Noam Chomsky on ISIS and current Middle East Conflict

In late September Noam Chomsky spoke on issues that are central to Levant Report’s own coverage: the modern histories of Iraq and Syria, the rise of ISIS, and U.S. and NATO policy in the region.

The talk, given at Chomsky’s home campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provides a broad primer for those wanting to understand the truth behind current chaos enveloping the region.

Some of the highlights of Chomsky’s talk include the following:

1) ISIS is a creation of western foreign policy: ISIS is a natural outcome of both the U.S. destruction of Iraq (starting in 2003) and the U.S./NATO attempt to bring about regime change in Syria (starting in 2011).

2) Saddam was a close U.S. ally throughout the 1980’s as the U.S. collaborated with Iraq on its chemical weapons program in an attempt to defeat the Iranian regime (1980-1988). Chomsky points out that Saddam was beloved of Bush Sr., and that as late as April 1990 a congressional delegation headed by Bob Dole visited Saddam. Chomsky says the delegation’s spirit was one of fawning over the dictator (Ambassador Joe Wilson wrote that the scene was one of “obsequious boot-licking”).

3) Iraq was non-sectarian prior to the U.S. “sledge hammer” that broke it apart. Iraqis under Ba’ath nationalism often didn’t even know whether their neighbors were Sunni or Shia as they lived in mixed neighborhoods and inter-marriage was frequent.

4) While the Kurds of Iraq have recently been championed by the West, they were formerly victims unworthy of media coverage or western government concern. While the U.S. was supportive of Saddam, it looked the other way while he gassed the Kurds of northern Iraq (the U.S. at the time blamed the Iranians). The U.S. supplied the Turkish government with 80% of its military hardware while it committed genocide against Kurds in Turkey throughout the 1990’s. Once Saddam became “evil villain” in American eyes, the Kurds of Iraq became victims worthy of western concern.

5) Chomsky says the only sovereign military effectively fighting ISIS is the Syrian Arab Army under Assad. Chomsky further notes that Iran is also an effective part of this Syrian anti-ISIS campaign.

6) “Manufacturing Consent” is active and influences the western public’s perceptions on conflict in the region. Most Americans are not exposed to basic facts or even the recent history of the region because the U.S. government/corporate media alliance seeks to manufacture the consent of the people in the direction of whatever current Washington policy goals dictate.

Joe Biden’s Stunning Admission on the Origins of ISIS: Vice President Exposes Government’s Own False Narrative

Biden made comments that most Americans might find shocking—that U.S. allies in the Middle East sponsored the rise of ISIS—during an appearance last week at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Of course, he left out America’s role in all of this, which is well documented.

Only weeks ago saying such things as Biden just admitted would elicit responses of shock and disbelief as any proponent of such inconvenient facts would be dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist” in polite and official circles. But now what to do when the Vice President of the United States admits the truth in a calm, articulate manner while providing broad geopolitical context to a large audience at Harvard University?

This was no singular gaffe, as some mainstream pundits are already claiming, but as is obvious from the video, the comments were accompanied by a thought out, careful analysis multiple minutes in length. What to do when the #2 executive exposes the executive branch’s own narrative on Syria and ISIS to be a lie (or rather, propaganda consciously tailored for the masses)?

Just last week, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki blamed the Assad government for the rise of ISIS. Mainstream media has, over the past half-year, presented ISIS as if it merely came out of a vacuum, with no attempt to inform the public about its origins or battlefield alliances.

One striking aspect of Biden’s frank comments is that he implies that the arming of ISIS and other Al-Qaeda terrorists took place over a long period of time. Biden is giving a “long view” of the Syria conflict.

Americans should pause and remember the simplistic “Syria narrative” we’ve been spoon-fed over the past years. Isn’t it time to reevaluate everything we’ve ever been told about Syria?

As early as 2011 I would try to talk to fellow Americans about what was really happening in Syria. I would often simply try to convey what Joe Biden has now confirmed: that the U.S. regional alliance is funding a terror insurgency in Syria for the sake of toppling Assad.

No one wanted to hear it. For some, I was “tainted” due to my traveling and living inside Syria over multiple years, as this must have made me “biased” (of course it was they that must have known better while listening to blonde bimbo reporters on FOX, CNN, NBC, etc…!).

