Defining Imperialism Down: Yes, the US Has Waged War on Syria

Forget what you know: the US hasn’t waged war on Syria. That’s hardened into conventional wisdom, and leftist anti-anti-imperialists have dutifully joined the chorus, never mind that the claim disintegrates in the face of a one-second Google search. Anti-anti-imperialists profess to oppose American imperialism; why would they go to absurd lengths to argue that the US hasn’t sought to impose its will on Syria? (Because they don’t, in fact, oppose American imperialism, you say. To which I say, well, yeah, but you’d think they’d be better at pretending.) Actually, I know why: because they want to depict Assad as an ally of Empire, unlike those “independent” and “indigenous” groups like the FSA and the Syrian National Coalition, which are allying with Team USA but only, you see, out of necessity.

No need to take much time debunking the claim. A few facts suffice: the destabilization of Syria has been a longstanding US goal. The CIA’s spent real money training anti-government forces. US client states have sent untold amounts of money, arms, and fighters themselves into Syria with the approval of the United States. (Washington, for example, signed off on the Turkish-GCC plan to boost the Army of Conquest, which includes Al Qaeda.)

Anti-anti-imperialists tend simply to ignore the war-making of US allies, as if they operate in total isolation from the United States. As for the CIA effort, Louis Proyect—the unrepentant pro-Saudi Marxist—tells us that a billion dollars a year is peanuts because American proxies have complained about their weapons. Imperialists in Washington would find this comforting: they can train 10,000 anti-government fighters and still not be accused of aggression. What would Louis say if they tried this in Venezuela? (Actually, he’d likely approve because Maduro is supporting the Syrian government.)

This claim of anti-anti-imperialists is, among other things, a crude form of American exceptionalism. For both Dick Cheney and Louis Proyect, anything less than Shock and Awe ain’t war if you’re America. Imagine that there were a country much more powerful than the United States and it spent a billion dollars a year training 10,000 reactionary anti-government fighters. Now imagine that this country’s client states contributed billions of dollars and thousands of Nazis to the cause. Now imagine a leftist citing proxies’ complaints about weapons to argue that this isn’t aggression.

To try to support their claim, anti-anti-imperialists point out that the US is bombing ISIS, not the government, as if “Syria” consisted only of the government. The US war on IS is, of course, part of its war on the Syrian state. Remember, the US is teaming up with Turkey to break off a piece of Syria to be controlled by their proxies. According to the loony worldview of anti-imperialists, that’s not a war on Syria because the ostensible target is ISIS.

There are different ways to skin a noncompliant state. The singular goal in Washington is to remove impediments to American power, and the shrinking and impoverishing of a state accomplishes this quite nicely even if the Bad Man remains in office. “Regime change” is a means to an end, not the end itself.

I’m not among those who believe that the US government remains committed to the immediate removal of the Syrian government. Best evidence for this: the US government hasn’t removed the Syrian government. A powerful ISIS serves the interests of the United States but only up to a point. All along there’ve been members of the American security and political establishment who’ve questioned the wisdom of removing Assad. They seemed to have gained the upper hand around the time that ISIS attacked the Baiji oil refinery in Kurdistan, Iraq’s largest. At that point, containing (no, not defeating) ISIS became a priority.

But as I said above: the war on ISIS is a war on Syria and those bombs killing Syrians and destroying the country’s infrastructure are just one of the ways—along with sanctions and the empowerment of reactionary proxies—that the US is doing damage to Syria and removing it as a geopolitical obstacle. Even if the US isn’t moving to replace the Assad government at this time, “regime change” is still a US goal, as it was in Iraq in the nineties when the US was killing hundreds of thousands of people “not waging war.”

Posted in Blog
21 comments on “Defining Imperialism Down: Yes, the US Has Waged War on Syria
  1. Louis Proyect says:

    Mizner, if you (and Patrick Higgins) hadn’t been part of Max Ajl’s old boy’s Baathist network, nobody would know that you exist. Your Alexa rank is 20,019,733. I am surprised it is that high.

    Plus your novel is 8,510,796 on Amazon.

