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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Another "Marxist" Critique of Douma False-Flag Evidence

By Adam Larson
aka Caustic Logic
(as usual)
Monitor on Massacre Marketing
June 23, 2019
(typos/cleanup 6/23)
<< Douma Chemical Massacre {materlist}

Background: a conspiracy theory, missing facts, limited logic
The Douma Gas Attack: What’s the Evidence It was a False Flag? Louis Proyect, Counterpunch, June 21, 2019

Louis Proyect should ask that - and listen to the answer - as he apparently doesn't know what the evidence is. Yet he labors to maintain the Western-controlled, corporate-state regime-change status quo of permanent war to rule the word that's behind untold misery and devastation around the world. Because Marxism? Proyect - the "Unrepentant Marxist" would have you think so. I'm not a big expert on the subject, but I don't think he has it right.

My opinion notwithstanding, we might consider how his analysis pans out; how well does this worldview guide his thinking? The author's main effort at the start and throughout is to show all true Marxists, leftists, anti-war and anti-imperialists should support regime-change and regime-blame in Syria. And his main focus is suggesting this will frustrate the plans of president Trump and the right-wingers and of course the bad Russian leader Putin, who along with others seem to be involved in a giant and mutable conspiracy. So let's stick it to the global … bad guy … axis and support the Che Guevaras of al-Nusra Front and the like ("the Sunni resistance to Assad").

To do this, Clay Claiborne and Louis Proyect and all these other odd characters - "Cruise Missile Marxists" (credit: GymRat Hippie)  - have to battle a vast Russian disinformation conspiracy, and the 5th column at home: "propaganda that has been cranked out by the Sputnik left up to this point in the sorry project of burnishing Bashar al-Assad’s reputation during a savage war that has left his country a burning rubble."

The Saudi royal family are right-wingers, and they seem part of the pro-Assad axis to him, panning the notion of a "conspiratorial web that has plotted to replace Assad with a Saudi proxy since 2011—notwithstanding the Saudi rapprochement with Syria that is now underway." Of course, 2011-2019 is a long time of NO rapprochement, and what were they doing then, with plenty of help? Getting these takfiri "Saudi proxies" (simplified but fair enough) in charge of as much of Syria's territory and citizens as possible. ISIS came out of that, a lot of genocide, etc. Douma - the place in question - is one of the hotspots for this, with its own directly Saudi-backed proxies in Jaish Al-Islam, who might be the false-flag murderers behind the crime in question. Yeah, some silly stuff, considering some talks that began well after it became clear that long-running and bloody project of the Saudi monarchy had failed. Right? Because Marxism?

And he brings in John Bolton and his infamous 2002 threats to OPCW DG Bustani on behalf of Dick Cheney, as part of their push for war with Iraq, which he ingeniously does criticize. Proyect concludes the right wingers hate the OPCW and vice-versa, and they remain unfazed and independent, and so can hardly be "a tool of American ambitions." Unless maybe there were threats, or control...if so, they might vote to remove Bustani as Director-General, as they did in 2002 under Washington's demand - a detail Proyect seems to be unaware of. Then they might try to avoid such awkward scenes in the future, by picking people pre-disposed to what the Boltons of the world want without even being asked. Or after being asked … Proyect seems enamored of the fact that Bustani himself, back at OPCW in another role, was in on the review process regarding Douma 
(corrections June 26: he notes the removal from office, I didn't go back to check - he says "Among the four people serving on the committee overseeing such investigations is one José Bustani..." - this is a detail I didn't know or can't vouch for - 'such investigations' as what? - nothing popped up in a quick search (Proyect's kind, it seems) - other informed sources I asked had never heard of this either - I asked after a source, but unless I hear otherwise, it might just be some kind of mix-up).

