You Want the Truth? A Correspondence with Noam Chomsky

When I read Manufacturing Consent as a teenager, in the summer of 2002 to be precise, at the beginning of War on Terror fever, I never thought that one day its most esteemed author, Noam Chomsky, would accuse me of supporting al-Qaeda.  In the following exchange, he does exactly that, as well as accusing me of supporting Daesh.  That makes it three times, by my count,  that he’s issued this most scurrilous and ironic smear, with his initial accusation of my support for Daesh coming in a response he gave to a friend who had sent an article I wrote criticising his stance on Syria for Muftah.

Criticising Chomsky has always been a problematic endeavour.  Though he situates himself as somehow being elevated above the sect left, his supporters and, as is the common and correct vernacular of the day, fanboys behave exactly like a sect.  Every word he writes is treated as gospel and his mode of politics might as well be codified as a dogma.  I should know all this – I used to be not quite a fanboy, but certainly a wildly uncritical fan.

Syria is of course where things unravelled in terms my own relationship with Chomsky, but I realise I was blind to Chomsky’s many, many political faults before the Syrian civil war began.  Sure, I’d heard about them, whether it was Cambodia or Srebrenica, but I just turned a blind eye to them because it was ideologically convenient to do so.

In the era of the war on terror, the unbending will of Noam Chomsky to focus solely on the crimes of the US and its allies was of much necessity and a source of comfort in a world that was spiralling out of control.  But the more out of control the world got, with the Arab revolutions and all the complexities these birth, combined with the full geopolitical implications of multi-polarity following the collapse of the USSR and the doomed promise of a New American Century, the more I recognised in the static politics of Chomsky not anything even remotely ‘radical’, but rather pure conservatism in ‘radical’ form.  It was stunted, stale and, in the context of Syria, on the opposite side of organic progress, as I understood it.

Chomsky began with a position on Syria more advanced than much of the left – he recognised that the US had done nothing to actually force regime change in Syria, while he also remonstrated against the common left belief that the Syrian revolution was a CIA plot.

However, as it became clear that the subculture to which Chomsky belongs (and he is very much rooted in the general subculture of the left, regardless of what the cult of personality, which casts and venerates him as the eternal mugwump, would have you believe – it is as much an industry as it is a mode of activism) saw the priority in Syria not to support the revolution in all its complexities, but to ignore it in favour of endorsing a host of pro-regime narratives.

Supporters of the Syrian revolution will be familiar with such narrative, they range from seeing the situation in Syria solely as being about ‘US aggression’ at the expense of the monstrosity of Assad’s war, backed and enabled by Russian and Iranian imperialism, to believing it all to be essentially a US plot.  Chomsky quickly collapsed into his familiar territory of dogmatic ‘anti-imperialism’.

This is what has prompted me to share the below email correspondence between myself and Chomsky that took place in September of last year.  I saw, following the gassing to death of Syrians at Khan Shaykhun by Assad, that Chomsky was spouting trutherism about it on the Assad-friendly Democracy Now, claiming, based on extremely dubious and generally moronic ‘analysis’ provided by Chomsky’s friend and colleague Ted Postol, that it wasn’t Assad who carried out the attack.  This is a key part of how Assad has got away with this genocide – his supporters have obfuscated all of his crimes, from big to small.

And, of course, this is Chomsky’s bread and butter – denying and obfuscating genocides carried out by forces that are not aligned with the US.  It’s what he does.  I don’t know exactly why.  Having had a long correspondence with him, he seems to be like the shark that can’t stop moving or it’ll perish – he hasn’t yet found a genocide, carried out by forces deemed to be antagonistic to the US, that he hasn’t denied or obfuscated.  It’s like he can’t help it.  He might initially resist, but he’ll get round to it in the end.

Chomsky sees in Syria not a revolution, not a genocide, not a worthy cause involving actual human beings, but a blank canvass on which he and his ideological ilk can paint their own dogmatic beliefs and convenient, self-promoting and self-justifying ideologies.  It’s not a revolution, it’s a US plot or it’s ‘jihadi chaos’ – it’s another Afghanistan.  Look, it has brown men with AK47s who might shout Allahu Akbar.  It’s that crude.

Anyway, the following is the long exchange between us following his first charge against me that I was a supporter of Daesh.  I waited so long to publish it because I thought it was useless – no minds were changed during it and its tone was combative and filled with his usual ad hominems, but after seeing Chomsky rush to excuse the Assad regime for another massacre, I felt compelled to get it out there, so all can see another glimpse of how duplicitous, vacuous and regressive Professor Chomsky really is.

He is in many ways much worse than your usual Assad supporter – not only because he is a living institution that influences perhaps millions of people, but because he’s the type who isn’t silly enough to forget to give the obligatory condemnations of Assad as a ‘monster’ and all the rest of it – his pro-Assad propaganda takes the form of innuendo and subtle obfuscation.  But it’s every bit as monstrous as the kind of propaganda you’d get from some whackjob who has Assad as their Facebook profile picture.   He’ll condemn Assad only to then accept every narrative that justifies Assad’s genocidal war.

The following exchange is of course from last year, so some information in it might be dated, but should you brave it, you’ll see not a man of integrity, dignity, principle or even just a fellow with an open mind, but an ideologue who has so much for contempt for the Syrian revolution, for anything that is not convenient to his worldview, that he can’t even be bothered to grasp the most basic facts of it.


Me:

You replied to one of my Lebanese comrades who sent you an article I wrote on your genuinely dismal – and Professor Chomsky I know you must know in your heart that your position on Syria, for example your lionisation of the pro-Assad ‘realist’ Cockburn – is morally and factually wrong, that I appeared to be an ISIS supporter.  So, I send you this to demonstrate the opposite is true and because, thought it might be long, you won’t ever find your comrade Cockburn writing about this stuff or writing on Syria from this particular angle.

Let me be very clear – you were one of the reasons I became involved in radical politics and had previously long championed your work, but I couldn’t just sweep your awful positions on Syria under the carpet.  You would have done the same to the big intellectuals of your day.  I’m imploring you, Professor, certainly not to believe everything I believe, but to begin to look at the Syrian revolutionary war from another angle that so far has completely escaped you or that you briefly flirted with before collapsing into the position of most of your leftist peers – to look at it from an angle free from tacit support for fascism and near-genocide, which is the gutter down through which Cockburn pulls all of those who religiously follow his openly pro-Assad writings.

Yasin al-Haj Saleh, an intellectual who is a genuine dissident, someone who spent years in a Baathist dungeon, and someone who has translated your work into Arabic has implored you to listen to Syrians and converse with anti-Assad Syrians, as opposed to dismiss them and take the easy option by hiding behind Cockburn.

I was speaking to someone from Aleppo who told me that in the early days of the revolution, when the Assad regime had lost control of much of the country, one of the first authors that the particular Local Coordinating Council looked at for some kind of guidance was you.  I kid you not.  Even those who were by no means ideological leftists, knew that your work might offer them some kind of political guidance for the struggle that was to come.  You are, like me, an anarchist of sorts – a libertarian.  Is this not the very definition of organic struggle.  Hijab-wearing women grappling for Noam Chomsky on the eve of the apocalypse?

This is the sad irony, Professor Chomsky.  You’ve had a lifetime of people crawling up to you and telling you what you want to hear, based on the fact that you have been one of the most consistent voices against western crimes, but we want you, a voice of dissent in the Anglosphere, to recognise the struggle of Syrians against Assad, Iran and Russia – to understand the nuances of multipolarity and the fact that revolutionary consciousness occurs not in the way that ideologues might want it to (this is a myth of Bolshevism – all the best libertarians understood this), but in diverse and often contradictory ways.

It sill depresses me to think that you should be on the side of those who have through dogma and conservatism decided to slander Syrians who have, in the most natural ways imaginable, imperfectly attempted to navigate themselves through the apocalypse.  Something you will thankfully never have to do, yet still you have, from your position of extreme privilege, decided to side with those who would slander revolutionary Syrians as al-Qaeda and ISIS.

I ask you to read my essay, not because I want praise or even comment, but because I want you, a fellow who has spent his entire life thinking, to rediscover his sympathy with thought.

https://herecomesthetumbleweed.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/the-rise-of-daesh-in-syria-some-inconvenient-truths/


Chomsky:

I am glad to learn that you are interested in telling the truth, instead of fabrications, as in your earlier letter, and this one.  Neither here, nor anywhere else, do you cite one phrase of mine that indicates even marginal support for Assad, and you continue to ignore my many condemnations of the monster.  The claim that I “lionize” my “comrade” Cockburn is beneath contempt.  I quote him, as do many other bitter opponents of Assad.

 I explained in the letter to which you refer [to my Lebanese comrade] why in your response you presented yourself as an ISIS supporter.

 I read your article with interest, though it has no bearing on anything I’ve said.

 The horrible suffering of Syria is so horrendous that it is a shame to see that people concerned with it choose to circulate fabrications about others who they choose to condemn without looking at what they say and do.


Me:

Thanks for the reply.

