Why are Leftists cheering the potential demise of Rojava’s socialist experiment?

Lost in the discussions of Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement of the withdrawal of United States troops from Rojava is the possible fate of the democratic and cooperative experiment of the Syrian Kurds. Threatened with annihilation at the hands of Turkish invaders, should we simply wipe our hands and think nothing of an interesting experiment in socialism being crushed on the orders of a far right de facto dictator?

The world of course is accustomed to the U.S. government using financial and military means to destroy nascent socialist societies around the world. But the bizarre and unprecedented case — even if accidental — of an alternative society partly reliant on a U.S. military presence seems to have confused much of the U.S. Left. Or is it simply a matter of indifference to a socialist experiment that puts the liberation of women at the center? Or is it because the dominant political inspiration comes more from anarchism than orthodox Marxism?

Most of the commentary I have seen from U.S. Leftists simply declares “we never support U.S. troops” and that’s the end of it; thus in this conception President Trump for once did something right. But is this issue really so simple? I will argue here that support of Rojava, and dismay at the abrupt withdrawal of troops on the direct demand of Turkish President and de facto dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is not at all a matter of “support” of a U.S. military presence.

Kurds, Assyrians, and Arabs demonstrate against the Assad government in the city of Qamişlo (photo via KurdWatch.org)

Let’s think about World War II for a moment. Was supporting the war against Hitler and Mussolini’s fascist régimes simply a matter of “supporting” U.S. troops? The victory over fascism likely could not have been won without the herculean effort of the Soviet Union once it overcame the initial bungling of Josef Stalin and the second-rate commanders he had put in charge of the Red Army after purging most of the best generals. To say that the Soviet Union won World War II is no way is meant to denigrate or downplay the huge sacrifices borne by the Western allies. That Western effort was supported by communists and most other Leftists. The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) were staunch supporters of the U.S. war effort — party members well understood what was at stake.

In contrast, the main U.S. Trotskyist party, the Socialist Workers Party, dismissed the war as an inter-imperialist dispute. That may have been so, but was that the moment to make a fetish of pacifism or of an unwillingness to be involved in any way in a capitalist fight? We need only think of what would have happened had Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo triumphed in the war to answer that question. Backing the war effort was the only rational choice any Leftist not blinded by rigid ideology could have made. It is no contradiction to point out the CPUSA took the correct approach even for someone, like myself, who is generally strongly critical of the party.

Shouldn’t we listen to the Kurds?

To bring us back to the present controversy, we might ask: What do the Kurds want? The Syrian Kurds, surrounded by hostile forces waiting for the opportunity to crush their socialist experiment, made a realpolitik decision in accepting the presence of U.S. troops, and a limited number of French and British troops. The dominant party in Syrian Kurdistan, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), is strongly affiliated with the leading party of Turkey’s Kurds, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK has been locked in a decades-long struggle with successive Turkish governments.

The preceding sentence is something of a euphemism. It would be more accurate to say that the Turkish government has waged an unrelenting war against the Kurdish people. Ankara has long denied the existence of the Kurdish people, banning their language, publications, holidays and cultural expressions, and pursuing a relentless campaign of forced resettlement intended to dilute their numbers in southeast Turkey. Uprisings have been met with arrests, torture, bombings, military assaults, the razing of villages and declarations of martial law. Hundreds of thousands have been arrested, tortured, forcibly displaced or killed. Turkish governments, including that of President Erdoğan, do not distinguish between “Kurd” and “terrorist.”

The PKK’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, has been held in solitary confinement since his abduction in Kenya in 1999, an abduction assisted by the U.S. Successive U.S. governments have capitulated to Turkey by falsely labeling the PKK a “terrorist” organization and have actively assisted in the suppression of Turkish Kurds. Can it really be possible that Syrian Kurds are somehow unaware of all this? Obviously not.

YPJ fighter helping maintain a position against Islamic State (photo by BijiKurdistan)

Surrounded and blockaded by Turkey, an oppressive Syrian government, Islamic State terrorists and a corrupt Iraqi Kurdistan government in alliance with Turkey, the Syrian Kurds of Rojava have made a series of realpolitik choices, one of which is to accept a U.S. military presence in the territory to prevent Turkey from invading. That in the wake of the announced U.S. withdrawal Rojava authorities have asked the Syrian army to move into position to provide a new buffer against Turkey — despite the fact the Assad father and son régimes have been relentlessly repressive against them — is another difficult decision made by a people who are surrounded by enemies.

To ignore what the Kurdish people, in attempting to build a socialist, egalitarian society, have to say are acts of Western chauvinism. It is hardly reasonable to see the Syrian Kurds as “naïve” or “puppets” of the U.S. as if they are incapable of understanding their own experiences. And Turkey’s invasion of Rojava’s Afrin district, which was disconnected from the rest of Rojava, resulting in massive ethnic cleansing, should make clear the dangers of further Turkish invasions.

