With impeachment proceedings on the way, it’s useful to remember that House Intel. Committee chair Adam Schiff has a broken rudder called credulousness, an occupational hazard in his line of work. See, for example, https://raymcgovern.com/2018/11/24/adam-schiffs-incredible-incurable-credulity/ Is it possible that Schiff actually believed Brennan & al. who used him as “useful idiot.” Result: 4 more years. Yuk
By Ray McGovern
Well, not really first. They had already come for Chelsea Manning; for Julian Assange; for John Kiriakou; for Jeffrey Sterling — the list is longer still. Last Friday they came SWAT-Like for the founder and editor of thegrayzone.com, journalist Max Blumenthal, whom they arrested, cuffed, jailed, and shackled, and prevented immediate access to a lawyer. Corporate media played Tar Baby — “didn’t say nothin” about Max.
Meanwhile, former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin — WMD slam-dunker extraordinaire and devoted fan of Iraqi bio-weapons fabricator “Curveball,” — told a captive audience, “Thank God for the Deep State.”
On RT’s CrossTalk Ray joined Garland Nixon and Dan Kovalik for a no-holds-barred discussion of what happened to Max and why.
Nov. 1, 2019; 37 minutes (including a commercial break from 12:15 to 14:45.)
Also on Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/rttv/sets/crosstalk-1
Obama shied away from holding McLaughlin and his boss George Tenet accountable for fraudulent intelligence before Iraq, while Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence Carl Ford said the two of them “should be shot.”
As for the former partners-in-crime and direct descendants of Tenet/McLaughlin — Brennan et al. — Obama chickened out there too. He could not even find the courage to rein them in from illegal activities to help Hillary, which are about to be revealed, in all their squalor, by Justice Department investigations — unless Trump, too, chickens out.
Ray’s unkempt beard is meant as a sign of solidarity with good and admired friend, Julian. See: https://raymcgovern.com/2019/05/28/the-julian-assange-beard-jab-movement-a-suggestion/
By Ray McGovern, October 27, 2019
Will someone have the courage of Arkhipov next time around?
A Biblical “Remnant” Cries the Beloved Country
BREAKING: Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Found Guilty on All Counts
October 24, 2019
This is a breaking news update; more coming…
BRUNSWICK, GA – More than 18 months after they snuck onto the site of one of the largest known collections of nuclear weaponry in the world, a jury found the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 guilty of all four of the charges brought against them.
The defendants face more than 20 years in prison for destruction and depredation of government property in excess of $1,000, trespassing, and conspiracy.
“The Pentagon has many installations – and we just walked out of one of them,” Mark Colville said outside the courthouse. “It’s a place where they weaponize the law. And they wield it mostly against the poor, the people who have all the red lined neighborhoods in this county know that very well. ***
“And once in a while the people who are privileged like us get a taste of it. And when we do we should hear the word guilty as a blessing on us because it gives us an opportunity to stand with people who hear guilty all the time every day.”
The seven expect to be sentenced in 60 to 90 days. Until then, six of them have been released under bond conditions each had prior to trial.
Late at night on April 4, 2018 Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Martha Hennessy, Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., Elizabeth McAlister, Patrick O’Neill, and Carmen Trotta used a bolt cutter to enter a remote gate at Naval Base Kings Bay in St. Mary’s GA. They walked two miles through swamp and brush. They then split into three groups and prayed, poured blood, spray painted messages against nuclear weapons, hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners, and waited to be arrested.
During the course of the trial, which began Monday morning, the defendants and their supporters had expressed pleasure with the unexpected amount of information they had been able to provide to the jury about their reasons for undertaking their protest. Federal Judge Lisa Godbey Wood had issued an order late last Friday night restricting any evidence or testimony having to do with a necessity defense, international law and treaties restricting nuclear weaponry, and religious and moral reasons.
“I really think that the verdict was, frankly, reactionary,” Trotta told supporters outside the courthouse. “They (the jurors) heard a lot. The judge allowed them to hear a lot. And it’s a little frightening that nuclear weapons could be hidden in plain sight. We have to understand that we are a remnant.… We remain a remnant of the spirit that I think was stronger in our country at other periods on time.