Never mind that I know the streets of Syrian cities better than the American city of my own upbringing, or that I maintain continual contacts with Syrians living inside and outside of Syria. Never mind that I’ve spent years scouring source documents and reading modern histories of Syria and the Middle East. Never mind that I’ve conducted face to face interviews with Syrians as varied as a Christian family from Aleppo to a 16-year-old Sunni opposition kid from Homs.

You see, I (and many other independent writers) were wrong for contradicting common American group-think with our facts born of direct experience of Syria and contact with actual common Syrians! As I recently asked an auditorium full of students, “how often over the course of the past years did we actually hear the perspectives of common Iraqis and Syrians in mainstream media presentations?”

As early as summer of 2011 contacts inside Syria were warning me of external powers like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey exacerbating the conflict by financing an insurgency inside Syria. Back then, any attempt to relay such information to Americans was dismissed as being “pro-Assad” or just downright looney.

Now that Biden’s own words have blown open the lies of the government/corporate media narrative on ISIS and Syria, we should take a sober look at BBC investigative reporter Adam Curtis’ conclusion:

The question at the heart of this whole story is – Who was the ventriloquist? And who was the dummy?

Maybe we were the dummy? By allowing perception management with its simplifications, falsehoods and exaggerations to create a simplified vision of the world – we fell into a fake universe of certainty when really we were just watching a pantomime.

And now as the Arab Spring unfolds and reveals the true chaos and messiness of the real world – above all the horror of what is happening in Syria – we find ourselves completely unable to understand it or even know what to do. So those stories get ignored while we follow others with clearer and more simplified dramas which have what seem to be obvious goodies and baddies – thank god for Iran, North Korea and Jimmy Savile.

Updated: The Goal Has Always Been Regime Change in Syria

syrian-revolutionMost Americans think the current war plans are really about war on ISIS. The long game continues to be regime change in Damascus. Americans should simply pay closer attention to what the top command is saying in very plain terms.

Hagel couldn’t have been any clearer in his Senate Armed Services Committee testimony Sept. 16:

As we pursue this program, the United States will continue to press for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict resulting in the end of the Assad regime. Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern, and has created the conditions that allowed ISIL and other terrorist groups to gain ground and terrorize and slaughter the Syrian population. The United States will not coordinate or cooperate with the Assad regime. We will also continue to counter Assad through diplomatic and economic pressure.

As many other commentators have said before me, bombing ISIS inside Syria (without Syrian approval, which amounts to an attack on a sovereign state) is but a Trojan Horse backdoor attempt to accomplish the regime change Obama pushed for a year ago.

Plans for regime change in Syria were discussed very publicly in Washington going back to the 1990’s (esp. PNAC and the neo-cons), and again in the early 2000’s (immediately after Saddam was toppled).

Understand that plans for the current bloodbath in Syria were made long ago in Washington. Read the following Time Magazine article from 2006 entitled “Syria in Bush’s Crosshairs.”

Current war plans leave even the likes of academic Syria experts baffled. Joshua Landis expressed in frustration on his Twitter feed today: “HAGEL SAYS END OF ASSAD REGIME IS U.S. GOAL IN SYRIA & political solution?! How would this work? Makes no sense me.” No one should assume that the people in charge of the White House’s Syria policy actually care about people in Syria or Iraq.

Last year, the White House decided it was time to push for direct military intervention against Damascus, using as a pretext the August 21 chemical attack incident. If you still believe “Assad gassed his own people” please read this article I wrote based entirely on mainstream admissions concerning CW usage in Syria (the United Nations final report, establishment media outlets, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the major defense tech. contractor Tesla Labs).

A lot has been invested in the three year long push to oust Assad. For the Gulf states, the U.S., Turkey, Israel, Cameron’s Britain, it is inconceivable that the Syrian state overcame the plot and still endures intact.

So now plan B is in effect…

I hope that I am wrong, but here are my predictions of what we’re about to see:

1) The U.S. will bomb ISIS sites inside Syria.

2) Washington will continue to warn the Assad regime not to interfere while coalition jets fly over Syrian territory.

3) Either ISIS or a so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition group will use one of the many MANPADS now in their hands to down a U.S./Western military plane. (Both ISIS and Syrian rebels have every incentive do this! See #4)

4) Downed jet incident will be pinned on the Syrian regime, and U.S. will respond (as promised) by simply expanding the scope of its campaign to bombing Syrian government facilities.

