NEWS & LETTERS, May-June 2012
World in View
Syrian cry for solidarity
by Gerry Emmett
It comes as no surprise that Bashar al-Assad's word means nothing. He has already violated the April "ceasefire" he promised Kofi Annan and the UN, first by leaving his troops in place in Syria's cities and villages. With his rule at stake, Assad will not allow peaceful protests to resume.
Further, his forces have continued to murder the Syrian people in full view of the world. Assad's slaughter even spilled outside the borders of Syria itself, with murderous attacks on refugees in Turkey and Lebanon. "The ceasefire is the new joke" read protesters' signs in the streets.
Some of the forces arrayed against Syria's revolution could be seen off the coast of Tartus, with Russia sending aircraft carriers in a show of support for Assad, and Iranian ships reportedly unloading more weapons and ammunition for the regime's forces to use against both the under-supplied armed resistance and unarmed protesters. Less visible are the ties and compromises that belie the rhetoric of the U.S. and other governments.
REVOLUTION OR 'CRISIS MANAGEMENT'?
For instance, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was embarrassed in Congressional hearings that revealed the U.S. military does business with the same Russian firms that are supplying Assad. This is the tip of the iceberg. As international law expert M. Cherif Bassiouni explained in a discussion at the University of Chicago on April 6, the UN has been attempting to craft a compromise in Syria that will satisfy all the great powers, including the U.S., Russia and China.
In other words, the UN and other half-measures taken, or not taken, over Syria are mainly an effort to manage what the rulers see as a profound crisis--the Syrian people's undaunted passion for freedom, inseparable from the Arab Spring and all it has inspired around the world. The determinant for the rulers is their fear of revolution, the practice of freedom.
Every crocodile tear shed over Syria has been paid for with the Syrian people's blood and heroism. The Syrian revolution has placed a challenge to all the world's revolutionaries as well as to its rulers.
A MESSAGE TO 'FRIENDS OF SYRIA'
The passion of Syria's people was expressed in a message from Homs activist Khaled Abu Salah to the "Friends of Syria" conference April 1 in Istanbul:
At the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, we Syrians discussed amongst ourselves with almost naive certainty that the year 2011 was not like the year 1982, when Assad the father was able to destroy the city of Hama without any international reaction to speak of. We thought that times had changed, and the technological revolution provided the Syrians the means of showing the world what was happening to them. We thought that the standard of ethics in international politics had been elevated and that it was not possible for Assad the son to repeat what his father did. But today, after the destruction of many parts of our city, and especially Baba Amr, and the slaughter of our women and children, we Syrians are convinced, and especially in Homs, that international ethics have unfortunately remained unchanged...
After all this slaughter and these massacres, we ask, do the Syrian people not belong to your community, the human community?...
Yes, dear Friends of Syria, bread alone is not enough for humans to live. But there are people on this Earth who are still without bread. They are calling to you, inheritors of the Age of Enlightenment, in the name of the absolute value of human life. Do we deserve to live on this Earth?
This profound questioning of historic reality demands something of revolutionaries. Karl Marx first articulated the idea of Permanent Revolution in 1843, and by 1844 he was already counterposing it to Napoleon's "perfection of the Terror" in the State. It shouldn't be too hard to see that, in Syria today, the violence called upon by all state-capitalist powers has come into conflict with the democratic aspirations released worldwide by the Arab Spring.
It is vital to find ways of building solidarity between all the forces of revolt, and in doing this, to develop the dialectic of Absolute Negativity that points to what we are fighting for--genuine freedom. As in all truly revolutionary moments, it is revolution in permanence that becomes the most concrete, practical line of thought and action.
There are infinite ways of avoiding this issue. Not one of them will move history forward. A successful counter-revolution will not produce a return to the status quo, but something much worse than before.
Subscription for one year $5
Published by News and Letters Committees