The Kurdistan National Congress, an alliance of Kurdish parties, civil society organizations and exile groups, issued a communiqué that said, as its first point, “The coalition forces must not leave North and East Syria/Rojava.” The news site Rudaw reports that Islamic State has gone on the offensive since President Trump acquiesced to President Erdoğan’s demand, and quotes a spokesperson for the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces as saying that “More than four million are exposed to the danger of massive displacement, escaping from possible genocide,” noting the example of Turkey’s brutal invasion of Afrin.

Here’s what someone on the ground in Rojava has to say:

Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria is not an ‘anti-war’ or ‘anti-imperialist’ measure. It will not bring the conflict in Syria to an end. On the contrary, Trump is effectively giving Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan the go-ahead to invade Rojava and carry out ethnic cleansing against the people who have done much of the fighting and dying to halt the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS). This is a deal between strongmen to exterminate the social experiment in Rojava and consolidate authoritarian nationalist politics from Washington, DC to Istanbul and Kobane. … There’s a lot of confusion about this, with supposed anti-war and ‘anti-imperialist’ activists like Medea Benjamin endorsing Donald Trump’s decision, blithely putting the stamp of ‘peace’ on an impending bloodbath and telling the victims that they should have known better. It makes no sense to blame people here in Rojava for depending on the United States when neither Medea Benjamin nor anyone like her has done anything to offer them any sort of alternative.”

None of this means we should forget for a moment the role of the United States in destroying attempts to build socialism, or mere attempts to challenge U.S. hegemony even where capitalist relations are not seriously threatened. Certainly there is no prospect of a U.S. government supporting socialism in Rojava; experiments in building societies considerably less radical than that of Rojava have been mercilessly crushed by the U.S. using every means at its disposal. That the project of Rojava, for now, has been helped by the presence of U.S. troops is an unintentional byproduct of the unsuccessful U.S. effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. At the same time of the expected pullout from Rojava, U.S. troops will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they are unambiguously occupiers.

Assad brutality in the service of neoliberalism

Even if the analysis is overly mechanical, cheering the withdrawal of troops is understandable, given the imperialist history of U.S. aggression. Less understandable is support for the bloodthirsty Assad regime. “The enemy of what I oppose is a friend” is a reductionist, and often futile, way of thinking. The Ba’ath regime of Hafez and Bashar Assad have a long history of murderous rampages against Syrians. The United Nations Human Rights Council reports “patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.” Amnesty International reports that “As many as 13,000 prisoners from Saydnaya Military Prison were extrajudicially executed in night-time mass hangings between 2011 and 2015. The victims were overwhelmingly civilians perceived to oppose the government and were executed after being held in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance.”

Enforced monoculture agriculture was imposed on the Kurdish regions of Syria by the Ba’ath régime, with no economic development allowed. These areas were intentionally kept undeveloped under a policy of “Arabization” against Kurds and the other minority groups of the areas now comprising Rojava. Kurds were routinely forcibly removed from their farm lands and other properties, with Arabs settled in their place. Nor should the Assad family rule be seen in as any way as progressive. Neoliberal policies and increasingly anti-labor policies have been imposed. The spark that ignited the civil war was the drought that struck Syria beginning in 2006, a disaster deepened by poor water management and corruption.

Political scientists Raymond Hinnebusch and Tina Zinti, in the introduction to Syria from Reform to Revolt, Volume 1: Political Economy and International Relations, provide a concise summary of Assad neoliberalism. (The following two paragraphs are summarized from their introduction.)

Hafez al-Assad became dictator, eliminating Ba’athist rivals, in 1970. He “constructed a presidential system above party and army” staffed with relatives, close associates and others from his Alawite minority, according to professors Hinnebusch and Zinti. “[T]he party turned from an ideological movement into institutionalized clientalism” with corruption that undermined development. In turn, Alawite domination bred resentment on the part of the Sunni majority, and a network of secret police and elite military units, allowed to be above the law, kept the regime secure. Over the course of the 1990s, widespread privatization drastically shrank the state sector, which earned Assad the support of Syria’s bourgeoisie.

Upon Assad’s death in 2000, his son Bashar was installed as president. Bashar al-Assad sought to continue opening Syria’s economy to foreign capital. In order to accomplish that, he needed to sideline his father’s old guard and consolidate his power. He did, but by doing so he weakened the régime and its connections to its base. He also altered the régime’s social base, basing his rule on technocrats and businessmen who supported his economic reforms and concomitant disciplining of the working class. Syria’s public sector was run down, social services reduced, an already weak labor law further weakened and taxation became regressive, enabling new private banks and businesses to reap big incomes.

Not exactly friends of the working class, and a strong contrast to the system of “democratic confederalism” as the Rojava economic and political system is known.

