U.S. Political Discourse By Richard Sale


Eugene Robinson, in a recent Washington Post column called the ruler of Syria, Bashar Assad, a "thug." In another column he referred to Assad as "The urbane ophthalmologist-turned-ogre." (I thought that Assad had begun as a computer expert.) In any case, Robinson, who really should know better, is now joined by a vast multitude of the unthinking idealistic because of his belittling, commonplace remarks. Recent media reports, in talking about Assad, have carelessly thrown around references to Munich, the Holocaust, and have used such phrases such as "Assad’s gangster regime," "brute," the "Assad criminal crowd," "The Assad gang," which sounds very much like anti-American Soviet propaganda after WW II.

Much of U.S. media is pro-Israel by conditioned reflex and have been marketing threats that pretend that if we don’t bomb Syria and then, after that, bomb Iran, it will "be the end of civilization as we know it," the same dogma using the same words that Republican Party hacks and party bankers used in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to get the country off the gold standard. Insults directed at Assad have reached a horrific pitch of intensity.

Why is this happening?

What effect do you desire when you call someone a "thug?" Are you thinking of most of the men in police departments across the United States? They are bulky, tall, menacing, harsh and intimidating in tone and manner. They relish abusing the cowed wrong doers, even in very minor matters. They are armed with guns and tasers. Does that make them thugs?

You don’t learn anything about a wine by recklessly plastering the bottle with new and deriding epithets designed to assassinate its character before you have tasted it. An epithet cannot take the place of descriptive thought, in fact an insult masquerades unsuccessfully as thought only in the mind of the thoughtless. You call someone a moron. That is supposed to finish matters, it is supposed to annihilate, but what it does it describe? Nothing. A moron is a faulty human being. He is like a TV that cannot receive certain channels. Where most people can receive an array of signals that compete and help to refine and expand each other, the moron can only hear or see one. I have known at least a half a dozen murderers, and whatever else they are, they are missing key parts, key ingredients of their make ups.  A moron is often a person of a narrow, insensitive mind, a person with cramped sympathies, and an appetite for inflicting suffering because it gives him pleasure. He takes pride in having no conscience. His mind never ranges beyond its needs.

There is a relishing malice behind the use of such a term as "thug" to describe Assad. There is something dark and vindictive in painting Assad in such viciously harsh colors.  But of course, he deserves it, you say. He is an enemy of Israel and a friend of Iran. But stop and think of the media’s portrait of him.  He has been painted as grim, galling, and pitiless. He is supposed to have the ability and the will to infect and poison things to their very depths. He is a criminal that does not know the meaning of guilt, responsibility and consideration. He is a person of frightful, horrible egotism. He lacks any symptom of a decent conscience, and is addicted to spying, deception, corruption, and atrocity, and entrapment. He is incapable of pangs of conscience, and is without any mitigating or admirable qualities. He is master of a horrific tyranny, head of a crushing and thoughtless machinery of repression. He is an enemy of peace, law, order and an authority, a breaker of the peace. He was put into history as a plague to trouble and torture the decent people of the earth. He has no redeeming deeds, no hopeful and sound qualities to offer the future.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Basher Assad dissected the hyperbole, the faulty assumptions, the stupid presumptuousness of Rose’s remarks so deftly and with such mental agility, it was like looking on a piece of expert surgery being performed as you watched.  Rose was bleeding from a thousand delicate cuts by the time the interview ended, but I doubt if he or his backers ever noticed his wounds.

Rose hurled lethal insults at Assad in a tone meant to hurt, humiliate and offend yet, as evil as he is, Assad turned these arrows aside with ease. Rose, who is a banal character, tried to horrify his listeners with the tale of the Syrian massacre of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982, portraying the event as a one-sided slaughter of the innocents.  It sounded like King Herod's killing of the Hebrew newborns after Jesus was born.  Rose, of course, a coarse-grained and careless propagandist, left out the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood had first attacked the city’s Baath Party officials. According to several accounts, the MB cut the throats of the families of government workers, murdered policemen, beheaded school teachers who insisted on secular education – as the GIA had done in Algeria in the 1990s, just as Afghan rebels hanged a school teacher and his wife outside Jalalabad in 1980.

