As Bashar al-Assad steps up his murderous assault upon the population of Homs, the Guardian‘s tame Stalinist Seumas Milne attempts a defence of Russia’s and China’s veto of the Arab League-backed resolution at the UN. It’s a shoddy, despicable piece of mendacity even by Posh Boy Milne’s debased ‘standards.’ Like the good Stalinist he his, Milne wriggles, obfuscates and sets up a whole regiment of straw men (notably that the the resolution “paved the way” for foreign intervention), before getting to his real point: “It’s been widely claimed that the double veto has given Assad the green light to intensify repression and made a full-scale civil war more likely. But by ruling out UN-backed intervention, it could just as well be argued that it puts pressaure on the main opposition group, the western-backed Syrian National Council, to negotiate – given that its whole strategy has been based on creating the conditions for a Libyan-style no-fly zone.”
It’s worth spending a moment ‘unpackaging’ (as the semiotics people say) that sentence:
1/ Even if it’s true that the veto might encourage the rebels to “negotiate,” as Milne claims, how does that make it not true (as that asshole Milne seems to suggest) that it has also “given Assad the green light to intensify repression”? As one of CIF readers, commenting below the article bluntly observes, “I’m sure the people who are being mortared as I type these words agree with you Seumas.”
2/ What’s all this about a “UN-backed intervention”? No one, but no one, seriously thought that was going to happen and the resolution explicitly ruled it out. Even the Graun‘s “foreign leader writer” David Hearst (generally on the same wavelength as Poshboy) described it as “an intervention the west was never going to make.”
3/ Note the description of the Syrian National Council as “western-backed“: Seumas-speak for ‘stooges who cannot be supported,’ a dog-whistle tip-off to fellow-Stalinists and useful idiots, and a scandalous slur upon the brave fighters of the Syrian opposition.
4/ “It puts pressure on the main opposition group…to negotiate.” What Milne really means is it puts pressure on the whole opposition to surrender and throw themselves upon the tender mercies of the regime.
Milne and his fellow tyrant-lovers, of course, used the self-same “arguments” against the Libyan opposition. Then as now, these “arguments” amounted, in reality, to support for the regime.
This contempible apologia continues, touching upon all the usual tropes of Stalinist “whataboutery”: Iraq, Afghanistan, the west’s support for the Bahrain dictatorship, Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights…as though any of that has any relevance to the present massacre taking place in Homs, or somehow justifies support for the regime.
But, in an uncharacteristic moment of honesty, Milne finally lets the cat out of the bag and explains the real reason behind his stance. He doesn’t, of course, give a damn about the people of Syria, or the rights and wrongs of the rebellion. He has bigger fish to fry: the geo-political balance of power in the region and the threat to the Iranian leadership – a regime with which Mr Milne clearly feels some affinity:
“The overthrow of the Syrian regime would be a serious blow to Iran’s influence in the Middle East. And as the conflict in Syria has escalated, so has the western-Israeli confrontation with Iran. Even as US defence secretary Leon Panetta and national intelligence director James Clapper acknowledged that Iran isn’t after all “trying to build a nuclear weapon”, Panetta has let it be known there is a “strong likelihood” Israel will attack Iran as early as April, while Iran faces crippling EU oil sanctions over its nuclear programme.
“Western intervention in Syria – and Russia and China’s opposition to it – can only be understood in that context: as part of a proxy war against Iran, which disastrously threatens to become a direct one.” (NB: check out the links helpfully provided by the Graun, to see that James Clapper actually expressed more or less the opposite views to those attributed to him by Milne).
But, for once, a Stalinist (and for all practical purposes that designation also applies to the degenerate ex-SWP’ers who run the Stop The War Coalition) has made his position clear: the struggles of the masses fighting to cast off oppression must take (at best) second place to the balance of power between states. And any state that opposes the west has to be supported – even when it’s massacring its own people.