It is no secret that the Left is split on Aleppo and on Syria in general.
At first I found it hard to understand. The record seems clear enough. The rising of the Arab Spring in Syria led to a brutal clampdown by its dictator, Bashar al-Assad, that developed into a full-fledged civil war. Rebels wanted an end to Assad’s torturous reign. Soon, other less savoury groups opportunistically joined in: Jabhat al-Nusra (now Jabhan Fatah al-Sham), ISIS, and (possibly) Khorasan. Many groups, many fronts, many battles, many objectives.
Assad gained support in several progressive quarters because some could not distinguish all the rebel groups from each other, and they imagined that this was solely a fight between Assad and ISIS+al-Qaeda. But the emergence of Russia’s involvement in the war sealed the deal for many. Old communists and new became ardent defenders of Assad.
What’s it all about? I suggest nostalgia.
“Russia,” in too many minds, is still the USSR. So some backed it more or less uncritically: in some ways this was understandable, given the ferocious and overblown coverage of the Soviet Union by the corporate media. Scepticism became stubborn unbelief. If the media said “A,” the truth must be “-A.” This purblind mental laziness pervaded the Left, for decades too long.
I used to see this close up.
So the knee-jerk responses we are seeing are instinctual. Consider what one normally sensible individual responded when I complained on Facebook that Russian scammers are always locking down my non-existent bank accounts (just follow those phishers and pay attention to the URLs). “Red-baiting, John? Really?”
Not only are we seeing an immensely complex revenge tragedy playing out in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, with uncertain narratives comprising our “knowledge” of it, but now some insist on looking at the whole thing through a foggy lamination of Cold War history.
I pity them. It must be like trying to see through granite spectacles.
UPDATE: I may owe the commenter I quoted an apology. He tells me the “red-baiting” comment was meant to be jocular, in response to what he thought was my “channeling Tailgunner Joe.” But he does cop to the nostalgia.