The International Campaign to Destabilize Syria

AVAAZ: Washington’s Merchant of War Peddles the No Fly Zone in Syria, Calls for Another Libya

21st Century Wire

October 3, 2016


Presently, the Syrian Arab Army and allies are advancing inexorably towards the liberation of Aleppo from the hordes of US coalition-funded terrorist brigades, headed up by Al Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda, and Washington’s foreign policy is in turmoil.  Despite its best efforts, the US coalition ‘intervention’ in Syria has been an unmitigated disaster, having hit the brick wall of President Bashar Al Assad’s popularity and also the fortitude of the Syrian people in withstanding everything the US coalition has flung at it, militarily and on the multimillion dollar propaganda front. Now an increasingly frustrated US coalition has pulled what they believe to be the Ace in their pack of public-perception-altering cards. 

Once again, the activist website Avaaz has been deployed, the flagship of the fleet of media and propaganda vessels all pouring forth the narrative that supports the US coalition demands  for a “we-fly-you-dont-zone”.  This week, Avaaz launched their No Fly Zone petition.  The infamous No Fly Zone petition that heralded the destruction of Libya in 2011, has now been tailored and dressed up, to be used against Syria. The language is clear: this petition calls for war.

Emotively labeled the “Protect Aleppo’s Children Now!” campaign, Avaaz has pulled out all the stops:

“There are no good options to end the war in Syria. But inaction is the worst one. A no-fly zone will mean that an international coalition can threaten to down planes that try to bomb Northern Syria. Almost 70% of Avaaz members support it. 8% oppose. Hesitation to use force to protect people is understandable and wise. But imagine it was our kids being bombed, what would we want the world to do? ”

This is a call to arms, and Avaaz is beating the drums of war once more.  Where the US administration has failed to garner support for a military escalation, Avaaz has taken on the mantle of chief warmonger and its not the first time.

In Welcome to the Brave New World, Morningstar examines  Avaaz director, Perriello’s career and relationship with war criminals like Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Both Avaaz and 350 board members supported the attack on Syria.) Avaaz, says Morningstar, is arguably “the world’s most powerful NGO.” (Photo: WKOG)

This article by Cory Morningstar was first published in 2013 at Wrong Kind of Green, but is eerily relevant today as the war drums echo across the US and Europe.


“The Western Left had no such excuse in 2011, when Libya was being attacked. Here we had a small nation, of only six million people, under attack from the most devastating military power ever put together. 120 Cruise missiles fired in the first few days, and then over 26,000 sorties by NATO military aircraft, over an eight month period. To put that into perspective, its adds up to 150 bombing raids per day on a population the size of Ireland’s – every single day – for eight months. And all through, the Western Left cheered on the smashing of the Socialist state infrastructure and cheered on the racist lynch mobs…


…this same Left would have become the cheerleaders for a genocidal, racist, campaign against a Socialist state, with one of the highest standards of living in the Developing World, and with a human rights record that was gaining widespread praise in the UN? Not to mention an advanced system of Direct Democracy…


Without having any real idea of who or what these “rebels” were, the Western Left became complicit. They were sucked in. Joyfully sucked in. They filled out the missing spaces with their fantasies of democratic protestors, valiantly standing up to the Viagra drugged soldiers of a hated dictator. That a million Libyans came out and filled Green Square, under the threat of NATO bombing, to show their support for Muammar al-Gaddafi was easily overlooked. A seduced person, a person who is loving the thrill of being seduced, no longer has any use for truth or facts. And so, even after the brutal murder of Muammar al-Gaddafi, by drone and fighter jet attack, and then by a crazed mob, the madness of the Western Left continued…” —Donnchadh Mac an Ghoill, The “Arab Spring” and the Seduction of the Western Left

As Avaaz continues to beat the drums of war, it is critical to reflect upon the vital role Avaaz served in framing the attack on Libya as not only palatable, but righteous and moral. The No Fly Zone placed upon Libya, which Avaaz relentlessly campaigned for, facilitated the complete annihilation of Libya and the slaughter of tens of thousands of her citizens.

Today, Libya is absolutely destroyed and in deep turmoil. Yet, two years later, Avaaz continues to push for the same in Syria: a no fly zone and the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine by the United Nations. Few would be surprised, if only they knew, that a key founder of Avaaz is none other than pro-war Tom Perriello, a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group. Perriello’s curriculum vitae, built upon privilege within elite circles, is extensive.

The following is an excerpt from Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, written by Cory Morningstar, published on Sept 24, 2012.

“The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.”

Today Avaaz claims 13,649,421 members, 70,432,165 “actions” (taken since January 2007) and 194 countries with Avaaz members according to the information provided by Avaaz, retrieved on 2 March 2012. During the typing of this single paragraph, the Avaaz membership rose by 30 people to 13,649,451. [Avaaz Facts]

The members are primarily citizens residing within Imperialist or wealthy states. Consider the following three examples: (Stats retrieved from the Avaaz global “membership” virtual map.)

Avaaz members situated in United States: 923,968

Avaaz members situated in Canada: 667,592

Avaaz members situated in Libya: 3,167

On 10 March 2010, John Hilary challenged Avaaz in a Guardian article titled “Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya. Calls for a no-fly zone over Libya ignore the perils of intervention. Long-term solutions aren’t as simple as the click of a mouse.”

Hilary writes:

“A no-fly zone would almost certainly draw Nato countries into further military involvement in Libya, replacing the agency of the Libyan people with the control of those governments who have shown scant regard for their welfare. As long as the oil kept flowing, western governments have been happy to prop up dictators who kept a heavy boot on their people’s freedom. Libyans are unlikely to be grateful to be bombed by those same western governments attempting to enforce a no-fly zone. Indeed such action would help Muammar Gaddafi by justifying his rhetoric about foreign intervention, not to mention stopping fledgling revolutions across the region in their tracks.


Clearly a no-fly zone makes foreign intervention sound rather humanitarian – putting the emphasis on stopping bombing, even though it could well lead to an escalation of violence.


No wonder, too, that it is rapidly becoming a key call of hawks on both sides of the Atlantic. The military hierarchy, with their budgets threatened by government cuts, surely cannot believe their luck – those who usually oppose wars are openly campaigning for more military involvement.”

Although Hilary knowingly or otherwise dismisses the very real foreign intervention as “rhetoric” while not divulging the fact that the “fledgling revolutions” he speaks of were instigated/infiltrated/financed by foreign interests, Hilary ends with a prophetic note:

“Calling for military intervention is a huge step – the life and death of hundreds of thousands of people might hang in the balance. The difference between the ease of the action and the impact of the consequence is vast.


In the Spanish civil war many brave people felt so strongly that they sacrificed their own lives to support the struggle against fascism in that country. How incredible it would have seemed to them, less than a hundred years later, that people would be using a click of their mouse to send armies to fight battles that might end in the death of so many others.”

Avaaz’s campaign director, Ben Wikler, posted a comment in response to Hilary’s article [in red]. Bold emphasis have been added.

“Dear John,

“Thanks for this piece. Sorry that you felt we got this wrong. We’re doing our best and of course, people of good will with similar values can sometimes disagree. Here’s a bit more background and explanation for you on our decision on the no-fly zone –

Avaaz is people-powered. Our member community makes the calls. We use polls to gauge members’ views; 84% of members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.

Our staff also play a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.

In some ways, we work a lot like journalists like you do, talking to people and weighing the facts before we form conclusions. However, our staff’s personal conclusions also have to pass the test of our membership being strongly supportive of any position we take.