Yes, the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood by Assad’s father was horrific. It was done with sickening savagery – the ancient city suffered the agonies of Warsaw in August of 1944 – its old buildings were destroyed and 10,000 people died horribly, the wounded, covered in blood, lying beside their vehicles, starving people hunting numbly for food in the aftermath.  Bashar’s father said afterwards, "Nothing is more dangerous to Islam that distorting its meanings and concepts while posing as a Muslim. That is what the criminal Brothers have done. That is what the criminal Brothers are doing. They are killing in the name of Islam…They are butchering children, women, and old people in the name of Islam…"

At the time, Syria was vigorously condemned for its action yet the West was oddly silent when a few years later when the Algerian military basically did the same thing — killing its own Islamic fundamentalists.

Rose said to Assad’s face that America ranked Assad as one of the worst dictators in history, clumsily hinting like Hitler and Stalin, but this isn’t simply ignorant, intellectually, it’s appalling.  Such remarks have no vestige of any sense of intellectual or historical perspective. Let us remember the remark of historian Max Hastings on Stalin: "Joseph Stalin had created within (Soviet borders) the greatest edifice of repression, mass murder and human suffering the world has ever seen."

Does this in any way compare with Assad? Assad is a ruthless authoritarian, but most of the time; America turns a blind eye to such men, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it back all kinds of authoritarians that are capable of serving U.S. interests? Has anyone seen the human rights records of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE recently? And why is that calls for the rule of law are much louder in the Arab Middle East compared to Israel?

In fact, Stalin had so little respect for human life, that to this day, none of the Russian dead from the war have been buried.  (Germany is burying 40,000 casualties a year from the Eastern Front, according to recent der Spiegel accounts.)

Let us say so honestly — Syria is an enemy of Israel. That speaks to the dark heart of the matter. Syrian soldiers fought against the nascent state of Israel in 1948, and then they confronted Israel in 1967, in 1973, and in Lebanon in 1982. In 1967, Israel took the Syrian Golan Heights, and refused to return them. In 1973, under terms of the 1973 postwar ceasefire guidelines, Israel systematically destroyed the Syrian city of Quneitra. After agreeing to the old Bush land-for-peace program, Assad was then being told by the Israelis that they must make peace without the Golan being returned.  In 1996, Israel threatened Syria with war six times. When Assad pulled 21,000 troops out of Lebanon to prevent an Israeli attack that autumn, he was accused of being a warmonger. Portrayed as an expansionist state poised to gobble up all of Lebanon, Palestine and even Israel, Syria has in fact contracted.  It lost northern Palestine, Lebanon and Transjordan after the First World War.  It lost the city of Alexandretta to Turkey in the hope of persuading the Turks to join the allied side in the war against Germany. It has lost the Golan in 1967, as just noted.

Through it all, Israel incessantly spoke of war with Syria, and in 2007 bombed a site which, it said, was being used to develop a nuclear reactor.

I abominate war crimes. I say that with all the force of my soul. But when war comes, let’s face it, human decency flees.  The United States has never felt much horror about killing the elderly, the women and the children of our enemies.  One has only to remember the bombing of German cities during WW II. We lose any vestige of humanity when war comes. I recall how, in early 1945, when Churchill asked FDR to supply Britain with anthrax bombs to use on the German civilians.

But it is not only in war that decency flees.  Decency and a lack of any restraining scruple can flee American political discourse as well. Today, in a Newsmax article that talks of Sen. Rand Paul, the headline reads, "Assad Deserves Death, Obama Keeps Him." Such atrocities of thought and language are truly lamentable.