This supposedly-Marxist analysis tries to dodge the obvious anti-motive for Syria to have gassed Douma, on the verge of victory by other means, arguing president Assad risks nothing much in his chemical attacks, and must gain something worthwhile in trade. As usual, he presumes the goal in Douma anyway "was not to kill people but to terrorize them." And it's not even costly terror; he argues the 2017 strikes with 57 missiles on Shayrat airfield, in reaction to the Khan Sheikhoun incident, were extremely limited; it was barely different from the zero damage before that alleged decision to drop sarin on the town (on-site findings for this earlier false-flag operation and some important errors they made). Also, he sees no damage to Trump's relatively pro-Assad stance - despite the record. Considering the next set of points, the damage seems temporary, but would "Assad" know that as he ran such pointless risks?

Bizarrely, Louis Proyect also claims there was no such reaction at all to the 2018 Douma incident, when of course there was, in fact twice the size with over 100 missiles fired by the F-UK-US coalition, just as OPCW inspectors arrived on April 14, damaging a facility OPCW had recently cleared of any CW production, and arguably locking their controlled agency into finding an adequate pretext for those strikes already called in. But Proyect doesn't know about this at all?
This time Trump did not even bother with a slap on the wrist over the Douma attack. In July 2017, Trump had cut off aid to Syrian rebels entirely. He also ordered a freeze on funding to the White Helmets, the first responder group that Vanessa Beeley and Max Blumenthal regard as part of a Salafist terror network. So, any concerns about a false flag incident triggering a major regime change operation in Syria could only be raised by people who are not persuaded by facts or logic.
So Trump ... went back in time and did other things that prove he's pro-Assad? And that was his only reaction to Douma, or just the proof of why we should expect no reaction?

Later he clarifies the ignorance, arguing how the motive for a false-flag must be "giving Donald Trump the excuse he needed to bomb Syria," but "Suffice it to say, Trump had other things on his mind at this point," as he … famously did not attack, as this *sly allusion* suggests? Furthermore: the Douma incident with chlorine "did not lead to the kind of empty saber-rattling in Washington that typified sarin gas attacks in East Ghouta in 2013 or Khan Shaykhoun in 2017." Those and this led to some saber use, actually (maybe in Douma because they thought sarin was involved).

Proyect really did not hear about that, besides whatever else he doesn't realize (like the full Bustani story?) as he jumps in half-blind, guided poorly by his bad-guys-axis conspiracy theory worldview. He reasons Trump wouldn't attack, after his turn towards Syria in 2017 - and uses that ignorance as a central plank for his argument to show Assad had nothing to fear, and therefore adequate reason to push ahead with this chlorine attack plan? And we doubt that, he thinks, because we lack logic, and also facts?

While we're a bit off-topic, I noticed prof. Scott Lucas likes this Proyect article, retweeting its promotion. Some background on him and his network and the Douma mass murder coverup ... works with the former crime-denier - official spokesman - for Jaish al-Islam, the prime suspects in this false-flag murder someone would be covering up. But you don't go following up on evidence like that about peoples' vested interest. Because Marxism? https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2019/06/douma-academics-and-mass-murder-coverup.html

Considering motive: Proyect asks "Was this false flag supposed to provoke a “humanitarian intervention”?" He decided to answer yes, the morons over presume this as the motive. Then he can giggle at "the hope that the Muslim and poor-people hating President Trump would have come to their rescue" as "patently absurd." IF we take "rescue" as full-on regime change, as he does, that was the motive in mid-2013. But ever since the failure of the Ghouta gambit, and especially by 2018, as Proyect notes, this was a pretty distant hope, and not likely to be a real motive. Syria had pretty much won the war. A lesser motive would be required for a false-flag, like getting Assad blamed and kept in a bad light, getting Syria actually attacked with non-Israeli missiles, and maybe if they had some people on hand they'd rather see dead anyway, when the only other option is to release them as part of the surrender deal - why not just gas them at this last chance?