We’re acutely aware of your and some others’ objections to this campaign. Here are the main issues that people have raised, and where we’re coming from regarding them:

Would imposing a no-fly zone really be a Western military intervention motivated by oil?

If Western powers use the no-fly zone as a pretext for self-interested military action, Avaaz would be among the first groups to campaign against it – just as Avaaz has campaigned to end the Iraq conflict and ensure that Iraq’s oil rights are reserved for the Iraqi people.

The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.

The same Libyan groups have strongly opposed any western military presence on Libyan soil. They clearly feel that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion.Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.

Meanwhile, among governments, Gulf States have demanded the no-fly zone, and the U.S. government, far from itching to move ahead, appears deeply divided on the idea.

Furthermore, our advocacy has been for the UN Security Council to authorize a no-fly zone, not any coalition of western nations. You can bet that China and Russia will not sign off on a no-fly zone if they think it’s a cover for a Western oil grab.

Would imposing a no-fly zone lead to a full-blown international war?

No-fly zones can mean a range of different things. Some analysts and military figures have argued that it would require a pre-emptive attack on Libya’s anti-aircraft weapons. Others, however, contend that merely flying fighter planes over the rebel-controlled areas would ensure that Qaddafi wouldn’t use his jets to attack eastern Libya, because he knows his air force is weaker than that of Egypt or NATO states. The best solution is the one that reduces civilian deaths the most with the least violence. Things might not turn out as expected, but while there are potential dangers to an international war, there are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.

Is Qaddafi really killing civilians with this air force?

Based on reports from our partners on the ground, from the Red Cross, and from a variety of local and international news reports, we believe Qaddafi’s bombing runs are indeed killing civilians. Qaddafi’s air power is a key advantage over those fighting to remove him: as long as he has control of the air, attacks seem likely to continue for months or even longer, with disastrous consequences for civilians.

Wouldn’t a UN resolution for a no-fly zone violate national sovereignty?

We believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians when national governments threaten their fundamental human rights.

National sovereignty should not be a legitimate barrier to international action when crimes against humanity are being committed. If you strongly disagree, then you may find yourself at odds with other Avaaz campaigns as well.

All told, this was a difficult judgment call.

Calling for any sort of military response always is. Avaaz members have been advocating for weeks for a full set of non-military options as well, including an asset freeze, targeted sanctions, and prosecutions of officials involved in the violent crackdown on demonstrators.

But although those measures are moving forward, the death toll is rising. Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.


Ben Wikler

Let’s break this down. In the Avaaz rebuttal Wikler states:

“Avaaz is people-powered. Our member community makes the calls. We use polls to gauge members’ views; 84% of members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.”

The question must be asked – why does “intense support of the campaign from around the world” from an organization co-founded by MoveOn that, as stated in 2002, caters to members comprised of “mostly white, highly educated, computer savvy … and willing to give dough” supersede the rights of a sovereign nation and her citizens against foreign interference?

How would unleashing a military operation in Libya affect Avaaz constituents attending Harvard? In fact, the Avaaz demographic is one that is being trained to not think – just click. Indeed, critical thinking is a detriment and a very real threat to the entire Avaaz phenomenon. Surely, the “wish” for foreign intervention and no-fly zones (more commonly known as war and bombs) should only be considered by those who will be affected directly by such a military campaign.

As Avaaz states, their Libyan membership is a mere 3,167 people – one must ask how Avaaz considers the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz “members” as representative of “the Libyan people” in a country with (prior to the invasion) a population of almost 6 million citizens.

“This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.” — Teju Cole

The fact is that the Libyan people as a society had no representation in the Avaaz campaign calling for foreign military intervention to be inflicted upon the Libyan tribal society. In spite of Wikler’s ridiculous rhetoric, the fact is Libyan citizens were considered by Avaaz to hold little significance.

Avaaz, iconic symbol of the white ivory towers of justice, followed in the path of other international NGOs in the racist ideology that the belief system upheld by the “educated” “middleclass” in the wealthy states is far superior to any contrary beliefs and ideologies of tribal/civil societies in African and Arab nations. It is only the people from within these privileged classes whose opinions matter, hence the victorious proclamation of the 84% support.

The Avaaz position is even more problematic when you consider the following.

What constitutes becoming an Avaaz “member”? As with the other “online activism” NGOS, Avaaz’s actual membership is open to interpretation. For example, Avaaz affiliate GetUp states, “Join the movement of 589,261 Australians. Become a member now.”

However, this figure is derived from the entire database of signed GetUp petitions, whereby each signatory is automatically enlisted as “a member.” [6] As Avaaz is modeled after GetUp and MoveOn, and considering the membership increases rapidly within a 60 second time-frame, one can assume with certainty that an Avaaz “membership” is instantly granted to each and every individual signing a petition. This ruse serves as a brilliant method of disguising where the majority of their largesse (i.e., investment) originated from (i.e., the corporate state) while further reinforcing the false impression that their funding originated from grassroots sources.

(The latest feel-good consumer NGO (first media mention 29 November 2011, first “tweet” on 4 November 2011), yet another thinking person’s nightmare named SumOfUs, already boasts 262,950 members worldwide. Where did these members come from? Affiliated NGO membership lists?)

If one signed an Avaaz petition in 2007, long before realizing whose interests this organization truly represents, is this same individual still considered a member in 2012? If 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members signed an Avaaz petition in 2008 to save elephants in Africa, this does not constitute a Libyan majority demanding military interference in 2011.

Wikler states:

“Our staff also play a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.”

The question is, just exactly who are these experts Avaaz continues to refer to? Nowhere does Avaaz disclose these “experts” nor their affiliations. And which institutions and societies shaped their policy and advocacy backgrounds?

 Wikler states:

“If Western powers use the no-fly zone as a pretext for self-interested military action, Avaaz would be among the first groups to campaign against it.”

Yet, there has been a massive amount of evidence demonstrating, unequivocally, that this was exactly what the pretext was. “Self-interested military action” is exactly what happened, which begs the question – what happened to Avaaz claiming they “would be among the first groups to campaign against it”?

Not only does Avaaz contradict this statement, but this organization has done NOTHING to inform the public of any evidence of the deliberate destruction of Libya under the guise of a “humanitarian war.” To this day, not only is there NO EVIDENCE to support this invasion (made possible by the collaboration of yet another 77 NGOs), rather, there is a massive amount of evidence to the contrary.

This was a well-planned, deliberate destabilization project that unleashed hell on a sovereign country – a country that had neither attacked nor invaded another nation. Avaaz has never released any material criticizing the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by NATO and the rebel militias that Avaaz was supporting. Nor has Avaaz shared with their supporters the horrific, racist rebel crimes and ethnic cleansing that NATO turned a blind eye to, and that were thoroughly documented throughout the invasion upon Libya. On the shocking racial atrocities filmed and documented in Tawergha, the white ivory towers remain silent. Aside from the evidence, prior to the invasion of Libya, and after, one would think that the “experts” of Avaaz would have vast knowledge of how destabilization campaigns are strategically planned and carried out by Imperialist states as documented in past and recent history. And of course, when one looks at the background of the founders who comprise Avaaz, we can understand they knew full well.

Wikler states:

“The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.”

