Readers weigh in about Syria

August 31, 2016

Ashley Smith's article "Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution" produced a lot of commentary around the internet, both positive and critical, including a number of submissions to our Readers' Views section. Here, we publish a selection of those Views. We invite our readers to respond in turn and continue the discussion.

Opposing the creation of a U.S. pawn

I AGREE with a lot of your analysis--the struggle of the Syrian people to put in place a new government deserves support. The U.S. antiwar, anti-imperialist movement should have supported those efforts from the beginning.

The problem now is it has become a U.S.-Russia conflict--strange, because at some times, the two work together as well as are in conflict.

The U.S. would be very happy to see Assad go and the Syrian state apparatus remain under a new dictator predisposed to the United States. U.S. domination of the region is the goal. It is this hegemony that anti-imperialists and antiwar activists oppose.

That is the confusion: Yes to the people's struggle to end a dictatorship and create a new government; no to U.S. militarism being used to put in place a government that becomes a U.S. pawn.
Kevin Zeese, Baltimore

Downplaying differences between the U.S. and Russia

IT CAN'T be denied that Assad and his father before him are not figures to be admired and held aloft as icons of altruism, and I haven't personally seen so-called leftists engaged in Assad's defense. However, the role of the U.S. and its non-governmental organizations in turning popular native dissatisfaction with Assad into a full-blown, international proxy war can't simply be ignored, and that's exactly what this article does.

Image from

I firmly believe that if dictatorships are destroyed and replaced with governance more amenable to sustainable living, it must come from the people of that country, not from outside. Syria was slated for regime change long before anti-Assad protests began to make headlines in the news, and this author ignores that fact as well. It is not up to the U.S. to decide who rules someone else's country, yet this is what the U.S. has done consistently for most of its existence.

To call the U.S. imperialist would be correct, but to equate Russia or China with the U.S. in this regard is frankly childish. If China and Russia had spent the last 15 years invading and laying waste to country after country, I'd probably agree with you that they are as "imperialist" as the U.S.

I was frankly shocked to see this article appear on Counterpunch and even more shocked to see that it originated on a site calling itself Socialist Worker because it reads like something lifted verbatim from some right-wing publication like the National Review--or maybe I'm one the "confused" leftists you're referring to. But I don't think so.
Christopher Freeman, Charlotte, North Carolina

An exception on the left on Syria

THANK YOU very much for posting Ashley Smith's excellent essay on Syria and for being an honorable exception among an otherwise clueless and downright atrocious left on this topic.
Sunil Sharma, former editor of, from the internet

The problem with the U.S. left on Syria

SORRY, ONLY the Syrian people get to decide whether Assad stays or goes, not us, nor the International Socialist Organization (ISO), in my opinion.

This is indeed a crucial test for the left, to see whether we can be duped into supporting the CIA, as we were in Serbia. Do you in the ISO feel the rest of the left is failing the Syrian people?

Maybe, and I know it's hard for my compatriots to accept, the problem isn't the rest of the left, but the U.S. left. One need not support Assad to leave his fate in the hands of his people. "Assad must go!" is the mantra not of the left, but of the Western imperialists.

I'm sorry to see the ISO falling into the same trap as the Marxist-Humanists on this: It will not help your credibility outside the U.S., except among Assad's enemies, some of which you would want nothing whatsoever to do with.

Only a negotiated end to the Syrian civil war will end it in any way other than what happened to Iraq, Libya, etc.--and the Russian support of Assad makes the latter quite impossible. Welcome to World War III.
Matt Owen, from the internet

Debating the U.S. role in Syria's revolution

I'M NOT disagreeing with what you're saying about the left misaligning itself with the Assad regime instead of the popular struggle of the Syrian people, but I am wondering if it is possible to flat-out reject the idea that the United States had a hand in the Islamist tint that the revolution has taken.

As you said, Assad himself has released hundreds of jihadists, and this seems like a reasonable method for international interests to take in order to gain sympathy for the state and against the revolution.

Great article, just a thought I had!
Evan Fritz, Coventry, England

Further Reading

From the archives