In fact, Proyect says "the likelihood of regime change could only be entertained by those people for whom time stands still. One might certainly describe British academic Tim Hayward of falling into that category..." Why? "... since he was largely responsible for a new wave of hysteria over a leaked report that supposedly proved that the Douma was a false flag," and of course that can only be explained with the one grandiose motive. Where has Hayward claimed "regime change" as the immediate motive for a Douma false-flag? Anywhere? Also this article exaggerates Hayward's role, but he's definitely been important, and anyway what's important here is the content of this assessment Proyect apparently finds to be insufficiently Marxist.

On the science and the engineering assessment
What got Proyect back on the subject after Clay Claiborne failed, all eager but ill-prepared to defend the status quo? Probably the recent renewed buzz surrounding the science of the Douma case, and a previously unknown controversy involving it. In mid-May, the Working Group on Syria, propaganda, and Media published a leaked document that is, as it claims, an assessment from the "FFM engineering sub-team." FFM refers to the OPCW's official fact-finding mission, and the sub-team's engineering work started from direct site inspection in Douma. Yet prior to its leak to WGSPM, this report was totally suppressed by the OPCW - apparently for being true.

Science is not Proyect's strong suit, but what he says about the central issue is what matters most, where this is the main issue in dispute. As he summarizes, the FFM couldn't specify blame, but since they "found evidence that two weaponized chlorine tanks penetrated a building from above, one might surmise that the regime was to blame..." It could be debated forever, but I maintain that never made physical sense, and simply can't explain the observed damage. As for the limits imposed by the FFM's mandate to avoid blame and whatever else - it's extremely dubious, improvised and inconsistent, and essentially forces a decision to determine attack and blame Syria. Literally, it seems no other choice was left open, if one just follows the logic of all they've said so far. Even I don't think their mandate is literally that broken. I suspect it's just meant to be really flexible, and they've also flat-out broken it and lied about that, somewhere along the twisting path.

Proyect refers to past chlorine use as a lubricant to accepting this use; "...especially since (Syria) had been using chlorine bombs repeatedly in the past two years." Past five years, actually, and all alleged. Well, alleged and accepted by OPCW et al. with little to no question, just like this, and citing all the cases before. The first one ever reported (April 10, 2014 IIRC) was just a little bit harder to argue.

As a weapon, chlorine is not very useful for anything, except getting "the Assad regime" in trouble. "Chlorine gas ... generally will not kill you," as Proyect accurately notes, but in Douma it "seeped to the lower floors with a devastating effect." He reasons that's why 35 people wound up dead there, as it happens strewn across the ground floor and second floor and on the sidewalk just outside. It's been argued they victims ran up to escape the basement cloud, into an ever-higher concentration above, and then died.

But as it happens - and Proyect won't know these little facts - they'd have to come up these stairs below, on the left (from AP video, filmed from the street outside the pivotal "location 2" where 35 bodies are seen). At that point, they've escaped to open air - the usual goal. Then, allegedly, they turn the other way to re-enter the building on the right, and climb up into the thicker descending cloud, sometimes 2 flights of stairs or more, to get to where they were found dead. Doing that would prove they weren't locked in - they would escape briefly, then go back in voluntarily. Is this really a logical attempt at escape? If not, what the hell else were they doing and why?

Here we can also see the gas would only come down to the basement a bit, after expanding out onto the street - if both doors were open anyway.

However it seeps, what chlorine does in the real world is burn. It turns to corrosive acid on contact with water and irritate and damages tissue - that's it. Your eyes burn, turn red and bloodshot, and the airways sting, leading to coughing, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, possibly severe tissue damage, bleeding, and mucous secretion, which can cause various levels of suffocation.

But the victim doesn't drop dead or become paralyzed - they usually decide to leave any enclosed space to fresher air, and then they do that. Usually they get to a hospital if needed and recover, maybe with breathing assistance. Recovery is slow, but happens in the vast majority of cases. Death is rare, mainly for those with severe or especially prolonged exposure and/or inadequate medical help, or aggravating prior conditions.

That's on planet Earth in general. In Syria, they claim many die because they instantly pass out and breathe too much. But from a detailed consideration of several real-world cases, it's clear that would be highly abnormal. Also the near-universal reddening of acid-burned eyes is variable in Syria, and in fact mostly absent. That should be seen as puzzling, but hardly anyone notices.