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45 Responses to U.S. Political Discourse By Richard Sale

  1. Matthew says:

    Thought experiment: When was the last time (or any time) that any analyst on American TV stated that Iran, Syria, or Russia had the right to defend themselves?

  2. Charles I says:

    Assad was as cool as a cucumber, and anybody watching should wish their reps were as candid, and when not, as patiently cordial when explaining how the real world works.

  3. confusedponderer says:

    Mr. Sale, I applaud you.

  4. kao_hsien_chih says:

    By insulting someone, instead of engaging in a dialogue, you are effectively cutting off potential negotiations and/or bargaining with that person, and in so doing, prospects of a diplomatic outcome. It sets up the next stage of interaction as a forceful confrontation, since the bridges to nonviolent (figurative or literal) recourse will have been burned. I suppose it offers reassurance to your supporters who are counting on you to slay their enemy that, in the end, that you will slay them because you’ve set yourself up with no other choice. If so, though, its reward would in form only of fool’s gold if you commit yourself, at great expense to yourself, to slay those who are not your own enemies, for those who are not truly your friends… (as if such thing as “enemies” or “friends” exist in the int’l arena)
    While I myself often fall guilty to this, the spread of such ill-mannered language in domestic politics is even more alarming, since the option of “slaying” one’s enemies is not really a viable one in that arena. Are modern politicians so short of credibility that they can only resort to bad-mouthing their political adversaries to reassure their backers?

  5. The beaver says:

    From Matthew Lee from ICP-UN journo
    “The day after US President Barack Obama’s Oval Office speech on Syria, the Permanent Five members of the Security Council met. But where?
    At the Russian Mission, Inner City Press followed and found out: and from 4:10 to 4:45, when Ambassadors Power, Araud and Lyall Grant walked out, refusing comment.”
    So the Russians are holding all the cards???

  6. eakens says:

    …that’s what makes us “exceptional”

  7. Kieran says:

    Yes, Assad is a good performer. That doesn’t make him any less a thug. Nor does the fact that we tolerate others of his ilk. He is, to be fair, an unlucky thug, because he did not have the US support and reserves of wealth to resolve things quietly and cleanly. He is also an incompetent thug, because he believed that his thuggery would have the same effect as in his father’s day, whereas this time, it provoked a widespread popular detonation. If he were not a thug, he would have tried, in the early days, every option other than force to resolve the Syrian crisis. The hallmark of the thug is the immediate resort to intimidation and force.
    Indeed, the fact that he is a thug does not entail that it would helpful to anyone for us to attempt to depose him. Nor does it absolve the other thugs, with their varying agendas, who have participated in the destruction of Syria. But if use of the term ‘thug’ may be undiplomatic and inconvenient, it is not inaccurate.

  8. Tpcelt says:

    Not an analyst, but Ron Paul in a prez debate. Didn’t say it approvingly, but was take out of context and ridiculed (natch). He was, of course, not the most credible person to make the case…

  9. Edward Amame says:

    It happens all the time. Sometimes the monsters are real. Sometimes not so real. Examples: Saddam Hussein, UBL, Hugo Chavéz, Castro, Karadžić, Ahmadinejad, etc. Outrage sells, so the press pushes it, and then our fearless leaders step in to “do something” in response.

  10. Matthew says:

    Reporting or a propaganda operation? See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/world/middleeast/Syria-An-Unlikely-Evolution.html?_r=1&
    Note that our Propaganda Organs have been working hard today to fashion a story about the Obama Administration’s floating the chemical weapons deal since last year.
    Strangely, there are no quotes from Lavrov in this article. So, (1) this is true and shows Obama wanted a deal despite Russian “intransigence” last year or (2) it’s a CYA story spun to make the Administration look competent.
    How to tell?