Professor, as a linguist and scientist, you are a fellow who perhaps understands the concept of subtlety in a manner far beyond my comprehension – I have never written that you support Assad in a direct manner.  However, Patrick Cockburn, who you cite as the foremost authority on Syria, is a direct supporter of the Assad regime, Russia and Iran – those who are currently perpetrating a near-genocide in Syria.  Do you want me to link to his testimony to the British parliament where he argues that the the UK ought to hook up with Assad in Syria to fight Daesh?  Do you understand the implication of this? I really hope you don’t, as it’s an argument that you yourself have made – I included a link to it in my piece for Muftah that my Lebanese friend I think sent you.

Given that the Assad regime and its allies focus on smashing the rebellion in Syria, a rebellion that just broke through the siege of Aleppo with popular support – children and old women rolling tires on the ground to create a makeshift no-fly zone to protect the rebels and themselves from the Russian and Baathist aerial onslaught, the idea of the US and UK hooking up with Assad to fight Daesh would be catastrophic.  The US and Russia are already moving closer together in Syria, with this deal that paves the way for the US joining Russia in bombing any armed force that fights Bashar al-Assad, or, to put in their terms, that does not focus solely on fighting Daesh.

Apart from the fact that the Assad regime and its allies kill far more people than Daesh could ever hope to, Daesh thrive on the sectarian dynamic – the fact that the Assad regime, whose forces now mostly comprise the super-sectarian death squad known as the ‘National Defence Forces’ as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp and their tens of thousands of fascistic, sectarian jihadist militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly murder Syrian Sunnis allows for Daesh to use this to bolster their own sectarian fascism.  The US and UK hooking up with Assad, which you said in an interview ‘made sense’ under your mistaken impression that Assad is somehow the vanguard against Daesh, would simply mean the destruction of the Syrian rebels (those who first launched an offensive against Daesh in 2014, but were caught out when Assad seized the opportunity and launched a massive offensive against the rebels) and the triumph of the ideological and material logics of Daesh.

I know you think that the Syrian rebels are all actually al-Qaeda and/or al-Qaeda-lite, but this just simply isn’t true.  The overwhelming majority of the rebel forces are unified in one belief – the belief not in an Islamic state, but in overthrowing the Assad dynasty and expelling the foreign invasion forces that prop up the Baathist rump, which controls a mere 25% of the country and can’t even raise enough manpower without massive foreign intervention – a veritable jihad organised by Iran.

Even a force like Ahrar ash-Sham, which is similar to Hamas in its ideology, believe that while they support the creation of a state based on the principles of Sharia, such a state cannot be imposed on Syrians by force (they don’t have the means to do so).  Most of the other forces are nationalist in orientation and, as we’ve seen all across liberated areas of Syria, have allowed civil councils and Local Coordinating Councils to govern the areas free from military interference.  I’ve never heard you reference any of these, Professor – please, I implore you, look into them.  The so-called ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’, actually the state department’s name for the YPG, recently took Manbij with the aid of rather brutal US airstrikes and US special forces – the only reason Manbij was lost was due to the fact that in the rebel offensive against Daesh in 2014 I mentioned earlier, when Assad launched his offensive, the rebels had to divert resources to fight not just Assad’s NDF, but also the IRGC, Basij militia and Hezbollah, which then allowed Daesh to take Manbij (as well as all of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor etc., thus paving the way for its blitzkrieg of Northern Iraq and the declaration of the ‘Khilafa’).

Moreover, before Daesh took it, the city was held by the Syrian rebels but run by the Manbij Local Council, a body elected by the people of Manbij to run the city free from Baathism – I severely doubt the YPG will let this entity return, as it happens.  The US certainly won’t pressure them to do so.

The catch is of course the involvement of Jaish Fatah ash-Sham (formerly Jabhat an-Nusra), who have superficially cut of all ties with al-Qaeda – it’s perfectly true that many rebels cooperate with this entity.  But this is born of necessity, not of ideological congruence.  It’s akin to Stalinists and anarchists fighting against Franco (and yes, we all know what the Stalinists did to the anarchists).  The rebels have managed to survive, with limited Turkish and, to a lesser extent, as it diverts its attention to destroying Yemen, Saudi and, the now much sidelined, Qatar, while fighting Assad’s sectarian death squads, the IRGC, Hezbollah, the Shia foreign militias, the Russian Federation, ISIS and, at different times, the YPG – there’s no way they could survive opening up another front against al-Qaeda.

But, and I’d ask you to look into this (I can provide references to every word I write), just look at what happened when there was a partial ceasefire a few months ago?  In the very small area controlled by Nusra in Idlib, there were massive anti-Assad and anti-Nusra demos from locals. These were publicised all across the Arabic-speaking world and among pro-revolution activists in the West  Of course, once the ceasefire was broken, Assad and Russia mercilessly bombed the civilian areas from where the protests emanated (Maarrat an-Numan).

I sent you my essay on the rise of Daesh in Syria because I wanted you to see that supporting Assad and his allies in Syria as a means to combat Daesh is a completely false option – it would simply mean siding with fascism against a living revolution.


Chomsky [in bold replying to my last email]:

I have never written that you support Assad in a direct manner.

Or in an indirect manner.  I have condemned him repeatedly as a “monster” who is responsible for the vast majority of the crimes.

However, while Patrick Cockburn, who you cite as the foremost authority on Syria

Cockburn is cited quite generally as an authority on Syria, including by those who completely disagree with him.  I am sure you can comprehend that.

is a direct supporter of the Assad regime, Russia and Iran – those who are currently perpetrating a near-genocide in Syria.  Do you want me to link to his testimony to the British parliament where he argues that the the UK ought to hook up with Assad in Syria to fight Daesh?  Do you understand the implication of this?

Yes, I understand it, and it is totally irrelevant to your slanders.

I know you think that the Syrian rebels are all actually al-Qaeda and/or al-Qaeda-lite, but this just simply isn’t true.

Correct.  It is certainly not true and I have never suggested anything of the sort.  I’m familiar with your views, and I don’t lie about them. You have, for some reason, concocting your own fantasies about my views, and you continue to lie outrageously about what you claim to be my views.  I don’t know what you are up to, but this lying is quite astonishing.


Me:

Professor Chomsky, please do me the dignity of not insinuating I have ulterior motives.  I’m reacting to what you have said on record.  In the following interview do you not say that the US fighting both Assad and ISIS is ‘incoherent’?  http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/upfront/2016/01/noam-chomsky-war-isil-160122112145301.html 

Apart from the fact that the US doesn’t in any sense fight Assad (indeed, it supports groups such as the Southern Front, the YPG and the ‘New Syrian Army’ that categorically do not fight Assad, in fact, the YPG has fought alongside Assad), is the implication of this not then that the US should side with Assad?  Would that not be ‘coherent’ in your view, based on your assertion?

In the following interview with ‘Jacobin’, you state quite clearly that the ‘outcome’ in Syria would be ‘just as bad’ [as an ISIS victory] if the ‘jihadi elements supported by Turkey,  Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the victors’ – I really hope I’m wrong about what you mean here.  I really hope you aren’t likening the forces such as Fatah Halab, Jabhat Shamiya, Ahrar al-Sham and any of the many FSA brigades, all of which are comprised of local Syrians and have protected minorities and allowed civil rule in areas they’ve liberated, but who must take support from whenever they can get it, namely from the Turkey, Saudi and Qatar (who else will support them?), to ISIS? These people have lost their friends, brothers, sisters, children and entire families to fighting ISIS and Assad, yet you think that them defeating Assad would or could be just as bad as ISIS winning?

I’m not lying, Professor, I’m simply taking you at your own word.

This is why I bring up Cockburn – these are precisely the slanders that he, an open supporter of Assad and his allies, make against Assad’s Syrian enemies, namely the Syrian rebel forces.  Patrick Cockburn is completely biased – one could write a book or two on the lies and propaganda that his writings on Syria are riddled with.  It’s quite extraordinary.   It’s like reading Alan Dershowitz on Israel.  It’s truly that crude.

So let me ask you, if I have misrepresented your views so badly as you say, would you consider writing a short statement calling for international solidarity with the Syrian rebels in their fight against Assad, specifically citing the current fight in Aleppo as a point of reference for this struggle?  And I will request that my article for Muftah, which is fully sourced, be removed – or attach an addendum explaining that I was wrong or that things have changed.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/11/noam-chomsky-interview-isis-syria-intervention-nato/


Chomsky:

Again, can you please try to tell the truth for two minutes.  If you are incapable of it, there’s no point pretending to have a rational interchange.

For you to request dignity is quite remarkable after this series of slanders and lies.  I imputed no motives to you, but merely stated plain fact: “You have, for some reason, concocting your own fantasies about my views, and you continue to lie outrageously about what you claim to be my views.  I don’t know what you are up to, but this lying is quite astonishing.”

That happens to be correct. It was a response to your astonishing claim that “I know you think that the Syrian rebels are all actually al-Qaeda and/or al-Qaeda-lite.”

