US Victim of Own Propaganda in Ukraine War

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Joe Lauria

US Victim of Own Propaganda in Ukraine War
The U.S. embassy in Prague furthered the suppression of the historical context of the Ukraine conflict, which has dangerously trapped Americans in ignorance about the war, reports Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The whitewashing of the historical context for the war in Ukraine has resulted in a profoundly embarrassing episode for the United States embassy in Prague.  

An Aug. 21 Tweet from the embassy with a message roughly translated from Czech to mean “Aggression always comes from the Kremlin,” showed two photographs: the first displayed Soviet tanks in the streets of Prague in 1968.  The second showed fire burning in front of a building and was marked “Odesa 2023.”  

Twitter users were quick to point out the embassy’s error. “The bottom photo is from 2014 Odessa Clashes where pro federalism (mostly pro Russian) got burned alive in a clash with Ukrainian nationalist(s) while police and firemen stood watching. To this day no one was jailed,” wrote one commenter.  

Someone else wrote: “You vile people, twisting the history to whitewash the crimes of the Ukrainian far-right against peaceful Ukrainians, and in fact using their crimes with the diametrically opposite meaning!”

The embassy got the message. “Thanks for the heads up and apologies for the incorrect use of the graphic. We wanted to illustrate the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and we chose the wrong photo,”  it wrote.

That prompted another Twitter user to sarcastically respond: “You wanted to illustrate the Ukrainian aggression against the Russian people and you chose the right photo.”

The embassy then deleted the Tweet.  It never acknowledged the event depicted in the bottom photo. That signifies either ignorance of the event or intentional suppression of it. The massacre in Odessa is a key point in understanding the cause of the war and has been buried by the West, creating a propagandized narrative about Russia’s intervention.

May 2, 2014

Demonstrators in Odessa on May 2, 2014 were protesting the violent overthrow two and a half months earlier on Feb. 21, 2014 of the democratically-elected President Viktor Yanukovych. U.S. involvement in the coup is revealed in a leaked telephone conversation between Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time. 

On May 2, football hooligans and far-right groups deliberately set fire to a labor union building in Odessa where protestors against the coup had taken refuge.  As many as 48 people were killed. Police did not intervene. Video footage shows at least one police officer and others firing their guns into the building. The crowd is cheering as many of the people trapped inside jumped to their deaths.

Pleas at the time from the United Nations and the European Union for Ukraine to investigate were ignored. Three Ukrainian local government probes were stymied by the withholding of secret documents.


Roses Have Thorns (Part 6) The Odessa Massacre

Editor's Note: Google (YouTube), is again clearly enforcing the official deceptive narrative about the Ukraine War by making it difficult for this important video to be seen , first, by putting up all sorts of hypocritical, useless "for your protection" screens, and next by making it impossible to embed in other sites around the web. The version you see we got from Rumble, which, fortunately, still respects free speech.

Rumble("play", {"video":"v1hl4ft","div":"rumble_v1hl4ft"});

A report on the incident from the European Council (EC) at the time makes clear it did not conduct its own investigation but relied on local probes, especially by the Verkhovna Rada’s Temporary Investigation Commission.

The EC complains in its reports that it too was barred from viewing classified information. The EC said the Ukrainian government probes “failed to comply with the requirements of the European Human Rights Convention.”

Relying only on the flawed local inquiries, the EC reports that pro-Russian, or pro-federalist, protestors attacked a pro-unity march in the afternoon, prompting street battles. Then:

“At around 6.50 p.m. pro-federalists broke down the door [of the trade union building] and brought inside various materials, including boxes containing Molotov cocktails and the products needed to make them. Using wooden pallets which had supported tents in the square, they blocked the entrances to the building from the inside and erected barricades. When they arrived at the square at around 7.20 p.m., the pro-unity protesters destroyed and set fire to the tents of the Anti-Maidan camp. The remaining pro-federalism protesters entered the Trade Union Building, from where they exchanged shots and Molotov cocktails with their opponents outside. …

At about 7.45 p.m. a fire broke out in the Trade Union Building. Forensic examinations subsequently indicated that the fire had started in five places, namely the lobby, on the staircases to the left and right of the building between the ground and first floors, in a room on the first floor and on the landing between the second and third floors.

Other than the fire in the lobby, the fires could only have been started by the acts of those inside the building. The forensic reports did not find any evidence to suggest that the fire had been preplanned. The closed doors and the chimney effect caused by the stairwell resulted in the fire’s rapid spread to the upper floors and a fast and extreme rise in the temperature inside the building.”

The local investigation thus blamed the anti-Maidan protestors for starting the fire throughout the building. But this video, which shows events on that day leading to the fire, depicts the main blaze in the lobby. It shows Right Sector extremists lobbing Molotov cocktails into the building and a policeman firing his gun at it.

It does not show any cocktails thrown from the building. It doesn’t show clashes earlier in the day, though one pro-unity protestor says they were attacked at Cathedral Square and they’ve come to burn the anti-Maidan protestors in the building for revenge.  

The Fallout

Eight days after the Odessa massacre, coup resisters in the far eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, bordering on Russia, voted in a referendum to become independent from Ukraine. 

The U.S.-backed coup government had launched a military attack two weeks earlier, on April 15, 2014 against ethnic Russians in Donbass protesting against the coup, including seizing government buildings, in defense of a democratic election. This phase of the war continued for nearly eight years, killing thousands of people before prompting Russian intervention in the civil war on Feb. 24, 2022.

