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Man behind the Curtain for al-Qaeda in Syria is Assad

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why is Russia Today attacking Rep. Maxine Waters?

In Sunday's post I noted that if the sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun and the US attack on the Shayrat airbase was given the cui bono, or "who benefits" test, clearly Donald Trump won out big time. Before the sarin deaths and his cruise missile response, he was way down in the polls. Most importantly, things had been coming to a head in the investigation into his ties to Vladimir Putin. Trump's Nunes gambit had fallen apart, and although we didn't know it at the time, Paul Manafort was preparing to register as a foreign agent, we were about to find out that a FISA warrant had been issued on Carter Page, European intelligence agencies were about to weigh in, and much, much more. He badly needed to be rescued. Just about any mass casualty event that allowed him to look presidential would do, and Bashar al-Assad, at Putin's prodding, was only too happy to help him out.

There is some evidence that the Trump and Putin were cooperating on the airbase strike. Rawstory said:
Two U.S. military officials told Matthew Cole at The Intercept Thursday that this plan would “overwhelm Russian air defense systems used by the Syrian military.” 
Although Russia has some of its most advanced air defense systems in Syria, the need to overwhelm them proved unnecessary because they stood down and never even tried to shoot down Trump's Tomahawks. Rawstory also stated:
ABC News reported early Friday that the Syrian military seemed to know that something might happen. Eyewitnesses claim the military then evacuated personnel and moved equipment before the strike took place.
I said this scenario was highly conspiratorial and therefore pretty unlikely because it sees Assad doing the sarin attack so that Trump could bomb the quickly emptied airbase and have a big show of falling out with Russia, proving to everyone that there couldn't possibly be any collusion between Trump and Putin.


While it is clear that 86 civilians were murdered and hundreds injuried, this far-fetched idea that the whole Syrian sarin thing just might be a show hatched up to divert our attention away from Trump's Moscow ties has been gaining some currency. Lawrence O'Donnell has been saying that the Trump-Putin theory can't be ruled out on his MSNBC show. The Washington Post reported on it in "MSNBC host’s conspiracy theory: What if Putin planned the Syrian chemical attack to help Trump?", 8 April 2017. It says:
“Wouldn't it be nice,” O'Donnell asked a nodding, smiling Rachel Maddow, “if it was just completely, totally, absolutely impossible to suspect that Vladimir Putin orchestrated what happened in Syria this week — so that his friend in the White House could have a big night with missiles and all the praises he's picked up over the past 24 hours?”

The theory was impossible to rule out, O'Donnell said, because of the Trump campaign's ties to the Russian government.
According to the Washington Post, O'Donnell picked up this conspiracy theory from Bill Palmer. On 8 April early AM he published "Syria gas attack and Donald Trump’s military response don’t add up – unless Putin orchestrated it." In it he opined:
But Vladimir Putin knows full well that a gas attack like this was likely to prompt at least some kind U.S. military response against Assad. So Putin wouldn’t have been behind this unless he wanted the U.S. to take military action in Syria. And the only logical reason for Putin to want that is if he was trying to set up a win for Donald Trump, which could boost his historically low approval rating. It would also allow Trump to paint himself as being willing to go against Russian interests, as an argument against the most serious charges in the worsening Trump-Russia scandal.
Maxine Waters
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a African American Democrat from Los Angeles with a long history of activist, has made the impeachment of Donald Trump her new mission in life. She spoke at the Tax Rally in Washington, DC on Saturday, April 15th. Heather Digby Parton reported on that in Salon, 17 April 2017:
The anti-Trump resistance is very much a grassroots effort, but there are leaders emerging. One of the most vocal is Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat who represents Los Angeles. Appearing at the Washington Tax Day march last Saturday, Waters put it bluntly: “I don’t respect this president,” she said. “I don’t trust this president. He’s not working in the best interests of the American people. I will fight every day until he is impeached!” Then she led the crowd in a chant of “Impeach 45!” It doesn’t get any more resistant than that.
She is also starting to raise these questions about the Syria strike. Reporting for the Huffington Post, Lauren Windsor wrote:
At the rally before the march, Waters vowed to fight every day until Trump is impeached and questioned the motives behind the U.S. attack on Syria. She believes Syria to be “phony tension between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, all being hyped up by the White House, still trying to distract us.”

