Isn’t it fascinating how western journalists are suddenly rallying to attack the dangerous awful and horrifying epidemic of “Assad apologists” just as the western empire ramps up its longstanding regime change agenda against the Syrian government? Kinda sorta exactly the same way they began spontaneously warning the world about “Saddam apologists” around the time of the Iraq invasion?

The increasingly pro-establishment Intercept has published an article titled “Dear Bashar al-Assad Apologists: Your Hero Is a War Criminal Even If He Didn’t Gas Syrians,” condemning unnamed opponents of western interventionism in Syria for not being sufficiently condemnatory of Bashar al-Assad in their antiwar discourse.

Last week The Times published an article titled “Apologists for Assad working in British universities,” frantically informing the public that “top academics” are circulating information that runs counter to the official Syria narrative, followed this week by a Huffington Post article attacking those same academics in the same way. Yesterday, the BBC ran an article titled “Syria war: the online activists pushing conspiracy theories,” warning its readers about “pro-Syrian government” internet posts.

I first encountered the word “apologetics” as a young Catholic girl in a parochial school, where the term was introduced to me as the religious practice of defending Church doctrine using discourse and argumentation. I did not become familiar with the related secular term “apologia” until much later, which is defined as “a work written as an explanation or justification of one’s motives, convictions, or acts.”

It wasn’t a term I ever made use of or encountered much in day to day life until I started writing extensively about the dangerous warmongering behaviors I was seeing in my country’s allies last year, when all of a sudden it became a part of my daily life. For me, I was just trying to help prevent the western empire from decimating yet another Middle Eastern country in yet another war based on lies and avoid dangerous escalations that could lead to nuclear holocaust, but to countless strangers on the internet I am an “Assad apologist” and a “Putin apologist”.

People have been calling me these things every single day for well over a year now. The internet is weird, man.

And surprise surprise, now that the war drum is beating louder than ever for Syrian blood, the phrase “Assad apologists” is enjoying a massive uptick.

The argument as I understand it is that people like Professors Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson, the subjects of the aforementioned Times and Huffpo articles, are not protesting the latest warmongering agenda of a multinational power establishment with an extensive history of decimating Middle Eastern countries, but are in fact going out of their way to justify Bashar al-Assad’s motives, convictions, and acts. Not because they oppose death and destruction like normal human beings, but because they are just positively head-over-heels gaga over some random Middle Eastern leader for some reason.

And that’s always how these arguments go. By pointing out that the US-centralized empire has been plotting regime change in Syria literally for generations, I’m not opposing dangerous regime change interventionism, I’m defending a dictator. By noting that the western empire has an extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture support for military aggression, I’m not stating a well-documented and frequently admitted fact, I’m performing apologia on behalf of a despotic regime.

It can’t possibly be because I am aware that the neoconservatives who have been braying for this attack for years are always completely wrong about everything. It can’t possibly be because the US-centralized war machine has had a well-established pattern for many years of demolishing countries based on lies and false pretenses of humanitarianism only to leave in their wake a humanitarian disaster, which they then blame on “mistakes” made by whoever happened to be in charge at the time. It can’t possibly be because US-led military interventionism in modern times is literally never helpful, literally never accomplishes what its proponents claim it will accomplish, and is literally always extremely profitable for its most vocal advocates.

Nope, it’s got to be because I fell in love with a gangly Syrian president whom I’d never even thought about before the neocons set their crosshairs on him, and I only oppose the next imminent military catastrophe because I agree so much with his policies and behavior.

Even more annoying than the honest regime change proponents are people like Mehdi Hasan, author of the aforementioned Intercept piece, who claim to oppose US regime change but find themselves tone policing the antiwar left instead. The world is full of problems, the greatest arguably being a third world war and potential nuclear confrontation between Russia and America ensuing from US interventionism in Syria, but men like Hasan choose to focus their creative energy on making sure the antiwar left mitigates its speech sufficiently and prefaces every antiwar argument with “Assad is a bloodthirsty evil dictator, but”.