Russia says it had proof that the Ukrainian military, which had amassed 60,000 of its troops at the line of contact, was on the verge of an offensive to retake the Donbass provinces. OSCE maps showed a dramatic increase of shelling from the government side into the rebel areas in February last year.

Russia invaded Ukraine with the stated purpose of “de-Nazifying” and “de-militarizing” Ukraine to protect Russian-speakers and the people of Donbass. The events in Odessa on May 2, 2014 played a role. In a televised address three days before the invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: 

“One shudders at the memories of the terrible tragedy in Odessa, where peaceful protesters were brutally murdered, burned alive in the House of Trade Unions. The criminals who committed that atrocity have never been punished, and no one is even looking for them. But we know their names and we will do everything to punish them, find them and bring them to justice.”

Western Media Coverage

Entrance to The New York Times. (Niall Kennedy, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Entrance to The New York Times. (Niall Kennedy, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The New York Times buried the first news of the massacre in a May 2, 2014 story, saying “dozens of people died in a fire related to clashes that broke out between protesters holding a march for Ukrainian unity and pro-Russian activists.”

The Times then published a video report that said dozens were killed in a fire, “and others were shot dead when fighting between pro- and anti-Russian groups broke out on the streets of Odessa.” The video narrator says “crowds did their best to save lives.” It quotes Ukrainian police saying a “pro-Kiev march was ambushed … petrol bombs were thrown” and gun battles erupted on the streets. 

The late Robert Parry, who founded Consortium News, reported on Aug. 10, 2014:

“The brutality of these neo-Nazis surfaced again on May 2 when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.

‘Burn, Colorado, burn’ went the chant.

As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading ‘Galician SS,’ a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.”

Consequences of Suppressing Information

Though they were reported at the time, the events of May 2, 2014 have virtually vanished from Western media. It was one of the seminal events that led to Russia’s eventual intervention in the Ukrainian civil war.  

Similarly the role Ukrainian neo-Nazis played in the 2014 coup and the 8-year war on Donbass — which had been widely reported on at the time in Western mainstream media — disappeared, erasing the context of Russia’s invasion. The December 2021 Russian offer of treaties with the U.S. and NATO to avoid war was forgotten too. After Russian intervention, a campaign was launched by so-called disinformation monitors to try to suppress alternative media from reporting on these facts.  

The consequences of these efforts is clear. The aggression of Kiev’s coup regime against ethnic Russians in Ukraine, which led to Russia’s intervention, has been airbrushed from history.  

What’s left is a cartoon version that says the conflict began, not in 2014, but in February 2022 when Putin woke up one morning and decided to invade Ukraine. There was no other cause, according to this version, other than unprovoked, Russian aggression against an innocent country.

Thus the U.S. Embassy in Prague either deceptively used that photo, or more likely, had no idea what happened in Odessa in 2014, as it has hardly been reported on since, thinking that a prime example of Ukrainian aggression against ethnic Russians was instead a photo showing Russian aggression against Ukrainians.  

This is what happens when you believe your own propaganda.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @unjoe.

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Shortcomings of Libertarianism—a brief critical assessment

Be sure to distribute this article as widely as possible. Pushing back against the Big Lie is really up to you.

By Jeff Mullen

This document is meant to explain and show the weaknesses in basic Libertarian Ideology. It is not intended to show one how to convince a Libertarian that s/he is wrong--Libertarianism requires a belief in magic (the magic of the "Free Market"), and nothing can convince a believer that there is no such thing as magic--rather, it is meant to give one the tools to show those considering Libertarian Ideology how it is wrong, and to prevent others from falling into the Libertarian trap. Libertarians are VERY good at using good-sounding words to make bad things seem preferable. This will help a skeptic to cut through it, and describe Libertarian memes more accurately than the Libertarians themselves.