You know nothing of the sort, except that your claim is a complete fabrication, and a slanderous one, and your unwillinginess to withdraw it is quite remarkable.  The material you cite says nothing of the sort.  You now compound this slanderous lie with a statement that suggests that you are unfamiliar with what is happening in Syria, namely, your statement about “the fact that the US doesn’t in any sense fight Assad.” Everyone with even limited familiarity with the Syrian horror story is aware of CIA supply of advanced TOW anti-tank missiles to rebel groups, which apparently incited Russia to sharply extend its intervention in support of Assad.

It’s also difficult to overlook the fact that you continue to imply that I’m supporting Assad, while ignoring my condemnations of the “monstrous” Assad regime and its hideous crime.

By rights, no one should even respond to a performance like this.  On the assumption that you really are sincere in your concerns about Syria, I’m responding.  But until you can agree to acknowledge and retract the outright lies and falsehoods, there’s no point continuing.


Me:

“Again, can you please try to tell the truth for two minutes.  If you are incapable of it, there’s no point pretending to have a rational interchange.”

Professor Chomsky, please,  I can read and I can hear.  Are you saying you didn’t say in that interview for Al Jazeera, the one recorded on camera, that you think the US fighting Assad and ISIS is ‘incoherent’?  I have functional ears, sir.  Also, you’ve made the claim multiple times.  Here you are in April 2015 making the same claim [killer lines in bold]:

“Take a look at US policy towards ISIS. There are several forces in the region, that are really combatting ISIS. The main state is Iran, Iran is combating ISIS. Is the US supporting Iran against ISIS? No, Iran is an enemy. We have to undermine it. On the ground, the main force opposing ISIS, say around Kobanê in Syria, is the PKK, the Turkish-based guerrilla group that’s on the US terrorist list. The US is not supporting them. Of course it’s not supporting the Assad régime that’s also opposed to ISIS.

What’s the policy for opposing ISIS? One of the main commentators on the region, one who’s been most informed and accurate, Patrick Cockburn, calls it an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ policy. It’s a policy that’s meaningless, it’s pieced together; somehow the Obama administration is trying to oppose ISIS, while opposing the forces that are opposed to ISIS. So who are the worthy and unworthy victims? You try and pick them out, it’s whoever the US is opposing at the moment.”

http://notris.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/noam-chomsky-media-nato-isis.html?spref=fb

Now, please, will you retract the claim that I’m a liar who is misrepresenting your views? You state them very clearly here?  Do you at not have the guts to admit that you were perhaps wrong not about calling me a liar (I’m a big lad, I can take it), but perhaps about your lamentations (citing, to reinforce my point you ignored earlier, Cockburn) that the US isn’t supporting Assad and Iran, the two forces carrying out near-genocide in Syria and fighting overwhelmingly not against ISIS but rather Syrians fighting for self-determination and liberty?

And here in this talk you have at Harvard (here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFiCg67cDTs&t=60m20s) – yes, you concede that Assad is brutal, but you then make the baffling claim that the Russian intervention on behalf of a genocidal rump that controls a mere 25% of Syria, and which only does so due to the massive mobilisation on its behalf by Iran, isn’t imperialism (which would mean that you must also believe that the US’s monstrous intervention in Vietnam wasn’t imperialism).

You then state that ‘the US is supporting the countries that are developing the jihadi movement’, quoting Cockburn, who is, once again, an open supporter of Assad, Iran and Russia, on all this bullshit about the ‘Wahhabisation of Sunni Islam’ (which doesn’t exactly account for the fact that Al Saud can’t even impose Wahhabism on more than at most 22% of the population of the Saudi state, while most of the forces it materially supports abroad are secular nationalist, whether the Future Movement in Lebanon or the forces it has supported in Syria, documented in my essay if you can break away from Cockburn for a moment) and that it created ISIS – you then claim that ‘our ally Turkey’ is supporting ‘the Al-Nusra Front’, but, again, this is simply untrue and a very dangerous misunderstanding (or outright lie in the case of Cockburn).

Turkey supports the Hamas-esque Ahrar ash-Sham, the Turkmen Brigades of the Free Syrian Army, Fatah Halab (mostly secular nationalist and democratic Islamist forces) and Jabhat Shamiya (which is part of Fatah Halab in different areas of Aleppo).  Not only does Turkey not materially aid Nusra, but it aids the entity that set itself up to exclude Nusra from rebel operations, namely Fatah Halab, which prompted Nusra to create the Ansar al-Sharia coalition in response.

So, after repeating the untruths that Saudi and Turkey support ISIS and al-Qaeda, you don’t even bother mentioning the Syrian rebels, but then, and this is a direct quote, you state: if you attack Assad, you end up undermining the resistance to the Islamic State and al-Nusra who will then takeover”.

Are you still comfortable calling me a liar, Professor Chomsky?  Do you now want to retract your statement accusing me of misrepresenting you?

You state what you believe the dynamic to be – it’s either Assad or the Islamic State and al-Nusra.  You then even go on to state that the ‘moderate’ forces that you met in Lebanon, which seems odd to me as most of them have never left Syria in their lives (you must’ve meant some civil revolutionaries, not the forces on the front lines against Assad, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and ISIS).   Can you not understand the problems not just me, but, more importantly, so many Syrians, including leftists like Yasin al-Haj Saleh, have with your stated views on Syria?  On the one hand, you claim that Assad is the ‘resistance’ to ISIS and al-Qaeda, something which is demonstrably false, as well as lamenting the fact that US isn’t supporting Assad, while you completely ignore the Syrian rebel forces on the ground – these groups are not hiding; they are not mysteries and they have very open goals and charters.  They’re not in Lebanon and supporting them is not some kind of abstract pipe dream – they just broke the siege of Aleppo.

Nothing I’ve said has been a lie or a misrepresentation.    You’d do well to concede that now.


Chomsky:

You claimed that “I know you think that the Syrian rebels are all actually al-Qaeda and/or al-Qaeda-lite.”

 What you “know” is that you are an incorrigible liar.  I think nothing of the sort, I have implied nothing of the sort, and you concede that.

 It of course does not follow for one instant from what you quote from al-Jazeera.  If you can’t have the honesty to admit it, then you have no right to expect any response.

 Same with the rest. Your attempts at evasion are disgraceful.  If you see your task as lying and slandering, that’s OK.  There are others in that gutter as well.

 Thanks for conceding, at least, that you were lying about the US not fighting Assad.


Me:

A typically evasive response.  I provided quotes for every claim I made.  There’s no lying on my part.  All this proves, Professor, is that despite your position at MIT, your Ivy League education, your status as ‘the most quoted public intellectual alive’, you don’t have the education enough to admit when you’re wrong.

Let me explain for the last time – you say that the forces funded by Saudi and Turkey are the Islamic State and Nusra, while in the Jacobin interview (which I linked to) you refer to them as ‘jihadis’ who would be just as bad as ISIS if they took over – the rebels funded, in very limited ways I might add, by Turkey and Saudi are not ISIS-eque jihadis and are not ISIS and Nusra.  Can’t you just admit that you’re wrong?  It’s much better than the alternative.

The US is not fighting Assad.  It’s allowing Saudi, Turkey and Qatar to arm some rebel forces.  There hasn’t been a shipment of Saudi-sourced TOWs to any rebel force since 2015.  It’s not quite the same level of intervention as as the IRGC and its proxies veritably invading the country and the Russian Air Force invading its skies, you’d concede.


Chomsky

Now I really am wondering what kind of game you’re playing.

 To repeat: You claimed that “I know you think that the Syrian rebels are all actually al-Qaeda and/or al-Qaeda-lite.”

 You did provide quotes.  That’s why lawyers approve of discovery.  Your quotes demonstrated conclusively that you are lying.  They didn’t even hint at anything like your slanderous charge.  Furthermore, you certainly know that you are lying.  For example, you know that I’ve supported arming the Kurds who are defending themselves.  According to your by now comical efforts at evasion, since I referred to the well-known fact that the Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey are supporting jihadis, you must conclude that I am condemning the Kurds in Rojava as jihadis.  Follows at once from the twisted logic you are resorting to in order to evade the fact that you were caught in slanderous lies.

By now this is a bad joke.

And the same is true of your by now also comical effort to evade the lie that the US is not fighting Assad, which of course it is.  Do you think TOW missiles are manufactured in Saudi Arabia?  And of course you know precisely nothing about the exact mechanism by which the USG provides weapons to rebels fighting Assad.

Also amusing is your statement that it is not the same level of intervention, as if I had said that it is.

I do engage in many email discussions, but with people who at least try to be serious, not those who launch serious charges and false claims and then simply repeat them when they are flatly refuted or try to evade them in your style.


Me:

You seem to be extremely confused.  You accused Saudi and Turkey of funding ISIS and Nusra, respectively – this is a falsehood.  A falsehood perpetuated by the Assad regime and its allies to slander the rebels who have received support from these forces.  Furthermore, you said in another interview, the one in Jacobin that I linked to, that if the jihadis supported by Turkey were to takeover, it would be just as bad as ISIS – who are these ‘jihadis’?

