Episode 10 show notes – India’s specter of fascism: Modi, Hindutva, and anti-Muslim violence, with Shehla Rashid

modi rss

Moderate Rebels episode 10 – Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton are joined by Indian activist Shehla Rashid Shora, a leader in the student movement and a prominent leftist organizer.

Shehla discusses the growing influence of Hindutva, the far-right Hindu nationalist movement, under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP, and the Nazi-inspired RSS.

We analyze the alliance between the far-right governments in the US, India, and Israel, which are all united in their anti-Muslim “war on terror.” And we highlight India’s abandonment of Palestine.

Shehla also speaks of her experiences growing up amid conflict in Kashmir, the constant struggle against caste, and communal violence against Muslims and Dalits.

We address the specter of fascism haunting not just India, but much of the world, and talk about how neoliberal capitalism has fueled these ultra-nationalist politics.


0:00 – 5:47 Intro
5:47 – 9:54 Kashmir, women’s rights, student activism
9:54 – 14:50 Anti-Muslim violence, Modi
14:50 – 34:29 Hindutva, RSS, Modi, fascism
34:29 – 41:02 Neoliberalism, capitalism, fascism
41:02 – 45:00 Youth in India
45:00 – 52:30 India’s foreign policy, Israel-Palestine, China
52:30 – 58:31 The “war on terror” in India and the US
58:31 – 1:10:26 Kashmir
1:10:26 – 1:12:01 End

Show Notes

Shehla Rashid Shora and the JNU Student Union


Every Nation has necessarily its own National Race, Religion and Language…

German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.

Communal violence

Israel and India

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 10

Episode 9 show notes – Zionism and anti-Semitism: Joseph Massad on the sordid historical alliance

israel flag jerusalem

Moderate Rebels episode 9

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton are joined by Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad, a leading expert on Israel-Palestine and Arab politics and intellectual history. Massad details the long history of collaboration between anti-Semites and Zionists.

We discuss how Zionism was promoted by Western imperialist governments as a bulwark against socialism, communism, and other leftist movements, and how far-right racist movements look to the Israeli ethnostate as a model today.

Show Notes

Professor Joseph Massad’s books

Joseph Massad, The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians, Routledge, 2006

Joseph Massad, Desiring Arabs, University Of Chicago Press, 2007

Joseph Massad, Islam in Liberalism, University Of Chicago Press, 2015

History of Zionism

Joseph Massad, “The Balfour Declaration’s many questions“, The Electronic Intifada, 8 November 2017

Joseph Massad, “The last of the Semites“, Al Jazeera, 21 May 2013

Partial Transcripts

Zionist collaboration with fascism and anti-Semitism

Max Blumenthal, “Exposing the Shocking and Continuing Alliance Between Zionism and Anti-Semitism“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 26 November 2017

According to Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University and the author of the new book Islam in Liberalism, the emerging alliance between Zionists and European ultra-nationalists reflects an ongoing historical development that dates back to the late 19th century.

In a wide-ranging discussion with me and Ben Norton for our weekly podcast Moderate Rebels, Massad explained why, in his words, “Israel has no problem allying itself with anti-Semites who support its colonialism.” He asserted, “The problem [for Zionists] is not pro or anti-Jewishness with Israel, it’s pro-colonialism or anti-colonialism. Pro-Zionism as an colonial movement or not.”

Massad detailed the collaboration between Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism, and anti-Semites like Vyacheslav von Plehve, who oversaw brutal pogroms as the police chief of imperial Russia. Arthur Balfour, the former British Prime Minister and author of the Aliens Act that barred the immigration of Eastern European Jews to Britain, was also a key ally of Herzl and his Zionist Congress, which partnered with him on the infamous Balfour Declaration in 1917 “notwithstanding or precisely because of his anti-Semitic sentiment,” Massad noted.

Zionists like Herzl and anti-Semites like Balfour shared the view that the presence of assimilationist-minded Jews on the continent was unacceptable. Herzl “disdained poor Jews in Western Europe and blamed them for anti-Semitism,” according to Massad, and even argued that it was in the best interest of rich Jews to send poor Jews away to a colony in historic Palestine as it would reduce friction with Christian anti-Semites and allow poor gentiles to take their jobs.

Like Herzl, anti-Semitic European elites viewed a Jewish state as a convenient means for reducing the Jewish population within their societies. “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies,” Herzl declared.

“Anti-Semites saw in Zionism a kindred spirit and they shared with other Zionists the understanding that getting rid of European Jews somewhere else is a goal that they share,” Massad stated.

The alliance deepened during World War Two, as the Zionist movement broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany to embark on a lucrative Transfer Agreement with Hitler’s government that exchanged Jewish property for the bodies the Zionists needed to colonize Palestine. As Massad pointed out, when the fugitive Nazi functionary Adolph Eichmann was captured in 1960 and brought to Israel for trial a year later for war crimes, it was his second visit to the Holy Land. Indeed, Eichmann had been a guest of the Zionist movement in 1937, hosted for a tour of kibbutzim in historic Palestine by a double Zionist-Nazi agent named Feibl Folkes.

