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In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment

Reporters without conscience: once a nominally left of centre liberal publication became firmly embedded part of the Foreign Office and the US Department of State

Skepticism > Political Skeptic > Media-Military-Industrial Complex > Propaganda

News Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Links Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Media as a weapon of mass deception US and British media are servants of security apparatus
Edward Licas as agent provocateur Hypocrisy of British elite MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Pussy Riot Provocation and Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome Charlie Hebdo - more questions then answers Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17?
Lewis Powell Memo Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Two Party System as Polyarchy American Exceptionalism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism
The importance of controlling the narrative Patterns of Propaganda The Real War on Reality Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Co-opting of the Human Rights to embarrass governments who oppose neoliberalism Manipulation of the term "freedom of press"
Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources Color revolutions Media-Military-Industrial Complex Manufactured consent What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neo-fascism Nation under attack meme Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Bullshit as MSM communication method Big Uncle is Watching You
Ukraine: From EuroMaidan to EuroAnschluss MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Pussy Riot Provocation and "Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome" Russian Ukrainian Gas wars Nineteen Eighty-Four British hypocrisy
Groupthink Soft propaganda Fighting Russophobia Propaganda Quotes Humor Etc

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

  • Lapdog is easy role, watchdog is hard.
  • Lapdogs are lazy but get fed, watchdogs stand out in the cold, and get kicked.
  • Lapdogs get rich, watchdogs remain poor.
  • Lapdogs eat shit, and watchdogs kick ass.
  • Lapdogs need many masters, watchdogs are their own master.
  • Lapdogs are part of the problem, watchdogs are part of the solution.

@RIP, lapdogs are dismissed even by the asses they kissed, while history remembers watchdogs for the asses they kicked.

Backbutton

10 October 2014 3:46pm

When Gerald Celente branded the American media “presstitutes,” he got it right. The US print and TV media (and NPR) whore for Washington and the corporations. Reporting the real news is their last concern. The presstitutes are a Ministry of Propaganda and Coverup. This is true of the entire Western media, a collection of bought-and-paid-for whores.

by Paul Craig Roberts, June 4, 2013,

A lot of our problems come from the unwillingness of honest people to call out the liars, cranks, wh*res and hacks.

A Brief Theory of Very Serious People — Crooked Timber

Due to the size an introduction was converted to a separate page Guardian as a neoliberal propaganda mouthpeace


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[Apr 19, 2017] Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. Thats whats wrenching society apart George Monbiot

Notable quotes:
"... Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do. ..."
"... A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like. ..."
"... Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction. ..."
"... Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement. ..."
"... It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. ..."
"... Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy. ..."
"... You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. ..."
Oct 12, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

What greater indictment of a system could there be than an epidemic of mental illness? Yet plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness now strike people down all over the world. The latest, catastrophic figures for children's mental health in England reflect a global crisis.

There are plenty of secondary reasons for this distress, but it seems to me that the underlying cause is everywhere the same: human beings, the ultrasocial mammals, whose brains are wired to respond to other people, are being peeled apart. Economic and technological change play a major role, but so does ideology. Though our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the lives of others, everywhere we are told that we will prosper through competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet. The education system becomes more brutally competitive by the year. Employment is a fight to the near-death with a multitude of other desperate people chasing ever fewer jobs. The modern overseers of the poor ascribe individual blame to economic circumstance. Endless competitions on television feed impossible aspirations as real opportunities contract.

Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do.

As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett has brilliantly documented, girls and young women routinely alter the photos they post to make themselves look smoother and slimmer. Some phones, using their "beauty" settings, do it for you without asking; now you can become your own thinspiration. Welcome to the post-Hobbesian dystopia: a war of everyone against themselves.

Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing

Is it any wonder, in these lonely inner worlds, in which touching has been replaced by retouching, that young women are drowning in mental distress? A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like.

If social rupture is not treated as seriously as broken limbs, it is because we cannot see it. But neuroscientists can. A series of fascinating papers suggest that social pain and physical pain are processed by the same neural circuits. This might explain why, in many languages, it is hard to describe the impact of breaking social bonds without the words we use to denote physical pain and injury. In both humans and other social mammals, social contact reduces physical pain. This is why we hug our children when they hurt themselves: affection is a powerful analgesic. Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction.

Experiments summarised in the journal Physiology & Behaviour last month suggest that, given a choice of physical pain or isolation, social mammals will choose the former. Capuchin monkeys starved of both food and contact for 22 hours will rejoin their companions before eating. Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement.

It is not hard to see what the evolutionary reasons for social pain might be. Survival among social mammals is greatly enhanced when they are strongly bonded with the rest of the pack. It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators, or to starve. Just as physical pain protects us from physical injury, emotional pain protects us from social injury. It drives us to reconnect. But many people find this almost impossible.

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.

Studies in both animals and humans suggest a reason for comfort eating: isolation reduces impulse control, leading to obesity. As those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are the most likely to suffer from loneliness, might this provide one of the explanations for the strong link between low economic status and obesity?

Anyone can see that something far more important than most of the issues we fret about has gone wrong. So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain? Should this question not burn the lips of everyone in public life?

There are some wonderful charities doing what they can to fight this tide, some of which I am going to be working with as part of my loneliness project. But for every person they reach, several others are swept past.

This does not require a policy response. It requires something much bigger: the reappraisal of an entire worldview. Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous. We stand together or we fall apart.

, RachelL , 12 Oct 2016 03:57

Well its a bit of a stretch blaming neoliberalism for creating loneliness.

Yet it seems to be the fashion today to imagine that the world we live in is new...only created just years ago. And all the suffering that we see now never existed before.

plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness never happened in the past, because everything was bright and shiny and world was good.

Regrettably history teaches us that suffering and deprivation have dogged mankind for centuries, if not tens of thousands of years. That's what we do; survive, persist...endure.

Blaming 'neoliberalism' is a bit of cop-out.

It's the human condition man, just deal with it.

, B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 03:57
Some of the connections here are a bit tenuous, to say the least, including the link to political ideology. Economic liberalism is usually accompanied with social conservatism, and vice versa. Right wing idealogues are more likely to emphasise the values of marriage and family stability, while left wing ones are more likely to favour extremes of personal freedom and reject those traditional structures that used to bind us together.
, ID236975 B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:15
You're a little confused there in your connections between policies, intentions and outcomes.
Nevertheless, Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition.

In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity.

As Monbiot has noted, we are indeed lonelier.

, DoctorLiberty B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
That holds true when you're talking about demographics/voters.

Economic and social liberalism go hand in hand in the West. No matter who's in power, the establishment pushes both but will do one or the other covertly.

All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomised and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in.

, deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:00
The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities. Over the ensuing approx 250 years we abandoned geographically close relationships with extended families, especially post WW2. Underlying economic structures both capitalist and marxist dissolved relationships that we as communal primates evolved within. Then accelerate this mess with (anti-) social media the last 20 years along with economic instability and now dissolution of even the nuclear family (which couldn't work in the first place, we never evolved to live with just two parents looking after children) and here we have it: Mass mental illness. Solution? None. Just form the best type of extended community both within and outside of family, be engaged and generours with your community hope for the best.
, terraform_drone deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
Indeed, Industrialisation of our pre-prescribed lifestyle is a huge factor. In particular, our food, it's low quality, it's 24 hour avaliability, it's cardboard box ambivalence, has caused a myriad of health problems. Industrialisation is about profit for those that own the 'production-line' & much less about the needs of the recipient.
, afinch , 12 Oct 2016 04:03

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat.

Yes, although there is some question of which order things go in. A supportive social network is clearly helpful, but it's hardly a simple cause and effect. Levels of different mental health problems appear to differ widely across societies just in Europe, and it isn't particularly the case that more capitalist countries have greater incidence than less capitalist ones.

You could just as well blame atheism. Since the rise of neo-liberalism and drop in church attendance track each other pretty well, and since for all their ills churches did provide a social support group, why not blame that?

, ID236975 afinch , 12 Oct 2016 04:22
While attending a church is likely to alleviate loneliness, atheism doesn't expressly encourage limiting social interactions and selfishness. And of course, reduced church attendance isn't exactly the same as atheism.

Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy.

, anotherspace , 12 Oct 2016 04:05
So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?

My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices.
We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other.

, notherspace TremblingFactHunt , 12 Oct 2016 05:46
We as individuals are offered the 'choice' of consumption as an alternative to the devastating ennui engendered by powerlessness. It's no choice at all of course, because consumption merely enriches the 1% and exacerbates our powerlessness. That was the whole point of my post.
The 'choice' to consume is never collectively exercised as you suggest. Sadly. If it was, 'we' might be able to organise ourselves into doing something about it.
, Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose. Share Facebook Twitter
, ParisHiltonCommune Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 07:59
Disagree. Im British but have had more foreign friends than British. The UK middle class tend to be boring insular social status obsessed drones.other nationalities have this too, but far less so Share Facebook Twitter
, Dave Powell Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 10:54
Multiculturalism is destroying social cohesion. Share Facebook Twitter
, ParisHiltonCommune Dave Powell , 12 Oct 2016 14:47
Well, yes, but multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labour.

Multiculturalism isn't the only thing destroying social cohesion, too. It was being destroyed long before the recent surges of immigrants. It was reported many times in the 1980's in communities made up of only one culture. In many ways, it is being used as the obvious distraction from all the other ways Fundamentalist Free Marketers wreck live for many.

, Rozina , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
This post perhaps ranges too widely to the point of being vague and general, and leading Monbiot to make some huge mental leaps, linking loneliness to a range of mental and physical problems without being able to explain, for example, the link between loneliness and obesity and all the steps in-between without risking derailment into a side issue.

I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources.

Go on, George, you can say that, why not?

, MSP1984 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
Are you familiar with the term 'Laughter is the best medicine'? Well, it's true. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, yeah? Your stress hormones are reduced and the oxygen supply to your blood is increased, so...

I try to laugh several times a day just because... it makes you feel good! Let's try that, eh? Ohohoo... Hahaha... Just, just... Hahahaha... Come on, trust me.. you'll feel.. HahaHAhaha! O-o-o-o-a-hahahahaa... Share

, ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 04:19
>Neoliberalism is creating loneliness.

Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold?

, totaram ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 05:00
No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning.
, greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 04:20
We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy".

Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life.

Impertinent managers ban their staff from office relationships, as company policy, because the company is more important than its staff's wellbeing.

Companies hand out "free" phones that allow managers to harrass staff for work out of hours, on the understanding that they will be sidelined if thy don't respond.

And the wellbeing of "the economy" is of course far more important than whether the British people actually want to merge into a European superstate. What they want is irrelevant.

That nasty little scumbag George Osborne was the apotheosis of this ideology, but he was abetted by journalists who report any rise in GDP as "good" - no matter how it was obtained - and any "recession" to be the equivalent of a major natural disaster.

If we go on this way, the people who suffer the most will be the rich, because it will be them swinging from the lamp-posts, or cowering in gated communities that they dare not leave (Venezuela, South Africa). Those riots in London five years ago were a warning. History is littered with them.

, DiscoveredJoys greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 05:48
You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. If this results in loneliness then that's certainly a downside - but the upside is that billions have been lifted out of absolute poverty worldwide by 'Neoliberalism'.

Mr Monbiot creates a compelling argument that we should end 'Neoliberalism' but he is very vague about what should replace it other than a 'different worldview'. Destruction is easy, but creation is far harder.

, concerned4democracy , 12 Oct 2016 04:28
As a retired teacher it grieves me greatly to see the way our education service has become obsessed by testing and assessment. Sadly the results are used not so much to help children learn and develop, but rather as a club to beat schools and teachers with. Pressurised schools produce pressurised children. Compare and contrast with education in Finland where young people are not formally assessed until they are 17 years old. We now assess toddlers in nursery schools.
SATs in Primary schools had children concentrating on obscure grammatical terms and usage which they will never ever use again. Pointless and counter-productive.
Gradgrind values driving out the joy of learning.
And promoting anxiety and mental health problems.
, colddebtmountain , 12 Oct 2016 04:33
It is all the things you describe, Mr Monbiot, and then some. This dystopian hell, when anything that did work is broken and all things that have never worked are lined up for a little tinkering around the edges until the camouflage is good enough to kid people it is something new. It isn't just neoliberal madness that has created this, it is selfish human nature that has made it possible, corporate fascism that has hammered it into shape. and an army of mercenaries who prefer the take home pay to morality. Crime has always paid especially when governments are the crooks exercising the law.

The value of life has long been forgotten as now the only thing that matters is how much you can be screwed for either dead or alive. And yet the Trumps, the Clintons, the Camerons, the Johnsons, the Merkels, the Mays, the news media, the banks, the whole crooked lot of them, all seem to believe there is something worth fighting for in what they have created, when painfully there is not. We need revolution and we need it to be lead by those who still believe all humanity must be humble, sincere, selfless and most of all morally sincere. Freedom, justice, and equality for all, because the alternative is nothing at all.

, excathedra , 12 Oct 2016 04:35
Ive long considered neo-liberalism as the cause of many of our problems, particularly the rise in mental health problems, alienation and loneliness.

As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide.

The worst thing is that the evidence shows it doesn't work. Not one of the privatisations in this country have worked. All have been worse than what they've replaced, all have cost more, depleted the treasury and led to massive homelessness, increased mental health problems with the inevitable financial and social costs, costs which are never acknowledged by its adherents.

Put crudely, the more " I'm alright, fuck you " attitude is fostered, the worse societies are. Empires have crashed and burned under similar attitudes.

, MereMortal , 12 Oct 2016 04:37
A fantastic article as usual from Mr Monbiot.

The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead.
We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand.
Although a remainer (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism.
I never understood how the collapse of world finance, resulted in a right wing resurgence in the UK and the US. The Tea Party in the US made the absurd claim that the failure of global finance was not due to markets being fallible, but because free markets had not been enforced citing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac as their evidence and of Bill Clinton insisting on more poor and black people being given mortgages.

I have a terrible sense that it will not go quietly, there will be massive global upheavals as governments struggle deal with its collapse.

, flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 04:39
I have never really agreed with GM - but this article hits the nail on the head.

I think there are a number of aspects to this:

1. The internet. The being in constant contact, our lives mapped and our thoughts analysed - we can comment on anything (whether informed or total drivel) and we've been fed the lie that our opinion is is right and that it matters) Ive removed fscebook and twitter from my phone, i have never been happier

2. Rolling 24 hour news. That is obsessed with the now, and consistently squeezes very complex issues into bite sized simple dichotomies. Obsessed with results and critical in turn of everyone who fails to feed the machine

3. The increasing slicing of work into tighter and slimmer specialisms, with no holistic view of the whole, this forces a box ticking culture. "Ive stamped my stamp, my work is done" this leads to a lack of ownership of the whole. PIP assessments are an almost perfect example of this - a box ticking exercise, designed by someone who'll never have to go through it, with no flexibility to put the answers into a holistic context.

4. Our education system is designed to pass exams and not prepare for the future or the world of work - the only important aspect being the compilation of next years league tables and the schools standings. This culture is neither healthy no helpful, as students are schooled on exam technique in order to squeeze out the marks - without putting the knowledge into a meaningful and understandable narrative.

Apologiers for the long post - I normally limit myself to a trite insulting comment :) but felt more was required in this instance.

, Taxiarch flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 05:42
Overall, I agree with your points. Monbiot here adopts a blunderbuss approach (competitive self-interest and extreme individualism; "brutal" education, employment social security; consumerism, social media and vanity). Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and lonliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. So, when Monbiot's rhetoric rises:

"So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?"

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

We stand together or we fall apart.

Hackneyed and unoriginal but still true for all that.

, flyboy101 Taxiarch , 12 Oct 2016 06:19
I think the answer is only

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

because of the lies that are being sold.

We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimised. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault.

We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether thats entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday!

I share Monbiots pain here. But rather than get a sense of perspective - the answer is often "More public money and counselling"

, DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
George Monbiot has struck a nerve.
They are there every day in my small town local park: people, young and old, gender and ethnically diverse, siting on benches for a couple of hours at a time.
They have at least one thing in common.
They each sit alone, isolated in their own thoughts..
But many share another bond: they usually respond to dogs, unconditional in their behaviour patterns towards humankind.
Trite as it may seem, this temporary thread of canine affection breaks the taboo of strangers
passing by on the other side.
Conversations, sometimes stilted, sometimes deeper and more meaningful, ensue as dog walkers become a brief daily healing force in a fractured world of loneliness.
It's not much credit in the bank of sociability.
But it helps.

Trite as it may seem from the outside, their interaction with the myriad pooches regularly walk

, wakeup99 DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Do a parkrun and you get the same thing. Free and healthy.
, ParisHiltonCommune SenseCir , 12 Oct 2016 08:47
Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to.

If you don't work hard, you will be a loser, don't look out of the window day dreaming you lazy slacker. Get productive, Mr Burns millions need you to work like a machine or be replaced by one.

, Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:46
Good article. You´re absoluately right. And the deeper casue is this: separation from God. If we don´t fight our way back to God, individually and collectively, things are going to get a lot worse. With God, loneliness doesn´t exist. I encourage anyone and everyone to start talking to Him today and invite Him into your heart and watch what starts to happen. Share Facebook Twitter
, wakeup99 Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Religion divides not brings people together. Only when you embrace all humanity and ignore all gods will you find true happiness. The world and the people in it are far more inspiring when you contemplate the lack of any gods. The fact people do amazing things without needing the promise of heaven or the threat of hell - that is truly moving.
, TeaThoughts Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 05:23
I see what you're saying but I read 'love' instead of God. God is too religious which separates and divides ("I'm this religion and my god is better than yours" etc etc). I believe that George is right in many ways in that money is very powerful on it's impact on our behaviour (stress, lack etc) and therefore our lives. We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this. We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wnated to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected. When I moved house to move in with family and wasn't expected to pay rent, though I offered, all that dissatisfaction and undealt with stuff came spilling out and I realised I'd had no time for any real safe care above the very basics and that was not a good place to be. I put myself into therapy for a while and started to look after myself and things started to change. I hope to never go back to that kind of position but things are precarious financially and the field I work in isn't well paid but it makes me very happy which I realise now is more important.
, geoffhoppy , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Neo-liberalism has a lot to answer for in bringing misery to our lives and accelerating the demise of the planet bit I find it not guilty on this one.

The current trends as to how people perceive themselves (what you've got rather than who you are) and the increasing isolation in our cities started way before the neo-liberals.

It is getting worse though and on balance social media is making us more connected but less social. Share

, RandomName2016 , 12 Oct 2016 04:48
The way that the left keeps banging on about neoliberalism is half of what makes them such a tough sell electorally. Just about nobody knows what neoliberalism is, and literally nobody self identifies as a neoliberal. So all this moaning and wailing about neoliberalism comes across as a self absorbed, abstract and irrelevant. I expect there is the germ of an idea in there, but until the left can find away to present that idea without the baffling layer of jargon and over-analysis, they're going to remain at a disadvantage to the easy populism of the right.
, Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting article. We have heard so much about the size of our economy but less about our quality of life. The UK quality of life is way below the size of our economy i.e. economy size 6th largest in the world but quality of life 15th. If we were the 10th largest economy but were 10th for quality of life we would be better off than we are now in real terms. We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline.
, wakeup99 Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:56
Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality.
, MikkaWanders , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting. 'It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators....' so perhaps the species is developing its own predators to fill a vacated niche.

(Not questioning the comparison to other mammals at all as I think it is valid but you would have to consider the whole rather than cherry pick bits)

, johnny991965 , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Generation snowflake. "I'll do myself in if you take away my tablet and mobile phone for half an hour".
They don't want to go out and meet people anymore. Nightclubs for instance, are closing because the younger generation 'don't see the point' of going out to meet people they would otherwise never meet, because they can meet people on the internet. Leave them to it and the repercussions of it.....
, johnny991965 grizzly , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
Socialism is dying on its feet in the UK, hence the Tory's 17 point lead at the mo. The lefties are clinging to whatever influence they have to sway the masses instead of the ballot box. Good riddance to them. Share Facebook Twitter
, David Ireland johnny991965 , 13 Oct 2016 12:45
17 point lead? Dying on it's feet? The neo-liberals are showing their disconnect from reality. If anything, neo-liberalism is driving a people to the left in search of a fairer and more equal society.
, justask , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
George Moniot's articles are better thought out, researched and written than the vast majority of the usual clickbait opinion pieces found on the Guardian these days. One of the last journalists, rather than liberal arts blogger vying for attention. Share Facebook Twitter
, Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
Neoliberalism's rap sheet is long and dangerous but this toxic philosophy will continue unabated because most people can't join the dots and work out how detrimental it has proven to be for most of us.

It dangles a carrot in order to create certain economic illusions but the simple fact is neoliberal societies become more unequal the longer they persist. Share Facebook Twitter

, wakeup99 Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 05:05
Neoliberal economies allow people to build huge global businesses very quickly and will continue to give the winners more but they also can guve everyone else more too but just at a slower rate. Socialism on the other hand mires everyone in stagnant poverty. Question is do you want to be absolutely or relatively better off. Share Facebook Twitter
, totaram wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:19
You have no idea. Do not confuse capitalism with neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a political ideology based on a mythical version of capitalism that doesn't actually exist, but is a nice way to get the deluded to vote for something that doesn't work in their interest at all. Share Facebook Twitter
, peterfieldman , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
And things will get worse as society falls apart due to globalisation, uberization, lack of respect for authority, lacks of a fair tax and justice system, crime, immorality, loss of trust of politicians and financial and corporate sectors, uncontrolled immigration bringing with it insecurity and the risk of terrorism and a dumbing down of society with increasing inequality. All this is in a new book " The World at a Crossroads" which deals with the major issues facing the planet.
, Nada89 wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
What, like endless war, unaffordable property, monstrous university fees, zero hours contracts and a food bank on every corner, and that's before we even get to the explosion in mental distress.
, monsieur_flaneur thedisclaimer , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
There's nothing spurious or obscure about Neoliberalism. It is simply the political ideology of the rich, which has been our uninterrupted governing ideology since Reagan and Thatcher: Privatisation, deregulation, 'liberalisation' of housing, labour, etc, trickledown / low-tax-on-the-rich economics, de-unionization. You only don't see it if you don't want to see it.
, arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:03
I'm just thinking what is wonderful about societies that are big of social unity. And conformity.

Those societies for example where you "belong" to your family. Where teenage girls can be married off to elderly uncles to cement that belonging.

Or those societies where the belonging comes through religious centres. Where the ostracism for "deviant" behaviour like being gay or for women not submitting to their husbands can be brutal. And I'm not just talking about muslims here.

Or those societies that are big on patriotism. Yep they are usually good for mental health as the young men are given lessons in how to kill as many other men as possible efficiently.

And then I have to think how our years of "neo-liberal" governments have taken ideas of social liberalisation and enshrined them in law. It may be coincidence but thirty years after Thatcher and Reagan we are far more tolerant of homosexuality and willing to give it space to live, conversely we are far less tolerant of racism and are willing to prosecute racist violence. Feminists may still moan about equality but the position of women in society has never been better, rape inside marriage has (finally) been outlawed, sexual violence generally is no longer condoned except by a few, work opportunities have been widened and the woman's role is no longer just home and family. At least that is the case in "neo-liberal" societies, it isn't necessarily the case in other societies.

So unless you think loneliness is some weird Stockholm Syndrome thing where your sense of belonging comes from your acceptance of a stifling role in a structured soiety, then I think blaming the heightened respect for the individual that liberal societies have for loneliness is way off the mark.

What strikes me about the cases you cite above, George, is not an over-respect for the individual but another example of individuals being shoe-horned into a structure. It strikes me it is not individualism but competition that is causing the unhappiness. Competition to achieve an impossible ideal.

I fear George, that you are not approaching this with a properly open mind dedicated to investigation. I think you have your conclusion and you are going to bend the evidence to fit. That is wrong and I for one will not support that. In recent weeks and months we have had the "woe, woe and thrice woe" writings. Now we need to take a hard look at our findings. We need to take out the biases resulting from greater awareness of mental health and better and fuller diagnosis of mental health issues. We need to balance the bias resulting from the fact we really only have hard data for modern Western societies. And above all we need to scotch any bias resulting from the political worldview of the researchers.

Then the results may have some value.

, birney arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
It sounded to me that he was telling us of farm labouring and factory fodder stock that if we'd 'known our place' and kept to it ,all would be well because in his ideal society there WILL be or end up having a hierarchy, its inevitable. Share Facebook Twitter
, EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:04
Wasn't all this started by someone who said, "There is no such thing as Society"? The ultimate irony is that the ideology that championed the individual and did so much to dismantle the industrial and social fabric of the Country has resulted in a system which is almost totalitarian in its disregard for its ideological consequences. Share Facebook Twitter
, wakeup99 EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Thatcher said it in the sense that society is not abstract it is just other people so when you say society needs to change then people need to change as society is not some independent concept it is an aggregation of all us. The left mis quote this all the time and either they don't get it or they are doing on purpose. Share Facebook Twitter
, HorseCart EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:09
No, Neoliberalism has been around since 1938.... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world.

Furthermore, it could easily be argued that the Beatles helped create loneliness - what do you think all those girls were screaming for? And also it could be argued that the Beatles were bringing in neoliberalism in the 1960s, via America thanks to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis etc.. Share

, billybagel wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:26
They're doing it on purpose. ""If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." -- Joseph Boebbels
, Luke O'Brien , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Great article, although surely you could've extended the blame to capitalism has a whole?


In what, then, consists the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., that it does not belong to his nature, that therefore he does not realize himself in his work, that he denies himself in it, that he does not feel at ease in it, but rather unhappy, that he does not develop any free physical or mental energy, but rather mortifies his flesh and ruins his spirit. The worker, therefore, is only himself when he does not work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor, therefore, is not voluntary, but forced--forced labor. It is not the gratification of a need, but only a means to gratify needs outside itself. Its alien nature shows itself clearly by the fact that work is shunned like the plague as soon as no physical or other kind of coercion exists.

Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

, JulesBywaterLees , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
We have created a society with both flaws and highlights- and we have unwittingly allowed the economic system to extend into our lives in negative ways.

On of the things being modern brings is movement- we move away from communities, breaking friendships and losing support networks, and the support networks are the ones that allow us to cope with issues, problems and anxiety.

Isolation among the youth is disturbing, it is also un natural, perhaps it is social media, or fear of parents, or the fall in extra school activities or parents simply not having a network of friends because they have had to move for work or housing.

There is some upsides, I talk and get support from different international communities through the social media that can also be so harmful- I chat on xbox games, exchange information on green building forums, arts forums, share on youtube as well as be part of online communities that hold events in the real world.

, LordMorganofGlossop , 12 Oct 2016 05:11
Increasingly we seem to need to document our lives on social media to somehow prove we 'exist'. We seem far more narcissistic these days, which tends to create a particular type of unhappiness, or at least desire that can never be fulfilled. Maybe that's the secret of modern consumer-based capitalism. To be happy today, it probably helps to be shallow, or avoid things like Twitter and Facebook!

Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives.

Interestingly, the ultra conservative Adam Smith Institute yesterday decided to declare themselves 'neoliberal' as some sort of badge of honour:
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

, eamonmcc , 12 Oct 2016 05:15
Thanks George for commenting in such a public way on the unsayable: consume, consume, consume seems to be the order of the day in our modern world and the points you have highlighted should be part of public policy everywhere.

I'm old enough to remember when we had more time for each other; when mothers could be full-time housewives; when evenings existed (evenings now seem to be spent working or getting home from work). We are undoubtedly more materialistic, which leads to more time spent working, although our modern problems are probably not due to increasing materialism alone.

Regarding divorce and separation, I notice people in my wider circle who are very open to affairs. They seem to lack the self-discipline to concentrate on problems in their marriage and to give their full-time partner a high level of devotion. Terrible problems come up in marriages but if you are completely and unconditionally committed to your partner and your marriage then you can get through the majority of them.

, CEMKM , 12 Oct 2016 05:47
Aggressive self interest is turning in on itself. Unfortunately the powerful who have realised their 'Will to Power' are corrupted by their own inflated sense of self and thus blinded. Does this all predict a global violent revolution?
, SteB1 NeverMindTheBollocks , 12 Oct 2016 06:32

A diatribe against a vague boogieman that is at best an ill-defined catch-all of things this CIFer does not like.


An expected response from someone who persistently justifies neoliberalism through opaque and baseless attacks on those who reveal how it works. Neoliberalism is most definitely real and it has a very definite history.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

However, what is most interesting is how nearly all modern politicians who peddle neoliberal doctrine or policy, refuse to use the name, or even to openly state what ideology they are in fact following.

I suppose it is just a complete coincidence that the policy so many governments are now following so closely follow known neoliberal doctrine. But of course the clever and unpleasant strategy of those like yourself is to cry conspiracy theory if this ideology, which dare not speak its name is mentioned.

Your style is tiresome. You make no specific supported criticisms again, and again. You just make false assertions and engage in unpleasant ad homs and attempted character assassination. You do not address the evidence for what George Monbiot states at all.

, heian555 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56
An excellent article. One wonders exactly what one needs to say in order to penetrate the reptilian skulls of those who run the system.

As an addition to Mr Monbiot's points, I would like to point out that it is not only competitive self-interest and extreme individualism that drives loneliness. Any system that has strict hierarchies and mechanisms of social inclusion also drives it, because such systems inhibit strongly spontaneous social interaction, in which people simply strike up conversation. Thailand has such a system. Despite her promoting herself as the land of smiles, I have found the people here to be deeply segregated and unfriendly. I have lived here for 17 years. The last time I had a satisfactory face-to-face conversation, one that went beyond saying hello to cashiers at checkout counters or conducting official business, was in 1999. I have survived by convincing myself that I have dialogues with my books; as I delve more deeply into the texts, the authors say something different to me, to which I can then respond in my mind.

, SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56

Epidemics of mental illness are crushing the minds and bodies of millions. It's time to ask where we are heading and why


I want to quote the sub headline, because "It's time to ask where we are heading and why", is the important bit. George's excellent and scathing evidence based criticism of the consequences of neoliberalism is on the nail. However, we need to ask how we got to this stage. Despite it's name neoliberalism doesn't really seem to contain any new ideas, and in some way it's more about Thatcher's beloved return to Victorian values. Most of what George Monbiot highlights encapsulatec Victorian thinking, the sort of workhouse mentality.

Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on.

To domesticate livestock, and to make them pliable and easy to work with the farmer must make himself appear to these herd animals as if they are their protector, the person who cares for them, nourishes and feeds them. They become reliant on their apparent benefactor. Except of course this is a deceitful relationship, because the farmer is just fattening them up to be eaten.

For the powerful to exploit the rest of people in society for their own benefit they had to learn how to conceal what they were really doing, and to wrap it in justifications to bamboozle the people they were exploiting for their own benefit. They did this by altering our language and inserting ideas in our culture which justified their rule, and the positions of the rest of us.

Before state religions, generally what was revered was the Earth, the natural world. It was on a personal level, and not controlled by the powerful. So the powerful needed to remove that personal meaningfulness from people's lives, and said the only thing which was really meaningful, was the religion, which of course they controlled and were usually the head of. Over generations people were indoctrinated in a completely new way of thinking, and a language manipulated so all people could see was the supposed divine right of kings to rule. Through this language people were detached from what was personally meaningful to them, and could only find meaningfulness by pleasing their rulers, and being indoctrinated in their religion.

If you control the language people use, you can control how perceive the world, and can express themselves.

By stripping language of meaningful terms which people can express themselves, and filling it full of dubious concepts such as god, the right of kings completely altered how people saw the world, how they thought. This is why over the ages, and in different forms the powerful have always attempted to have full control of our language through at first religion and their proclamations, and then eventually by them controlling our education system and the media.

The idea of language being used to control how people see the world, and how they think is of course not my idea. George Orwell's Newspeak idea explored in "1984" is very much about this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak

This control of language is well known throughout history. Often conquerors would abolish languages of those they conquered. In the so called New World the colonists eventually tried to control how indigenous people thought by forcibly sending their children to boarding school, to be stripped of their culture, their native language, and to be inculcated in the language and ideas of their colonists. In Britain various attempts were made to banish the Welsh language, the native language of the Britons, before the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans took over.

However, what Orwell did not deal with properly is the origin of language style. To Orwell, and to critics of neoliberalism, the problems can be traced back to the rise of what they criticised. To a sort of mythical golden age. Except all the roots of what is being criticised can be found in the period before the invention of these doctrines. So you have to go right back to the beginning, to understand how it all began.

Neoliberalism would never have been possible without this long control of our language and ideas by the powerful. It prevents us thinking outside the box, about what the problem really is, and how it all began.

, clarissa3 SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 06:48
All very well but you are talking about ruthlessness of western elites, mostly British, not all.

It was not like that everywhere. Take Poland for example, and around there..

New research is emerging - and I'd recommend reading of prof Frost from St Andrew's Uni - that lower classes were actually treated with respect by elites there, mainly land owners and aristocracy who more looked after them and employed and cases of such ruthlessness as you describe were unknown of.

So that 'truth' about attitudes to lower classes is not universal!

, SteB1 Borisundercoat , 12 Oct 2016 06:20

What is "neoliberalism" exactly?

It's spouted by many on here as the root of all evil.

I'd be interested to see how many different definitions I get in response...


The reason I call neoliberalism the ideology which dare not speak it's name is that in public you will rarely hear it mentioned by it's proponents. However, it was a very important part of Thatcherism, Blairism, and so on. What is most definite is that these politicians and others are most definitely following some doctrine. Their ideas about what we must do and how we must do it are arbitrary, but they make it sound as if it's the only way to do things.

If you want to learn more about neoliberalism, read a summary such as the Wikipedia page on it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

However, as I hint, the main problem in dealing with neoliberalism is that none of the proponents of this doctrine admit to what ideology they are actually following. Yet very clearly around the world leaders in many countries are clearly singing from the same hymn sheet because the policy they implement is so similar. Something has definitely changed. All the attempts to roll back welfare, benefits, and public services is most definitely new, or they wouldn't be having to reverse policy of the past if nothing had change. But as all these politicians implementing this policy all seem to refuse to explain what doctrine they are following, it makes it difficult to pin down what is happening. Yet we can most definitely say that there is a clear doctrine at work, because why else would so many political leaders around the world be trying to implement such similar policy.

, Winstons1 TerryMcBurney , 12 Oct 2016 06:24

Neo-liberalism doesn't really exist except in the minds of the far left and perhaps a few academics.

Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. ... Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

I believe the term 'Neo liberalism' was coined by those well known 'Lefties'The Chicago School .
If you don't believe that any of the above has been happening ,it does beg the question as to where you have been for the past decade.

, UnderSurveillance , 12 Oct 2016 06:12
The ironies of modern civilization - we have never been more 'connected' to other people on global level and less 'connected' on personal level.

We have never had access to such a wide range of information and opinions, but also for a long time been so divided into conflicting groups, reading and accessing in fact only that which reinforces what we already think.

, John Pelan , 12 Oct 2016 06:18
Sir Harry Burns, ex-Chief Medical Officer in Scotland talks very powerfully about the impact of loneliness and isolation on physical and mental health - here is a video of a recent talk by him - http://www.befs.org.uk/calendar/48/164-BEFS-Annual-Lecture
, MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 06:22
These issues have been a long time coming, just think of the appeals of the 60's to chill out and love everyone. Globalisation and neo-liberalism has simply made society even more broken.
The way these problems have been ignored and made worse over the last few decades make me think that the solution will only happen after a massive catastrophe and society has to be rebuilt. Unless we make the same mistakes again.
A shame really, you would think intelligence would be useful but it seems not.
, ParisHiltonCommune MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 07:19
Contemporary Neo-liberalism is a reaction against that ideal of the 60s
, DevilMayCareIDont , 12 Oct 2016 06:25
I would argue that it creates a bubble of existence for those who pursue a path of "success" that instead turns to isolation . The amount of people that I have met who have moved to London because to them it represents the main location for everything . I get to see so many walking cliches of people trying to fit in or stand out but also fitting in just the same .

The real disconnect that software is providing us with is truly staggering . I have spoken to people from all over the World who seem to feel more at home being alone and playing a game with strangers . The ones who are most happy are those who seem to be living all aloe and the ones who try and play while a girlfriend or family are present always seemed to be the ones most agitated by them .

We are humans relying on simplistic algorithms that reduce us ,apps like Tinder which turns us into a misogynist at the click of a button .

Facebook which highlights our connections with the other people and assumes that everyone you know or have met is of the same relevance .