  • There are three basic wrongs with Libertarian ideology:
    —The Non-Aggression Principle (NAP); —The false dichotomy of Reason and Force; — and presenting the theoretical construct of the Free Market as if it were reality. I shall address each of these in the following paragraphs.
  • The Non-Aggression Principle is very simple. Robert Murphy defines it quite well in a footnote on the top of page 9 in his work, "Chaos Theory: Two Essays on Market Anarchy."
  • The NAP states that “no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to delegate its initiation.”
  • Libertarians go a step furhter: along with "another human being," they also add "or his property."
  • That is to say, no matter how much wrong a person has done, no matter how much property a person has hoarded, and no matter how that person uses that property against other persons, one should NEVER initiate force against that person. Sorry, but if a serial killer was standing behind me, even if he only killed women (I'm a man), I would initiate force against him, and if a man used his property to rig the system and bilk me out of mine, I'd initiate force to make sure that I got enough to survive, even if that man's actions were entirely within the scope of the letter of the law. This is not unreasonable. Thus, I cannot take this pledge--and, if you think about it, you shouldn't either.
  • The False Dichotomy of Reason and Force is also easy to state:
  • Libertarians claim that there are only two ways to get someone to do what you want him to: reason and force. You can convince him or you can force him.
  • That statement is false. Actually, there is a third: bribery. You can convince him, you can threaten him or you can bribe him. Force is actually a form of punishment.
  • Libertarians, however, do not stop with this false statement. In a process that I call "hyperspace resoning," because it has nothing to do with normal reality, they use this false statement as a premise for other, greater falsehoods. Specifically, they use the following:
  • All payment is a form of reason and all legislation is a form of force. Thus, if I pay someone to con people out of their property, even if he uses statements that he knows are lies and go against his personal beliefs in the process, I'm REASONING with him! Likewise, Pell Grants, which are legislated, must "force" people to go to college.
  • Actually, payment is a form of reward and legislation is a framework through which reward and punishment may be administered in a manner that appears to be more or less reasonable.
  • Libertarians go one step farther out of reality:
  • Corporations, which issue payment, are always good; the government, which issues legislation, is always bad.
  • Thus, by starting with falsehood and piling more falsehood on top of it, Libertarians come up with something that is completely absurd.
  • The "Free Market"
  • When pressed to defend their religious belief that Government is ALWAYS bad and Business is ALWAYS good, Libertarians will resort to a trick definition. They will say that it is not Business, per se, that is always good, but a "Free Market." A business ceases to be part of the "Free Market" when it "consorts with Government." Thus, the Free Market is always good, so, if someone in it does something bad, they're not part of the Free Market any more. The same Free Market is supposed to have ways of naturally preventing government/business collusion, but, somehow, it persists!
  • This is impossible because, in reality there is no such thing as a free market. It is an idyllic theory, one that flies in the face of reality. Bad things happen, and Government and Business, as institutions of power, combine and collude.
  • The Idyllic Theory of the Free Market differs from reality in that, in order to function as they say it does, it requires two impossible precondtions. First, it requires Perfect Knowledge: all parties to a transaction have to have a complete and full depth of understanding of that transaction. Second, it requires Perfect Competition: all of the buyers and all of the sellers within a Free Market have to compete, there can never be a combination in restraint of trade and no monopoly. [Editor's Note:  These fantastic assumptions continue to be taught in standard microeconomics courses as a legitimate description of market behavior.]

Let's illustrate this point. In his work, "Chaos Theory: Two Essays on Market Anarchy," noted Libertarian Robert Murphy describes the Free Market policing itself as follows:

Suppose that a big firm bribed the arbitrators at Agency X, so that lazy workers (who were going to be fired anyway) were (falsely) charged by the employers with embezzlement, while Agency X always ruled “guilty.” With this scheme, the big firm could bilk thousands of dollars from its bad employees before terminating them. And since the hapless employees had agreed beforehand to abide by the arbitration outcome, they could do nothing about it. 

But upon consideration, it’s easy to see that such behavior would be foolish. Just because an arbitration agency ruled a certain way, wouldn’t make everyone agree with it, just as people complain about outrageous court rulings by government judges. The press might pick up on the unfair rulings, and people would lose faith in the objectivity of Agency X’s decisions. Potential employees would think twice before working for the big firm, as long as it required (in its work contracts) that people submitted to the suspect Agency X.

Other firms would patronize different, more reputable arbitration agencies, and workers would flock to them. Soon enough, the corrupt big firm and Arbitration Agency X would suffer huge financial penalties for their behavior. Under market anarchy, all aspects of social intercourse would be “regulated” by voluntary contracts. Specialized firms would probably provide standardized forms so that new contracts wouldn’t have to be drawn up every time people did business. For example, if a customer bought something on installment, the store would probably have him sign a form that said something to the effect, “I agree to the provisions of the 2002 edition Standard Deferred Payment Procedures as published by the Ace legal firm.”

Before we continue, it must be noted that, even if Murphy's little thought experiment worked like actual reality--which it does not--in his scenario, the employees who are bilked out of their money never get it back. There is no admission of guilt on the part of the employer, no direct punishment for his wrongs and no restitution. On this basis alone, Murphy's system (the "Free Market") fails.

Let's let the man's anti-labor bias (lazy employees who were going to be fired anyway?) slide. Now, it's time to compare his theory to reality.

In April of 2011, the Supreme court struck a blow against consumers by deciding that people who sign agreements with arbitration clauses, as referred to above, are no longer allowed to file class action suits if the arbitration goes horribly against them. The name of the case is AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion. You can find a commentary on that decision in the addendum.

Here are some selected comments on how those contracts really work, abstracted from that article.

Consumers are effectively forced into signing a contract in order to receive cellular service. [There is a] strong likelihood of strong-arm attempts by wireless providers against the embattled consumer.

The provisions are rarely read and most laypersons do not fully understand the implications of agreeing to settle all disputes with an arbiter as opposed to a judge.

In reality, there is a very strong likelihood that the prudent consumer is not going to expend money for an attorney and the incidental costs of arbitration over a $30 fee. They are as well ineligible for small claims court as they signed an agreement to submit to arbitration. Thus, consumers are effectively stopped from realizing any real recovery for their claims.  So much for the claims to fairness of the free market.

In reality, the arbitration agency favors the corporation at the expense of the customers, the press got a hold of it and it didn't make a bit of difference, all the corporations are de facto colluding with their boilerplate contracts, favoring the unfair arbitration agencies and the consumers really don't have the resources to change this. This is almost entirely the opposite of how Murphy says the system is supposed to work. That is because it is the Real Market, not the Free Market.