“But we all know which way the wind is blowing. There’s the Black Lives Matter movement. There’s the Extinction Rebellion. There’s the Me Too movement. There’s an activist community waiting just behind us.”
*** Ray has been arrested and jailed with Mark Colville in Syracuse, witnessing against the death-dealing done at the drone base there. Mark and his wife founded the Amistad Catholic Worker community and house of hospitality in New Haven, Connecticut (amistadcw.wordpress.com), where they live with others dedicated to the daily practice of the Works of Mercy, prayer, nonviolence, environmental justice and promoting human rights and dignity for all people.
Mark has warned, “We stand poised to murder our own children, for no other reason than to preserve our nation’s dominance in the world. This is the definition of idolatry. This is the definition of insanity.” Mark and his Plowshare 7 companions keep reminding us of the warning that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. issued in 1968: “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.”
It IS all connected. Ray is reminded of the letter James Baldwin sent to Angela Davis after seeing her on the cover of Newsweek, under arrest and chained. (See: https://raymcgovern.com/2019/01/18/james-baldwins-letter-to-angela-davis/ .) White supremacy still plays a disguised but major role in many of the hideous crimes of Empire.
October 24, 2019
BRUNSWICK, GA—Both the government and the defense finished their testimony yesterday at 5 p.m. in the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 anti-nuclear weapons case.
Defendants were able to say much more than had been expected after the wide “in limine” restrictions established late last week before trial. They spoke about their strong faith motivations and their knowledge of the horrendous effects of nuclear weapons, and read portions of documents they had carried onto the Kings Bay submarine base in their action on April 4, 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination. Thursday will likely see the trial end with closing statements, the charge to the jury, and jury deliberations.
In a recurring pattern, the judge would allow items the seven carried onto the sub base into evidence over frequent government objection. Martha Hennessy was even allowed to read from the indictment that nuclear weapons are always illegal. The judge did always remind the jury the items admitted were only for the fact that they were left on the base, not that they were true.
The prosecution called their final witness in the morning, base Facilities Management Specialist Juan Melgarejo, to verify the expenses of cleaning and repairs after the disarmament action, which he reported totaled $31,833.
Then two defendants, Hennessy and Patrick O’Neill, who had not previously given opening statements did so, and the defense began their case with Attorney Stephanie Amiotte examining Hennessy. After overruling an objection from the prosecution, the indictment of nuclearism the seven carried and which Hennessy had posted at the Strategic Weapons Facility Engineering office (known as SWFLANT) finally was allowed into evidence by Judge Lisa Godbey Wood.
Go Pro video footage was also admitted of Hennessy reading Bible verses from the prayer book “Give Us This Day” which she, Clare Grady, O’Neill and Mark Colville had read as they waited to be apprehended by base security personnel. Hennessy ended her testimony with, “It’s imminent (nuclear war) and it haunts me.”
Next, Attorney Fred Kopp, in examining Carmen Trotta, asked why he and his colleagues went to Kings Bay. Trotta said that the base has one quarter of the US deployed nuclear weapons, and that it cannot be legal to destroy nearly all life on Earth. He noted the “outrage of God at putting his creation in jeopardy.” Trotta was one of three who went to the so-called “Limited Area,” where deadly force is authorized and where the activists believe nuclear weapons are stored in bunkers. Kopp elicited from Trotta the extreme caution the three took to be “careful for everyone’s sake” as they entered the zone and when they were approached by Marine guards.
Grady, in examination by Attorney Joe Cosgrove, said that the consequences of global nuclear war are so atrocious they necessitate the creation of the word “omnicide.”
“Trident is the crime,” she said, explaining her use of crime scene tape, not caution tape, as the government kept calling it, at the SWFLANT office. Grady also noted that her colleagues used hammers to “deconstruct” or “transform” weapons to plowshares, instead of doing damage as the government claims. In cross examination, chief prosecutor Karl Knoche rapid-fired a series of accusations at Grady, claiming that she and her co-defendants believed themselves to be a law unto themselves. Grady calmly answered that the egregious use of weapons is bullying, not the painted peace messages and blood that Grady and Hennessy poured on the engineering office sidewalk.