5) U.S. will attack by air both ISIS and Syrian government sites while claiming to wage “war on terror” on two fronts

6) U.S. equipped/trained Syrian opposition rebels will attempt to move in to bombed out government facilities


UPDATE: My colleague Charles Johnson provides some excellent and insightful analysis—

Obama’s current plan is so unlikely to succeed that surely it won’t even be attempted: Apart from the grave challenges of shifting alliances between ISIS and the moderates and Syrian forces, even if a “moderate” rebel force could be trained and armed well enough to combine with air power to bring Assad down, 5 or 10 thousand are far too few to prevent ISIS from controlling large areas. It’s doomed to fail militarily and/or generate a colossal catastrophe for civilians.
It may not be obvious now, but if it does happen it will be deemed obvious or at least likely. American voters are jaded enough (thank God) by the combined ineptitude of Bush and Obama that they wouldd react with unprecedented fury if they perceive sufficient care was not not taken to avoid those outcomes.  Our politicians are astute enough to realize this.
Therefore the eventual plan will either be to figure a way to send in large numbers of American troops, or else  be content with destroying Assad’s air defenses alone, thus leaving him in power.  But the latter is intolerable to the neocons, therefore I predict the former. But it will take a lot more than a downed U.S. plane or two to move public opinion that far.
Now there are new calls for a no-fly zone in Syria.  First we invade Syria’s sovereignty by unilateral air strikes.  Now they’ll be forbidden to operate in their own airspace?  Why not just go ahead and ask Syria to turn its entire military over?
The call for a no-fly zone is clearly designed to prevent the Syrian regime from defending itself from our proxy army (the “moderate” rebels) there.  It made sense that Syria didn’t employ its air defenses against U.S. planes.  But they will surely not accept a no-fly zone.  Surely they will respond militarily, which may present the provocation the U.S. is looking for.

Former Top CIA Official, Graham Fuller, Speaks the Truth: “We fight, crudely put, with al-Qaeda in Syria”

“We cannot both hate Assad and hate those jihadis (like ISIS) who also hate Assad. We fight, crudely put, with al-Qaeda in Syria and against al-Qaeda in Iraq.”

–Graham Fuller, former vice chairman, CIA’s National Intelligence Council in The Huffington Post…

“Assad is not going to be overthrown in the foreseeable future. He is hardly an ideal ruler, but he is rational, has run a longtime functioning state and is supported by many in Syria who rightly fear what new leader or domestic anarchy might come after his fall. He has not represented a genuinely key threat to the U.S. in the Middle East — despite neocon rhetoric. The time has now come to bite the bullet, admit failure, and to permit — if not assist — Assad in quickly winding down the civil war in Syria and expelling the jihadis. We cannot both hate Assad and hate those jihadis (like ISIS) who also hate Assad. We fight, crudely put, with al-Qaeda in Syria and against al-Qaeda in Iraq. But restoration of order in Syria is essential to the restoration of order in the Iraqi, Lebanese, Israeli and Jordanian borderlands. Permitting Assad to remain in power will also restore a Syria that historically never has acted as a truly “sectarian” or religious state in its behavior in the Middle East — until attacked by Saudi Arabia for its supposed Shi’ism.”

As’ad AbuKhalil: The 8 Proxy Wars Going On in Syria Right Now

Embedded image permalinkGraphic by @SomersetBean

These proxy conflicts now determine the course of events in Syria and the Syrian people themselves, on either sides of the conflict, have very little control over them. The slogans that are being raised by both sides of the conflict merely serve to rationalize the policies and decisions of external patrons.

Read Dr. AbuKhalil’s article at The Huffington Post…

A Statement from Levant Report Writers: SYRIA and the PEOPLE’S FOREIGN POLICY

Interventions MapIn late August, early September 2013, the United States nearly went to war with Syria. According to veteran investigative Pulitzer Prize journalist, Seymour Hersh, the Obama White House set September 2 as the date for a “monster strike” on Syria, which was to include devastating bombing raids of military and civilian infrastructure by B-52 bombers and other aircraft. This planned strike, which never materialized yet which has since been kept “on the table” by the administration, was Obama’s response to the two-and-a-half years long civil conflict which had engulfed Syria in a seeming endless cycle of death and destruction.