Succinctly, the Real Market works nothing like a Free Market. Murphy's thought experiment is a ridiculous sham. Yet, Libertarians persist in arguing their theory against reality, even though it has been shown to be wrong time and time again. 

Many of the most repulsive politicians in the US proclaim (proudly) their allegiance to libertarianism. Paul Ryan, a vile scoundrel by any standard, is one of them.

In order for this system to function properly, it would be necessary for the customers to know everything about the transaction--including the ruling records of the arbitrators--which, it has been pointed out, most customers do not regard as being worth the effort to find out. It would also be necessary for some wireless companies to offer the services of arbitrators who were not completely favorable to their cause. This, again, seldom if ever happens, according to the courts. Thus, the Real Market does not behave at all like the Free Market. (Imperfect information flaw.)

Note also that, in this case, the "colluding with the government" argument doesn't really work. The court case decided that the government (the courts) should NOT intervene either for the company or the customers, and this harms the customers far more than the company. Its result is LESS interaction between government and corporation. Yet, this favors the corporation, not the customer. It is not collusion with the governemnt that causes problems in the market, it is attacks on the consumer, with or without government/corporate collusion.

In the 1980's, the Neoconservative Movement of the Republican Party used language borrowed from the Libertarians to rise to power. While this language sounds good when first listened to, scrutiny reveals that it is little more than nonsense. This piece of writing has discussed the false statements and rhetorical trickery that lie at the heart of Libertarian belief. With this information, one can argue more effectively against the neurotic religion of the Libertarians.

About the author(s)
JEFF MULLEN writes often on political topics for Links for the Wildly Left and other venues on various social media.

Prepared by Ledger & Associates 

Consumers Take a Hit as Supreme Court Rules No Class Action Status for Cellular Subscribers 

Editor's Note: Bourgeois culture cultivates the myth that the law is majestically impartial to all parties, immutable, and above shifting political tides.  In so doing it denies the obvious, that the law is not only a mere reflection of the prevailing values of a given society at a certain point in time, but deeply rooted in the economic and political interests of the dominant class, in the case of the United States, and much of the capitalist world, the reigning corporate plutocracy. The decision featured below, and a number of others, have increasingly confirmed that this is indeed the case. Today, the Roberts Court is by any measure one of the most politicized and reactionary courts in American history, and its findings can be almost depended on to be injurious to the public.—PG



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Is the CIA So Bad that Even When It Tells the Truth It Adds-In Lies?


Using cynical bald-faced sophistry, the New York Times constantly upends the truth in the service of its plutocratic masters.

On Sunday, February 17th, I was surprised to see in the reliably neoconservative newspaper, New York Times, an ‘opinion’-article headlined with the distinctively non-neoconservative title, “Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too.” But, then, I got to the neocon core, in the article itself: 

But in recent decades, both Mr. Hall and Mr. Johnson argued, Russian and American interferences in elections have not been morally equivalent. American interventions have generally been aimed at helping non-authoritarian candidates challenge dictators or otherwise promoting democracy. Russia has more often intervened to disrupt democracy or promote authoritarian rule, they said.

Equating the two, Mr. Hall says, “is like saying cops and bad guys are the same because they both have guns — the motivation matters.”

That’s just a typical neocon lie — reality turned upside-down, black-is-white and white-is-black.

When the CIA hired Iranian mercenaries to rebel against and overthrow the progressive democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953 and installed there a dictatorship (which lasted till 1979); and did the same to overthrow and replace the progressive democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954; and, more recently, in 2009, helped Honduras’s aristocracy to overthrow that country’s progressive democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, and to cement and make permanent their new and fascist regime; and, in 2014, perpetrated a brutal coup in Ukraine overthrowing that country’s democratically elected but corrupt (like all prior post-communist Ukrainian Presidents were) President Viktor Yanukovych — even the Soviets (including the pre-1991 and pre-independent Russians) weren’t that bad; and a 1992 classic BBC documentary about the CIA’s having set up in Western Europe during the Cold War numerous deadly terrorist incidents which were designed so as to be blamed on ‘communists’, makes clear, that the US CIA is a spiritual implant into the US Government, of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi (but now American) Gehlen Organization — a darling of the CIA Director Alan Dulles, and which is still today the CIA’s spirit.

Putin stopped the naked plundering of Russia by the West, and especially the Americans. He also slowly but surely restored the nation's tattered sovereignty and independence. For that he is reviled by the billionaires' mouthpieces around the world.

But, even that hypocrisy misses the essentially fascist nature of America’s secret-police agencies, because America’s Presidents are now reliably pro-fascist, and on many occasions are even pro-racist-fascist, or pro-“nazi” (standing out to defend the nazi ideology itself). At the U.N., both President Obama and President Trump have stood America up publicly as being one of only three countries (in Obama’s case) and then of only two countries (in Trump’s case) publicly defending nazism. Furthermore, on one day (31 October 2015), twice in close succession, the U.N. Secretary-General publicly criticized Obama, though not by name, for opposing and insisting on blocking, democracy in Syria. Whereas Russia insists upon a democratic and united — instead of ethnically broken-up — Syria, and polls amongst Syrians consistently show that the vast majority of Syrians insist upon the same thing, the US Government not only does everything possible to block it, but has the gall to deny the blatant fact that it’s seeking to replace Syria’s secular non-sectarian Government, by a fundamentalist-Sunni Government that will do the Sauds’ bidding (and the bidding of America’s oil-giants).