We also have Twitter which is the equivalent of screaming at a television when you are drunk or angry .

We have Instagram where people revel in their own isolation and send updates of it . All those products that are instantly updated and yet we are ageing and always feeling like we are grouped together by simple algorithms .

, JimGoddard , 12 Oct 2016 06:28
Television has been the main destroyer of social bonds since the 1950s and yet it is only mentioned once and in relation to the number of competitions on it, which completely misses the point. That's when I stopped taking this article seriously. Share Facebook Twitter
, GeoffP , 12 Oct 2016 06:29
Another shining example of the slow poison of capitalism. Maybe it's time at last to turn off the tap? Share Facebook Twitter
, jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
I actually blame Marx for neoliberalism. He framed society purely in terms economic, and persuaded that ideology is valuable in as much as it is actionable.

For a dialectician he was incredibly short sighted and superficial, not realising he was creating a narrative inimical to personal expression and simple thoughtfulness (although he was warned). To be fair, he can't have appreciated how profoundly he would change the way we concieve societies.

Neoliberalism is simply the dark side of Marxism and subsumes the personal just as comprehensively as communism.

We're picked apart by quantification and live as particulars, suffering the ubiquitous consequences of connectivity alone . . .

Unless, of course, you get out there and meet great people!

, ParisHiltonCommune jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 07:16
Marxism arose as a reaction against the harsh capitalism of its day. Of course it is connected. It is ironic how Soviet our lives have become.
, zeeeel , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way.
, Drewv , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
That fine illustration by Andrzej Krauze up there is exactly what I see whenever I walk into an upscale mall or any Temple of Consumerism.

You can hear the Temple calling out: "Feel bad, atomized individuals? Have a hole inside? Feel lonely? That's all right: buy some shit you don't need and I guarantee you'll feel better."

And then it says: "So you bought it and you felt better for five minutes, and now you feel bad again? Well, that's not rocket science...you should buy MORE shit you don't need! I mean, it's not rocket science, you should have figured this out on your own."

And then it says: "Still feel bad and you have run out of money? Well, that's okay, just get it on credit, or take out a loan, or mortgage your house. I mean, it's not rocket science. Really, you should have figured this out on your own already...I thought you were a modern, go-get-'em, independent, initiative-seizing citizen of the world?"

And then it says: "Took out too many loans, can't pay the bills and the repossession has begun? Honestly, that's not my problem. You're just a bad little consumer, and a bad little liberal, and everything is your own fault. You go sit in a dark corner now where you don't bother the other shoppers. Honestly, you're just being a burden on other consumers now. I'm not saying you should kill yourself, but I can't say that we would mind either."

And that's how the worms turn at the Temples of Consumerism and Neoliberalism.

, havetheyhearts , 12 Oct 2016 06:31
I kept my sanity by not becoming a spineless obedient middle class pleaser of a sociopathic greedy tribe pretending neoliberalism is the future.

The result is a great clarity about the game, and an intact empathy for all beings.

The middle class treated each conscious "outsider" like a lowlife,
and now they play the helpless victims of circumstances.

I know why I renounced to my privileges.
They sleepwalk into their self created disorder.
And yes, I am very angry at those who wasted decades with their social stupidity,
those who crawled back after a start of change into their petit bourgeois niche.

I knew that each therapist has to take a stand and that the most choose petty careers.
Do not expect much sanity from them for your disorientated kids.
Get insightful yourself and share your leftover love to them.
Try honesty and having guts...that might help both of you.

, Likewhatever , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
Alternatively, neo-liberalism has enabled us to afford to live alone (entire families were forced to live together for economic reasons), and technology enables us to work remotely, with no need for interaction with other people.

This may make some people feel lonely, but for many others its utopia.

, Peter1Barnet , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
Some of the things that characterise Globalisation and Neoliberalism are open borders and free movement. How can that contribute to isolation? That is more likely to be fostered by Protectionism.
And there aren't fewer jobs. Employment is at record highs here and in many other countries. There are different jobs, not fewer, and to be sure there are some demographics that have lost out. But overall there are not fewer jobs. That falls for the old "lump of labour" fallacy.
, WhigInterpretation , 12 Oct 2016 06:43
The corrosive state of mass television indoctrination sums it up: Apprentice, Big Brother, Dragon's Den. By degrees, the standard keeps lowering. It is no longer unusual for a licence funded TV programme to consist of a group of the mentally deranged competing to be the biggest asshole in the room.

Anomie is a by-product of cultural decline as much as economics.

, Pinkie123 Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:18

What is certain, is that is most ways, life is far better now in the UK than 20, 30 or 40 years ago, by a long way!


That's debatable. Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979.

Our whole culture is more stressful. Jobs are more precarious; employment rights more stacked in favor of the employer; workforces are deunionised; leisure time is on the decrease; rents are unaffordable; a house is no longer a realistic expectation for millions of young people. Overall, citizens are more socially immobile and working harder for poorer real wages than they were in the late 70's.

As for mental health, evidence suggest that mental health problems have been on the increase over recent decades, especially among young people. The proportion of 15/16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years, from 1 in 30 to 2 in 30 for boys and 1 in 10 to 2 in ten for girls ( http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/increased-levels-anxiety-and-depression-teenage-experience-changes-over-time

Unfortunately, sexual abuse has always been a feature of human societies. However there is no evidence to suggest it was any worse in the past. Then sexual abuse largely took place in institutional settings were at least it could be potentially addressed. Now much of it has migrated to the great neoliberal experiment of the internet, where child exploitation is at endemic levels and completely beyond the control of law enforcement agencies. There are now more women and children being sexually trafficked than there were slaves at the height of the slave trade. Moreover, we should not forget that Jimmy Saville was abusing prolifically right into the noughties.

My parents were both born in 1948. They say it was great. They bought a South London house for next to nothing and never had to worry about getting a job. When they did get a job it was one with rights, a promise of a generous pension, a humane workplace environment, lunch breaks and an ethos of public service. My mum says that the way women are talked about now is worse.

Sounds fine to me. That's not to say everything was great: racism was acceptable (though surely the vile views pumped out onto social media are as bad or worse than anything that existed then), homosexuality was illegal and capital punishment enforced until the 1960's. However, the fact that these things were reformed showed society was moving in the right direction. Now we are going backwards, back to 1930's levels or inequality and a reactionary, small-minded political culture fueled by loneliness, rage and misery.

, Pinkie123 Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:28
And there is little evidence to suggest that anyone has expanded their mind with the internet. A lot of people use it to look at porn, post racist tirades on Facebook, send rape threats, distributes sexual images of partners with their permission, take endless photographs of themselves and whip up support for demagogues. In my view it would much better if people went to a library than lurked in corporate echo chambers pumping out the like of 'why dont theese imagrantz go back home and all those lezbo fems can fuckk off too ha ha megalolz ;). Seriously mind expanding stuff. Share
, Pinkie123 Pinkie123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
Oops ' without their permission... Share Facebook Twitter
, maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 06:49
As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . This was encouraged and the organisation achieved an excellent record in retaining staff at a time when recruitment was difficult. Performance levels were also extremely high . I particulalry remember with gratitude the solidarity of staff when one of our colleagues - a haemophiliac - contracted aids through an infected blood transfusion and died bravely but painfully - the staff all supported him in every way possible through his ordeal and it was a pivilege for me to work with such kind and caring people .
, oommph maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 07:00
Indeed. Those communities are often undervalued. However, the problem is, as George says, lots of people are excluded from them.

They are also highly self-selecting (e.g. you need certain trains of inclusivity, social adeptness, empathy, communication, education etc to get the job that allows you to join that community).

Certainly I make it a priority in my life. I do create communities. I do make an effort to stand by people who live like me. I can be a leader there.

Sometimes I wish more people would be. It is a sustained, long-term effort. Share

, forkintheroad , 12 Oct 2016 06:50
'a war of everyone against themselves' - post-Hobbesian. Genius, George.
, sparclear , 12 Oct 2016 06:51
Using a word like 'loneliness' is risky insofar as nuances get lost. It can have thousand meanings, as there are of a word like 'love'.
isolation
grief
loneliness
feeling abandoned
solitude
purposelessness
neglect
depression
&c.

To add to this discussion, we might consider the strongest need and conflict each of us experiences as a teenager, the need to be part of a tribe vs the the conflict inherent in recognising one's uniqueness. In a child's life from about 7 or 8 until adolescence, friends matter the most. Then the young person realises his or her difference from everyone else and has to grasp what this means.

Those of us who enjoyed a reasonably healthy upbringing will get through the peer group / individuation stage with happiness possible either way - alone or in friendship. Our parents and teachers will have fostered a pride in our own talents and our choice of where to socialise will be flexible and non-destructive.

Those of us who at some stage missed that kind of warmth and acceptance in childhood can easily stagnate. Possibly this is the most awkward of personal developmental leaps. The person neither knows nor feels comfortable with themselves, all that faces them is an abyss.
Where creative purpose and strength of spirit are lacking, other humans can instinctively sense it and some recoil from it, hardly knowing what it's about. Vulnerabilities attendant on this state include relationships holding out some kind of ersatz rescue, including those offered by superficial therapists, religions, and drugs, legal and illegal.

Experience taught that apart from the work we might do with someone deeply compassionate helping us where our parents failed, the natural world is a reliable healer. A kind of self-acceptance and individuation is possible away from human bustle. One effect of the seasons and of being outdoors amongst other life forms is to challenge us physically, into present time, where our senses start to work acutely and our observational skills get honed, becoming more vibrant than they could at any educational establishment.

This is one reason we have to look after the Earth, whether it's in a city context or a rural one. Our mental, emotional and physical health is known to be directly affected by it.

, Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 06:55
A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'.
An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trick. Share
, worried Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:32
The rich and powerful can be just as lonely as you and me. However, some of them will be lonely after having royally forked the rest of us over...and that is another thing
, Hallucinogen , 12 Oct 2016 06:59

We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.


- Fight Club
People need a tribe to feel purpose. We need conflict, it's essential for our species... psychological health improved in New York after 9/11.
, ParisHiltonCommune , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
Totally agree with the last sentences. Human civilisation is a team effort. Individual humans cant survive, our language evolved to aid cooperation.

Neo-liberalism is really only an Anglo-American project. Yet we are so indoctrinated in it, It seems natural to us, but not to hardly any other cultures.

As for those "secondary factors. Look to advertising and the loss of real jobs forcing more of us to sell services dependent on fake needs. Share

, deirdremcardle , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
Help save the Notting Hill Carnival
http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/teen-disembowelled-years-notting-hill-11982129

It's importance for social cohesion -yes inspite of the problems , can not be overestimated .Don't let the rich drive it out , people who don't understand ,or care what it's for .The poorer boroughs cannot afford it .K&C have easily 1/2billion in Capital Reserves ,so yes they must continue . Here I can assure you ,one often sees the old and lonely get a hug .If drug gangs are hitting each other or their rich boy customers with violence - that is a different matter . And yes of course if we don't do something to help boys from ethnic minorities ,with education and housing -of course it only becomes more expensive in the long run.

Boris Johnson has idiotically mouthed off about trying to mobilise people to stand outside the Russian Embassy , as if one can mobilise youth by telling them to tidy their bedroom .Because that's all it amounts to - because you have to FEEL protest and dissent . Well here at Carnival - there it is ,protest and dissent . Now listen to it . And of course it will be far easier than getting any response from sticking your tongue out at the Putin monster !
He has his bombs , just as Kensington and Chelsea have their money.
(and anyway it's only another Boris diversion ,like building some fucking stupid bridge ,instead of doing anything useful)

, Lafcadio1944 , 12 Oct 2016 07:03
"Society" or at least organized society is the enemy of corporate power. The idea of Neoliberal capitalism is to replace civil society with corporate law and rule. The same was true of the less extreme forms of capitalism. Society is the enemy of capital because it put restrictions on it and threatens its power.

When society organizes itself and makes laws to protect society from the harmful effects of capitalism, for example demands on testing drugs to be sure they are safe, this is a big expense to Pfizer, there are many examples - just now in the news banning sugary drinks. If so much as a small group of parents forming a day care co-op decide to ban coca cola from their group that is a loss of profit.

That is really what is going on, loneliness is a big part of human life, everyone feels it sometimes, under Neoliberal capitalism it is simply more exaggerated due to the out and out assault on society itself.

, Joan Cant , 12 Oct 2016 07:10
Well the prevailing Global Capitalist world view is still a combination 1. homocentric Cartesian Dualism i.e. seeing humans as most important and sod all other living beings, and seeing humans as separate from all other living beings and other humans and 2. Darwinian "survival of the fittest" seeing everything as a competition and people as "winners and losers, weak or strong with winners and the strong being most important". From these 2 combined views all kinds of "games" arise. The main one being the game of "victim, rescuer, persecutor" (Transactional Analysis). The Guardian engages in this most of the time and although I welcome the truth in this article to some degree, surprisingly, as George is environmentally friendly, it kinda still is talking as if humans are most important and as if those in control (the winners) need to change their world view to save the victims. I think the world view needs to zoom out to a perspective that recognises that everything is interdependent and that the apparent winners and the strong are as much victims of their limited world view as those who are manifesting the effects of it more obviously.
, Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
Here in America, we have reached the point at which police routinely dispatch the mentally ill, while complaining that "we don't have the time for this" (N. Carolina). When a policeman refuses to kill a troubled citizen, he or she can and will be fired from his job (West Virginia). This has become not merely commonplace, but actually a part of the social function of the work of the police -- to remove from society the burden of caring for the mentally ill by killing them. In the state where I live, a state trooper shot dead a mentally ill man who was not only unarmed, but sitting on the toilet in his own home. The resulting "investigation" exculpated the trooper, of course; in fact, young people are constantly told to look up to the police.
, ianita1978 Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed.
This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering. Share
, Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
The impact of increasing alienation on individual mental health has been known about and discussed for a long time.

When looking at a way forward, the following article is interesting:

"Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on. The ordinary citizen thus lives in an incredibly deceiving reality. Perhaps this explains the tremendous and persistent gap between the burgeoning of motives to struggle, and the paucity of actual combatants. The contrary would be a miracle. Thus the considerable importance of what I call the struggle for representation: at every moment, in every area, to expose the deception and bring to light, in the simplicity of form which only real theoretical penetration makes possible, the processes in which the false-appearances, real and imagined, originate, and this way, to form the vigilant consciousness, placing our image of reality back on its feet and reopening paths to action."

https://www.marxists.org/archive/seve/lucien_seve.htm

, ianita1978 Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 08:18
For the global epidemic of abusive, effacing homogenisation of human intellectual exchange and violent hyper-sexualisation of all culture, I blame the US Freudian PR guru Edward Bernays and his puritan forebears - alot. Share Facebook Twitter
, bonhee Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 09:03
Thanks for proving that Anomie is a far more sensible theory than Dialectical Materialistic claptrap that was used back in the 80s to terrorize the millions of serfs living under the Jack boot of Leninist Iron curtain.
, RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:15
There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate.

Anyway, the wheel has turned thank goodness. We are becoming wiser and understanding that "ecology" doesn't just refer to our relationship with the natural world but also, closer to home, our relationship with each other.

, Jayarava Attwood RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:37
The Communist manifesto makes the same complaint in 1848. The wheel has not turned, it is still grinding down workers after 150 years. We are none the wiser. Share Facebook Twitter
, Ben Wood RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:49
"The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will."
R Hunter Share Facebook Twitter
, ianita1978 Ben Wood , 12 Oct 2016 08:13
Yep.
And far too many good people have chosen to be the grateful dead in order to escape the brutal torture of bullying Predators.
, magicspoon3 , 12 Oct 2016 07:30
What is loneliness? I love my own company and I love walking in nature and listening to relaxation music off you tube and reading books from the library. That is all free. When I fancied a change of scene, I volunteered at my local art gallery.

Mental health issues are not all down to loneliness. Indeed, other people can be a massive stress factor, whether it is a narcissistic parent, a bullying spouse or sibling, or an unreasonable boss at work.

I'm on the internet far too much and often feel the need to detox from it and get back to a more natural life, away from technology. The 24/7 news culture and selfie obsessed society is a lot to blame for social disconnect.

The current economic climate is also to blame, if housing and job security are a problem for individuals as money worries are a huge factor of stress. The idea of not having any goal for the future can trigger depressive thoughts.

I have to say, I've been happier since I don't have such unrealistic expectations of what 'success is'. I rarely get that foreign holiday or new wardrobe of clothes and my mobile phone is archaic. The pressure that society puts on us to have all these things- and get in debt for them is not good. The obsession with economic growth at all costs is also stupid, as the numbers don't necessarily mean better wealth, health or happiness.

, dr8765 , 12 Oct 2016 07:34
Very fine article, as usual from George, until right at the end he says:

This does not require a policy response.

But it does. It requires abandonment of neoliberalism as the means used to run the world. People talk about the dangers of man made computers usurping their makers but mankind has, it seems, already allowed itself to become enslaved. This has not been achieved by physical dependence upon machines but by intellectual enslavement to an ideology.

, John Smythe , 12 Oct 2016 07:35
A very good "Opinion" by George Monbiot one of the best I have seen on this Guardian blog page.
I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. Many other areas of human life are also under attack from the Neoliberal, even the very air we breathe, and the earth we stand upon.
, Jayarava Attwood , 12 Oct 2016 07:36
The Amish have understood for 300 years that technology could have a negative effect on society and decided to limit its effects. I greatly admire their approach. Neal Stephenson's recent novel Seveneves coined the term Amistics for the practice of assessing and limiting the impact of tech. We need a Minister for Amistics in the government. Wired magazine did two features on the Amish use of telephones which are quite insightful.

The Amish Get Wired. The Amish ? 6.1.1993
look Who's talking . 1.1.1999

If we go back to 1848, we also find Marx and Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, complaining about the way that the first free-market capitalism (the original liberalism) was destroying communities and families by forcing workers to move to where the factories were being built, and by forcing women and children into (very) low paid work. 150 years later, after many generations of this, combined with the destruction of work in the North, the result is widespread mental illness. But a few people are really rich now, so that's all right, eh?

Social media is ersatz community. It's like eating grass: filling, but not nourishing.

ICYMI I had some thoughts a couple of days ago on how to deal with the mental health epidemic .

, maplegirl , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
Young people are greatly harmed by not being able to see a clear path forward in the world. For most people, our basic needs are a secure job, somewhere secure and affordable to live, and a decent social environment in terms of public services and facilities. Unfortunately, all these things are sliding further out of reach for young people in the UK, and they know this. Many already live with insecure housing where their family could have to move at a month or two's notice.

Our whole economic system needs to be built around providing these basic securities for people. Neoliberalism = insecure jobs, insecure housing and poor public services, because these are the end result of its extreme free market ideology.

, dynamicfrog , 12 Oct 2016 07:44
I agree with this 100%. Social isolation makes us unhappy. We have a false sense of what makes us unhappy - that success or wealth will enlighten or liberate us. What makes us happy is social connection. Good friendships, good relationships, being part of community that you contribute to. Go to some of the poorest countries in the world and you may meet happy people there, tell them about life in rich countries, and say that some people there are unhappy. They won't believe you. We do need to change our worldview, because misery is a real problem in many countries.
, SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 07:47
It is tempting to see the world before Thatcherism, which is what most English writers mean when they talk about neo-liberalism, as an idyll, but it simply wasn't.

The great difficulty with capitalism is that while it is in many ways an amoral doctrine, it goes hand in hand with personal freedom. Socialism is moral in its concern for the poorest, but then it places limits on personal freedom and choice. That's the price people pay for the emphasis on community, rather than the individual.

Close communities can be a bar on personal freedom and have little tolerance for people who deviate from the norm. In doing that, they can entrench loneliness.

This happened, and to some extent is still happening, in the working class communities which we typically describe as 'being destroyed by Thatcher'. It's happening in close-knit Muslim communities now.

I'm not attempting to vindicate Thatcherism, I'm just saying there's a pay-off with any model of society. George Monbiot's concerns are actually part of a long tradition - Oliver Goldsmith's Deserted Village (1770) chimes with his thinking, as does DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.

, proteusblu SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. For most, it is necessary to submit yourself to a form of being yoked, in terms of the daily grind which places limits on what you can then do, as the latter depends hugely on money. The idea that most people are "free" to buy the house they want, private education, etc., not to mention whether they can afford the many other things they are told will make them happy, is a very bad joke. Hunter-gatherers have more real freedom than we do. Share
, Stephen Bell SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 09:07
Well said. One person's loneliness is another's peace and quiet.
, stumpedup_32 Firstact , 12 Oct 2016 08:12
According to Wiki: 'Neoliberalism refers primarily to the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.'
, queequeg7 , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
We grow into fear - the stress of exams and their certain meanings; the lower wages, longer hours, and fewer rights at work; the certainty of debt with ever greater mortgages; the terror of benefit cuts combined with rent increases.

If we're forever afraid, we'll cling to whatever life raft presents.

It's a demeaning way to live, but it serves the Market better than having a free, reasonably paid, secure workforce, broadly educated and properly housed, with rights.

, CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
Insightful analysis...

George quite rightly pinpoints the isolating effects of modern society and technology and the impact on the quality of our relationships.

The obvious question is how can we offset these trends and does the government care enough to do anything about them?

It strikes me that one of the major problems is that [young] people have been left to their own devices in terms of their consumption of messages from Social and Mass online Media - analogous to leaving your kids in front of a video in lieu of a parental care or a babysitter. In traditional society - the messages provided by Society were filtered by family contact and real peer interaction - and a clear picture of the limited value of the media was propogated by teachers and clerics. Now young and older people alike are left to make their own judgments and we cannot be surprised when they extract negative messages around body image, wealth and social expectations and social and sexual norms from these channels. It's inevitable that this will create a boundary free landscape where insecurity, self-loathing and ultimately mental illness will prosper.

I'm not a traditionalist in any way but there has to be a role for teachers and parents in mediating these messages and presenting the context for analysing what is being said in a healthy way. I think this kind of Personal Esteem and Life Skills education should be part of the core curriculum in all schools. Our continued focus on basic academic skills just does not prepare young people for the real world of judgementalism, superficiality and cliques and if anything dealing with these issues are core life skills.

We can't reverse the fact that media and modern society is changing but we can prepare people for the impact which it can have on their lives.

, school10 CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
A politician's answer.
X is a problem. Someone else, in your comment it will be teachers that have to sort it out. Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. Taking kids away from their academic/cultural studies reduces this.
This is a problem in society. What can society as a whole do to solve it and what are YOU prepared to contribute. Share
, David Ireland CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 09:28
Rather difficult to do when their parents are Thatchers children and buy into the whole celebrity, you are what you own lifestyle too....and teachers are far too busy filling out all the paperwork that shows they've met their targets to find time to teach a person centred course on self-esteem to a class of 30 teenagers. Share Facebook Twitter
, Ian Harris , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
I think we should just continue to be selfish and self-serving, sneering and despising anyone less fortunate than ourselves, look up to and try to emulate the shallow, vacuous lifestyle of the non-entity celebrity, consume the Earth's natural resources whilst poisoning the planet and the people, destroy any non-contributing indigenous peoples and finally set off all our nuclear arsenals in a smug-faced global firework display to demonstrate our high level of intelligence and humanity. Surely, that's what we all want? Who cares? So let's just carry on with business as usual!
, BetaRayBill , 12 Oct 2016 08:01
Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools.
No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence.
, Bluecloud , 12 Oct 2016 08:01 Contributor
Having grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else.

What's the solution? Well if neoliberalism is the root cause, we need a systematic change, which is a problem considering there is no alternative right now. We can however, get active in rebuilding communities and I am encouraged by George Monbiot's work here.

My approach is to get out and join organisations working toward system change. 350.org is a good example. Get involved.

, SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 08:09
we live in a narcissistic and ego driven world that dehumanises everyone. we have an individual and collective crisis of the soul. it is our false perception of ourselves that creates a disconnection from who we really are that causes loneliness. Share Facebook Twitter
, rolloverlove SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 11:33
I agree. This article explains why it is a perfectly normal reaction to the world we are currently living in. It goes as far as to suggest that if you do not feel depressed at the state of our world there's something wrong with you ;-)
http://upliftconnect.com/mutiny-of-the-soul/ Share Facebook Twitter
, HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:10
Surely there is a more straightforward possible explanation for increasing incidence of "unhapiness"?

Quite simply, a century of gradually increasing general living standards in the West have lifted the masses up Maslows higiene hierarchy of needs, to where the masses now have largely only the unfulfilled self esteem needs that used to be the preserve of a small, middle class minority (rather than the unfulfilled survival, security and social needs of previous generations)

If so - this is good. This is progress. We just need to get them up another rung to self fulfillment (the current concern of the flourishing upper middle classes).

, avid Ireland HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:59
Maslow's hierarchy of needs was not about material goods. One could be poor and still fulfill all his criteria and be fully realised. You have missed the point entirely. Share Facebook Twitter
, HaveYouFedTheFish David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:25
Error.... Who mentioned material goods? I think you have not so much "missed the point" as "made your own one up" .

And while agreed that you could, in theory, be poor and meet all of your needs (in fact the very point of the analysis is that money, of itself, isn't what people "need") the reality of the structure of a western capitalist society means that a certain level of affluence is almost certainly a prerequisite for meeting most of those needs simply because food and shelter at the bottom end and, say, education and training at the top end of self fulfillment all have to be purchased. Share

, HaveYouFedTheFish David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:40
Also note that just because a majority of people are now so far up the heirachy does in no way negate an argument that corporations haven't also noticed this and target advertising appropriately to exploit it (and maybe we need to talk about that)

It just means that it's lazy thinking to presume we are in some way "sliding backwards" socially, rather than needing to just keep pushing through this adversity through to the summit.

I have to admit it does really stick in my craw a bit hearing millenials moan about how they may never get to *own* a really *nice* house while their grandparents are still alive who didn't even get the right to finish school and had to share a bed with their siblings.

, Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:11
I prefer the competitive self interest and individualism.

Really I do not want to be living under a collectivist state society thanks. Share Facebook Twitter

, poppetmaster Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:21
there is a civilised compromise...we just have to keep searching Share Facebook Twitter
, Pinkie123 Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
There is no such thing as a free-market society. Your society of 'self-interest' is really a state supported oligarchy. If you really want to live in a society where there is literally no state and a more or less open market try Somalia or a Latin American city run by drug lords - but even then there are hierarchies, state involvement, militias.

What you are arguing for is a system (for that is what it is) that demands everyone compete with one another. It is not free, or liberal, or democratic, or libertarian. It is designed to oppress, control, exploit and degrade human beings. This kind of corporatism in which everyone is supposed to serve the God of the market is, ironically, quite Stalinist. Furthermore, a society in which people are encouraged to be narrowly selfish is just plain uncivilized. Since when have sociopathy and barbarism been something to aspire to?

, LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:17
George, you are right, of course. The burning question, however, is not 'Is our current social set-up making us ill' (it certainly is), but 'Is there a healthier alternative?' What form of society would make us less ill? Socialism and egalatarianism, wherever they are tried, tend to lead to their own set of mental-illness-inducing problems, chiefly to do with thwarted opportunity, inability to thrive, and constraints on individual freedom. The sharing, caring society is no more the answer than the brutally individualistic one. You may argue that what is needed is a balance between the two, but that is broadly what we have already. It ain't perfect, but it's a lot better than any of the alternatives.
, David Ireland LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:50
We certainly do NOT at present have a balance between the two societies...Have you not read the article? Corporations and big business have far too much power and control over our lives and our Gov't. The gov't does not legislate for a real living minimum wage and expects the taxpayer to fund corporations low wage businesses. The Minimum wage and benefit payments are sucked in to ever increasing basic living costs leaving nothing for the human soul aside from more work to keep body and soul together, and all the while the underlying message being pumped at us is that we are failures if we do not have wealth and all the accoutrements that go with it....How does that create a healthy society?
, Saul Till , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
Neoliberalism. A simple word but it does a great deal of work for people like Monbiot.

The simple statistical data on quality of life differences between generations is absolutely nowhere to be found in this article, nor are self-reported findings on whether people today are happier, just as happy or less happy than people thirty years ago. In reality quality of life and happiness indices have generally been increasing ever since they were introduced.
It's more difficult to know if things like suicide, depression and mental illness are actually increasing or whether it's more to do with the fact that the number of people who are prepared to report them is increasing: at least some of the rise in their numbers will be down to greater awareness of said mental illness, government campaigns and a decline in associated social stigma.

Either way, what evidence there is here isn't even sufficient to establish that we are going through some vast mental health crisis in the first place, never mind that said crisis is inextricably bound up with 'neoliberalism'.

Furthermore, I'm inherently suspicious of articles that manage to connect every modern ill to the author's own political bugbear, especially if they cherry-pick statistical findings to support their point. I'd be just as, if not more, suspicious if it was a conservative author trying to link the same ills to the decline in Christianity or similar. In fact, this article reminds me very much of the sweeping claims made by right-wingers about the allegedly destructive effects of secularism/atheism/homosexuality/video games/South Park/The Great British Bake Off/etc...

If you're an author and you have a pet theory, and upon researching an article you believe you see a pattern in the evidence that points towards further confirmation of that theory, then you should step back and think about whether said pattern is just a bit too psychologically convenient and ideologically simple to be true. This is why people like Steven Pinker - properly rigorous, scientifically versed writer-researchers - do the work they do in systematically sifting through the sociological and historical data: because your mind is often actively trying to convince you to believe that neoliberalism causes suicide and depression, or, if you're a similarly intellectually lazy right-winger, homosexuality leads to gang violence and the flooding of(bafflingly, overwhelmingly heterosexual) parts of America.

I see no sign that Monbiot is interested in testing his belief in his central claim and as a result this article is essentially worthless except as an example of a certain kind of political rhetoric.

, Rapport , 12 Oct 2016 08:38

social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat .... Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people.

Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day:

it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%

Why don't we explore some of the benefits?..

Following the long list of some the diseases, loneliness can inflict on individuals, there must be a surge in demand for all sort of medications; anti-depressants must be topping the list. There is a host many other anti-stress treatments available of which Big Pharma must be carving the lion's share.

Examine the micro-economic impact immediately following a split or divorce. There is an instant doubling on the demand for accommodation, instant doubling on the demand for electrical and household items among many other products and services.

But the icing on the cake and what is really most critical for Neolibralism must be this:

With the morale barometer hitting the bottom, people will be less likely to think of a better future, and therefore, less likely to protest. In fact, there is nothing left worth protecting.

Your freedom has been curtailed. Your rights are evaporating in front of your eyes. And Best of all, from the authorities' perspective, there is no relationship to defend and there is no family to protect. If you have a job, you want to keep, you must prove your worthiness every day to 'a company'.

[Apr 14, 2017] Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here

Notable quotes:
"... The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness. ..."
"... This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future. ..."
"... In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome! ..."
"... The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang ..."
"... The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised. ..."
"... if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial! ..."
"... The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad. ..."
"... Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back. ..."
"... He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did. ..."
"... Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried. ..."
Nov 17, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians.

The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.

This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.

What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success. Second we must bear witness to justice. We must ground our truth-telling in a willingness to suffer and sacrifice as we resist domination. Third we must remember courageous exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr, who provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties.

Feminists misunderstood the presidential election from day one Liza Featherstone By banking on the idea that women would support Hillary Clinton just because she was a female candidate, the movement made a terrible mistake Read more

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Rightwing attacks on Obama – and Trump-inspired racist hatred of him – have made it nearly impossible to hear the progressive critiques of Obama. The president has been reluctant to target black suffering – be it in overcrowded prisons, decrepit schools or declining workplaces. Yet, despite that, we get celebrations of the neoliberal status quo couched in racial symbolism and personal legacy. Meanwhile, poor and working class citizens of all colors have continued to suffer in relative silence.

In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome!

Click and elect: how fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election Hannah Jane Parkinson The 'alt-right' (aka the far right) ensnared the electorate using false stories on social media. But tech companies seem unwilling to admit there's a problem

In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

theomatica -> MSP1984 17 Nov 2016 6:40

To be replaced by a form of capitalism that is constrained by national interests. An ideology that wishes to uses the forces of capitalism within a market limited only by national boundaries which aims for more self sufficiency only importing goods the nation can not itself source.

farga 17 Nov 2016 6:35

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang.

Really? The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised.

That in recent decades middle ground politicians have strayed from the true faith....and now its time to go back - popular capitalism, small government, low taxes.

if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial!

Social36 -> farga 17 Nov 2016 8:33

Maybe, West should have written that we're now in neoliberal, neofascist era!

ForSparta -> farga 17 Nov 2016 14:24

Well in all fairness, Donald Trump (horse's ass) did say he'd 'pump' money into the middle classes thus abandoning 'trickle down'. His plan/ideology is also to increase corporate tax revenues overall by reducing the level of corporation tax -- the aim being to entice corporations to repatriate wealth currently held overseas. Plus he has proposed an infrastructure spending spree, a fiscal stimulus not a monetary one. When you add in tax cuts the middle classes will feel flushed and it is within that demographic that most businesses and hence jobs are created. I think his short game has every chance of doing what he said it would.

SeeNOevilHearNOevil 17 Nov 2016 6:36

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back.

He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did.

But that lip service is where his progressive views begin and stop. It's the very reason none of his promises never translated into actions and I will argue that he was the biggest and smoothest scam artist to enter the white house who got even though that wholly opposed centre-right policies, to flip and support them vehemently. Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried.

ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 6:37

I agree with some of this, but do we really have to throw around hysterical terms like 'fascist' at every opportunity? It's as bad as when people call the left 'cultural Marxists'.

LithophaneFurcifera -> ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 7:05

True, it's sloganeering that drowns out any nuance, whoever does it. Whenever a political term is coined, you can be assured that its use and meaning will eventually be extended to the point that it becomes less effective at characterising the very groups that it was coined to characterise.

Keep "fascist" for Mussolini and "cultural Marxist" for Adorno, unless and until others show such strong resemblances that the link can't seriously be denied.

I agree about the importance of recognising the suffering of the poor and building alliances beyond, and not primarily defined by, race though.

l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 6:40
Hang about Trump is the embodiment of neo-liberalism. It's neo-liberalism with republican tea party in control. He's not going to smash the system that served him so well, the years he manipulated and cheated, why would he want to change it.
garrylee -> l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 9:38
West's point is that it's beyond Trump's control. The scales have fallen from peoples eyes. They now see the deceit of neo-liberalism. And once they see through the charlatan Trump and the rest of the fascists, they will, hopefully, come to realize the only antidote to neo-liberalism is a planned economy.

Nash25 17 Nov 2016 6:40

This excellent analysis by professor West places the current political situation in a proper historical context.

However, I fear that neo-liberalism may not be quite "dead" as he argues.

Most of the Democratic party's "establishment" politicians, who conspired to sabotage the populist Sanders's campaign, still dominate the party, and they, in turn, are controlled by the giant corporations who fund their campaigns.

Democrat Chuck Schumer is now the Senate minority leader, and he is the loyal servant of the big Wall Street investment banks.

Sanders and Warren are the only two Democratic leaders who are not neo-liberals, and I fear that they will once again be marginalized.

Rank and file Democrats must organize at the local and state level to remove these corrupt neo-liberals from all party leadership positions. This will take many years, and it will be very difficult.


VenetianBlind 17 Nov 2016 6:42

Not sure Neo-Liberalism has ended. All they have done is get rid of the middle man.

macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 6:46

It would seem that there is a great deal of over simplifying going on; some of the articles represent an hysteric response and the vision of sack cloth and ashes prevails among those who could not see that the wheels were coming off the bus. The use of the term 'liberal' has become another buzz word - there are many different forms of liberalism and creating yet another sound byte does little to illuminate anything.

Making appeals to restore what has been lost reflects badly upon the central political parties, with their 30 year long rightward drift and their legacy of sucking up to corporate lobbyists, systems managers, box tickers and consultants. You can't give away sovereign political power to a bunch of right wing quangos who worship private wealth and its accumulation without suffering the consequences. The article makes no contribution (and neither have many of the others of late) to any kind of alternative to either neo-liberalism or the vacuum that has become a question mark with the dark face of the devil behind it.

We are in uncharted waters. The conventional Left was totally discredited by1982 and all we've had since are various forms of modifications of Thatcher's imported American vision. There has been no opposition to this system for over 40 years - so where do we get the idea that democracy has any real meaning? Yes, we can vote for the Greens, or one of the lesser known minority parties, but of course people don't; they tend to go with what is portrayed as the orthodoxy and they've been badly let down by it.