At location 4 in Douma (cylinder on the bed) no human casualties are reported, but some chickens cooped in the basement reportedly all survived, along with the owner (at least purported) who also lived in  the basement, and wasn't even aware of the break-in during which that chlorine tank appeared in one of the vacant rooms upstairs. But at location 2 we have 35 people who were in a basement, allegedly, and could leave but didn't - or, as explained, they escaped and ran right back inside to die. They died mainly next to water sources, allegedly washing themselves instead of fleeing. And their eyes aren't even red. And they have strange, never-before seen stains all around their eyes and across the cheeks, which might be what they tried to wash off. And they did so just minutes before the first allowed images - or a few hours after the alleged attack - judging by their still-damp hair. That all adds up … because Marxism?

But more important now is how the leaked engineering assessment behind "a new wave of hysteria" and that suggests, as Proyect phrases it well-enough, "Salafists placed the chlorine tanks in the building." But he doesn't find that plausible at all. He manages to not explicitly claim the assessment was part of the Russia-Trump-Saudi bad guys conspiracy, but I imagine he's inclined to suspect this.

The FFM's three external experts, or expert teams as I gather, agreed on the reading that points to an airdrop, and that seemed pretty convincing to Proyect. In itself, the chosen and majority view should be the better one. But then what if there were a different agenda, conspiracies, deceit? That's still the scenario in question, and from that perspective ... three teams came up with wrong but agreeing reports, somehow, and only in the last months of 2018 (commissioned somewhere between July and October, only finished by December), which is apparently AFTER the FFM's own engineering sub-team came up with these logical results the FFM didn't want - apparently decided back in May or June, prior to the interim report pretending like there still hadn't been an engineering assessment - at least not a "competent" one.

As Proyect puts it with bad explanation: "Naturally, people like Hayward, Beeley and Blumenthal would characterize this as just another thread in the conspiratorial web." We do find this pretty suspect.

"If Hayward and company have trouble with the idea of a chlorine tank bouncing off the floor and landing on a bed, the scenario they put forward based on Henderson’s findings seems a thousand times more far-fetched." Maybe to someone who doesn't get the science involved, or who's blinded by undying faith in whatever Western-controlled tools of war are making the best regime-change argument at the moment. Because Marxism?

Proyect carefully explains how absurd this manual placement would be, by crafting a straw man - a fake narrative with absurd presumptions built in, just so he can easily laugh it away: he's sure the building was inhabited by entire families of people who would stop any fakers, maybe report them to the local free media, or even put them under citizen's arrest? The fakers would be strangers posing as a demolition crew, but he doubts that would work. They would have to sneak in "with sledgehammers and ladders to bust the holes in the two ceilings" for their fake impact damage - then carry in the cylinders to arrange - and they had to do all this "unnoticed" as the residents allegedly huddled in the basement (and see above image again for how crazy that would be).

Well there's no reason to presume all these things. In fact, the damage is almost surely caused by explosive weaponry at some earlier time, not by a falling cylinder, nor by a sledgehammer, considering especially (at location 2) the obvious fragmentation patterns (primary and secondary, both wrongly denied by the FFM's other experts), and the way the ceiling came apart so violently, while some of the rebar was left intact - (the evidence at the crucial location 2 is explained here.) A powerful, expansive blast wave is probably the best explanation for the interior damage shown below.

Some alleged survivors claim they were all living there (location 2) and were at the end all huddled in the basement, but these accounts are unreliable, illogical, and likely to be part of the false-flag operation. It's not at all clear anyone lived in this building, and in fact most signs point to general vacancy. It looks like a place that was once a home, then a squat or hideout, with some cooking and sleeping, and a few domestic items largely bagged up for mobility. Mostly it seems unused, coated with dust, with doors long-locked taken off their hinges recently, and then some bodies were documented here, generally seeming dragged about and arbitrarily piled.