Building political democracy through communes

Clandestine organizing had been conducted among Syrian Kurds since a 2004 massacre of Kurds by the Assad régime; much of this organizing was done by women because they could move more openly then men under the close watch of the régime. Kurds were supportive of the rebels when the civil war began, but withdrew from cooperation as the opposition became increasingly Islamized and unresponsive to Kurd demands for cultural recognition. Meanwhile, as the uprising began, Kurdish self-protection militias were formed in secret with clandestine stocks of weapons. The drive for freedom from Assad’s terror began on the night of July 18, 2012, when the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) took control of the roads leading into Kobani and, inside the city, people began to take over government buildings.

What the Syrian Kurds have created in the territory known as Rojava is a political system based on neighborhood communes and an economic system based on cooperatives. (“Rojava” is the Kurdish word for “west,” denoting that the Syrian portion of their traditional lands is “West Kurdistan.”) The inspiration for their system is Murray Bookchin’s concept of a federation of independent communities known as “libertarian municipalism” or “communalism.” But democratic confederalism is a syncretic philosophy, influenced by theorists such as Immanuel Wallerstein, Benedict Anderson and Antonio Gramsci in addition to Mr. Bookchin but rooted in Kurdish history and culture.

Political organization in Rojava consists of two parallel structures. The older and more established is the system of communes and councils, which are direct-participation bodies. The other structure, resembling a traditional government, is the Democratic-Autonomous Administration, which is more of a representative body, although one that includes seats for all parties and multiple social organizations.

The commune is the basic unit of self-government, the base of the council system. A commune comprises the households of a few streets within a city or village, usually 30 to 400 households. Above the commune level are community people’s councils comprising a city neighborhood or a village. The next level up are the district councils, consisting of a city and surrounding villages. The top of the four levels is the People’s Council of West Kurdistan, which elects an executive body on which about three dozen people sit. The top level theoretically coordinates decisions for all of Rojava.

Integrated within the four-level council system are seven commissions — defense, economics, politics, civil society, free society, justice and ideology — and a women’s council. These committees and women’s councils exist at all four levels. In turn commissions at local levels coordinate their work with commissions in adjacent areas. There is also an additional commission, health, responsible for coordinating access to health care (regardless of ability to pay) and maintaining hospitals, in which medical professionals fully participate. Except for the women’s councils, all bodies have male and female co-leaders.

At least 40 percent of the attendees must be women in order for a commune decision to be binding. That quota reflects that women’s liberation is central to the Rojava project on the basis that the oppression of women at the hands of men has to be completely eliminated for any egalitarian society to be born. Manifestations of sexism, including male violence against women, have not magically disappeared. These may now be socially unacceptable, and more likely to be kept behind closed doors, but the system of women’s councils attached to the communes, and councils at higher levels, and the self-organization of women, has at a minimum put an end to the isolation that enabled the toleration of sexist behavior and allowed other social problems to fester.

A system of women’s houses provides spaces for women to discuss their issues. These centers also offer courses on computers, language, sewing, first aid, culture and art, as well as providing assistance against social sexism. As with peace committees that seek to find a solution rather than mete out punishments in adjudicating conflicts, the first approach when dealing with violence or other issues of sexism is to effect a change in behavior. One manifestation of putting these beliefs into action is the creation of women’s militias, which have played leading roles in battlefield victories over Islamic State.

Building a cooperative economy based on human need

The basis of Rojava’s economy are cooperatives. The long-term goal is to establish an economy based on human need, environmentalism and equality, distinctly different from capitalism. Such an economy can hardly be established overnight, so although assistance is provided to cooperatives, which are rapidly increasing in number, private capital and markets still exist. Nor has any attempt to expropriate large private landholdings been attempted or contemplated.

Given the intentional under-development of the region under the Assad family régime, the resulting lack of industry and the civil-war inability to import machinery or much else, and the necessity of becoming as food self-sufficient as possible due to the blockade, Rojava’s cooperatives are primarily in the agricultural sector. There is also the necessity of reducing unemployment, and the organization of communes is seen as the speediest route to that social goal as well.

The practitioners of democratic confederalism say they reject both capitalism and the Soviet model of state ownership. They say they represent a third way, embodied in the idea that self-management in the workplace goes with self-management in politics and administration. Since their liberation from the highly repressive Assad régime, Rojava agriculture has become far more diversified, and price controls were imposed.

The city of Qamishli in Syrian Kurdistan (photo by Arab Salsa)

Cooperative enterprises are not intended to be competitive against one another. Cooperatives are required to be connected to the council system; independence is not allowed. Cooperatives work through the economics commissions to meet social need and in many cases their leadership is elected by the communes. The intention is to form cooperatives in all sectors of the economy. But basic necessities such as water, land and energy are intended to be fully socialized, with some arguing that these should be made available free of charge. Because the economy will retain some capitalist elements for some time, safeguards are seen as necessary to ensure that cooperatives don’t become too large and begin to behave like private enterprises.