It would be a real breath of fresh air to see articles which offer some kind of analysis that demonstrates tangible options to deal with the multiple crises we are suffering. Perhaps we might start with a consideration that if our political institutions are prone to being haunted by the ghost of the 1930's, the state itself could be seen as part of the problem rather than any solution. Why is it that every other institution is considered to be past its sell by date and we still believe in a phantom of democracy? Discuss.

VenetianBlind -> macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 7:00

I have spent hours trying to see solutions around Neo-Liberalism and find that governments have basically signed away any control over the economy so nothing they can do. There are no solutions.

Maybe that is the starting point. The solution for workers left behind in Neo-Liberal language is they must move. It demands labor mobility. It is not possible to dictate where jobs are created.

I see too much fiddly around the edges, the best start is to say they cannot fix the problem. If they keep making false promises then things will just get dire as.

[Apr 14, 2017] The west used colonies as laboratories for weapons. Its not different today

Apr 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The United States has dropped its largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat against Isis targets in Afghanistan. But why drop such a gargantuan bomb in the first place? No one can have any sympathy for Isis and its murderous offshoots, but you don't need to be a military expert to suspect something strange might be going on here.

Since the US's stated objective was to destroy underground tunnels, wouldn't so-called bunker buster bombs, which can also be huge and dig deep into the earth, serve the aims of this mission just as well, if not better?

Look to the history of colonial warfare for the answer. The lands of the colonized have always served as the western world's laboratory for the newest and worst weapons of war.

Bombs may have been with us since the invention of gunpowder, but the phenomenon of aerial warfare is only as old as 1 November 1911, when Libya became the first country to suffer a bombardment from the sky.

Late to the colonial scramble for Africa, Italy coveted Libya, then a province of the failing Ottoman empire. In 1911, the Italians invaded the north African territory and that November, Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti flew over Ain Zara, just east of Tripoli. Unbeknownst to his superiors, Gavotti tossed four 1.5kg grenades out of his window, pulling the pins with his teeth, and watching them explode on the oasis town below. He later wrote that he was "really pleased with the result".

Just like today, the press went crazy with the news. The innovation of aerial warfare was mind blowing. Gavotti was lauded as a true Italian hero, although Europe's professional warriors initially thought otherwise. They considered the act beneath the rules of civilized combat. Their contempt didn't last long, and a new era of aerial warfare, especially against "uncivilized" peoples, began.

In 1920, Britain took charge of Iraq, and a popular revolt quickly erupted. The Royal Air Force responded with a new strategy they called "control without occupation". The thinking was that there would be no need for large and costly contingents of soldiers on the ground if one could simply bomb the local population into submission from the sky. And bomb they did. For days, weeks, and months on end.

Churchill , who in 1919 had penned a memo stating that he was "strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes", even pushed Air Marshal Trenchard in 1920 to "proceed with the experimental work on gas bombs, especially mustard gas, which would inflict punishment upon recalcitrant natives without inflicting grave injury upon them". Historians now believe there wasn't enough mustard gas to go around, so large-scale conventional bombing was left to achieve Britain's desired result in Iraq.

The United States is not immune to such military opportunism either. The US fired its first depleted uranium munitions during the 1991 Gulf war. A total of 320 tons (290,300 kgs) landed in Iraq in that war, and depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, as old as our solar system now is. The results have been spectacularly terrible throughout Iraq, with birth defects and cancer rates disturbingly elevated throughout the country.

The Russian military has exploited its campaign assisting the Assad regime in Syria to test out 162 new weapons systems, including new cruise missiles and long-range bombers. It would seem the Russians are very proud of their new weapons. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu used the occasion of Vladimir Putin's 63 rd birthday to announce that Russia had fired cruise missiles at targets in Syria from the Caspian Sea, some 900 miles away.

Look at the countries mentioned thus far – Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan . Southeast Asia of course also suffered terribly when it was the west's main laboratory of death and destruction, but this list of countries should give us a sense of history regarding our current conflicts along with some much-needed humility about the success of bombing people into submission.

This brings us to the GBU-43/B, a 22,600-pound bomb that is known as a Moab, officially a Massive Ordinance Air Blast and unofficially a Mother of All Bombs. Developed for the 2003 Iraq war, each GBU-43/B reportedly costs $16m. The bomb, which explodes before impact and with a reported blast radius as large as a mile in diameter, is the second largest non-nuclear weapon in the American arsenal. It has never been used before. Until now.

Once again, the territory inhabited by the "uncivilized" has been shelled so the west can try out its new lethal toys. Forgotten in all of this is that bombs, especially ones this size, don't affect only people. Munitions may be aimed at enemies, but an enormous bomb such as this kills plant life massively as well. When such a bomb detonates, a percussive blast destroys everything in it fatal path, shattering the insides of humans and animals alike.

The air is literally sucked out of the atmosphere to feed the jealous fire created by its explosion. The aim of such a bomb is to kill enemies but at what consequence to our earth? There is something narcissistic to think that bombs of this enormity are an attack on humanity. In fact, they are an assault on all forms of life.

--> Devondaddy , 13m ago The MOAB used in Afghanistan was almost exactly the same size as Barns Wallace's Grandslam' bomb deployed by the RAF against the Nazis in 1945.
Sorry if that doesn't fit with the narrative, but in conflict the most appropriate weapons are deployed irrespective of who the enemy are.
Try reading a little military history if you are going to write about it.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Slam_(bomb )

--> , MartinSilenus , 14 Apr 2017 18:01

Oh, Poison Gas was first used, on Europeans, by Europeans.
Nuclear weapons only use was not on `uncivilised tribes`, but an Industrial Nation, Imperial Japan.
Mostly, we used the most sdvanced weapons, to kill other western forces: only then, were they used in Colonial wars. Custers men at the Little Big Horn, used single shot rifles, the only repeating rifles were used by some of the Native Americans. He could have taken `Gatling Guns`he refused!
"The Lakota and Cheyenne warriors did join the battle with a number of Henry and Spencer repeating rifles"
https://www.wired.com/2009/06/dayintech_0625 /
http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-little-bighorn-were-the-weapons-the-deciding-factor.htm
http://custerlives.com/7thcav11.htm
, Briar , 14 Apr 2017 17:57
Of course The West doesn't do things like this - as far as its own self portrait is concerned. You won't find any shade of the opinion of this commentator in the items singing the praises of America's massive WMDs in the media today. They are so excited about the size of the bomb! About the message it sends about the West's Greatness. I daresay most men of god will similarly support it this Sunday by not mentioning the obscenity of calling the bomb a "mother" or deploying it at Easter. It's just so Christian - killing people of lesser gods en masse at what the West regards as the holiest time of the year.
, Black_Sparrow , 14 Apr 2017 17:56
Failing banana republics like the US need to distract as much as possible from the domestic problems. Dropping big bombs in Afghanistan makes Americans think they are still powerful, while the country is collapsing like a cheap tent.
, MartinSilenus , 14 Apr 2017 17:49
Note, in the below - famous - Churchill memo on the use of `poison gas` he states quite clearly the type he envisages using: "making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas".

Lachrymatory means tears/crying, in other words tear gas, formally known as a lachrymatory agent. He had been in the Trenches, the effects of Mustard gas on the Eyes, Skin & Lungs would have been familiar to him, read the memo yourself, does it sound like WWI poison gasses: Chlorine, Phosgene or Mustard gas, was being proposed? Note: the blinded of Mustard Gas, could have lived until the late 20th Century, why no accounts of them blinded as children, great anti British propoganda, so why has no such tales of gas blindings from the 1920`s ever been reported from Iraq?

" as shown in a War Office minute of 12 May 1919 in which Winston Churchill argued :

"I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected."

, PierreCorneille , 14 Apr 2017 17:48
It amazes me, well, not anymore, how ignorant Americans are. This "Mother" bomb is not the biggest ever used. One of them yes, but the RAF used a 22,000 pound bomb called the Grand Slam. Carried by the Avro Lancaster, it was used for highly reinforced positions like U boat pens. Reply Share
, CforCynic PierreCorneille , 14 Apr 2017 17:53
Biggest in terms of the amount of explosives inside it. Grand Slam had just less than half the amount of explosives inside it that the MOAB does. We used to have a few empty Grand Slam casings laying around on one of the MoD sites I worked at. Extremely thick steel, to say the least. Reply Share
, Pfalze CforCynic , 14 Apr 2017 18:06
Grand Slams were designed to go deep into the ground and explode creating an underground chamber.They were also known as earthquake bombs.The largest high explosive bomb was the Blockbuster. A 12000lb bomb 3/4 of the weight of the bomb was the contents.It was designed as a blast bomb. Reply Share
, CforCynic Pfalze , 14 Apr 2017 18:17
I spent a bit of my MoD career working with what was euphemistically referred to as "energetic materials". We had quite a few WW2 relics at one of the sites. From bits of Tallboy and Grand Slam casings, to all different types of MC and HC bombs. Last I heard the scrappy got his hands on them, so they're probably baked-bean cans by now.
, Pier16 , 14 Apr 2017 17:40
I have figured out 90% of the US government activity is selling BS to the American people so that they can continue doing what they're doing without being questioned.

In the big scheme of things this is a big bomb to take out supposedly a large depot of arms belonging to the ISIS terrorists who were about to commence their spring offensive in that area.

Americans have done bombings like this before (not with MOAB ~~ but hundreds of smaller bombs). But, the "public relations" aspect of this bombing was just out of this world. For example retired general McCaffrey on MSNBC said this is a weapon of terror (he meant it in a good way). It terrorizes ISIS and anyone who cooperates with them. I guess he meant in a "shock and awe" way. The American media is cheering this, as if no one in the world knows US has nukes and can blow everyone off the face of the earth several times, until they deployed this weapon. You hear from the talking heads and their echo chambers, this is going to give a message to the North Koreans and this or that group. The message North Koreans, and this or that group is getting is US has a huge amount of weapons, a big military, but after fighting for 16 years in an impoverished country, with a GDP of $3 billion, US has resorted to biggest nonnuclear weapon in its arsenal to show how tough they are. The message this sends to the rest of the world is US military is impotent and incompetent, so is the US government.

, CriticAtLarge Pier16 , 14 Apr 2017 17:49
The Taliban control more of Afghanistan than at any point since 2001. Yeah, I am sure a massive bomb will turn the tide. Reply Share
, moria50 CriticAtLarge , 14 Apr 2017 18:06
The Taliban have head office in Turkey, UAE and Qatar....and business meetings in the Maldives.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22957827

[Apr 13, 2017] Simply no incentive for the SAF to launch a chemical weapons attack.

Notable quotes:
"... Trump is throwing the haters a bone to gnaw on while he completes the rest of his agenda. Then he'll get back to the likely fake news of chemical weapons use and debunk it. ..."
"... Fake news. Fake. news. You think this was fake news? Not only that, but you think it was fake news and that the only person able to determine reality is Donald Trump? Good lord. ..."
"... It is not an accident that chemical poisoning happened a day after Trump decided not to remove Assad. Rebel-terrorists supported by the West want Assad removed, they arranged that chemical spill ... and not for the first time. ..."
Apr 13, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Rob Saunders , 6d ago

This article alludes to the "merits of western intervention in Syria". It is therefore nonsensical.

green_forest -> Rob Saunders , 6d ago

Yip. Simply no incentive for the SAF to launch a chemical weapons attack.

Robert Fisk's most recent article on the pummeling of Nusra and ISIS is here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-deir-hafer-syria-army-soldiers-town-village-death-muder-islamic-state-daesh-murder-killing-army-a7660481.html

Els Bells , 6 Apr 2017 14:20

Trump is throwing the haters a bone to gnaw on while he completes the rest of his agenda. Then he'll get back to the likely fake news of chemical weapons use and debunk it.
petesire Els Bells , 6 Apr 2017 15:03
Fake news. Fake. news. You think this was fake news? Not only that, but you think it was fake news and that the only person able to determine reality is Donald Trump? Good lord.
DillyDit2 petesire , 6 Apr 2017 15:29
I know, right? Check out comments on any Brietbart news story, though, and you'll how typical of a select minority of Americans that kind of thinking represents (suggest you wear earphones to block out the cacophony of thousands of bleeting sheep).
fanUS , 6 Apr 2017 14:20
It is not an accident that chemical poisoning happened a day after Trump decided not to remove Assad. Rebel-terrorists supported by the West want Assad removed, they arranged that chemical spill ... and not for the first time.

[Apr 13, 2017] Is it hard to wonder why Syrians might hold a grudge against the US?

Apr 13, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
johnbonn , 2h ago Russia has to move quickly to secure a 100 year lease for the Latakia port and airbase. Otherwise the US will soon attempt to render it useless as well, regardless of which of the moderate rebel factions it decides to install.

... Spirits die hard, and those of the Arab spring and the Orange Revolution are still alive in the halls of the Pentagon.

.... A controlled cold war however, is the only way to a avoid a larger mess than what the West has already inflicted on the innocent Syrian people by using the most abortive war design that has ever been conceived by the war college or any other war commander.

...... At the current rate there will be more Syrians in Germany than those remaining in Syria.

......... Is it hard to wonder why Syrians might hold a grudge against the US?

BlueCollar , 2h ago

Regime change ? All in the name of democracy as we see it.Why not try it in the Kingdom of family owned country KSA or why not another family owned enterprises called UAE.

Pier16 , 12 Apr 2017 15:58

The Americans have a fetish with regime change. Up until recently they were discrete about it and did it in secret, now they are all in the open. People who are against regime change are considered anti-Americans and tools of the Soviets...ahm.... Russia. The amazing thing is Tillerson said Assad's faith should be left with the Syrian people, the American establishment in unison said how could he says such a terrible thing, "we should decide what Syrian people want." These are the same people who elected Trump, maybe they should let Syrian people select the US president. The result may end up better.
freeandfair , 12 Apr 2017 15:53
> Bashar al-Assad is not a good person. He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged. Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad.

Yes, Assad is not a good person. But what about American politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who armed "moderate rebels" and supported the opposition in pursuit of regime change?
And Syria is not the only country were this happened.
Will there ever any responsibility taken for their actions by the US and NATO?

First, they make a manageable problem into a huge problem, then just hightail back home, living local people to pick up the pieces.

Those half millions of deaths - are they all responsibility of Assad or do the sponsors of jihadists and jihadists themselves have some responsibility as well?

Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
The choice as I see it is this:

A. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........but women can wear what they like in public, get a good education courtesy of the State, and embark on a career.

B. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........where women are denied education, made virtual prisoners in their own homes, and have acid flung in their faces for having the temerity to appear unveiled when they do go out in public.

It's not a great choice, but one is definitely better than the other.

[Apr 12, 2017] Those interested in how the MSM fell in love with terrorists in Syria should go back and check out Charlie Skeltons illuminating piece from The Guardian 2012

Notable quotes:
"... In late 2015, Eren Erdem, a Turkish MP, said in Parliament that the Turkish state was permitting Da'esh to send sarin precursors to Syria. He had a file of evidence, so was accused of treason for accessing and publicizing confidential material. The investigation into the people responsible for the transfer of toxic chemicals was shut down. ..."
"... Al-Assad is certainly capable of murdering opponents, and not bothering too much about collateral damage, but strategically it makes no sense for him to do this now, when peace talks under the aegis of Russia and Iran have begun, and the world is watching. Also, Assad has been engaged in a reconciliation process, allowing members of the FSA to return to the Syrian army, and Aleppans remain in Damascus if they didn't wish to go to Idlib. At such a juncture, using chemical weapons would be counter-productive. If Sarin was used at his command, he should be properly prosecuted: but bombing a Syrian air base merely assists Da'esh and its cronies. ..."
"... I have just watched the press conference in which Trump labelled Assad a butcher, and went on again about dead babies. I just wish that someone at one of these conferences would have the guts to point out to Trump his own butchery. ..."
"... Anyone watching this performance would think that US forces had never been responsible for killing innocent civilians, men, women, children and babies. To listen to Trump, you wouldn't think that US forces had ever killed over 150 civilians in Mosul, dozens in Raqqa, or had bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, or schools in Iraq, or were supporting the Saudi blockade of Yemen resulting in the starvation of children and babies, or had destroyed wedding parties with drones,.....I could go on. ..."
"... If Assad is a butcher, he is only a junior, apprentice, corner-shop butcher. Trump is the real thing, the large-scale, wholesale, expert butcher. ..."
"... Gotta get that pipeline in for the Saudi's, eh, no matter how many children's carcasses it crosses, yay, regime change again, yay, and a heap of new terrorists for our kids in the west to dodge and duck, yay. ..."
"... Despite the several misrepresentations, the facts are that Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria , which is a proxy war against Iran. ..."
"... Britain was at the forefront in setting up the Al Nusra Front and in hosting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to disseminate deeply negative propaganda about the Syrian Government and armed forces. ..."
"... Every step of this including the media campaign which has comprised a major part of the military campaign against Syria, has been an attempt to delegitimize the Sovereign government and its institutions and to gain consensus from the somnambulistic British and US public for yet another direct military campaign against another Middle Eastern country. ..."
Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 17:57
Those interested in how the MSM fell in love with terrorists in Syria should go back and check out Charlie Skelton's illuminating piece from The Guardian 2012 .
Ciarán Here , 12 Apr 2017 17:48
The Gulf of Tonkin, WMD in Iraq...
Ciarán Here , 12 Apr 2017 17:46
Did the USA bomb war planes that they said had been used to carry chemical weapons - a chemical attack!
Robert Rudolph , 12 Apr 2017 17:40
Instead, the western powers have followed the example cited by Machiavelli: "in order to prove their liberality, they allowed Pistoia to be destroyed."

... ... ..

1Cedar , 12 Apr 2017 17:39
In late 2015, Eren Erdem, a Turkish MP, said in Parliament that the Turkish state was permitting Da'esh to send sarin precursors to Syria. He had a file of evidence, so was accused of treason for accessing and publicizing confidential material. The investigation into the people responsible for the transfer of toxic chemicals was shut down.

That surely ought to make us at least ask evidence-seeking questions about the Idlib gas attack before yet again demanding regime change.

Al-Assad is certainly capable of murdering opponents, and not bothering too much about collateral damage, but strategically it makes no sense for him to do this now, when peace talks under the aegis of Russia and Iran have begun, and the world is watching. Also, Assad has been engaged in a reconciliation process, allowing members of the FSA to return to the Syrian army, and Aleppans remain in Damascus if they didn't wish to go to Idlib. At such a juncture, using chemical weapons would be counter-productive. If Sarin was used at his command, he should be properly prosecuted: but bombing a Syrian air base merely assists Da'esh and its cronies.

unsouthbank , 12 Apr 2017 17:32
I have just watched the press conference in which Trump labelled Assad a butcher, and went on again about dead babies. I just wish that someone at one of these conferences would have the guts to point out to Trump his own butchery.

Anyone watching this performance would think that US forces had never been responsible for killing innocent civilians, men, women, children and babies. To listen to Trump, you wouldn't think that US forces had ever killed over 150 civilians in Mosul, dozens in Raqqa, or had bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, or schools in Iraq, or were supporting the Saudi blockade of Yemen resulting in the starvation of children and babies, or had destroyed wedding parties with drones,.....I could go on.

If Assad is a butcher, he is only a junior, apprentice, corner-shop butcher. Trump is the real thing, the large-scale, wholesale, expert butcher.

Ruthie Riegler , 12 Apr 2017 17:21
...Indeed, Richard Spencer last week protested outside the White House against the airstrikes on the regime airbase carrying a sign that read "No more wars 4 Israel."
NezPerce macmarco , 12 Apr 2017 17:37

There are two possible regimes, the Assad fascists, or the rebel jihadist

The Syrian government is Baathist, it was elected.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Socialist_Ba%27ath_Party_–_Syria_Region

http://www.france24.com/en/20160417-syria-bashar-assad-baath-party-wins-majority-parliamentary-vote

Latest update : 2016-04-17
Syria's ruling Baath party and its allies won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections last week across government-held parts of the country, the national electoral commission announced late Saturday.

Who are the rebels supported by Washington and Westminster?

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-falls-to-syrian-regime-bashar-al-assad-rebels-uk-government-more-than-one-story-robert-fisk-a7471576.html

And we're going to learn a lot more about the "rebels" whom we in the West – the US, Britain and our head-chopping mates in the Gulf – have been supporting.

They did, after all, include al-Qaeda (alias Jabhat al-Nusra, alias Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), the "folk" – as George W Bush called them – who committed the crimes against humanity in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001. Remember the War on Terror? Remember the "pure evil" of al-Qaeda. Remember all the warnings from our beloved security services in the UK about how al-Qaeda can still strike terror in London?

jimbo2000M , 12 Apr 2017 16:55
Gotta get that pipeline in for the Saudi's, eh, no matter how many children's carcasses it crosses, yay, regime change again, yay, and a heap of new terrorists for our kids in the west to dodge and duck, yay.
unsouthbank , 12 Apr 2017 16:40
I agree that Bashar al-Assad is not a "good person". It is impossible to be an authoritarian leader, struggling to maintain the unity, or even existence, of a nation state, and at the same time be a kind and gentle person. However, I do not believe him to be the psychopathic monster that he is portrayed as being, either. He is almost certainly not personally responsible for the chemical attack in Idlib province.

Presidents do not normally make detailed decisions on what sort of weapons should be used on every airstrike made by their aircraft. He may be a dictator, but he is not a complete imbecile. Even the dimmest of politicians could have foreseen that this chemical attack would end up being a massive own-goal. Nobody as cynically calculating as Assad is supposed to be, would be that stupid. My own hunch, (and that is all it is) is that sarin was used due to a blunder by a low or medium ranking Syrian airforce officer.

Yes, of course Assad bears responsibility for overall strategy in this vicious war of survival, and as such, has blood on his hands. But, so does Trump, so does Obama, so does Putin so does Erdogan, so does May, and so do all the leaders who have supplied the numerous rebel groups with billions of pounds worth of weapons, and have therefore kept the pot boiling.

Last year, Theresa May stood up in parliament and proudly proclaimed her willingness to commit mass indiscriminate murder on a scale that would make Syria look like a pinprick. She declared her willingness to press the nuclear button and therefore slaughter hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of completely innocent men, women, children and babies. She not only has blood on her hands, she is proud of it. Perhaps we should remember that, when she comes out with one of her sanctimonious, nauseatingly hypocritical statements about Syria.

martinusher , 12 Apr 2017 16:35
Assad was democratically elected more than once so he must be doing something right. (OK, so they're democracy might not be our democracy but 'our' democracy has brought us Trump, Brexit and the like so its really six to one, a half dozen to the other). Syria until we started messing with it -- creating, supporting and even arming opposition groups -- was stable, wasn't messing with its neighbors and had significant religious and cultural freedoms compared to other countries in the area. (Our actions might suggest that we really don't want stable, peaceful, countries in that region, we need them to be weak and riven by internal factions.)

Anyway, given our outstanding track record of success with regime change in that part of the world we should probably adopt a hands-off approach -- all we seem to do is make an unsatisfactory situation dire. Hardly the way to win friends and influence people.

KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 16:07
Despite the several misrepresentations, the facts are that Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria , which is a proxy war against Iran.

Britain was at the forefront in setting up the Al Nusra Front and in hosting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to disseminate deeply negative propaganda about the Syrian Government and armed forces.

Every step of this including the media campaign which has comprised a major part of the military campaign against Syria, has been an attempt to delegitimize the Sovereign government and its institutions and to gain consensus from the somnambulistic British and US public for yet another direct military campaign against another Middle Eastern country.

The whole which has visited terrible and incalculable suffering, on the Syrian people. Syria was a paradise before the British and US did their usual work. The journalists, government and security services in Britain who have wrought this mess , I'm sure will not escape the consequences of their actions. One hopes they experience a 1000 times of the hell they have visited on Syria. These actions are truly despicable acts of cowardice and absolute wickedness.

TomasStedron KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 16:27
Syria was a paradise for those who rule Syria........ the Assad regime brutally repressed any opposition to their rule. In 1982 Assad´s father killed probably more than 30,000 in the siege of Hama. As well as sheltering a number of terrorist organisations who have their headquarters in Damascus....... he also armed and supported the fledgling Al-Quaeda resistance to the coalition in Iraq, giving them asylum in Syria........now the IS ....... I can think of Paradise in different ways......
MacMeow KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 17:30

Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria

Link please. Because without evidence the rest of your post collapses.

KhalijFars MacMeow , 12 Apr 2017 17:50
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/01/trial-swedish-man-accused-terrorism-offences-collapse-bherlin-gildo

The prosecution of a Swedish national accused of terrorist activities in Syria has collapsed at the Old Bailey after it became clear Britain's security and intelligence agencies would have been deeply embarrassed had a trial gone ahead, the Guardian can reveal.

His lawyers argued that British intelligence agencies were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he was, and were party to a secret operation providing weapons and non-lethal help to the groups, including the Free Syrian Army.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines


Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting "collapse" of Assad's regime "from within."

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

Jermaine Charles , 12 Apr 2017 16:02
More guff from the guardian/ Mr Williams, with just a little realistic sense, but who can replace Assad and in Syria he remains very popular, despite the western media like lies!
johnbonn , 12 Apr 2017 16:00
Russia has to move quickly to secure a 100 year lease for the Latakia port and airbase. Otherwise the US will soon attempt to render it useless as well, regardless of which of the moderate rebel factions it decides to install.

... Spirits die hard, and those of the Arab spring and the Orange Revolution are still alive in the halls of the Pentagon.

.... A controlled cold war however, is the only way to a avoid a larger mess than what the West has already inflicted on the innocent Syrian people by using the most abortive war design that has ever been conceived by the war college or any other war commander.

...... At the current rate there will be more Syrians in Germany than those remaining in Syria.

......... Is it hard to wonder why Syrians might hold a grudge against the, US?

BlueCollar , 12 Apr 2017 15:59
Regime change ? All in the name of democracy as we see it.Why not try it in the Kingdom of family owned country KSA or why not another family owned enterprises called UAE.
stratplaya , 12 Apr 2017 15:58
History tells us replacing Assad would be a bad idea. We should have learned the lesson with Hussain and Iraq, but didn't. We would go on to replace Gaddafi of Libya and boom, it trigged ISIS.

The hard lesson here is that for some reason Muslim majority countries have a strong central authoritarian leader. No matter if that leaders is called president, king, prime minister, or whatever. When that strong leaders is deposed, chaos ensues.

Pier16 , 12 Apr 2017 15:58
The Americans have a fetish with regime change. Up until recently they were discrete about it and did it in secret, now they are all in the open. People who are against regime change are considered anti-Americans and tools of the Soviets...ahm.... Russia. The amazing thing is Tillerson said Assad's faith should be left with the Syrian people, the American establishment in unison said how could he says such a terrible thing, "we should decide what Syrian people want."

These are the same people who elected Trump, maybe they should let Syrian people select the US president. The result may end up better.

freeandfair , 12 Apr 2017 15:53
> Bashar al-Assad is not a good person. He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged. Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad.

Yes, Assad is not a good person. But what about American politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who armed "moderate rebels" and supported the opposition in pursuit of regime change? And Syria is not the only country were this happened. Will there ever any responsibility taken for their actions by the US and NATO?

First, they make a manageable problem into a huge problem, then just hightail back home, living local people to pick up the pieces.

Those half millions of deaths - are they all responsibility of Assad or do the sponsors of jihadists and jihadists themselves have some responsibility as well?

GlozzerBoy1 , 12 Apr 2017 15:40
Absolutely, stay the hell out, we should have no footprint in that awful part of the world.
Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
The choice as I see it is this:

A. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........but women can wear what they like in public, get a good education courtesy of the State, and embark on a career.

B. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........where women are denied education, made virtual prisoners in their own homes, and have acid flung in their faces for having the temerity to appear unveiled when they do go out in public.

It's not a great choice, but one is definitely better than the other.

Weefox Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:43
Also worth remembering that under Assad people are allowed religious freedom. I know two Syrian Christians who are terrified of what will happen if the rebels take control of their country.
Tom1982 Weefox , 12 Apr 2017 15:46
I'd imagine the Shia feel the same.
freeandfair Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 16:06
Choice B also includes Sharia law, full extermination of other faiths and death sentence for rejection of Islam. Basically Choice B is another Saudi Arabia, but a lot of people will have to die first.
oddballs , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
Assad would stand a good chance of winning a fair and honest election,
Still waiting for evidence by forensic experts over the chemical weapons , who did what and where.
Until proof is given hat prove otherwise the rebels are the most likly suspects. --> normankirk , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:24
The world's biggest superpower is willing to risk a nuclear war with mass destruction of billions and possible extinction of life on earth on an unproven assertion made by Al Qaeda sympathisers that the Syrian government bombed them with sarin? OBL must be laughing in his grave.
aleph SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:45
1. Who is threatening a nuclear war? The Russians? I haven't heard them threaten that. Probably because no-one would seriously believe them.

2. An intellectually honest person should not describe young children as terrorist sympathisers. Let alone imply they somehow deserve to be deliberately targeted by nerve gas as a result.

Fort Sumpter aleph , 12 Apr 2017 14:54
If you have the evidence of a nerve gas agent being present please supply it forthwith.

I keep asking you guys, who must be on the ground in Idlib such is your certainty, to provide the proof but you always refuse. Why is that?

SHA2014 aleph , 12 Apr 2017 14:56
An intellectually honest person should question the veracity of a report that is unverified by a terrorist organisation. The children were never described by me as 'terrorist sympathisers' so you make a dishonest accusation, the terrorist sympathisers are those who produced the report on which the whole story is based. It is not about the death of the children which is of course a crime, but they are being used by the terrorists for thier purposes.
An intellectually honest person would also show outrage about the mass murder of civilians, including children in Mosul and by a US bombing in Syria that seem to not arouse the same outrage.
SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:13
Regime change by US has been used at least three times against democracies, in Chili, in Iran and in Ukraine. Attempted regime change has also been used often in South America to oust populist rulers because of US interests. Although the above analysis raises the very good point that change has to come from the bottom up, it starts with the same fallacies of assuming that all of the death and destruction in Syria comes from one person which is an extremely flawed point to start from. The point that is to be made is that there is no military solution to the conflict except in an anti terrorist capacity. The problem is that all of those against the Syrian government in the current conflict are either outright terrorists or those who collaborate heavily with terrorists making it difficult to have a conventional peace process.
Imperialist , 12 Apr 2017 14:07
America should not be the one who decides who is an acceptable government, and sends soldiers to enforce its will.

The UN should have done that long ago. To Assad. To Kim. Stopped the Khmer Rouge. Or Rwanda.

Yet the only time they ever have actually fought is in the Korean War.

Fort Sumpter Imperialist , 12 Apr 2017 14:55
*cough* The US supported the Khmer Rouge *cough*
Mauryan , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
America engaged in regime changes to suit American interests during the cold war and the New world order drive. The fact that they supported dictatorships worldwide and helped them overthrow democratically elected governments tells clearly that imposing democracy forcibly was not their intention. Intervention in global conflicts is mainly for controlling pathways for resources and gaining ground for business opportunities for their multinational giant corporations.
diddoit Mauryan , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
It's all about what's best for the US and the incredibly powerful(in the US) Israel lobby. The UK just goes along with it.
NezPerce , 12 Apr 2017 13:52
The West's narrative has fallen apart, nobody believes that the Syrian rebels are peace loving democrats. We have ample evidence that they are infinitely worse than Assad.

We also have plenty of evidence that the Western deep state, not the public, wants another regime change in the middle east and will stop at nothing to achieve its end including false flag gas attacks. This article goes into detail.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-08/false-flag-how-us-armed-syrian-rebels-set-excuse-attack-assad

False Flag: How the U.S. Armed Syrian Rebels to Set Up an Excuse to Attack Assad

Evidence suggests a false flag chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people was initiated by Syrian rebels with the help of the United States in order to justify Thursday night's U.S. Military attack on a Syrian base.

The Left is very opposed to war in Syria, the Libertarian right is very opposed to war in Syria but a hugely powerful Deep State will stop at nothing to achieve its ends.

Nat-Nat aka Kyl Shinra , 12 Apr 2017 13:50
"Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad. "

well, you cannot put the blame on Assad only. He never asked for that war for a start and a lot of the refugees you're talking about may very well be pro-Assad.

This said, I agree, leave Assad and Syria alone.

Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:48
Finally an article which still sticks to logical thinking when it comes to Syria. Assad is a terrible leader but atleast with him, most of the factions within the country can be sorted. The West's obsession with stuffing democracy down the throats of every oil producing country in the Middle East has resulted in the Mad Max wasteland i.e. Libya and the unsolvable puzzle i.e. Iraq. Both Gaddafi and Saddam were terrible human beings but removing them left a vacuum which has cost the lives of thousands and displaced millions. The West must make its peace with Assad for now, stop supporting the rebels and try to find common ground with Russia against the real enemy - ISIS.
diddoit Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
The west - as the US/UK like to themselves, couldn't give a damn about democracy . They want compliance , not democracy. A good(brutal) dictator is better than a 'difficult' democratically elected leader , look at events in Egypt for example.

Our own democracies are pretty ropey, certainly not up there with the Scandinavian best practice.

dusktildawn Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
You're kidding right? The West stuffing democracy down the throats of the Gulf countries. More like defending them against the threat of democracy by arming them to the teeth and stationing troops there. Have you heard of Bahrain?
diddoit Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
call themselves. -typo
dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:47
The only plausible solution to this conflict is partition assuming of course the imminent defeat of Isis.

While getting rid of Assad would create a dangerous power vacuum and is in any case perhaps impossible given Russias backing, the sheer scale of the killing he's done and destruction he's unleashed on his own people - of a totally different scale to Saddam Hussein and even his father, from whom he seems to have inherited his psychopathic tendencies -renders the idea that he could continue to rule a "united" Syria or even the majority of it, laughable.

Mauryan dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:52
Partition would create more Assads.
Jemima15 , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
If you get rid of Assad, whoever replaces him is going to have a very difficult task. How on Earth do you enforce any sort of civilized law and order in a country which has some of the worst terrorist organizations the world has ever known. With organizations like ISIS around, a government is gong to need to take a firm hand somewhere. It's not as if you can send Jihadists on community service and expect them to come back as reformed characters.
DanielDee , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
Regime change? Why not?
Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi would make a fine statesman!
Pipcosta DanielDee , 12 Apr 2017 14:03
Until he turns on his mater
IamDolf , 12 Apr 2017 13:45
Fact is that Assad still enjoys considerable support among Syrians. In particular among those who have no problem with a woman going to the beach in a bikini and driving a car to work. He is not giong anywhere soon. And if he did, the situation would be worse. As in the case of the butcher Saddam Hussein and the crazy dictator Khadaffi, who also were supposedly removed in an attempt to bring "freedom and democracy to the people."
diddoit IamDolf , 12 Apr 2017 13:49
Syria was one of the few countries in the ME where you could drink alcohol. Does anyone believe whoever follows Assad be it someone picked by the US/Israel/KSA/Qatar will be quite so tolerant?
Patin , 12 Apr 2017 13:43
Why can't world leaders be held to account for their crimes against humanity? Is it not about time that they are compelled to comply with international law and for the United Nations Assembly to make them so by enforceable resolutions passed by a majority vote?

Assad is a tyrant who should be removed from office and held accountable for his crimes against humanity. Syrians should be entitled to a government that is respectful of their human rights.

The UN should take responsibility for enforcing a permanent ceasefire and brokering talks to secure Syria's future. It should require as a condition of UN membership compliance with and adherence to international law protecting human rights. Non compliance should be met with expulsion and the economic isolation of the country concerned from the rest of the world.

freeandfair Patin , 12 Apr 2017 16:19
> Why can't world leaders be held to account for their crimes against humanity?

You should start with American leaders like Bush. If you are serious about this.

roachclip , 12 Apr 2017 13:42

There is no shortcut to lasting peace. As uncomfortable as it is, the best that western governments can do is provide aid and assistance to those in distress, while pressuring those countries that continue to feed money and weapons to the combatants to change their positions.

You are absolutely right.

Such a pity then that the western governments in question, the UK, America and to a lesser extent, France, are in fact the same entities, via their surrogate power in the middle east, Saudi Arabia, who are the ones providing the weapons and money.

Just as they did in Iraq and Libya, and always for the same reason, to achieve regime change against the Middle Eastern leaders who were threatening their control of the oil market.

This situation is nothing new, these Western Powers have been attacking various parts of the Middle East for nigh on a century. Winston Churchill was responsible for bombing Iraq in the 1920's. That also was to achieve regime change.

All of the deaths and the destruction in the Middle East can ultimately be laid at the door of the 'Western Powers' and their willingness to do anything to protect their oil interests.