So we tend to suspect (theories do vary) the cylinders were set there, and so were the BODIES of the victims, who were gassed fatally somewhere else. What that would require: perhaps a more deadly poison not found at location 2, and/or just enclosure - a gas chamber. (if they're not allowed to escape, people will die from chlorine - just not very quickly) The location 2 basement tested low for chlorine, and the bodies seen outside appear to me and others to have been the last ones brought in from a remote locale before they stopped mid-track with the placement - maybe they were finally interrupted by being "observed"? The last bodies placed, or perhaps first ones to be removed? Why stop in the middle of removal? Three bodies laid like cargo parallel to the curb, one still on the stretcher, the woman was laid closest to the curb before they started dragging her body in (straight legs = dragging, not crawling, and head-first is the logical way to transport a body, especially if the hands aren't tied together. They do that for dead bodies, not for dead bodies that are supposed to be residents who still haven't "dropped dead" somewhere inside.

None of these people wore shoes, but the dust (lower center, on the hatch door) shows heavy foot traffic in this space by others with boots. Strangers, posing as a demolition crew? The rescuers who only got these 4 out so far? Or the body arrangers who hauled in all but these four?

But he's not done. Proyect also cites the weight of these cylinders, which is considerable, and would require at least two strong people to carry by hand. And furthermore, since that's really no problem, he decides they had to do this unnoticed, like there's some bustling civil society that could stop or even expose them, the armed militants of the ruling "Army of Islam."

He thinks these guys - engineers of a vast tunnel system beneath the area - cannot possibly have made that aerial harness, with its off-center lugs, AND redundant rolling wheels, all wrapped around a weapon that's pointless for anything but getting Assad in trouble. No, and he knows all about Marxist welding; only Assad could and would have these things made up and dropped. Maybe from a tangled look at the photo evidence, he thinks the way the assembly is tangled with the ceiling - besides tangled far more than the cylinder it was supposedly ON - is beyond their means to set up. This is lazy thinking at work, not entertaining the scenario very well. Because Marxism?

"Occam’s razor states that when presented with competing hypotheses," that are designed to have the weaker option win, by making the other into a cartoon of itself, one should identify or be alerted to that, and then seek a more balanced assessment.
Add: As Qoppa 999 reminds me: "Occam's razor is good and sharp - but it is meant to cut out unnecessary assumptions, NOT the evidence!" Also, Proyect preemptively blocked Qoppa, and some other smart voices on Twitter. Probably me too, now. Way to learn, Louis!

Absurd to Proyect: "The notion that jihadi devils would have killed 43 people in a city that was a stronghold of poverty-stricken Sunni resistance to Assad for 7 years". A tidbit few know - at least 1/3 of those killed seem to be related to an "FSA" commander with the rare family name Bakriyeh, whose Douma Martyrs' Brigade led a 2014 Sunni resistance to the Saudi-backed overlords Jaish Al-Islam. That was ruthlessly crushed. Bakriyeh's family might be seen as fair game for kidnapping, depending what Fatwas they were following at the time. 12+ apparent relatives are among the 35 identified fatalities. (see here). That's according partly to the records of the VDC - a Douma-based opposition group, but not quite tools of Jaish al-Islam, who once kidnapped and killed their founder and her husband … and the VDC complained it was barred by JaI from even documenting the location 2 crime scene.

Finally, as I had to interject a couple of times, there's a lot of good explanation for why manual placement was decided - it's the only way, engineering-wise, that the cylinders and damage make physical sense. Proyect managed to barely even consider that level of the evidence and what, if anything, might be wrong with it. That's lucky for him, as there is nothing wrong with it. So the core issue stands untouched, and all that above is a catalog of Proyect's missteps in his dancing around that.


  1. As if the people bending over backwards to make excuses about the 'impossibility' of JaI and friends' guilt would accept witness testimony or anything else.