Again, and this is the point, you can only either be mistaken or you are claiming that the rebel forces supported by Turkey are jihadis who are similar to ISIS.   Given that you have also made statements where you say that the US supporting the overthrow of Assad would embolden ISIS and Nusra, it seems clear that you’re saying that these are the main forces fighting Assad, which is just plain wrong.  You see Assad as a lesser evil – this is what I’m challenging

Speaking of which, you have completely failed to address any of the points I made regarding your lamentation of the fact that the US hasn’t supported Assad and Iran, yet you have the gall to accuse me of ‘lying’ and ‘slander’ and ‘evasion’?

As for the idea that the ‘US is fighting Assad’ – I’m sorry, but I don’t see Saudi buying US-made weapons and dispersing them to certain rebel forces via Jordan as ‘fighting Assad’. For a start, you probably don’t know that many of the ‘CIA-vetted’ rebel forces that have received TOWs are part of the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, an entity that is now defunct as a serious force against Assad, while the US had little or nothing to do with the forces within Jaish al-Fatah receiving TOWs last year – this occurred due to the death of King Abdullah, who was, like your friend Cockburn, hysterically opposed to arming any rebel entity that might not represent the interests of Saudi, specifically any rebel entity that contained the Muslim Brotherhood.

JaF contains Faylaq ash-Sham, which is affiliated with MB, so it took the ascension to the throne of Salman, who was ecumenical towards the MB in a still rather limited capacity, in order for TOWs and other weapons to reach JaF – none of the constituent forces within JaF have been ‘vetted’ by the CIA (indeed, they contain JFS).   The US’s proxy forces in the South, the Southern Front of the FSA, refused to fight alongside JaF.  We can only conclude that the US had nothing to do with TOWs getting to JaF.  But what would be the problem if they did?  You say you want ‘Kurds’ to defend themselves with US weapons (and they get the US air force, US special forces etc.), but why not Syrians fighting Assad?

You seem to be suggesting that I’m trying to conceal the fact that the US has armed anti-Assad rebels, but I’ve written extensively about both the quantity and quality of this support.  The support by the USA for brigades that focus primarily on overthrowing Assad has ceased to exist – they only arm anti-ISIS rebels, of which there aren’t very many, given Assad is the main problem.

The three main forces they arm are the YPG, which is essentially allied with Assad, as well as the New Syrian Army and the Southern Front of the FSA – no other rebel force in Syria receives US weapons.  Far from me trying to conceal this, I openly advocate the US providing the anti-Assad rebels with weaponry and moving away from their disastrous ISIS-focussed policy.   Hillary Clinton has made some statements regarding this, but I’m skeptical that she’ll follow through.

But let us not pretend that the US is fighting Assad – this is, again, a myth perpetrated by supporters of Assad and crude ‘anti-imperialists’ to depict the rebels as being US proxies. Anyone with an elementary knowledge of the different fronts in Syria knows that the idea that the majority of anti-Assad rebels receiving US weapons is absurd.  In Aleppo, they had to turn locals away from joining the most recent advance due to a lack of weaponry.  Apparently now Turkey is once again filtering support through, but who knows?.

I am deadly serious about Syria.  I’m not a victim of the Syrian civil war, but I’ve known far too many victims of it.  I try my very best to listen to and learn from them.  It has been a nightmare for them.  Which is why I’m so dedicated to unravelling the explicit and tacit support for pro-Assad narratives in the West.  It’s one of the only serious, to use your word of choice, things I can do.


Me (again):

Right, this is the last email I will initiate.  I want to clarify something very briefly – I’m extremely glad that you don’t think the Syrian rebels are all ‘jihadis’ who are just as bad as ISIS or al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-lite. But, I was explaining, and providing the evidence for, why I thought you believed this.  That is all I’ve done.  You can call me a liar and all the rest of it.  The fact that you have essentially called for US imperialism to team up with Assad is incontrovertibly true and I’ve provided more than enough evidence to back that up.  And, again, and I mean this sincerely, I’m glad if you no longer believe this.  I’ll leave it there.  The last thing I’ll do is post this fantastic documentation of what is being fought for in Syria:

http://www.syriauntold.com/en/2016/08/sit-ins-and-protests-from-aleppo-to-suwayda/


Chomsky:

We agree one thing.  Discussion is impossible.  I’m glad, though, that you no longer believe that ISIS is leading the world revolution to a grand society.  After all, I’ve provided the evidence for why I thought you believed that.


Me:

You didn’t provide one bit of evidence to defend that extremely slanderous, McCarthyite accusation against someone of an Egyptian and Islamic background.  I was opposing the forces that became Daesh before you knew they existed – I’ve forgotten more about them than you’ll ever know.

Your attempts to slander me as believing these barbarians to be ‘leading the world revolution to a grand society’  is something that I’d expect of a racist and right-winger, though it is becoming increasingly common among the left.  Show me one statement I’ve ever made that makes you think I’ve ever believed that?  I provided quotes from you where you said that the dynamic in Syria was between the Assad regime and Iran fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda or the triumph of those forces, something echoed by your statement saying that the triumph of these alleged Turkish-backed ‘jihadis’ would just as bad as ISIS.

You then compound this with your statements, which you initially denied, that the US ought to be working with the genocidal fascist Assad.  You’re that noxious mixture of pig ignorant and ideologically invested in narratives that tacitly and even explicitly support Assad – you’re not interested in the Syrian revolution one bit.  Sure, you’ll gush about the Marxist-Leninist one-party state set up by the PYD/PKK, where there are now makeshift US military bases and US special forces on the ground, but you’ve never once written about the revolutionary dynamic in Syria, namely because you don’t care about it.

Syrians aren’t worthy victims – they’re completely subordinated to your need to see everything through the lens of the US being the main evil in every given situation, a position that so incoherently ends up with you actually supporting the US’s imperialist indifference to the plight of the Syrian rebels and, so radically, advising the US to team up with a tyrannical fascist to ‘fight ISIS’.

You’ve been caught lying and now you’ve decided to slander me as a Daesh supporter. Why don’t you report me to your state department or the home office?  That’s the kind of squalid, scabbish politics you and your conservative ideological ilk have come to embody.  About as radical as Dick Cheney.

Goodbye. I’ll let you go and write the same book you’ve been writing over and over again for the past 25 years.


Chomsky:

You’re completely right.  Amazing to me how you cannot comprehend the simplest thing.

To put it so simply that you may understand, I was making it clear that your slanderous charges against me were as justified as this slanderous charge against you.

Understand?

And I didn’t bother responding to your new and outlandish lie about my calling on American imperialism to support the monstrous Assad who I have bitterly condemned.

 I also note, with interest, that you evaded the simple refutation of your slanderous lie that I call all rebels jihadis.

I receive a deluge of messages, many of them pretty strange, but I don’t recall ever seeing anyone as committed to lying, and incapable of understanding the simplest point.


Me:

I too have been involved in some pretty surreal discussions.  However, it seems now that your argument is not with me but with reality itself.  I provided quotes of you lamenting the fact that the US was fighting Assad, Professor Chomsky.  You said these things. They’re on video.  I quoted them to you.  Are you denying that you said these things or are you now retracting them?  Let me point out the obvious to you, since it has become clear that you’re incapable of following not simply my but your own logic, you said that it was ‘incoherent’ that the US was ‘fighting Assad’ and ISIS at the same time.  Here’s one of your statements to this effect:

“Take a look at US policy towards ISIS. There are several forces in the region, that are really combatting ISIS. The main state is Iran, Iran is combatting ISIS. Is the US supporting Iran against ISIS? No, Iran is an enemy. We have to undermine it. On the ground, the main force opposing ISIS, say around Kobanê in Syria, is the PKK, the Turkish-based guerrilla group that’s on the US terrorist list. The US is not supporting them. Of course it’s not supporting the Assad régime that’s also opposed to ISIS.

What’s the policy for opposing ISIS? One of the main commentators on the region, one who’s been most informed and accurate, Patrick Cockburn, calls it an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ policy. It’s a policy that’s meaningless, it’s pieced together; somehow the Obama administration is trying to oppose ISIS, while opposing the forces that are opposed to ISIS. So who are the worthy and unworthy victims? You try and pick them out, it’s whoever the US is opposing at the moment.”

How clearer can it be from that statement that you think the US should be supporting Assad in the fight against ISIS?  When I pointed out to you that the US isn’t actually fighting Assad, you claimed that Jaish al-Fatah getting TOWs from Saudi was an example of the US fighting Assad – so, ergo, in your estimation: you think the US should stop arming the Syrian rebels and instead support Assad and Iran in the fight against ISIS.  It’s almost verbatim the stance of Cockburn, who you of course quote above.  This is seriously simple stuff.  And despite it being completely incoherent (given Assad and Iran largely don’t fight ISIS and the US almost entirely arms forces within Syria that don’t fight Assad), the logic is extremely clear – you don’t want the US to support the Syrian rebel forces that are fighting Assad, but rather to support the forces that you think are already fighting ISIS, which you cite as Iran and Assad.

As for you calling the rebels jihadis – you said that the entities being supported by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi were ‘jihadis’ whose triumph would be as bad as ISIS.   I quoted and linked the article in which you said it.  Which ‘jihadis’ do you mean if not the rebel forces that are supported by these Turkey, Qatar and Saudi, none of which are ‘jihadis’ that are worse than ISIS?