Taku2 , 12 Apr 2017 13:35
One of the most despicable thing about the West's attempts to bribe, entice and force Russia into abandoning the Syrian Government, so that America, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia can rush in, like hyenas to finish off a wounded animal, is how patronising they have been towards the Russians and Iranians. Granted that their racism towards the Russians might not be what it is towards the Syrian state, which they want to deny a voice and disrespect to the extent of talking to the Russians, and ignoring the Syrian government.

Yes, the West is behaving towards the Syrian state as if it is just something for it to manipulate, as it does with the global economy. Not having made any progress in manipulating the Syrian proxy conflict into the outcomes it wants, the West has now resorted to making merciless and unjustified attacks on Russian and the Iranians. Despite the fact that it is Russia and the Syrian government forces and their Hezbollah allies who have broken the impasse in this terrible war.
It is scurrilous that there should now be this coordinated media and political campaign to make Russia out to be 'the bad guy', the 'devil', as it were.

As for 'the liberals', well, guess what, if you want to do something constructive. Then stop blaming Russia and demonising the Russians, the Syrian Government and their allies. Look closer to home, to America, To Britain, to France and Saudi Arabia. There you will find more demons disguised as 'humanitarians' and 'angels' than probably in all of Russia and Syria.
The guys in the West who are posturing as angels are no less culpable than the Syrian government.
Of course the West should not destroy the Syrian state and government. But, since when has logic prevented this cartel from exercising its destructive force? As Libya, Iraq and Yemen have proven? The liberals need to grow up and stop being allied to the right.

Arapas Taku2 , 12 Apr 2017 13:42

so that America, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia can rush in, like hyenas to finish off a wounded animal

Your point is of great importance.
Now that Russia has done the dirty work at great cost, pushing them out of the way.........................
That will not happen, Rex was told by Sergei.

Arapas , 12 Apr 2017 13:34
robust belief in a supposed American ability to fix what is wrong.

Is meant to be the joke of the month.
What did they ever fix ? Just look what the Korean war has lead to.
Vietnam, where the Americans were defeated, is now a united and peaceful country.
On the other hand, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other regime change candidates have been reduced to failed states.

In Syria, the fate of the Alwites will be the same of that of women and children cowering in St Sophia in 1453.
Utter slaughter!

ganaruvian , 12 Apr 2017 13:32
Firstly, we have yet to see the results of any impartial investigation checking out the Syrian/Russian version of events about the gas in Idlib province, which could be true. Nobody that I can see is 'supporting' the use of gas against civilians, but it is known that the bigger terrorist organisations such as ISIS and al Qaeda do have stocks of poison gas. Secondly,so many uninformed commentators have not understood that Syria's 6 year war has been and remains a religious war! Asad's Shiite/ Alawite/Christian/ Druse/ Ismaili communities and other minorities supported by Iran and Lebanon's Shiites, fighting for their very survival against Saudi/ Qatari/Gulf States' extremist Wahhabi fighters, who via ISIS ,Al Qaeda and similar Islamists, want to wipe them off the face of the earth (with Turkey playing a double game). At this very moment people are condemning Assad for bombing civilians, whilst the US-led coalition including our own RAF, is doing exactly the same thing in the ISIS held city of Mosul -for the same reasons. The rebels take over and then surround themselves in cities, with civilians, hoping that these horrors will raise western public opinion against the government forces trying to defeat them. The 'half- informed' public opinion is now behaving in exactly this predictable way against the Syrian government, trying to deal with its own religious extremist rebels, many of whom are not even Syrians. It was always a war that the west should stay out of -other peoples religious wars are incomprehensible to non-believers in that particular faith. To talk now of replacing Asad is juvenile and mischievous - maybe that's why Boris is so engaged?
Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 13:20
Assad is the lesser of two evils. Those who are hailed as rebels pose an enormous threat to our security.
jonnyross Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 13:44
There is an equality of evil between Assad and ISIS. That said, Assad's forces and their Shia allies have slaughtered the vast majority of the victims.

Both Assad and ISIS will lose eventually. How many Syrians are slaughtered in the meantime is anyone's guess.

Why murderous dictators are so popular btl is a mystery.

john evans , 12 Apr 2017 13:20
Syria is finished.
According to Wikipedia Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, per opposition activist groups, vary between 321,358 and 470,000.
On 23 April 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria put out an estimate of 400,000 that had died in the war.

Also,according to Wikipedia I n 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria. In January 2017, UNHCR counted 4,863,684 registered refugees.
Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees.

Before the troubles,Syria had a population of 23 million.
No country could go back to normality after that upheaval.

Arapas john evans , 12 Apr 2017 13:37

No country could go back to normality after that upheaval.

It can !
Look at Chechnya! A newly rebuilt Grosny, living in peace.
Bearing in mind Iraq, Libya etc who wants to see that !

NativeBornTexan Arapas , 12 Apr 2017 14:08
Chechnya is ruled by a Russian puppet dictator who executes gay men.
Shad O NativeBornTexan , 12 Apr 2017 15:13
That's because politics is heartlessly, ruthlessly, compassionlessly pragmatic. If having a pet local petty king in the area keeps it stable and does not a politically costly military operation, everything else is seen as "acceptable collateral damage".

It's funny but western foreign policy is fundamentally the same in the methods, just different in goals. If the goal of regime change is achieved and political points collected, everything else is completely irrelevant. Opposition can become "moderately islamist", "democratic" rebels may implement sharia law, "precision strikes" may cause tens of thousands of civilian casualties, but it's all for the greater good.

Pipcosta , 12 Apr 2017 13:18
Why do we send a sewer rat to the UN as our ambassador
brianboru1014 , 12 Apr 2017 13:14
Every time the West especially the Anglo west of the USA and Britain intervene in another countries affairs, the end product is a disaster so for that reason alone these two societies which can only communicate in English should leave this to the Russians.
Ruby4 , 12 Apr 2017 13:13
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Albert Einstein

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

Chilcot report: Findings at-a-glance:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36721645

FFC800 , 12 Apr 2017 13:08
This almost manages to achieve sense, and it's good to see an article not promoting regime change for once, but it still falls short of stating the truth that the correct policy in Syria is to help Assad win the war, and then impose conditions on his conduct in the peace.

He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged.

Most of that was done by rebels.
jackrousseau , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
I must now begrudgingly thank the Trump Administration for causing me to realize a profound and universal truth. History doesn't rhyme at all; it parodies.

The build up to our inevitable Syria invasion is essentially an SNL parody of our Iraq invasion. All the way down to allegations of to "hidden stockpiles of WMDs", "gassing own citizens", "violation of no WMD agreement", "weapons inspectors not doing job", and most recently "Assad/Saddam is Hitler". All that's left is the final piece of evidence to tip public opinion in...the holy grail, "yellowcake uranium".

Of course, 6 months ago --with full knowledge of Saddam's gassing of the Kurds--Trump said toppling Hussein was a "uge" mistake and defended him as an "efficient killer of terrorists". "Efficient" indeed... https://cnn.com/cnn/2016/07/05/politics/donald-trump-saddam-hussein-iraq-terrorism/index.html

I'm not sure exactly what comes next (presumably Trump declaring an "Axis of Evil" consisting of Syria, ISIS, Iran, N.Korea...and perhaps Russia and/or China or both...thus setting the stage for a hilarious parody of WWII).

Who knows...I guess at least it's interesting.

John Smythe , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
Perhaps dear Boris should have had more talks with the British government to find out what is the political position of the conservative government over Syria, and more importantly with Russia. So far the American have by the look of things, telling the British Government in what they want, not bothering to ask what Britain thinks what is important.
There is actually no point in swapping one master the EU, to handcuff ourselves to the a far more right wing America.
bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 13:00
I find the commments on here quite confusing...

Take Isil and jihadists out of the equation and what you're left with are people that want to oust a tyrannical and unelected leader who clearly has nothing but disdain for his people (groups of at least).

Those rebels (or freedom fighters) are being seen as the bad guys it seems to me...?

The only reason I can see for this is that they have slight support from the United States.

Had the boot been on the other foot and the US we're supporting Assad and Russia,the rebels (freedom fighters) I'm quite sure public opinion (Guardian readers at least) would be quite different.

So what do the Syrian rebels who are looking to overthrow a dictator have to do to be put on a pedestal of righteousness as Castro was for effectively trying to achieve the same end goal....

Oh, that's right, Castro was trying to stick it to the Yanks.... now I get it.

dusktildawn bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 13:34
I think there's a definite strain of anti-Americanism on display however cautiously we have to view their actions after Iraq and give their closeness to the Gulf States. A quarter of the country has fled Assad, some 10 million internally displaced not to mention the incredible numbers of dead and wounded.

And yet there's a close minded reflex to say that things will be better off with him in charge ignoring even the possibility of partition, which strikes me as the most plausible option. The idea that Assad can now after all he's done rule a united country indefinitely putting a lid on refugees and terrorism strikes me as utterly preposterous.

bemusedfromdevon dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 14:11
My sentiments entirely and it shocks me that there are a considerable number of Assad apologists commenting on here as he is clearly seen as a better 'devil' than Trump...

I'm just very pleased I don't live in Syria and I think the run of the mill Syrian dying in their droves due to gas, bombs or simply drowning in the Med would be horrified to read a large number of comments on here in relation to this article and how Assad 'isn't such a bad old stick!'

I'm embarrassed to be honest....

Shad O bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 15:25

Take Isil and jihadists out of the equation and what you're left with

what you are left is nothing. This was the big point since 2013, when Nusra began taking over the last remnants of the FSA. Since then Cameron (or was it Hammond) had to coin the term "relatively hardline islamists" to make some of the jihadi groups somewhat acceptable.

In its latest iteration, Nusra (now rebranded yet againTahrir al-Sham) has formally absorbed several other "rebel" group, including the Nour al-Din al-Zenki, who were in the past equipped by the US, and were quoted by various agencies (including this paper) as "opposition" during the recapture of Aleppo.

Ah, yes, you also have the Kurds, who are building their own state. But if there is something all the local powers agree on (Russia, US, Turkey, Syria, Iraq...) is that they don't want an independent Kurdish state.

NezPerce , 12 Apr 2017 12:58

President Obama was heavily criticized for not doing more in Syria, but he made a difficult decision that was in many ways the right on.

Obama required cover from the British Parliament. Bombing Syria was incredibly unpopular with the UK public from right to left. David Miliband listened to the public and stopped the bombing of Syria. Nobody expected a Labour politician to dare to oppose the US war machine, it took them all by surprise.

Bombing Syria was incredibly unpopular with the US public and the European public, Miliband saved us from ISIS and Al Nusra both al Qaeda franchises running Syria.

The BBC routinely portrays the Libertarian right wing in the USA as Isolationists but if you hear it from them they are anti-war. The American working class understands what war is like in the middle east because many of them have experienced it. They are clearly anti another war in the middle east. proof:

https://www.infowars.com/exclusive-michael-savage-begs-trump-to-stop-wwiii/

In this off the cuff interview Michael Savage begs Donald Trump to not plunge the world into another world war that could destroy life as we know it

.

Trump has been subjugated by the deep state, his base is outraged and in despair.

dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:58
You could argue this isn't about regime change per se but prosecuting a dictator for targeting and massacring civilians. And surely the same rationale can be used against Isis. In other words you don't allow mass murderers to take. Over but prosecute them as well.
Mates Braas dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 15:05
You can start proceedings against your own war criminals. There is a long list of them, stretching from, Paris, London, Washington and Tel Aviv.
freeandfair dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 16:41
In that case North Korea and Saudi Arabia should be on top of the list.
Trekkie555 , 12 Apr 2017 12:57
Good article. Hits the nail on the head. Regime change may be required for Syria the G7 and Arab countries must come together to carefully plan what happens afterwards.
Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
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diddoit , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
'Monster' Assad was courted by western leaders: Remember the Assads pictured taking tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen(google it) , Blair all smiles in Damascus. The Kerry family pictured in Damascus enjoying a late evening supper with the Assads(google it).

But Bashar al-Assad is a stubborn man , he wouldn't distance himself from Iran and their proxies such as Hezbollah, thus his fate was sealed.

zolotoy diddoit , 12 Apr 2017 12:59
Nope, wrong. Assad wouldn't give the USA, Qatar, and Turkey a nice pipeline to kneecap Russian natural gas sales in Europe.

It's all about oil and money, petrodollars and ensuring American worldwide hegemony.

sokkynick zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 13:07
+1
diddoit zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 13:42
Well it's all tied in . People talk about Israel wanting the Golan Heights permanently in part due to oil interests, they talk about Qatar and the gas pipeline to Europe Assad refuses. They talk about the KSA being unnerved by Iran's growing influence in the region after the Iraq war, and how it would suit KSA , Israel and the US for Sunni leadership to emerge in Syria to rebalance the region.

I think it's all of the above . Which isn't what US/UK populations are being told.

Ilan Klinger , 12 Apr 2017 12:53
A regime changing in Syria?
Can someone here try and convince me that the State of Syria still exists?
And change it from what to what?From a Murderouscracy to a Oppressionocracy?
peterwiv , 12 Apr 2017 12:52
The West learns nothing from its mistakes. Can't we understand that our real enemy is ISIS and that springs directly from our disastrous invasion of Iraq? Assad may be pretty awful but surely we should be able to comprehend that he is an ally in the fight against ISIS just as the far more horrible Stalin was an ally against the Nazis.
Just because Trump suddenly talks about "beautiful babies", we all go mad again.
aleph , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
Syria is going to need serious amounts of aid and foreign investment to recover when peace starts to take hold. But Assad cannot travel internationally because he will be subject to arrest. At least in any civilised country. So he will be gone one way or antithetical. Putin has backed the wrong horse. It's too handicapped to run.
elaine naude aleph , 12 Apr 2017 15:43
Who should he have backed? - Isis?
algae64 , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
Until the Saudis, US & UK decide that enough is enough, then this idiocy will continue. Assad is a better leader for Syria than Isis, Al Qaeda, or the other Saudi-backed groups would be.

Syria was secular and religiously tolerant under Assad. It won't be either of those things if Assad is deposed. More than likely, it would end up as a Saudi-style Islamic theocracy with the harshest head-chopping, hand-chopping version of sharia law.

BorisMalden , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble

Did Assad deliberately bring his country into civil war? When his forces are being attacked by rebels sponsored by foreign groups, he really only has two choices: give up leadership and allow the rebels to take over the country, or fight back. Given that you're arguing that a regime change is a bad idea it logically follows that you support the second option, so it hardly seems fair to criticise him for the consequences of that resistance. You might do better to blame the rebels and those who sponsor them for bringing war to what was previously a (relatively) peaceful country.

Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
This Regime Change Policy adopted by the US and in many, if not all cases, supported by the UK, whilst in some case toppling Dictators, has left nothing but chaos in its wake.
We need to consider the case of Syria, very carefully, as we may well find ourselves handing the Country to ISIL on a plate.
Better to help Assad stabilise the Country, and then discuss political change.
The rhetoric coming from the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, can do nothing to help, but make the UK look stupid.
aleph Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:56
"Better to help Assad stabilise the Country"

Hahahahaha, collude with crimes against humanity in the name of stability and call it progress because after six years we cannot think of an alternative. Great.

Oldfranky aleph , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
Are you sure it's only Assad, laugh all you will.
BorisMalden , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble

Did Assad deliberately bring his country into civil war? When his forces are being attacked by rebels sponsored by foreign groups, he really only has two choices: give up leadership and allow the rebels to take over the country, or fight back. Given that you're arguing that a regime change is a bad idea it logically follows that you support the second option, so it hardly seems fair to criticise him for the consequences of that resistance. You might do better to blame the rebels and those who sponsor them for bringing war to what was previously a (relatively) peaceful country.

Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
This Regime Change Policy adopted by the US and in many, if not all cases, supported by the UK, whilst in some case toppling Dictators, has left nothing but chaos in its wake.
We need to consider the case of Syria, very carefully, as we may well find ourselves handing the Country to ISIL on a plate.
Better to help Assad stabilise the Country, and then discuss political change.
The rhetoric coming from the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, can do nothing to help, but make the UK look stupid.
aleph Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:56
"Better to help Assad stabilise the Country"

Hahahahaha, collude with crimes against humanity in the name of stability and call it progress because after six years we cannot think of an alternative. Great.

Oldfranky aleph , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
Are you sure it's only Assad, laugh all you will.
Foracivilizedworld , 12 Apr 2017 12:44

Regime change in Syria? That would be a mistake

Absolutely no... it will be a colossal disaster... and would explode the entire region affecting not only all ME countries including Israel, but will extend to Europe and NA, You can't keep it all "Over There"

And I think Trump would do it.

SaracenBlade , 12 Apr 2017 12:43
Regime change, evidently the US has n't learned from the past experience. Look at Iraq, Lybia, regime change has resulted in complete chaos, instability, and perpetual conflict. Syrian population is strictly divided on sectarian line - Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Kurds. Who is going to make a cohesive government capable of running the affairs of the state? Bashar Assaad's father, Hafiz Assaad ruled Syria with an iron grip, he understood Syrian sectarian divide.
notDonaldTrump SaracenBlade , 12 Apr 2017 12:49
'regime change has resulted in complete chaos, instability, and perpetual conflict.'

If one tried to think impartially the evidence might lead one to think that was the plan all along.

BlueCollar notDonaldTrump , 12 Apr 2017 15:50
If any country needs regime change, it is Saudi Arabia. All important positions are controlled by hundreds of Royals of Al Saud, even honest criticism of royals brings you closer to the back swing of executioner .
timefliesby , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Have we learnt nothing?
zolotoy timefliesby , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
Some of us have learned to be very comfortable with scraps from the war machine table -- Western legacy media in particular.
moreorless2 , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
My newsagent loves Assad. Why because he's a Syrian Christian. Assad is the only hope for the minority's in Syria. All of the opposition groups are some variation on Islamic nationalists. They will all happily slaughter anyone not of their faith. Assad is a murdering bastard but he kills those that threaten him. In Middle Eastern terms he's a liberal.
Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 12:39
Quite right. What the people of Syria need is stability and an end to the fighting. All else is secondary. In particular, the greatest crime that the West has committed in recent decades is the attempt to foist democracy on countries like Syria and Iraq, where it simply does not work. Even now, Western liberals dream of sitting Sunni, Shia, Alevi, Kurds, secularists and Islamic militants around a table to talk through to a democratic and mutually acceptable future for Syria. This is a fantasy - as democracy always is in heavily tribalised societies. It can only end in renewed civil war and inevitable dictatorship. I often wonder whether the West is just naive in these attempts at liberal cultural imperialism, or whether they are in fact a cynical front to mask the equally egregious aim of checkmating Russian influence in the region. Either way, shame on us.
StrongMachine Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
Are you calling George W Bush a liberal?
PSmd Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 13:07
It's not liberal cultural imperialism. It's painted as that to sell to domestic audiences.

It's liberal economic imperialism.

sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
Now to be fair, no one knows really what the president is thinking, not even apparently his chief diplomat or his UN envoy, who have sent conflicting messages. But let's cut to the chase – this is a very, very bad idea.

WW3 is definately a very very bad idea.
The idea that the US can change the government of another country for the better is born of US arrogance and lying manipulation.

juster , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
It's a bit funny that we just casually mention that the country harping on about the respect of the international rule book sinc 2014 vaiolate one of the core UN charter principles 72 times and is openly speaking of braking it the 73th time.

Jsut picture China saying openly their goal is to change the Abe regime in Tokio or Russia to change the regime in Kiev. They can't even have a pefered presidential candidate without mass interference hysteria and we just feel like it's A OK to go around the world changing who's in charge of countries.

freeandfair juster , 12 Apr 2017 16:58
> They can't even have a pefered presidential candidate without mass interference hysteria and we just feel like it's A OK to go around the world changing who's in charge of countries.

An excellent point.

bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 12:35
There are two main choices... Regime change... which hasn't worked out well where it's been attempted or just let the despots get on with it...

There are no easy answers but perhaps the only way is to let dictators crush and annihilate their opposition, utilise death squads to make dissenters disappear in the dead of night and, outwardly at least pretend everything is rosey....

If we, as a civilised society are able to 'look the other way' then that might be the simple answer... just hope everyone can sleep well at night and be grateful that, however much you hate our present government they aren't out gassing (allegedly) Guardian readers.

Jared Hall bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Not gassing people no, but still killing plenty of "innocent little babies" bombing hospitals and helping the Saudis cluster bomb fishing villages. Why don't we see pictures on TV of Yemeni kids mutilated by American bombs? How do we sleep with that?
bemusedfromdevon Jared Hall , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
We're pulling the trigger??

And that makes supporting a tyrant who will do anything a satisfactory solution to you?

Sounds like crocodile tears to me.

SterlingPound Jared Hall , 12 Apr 2017 13:11
Well, we saw the aftermath of a deliberate attack by Saudis planes on a clearly demarcated Yemeni hospital on the BBC last year. The first rocket hit an arriving ambulance with civilian casualties and a doctor on board. The response of the Saudi shills in the Commons - what is it about the British upper class and the Arabs, I wonder - was to demand forcefully that the Saudis set up an inquiry to examine the evidence of a war crime.
It should have been sadly obvious from the get-go that we had to back Assad before he attempted to beat his father's record for murder and repression, the whole family's fucking insane, but it's long past too late now. He's soiled goods and Tillerson's untutored idea of elections is surely farcical.
Muzzledagain , 12 Apr 2017 12:35
Fair article, although ISI and rebels actively participated in the destruction of Syria. If Assad falls, anarchy due to vacuum will follow, guaranteed. Agree with the last paragraph in particular and still wondering why they (the West) don't do it especially pressuring the countries that feed the rebels, and they are not so moderate, with money and weapon. Unless this is because of the infamous pipeline. Tragic state of affair indeed.
Aethelfrith , 12 Apr 2017 12:31
Decade after decade, the west has interfered or overthrown government after governemnt , all over the world , mainly for the benefit of capitalist puppeteers . America has been the worst , one only has to look at the CIA's track record in South America when legitimately elected governments were ousted by force so that "American business" interest were looked after.
This same vested self interest has been the driving force over the last few years. The interventions in Iraq , Libya, Afghanistan have all been total disasters fro the regions and resulted in more deaths than any tin pot dictator could have achieved. Backing so called "moderate" terrorists seems to be the excuse to get involved.
More moral achievement and good could have been achieved by widespread dropping of food around the world , or even the cost of the military hegemony being given as cash handouts to poor people , but this simplistic altruism does not allow for the geopolitical control games that is the true beating heart of western aggression.
austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:30
And it will serve as a welcome distraction from the lack of domestic achievements by the U.S. govt.
Fort Sumpter austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
Theresa could also do with some distraction from her shambolic government and the whole Brexit disaster.
timefliesby austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
Got to agree. Dead cat. Nobody is talking about links and the FBI any more and Putin is mentioned on a new context.
Approval ratings from US voters?
Moo1234 Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:45
We are all Brexiteers now. I voted remain, but accept the democratic will of the people. Blame David Cameron and get on with the job of making a success of it, rather than whining about it....
dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:30
What if this was Apartheid era South Africa and the white minority were bombing the hell out of the majority black civilians who wanted them out?
duthealla dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:49
Nobody intervened in South Africa despite massacres like Sharpeville....perhaps it would've let to full on racial war though?
dusktildawn duthealla , 12 Apr 2017 12:55
I'm just saying people making the case for the West to back off would probably be saying the opposite in that case if the white minority were massacring black people on the scale of Syria. Isn't that hypocrisy?
Fort Sumpter dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:04
It isn't hypocrisy because your South African scenario bears little resemblance to what is happening in Syria. Simple as that.
Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:28
Boris obviously has a more pressing engagement over Easter.
BeanstalkJack , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Regime change - a phrase that reminds us imperialism is alive and well.
Gandalf66 BeanstalkJack , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
The successful regime changes mentioned in the article such as Poland and the rest of the Eastern bloc were initiated by the people themselves, rather than the the "help" of a foreign power.
BeanstalkJack Gandalf66 , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
The people did it all by themselves did they? So nothing to do with the economic collapse of the Soviet Union caused by an arms race ramped up by President Reagan. Nothing to do with a very costly war in Afghanistan?
sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Given the situation, it is understandable why some people may think ousting Assad is necessary. Such thinking has a long pedigree in the United States, where there is a robust belief in a supposed American ability to fix what is wrong.

I think the word is arrogance rather than belief.

Mates Braas sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 14:51
I think the word is arrogance rather than belief...............and exceptionalism.
brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Trump is the new boy on the block, trying to use missiles as a penis substitute.

Sorry, but simple definitions are sometimes correct.

yshani brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 13:19
Would you have said the same thing in 1917 and 1940. Would you have said the same thing in the duration of the cold war. If US did not have a bigger penis then you would not be around to comment about it.

Long live the US penis and may it grow longer and stronger.

brucebaby yshani , 12 Apr 2017 13:26
WW2 was won principally by the USSR, who suffered many more casualties than the western alliances. The cold war would not have happened if not for the USA.

Sorry, the USA is more of a threat to the planet than any country, and Trump is unintelligent, a real threat to the world.

MacMeow brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 17:01

WW2 was won principally by the USSR

That old clunker again, it's like the war in the Pacific never happened.

Sorry4Soul , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Why it would be a mistake ?
Libya was such a success story.
Trumbledon , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
Finally, at long last, some sense.

I agree wholeheartedly; by far the best analysis I've read in this paper.

sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
If the US wants Assad ousted, they should support a UN investigation to find out WHO was at fault. Shoot first questions later? Hollywood Wild West thinking. The US has zero credibility. You simply cannot blame someone without having the facts independently checked out. Yet they didn't wait and decided to break interantional law instead.
joAnn chartier , 12 Apr 2017 12:23
There seems to be a crucial component of reality lacking in this opinion piece: rather than bombing and droning and etc, why does the 'world order' not stop the manufacture and distribution of weapons of mass destruction like barrel bombs, nuclear warheads etc etc -- where profits are made by arms manufacturers and their investors--oh, could that be the reason?
Fakecharitybuster , 12 Apr 2017 12:20
Quite. Assad is awful, but he is less awful that the Islamist alternatives, which are the only realistic alternatives. We should stop posturing and accept this unpalatable reality.
ganaruvian Fakecharitybuster , 12 Apr 2017 13:40
Spot-on!
Viva_Kidocelot , 12 Apr 2017 12:20
Much more level reporting, but still is framing the narrative as a brutal gas attack and is still a rush to judgement when the case is that bombs were dropped on a supply of toxic gas, most likely Phosgene.
Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:19
At last, some common sense. like Saddam and Gaddafi, Assad is a ruthless tyrant. What the West, including the petulant Boris Johnson need to realise is that Syria ISN'T the West. Don't impose your values on a country that isn't ready for them. The sickening hypocrisy of the British government would look very foolish if Putin pulled out and allowed Syria to fall to isis. Would Boris and Theresa put British troops on the ground to keep the extremists out of Turkey?
Gandalf66 Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
Why isn't Syria ready for Western values? After what the country has been through the people would probably leap at the chance of free elections. Prior to the conflict Syria was a multi-ethnic patchwork. Whatever happens to the country needs to be decided by the Syrians themselves.
Mates Braas Gandalf66 , 12 Apr 2017 14:50
"Why isn't Syria ready for Western values?"

The geopolitical status quo in the Middle East is unstable, and tribal affiliations/religious/ ethnic allegiances need to be carefully balanced and controlled. Something Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iraq achieved reasonably peacefully for many years before all the US led interventions.

There is no evidence that the terrorists are fighting for democracy, although if westerners ask them that is what they will likely say.

shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:18
So Trump is unfit to govern because of his locker room humour and possible antics, but gas a few thousand people and hey presto! A darling of the left.
bemusedfromdevon shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:22
That's how it seems...
Fort Sumpter shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
Not the left. These writers are pro-British Establishment, pro mixed economy liberals. Soft right if anything.
zolotoy Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
You're talking about this rag. Take a look at what's coming out of Howard Dean's mouth, or Bernie Sanders's, or practically any Democrat in Washington not named Tulsi Gabbard.

Or, if you have a really strong stomach, take a look at Daily Kos.

They're what passes for "left" in America, unfortunately, because the number of SWP and Green Party members is statistically insignificant.

richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:17
"Given the situation, it is understandable why some people may think ousting Assad is necessary"

The Guardian reported that in Libya, the last country to benefit from US and "our" attempts at regime change there are now open air slave auctions.

So yeah, why not do the same in Syria; what is there to lose?

Mates Braas , 12 Apr 2017 12:16
Regime change is illegal under international law, except to the rogues of course found in western capitals, and their Gulf vassals. These are the only group of people in the entire planet who talk openly about overthrowing sovereign governments of other countries.

Imperial hubris knows no bounds.

tjt77 Mates Braas , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
The unfortunate truth is that, along with the ongoing decline of western civilization, one 'by-product' is that International Law is continually disdained. The USA, having lack of insightful leadership, does as it wants, when it wants .. the result is that perpetual wars seem to be a given .. meanwhile, Asia continues to rise and is growing real and genuine wealth by producing and exporting the goods the rest of the world consumes and is doing it very well..
jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:16
President Trump didn't do enough (yet) by bombing an air base at night. The people of Syria need weapons, tanks, missiles, air support, etc. from a country like the USA that stands for freedom and human rights. Assad, who lives by the sword should also die by the sword. For the U.S. to stand by and watch these atrocities unchallenged would simply be not who we are. I don't agree with President Trump on a lot of things, but on this point he is right. I have changed from not liking him at all to liking him just a bit more.
sceptic64 jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
And what comes after?
duthealla sceptic64 , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
That'd be a problem for the EU. We cook , you clean - as some neocon asshat said about Iraq.
richmanchester duthealla , 12 Apr 2017 13:14
Well the Guardian was reporting on open air slave auctions in
Libya this week.

So clearly arming "the people" and supplying air support worked well there.

Obviously the same course should be followed in Syria.

richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:15
"All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged. "

And that's Assad'd fault?

Or is it the fault of the originally US and still Gulf states/Turkey backed Wahhabis that have damaged them?

Trumbledon richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
All Assad's fault, if he hadn't tried to liberate Palmyra, it'd still be standi... Oh wait.
richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:14
"The logic is that by removing and replacing an undesirable leader, the political situation in the country will change. "

Absolute tosh.

The logic behind nearly all attempts at cold war regime change was to replace a regime which aligned itself with the USSR with one that aligned itself with the USA.

The internal situation, politically or otherwise was of no concern

Elinore richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:23
It would work in the USA.
Nietzschestache , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
Good piece. Regime change has been such a resounding success, you only have to look at Iraq and Libya to see that. Nor does a country which has a history of using napalm and carcinogenic defoliants any room to take the moral high ground.
sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
If Assad, is so bad, how come most of the civilian population prefer his areas to those of the rebels? The one certainty in all of this is that the MSM has sold its credibility. Most of what I see is vested interest propaganda.
pete8s sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:21
Isn't the main reason that people prefer Assad's areas because he doesn't bomb them.
There is no love of Assad anywhere.
If the US were to limit itself to punishing strikes against Assad whenever his forces committed war crimes – bombing hospitals using poison gas etc then a minor at the level of civilisation creeps back into the equation.
bemusedfromdevon sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
Perhaps because the rebel areas are getting the shit bombed out of them by the Russians and Assad...

How many heavy bombers and fighters do those fighting Assad have...?

Just think about it a little....

Fort Sumpter pete8s , 12 Apr 2017 12:26

There is no love of Assad anywhere.

How many Syrians do you know and how many times have you been there?

scipioafricanus , 12 Apr 2017 12:10
The situation will be even more fraught if other external actors turn any attempt at regime change into a proxy war, as Russia and Iran are likely to do.

A proxy war between the United States and Russia is the thing we all have to fear. In Trump and Putin you have two leaders who use brinkmanship to get what they want and who will never back down from any position no matter what the consequences. They'd rather pursue a misguided policy rathen than lose face. I'd like to think the recent war of words between the two countries is just bluster, but as each day goes by I'm no longer sure anymore.

Amanzim , 12 Apr 2017 12:10
Regime change should work if all parties believe in democracy and respect each other. That does not seem likely in the middle east. We have seen what that means forcing that idea in Iraq, Egypt and Libya. A secular SOB is better than somebody who believes in laws of yesteryears.
zankaon , 12 Apr 2017 12:09
Another way: reducing accidental use of chemical weapons?

Always drop 2 bombs; one from each side of ammunition dump. That way, one of such unmarked ordinance is likely to be conventional explosives. The latter would further disperse, and dilute (reduce density) of the chemical gas; hence lessening lethality.

Elinore , 12 Apr 2017 12:08
You could put Assad in the White House and Trump in Syria and and nothing would change except that the White House might be a tad more intelligent.
Gandalf66 Elinore , 12 Apr 2017 12:59
Assad is actually a qualified doctor so he's pretty intelligent. Strange that he's ignoring the Hippocratic Oath on a daily basis.
jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:08
So we agree on the final result (need for regime change which by the way the article conflicts with its own title), but we disagree on the method. Many bottoms-up revolutions would not have been successful without outside help. The French helped America achieve freedom although their reason was somewhat revengeful. The people of Syria have no chance against an army and tanks ruled by a ruthless evil dictator like Assad without outside assistance. If you think they are not shedding enough blood for their freedom, then you are living in a hole in the ground.
Mickmarrs jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:18
Yeah and the guys that get in are head loppers
ProfJake , 12 Apr 2017 12:05
Well said. Worth taking a look at Global Peace Index, which is produced annually by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace:

http://visionofhumanity.org/indexes/global-peace-index /

In the latest iteration for 2016, the bottom ten places in the Index, reserved for the least peaceful countries on earth, include Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya: four countries where "regime change" has been brought about – or, in Syria's case, where there is arguably an ongoing attempt to bring it about – by the use of military force.
The evidence so far is that the use of force to topple regimes does not make things better, even when the behaviour of those regimes is/was objectionable in many ways.

Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:05

He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged.

Nope. Most of Homs and Aleppo are intact. The areas occupied by foreign Jihadists using the local populace as human shields were heavily bombed but now they have been liberated.

Who was it who destroyed these heritage sites? Not the SAA. The Jihadists even filmed themselves doing it and posted the videos online for goodness sake.

mp66 , 12 Apr 2017 12:04
Bashar al-Assad is not a good person. He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco World Heritage sites have been damaged.

So thousands of mostly foreign jihadists occupying parts of those cities had nothing to do with it? Did the US led forces in now n Mosul, or before that in Fallujah find the way to dislodge terrorists from urban strongholds without devastation of the city? Also for all world heritage sites in Syria, they were defended by Syrian troops, and everything that could be moved was moved to safe place. It was exclusively jihadists that were destroying temples, churches, shrines, even muslim graveyards when they found the funeral momunent "too tall". In all of these efforts to save the history of the humanity, syrian govermnent got no help nor acknowledgment. To add insult to injury, the western "cultural" response was touring 3D model of Palmyra gates through western capitals but while Daesh was methodically blowing it up under clear desert skies, there was interestingly not a single american drone to be found anywhere. It was syrian, iranian and russian blood spilled to liberate it twice from the death cult.

ID1941743 , 12 Apr 2017 12:02
Yep. There isn't a solution to this problem, but the one thing I'm 99.999% convinved will not work is 'the west' dusting off it's world policeman uniform and bombing the heck out of Syria.
ariaclast , 12 Apr 2017 12:01
This is precisely why the west has largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict; despite having a policy favouring the removal of Assad there hasn't been an attempt (or even the suggestion of an attempt at a policy level) at regime change.


One does wonder, though, at what point the conflict becomes so abhorrent and the civilian casualties so grotesque that our intervention could scarcely make things any worse

Vetinary ariaclast , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
Are you actually blind?
ariaclast Vetinary , 12 Apr 2017 12:15
Who said that?
LucyandTomDog , 12 Apr 2017 12:00
The US?
Syria?
Regime change?
Moi?
It seems that Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, whilst putting all his cerebral energy into attempting to apologise for his jaw-droppingly ignorant statement that Hitler never used chemical weapons on his own people, failed to stop his mouth making yet another gaffe;

"I needed to make sure that I clarified, and was not in any shape or form any more of a distraction from the president's decisive action in Syria and the attempts that he is making to destabilise the region and root out ISIS out of Syria."


(my emphasis)

Spicer speaks about the president's attempts to destabilise the region in a CNN television interview too.
As people are beginning to ask, does Spicer actually know what distabilise means?

zolotoy LucyandTomDog , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
I'm sure it was an unintentional but very revealing Freudian slip.