After her speech, I asked the congresswoman whether she believes Putin and Assad were colluding to help take the heat off of Trump from the investigations into his ties with Russia. She believes that Putin and Trump are “tied at the hip,” the tension is a charade, and that the end-game is getting the oil sanctions lifted for drilling in the Arctic.



She must have hit a nerve because RT.com, formerly known as Russia Today, came down on her like a ton of Brexits. It published this vicious attack on her, 17 April 2017:
‘People like Maxine Waters put Democratic Party at risk by proposing loony conspiracies’

17 Apr, 2017 16:44
The Democratic Party should not give any more publicity to Congresswoman Maxine Waters because she is discrediting the Party among thinking Americans and people around the world, says Charles Ortel, geo-politics writer.

US Representative Maxine Waters has accused President Trump on of being “in bed” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At a rally on Saturday in Washington, DC, Waters said she considered Syria to be “phony tension between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, all being hyped up by the White House, still trying to distract us.”

The Democrat from Los Angeles added: “They [The Russians] see Trump as helping them to lift the sanctions so they can drill in the Arctic for the oil that Tillerson negotiated on behalf of Exxon with Putin.”
I've seen RT be insulting before, but this piece is just downright mean spirited:
Charles Ortel, the private investor, and writer said that Maxine Waters is a lady “who has had many firsts to her credit.”

“For that, some people do respect her. But when she opens her mouth and says things that are this stupid – she deserves to be fully exposed and fully criticized,” Ortel told RT.

In his opinion, some of the comments by the Democratic congresswoman are just “bizarre ravings.”

“This is the kind of raving that comes out of people on the right and the left frankly, who walk around wearing tin foil hats. It makes no sense whatsoever that the president of the US and the Russian president would engage in this type of loony conspiracy theory putting many lives at risk,” he said.

He added that on both sides of the political spectrum “there are people who are not deep thinkers, who surround themselves with other simple minded people, who fall victim to the type of loony theories that many people like to think about.” More...
In a piece titled "Donald Trump's War Crimes", 5 April 2017, Truthout, Marjorie Cohn reports:
Over the past month, the US-led coalition has killed an inordinate number of civilians.

"Almost 1,000 non-combatant deaths have already been alleged from coalition actions across Iraq and Syria in March -- a record claim," according to Airwars, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that monitors civilian casualties from airstrikes in the Middle East. "These reported casualty levels are comparable with some of the worst periods of Russian activity in Syria."
This reality makes the claim that the presidents of the US and Russian would refuse to take such self-serving actions because they wouldn't want to put many lives at risk, ring hollow.

Personally, I am coming to believe that Trump's empty airbase strike was "a play within a play," which would make this four hundred year old observation by Hamlet's mother still the perfect response to Mother Russia's slander of Maxine Waters:


Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Why would Assad use sarin in Syria now?

This question is again being raised by those that don't think the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the sarin attack that killed 86 civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province on 4 April 2017. In Assad's defense they argue that he was already winning the war and had nothing to gain by such a provocative act, for example in a piece published by Portside on 15 April 2017, titled "Cui Bono, Who Benefits," Uri Avnery asks the question:
Why did Assad do it? What did he have to gain?

The simple answer is: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
...
With the help of Russia, Iran and Hizbullah, Assad is slowly winning the civil war that has been ravishing Syria for years, He already holds almost all the major cities that constitute the core of Syria. He has enough weapons to kill as many enemy civilians as his heart desires.

So why, for Allah's sake, should he use gas to kill a few dozen more? Why arouse the anger of the entire world, inviting American intervention?

There is no way to deny the conclusion: Assad had the least to gain from the dastardly deed. On the list of "cui bono", he is the very last.
Some think this apparent lack of motive makes for a compelling argument for Assad's innocence. Dina Formentini and Chris Ernesto make the same argument in a Counterpunch piece titled "Assad Had the Upper Hand So Why Would He Gas His Own People?," 11 April 2017:
This major policy statement by the US took regime change off the table, and was obviously great news for Bashar al-Assad. Combined with Syrian military gains on the ground, Assad was in the strongest position he’d been in since the war in Syria began.

So, why 5 days later would he gas his own people?
These are just two examples but the Internet is crawling with many more because it is a staple of all of the Assad defenders. Whether they are from the "anti-imperialist" Left, or the Alt-Right, whether they agree Assad bombed a terrorist warehouse that released the sarin, or claim the sarin was released by the terrorists after Assad dropped a conventional bomb on the street, they all agree that it is ridiculous to think Assad would risk the outrage when the is so close to winning without it.

