In responding to my criticism of the resolution passed on Syria at the AWL National Committee on 5 January this year, Colin Foster seizes on one minor aspect of my argument to teach us all a lesson about the tricky business of formulating adequate political slogans.
Given that Colin and myself are in absolute agreement on this matter, why am I bothering to respond once more?
Because unfortunately, Colin has picked on what he must imagine to be the weakest aspect of what I wrote. By concentrating his fire on this “weakness”, he has failed to take up my points regarding the faults and limitations of the National Committee resolution.
My initial letter points out that Solidarity has previously carried calls for Assad to go, whereas the new resolution makes no reference to Assad whatsoever. I used this fact to illustrate that a shift in political assessment has taken place. At no point do I call for these slogans to be resurrected in isolation from other considerations. In fact, my letter recognises that the situation has shifted. I even remark that the NC resolution “goes some way to addressing” what has changed.
What the NC resolution also does as a result of its structure, logical flow, omissions and emphasis is to imply that Assad and his close political clique could play some role in a peaceful political resolution to the current Syrian conflict. This is the specific problem to which I have attempted to respond and the specific problem that Colin fails to address.
If the old slogans calling for Assad’s downfall are now inadequate, it is also the case that the logic of the resolution — which represents the considered opinion of the AWL’s leadership — is also inadequate.
I am in no way suggesting that anyone on the NC thinks Assad is anything other than a bloody tyrant, a despot, dictator, murderer etc... I am, however, suggesting that the resolution has implicit flaws that need correcting.