The advantage of letting dunces speak is that they're not very good at hiding what they think.

LucyandTomDog LucyandTomDog , 12 Apr 2017 13:21
Typo
'As people are beginning to ask, does Spicer actually know what distabilise means?'
Should be destabilise
Guy1ncognito , 12 Apr 2017 11:59

Bashar al-Assad is not a good person.

Don't hold back...

Moo1234 Guy1ncognito , 12 Apr 2017 12:22
Daesh/ isis are even less good people......
Gandalf66 Guy1ncognito , 12 Apr 2017 13:00
More like Assad is the least worst.
davshev , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
It bothers me that Trump is suddenly showing such concern toward innocent Syrians. Yet, at the same time he wants a ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria.
sceptic64 davshev , 12 Apr 2017 12:15
Don't you think the timing here is - for Trump - rather convenient? Just when he is under pressure for being a Russian patsy, something happens to allow him to portray himself as 'standing up to Putin'.

This whole thing stinks.

davshev sceptic64 , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Right. Also, the question should be...if Putin is sleazy enough to be complicit with Syria, then why wouldn't they be sleazy enough to be involved in trying to swing the American election?
zolotoy davshev , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Good question. How sleazy is it to be complicit with Al Qaeda, the only entity on the planet that the USA is semiofficially at war with?
scipioafricanus , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
In essence there must be incremental change in the political climate and culture of a state amongst the masses before it culminates in regime change at the top.

The political climate is no longer there because Assad has systematically murdered everyone who could have formed a credible oppostion to his regime; opposition activitsts, aid workers, doctors and nurses, journalists - all have either been killed, have fled to Europe, or are currently being tortured in one of his detention centres. There is no one left to rise up against him.

The intervention triggers resentment and hostility at the new government whose legitimacy is reduced through the participation of an outside government. Soon the new regime is considered a 'puppet' and its own existence is questioned by the people.

This is indeed true. However backing Assad also has its costs; where is the legitimacy of someone who is now merely a "puppet" for Russia and Iran's ambitions in the region?

As uncomfortable as it is the best western governments can do is to provide aid and assistance to those in distress, whilst pressuring those countries that continue to feed money and weapons to the combatants to change their positions.

As reasonable as this sounds, I'm afraid this is just wishful thinking.

Mates Braas scipioafricanus , 12 Apr 2017 14:37
"The political climate is no longer there because Assad has systematically murdered everyone who could have formed a credible oppostion to his regime;"

There is a credible position inside Syria which has been largely ignored by the western MSM and governments, because it does not support the uprisisng or the violent overthrow of the Syrian government. It was refused participation when the first peace talks were arranged.

lemonsuckingpedant , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
Wow, a Guardian article I can finally wholeheartedly agree with. Does this Professor chap have a hotline to Trump and the rest of the Western leaders itching for a fight with Assad?
zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 11:53
Why do I get the feeling this is just another one of those "Now that Trump is in charge, we shouldn't do regime change" pieces? I note that the author nowhere comes out against fighting an eternal war in Syria -- he just doesn't want Trump doing the "regime change."

Yeah, he blabbers on about "aid and assistance" and "pressuring those countries that continue to feed money and weapons to the combatants to change their positions" -- obviously choosing to ignore how several western governments provide money and weapons to the combatants (should they be "pressuring" themselves?) But the pinnacle of his cluelessness -- or his agenda -- is reached with this whopper:

The situation will be even more fraught if other external actors turn any attempt at regime change into a proxy war, as Russia and Iran are likely to do.

--as if this hadn't been a proxy war for years already, one in which his own country has been quite actively engaged.
Janeira1 zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
Didn't notice Iraq faring too well the last time the US intervened in regime change.
jamie evans , 12 Apr 2017 11:50
Trump told him over some cake?
This idiot has got to go, he is not rational. He clearly has not an inkling of the gravity of his actions. Nor does he care. How did we get to this? We always thought that a rogue state would be the end of us all. We were wrong. This moron is doing it all by himself. Some one needs to step in, take back control. This is frightening stuff.
terests, Assad's removal would be catastrophic. There would be no stable government in Syria, it would be controlled by warlords backed by Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda or ISIS and millions of refugees would have no country to return to or to live in. This will mean more refugees in Europe, more destabilisation and more money drained from our treasuries.
Russia would also be far from pleased and if the conflict erupted into a confrontation between NATO affiliated forces in Syria against Russia, the Eastern European front will become a lot more precarious (at a time when Britain is cutting back on military spending and very few European countries adequately contribute towards NATO). Do we really want a repeat of tensions from the pre-1991 era? I don't think so, especially with the combined threat of domestic Islamic terrorism throughout Europe and with the continental debt crisis that cannot afford more wars that are not in its interests. Russia will quickly mobilise its forces into the non-Russian caucuses, already closely aligned with Armenia and potentially link up with Iran territoriality. And what about Turkey? They cannot be relied upon.

So what benefit exactly is it to create anarchy in Syria for Britain's immediate and long-term interests? The destruction of Libya has created nothing but chaos and a stream of migrants from across Africa. Why Boris Johnson is waltzing around the world demanding hard action against Russia when we are cutting back on our armed forces is startling. A better question would be in whose immediate economic and geopolitical interests is the destruction of Assad beneficial? Well... there's two countries in the Middle East which come to mind... not hard to guess.

dusktildawn Jack1R , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
That's fair enough but what if Assad stays in power? Will the refugees, who mainly fled him, return? Will anyone invest in rebuilding the country? WIll anyone deal with the country other than Russia or Iran? Above all will the hatred of Assad, terrorism or indeed the conflict as a whole recede?
Jack1R dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:02
They didn't flee him... they fled the war. Most people, in any country, are apolitical. I expect the refugees in the Middle East and Anatolia will return to Syria and those in the West must be forced to return back.

The problem with Syria now is that it has become such a hot plate. If the West concedes to Russia and allows Syria to survive under the rule of Assad then we will lose face internationally... and it would be domestically embarrassing. No doubt Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Gulf monarchies would be less than pleased, and we depend on them for a lot of our oil.

It's a difficult question but what we do know is that there are no other credible groups that can rule Syria at the moment, other than Assad's Alawite minority. If we decide to nation-build, that will cost billions, possibly even trillions with no concrete result as our attempt in Iraq shows and we have no idea who we would put in charge. The Christians have about as much legitimacy as the Alawites. Perhaps the only conceivable outcome would be the breakup of Syria. The Christian and Alawite regions go towards Lebanon, the Kurdish regions are given independence and the Sunni areas are also given an independent state. But of course, the Sunni and Christian areas are intertwined and many Sunni's support Assad, or at least do not oppose him. And Turkey, as well as Iran, would never allow an independent Kurdistan. Iran would be less than pleased with the breakup of Syria as well.

I want to see a post-Assad plan. We all know what happens to non-Sunni minorities when a secular Arab leader is toppled. No one has yet to provide a coherent post-Assad state-structure. Unless of course they want Turkey to territoriality expand... we want to preserve the post-Ottoman borders and state-system yet at the same time we're waging war against the forces actively preserving it.

There is no simple answer. Assad is a pawn of Russia and Iran, yet the other options are either Turkish expansion (which, the last time they did that, they had sizeable European territories) or Saudi expansion (which I hope everyone agrees is less than desirable). We have no friends in the Middle East, other than Jordan, Egypt and Israel. But they all have their own interests and I suspect their friendships are determined upon those interests. I think our aim is to maintain the balance of power. Perhaps only the growth of Israel could act as a counter-weight to Sunni and Shia interests.

Alderbaran Jack1R , 12 Apr 2017 13:04
Would you support another leader from perhaps the same party taking over as an interim measure whilst different factions are brought together to defeat ISIS?

In an ideal world, I would love to see this happening, along with a form of truth and reconciliation commission, and a commitment from the international community and other bodies independent of the Syrian government to assist in tackling issues such as warlordism and corruption. The dogmatic belief that there can be no leader other than Assad is one that might have ultimately cost millions of lives and it would be wrong to use the old dictator's mantra of 'me or chaos'. And to be fair, Assad does not have a great track record in Syria.

And a final question - do you believe Russia should be doing more to put pressure on Assad or do you think it will be happy to put its international credibility on the line for him? (There is something pathological I believe in Putin's willingness to support other dictators)

Laurence Bury , 12 Apr 2017 11:50
How can one call for 'peaceful transition to a new society' when the original opposition to Assad was sponsored by multifarious power-hungry foreign actors? They exploited the Arab Spring pro-democracy utopianism then messed up their insurrectional strategy disastrously. The country now needs to be made a protectorate of an international peace-keeping force until a representative transitional government is agreed upon.
WellmeaningBob Laurence Bury , 12 Apr 2017 12:11
A little contradictory, no? Oh we fucked up, so you need to be colonised anyway.
Laurence Bury WellmeaningBob , 12 Apr 2017 12:19
No, that sounds like the pseudo-leftist neo-colonial discourse that Obama was so fond of.
The counter-argument to regime change is more that by now Assad controls most cities again, the opposition are awful sectarians who should be let nowhere near power and it may still be possible to contain IS to a manageable extent while Assad maintains a dictatorship indefinitely.
WellmeaningBob Laurence Bury , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Not quite sure what you mean. Just saying that the "man on the street" would more likely than not understand "protectorate" pretty much the same as e.g. the Moroccans did.
elan , 12 Apr 2017 11:50
One day spent in assad's syria and Michael williams would be calling for regime change as well. Idiots thousands of miles living in comfortable lives have no idea the horror the syrian people have been going through for the last 7 years under this cruel barbaric regime of assad.

Assad has killed more arabs than israel in only three years

jonnyross elan , 12 Apr 2017 11:57
"Assad has killed more arabs than israel in only three years"

By a factor of 10, or so.

Fort Sumpter elan , 12 Apr 2017 12:07

Assad has killed more arabs than israel in only three years

Ah, you let the mask slip.

Mates Braas elan , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
Civil war means that both sides are killing their own people.
ApfelD , 12 Apr 2017 11:48

It is entirely understandable that a liberal heart wants to see justice done


Are you kidding?
Vendange ApfelD , 12 Apr 2017 11:54
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards . Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs .
Snaga ApfelD , 12 Apr 2017 13:43
You don't understand the desire for justice??
jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 11:44
"He uses indiscriminate weapons such as 'barrel bombs' and chlorine gas on a regular basis against his own citizens."

Not to mention the thousands tortured to death in his prisons, the use of starvation as a weapon, the denial of aid and the deliberate targeting of hospitals and medical staff. All carefully documented.

Yet, strangely, he has no shortage of apologists prepared to deny his crimes.

zolotoy jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 11:57
Only because his opposition is even more barbaric.
Fort Sumpter jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 12:09
'indiscriminate weapons'

Oh dear, are they rally still pushing this 'our weapons don't kill civilians' BS?

No need for evidence of chlorine gas bombs apparently.

And anyone who questions the MSM narrative and who is sickened by endless war is an 'apologist'. What are you but an apologist for war?

Mates Braas jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 12:23
Unfortunately, there is no way to make war nice.
ToffeeDan1 , 12 Apr 2017 11:43
Send them a Chocolate Bombe
SeeNOevilHearNOevil , 12 Apr 2017 11:42
Regime change in Syria was being talked directly since 9/11 and it never stopped. It's on the record. So is john Kerry, on record on TV, stating gulf states offered to cover part of the costs of a US invasion in Syria at least twice way before the so called ''civil war'' even started.
They prepared it for years but the poor taste Iraq/Libya left on the US public meant the US pulled out of the deal (all because of the planed gas pipelines from Qatar to Europe that has to go through Syria).
The Saudis along with Qatar, Turkey and Israel believed they could force the hand of the US and acted alone initiating the takeover. This is why despite the intel, organisation and provision of what is estimated to be 300k(german estimates) foreign jihadists eventually came to a standstill without direct US support.
The Jihadists then prematurely jumped the gun fragmented creating ISIS (something meant to take place behind the scenes after they defeated Assad)

The point is of course...it's all about oil...nothing about democracy or Gas or any of that crap

hpe974 SeeNOevilHearNOevil , 12 Apr 2017 16:26
Of course it is!! The USA is truly the biggest sponsor of terror and mayhem and destruction in the M.E.
namjodh , 12 Apr 2017 11:38
Yes, this is all quite true. What the USA almost always seems to do is create a power vacuum in the countries it attempts to "save" and, inevitably it seems, the USA always chooses the wrong damn party or person to support in said vacuum. A stunning misreading and proof of the failure of American foreign policy "experts" and CIA strategists to grasp the realities on the ground.
HuckelburryPin namjodh , 12 Apr 2017 11:46

Yes, this is all quite true. What the USA almost always seems to do is create a power vacuum in the countries it attempts to "save" and, inevitably it seems, the USA always chooses the wrong damn party or person to support in said vacuum.

Like in Japan. Just that Japan is ... Shinto. Or something. Not M.........

WellmeaningBob namjodh , 12 Apr 2017 12:04
I'm sure its fair to say that for many instability, disorder, mayhem and the like are entirely desirable. Witness Kissinger who out-and-out advocated/advocates looking after US long-term interests through war, disease and starvation.
ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 11:37
Scott Ritter has been commenting on the alleged Assad gas attacks . Unlike the MSM the former Iraq weapons inspector seems far from convinced.
Levant1998 ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd, and Professor Theodore Posto of MIT also authored a piece:

http://m.dw.com/en/is-assad-to-blame-for-the-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria/a-38330217

jadamsj ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 17:12

Scott Ritter has been commenting on the alleged Assad gas attacks. Unlike the MSM the former Iraq weapons inspector seems far from convinced.

What that before or after Russia blocked an investigation into it?

ploughmanlunch , 12 Apr 2017 11:35
'The on-going devastation in Syria cries out for a response, 'do something' is the inherent plea.'

Might I suggest sending generous quantities of bubble wrap to each of the 'something must be done' brigade. Popping those bubbles is relaxing and calming. They will otherwise impatiently agitate for some ineffective, or more likely counter-productive measure that makes things drastically worse.

ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 11:33
Good grief. A sensible piece about Syria in The Guardian. I think i need a lie down.
namjodh ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 11:35
Quite
zolotoy ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 11:46
Not very sensible, actually -- see the comment by capatriot above (or below, if you do "newest first"). Rather appalling that someone with academic credentials would (1) engage in a comic book-style analysis of world politics (big bad nearly omnipotent supervillain!) and (2) put all the blame for the carnage and destruction on one side.
lemonsuckingpedant ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 11:54
I know, me too! Most disorientating.
EdmundLange , 12 Apr 2017 11:29
We tried to change the leader in Iraq. It didn't work, and now the country is a hotbed of terrorism and incredibly corrupt and ineffectual government. We tried to change the leader in Libya. It didn't work, and now the country is a hotbed of terrorism and incredibly corrupt and ineffectual government. I guess we could try to change the leader in Syria, if we really, really want.
jonnyross EdmundLange , 12 Apr 2017 11:53
Eventually Assad will lose. He started a sectarian bloodbath he simply can't win. The Russians and the Iranian-backed Shia jihadists will only delay the inevitable outcome.
If Assad is lucky, he and his family may escape with their lives.
EdmundLange jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 11:58
Excellent, I'm glad we're going to topple Assad so the Jihadists can take control. Just what we needed.
ponderwell EdmundLange , 12 Apr 2017 12:00
There are no solid beneficial choices...
a recent familiar political theme in the US.
capatriot , 12 Apr 2017 11:26

He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble.

What, he, personally? What is he, superman? And I wonder why he'd choose to do that to his own nation's cities?

But wait, you mean that there was a rebellion against the recognized government which developed into a civil war, aided and abetted by sectarian outsiders and terrorists and the United States/West, with political and religious/ethnic overtones? And that later, as it looked like the recognized govt was going to fail, other interested outsiders like Russia and Iran intervened to help it?

Gosh, I wonder what the least worst outcome for the people of Syria actually is here ... perhaps we should leave it to them?

jonnyross capatriot , 12 Apr 2017 11:47
"What, he, personally? What is he, superman? "

Are you being obtuse deliberately?

zolotoy jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
It's actually a very serious question. How much control does Assad have over his government, let alone his armed forces? He's a trained dentist, ferchrissakes, and his older brother was the one groomed for the <strike>throne</strike> presidency. It makes sense to assume that his powers over an entrenched nomenklatura, to say nothing of all of the different armed factions nominally serving him, aren't limitless.
Social36 capatriot , 12 Apr 2017 12:18
It's clearly ALL Obama's fault!

[Apr 12, 2017] Trump told Xi of Syria strikes over beautiful piece of chocolate cake

China politically is major beneficiary of Trump Syria strike. Trump now has a monkey on his neck and need to sort our problems with Russians and well as the feeling of betrayal of his own electorate. For the first time since beginning of his presidency impeachment became a political reality for him. although noe Decocrats has less incentive to pursue this pass as he surrendered to neocons. It also drive the wedge between Putin and Trump and lessen change that Trump manage to lure Russia into position opposing China political and economic interests and to undermine the fledging alliance between two nations with some kind of "carrost and sticks" diplomacy. Of which the USA is a proven master, which fooled Russian leaders not once and even not two times.
Notable quotes:
"... Bill Bishop, a Washington-based China expert who tracks the country's political scene on his Sinocism newsletter, said Beijing would not have welcomed Trump's decision to break the news over dessert. ..."
"... The Chinese generally hate those kinds of surprises. The Chinese would have preferred it hadn't happened while they were in the US. Clearly it overshadowed the summit ..."
"... Beijing would also commemorate how the Syria strikes had driven a wedge between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin. ..."
"... "It's an unsolvable problem. If the US gets sucked into another conflict in the Middle East, it is less likely that the US is going to be focused or have the capacity to really pressure China on certain issues." ..."
Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

..."I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We are now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you have ever seen. And President Xi was enjoying it," Trump said.

"And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded. What do you do? And we made a determination to do it. So the missiles were on the way.

"And I said: 'Mr President, let me explain something to you we've just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq [sic] heading toward Syria and I want you to know that.'

"I didn't want him to go home and then they say: 'You know the guy you just had dinner with just attacked [Syria].'"

Asked how the leader of China, which alongside Russia has repeatedly blocked UN resolutions targeting the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, had reacted, Trump said: "He paused for 10 seconds and then he asked the interpreter to please say it again – I didn't think that was a good sign."

"And he said to me, anybody that uses gases – you could almost say, or anything else – but anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that to young children and babies, it's OK. He was OK with it. He was OK."

... ... ...

All mention of the US strikes on Syria was relegated from the front pages of state-run newspapers in a bid to prevent Trump's dramatic military intervention overshadowing Xi's visit.

Bill Bishop, a Washington-based China expert who tracks the country's political scene on his Sinocism newsletter, said Beijing would not have welcomed Trump's decision to break the news over dessert.

" The Chinese generally hate those kinds of surprises. The Chinese would have preferred it hadn't happened while they were in the US. Clearly it overshadowed the summit ," he said.

But Bishop said Beijing had still managed to capitalise on the Mar-a-Lago meeting by spinning Xi as "Trump's equal" in China's domestic media. Beijing would also commemorate how the Syria strikes had driven a wedge between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

... ... ..

"It's an unsolvable problem. If the US gets sucked into another conflict in the Middle East, it is less likely that the US is going to be focused or have the capacity to really pressure China on certain issues."

[Apr 12, 2017] Regime change in Syria? That would be a mistake

Notable quotes:
"... In late 2015, Eren Erdem, a Turkish MP, said in Parliament that the Turkish state was permitting Da'esh to send sarin precursors to Syria. He had a file of evidence, so was accused of treason for accessing and publicizing confidential material. The investigation into the people responsible for the transfer of toxic chemicals was shut down. ..."
"... Al-Assad is certainly capable of murdering opponents, and not bothering too much about collateral damage, but strategically it makes no sense for him to do this now, when peace talks under the aegis of Russia and Iran have begun, and the world is watching. Also, Assad has been engaged in a reconciliation process, allowing members of the FSA to return to the Syrian army, and Aleppans remain in Damascus if they didn't wish to go to Idlib. At such a juncture, using chemical weapons would be counter-productive. If Sarin was used at his command, he should be properly prosecuted: but bombing a Syrian air base merely assists Da'esh and its cronies. ..."
"... I have just watched the press conference in which Trump labelled Assad a butcher, and went on again about dead babies. I just wish that someone at one of these conferences would have the guts to point out to Trump his own butchery. ..."
"... Anyone watching this performance would think that US forces had never been responsible for killing innocent civilians, men, women, children and babies. To listen to Trump, you wouldn't think that US forces had ever killed over 150 civilians in Mosul, dozens in Raqqa, or had bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, or schools in Iraq, or were supporting the Saudi blockade of Yemen resulting in the starvation of children and babies, or had destroyed wedding parties with drones,.....I could go on. ..."
"... If Assad is a butcher, he is only a junior, apprentice, corner-shop butcher. Trump is the real thing, the large-scale, wholesale, expert butcher. ..."
"... Gotta get that pipeline in for the Saudi's, eh, no matter how many children's carcasses it crosses, yay, regime change again, yay, and a heap of new terrorists for our kids in the west to dodge and duck, yay. ..."
"... Despite the several misrepresentations, the facts are that Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria , which is a proxy war against Iran. ..."
"... Britain was at the forefront in setting up the Al Nusra Front and in hosting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to disseminate deeply negative propaganda about the Syrian Government and armed forces. ..."
"... Every step of this including the media campaign which has comprised a major part of the military campaign against Syria, has been an attempt to delegitimize the Sovereign government and its institutions and to gain consensus from the somnambulistic British and US public for yet another direct military campaign against another Middle Eastern country. ..."
"... Assad's removal would be catastrophic. There would be no stable government in Syria, it would be controlled by warlords backed by Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda or ISIS and millions of refugees would have no country to return to or to live in. This will mean more refugees in Europe, more destabilisation and more money drained from our treasuries. ..."
Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 17:57
Those interested in how the MSM fell in love with terrorists in Syria should go back and check out Charlie Skelton's illuminating piece from The Guardian 2012 .
Ciarán Here , 12 Apr 2017 17:48
The Gulf of Tonkin, WMD in Iraq...
Ciarán Here , 12 Apr 2017 17:46
Did the USA bomb war planes that they said had been used to carry chemical weapons - a chemical attack!
Robert Rudolph , 12 Apr 2017 17:40
Instead, the western powers have followed the example cited by Machiavelli: "in order to prove their liberality, they allowed Pistoia to be destroyed."

... ... ..

1Cedar , 12 Apr 2017 17:39
In late 2015, Eren Erdem, a Turkish MP, said in Parliament that the Turkish state was permitting Da'esh to send sarin precursors to Syria. He had a file of evidence, so was accused of treason for accessing and publicizing confidential material. The investigation into the people responsible for the transfer of toxic chemicals was shut down.

That surely ought to make us at least ask evidence-seeking questions about the Idlib gas attack before yet again demanding regime change.

Al-Assad is certainly capable of murdering opponents, and not bothering too much about collateral damage, but strategically it makes no sense for him to do this now, when peace talks under the aegis of Russia and Iran have begun, and the world is watching. Also, Assad has been engaged in a reconciliation process, allowing members of the FSA to return to the Syrian army, and Aleppans remain in Damascus if they didn't wish to go to Idlib. At such a juncture, using chemical weapons would be counter-productive. If Sarin was used at his command, he should be properly prosecuted: but bombing a Syrian air base merely assists Da'esh and its cronies.

unsouthbank , 12 Apr 2017 17:32
I have just watched the press conference in which Trump labelled Assad a butcher, and went on again about dead babies. I just wish that someone at one of these conferences would have the guts to point out to Trump his own butchery.

Anyone watching this performance would think that US forces had never been responsible for killing innocent civilians, men, women, children and babies. To listen to Trump, you wouldn't think that US forces had ever killed over 150 civilians in Mosul, dozens in Raqqa, or had bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, or schools in Iraq, or were supporting the Saudi blockade of Yemen resulting in the starvation of children and babies, or had destroyed wedding parties with drones,.....I could go on.

If Assad is a butcher, he is only a junior, apprentice, corner-shop butcher. Trump is the real thing, the large-scale, wholesale, expert butcher.

Ruthie Riegler , 12 Apr 2017 17:21
...Indeed, Richard Spencer last week protested outside the White House against the airstrikes on the regime airbase carrying a sign that read "No more wars 4 Israel."
NezPerce macmarco , 12 Apr 2017 17:37

There are two possible regimes, the Assad fascists, or the rebel jihadist

The Syrian government is Baathist, it was elected.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Socialist_Ba%27ath_Party_–_Syria_Region

http://www.france24.com/en/20160417-syria-bashar-assad-baath-party-wins-majority-parliamentary-vote

Latest update : 2016-04-17

Syria's ruling Baath party and its allies won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections last week across government-held parts of the country, the national electoral commission announced late Saturday.

Who are the rebels supported by Washington and Westminster?

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-falls-to-syrian-regime-bashar-al-assad-rebels-uk-government-more-than-one-story-robert-fisk-a7471576.html

And we're going to learn a lot more about the "rebels" whom we in the West – the US, Britain and our head-chopping mates in the Gulf – have been supporting.

They did, after all, include al-Qaeda (alias Jabhat al-Nusra, alias Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), the "folk" – as George W Bush called them – who committed the crimes against humanity in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001. Remember the War on Terror? Remember the "pure evil" of al-Qaeda. Remember all the warnings from our beloved security services in the UK about how al-Qaeda can still strike terror in London?

jimbo2000M , 12 Apr 2017 16:55
Gotta get that pipeline in for the Saudi's, eh, no matter how many children's carcasses it crosses, yay, regime change again, yay, and a heap of new terrorists for our kids in the west to dodge and duck, yay.
unsouthbank , 12 Apr 2017 16:40
I agree that Bashar al-Assad is not a "good person". It is impossible to be an authoritarian leader, struggling to maintain the unity, or even existence, of a nation state, and at the same time be a kind and gentle person. However, I do not believe him to be the psychopathic monster that he is portrayed as being, either. He is almost certainly not personally responsible for the chemical attack in Idlib province.

Presidents do not normally make detailed decisions on what sort of weapons should be used on every airstrike made by their aircraft. He may be a dictator, but he is not a complete imbecile. Even the dimmest of politicians could have foreseen that this chemical attack would end up being a massive own-goal. Nobody as cynically calculating as Assad is supposed to be, would be that stupid. My own hunch, (and that is all it is) is that sarin was used due to a blunder by a low or medium ranking Syrian airforce officer.

Yes, of course Assad bears responsibility for overall strategy in this vicious war of survival, and as such, has blood on his hands. But, so does Trump, so does Obama, so does Putin so does Erdogan, so does May, and so do all the leaders who have supplied the numerous rebel groups with billions of pounds worth of weapons, and have therefore kept the pot boiling.

Last year, Theresa May stood up in parliament and proudly proclaimed her willingness to commit mass indiscriminate murder on a scale that would make Syria look like a pinprick. She declared her willingness to press the nuclear button and therefore slaughter hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of completely innocent men, women, children and babies. She not only has blood on her hands, she is proud of it. Perhaps we should remember that, when she comes out with one of her sanctimonious, nauseatingly hypocritical statements about Syria.

martinusher , 12 Apr 2017 16:35
Assad was democratically elected more than once so he must be doing something right. (OK, so they're democracy might not be our democracy but 'our' democracy has brought us Trump, Brexit and the like so its really six to one, a half dozen to the other). Syria until we started messing with it -- creating, supporting and even arming opposition groups -- was stable, wasn't messing with its neighbors and had significant religious and cultural freedoms compared to other countries in the area. (Our actions might suggest that we really don't want stable, peaceful, countries in that region, we need them to be weak and riven by internal factions.)

Anyway, given our outstanding track record of success with regime change in that part of the world we should probably adopt a hands-off approach -- all we seem to do is make an unsatisfactory situation dire. Hardly the way to win friends and influence people.

KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 16:07
Despite the several misrepresentations, the facts are that Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria , which is a proxy war against Iran.

Britain was at the forefront in setting up the Al Nusra Front and in hosting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to disseminate deeply negative propaganda about the Syrian Government and armed forces.

Every step of this including the media campaign which has comprised a major part of the military campaign against Syria, has been an attempt to delegitimize the Sovereign government and its institutions and to gain consensus from the somnambulistic British and US public for yet another direct military campaign against another Middle Eastern country.

The whole which has visited terrible and incalculable suffering, on the Syrian people. Syria was a paradise before the British and US did their usual work. The journalists, government and security services in Britain who have wrought this mess , I'm sure will not escape the consequences of their actions. One hopes they experience a 1000 times of the hell they have visited on Syria. These actions are truly despicable acts of cowardice and absolute wickedness.

TomasStedron KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 16:27
Syria was a paradise for those who rule Syria........ the Assad regime brutally repressed any opposition to their rule. In 1982 Assad´s father killed probably more than 30,000 in the siege of Hama. As well as sheltering a number of terrorist organisations who have their headquarters in Damascus....... he also armed and supported the fledgling Al-Quaeda resistance to the coalition in Iraq, giving them asylum in Syria........now the IS ....... I can think of Paradise in different ways......
MacMeow KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 17:30

Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria

Link please. Because without evidence the rest of your post collapses.

KhalijFars MacMeow , 12 Apr 2017 17:50
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/01/trial-swedish-man-accused-terrorism-offences-collapse-bherlin-gildo

The prosecution of a Swedish national accused of terrorist activities in Syria has collapsed at the Old Bailey after it became clear Britain's security and intelligence agencies would have been deeply embarrassed had a trial gone ahead, the Guardian can reveal.

His lawyers argued that British intelligence agencies were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he was, and were party to a secret operation providing weapons and non-lethal help to the groups, including the Free Syrian Army.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines

Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting "collapse" of Assad's regime "from within."

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

Jermaine Charles , 12 Apr 2017 16:02
More guff from the guardian/ Mr Williams, with just a little realistic sense, but who can replace Assad and in Syria he remains very popular, despite the western media like lies!
johnbonn , 12 Apr 2017 16:00
Russia has to move quickly to secure a 100 year lease for the Latakia port and airbase. Otherwise the US will soon attempt to render it useless as well, regardless of which of the moderate rebel factions it decides to install.

... Spirits die hard, and those of the Arab spring and the Orange Revolution are still alive in the halls of the Pentagon.

.... A controlled cold war however, is the only way to a avoid a larger mess than what the West has already inflicted on the innocent Syrian people by using the most abortive war design that has ever been conceived by the war college or any other war commander.

...... At the current rate there will be more Syrians in Germany than those remaining in Syria.

......... Is it hard to wonder why Syrians might hold a grudge against the, US?

BlueCollar , 12 Apr 2017 15:59
Regime change ? All in the name of democracy as we see it.Why not try it in the Kingdom of family owned country KSA or why not another family owned enterprises called UAE.
stratplaya , 12 Apr 2017 15:58
History tells us replacing Assad would be a bad idea. We should have learned the lesson with Hussain and Iraq, but didn't. We would go on to replace Gaddafi of Libya and boom, it trigged ISIS.

The hard lesson here is that for some reason Muslim majority countries have a strong central authoritarian leader. No matter if that leaders is called president, king, prime minister, or whatever. When that strong leaders is deposed, chaos ensues.

Pier16 , 12 Apr 2017 15:58
The Americans have a fetish with regime change. Up until recently they were discrete about it and did it in secret, now they are all in the open. People who are against regime change are considered anti-Americans and tools of the Soviets...ahm.... Russia. The amazing thing is Tillerson said Assad's faith should be left with the Syrian people, the American establishment in unison said how could he says such a terrible thing, "we should decide what Syrian people want."

These are the same people who elected Trump, maybe they should let Syrian people select the US president. The result may end up better.

freeandfair , 12 Apr 2017 15:53
> Bashar al-Assad is not a good person. He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged. Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad.

Yes, Assad is not a good person. But what about American politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who armed "moderate rebels" and supported the opposition in pursuit of regime change? And Syria is not the only country were this happened. Will there ever any responsibility taken for their actions by the US and NATO?

First, they make a manageable problem into a huge problem, then just hightail back home, living local people to pick up the pieces.

Those half millions of deaths - are they all responsibility of Assad or do the sponsors of jihadists and jihadists themselves have some responsibility as well?

GlozzerBoy1 , 12 Apr 2017 15:40
Absolutely, stay the hell out, we should have no footprint in that awful part of the world.
Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
The choice as I see it is this:

A. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........but women can wear what they like in public, get a good education courtesy of the State, and embark on a career.

B. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........where women are denied education, made virtual prisoners in their own homes, and have acid flung in their faces for having the temerity to appear unveiled when they do go out in public.

It's not a great choice, but one is definitely better than the other.

Weefox Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:43
Also worth remembering that under Assad people are allowed religious freedom. I know two Syrian Christians who are terrified of what will happen if the rebels take control of their country.
Tom1982 Weefox , 12 Apr 2017 15:46
I'd imagine the Shia feel the same.
freeandfair Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 16:06
Choice B also includes Sharia law, full extermination of other faiths and death sentence for rejection of Islam. Basically Choice B is another Saudi Arabia, but a lot of people will have to die first.
oddballs , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
Assad would stand a good chance of winning a fair and honest election,

Still waiting for evidence by forensic experts over the chemical weapons , who did what and where.

Until proof is given hat prove otherwise the rebels are the most likly suspects. --> normankirk , 12 Apr 2017 15:35

SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:24
The world's biggest superpower is willing to risk a nuclear war with mass destruction of billions and possible extinction of life on earth on an unproven assertion made by Al Qaeda sympathisers that the Syrian government bombed them with sarin? OBL must be laughing in his grave.
aleph SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:45
1. Who is threatening a nuclear war? The Russians? I haven't heard them threaten that. Probably because no-one would seriously believe them.

2. An intellectually honest person should not describe young children as terrorist sympathisers. Let alone imply they somehow deserve to be deliberately targeted by nerve gas as a result.

Fort Sumpter aleph , 12 Apr 2017 14:54
If you have the evidence of a nerve gas agent being present please supply it forthwith.

I keep asking you guys, who must be on the ground in Idlib such is your certainty, to provide the proof but you always refuse. Why is that?

SHA2014 aleph , 12 Apr 2017 14:56
An intellectually honest person should question the veracity of a report that is unverified by a terrorist organisation. The children were never described by me as 'terrorist sympathisers' so you make a dishonest accusation, the terrorist sympathisers are those who produced the report on which the whole story is based. It is not about the death of the children which is of course a crime, but they are being used by the terrorists for thier purposes.

An intellectually honest person would also show outrage about the mass murder of civilians, including children in Mosul and by a US bombing in Syria that seem to not arouse the same outrage.

SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:13
Regime change by US has been used at least three times against democracies, in Chili, in Iran and in Ukraine. Attempted regime change has also been used often in South America to oust populist rulers because of US interests. Although the above analysis raises the very good point that change has to come from the bottom up, it starts with the same fallacies of assuming that all of the death and destruction in Syria comes from one person which is an extremely flawed point to start from. The point that is to be made is that there is no military solution to the conflict except in an anti terrorist capacity. The problem is that all of those against the Syrian government in the current conflict are either outright terrorists or those who collaborate heavily with terrorists making it difficult to have a conventional peace process.
Imperialist , 12 Apr 2017 14:07
America should not be the one who decides who is an acceptable government, and sends soldiers to enforce its will.

The UN should have done that long ago. To Assad. To Kim. Stopped the Khmer Rouge. Or Rwanda.

Yet the only time they ever have actually fought is in the Korean War.

Fort Sumpter Imperialist , 12 Apr 2017 14:55
*cough* The US supported the Khmer Rouge *cough*
Mauryan , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
America engaged in regime changes to suit American interests during the cold war and the New world order drive. The fact that they supported dictatorships worldwide and helped them overthrow democratically elected governments tells clearly that imposing democracy forcibly was not their intention. Intervention in global conflicts is mainly for controlling pathways for resources and gaining ground for business opportunities for their multinational giant corporations.
diddoit Mauryan , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
It's all about what's best for the US and the incredibly powerful(in the US) Israel lobby. The UK just goes along with it.
NezPerce , 12 Apr 2017 13:52
The West's narrative has fallen apart, nobody believes that the Syrian rebels are peace loving democrats. We have ample evidence that they are infinitely worse than Assad.

We also have plenty of evidence that the Western deep state, not the public, wants another regime change in the middle east and will stop at nothing to achieve its end including false flag gas attacks. This article goes into detail.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-08/false-flag-how-us-armed-syrian-rebels-set-excuse-attack-assad

False Flag: How the U.S. Armed Syrian Rebels to Set Up an Excuse to Attack Assad

Evidence suggests a false flag chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people was initiated by Syrian rebels with the help of the United States in order to justify Thursday night's U.S. Military attack on a Syrian base.