  11. Assuming that the Freedom to Assemble guaranteed by the 1st Amendment is determined to be a threat to the state and somehow turns to riot and or civil disorder how many Americans in the governing circles or outside are familiar with current plans to involve the military in the suppression of such incidents? As late as the 90’s the DoD planning for such an event had the title GARDEN Plot!
    The issue has never been the preservation of the state, but rather the preservation of the Constitution. Yet Congress never has held oversight on these plans and issues even as suppression of internal dissidents has become the primary reason for militarizing the internal control mechanisms of the state.
    Thanks Richard for another reminder of the importance of words.

  12. MRW says:

    Me too. Another effing phenomenal article reflecting the superior thinking power of Richard Sale. Brilliant. Compassionate. Insightful. Dead on the money. It’s so nice to read smart stuff.
    One thing: Newsmax joined that foray with an inaccuracy, as is to be expiated. What Paul said, which is in the article, “‘If Assad is responsible he deserves death for this,’ Paul told Fox News Channel after the Tuesday night speech.”
    Those Ifs. Always ignored.

  13. turcopolier says:

    By your definition of thuggishness were not George III and Lord North thugs? they quickly resorted to force to try to solve their American problem. How about Lincoln? He and his minions ripped the South to pieces. Were they not thugs as well? pl

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “Extremism in the Cause of Abolition is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of Peace is no virtue.”

  15. Eliot says:

    I don’t mean to pick on you Kieran, but I think this an important point.
    Calling someone a thug, or labeling them as evil? That’s a lazy rhetorical device. It’s a way to write off your target without trying to understand them.
    How can you negotiate with a man you don’t understand? How can you write a brief about a man who’ve reduced to a simple thug? What can you possibly add?

  16. Medicine Man says:

    Mr. Sale:
    Astute observations all, in my opinion.
    I have long held the opinion that Charlie Rose’s ilk are all paid media flacks who simply transmit and elaborate on the messages they are instructed to by their paymasters. It is not an outlandish notion, given how much of the corporate media is owned by a handful of wealthy people. The obvious utility of this operation is that undesirable information can simply be banished from public discussion.
    Recently a far more disturbing thought occurred to me. It is entirely possible that Rose and his fellows are not simply bought men (and women). They may in fact sincerely believe their own propaganda. They exist in a closed environment, associate mostly with one another, and re-transmit one another’s talking points. The group think of the Washington media is visible on almost any topic, as they home in on one or two competing, “accepted” view points and then move on with barely a look back as the 24-hour news cycle rolls on.
    Personally, I hope they are just well compensated professional liars, because if what we are watching isn’t theatre then it is disturbingly Orwellian.

  17. Phil Cattar says:

    Completely agree.My paternal grandfather was born and raised 40 miles or less from the Asad family mountain vllage.I was raised in a very large extended family of Lebanese-Syrians.I have studied and watched the Levant for over 50 years.This does not make me a middle east expert but everything I have heard,read,seen and observed in that time points to the Asad family being thugs…………as you wrote “The hallmark of the thug is the immediate resort to intimidation and force”.This describes the Asads.Everyone seems to have forgot that the the UN investigation of the assassination of the PM of Lebanon,Harriri, was leading to Syria when this revolution broke out.The Asad family could not intimidate Harriri just like years before they could not intimidate Kamal Jumblatt.So they killed leaders of another country.Forty years is enough for a family to rule a country by force and intimidation.It is very possible that Bashar did not make the call on the gassing.It might have been his brother……………It is time for the Asad family to go……………

