Leftnews.org | News and Views from the Left

by Editors — last modified 2017-07-05T10:43:19-04:00
Contributors: Faiz Ahmed, JBB, Graham H. Cox, R. Dubois, JA Cox
The best of the political left-wing from around the web.

What the West Got Wrong in Syria | Foreign Policy

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 23, 2017 01:37 PM
"Academics, journalists, and policymakers who predicted that there was a realistic chance for the Assad regime to survive for a longer time, or called the moral legitimacy of the allegedly “peaceful” opposition into question, ran the risk of being accused of being pro-Assad — or even of being against democracy. Ideological arguments sometimes prevailed over realistic ones. Even the United Nations and its special envoys for Syria were from time to time accused of being partial to Assad after the slightest move that could potentially be interpreted as not opposing his interests. ... The Syrian opposition continued to be described as peaceful and democratic, even long after more radical forces, including Islamists and jihadis, had hijacked its platform and the Syrian war was already well underway. Subsequently, the concept of peaceful opposition became more of a myth than the reality it was in the beginning. But the rhetoric of Western politicians did not change ... was there any guarantee that arms provided to others would not end up in the hands of Islamists and jihadis? And were the arms really intended to help topple the Assad regime? Or was providing arms mainly intended to help the opposition in defending itself? Or mainly to fight the Islamic State, the Nusra Front, and other jihadi organizations? Was it a humanitarian gesture? No clear U.S. or EU strategy was visible, except that defeating the Islamic State became the priority. Meanwhile, more radical Islamic groups had become stronger than the relatively moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA). Countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar focused their support also on Islamist armed organizations like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam."

White Liberals Still Don’t Understand White Supremacy | Harper's Baza'ar

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 23, 2017 12:59 PM
"Racism doesn’t always look like the KKK marching hoodless in broad daylight. Racism also looks like white liberals getting angry at people of color who ask them to confront how they benefit from white supremacy and white privilege. It looks like white women telling me that I am being divisive by asking for an honest conversation about race and racism within feminist circles. It looks like tone-policing, emotional labor, objectification, fetishization, the white-savior complex, staying silent when you hear overt racism, saying nothing about working in a mostly white to all-white office, ignoring gentrification and the school-to-prison pipeline, loving The Help but hating Girls Trip."

Mortar shelling at Damascus fair casts pall on peace hopes | Xinhua

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 20, 2017 09:11 PM
"It's worth noting that the turnout at the Damascus fair was huge and unexpected, as on Aug. 18 around 800,000 people thronged the fairground, causing suffocation in traffic on the airport road. The mortar shell, fired by rebels in eastern Damascus, apparently aimed to send a message that the rebels are still capable of undermining the security in the capital, even though large parts of eastern Ghouta have recently been included in the de-escalation zones' deal."

Lebanon Prepares for Syria's Post-war Construction Windfall | Voice of America

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 20, 2017 09:02 PM
"The Damascus International Fair, a high-profile annual business event before the war, opened on Thursday evening for the first time since war broke out. The 10-day event kicked off with much fanfare, with participants from 43 countries and hundreds of attendees. The World Bank estimates the cost to rebuild Syria at $200 billion. ... There is talk now that Tripoli could even be a terminal in China's trillion-dollar new "Silk Road'' project, carving a trade route from east Asia to Europe. The Chinese firm Qingdao Haixi Heavy-Duty Machinery Co. sold the two 28-story container cranes now at the port."

'The civil war lies on us like a sleeping dragon': America's deadly divide - and why it has returned | The Guardian

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 20, 2017 11:19 AM
"Psychological explanations, however, do not fully explain America’s current political condition. We are in conflict about real and divergent ideas. Are we engaged, half-wittingly, in a slow suicide as a democracy? Are we engaged in a “cold civil war” as one writer has suggested? Or does it feel like 1859, as another expert wondered, with so much rhetorical and real violence in the air? ... All parallels are unsteady or untrustworthy. But the present is always embedded in the past. The 1850s, the fateful decade that led to the civil war, has many instructive lessons for us. Definitions of American nationalism, of just who was a true American, were in constant debate. After the Great Hunger in Ireland the United States experienced an unprecedented immigration wave between 1845 and the mid-1850s, prompting a rapid and powerful rise of nativism. Irish and German Catholics were unwelcome and worse. The Mexican-American war of 1846-48, the nation’s first expansionist foreign conflict, stimulated an explosive political struggle over the expansion of slavery. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 caused a wave of “refugee” former slaves escaping the northern states into Canada, as well as a widespread crisis over violent rescues of fugitive slaves. Indeed, the constant flight of slaves from the South to free states was, in effect, America’s first great refugee crisis. The abolition movement, the country’s prototypical reform crusade, became increasingly politicized as it became more radical, extra-legal, and violent."

Lebanese army, Hezbollah announce offensives against Islamic State on Syrian border | Reuters

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 19, 2017 11:08 AM
"Any joint operation between the Lebanese army on the one hand and Hezbollah and the Syrian army on the other would be politically sensitive in Lebanon and could jeopardize the sizeable U.S. military aid the country receives. Washington classifies the Iran-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist group. "There is no coordination, not with Hezbollah or the Syrian army," General Ali Kanso said in a televised news conference ..."

Patrick Cockburn: Endtimes in Mosul | London Review of Books

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 18, 2017 10:56 PM
"Nobody knows for sure how many civilians were killed in the city as a whole. For long periods, shells, rockets and bombs rained down on houses in which as many as a hundred people might be sheltering. ... All the people I was in contact with inside the IS-held part of the old city are dead."

With every sneer, liberals just make Trump stronger | The Guardian

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 16, 2017 04:58 PM
"Trump and his supporters thrive on the venom of their liberal tormentors. The old maxim should apply: think what your enemy most wants you to do, and do the opposite. Tolerating Trump may stick in the craw, but it must be counter-productive to feed his paranoia, to behave exactly as his lieutenants want his critics to behave, like the liberal snobs that obsess him."

Antifa: A Look at the Antifascist Movement Confronting White Supremacists in the Streets | Democracy Now!

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Aug 16, 2017 03:27 PM
"AMY GOODMAN: To look more at the antifascist movement, known as antifa, we’re joined by Mark Bray, lecturer at Dartmouth College. His new book, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. First, pronounce it for us, Mark, and then talk about antifa. MARK BRAY: Yes, well, it’s pronounced on’-tee-fah. The emphasis is on the first syllable, and it’s pronounced more on than an, so on’-tee-fah. It’s commonly mispronounced. But antifa, of course, is short for antifascist."
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