However, that February 17th New York Times article is deceptive not merely on account of its holier-than-thou admission of the CIA’s supposedly ‘past history’ of badness and its presumption of today’s Russia being almost as bad as was the Soviet Union. Actually, the article includes several other lies, such as are exposed in these three articles about how American billionaires systematically robbed Russia during the 1990s:

“Russia’s Fiscal Whistleblower”

“The Summers Conundrum”

“Soros and His CIA Friends Targeted USSR/Russia in 1987”

Those articles offered at least some of the explanation as to why America’s billionaires (at least the ones who care about this matter at all) hate Vladimir Putin: they had loved Boris Yeltsin because he allowed them to rape Russia, but Putin put a stop to it.

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]o, while millions of Americans, who subscribe to the New York Times, will learn the lie, that (and here is the regime’s basic message) internationally ‘we’re the good guys against the bad guys’, there’s no more reason to trust that, than there was when the same lies came from Joseph Goebbels’s shop, at which time, the US itself was a progressive country, heading in progressive directions, under President FDR. Bill Clinton and the post-Clinton Democratic Party have repudiated that direction for their Party; and, now, in international relations, the US is solidly fascist, in both Parties. The CIA lies, as usual, indistinguishably differently when it’s run by a Democratic President and Congress, than when it’s run by a Republican President and Congress. In international relations, it’s the same regime, regardless: full of the same lies. And that historical fact, and ongoing but unpublished news, is not to be found to be accepted in the Times’s masthead-lie, “All the News That's Fit to Print” — or else the truth itself, just isn’t “Fit to Print.” It’s fit to print here (and without paying a subscription), but how many people even read here? This explains how the regime protects itself, against democracy — by hiding what’s essential.

About the author

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity. Besides TGP, his reports and historical analyses are published on many leading current events and political sites, including The Saker, Huffpost, Oped News, and others.

This is a crosspost with

horiz-long grey
What will it take to bring America to live according to its own self image?

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Stop confusing Kurdistans! Syria’s leftists must turn home to Assad

horiz-long grey


"...the Kurds in Syria have never asked for autonomy, or independence."

As Assad-backed troops enter Afrin to fight Turkish invaders, the Syrian conflict has entered its decisive crossroads:  Will Northern Syria cooperate with Damascus, or not? This is the key to Syrian peace and territorial unity. 

Lebanese Kurds show their solidarity with their brothers and sisters under attack by Erdogan. Kurdishness may imply solidarity but it does not imply identical political positions and aspirations.

It’s also the question which will make or break claims that a Northern Syrian enclave which refuses to help expel uninvited Americans can somehow be a “leftist project”. (I say it is a leftist project…IF they return to full cooperation with the Syrian government. I will detail my analysis of the political structure of “Rojava” in an upcoming article - this article only deals with immediate political concerns.)

No question can be answered, however, until I clarify some key facts about Northern Syria. Indeed, reporting about Northern Syria in the West is rife with the most fundamental errors, and the most egregiously false claims.

Firstly, the Kurds in Syria have only ever asked for autonomy, not independence.

People assume all Kurds are like Iraqi Kurds – separatists - but the Kurds in Syria want to stay within the Syrian state. This disavowal of independence is an undisputed, long-standing (if underreported) fact. Indeed, the arrival of pro-government forces in Afrin was met with celebrations – the “Arab Socialist Baath Party” is a nationalist one, it seems to have been forgotten. The fact that such celebrations could possibly raise some eyebrows only shows how terrible the West’s mainstream reporting is in Syria.

The second most important point is this: "Rojava", "Syrian Kurdistan", “Northern Syria” or the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria” - whatever it is called - is among the most interesting (and newest) leftist projects in the world today. 

For that reason alone, nobody is reporting on it honestly.

After all, the Western mainstream media has no governmental or private mandate to support the 99%...much less in a Muslim country…still less in an anti-Zionist country like Syria!

The Kurds in Northern Syria are facing tough choices, but the road least fraught with dangers is ultimately integration with the rest of Syria.

Rojava’s governmental culture is based around ethnic equality, collective unity, local emancipation and undoubtedly socialist-and-not-capitalist inspired democratic & economic ideals. Therefore…the capitalist-imperialist West totally ignores all of that and solely focuses on identity politics: thus, it’s always reported as just “the Kurds”.

That leads to the third important issue: foolishly lumping all the Kurds across Southwest Asia together, thereby assuming that there are no regional differences. For Western media it is as if Kurds walk around all day in a special "Kurdish daze", so enamored with being Kurdish that the countries and local neighborhoods where they live have absolutely no effect on them or their worldview. Their “Kurdishness” is all-consuming, it seems! The theory underpinning this is identity politics: if you are Kurdish, then you must all think alike.

So it makes no difference if you grew up/lived in Saddam's Iraq, modern Iran, Baathist Syria, or Istanbul: You are a Kurd and - as a Kurd - you can only possibly see things via the lens of your Kurdishness. But only the West proffers this absurd, one-dimensional view of the Kurds - not the Middle Easterners who live alongside them.

A fourth problem - an even larger one for those in Syria - is that the Kurds in Syria are not even “Kurds”! 