We need not indulge in hagiography. There are, naturally, problems and contradictions. Private ownership of the means of production is enshrined in documents espousing socialism and equality, and large private landholdings, with attendant social relations, will be untouched. It is hardly reasonable to expect that a brand new economy can be established overnight, much less in a region forced to divert resources to military defense. Nonetheless, capitalists expect as much profit as can be squeezed out of their operations, an expectation decidedly at odds with goals of “equality and environmental sustainability.” In essence, what is being created is a mixed economy, and the history of mixed economies is fraught with difficulties. Another issue is that Rojava’s authorities, connected with the dominant Democratic Union Party (PYD), can be heavy-handed, including the closing of the offices of the opposition Kurdish National Council on questionable legal grounds.

Nonetheless, what is being created in northern Syria is a remarkable experiment in economic and political democracy — not only Kurds but other minority groups and Arabs consciously working toward socialism. Why shouldn’t this be supported? The authors of the book Revolution in Rojava, supporters of the project and one of whom fought in the women’s militia, argue that the idea that Rojava’s acceptance of Western aid is a “betrayal” is “naïve,” drawing parallels with Republican Spain of the 1930s. Describing Rojava as an “anti-fascist project,” they note that the capitalist West turned its back on the Spanish Revolution, allowing fascism to triumph.

In the forward to the same book, David Graeber, careful to differentiate the targets of his critique from those who oppose the global dominance of North American militarism, argues:

“What I am speaking of here instead is the feeling that foiling imperial designs — or avoiding any appearance of even appearing to be on the ‘same side’ as an imperialist in any context — should always take priority over anything else. This attitude only makes sense if you’ve secretly decided that real revolutions are impossible. Because surely, if one actually felt that a genuine popular revolution was occurring, say, in the [Rojava] city of Kobanî and that its success could be a beacon and example to the world, one would also not hold that it is better for those revolutionaries to be massacred by genocidal fascists than for a bunch of white intellectuals to sully the purity of their reputations by suggesting that US imperial forces already conducting airstrikes in the region might wish to direct their attention to the fascists’ tanks. Yet, astoundingly, this was the position that a very large number of self-professed ‘radicals’ actually did take.”

It does seem quite reasonable to hope for a socialist experiment to avoid being destroyed by Islamic State fascism, Turkish ultra-nationalism or Syrian absolutism rather than clinging to dogmatism.

34 comments on “Why are Leftists cheering the potential demise of Rojava’s socialist experiment?

  1. Nancy Kogel says:

    hi pete, such a coincidence, i think, that i was just writing the words “we need a systemic change in the order” when your blog came across the borders of my mind. i hope to find time to read this sublime item, if even with just a sweep. thanks for keeping on it. wishing you a happy new year, nancy

    ROAR! (Reaching Out for Animal Rights!)  ROAR24.org

    working towards a sustainable, peaceful, healthy, just, egalitarian, communally shared, vegan, loving planet


  2. Nancy Kogel says:

    illuminating! i had exactly those thoughts, when hearing of the troop withdrawal. your article helps clarify. thanks! nancy

    p.s. i thought amy goodman should be aware of it and sent her this:

    Pete Dolack has an alternative view of the US pullout from the Kurdish held territories, which thus allows the crushing of the Kurds’ “socialist experiment”) in contrast to many on the left, for example, Medea Benjamin.. read the article in dolack’s “systemic disorder” weblog here:


    perhaps you’d like to have him appear and present his well-reasoned arguments.

    nancy kogel

    ROAR! (Reaching Out for Animal Rights!)  ROAR24.org

    working towards a sustainable, peaceful, healthy, just, egalitarian, communally shared, vegan, loving planet


  3. Reblogged this on Solidarity Dynamics and commented:
    There are several insights in this. Plus a strong example of a socialist critique of some socialist thinking and commentary. An essential part of socialism.

  4. maimonides13 says:

    unfortunately, even if the “left” desired military support from the US or other western powers, there is no way of compelling that support.

    Trump’s decision is simply a wake up call. i think we all expected that at some point, the US w’d stab the Kurdish comrades in the back and leave them to the mercy of their enemies. there’s plenty of wishful thinking that might have prevented this tragedy…if the left in one western euro country had the authority to direct their country’s government and defense forces to assist the Syrian people and the Kurds…

    • Greetings, maimonides13. Unfortunately, you are completely correct when you write that it was inevitable that the U.S. would stab its Kurdish allies in the back. I will admit I did not expect that to happen quite this soon. And it is also true the U.S. Left is too weak to compel a change in U.S. government policy, all the more so when the Left is divided on this issue.

