Author Topic: The left's Warriors on Terror  (Read 213 times)

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Offline TomSea

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The left's Warriors on Terror
« on: February 08, 2019, 05:26:04 AM »
Think tank stuff but nonetheless, good reading, good author.

The left's Warriors on Terror
Michael Degerald

If one image sums up the marriage of “War on Terror” discourse with self-styled “anti-imperialism,” it is a widely-circulated doctored image of the late John McCain in Syria meeting with members of the Syrian opposition. McCain went to Syria in 2013 in his capacity as a US Senator. The image of him smiling with several unidentified Syrian opposition figures has since made the rounds on the Internet, photoshopped to mislabel the figures accompanying McCain as a series of Islamic State (ISIS) leaders, including the infamous self-declared “Caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Additionally, the photo erroneously claims al-Baghdadi was trained in Israel with US tax dollars. Nevermind that the labels are false; the image circulates anyway and feeds on people’s fears that larger powers are manipulating the conflict in Syria for their own ends, which is most certainly true. The average Internet user can easily slip into believing these Syrian men are indeed ISIS leaders, and that Baghdadi is really a US/Israeli agent, as the accusation fits vaguely into an existing framework, one in which “imperialism” is willing to arm and train many questionable groups and individuals for short-term geopolitical gain. As will be seen, this is only one of numerous examples of War on Terror discourse misrepresenting complex conflicts as black-and-white battles against “terrorism,” irrespective of the actors using it, with human rights violations and civilian deaths the inevitable result.

In an interview from June 2018, the fraught Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad described the forces opposing him as “…mainly the West, led by the United States and their puppets in Europe and in our region; with their mercenaries in Syria, they try to make it farther, either by supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists coming to Syria, or by hindering the political process.” Assad’s repeated statements about “terrorism” show he speaks of the entire opposition as terrorist proxies for foreign states. One should expect little more from a dictator who inherited rule over an entire country from his father, and who has brutally imprisoned, tortured, and killed thousands of Syrians. Yet, such discourse has been parroted, and in some cases made yet more extreme, by “anti-imperialists” in their defense of the Assad dynasty against what they insist is a Western-initiated war of regime change. By repurposing “War on Terror” discourse in the service of “anti-imperialism,” these actors attempt to cast away the problems with such broad accusations of terrorism, convinced of their accuracy and justice on the grounds of challenging imperialism.

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