Like that’s what the world desperately needs right now: for the antiwar left to be even more mitigated in its speech than it already is. For us to slam on the brakes of our antiwar surge to check one another to make sure we’re all being explicitly anti-Assad enough.

These writers never make it clear exactly why it’s so important for everyone in the antiwar movement to be checked and scrutinized for excessive enthusiasm about the Syrian government. Are they worried they’ll go and join the Syrian Arab Army? That they’ll install Assad as president of the United States? How is sympathy toward the Syrian government a threat to anything other than the manufacturing of support for more escalations in US-led interventionism?

We don’t need equivocation and tone policing right now. What we need is a loud and unequivocal NO to western military interventionism in the country immediately adjacent to the one we raped fifteen years ago.

We’ve been here before. Here’s an article from 2001 titled “Saddam Hussein’s American Apologist”. Here’s one from 2002 titled “Saddam’s apologists”. Here’s another from 2003 titled “After Saddam’s Capture: Will His Apologists Now Recant?” Here’s yet another from 2003 titled “Armchair generals, or Saddam’s leftwing allies”. Here’s one from 2005 titled “Parliament’s damning report about Saddam apologist George Galloway.” This was an extremely common smear against opponents of the Iraq invasion, who were of course later proven to have been 100 percent correct in every way.

Iraq is as relevant as relevant gets to this debate, and anyone who claims otherwise is only doing so because they know Iraq is devastating to their Syria arguments. They’re pulling the same damn tricks in the same damn way, in some cases with the same damn people. These “We must stop the Assad apologists!” op-eds are coming out with increasing frequency and urgency because they are losing control of the Syria narrative and they are running out of tricks. Don’t let their authoritative way of speaking fool you; they are not nearly as confident as they pretend to be.


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26 responses to “What Are “Assad Apologists”? Are They Like Those “Saddam Apologists” Of 2002?”

  1. The irony of the “regime change” cacophony is the that regimes in question have to clamp down simply to ensure that IS-like and the McCainiac movements don’t get a foothold in the various countries affected. Were the regimes to allow “acceptable freedoms,” they would be in danger of being overthrown at any particular time. We don’t forget the importance of “9/11,” especially when it applies to Chile and its fledgling “democracy,” ca. 1973. “Dictators” such as Hussein, Qaddafi, Assad, and others in the Middle East are not stupid and, in order to combat the outside influences, they keep abreast of political adversaries and their activities. Iran is an especial example in that that country is all-too-well aware of the effects of the various outside and internal forces that can come to destabilise their nations. Of course, once the popular political leaders are deposed or disposed of, the Pinochets (DINA), Shahs (SAVAK), and their ilk impose even more draconian policies and measures that tend to make the countries rigid and inflexible in their daily activities, all the while acceptable to the powers-that-be (and support such things as Operations Condor and Columbo). Irony of ironies: imperial designs actually create the conditions by which the opposed leaders and rulers can be found to be distasteful … or compliant.

  2. The Intercept article that you referenced can be taken as a tacit admission that the case for “ZOMG! Assad used teh Gas on his own peoples! ZOMG!” is perhaps not so strong as originally advertised.

    In fact, one might say that the wheels came off that bus and now regime change apologists are looking for a fallback position.

  3. Zarayna Pradyer Avatar
    Zarayna Pradyer

    Just to first and foremost thank you.

    I might also mention that, all but one of my polite, fact-filled but lively responses to the Huff Post piece, and consequent comments, were taken down.

    Thus, the only comment that I could contribute acted as a hub for others to criticise but without an opportunity for either myself or others to expand upon and to explain.

    Obviously, these propaganda pieces are designed to push emotional buttons and lead the vulnerable down cul-de-sacs that are difficult to escape from.

    I have thus nobly withdrawn from battle and will now cleanse my knobs and knockers of any lingering Novichok.

    Take care, everyone! xxxxx

  4. Caitlin, many thanks for once again writing such an incisive, to-the-point, nail-on-the-head article. Thank you for bringing up the “tone policing” concept, because I now realise that that is what I get subjected to n other forums where I expose the lies, double standards, hypocrisy of the West concerning Syria/Assad, Russia/Putin, China, North Korea/Kim Jong Un, Venezuela/Maduro, the Palestinians, Yemen, Libya/Khadaffi.