  5. sustain2016 says:

    Thanks so much for your in-depth research and the publication of this important piece.
    Very grateful, Happy New Year!
    Harriet Heywood

  6. Prole Center says:

    I’m glad to see, at least, that anarchists finally recognize that forming a temporary alliance with one’s ideological and political enemies can be a sound strategy under particular circumstances. Perhaps they will now recognize that Stalin’s treaty with Hitler (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) in the prelude to WW2 was also a wise move and a necessary evil given that England and France had refused to form an anti-fascist alliance with the Soviet Union to crush the Nazis early on.

    When it comes to the Kurds, I think they had better work out a deal with Assad and Putin – which they should have done instead of running into the arms of the Americans. Assad is not the “brutal dictator” he has been painted as by the Western media. I am quite sure that, approached in good faith, he will offer the Kurds a much better deal than they will get from the Americans or their Turkish vassals.

    • We’ll have to disagree on the nature of the Assad régime, but your point that the Kurds will have no choice other than to make a deal with Assad and Putin seems correct to me. The Kurds appear to be in the process of doing just that. Here we have the irony of a U.S. nationalist, Trump, making a move that will weaken U.S. influence and provide a boost to countries in opposition to the U.S.

      As to your historical reference, it should be obvious to all that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a maneuver by Stalin to buy time, a deal he needed to make given the refusal, as you point out, of Western European governments to form an alliance with Moscow or at least take the threat of Hitler seriously. Stalin didn’t use the time he bought well enough, which could have avoided some of the immense sacrifices the Soviet peoples would ultimately make to win the war, but it was a necessity to prepare for the war that by then was inevitable.

  7. David Starkey says:

    KURDS have done a better job of fighting ISIS than ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD. KURDS are the Largest Population on Earth without a country. If the U.S. removes its support – it would be disastrous – and completely unsurprising under the current feckless regime. THE KURDS SHOULD IMMEDIATELY DECLARE INDEPENDENCE & REQUEST RECOGNITION FROM THE UNITED NATIONS – BUT ONLY ON THE TERRITORY FORMERLY PART OF IRAQ! [They can seek remedy on territory absorbed by Turkey at another time.] Otherwise, I fear there could be a repeat of what happened to the Armenians right after World War I.

    • Greetings, David. The principle of democratic confederalism, as practiced by the Syrian and Turkish Kurdish communities through the PYD and PKK, holds that states are products of “capitalist modernity,” which they explicitly reject. So they don’t want independence.

      Separate from that issue is that a declaration of independence would only inflame the situation and make an invasion more likely. And, finally, the Iraqi Kurdish government (which is bitterly hostile to the PYD and PKK) did make a move toward independence recently, and were promptly routed by the Iraqi army. That move by the Iraqi Kurdish government was strongly opposed by Baghdad, Ankara, Washington and Riyadh. We need to understand the reality of a complex situation.

  8. tony logan says:

    So the author says that Leftists that oppose the continued support by US imperialism of Kurds in Rojava are supposedly ‘confused’? He even says that a ‘socialist experiment’ is in the making by the help of Washington D.C.! Oh my!

    What I find as being confused is such rhetoric that backs up US government claims to be a humanitarian force in the world today. What’s even worse, is that this is not the first and only effort to pull off this sort of verbal acrobatics by those who have been correctly labeled as being the Cruise Missile Left. Similarly the very same sorts of ‘Left’ pro US imperialists have also claimed previously that rebellion fomented in Libya by the Pentagon was revolutionary too. At about the same time, they were also overjoyed that US imperialism had split off South Sudan from Sudan proper. Notice how that has all worked out for the Libyan and Sudanese peoples? Not too well, in fact.

    What next? We can already see what is ahead as these same… Think that they are Leftists people… support (and mouth off as their own) US imperialism’s propaganda drives against Iran, China, and Russia. This is not exactly how to build an antiwar movement in the US et al. In short, it is very confused thinking.

    • You clearly did not actually read the article, Tony. The “author” said no such things as you claim. It is recommended that you actually understand an article before commenting on it.

      • tony logan says:

        I READ THIS-

        ‘The world of course is accustomed to the U.S. government using financial and military means to destroy nascent socialist societies around the world. But the bizarre and unprecedented case — even if accidental — of an alternative society partly reliant on a U.S. military presence seems to have confused much of the U.S. Left.’

        I CLEARLY DID READ WHAT WAS WRITTEN BY YOU… Those were your words and I understood what you were saying, though apparently you did not understand them yourself! ‘Alternative societies’ are not build via Pentagon firepower. Not even ‘if accidental’, which I really found to be a completely comical notion by you.

        The USA has not been funding the construction of a ‘democratic and cooperative experiment of the Syrian Kurds’…. not ‘even if accidental’. Uncle Sam was funding an occupation of part of Syria’s national territory FOR ITSELF, and no amount of sugar coating that can say anything otherwise.

