This post follows up on the preceding one, which includes two embedded videos from Syrian Girl.
We begin by taking a belated look at Matthew VanDyke, a confounding native of Balmer. Some call him a terrorist. He calls himself a filmmaker and a revolutionary fighting for what he considers "democracy" in the Middle East.
(Never forget that the neocons also said that they were fighting for "democracy" when they engineered the Iraq invasion.)
Cynics will counter that a true
revolutionary wouldn't have a column in the Huffington Post. Despite his support for a group recognized as a terrorist organization
by the State Department, VanDyke has suffered no reprisals. I'm sure he'll never find himself listed on any "no fly" list. And I'm sure he'll never be smeared by the mainstream media's punditocracy.
VanDyke's Wikipedia page is mostly puffery
. Here's some background
you may not know:
VanDyke wanted to work for the American government. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, he was lucky enough to go to Georgetown University in Washington for a master’s degree. He entered the two-year Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2002.
“I educated for the three letter agencies. ‘Why Al Qaeda Targets the US’ was my thesis.” But despite his dreams of fast tracking into the CIA he failed. He blames it on the lie detector tests required.
VanDyke says that he was never allowed in the CIA -- a disclaimer very familiar to those of us who have read a lot of books and articles about the Agency. (That said, I feel sure that he did not join the Agency in any official fashion. Plausibly deniable assets never do.)
VanDyke now poses as a "freedom fighter," wrapping himself in the mantle of the Arab Spring.
Some time ago, he joined up with the Syrian rebels -- who, as regular readers know, are mostly jihadis: ISIS and the Nusra Front, with the Free Syrian Army playing the role of "moderates." The FSA exists mostly as a fig leaf to please Washington. The leader of the FSA has gone on record as saying that he welcomes the help of Al Qaeda and its offshoots.
I don't know if VanDyke is CIA, but he certainly is a hypocrite. If you go to his website
, you'll see an ad for a fundraising effort that seems, at first glance, to be quite admirable:
But the Syrian Girl video embedded at the top of our previous post gave us a glimpse of a startling admission from VanDyke in an internet chat, just last year:
If you can't immediately spot the contradiction, you haven't been paying attention. When VanDyke speaks of "the revolution," he means the revolution against Bashar Assad. And when VanDyke speaks of "the foreign fighters," he means the jihadists who have joined ISIS
Dig it: The guy was pro-ISIS on July 30, 2013. Yet now he claims to be against
counts as hypocrisy? Yes, I believe it does.
Not only that. If VanDyke is so freakin' upset about what is happening to the Christians of Syria, then why did he join the rebellion against Assad? Although Assad is no-one's idea of a nice guy, he has always allowed Syria's sizable Christian community to practice their faith in peace.
That is why the Christians (most of whom would prefer an orderly transition to democracy) have taken Assad's side in the civil war. Here's a headline
from a recent story in Time
Syrian Christian Leaders Call On U.S. To End Support For Anti-Assad Rebels
The stories told by five top Syrian Christian leaders about the horrors their churches are experiencing at the hands of Islamist extremists are biblical in their brutality.
Bishop Elias Toumeh, representative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, tells of the funeral he led ten days ago for the headless body of one of his parishioners in Marmarita. Rev. Adeeb Awad, vice moderator of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, explains how the rebels blew up his church and then pointed the finger at the regime...
See the trick? See how it works? "The rebels blew up his church and then pointed the finger at the regime..."
Those words encapsulate the ongoing scheme to deceive the world into blaming Assad for the sins of his foes. The success of this trick depends on the ignorance of the American people, most of whom do not know the difference between Assad and his opponents.
These atrocities against Syrian Christians are the work of the "foreign fighters" whom VanDyke considered comrades-in-arms.
But they are emerging as part of a concerted push by Syrian Christians to get the U.S. to stop its support for rebel groups fighting Syrian president Bashar al Assad. “The US must change its politics and must choose the way of diplomacy and dialogue, not supporting rebels and calling them freedom fighters,” says Nalbandian.