    Maybe you should look for another way of influencing people because writing doesn’t seem to be doing it. How about landing a job with or Press TV? You’d fit right in.

    • AJW says:

      Louis Proyect, you are a shameless and enthusiastic propagandist for the murderous wars that “your own” capitalist-imperialist regime — from which I suspect you are receiving monthly or weekly retainers — is waging in diverse locations.

      You are a reprehensible human being and will be arrested and charged with war crimes when the working class takes power in the US.

      Fuck off and die, you would-be, modern day Joseph Goebbels !

  2. Louis Proyect says:

    What a fucking dick you are citing Max Abrahms as a “terrorism expert”, a neocon who writes NYT op-eds urging support for Assad. You, HIggins, Ajl, Winstanley, and Adam Johnson are ten times worse than Christopher Hitchens but probably aren’t even aware of that. In the name of “anti-imperialism”, you cuddle up with scum like Abrahms.

    • Karen says:

      Please. Your sources of note are Idrees, a NFZ cheering reactionary who pushes the Israel lobby lures US to war, school of apologia & a Syrian American who thinks required revolutionary reading are excerpts from the Readers Digest.

      Great post, David, thanks.

  3. Louis Proyect says:

    reactionary who pushes the Israel lobby lures US to war

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Israel and Russia are now allied against the jihadist menace. Will Max Ajl lead a delegation to Israel to meet with fellow enemies of Islamofascism?

    • joe shikspack says:

      i wouldn’t expect this grand military alliance to last long, seeing as israel is continuing to attack russia’s ally, the syrian army for events that it is unlikely to have caused.

      do you suppose our great ally israel is still providing material support for al-qaeda? no doubt russia will greatly appreciate its new military partner doing that, too.

    • joe shikspack says:

      oooops! that coffee went bad pretty quickly!

      Israel not coordinating with Russia in Syria, defense minister says

      Israel is not coordinating its operations in Syria with Russia, Israel’s defense minister said Tuesday, despite officials indicating cooperation between Jerusalem and the Kremlin as Moscow ramps up its involvement in the war-torn country.

      Moshe Ya’alon made the comments a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly expressed unhappiness with an Israeli strike on Syrian army positions following the landing of an errant shell in the Israeli Golan Heights.

      somebody needs to whip up a fresh batch of propaganda, er, coffee.

      • Louis Proyect says:

        Funny that a member of the Baathist amen corner would have us believe an article that states: “Ya’alon said Netanyahu told Putin that Israel had no interest in trying to depose the Bashar Assad regime, an ally of Russia.” I guess he must believe this as well. I wish him well in persuading Patrick Higgins, David Mizner, Adam Johnson and Alex Jones that this is true.

        • DaMizner says:

          In case you missed it, here’s Saudi Proyect celebrating the delivery of US arms to Al Qaeda.

          • Louis Proyect says:

            Oooh. Al-Qaeda. So scary. Beards. “Alluah Akbar”. Sharia Law. Glad we have David Mizner carrying on for Christopher Hitchens. Will Jacobin be running an article any time soon cheering on the Russian civilizing mission in Syria? Funny how the same arguments Hitchens used to back American bombing of “jihadists” in Iraq 12 years ago are now being dusted off by Jacobin liberals.

  4. Georges says:

    More intelligent comments from the “unrepentant 12-year old”:

    Your Alexa rank is 20,019,733 !

    Plus your novel is 8,510,796 on Amazon !

    I’m glad to see Louis is just like Jeremy Corbyn: no personal attacks.

    Ignore Louis,it seems his followers are limited to the other two Saudi loving stooges: Michael Karadjis and Clay Claibourne. No one even close to serious.

  5. john steppling says:

    Great post, david.
    (did someone actually site Amazon sales numbers???????????) shudder.

    • DaMizner says:


      You mean Amazon numbers aren’t the gauge of one’s worth?

      • Louis Proyect says:

        Frankly, all of you idiots are plagiarizing each other. I would be embarrassed to be writing an article that was impossible to determine who the author was. You, Adam Johnson, Patrick HIggins, Phil Hearse, Alex Jones, Mike Whitney, Red Kahuna, Assad Winstanley, and Jacob Levich are all writing the same idiotic article with the same citations (Judicial Watch ad nauseam). Plagiarism gone wild.

