Poor Foreign Policy, is it a company mandate to serve as a propaganda arm for nefarious think tanks or is that done out of just pure incompetence?–Because the Charles Lister article they just published has about as much integrity as Judith Miller’s report on Iraqi WMDs. Charles Lister’s piece Trump’s Syria Strategy Would Be a Disaster is a doozy replete with classic neocon tropes that have wrecked a continent-sized part of the globe and basically consigns the international laws created to prevent war after WWII to the rubbish bin. Nice one guys.
This piece doesn’t just demonstrate Lister’s sociopathic neglect for morality and facts, it exposes Foreign Policy Magazine’s willingness to peddle propaganda from oil major and arms manufacturer backed “think tanks” like the Middle East Institute, where Lister is a Senior Fellow.
And who is this Middle East Institute? What interests color its biases?
The self described “one of the most prestigious journals on the Middle East,” supposedly exists to advise policy makers, but who’s advice are they really giving? From their website:
“The Middle East Institute could not survive or achieve its mission without the generous support of its Corporate Members and additional donations coming from concerned individuals and foundations.”
Interestingly this list includes among it’s top tier “President’s Circle” companies like Chevron, Conoco, ExxonMobil, Raytheon, Saudi Aramco and Shell. Among the second tier “Director’s Circle” companies like BAE, Bank of Sharjah, Boing, BP, General Dynamics and National Bank of Dubai. Among the third tier “Standard Corporate” companies like Halliburton, Northrop Grumman and a few Saudi banks.
So…. literally a who’s who of arms manufacturers and war profiteers, US/European oil companies looking to beat Russian oil majors in the region, and banks from Saudi Arabia and Dubai that fund terrorists. (That link, by the way, describes how Dubai is the biggest center for terrorist money laundering and transfers on the planet.)
No wonder Lister’s article reflects such a twisted world view. In it, Lister’s thesis is that “the president-elect wants to ally with Assad and Russia to fight the Islamic State – but he’s going to end up empowering extremists and causing chaos across the Middle East.”
“Trump says he wants to focus on destroying the Islamic State. But the main effect of the policies he describes would be to eliminate the moderate opposition to the Assad regime and to empower extremism.”
Of course, the facts point out just the opposite, that there are no “moderates” and that it is current US policy that is “empowering extremists and causing chaos across the Middle East.” The article, simply put, is cynicism and moral degeneracy in service of interests that in some way or another profit from war and desire Assad’s removal. Apparently, more pliant actors amenable to their plans would be highly preferred to Assad, even if they are genocidal maniacs.
As is now amply documented and verifiable, it’s the illegal war in Iraq that sowed the seeds of ISIS and execrable Arab regimes in Qatar and Saudi Arabia that financed and supported them. The illegal regime change operation in Libya did a great deal to help arm them and increased recruitment. The Pentagon foresaw the emergence of ISIS while the CIA fomented the conflict in Syria–giving ISIS the opportunity to move in.
“Moderate” rebels openly admit that they take orders from Al Nusra, they funnel US weapons to their terrorist masters, and they torture and they execute people with utter barbarity just like the extremists. The CIA’s and the Pentagon’s programs to create trustworthy “moderate” fighting forces have been utter failures. Under the current plan, the US would hand over what was once a stable country governed by a secular, inclusive regime over to Al Nusra, ISIS and Al Queda. How does that help the Syrian people or global security? Lister’s premise is staggeringly immoral and idiotic, not to mention child’s play to disprove. Foreign Policy Magazine has shown questionable morals and poor journalistic integrity just by printing it. After all, they know full well what interests the Middle East Institute really represents.
What is apparent to any serious observer is that the so-called “War on Terror” isn’t just a failure, it is itself terrorism and a war crime (or a whole series of war crimes). These wars and regime change actions are illegal under international law and unauthorized by congress, so they are illegal by US law as well. What’s more, the drone strikes, extra-judicial murders, bombings, arming of terrorist groups, support for terrorist sponsors like Saudi Arabia–these have done nothing but fan the flames of hatred, retribution and increased terrorism and terrorist recruitment. In short: The chaos and violence generated by the US’s wanton murderous criminality are what caused all these problems to begin with.