“Eichmann quoted Folkes to the effect that Zionist leaders were pleased by the persecution of European Jewry, since it would encourage emigration to Palestine,” the Israeli historian Tom Segev noted in his book The Seventh Million.

When anti-Semitism reared its head in US-aligned nations after the war, the state of Israel generally kept quiet. The disturbing silence was vividly illustrated during the liberal rebellion that momentarily seized power in Hungary in 1956. With assistance from the CIA, which aimed to wrest the country from the Warsaw Pact, the former commanders of Horthy’s collaborationist army were returned to Budapest, where they inspired widespread violence against Hungarian Jews.

As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported, “the fact that Hungary’s top four Communist leaders were of Jewish origin — including the dictator Matyas Rakosi, who reigned at the height of the Communist terror in the early 1950s — lent credibility to the idea of communism as Jewish revenge for the Holocaust.” (Herbert Aptheker’s 1956 book The Truth About Hungary is one of the most thorough chronicles of the return of fascism to the country during its anti-Soviet revolt, and can be read here for free).

While Soviet tanks put an end to the crisis, Israel drew critical benefits from its fallout. Thousands of Jewish refugees streamed out of Hungary and into the hands of an Israeli government desperate for fodder in its demographic trench war against the indigenous Palestinian population. It was not the first time that an eruption of anti-Semitism would serve the interests of the Zionist movement, and it would hardly be the last.

“That strategy would continue from Herzl on,” said Massad. “It was a continuing ideological cornerstone of Zionism, it has never stopped — we are speaking about something that is simply continuous.”

You can listen to our full conversation with Massad as well as previous episodes of Moderate Rebels here. And if you happen to like the work we’re doing, you can support us at our Patreon page.

Ali Abunimah on Zionism

Ali Abunimah, “Video: Ending the Zionist system“, The Electronic Intifada, 21 November 2017

This week, the Moderate Rebels podcast with Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton features an hour-long discussion with Massad. It’s a fascinating, in-depth conversation that expands on many themes in his article.

“For 300 years or so, Zionism was a Christian Protestant idea that the majority of Jewish leaders at the time, especially rabbis, had been opposed to and understood to be a call for the expulsion of Jews,” Massad explains. “So it took about 300 years before Jewish intellectuals would take it up in the 19th century, even if they remained a minority among Jews.”

Massad also provides rich background about the long history of Zionist collaboration with anti-Semites, which was not merely fleeting or deviant, but anchored in a shared worldview.

For Zionists, Massad explains, “there was no point in fighting anti-Semitism because the diagnosis of [Theodor] Herzl early on is that what causes anti-Semitism were Jews themselves, or the presence of Jews in gentile communities.”

As Massad states, Herzl, the founder of Zionism, “actually blamed Jews for causing anti-Semitism, rather than blaming the anti-Semites.”

Massad, whose latest book is Islam in Liberalism, also speaks about the similarities between European anti-Semitism and present-day Islamophobia.

“Many of the precepts and the axioms of 19th and early 20th century anti-Semitism continue, and as Edward Said had already shown in his 1978 book Orientalism, that just the object of hatred has shifted, even though that object looks almost the same as the previous one,” Massad states.

“Contemporary Islamophobia or hatred of Muslims is a continuation of anti-Semitism, which thought of Jews as transnational, cosmopolitan, rootless and therefore tribal and dangerous to the national configurations of Europe.”

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 9

Episode 8 show notes – Puppy memes & Pokemon: How Russiagate went off the rails, with Aaron Maté

Moderate Rebels episode 8

Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal discuss how the narrative of Russian “hacking” of US politics has gone off the deep end, with supposedly serious news reports on how the Kremlin purportedly used puppy memes and Pokemon to undermine American democracy.

We are joined by journalist Aaron Maté to discuss the madness.

This episode also features an ad for an upcoming documentary film series, “Russia’s Plot to Make America Racist.”

Show Notes


Aaron Maté, “Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact“, The Nation, 6 October 2017

Aaron Maté, “MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Sees a ‘Russia Connection’ Lurking Around Every Corner“, The Intercept, 12 April 2017

Timothy Snyder’s historical revisionism

Daniel Lazare, “Timothy Snyder’s Lies“, Jacobin, 9 September 2014

The fascist “double genocide” myth

Ben Norton, “In Flashy New Film, NATO Celebrates Nazi Collaborators Who Murdered Jews in the Holocaust“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 20 July 2017

Dovid Katz, “The ‘Double Genocide’ Theory“, Jewish Currents, 26 October 2017

Saudi bots supporting Trump

Ben Norton, “‘Trump Will Destroy Iran!’ Saudis Cheer on Anti-Muslim President“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 8 February 2017

Jamie Kirchick lying and libeling

Ben Norton, “No, they don’t support Trump: Smeared left-wing writers debunk the myth“, Salon, 17 August 2016

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 8

Episode 7 show notes – South Koreans resist US military presence and war with DPRK

South Korean anti-war protesters

Moderate Rebels episode 7

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss Donald Trump’s genocidal threats against North Korea and the growing anti-war protests in the South against the deployment of the THAAD system and the presence of 28,000 US troops.