The principal flaw in this argument, this time, is that it was made by many of these same personalities after the sarin attack that killed more than 1400 on 21 August 2013. It was widely held then also, that he was so close to winning that it would be ridiculous for him to risk direct Western military intervention by carrying out the sarin attack he was then accused of. Here are a few examples of that era from just one source, Counterpunch. Andrew Levine used "Cui Bono" to defend Assad in that attack, 27 August 2013:
Maybe Assad really is culpable; he has never been a leader who bothered much about ethical side constraints, and he does seem intent on holding onto power by any means necessary.

But the cui bono? (who benefits?) principle suggests the opposite. The Syrian government plainly has enough popular support to withstand the forces arrayed against it. Indeed, it seems to be winning the war.
Stanly Johny chimed in, 30 August 2013:
The Assad government says it is rebels who used chemical weapons. Backers of the regime asks why it should use such weapons at a time when it’s already making gains in the civil war.
Ajamu Baraka thought Hillary Clinton much more dangerous than Donald Trump. Last year he was the Green Party vice presidential candidate and together with his running mate, Jill Stein, they diverted enough progressive votes to put Trump in the White House, but in 2013 he was part of the Assad didn't do it chorus, 2 September 2013:
The justification for this breech of the United Nations Charter is based on the dubious claims made by an insurgency, armed and trained by those same western powers and their regional allies, that a chemical attack was launched by the al-Assad government. An attack that illogically and irrationally took place at the precise moment the Syrian government was clearly winning the war against the so-called rebel forces and when United Nations inspectors were already in the country.
Now do you see the problem with this argument? It seems rather lame to have argued after the 2013 sarin attack that Assad wouldn't have done it because he was on the verge of winning, and then come back after the civil war has been raging on for another four years to make that same argument, that he wouldn't have done it in April 2017 because he is still on the verge of winning. It just has a kind of "fool me twice, shame on me" feel to it. So maybe we should start looking at some reasons why Assad may have used sarin.

In past blog posts, I have pointed out that chemical weapons, while relatively ineffective against a prepared enemy force, are a preferred weapon for use in the suppression of rebellious civilian populations because it can injure or kill people without destroying property. For precisely that reason, milder chemical agents like tear gas and pepper spray are legal and used by almost every government on the planet. Given the growing intensity of the class struggle worldwide, it is not much of a stretch to imagine a bourgeois desire to bring back stronger toxics, and a plan to use the Syrian conflict to normalize their return. This is in fact, what has been happening. Chemical weapons, once effectively banned, have now been used dozens and dozens of times in the past 5 years, and not just in Syria anymore.

Since Assad's concerns are more immediate, I don't think his desire to normalize the use of CW would play a big role in his decision to use them, but I do think those with broader concerns, in Moscow, Tehran, and even Washington, might see the normalization of CW use as a big win, and be willing to push Assad in that direction. That argument applies to all the CW attacks but also explains why some must be so massive and graphic as to make the news. If people don't know chemical weapons are being used with impunity, their return can't be normalize.

With regards to this most recent attack and response, the cui bono question gets much more complicated. Clearly Donald Trump benefited big time. Before the sarin deaths and his cruise missile response, he was way down in the polls. Most importantly, things had been coming to a head in the investigation into his ties to Putin. Trump's Nunes gambit had fallen apart, and although we didn't know it at the time, Paul Manafort was preparing to register as a foreign agent, we were about to find out that a FISA warrant had been issued on Carter Page, European intelligence agencies were about to weigh in, and much, much more. He badly needed to be rescued. Just about any mass casualty event that allowed him to look presidential would do, and Assad, at Putin's prodding, was only too happy to help him out. I admit this scenario is highly conspiratorial and therefore pretty unlikely. It sees Assad doing the sarin attack so that Trump could bomb the empty airbase and have a big show of falling out with Russia, proving to everyone that there couldn't possibly be any collusion between Trump and Putin. Assad isn't the prime beneficiary in this scenario either, again he would be doing it at the behest of a patron, but that happens quite often. Those gifts are rarely free.