As for Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN: “Just a few days after the street protests began, on February 21, the very quick to defect Libyan deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, stated: ‘We are expecting a real genocide in Tripoli. The airplanes are still bringing mercenaries to the airports.’ This is excellent: a myth that is composed of myths. With that statement he linked three key myths together – the role of airports (hence the need for that gateway drug of military intervention: the no-fly zone), the role of “mercenaries” (meaning, simply, black people), and the threat of ‘genocide‘ (geared toward the language of the UN’s doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect). As ham-fisted and wholly unsubstantiated as the assertion was, he was clever in cobbling together three ugly myths, one of them grounded in racist discourse and practice that endures to the present, with newer atrocities reported against black Libyan and African migrants on a daily basis. He was not alone in making these assertions.” [Source: TOP TEN MYTHS IN NATO’S WAR AGAINST LIBYA]

It is an outrageous statement to claim it was the wish of the Libyan people to impose a military zone upon their own country. Further, the defected ambassador was clearly carrying out duties for the Imperialist states. Who were these protestors and youth organizations Avaaz speaks of? Are these the Libyans that comprise the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members? Are they the youth groups set up by Avaaz funder and partner, the Soros Open Society Institute? Are they connected with the U.S.-funded Otpor or funded by another NGO fed by the U.S. administration? Nowhere is this information disclosed. Further, do the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members actually live in Libya? Did all 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members sign the Avaaz petition, essentially demanding that their country become a war zone?

Wikler states:

“The same Libyan groups have strongly opposed any western military presence on Libyan soil. They clearly feel that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion. Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.”

It is beyond obvious that a no-fly zone in an oil rich country would open the door to Imperialist vultures. Who told these so-called “Libyan Groups” (whoever they are we do not know) such a ridiculous thing, “that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion”? One must assume this information was conveyed to the “Libyan Groups” by the Avaaz “experts” since the Avaaz staff claim they were “in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya.” Further, in response to the proposed no-fly zone, Wikler goes on to say “there are potential dangers to an international war…” One must question why Wikler is aware of the potential of international war in response to a no-fly zone while the “Libyan Groups” believe (according to Avaaz) that “a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion.”

Wikler states:

“Meanwhile, among governments, Gulf States have demanded the no-fly zone, and the U.S. government, far from itching to move ahead, appears deeply divided on the idea.”

Yet, as Wikler convinced and assured the Guardian readership that the U.S. was hesitant to “intervene” in Libya, the reality was that two U.S. destroyers and a number of missile-launching submarines were in fact already deployed and headed for the Libyan coast. These destroyers decisively delivered 110 Tomahawk missiles 9 days later on 19 March 2011 as part of the military operation titled “Operation Odyssey Dawn.”

“The Royal Navy bought 65 Tomahawks in 1995 at a cost of $1 million (£650,000) each from U.S. defence firm Raytheon Systems. Two American destroyers, the U.S.S Barry and Stout, have been deployed. According to a Pentagon source, each carries up to 96 Tomahawk missiles.” [Source]

19 March 2011: “Cruise missiles from U.S. submarines and frigates began the attack on the anti-aircraft system. A senior defense official speaking on background said the attacks will ‘open up the environment so we could enforce the no-fly zone from east to west throughout Libya.’” [Source]

Wikler states:

“[T]here are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.”

Perhaps Wikler was speaking to certain dangers to American and European civilians if Gaddafi were to have succeeded in replacing the U.S. dollar and the Euro with an African Dinar, backed by gold, to build unity and autonomy throughout African nations. Perhaps he was referring to civilians who are living under an economic system that is dependent upon the continued exploitation and stealing of other nations’ vast resources. As Libya was a nation with no debt, interest-free loans, free education, free healthcare, and a state-of-the-art water system and a country that held the highest standard of living in Africa, it is difficult to imagine what exactly Libyans would have been fearing aside from a pending invasion by Imperialist states.

Wikler states:

“Based on reports from our partners on the ground, from the Red Cross, and from a variety of local and international news reports, we believe Qaddafi’s bombing runs are indeed killing civilians.”

Wikler is purposely vague. What reports exactly are they referring to? What partners?

March 1st Pentagon Briefing:

Q: Do you see any evidence that [Gaddafi] actually has fired on his own people from the air?  There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent? Secretary of Defence – ROBERT GATES:

A: “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – Admiral MICHAEL MULLEN

A: “That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.”

In the following video, General Wesley Clark explains the Libyan invasion, Syria and Somalia, all planned years in advance: 

Wikler states:

“We believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians when national governments threaten their fundamental human rights.”

Here Wikler echoes the current dogma being repeated incessantly by the U.S. administration and their corporate media lackeys. If Avaaz truly had any “experts” on civilian interests trumping those of corporate interests, Avaaz would tell us that this is merely language designed to facilitate societal acceptance of war by presenting it as “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” (R2P). Prior to this lovely terminology, it was formerly known as “the Right to Intervene.”

Wikler states:

“Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.”

This highlights a very dangerous experiment, and now precedent, set by Avaaz. Wikler openly expresses that they were surprised to find only 9% of their “membership” (based upon their polls) opposed a no-fly zone. Wikler stating that this position was “somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past” is, by his own admission, acknowledging that this new direction is one that is not peaceful. One should note that all NGOs use polls and marketing executives to create and lay out most all campaigns and campaign strategies. Avaaz is no exception; rather, Avaaz should be considered the rule.

Avaaz’s integration into militarism can be seen in their continual polling that outlines, in essence, what citizens are responsive to, and what they are willing to tolerate. In the 13 January 2010 global Avaaz poll, participants were asked to rate 6 priorities in order of importance. The stated priorities from which one could choose included human rights, torture and genocide (#2), democracy movements and tyrannical regimes (#3) war, peace and security (#4) and corruption and abuse of power (#5). Incidentally number 1 was climate change, however after the failed Copenhagen climate talks, this issue was no longer considered a hot commodity for NGO branding purposes and thus the campaign on climate was, for the most part, abandoned altogether. All other proposed “choices” are key elements/issues associated with militarism.

How Wikler and his Avaaz cohorts sleep at night, knowing the Avaaz campaign contributed to the annihilation of as many as 100,000 Libyan civilians and unleashed a racial war, is anyone’s guess. Although it certainly must help when one is surrounded by like-minded people who all reinforce your distorted world views while reassuring each other that each is more brilliant than the other and the end justifies the means.

This is the beauty and the power of neo-liberalism activism conformity. It allows one to behave like an asshole, while those indoctrinated into the same belief system, including corporate and so-called “progressive” media, portray you as a celebrity. The oligarchy’s willingness to ensure the egos remain plump and well-nourished is strategic. This ensures that the narcissist’s delusions are reinforced while simultaneously ensuring any doubt is cast far away.

No one wishes to be ostracized from the champagne circuit. Wikler recently left Avaaz to become Executive Vice President at, another Soros (for-profit) NGO, while thousands upon thousands of Libyans paid the ultimate price for his campaign, which can be found on the Avaaz website under recent “victories.” Ben Wikler’s compensation as Avaaz Campaign Director in 2010 was a reported $111,384 (990 Form).

Not everyone was so gullible. One reader (“derazed”) comments beneath the Guardian article:

“Up until its latest, I had appreciated Avaaz – even gave some money in the direction of providing Arab activists telecommunications equipment. When the no-fly email arrived, I created my own “no fly” zone – by terminating my email relationship with Avaaz. The internet and real-life events have taught me something about warmongers in virtual clothing.”

[28 March 2011: Fortune-500 funded Brookings Institution’s “Libya’s Test of the New International Order” is reported on – exposing the war as not one of a “humanitarian” nature, but one aimed explicitly at establishing an international order and the primacy of international law.]




SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire


WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS (terrorist linked)?