Max reports on the ground from South Korea capital Seoul, where he interviews Gayoon Baek and Wang-Soon Young, organizers from the activist group People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. They detail how the US has militarized the Korean peninsula, the damage this militarization has done to Korean society, and prospects for peace with the DPRK in the future.

Show Notes

People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy website

Thousands of South Koreans protest the US’ missile defense system“, Agence France-Presse, 24 June 2017

Guy Taylor, “Protesters say THAAD missile system is more about U.S. militarism than South Korean protection“, Washington Times, 22 May 2017

Dena Takruri, “Is The U.S. Military Prepping For War With North Korea?”, AJ+, 13 September 2017

S. Nathan Park, “South Korea’s Nostalgia for Dictatorship Has (Mostly) Predictable Results“, Foreign Policy, 15 November 2016

Dave Hazzan, “Is South Korea Regressing Into a Dictatorship?“, Foreign Policy, 14 July 2016

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 7

Episode 6 show notes – Understanding North Korea and US militarization: Dispatch from Seoul, with Wol-san Liem

moderate rebels north korea

Moderate Rebels episode 6

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss North Korea, the Trump administration’s genocidal threats, the bloody history of the “forgotten” Korean War, and how the US has militarized South Korea.

Blumenthal reports on-the-ground in Seoul, where he interviews labor organizer Wol-san Liem on anti-war activism, THAAD protests, government repression, and the potential for peace and reunification in the Korean peninsula.

0:00 to 15:34 – North Korea
15:34 to 28:49 – Korean War
28:58 to 58:07 – Wol-san Liem interview on South Korea

Show Notes

North Korea

Ben Norton, Max Blumenthal, “Pundits Slam Trump’s Biblical Language on North Korea, But Praise His Defense Secretary’s Genocidal Threats“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 10 August 2017

Tim Shorrock, “How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogen and the CIA Secretly Planned to Force Regime Change in North Korea“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 5 September 2017

Tim Shorrock, “Diplomacy With North Korea Has Worked Before, and Can Work Again“, The Nation, 5 September 2017

Jon Schwarz, “North Korea Keeps Saying it Might Give Up its Nuclear Weapons — But Most News Outlets Won’t Tell You That“, The Intercept, 25 August 2017

Korean War

Blaine Harden, “The U.S. war crime North Korea won’t forget“, The Washington Post, 24 March 2015

The hate, though, is not all manufactured. It is rooted in a fact-based narrative, one that North Korea obsessively remembers and the United States blithely forgets.

The story dates to the early 1950s, when the U.S. Air Force, in response to the North Korean invasion that started the Korean War, bombed and napalmed cities, towns and villages across the North. It was mostly easy pickings for the Air Force, whose B-29s faced little or no opposition on many missions.

The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless, even by the assessment of America’s own leaders. “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,” Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984. Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later secretary of state, said the United States bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.” After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops.

Although the ferocity of the bombing was criticized as racist and unjustified elsewhere in the world, it was never a big story back home. U.S. press coverage of the air war focused, instead, on “MiG alley,” a narrow patch of North Korea near the Chinese border. There, in the world’s first jet-powered aerial war, American fighter pilots competed against each other to shoot down five or more Soviet-made fighters and become “aces.” War reporters rarely mentioned civilian casualties from U.S. carpet-bombing. It is perhaps the most forgotten part of a forgotten war.


Scholar Bruce Cumings

Bruce Cumings, “Americans once carpet-bombed North Korea. It’s time to remember that past“, The Guardian, 13 August 2017

Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, University of Chicago, September 2005

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 6

Interview: Saudi activist Mohammed al-Nimr on oppression of Shia, attack on Awamiya, Wahhabism

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton interview Saudi activist Mohammed al-Nimr, the son of the pro-democracy leader and Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed by the Saudi regime in January 2016, about the political situation in Saudi Arabia, and US support for it.

Mohammed discusses the monarchy’s violent oppression of the Shia minority; the brutal attack on and destruction of the Shia-majority town of Awamiya, in the eastern Qatif province; and Saudi Arabia’s state-sponsored extremist ideology of Wahhabism.

This is the full interview with Mohammed al-Nimr, accompanying Moderate Rebels episode 5: “Orb of Evil: Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia”.