Again, this is beyond surreal.


Chomsky:

“You seem to be extremely confused.  You accused Saudi and Turkey of funding ISIS and Nusra, respectively – this is a falsehood.”

Assuming, for a moment, that you are really interested in Syria and truth – hard as it is to believe on the basis of your performance, then please send me the articles you have written refuting the extensive reports in the media and by specialists on the topic of Saudi Arabians and the Turkish government of providing assistance to ISIS and al-Nusra, respectively.

When you do, and when you send me even one tiny particle of evidence supporting your increasingly outrageous slanders, I may turn to the rest.


Me:

“please send me the articles you have written refuting the extensive reports in the media and by specialists on the topic of Saudi Arabians and the Turkish government of providing assistance to ISIS and al-Nusra, respectively.”

Erm, go back to the very first email.  I sent you a 21,000 word essay, originally part of a book, that I wrote disputing the absurd idea that Saudi supports ISIS.


Chomsky:

Thanks.  I’ll study it carefully, most interested to see if you are capable of one true sentence, unlike this astonishing correspondence.


Chomsky (again):

True, beyond surreal. I’ve already completely refuted each one of your lies and absurd arguments, and you simply repeat them as if you don’t understand, though that is next to inconceivable.

 Of the mass of lies and absurdities here I’ll merely pick out one of the most comical, for illustration:

“Which ‘jihadis’ do you mean if not the rebel forces that are supported by these forces, none of which are ‘jihadis’ that are worse than ISIS?”

This is your latest effort to evade conceding your slanderous lies about my saying that all the rebel forces are jihadis, even after I’ve repeated to you the most obvious refutation of your slanders – my support for the Kurdish rebels.

 But the lie is so outlandish that refutations are beside the point.  I’ll repeat your one true statement: your claims are on a par with my claiming that you regard ISIS as the revolutionary force leading to a better world.


Me:

You’ll blatantly evade the other related points I made, I note.  You know very well that the YPG, the ‘Kurdish rebels’ as you call them, are not part of the forces that comprise Syrian rebels; in fact, they’ve fought alongside the Assad regime and its fascist militias against the rebels, including just recently when they aided the pro-Assad forces in encircling and besieging Aleppo.  Regardless of what I think of the PYD/PKK, their main interest is in their one-party state in Rojava and not in overthrowing Assad.  You know this full well.


Chomsky:

I’m impressed.  This is the first letter of yours that does not consist of disgraceful lies and slanders, repeated blandly even after as we both know, you haven’t been able to produce a particle of evidence for them.

 You’re quite right that I didn’t bother to respond to your letters, beyond refuting the lies and slanders.  There was no reason to.  A person who is so dedicated to lies and slanders that he repeats them even after clear failure to provide even the slightest support for them merits no response.

 But in this letter you do bring up something interesting, for the first time.  I know of the struggles of the Kurds against ISIS, and I realize that this means nothing to you.  But I had missed the reports of the Kurds fighting alongside of Assad’s army, except – irrelevantly – in operations against ISIS.  Though you have so far been unable to provide any evidence at all for the lies and slanders you repeat, perhaps you can in this case.  That would be a refreshing innovation.


Me:

You really are embarrassing yourself.  You can’t refute the ‘lies and slanders’ because they’re nothing of the sort – I used quotes by you – videos of you lamenting the US not fighting with Assad.  Quotes by you wherein you detail how you think the US ‘fighting Assad’, which means the limited arms the US has provided some rebel brigades up until 2013,  as well as US allies arming rebel groups, ought to stop and the US ought to support Assad.  The logical consequences of this stance are so plainly squalid to anybody outside of your usual milieu of conspiracy theorists and pro-Assad nutcases that you can’t even own up to saying that stuff – you have to call me a liar and a slanderer.  You’ve been caught lying multiple times now.

Part of me doesn’t want to provide you with the evidence of the YPG not just fighting with the pro-Assad fascists against the rebels, but also using Russia’s brutal airstrikes against the rebels to assault liberated towns and villages that they need for their one-party state, essentially attempts at land grabs, but I’m always willing to educate, even though I doubt it’ll have any positive effect.

On the YPG’s coordination with Russia:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12170962/Hammond-Disturbing-evidence-that-Kurds-are-coordinating-with-Syrian-regime-and-Russia.html

On the YPG taking advantage of brutal Russian airstrikes on rebel-held areas:
On the YPG fighting with Assad against rebels and enabling the siege of Aleppo:

Chomsky:

Disappointed. I realize that you are incapable of recognizing that the “evidence” you provided when asked to justify your charges was comically irrelevant, and that you have therefore been exposing yourself as a dedicated liar and slanderer.

 But I had hoped that you might break your record by telling the truth for once.  Unfortunately, that seems to be impossible.  What you report here is quite familiar, and does not begin to support the charges for which I asked for evidence.  It is, for example, familiar, as reported in what you sent, that after “the Islamists of Aleppo city massacred many Kurdish civilians with Jaish Al-Islam even launching a chemical attack against the district’s occupants,” Kurdish forces retaliated, in accord to what I described in the letter to which you responded.  That the Kurds are using every opportunity to consolidate their territory is of course well known, as are their bitter battles against radical Islamist forces which, as we have seen, are of no interest to you.

 So your record is still 100%.

 You compound this with your apparent ignorance about CIA TOW missiles, which were sent in 2014, not “up until 2013,” and used for the famous tank massacre a year later, and continue to be deployed regularly, as you can learn from such exotic sources as the international press.  To help you, I will list just two of the innumerable examples.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/03/28/heres-what-an-advanced-russian-tank-looks-like-after-getting-hit-with-a-u-s-made-missile/

 http://www.businessinsider.com/syrian-rebels-may-have-used-us-made-tow-missiles-to-kill-russian-officers-in-syria-2016-2

 It is by now entirely obvious that you are unwilling or unable to conduct a serious discussion, so just return to your favorite occupation of launching lies and slanders against bitter opponents of the monstrous Assad.  But there are more important things to do than to persist on this utterly hopeless pretense of interchange.


Me:

The lies, evasions and slanders that you’ve unleashed in this discussion have been of an epic proportion.  You can’t even grasp the logic of your own filthy statements and, when caught lying, you unleashed nasty abuse.  I should’ve expected this from someone with a history of genocide denial and a pathological inability to admit that you’ve ever been wrong about anything.

It’s what happens when you surround yourself with sycophants and define ‘discussion’ as ‘people agreeing with me’.  Your nastiness here is drawn from the fact that you’ve been caught lying – you do support the Assad regime, fascism, as a lesser evil to a revolution you know nothing about.  You must realise this on some level, though you’re not very bright on this issue, I can tell, so instead of defending your positions, you’ve just went with your usual amusing bluster.

But let me, the guy who provides evidence as opposed to empty insults and slander, just briefly dismantle your latest nonsense.

“It is, for example, familiar, as reported in what you sent, that after “the Islamists of Aleppo city massacred many Kurdish civilians with Jaish Al-Islam even launching a chemical attack against the district’s occupants,” Kurdish forces retaliated, in accord to what I described in the letter to which you responded.  That the Kurds are using every opportunity to consolidate their territory is of course well known, as are their bitter battles against radical Islamist forces which, as we have seen, are of no interest to you.”

If the chemical attack occurred, it was almost certainly perpetrated by the most extreme forces affiliated with the group formerly known as Jabhat an-Nusra – it has nothing to do with the fact that the YPG supports Russia and Assad.  But you once against deliberately miss the point.  Al-Masdar is a pro-regime media outlet.  I included the Al-Masdar source precisely because it is a pro-regime website that is boasting of YPG involvement, while it provides an account of where the pro-regime forces were and their use of YPG-held areas – determining the logistics of regime maneuvers is the the only thing it’s useful for.

It’s a website that also believes the entire uprising is a CIA, Wahhabi, Zionist plot.  Many of those who attend your talks will know it very well.  However, I should note, you won’t find one mention of either this ‘massacre’ or ‘chemical attack’ outside of pro-regime media, such as Al Masdar and RT.

By the way, the YPG are not ‘the Kurds’, but I don’t expect a fetishist like you to care about this distinction, just as you must believe that the Syrian rebels are all ‘jihadis’ worse than ISIS.  There has been tit-for-tat shelling of Sheikh Maqsud and Free Aleppo by the YPG and some rebel forces, none have involved chemical weapons and none have been massacres.

The shelling that this article is referencing, probably that of the 6th of July, was itself prompted by the YPG’s attempts to use Sheikh Maqsud to cut off the last supply lines into Aleppo, which would put hundreds of thousands of Syrians at the risk of starvation, something they aided the Assad regime in successfully doing in late July (see the Washington Institute source).  I’m against any civilian being killed and I’ve repeatedly condemned shelling of civilian areas by any force, but let’s not pretend that whatever occurred was some kind of massacre.

Moreover, I hope you condemn the US air strikes, the ones called in by the YPG, which killed at least 176 innocent Syrians in Manbij, including entire families.  In fact, here’s an account of what happens when the YPG attempt to attack rebel supply lines for the sake of their US-supported one-party state:

“In another ward lay Shaimaa, a five-year-old with one eye missing altogether and the other one also destroyed. Her 12-year-old brother was dead.

