indifferent* to the machinations of ISIS up until now because ISIS and Turkey, KSA, Qatar et al’s interests largely converge on the removal of Assad. ISIS is to Turkey as the Taliban were to Pakistan.http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/10/turkey-united-states-syria-isis-kurds-assad.html

It’s Turkey that’s been helping ISIS fund itself (though I’m sure the full
extent of the US’s hand in this quagmire will be revealed in time) And us too; when the oil isn’t flowing to Ankara or Doha it’s flowing to the EU through Northern Iraq. http://www.todayszaman.com/_high-ranking-iraqi-official-says-isil-exports-oil-via-turkey_359779.html

Meanwhile, Israel has openly declared itself allied with Al-Qaeda http://www.timesofisrael.com/anti-assad-rebels-said-to-control-95-of-syrian-golan-heights/

And so far, the anti-ISIS bombings have largely failed to actually hit ISIS. Particularly on the outskirts of Kobane, where ISIS tanks have been shelling the Kurds relentlessly. They’re right on the Turkish border, clear as day, but the US and Turkey have no interest in lending material support to the PYD. They’re quite happy for ISIS to overrun them. 

My point is that these democratic experiments are noble and worth supporting. But that support should not extend to cheering NATO, whose policy will remain unchanged but who’ll claim you as an ally. 'It's not as simple as being for/against intervention' isn't a reflection of facts on the ground, more how well the war has been sold to you.We’ve been here before, and we already know how the story ends. http://adst.org/2013/07/a-secret-betrayal-kurdish-refugees-in-iran/

And articles like this are for the ummers and ahhhers on the left, and they rely on the cloud of historical amnesia that’s part and parcel of every case for intervention. This time is different, this time is different. Under the naive delusion that the interests of empire and the targets of it’s violence can ever converge. As I said, We’ve been here before: http://www.juancole.com/2011/03/an-open-letter-to-the-left-on-libya.html

If ISIS are Franco and the Kurds are the POUM, then it’s not that big a leap to think that the US hitting ISIS is supporting freedom, democracy and socialism; it can serve as a rebarbative to the troubled conscious of western leftists in the capitalist core. But leftists were marginalised or purged from the ranks of the Syrian opposition; and have only ever been a marginal force. In the run up to the Iraq war ‘Iraqi trade unions’ were presented as supporters of the US. They were dropped rather quickly as soon as they’d served their purpose. Same with Libya, once the ethnic cleansing got underway. It’s all spectacle for empire, but empire is never good, or moral, or kind. Plumes of smoke to justify barbarism.

P.S My comrade RedMaistre wrote a really good, philosophically rich essay on the moral logic of intervention and why we should be opposed here: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=10855

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