If you're so fucking concerned about Syria's Christians, why don't you do as they advise?
And why don't you apologize for buddying up with those "foreign fighters" (read: ISIS) in the anti-Assad alliance?
Here's a story
from Christianity Today, published back in 2011...
"We do not support those who are calling for the fall of the regime, simply because we are [for] the process of reform and changes," said Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, at a religious summit in France.
In late May, International Christian Concern, an evangelical ministry to the persecuted church, released to Christianity Today an anonymous open letter from a "trusted Syrian source" that explains why many Syrian Christians support Assad's regime. The two-page letter calls for help from the larger Christian community. It says in part:
• "Christian service has flourished remarkably in Syria. We regard Syria as a model Arab country when it comes to freedom of worship."
• Radical Muslim groups are "responsible for the disturbance" in the country. "Christians are the first to be persecuted when we talk about governmental change."
• "We are seeking [Christians'] help to prevent what happened in Iraq and Egypt from happening in Syria. Christian service in Syria is in danger now."
Last May, Virginia state Senator Richard Black sent a thank you note
to Bashar Assad after the Syrian army rescued some Syrian Christians who were in grave danger from some of VanDyke's pals in the rebellion.
"I write to thank the Syrian Arab Army for its heroic rescue of Christians in the Qalamoun Mountain Range," the letter begins. Black praises the Syrian army's efforts against the forces that have been challenging Assad's power for several years, which the letter claims are "dominated by our arch-enemy Al Qaeda." By protecting Christians in the country, Assad has "followed the practice of [his] father by treating with respect all Christians and the small community of Jews in Damascus." Black provided The Post with a copy of the letter he sent.
Syria's Christians universally support Assad (at least as the lesser of two evils) -- a fact which you'll find exactly nowhere on VanDyke's website. As this critic
It’s also ironic that VanDyke calls himself a Christian, yet he is mobilizing funds to bankroll a pro-Syrian rebel documentary despite the fact that Syrian rebels have ransacked numerous Christian churches.
So what do we make of his little fundraiser? To my eyes, it looks like a classic "cover your ass" operation. VanDyke wants to distract you from noticing that he has supported the rebels who have murdered so many Christians.
If pressed, VanDyke would probably try to justify his exercise in hypocrisy by offering up some variant of the "Assad created ISIS" myth. The folks at National Review have a similar weakness for myth-making. They are dishing out propaganda designed to convince the public that Assad, not the rebels, has attacked the Christian community: See, for example, the outrageous and deceitful the story here.
You'll notice that the National Review article -- unlike those cited above -- does not quote actual Syrian Christians.
The saintly Mother Agnes, a brave voice for peace, has tried to tell the truth about the Christians of Syria. That's why the neocons have besmirched and insulted
Mother Agnes in ways that she
might forgive, but I cannot. This remarkable woman does not stand with Matthew VanDyke. She stands with SyrianGirl.
I look at those faces and I see the face of St. Joan.
And I fear for their homeland. Obama is poised to strike Syria.
Supposedly, his target is ISIS, but anyone who has followed the story knows that the fight against the Muslim fundamentalists will probably serve as a pretext for taking down Assad. In fact, Obama's new war will only make ISIS stronger
Everyone should just understand that the social science literature finds that external interventions typically extend, not shorten, civil wars, as Marc Lynch has pointed out.
At the same time, Obama appears to envisage arming and training the “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army, who have consistently been pushed to the margins by al-Qaeda offshoots and affiliates. Private billionaires in the Gulf will continue to support ISIL or its rival, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Succor Front, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda). Strengthening yet another guerrilla group will, again, likely prolong the fighting. Moreover, in the past two years, Free Syrian Army moderate groups have gone radical and joined Nusrah or ISIL at an alarming rate. Defectors or defeated groups from the FSA will take their skills and arms with them into the al-Qaeda offshoots.