Show Notes

Mohammed al-Nimr

Ben Norton, “‘Tyranny will fall’: Son of executed Saudi dissident al-Nimr shares his incredible story“, Salon, 15 March 2016

Ben Norton, “Inside the first-ever summit calling for an end to the “suicidal death pact between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia“, Salon, 10 March 2016


Steven Chase, Robert Fife, “Ottawa calls for probe into apparent Saudi use of Canadian-made armoured vehicles against citizens,” The Globe and Mail, 28 July 2017

Katie Paul, “Saudi security forces flatten old quarter of Shi’ite town“, Reuters, 9 August 2016

Sami Aboudi, “Saudi man killed trying help citizens flee Awamiya: sources“, Reuters, 3 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Three-year-old boy dies amid siege of Saudi Shia town“, Middle East Eye, 9 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Saudi bulldozers flatten Shia town as residents flee carnage“, Middle East Eye, 3 August 2017

Episode 5 show notes – Orb of Evil: Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia, with Mohammed al-Nimr

moderate rebels episode 5

Moderate Rebels episode 5

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss how Saudi Arabia is at the heart of Donald Trump’s Middle East policy. We are joined by activist Mohammed al-Nimr, the son of the executed dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, to discuss the Saudi regime’s attack on the Shia community of Awamiya.

Blumenthal and Norton also introduce the semi-regular segment Thought Loser, starring Brookings Institution senior fellow Shadi Hamid, a staunch supporter of NATO and its catastrophic 2011 regime change war in Libya.

0:00 to 2:40 – Intro
2:41 to 20:16 – Thought Loser: Shadi Hamid, NATO, and Libya
20:17 to 40:57 – Saudi Arabia and Trump
40:48 to 1:01:56 – Mohammed al-Nimr interview and Awamiya

Show Notes

Saudi Arabia and Donald Trump

Max Blumenthal, “In the Saudis’ Den of Extremism, Trump Trades Advanced Weapons for a $200 Billion Investment in Rust Belt Swing States“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 18 May 2017

Kate Bennett, “Saudis, UAE pledge $100 million to Ivanka Trump-proposed fund“, CNN, 21 May 2017

Donald Trump, “Statement by the President on the Terrorist Attacks in Iran“, The White House, 7 June 2017

UAE and Yousef al-Otaiba

Ryan Grim, “Diplomatic Underground: The Sordid Double Life of Washington’s Most Powerful Ambassador“, The Intercept, 30 August 2017

Ben Norton, “Emails Expose How Saudi Arabia and UAE Work the U.S. Media to Push for War“, AlterNet Grayzone Project, 9 June 2017

Mohammed al-Nimr

Ben Norton, “‘Tyranny will fall’: Son of executed Saudi dissident al-Nimr shares his incredible story“, Salon, 15 March 2016

Ben Norton, “Inside the first-ever summit calling for an end to the “suicidal death pact between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia“, Salon, 10 March 2016

Shadi Hamid

Shadi Hamid, “Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They’re wrong.“, Vox, 5 April 2016


Ben Norton, “U.K. Parliament report details how NATO’s 2011 war in Libya was based on lies“, Salon, 16 September 2016

Julian Borger, Terry Macalister, “The race is on for Libya’s oil, with Britain and France both staking a claim“, The Guardian, 1 September 2011

Sudarsan Raghavan, “A reporter’s journey through Tripoli: Long lines, kidnappings and murder“, The Washington Post, 1 August 2017

Under Gaddafi, the oil-producing country was once one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Even as the economy struggled in his last years, Libyans enjoyed free health care, education and other benefits under the eccentric strongman’s brand of socialism.

The insecurity that followed Gaddafi’s death has ripped apart the North African country. Rival governments and an array of armed groups compete for influence and territory. The economy is on the verge of collapse. Criminal gangs prey on the vulnerable.

In Tripoli, parliament and other buildings are concrete carcasses, shattered by heavy artillery fire, rocket-propelled grenades and tank shells. Clashes often erupt suddenly, trapping residents in their homes and creating new no-go zones.


Steven Chase, Robert Fife, “Ottawa calls for probe into apparent Saudi use of Canadian-made armoured vehicles against citizens,” The Globe and Mail, 28 July 2017

Katie Paul, “Saudi security forces flatten old quarter of Shi’ite town“, Reuters, 9 August 2016

Sami Aboudi, “Saudi man killed trying help citizens flee Awamiya: sources“, Reuters, 3 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Three-year-old boy dies amid siege of Saudi Shia town“, Middle East Eye, 9 August 2017

Alex MacDonald, “Saudi bulldozers flatten Shia town as residents flee carnage“, Middle East Eye, 3 August 2017

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 5

Episode 4 show notes – The war comes home: The racist right after Charlottesville, with Eugene Puryear

charlottesville alt right

Moderate Rebels episode 4

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton are joined by activist and author Eugene Puryear. We discuss the white supremacist fascist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the terror attack on anti-racist protesters.