But perhaps the best argument for why Assad would use sarin again in spite of all the downsides, can be found in a couple of tweets I saw this morning:



These tweets mean that after all these years, and all they have been through, the revolutionary cultural movement we have come to associate with Kafranbel is not dead. That means the people's democratic movement that is the Syrian Revolution is not dead! Shooting unarmed protesters couldn't kill it. The arrests and tortures in his Gulag couldn't break it. His sarin attack on a Damascus suburb in 2013 couldn't kill it. He unleashed the jihadists but ISIS couldn't kill it. All his barrel bombs and cluster bombs since couldn't kill it. Even with massive military aid from Russia and Iran, they still can't kill it, and the cowardly attack on the civilian convoy won't break it either! To hear Assad, and his supporters tell it, he has been on the verge of winning since day one, and here we are, having sacrificed six years and half a million Syrian lives, and he still can't kill it!

That is because the spirit of revolution lives in the hearts of the people. It is not a question of numbers killed or territory conquered, as long as the flames of liberty remain alive in the people, the revolution is not defeated. In point of fact, it can never be defeated, only delayed. Braking the revolution requires breaking the people's spirit. This is why such horrific violence is employed against civilians. LBJ-Nixon thought they could whip the rebellion out of the Vietnamese and killed more than three million trying. Assad has killed a half million of his own people and still they will not bow down to him. A sarin attack, especially if there is no effective response from the world, is extremely demoralizing, and after six years he is becoming increasingly desperate and willing to try anything. I think that is the main reason why he used sarin on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, 4 April 2017.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Did Trump just kill thousands of people in Afghanistan?

MOAB blast radius on New York City
The big news yesterday was that United States President Donald Trump dropped the largest bomb on people since the atomic bombs dropped on Japan to end World War II. The MOAB also known as the mother of all bombs, is the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal. It has a blast radius of more than a mile, which is to say that if it were set off in lower Manhattan it would destroy most everything on the lower half of the island. Fortunately, it didn't go off in New York City, it went off in the Achin district of Nangarhar, Afghanistan. We are told that the MOAB was tasked with taking out a deep ISIS tunnel network, and early reports say that 36 ISIS members were killed.
So far there has been little talk of civilian casualties and the feeling is given that this was an isolated mountain valley up in the northeastern corner of Afghanistan with nobody around except these terrorists. Otherwise Trump never would have used a weapon designed for Iraq but never used by Bush or Obama for fear of massive collateral damage, right?

Even in the time I have to Google before work this morning, I have found something that indicates that may not be the case. Pajhwok Afghan News put the population of the district at 150,000 less than a year ago:
Why Daesh chose Achin district as its base in Afghanistan

By Pajhwok
May 09, 2016 - 18:01
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The Islamic State (IS) -- or so called Daesh -- has chosen the Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province as its headquarters for a variety of reasons.

The district’s proximity to the Durand Line, a contested borderline haunted by militants of all stripes, and easy weapons and logistical supply routes seem to have driven the rebel group’s choice of its HQ..

Geography and tribal structure

Achin district is located 35 kilometers southeast of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar. The Durand Line, Kurram Tribal Agency and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lie cheek by jowl with Nazyan Kot, Ghanikhel and Spin Ghar and Achin district.

Achin has an area of 350 square kilometers and a population of 150,000 --all of them Pashtuns from Shinwari and Alisher Khel tribes. Majority of residents of the district are reliant on agricultural, cultivating wheat, maize, potatoes, cotton, onion and others crops.

Where Daesh fighters came from

A source close to the group confided to Pajhwok Afghan News that five years ago when Pakistani forces launched operations in Orakzai and Khyber agencies, families of Daesh fighters started sneaking into Achin. Most of them were Pakistani militants.

The rebels then built seminaries and cultivated local residents, as well as the Taliban, the source said, adding the predominantly Salafi fighter gradually joined forces with Daesh. The move caused differences within the Taliban groups.

Salafis from Kunar, Nuristan, Nangarhar and a number other provinces joined Daesh in Achin and converted the district into their stronghold. Daesh wanted to extend sweep to the north through Sarobi and Tagab districts, but its plans had been foiled by Afghan and foreign forces, the source revealed.

Despite losing many dreaded commanders and leaders, Daesh still has several training centres in Achin. Nangarhar police spokesman, Col. Hazrat Hussain Mashraqiwal said: “Daesh has chosen Achin as its base where the rebels could easily receive supplies from across the Durand Line.” More...
For those interested in what ISIS is going in Afghanistan, this article is well worth reading in full. The point I want to make is that this was no empty place, no doubt civilian were killed and the potential that thousands were killed is real and the media should stop acting like that is not even an issue until we know a lot more. Clearly, this was an important ISIS stronghold, but if thousands of civilians were slaughtered in the process of wiping it out, it will prove to be both a humanitarian and political disaster.



Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Democracy Now debuts new lie about Khan Sheikhoun sarin attack

Almost from the beginning, opinions about the cause of the sarin attack that killed more than 80 civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, 4 April 2017, have fallen into two camps. Most media outlets, intelligence agencies and governments have agreed with reports from eye witnesses on the ground that what happened was that a Syrian jet dropped a sarin bomb on them.

The Assad regime, and its supporters in Moscow, don't dispute the fact that a Syria warplane dropped something or that civilians died from sarin, but they say that the chemicals came from a terrorist warehouse that was bombed with a conventional bomb, and it was the stuff in the warehouse that did the real damage. RT.com stated, 4 April 2017:
The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

The warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas, Konashenkov said. The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there, he added, pointing out that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants.
Sputnik News stated 12 April 2017:
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia stands by its assertion that the Syrian forces struck a militant chemical weapons production facility on April 4, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday.
"According to our absolutely reliable information, the point at issue are Syrian Arab Republic air force's Su-22 airstrikes on a site controlled by terrorists where chemicals were produced," Ryabkov told reporters.
Using that logic, the US could have gone ahead and bombed the dikes in North Vietnam, something it never did, and then denied responsibility for the mass drownings because it didn't drop any water. The best that can be said of the Assad/Russian explanation is that if it happened as they insist, then they took advantage of preexisting conditions to cause the chemical massacre of civilians.

Perhaps seeing the weakness of this original lie, or more likely because the whole sarin in the "terrorist warehouse" thesis is falling apart, today Democracy Now floated a third explanation that the conspiracy theorists will love. Now the new story is that the terrorists released the sarin in the street to implicated the Assad regime and get western support. If that sounds familiar, you were alive in 2013. To promote this new story, host Amy Goodman brought in a well known pair of Putin apologists, Stephen Cohen,  a contributing editor at The Nation magazine, and Jonathan Steele, former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian. Steele led off in introducing this new thesis:
JONATHAN STEELE: But as Lavrov pointed out in his remarks with Tillerson when they were having their joint press conference, the Syrian government has written to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, offering an inquiry, offering access to the airfield that was hit by the American cruise missiles, but also calling, quite legitimately, for the rebels to give access to the site where the sarin gas was used, to see whether indeed it was caused by an airstrike or caused by somebody on the ground who was doing a dirty trick to try and discredit the Syrian government.
This is indeed a very new tact because, as we see above, the official Russian/Assad version is that they released the sarin when they bombed the warehouse that was storing it. Amy Goodman quickly reminded him that this explanation has already been disproved:
AMY GOODMAN: The Guardian examined the warehouse and silos directly next to where the missile had landed. And Shaheen says they, quote, "found nothing but an abandoned space covered in dust and half-destroyed silos reeking of leftover grain and animal manure." He went on to write, quote, "Residents said the silos had been damaged in air raids six months ago, and had stood unused since then." Your response?
The warehouse was an important food source for this rebellious community. No doubt that is why it was bombed. It was left empty because the people know that if they tried to use it, it would just be bombed again.

Amy could have added that the missile crater was in the street, not in the warehouse. There was no recent strike on the empty warehouse. In any case, Steele had to concede the point, which would mean that the story being told by the Assad regime and the Russians is false, even if this new theory is plausible. This is a point nobody bothered to raise on Democracy Now because they are hoping to slip the new lie in over the disproved lie without anybody noticing:
JONATHAN STEELE: Well, that’s true. I mean, that report is accurate. But the crucial evidence is: Where did the sarin gas come from? 
That quickly he concedes that Damascus and Moscow have been lying about the murder of 80+ civilians with sarin. However, he is ready to advance a whole new theory in defense of Assad, and remember, this is a man who thinks a question is evidence:
And Professor Theodore Postol of MIT has just come out with a report trying to discredit the White House statement of the day before, a four-page White House statement. And Postol argues that the 122-millimeter rocket tube that is lying on the ground, that has been shown to reporters and others who’ve come to the site, was not broken open by impact with the ground, but by something that crashed onto it from above. That suggests it has to have been broken by somebody standing on the ground, putting explosives onto it from above, rather than being something that was dropped from an aircraft from on high.
We know from his past work, as well as from this statement that Postol has a very biased view. He is out to discredit the White House statement which repeats what the Syrians under attack said happened. The Democracy Now crowd would rather leave the Syrians out of this, so they only address the claims of Western sources.