        • I’ve been in debate the past two days with several people on Facebook. Most of those people disagree with me, but the difference between them and you is that they grasp the subtleties of my argument and are debating on the basis of issues. In strong contrast, you simply make personal attacks. I have better things to do than argue with someone who is more interested in upholding his ideological purity than engaging in serious debate.

          I have written numerous articles laying bare the nature and destructive results of U.S. imperialism, do such at length in my first book and will again in my second book, which I am currently working on. So let’s be clear about Rojava — the Syrian Kurds have built their society of democratic confederalism on their own, and as I have made abundantly clear, any socialist project is violently opposed by U.S. governments. But the presence of U.S. troops prevents the Turkish army from overrunning Rojava. The destruction of a socialist project is a disaster, no matter the circumstances. Any serious Leftist ought to be able to comprehend that.

          • tony logan says:

            I am not impressed by your twisted efforts of being logical here at all. The issue of how the US government uses Kurdish national aspirations to promote its own imperialist agendas cannot simply be washed away as supposedly not being important. And to show how crazy your view really is, you reduce Stalin’s crime of allying with Hitler down to pretending that it was merely ‘bungling’ on his part! That is your idea of understanding ‘subtleties’ which I supposedly can’t do.

            ‘Let’s think about World War II for a moment. Was supporting the war against Hitler and Mussolini’s fascist régimes simply a matter of “supporting” U.S. troops? The victory over fascism likely could not have been won without the herculean effort of the Soviet Union once it overcame the initial bungling of Josef Stalin and the second-rate commanders he had put in charge of the Red Army after purging most of the best generals.’

            Yes, you whitewash the Kurdish coordinating with US imperialism like you whitewashed Stalin’s efforts to coordinate with Hitler. Others cannot do that, neither with how Kurish nationalist worked together with the Pentagon in Iraq, as they now have been doing in Syria as well. That is not constructing ‘their society of democratic confederalism on their own’. That is only your own delusions and desires that ti should be so. But it is not.

            • This is like arguing with a brick wall. You are incapable of understanding an argument, and we shall waste no more time with you.

            • Don says:

              Tony said “And to show how crazy your view really is, you reduce Stalin’s crime of allying with Hitler down to pretending that it was merely ‘bungling’ on his part! That is your idea of understanding ‘subtleties’ which I supposedly can’t do.”

              You are very misinformed here Tony. Stalin did not sign a cooperation and love agreement with the fascists in Germany he signed a non aggression agreement. That was temporary and was aimed at stopping German aggression against the Soviet Union.


              “Papers which were kept secret for almost 70 years show that the Soviet Union proposed sending a powerful military force in an effort to entice Britain and France into an anti-Nazi alliance.

              Such an agreement could have changed the course of 20th century history, preventing Hitler’s pact with Stalin which gave him free rein to go to war with Germany’s other neighbours.

              The offer of a military force to help contain Hitler was made by a senior Soviet military delegation at a Kremlin meeting with senior British and French officers, two weeks before war broke out in 1939.”

  9. In a separate comment I placed emphasis on that bit in SD’s post that said “ask the Kurds”. There is every reason to believe that the Kurdish socialist-feminists are extremely capable of working out the alliances that are most important them, and how to mage the compromises etc that go with alliance building. Probably better at it than most of us lefties in the west. We do not have a strong track record on these matters. We should back off recommending one direction or another to the Kurdish strategisers. Instead we should be seeking to learn more about their strategic analysis, their “strategic thinking”, and its method, and of course its decisions. We would then be on a stronger footing to consider whether we should seek their advice and maybe learn something about a better way of going about thingsin our own neck of the woods.

  10. Joel Meyers says:

    At first, one could argue that the incitements of war by the Democrats, the so-called “liberals” and other anti-Trump forces was only cynical rhetoric, designed to appeal to universal Russophobia, that could unite Republicans and conservatives and fascists, and isolate Trump.

    Supposedly, once they forced Trump out, by constant harassment, impeachment removal or assassination, they would then cut themselves off from the World War III momentum, and exhibit their cool-headed, peacenik aspect.

    With recent developments in Syria, however, they have moved from rhetorical agitation to actual interference against the removal of troops engaged in actual, imperialist mass murder and aggression. From words to deeds. They have found themselves to the right of Trump on foreign policy.

    They have actually succeeded in stopping the troop pullout, with Trump saving face by postponing it indefinitely. Hey, they may have reminded him, do you remember when JFK was committing summitry with Khrushchev, failed to lead the Bay of Pigs to victory against revolutionary Cuba, wanted to pull out of Vietnam? Tried to stop nuclear proliferation to Israel? Why, he did not make it through his first term, or to the Trade Mart in Dallas!