    I back up my arguments with links as much as possible so people can also judge for themselves, nevertheless hard facts are blatantly denied. Then the counter-arguments going into tone policing mode, with additional smear and slander of the ‘antisemitic’ and ‘Holocaust’ nuclear options to snuff out any criticism of Israel; my criticism of the country vis-a-vis the Palestinians is extremely heavy because I am thoroughly disgusted by what has been happening there ever since the Zionists infested the region. The Yemen issue also gets me going like that.

    And always the tone policing because the neocons/fascists have no real arguments against facts and the truth. So thanks again for teaching me (us here?) about tone policing.

  5. I like the idea of being called an ‘apologist’. It is a much nicer term than some of my acquaintances and even some family members use when referring to my anti-war positions. It really fries brains of the right wingers when I suggest I am the ultimate PRO-LIFER …. I oppose war.

  6. Yes how Orwellian the times we are living. The western nations and more to the point the WASP five eyes countries have it in their DNA . Me not being one of the exceptionalist DNA people have only one phrase to explain the west be it the so called Intercept or any other so called journo or so called progressive whatever that means in this day age. PERFIDIOUS ALBION. I find it troubling and distressing that not one so called western intellectual academic to have any critical thinking or questioning of the narrative that has been spewed at us the sheeple at nauseam. Let us go through memory lane of the great exceptionalist western nations and their humanitarian army NATO>
    Jugoslavia ( this is were the western intellectuals invented a new word( Balkanisation) and further more the sanitised version of genocide is replaced with ethnic cleansing which for the first time was being used during the Balkan war of the 90’s. Remember Milosovic then being tried for crimes against humanity at the Hague. Well they overturned that ruling circa 5 years ago . I bet my life they did not even mention it in the legacy media msm. WMD and that famous vial from Colin Powell at the UN . Hell why speak of little truths like that.
    Let us move on to Qadaffi’s Libya . Had the highest standard of living in the African continent and was in the top 30 countries of the world on economic equality and health and education. Look at it today slave trade heaven and one of the most dangerous places on this planet and the best Jihadi university in the world.
    Yemen Not one mention of what is occurring in Yemen and docius in fundem last but not least the wholesale sluaghter in the largest open prison in the world GAZA.
    Yeah I can hear it now I am an Qadaffi , Saddam and Assad apologist and an anti -semite.
    The last statement is so over used and abused. Simple fact ones religion does not make one a semite . Lebanese ,Palestinians and Syrians are semites as well but hell simple facts and realities to all these pax-americana and anglo-zionist shills can never alter their vile totalitarian confirmation bias.
    Mussolini would be laughing in is hole in hell seeing his dream come to fruition. LO STATO COPRORATO THE CORPORATE STATE which is text book fascism welcome to our Orwellian reality.

  7. I’m a proud apologist for the likes of Assad , Putin , Gaddafi , and Hussein , but on a relative , rather than absolute , basis. Relative to the recent and current leaders of countries like the U.S. , UK , Israel , and Saudi Arabia , the above-mentioned four leaders were/are not just a step above , but are truly exemplary by comparison.

    When the comparators are demonstrably evil psychopaths , just a hint of decency makes one appear to be exemplary.

    1. Well said Marko, good point made.

      1. I feel more comfortable standing up for Assad than for Hussein. The latter was psychopathically complicit in war crimes against Iran, with US help, for a long time before “we” turned against him. I don’t see anything comparable in Assad’s history.

  8. Jeffrey Bodony Avatar
    Jeffrey Bodony

    Apologists,indeed.An important bit of history on Syria from Bobby Kennedy Jr.

  9. Harry S Nydick Avatar
    Harry S Nydick

    Putting all other considerations aside, along with all the truths in the article, one thing remains. Even if Assad were the devil incarnate, that gives us no right to be supporting regime change. It is not our right, either ethically or morally, to be meddling in the affairs of other governments, not to attempt to change their way of life.
    I dare say that there are numerous countries that, had they the military might, would like to eliminate the U.S. atrocities that happen every day, here, on our own soil.