It was the Kurdish YPG militia who killed him and blinded her, spraying the minibus in which the family were trying to escape Aleppo with a hail of bullets. The militia were trying to cut a rebel supply line.

“She never saw her country in peacetime and now she’ll never see anything again,” her father, Mahmoud, said. “May God watch over her, she’s the only one we have left.””

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12155960/While-peacemakers-talk-Aleppos-children-pay-the-price-of-Syrias-war.html

Don’t worry, I understand that you have absolutely no care about the fate of Syrians and I also understand that over the years you’ve become one of the premier enemies of facts, nuance and reason.

You do also show your true colours here – you’ve said on multiple occasions that you think the US ought to support Assad against the rebels, so it’s of no surprise that you have absolutely no problem in justifying the YPG teaming up with an entity that has murdered Syrian Arab civilians on a genocidal scale.  We’re talking about apparatuses of extermination here.  You’re fine with that.  It’d be like the Syrian rebels teaming up with Daesh to attack the YPG all because the YPG has attacked them on several occasions, something that would never happen.

I note you completely ignore the Washington Institute source, which provides an account of the YPG’s attacks on rebels defending al-Kastelo road from Assad’s forces.  There was no provocation, other than the YPG doing what’s in the interest not of ‘the Kurds’ but rather their one-party state.  Luckily, they failed, the rebels smashed the pro-regime forces and might yet do the same to the YPG, though that would mean coming into conflict with your comrades in the US Air Force.  You also completely ignore the sources on its collusion with Russia.  I know you care nothing for the death of Syrians unless you can blame it on the US or what you conceive to be US allies, except for the YPG (who are the only US allies).

“You compound this with your apparent ignorance about CIA TOW missiles, which were sent in 2014, not “up until 2013,” and used for the famous tank massacre a year later, and continue to be deployed regularly, as you can learn from such exotic sources as the international press.  To help you, I will list just two of the innumerable examples. ”

Are you genuinely this dim?  How many times do I have to tell you that it was SAUDI ARABIA that provided the TOWs to the rebels?  The only part the CIA had in it was, we can only assume, okaying it.  The US stopped directly supplying weapons to all but a few CIA vetted forces that don’t fight Assad in late 2013 – the shipments ended in 2013, but the policy officially changed in 2014 when Daesh declared a Khilafat.  Here, it’s not a secret that Saudi sends the TOWs that it purchased from the US many years ago:http://uk.businessinsider.com/syria-rebels-and-tow-missiles-2015-10

You might have missed the fact that the US and Russia are now cooperating in Syria – I know your ilk have difficulty with the idea of multipolarity, but again here’s the plan: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/obamas-syria-plan-teams-up-american-and-russian-forces/2016/07/13/8d7777cc-4935-11e6-acbc-4d4870a079da_story.html?utm_term=.8d6999256003

The fact is that the US is almost at the point of accepting the Russian strategy of labelling any force that fights Assad as ‘radical Islamists’ (a term you use above and one beloved of the YPG to describe all that oppose them, a tactic you’ve also used against me in this discussion – you’re all moving forward together), so the idea that the US cares one jot about its proxy forces, such as the YPG, fighting alongside pro-Assad fascist forces is absurd.  It didn’t stop sending weapons and carrying out brutal airstrikes on behalf of the YPG after the YPG essentially coordinated with Russia against Syrian rebels and Syrian civilians in villages in Northern Aleppo(http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/08022016).

It won’t stop sending them weapons, special forces help and carrying out brutal airstrikes even after the YPG aided Assad’s fascist forces in besieging Free Aleppo.

 I guess the kids who were burning the tires to aid the rebels in their efforts against Iran, Hezbollah, NDF and Shia militias were all ‘radical Islamists’ too.

Chomsky:

You gave me the source, in order to justify your claims.  I therefore, naturally, used it.  The other source you sent provided nothing credible.  So this claim of yours, though not an outright lie like the other ones, remains without evidence.

As for your falsifications about the Tow missiles, out of kindness we can just drop it.

So, so far your record is perfect, and again I suggest that you return to your occupation of producing lies and slanders against bitter opponents of the monstrous Assad regime.


Me:

The other source in question describes how the YPG attacked in the rebels defending al-Kastelo road, the last rebel supply line into Aleppo, from Assad in coordination with Assad.  Read it again.  Are you denying this occurred?  Again, your argument is with reality, not with me.  I’ll repeat: the YPG attacked the rebels in al-Kastelo road, which was Fatah Halab, in coordination with Assad.  As the article observes:

“As of July 28, the Syrian army had completely cut off the Castello Road, which links East Aleppo with areas outside the city. Crucial in this development was the supporting role of the U.S.-backed People’s Defense Units (YPG), based in Aleppo’s Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud.

Aleppo’s rebel-controlled districts are now surrounded by the Syrian army and Shiite militias that support it. Having pursued just this objective since January 2014, when the Syrian regime began heavily bombing the city’s eastern districts to drive out the civilian population, Assad and his allies can now claim a major victory. Russian air support proved decisive in the effort, crushing rebel defenses with a barrage of ordnance.

From Sheikh Maqsoud, the YPG fired on the rebels defending the Castello Road. YPG forces temporarily took control, on July 26, of the public Youth Housing Project, protecting the left flank of the 4th Syrian Armored Brigade, which progressed southward from Mallah Farms. The YPG also attacked the Bani Zaid district, to the west of Sheikh Maqsoud, forcing the rebels to retreat to avoid being caught between the Syrian army and the Kurdish forces. Since summer 2012, the rebels have made repeated attempts to seize the Sheikh Maqsoud district. Whereas the YPG might have remained neutral in this battle, the group clearly indicated its preference through its actions, contributing to its overall strategy of cooperating with Russia in order to connect the Kurdish enclaves of Afrin and Kobane.”

And more YPG collusion with pro-regime fascists:

“This past February, the YPG in Afrin similarly worked to back Syrian government aims, joining with the Arab brigade Jaish al-Thuwar (Revolutionary Army), Shiite militias, and the Syrian army, aided by Russian airstrikes, to close the rebel corridor connecting East Aleppo and Turkey (see PolicyWatch 2554, “The Battle of Aleppo Is the Center of the Syrian Chessboard”).”

You claim, as if you have any expertise in the matter (you’ve never even heard of the places in question, I’d wager, never mind the details of the instances) that this ‘provided nothing credible’, but as with your general disregard for evidence (are you really a scientist?), it demonstrates precisely what I said: that the YPG has fought with the regime against the rebels.

Of course you’d deny that these were ‘credible’, given they prove everything I say.  Just as me quoting you saying that the US fighting Assad and ISIS at the same time is ‘incoherent’ and, just to remind you again:

“On the ground, the main force opposing ISIS, say around Kobanê in Syria, is the PKK, the Turkish-based guerrilla group that’s on the US terrorist list. The US is not supporting them. Of course it’s not supporting the Assad régime that’s also opposed to ISIS.”


Chomsky:

Precisely as I wrote: “contributing to its overall strategy of cooperating with Russia in order to connect the Kurdish enclaves of Afrin and Kobane.”

Another zero for Hamad

 “pitted against rebel forces led by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which had previously sent hundreds of reinforcements from the Idlib area.”

 Another zero for Hamad, this time even more serious.  I won’t spell out what this implies about your conception of rebel forces and of radical Islam.

 You are digging yourself in deeper with each attempt.  First, your false and slanderous claims, for which you could not provide a particle of evidence, even a hint, just gross misreadings and utterly irrational leaps.  Then the falsehoods about US aid to rebels fighting Assad.  And more, which we need not review.

 You’re very good at insults and lies, I have to grant you that.

 Sorry, but refuting you has become a bore, and I’m sure we both have more important things to do than to continue with this charade.  I therefore suggest again that you keep to your dedication to producing lies and slanders about bitter opponents of the monstrous Assad regime.


Me:

No, no, you’re not getting off that easy.  Your explicit support for fascism in Syria, much more worrying again than my alleged support for ‘radical Islam’ and Jabhat an-Nusra, has been extremely well documented by me here in this exchange.  No need for lies and slander –  you state it quite openly.  You seem to want to argue with yourself over that one.

Your attempt then is to slander me as a supporter of ISIS and al-Qaeda.  It’d be hilarious, if it wasn’t so sleazy and precisely the kind of behaviour you expect from the Assad amen corner.

Again:

“On the ground, the main force opposing ISIS, say around Kobanê in Syria, is the PKK, the Turkish-based guerrilla group that’s on the US terrorist list. The US is not supporting them. Of course it’s not supporting the Assad régime that’s also opposed to ISIS”

Much, much worse than supporting Jabhat an-Nusra (which I don’t and never have) – myself and a bunch of other people will ensure your support for fascism in Syria is never forgotten, much like your apologia for the Khmer Rouge, but let’s get down to your latest bluster:

Precisely as I wrote: “contributing to its overall strategy of cooperating with Russia in order to connect the Kurdish enclaves of Afrin and Kobane.”