  18. VietnamVet says:

    One might say the Assad left Great Britain to return to the wrong place, Syria (between Israel and Iran) at the wrong time (Saudi and Qatar Royal Sheiks finance the opening of a new front in the Sunni Wahhabi Jihad). Also, Israel will rue the release of the hounds of war on their northeast border with Syria rather than an accommodating Baathist thug. But this does not explain the USA’s behavior. Clearly it is assisting in the explosion of ethnic tensions in the last two years. Military contractors see profits in a new war i.e. Frederick W. Kagan’s op-ed “A weak strike on Syria is better than none”
    On this 12th anniversary of 9/11; besides profiteering, shredding of the Constitution and government agitprop; the greatest failing of the Bush/Obama governance is the lack of a strategic vision. The drone wars are antiseptic updating of the Vietnam body counts. They serve no purpose other than assure that young men of attacked families and tribes will gladly embark on a Jihad against Christians/Shiites/Alawites/Kurds/Jews from Mali to the Philippines. At some point when overwhelmed by the costs and futility, the USA will end its wars for profit and quarantine failed states. The imprisonment of a thousand pirates has ended piracy off the shores of Somalia.

  19. Stephanie says:

    He may be cleverer than many of his compatriots and morally no worse, but he has been vicious to his people and on the Rose show he seemed oddly indifferent to their present plight. Yes, it’s his misfortune to be Putin’s brute and not ours, nor does he deserve the Hitler-du-jour treatment he’s getting from the US government and press, but he’s a nasty bit of business all the same.

  20. Bill H says:

    One might also ask if the governments, local ones presumably, but perhaps not, who dispersed Occupy Wall Street were thugs. Probably not, since they didn’t actually kill anyone, but one could hardly call them benevolent.

  21. confusedponderer says:

    ” Were they not thugs as well? ”
    Nah, ‘leaders’, strong ones, who held together the nation in times of secession.
    Assad instead is trying to hold together the country at a time when it is breaking apart, with an opposition funded, supported and armed by foreign powers, and with salaried foreign fighter joining or outright taking over the opposition.
    Mr. Sale did well to put the Hama massacre into context. The Muslim Brotherhood, as indicated by their actions, were not nice people, and their idea of protest was to cut the throats of Alawites instead of a web 3.0 protests. The beheading videos suggest to me the Islamists haven’t much changed their preferences.
    Assad the Elder cracked down on Hama brutally, but he didn’t do sio because that particular morning he had that bloodthirst. To claim otherwise is writing a cartoon history of Syria.
    Come to think of it, Sountern secession to me implies that to the Southerners Lincoln was not their president. They had their own president.

  22. jonst says:

    Enjoyed your essay…and for the most part, agree with it. But why in the world do think Eugene Robinson “should know better”? He has been a major player, enabler, of the kind of culture I take it you condemn. He is a moron talking head who views all the world through a sophomoric, DC, partisan ‘good guy bad guy who is winning who is losing’ lens. Whether the subject is Syria or where to order pizza, the dynamics are the same. Who is looking ‘strong’? Who is looking ‘weak’, who gets the promotion, who does not.

  23. rjj says:

    But Americans think “Rule of Law” is some outworn Republican Party campaign slogan – or else has something to do with Swat Teams.

  24. Matthew says:

    jonst: Putin continues to put the boot in. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24067370
    It’s sad when a Russian strongman lectures us about our hypocrisy–and yet I find myself agreeing with the Russian. Sad, indeed.

  25. Bill H says:

    Yes. Name calling is what one resorts to when one has run out of legitimate arguments, either because there aren’t any or because one doesn’t know what they are.
    Entirely too much of our political discourse consists of nothing more than name calling today, precisely because the practicioners of it are too lazy to do otherwise.

  26. Bill H says:

    To some degree I think that is true, but I believe a lot of it is that they are simply too unintelligent to have more than one simple idea in their head. “Assad is evil,” and then pursue the converstaion/interview with a single-minded focus on that thought.

  27. Charles I says:

    My comment was on style, presentation, and a patience not to insult my intelligence as much as reps I am more familiar with – ours.
    Syria,which has attacked no foreign country despite being attacked by e.g., Israel bombing that reactor building, finds us strangely indifferent to to ANY of his arguments as it announced that the U.S. is shipping arms into the civil war, the very thing we cursed the Russians for.