VIDEO: Netflix and The White Helmets, ‘Hand in Hand with Al Qaeda’

21st Century Wire

September 15, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley



Has Netflix revealed itself to be another deep state conscript? The recent Syria White Helmet promotional movie has caused uproar among people awakened to the US, UK state and intelligence agency involvement in this pseudo ‘first responder’ faux NGO outfit that has infiltrated Syria on behalf of its funders and donors based in the US and NATO neocolonialist “regime change” command centres.

Funded to the tune of over $60 million by the US, UK and EU member states, these mercenaries in beige clothing have a base of operations in Turkey, but appear to operate exclusively in terrorist-held zones in Syria, and can also be seen running ‘mop-up’ operations for Al Nusra Front and other terrorist fighting groups.

For a further reading on the White Helmets and their role in the Dirty War on Syria read 21st Century Wire’s comprehensive compilation of the most important investigations into NATO’s latest fifth column creation: Who are the Syria White Helmets

The ‘White Helmets’ documentary premiered today at the Toronto International Film Festival, and on Netflix streaming website.

The following are a few examples of the comments being left on the Netflix trailer for their White Helmets “documentary”:

“Dear Netflix: STOP SUPPORTING TERRORISTS. The so called White Helmets are a transparent construct of NATO to take over Syria by stealth in the guise of “do gooders”. NO serious journalists who have been to Syria believe they are doing what this film suggests. Only journalists too lazy to think for themselves believe this. NO locals in Syria have seen these white Helmets in their white helmets – except when their very expensive cameras turn up to film them for propaganda.

And shame on any news outlet who has bought any of that footage and bought their story hook line and sinker without investigating their known connections to Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.Syrian men trying to really save children are hindered from doing so by inhumane sanctions and by the White Helmets blocking roads and villages. Local heroes have no supplies, they do not have a 90 million pound budget to get food, and first aid or digging equipment, yet nobody makes a film about these people… the real Syrian people.

Local people say these are mercenaries who wear ordinary clothes, are not Syrian, and are committing atrocities and keeping food and supplies from reaching cities and villages. Paid terrorists loaded with weapons and supplies and a 90 million pound budget from EU and NATO countries who have an obsession with illegally deposing an honestly elected president of a nation state. It is another way to take over a regime…  without using bombs..  by stealth, this is a Trojan Horse and these men are not heroes at all but murderers and thieves. ASK THE PEOPLE OF SYRIA. GO TO SYRIA and see for yourself. Do not just use footage made by terrorists and spread it all over the world when it is the opposite of the truth.”

Image creation: Cory Morningstar of Wrong Kind of Green

“Soros production, pure propaganda.”

“In Aleppo, the most important thing to remember is that all life is precious”. So precious that the White Helmets are ready to take the dead bodies away after Al-Qaeda executes them, while the camera is still rolling!!”

“When the saint go marching in”, White Helmets are not saints, they are terrorists. When not in front of a camera, they take off their white helmets and strap on their guns.”

“The white helmets are a media blitz project created by the US & UK in which they received monies from the state department & billionaires who made their fortune in the oil and gas industry.”

21WIRE will be bringing you more detailed reports on the Soros funding of the Netflix operation and of course further information on the REAL Syria Civil Defence that journalist Vanessa Beeley has recently met with and interviewed in Syria – in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous and the Head Quarters in Damascus.

Here is an excellent alternative to the Netflix official trailer made by Steve Ezzeddine for Hands Off Syria, Sydney. Watch:


[Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

WATCH: Netflix White Helmets Documentary is Pure Propaganda (Tyranny Unmasked, Trailer Remake)

Tyranny Unmasked

Video published September 7, 2016


The Behavioral Economics of Hatred

“Within George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the purpose of the Two Minutes Hate is to “satisfy the citizens’ subdued feelings of angst and hatred from leading such a wretched, controlled existence. By re-directing these subconscious feelings away from the Oceanian government and toward external enemies (which likely do not even exist), the Party minimizes subversive thought and behavior.” Orwell did not invent the term “two minutes hate” however; it was already in use/utilized in the First World War by British writers to satirize German propaganda.

In a somewhat similar fashion, an economist’s definition of hatred is the willingness to pay a price to inflict harm on others, according to Edward Glaeser, Princeton-educated economist and professor at Harvard.

In an article published in Harvard Magazine titled “The Marketplace of Perceptions,” author Craig Lambert writes:

“The psychological literature, [Edward Glaeser] found, defines hatred as an emotional response we have to threats to our survival or reproduction. ‘It’s related to the belief that the object of hatred has been guilty of atrocities in the past and will be guilty of them in the future,’ he says. ‘Economists have nothing to tell psychologists about why individuals hate. But group-level hatred has its own logic that always involves stories about atrocities. These stories are frequently false. As [Nazi propagandist Joseph] Goebbels said, hatred requires repetition, not truth, to be effective.’”


“‘You have to investigate the supply of hatred,’ Glaeser continues. ‘Who has the incentive and the ability to induce group hatred? This pushes us toward the crux of the model: politicians or anyone else will supply hatred when hatred is a complement to their policies.’” [AVAAZ: IMPERIALIST PIMPS OF MILITARISM, PROTECTORS OF THE OLIGARCHY, TRUSTED FACILITATORS OF WAR | PART V]

Further reading: Who Are the White Helmets?

White Helmets Netflix Final

WATCH: The Real Syrian Civil Defence | The Real White Helmets

UK Column

September 8th, 2016


UK Column’s Mike Robinson interviews Vanessa Beeley to deconstruct the origins, funding and “Purpose” of the White Helmets.

“For clarification, the White Helmets are literal terrorists who masquerade as humanitarians for press releases and propaganda : these people are guilty of actual war crimes and atrocities, as is evidenced by testimony from the ground in Syria.”


‘Activism’ and Its Consequences: Syrian Refugees Are Not Subjects for a Social Media Gallery


The Italian ‘activist’ was keen on that photo, as if her social media activism career was dependent on it. As if the misery of the poor Syrian child was not palpable enough in his dejected face and his rash-infested skin, she wanted to define a point of absolute misery for a perfect Instagram photo.

So she handed him a bucket filled with rocks collected from the arid Jordanian desert, not far away from the Syria border. He carried the heavy rocks and posed for the photo.

The boy, along with his family, and many others lived in tents in the middle of nowhere. The refugee camp was deemed ‘informal’. It received no water, electricity and not even regular supplies of food, however meagre. The refugees subsisted on what drivers racing at ridiculous speed on a nearby highway would toss their way.

But malnutrition was not the only enemy. No water also meant no washing, and skin diseases is something the Syrian refugees in the informal refugee camp all had in common.

To keep the tents in their intended location, the refugees had positioned buckets filled with rocks atop the wooden poles, thus keeping the tattered tents in place, especially during the gusts of violent sandstorms.

The ‘activists’ took their fill of photos with no particular purpose, aside from exhibiting their peculiar brand of solidarity, which often finds its way to social media platforms, accompanied with seemingly fitting emoticons and generalized, empty truisms: “Please do something,” followed by the emoticon that denotes feelings of anger or, “the children need us,” followed by the emoticon conveying tears, and so on.

Expectedly, their social media friends validate the empty gestures by exalting the courage, heroism and greatness of the person who took the photo. In reality, however, the ‘activists’ have done nothing but aggrandized their false sense of valor, injured the dignity of the proud refugees, while selling them plenty of false hope as they continue to await salvation in the desert.

The baffled Syrian boy, who must have participated in that charade in the hope of getting a sandwich or even a piece of chocolate, carried the bucket of rocks so that the Italian ‘activist’ would produce a photo that was the personification of despair. And it was picture perfect, indeed, followed by a fun-filled trip to the Dead Sea and other Jordanian attractions.