So you think it’s okay for the YPG to use brutal Russian airstrikes, often murdering Arab civilians, in order to capture Arab villages and towns that have never been part of any conception of Rojava?  Of course you do.

This is just one manner in which the YPG uses imperialism to attack rebels and build its one-party state, which is, again, why it also works with the pro-Assad fascist militias.  If you bother looking back at anything I’ve written, you’ll see I say that’s the main motivation.  The YPG works with the force that has the most power and that best represents the interests not of ‘the Kurds’, as you devotees would have it, but rather its own power and the maintenance of its own Marxist-Leninist one-party state.

“pitted against rebel forces led by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which had previously sent hundreds of reinforcements from the Idlib area.”

Another zero for Chomsky.

Also, I love it how the source suddenly becomes credible when it allows you to quote lines like that out of context.  All this proves is that you view everything from the regime and YPG side of things.  Instead of the YPG teaming up with an entity that has killed hundreds of thousand of people being the controversy, the controversy for you is that Jabhat an-Nusra allegedly led this defence.  The rebels in Aleppo and Idlib can’t open up a third front against Nusra – they have to cooperate with them.  As the article details, they are trapped between the pro-Russian YPG-controlled canton of Afrin to the West and Daesh to the East, in addition to the constant genocidal threat of the regime and Russian airstrikes.

They’ve previously fought Nusra, as the article also mentions, while the main reason it was left to Nusra to lead this particular defence is because Russia and the regime’s airstrikes famously prioritise hitting non-Nusra forces.  Moreover, the rebels, not including Nusra, were severely weakened by the YPG, under its Pentagon-given name the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (wrongly titled here).  As the article states:

“The Azaz corridor grew particularly weak after the Democratic Forces of Syria (DFS) — an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces under the PYD umbrella — gained the upper hand against the rebels and began to advance westward in recent weeks, approaching the Aleppo-Azaz road. The DFS has benefitted from Russian shelling against rebel lines, as well as direct Russian weapons deliveries.”

Again, though, while you’ll seize upon things like the rebels working with JaN, you have nothing to say about the YPG working with Russia and the fascist forces in Syria – forces that murder civilians en mass, including on behalf of the YPG in the case of Russian air strikes.  That’s because you support them.

But again, when the YPG attack al-Kastelo road in late July, it was in coordination with the regime’s assault on it.


Me (again):

Also, come to mention it, I knew something didn’t sit well with the idea that the defence of the Azaz corridor was ‘led by JaN’:

“This short-term success, however, portends longer-term problems in Sunni Arab-dominated territory in Syria, east of Azaz and north of Manbij. Much of this territory is now under the control of ISIL. A smattering of anti-Assad forces, including the Ahrar al-Sham, is deployed along the so-called Marea line. This defensive position protects the Azaz corridor from ISIL encroachment – and the US conducts air strikes on these groups’ behalf. The YPG’s forward advance from the west places the group on a collision course with ISIL.”

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/02/syrian-civil-war-perpetual-conflict-isis-turkey-160214080754073.html

It’s the Hamas-esque Ahrar ash-Sham who led the defence.  Even Wikipedia concedes it.


Chomsky:

Sorry, but this last effort is so desperate that it’s clear that there is no point proceeding.  As I said, you have an impressive capacity for slanders and lies, and I’m interested to see a new addition to the list of your lies, which become more hysterical as they are systematically exposed – my alleged apologia for the KR, who I bitterly condemned throughout.

Quite impressive.  It’s been an interesting experience.


Me:

Was your ‘bitter opposition’ to the Khmer Rouge of the same quality as your ‘bitter opposition’ to Assad? You call him a monster in one sentence and then say that the US ought not to arm rebels to fight him in the next – you say that the US fighting Assad is ‘incoherent’ and you say, ‘somehow the Obama admin is trying to fight ISIS while fighting the forces that oppose ISIS’.  No lies, no slanders, just your own words and your own position and it’s a pro-Assad position.

Here’s my parting bit of advice – change your line.  It’s a pro-fascist line and it is utterly monstrous in its ramifications.  Do it surreptitiously if you must.  But do it.


Chomsky:

We have already seen that you haven’t a particle of evidence for your charges about my alleged support for the monstrous Assad whom I have always bitterly opposed.  And how your other charges were either based on ignorance or were refuted by your own sources.

 Now I’m interested in seeing how you try to evade your charges about my apologetics for the KR.


Me:

So you ‘bitterly oppose’ Assad yet you think that the US ought to stop fighting him, which you’ve already said means by your own definition the US supporting rebel forces that want to overthrow his dynasty with arms (something that has ceased to occur – in fact, check out the most recent news on the Southern Front, which has received TOWs via the CIA and is controlled by the US-supported MOC was ordered not to attack Assad recently: https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsReports/567284-south-syria-rebels-ordered-to-not-attack-regime-held-town-report), and ally with him and Iran against ISIS?

That’s an extremely odd definition of ‘bitterly oppose’.  For example, I bitterly oppose Assad and wish to see the rebel forces overthrow him – in fact, I think it’s a necessity.  Even though the US doesn’t actually fight Assad, I think it’d be horrific if the US teamed up with a genocidal fascist and his allies at the expense of a living revolution.  That’s the quality of my opposition to Assad.


Chomsky:

Thanks for making it clear that you have zero evidence to support your slanderous charges about Cambodia.  That makes your record 100% lies, slanders, evasions, and quite remarkable ignorance, as about the TOW missiles.


Me:

You have to deal with your own conscience on Syria.  It’s on you.  You know exactly what the horrific ramifications of your views are.

As for the Khmer Rouge, there is much stuff written about you and that arch-idiot and consistent pro-fascist loon Edward Herman’s contemptible position on the crimes of the KR.  Here you are in your own words (though it has been established that you don’t recognise your own words as evidence):

Space limitations preclude a comprehensive review, but such journals as the Far Eastern Economic Review, the London Economist, the Melbourne Journal of Politics, and others elsewhere, have provided analyses by highly qualified specialists who have studied the full range of evidence available, and who concluded that executions have numbered at most in the thousands; that these were localized in areas of limited Khmer Rouge influence and unusual peasant discontent, where brutal revenge killings were aggravated by the threat of starvation resulting from the American destruction and killing. These reports also emphasize both the extraordinary brutality on both sides during the civil war (provoked by the American attack) and repeated discoveries that massacre reports were false. … To give an illustration of just one neglected source, the London Economist (March 26, 1977) carried a letter by W.J. Sampson, who worked as an economist and statistician for the Cambodian Government until March 1975, in close contact with the central statistics office. After leaving Cambodia, he writes, he ‘visited refugee camps in Thailand and kept in touch with Khmers,’ and he also relied on ‘A European friend who cycled around Phnom Penh for many days after its fall [and] saw and heard of no … executions’ apart from ‘the shooting of some prominent politicians and the lynching of hated bomber pilots in Phnom Penh.’ He concludes ‘that executions could be numbered in hundreds or thousands rather than in hundreds of thousands,’ though there was ‘a big death toll from sickness’—surely a direct consequence, in large measure, of the devastation caused by the American attack. … If, indeed, postwar Cambodia is, as Lacouture believes, similar to Nazi Germany, then his comment is perhaps just, though we may add that he has produced no evidence to support this judgement. But if postwar Cambodia is more similar to France after liberation, where many thousands of people were massacred within a few months under far less rigorous conditions than those left by the American war, then perhaps a rather different judgement is in order. That the latter conclusion may be more nearly correct is suggested by the analyses mentioned earlier.
… We do not pretend to know where the truth lies amidst these sharply conflicting assessments; rather, we again want to emphasize some crucial points. What filters through to the American public is a seriously distorted version of the evidence available, emphasizing alleged Khmer Rouge atrocities and downplaying or ignoring the crucial U.S. role, direct and indirect, in the torment that Cambodia has suffered. Evidence that focuses on the American role … is ignored, not on the basis of truthfulness or scholarship but because the message is unpalatable.

Chomsky:

Thanks again for refuting yourself so marvelously.  The statement was precisely accurate when written in 1977, including the most respected analysts, like Nayan Chanda of LMd and FEER, and indeed was pretty much in line with subsequent reports from US intelligence, recognized to be the most knowledgeable source, which we quoted later as soon as it was released, while the media largely concealed it.  And the last paragraph which you quote refutes you even more definitively.

 At this point one really has to raise questions about who you are and what you are doing, since you cannot comprehend even the most obvious refutations of your increasingly hysterical charges.


Me:

The last paragraph is merely you and your co-author giving yourself some room due to the obvious absurdity of the claims made in the preceding paragraph (and there was plenty of accounts that you dismissed at the time that turned out to be accurate), but it’s clear that you were biased towards any source that minimised the crimes of the Khmer Rouge.  Just as you’ll swerve any source on Syria that isn’t Patrick Cockburn and a handful of other pro-Assad propagandists.

Now, about those TOWs – let’s say for the sake of argument that the ones that found their way into the hands of non-vetted CIA rebel forces, such as Jaish al-Fatah, were delivered with the full connivance of the US and thus constitute, as per your earlier definition, the US ‘fighting Assad’, do you think, as per your recorded statements, that the US ought to stop aiding these forces and support the Assad regime in the fight against ISIS?