What I mean is: Kurds are around ½ of the population of Northern Syria, but only compose around 1/3rd in some of the biggest areas of Rojava, such as Membij. There are Assyrians and Chaldeans - they are Christian. There are Sunni Arabs. There are Turkmen, who are not allied to Turkey and are Syrian patriots despite their name. There are Circassians, Armenians, Yazidis, Chechens and others. Hard as it is for non-Muslims to believe: All these people like each other, live & work together, intermarry and have done so for more than a millennia. You cannot even say that all the fighters in this area are Kurds, either, because the Syrian Democratic Forces forces - who helped rout ISIL - are majority non-Kurd.

But they are all Syrian - and they want it to stay that way.

This IS the case…even though Kurds in Iraq aimed for independence…and despite the Western anti-Assad propaganda.

Clearly, a major overhaul on the idea of “Kurd” is needed for many….

The Kurdish ‘Bad Century’ is relative to where they live

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]nyone can have a bad century and finish as winners…look at the Chicago Cubs.

So in Northern Syria the “Kurds” are not even Kurdish nearly half the time, but let’s be like the West and look at the “Kurds” across their 4 main nations.

If we accept that “Kurdishness” is not all-consuming , we can see how the experiences of "Kurds" in Iraq (which also comprise Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmen, etc.) - who lived under Saddam Hussein's wars, were massacred by the anti-Iranian MKO homicidal cult, lived in a country forced to endure material shortages caused by US sanctions from 1990-2003, and who are enduring US invasion and occupation - are fundamentally different than the experiences of "Kurds" in Syria…where these things did not happen.

The experience of "Kurds" in Syria -  which is bordered by the menacing, illegitimate state of Israel, which had a different political conception & practice of Ba'athism than Iraq (which provoked more enmity than cooperation between the two since 1966), which was invaded not by a “coalition of the willing” but radical terrorists, which is on the cusp of benefitting from the extraordinary national unity which can only be created by victoriously defeating foreign invaders  - are fundamentally different than the experiences of "Kurds" in Iraq. 

"Kurdishness" in Turkey is a vastly larger issue than Syria, because there are vastly more of them than anywhere else.

"Kurdishness" in Iran is totally different than in any of the four primary Kurdish countries: they are more accepted there than any other country.

This is a result of the acceptance promoted by Iran’s modern, popular revolution of 1979 (by definition, you can’t have a “modern, popular revolution” based on racism/ethnic superiority). Indeed, Iran’s definitive cultural "female Iran-Iraq war experience" was the best-selling, award-winning story told by a Kurdish immigrant from Iraq to Iran - in the book “Da", which means "mother" (not in Farsi). Such a thing could never happen in Turkey, obviously, nor Arab nationalist Syria and Iraq. This modern acceptance is why Iran is the only nation of the four where there is no chance of fomenting a Kurdish uprising: being Iranian and Kurdish is not any sort of contradiction - they are incorporated in the national self-conception about as much as any numeric minority can reasonably be, as the success of “Da” illustrates. And for this reason - which is called (Iranian Islamic socialist) “modern democracy" - there is no chance of any sort of a "Kurdish uprising” in Iran. Even amid this ongoing historical era of Kurdish militancy across the entire region, the PJAK Party (Iranian Kurdish separatists) gave up armed operations in Iran in 2011: it’s useless - Iran is different, and on the Kurdish question as well. Israel could spend a zillion usuriously-gained dollars on such a project and it would get nowhere...which is why they spend their money in the southeast (in Baluchistan with Jundallah). 

And, to repeat, because this is so important: The people of Northern Syria have never, ever said they want anything but autonomy within Syria. This proves that Syrian “Kurds” are not Iraqi “Kurds”, where Barzani and their bid for independence have been neutralised…much to the dismay of the US & Israel.

An often ignored (or not known) point is that Iraqi “Kurds” had been wooed (or led astray) by the US for two decades via preferential economic, political, cultural and immigration policies. The US paid for a lot of goodwill over many years. In Syria - it has been pro-Zionist hostility. So, Syrian “Kurds” have not come into contact with the American ideology anywhere as much…and their ideology is necessarily different (despite the  overpowering Kurdish daze they walk around in!)

Only by ignoring these realities can one assume the “Kurds” of both regions share the same political outlook in February 2018.

So, I hope we are bit less "konfused" on who the "Kurds" really are.

Now, because of the leftist nature of northern Syria, we must de-konfuse our notions of their political ideology. 

But I’m going to postpone that to part two - let’s talk immediate politics.

A very interesting leftist political project…but not if they ally with the US

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was great alarm that greeted the recent US declaration that they will keep 2,000 troops in Northern Syria - that news turned off many to the possibility that northern Syria could possibly be leftist.

And rightly so, but Washington’s plans are simply their desire - there has been no official political deal: Rojavan leaders insist their cooperation with the US is strictly military to fight ISIL. Indeed, they have grown up in Syria, which has been attacked by Israel…but now they are going to be allies? To Iraqis, Israel were begrudged but distant customers of oil.

Certainly, the downfall of Barzani in Iraq is a blow to US/Israeli imperialism - so…of course they are refocusing to Northern Syria. But that doesn’t mean they will get what they want!

Certainly, Northern Syria cannot allow a military base inside its borders. There can be no “Syrian Guantanamo” to permanently menace a newly-liberated Syria, like in Cuba.

Let’s keep a couple of war realities in mind: It’s not as if Northern Syrians could have prevented the US from planting soldiers and using an airstrip – there has been a huge war, after all, with a well-heeled army called ISIL to stop.

