Syria’s Civil War and Michael Weiss’ New-Found Calling as Syria Interventionist

Richard Silverstein writes: In 2011, Syrian civil unrest commenced and turned gradually into a regional proxy war. As Syrian rebels began their fight to topple Bashar al-Assad; and Russia and Iran rallied to support the Syrian dictator, Weiss saw a new opportunity to advance his interventionist agenda. He became one of the leading neocon intellectuals advocating muscular U.S. intervention on the side of the Syrian rebels. He advocated those views in publications of the foreign policy elite like Foreign Policy, think tanks like the Carnegie Council for International Affairs, and TV shows too innumerable to mention.

He is a producer’s dream. Like his mentor Hitchens, he is glib and articulate. He explains complicated, confusing issues like ISIS in a media-savvy package. His slashing wit (again, think a dumbed-down version of Hitchens add a note of drama and conspiratorial mystery as well) piques the interest of his audience. Few producers will do enough due diligence to research articles like this one exposing Weiss’ foibles, or damning profiles by James Carden in The Nation or Mark Ames in Pando…

In 2013, Weiss teamed up with Elizabeth O’Bagy to write an article in The Atlantic which advocated regime change in Syria. Separately, she wrote a similar piece for the Wall Street Journal. What the WSJ didn’t reveal was that O’Bagy was a paid consultant for an NGO working to provide military weapons to the Syrian rebels and overthrow Assad, the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF). On the strength of her work, she was invited to testify before Congress. But she had a wee-small problem. She’d embellished her academic record, which led to being fired by the NGO and staining all those who’d championed her, including Weiss. WSJ’s failure to note her affiliation with SETF also posed a clear conflict of interest…

His relationship with oligarchs offers mutual benefit to both: Weiss gains financing, media access and social approval; while the billionaires exploit his dashing exploits in combat zones and intellectual panache to advance their own political and financial interests.

In the Middle Ages, European rulers had court Jews who financed their wars and building projects. But these modern oligarchs don’t need money. They need popularizers who can package and transform political jihad into a simple, appealing mantra. Weiss performs this role admirably.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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