Democracy Now co-host Nermeen Shaikh asked Cohen to weigh in:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Stephen Cohen, I’d like to ask you: If, in fact, as Russia and the Assad regime claim, they had nothing to do with this chemical weapons attack, what do they believe—who do they believe is responsible?
But they didn't claim they had nothing to do with it, Shaikh. They said they bombed a warehouse containing CW in a civilian area on purpose. That was their story. Cohen seemed to have forgotten that too:
STEPHEN COHEN: Well, we come back to where we began. That’s what they asked Tillerson. They showed him their intelligence, which corresponds to what Jonathan says. And, by the way, Jonathan Steele is one of the preeminent journalistic authorities on Russia and knows a lot about the Middle East. I take very seriously what he told you.
So Cohen strokes Steele, and backs up his story, claiming the Russian showed Tillerson the evidence, and just like that ---- they've replaced the lie about the bomb in the terrorist warehouse full of chemical weapons with a new one about how the terrorist released the sarin in the street.

They are helping the child killers, and they do it all with a straight face.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Julian Assange on Democracy Now: Revising the history of his Trump support

Democracy Now dedicated the whole hour to an interview with Julian Assange today, and the best thing about it was Allan Nairn, long time investigative journalist and activist, who Amy Goodman brought in to debate Assange. After Assange noted that we had two terrible choices in this election, Nairn said:
I agree with that. However, I would note that the Trump campaign thought that WikiLeaks was on their side.

Now, the idea, that Mr. Assange just suggested, that Trump and Clinton were equally dangerous, two different deadly diseases, I think is wildly and gruesomely mistaken. Clinton represented a criminal establishment. But Trump and the people he brought in with him make it worse, make it even more criminal. This idea that it was just a choice between the lesser of two evils, well, in politics, in life, you fight like hell to have good choices, to have better choices—in this case, Sanders was a better alternative—but once that is no longer possible, then of course you choose the lesser evil. What do you want, more evil? More killing? More pollution? More abuse of immigrants? More racism? More impunity for corporations? More aid to death squads? More spending for the military? All of that is what you get with Trump, in distinction to the bad—the other bad things you would have gotten with Clinton. And the win of Clinton was not—or, I’m sorry, the victory of Trump was not equally as bad as it would have been if Clinton had lost. It’s a catastrophe. It’s an utter catastrophe. And those who are poorest, those who are already most oppressed and most vulnerable, are the ones who are suffering most as a result.
Nairn got to this very eloquent summary of the problem with the "don't vote for the lesser-of-two-evils" thesis via this rather childish exchange:
ALLAN NAIRN: OK. Well, my view of this is that during the campaign, WikiLeaks often suggested that Trump would be less dangerous than Clinton.

JULIAN ASSANGE: No, we didn’t.

ALLAN NAIRN: I think you did.

JULIAN ASSANGE: No, we didn’t.

ALLAN NAIRN:
I think that concept is wildly, gruesomely mistaken. There was the argument—well, it’s just—

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, that’s fine—it’s fine for you to say that, but you should understand that, no, we didn’t. In fact, I was asked that question directly on Democracy Now! at the time about what my position was, asked which one I preferred. And my response is, being asked this question is being asked: Do I prefer cholera, or do I prefer gonorrhea?
Well, we have to say there is some evidence to support Nairn's claim, and critique Assange's historical revisionism. Even his 25 July 2016 "Choosing Between Trump or Clinton is Like Picking Between Cholera or Gonorrhea" appearance on Democracy Now that he raised in his defense supports Nairn's argument. True, Assange's seems to think the "deep state" controls everything "So it doesn’t make much difference in the end," but then he spent the whole show bashing Clinton with hardly a critical word against Trump.

There is also a very one-sided Twitter history:

Likewise, he was critical of only one presidential candidate when he appeared on Sean Hannity's FoxNews segment Assange on the dangers of a Hillary Clinton presidency, 7 September 2016.


I guess Harris just better shut up then!

More on this later.



There is also this: After the election Julian Assange did an interview with di Stefania Maurizi for the Italian website Repubblica, 23 December 2016. This excerpt is from that interview:
What about Donald Trump? What is going to happen?

