The State

Murder by proxy

This may annoy some of you, S.F.B.I.

I feel the need to explain something that has been bothering me since 2012 when I was journalist at a pirate radio station where we called a civil war a civil war before anyone else did, a civil war still going on. The world’s two largest arms exporters have savaged a country run by an autocratic dynasty involved in massacres of insurrectionaries over multiple generations of the same family. A leader who was taught in a school with the children of the British elite to be an autocratic dynastic leader. A leader who manipulated the government of neighbouring smaller nations for his own ends.

He is backed by an autocratic former secret policeman who rewrote his constitution to maintain power, organises the overthrow of regimes he doesn’t like, poisoned the leader of a neighbouring country, invaded three and is nicknamed “the butcher” for carpet bombing cities and having journalists and environmental activists beaten and killed by state security forces. The second biggest exporter of arms on the planet.

On the other side is the world’s number one weapons exporter. A rapidly evolving surveillance state, invader of many nations also prolific in overthrowing regimes it despises to install dictators and also expert at bombing civilians, executing without any trial including some of its own citizens, torture and targeting journalists and environmental activists with state forces.

I am of course talking about Syria. I fail to see how anyone concerned with human rights can support either Russia or the US in this fight. One side kills less than the other? Charles Manson killed less people than John Wayne Gacy that doesn’t mean we should cheer for Charles Manson. Both the US and Russia are bombing civilian areas, both use proxy forces on the ground, both are mass murderers who demonise the refugees fleeing their slaughter as potential terrorists.

The avalanche of state sanctioned propaganda from the two sates currently singing “Drill baby Drill!” in the rapidly dwindling Arctic wilderness is rather frightening, not because two oligarchies I have followed and been horrified by for decades are telling lies about Syria the media repeats. But because people who otherwise oppose despotism, oligarchy, arms exports, bombing of civilians and torture are sharing this propaganda and suddenly falling victim to the lesser evil argument that one imperialist is preferable to the other. A leader who inherited daddy’s autocracy is not someone anyone should legitimate, mercenaries have been actively engaged with some factions to subvert Assad and replace with a US client since 2012.

It’s not like there isn’t any other option, the Rojava Kurds are most terrifying to both Russian and US imperialists for daring to attempt direct democracy, decentralised power and arming women. If their collectives are allowed to survive it might give the rest of us ideas for our own autonomous regions and we may destroy their other clients. The oligarchs in the US and Russia could even be overthrown and replaced themselves by actual freedom!

If you want to argue about this I have been paying attention for years, my politics have not really changed on Syria. But I can’t really be bothered. That’s not why I wrote this. I want you to just think for a bit about it. All imperialists are enemies of freedom, environmental vandals and warmongering oligarchs. How can you in good conscience support any of them?