  28. Charles I says:

    deeds not words, Occam’s razor, some time.

  29. Charles I says:

    And yet we have ends here, do we not, that aside from parsing the wording of any U.N resolution to see if it says, in French, “serious consequences”, may be best served by judicious diplomacy rather than ad hominem and military pinpricks.
    It is stated POTUS policy that Assad must go, ergo, he is no longer of concern in any present behavior.
    Why not just announce Murderous Thug Mr. President of Syria, Mr President of China Nation of Slaughterers, Mr President of Israel Colonial Biblical Whackjob War Criminal, prior to commencing , er, negotiations over your, er national interests.

  30. confusedponderer says:

    “According to several accounts, the MB cut the throats of the families of government workers, murdered policemen, beheaded school teachers who insisted on secular education – as the GIA had done in Algeria in the 1990s, just as Afghan rebels hanged a school teacher and his wife outside Jalalabad in 1980.”
    That really brings down a point. When you a minority in the Middle East such acts invoke not that old memories of persecution under Ottoman rule. In that light, the MB’s killings were a way of saying ‘Know your place’.
    At the time of the killings, the Armenian Genocide was just some 50 years old, and it happened partly in what is now Syria. Ass to that the normal persecution Alawites were subjected to under Otoman rule.
    That would go far to explain the forceful reaction.
    The christians by now must share Alawite fears of Sunni domination.

  31. Kieran says:

    The Empire treated the colonists thuggishly, as empires are wont to do. They didn’t match Assad’s alacrity, with whom, in the place of King George, one could expect the Boston Massacre to escalate on the spot into a naval bombardment, Patrick Henry to turn up dead in some ditch, and the founding fathers to rot in jail while the more savage revolutionaries take the lead. In the end, the French conspiracy might be crushed. As for Lincoln, squinting past the glare of official history, perhaps so.

  32. jonst says:

    Putin was dead on..they may not–understandably–like the messenger…but the message is valid. And the ‘hey, you guys ain’t all that exceptional’ is dead on!

  33. Kieran says:

    The philosophy examiners come to mind, who remarked that 90 percent of examinees would have been strict moral relativists, if they had not suddenly thought of Hitler half-way through their papers.
    I am not using the word ‘thug’ rhetorically. I have tried hard to understand Assad and come to the conclusion that he is a sociopath who excels in charming people, but lacks any sense of empathy. This comes across, to me, clearly in his speeches and interviews after the crisis. It also explains his total failure to grasp, in the beginning, the mood of the people, the existence of genuine opposition to him, and the likely consequences of attempting a military solution. The actions of the Syrian military and security forces from Spring to Summer 2011 do not reflect the influence of a leader interested in preserving the lives of civilians, de-escalating violence, or exploring alternatives to war. They do reflect a leader who has decided to fortify his privilege, defend his cronies, and avoid any limitations on his absolute power. The fact that the situation has now become ‘secular regime’ versus ‘foreign backed jihadists’, with a legitimate cause amongst the partisans of both sides, should not obscure the genesis of it. It seems to me that Assad made a cynical – and flawed – calculation that if he could radicalize and militarize the opposition, he could settle the matter in the field of his strength with no political concessions. For me, ‘thug’ is a perfectly descriptive and substantive term, which does not obstruct the operations of thought.

  34. Tyler says:

    If the aliens land tomorrow, who do we send to negotiate: Putin or Obama?
    Rhetorical question of course, but it shows how far we’ve fallen in so short a time.

  35. Stephanie says:

    Yes, he handled Rose well, except for that creepy indifference. If he’d approached those initial peaceful demonstrations with similar skill instead of resorting so promptly to brute force, he might have avoided the conflagration that presently threatens to engulf him. Syria is likely better off if he remains in power (if the country is not partitioned), but by me it’s too bad that the ordinary Syrian people are trapped between Scylla and Charybdis, even if Scylla may win on style points.