The Left is very opposed to war in Syria, the Libertarian right is very opposed to war in Syria but a hugely powerful Deep State will stop at nothing to achieve its ends.

Nat-Nat aka Kyl Shinra , 12 Apr 2017 13:50
"Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad. "

well, you cannot put the blame on Assad only. He never asked for that war for a start and a lot of the refugees you're talking about may very well be pro-Assad.

This said, I agree, leave Assad and Syria alone.

Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:48
Finally an article which still sticks to logical thinking when it comes to Syria. Assad is a terrible leader but atleast with him, most of the factions within the country can be sorted. The West's obsession with stuffing democracy down the throats of every oil producing country in the Middle East has resulted in the Mad Max wasteland i.e. Libya and the unsolvable puzzle i.e. Iraq. Both Gaddafi and Saddam were terrible human beings but removing them left a vacuum which has cost the lives of thousands and displaced millions. The West must make its peace with Assad for now, stop supporting the rebels and try to find common ground with Russia against the real enemy - ISIS.
diddoit Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
The west - as the US/UK like to themselves, couldn't give a damn about democracy . They want compliance , not democracy. A good(brutal) dictator is better than a 'difficult' democratically elected leader , look at events in Egypt for example.

Our own democracies are pretty ropey, certainly not up there with the Scandinavian best practice.

dusktildawn Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
You're kidding right? The West stuffing democracy down the throats of the Gulf countries. More like defending them against the threat of democracy by arming them to the teeth and stationing troops there. Have you heard of Bahrain?
diddoit Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
call themselves. -typo
dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:47
The only plausible solution to this conflict is partition assuming of course the imminent defeat of Isis.

While getting rid of Assad would create a dangerous power vacuum and is in any case perhaps impossible given Russias backing, the sheer scale of the killing he's done and destruction he's unleashed on his own people - of a totally different scale to Saddam Hussein and even his father, from whom he seems to have inherited his psychopathic tendencies -renders the idea that he could continue to rule a "united" Syria or even the majority of it, laughable.

Mauryan dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:52
Partition would create more Assads.
Jemima15 , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
If you get rid of Assad, whoever replaces him is going to have a very difficult task. How on Earth do you enforce any sort of civilized law and order in a country which has some of the worst terrorist organizations the world has ever known. With organizations like ISIS around, a government is gong to need to take a firm hand somewhere. It's not as if you can send Jihadists on community service and expect them to come back as reformed characters.
DanielDee , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
Regime change? Why not?

Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi would make a fine statesman!

Pipcosta DanielDee , 12 Apr 2017 14:03
Until he turns on his mater
IamDolf , 12 Apr 2017 13:45
Fact is that Assad still enjoys considerable support among Syrians. In particular among those who have no problem with a woman going to the beach in a bikini and driving a car to work. He is not giong anywhere soon. And if he did, the situation would be worse. As in the case of the butcher Saddam Hussein and the crazy dictator Khadaffi, who also were supposedly removed in an attempt to bring "freedom and democracy to the people."
diddoit IamDolf , 12 Apr 2017 13:49
Syria was one of the few countries in the ME where you could drink alcohol. Does anyone believe whoever follows Assad be it someone picked by the US/Israel/KSA/Qatar will be quite so tolerant?
Patin , 12 Apr 2017 13:43
Why can't world leaders be held to account for their crimes against humanity? Is it not about time that they are compelled to comply with international law and for the United Nations Assembly to make them so by enforceable resolutions passed by a majority vote?

Assad is a tyrant who should be removed from office and held accountable for his crimes against humanity. Syrians should be entitled to a government that is respectful of their human rights.

The UN should take responsibility for enforcing a permanent ceasefire and brokering talks to secure Syria's future. It should require as a condition of UN membership compliance with and adherence to international law protecting human rights. Non compliance should be met with expulsion and the economic isolation of the country concerned from the rest of the world.

freeandfair Patin , 12 Apr 2017 16:19
> Why can't world leaders be held to account for their crimes against humanity?

You should start with American leaders like Bush. If you are serious about this.

roachclip , 12 Apr 2017 13:42

There is no shortcut to lasting peace. As uncomfortable as it is, the best that western governments can do is provide aid and assistance to those in distress, while pressuring those countries that continue to feed money and weapons to the combatants to change their positions.

You are absolutely right.

Such a pity then that the western governments in question, the UK, America and to a lesser extent, France, are in fact the same entities, via their surrogate power in the middle east, Saudi Arabia, who are the ones providing the weapons and money.

Just as they did in Iraq and Libya, and always for the same reason, to achieve regime change against the Middle Eastern leaders who were threatening their control of the oil market.

This situation is nothing new, these Western Powers have been attacking various parts of the Middle East for nigh on a century. Winston Churchill was responsible for bombing Iraq in the 1920's. That also was to achieve regime change.

All of the deaths and the destruction in the Middle East can ultimately be laid at the door of the 'Western Powers' and their willingness to do anything to protect their oil interests.

Taku2 , 12 Apr 2017 13:35
One of the most despicable thing about the West's attempts to bribe, entice and force Russia into abandoning the Syrian Government, so that America, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia can rush in, like hyenas to finish off a wounded animal, is how patronising they have been towards the Russians and Iranians. Granted that their racism towards the Russians might not be what it is towards the Syrian state, which they want to deny a voice and disrespect to the extent of talking to the Russians, and ignoring the Syrian government.

Yes, the West is behaving towards the Syrian state as if it is just something for it to manipulate, as it does with the global economy. Not having made any progress in manipulating the Syrian proxy conflict into the outcomes it wants, the West has now resorted to making merciless and unjustified attacks on Russian and the Iranians. Despite the fact that it is Russia and the Syrian government forces and their Hezbollah allies who have broken the impasse in this terrible war.

It is scurrilous that there should now be this coordinated media and political campaign to make Russia out to be 'the bad guy', the 'devil', as it were.

As for 'the liberals', well, guess what, if you want to do something constructive. Then stop blaming Russia and demonising the Russians, the Syrian Government and their allies. Look closer to home, to America, To Britain, to France and Saudi Arabia. There you will find more demons disguised as 'humanitarians' and 'angels' than probably in all of Russia and Syria.

The guys in the West who are posturing as angels are no less culpable than the Syrian government.

Of course the West should not destroy the Syrian state and government. But, since when has logic prevented this cartel from exercising its destructive force? As Libya, Iraq and Yemen have proven? The liberals need to grow up and stop being allied to the right.

Arapas Taku2 , 12 Apr 2017 13:42

so that America, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia can rush in, like hyenas to finish off a wounded animal

Your point is of great importance.

Now that Russia has done the dirty work at great cost, pushing them out of the way.........................

That will not happen, Rex was told by Sergei.

Arapas , 12 Apr 2017 13:34
robust belief in a supposed American ability to fix what is wrong.

Is meant to be the joke of the month.

What did they ever fix ? Just look what the Korean war has lead to.

Vietnam, where the Americans were defeated, is now a united and peaceful country.

On the other hand, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other regime change candidates have been reduced to failed states.

In Syria, the fate of the Alwites will be the same of that of women and children cowering in St Sophia in 1453.

Utter slaughter!

ganaruvian , 12 Apr 2017 13:32
Firstly, we have yet to see the results of any impartial investigation checking out the Syrian/Russian version of events about the gas in Idlib province, which could be true. Nobody that I can see is 'supporting' the use of gas against civilians, but it is known that the bigger terrorist organisations such as ISIS and al Qaeda do have stocks of poison gas. Secondly,so many uninformed commentators have not understood that Syria's 6 year war has been and remains a religious war! Asad's Shiite/ Alawite/Christian/ Druse/ Ismaili communities and other minorities supported by Iran and Lebanon's Shiites, fighting for their very survival against Saudi/ Qatari/Gulf States' extremist Wahhabi fighters, who via ISIS ,Al Qaeda and similar Islamists, want to wipe them off the face of the earth (with Turkey playing a double game). At this very moment people are condemning Assad for bombing civilians, whilst the US-led coalition including our own RAF, is doing exactly the same thing in the ISIS held city of Mosul -for the same reasons. The rebels take over and then surround themselves in cities, with civilians, hoping that these horrors will raise western public opinion against the government forces trying to defeat them. The 'half- informed' public opinion is now behaving in exactly this predictable way against the Syrian government, trying to deal with its own religious extremist rebels, many of whom are not even Syrians. It was always a war that the west should stay out of -other peoples religious wars are incomprehensible to non-believers in that particular faith. To talk now of replacing Asad is juvenile and mischievous - maybe that's why Boris is so engaged?
Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 13:20
Assad is the lesser of two evils. Those who are hailed as rebels pose an enormous threat to our security.
jonnyross Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 13:44
There is an equality of evil between Assad and ISIS. That said, Assad's forces and their Shia allies have slaughtered the vast majority of the victims.

Both Assad and ISIS will lose eventually. How many Syrians are slaughtered in the meantime is anyone's guess.

Why murderous dictators are so popular btl is a mystery.

john evans , 12 Apr 2017 13:20
Syria is finished.

According to Wikipedia Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, per opposition activist groups, vary between 321,358 and 470,000.

On 23 April 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria put out an estimate of 400,000 that had died in the war.

Also,according to Wikipedia I n 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria. In January 2017, UNHCR counted 4,863,684 registered refugees.

Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees.

Before the troubles,Syria had a population of 23 million.

No country could go back to normality after that upheaval.

Arapas john evans , 12 Apr 2017 13:37

No country could go back to normality after that upheaval.

It can !

Look at Chechnya! A newly rebuilt Grosny, living in peace.

Bearing in mind Iraq, Libya etc who wants to see that !

NativeBornTexan Arapas , 12 Apr 2017 14:08
Chechnya is ruled by a Russian puppet dictator who executes gay men.
Shad O NativeBornTexan , 12 Apr 2017 15:13
That's because politics is heartlessly, ruthlessly, compassionlessly pragmatic. If having a pet local petty king in the area keeps it stable and does not a politically costly military operation, everything else is seen as "acceptable collateral damage".

It's funny but western foreign policy is fundamentally the same in the methods, just different in goals. If the goal of regime change is achieved and political points collected, everything else is completely irrelevant. Opposition can become "moderately islamist", "democratic" rebels may implement sharia law, "precision strikes" may cause tens of thousands of civilian casualties, but it's all for the greater good.

Pipcosta , 12 Apr 2017 13:18
Why do we send a sewer rat to the UN as our ambassador
brianboru1014 , 12 Apr 2017 13:14
Every time the West especially the Anglo west of the USA and Britain intervene in another countries affairs, the end product is a disaster so for that reason alone these two societies which can only communicate in English should leave this to the Russians.
Ruby4 , 12 Apr 2017 13:13
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Albert Einstein

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

Chilcot report: Findings at-a-glance:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36721645

FFC800 , 12 Apr 2017 13:08
This almost manages to achieve sense, and it's good to see an article not promoting regime change for once, but it still falls short of stating the truth that the correct policy in Syria is to help Assad win the war, and then impose conditions on his conduct in the peace.

He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged.

Most of that was done by rebels.
jackrousseau , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
I must now begrudgingly thank the Trump Administration for causing me to realize a profound and universal truth. History doesn't rhyme at all; it parodies.

The build up to our inevitable Syria invasion is essentially an SNL parody of our Iraq invasion. All the way down to allegations of to "hidden stockpiles of WMDs", "gassing own citizens", "violation of no WMD agreement", "weapons inspectors not doing job", and most recently "Assad/Saddam is Hitler". All that's left is the final piece of evidence to tip public opinion in...the holy grail, "yellowcake uranium".

Of course, 6 months ago --with full knowledge of Saddam's gassing of the Kurds--Trump said toppling Hussein was a "uge" mistake and defended him as an "efficient killer of terrorists". "Efficient" indeed... https://cnn.com/cnn/2016/07/05/politics/donald-trump-saddam-hussein-iraq-terrorism/index.html

I'm not sure exactly what comes next (presumably Trump declaring an "Axis of Evil" consisting of Syria, ISIS, Iran, N.Korea...and perhaps Russia and/or China or both...thus setting the stage for a hilarious parody of WWII).

Who knows...I guess at least it's interesting.

John Smythe , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
Perhaps dear Boris should have had more talks with the British government to find out what is the political position of the conservative government over Syria, and more importantly with Russia. So far the American have by the look of things, telling the British Government in what they want, not bothering to ask what Britain thinks what is important.

There is actually no point in swapping one master the EU, to handcuff ourselves to the a far more right wing America.

bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 13:00
I find the commments on here quite confusing...

Take Isil and jihadists out of the equation and what you're left with are people that want to oust a tyrannical and unelected leader who clearly has nothing but disdain for his people (groups of at least).

Those rebels (or freedom fighters) are being seen as the bad guys it seems to me...?

The only reason I can see for this is that they have slight support from the United States.

Had the boot been on the other foot and the US we're supporting Assad and Russia,the rebels (freedom fighters) I'm quite sure public opinion (Guardian readers at least) would be quite different.

So what do the Syrian rebels who are looking to overthrow a dictator have to do to be put on a pedestal of righteousness as Castro was for effectively trying to achieve the same end goal....

Oh, that's right, Castro was trying to stick it to the Yanks.... now I get it.

dusktildawn bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 13:34
I think there's a definite strain of anti-Americanism on display however cautiously we have to view their actions after Iraq and give their closeness to the Gulf States. A quarter of the country has fled Assad, some 10 million internally displaced not to mention the incredible numbers of dead and wounded.

And yet there's a close minded reflex to say that things will be better off with him in charge ignoring even the possibility of partition, which strikes me as the most plausible option. The idea that Assad can now after all he's done rule a united country indefinitely putting a lid on refugees and terrorism strikes me as utterly preposterous.

bemusedfromdevon dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 14:11
My sentiments entirely and it shocks me that there are a considerable number of Assad apologists commenting on here as he is clearly seen as a better 'devil' than Trump...

I'm just very pleased I don't live in Syria and I think the run of the mill Syrian dying in their droves due to gas, bombs or simply drowning in the Med would be horrified to read a large number of comments on here in relation to this article and how Assad 'isn't such a bad old stick!'

I'm embarrassed to be honest....

Shad O bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 15:25

Take Isil and jihadists out of the equation and what you're left with

what you are left is nothing. This was the big point since 2013, when Nusra began taking over the last remnants of the FSA. Since then Cameron (or was it Hammond) had to coin the term "relatively hardline islamists" to make some of the jihadi groups somewhat acceptable.

In its latest iteration, Nusra (now rebranded yet againTahrir al-Sham) has formally absorbed several other "rebel" group, including the Nour al-Din al-Zenki, who were in the past equipped by the US, and were quoted by various agencies (including this paper) as "opposition" during the recapture of Aleppo.

Ah, yes, you also have the Kurds, who are building their own state. But if there is something all the local powers agree on (Russia, US, Turkey, Syria, Iraq...) is that they don't want an independent Kurdish state.

NezPerce , 12 Apr 2017 12:58

President Obama was heavily criticized for not doing more in Syria, but he made a difficult decision that was in many ways the right on.

Obama required cover from the British Parliament. Bombing Syria was incredibly unpopular with the UK public from right to left. David Miliband listened to the public and stopped the bombing of Syria. Nobody expected a Labour politician to dare to oppose the US war machine, it took them all by surprise.

Bombing Syria was incredibly unpopular with the US public and the European public, Miliband saved us from ISIS and Al Nusra both al Qaeda franchises running Syria.

The BBC routinely portrays the Libertarian right wing in the USA as Isolationists but if you hear it from them they are anti-war. The American working class understands what war is like in the middle east because many of them have experienced it. They are clearly anti another war in the middle east. proof:

https://www.infowars.com/exclusive-michael-savage-begs-trump-to-stop-wwiii/

In this off the cuff interview Michael Savage begs Donald Trump to not plunge the world into another world war that could destroy life as we know it

.

Trump has been subjugated by the deep state, his base is outraged and in despair.

dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:58
You could argue this isn't about regime change per se but prosecuting a dictator for targeting and massacring civilians. And surely the same rationale can be used against Isis. In other words you don't allow mass murderers to take. Over but prosecute them as well.
Mates Braas dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 15:05
You can start proceedings against your own war criminals. There is a long list of them, stretching from, Paris, London, Washington and Tel Aviv.
freeandfair dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 16:41
In that case North Korea and Saudi Arabia should be on top of the list.
Trekkie555 , 12 Apr 2017 12:57
Good article. Hits the nail on the head. Regime change may be required for Syria the G7 and Arab countries must come together to carefully plan what happens afterwards.
Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
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diddoit , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
'Monster' Assad was courted by western leaders: Remember the Assads pictured taking tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen(google it) , Blair all smiles in Damascus. The Kerry family pictured in Damascus enjoying a late evening supper with the Assads(google it).

But Bashar al-Assad is a stubborn man , he wouldn't distance himself from Iran and their proxies such as Hezbollah, thus his fate was sealed.

zolotoy diddoit , 12 Apr 2017 12:59
Nope, wrong. Assad wouldn't give the USA, Qatar, and Turkey a nice pipeline to kneecap Russian natural gas sales in Europe.

It's all about oil and money, petrodollars and ensuring American worldwide hegemony.

sokkynick zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 13:07
+1
diddoit zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 13:42
Well it's all tied in . People talk about Israel wanting the Golan Heights permanently in part due to oil interests, they talk about Qatar and the gas pipeline to Europe Assad refuses. They talk about the KSA being unnerved by Iran's growing influence in the region after the Iraq war, and how it would suit KSA , Israel and the US for Sunni leadership to emerge in Syria to rebalance the region.

I think it's all of the above . Which isn't what US/UK populations are being told.

Ilan Klinger , 12 Apr 2017 12:53
A regime changing in Syria?

Can someone here try and convince me that the State of Syria still exists?

And change it from what to what?From a Murderouscracy to a Oppressionocracy?

peterwiv , 12 Apr 2017 12:52
The West learns nothing from its mistakes. Can't we understand that our real enemy is ISIS and that springs directly from our disastrous invasion of Iraq? Assad may be pretty awful but surely we should be able to comprehend that he is an ally in the fight against ISIS just as the far more horrible Stalin was an ally against the Nazis.

Just because Trump suddenly talks about "beautiful babies", we all go mad again.

aleph , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
Syria is going to need serious amounts of aid and foreign investment to recover when peace starts to take hold. But Assad cannot travel internationally because he will be subject to arrest. At least in any civilised country. So he will be gone one way or antithetical. Putin has backed the wrong horse. It's too handicapped to run.
elaine naude aleph , 12 Apr 2017 15:43
Who should he have backed? - Isis?
algae64 , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
Until the Saudis, US & UK decide that enough is enough, then this idiocy will continue. Assad is a better leader for Syria than Isis, Al Qaeda, or the other Saudi-backed groups would be.

Syria was secular and religiously tolerant under Assad. It won't be either of those things if Assad is deposed. More than likely, it would end up as a Saudi-style Islamic theocracy with the harshest head-chopping, hand-chopping version of sharia law.

BorisMalden , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble

Did Assad deliberately bring his country into civil war? When his forces are being attacked by rebels sponsored by foreign groups, he really only has two choices: give up leadership and allow the rebels to take over the country, or fight back. Given that you're arguing that a regime change is a bad idea it logically follows that you support the second option, so it hardly seems fair to criticise him for the consequences of that resistance. You might do better to blame the rebels and those who sponsor them for bringing war to what was previously a (relatively) peaceful country.

Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
This Regime Change Policy adopted by the US and in many, if not all cases, supported by the UK, whilst in some case toppling Dictators, has left nothing but chaos in its wake.

We need to consider the case of Syria, very carefully, as we may well find ourselves handing the Country to ISIL on a plate.

Better to help Assad stabilise the Country, and then discuss political change.

The rhetoric coming from the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, can do nothing to help, but make the UK look stupid.

aleph Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:56
"Better to help Assad stabilise the Country"

Hahahahaha, collude with crimes against humanity in the name of stability and call it progress because after six years we cannot think of an alternative. Great.

Oldfranky aleph , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
Are you sure it's only Assad, laugh all you will.
BorisMalden , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble

Did Assad deliberately bring his country into civil war? When his forces are being attacked by rebels sponsored by foreign groups, he really only has two choices: give up leadership and allow the rebels to take over the country, or fight back. Given that you're arguing that a regime change is a bad idea it logically follows that you support the second option, so it hardly seems fair to criticise him for the consequences of that resistance. You might do better to blame the rebels and those who sponsor them for bringing war to what was previously a (relatively) peaceful country.

Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
This Regime Change Policy adopted by the US and in many, if not all cases, supported by the UK, whilst in some case toppling Dictators, has left nothing but chaos in its wake.

We need to consider the case of Syria, very carefully, as we may well find ourselves handing the Country to ISIL on a plate.

Better to help Assad stabilise the Country, and then discuss political change.

The rhetoric coming from the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, can do nothing to help, but make the UK look stupid.

aleph Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:56
"Better to help Assad stabilise the Country"

Hahahahaha, collude with crimes against humanity in the name of stability and call it progress because after six years we cannot think of an alternative. Great.

Oldfranky aleph , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
Are you sure it's only Assad, laugh all you will.
Foracivilizedworld , 12 Apr 2017 12:44

Regime change in Syria? That would be a mistake

Absolutely no... it will be a colossal disaster... and would explode the entire region affecting not only all ME countries including Israel, but will extend to Europe and NA, You can't keep it all "Over There"

And I think Trump would do it.

SaracenBlade , 12 Apr 2017 12:43
Regime change, evidently the US has n't learned from the past experience. Look at Iraq, Lybia, regime change has resulted in complete chaos, instability, and perpetual conflict. Syrian population is strictly divided on sectarian line - Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Kurds. Who is going to make a cohesive government capable of running the affairs of the state? Bashar Assaad's father, Hafiz Assaad ruled Syria with an iron grip, he understood Syrian sectarian divide.
notDonaldTrump SaracenBlade , 12 Apr 2017 12:49
'regime change has resulted in complete chaos, instability, and perpetual conflict.'

If one tried to think impartially the evidence might lead one to think that was the plan all along.

BlueCollar notDonaldTrump , 12 Apr 2017 15:50
If any country needs regime change, it is Saudi Arabia. All important positions are controlled by hundreds of Royals of Al Saud, even honest criticism of royals brings you closer to the back swing of executioner .
timefliesby , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Have we learnt nothing?
zolotoy timefliesby , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
Some of us have learned to be very comfortable with scraps from the war machine table -- Western legacy media in particular.
moreorless2 , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
My newsagent loves Assad. Why because he's a Syrian Christian. Assad is the only hope for the minority's in Syria. All of the opposition groups are some variation on Islamic nationalists. They will all happily slaughter anyone not of their faith. Assad is a murdering bastard but he kills those that threaten him. In Middle Eastern terms he's a liberal.
Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 12:39
Quite right. What the people of Syria need is stability and an end to the fighting. All else is secondary. In particular, the greatest crime that the West has committed in recent decades is the attempt to foist democracy on countries like Syria and Iraq, where it simply does not work. Even now, Western liberals dream of sitting Sunni, Shia, Alevi, Kurds, secularists and Islamic militants around a table to talk through to a democratic and mutually acceptable future for Syria. This is a fantasy - as democracy always is in heavily tribalised societies. It can only end in renewed civil war and inevitable dictatorship. I often wonder whether the West is just naive in these attempts at liberal cultural imperialism, or whether they are in fact a cynical front to mask the equally egregious aim of checkmating Russian influence in the region. Either way, shame on us.
StrongMachine Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
Are you calling George W Bush a liberal?
PSmd Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 13:07
It's not liberal cultural imperialism. It's painted as that to sell to domestic audiences.

It's liberal economic imperialism.

sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
Now to be fair, no one knows really what the president is thinking, not even apparently his chief diplomat or his UN envoy, who have sent conflicting messages. But let's cut to the chase – this is a very, very bad idea.

WW3 is definately a very very bad idea.

The idea that the US can change the government of another country for the better is born of US arrogance and lying manipulation.

juster , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
It's a bit funny that we just casually mention that the country harping on about the respect of the international rule book sinc 2014 vaiolate one of the core UN charter principles 72 times and is openly speaking of braking it the 73th time.

Jsut picture China saying openly their goal is to change the Abe regime in Tokio or Russia to change the regime in Kiev. They can't even have a pefered presidential candidate without mass interference hysteria and we just feel like it's A OK to go around the world changing who's in charge of countries.

freeandfair juster , 12 Apr 2017 16:58
> They can't even have a pefered presidential candidate without mass interference hysteria and we just feel like it's A OK to go around the world changing who's in charge of countries.

An excellent point.

bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 12:35
There are two main choices... Regime change... which hasn't worked out well where it's been attempted or just let the despots get on with it...

There are no easy answers but perhaps the only way is to let dictators crush and annihilate their opposition, utilise death squads to make dissenters disappear in the dead of night and, outwardly at least pretend everything is rosey....

If we, as a civilised society are able to 'look the other way' then that might be the simple answer... just hope everyone can sleep well at night and be grateful that, however much you hate our present government they aren't out gassing (allegedly) Guardian readers.

Jared Hall bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Not gassing people no, but still killing plenty of "innocent little babies" bombing hospitals and helping the Saudis cluster bomb fishing villages. Why don't we see pictures on TV of Yemeni kids mutilated by American bombs? How do we sleep with that?
bemusedfromdevon Jared Hall , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
We're pulling the trigger??

And that makes supporting a tyrant who will do anything a satisfactory solution to you?

Sounds like crocodile tears to me.

SterlingPound Jared Hall , 12 Apr 2017 13:11
Well, we saw the aftermath of a deliberate attack by Saudis planes on a clearly demarcated Yemeni hospital on the BBC last year. The first rocket hit an arriving ambulance with civilian casualties and a doctor on board. The response of the Saudi shills in the Commons - what is it about the British upper class and the Arabs, I wonder - was to demand forcefully that the Saudis set up an inquiry to examine the evidence of a war crime.

It should have been sadly obvious from the get-go that we had to back Assad before he attempted to beat his father's record for murder and repression, the whole family's fucking insane, but it's long past too late now. He's soiled goods and Tillerson's untutored idea of elections is surely farcical.

Muzzledagain , 12 Apr 2017 12:35
Fair article, although ISI and rebels actively participated in the destruction of Syria. If Assad falls, anarchy due to vacuum will follow, guaranteed. Agree with the last paragraph in particular and still wondering why they (the West) don't do it especially pressuring the countries that feed the rebels, and they are not so moderate, with money and weapon. Unless this is because of the infamous pipeline. Tragic state of affair indeed.
Aethelfrith , 12 Apr 2017 12:31
Decade after decade, the west has interfered or overthrown government after governemnt , all over the world , mainly for the benefit of capitalist puppeteers . America has been the worst , one only has to look at the CIA's track record in South America when legitimately elected governments were ousted by force so that "American business" interest were looked after.

This same vested self interest has been the driving force over the last few years. The interventions in Iraq , Libya, Afghanistan have all been total disasters fro the regions and resulted in more deaths than any tin pot dictator could have achieved. Backing so called "moderate" terrorists seems to be the excuse to get involved.

More moral achievement and good could have been achieved by widespread dropping of food around the world , or even the cost of the military hegemony being given as cash handouts to poor people , but this simplistic altruism does not allow for the geopolitical control games that is the true beating heart of western aggression.

austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:30
And it will serve as a welcome distraction from the lack of domestic achievements by the U.S. govt.
Fort Sumpter austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
Theresa could also do with some distraction from her shambolic government and the whole Brexit disaster.
timefliesby austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
Got to agree. Dead cat. Nobody is talking about links and the FBI any more and Putin is mentioned on a new context.

Approval ratings from US voters?

Moo1234 Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:45
We are all Brexiteers now. I voted remain, but accept the democratic will of the people. Blame David Cameron and get on with the job of making a success of it, rather than whining about it....
dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:30
What if this was Apartheid era South Africa and the white minority were bombing the hell out of the majority black civilians who wanted them out?
duthealla dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:49
Nobody intervened in South Africa despite massacres like Sharpeville....perhaps it would've let to full on racial war though?
dusktildawn duthealla , 12 Apr 2017 12:55
I'm just saying people making the case for the West to back off would probably be saying the opposite in that case if the white minority were massacring black people on the scale of Syria. Isn't that hypocrisy?
Fort Sumpter dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:04
It isn't hypocrisy because your South African scenario bears little resemblance to what is happening in Syria. Simple as that.
Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:28
Boris obviously has a more pressing engagement over Easter.
BeanstalkJack , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Regime change - a phrase that reminds us imperialism is alive and well.
Gandalf66 BeanstalkJack , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
The successful regime changes mentioned in the article such as Poland and the rest of the Eastern bloc were initiated by the people themselves, rather than the the "help" of a foreign power.
BeanstalkJack Gandalf66 , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
The people did it all by themselves did they? So nothing to do with the economic collapse of the Soviet Union caused by an arms race ramped up by President Reagan. Nothing to do with a very costly war in Afghanistan?
sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Given the situation, it is understandable why some people may think ousting Assad is necessary. Such thinking has a long pedigree in the United States, where there is a robust belief in a supposed American ability to fix what is wrong.

I think the word is arrogance rather than belief.

Mates Braas sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 14:51
I think the word is arrogance rather than belief...............and exceptionalism.
brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Trump is the new boy on the block, trying to use missiles as a penis substitute.

Sorry, but simple definitions are sometimes correct.

yshani brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 13:19
Would you have said the same thing in 1917 and 1940. Would you have said the same thing in the duration of the cold war. If US did not have a bigger penis then you would not be around to comment about it.

Long live the US penis and may it grow longer and stronger.

brucebaby yshani , 12 Apr 2017 13:26
WW2 was won principally by the USSR, who suffered many more casualties than the western alliances. The cold war would not have happened if not for the USA.

Sorry, the USA is more of a threat to the planet than any country, and Trump is unintelligent, a real threat to the world.

MacMeow brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 17:01

WW2 was won principally by the USSR

That old clunker again, it's like the war in the Pacific never happened.

Sorry4Soul , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Why it would be a mistake ?

Libya was such a success story.

Trumbledon , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
Finally, at long last, some sense.

I agree wholeheartedly; by far the best analysis I've read in this paper.

sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
If the US wants Assad ousted, they should support a UN investigation to find out WHO was at fault. Shoot first questions later? Hollywood Wild West thinking. The US has zero credibility. You simply cannot blame someone without having the facts independently checked out. Yet they didn't wait and decided to break interantional law instead.
joAnn chartier , 12 Apr 2017 12:23
There seems to be a crucial component of reality lacking in this opinion piece: rather than bombing and droning and etc, why does the 'world order' not stop the manufacture and distribution of weapons of mass destruction like barrel bombs, nuclear warheads etc etc -- where profits are made by arms manufacturers and their investors--oh, could that be the reason?
Fakecharitybuster , 12 Apr 2017 12:20
Quite. Assad is awful, but he is less awful that the Islamist alternatives, which are the only realistic alternatives. We should stop posturing and accept this unpalatable reality.
ganaruvian Fakecharitybuster , 12 Apr 2017 13:40
Spot-on!
Viva_Kidocelot , 12 Apr 2017 12:20
Much more level reporting, but still is framing the narrative as a brutal gas attack and is still a rush to judgement when the case is that bombs were dropped on a supply of toxic gas, most likely Phosgene.
Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:19
At last, some common sense. like Saddam and Gaddafi, Assad is a ruthless tyrant. What the West, including the petulant Boris Johnson need to realise is that Syria ISN'T the West. Don't impose your values on a country that isn't ready for them. The sickening hypocrisy of the British government would look very foolish if Putin pulled out and allowed Syria to fall to isis. Would Boris and Theresa put British troops on the ground to keep the extremists out of Turkey?
Gandalf66 Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
Why isn't Syria ready for Western values? After what the country has been through the people would probably leap at the chance of free elections. Prior to the conflict Syria was a multi-ethnic patchwork. Whatever happens to the country needs to be decided by the Syrians themselves.
Mates Braas Gandalf66 , 12 Apr 2017 14:50
"Why isn't Syria ready for Western values?"

The geopolitical status quo in the Middle East is unstable, and tribal affiliations/religious/ ethnic allegiances need to be carefully balanced and controlled. Something Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iraq achieved reasonably peacefully for many years before all the US led interventions.

There is no evidence that the terrorists are fighting for democracy, although if westerners ask them that is what they will likely say.

shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:18
So Trump is unfit to govern because of his locker room humour and possible antics, but gas a few thousand people and hey presto! A darling of the left.
bemusedfromdevon shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:22
That's how it seems...
Fort Sumpter shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
Not the left. These writers are pro-British Establishment, pro mixed economy liberals. Soft right if anything.
zolotoy Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
You're talking about this rag. Take a look at what's coming out of Howard Dean's mouth, or Bernie Sanders's, or practically any Democrat in Washington not named Tulsi Gabbard.

Or, if you have a really strong stomach, take a look at Daily Kos.

They're what passes for "left" in America, unfortunately, because the number of SWP and Green Party members is statistically insignificant.

richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:17
"Given the situation, it is understandable why some people may think ousting Assad is necessary"

The Guardian reported that in Libya, the last country to benefit from US and "our" attempts at regime change there are now open air slave auctions.

So yeah, why not do the same in Syria; what is there to lose?

Mates Braas , 12 Apr 2017 12:16
Regime change is illegal under international law, except to the rogues of course found in western capitals, and their Gulf vassals. These are the only group of people in the entire planet who talk openly about overthrowing sovereign governments of other countries.

Imperial hubris knows no bounds.

tjt77 Mates Braas , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
The unfortunate truth is that, along with the ongoing decline of western civilization, one 'by-product' is that International Law is continually disdained. The USA, having lack of insightful leadership, does as it wants, when it wants .. the result is that perpetual wars seem to be a given .. meanwhile, Asia continues to rise and is growing real and genuine wealth by producing and exporting the goods the rest of the world consumes and is doing it very well..
jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:16
President Trump didn't do enough (yet) by bombing an air base at night. The people of Syria need weapons, tanks, missiles, air support, etc. from a country like the USA that stands for freedom and human rights. Assad, who lives by the sword should also die by the sword. For the U.S. to stand by and watch these atrocities unchallenged would simply be not who we are. I don't agree with President Trump on a lot of things, but on this point he is right. I have changed from not liking him at all to liking him just a bit more.
sceptic64 jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
And what comes after?
duthealla sceptic64 , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
That'd be a problem for the EU. We cook , you clean - as some neocon asshat said about Iraq.
richmanchester duthealla , 12 Apr 2017 13:14
Well the Guardian was reporting on open air slave auctions in

Libya this week.

So clearly arming "the people" and supplying air support worked well there.

Obviously the same course should be followed in Syria.

richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:15
"All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged. "

And that's Assad'd fault?

Or is it the fault of the originally US and still Gulf states/Turkey backed Wahhabis that have damaged them?

Trumbledon richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
All Assad's fault, if he hadn't tried to liberate Palmyra, it'd still be standi... Oh wait.
richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:14
"The logic is that by removing and replacing an undesirable leader, the political situation in the country will change. "

Absolute tosh.

The logic behind nearly all attempts at cold war regime change was to replace a regime which aligned itself with the USSR with one that aligned itself with the USA.

The internal situation, politically or otherwise was of no concern

Elinore richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:23
It would work in the USA.
Nietzschestache , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
Good piece. Regime change has been such a resounding success, you only have to look at Iraq and Libya to see that. Nor does a country which has a history of using napalm and carcinogenic defoliants any room to take the moral high ground.
sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
If Assad, is so bad, how come most of the civilian population prefer his areas to those of the rebels? The one certainty in all of this is that the MSM has sold its credibility. Most of what I see is vested interest propaganda.
pete8s sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:21
Isn't the main reason that people prefer Assad's areas because he doesn't bomb them.

There is no love of Assad anywhere.

If the US were to limit itself to punishing strikes against Assad whenever his forces committed war crimes – bombing hospitals using poison gas etc then a minor at the level of civilisation creeps back into the equation.

bemusedfromdevon sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
Perhaps because the rebel areas are getting the shit bombed out of them by the Russians and Assad...

How many heavy bombers and fighters do those fighting Assad have...?

Just think about it a little....

Fort Sumpter pete8s , 12 Apr 2017 12:26

There is no love of Assad anywhere.