Attorney Matt Daloisio examined Colville, who quoted his father saying, “Integrity is what you do when no one is looking, taking responsibility to what you know to be true.” Colville also explained his use of the word “idolatry” that he had written on one of the missile replicas, noting that the Bible urges us to remove, even smash, idols. Colville related that it was a long time before any authorities actually confronted him and Grady, Hennessy, and O’Neill in what the activists call the missile shrine area, even though several vehicles approached, slowed and then drove on. So after about an hour they felt they had done enough. They sat down and prayed, then carefully showed their hands when the vehicles finally approached them. In response to the repeated cross examination accusation of arrogantly choosing to run red lights, Colville said that he ran every red light when his wife Luz was in labor. “It was an emergency!”
Representing himself, O’Neill was examined by advisory attorney Keith Higgins. As a “cradle Catholic” grandchild of four immigrants from Ireland, his faith was always his guide and led him to co-found the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker in Garner, NC with his wife, Mary Rider. He noted that Catholic workers take nonviolent action and break the law like Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Dr. King, to bring social change. In reviewing the items he took onto the base, O’Neill brought international law into the courtroom. He mentioned copies of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In government’s exhibit 36-1B-6 GoPro video footage O’Neill recorded himself quoting Pope Francis saying the use and possession of nuclear weapons is to be firmly condemned.
The seven’s statement is one of love and hope, O’Neill said.
Elizabeth McAlister was questioned by her attorney Bill Quigley. After briefly describing her life growing up and her life as a nun, McAlister explained how she got involved in the peace movement. As a college professor during the Vietnam War, she said, 30 of her students’ boyfriends came home in body bags.
“One could not be a teacher of these young women without sharing their grief. I felt that we were being called to more.”
She related the story of marrying well-known activist Philip Berrigan, who later co-founded the Plowshares movement. They established the activist community Jonah House in Baltimore. McAlister described how her continued sense of her vocation led her to this action. Prayer, she said, was integral to the action. There is a “reshaping” of conscience that happens within each of us, which mirrors the transformation we seek of weapons into tools for cultivating life. McAlister also explained her reason for using the symbol of blood.
“War involves radical bloodshed. (Using blood as a symbol) is a way of remembering that war is bloodshed, and we long to see the end of war and the end of shedding the blood of another human being.”
Scott Bassett, the communications officer for the Kings Bay base was called as a witness by the defense. Upon prompting, he testified that he had at earlier pre-trial motions hearings given a statement to the Washington Post. His statement said that there was no threat to any assets or personnel at the base from the protestors. He said the statement meant there had been no damage to military assets such as submarines or weapons systems, not a missile display.
Apart from a few objections and brief comments to indicate his agreement with the testimony of his co-defendants, Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., remained silent throughout the proceedings.
After exiting the courthouse, the defendants told a gathering of supporters and media they were pleased that they were able to say so much more in court about their beliefs and motivation than they had expected because of the judge’s rulings prohibiting mention of their religious motivations, international law, or necessity.
“We are seeing what the courts protect,” said Grady.
Supporting this profound sacrifice by these seven requires generosity. Your support of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will help cover the ongoing costs surrounding this trial and social change effort. You can give at our GoFundMe site and checks can be sent to Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010. Further details check the website: kingsbayplowshares7.org.
By Lawrence Wilkerson, October 23, 2019
By UK Ambassador Craig Murray
Ambssador Murray, who from his experiences during various postings abroad, can speak with authority about torture, concludes that Julian is indeed being tortured. U.S. vassal UK is running kangaroo court proceedings with the undisguised participation of U.S. officials on the scene in Court. Murray fears for Julian’s mental as well as physical health.
By Ray McGovern
Recall how the charge that “Saddam gassed his own people” greased the skids for war on Iraq. It may be a bit unfair to expect Rep. Ro Khanna, D, California to remember. He was cramming for the bar exam when the gassing accusations began to pile up to support “regime change” in Iraq. Now, though, Ro Khanna has no excuse for not doing his homework before buying into the propaganda line that “Assad gassed his own people.”