    1. And that is the bottom line of being anti-war: no one but the local people have the right to change the regime. If the regime is strong and oppressive, and stops the locals from changing it, that still does not give the West (or any others for that matter) the right to invade.

  10. Putin interview – re: Syrian G-A-S Attack
    (via the Jimmy Dore Show)
    The Lies They Told Us About Syria

  11. Caitlin if the Establishment stooges, so called “journalists” hate you… means you’re doing a good job!
    Personally, I’m lovin your fearless take downs of these hypocrits, and your well chosen words are effective weapons against the media propaganda machine.
    Your fan base is growing!

  12. Now I’ve been reading the comment section over at the Intercept article, and I was fascinated to see a running theme that no true leftist would ever defend Assad.

    So here I am, maybe not exactly defending Assad as a saint, but as a competent, well-meaning politician who is trying to survive a ruthless foreign onslaught against his country.

    Is it OK, as a leftist, to be an apologist for Assad?

    Now since in my last post I raised suspicions about the factual basis of the Hasan article, I am going to post this comment by “DeRS” over at that other thread, detailing the issues. Although at the end, DeRS repeats the mantra that it is not OK to praise Assad.


    This Mehdi’s article is COMPLETELY ORWELLIAN. Lets dissect it in order of the issues raised in this piece — 10 points:

    1. OHCHR is an organization that was famously headed by kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and their report Mehdi cites is a polling of “rebels” (Wahhabi/Salafi heads-chopping jihadis) whose claims were never investigated in any way due to security reasons (the investigators could be kidnapped by the “rebels”). Also, “rebels” are VIDEODOCUMENTED to use hospitals and schools as their bases (and even opening fire from their rooftops e.g. the USA-supplied anti-tank missiles), so even in cases when the claims of hospitals bombings are accurate it should be understood that in otherwise depopulated areas people in these buildings are almost exclusively “rebels” themselves (not some “civilians”) and there is no other way to fight them other than return fire.

    2. The “barrel” bomb accusation is blatantly false. During the seven years of war there are only three documented case of barrel bomb use. The reason is simple: during all of the years Syria has an “infinite ammo option” as it gets industrially produced bombs from old giant Soviet warehouses (Russia supplies them). So the only time when there was a need to use barrel bombs at all when there logistic issues in a particular part of the front line in the war. In other cases “rebels” call any bombs that are dropped from helicopters “barrel”. And the whole concept of this fear mongering is absurd as in reality these barrel bombs have fins attached and are dropped from statically hovering helicopters versus regular bombings that is performed from fast flying planes. So in reality these barrel bombs are MORE ACCURATE, not less accurate than regular ones.

    3. The claim that Syrian government was dropping these bombs (be barrel or not) “on defenseless civilians” is a gross lie. The length of the front lines in the war is absolutelty giant. And the forces that Assad has (even with Russia’s air support as in the last 2.5 years) are barely enough to hit actual “rebels”. There is simply no physical way to hit civilians. Besides, with half of the country fleeing (mostly to the government-controlled territory, by the way), most of the warring areas are greatly depopulated with only a fraction of people there still staying. This dramatically lowers the levels of casualties.

    4. Mehdi cites a poll of refugees in Germany. But only relatively rich people get there, and the majority of them are also pro-jihadi as per researches. The polls of refugees in Lebanon, for example, as well as about 7 million who have migrated to the Syrian government territory shows a completely different picture. They hate “rebels” and support Assad even though many of them do not love him.

    5. Then Mehdi cites Qatari-paid (literally; look it up) propaganda about “Assad torture factory” which in reality was a regular war time morgue where the majority of bodies were of Syrian soldiers, gathered from nearby battlefields, as well as of victims of war from all over the place.