Chomsky:

The last paragraph is out telling the absolute truth, which was understood as such by everyone except fanatics like you.  For example, by David Chandler, the leading historian of Cambodian.

 Amusing to watch you try to evade the proof, even in your own quotes, that you are a dedicated liar, proving it more fully with each increasingly with each pathetic try.


Me:

You’re right – I am fanatically opposed to genocide denial and the crimes of entities like the Khmer Rouge.  I hold my hands up to that one.


Me (again):

Nice swerve on my question.  By the way.  Maybe I’d swerve it too if I was in your shoes. Must be embarrassing.


Chomsky:

Already answered in my last letter. Thanks for conceding once again that you cannot find even a particle of evidence to support your charges and claims.


Me:

You’re psychotic if you think that you’ve answered my question.  I’ll post it again:

“Now, about those TOWs – let’s say for the sake of argument that the ones that found their way into the hands of non-vetted CIA rebel forces, such as Jaish al-Fatah, were delivered with the full connivance of the US and thus constitute, as per your earlier definition, the US ‘fighting Assad’, do you think, as per your recorded statements, that the US ought to stop aiding these forces and support the Assad regime in the fight against ISIS?”


Chomsky:

Thanks for conceding again with such clarity that you cannot find a particle of evidence to support your most recent lies about Cambodia.  So your record with charges and evidence remains 100% failure.

 I don’t charge you with psychosis, though a charge of illiteracy is certainly warranted.  As you know, I never said that I answered this question, or many others that you posed in your by now quite comical efforts to evade the fact that all of your claims and charges have been refuted.

This question, for the record, is unanswerable for reasons quite familiar with those who deal with pathological liars: false presupposition.

I am coming to recognize that you want to devote your life to producing lies and slanders and bitter opponents of the monstrous Assad regime.  I’ve been responding to your letters out of obviously misplaced politeness.  I don’t expect an apology – truth is evidently far beyond you. But unless you can write something minimally serious, don’t bother.  It will simply be trashed.


Me:

You really must get a new line, Professor.  Your ‘thanks for conceding’ one is wearing a tad thin.  But I’m gonna steal it: thank for conceding that you can’t defend your previous position to me on Syria, the one I quoted, precisely because you’re not talking to the ignoramuses that usually interview you, many of whom already agree withe everything you say before you’ve said it, but rather because you’re talking to someone who not only knows far more about Syria than you, but who you know understands full well the ramifications and the pro-fascist presuppositions it entails.

You didn’t call me psychotic, but you insinuated that I support Daesh and al-Qaeda.  Apologise to you?  I’d rather die than do so.  I won’t demand apologies, but I hope that this might make you think twice the next time you claim that the US ought to ‘stop fighting Assad’, by which you mean arming the revolutionaries, so it can ally with Assad and Iran to fight ISIS.  You said this.  You know you said this.  You got it from Cockburn.  It’s his line – you even quote him.  It’s a horrific line.  I hoped you would’ve responded to my quotes with an admission that you were wrong, but instead all I got was petty insults, squalid insinuations and, more tellingly, truly pathetic evasions.

I brought up Cambodia only because it is another instance where you were wrong but you continue to vacillate between some half-arsed admission that you were merely part of what was at the time a fluid debate about a situation wherein facts were hard to establish and a refusal to admit that you were wrong in any way, shape or form.   Your partner-in-crime Edward Herman has a distinguished career as a genocide denier and someone whose ‘anti-imperialism’ crosses over into support for a whole host of fascist monsters that are perceived to be victims of or antagonists to the US, whether it’s Slobodan Milosevic or Gaddafi or Assad.  I thought you were more nuanced.  I now understand that the difference is an ultimately superficial one.

Anyway, yes, as you were.


Chomsky:

As promised, and more than fully justified

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9 thoughts on “You Want the Truth? A Correspondence with Noam Chomsky

  1. Incredible exchange. Is this real? Hard to believe, but it is not hard to believe that the US Left is blind about Syria and cares not a whit about Syrians, Arabs, or Muslims. They unconsciously and sometimes consciously buy into ancient Christian European hatred of Islam and the unthinking racism against anyone with ideological commitments that don’t match exactly those of the white, Left, Cockburn, Amy Goodman, truthdig, counterpunch, etc.

    I have written about the Left’s myopia on Syria on the website milestonesjournal.net. Not surprised that Chomsky follows Cockburn, but he seems too embarrassed to admit it in this exchange.

    I am a former Leftist myself, who still works around its edges, but I am interested in a wide array of Islamist arguments and movements, and am writing about them. I came to this perspective by traveling to Palestine, living and working with Muslims from many regions, and studying Muslim histories, more travel to Turkey, Pakistan, India, Morocco, Egypt, and listening to people. I support the Syrian Revolution against Assad very strongly and I have since the first protests broke out in 2011. Reading about the history of the Ba’th Parties of Iraq and Syria in the 1970s was enough to shake any sympathy for them, despite supposed commitments to Palestinian movements.

    Thanks for posting this. It is astonishing.

    Rich Wood

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    1. Hi Rich,

      Yes, it is unfortunately all too real. Thanks for your comment. It is interesting that he didn’t leap to the defence of Cockburn, unlike Norman Finkelstein. When I fell out with him over Syria, it was essentially due to his blindness when it came to Patrick Cockburn and him accepting only the Cockburn line. Chomsky is perhaps a bit less emotional and loyal than Finkelstein – I imagine he knows in his heart of hearts that Cockburn’s work is monstrous at times and he’d be banged to rights if he tried to launch a full scale defence of him.

      Like

  2. Thank you for posting this. Even though it’s agonizing to fight through, it’s worthwhile. I was shocked when Chomsky repeatedly argued against BDS (on Democracy Now! and elsewhere) by saying that they had one goal that was unrealizable. Since when can we choose to actively oppose a group with momentum that is fighting for what is right? Argue with them on tactics and goals, sure, but to oppose them? Chomsky has never offered a viable activist solution for any problem in his life, I’m afraid. His egghead detached style has always been to tear down and never to build anything. As you state clearly, Chomsky has been invaluable in pointing out US hypocrisy in the past. Too bad he can’t see his own. And for him to become a counter-revolutionary figure is shameful. I guess he doesn’t grasp the concept of ‘neither Washington nor Moscow’, and feels he has to side with one of the two.

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  3. So you think Assad gassed his own people? Monstrous indeed! …

    Will you do me a favour and share with us your PUBLISHED thoughts about the Syrian opposition who ate Syrian soldiers hearts and livers, and those who cut off Syrian soldiers heads, and those who burned Syrian Alawite families, and those who killed Syrian Christian priests, and burned down churches… mind you those are neither daesh, nor al Qaeda, or al nusra… those are “moderate opposition” … I’m guessing they buy arms across borders with money coming across the borders, since one can’t grow arms in one’s backyard!
    Now you can say you condemn such acts… but unless you had PUBLISHED such condemnation earlier just like you did condemning Assad atrocities .. Unless you have done so, you might please allow me call you hypocrite? I’m being polite not referring to blindness i.e. what’s happening in Syria is a revolution! In case you are not aware, the rebel who ate the Syrian soldier liver is a free Syrian army personnel… this happened in al qusair early on… there was no daesh nor al nusra in that area, and now there are not…. global and regional media were then going mental on the Assad forces “mercelessly” crushing the opposition and killing civilians in al qusair…. then they shyly condemned the “individual” act of the free Syrian army personnel….an army you think is worth support more than Assad.
    And before you jump to conclusions: I condemn every agression act that the Syrian government had done. I just equally condemn the aggression of backed “moderate rebels” and certainly condemn your either ignorance, or worse: your support of cannibals.

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  4. Chomsky sounds a lot like Donald Trump here. Defending his “brand.” A style of discourse unnervingly reminiscent of something Sartre described: “They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is passed. It is not that they are afraid of being convinced. They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.”

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  5. Responding to the reply above about Syrian rebels eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier, I will state right up front that I, as a supporter of the Syrian Revolution do sincerely oppose cannibalism and I am not enthusiastic about beheading either. That was difficult, but I did it.

    Like

  6. Haven’t finished reading this yet, but what I read I liked.
    Except the bit about Assad-friendly DN! Yes, Amy does include lots of Assadists, but her news coverage has been generally anti-Assad. She stood strongly on the side of the Libyan revolution, even as it was becoming clear that it was descending into chaos. She certainly didn’t fall into the “NATO destabilization” argument there.

    Like

    1. Hi Evan,

      I’ve seen a few supporters of the Syrian revolution on DN. But its coverage has been overwhelmingly pro-Assad in terms of its coverage – it has given huge uncritical space to the likes of Patrick Cockbrn, Seymour Hersh, Tariq Ali, Vijay Prashad etc. Hardcore obfuscation and apologism. I wouldn’t expect anything else – it’s at the heart of that milieu in the US.

      By ‘Assad friendly’ I mean that it is not opposed to giving an uncritical platform to the very worst Assad apologists in the West.

      Like

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