|Alongside people around the world, we are reeling in the wake of Trump’s escalated attack against Syria; his saber rattling against North Korea; and dropping the MOAB – the so-called “mother of all bombs,” largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat- on tunnels in Afghanistan originally funded by the CIA. The suffering of people subject to these attacks is beyond measure. We condemn all war crimes and attacks on civilians, including yesterday’s atrocious bomb on a bus killing 126 evacuees. For attacks underwritten by our own government, those of us who live in the heart of empire have a particular responsibility to stop this aggression.
We know these weren’t Trump’s first strikes on Syria or Afghanistan, and this didn’t start with him. Obama was bombing multiple countries relentlessly with little domestic opposition, and Clinton would no doubt have continued. We have to use this moment to own our history and cut through the smokescreen. US military intervention is never executed for the sake of humanitarian interests and it does not produce peace or democracy.
Daesh/the Islamic State is blowback from almost two decades of war on Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as attacks on other countries in the region) and was fed by Syria’s president Assad. No credible military strategist believes that Trump’s flashy strikes on the Sharyat airstrip, after years of drone bombing Syrian civilians, is geared to support stability or democracy in Syria or anywhere.
We have to ask, why these multi-trillion dollar wars? They’re not for safety or survival or dignity. Not for mine, yours, not for the safety of Syrian babies, not for the dignity of Afghan women, not for the survival of the millions of Yemenis on the brink of mass starvation in a war that the US has been silently waging.
Wars are sold to the US public based on lies. Some of the lies are about material facts or events – Kuwaiti babies tipped out of incubators, or “weapons of mass destruction.” Some of them are lies of intent: We’re going into Afghanistan to “save their women”, into Iraq “because of 9/11”, we’re bombing Syria to “save Syrian children.”
These lies run on constructed, carefully designed fears cultivated over years using racism and its dangerous cousins xenophobia, nationalism, and Islamophobia. Fear of “Arab terrorists”, fear of a clash of civilization (“they’ll impose Sharia law on us.”) Whose lives are worth more, to protect or avenge? Who do you identify yourself with, who constitutes your family or community and whose deaths can we be counted on to raise no objection to as long as they’re constituted as “collateral damage”?
Who benefits from these wars and who develops these lies? Let’s be real that war is an industry and some economies– the U.S. and Israel in particular– are deeply dependent on continued military engagement.
Trump’s odious version of warmaking is deeply dangerous and also offers opportunities for building broader coalitions to oppose him because he is public and blatant. He has refused while president to renounce his opportunities for profit, including his stock in Raytheon while launching their so-called Tomahawk missiles at Syria. Under Trump, Raytheon stands to make $2 billion dollars over the next 5 years on Tomahawks alone.
Let’s be clear about what we oppose and also what we stand for. Let’s re-awaken an anti-war movement in which the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets and airports in defiance of the Muslim ban make an equally strong stand against U.S. aggression in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan. Let’s set a hard line that we must shift our priorities, values and funds towards life instead of death. Let’s move our money from increased military spending into human needs and environmental repair.
You don’t have to memorize every contour of the map of the Arab world in order to stand for the survival of the Syrian people. Most of us who are not from that region, who are living in a society steeped in toxic Islamophobia, do indeed need to be learning and studying more in order to be effective critical thinkers who can translate the messages from the White House and mainstream media. But we can’t let confusion keep us silent while our government is snowballing the levels of death, despair, and volatility worldwide.
We at Catalyst support the people of Syria. The people of Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine. The peace and reunification efforts by Koreans and their allies. Just as we support the the struggles worldwide by people in lands occupied by US bases; indigenous people on this continent and around the world fighting back against continued colonization and cultural and environmental destruction. All of our futures depend on this.
on behalf of Catalyst Project
PS. Here are resources to learn more and actions we can take:
note: We may not agree with every single detail of each of these resources. We encourage reading multiple sources through a lens of critical thinking and curiosity, seeking out voices on the ground and in the diasporas of people affected by these wars, especially for those of us not directly connected.