“Saddam’s gassing his own people” was such an effective rhetorical and emotional flourish against “the evil Iraqi dictator” that, a decade later, neocons (with nary a dent in their teflon armor from the fiasco in Iraq) tried it again, with “the evil Syrian dictator,” Bashar al-Assad, the target this time. Again, the rhetoric was very effective, but in the end President Barack Obama was smart enough to figure out a way to avoid an open attack on Syria. Instead, and against his better judgment, he did acquiesce to the National Security State by authorizing CIA arming of “moderate” rebels. Less than a year later, in a moment of unusual candor, Obama admitted that the notion of “moderate” rebels in Syria was a “fantasy.” ( See: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/opinion/president-obama-thomas-l-friedman-iraq-and-world-affairs.html?_r=0 .)
Sadly, “progressives” like Amy Goodman still parrot the official canard about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “gassing his own people” in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21, 2013. Ro Khanna is simply taking his cue from the rhetoric of Obama, for whom he ended up working — and from Amy, the kind of “progressive” he learns from … or doesn’t.
I recently tweeted:
Note to: @RoKhanna: Your recent words on @democracynow re Syria are oddly damning: You said: “We called for regime change,” “helped arm” rebels, have “moral responsibility” to not “walk away.” Even added the canard re Assad’s “chemical attacks against his own people.” See: https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/11/the-syrian-sarin-false-flag-lesson/
A Rare Moment When Obama Faced the Neocons Down
At first, President Barack Obama was hardly a profile in courage, doing nothing to restrain John Kerry’s disingenuous, evidence-free charge that Assad was responsible for the chemical attack at Ghouta. We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity saw the sarin attack as a false-flag operation and told Obama so. (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2013/09/06/obama-warned-on-syrian-intel/ .) We also appealed to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey to warn the President, and it is clear that he did so (he probably needed little urging from us). ( See: https://consortiumnews.com/2013/08/30/an-appeal-to-gen-dempsey-on-syria/ .)
in any event, to Obama’s credit and against the advice of virtually all his aides, he came up with an artful way to fend off strong pressure to attack Syria on what he had been warned were almost certainly false pretenses. Obama surprised almost everyone by publicly conceding that Congress should have some say before the U.S. started an open war on Syria. That delaying tactic allowed enough time for Russian President Vladimir Putin to help Obama avoid getting involved in another overt regime-change war. Putin played deus ex machina in helping lift Obama out of the corner into which he had let himself be painted.
President Putin told Obama that the Russians had persuaded Assad to give up his vestigial chemical weapons to be destroyed, under UN inspection, on a U.S. ship specifically outfitted for such tasks. Just two weeks later, Obama still found it politic to read from the neocon teleprompter about Syrian culpability for the chemical attack in Ghouta. In his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013, he declared, “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the [Syrian] regime carried out this attack.” He knew better.
Not a “Slam Dunk”
Typically, Obama waited a few years until he considered it safe to tell the “rest of the story” — presumably for posterity. He told his unofficial biographer, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic (see the April 2016 issue), that National Intelligence Director James Clapper had warned him in late August 2013 (a week before he went to St. Petersburg to meet with Putin and a month before his U.N. speech) that the evidence pinning blame on Damascus for the sarin attack was far from airtight.
Buried in Goldberg’s fulsome article was Obama’s revelation that Clapper had interrupted the President’s morning intelligence briefing “to make clear that the intelligence on Syria’s use of sarin gas, while robust, was not a ‘slam dunk.’” Clapper chose his words carefully, echoing the language that CIA Director George Tenet used to assure President George W. Bush that a case could be made to convince the American people that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
This time around, intelligence community analysts on Syria saw no persuasive evidence that Assad had authorized a sarin attack in Ghouta, and the honest ones wanted to avoid responsibility for another fiasco like the attack on Iraq, which was “justified” by fraudulent intelligence. Clapper may have feared he had a burgeoning revolt on his hands. There is even some chance that Clapper himself was trying to avoid repeating his unconscionable, consequentially deceitful performance before the war on Iraq.