Blumenthal, Norton, and Puryear detail what exactly the alt-right is, how it originates in neo-Confederate politics and the long history of white supremacy in the US, what fuels it, and how it ultimately serves powerful billionaire interests — even while pretending to oppose them. We also debunk neoliberal centrist Democrat talking points about the so-called “alt-left” and horseshoe theory.

Key Quotes

“So much of what Trump has powered himself on was basically taking dog-whistle politics and turning it into a foghorn.”
-Eugene Puryear (3:19)

“It’s nothing new for powerful forces to try to find a way to channel the anger that actually could disrupt them.”
-Eugene Puryear (18:00)

“Neo-Nazism and white supremacy is a global project. In some cases we [the US government] oppose it, and then we have the ‘woke Nazis’ abroad [in Ukraine, the Baltic states, etc.].”
-Max Blumenthal (22:29)

“A huge portion of what Hitler was trying to do, he was looking at the United States and borrowing a lot of ideas from race science and eugenics … America has been one of the number one innovators of racial hatred on the planet, the United States of America.”
-Eugene Puryear (30:46)

“The combination of Nazism, neo-Confederatism, the Christian Identity movement, the KKK, all of these white supremacist ideologies, these far-right militias, has created a kind of unique fascist brew here in the United States that both predates Nazi Germany but also takes from it.”
-Eugene Puryear (33:09)

“These people lost the war, and somehow are still able to celebrate this terrible institution as if they won. There’s more celebration of the Confederacy in America than the Union. It’s an unbelievable state of affairs.”
-Eugene Puryear (39:14)

“In so many ways their [the alt-right] emphasis on a white identity politics benefits elites.”
-Max Blumenthal (54:26)

“The concept of an ‘alt-left,’ that actually is the left wing of the alt-right, which I think doesn’t exist except maybe in terms of an alternative left of people who are highly aestheticized and have tattoos and work for VICE magazine and who advance neoconservative regime change policies in Venezuela, Syria, and elsewhere.”
-Max Blumenthal (54:41)

“It’s one of the most intellectually dishonest exercises I’ve ever seen, this attempt to connect the alt-right to the ‘alt-left,’ the true far left.”
-Eugene Puryear (55:39)

“They [the alt-right] want to end the wars abroad to intensify the war at home.”
-Eugene Puryear (56:59)

Marcus Luttrell “at the Republican National Convention stood up and said ‘your war is here, your war is at home.’ And that was really to me the signal call of what Trump’s administration was going to represent.”
-Max Blumenthal (58:09)

The alt-right “really reflects overall this ideology that sees the contradictions in society as not contradictions between one class and another class — between the capitalists, the rich, the 1 percent, the bourgeoisie, and the working class — but rather between races, between genders. It’s this kind of illusion. So instead of thinking about wars abroad as international imperial wars for empire, for corporate profits, for control of natural resources, you can go on and on, instead it’s about fighting at home for white identity, it’s about fighting to maintain male supremacy and patriarchy.”
-Ben Norton (58:41)

“Not only are they ideologically and politically opposed, but the left and the so-called alt-right — which, again, is just a rebranding of neo-fascism in the 21st century — they have completely different class characters. One is bankrolled by billionaires; one is in opposition to billionaires. They can say all they want that they support taxing the rich, etc., but the alt-right is not a working-class movement.”
-Ben Norton (1:01:17)

“The alt-right is certainly 100 percent for establishing very rigid hierarchies. They have sort of a racial science that also believes that there is something of a biological reality that leaves behind income inequality … So the entire thing is really a defense of privilege, and a defense of hierarchy, and a defense of elitism.”
-Eugene Puryear (1:03:56)

“The alt-right prescriptions aren’t really to break up all of the banks, or this, that, and the third. It’s really to return to their own idealized version of the rise of American capitalism.”
-Eugene Puryear (1:04:31)

Show Notes

Eugene Puryear

By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear on Facebook

By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear on  iTunes

Charlottesville fascist rally

Southern Poverty Law Center, “The people, groups and symbols at Charlottesville,” August 15 2017

Southern Poverty Law Center, “Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville,” August 12 2017

Southern Poverty Law Center, “Alleged Charlottesville Driver Who Killed One Rallied With Alt-Right Vanguard America Group,” August 12 2017

The “alt-left” smear

Ben Norton, “How Online Trolls Pushing for Regime Change in Syria Helped Popularize Trump’s Abusive Attack on the ‘Alt-Left’,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, August 17 2017

Indivisible and Democratic Party ties

From the Indivisible Guide website:

“The Indivisible Project is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization” with “501(c)(3) status with the Tides Foundation. … Indivisible is a project of the Advocacy Fund.”