    6. The article mentions Amnesty International report which is almost entirely base of zero-evidence claims of about 65 000 missing by a single man operation in Coventry, the UK, that calls itself Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a Mi-6-backed regime change project whose logo matches the flag of “Free Syrian Army” with its Islamist green stripe.

    7. Mehdi presents the Madaya also in a propagandistic way. Independent reporters went there and recorded civilians protesting against “rebels” stealing humanitarian aid that the Syrian government was providing and selling it for $200 a piece, as well as threatening them, not allowing them leave.

    8. Mehdi presents Syria’s strikes on “rebels” in Yarmuk camp as an attack on Palestinians, which is an obvious absurdity as the Syrian government took care of these people in the first place, just as about Iraqis that fled from the Iraq war.

    9. The accusation of the Syrian government collaborating with the CIA on terrorists or, as it has turned out later, “terrorists” is legit. However, unlike the USA, there was never a torture policy in Syria and there is no evidence that Assad had any role in this aspect or even knew about it until much later. Also, many countries, including in EUROPE, have participated in the CIA’s illegal secret prison and kidnapping programs, as yet we are not hearing their leaders called bad names.

    10. The accusation of the Syrian government of transferring jihadis to Iraq is also legit. However, there is no evidence that Assad, an Alawite himself and a friend of Iran and Iraqi’s Shia government (which still support him as it has recently came against the USA’s aggression on Syria), would direct any of this even though some factions in the Syrian government obviously participated in that.

    FINALLY, I HAVE NEVER SEEN PEOPLE TO WHOM MEHDI IS ADDRESSING THIS ARTICLE “PRAISING ASSAD”. Assad is an authoritarian rules as even to this day no opposition parties are allowed by the law (even though it will come with the new Constitution), and he is not a beacon of liberties and freedom. However, it is completely different from the issue of accusations of mass war crimes. Also, there is absolutely no doubt that the Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Lebanese militaries that participate in this war have committed war crimes. It is unavoidable by definition. However, nothing objective and verifiable suggests that these war crimes were more than small local incidents that the Western media and organizations and Qatari/Turkish PR groups claim.

  13. Dear U.S. apologists, your government is a WAR CRIMINAL enterprise , even if it didn’t gas it’s own citizens!

    1. Yesssss, and it HAS gassed its’ own citizens- Standing Rock!

    2. No they only give their citizens lead poisoning. Potable water what potable water.

  14. Skimming through that Intercept article, I find myself wondering if Mehdi Hasan is fighting a “just war” against foreign aggression? If any war can be considered “just”, then certainly a war for survival. And, the sad fact is, fighting a war involves killing the enemy?

    Has Hasan seen the videos of Assad’s supporters in Damascus cheering for him after the successful Syrian defense of the Friday 13th (DeMolay day) attack?

    I have a long-standing impression of Assad as a well-spoken, educated human being. He was trained as a medical doctor. I would prefer to have Assad as my ruler over Trump any day.

    And without studying the list of alleged atrocities in any detail, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if every single one of them is either completely fake, or distorted beyond recognition, just as much so as the chemical attacks that Hasan doesn’t deny. In fact, he dismisses those lies as insignificant — “who cares” — without answering why we should believe any of the rest of his diatribe.

    1. oops!

      …if Mehdi Hasan would acknowledge that Assad is fighting…

  15. LuzArpinoMamaWolf Avatar

    The world has gone blood thirsty mad. If not wanting another war makes me an apologist than I will wear the banner loudly and proudly. Good work Caitlin. Call out the bastards with fists held high.

  16. Just – and always – thank-you, Caitlin! (And Team J.)

  17. I saw the Times article when it came out and actually posted one of the early comment decrying its blatantly alarmist tone. I expected many of the sensible Times readers to see it that way too, but I was very wrong: virtually all the following reader comments were along the lines of “throw those slimy university bums out!” And this morning saw the very similar BBC piece that you also cite. These articles remind me of my youth in the 1950s and 60s, where the same sorts of fears were raised about Communists or Homosexuals. Assad may or may not be guilty of all that is said, I really don’t know. But I hate this blatant demonization of any who fail to echo the “correct line”.

    1. I completely agree

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