The responsibility for the 3-500,000 deaths in the Syrian conflict, all the destroyed infrastructure, homes, families and for the millions of refugees that have fled lies squarely at the US’s feet. The solution to this problem is not more regime change as neocon warmonger John Bolton would have it. The solution to this terrorist-spawned war, as Noam Chomsky puts it, is to “stop participating in it.” The US must end bombings, to withdraw its military, to stop flooding the region with arms, to support regional stability through reparations and reconstruction, to jail US war criminals and enforce international law instead of undermine it, and to create a nuclear weapons free zone in the middle east–an objective shared by every country in that region save Israel–the only actual nuclear pariah there.
Despite Lister’s feeble attempts at framing the problem of terrorism as one resulting from Assad’s dictatorship, his assertions are patently and transparently false. His claim that “This is the government whose intelligence apparatus methodically built al Qaeda in Iraq, and then the Islamic State in Iraq, into a formidable terrorist force to fight U.S. troops in that country from 2003 to 2010. Hundreds of American soldiers would probably still be alive today if it had not been for Assad’s state-backed support to the Islamic State’s direct predecessors.” is simply not true. Assad opposed the illegal war on Iraq–as did most of the world, and sheltered 2 million Iraqi refugees, among them former Baathist officers and soldiers which he tolerated. He allowed them to cross back into Iraq to fight the US occupiers, but his “crime” there was to let Iraqis fight the forces that launched an illegal invasion of their country. Just as with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the strongman in Syria was Al Queda’s enemy, not their benefactor. The honor of that role goes to Saudi Arabia, as is commonly known. See evidence of that here, here, here, here, here and here. A quick search reveals literally hundreds of articles saying the same.
In fact, the list is so long you’d have to be willfully blind, illiterate, or willfully ignorant not to see them–which makes of Mr. Lister not just an embarrassment but a liar and a disgrace.
To Foreign Policy Magazine’s great shame, everything written above is pretty much common knowledge to anyone who bothers to investigate it. You don’t need a journalism degree to get at the facts, the curiosity and critical thinking skills of a ten year old will do.
For Mr. Lister’s benefit, we’ve listed some more links in addition to all those that fill the paragraphs above, so that he might better understand the situation, and perhaps discover some conscience. We hope he takes the opportunity to do the reading as we suspect that his days as a terrorist-cheering Goebbels-lite are probably numbered. After all, propagandists have been indicted for war crimes in the past.
For your moral and intellectual rectification, Mr. Lister:
A declassified secret US government document obtained by the conservative public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.
The effort to train rebels is a complete debacle. US intelligence officers and military planners have little control over the “rebels” they train, who often fight each other.
America has a long and unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria going back to 1949 when the CIA overthrew Syria’s elected government. This despite the Bruce-Lovett Report that pointed out that such interventions were antithetical to American values and had compromised America’s international leadership and moral authority without the knowledge of the American people.
The War on Terror has caused at least 1.3 million deaths, possibly up to 2 million deaths, by 2015 in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan alone.
Some drone operators see their jobs as nothing but cowardly murder. Their killing of innocent civilians has caused them to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The US military describes fatalities from targeted strikes as “enemy killed in action,” even if their identity is unknown or they were not the intended targets, according to The Intercept. In one five month period, nearly 90 percent of those killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.
US special forces in Syria are so disgusted with their mission in Syria training jihadis, that they actively sabotage the operation. From the article:
“Everyone on the ground knows they are jihadis. No one on the ground believes in this mission or this effort, and they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis, so they are sabotaging it by saying, ‘Fuck it, who cares?’”
When it comes to US terrorism and war crimes engendering conflict and chaos around the globe, we all should care.