We Found What Wasn’t Really There
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had put Clapper in charge of imagery analysis before the war on Iraq. From Rumsfeld’s point of view, it was a smart move. Clapper, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, actually admits in his memoir that blame for the “failure” to find the (non-existent) WMD rests “where it belongs — squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.” [emphasis added].
Thus far the words of the hapless Clapper on Iraq before that war. On Syria, Obama continued to dissemble in blaming the chemical event in Ghouta on Assad. And, in turn, Obama’s rhetoric was, of course, regurgitated by mainstream U.S. news media, including erstwhile “progressive” outlets like democracynow.org (which was already morphing into the “mainstream” on such issues). The Establishment, including now Ro Khanna and other Obama acolytes, have continued to treat Syria’s “guilt” for the sarin attack in Ghouta as “flat fact.”
Fortunately, in the end the neocons did not get their war on Syria in 2013. I described an unusually up-front-and-personal experience of their jaw-dropping chagrin under the subtitle Morose at CNN in “How War on Syria Lost Its Way.” (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2013/09/14/how-war-on-syria-lost-its-way/. ) That said, there appears to be nothing as resilient as neocons. It would be a mistake to count them down and out, even now, on Syria.
By Ray McGovern, October 18, 2019
Pepe Escobar has written a very good piece on Syria. Ray sent this kudo:
Kudos on your Syria exclusive to Consortium News: https://consortiumnews.com/2019/10/18/pepe-escobar-the-road-to-damascus-how-the-syria-war-was-won/ . A true chef-d’oeuvre!
I can just see tall, white, hubris-full patrician John Kerry — a regular reader of yours, I hope :)) — shaking his head at this point, and whining “Why didn’t anyone tell me!”
Speak for your self, John. Why did you never ask?
This particular animal species amounts to a noxious blend of “US-indispensable” arrogance and naiveté. It is not a vanishing species; it is still far from slithering out of the Swamp.
Here, for example, is Kerry, toward the end of his tenure at State, aping W in explaining how it is such “hard work” TO ALIGN FORCES in such a complicated situation. He was interviewed by Steve Clemons, then with The Atlantic, shortly after Ash Carter had the USAF bomb/kill a bunch of Syrian troops, ending the ceasefire in Syria that Kerry and Lavrov had just spent 11 “complicated” months trying to work out — and had succeeded in working out with the explicit blessings of Obama and Putin. (Note: Kerry doesn’t even mention the Pentagon “complication.”)
Sept. 29, 2016
“SECRETARY KERRY: — but Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusrah. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces. So it’s —
“MR CLEMONS: So in the middle of that, why did you think you could get a ceasefire?”
I know only too well that it is impossible to include all salient factors even in a piece the length of yours. But, as I imagine you will agree, Israel was/is even more a factor than hubris and/or naiveté. Granted, it was six years ago, but even the NY Times ran a highly revealing lead story (on Sept. 6, 2013) on this aspect after NYT Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren asked senior Israeli officials what Israel’s preferred outcome in Syria was. The answer? “No Outcome.” ( See: https://raymcgovern.com/2019/09/06/obama-was-almost-mousetrapped-into-another-open-war-in-syria-will-trump-be-able-to-resist-similar-mounting-pressure/. )
So there IS a big loser if current trends continue, and this remains a huge chunk of the story.
All the same, your piece is a terrific contribution. Adelante! … or as we say in the Brazilian part of the Bronx, “You da man, man.”
By Stephen Kinzer – Boston Globe – October 17, 2019
A Must-Read: Whether arming Kurds & “moderate” rebels in Syria, or devising ways to ensure a Hillary win, Obama’s tragic flaw was he thought John Brennan “Clever like Kissinger.” Kudos to the Boston Globe and Stephen Kinder for exposing how it went down in Syria.
Several years ago, the United States hired Kurdish fighters to be our mercenaries in Syria. This month we decided we don’t need them anymore, and abandoned them to their fate. Turkey, which considers Kurdish militancy a mortal threat, quickly began bombing them. This set off a veritable orgy of indignation in Washington. It is a classic example of “buffet outrage,” in which one picks and chooses which horrors to condemn.