When a friend of mine, who was enraged by the dehumanizing display, conveyed the scene on to me, I was equally distressed, but not entirely surprised. I am all too familiar with that kind of ‘activism’. I was assaulted by it as a child in Palestinian refugee camps, was repulsed by it as a young reporter in Iraq and Lebanon and warned against it as a writer in later years.

This scene happened only a few days ago but, actually, it is a recurring reality, where ‘activists’ – westerners, especially – seek in the Middle East (and all over the world) a respite from their consumerism-driven, often uneventful world. They view their relationships with humanitarian crises as saviors, carrying the ‘White Man’s burden’ wherever they go, yet always aware, if not proud, of their privilege and their sense of superiority.

While there, indeed, exist true humanitarians with a clear purpose and an unmistakable sense of mission and little self-promotion, there are many others who have no identifiable purpose, aside from a fleeting interest, a sense of adventure, and an opportunity to unburden themselves from the nagging guilt.

They know well that the roots of conflict in the Middle East stems from 19th and 20th century colonialism. More recently, they know that the US war on Iraq has destroyed that country and destabilized the whole region for decades to come. They are fully aware of the horrendous implications of western interventionism – including those sold as ‘humanitarian’ interventions – on Libya and Syria and other countries in recent years. The ongoing tragedy in Yemen, which is advertised in the media as a solely internal Arab conflict, is also rooted in the American so-called ‘war on terror’, which shattered the country to pieces and undermined its internal cohesion.

But, for many, this is too messy, too complicated, and ‘too political.’ It is far easier to declare oneself an ‘activist’ and snap a thousand photos which parade victims of war in total isolation from one’s own moral responsibility.

Personal and collective ‘moral responsibility’ is a risky notion, for it invites more than ambiguous feelings of ‘guilt’ that misleadingly spread responsibility for war equally among all; instead, it propels a moral stance, mobilization, political pressure and direct action.

Many have given ‘activism’ such a bad name that the word itself has now become devoid of meaning.

Some use ‘activism’ as a platform to serve pre-existing political and ideological notions, unable to truly grow out of the limited confines of ideas which are mostly governed by groupthink, but never by true experience.

For them, the self-bestowed title ‘activist’, is self-validating and is often used to shut out those who dare to have opposing views.

Others position themselves as saviors – for example, saving the children of the Middle East – but would shy away from ever articulating a bold political stance against their own governments and their own culpabilities in ongoing wars and tragedies.

Although they might not be constantly aware of it, such ‘activists’ hold on to the legacy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’:

“Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed

Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need.”

They are utterly blind to their own transgressions and perceive their victims in an apolitical vacuum, or as victims of their own wrong-doing.

Humanitarianism is not a photo op: it is not an adventure; it is not a vacation; it is not a stress or guilt reliever; it should not be an expression of cultural hegemony or driven by a sense of superiority, and must refrain from selling false hope.

A true humanitarian activist is one who is able to make a tangible difference in the lives of others – focused, sensitive to cultural sensibilities, compelled by a tug of moral responsibility, able to read political contexts and daring enough to hold accountable those responsible for war and other collective tragedies.

Chances are the Syrian child with the bucket full of rocks had his photo exhibited to the delight of many other social media ‘activists’.

Yet chances are, he is still hungry and waiting.

(Italian writer Roman Rubeo contributed to this article.)



[Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is:]

SYRIA: ‘Hand in Hand’ with Al Qaeda, the Ongoing Exposure of the NGO Complex

21st Century Wire

July 19, 2016

by Robert Stuart, BBCPanoramaSavingSyriasChildren


hand-in-hand-for syria

The charity Hand in Hand for Syria has claimed that photographs of an employee of its former “flagship medical facility” posing with weapons including an anti-aircraft gun and a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile were taken when the man was no longer working for the organisation.

Slide show: Hand in Hand for Syria hospital employee Iessa Obied posing with weapons in photographs posted to his Facebook account between November 2012 and October 2013.

A spokeswoman for Hand in Hand for Syria [1] made the claim in an article published by leading UK voluntary sector journal Third Sector in the wake of a Charity Commission finding, in response to a formal complaint, that the images “do not raise sufficient regulatory concern” to warrant action.

The worker in question, Iessa Obied, had posted the pictures on his Facebook account.

Iessa Obied is the younger brother of the hospital’s Medical DirectorAbdulrahman Obied, who was filmed alongside Hand in Hand for Syria executiveDr Rola Hallam in the 2013 BBC Panorama special Saving Syria’s Children. All but one of the images featuring Iessa Obied posing with weapons are now no longer publicly visible on his Facebook pages.

with rola

Abdulrahman Obied, who has described himself as Atareb Hospital’s Medical Director, was filmed alongside Hand in Hand for Syria executive Dr Rola Hallam in the 2013 Panorama programme ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. Abdulrahman is the older brother of Iessa Obied who posted numerous images of himself posing with an array of weapons on Facebook.

The dates on which the relevant photos of Iessa Obied were posted on Facebook – which can be ascertained from the screengrabs available at the second link below each image in the complaint – would not appear to back up Hand in Hand’s claim that he was no longer working for them at the time they were taken.

Most of the weapons images referenced in the complaint were posted between 26 November 2012 and 24 August 2013.

The images in which Obied is wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic were posted commencing just nine days later, spanning from 2 September 2013 to 23 November 2013. Therefore, if anything, it might be argued that Obied began working for the charity after the weapons images were taken rather than, as the spokeswoman implies, having worked for them before.


Note however that this image, in which Obied is astride an anti-aircraft gun and giving what is commonly understood as the ISIS salute, was posted on 18 October 2013, i.e. during the period in which he was also posting images of himself wearing Hand in Hand for Syria clothing.

Indeed, in this picture – the only one featuring Obied and weaponry currently still viewable on his Facebook page – it’s possible that the blue garment he is wearing under his jacket is in fact a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic. Certainly in this image posted only a day later (and which is now deleted or hidden) Obied is clearly sporting the Hand in Hand logo.

Uploaded on 18th October 2013, over a month after he had begun posting images of himself wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic, Iessa Obeid poses astride an anti-aircraft gun, possibly wearing a blue Hand in Hand tunic:

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In the second image, posted one day after the first on 19th October 2013, Obeid can be clearly seen wearing a Hand in Hand tunic.

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Moreover, Iessa Obied’s Facebook account states that he has worked at the hospital in question, Atareb Hospital, Aleppo, from “2011 to present”.

According to Hand in Hand for Syria co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul, Atareb was set up by the organisation “as a small community hospital early in 2013.”

It is unclear from the Third Sector article’s reference to the “now-closed Atareb Hospital” whether Atareb is no longer in operation (although it continues to maintain its Facebook page) or merely that it is no longer funded by Hand in Hand for Syria. It is, however, plain that Iessa Obied is claiming to have worked there throughout Hand in Hand for Syria’s tenure.


Iessa Obied states that he has worked at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo from “2011 to present”. Hand in Hand for Syria says they set up the hospital “early in 2013”.

Also noteworthy in regard to Iessa Obied’s status within Hand in Hand for Syria is his participation in a “battle first aid training course in Antakia, Turkey” for Atareb hospital staff on Monday 26 August 2013 [2]. A post on Atareb’s Facebook page from that day shows Abdulrahman Obied and other Atareb staff posing for a photo which may well have been taken by Iessa.

Abdulrahman Obied posted images both of himself and of his brother Iessa[3] taking in the sights of Antakia on the same day and Iessa posted an image of himself participating in the training a few days later (possibly the training took place over several days).