    1. "The get to staged" of course will require endless answering of every related question. Can't get there. To get to airdropped, someone's gotta say it and we're there, have been, gonna stay. Brilliant, guys.

  2. Thanks for reminding me of the slap on the wrist that Trump gave Syria last year. It was so inconsequential that I had forgotten entirely about it. As far as "So we tend to suspect (theories do vary) the cylinders were set there, and so were the BODIES of the victims, who were gassed fatally somewhere else", that's what I'd expect from someone like you. It is the same kind of insanity we heard from Mother Superior Agnes Mariam de la Croix in 2013 and pure Assadist cloud cuckooland.

    1. Thanks! Alright, yeah we can all get hazy on all kinds of details - especially when it helps our case. But here it didn't - clearly you just didn't follow/don't remember - I mean 100+ missilies is barely different from the zero usually fired, who would even notice? /sarcasm.

      but anyway... So what did I miss? I caught those clues (and more - that was a sample) that the bodies didn't walk to these position but were arranged. All debatable, but then anything is, I've learned. I've actually tried to explain those totally unusual facial stains - in the process of re-drafting that post because it's quite a mess, but since I brought it up, can't make you wait x-days for the new version. Just note: very limited value in poking fun at the exact rushed wording here that'll be gone soon. Just for the basic idea. This is a bizarre thing no one else even tries to explain. And my sole explanation would prove the victims were tied up somewhere, not chilling at home waiting to stop any JaI scene-fakers who walked in.

      Mother Agnes: don't know if that's luck or poorly-placed research skill, but between the German news report you panned on Twitter, and her, you've pointed to two of not-that-many non-credible reports from our side of the aisle. The matches claimed for the 2013 Latakia-Ghouta matches were non shared or poor quality - most Latakia kidnap victims are accounted for in other ways - most or all Ghouta victims were in Ghouta, based on majority geolocation and logic. The number is too big by far for the number of kidnaps in Latakia (at least 320 or so, probably 500+ I guess). I've been advising moving past those claims. No surprise (it was a bit of one back then), the evidence I've found suggests these too were people kidnapped by JaI or allies, mainly from the Damascus area. They may have bought surplus people off other groups to make that ambitious project work.

      Anyway, subject at hand: if there's any good reason my work on Douma cited in this review should be included in that category of dubious claims, feel free to let me know. If not, it stands as good reason to at least doubt the version you espouse with such misplaced certainty.

  3. UNHRC on Douma
    Paragraph 58 civilian life in Douma
    Paragraph 52 "largely consistent with the use of chlorine, but this in and of itself does not explain other reported symptoms"

    FFM Annex 7: "The layer of a white powder seen in the videos" - compared with LP "wreckage of the fractured ceilings is mixed with pieces of the metal harness"

    BBC on engineering in Douma
    "It's quite a work of engineering, something that's been done by people who really know how to build things."

  4. Without first reading this whole thing, you have to know that Proyect is a hack. Unfortunately I've got no time now. No serious Marxist takes him seriously.

    1. That's good - I know his deal from years back, so nothing new, just in case his work seems convincing to the uninitiated, seemed worth taking down.

  5. I agree with Grover Furr's assessment of Proyect: "Those who, like Proyect, are motivated not to discover the truth but to shore up their ideological prejudices think that everybody must be doing likewise. Therefore Proyect argues not from evidence, but by guilt by association, name-dropping, insult, and lies."

    ProyectileVomiting is well known as the Left Boot of NATO. His blog "The Unrepentant Marxist" is a bad joke, but for a laugh, go there and put "bad hair" into the search engine...

  6. No corrections on Louis Proyect's or Clay Claiborne's blogs, no rebuttals, only a link to this from LP (is this his response? He also links to that FA video)

    "Scott" "Lucas" continues: "No one has ever disputed Henderson dissent is "genuine" document"... but Clay Claiborne did and Scott Lucas described that "analysis" as "excellent".

    Decent satellite photos and an engineer's assessment/explanation of the issues in Henderson report would be much more interesting imo.


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