How many Syrians do you know and how many times have you been there?

scipioafricanus , 12 Apr 2017 12:10
The situation will be even more fraught if other external actors turn any attempt at regime change into a proxy war, as Russia and Iran are likely to do.

A proxy war between the United States and Russia is the thing we all have to fear. In Trump and Putin you have two leaders who use brinkmanship to get what they want and who will never back down from any position no matter what the consequences. They'd rather pursue a misguided policy rathen than lose face. I'd like to think the recent war of words between the two countries is just bluster, but as each day goes by I'm no longer sure anymore.

Amanzim , 12 Apr 2017 12:10
Regime change should work if all parties believe in democracy and respect each other. That does not seem likely in the middle east. We have seen what that means forcing that idea in Iraq, Egypt and Libya. A secular SOB is better than somebody who believes in laws of yesteryears.
zankaon , 12 Apr 2017 12:09
Another way: reducing accidental use of chemical weapons?

Always drop 2 bombs; one from each side of ammunition dump. That way, one of such unmarked ordinance is likely to be conventional explosives. The latter would further disperse, and dilute (reduce density) of the chemical gas; hence lessening lethality.

Elinore , 12 Apr 2017 12:08
You could put Assad in the White House and Trump in Syria and and nothing would change except that the White House might be a tad more intelligent.
Gandalf66 Elinore , 12 Apr 2017 12:59
Assad is actually a qualified doctor so he's pretty intelligent. Strange that he's ignoring the Hippocratic Oath on a daily basis.
jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:08
So we agree on the final result (need for regime change which by the way the article conflicts with its own title), but we disagree on the method. Many bottoms-up revolutions would not have been successful without outside help. The French helped America achieve freedom although their reason was somewhat revengeful. The people of Syria have no chance against an army and tanks ruled by a ruthless evil dictator like Assad without outside assistance. If you think they are not shedding enough blood for their freedom, then you are living in a hole in the ground.
Mickmarrs jman57 , 12 Apr 2017 12:18
Yeah and the guys that get in are head loppers
ProfJake , 12 Apr 2017 12:05
Well said. Worth taking a look at Global Peace Index, which is produced annually by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace:

http://visionofhumanity.org/indexes/global-peace-index /

In the latest iteration for 2016, the bottom ten places in the Index, reserved for the least peaceful countries on earth, include Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya: four countries where "regime change" has been brought about – or, in Syria's case, where there is arguably an ongoing attempt to bring it about – by the use of military force.

The evidence so far is that the use of force to topple regimes does not make things better, even when the behaviour of those regimes is/was objectionable in many ways.

Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:05

He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged.

Nope. Most of Homs and Aleppo are intact. The areas occupied by foreign Jihadists using the local populace as human shields were heavily bombed but now they have been liberated.

Who was it who destroyed these heritage sites? Not the SAA. The Jihadists even filmed themselves doing it and posted the videos online for goodness sake.

mp66 , 12 Apr 2017 12:04
Bashar al-Assad is not a good person. He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco World Heritage sites have been damaged.

So thousands of mostly foreign jihadists occupying parts of those cities had nothing to do with it? Did the US led forces in now n Mosul, or before that in Fallujah find the way to dislodge terrorists from urban strongholds without devastation of the city? Also for all world heritage sites in Syria, they were defended by Syrian troops, and everything that could be moved was moved to safe place. It was exclusively jihadists that were destroying temples, churches, shrines, even muslim graveyards when they found the funeral momunent "too tall". In all of these efforts to save the history of the humanity, syrian govermnent got no help nor acknowledgment. To add insult to injury, the western "cultural" response was touring 3D model of Palmyra gates through western capitals but while Daesh was methodically blowing it up under clear desert skies, there was interestingly not a single american drone to be found anywhere. It was syrian, iranian and russian blood spilled to liberate it twice from the death cult.

ID1941743 , 12 Apr 2017 12:02
Yep. There isn't a solution to this problem, but the one thing I'm 99.999% convinved will not work is 'the west' dusting off it's world policeman uniform and bombing the heck out of Syria.
ariaclast , 12 Apr 2017 12:01
This is precisely why the west has largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict; despite having a policy favouring the removal of Assad there hasn't been an attempt (or even the suggestion of an attempt at a policy level) at regime change.

One does wonder, though, at what point the conflict becomes so abhorrent and the civilian casualties so grotesque that our intervention could scarcely make things any worse

Vetinary ariaclast , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
Are you actually blind?
ariaclast Vetinary , 12 Apr 2017 12:15
Who said that?
LucyandTomDog , 12 Apr 2017 12:00
The US?

Syria?

Regime change?

Moi?

It seems that Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, whilst putting all his cerebral energy into attempting to apologise for his jaw-droppingly ignorant statement that Hitler never used chemical weapons on his own people, failed to stop his mouth making yet another gaffe;

"I needed to make sure that I clarified, and was not in any shape or form any more of a distraction from the president's decisive action in Syria and the attempts that he is making to destabilise the region and root out ISIS out of Syria."

(my emphasis)

Spicer speaks about the president's attempts to destabilise the region in a CNN television interview too.

As people are beginning to ask, does Spicer actually know what distabilise means?

zolotoy LucyandTomDog , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
I'm sure it was an unintentional but very revealing Freudian slip.

The advantage of letting dunces speak is that they're not very good at hiding what they think.

LucyandTomDog LucyandTomDog , 12 Apr 2017 13:21
Typo

'As people are beginning to ask, does Spicer actually know what distabilise means?'

Should be destabilise

Guy1ncognito , 12 Apr 2017 11:59

Bashar al-Assad is not a good person.

Don't hold back...

Moo1234 Guy1ncognito , 12 Apr 2017 12:22
Daesh/ isis are even less good people......
Gandalf66 Guy1ncognito , 12 Apr 2017 13:00
More like Assad is the least worst.
davshev , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
It bothers me that Trump is suddenly showing such concern toward innocent Syrians. Yet, at the same time he wants a ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria.
sceptic64 davshev , 12 Apr 2017 12:15
Don't you think the timing here is - for Trump - rather convenient? Just when he is under pressure for being a Russian patsy, something happens to allow him to portray himself as 'standing up to Putin'.

This whole thing stinks.

davshev sceptic64 , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Right. Also, the question should be...if Putin is sleazy enough to be complicit with Syria, then why wouldn't they be sleazy enough to be involved in trying to swing the American election?
zolotoy davshev , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Good question. How sleazy is it to be complicit with Al Qaeda, the only entity on the planet that the USA is semiofficially at war with?
scipioafricanus , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
In essence there must be incremental change in the political climate and culture of a state amongst the masses before it culminates in regime change at the top.

The political climate is no longer there because Assad has systematically murdered everyone who could have formed a credible oppostion to his regime; opposition activitsts, aid workers, doctors and nurses, journalists - all have either been killed, have fled to Europe, or are currently being tortured in one of his detention centres. There is no one left to rise up against him.

The intervention triggers resentment and hostility at the new government whose legitimacy is reduced through the participation of an outside government. Soon the new regime is considered a 'puppet' and its own existence is questioned by the people.

This is indeed true. However backing Assad also has its costs; where is the legitimacy of someone who is now merely a "puppet" for Russia and Iran's ambitions in the region?

As uncomfortable as it is the best western governments can do is to provide aid and assistance to those in distress, whilst pressuring those countries that continue to feed money and weapons to the combatants to change their positions.

As reasonable as this sounds, I'm afraid this is just wishful thinking.

Mates Braas scipioafricanus , 12 Apr 2017 14:37
"The political climate is no longer there because Assad has systematically murdered everyone who could have formed a credible oppostion to his regime;"

There is a credible position inside Syria which has been largely ignored by the western MSM and governments, because it does not support the uprisisng or the violent overthrow of the Syrian government. It was refused participation when the first peace talks were arranged.

lemonsuckingpedant , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
Wow, a Guardian article I can finally wholeheartedly agree with. Does this Professor chap have a hotline to Trump and the rest of the Western leaders itching for a fight with Assad?
zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 11:53
Why do I get the feeling this is just another one of those "Now that Trump is in charge, we shouldn't do regime change" pieces? I note that the author nowhere comes out against fighting an eternal war in Syria -- he just doesn't want Trump doing the "regime change."

Yeah, he blabbers on about "aid and assistance" and "pressuring those countries that continue to feed money and weapons to the combatants to change their positions" -- obviously choosing to ignore how several western governments provide money and weapons to the combatants (should they be "pressuring" themselves?) But the pinnacle of his cluelessness -- or his agenda -- is reached with this whopper:

The situation will be even more fraught if other external actors turn any attempt at regime change into a proxy war, as Russia and Iran are likely to do.

--as if this hadn't been a proxy war for years already, one in which his own country has been quite actively engaged.
Janeira1 zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 12:13
Didn't notice Iraq faring too well the last time the US intervened in regime change.
jamie evans , 12 Apr 2017 11:50
Trump told him over some cake?

This idiot has got to go, he is not rational. He clearly has not an inkling of the gravity of his actions. Nor does he care. How did we get to this? We always thought that a rogue state would be the end of us all. We were wrong. This moron is doing it all by himself. Some one needs to step in, take back control. This is frightening stuff.

Assad's removal would be catastrophic. There would be no stable government in Syria, it would be controlled by warlords backed by Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda or ISIS and millions of refugees would have no country to return to or to live in. This will mean more refugees in Europe, more destabilisation and more money drained from our treasuries.

Russia would also be far from pleased and if the conflict erupted into a confrontation between NATO affiliated forces in Syria against Russia, the Eastern European front will become a lot more precarious (at a time when Britain is cutting back on military spending and very few European countries adequately contribute towards NATO). Do we really want a repeat of tensions from the pre-1991 era? I don't think so, especially with the combined threat of domestic Islamic terrorism throughout Europe and with the continental debt crisis that cannot afford more wars that are not in its interests. Russia will quickly mobilise its forces into the non-Russian caucuses, already closely aligned with Armenia and potentially link up with Iran territoriality. And what about Turkey? They cannot be relied upon.

So what benefit exactly is it to create anarchy in Syria for Britain's immediate and long-term interests? The destruction of Libya has created nothing but chaos and a stream of migrants from across Africa. Why Boris Johnson is waltzing around the world demanding hard action against Russia when we are cutting back on our armed forces is startling. A better question would be in whose immediate economic and geopolitical interests is the destruction of Assad beneficial? Well... there's two countries in the Middle East which come to mind... not hard to guess.

dusktildawn Jack1R , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
That's fair enough but what if Assad stays in power? Will the refugees, who mainly fled him, return? Will anyone invest in rebuilding the country? WIll anyone deal with the country other than Russia or Iran? Above all will the hatred of Assad, terrorism or indeed the conflict as a whole recede?
Jack1R dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:02
They didn't flee him... they fled the war. Most people, in any country, are apolitical. I expect the refugees in the Middle East and Anatolia will return to Syria and those in the West must be forced to return back.

The problem with Syria now is that it has become such a hot plate. If the West concedes to Russia and allows Syria to survive under the rule of Assad then we will lose face internationally... and it would be domestically embarrassing. No doubt Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Gulf monarchies would be less than pleased, and we depend on them for a lot of our oil.

It's a difficult question but what we do know is that there are no other credible groups that can rule Syria at the moment, other than Assad's Alawite minority. If we decide to nation-build, that will cost billions, possibly even trillions with no concrete result as our attempt in Iraq shows and we have no idea who we would put in charge. The Christians have about as much legitimacy as the Alawites. Perhaps the only conceivable outcome would be the breakup of Syria. The Christian and Alawite regions go towards Lebanon, the Kurdish regions are given independence and the Sunni areas are also given an independent state. But of course, the Sunni and Christian areas are intertwined and many Sunni's support Assad, or at least do not oppose him. And Turkey, as well as Iran, would never allow an independent Kurdistan. Iran would be less than pleased with the breakup of Syria as well.

I want to see a post-Assad plan. We all know what happens to non-Sunni minorities when a secular Arab leader is toppled. No one has yet to provide a coherent post-Assad state-structure. Unless of course they want Turkey to territoriality expand... we want to preserve the post-Ottoman borders and state-system yet at the same time we're waging war against the forces actively preserving it.

There is no simple answer. Assad is a pawn of Russia and Iran, yet the other options are either Turkish expansion (which, the last time they did that, they had sizeable European territories) or Saudi expansion (which I hope everyone agrees is less than desirable). We have no friends in the Middle East, other than Jordan, Egypt and Israel. But they all have their own interests and I suspect their friendships are determined upon those interests. I think our aim is to maintain the balance of power. Perhaps only the growth of Israel could act as a counter-weight to Sunni and Shia interests.

Alderbaran Jack1R , 12 Apr 2017 13:04
Would you support another leader from perhaps the same party taking over as an interim measure whilst different factions are brought together to defeat ISIS?

In an ideal world, I would love to see this happening, along with a form of truth and reconciliation commission, and a commitment from the international community and other bodies independent of the Syrian government to assist in tackling issues such as warlordism and corruption. The dogmatic belief that there can be no leader other than Assad is one that might have ultimately cost millions of lives and it would be wrong to use the old dictator's mantra of 'me or chaos'. And to be fair, Assad does not have a great track record in Syria.

And a final question - do you believe Russia should be doing more to put pressure on Assad or do you think it will be happy to put its international credibility on the line for him? (There is something pathological I believe in Putin's willingness to support other dictators)

Laurence Bury , 12 Apr 2017 11:50
How can one call for 'peaceful transition to a new society' when the original opposition to Assad was sponsored by multifarious power-hungry foreign actors? They exploited the Arab Spring pro-democracy utopianism then messed up their insurrectional strategy disastrously. The country now needs to be made a protectorate of an international peace-keeping force until a representative transitional government is agreed upon.
WellmeaningBob Laurence Bury , 12 Apr 2017 12:11
A little contradictory, no? Oh we fucked up, so you need to be colonised anyway.
Laurence Bury WellmeaningBob , 12 Apr 2017 12:19
No, that sounds like the pseudo-leftist neo-colonial discourse that Obama was so fond of.

The counter-argument to regime change is more that by now Assad controls most cities again, the opposition are awful sectarians who should be let nowhere near power and it may still be possible to contain IS to a manageable extent while Assad maintains a dictatorship indefinitely.

WellmeaningBob Laurence Bury , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Not quite sure what you mean. Just saying that the "man on the street" would more likely than not understand "protectorate" pretty much the same as e.g. the Moroccans did.
Mates Braas elan , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
Civil war means that both sides are killing their own people.
zolotoy jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 11:57
Only because his opposition is even more barbaric.
Fort Sumpter jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 12:09
'indiscriminate weapons'

Oh dear, are they rally still pushing this 'our weapons don't kill civilians' BS?

No need for evidence of chlorine gas bombs apparently.

And anyone who questions the MSM narrative and who is sickened by endless war is an 'apologist'. What are you but an apologist for war?

Mates Braas jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 12:23
Unfortunately, there is no way to make war nice.
SeeNOevilHearNOevil , 12 Apr 2017 11:42
Regime change in Syria was being talked directly since 9/11 and it never stopped. It's on the record. So is john Kerry, on record on TV, stating gulf states offered to cover part of the costs of a US invasion in Syria at least twice way before the so called ''civil war'' even started.

They prepared it for years but the poor taste Iraq/Libya left on the US public meant the US pulled out of the deal (all because of the planed gas pipelines from Qatar to Europe that has to go through Syria).

The Saudis along with Qatar, Turkey and Israel believed they could force the hand of the US and acted alone initiating the takeover. This is why despite the intel, organisation and provision of what is estimated to be 300k(german estimates) foreign jihadists eventually came to a standstill without direct US support.

The Jihadists then prematurely jumped the gun fragmented creating ISIS (something meant to take place behind the scenes after they defeated Assad)

The point is of course...it's all about oil...nothing about democracy or Gas or any of that crap

hpe974 SeeNOevilHearNOevil , 12 Apr 2017 16:26
Of course it is!! The USA is truly the biggest sponsor of terror and mayhem and destruction in the M.E.
namjodh , 12 Apr 2017 11:38
Yes, this is all quite true. What the USA almost always seems to do is create a power vacuum in the countries it attempts to "save" and, inevitably it seems, the USA always chooses the wrong damn party or person to support in said vacuum. A stunning misreading and proof of the failure of American foreign policy "experts" and CIA strategists to grasp the realities on the ground.
HuckelburryPin namjodh , 12 Apr 2017 11:46

Yes, this is all quite true. What the USA almost always seems to do is create a power vacuum in the countries it attempts to "save" and, inevitably it seems, the USA always chooses the wrong damn party or person to support in said vacuum.

Like in Japan. Just that Japan is ... Shinto. Or something. Not M.........

WellmeaningBob namjodh , 12 Apr 2017 12:04
I'm sure its fair to say that for many instability, disorder, mayhem and the like are entirely desirable. Witness Kissinger who out-and-out advocated/advocates looking after US long-term interests through war, disease and starvation.
ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 11:37
Scott Ritter has been commenting on the alleged Assad gas attacks . Unlike the MSM the former Iraq weapons inspector seems far from convinced.
Levant1998 ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
Former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd, and Professor Theodore Posto of MIT also authored a piece:

http://m.dw.com/en/is-assad-to-blame-for-the-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria/a-38330217

jadamsj ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 17:12

Scott Ritter has been commenting on the alleged Assad gas attacks. Unlike the MSM the former Iraq weapons inspector seems far from convinced.

What that before or after Russia blocked an investigation into it?

ploughmanlunch , 12 Apr 2017 11:35
'The on-going devastation in Syria cries out for a response, 'do something' is the inherent plea.'

Might I suggest sending generous quantities of bubble wrap to each of the 'something must be done' brigade. Popping those bubbles is relaxing and calming. They will otherwise impatiently agitate for some ineffective, or more likely counter-productive measure that makes things drastically worse.

zolotoy ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 11:46
Not very sensible, actually -- see the comment by capatriot above (or below, if you do "newest first"). Rather appalling that someone with academic credentials would (1) engage in a comic book-style analysis of world politics (big bad nearly omnipotent supervillain!) and (2) put all the blame for the carnage and destruction on one side.
EdmundLange , 12 Apr 2017 11:29
We tried to change the leader in Iraq. It didn't work, and now the country is a hotbed of terrorism and incredibly corrupt and ineffectual government. We tried to change the leader in Libya. It didn't work, and now the country is a hotbed of terrorism and incredibly corrupt and ineffectual government. I guess we could try to change the leader in Syria, if we really, really want.
EdmundLange jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 11:58
Excellent, I'm glad we're going to topple Assad so the Jihadists can take control. Just what we needed.
capatriot , 12 Apr 2017 11:26

He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble.

What, he, personally? What is he, superman? And I wonder why he'd choose to do that to his own nation's cities?

But wait, you mean that there was a rebellion against the recognized government which developed into a civil war, aided and abetted by sectarian outsiders and terrorists and the United States/West, with political and religious/ethnic overtones? And that later, as it looked like the recognized govt was going to fail, other interested outsiders like Russia and Iran intervened to help it?

Gosh, I wonder what the least worst outcome for the people of Syria actually is here ... perhaps we should leave it to them?

zolotoy jonnyross , 12 Apr 2017 11:56
It's actually a very serious question. How much control does Assad have over his government, let alone his armed forces? He's a trained dentist, ferchrissakes, and his older brother was the one groomed for the <strike>throne</strike> presidency. It makes sense to assume that his powers over an entrenched nomenklatura, to say nothing of all of the different armed factions nominally serving him, aren't limitless.

[Apr 12, 2017] Opinion Regime change in Syria? That would be a mistake

Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The intervention triggers resentment and hostility at the new government, the legitimacy of which is reduced through the participation of an outside government. Soon, the new regime is considered a "puppet" and its existence is questioned by the people. Interestingly, the Middle East has proven particularly resistant to durable regime change and democratization, further making the success of any US-led intervention doubtful.

The situation will be even more fraught if other external actors turn any attempt at regime change into a proxy war, as Russia and Iran are likely to do. The US experienced the downside of this during the ill-conceived war in Vietnam. During the Soviet-led war in Afghanistan, the US played the spoiler of Soviet efforts, funnelling money and weapons to the anti-Soviet mujahideen, turning the USSR's intervention into a protracted, bloody war.

Prof Michael John Williams is Director of the International Relations Program at New York University.

[Apr 12, 2017] US-Russia relations at a low, says Tillerson after meeting with Putin

Notable quotes:
"... "The perspective from the US is supported by facts we have that are conclusive that the chemical attack was planned and directed and executed by Syrian regime forces," Tillerson said, adding that the "reign of the Assad family is coming to an end" and "Russia perhaps has the best means of helping the Assad regime recognise this reality". ..."
Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Tillerson stuck to the Trump administration insistence that a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 people last week in Syria was the work of -> Bashar al-Assad , and that the Syrian president could play no part in the country's long-term future.

"The perspective from the US is supported by facts we have that are conclusive that the chemical attack was planned and directed and executed by Syrian regime forces," Tillerson said, adding that the "reign of the Assad family is coming to an end" and "Russia perhaps has the best means of helping the Assad regime recognise this reality".

[Apr 12, 2017] soaring inequality

Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
almost all the increment in incomes has been harvested by the top 1%. As values, principles and moral purpose are lost, the promise of growth is all that's left.

You can see the effects in a leaked memo from the UK's Foreign Office: "Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down." All that counts is the rate at which we turn natural wealth into cash. If this destroys our prosperity and the wonders that surround us, who cares?

We cannot hope to address our predicament without a new worldview. We cannot use the models that caused our crises to solve them. We need to reframe the problem. This is what the most inspiring book published so far this year has done.

In Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist , Kate Raworth of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute reminds us that economic growth was not, at first, intended to signify wellbeing. Simon Kuznets , who standardised the measurement of growth, warned: "The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income." Economic growth, he pointed out, measured only annual flow, rather than stocks of wealth and their distribution.

Raworth points out that economics in the 20th century "lost the desire to articulate its goals". It aspired to be a science of human behaviour: a science based on a deeply flawed portrait of humanity. The dominant model – "rational economic man", self-interested, isolated, calculating – says more about the nature of economists than it does about other humans. The loss of an explicit objective allowed the discipline to be captured by a proxy goal: endless growth.

The aim of economic activity, she argues, should be "meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet". Instead of economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, we need economies that "make us thrive, whether or not they grow". This means changing our picture of what the economy is and how it works.

The central image in mainstream economics is the circular flow diagram. It depicts a closed flow of income cycling between households, businesses, banks, government and trade, operating in a social and ecological vacuum. Energy, materials, the natural world, human society, power, the wealth we hold in common all are missing from the model. The unpaid work of carers – principally women – is ignored, though no economy could function without them. Like rational economic man, this representation of economic activity bears little relationship to reality.

So Raworth begins by redrawing the economy. She embeds it in the Earth's systems and in society, showing how it depends on the flow of materials and energy, and reminding us that we are more than just workers, consumers and owners of capital.

--> , Joshua Chen , 12 Apr 2017 19:06
If people can:
1. understand the nature of money which is in fact energy
2. bypass fiat currencies and therefore Immune to all the misery from these fake money (such as unfair wealth distribution...etc)
3. have some elementary-math understanding about energy constraint by https://1drv.ms/o/s!AlY9OXkn9NHujFuH2HElKWc3WgeJ

then we are all done

, Deenmat , 12 Apr 2017 18:59
A proper land tax, progressive taxation and a utter ruthless pursuit of those that don't pay their share. Oh and, here's a thought, corporation tax not set at a pissy ridiculous level. But then the great British public always vote for the opposite of all these things. Well done! Reply Share
, GimmeHendrix , 12 Apr 2017 18:48
Let down in the last few sentences. Idealised models are all well and good but the crucial issue is the current wealth distribution and the unequal power that stems from it. We now live in an era of nationalist autocracies, a necessary carapace for post capitalism but definitely not a prerequisite for the kind of model you describe. Reply Share
, brovis , 12 Apr 2017 18:39
Zeitgeist not looking so crazy these days eh? Reply Share
, aarthoor , 12 Apr 2017 18:35
Hmmm, donut..... Reply Share
, jackrousseau , 12 Apr 2017 18:33
Constant economic growth also necessitates a pyramid scheme of constant population growth to supply labor.

In Western countries with low birth rates and high salaries, this translates into our oligarchs adopting the neoliberal model of immigration, globalization, and free trade.

From a certain perspective, all the recent political upheaval in the West (Brexit, Trump, Etc.) can be described as the working classes realizing what "constant growth" and resulting neoliberalism means for them and their children personally.

, Snowshovel , 12 Apr 2017 18:27
Why is it circular? Reply Share
, RadLadd , 12 Apr 2017 18:27
Nice looking diagrams. What do they mean? Reply Share
, Laurens Rademakers , 12 Apr 2017 18:23
*"general economics" Reply Share
, RadLadd Laurens Rademakers , 12 Apr 2017 18:37
I took it as "funeral". Reply Share
, Laurens Rademakers , 12 Apr 2017 18:20
Another interesting model is that of the Gift-economy, the system that dominated the world during millenia (and persists somewhat today). In its extreme form - the potlatch - an entire society's drive is based on how much wealth it can give away, not take. Georges Bataille described this as "feneral economics" whereas academic economists' mumblings he called "restricted economics", a purely useless attempt to erase life. Time to read him and the anthropologists (Mauss, Bloch, Mead, Levi-Strauss) who described this, again.
, spareusthelies , 12 Apr 2017 18:15

State-owned banks would invest in projects that transform our relationship with the living world,

State owned banks? As in a nationalised banking alternative....in Britain?

Mention the word "nationalisation" in London and the Home Counties and everyone, from the middle-classes upwards, immediately assumes this must mean a return to Miners strikes, a three day week, power cuts, flared trousers, beer and sandwiches, formica kitchen workops, the lot!

, TerryMcBurney spareusthelies , 12 Apr 2017 18:22
State-owned banks is what we got after the 2008 banking crisis. But if your suggestion is that politicians can make better investment decisions than commercial banks and with access to all the money printing power of the economy then that would be truly scary. Reply Share
, Gegenbeispiel spareusthelies , 12 Apr 2017 19:04
Nothing wrong with flared trousers or miners' strikes ot Formica. And even power cuts would be tolerable if they meant absence of HIV, 3-day weeks and a thoroughly humiliated, depressed Establishment - my idea of heaven :) Reply Share
, vulgarius , 12 Apr 2017 18:08
This looks like an extension to John Elkington's triple bottom line model published in 1997, updated to embrace the advance of social enterprise and to acknowledge the ever greater impact of global warming.

I'd will have to read the full book to understand this new model better. It would be interesting to see how any government, in power or in waiting, could articulate real objectives associated with this model to give a sense that we were on a better economic journey than present.

, tjt77 , 12 Apr 2017 18:06
Thoughtful and well presented article.. BUT...Until money and the worship of power it creates is relieved of its God like status..the 'opening' towards a more sustainable values system continues to be a very tough sell...in essence, the door remains closed.. Reply Share
, RadLadd tjt77 , 12 Apr 2017 18:39

.Until money and the worship of power it creates is relieved of its God like status

What does that mean? Reply Share

, ConflictedTaoist , 12 Apr 2017 18:04
... Reply Share
, TerryMcBurney , 12 Apr 2017 17:56
An economic model is supposed to describe way the economy actually works, not the way you would like it to work. To judge that I suppose I will have to read the book and perhaps some critical reviews, since you can't get and sense of that from Monbiot's article. Does it provide a better forecast about the effect of Brexit for example? would it have predicted the financial crash of 2008? If it can't do these things then it isn't an economic model but it might be a philosophy or belief system like Zen Buddhism and should be treated with the same level of detachment we would apply to such faiths, including that of Monbiot.
, alfredolouro TerryMcBurney , 12 Apr 2017 18:14
What model did you have in mind that predicted the 2008 financial crash? Reply Share
, TerryMcBurney alfredolouro , 12 Apr 2017 18:26
That's my point, if the new 'model' is no improvement then it is useless as a model Reply Share
, KatieL alfredolouro , 12 Apr 2017 18:34
One where people were incentivised to mis-price assets and not de-incentivised from doing so.

Because one of the rules of an economic model is that people respond to incentives.

People declaim that "economics" is dead as proved by 2008, whereas what the crash actually proves is that ignoring some of the incentives means you don't understand what people are doing.

"Economics" is not the model, it's the modelling process. Climatology, to pick another modelling discipline, has produced some astoundingly wrong results in the past -- the 1970s cooling hypothesis, for example -- but we don't declare it dead, we let it have more goes in the hope of getting outputs which help us understand the world.

, Delkhasteh , 12 Apr 2017 17:55
Also, I suggest to look at this article, which introduces a new economic model:

What Is the Economy of Tawhid?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mahmood-delkhasteh/economy-of-tawhid_b_4301192.html Reply Share

, TheSpiritofCanuck61 Delkhasteh , 12 Apr 2017 18:35
I mistakenly gave you a thumbs up before I realized that "tawhid" refers to the monotheistic belief that muslims adopted from the older Jewish religion (islam and christianity both being Jewish religions). Just religious propaganda on your part, in other words. Religion is a load of crap so I take back my thumbs up. Fuck "God". Fuck religion.

Your earlier post about the interview with Banisadr looks more interesting.

, mrjonno , 12 Apr 2017 17:54
We are converging on a realisation that we have things catastrophically wrong and continue to do so. George understands, Kate clearly understands and Peter Joseph more than understands to create a movement. I've hopefully tried to connect Peter and Kate through Twitter, Kate has responded favourably.

Currently reading ' The New Human Rights Movement' and have 'Doughnut Economics' on order. We have solutions but will we overcome resistance in culture due to ignorance and religion? I hope so but have little 'faith' in the way that humanity is conducting itself with regard to itself and the planet.

Tell it how it is Peter and Kate. We need a new direction toward happiness, sustainability and understanding. Our current power structures are crumbling and rightly so...

, mrsdoom mrjonno , 12 Apr 2017 18:42
Sadly it will probably take a catastrophic collapse before any new model is implemented. It was only in the wake of WW2 that social welfare systems and health services were set up in western countries. I am fearful of what we might have to endure before a political consensus emerges that a new economic model is needed. Reply Share
, Gegenbeispiel mrsdoom , 12 Apr 2017 19:16
>"It was only in the wake of WW2 that social welfare systems and health services were set up in western countries."

Grossly untrue. Such systems, albeit primitive compared to the NHS but not the state pension, were pioneered by Bismarck (a conservative!) in Germany around 1870. The German healthcare system still suffers from a "first adopter" syndrome.

, PATRICKNEWMAN , 12 Apr 2017 17:54
"then demand that those who wield power start working towards its objectives:" - I am very willing. Do you think an email will do the trick? Reply Share
, spotthelemon , 12 Apr 2017 17:52
I think this probably counts as an interesting economic description but I don't see it as a great leap forward of understanding at the practical level.
The advice for how an economy should be run as opposed to the current approach doesn't change. Forget deficits and surpluses, forget growth and don't obsess about inflation, in a well run economy, these things will look after themselves. A well run economy is one which maximises its main potential, which is its workforce by trying to ensure they're in gainful employment (less than 2% unemployment) . Gainful employment means not massaging the numbers by making delivery drivers self-employed or using zero hours contracts but having people do useful work for proper wages and if the private sector can't always supply it then the public sector should - that is real work not just New-Labour bean counting (measuring what other people do). Do that and you will always (by definition) have enough growth and whilst at times you will (if you bother to check) run big public deficits, you are also likely to find yourself running occasional public surpluses.
Beyond that you want to encourage work which utilises renewables &/or recycling and discourage plundering natural resources - including foreign resources, the tax system can help with that, make the polluters & plunderers subsidise the recyclers, as well as other , currently seen as a sin, government interference in markets.

A new progressive agenda?

, globular546973 spotthelemon , 12 Apr 2017 18:18
Sounds nice but...what about about automation destroying lots of the lovely jobs you're talking about? It seems to me that a crucial question for our times is whether in the face of the latest wave of automation, AI and machine learning, the lump of labour fallacy will still hold true. If it doesn't, I forecast a lot of violence and death in addition to the violence and death that climate change and antibiotic resistance are already causing and which I respectfully suggest is going to grow exponentially.
, KatieL spotthelemon , 12 Apr 2017 18:38
"not massaging the numbers "

Unemployment isn't measured by what the government says it is. It's measured by phoning people up and asking them if they think they're in work. In order to get the figures down, you'd have to get a bunch of unemployed people to say they were in work in order for them to help out a government they presumably don't think much of.

, Gegenbeispiel KatieL , 12 Apr 2017 19:18
I don't think that's true at all, but will look up the ONS and OECD methodologies. Reply Share
, Delkhasteh , 12 Apr 2017 17:49
I think my interview with Iran's former president, Banisadr who lives in exile, can enrich the argument. Especially the part, which talks about the structural problems with capitalism and the way to overcome it:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/mahmoud-delkhasteh/populism-terrorism-and-crisis-in-western-democracies-interview-with-iran-s-former

, Frances56 , 12 Apr 2017 17:46
The donut diagram looks like a political centrifuge. Reply Share
, logos , 12 Apr 2017 17:44
We also need a society which meets our psychological needs as well as our material and environmental needs on a sustainable basis. Thankfully the fairly new field of positive psychology is now showing us how to do this and there have recently been prestigious conferences in London and Dubai involving the OECD and government personnel around the world centred on adapting policies to meet these needs. This is the missing ingredient that can help us create a better world. But it will require a mass movement focussing on these three elements to galvanise opinion formers and the political community into taking the necessary action.
, logos logos , 12 Apr 2017 18:01
Here's a link to the London conference http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/research/wellbeing / Reply Share
, Ignore logos , 12 Apr 2017 18:22
Positive psychology, while admirable in it's goals, has suffered from a lack of empirical data to support it's theories. For ages it was focused on theories and half assed science (admittedly it's been a while since I visited it). They have had the positive influence in that people are researching topics in parallel with positive psychology. Though many researchers still try to distance themselves from that field due to the lack of empiricism* that was rife.

It has potential though, I'll say that, and it's aims are admirable.

*I don't know if that's still the case!! It just used to be one of it's many criticisms. I heard a research proposal recently investigating resilience using fMRI, and many of the proposal's themes resonated with positive psychology. When I brought that up, there were a few raised eyebrows and a sigh of relief when I pointed out that it was simply a comment on the parallelism...

, Ignore logos , 12 Apr 2017 18:37
It basically drifts far too close to pseudo-psychology to be taken serious. If it could rain that in and pull itself towards a more empirical approach then people within the scientific community would be more willing to engage. Otherwise you might as well get tips on how to fold your arms (and what that conveys) from Cosmopolitan, or engage in 'power stance' to feel more 'confident'... both perfect examples of pseudo-psychology.

Again, these are general (and fair) criticisms of positive psychology. It does have aspects I like, for example they try to develop techniques for improving mental health (or well-being as they would maybe refer to it as) that don't require a physician or a psychologist. Ones that you can do on your phone and what have you. Which would be great if there was sufficient evidence that their techniques work.

, DCarter , 12 Apr 2017 17:43
Everybody knows that a real doughnut has jam in the middle, not a hole. How does that fit with this theory. Reply Share
, KatieL DCarter , 12 Apr 2017 18:39
There will be jam in the middle, but only for Party members. Reply Share
, richard213 , 12 Apr 2017 17:42
I'm bemused by Mr Monbiots arguments. He seems to be railing against the monitizing of society, and yet moans about the lack of money for carers? This caring argument seems to include housework, a lot of which is done by women, though why or who would pay for this type of caring is always unexplained. I'd have thought that just being human demands a certain level domestic care from everyone ? Then there's the community energy idea. It sounds lovely and cosey, if a bit Royston Vasey, but doesn't he wonder why the old local authority power generators stopped working, and a National Grid was developed? What's called the After Diversity Maximum Demand, on an electrical system might give him a clue as to why big generators and a transmission system beats lots of little generators hands down.
, KatieL richard213 , 12 Apr 2017 18:41
It's the irony of the modern left. On the one hand, bemoaning the rich for always wanting more money and on the other, demanding more money.... Reply Share
, Gegenbeispiel KatieL , 12 Apr 2017 19:23
The example you give, the National Grid, was a socialist creation, stolen from the UK people by the vile, despicable and fortunately very dead Margaret Thatcher, the worst thing to have happened to Britain since Adolf Hitler. Reply Share
, Els Bells , 12 Apr 2017 17:36
This:

The aim of economic activity, she argues, should be "meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet".

is a paraphrase of the most likely criminal and bankster gofer Maurice Strong's "definition" of sustainability.


