Poor Foreign Policy, is it a company mandate to serve as a propaganda arm for nefarious think tanks or is that done out of just pure incompetence?--Because the Charles Lister article they just published has about as much integrity as Judith Miller's report on Iraqi WMDs. Charles Lister's piece Trump's Syria Strategy Would Be a Disaster is a doozy replete with classic neocon tropes that have wrecked a continent-sized part of the globe and basically consigns the international laws created to prevent war after WWII to the rubbish bin. Nice one guys.
This piece doesn't just demonstrate Lister's sociopathic neglect for morality and facts, it exposes Foreign Policy Magazine's willingness to peddle propaganda from oil major and arms manufacturer backed "think tanks" like the Middle East Institute, where Lister is a Senior Fellow.
And who is this Middle East Institute? What interests color its biases?
The self described "one of the most prestigious journals on the Middle East," supposedly exists to advise policy makers, but who's advice are they really giving? From their website:
"The Middle East Institute could not survive or achieve its mission without the generous support of its Corporate Members and additional donations coming from concerned individuals and foundations."
Interestingly this list includes among it's top tier "President's Circle" companies like Chevron, Conoco, ExxonMobil, Raytheon, Saudi Aramco and Shell. Among the second tier "Director's Circle" companies like BAE, Bank of Sharjah, Boing, BP, General Dynamics and National Bank of Dubai. Among the third tier "Standard Corporate" companies like Halliburton, Northrop Grumman and a few Saudi banks.
So.... literally a who's who of arms manufacturers and war profiteers, US/European oil companies looking to beat Russian oil majors in the region, and banks from Saudi Arabia and Dubai that fund terrorists. (That link, by the way, describes how Dubai is the biggest center for terrorist money laundering and transfers on the planet.)
No wonder Lister's article reflects such a twisted world view. In it, Lister's thesis is that "the president-elect wants to ally with Assad and Russia to fight the Islamic State – but he’s going to end up empowering extremists and causing chaos across the Middle East."
"Trump says he wants to focus on destroying the Islamic State. But the main effect of the policies he describes would be to eliminate the moderate opposition to the Assad regime and to empower extremism."
Of course, the facts point out just the opposite, that there are no "moderates" and that it is current US policy that is "empowering extremists and causing chaos across the Middle East." The article, simply put, is cynicism and moral degeneracy in service of interests that in some way or another profit from war and desire Assad's removal. Apparently, more pliant actors amenable to their plans would be highly preferred to Assad, even if they are genocidal maniacs.
The responsibility for the 3-500,000 deaths in the Syrian conflict, all the destroyed infrastructure, homes, families and for the millions of refugees that have fled lies squarely at the US's feet. The solution to this problem is not more regime change as neocon warmonger John Bolton would have it. The solution to this terrorist-spawned war, as Noam Chomsky puts it, is to "stop participating in it." The US must end bombings, to withdraw its military, to stop flooding the region with arms, to support regional stability through reparations and reconstruction, to jail US war criminals and enforce international law instead of undermine it, and to create a nuclear weapons free zone in the middle east--an objective shared by every country in that region save Israel--the only actual nuclear pariah there.
Despite Lister's feeble attempts at framing the problem of terrorism as one resulting from Assad's dictatorship, his assertions are patently and transparently false. His claim that "This is the government whose intelligence apparatus methodically built al Qaeda in Iraq, and then the Islamic State in Iraq, into a formidable terrorist force to fight U.S. troops in that country from 2003 to 2010. Hundreds of American soldiers would probably still be alive today if it had not been for Assad’s state-backed support to the Islamic State’s direct predecessors." is simply not true. Assad opposed the illegal war on Iraq--as did most of the world, and sheltered 2 million Iraqi refugees, among them former Baathist officers and soldiers which he tolerated. He allowed them to cross back into Iraq to fight the US occupiers, but his "crime" there was to let Iraqis fight the forces that launched an illegal invasion of their country. Just as with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the strongman in Syria was Al Queda's enemy, not their benefactor. The honor of that role goes to Saudi Arabia, as is commonly known. See evidence of that here, here, here, here, here and here. A quick search reveals literally hundreds of articles saying the same.
In fact, the list is so long you'd have to be willfully blind, illiterate, or willfully ignorant not to see them--which makes of Mr. Lister not just an embarrassment but a liar and a disgrace.
To Foreign Policy Magazine's great shame, everything written above is pretty much common knowledge to anyone who bothers to investigate it. You don't need a journalism degree to get at the facts, the curiosity and critical thinking skills of a ten year old will do.
For Mr. Lister's benefit, we've listed some more links in addition to all those that fill the paragraphs above, so that he might better understand the situation, and perhaps discover some conscience. We hope he takes the opportunity to do the reading as we suspect that his days as a terrorist-cheering Goebbels-lite are probably numbered. After all, propagandists have been indicted for war crimes in the past.
For your moral and intellectual rectification, Mr. Lister:
“Everyone on the ground knows they are jihadis. No one on the ground believes in this mission or this effort, and they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis, so they are sabotaging it by saying, ‘Fuck it, who cares?’”
When it comes to US terrorism and war crimes engendering conflict and chaos around the globe, we all should care.