Let’s also remember that the Northern Syrians work with everybody to fight ISIL in Northern Syria: Russia, the US, Damascus, Iran, Hezbollah – everyone but Turkey. (Obviously, the US both fights terrorism and supports it.)

Rojavans…it may be now or never to fight for Syrian unity

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he invasion by Turkey means Northern Syrians have now reached the point of no return: to work with Turkey (and thus the US) is to betray the Syrian people which Rojavans have always claimed to want to be.

Therefore, Syria is on the verge of peace and total victory…or major civil war: It will be decided by inter-Syrian diplomacy. Negotiations have been ongoing between the two areas for years, of course, and they are no doubt in overdrive right now. 

The fundamental problem is this: Damascus has always rejected the idea of a federated state and autonomy for Northern Syria. Northern Syria has held their ground militarily, and Damascus has been too occupied with ISIL to demand cooperation…but it’s February 2018, and here we are.

So what will Damascus do, and what will Rojava do?

I am not a Syrian, and thus my opinion should be worth very little – the future of Syria is only for Syrians to decide - but to me it looks like this:

Rojavans may view siding with Damascus as a risk regarding the re-installation of some Arab Nationalist policies they dislike (Rojava has 3 official languages for a reason, for example)…but siding with the Americans is a guarantee of leftist betrayal, a guarantee of failure and a guarantee of regional bloodshed for decades.

Maybe Rojava can expel ISIL on their own, but they cannot expel the US and Turkey without Damascus…and they must be expelled. How can these troops stay if Damascus and Rojavans cooperate? They cannot, whatever the Pentagon wants.

Therefore, at some point - a point quite soon - Rojavans will need to openly embrace Damascus, in the name of Syrian unity and in the realization of issues larger than their own interests and sacrifices.

On the other side, there is nothing stopping Damascus from making concessions to win over Rojava…and yet, one easily sees the government’s hesitance: Making major changes to Syria’s political structure seems to require the democratic approval of the entire nation via vote. The granting of wholesale structural changes for one-third of the country during wartime appears to lack democratic legitimacy.

Rojava is where most of Syria’s oil is located. Certainly, those funds cannot be made the complete “autonomous” property of Rojavans. One easily sees how “granting autonomy” is a major question that goes beyond just the decades-long elevation of Arab culture over the culture of Turkmen, Chaldeans, Kurds, etc. How can this be discussed patiently and democratically amid wartime and invasion?

Of course, it should not be surprising that Assad’s view of Rojava never gets an airing…but given Rojava’s leftist bonafides, nobody ever talks about them truthfully either. “Keep ‘em konfused with just ‘Kurds’” is the media line….

To sum up my view of the immediate political situation: Unity requires faith - Northern Syrians need to trust their fellow citizens that their success has earned them good faith credit in Syria’s common future.

And, finally, what choice does Rojava have? Turkey will never accept them (this is the pretext for their invasion), nor Damascus, nor Iraq. The only ones who will are the US and Israel…and that is leftist?!?!

No…this is why I predict a reconciliation. The failure of Syrian-Syrian diplomacy at this juncture is…civil war.

And who wants that in Syria?

In an upcoming second article I will examine what is the “leftist ideology” of Rojava, and how these ideas might interact with Arab Socialist Baathism in a unified, free, victorious state of Syria.

About the author
 RAMIN MAZAHERI, Senior Correspondent & Contributing Editor, Dispatch from Paris • Ramin  is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Scattered Notes from the Front: Trying to See Clearly Through the Fog


Says the author: "That's what's happening to Germany's Social Democrats, following similar developments in France, Holland, Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe. They don’t have much energy left to fight since they sold their working-class souls and went along with social cuts and other dictates of the "Finance Markets" in the name of "competition", thus beginning a slow plunge into a major identity crisis..."

Merkel: Anti-Russian and conservative, she has proven (as have other pseudo leaders of European democracies) a reliable shill for the American empire. When will Europe get rid of this disgraceful witting collaborators in the greatest crimes of the modern era?

CJ Hopkins) and Hillary Clinton.

Headline from an article by the fine Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, just last fall: “The Massacre of Mosul: More Than 40,000 Civilians Feared Dead”.

“More than 40,000 civilians were killed in the devastating battle to retake Mosul from Isis, according to intelligence reports revealed exclusively to The Independent”

So the current battle in Syria is a "massacre"? How much did you hear from the same sources last year about THIS, carried out by the US and its allies? Could there by ANY chance be politics involved in this coverage?

22 February 2018, THE PROPAGANDA WAR: In Germany's national public radio network Deutschlandfunk this morning, practically non-stop coverage of the "massacre" (Angela Merkel) of civilians in Ghouta, Syria, with all the blame directed at Assad and Russia -- exactly the same as in Aleppo last year. Never a word blaming the Al-Qaeda-associated islamist fighters holed up there among the civilian population and backed by the US and allies, who were considered almost wiped out, until recently they were apparently supplied once again with money and weapons to keep going. But when the US and Iraq and others killed thousands of civilians bombing ISIS out of Mosul a few months ago, there were no such stories. Also no mention of the latest atrocities by the Turkish army against Kurds nearby as Turkey's (equally) illegal invasion of Syria continues: Turkey released a German journalist from prison last week and we don't want to irritate the highly-sensitive Erdogan again (PS, We have always been at war with Eastasia).