Among those shedding crocodile tears, often accompanied by vivid threats against Turkey, are politicians and pundits who have never uttered a peep about American bombs laying waste to Yemen or American sanctions devastating lives in Iran. The United States deserves condemnation for abandoning its promise to the Kurds. Much of it, however, is a hypocritical blend of anti-Trump fanaticism and frustration over the emerging reality that we have lost the Syrian war.
Abandoning the Kurds is not a policy that materialized out of thin air. It is the product of two long chains of American error, one dating to the beginning of the Syrian war and the other even further back. The deeper history of our Middle East tragedy begins in 1980, when President Carter declared that any challenge to American power in the Persian Gulf region would be repelled “by any means necessary, including military force.”
A generation later, President George W. Bush recklessly ordered the invasion of Iraq, which set the region afire and led to the creation of ISIS.
The more recent set of causes for our Kurdish misadventure began in 2011, when President Obama ordered President Bashar Assad of Syria to “step aside.” Beyond the arrogance that leads American presidents to think they can and should decide who may rule other countries lay the utter impossibility of achieving that goal.
The head-chopping death cults that fought alongside our partners in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusra, the local al-Qaeda franchise, and Ahrar al-Sham, which seeks to “build an Islamic State” based on “Allah’s Almighty Sharia,” have as part of their agenda the murder of every Shia Muslim. Since the population of nearby Iran is 90 percent Shia, it should have been obvious from the beginning that Iran would use every ounce of its considerable power to assure Assad’s survival. If Obama had looked at Syria realistically rather then succumbing to fantasy, he would have understood that Assad and his Iranian backers would do whatever necessary to defeat the American project. Instead he plunged ignorantly into a conflict that we had no prospect of winning.
Following the example his predecessor set when invading Afghanistan, Obama looked for “partners” who would fight the anti-Assad war for us. Many of the militias we hired and armed were connected to jihadist terror gangs. That made sense, because the Assad government is resolutely secular and those fanatics hate secularism. We also hired Syrian Kurds. They agreed to fight not because they wanted to commit genocide against Shia Muslims and other infidels, but for a completely different reason. They had watched their Kurdish cousins in northern Iraq establish a mini-state, and dreamed of doing the same in northern Syria. If they supported the American war against Assad, they reasoned, the United States might reward them by helping them turn their piece of Syria into an autonomous region or quasi-independent state.
This was never a realistic possibility. The country that Syrian Kurds wanted to carve out for themselves, which they called “Rojava,” did not have nearly the size, population, or military strength to survive in the unforgiving Middle East. Kurdish leaders understood this, but believed they would thrive anyway because their American friends would defend them. That was a pitifully naive miscalculation. The United States has repeatedly made lavish promises to the Kurds and then betrayed them — most notably in the 1970s, when we encouraged Iraqi Kurds to rebel against Saddam Hussein’s government and then abandoned them when Saddam made an accommodation with our ally, the Shah of Iran.
Yet Kurds never seem to learn. Their childlike trust in American promises brings to mind the cartoon character Charlie Brown, whose so-called friend Lucy pulls the football away at the last moment every time he tries to kick, but who nonetheless keeps believing this time will be different.
Although the Kurds did not foresee this betrayal, Assad did. “We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you,” he warned in a speech nine months ago. The Kurds should have listened. In fact, seeking Assad’s protection was always their Plan B. Now, very late in the game and after taking thousands of casualties fighting for their alluring but unfaithful American “friends,” they are doing it. They have effectively surrendered to the Syrian army and asked for its help in defense against Turkey, which thought it had a chance to crush them and establish itself as the de facto ruler of “Rojava.” The Kurds’ alliance with the United States was doomed from the start. Alliance with Assad makes more sense. He may not be the world’s most reliable ally, but he is more trustworthy than the feckless United States.
Although the Kurds’ decision to ask pardon from Assad and join him in rebuilding a secular state is years overdue, it is welcome and wise. It brings Syrians a step closer to the only solution that can end their suffering: reunification. This war will only end when the government re-establishes its authority over all of Syrian territory and hostile foreign forces withdraw. Syria Kurds have belatedly recognized this truth. We should do the same.
Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.