So the timeline of Iessa Obied’s various streams of images, including those in which he is photographed with weapons and those in which he is wearing the uniform of an alleged humanitarian organization, appears to be something like the following: from 26 November 2012 up to 24 August 2013 Obied is pictured posing with weapons, some of which are capable of downing aircraft.

Two days later, on 26 August 2013, he took part in a battle first aid training course for the staff of Hand in Hand for Syria’s “flagship medical facility“, Atareb Hospital.

Seven days after that, on 2 September 2013, he is photographed wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic. In two subsequent images he is pictured giving what is commonly understood as an ISIS gesture, firstly in a photo posted on 4 October 2013, while wearing a Hand in Hand tunic, and then again in an image posted on 18 October 2013, in which he is astride an anti-aircraft gun.

Although the most recent image submitted to the Charity Commission in which he sports the Hand in Hand logo was posted on 23 November 2013, in his current Facebook information Obied claims to have been employed by Atareb Hospital from 2011 up to the present day.



[1] Hand in Hand for Syria has recently rebranded itself as Hand in Hand for Aid and Development.

[2] The same day as the alleged incendiary bomb attack which featured in the September 2013 BBC Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children (see from 30 minutes 38 seconds). As noted here, the absence of several regular Atareb staff on the day of these dramatic alleged events potentially raises a question mark over the identities of the medics and other staff members filmed at the hospital by the BBC. The peculiar demeanour of one of the medics whilst being interviewed the following day does nothing to allay grave suspicions.

[3] These twoimages from Abdulrahman Obied’s Facebook account have recently been deleted, along with majority of his other photos.


[Follow Robert Stuart’s remarkable investigation into BBC Panorama fake footage of alleged Syrian chemical attacks at his blog bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.]

WATCH: The White Helmets – Al Qaeda With a Facelift

Hands off Syria

“‘The White Helmets’, fake ‘Syrian humanitarian group, exposed as an al Qaeda support group headed by a British military man and funded by the US Government. Short documentary by Steve Ezzedine, drawing on research by Vanessa Beeley.”[Video published April 29, 2016]

Press Conference: Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) and US Peace Council Representatives on Syria


9 Aug 2016 – Press briefing sponsored by the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic


H.E. Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic
Alfred Marder, President of the US Peace Council
Mary Compton, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council
Henry Lowendorf, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Head of the Syria Delegation
Joe Jamison, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Member of the Syria Delegation
Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action, Member of the Syria Delegation
Donna Nassor, Professor and Lawyer also part of US Peace Council

Syrian TV interviews U.S. Peace Council Delegation members, Henry Lowendorf and Vanessa Beeley, about their impressions of their trip to Syria on July 23 – 30, 2016.

Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem


August 5, 2016


“Liberalism itself has failed, and for a pretty good reason. It has been too often compromised by the people who represented it.”

? Hunter S. Thompson

Every election season, veterans and their families are used as political pawns. During the Democratic National Convention in Philly, the Khans, the mother and father of a Marine Captain who was killed in Iraq, conveniently filled the role for Hillary Clinton and the Neoliberals. At the Republican National Convention, Patricia Smith gladly took the stage for the Neofascists and talked about the death of her son and the non-scandal that is, Benghazi.

In the meantime, anyone who opposes U.S. Empire is shit-out-of-luck when it comes to presidential elections and the two major parties. Here, we should commend Gary Johnson and Jill Stein for remaining principled in their views surrounding foreign policy, militarism, torture and surveillance. They’re the last of a dying breed.


My transition from obedient Marine to antiwar veteran was swift. In 2004, while deployed to Iraq, I enthusiastically cast an absentee ballot for John Kerry. Four years later, I was protesting Obama and the Democrats at the DNC in Denver. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Democratic Party was a party of Empire and Capitalism.

Unfortunately, 2008 was the last time a significant number of antiwar activists protested Obama’s foreign policy. Yes, a small number of Americans made a fuss when Obama first threatened to bomb Syria, but those protests were driven by partisan and sectarian interests (the first and only time I saw Republicans and Communists working together). Furthermore, those protests weren’t sustained in any meaningful fashion, so the energy quickly dissipated. As everyone now knows, Obama eventually launched military strikes in Syria and the U.S. continues to bomb the country today.

The millions of liberals who enthusiastically marched against the Bush/Cheney regime have remained utterly silent during Obama’s reign in the White House. And they should be ashamed.


Why are liberals and progressives so unprincipled when it comes to U.S. Empire? In my thinking, a large part of the problem is ideological: the majority of liberals and progressives, including many who supported Bernie Sanders, fully identify as Americans. They’ve bought into the notion that the U.S. is a special nation that enjoys a special place in our geopolitical reality. Liberals perpetuate the myth of American Exceptionalism and fully endorse the concept of American Nationalism. As a result, these ideologies are employed in their rhetoric and reflected in their bankrupt policies.

In the future, any antiwar movement that hopes to be successful, must undoubtedly challenge these myths and ideologies and remind Americans of our brutal history. When I think of American Exceptionalism, I don’t think about the moon landing or the U.S. Constitution, I think of exceptional madness: the genocide of North America’s indigenous population, slavery and 200 years of Empire.

When I see an American flag, my blood boils. Technically, I’m an American. But I don’t self-identify as an American. I’d rather identify as a global citizen or simply a human being. Maybe some of this sounds petty, as the flag is simply the symbolic representation of U.S. Empire, but to me, and many millions around the globe, it represents murder, plunder and extreme hubris. Again, nothing to be proud of, and surely nothing to defend.


Another fundamental problem in the antiwar movement was individual careerist interests. Let’s be honest, many people failed to protest Obama’s militarism because it wasn’t economically prudent to do so. In short, it was bad for peoples’ potential careers in the world of non-profits. Many of the veterans and antiwar activists I met during the Bush-era now work for any number of liberal NGOs. The revolving door of professional activists and paid consultants dampened any potential radicalism that could have sprouted from any number of organizations we worked with. We were told, “Don’t offend the donors!”

Eventually, I sat on the board of directors of an internationally known antiwar organization. I remember having a conversation with my fellow board members about fundraising. At the time, we were having financial difficulties and donations were sparse. Consequently, the board decided that we should conduct a fluff, top-down campaign to attract funding. Instead, I proposed that we should call our donors and explain that the antiwar movement has disappeared and that we’re having difficulties keeping members active and engaged. You know, the truth. I was told that’s not how NGOs work and that I was immature and uneducated about the topic. You know, just another working-class buffoon.

Today, that organization is a shell of its former self. Hell, I’m not sure if the organization even exists outside of a few art projects and street theater performances. Conventions are held, but they’re no more substantive than a high school reunion. It’s sad and unfortunate.

I don’t recall these memories or provide these reflections with any pleasure. To be honest, it breaks my heart that this is the state of the antiwar movement. Peoples’ lives around the world depend on those of us in the U.S. to create movements capable of stopping Uncle Sam’s imperial madness. So far, we’re losing. And in many ways, we have no one to blame but ourselves.


I live in a Rust Belt town in Northwest Indiana, hence most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are not radical activists or political organizers. These folks might attend a local political or cultural event, or even vote in the primaries, but they’re not full-time activists. They don’t spend their days reading Tariq Ali and Arundhati Roy (though they should). These are people who wake up (early), go to work (usually for shit pay), come home (if they have one), eat some dinner (usually fast food or frozen meals) and watch Netflix or ESPN. Their realities and interests are dramatically different than the people I met in the antiwar movement, particularly those working for NGOs.