Black Awakening in Capitalist America

Robert L. Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist America: An Analytical History, 1969

The Cultural Cold War

Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, The New Press, 1999

Andrea Chalupa and Ukraine’s Euromaidan

Andrea Chalupa, “Ukraine’s Future Belongs to Its Dreamers,” Huffington Post

Andrea Chalupa, “Andrea Chalupa: Global Maidan – a gathering in NYC for civic activists,” Kyiv Post, October 29 2014

Ukraine and Hillary Clinton

Kenneth P. Vogel, David Stern, “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire: Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton,” Politico, January 11 2017

Andriy Parubiy and Ukrainian fascism

Ben Norton, Max Blumenthal, “John McCain and Paul Ryan Hold ‘Good Meeting’ With Veteran Ukrainian Nazi Demagogue Andriy Parubiy,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, June 23 2017

FBI and Islamophobes

Eli Clifton, “New Documents Reveal FBI’s Islamophobic Counterterrorism Training,” ThinkProgress, September 15 2011

Matt Duss, “FBI Leaking To Neocon Conspiracy-Theorist Frank Gaffney?“, ThinkProgress, August 23 2010

Anti-Muslim bigot Frank Gaffney

Ben Norton, “The 5 craziest things about Ted Cruz’s extremist, neo-McCarthyist, anti-Muslim foreign policy adviser Frank Gaffney,” Salon, March 17 2016

Philip Bump, “Meet Frank Gaffney, the anti-Muslim gadfly reportedly advising Donald Trump’s transition team,” The Washington Post, November 16 2016

Molly McKew

Kyiv Post bio: ” Molly McKew is a writer and an information warfare expert. From 2009 to 2013 she worked as an adviser to Mikheil Saakashvili, then the president of Georgia.”

The Fascist Creep

Alexander Reid Ross, Against the Fascist Creep, AK Press, 2017

The Road to Wellville and Kellogg’s racism

Roger Ebert review of The Road to Wellville, October 28 1994

John Harvey Kellogg and “Eugenics and the Race Betterment Movement,” Chuck Holmgren, University of Virginia American Studies program

Ransom Riggs, “The Guy Who Invented Corn Flakes Was A Strange, Strange Man,” February 1 2011

Edward Sebesta and Neo-Confederate research

Edward Sebesta on Twitter

Max Blumenthal, “Why Scrapping the Confederate Flag Is a Threat to a Huge Swath of the Right-Wing Movement,” AlterNet, July 6 2015

James W. Loewen, Edward H. Sebesta, The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” about the “Lost Cause”, University Press of Mississippi, 2010

Durham Confederate statue and Workers World Party

Who are the Workers World Party, the group who helped organize the Durham Confederate statue toppling,” ABC11, August 16 2017

Fascist Richard Spencer speech

Alt-right-funding billionaire Robert Mercer

Max Kutner, “Meet Robert Mercer, the Mysterious Billionaire Benefactor of Breitbart,” Newsweek, November 21 2016

Carole Cadwalladr, “Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media: With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network,” The Guardian, February 26 2017

Jane Mayer, “The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency,” The New Yorker, March 27 2017

Islamophobia and Park51 community center

Alan Pyke, “Hedge Fund CEO Behind Trump Campaign Makeover Masterminded ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Smear,” ThinkProgress, August 19 2016

Capitalist class character of white supremacist movements

Christopher Petrella, “Well-educated elites are no strangers to white supremacy,” The Washington Post, August 14 2017

Richard Spencer’s enormous family farm

Jen Kirby, “Of Course White Nationalist Richard Spencer Gets Millions in Federal Subsidies for His Family’s Cotton Farm in Louisiana,” New York Magazine, March 17 2017

Richard Spencer runs the National Policy Institute, an anodyne name for a white-supremacist think tank. He is also, according to a new report from Reveal, one of the absentee landlords on his family’s 5,200-acre cotton and corn farm in a poor, rural area of Louisiana. That farm is also heavily supported by the United States government; between 2008 and 2015, the operation received $2 million in federal farm subsidies.

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 4

Episode 3 show notes – The sordid history of US proxy war in Syria, with Gareth Porter

Harakat Sham al-Islam, ISIS, al-Qaeda

Moderate Rebels episode 3

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton interview Gareth Porter, an award-winning investigative journalist who has done extensive reporting on the US proxy war in Syria, and how the CIA program arming and training rebels strengthened al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other extremist Salafi groups.

We discuss the military-industrial complex and how billionaire-backed think tanks funded by arms manufacturers and fossil fuel corporations fuel the permanent war state. And we address the historical parallels to the US wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam, and what could come in the future after the Syrian war winds down.

This interview expands on episode 2 of Moderate Rebels.

