Given the United States’ disastrous record in the Middle East—most critically the invasion and occupation of Iraq—and the manifold lies coming out of Washington to justify its policies, many Americans are understandably skeptical about U.S. interventions and the rationalizations used to defend them. This leads many Americans to oppose both direct intervention in Syria and the arming of rebel factions—and rightly so.
But while there is room for debate on some aspects of the conflict, certain elements of the anti-war movement and the anti-imperialist Left—such as the U.S. Peace Council, the ANSWER Coalition, some Green Party leaders and even Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire—go beyond opposing U.S. intervention and implicitly (and in some cases, explicitly) defend the corrupt and autocratic regime of Bashar al-Assad. They minimize or deny its responsibility for war crimes, attempt to discredit the reputable human rights organizations that document these crimes, treat virtually the entire Syrian opposition as its most extreme and violent components and attack fellow Leftists who disagree with them.
Many of the arguments used to defend the Syrian regime’s devastating attacks on rebel-held cities are eerily similar to those used by U.S. politicians, in their public statements and in a series of bipartisan Congressional resolutions, to defend Israel’s massive assaults on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. By combining segments of these statements and resolutions supporting Israel’s “right to self-defense” with certain anti-imperialists’ writings on Syria, I was able to put together the ultimate guide to defending war crimes.