Several years ago, at a strategic workshop in Chicago, we spent the first two hours of each day talking about pronouns. That’s right, pronouns. Now, is there anything inherently wrong with discussing gender identities? Of course not. But we were attending a strategic workshop for an antiwar organization, not a lecture on gender and civility.

It became clear to me that Identity Politics had infected the organization. But where did this ideology come from? San Francisco, of course.

Many of our members attended anti-oppression workshops, where they talked about privilege and collective liberation. Of course, 95% of the people conducting and attending these workshops were white, upper-class, highly educated and firmly isolated from reality. Yet, here they were,back in Chicago, telling me about privilege and questioning whether or not I was truly a good person because I didn’t understand what cis-gender meant.

If anyone reading this essay ever wondered why more working-class and poor people don’t join antiwar organizations or attend leftist political events, well, now you know. Because the Left is a fucking weird place.

Instead of educating people about the connections between militarism and austerity, Empire and Capitalism, workshop facilitators had people talking about pronouns and doing breathing exercises. I guess that sort of shit might fly in Portland or San Francisco, but not in the Rust Belt.


Speaking of the privileged and highly educated, isn’t it interesting that the people who argue for interventionist policies are often people who have the proper educational and cultural pedigree? Here, I’m thinking of the Rachel Maddows and Charlie Roses of the world.

The Humanitarian Interventionist isn’t a steelworker or a bartender at the local pub. Why? Because that bartender or steelworker’s son or daughter could very well end up fighting those interventionist wars abroad. They have some skin in the game, unlike the many professional-class liberals and societal managers who make absurd arguments about the merits of American Exceptionalism and hegemony.

One of the more interesting dynamics of the 2016 race has been Trump’s double-speak on foreign policy. On the one hand, Trump makes absolutely insane statements about nuclear weapons and so forth. On the other hand, Trump occasionally sounds like an isolationist and/or anti-interventionist.

Now, do I believe a word Trump utters? No. But what’s interesting is the fact that large portions of the GOP base, primarily white, working-class and poor people, are no longer buying what Uncle Sam is selling. Their sons and daughters have been ravaged from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more veterans committing suicide than died overseas. The people who live in Small Town America are the Americans who’ve sacrificed the most since 9/11. And for all the wrong reasons: namely, nationalism, revenge, greed and power.

To me, this antiwar sentiment, however jumbled, unprincipled and unsophisticated it may be, is something to tap into. Without question, large swaths of the American public, especially Sanders and Trump’s supporters, are fatigued from almost fifteen years of non-stop war.

The next step is to use this sentiment to organize and mobilize a new antiwar movement. The only way this will happen is if the Left drops its pretentious bullshit and learns how to talk to regular Americans without getting offended. And that includes some of Trump’s supporters.


While the most Americans were focused on the Khan family and Donald Trump’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Obama launched his latest attack in Libya. The White House claims the U.S. will regularly drop bombs for the next month. Unsurprisingly, there was no debate, no congressional approval. The U.S. is bombing Libya and there’s nothing anyone can say or do about it. That’s the sad reality we endure.

Meanwhile, groups such as Vets vs. Hate, and opportunistic liberals, protest Trump’s bigotry but remain utterly silent when it comes to Obama and Clinton’s many war crimes and atrocities. Liberal groups have little to say about the links between U.S. Empire and Climate Change. Refugees aren’t even mentioned. Afghanistan is an afterthought. Libya and Syria might as well not exist. And not a word about civilian casualties.

Moreover, Vets vs. Hate reinforces the false notion that veterans are heroes. Yes, plenty of veterans sacrificed, but not for “democracy” or “freedom.” We killed and died for oil companies, geopolitical interests and banks. And the Democrats share as much responsibility as the Republicans.

The U.S. is the richest and most powerful Empire in history. And for the last 50 years we’ve been killing peasants around the globe. That’s honorable?

In the end, people who want to dismantle the U.S. Empire – Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists – had better get our shit together, drop the sectarian nonsense, find our courage and form organizations that aren’t beholden to wealthy donors or the NGO complex because we’re running out of time. And neither the planet, nor humanity can endure another decade of liberal antiwar activism.

[Vincent Emanuele writes for teleSUR English and lives in Michigan City, Indiana. He can be reached at ]

Stranger Than Fiction: How to Keep an Antiwar Movement Down

by Emma Quangel

May 9, 2016

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Imagine, if you will, the year 2016. It is a year of war. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Turkey – just a handful in a long list – are under attack. Covert operations angling at “regime change” take place in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The African continent is engulfed in conflict, the threat of “regime change” knocking against even South Africa’s door. The BRICs are threatened, destabilizing. Thousands drown every year in the Mediterranean while millions more flood Europe, desperate for refuge from the violence and poverty that plagues their homelands. The right is on the rise across Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. The global economy is sagging under the weight of its own contradictions.

The United States government, that acts as the hired guns of a global class of jet-setting billionaires, imprisons 2.3 million of its own people. 3.2 per cent of its citizens are under correctional control. The descendants of those once kidnapped and enslaved are particularly tormented – one in three black males in the USA will spend some time in prison. 12,000 children in Flint, Michigan are poisoned by lead in the water. 60,000 people in New York City are homeless. Nearly 1,000 people were killed by the police in the United States last year. Thousands more are tortured – even boiled alive – in US prisons. In the state of Louisiana, black men in chains pick cotton for slave wages while overseers toting shotguns monitor them from horseback. The electoral system is rigged, disenfranchises millions, and offers the same solution, year after year: submit or be crushed.

Imagine, if you will, the year 2016 without a revolutionary movement against such conditions.

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The Black Panther Party was possibly the highwater mark for American revolution in the 20th century because it existed in concert with, and gave guidance to, a broad-based antiwar movement. While the labor struggles of the working class at the turn of the century were integral in improving the lives of millions of Americans and providing a platform for revolutionary socialism, it wasn’t until the radical labor movement started to speak out against the First World War that they were persecuted in full by the government, lynched, deported and imprisoned. Likewise, the Black Panthers were most heavily targeted when they developed a line that connected the suffering of the American people to the suffering inflicted on others by the United States abroad. In both instances, the culprit was imperialism, capitalism made flesh in the form of guns and planes that could stamp out challenges to its hegemony.

That the Black Panther Party even existed should one of the greatest points of pride among radicals in the United States. Indeed, Black Panthers are still on the run from the FBI or languishing in prisons, sometimes for decades under solitary confinement. They were able to serve the people while educating them about the world we lived in. To the Black Panthers, to anyone who would call themselves a dialectical materialist, the idea that the United States Government is an institution that can be reformed is simply absurd. The United States Government, to Marxists, does not exist as a faulty waiter failing to bring free health care and universal housing with the check, but rather, to mediate class conflict in favor of the bourgeoisie – not just in the United States, but worldwide. The Black Panthers saw this, and declared themselves in solidarity with the victims of imperialism. They toured the world, meeting with revolutionaries from North Korea to Vietnam. And this, along with organizing among poor black communities in the United States, is what brought down the wrath of the state on their heads.

It is possible to say that a revolutionary movement in the United States can only exist when there is praxis that recognizes the relationship between oppression in the US and imperialism. I would further venture to say that there can be no praxis without the two elements being present concurrently, and that no honest effort at building a revolutionary movement in the US can be made without recognizing that there must be an antiwar movement to join, and that this antiwar movement must be anti-imperialist.