    Donald, WTF do you think you’re doing, and WTF do you think you are, tough guy?

    The war in Syria was instigated by the U.S.-Israeli alliance.

    The U.S., also dragging other disgustingly reactionary gas stations masquerading as nation states: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and a long list of other similar forces.

    John McCain, Lindsay Graham and others who never met a war they did not like, were proudly photographed delivering arms to a motley crew of uniting impeialist corruption, medieval revangist outlooks and violent religious sectarians and fanatics, into a mercenary crew whose purpose was to destroy Syria.

    An Israeli military official was interviewed in Haaretz by a dissident reporter, who asked him, if he was against withdrawing Western forces and their mercenaries from Syria what outcome the Israeli settler state prefers, answered that, speaking for himself anonimously , that he prefers “no outcome.”

    In other words, pure terrorism, rather than terroristic tactics to support other goals and visions.

    The core of the attempted takeover of Syria was precisely ISIS, which was partially broken off from the Iraqi branch.

    Syria was seen as the next country to invade after Iraq. It was to be done as a proxy war.

    Syria was and is Russin aligned, with Russia permitted to have military basis.

    Under the impact of the proxy war, Syria only survived in its sovereignty because of the intercession of Russian, Iranian, and let’s not forget, Hezbollah who entered the fight.

    As the U.S.-Anglo-Israeli nuclear-bearing coalition neared total, humiliating defeat, the U.S. was forced to directly intervene, with its own troops, coordinated with massive Israeli bombing of Syrian and Iranian positions.

    When Trump declared he was pulling troops out of Syria, that was apparently the last straw for General James Mad Dog Maddis, who took on that appellation from his engineering of the genocidal massacre in Fallujah.

    The New York Times echoed that Trump was “appeasing Putin” and isolating “our” “allies.”

    Were these thundering lunatics so enraged because they support feminist, socialist, communist anarchist experiments, and national liberation of the Kurds? Is that really why they “entered” World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, bombed Serbia for months, etc. It is always in the name of democracy, yes, and human rights.

    The main operational opposition to Trump from the Democratic division of the War Party is based on his being alleged to be a “Putin puppet”. They are infuriated over the partial chilling out of the World War III potential sparkplugs in Syria, Korea, and other confrontations. They continue to increase the nuclear encirclement at the Russian border, most recently pulling off a naval confrontation with Russia spearheaded by a U.S.-controlled “Ukrainian” forces at the Strait of Kerch, to a chorus of NY Times-Democratic Party-Pentagon-CIA, barking that “Trump has done nothing!”

    U.S. public opinion, in the face of the mass media Fourth Estate, a privatized propaganda ministry of monopoly capital, must be trained to resist brainwashing and manipulation, as the first step to resist any and all U.S. aggression, and “presence” anywhere, from the Middle East to the Middle West, which itself was won by genocidal war against the Native Peoples, and now, in spirit and action, is radiating the same around the world.

    • I think you are giving far too much credit to Trump. Because U.S. banks have ceased proving him loans, he is likely in debt to Russian oligarchs to keep his debt-driven real estate empire running. And he’s likely still interested in building a Trump tower in Moscow. Both these require he keep in good graces with Putin. The only interest Trump has is his wallet; it certainly is not world peace.

      Trump is not challenging any U.S. foreign-policy status quo because he does not possess the intellectual capability nor the needed empathic ability to do so.

      • Joel Meyers says:

        Obviouslly, Trump cannot be trusted to keep the peace. He presides over the capitalist world, which is inherently a system built around war, the raping and robbing on a world standard, and he has pushed for massive military spending increases. There is a factional dispute in the ruling class over a rapprochement with Russia, which could usher in 100s of billions in profitable trade, while putting the World War III perspective at a greater distance. Another powerful faction considers WW3 an inevitability, sees the Russian Federation testing hypersonic weaponry, and wants to get WW3 over with, rather than waiting as the U.S. is put at an ever greater disadvantage.

        The rapprochement faction is behind Trump and supported his election because he was the only who could implement it as an f-u- character who could take on the much larger and more entrenched WW3 crew, at least to a certain extent. The warmongers have moved from demagogic incitement, calling for restoring Crimea to the U.S.-run Nazj stormtrooper-held Ukraine internally under Zionist oligarch supervision, denounced the chill-out on the Korean peninsula, and demanding a no-fly zone over Syria coordinated with massive Israeli bombing.

        With their active interference stopping a withdrawal of troops from ongoing war crimes, the warmongers have moved from warlike rhetoric to actual military aggression. They are undermining Trump’s fledgling rapprochement. Of course, no one can deny that Trump’s move closer to a settlement of the Cold War is motivated by corrupt reasons. Those maybe the only material reasons why imperialists draw back from the brink of planet-destroying, genocidal war, and as such, it is a positive development, as compared to the at least equally corrupt liberals champing at the bit through CIA-Pentagon war criminals of the Democratic-controlled, Robert Mueller who covered up 9-11 lied the U;S. into the whole series of new Crusade chapters from Afghanistan, to iraq, to Libya, to Syria, spilling blood, killing and dying, for the benefit of the Zionist state, which has had a long and treacherous alliance with the Kurds, seen as the enemy of the enemy, mainly Palestinians, other Arab Muslims, and Iranians.