  36. Eliot says:

    “It also explains his total failure to grasp, in the beginning, the mood of the people, the existence of genuine opposition to him..”
    Good information is hard to come by. Assad is isolated in Damascus, surrounded by aides who have every incentive to color the truth in order to curry favor. Institutional thinking is another serious problem. This is an issue in DC, and indeed in any capitol city.
    “and the likely consequences of attempting a military solution.”
    Deera is a mostly Sunni city, it raised the specter of 82 and another Sunni revolt. That’s an existential threat to the government. Their reaction was sad, but predictable. They reacted as governments do, with heavy hands.
    “For me, ‘thug’ is a perfectly descriptive and substantive term, which does not obstruct the operations of thought.”
    Is Mubarak as sociopath as well? He responded to a similar crisis in much the same fashion.
    Giving into the protesters is actually counterproductive, it feeds an ever growing demand cycle where each concession is met by a new demand. It doesn’t resolve the crisis, it intensifies it.

  37. Medicine Man says:

    Americans may be half right about both of those things. In terms of how nations should deal with each other internationally though I think Putin’s point still stands.

  38. turcopolier says:

    Czech journalist
    Yes. It is screamingly funny. The ISW is a nest of neocons and AIPAC operatives founded by the Kagans (Petraeus’ advisers) and Victoria Nuland who is mnarried to one of them. they have several very dodgy types there who faithfully spout the AIPAC/AEI line. pl

  39. Medicine Man says:

    It’s not really hypocrisy that is the issue. A certain amount of hypocrisy seems to be normal in all dealings between nations with intentional double-standards and the selective application of stated principles ever present.
    Putin makes a real impression due to the pragmatism of his comments. He makes some straight-forward points about the likely consequences of intervention and the weakness of the administration’s case. Most of his observations are quite in line with the learned experiences of adults (30+ yo) in North America. High-stakes, impulsive idealism doesn’t sell with the US public at the moment for good reasons.

  40. Mark Logan says:

    I think there may be a sliver of a hopeful omen in this. Putin’s acting like he believes he has a solid handle on the Syria CW situation, or he wouldn’t be gloating so much, right?

  41. confusedponderer says:

    Rightweb on ISW:
    “Leadership and Funding
    As of March 2013, ISW did not publicize on its website the members of its board of directors. However, according to 2011 tax documents, directors included: Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and founder of the right-wing advocacy group Keep America Safe; William Kristol, editor of the neoconservative flagship magazine the Weekly Standard; Jack Keane, a retired four-star general who coauthored with Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute “Choosing Victory,” a 2007 study that served as a blueprint for the so-called “surge” in Iraq; Dennis Showalter, a military historian; Hal Hirsch; Bill Roberti; and Kim Kagan.
    According to its 2011 Form 990, ISW had operating expenses of just under $1.9 million that year, up from $1.57 in 2010.
    A non-exhaustive Right Web investigation of Form 990 U.S. tax records revealed nearly $700,000 in donations from charitable foundations during 2007-2009. Donations included nearly $180,000 from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a premier neoconservative advocacy group, as well as $60,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a right-wing foundation that has funded other militarist outfits like the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, earning it a spot among the top funders of the anti-Islamic discourse in the United States according to a 2011 report by the Center for American Progress. The Marcus Foundation, which has also supported MEMRI, contributed another $250,000 to ISW during this period. (For a full list of Right Web’s findings, click here.)
    ISW has increasingly drawn support from military contractors with stakes in the issues that the institute studies. “According to ISW’s last annual report,” noted Consortium News in December 2012, “its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it now is backed by national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provides training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplies software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.”[18]”

  42. MRW says:

    “The christians by now must share Alawite fears of Sunni domination.”
    They always did. Al-Assad Père protected the Christians fiercely. He just didn’t want religious groups running the country, so he put down all uprisings.

  43. MRW says:

    Thanks for reminding me about the excellent RightWeb.

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