After all, the wars of today differ greatly from the wars of the early 20th century, the wars that threw Emma Goldman and Big Bill Haywood in jail. We no longer have the draft – the popular rage over Vietnam saw an end to that – and the US spends more time launching air strikes from unmanned drones than digging trenches or preparing for bayonet combat. Likewise, imperialism doesn’t always take place at the end of a gun. The IMF and World Bank, created at the end of World War II, helped to exert influence over economies and governments where a heavier, more direct hand was once required. The creation of NATO and the Cold War made imperialism seem a war of ideologies, rather than the ham-fisted grab at resources that it was. Now, it seems that while American bombs and bullets murder so many worldwide, we are encouraged to side with imperialism as socialists. We are expected to take on the reasoning of George W. Bush and Samantha Power so long as it is dressed up and marketed in a way that pleases us, even if we consider ourselves “Left” leaning politically. Like soda and smartphones, we are exhorted to find identity in our positions, to represent ourselves by our consumer choices.

An alarming trend is on the rise in the United States and in the English-speaking world more generally: the ubiquitous Op-Ed. What was once relegated to just one page of the newspaper (the term Op-Ed meaning something that ran on the page opposite to Editorial) now makes up large sections of online news media. I imagine it is cheaper to pay a freelancer $250 (optimistic!) for their opinion than finance a foreign bureau. Whole TV networks run on an audio-visual version of the Op-Ed. It is a form of news that directly tells its reader how to think about the current events. Many gain their information on a topic simply from reading Op-eds. Today’s columnist and pundit is a TV show, someone that we can tune into on a regular basis for entertainment and flattery. If one show is boring, if you don’t like what they’re saying – simply switch the channel. It doesn’t matter, as all are trying to sell you a ruling class agenda. And, above all else, in our 24 hour news cycle, we are never allowed to present news in a boring way. The VICE lifestyle brand turned global news channel, with its correspondents pulled from content marketing’s central casting, is a prime example of the desire to “sex-up” news by letting opinions lead coverage. It is a way to engage the youth, as it boasts openly, to not only consume brands, but also official narratives, with enthusiasm.

A narrative example from the Op-ed world of news could be as follows: In Syria, democratic protesters are fighting against a brutal regime that slaughters them with impunity. These democratic protesters, now called rebels, are always at risk of being annihilated by state violence and torture because the Western Left has “failed” them.We must all support these rebels and pressure our government to do the right thing,whatever that might be.

Some articles might be run in conjunction, many that might contradict this narrative. We might learn from respected journalists with years of experience and lauded professional histories that things aren’t so simple. We might learn from State Department press transcripts that these brave rebels take quite a lot of money from the US Government. But it doesn’t matter if half of the paper contradicts the other half. When we are told how to read the news, through the eyes of these pundits, we are happily oblivious of whatever facts might contradict our chosen authority. After all, Thomas Friedman is far more influential and famous than some no-name stringer for The Times. Anyone who might disagree with the official narrative, even if they are respected journalists, scholars or activists, are now called conspiracy theorists, “hacks” or worse.

But while journalists are still nominally held to professional standards, the pundit owes no such thing to her audience. After all, this is just her opinion, and she is not expected to have thoroughly researched differing narratives – nor is she obligated to present opposing views, or to present anything evenly – when publishing her Op-ed. This is not unexpected, nor is it dishonest to the job description of a “pundit”. It’s up to the publication to decide how much of its material is news, and how much of it is entertainment packaged as Op-eds.

Yet, there is danger when a pundit or entertainer decides to call herself a journalist without having been subjected to the same standards we would expect from the NYT stringer. Facts are not checked and sources are not vetted. So-called journalists, such as Michael Weiss or Molly Crabapple, rely heavily on anonymous sources who slip them scintillating information or photographs. And yet, I am unsure who these sources are, who has vetted them, and how they did so. Indeed, as this new generation straddles the line between journalist and pundit, the means by which they communicate are themselves in question. My own WhatsApp number is from Iraq, though I have not lived there since October 2015. So, I think it’s natural to ask how these sources are processed, especially if the Op-ed writers posing as journalists are writing whole books based on their testimony, appearing on talk shows as experts, and building careers off promoting wars. While the content may be biased and one-sided, laden with marketing copy and convenient omissions, we should be incredibly wary on how we define, protect, but also how we verify the “source”. Indeed, I wouldask how these pundits find, vet and receive information, but as many already tried to have me fired from my last job for asking such questions, it’s pointless to attempt from my position – though I welcome corrections and inputs from editorial.

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As it stands, The Guardian admitted last week that it had been fed stories on Syria by the UK Home Office operating from behind a PR firm that was operating a Syrian advocacy campaign. Breakthrough Media joins its American agency Purpose (via The Syria Campaign) in pushing advocacy for pro-intervention narratives on the Syria conflict. What is left out of the discussion of whether or not public funds are being used to propagandize war to the tax-paying public is the disclosure of who the freelance “journalists” are that are being paid or otherwise lobbied to write on Syria. We would expect that journalists taking money or in kind contributions from campaign staff disclose such information when writing on the election – why not the same expectation from those who write on foreign policy matters? Perhaps it is because, in the long run, such issues are far weightier than whatever new jab a candidate throws on social media or a cable news talk show. One of the more chilling revelations from The Guardian, one seemingly lifted straight from my book, is that some of the journalists reported they were unaware that they were being utilized in this way.

If we knew that Fred Hampton or Emma Goldman were taking money from public relations firms (who may or may not have been receiving marching orders from governments) when speaking or writing on the wars they opposed, wouldn’t that change the way we see their positions? And certainly, if we were to discover that some of our favorite, cherished personalities who regularly tell us how to read the news were taking money from PR firms, to confuse, mislead, attack or threaten activists who might otherwise try and build a case against the US government’s wars abroad and at home, wouldn’t that be a scandal?

There may be no antiwar movement today because we live in a media environment that seeks to destroy it in its nascence. Andrew Bacevich, in his recent instructive essay for Harper’s called “American Imperium”, makes the case that:

The trivializing din of what passes for news drowns out the antiwar critique. One consequence of remaining perpetually at war is that the political landscape in America does not include a peace party.

Indeed, before there can be a peace party, there must be an antiwar critique. And the “trivializing din” that Bacevich speaks of is not simply drowning out antiwar critique, it is merciless in seeking to destroy and discredit ideas such as the fact that the United States enjoys unprecedented military, economic, ideological and strategic domination over the entire world. Such ideas, when voiced publicly, are met with derision and laughter. As if, with dozens of bases and tens of thousands of soldiers surrounding Russia, one could seriously argue that Russia is imperialist, or an equal threat to world peace as the US. There are no Russian bases and no Russian soldiers garrisoned on our borders. We cannot even know, as the numbers are not publicly available, how many US soldiers and bases are currently in the Middle East – indeed, how many are currently in Iraq and Syria, where much conflict is currently taking place. Whereas before, reliable journalists and their supportive editors might have been successful in discovering such figures, they are now too focused on revenue and survival. This opens wide the door for propagandists who wish to deride and discredit any remaining “Left” antiwar sentiment in the US. Until this is resolved, building an anti-imperialist antiwar movement will remain an uphill battle, even among smaller groups, as subjectivity and sophistry continues to be taught and promoted over objectivity, materialism, serious study and clear thinking.


[“Emma Quangel is the woman who bravely contributed to the outing of Nazi murderer/”Last Rhodesian” Dylann Storm Roof’s blog, which probably spoiled Roof’s chances at the inexorably successful—for white supremacists—insanity defense.  After Quangel, an insanity verdict for Roof would be an insanity verdict for the U.S. white supremacist system: which is to say, in lieu of Aristotelian-bourgeois justice, Artaudian ritual magic, a self-reparative exorcism.”]