  11. Roy Booher says:

    Just like some people have to kill any bug that they find in their home, so too, others will have to destroy the Kurds; a mental disease often referred to as, ‘survival of the fittest’, but really just a mental disease.

    • Ankara’s long-standing “Turkification,” going back to Ataturk, has no room for Kurds or any other minority group. This history, I believe it is reasonable to say, surely plays a role in the PKK and PYD rejection of statehood.

  12. Don says:

    I really dislike the attempt to get everyone to agree that the CPUSA, and other communist parties by extension did the right thing in unconditionally supporting the US war actions. Such non critical support without concessions is a complete sellout and annihilation against the struggle against capitalism. Of course the CPUSA was largely infiltrated wasn’t it? And even if it wasn’t then history proves their stance was against the parties interest. Prove me wrong.

    Of course the author is using this tactic of trying to get everyone to agree with with cooperation with US imperialism by a communist party to make the case for the unconditional support of socialists for US support for Rojava. Does the USA ever support democratic centralism, anarchism or socialism? No that is patently absurd to suggest has ever been the case.

    • For the record, I am a strong critic of the CPUSA. My attempt to draw a parallel with the CPUSA’s stance vis-à-vis World War II was simply to draw an analogy, which with readers can agree or disagree. (So far, most seem to disagree.) I will suggest, however, to characterize CPUSA support for the war effort as simply “cooperation with US imperialism” as overly simplistic. From the communist perspective, doing so was a fight against fascism and unconditional support for the Soviet Union. It would be more accurate to say communists were doing their internationalist duty.

      You yourself, in another comment above, correctly pointed out that Stalin sought a pact with the Western capitalist powers before the outbreak of World War II and when rebuffed made a deal with Hitler “aimed at stopping German aggression against the Soviet Union.” I don’t see how you can be non-judgmental about those actions while being judgmental about a weak communist party following that lead.

  13. Dana Allen says:

    Pete, I always take the time to read your blogs as they come through in my email. I put your ideas together with other articles I have recently read about the Kurds and the situation in Syria. Two that I think you might be interested in to expand your knowledge and perspective is the 1/5/19 article in Counter Currents by the on the ground excellent reporter Andre Vitchek, comparing what is going on in Syria in comparison to Afghanistan at this link: https://countercurrents.org/2019/01/05/seven-gates-of-damascus-and-concrete-walls-of-kabul/. The other article that is relevant to this discussion that I found fascinating can be found in the January 2019 Harper’s magazine “Long Shot” about the Kurdish resistance and some info about their culture and history. Link here: https://harpers.org/archive/2019/01/long-shot-kurdish-ypg-snipers-women-soldiers/

    Thanks for all you do for your fellow travelers.


    • Greetings, Dana. Thanks for sharing the links. Andre Vltchek is always interesting to read and the second link, written by a British-Kurdish sniper, paints a most vivid picture of the front lines against Islamic State.

  14. Curt Kastens says:

    Of the thousands of US soldiers that were working with the Syrian Kurds I wonder if even one ever thought to him or herself, damn I wonder if there is something going on here in Syrian Kurdistan that could benifit us the in the USA.

  15. Appeal to Sanity says:

    While I don’t agree with these other “anti-imperialist” leftists, and support intervention against people like Assad or Maduro, the fact that “Rojava” is not much of a socialist experiment and actively backs the war machine of Assad could be why there is no equivalent of the Internationalist Brigades during the Spanish Civil War or the solidarity movement for the Sandinistas in the 1980s. Rojava doesn’t even have bourgeois democracy, let alone an actual democratic socialist system. Their rigged elections and brutal human rights abuses attest to this.

    • You have no idea of what you are talking about. The Assad régime is thoroughly hostile to the Kurds and their Rojava project, and the Assad régime has consistently oppressed the Kurds. The Kurds do make realpolitik choices as they are surrounded by governments that want to destroy them, as noted in the article above. The only agreement between Damascus and Rojava is when the Kurds invited the Syrian Army to take up a position on its west flank after Turkey threatened to invade, a threat to take seriously given Turkey’s invasion and ethnic cleansing of the Afrin canton early in 2018.

      For folks who are actually interested in reality in contrast to the closed mind of Appeal to Sanity, here are two recommend books:
      A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State by Meredith Tax
      Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in the Syrian Kurdistan by three authors who were actually in Rojava, unlike Appeal to Sanity

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