Marshall Blesofsky on Military Recruiters in Long Beach, Zach Madeiros on Syria

1 Jun
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The audience waits for the program to start, Saturday, May 13, at Hellada Gallery; Photo by Barry Saks

In the small backroom of the Hellada Gallery, 117 Linden Ave., on Saturday, May 13, Marshall Bleskofsky spoke on the Recruit Awareness Project in Long Beach and Zach Medeiros spoke on Syria to about 20 people.

According to an email sent before the event, this was to be the first of a speakers’ series the Long Beach Area Peace Network would sponsor.

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Videographer Marlene Alvarado as emcee, Saturday, May 13, introducing Marshall Blesofsky; Photo by Barry Saks

With videographer Marlene Alvarado emceeing, the program consisted of a short video Alvarado produced, where Blesofsky spoke at a local solidarity march and rally at the Long Beach Islamic Center, which was earlier threatened; followed with Blesfosky speaking and ending with a photographic presentation of Syria with Medieros speaking.

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Marshall Blesofsky, on Saturday, May 13, Speaking on Military Recruitment in Long Beach; Photo by Barry Saks

Blesofsky said RAP is “to help students make informed choices about (joining) the military.”  He said when the military recruits someone, a contract is signed, in which language exists allowing the military to change the contract, but of course, no such language exists for the recruit.

Blesofsky pointed out, while cities like San Diego and Los Angeles have policies regarding the military recruiters in the high schools, Long Beach has none, essentially giving recruiters full access.  He added, “They (recruiters) can hang out (and) they go to lunch with the students….They get to know the kids, make relationships with the kids or the students and also recruit them.”

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Zach Medeiros, Saturday, May 13, Speaking on Syria; Photo by Barry Saks

Medeiros first provided a summary of the foundations of modern Syria, followed by the non-military aspects of the Syrian revolution, followed by the internationalization of the Syrian war and followed lastly with how we in the United States can best help the Syrians in their struggle.

Medeiros said that after 400 years of foreign domination with first the Ottoman Empire and then the French Mandate, Syrians ended their foreign rule in 1946, “(i)n 1949, Syria’s young democracy was overthrown by an army colonel backed by the CIA” and in 1963 the Syrian Ba’ath Party seized power.  He characterized the Ba’athists as “espous(ing) pan-Arab nationalism, top-down statist modernization, and Arab socialism.”  He added in 1970 Hafez al-Assad, the defense minister and “de-facto leader” took complete control of the country.  Mederios characterized the regime under Hafez al-Assad as “essentially (a) fascist dictatorship.”  He explained how al-Assad was able to maintain power.  He won popular support by improving rural conditions through regime-initiated large modernization, redistributing land to peasants, expanding the state to provide the urban working and middle classes with public sector jobs and he won support of the Alawites by integrating them into the power structure. Regarding state repression, Medeiros said to enforce complete obedience to the state and dictator, the army and secret police were used.

Mederios said in 2000, Hafez al-Assad died and his son, Bahsar, assumed power through a unanimous vote in a “sham election.”  He pointed out Bashar al-Assad accelerated the market liberalization, which “led to a dramatic increase in poverty, unemployment, and the concentration of wealth in an even smaller fraction of society, often in(to) …Assad’s own family.”  Mederios claimed the accelerated market liberalization contributed to making Syria “ripe for…revolutionary fervor…in 2011.”

Regarding the non-violent revolution, Medeiros said it didn’t start as an armed rebellion for revolutionary change, “but (for) things like jobs, basic rights, and an end to corruption, discrimination, brutality, and repression” and it began “as a multi-ethnic, non-sectarian movement.”  He added a democratic awakening occurred with the creation of “scores of independent media centers, films, newspapers, and magazines, and the flourishing of street art and citizen journalism.”

Regarding the internationalization of the Syrian war, Medieros said some leftists who characterize the Syrian revolution as nothing but a US-led plot against the anti-imperialist Assad regime, is a lie.  He argued the Assad regime was not anti-imperialist by pointing out the Syrian government joined the US during the first Gulf War, allowed Israel to keep the Golan Heights, weakened Palestinian resistance and lent the CIA torture during the Bush-Cheney years.  He explained how the US provided minimal limited support to the rebels to contain their revolution.  He said, “When the US began sending aid to rebel groups, it mostly consisted of nonlethal equipment and a trickle of light weapons…The CIA aggressively intervened to stop revolutionaries from gaining access to anti-aircraft weapons…The US repeatedly turned off the minimal flow of arms and ammunition whenever the rebels proved too successful on the battlefield.”

Medieros lastly told the audience how they could help.  He told them to arm themselves with knowledge and not to forget the uprising began as a democratic awakening; to learn and listen to revolutionary-democratic Syrians; to organize solidarity by supporting the White Helmets, the Syrian Medical Society, Doctors without Borders; and to echo the demands of Syrians, such as an end to all sieges, the immediate release of all political prisoners, a massive increase in direct humanitarian aid, the removal of all foreign armies and militias from Syrian soil, accountability for war criminals and to demand rights for refugees.

According to the Dr. Marshall Blesofsky for LBCC (Long Beach Community College District) Trustee Facebook page, Marshall Blesofsky is a retired educator from the University of Southern California and taught in the Allied Health Program at Long Beach City College.

According to the publication “The Socialist,” Zach Medeiros is a history student and is the Male Co-Chair of the Socialist Party’s International Relations Committee.

Barry Saks is married to Marlene Alvarado.

To hear the audio of Marshall Blesofsky’s talk, click here.

To hear the audio of Zach Mederios’s talk, click here.

To download the transcript of Mederios’s talk, click here.

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