Show Notes

Gareth Porter’s Syria reporting

Gareth Porter, “How CIA and Allies Trapped Obama in the Syrian Arms Debacle,” The American Conservative, July 27 2017

Gareth Porter, “How America Armed Terrorists in Syria,” The American Conservative, June 22 2017

Gareth Porter, “Behind the real US strategic blunder in Syria,” Middle East Eye, December 27 2016

Gareth Porter, “US strikes on Syrian troops: Report data contradicts ‘mistake’ claims,” Middle East Eye, December 6 2016

Pentagon official and Afghanistan mujahideen CIA echoes

Michael G. Vickers, “The Trump administration should not give up on removing Assad in Syria,” The Washington Post, July 23 2017

US-trained rebels and rebranded Syrian al-Qaeda, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)

Ben Norton, “U.S.-Armed ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Join Al-Qaeda’s ‘Bin Laden Front’ in New Coalition,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, February 1 2017

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Thomas Joscelyn, “Rebranding Terror: Nusra’s Renaming Is Part of al Qaeda’s Plan,” Foreign Affairs, August 28 2016

Ben Norton, “Al Qaeda Is Attacking Major Syrian Cities with US Weapons — but You Wouldn’t Know That from the Media,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, March 22 2017

State Department and HTS terrorist designation

Evan Dyer, “Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate escapes from Canada’s terror list,” CBC News, May 15 2017

Bombing of Syrian evacuation buses at Rashidin

Ben Norton, “A Tale of Two Syrian Cities Under Attack Exposes Western Media’s Pro-War Hypocrisy,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, April 24 2017

Atlantic Council

Ben Norton, “While Turkish Bodyguards Brutalized Protesters, This DC Think Tank Connected Erdogan with Foreign Policy Insiders,” AlterNet Grayzone Project, May 19 2017

Regime change fraud Elizabeth O’Bagy and Syrian Emergency Task Force

Max Blumenthal, “Shady PR operatives, pro-Israel ties, anti-Castro money: Inside the Syrian opposition’s DC spin machine,” Mondoweiss, September 7 2013

Anadolu Agency report on US military bases in Syria

Levent Tok, Mohamad Misto, Selen Temizer, “US increases military posts supporting PKK/PYD in Syria,” Anadolu Agency, July 18 2017

Map of US military bases in Syria, from the Turkish government mouthpiece Daily Sabah:

Brett McGurk at Middle East Institute (MEI)

US Envoy McGurk blames Ankara for turning a blind eye to al Qaida safe haven in Idlib,” Washington Hattı, July 29 2017

Gulf regime-funded Middle East Institute panel “Assessing the Trump Administration’s Counterterrorism Policy,” featuring Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, and neoconservative regime change hawks Charles Lister and Jennifer Cafarella

McGurk begins speaking at 51:57 in the following video:

Listen to Moderate Rebels episode 3 here:

Episode 2 show notes – End of CIA’s Syrian ghost war and al-Qaeda’s renaissance

Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham flags in Syria

Moderate Rebels episode 2

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton discuss the billion-dollar CIA program arming and training rebels in Syria, detailing how it strengthened extremist groups including ISIS and al-Qaeda. We use mainstream media reports and government documents to conclusively show how the US knew it and its allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey were fueling genocidal Salafi militants.

Blumenthal and Norton also address how the failure of mainstream liberal parties and politicians to challenge this, and to oppose the national security state in general, has led to the growth of extremely dangerous far-right forces, who scapegoat Muslims and refugees for the problems caused by war and empire.

Show Notes

Media on CIA and Syria

That’s not to say that the CIA effort was bootless. Run from secret operations centers in Turkey and Jordan, the program pumped many hundreds of millions of dollars to many dozens of militia groups. One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years. By the summer of 2015, the rebels were at the gates of Latakia on the northern coast, threatening Assad’s ancestral homeland and Russian bases there. Rebel fighters were also pushing toward Damascus.

History of CIA program in Syria

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources familiar with the matter said.

Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are paying salaries to rebel forces fighting in the Syrian revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomat said on Saturday.

“The payment has been going on for months and the agreement was made on April 2 by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with logistical organization from Turkey where some Free Syrian Army factions are based,’ said the source, who requested anonymity.

“The point of this is to encourage as many factions of the Syrian army to defect and to organize the FSA.”

Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.

The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.

CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.

The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well.

Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels on AK-47 assault rifles and tank-destroying missiles.

The support for the Syrian rebels is only the latest chapter in the decadeslong relationship between the spy services of Saudi Arabia and the United States, an alliance that has endured through the Iran-contra scandal, support for the mujahedeen against the Soviets in Afghanistan and proxy fights in Africa. Sometimes, as in Syria, the two countries have worked in concert. In others, Saudi Arabia has simply written checks underwriting American covert activities. …

From the moment the C.I.A. operation was started, Saudi money supported it. …

American officials have not disclosed the amount of the Saudi contribution, which is by far the largest from another nation to the program to arm the rebels against President Bashar al-Assad’s military. But estimates have put the total cost of the arming and training effort at several billion dollars.

The White House has embraced the covert financing from Saudi Arabia — and from Qatar, Jordan and Turkey — at a time when Mr. Obama has pushed gulf nations to take a greater security role in the region.