"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

as filtered through the openly Communist UN Bruntland Commission.

It is a Technocratic, UN- corporatist- global governance-based ideology that -- to nobody's surprise -- Monbiot thinks is newly-baked and right out of the oven.

And the radical new doughnut way of looking at global development is straight out of UN Agenda 21/30.

i.e. variations of these:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Sustainable+Development+Venn+Diagram&id=4C02342CBA5AE76BC4C08F4985B05FCB242D500C&FORM=IDBQDM

and this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Circles_of_Sustainability_image_(assessment_-_Melbourne_2011).jpg

The undercooked intellectual pudding Monbiot is slopping about in and describing as the finest chocolate mousse since sliced bread, is just an old and rejected 1930's version of Technocracy, which was revised in the 1970s, and then, again in the 1990s, and which, at its heart, is nothing but the call for the institution of a fascistic world government that will, we are assured, give us more social justice than we could ever need.

If the author of the reviewed book hasn't made these attributions, and is passing this global governance schematic and MO off as her own, then she's plagiarizing.

, PATRICKNEWMAN Els Bells , 12 Apr 2017 17:56
Oh what a relief. I can choose the do nothing option! Reply Share
, Els Bells PATRICKNEWMAN , 12 Apr 2017 18:54

Oh what a relief. I can choose the do nothing option!

If you like what you see, sure.

[Apr 11, 2017] Bravo leaders of this Brave New World, for bringing her philosophy to the forefront, and getting elected on platforms based upon the notion that you can never underestimate the stupidity (or racism and bigotry and misogyny) of the general population

Notable quotes:
"... Her casting of herself and other highly intelligent people as the beacon of humanity and all others as 'untermensch' has the whiff of Nazism but on intellectual rather than racial grounds. ..."
"... Pound shop philosopher. These 'alphas' could forge ahead and change society in less cash focused ways, they just like the excuse to be 1%ers. ..."
"... Successful psychopaths depend on everyone else following the rules which they are able to circumvent as they have no conscience. When everyone behaves as the psychopath then there is indeed " no such thing as society". ..."
"... A lone wolf is normally a dangerous crank - yet more confirmation ..."
"... However, she was a bad writer who just made selfish rich folks think they were better than the rest of us; that's why her 'works' are regarded by thinking people as toxic waste..... ..."
"... Rand's "ideal man" sounds a bit like the genius concept of the 19th century (Nietzsche et al.) transferred from the realm of art to the field of money making. ..."
"... I grew up in the Soviet Union, in much more vegetarian times, than 1920s, but still we all lived in poverty, and the lack of basic goods and services was absolutely humiliating. Having that experience it is only natural that I fully share contempt for the state as a mechanism for ensuring equality and economic prosperity. ..."
"... LMAO!!! Ayn Rand was a terrible author with no ideas other than "be selfish"; she wrote economics for kindergartners. She was also a hypocrite because she accepted Social Security payments in her old age. The only thing I like about Ayn Rand is that she was an atheist. ..."
"... The fact she lived out her later life reliant on state benefits shows that apart from anything else she was a massive hypocrite. ..."
Apr 11, 2017 | profile.theguardian.com
Eyerhymer, 11 Apr 2017 06:54
Everyone read The Fountainhead at architecture school. As did the frat boy who gets the girl pregnant in Dirty Dancing - brandishing a battered copy in the nice dad's face at the end
jon12345 , 11 Apr 2017 06:53
A certain film in the 1980s summed up Ayn Rand's philosophy (both her approach to economics and to ethics) quite well, via the mouth of a character apparently named after a lizard: "Greed is good". And we all know that the 80s did not result in huge national debts; it did not result in markets crashing after it was realised market activity could not be sustained solely upon optimism; it did not result in deregulation that led to Savings and Loans scandals and lost retirement investments; it did not result in robber barons generating wealth out of nothing but threats illegally backed by lenders and insider-trading, mass lay-offs, and eventual global market crashes; and it did not result in the rich hypocritically becoming major welfare recipients via bail-outs, etc.

So, bravo leaders of this Brave New World, for bringing her philosophy to the forefront, and getting elected on platforms based upon the notion that you can never underestimate the stupidity (or racism and bigotry and misogyny) of the general population. And excuse me while I pop American Psycho into the VHS player.

Mark Holmes , 11 Apr 2017 06:52
C'mon, what's not to love on John Galt's 60-page (or was it 80?!?!) orgasmic radio broadcast? A true fan of small government might also be a fan of shorter monologues.

I loved reading her madness; there's a purity of commitment that's as breathtaking as it is at times absurd. Archetypes from fantasyland.

It's a great type of fiction; anyone loony enough to think this can translate into the real world should have their head examined. Yes, unicorns are powered by perpetual motion machines (and all the best people are gaunt, tight-lipped, ruggedly handsome and have the initials H.R.)

OldMcDonaldTrump , 11 Apr 2017 06:52
Rand - intelligent outsider embittered by the confiscation of her family's business and shabby treatment of Jews during the Soviet revolution prompts her wholesale rejection of collectivism.

Her casting of herself and other highly intelligent people as the beacon of humanity and all others as 'untermensch' has the whiff of Nazism but on intellectual rather than racial grounds.

She should have read the 'parable of the long spoons'.

http://theunboundedspirit.com/heaven-and-hell-the-parable-of-the-long-spoons /

aboleth , 11 Apr 2017 06:52
Pound shop philosopher. These 'alphas' could forge ahead and change society in less cash focused ways, they just like the excuse to be 1%ers.
ShaunofTheUndead , 11 Apr 2017 06:51
The game bioshock is based on the ethos in ayn rand books and shows the ultimate result of applying rands theories.
DavidBatson1 , 11 Apr 2017 06:49
With 1600 comments here--most of them negative and most of them completely missing the point of philosophy--it really brings up the question: Why is Ayn Rand still so popular?

The obvious answer is her ideas speak to the true nature of humanity. They resonate within the individual regardless of how much politically correct garbage they have been exposed to through government schools and a Western media that everyone agrees is controlled with few exceptions by the Left.

Ayn Rand has been bashed and defamed at every turn, but here she still is garnering headline after headline. I'll quote Ghandi to help you understand why: "First they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

And, by the way, philosophy starts with metaphysics and epistemology, not ethics and politics. The latter are results of the former. I'm hopefully that with innovations like Elon Musk's Neuranet that people will be getting smarter and more able to understand this.

Tiranoaguirre , 11 Apr 2017 06:44
Ah yes, let's resuscitate old Ayn, the stoning devil of the commie left, the Goldstein of its envious, inferiority-complex, hate sessions.
MightyGibbon Tiranoaguirre , 11 Apr 2017 06:48
Judging from your posts, it sounds like you're compensating for something.
gjjwatson , 11 Apr 2017 06:43
Successful psychopaths depend on everyone else following the rules which they are able to circumvent as they have no conscience. When everyone behaves as the psychopath then there is indeed " no such thing as society".
packc47 , 11 Apr 2017 06:42
Its noticeable that none of Rand's modern followers are good looking, despite that being a pre-requisite for her heroes. Obviously they probably think they are because of power. I suppose the French Revolution was a form of collective selfishness by the downtrodden. A warning in history maybe.
Oscar2012 , 11 Apr 2017 06:40
The article could have summed up Rand and her followers as stating what she was : a psychopath who attracts other psychopaths like a lightening rod.

The article also completely avoids the fact Rand herself hypocritically relied on the State for survival as she got old and was suffering from lung cancer due to her voracious smoking habit.

And Silicone Valley and all the rest of her creepy followers are equally hypocritical as the article ignores that all these corporations quite happily accept State support in all the infrastructure provided by taxpayers.

Rand's selfish beliefs and those of her worshipers could never work because they are predicated on the great heroes of Objectivism operating in a vacuum yet they don't . They rely on millions of taxpayers doing the right thing and funding the things government brings us so we can live much easier.

As an example the ghastly Apple corp would collapse if their overpriced products (built by slave labour) could not be afforded by the millions of people who buy them as they can only do so because decades of union activism has allowed them to reach a certain wage level.

Her philosophy should be summed up as what it is : plain old fashioned selfishness practiced by a bunch of scroungers who all pretend they made it on their own which is an impossibility.

It's been happening since time immemorial.

Emberplume , 11 Apr 2017 06:38
So... Jobs (let's grant that), the Trumpite Thiel, the reviled Uber CEO Kalanick.

Who else? The Vanity Fair article does not provide an answer, either.

I do not see this Randian revival. It's a complete fantasy riding on top of a similar fantasy from Vanity Fair.

Qube2 , 11 Apr 2017 06:35
A book (academic paper) for our time: On Bullshit by Harry G Frankfurt (1986) It should be a set text in schools.
ID7745510 , 11 Apr 2017 06:35
Rand's work is popular with those of limited intelligence and vision, and zero EQ. That's why he claims to be a disciple.

I very much doubt that Trump has read any book by Ayn Rand, or any other writer for that matter. He hasn't the patience or concentration to get through that much sludge. He didn't even 'write' his own pile of garbage, a ghost writer did and had publicly regretted it ever since.

DiogenesPithos , 11 Apr 2017 06:31
A depressing, myopic philosophy to match such depressing, myopic times.
Qube2 , 11 Apr 2017 06:31
See! Fanatics are everywhere. Be wary of anyone who hero-worships anything.
pascald , 11 Apr 2017 06:30
But didn't she spend the last years of her life sponging off social security? The article doesn't seem to say so.
ParaffinLamp pascald , 11 Apr 2017 06:50
She signed on welfare using her married name O'Connor. Didn't want to burst any bubbles, did she.
David Jongen , 11 Apr 2017 06:30
In the last years of her life sucked on the tit of the state she despised ... practice what you preach? Only for the peasants darling
David Jongen David Jongen , 11 Apr 2017 06:33
http://www.openculture.com/2016/12/when-ayn-rand-collected-social-security-medicare.html
SOUTHERNBIAS , 11 Apr 2017 06:29
The implication was always that her father's talents alone enabled her family to rise over others, while in reality the brutal inequity of tsarist Russia allowed them to stand on the prone corpses of the less fortunate.

Extreme capitalism merely concentrates the money and power into the hands of a few, the few whose overriding motivations are power and money, it is then they , as the Tsars before them, who reside over a font a patronage favoring those who massage their egos, this is not a meritocracy and requires the democratic state to intervene and level the playing field.

Matt Quinn , 11 Apr 2017 06:29
An intellectual pygmy who couldn't hold a candle to Henry George:

All over the world, we hear complaints of industrial depression: labor condemned to involuntary idleness; capital going to waste; fear and hardship haunting workers. All this dull, deadening pain, this keen, maddening anguish, is summed up in the familiar phrase "hard times."

This situation can hardly be accounted for by local causes. It is common to communities with widely differing circumstances, political institutions, financial systems, population densities, and social organization. There is economic distress under tyrannies, but also where power is in the hands of the people. Distress where protective tariffs hamper trade, but also where trade is nearly free. Distress in countries with paper money, and in countries with gold and silver currencies.

Beneath all this, we can infer a common cause. It is either what we call material progress, or something closely connected with it.

from introduction to Progress and Poverty , Henry George (1879).
wladber , 11 Apr 2017 06:23
poppycock
MikeLundun , 11 Apr 2017 06:22
Sounds like a darling of the kind of person who sits atop a free education, a family fortune and a life of subsidies and cries "I'm a self made man!"
David Jongen MikeLundun , 11 Apr 2017 06:35
Like the same crop of politicians that took advantage of a free University education of Whitlam merely to deny it to those that came after?

Bit like the Zombie Apocalypse, close the gates now that I am inside

ID4243060 , 11 Apr 2017 06:18
If you read what Nathaniel Brandon and his wife have to say, a portrait emerges of a person who was not very happy, especially later in life. The joy of talking with a young child, humor, none of that sort of thing in her writings or her life. Not much fun, her philosophy.
Oscar2012 ID4243060 , 11 Apr 2017 06:42
She was a nasty bitter cow when she was young and when she got old. Some people like that sort of thing.
MikeLundun , 11 Apr 2017 06:22
Sounds like a darling of the kind of person who sits atop a free education, a family fortune and a life of subsidies and cries "I'm a self made man!"
David Jongen MikeLundun , 11 Apr 2017 06:35
Like the same crop of politicians that took advantage of a free University education of Whitlam merely to deny it to those that came after?

Bit like the Zombie Apocalypse, close the gates now that I am inside

ID4243060 , 11 Apr 2017 06:18
If you read what Nathaniel Brandon and his wife have to say, a portrait emerges of a person who was not very happy, especially later in life. The joy of talking with a young child, humor, none of that sort of thing in her writings or her life. Not much fun, her philosophy.
McBean55 , 11 Apr 2017 06:14
Probably everyone should read Ayn Rand at some stage, especially as she seems to impress our age's rich and powerful. Either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged would do. But you don't have to finish them. Just a few dozen pages will convince you how awful a writer she was, and few more dozen will convince you she has just a few ideas that she repeats over and over. The result is suffocatingly dull, shallow and ultimately trivial. That she is revered at all says way too much about those who revere her to afford the rest of us any comfort.
Lunemache , 11 Apr 2017 06:12
Mad kudos to an author who attempted to sanction narcissism.
TrolloMcTrollFace , 11 Apr 2017 06:10
Greenspan, appointed as the US's central banker by Ronald Reagan in 1987, firmly believed that market forces, unimpeded, were the best mechanism for the management and distribution of a society's resources. That view – which Greenspan would rethink after the crash of 2008-9 – rested on the assumption that economic actors behave rationally, always acting in their own self-interest.

The problem wasn't the crash of 2007/08 (not 08/09), the problem was that all of the little career politicians and government bureaucrats ran screaming from the simple, straightforward logic of their avowed philosophy. When the chips were down, the frat boys and the New Labour converts shat their pants and threw free market ideology out of the first open window.

The crash should have been allowed to proceed apace. The banks should have gone to the wall en masse and the financial system should have been liquidated and cleansed.

The Rand Boys had their chance and they already blew it. In the end, it turned out they had no balls for the ultimate market discipline.

sedan2 TrolloMcTrollFace , 11 Apr 2017 06:25
That's because the "ultimate market discipline" would have involved making millions of people destitute. Those people have a vote, and they're not all Randians, so they wouldn't understand that their plight is simply the system correcting itself.
David Jongen sedan2 , 11 Apr 2017 06:38
Maybe they were afraid that all the people screwed over would get together and try the "French Solution". A very fast dropping blade ...
pretzelattack sedan2 , 11 Apr 2017 06:51
the system is already making millions of people destitute.
Tiranoaguirre , 11 Apr 2017 06:10
Equality is the antithesis of freedom and the scrap-metal calf before which grovelling gulag societies prostrate themselves.
Alex Blok , 11 Apr 2017 06:06
Awful woman with aweful values. My father had her book Atlas Shrugged. I took a peek when young and was appalled. Not sure what he thought of it or her.
kiuru7 , 11 Apr 2017 06:06
Ayn Rand wanted people to behave like (American) corporations - she left out the 'small' matter of us being humans. It is typical 'binary' or 'black and white' thinking and devoid of all the shades of grey (between the polar extremes of black and white) where most of humanity lives. Extreme, un-nuanced ideology never works, as evidenced by the 20th century experiments in fascism and communism. The most successful societies by most metrics are the Nordics, which use a mix of capitalism and socialism - they have successful economies, good health outcomes, are well educated, have low crime rates, higher sex/gender/social equality outcomes, low corruption, score well in economic freedoms, score well in happiness indices and have good environmental protections.
Tiranoaguirre kiuru7 , 11 Apr 2017 06:13
Especially Norway. But there aren't just political-system factors at play in their superiority as a society, but others which are taboo to mention in PC-gagged sheets such as The Guardian. (But you're a smart lad. I'm sure you'll figure them out,)
packc47 Tiranoaguirre , 11 Apr 2017 06:48
Oh Come on, don't leave us lesser mortals in suspense. I know quite a lot of Norwegians as I have connections there. Is it because you think they have no immigration?
kiuru7 Tiranoaguirre , 11 Apr 2017 06:56
"which are taboo to mention in PC-gagged sheets such as The Guardian. "

Oh go on, claiming to be 'PC-gagged' in The Guardian is just a projection/fantasy. Get it out there and be brave enough to have your opinions challenged - that's the thing about free speech that many 'tough' snowflakes don't like.

YeOldeSoothsayer , 11 Apr 2017 06:06
Now that we've finally got the liberating Brexit we've craved for so long and a Tory government for at least the next 10 years (conservative estimate), we can hope they will finally implement more Randian policies and eliminate the welfare state. Trump is doing his bit in the U.S. The important thing is for us to make the government a lot SMALLER, not bigger. You have millions of people in the UK who don't even want to work because they (and even their parents before them) have always relied on the welfare state to give them free money. Look up the phenomenon of "learned helplessness". Ayn Rand was a genius!
kiuru7 YeOldeSoothsayer , 11 Apr 2017 06:47
"Ayn Rand was a genius!" - perhaps amongst idiots! Ayn Rand wanted people to behave like corporations, the only problem is that we are complex humans. Individualism and competitiveness work well in some circumstances, but not all; many benefits can be achieved through co-operation. To ignore one side of this daily battle for most humans is an insult to our humanity, it is the greatest difference between humans and the rest of the animal world. Just because there are loose ends on each side of the 'bell curve' does not mean we should forget the greatest benefit for most people.

As for 'learned helplessness', in the laissez faire (Ayn Rand utopia) period of the late 18th and most of the 19th century there were many more helpless, learned and otherwise. The most productive period of humanity has been during the period of the (very un-Randian) 'mixed economies' of the 20th century.

Now to Donald Trump, do you really think he and his cabinet of billionaires/Golman Sachs alumni really care about the average, hard working middle-American? They are not interested in social mobility/opportunity, they are only interested in consolidating their own position. Trump is not draining the swamp, he is contaminating it further.

As to Trump and Brexit nationalism, who is going to do the work Mexicans and Poles (amongst others)?

The world is not binary, it is complex and messy - simple solutions will not solve complex problems...... so put a thinking cap on and get ready for getting dirty hands in this complex, messy world rather than sitting in a padded cell.

packc47 YeOldeSoothsayer , 11 Apr 2017 06:50
Its strange that the papers cannot find these hordes of people where whole families have never worked no matter how hard they try. Governments have a duty to provide work if the private sector don't come up to the mark.
ThinkAboutItEh , 11 Apr 2017 05:55
Even setting aside Rand's sociopathic ideals, how puzzling that so many people claim they enjoy reading The Fountainhead.

Is this a version of the Emperor's New Clothes, where no one wants to admit that her book Is frankly boring, with two-dimensional characters and stilted dialogue?

Edbarbar ThinkAboutItEh , 11 Apr 2017 05:59
Did you read it? Somehow I think not.
MikeLundun ThinkAboutItEh , 11 Apr 2017 06:26
I'm guessing they did read it and that's their point. To be fair though, the quality of writing in Game of Thrones is pretty average, but it hasn't stopped it from being very popular (and hasn't stopped me from hoovering up each one).
ThinkAboutItEh Edbarbar , 11 Apr 2017 06:45
And did you read it, Edbarbar? Did you force yourself to read page after puerile page of Rand's turgid prose as required by your prof? Somehow I think not!
ID5672311 , 11 Apr 2017 05:51
"[H]e believed the state's role should be limited to providing an army, a police force, a court system – and not much else."

Or more simply, a third world country.

totaram ID5672311 , 11 Apr 2017 06:29
No. A country run by oligarchs and warlords. It could be very prosperous if it had oil for example (many examples come to mind). Would that be called third world?
SW19 ID5672311 , 11 Apr 2017 06:29
Not so.

3rd World States are typified by bloated public sectors, staffed by parasites who supplement their incomes with bribes extorted from the long-suffering citizenry. I believe such extortion is called 'dash' in Nigeria.

Tiranoaguirre ID5672311 , 11 Apr 2017 06:30
Third world countries don't have a court system, unless its qualified as kangaroo.
peeptalk , 11 Apr 2017 05:50
The only place I regularly read about Ayn Rand is the Guardian. I think Rand is the ultimate straw man for the kind of politics the Guardian promotes.
LukeO9 peeptalk , 11 Apr 2017 05:54
What is the intentionally misrepresentation proposed?
peeptalk LukeO9 , 11 Apr 2017 05:58
That there is a surge in support or even interest for the kinds of social theories that Rand puts forward in her books. There isn't. Outside of the Guardian's pages, Rand is a non-topic.
LukeO9 peeptalk , 11 Apr 2017 05:59
Thank you.
Douglas Kirk , 11 Apr 2017 05:48
"the Collective"- says it all. Stupid, irrational rubbish ingested by those looking for a justification for their own prejudices.
arover56 , 11 Apr 2017 05:47
I read the Fountainhead a few years ago, I only finished it because that's what I always do. I thought it tedious drivel and consequently won't go anywhere near Atlas Shrugged.
Chicothecat , 11 Apr 2017 05:46
I wonder about impressionable young students being given Ayn Rand's novel. I was allowed to read 1984 by George Orwell at school, but I was never examined on it. Hopefully the students will debate at great length the ideas expressed, but given the lessons we give them (you can be anything you want to/it's up to you) I fear they are all Rand's disciples already.
yourfrog1488 , 11 Apr 2017 05:37
I can't believe I wasted 4 years echoing this broad's talmudic garbage back in college.What rot.
Kerry Palmer , 11 Apr 2017 05:37
And... she ended her life in social housing on welfare.
Tim Jenkins Kerry Palmer , 11 Apr 2017 06:07
Does Public record show that Ayn Rand was on the 'Dole' as Ayn O'Connor ?

In terms of 'individualism' this is an important consideration of 'Mens Rea' , i.e. her level of intent to conceal & potential arguments for hypocrisy & double standards within her own thought processes, relating also to her ideology.

zepov , 11 Apr 2017 05:30
It's clear to me that, just as there is left-wing populism and right-wing populism, there are left and right versions of individualism and collectivism.

I'm a left-wing individualist. Right-wing individualism favors entities like corporations (collectives) and enshrines them as individuals.

sejong zepov , 11 Apr 2017 05:36
Right-wing individualism favors entities like corporations (collectives) and enshrines them as individuals.

Well-observed. Global corporations are Randian super capitalists.

Edbarbar zepov , 11 Apr 2017 05:57
See, I have a different view. Imagine you own a lot of the stuff that produces goods.

Now, think about people who work and want to save their money, pay off their debt, etc. Now, imagine a system in which a government comes in and taxes those people, and takes their money and gives it to people who do not produce.

Who benefits? The people making the stuff.

Taxation is forced spending. It's good for business. Who loves taxation? The left. Not the right. The right wants you to be able to make free exchanges, not at a point of a gun.

totaram Edbarbar , 11 Apr 2017 06:24
Complete bullshit. You have no idea about anything. You would do very well in Somalia, or some place where there is "small govt.".
caravanserai , 11 Apr 2017 05:29
Growing up in the UK I had never heard of Rand or seen her books in shops. I was living in the US in the mid-1980s and found lots of copies of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in my local second hand bookstore. I read the Fountainhead and its main message seemed to be that smart people liked modern art. Atlas Shrugged seemed slightly bonkers.

Rand seemed to be trying to convince her readers that they were special and part of an elite. In your mid-twenties it is slightly intoxicating. Eventually, you grow out of it. The Working class are depicted as greedy morons who contribute nothing to society. I struggle to understand how anyone who claims to be a Christian, like Paul Ryan, can also like Rand. She was an atheist and she did not care about the poor or needy. Atlas Shrugged tells us it is OK to be selfish. I am not sure it has much to do with market economics. It does help explain why the rich have abandoned the bottom half of society. Rand told them that greed is good.

BigStork caravanserai , 11 Apr 2017 05:41
Let me guess. You thought Moby Dick was about a dumb white whale or War and Peace was about Napolean?
Edbarbar caravanserai , 11 Apr 2017 05:47
The main message of the Fountainhead was the absolute evil of Edward Toohey. I can't recall it exactly, but it was something like "When all the oxen are going in the same direction, it is easier to put the yoke on them."

Secondary messages? Real genius is hard to come buy, and is not appreciated. The system will grind you down.

Edbarbar BigStork , 11 Apr 2017 05:48
Hey, at least the person read the book. No need to put the person down. . .
Edbarbar , 11 Apr 2017 05:29
You folks who love your government so much, you leftists. . .Consider that George Bush killed between 100,000 and 1,000,000 million Iraqis, made possible by the powerful state you all worship to. And Obama is not much better, dropping 80,000 bombs last year on the ME, in a remote control war.
WKDCon Edbarbar , 11 Apr 2017 05:41
Ok, I've considered it. Now what?
Edbarbar WKDCon , 11 Apr 2017 05:44
Prove you don't have limited intelligence? Prove you aren't a hypocrite?

Or, more likely, continue on thinking as you do, with your rose colored glasses.

sejong Edbarbar , 11 Apr 2017 05:47
The super-capitalist global corporations have long since captured the American state. It is incapable of advancing the public interest, and has reached the endgame of Ayn Rand's world.
BigStork , 11 Apr 2017 05:28
Man, when the libs start wailing and crying about an author you know you need to read the book. I do believe that the libs would love an old fashioned book burning.
Lush Life , 11 Apr 2017 05:26
She's provides 19 year old male, socially awkward, middle class white virgins something other than - ahem, ahem - to think about.
Tiranoaguirre Lush Life , 11 Apr 2017 06:28
You criticise the socially awkward, yet go around calling pussy the "ahem ahem"?
DoINotBleed , 11 Apr 2017 05:23
I don't trust anyone who puts tear out slips, urging me to join their movement/cult and pay a modest sign up fee, in their novels.
Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:21
People wanting something for nothing HATE Ayn Rand.
LukeO9 Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:30
'Hate' would only come from a belief that there was some substance in her writings that was disagreeable to them. This is very different from the actuality of anti-'Rand'ers believing her writings are vacuous in material.
Breeeze Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:52
Fans of coherent thought and philosophy hate her too. I'm not adverse to judging right wing philosophies, but they have to actually BE a coherent system of thought first. Randianism is just axioms and catchphrases, with some average fiction.
Tim Jenkins LukeO9 , 11 Apr 2017 06:18
Exquisite & succinct .. judgement , worthy of the hammer.

Have a set of scales & blindfolded woman;)

Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:18
Libs consider wanting to keep the money you earn "greed", but wanting the money someone else earns is altruism.
MastaRasta Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:24
You need to try harder...
LukeO9 Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:50
Thats a very poor attempt at diverting the belief that Executive compensations are exceedingly and unsubstantially higher (not higher per se) than Workers wages.

OT: Isn't it interesting that Workers are paid and Executives are compensated. Its as though the later have better things to do.

Tiranoaguirre LukeO9 , 11 Apr 2017 06:34
So? Stop being a worker and become an executive. That's called freedom. Oh, wait, you class-obsessive leftist want everyone to remain suppressed at their level, right? In order to better control them as the elitist, arrogant, Orwellian Ingsoc freaks that you are.
Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:18
Libs consider wanting to keep the money you earn "greed", but wanting the money someone else earns is altruism.
MastaRasta Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:24
You need to try harder...
LukeO9 Mike Herman , 11 Apr 2017 05:50
Thats a very poor attempt at diverting the belief that Executive compensations are exceedingly and unsubstantially higher (not higher per se) than Workers wages.

OT: Isn't it interesting that Workers are paid and Executives are compensated. Its as though the later have better things to do.

Tiranoaguirre LukeO9 , 11 Apr 2017 06:34
So? Stop being a worker and become an executive. That's called freedom. Oh, wait, you class-obsessive leftist want everyone to remain suppressed at their level, right? In order to better control them as the elitist, arrogant, Orwellian Ingsoc freaks that you are.
longlocks , 11 Apr 2017 05:17
Rand was a master at superficially straightforward logic - hence perhaps her attraction to young males. Demolishing her arguments properly (rarely done in this comments section I see which mainly consists of 'f** her and her acolytes' etc.) involves a bit of subtle sophistication and some wisdom obtained from living in the real world. That's why it's way too much for these single-minded Silicon Valley types, or the corporate neanderthals surrouding Trump and the GOP. The problem with Rand is that her philosophy is a hard task-master: it's impossible to live without being a hypocrite (and thus completely unworthy in her book). But that's the easy way to trip up her acolytes - none of them actually live the way she recommends.
LukeO9 longlocks , 11 Apr 2017 05:34
Nice, though I believe you are being overtly generous by using 'philosophy'.
Tim Jenkins LukeO9 , 11 Apr 2017 06:43
Another good comment, indeed, a seriously flawed philosphy, with a body of evidence to argue against her simplistic notions of self..

Thus, it would be good to have Public Record attached to her 'Dole' & Welfare payments made in the name of Ayn O'Connor, i believe? 'Men's Rea' is important to establish if we wish to reflect in a qualitative judgement of her words & actions , especially if we are going to use her works in any shape & form as part of a school curriculum .. would you not agree?

N.B. the apostrophe by Mens Rea, above , is very deliberate.. I think you are wise enough to know where i am going with that wee jest:)

kaspianvaulks , 11 Apr 2017 05:12
This is the breitbart of the left.
DoINotBleed kaspianvaulks , 11 Apr 2017 05:23
Wut?
Terexx , 11 Apr 2017 05:11
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards . Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs .
BigStork , 11 Apr 2017 05:10
For those that believe Atlas Shrugged was too severe, too complex, too black and white....

I would strongly suggest Hillary's "It Takes a Village". That book will make you feel warm and wanted.

sejong BigStork , 11 Apr 2017 05:19
It Takes a Village might be one of the few well-known books that outdoes "Atlas Shrugged" in real-world irrelevance.
antoniomandre BigStork , 11 Apr 2017 05:29
Wanted?
olderwiserheads , 11 Apr 2017 05:07
It is true that among the many ways we can divide the world, the Doers and the Watchers is one of them. If you think the Doers have more than they should, then become one of them. Victimology appears to have become a religion of late.
MartzCobb olderwiserheads , 11 Apr 2017 05:34
The trouble with positing binaries as a means of dividing the world into good values and bad values is its inherent stupidity.

If the world was made up only of watchers, nothing would get done.

If the world was made up only of doers, everthing would get done but nobody would notice . . . or learn from what had been done.

Ayn Rand was a watcher, hence, she wrote books about doers.

No doubt, the doers loved that Ayn Rand watched them, and wrote books about them.

Hitler and Stalin were both doers. And were there not watchers to describe what they did, we would be none the wiser.

There can be good and bad in watching and doing

abetterworldformost olderwiserheads , 11 Apr 2017 05:51
What is a nurse then? What is a property investor? What total nonsense.
mountainfreak abetterworldformost , 11 Apr 2017 06:03
My local roadsweeper is a 'doer'. His contribution is also a lot more significant than yours.
jockeylad , 11 Apr 2017 05:07
So, Ayn Rand is a bit of a cult then ? I believe they got one letter wrong on that. Tried to read "Atlas Shrugged" a few years back, someone left a very battered copy at work, I would have liked to have been able to pull apart it's central themes when confronted by one of her adherents down the pub but - fuuuck, what a tedious, fetid, turd brick of a book. Died sucking on the government tit too. Hypocritical old bag should have crawled out into the snow to die. Rugged individualism my arse. Typical of the breed. The world would be a much better place if we drowned them all at birth. All her little fuckmonkeys do their little "look at me ! look at me !" dance at the altar of her twisted ideas - but when it all turns to shit who do they squeal at to bail the banks out ? The "big government" they profess to despise. I really can't express in words my contempt for these pitiful excuses for human beings.

Sleep well in the (Online or in person I always make the same offer to the "dog eat dog" pretend devotees out there - "me & you dropped naked into a pit with a blunt steak knife each, winner gets all the losers assets" No takers as of yet) fire.

BigStork jockeylad , 11 Apr 2017 05:12
You sound like one unhappy dude.
LukeO9 jockeylad , 11 Apr 2017 05:21
As I understood it at the time, the 'Rand'ers didn't want the Gov. bailout. Rather, they felt it was best to have a complete collapse of the banking system.
TheRealCopy jockeylad , 11 Apr 2017 05:22
Good points!
LukeO9 , 11 Apr 2017 05:04
As mentioned in the article, Alan Greenspan was within Rand's inner circle.

Later, Alan took the position of chairman of the Federal Reserve, which represents the antithesis of Rand's doctrine. Talk about 'seeing the light'.

MastaRasta LukeO9 , 11 Apr 2017 05:29
You know, money, power, gravy train, he just got hooked :)
Pascal Gienger , 11 Apr 2017 05:03
Just one note: Ayn Rand was the woman who was always opposed to social security and to treatment for everyone. Persons who cannot work or did not accumulate money have to die to not make the successful pay.

Rand was dependent on social security payments the last years of her life - she would not have been able to survive without.

'Nuff said.

BigStork Pascal Gienger , 11 Apr 2017 05:06
That old BS canard?
TheRealCopy Pascal Gienger , 11 Apr 2017 05:20
Good point! And surely none of her disciples picked up the bill in accordance with their common belief.

Ayn Rand seems to have been a person embittered by what she must have felt was insufficient recognition of her talents. Only a person deeply hurt by rejection could have written such books.

DoINotBleed BigStork , 11 Apr 2017 05:28
Citation?
AmigodeDurruti , 11 Apr 2017 05:01
Ayn Rand: a Nietzsche for mediocre people.
DoINotBleed AmigodeDurruti , 11 Apr 2017 05:29
And that is just so perfect.
amfortas , 11 Apr 2017 05:01
To use the jargon, Paul Ryan must be very "conflicted". Rand and Aquinas are impossible bedfellows.
memeroots , 11 Apr 2017 04:57
I quite liked the books... Which I did indeed read soon after lor.
consumerx , 11 Apr 2017 04:54
Ayn Rand is LOVED by the GOP,

Trump likes the parts that Ayn Rand in real life wanted ,

boy toys,

since Trump has Putin as a boy toy.

wootendw , 11 Apr 2017 04:52
"What of the current moment, shaping up to be the fourth age of Rand?"

Ayn Rand, a Soviet expatriate, died in 1982 - seven years before the Wall came down. She was only 12 during the October revolution that saw her hometown's name changed to 'Leningrad'. She was a critic of the Vietnam War even while a harsher critic of socialism and communism and the Soviet Union. It would interesting to hear her take on Russia today. Would she have changed her attitude towards it, as old conservatives like Pat Buchanan have, or would she be with the liberals, ranting about Russia.

For those who don't know, Ayn Rand vehemently opposed the military draft: "The most immoral contradiction-in the chaos of today's anti-ideological groups-is that of the so-called "conservatives," who posture as defenders of individual rights, particularly property rights, but uphold and advocate the draft. By what infernal evasion can they hope to justify the proposition that creatures who have no right to life, have the right to a bank account?" - Ayn Rand http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/draft.html

Delaide , 11 Apr 2017 04:51
Forgive me if someone has already posted this quote. I'm not sure who wrote it but it has been referenced by Paul Krugman:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

livfreeordi Delaide , 11 Apr 2017 04:58
Krugman is merely an envious has been who knows that 50 years from now..

..no one will remember his name or anything he wrote.

BigStork Delaide , 11 Apr 2017 05:07
Actually Krugman was writing about Hillary's "It takes a Village"
MartzCobb livfreeordi , 11 Apr 2017 05:09
The wonderful thing about a free human society is that it allows all to offer a critique regardless of post-humous expectations.

Would you have damned anybody who criticised HItler at the time as envious has-beens because their historic fame may not have matched his?

livfreeordi , 11 Apr 2017 04:50
I guess, given that the Guardian is a Left wing publication, that any article posted about Ayn Rand would inspire a Leftist hatefest, but the over the top bed wetting and obvious jealousy displayed in the comments by bitter, angry leftists ...that anyone like Rand could ever attain the kind of influence that they on the Left would gladly give a testicle to equal ...has been truly amusing!

Kind of like the amusement we on the American Right experience ever day as we observe the unhinged, hysterical, whining , crying and diaper wetting by the American Left as Trump steadily dismantles the fragile edifice erected by Obama!

Priceless!!��

Grey Mouser livfreeordi , 11 Apr 2017 04:54
dwarfism is alive and well.
MastaRasta livfreeordi , 11 Apr 2017 04:57
Yeah, dismantling like Obamacare
livfreeordi Grey Mouser , 11 Apr 2017 05:00
You obviously don't live in the states or you would know that "dwarf" is politically incorrect and insulting term that polite individuals no longer utilize.

They are " little people".��

scrap , 11 Apr 2017 04:50
How depressing.

Of course the evangelical Christian voters might well ask themselves how they co