"If the question is how I personally feel about the situation, I am mixed: Hillary Clinton and the network around her imprisoned one of our alleged sources for 35 years, Chelsea Manning, tortured her according to the United Nations, in order to implicate me personally. According to our publications Hillary Clinton was the chief proponent and the architect of the war against Libya. It is clear that she pursued this war as a staging effort for her Presidential bid. It wasn't even a war for an ideological purpose. This war ended up producing the refugee crisis in Europe, changing the political colour of Europe, killing more than 40,000 people within a year in Libya, while the arms from Libya went to Mali and other places, boosting or causing civil wars, including the Syrian catastrophe. If someone and their network behave like that, then there are consequences. Internal and external opponents are generated. Now there is a separate question on what Donald Trump means."
Before we get to Assange's meaning of Trump, we must note the chauvinism with which he deals with the Libyan people and their aspiration to live in a Libya not ruled by the murderous Gaddafi dictatorship. When he accuses Hillary Clinton of being "the chief proponent and the architect of the war against Libya," one might assume he is talking only about NATO intervention in the Libyan civil war that had been going on for more than a month before that, but as we read further we see no recognition of a civil war on his part at all. No role for Libyans except in the dying. He puts the number at 40,000. Linux Beach and most knowledgeable sources think it closer to 30,000. No matter. Julian Assange blames all of these deaths on Hillary Clinton, even though the Gaddafi regime had killed thousands upon thousands before the no-fly zone was imposed. Whether it was 30,000 or 40,000 that died in that war, we have only to look to Syria to approximate what the situation would have become in Libya had Gaddafi been given Assad's immunity for murder. Most likely, the Libyan conflict, like the Syrian one that started a month later, would still be going on with maybe 200,000 Libyans dead, and still counting.

Gaddafi hired mercenaries from Mali to suppress his own people. He armed these mercenaries. When the Libyan people defeated him, there were no foreign armies on the ground, those mercenaries fled back to Mali with Gaddafi's weapons and started making trouble. All of this is Hillary Clinton's fault, in the mind of Julian Assange. He doesn't even see contradictions among the people of Mali as the source of that conflict. He accuses "arms" of "causing civil wars." Oppressed people escape his equation entirely. This is how he can say the war wasn't for an ideological purpose. Libyans on both sides would disagree, but who asked for their opinions?

Julian Assange also blames what he thinks of as Hillary's War for the refugee crisis in Europe even though very few Libyans have been leaving Libya in the historic refugee streams leaving Libya for Europe in the past few years. The greatest number have come from Syria, fleeing areas being bombed without a no-fly zone. Others have been fleeing active wars in sub-Saharan Africa and as far away as Afghanistan. These refugee crossings also took place during Gaddafi's time. The difference is now, due to the increased violence, especially in Syria, they are much greater, and Gaddafi is no longer there to extort billions of euros from Europe in return keeping refugees in detention facilities, or simply taking them out to the desert to die.

Sharing a podium in Rome with Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2010, this is how Col Gaddafi spoke of the European refugee crisis before it was all Hillary Clinton's fault and while Gaddafi was demanding $6.3 billion a year from the EU to slow it down, Gaddafi warned:
"Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European, and even black, as there are millions who want to come in. We don't know what will happen, what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans. We don't know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions."
This is the kind of political leadership Assange likes, which brings us to something else Assange says above: Immediately after he blames the European refugee crisis on Hillary's War, he accuses it of:
"changing the political colour of Europe"
Just what do you suppose he meant by that?

To hear Julian Assange tell it, the revolutionary struggle of the Libyan people did not exist. To the extent they participated at all, they were the unwitting agents in a bid to put Hillary Clinton in the White House. He doesn't even mention US President Barack Obama, who happened to be Clinton's boss at the time.

Now back to Assange's opinion of Trump. This is the next question in the interview:
What do you think he means?

"Hillary Clinton's election would have been a consolidation of power in the existing ruling class of the United States. Donald Trump is not a DC insider, he is part of the wealthy ruling elite of the United States, and he is gathering around him a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities. [Is "idiosyncratic personalities" wikispeak for white nationalists? - LB] They do not by themselves form an existing structure, so it is a weak structure which is displacing and destabilising the pre-existing central power network within DC. It is a new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly, but at the moment its looseness means there are opportunities for change in the United States: change for the worse and change for the better."
This definitely sounds to me like he thinks Donald Trump is the lesser of two evils. What do you think?

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
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