  6. Louis Proyect says:

    Also, so funny to see a Jacobin writer dismissing the importance of Alexa when the magazine is such a hustle. Just yesterday Bhaskar was beside himself because it had garnered 100,000 likes on FB. All of you remind me of Norman Podhoretz’s memoir “Making It”.

  7. Brad Smith says:

    Great article despite the childish comments above.

    Of course it’s American Exceptionalism. Take any of these actions and reverse it so it was someone else doing it to the US and congress would declare it an act of war. Clearly the congress should declare war right now against every nation that we are waging war against. After all, that is what a “declaration of war” is. It’s just a statement acknowledging that a state of war exists. Considering that the Executive branch no longer needs congress to wage war, congress might as well be honest and admit that we are in fact at war. But of course that isn’t part of their agenda either. Apparently a state of war only exists when we are being attacked not when we are attacking others. Hell maybe this is true, if a nation is unable to fight back is it really a war or is it just mass murder? I guess they would have to declare a state of mass murder to be completely honest.

  8. jjc says:

    Proyect’s immediate labelling of anyone he disagrees with as “pinheads” and “idiots” demonstrates both insecurity and a closed mind. Reading through his “Baathist Truthers” piece reveals a rhetorical strategy of insult and false association. He tries to deny clear policy, as expressed in primary documents, by pointing to instances where the policy wasn’t working and arguing that therefore there is no such policy. That’s weak.

    In the case of the 2012 DIA memo, Proyect lashes out at those who point to the reference of “Western” support of radical jihadists, by claiming that the document’s conclusion instead is “a dire warning about the jihadist threat to Iraq and Western interests?” But he is doing the misreading, as the document’s warnings are of “dire consequences” solely to Iraq. The “dire consequences” to Syria are the policy.

    Instead of lashing out and insulting everyone, perhaps Proyect could use his blog to explain how Syria comes out of a jihadist insurgency and regime change to overnight turn into a democratic workers paradise, as he seems to believe the endgame will achieve. Or why what was done to Iraq and Libya, the creation of failed states and massive humanitarian crisis, is not the case in Syria. Or even just a reasoned appraisal why Assad is worse than al Qaeda, ISIS, and US imperialism.

  9. Louis Proyect says:

    In the case of the 2012 DIA memo, Proyect lashes out at those who point to the reference of “Western” support of radical jihadists, by claiming that the document’s conclusion instead is “a dire warning about the jihadist threat to Iraq and Western interests?” But he is doing the misreading, as the document’s warnings are of “dire consequences” solely to Iraq. The “dire consequences” to Syria are the policy.

    I have no idea why you people are so obsessed with the “jihadist” threat to Syria. Haven’t you heard the news? Israel and Russia will be coordinating attacks on the dreaded “takfiri” now:

    With Obama giving his blessing to the Russian air strikes, which evidently are aimed now at non-ISIS forces, there is every likelihood that before very long the secular, progressive government that got 88.7 percent in the last election will finally be able to rule in peace. It will constitute another pillar in the anti-extremist bloc in the Middle East with Egypt and Israel.

    You people should go out and celebrate now. i recommend Korbel sparkling wine, an inexpensive alternative from California.

    • lidia says:

      LP tries hard to pretend that the Wahhabi bands in Syria are not on USA and its local helpers(including Zionist colonizers) payroll.
      After all, what LP could say against the same people whom NATO helped to “liberate” Libya and who had a long a dirty ties with CIA (from the end of 1970th at least). Sure, with such pedigree it is a scandal that Russia is bombing those longtime fellows of USA rulers.

  10. lidia says:

    LP the keen supporter of NATO bombing is sure full of “arguments”, that is, attacking the messenger
    I am not surprised at all, because David sure has pointed to the facts that LP is trying very hard to whitewash. So hard that the mighty and famous LP even came here to attack the author.
    In Russian their is saying – the cat knows whose meat it has eaten. LP knows no less well that his role as lest boot of NATO is very dirty, so LP even finds time to come to this low-rating blog LOL

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