Al-Qaeda dominating the Syrian opposition










Former CIA director Mike Morell speaking:

The two groups that are in some way affiliated with al Qaeda — al-Nusra and then Ahrar ash-Sham — are the two most effective organizations on the battlefield. And because they’re so good at fighting the Syrians some of the moderate members of the opposition joined forces with them to fight the Syrians.

The end of the civil war in Syria could offer one of two bad outcomes: a stronger more brutal Assad regime or a rebel government influenced by al Qaeda.

A recently leaked 2014 email from Hillary Clinton acknowledges, citing Western intelligence sources, that the U.S.-backed regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported ISIS.

“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” the document states.

This adds to a growing body of evidence that theocratic Gulf monarchies have helped fuel the surge of extremist groups throughout the Middle East.

Another newly released email, from January 2016, includes an excerpt from a private October 2013 speech in which Clinton acknowledged that “the Saudis have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years.”

In that same speech, Clinton noted that she wanted to pursue “a more robust, covert action trying to vet, identify, train and arm cadres of rebels” in Syria, that would have fought both the government of President Bashar al-Assad and “the Al-Qaeda-related jihadist groups that have, unfortunately, been attracted to Syria.”

She added however, “That’s been complicated by the fact that the Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons — and pretty indiscriminately — not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.”

Former vice president Joe Biden speaking:

Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria…

The Turks were great friends, and I’ve a great relationship with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, … the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war. What did they do?” Biden asked, according to a recording of the speech posted on the White House’s website. “They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world…

President Erdogan told me — he is an old friend — said, ‘You were right; we let too many people through. Now we are trying to seal the border.’

Watch Biden’s remarks here:

Qatar’s former prime minister admitted in an interview that the United States and its Gulf allies supported Islamist extremists in Syria.

In CIA-run training sites located in Jordan and Turkey, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani explained, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Qatar, “all of us, we [were] supporting the same groups,” he said. Among them were extremists, al-Thani noted.

This testimony adds to the growing body of evidence that the U.S. government and its proxies backed hard-line Salafi-jihadists in order to weaken the Syrian government and its allies Iran and Hezbollah.

US regime change attempts in Syria before 2011

This cable suggests that the US goal in December 2006 was to undermine the Syrian government by any available means, and that what mattered was whether US action would help destabilize the government, not what other impacts the action might have. In public the US was in favor of economic reform, but in private the US saw conflict between economic reform and “entrenched, corrupt forces” as an “opportunity.” In public, the US was opposed to “Islamist extremists” everywhere; but in private it saw the “potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists” as an “opportunity” that the US should take action to try to increase. …

Possible action:

PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business.

Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders) are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue. …


THE KHADDAM FACTOR: Khaddam knows where the regime skeletons are hidden, which provokes enormous irritation from Bashar, vastly disproportionate to any support Khaddam has within Syria. Bashar Asad personally, and his regime in general, follow every news item involving Khaddam with tremendous emotional interest. The regime reacts with self-defeating anger whenever another Arab country hosts Khaddam or allows him to make a public statement through any of its media outlets. …

Possible Action:

We should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam access to their media outlets, providing him with venues for airing the SARG’s dirty laundry. We should anticipate an overreaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbors. …

Possible Action:


The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rif’at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime’s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.

Al-Qaeda taking over Syrian cities

UN and Syria death count

Assad is routinely accused of murdering 250,000 of his own people. The only problem is that there’s no proof he did.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Rami Abdulrahman

Rami Abdulrahman and his SOHR have been openly pro-opposition from the beginning.

An FSA flag was at the top of the SOHR website until 2017.

Abdulrahman fled Syria in 2000 and never went back.

The SOHR, which virtually every major news outlet relies on for reports, is based out of Abdulrahman’s home in Coventry, England.

Israel and Syrian rebels

Omar al-Shishani’s US training

Syrian refugees fleeing rebels

Rebel massacre of Syrian Armenians at Kasab

Adam Schiff and Samantha Power

Full video here:

Free Syrian Army (FSA) and media

  • Marc Lynch, The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East, 2016, page 121

The FSA was still something of a myth, with a media presence far outstripping its actual organizational capacity.

The perennial, deep problem of the Syrian opposition is that it remains fragmented, disorganized, and highly localized. This has not changed. The “Free Syrian Army” remains something of a fiction, a convenient mailbox for a diverse, unorganized collection of local fighting groups. Those groups have been trying to coordinate more effectively, no doubt, but they remain deeply divided. For all their protestations of solidarity, the Syrian National Council and the FSA show few signs of working well together, while repeated splits and conflicts have emerged in the media within the FSA.

Jordan’s police state, mukhabarat, and torture

Human rights groups charge the mukhabarat, portrayed in the new Ridley Scott movie ‘Body of Lies,’ with systematic torture.

Ben Norton on evolution of Syria views

Listen to episode 2 here: