A response to Hamid Dabashi re: Syria
By Joe Emersberger at Feb 29, 2012
Was Hamid Dabashi talking about the Left within Syria or the left within the US and its allies? The priorities for Leftists inside or outside Syria should obviously be different. The priority for Leftists within the US and allied countries, should be to prevent yet another bloodbath – as in Libya - where “humanitarian intervention” is the pretext. Everyone knows that the US and its allies are seriously threatening war with Iran. Again, preventing another US led war of aggression (perhaps using Israel as its proxy force) should be a very high priority for Leftists in Western countries whose governments would provide various forms of material support to such a crime.
Hamid Dabashi wrote
“in response to this outright hypocrisy or blatant imperialism of the Right, the position of the Left becomes even more entrenched, and thus morally ambivalent and intellectually challenged: Yes, the Syrian regime might be corrupt and murderous, they consent, but the real danger to the Syrian revolution comes from the US and Saudi Arabia - so they remain at best ambivalent and at worst silent on the criminal Syrian regime.”
But if the Left (outside Syria) concedes that the “Syrian regime is corrupt and murderous” why is that not good enough for Dabashi?
Why shouldn’t the highest priority of US leftists, for example, be to prevent their country from murderously exploiting the unrest in Syria?
Realistically, what else does the US Left have to offer Syria’s most legitimate revolutionaries anyway?
Has the US Left ended lavish and decisive US support for Israeli aggression and Apartheid?
If they can’t help Palestinian’s decisively (something that would be much easier to do, that requires no cooperation from Russia and China), what does that tell us about how much they can offer Syrians?
Similar questions and comments apply to the Left within Canada, the UK and other countries that follow the US lead in foreign policy.
Dabashi argues that Leftists who prioritize anti imperialism are mimicking the “statism” of the Right. He says the anti imperial Left (again I am assuming he is talking about the Left outside Syria since he is unclear) dismiss the anti-Assad protestors as “dupes”:
“Neither the Left nor the Right has the slightest trust, confidence, or even a politically potent conception of the public space that ordinary people physically and normatively occupy. “
But what better way is there to marginalize the majority of people than to militarize the struggle? What better way to encourage the most venal, opportunistic and undemocratic elements among the Syrian revolutionaries to rise to prominence than to encourage increasing Saudi or US involvement?
Moreover, it is essential that Leftists outside Syria scrutinize the story provided by the corporate press. Sharmine Narwani has just done a very probing analysis of the death toll reports that Westerners have been relentlessly bombard with for months. Her analysis is basic journalism but it stands out as exemplary because the corporate media has cast aside all skepticism to sell yet another “humanitarian intervention”.
Syrian government claims to have lost 2000 security forces over the past several months cannot be dismissed, nor can claims that the majority of these solders were defectors be taken seriously as Narwani convincingly argued. She has found strong evidence of exaggeration of the death toll on the anti government side as well as the threat of a humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Some anti imperial leftists may indeed get carried away citing this kind of analysis and conclude that the entire uprising against Assad is smoke and mirrors. I would l agree with Hamid Dabashi that that kind of sweeping judgment is unwarranted. However, without actually calling for Western intervention, Dabashi is completely silent, and judging by his essay unworried, that Leftists will support yet another bloody “humanitarian intervention”.