“More than 40,000 civilians were killed in the devastating battle to retake Mosul from Isis, according to intelligence reports revealed exclusively to The Independent” So the current battle in Syria is a "massacre"? How much did you hear from the same sources last year about THIS, carried out by the US and its allies? Could there by ANY chance be politics involved in this coverage?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rarely used the word "massacre", perhaps never. Not about Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Not about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Not about the hundreds of persons killed by her ally the USA in Syria a week or two ago. Not about the millions killed in Southeast Asia by her friend Kissinger. Not about the many thousands of civilians killed in Mosul by the US and its allies in bombing raids last year. Not about the terror bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she is sending planeloads of rejected asylum seekers back into a war zone. But today she referred to the current battle in Syria as a "massacre". And still, Germany calls Syria a "civil war".

But while Merkel accused Syria's Assad of a "massacre”, she has been very hesitant to mention the many thousands of deaths caused by VW, Mercedes and other German auto manufacturers around the world through trick software for diesel motors they invented to deceive emissions-testing machines. After all, they are the backbone of the booming German economy -- and here in Germany those automobile manufacturers are refusing to convert their engines to put a stop to the damage and the exported death.

VW is refusing to modify diesel motors with the trick software which produces false legal emissions results. They say it's too expensive, although VW’s corporate profits actually doubled in 2017. Nor have they been subjected to 11 billion dollars of fines here in Germany, as they were in America (and the government is hoping everyone will forget soon). Meanwhile, Mercedes and BMW have admitted they did the same thing. So much for the environmental record of Germany, the country once considered a world environmental leader.

In the USA, most citizens are hardly bothered at all about the thousands of civilians in the Middle East who have been killed in bombing raids and terrorist attacks since Trump took office: they are more concerned that their own children might be shot death at their schools. Trump’s solution is to fill those schools and communities with even more guns, specifically in the hands of schoolteachers. Many American students have now discovered that gun control might be a good idea after all and not a communist plot. My friend Missy Comley Beattie, writing in Counterpunch, has a message for these young gun control advocates:  "I want them to think of the Other. I want them to look at their counterparts in every single area of the globe where US troops are deployed, committing acts of terror. I want them to know that their feelings are the same as those terrorized by state-sanctioned violence. The fear is the same. I want them to imagine the sounds they heard on Valentine’s Day 2018, the gunfire, the screams, the clamor, and the smells -- of blood, of gunpowder, of death, understand the 24-hour-a-day presence of gunfire, the buzz of a drone, the explosions, the smells, the deaths, and know to the bone what it means to live in a war zone."

Not getting much attention in the world media, but plenty here in Germany (where we have a tortured relationship with Turkey based partly on the fact that many Turkish expatriates live here, but continue to support the increasingly fascist behavior of their government, although they would prefer not to live there): the deteriorating situation in Turkey, a NATO member which has now invaded Syria to kill Kurds with German weapons, and which has increasingly tense relations with just about every other nation. HEADLINE in Germany’s foreign-language service Deutsche Welle on its website:

Dutch parliament recognizes 1915 Armenian 'genocide' | News | DW | 22.02.2018

“The Dutch parliament has voted to recognize the deaths of Armenians during World War I as genocide. The decision is likely to enrage Turkey…”

The Netherlands joins Germany and other EU nations on Turkey's shit-list: when the German Bundestag (Parliament) did this last year, it precipitated yet another screaming temper tantrum and diplomatic kerfuffle from Turkish President Erdogan, who called Germany "fascist" while he was simultaneously arresting 50,000 teachers, journalists, and public officials on charges of "supporting terrorism" -- most of whom are still behind bars. Of course, such genocide 100 years in the past is a welcome chance to ascend the Moral High Horse for nations supporting ethnic cleansing in Palestine, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Five months after its national parliamentary election at the end of September, German Chancellor Merkel has still not managed to form a governing coalition. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is her current prospective coalition partner, and the coalition contract is now being voted upon by the entire membership of the SPD (a process not necessary in Merkel’s own CDU). If the SPD membership approves the coalition, Germany will finally have a new government after nearly a half-year of confusion brought about by the growth of the upstart far-right Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD), which got 13% of the vote and in doing so seriously weakened both the CDU and the SPD with its anti-immigrant polemic. In a poll a few days ago, the SPD – Germany’s oldest political party -- had fallen to 15%, with the AfD passing them to reach 16%.

That's what's happening to Germany's Social Democrats, following similar developments in France, Holland, Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe. They don’t have much energy left to fight since they sold their working-class souls and went along with social cuts and other dictates of the "Finance Markets" in the name of "competition", thus beginning a slow plunge into a major identity crisis.

There must be some good news out there somewhere.

About the Author
 Gregory Barrett, originally from Tennessee, worked for 40 years as a professional pianist, singer, songwriter, and touring and recording musician in the USA and Europe, both in the spotlight and as an accompanist for major stars and others. His activist career includes stints in the 1980s with Amnesty International USA at the national level and the ACLU of Tennessee. Since 2012 he has worked primarily as a translator. He has lived in Germany for a total of 18 years and has a diverse, multicultural family. His commentary and essays are published in The Greanville Post, Counterpunch, the Anglo-Indian magazine Socialist Factor, and other publications. 

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