This planned “humanitarian intervention” or “humanitarian war” was given justification as “Assad is killing his own people.” Specifically, the White House accused the Assad regime of carrying out the August 21 large scale chemical attack against civilians of Ghoutta, on the outskirts of Damascus. The argument for war, based on the supposed crossing of the chemical weapons “red line” previously set by President Obama, would by the end of August hinge on Assad’s alleged use of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

That the world was about to witness, once again, a U.S. led intervention against a Ba’athist government based on charges of WMD was an irony not lost on many commentators. The untold story of why Obama backed down, while deferring to a Congress which never even got to the point of holding a vote, was the American people’s taking to the streets in defiance of the White House’s logic of “Assad must go” via overwhelming strike power of the U.S. military.

In this moment—the first such moment going back to the Vietnam War, the common people brought Washington’s war plans to an abrupt halt. This in spite of mainstream media’s preparing the people and rallying the public for war with the non-stop airing of images of what was said to be Assad’s unique brutality against women and children, and the frequent parading of pro-intervention pundits on news shows declaring the moral outrage of “doing nothing.”

The Washington war machine failed as the people, for even a brief moment, took back the republic’s foreign policy. This was a moment of triumph for what Senator Wayne Morse called “the people’s foreign policy.”

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, a lone voice of caution during a decade of war hysteria, spoke on a Face the Nation episode circa 1964, about his voting against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and general opposition to entering Vietnam:

Questioner: Senator, the Constitution gives to the President of the United States the sole responsibility for the conduct of foreign policy-

Morse: Couldn’t be more wrong!  You couldn’t have made a more unsound legal statement than the one you have just made.  This is the promulgation of an old fallacy, that foreign policy belongs to the President of the United States, that’s nonsense-

Questioner: To whom does it belong, then, Senator?

Morse: It belongs to the American people, and our Constitutional fathers made it very, very, clear.

Questioner: Where does the President fit into this in the responsibility scale?

Morse: What I am saying is under our Constitution all our President is, is the administrator of the people’s foreign policy.  Those are his prerogatives, and I am pleading that the American people be given the facts about foreign policy-

Questioner: You know, Senator, that the American people cannot formulate and execute foreign policy.

Morse: Why do you say that?  Why, you’re a man of little faith in democracy if you make that kind of statement.  I have complete faith in the ability of the American people to follow the facts if you’ll give them.

Questioner: It isn’t a lack of faith, Senator-

Morse: And my charge against my government is we’re not giving the American people the facts.

Now, in September 2014, the United States stands ready once again to bomb inside Syrian territory. The stated objective continues to be the bringing down of the sovereign Syrian state. As Senator Morse demanded decades ago, the American people must have the facts.

NEO Journal: Sanction-Drunk West Forgets to Target ISIS Sponsors

NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK (by Ulson Gunnar 9/21/14) – As the US and Europe prepare another round of sanctions against Russia over the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, the third round of such sanctions since the conflict began shortly after the Euromaidan unrest resulted in the installation of a NATO-backed regime in Kiev, a curious and inexplicable oversight appears to have been made.

While wild accusations have been leveled against Russia over its involvement over the violence in Ukraine, claims ranging from covert support up to and including unsubstantiated claims of a “full scale invasion,” prominent media organizations across the Western World have for years reported a flow of cash, weapons, equipment and fighters from America’s allies in the Persian Gulf as well as from nations like NATO member Turkey, and into the conflict raging within Syria’s borders.

While baseless claims leveled against Russia have served as ample justification for the West to continue leveling sanctions against Moscow, no sanctions have as of yet been leveled against the overt sponsors of militancy and, in fact, terrorism in Syria. So widespread has state-sponsored terrorism become in the Middle East that what began as a limited proxy war against Syria has transformed into an immense regional army with tens of thousands of paid soldiers requiring millions of dollars a day to operate across multiple borders and confounding the forces of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon combined.

ISIS is State-Sponsored, So Why Aren’t These States Being Sanctioned? 

Clearly, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS or ISIL, are the benefactors of vast state-sponsorship and yet the West has not identified nor condemned these sponsors, let alone move toward leveling sanctions similar to what it is seeking to impose upon Moscow.

Read the full article at NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK…


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