Apr 24, 2017
Accusing Bashar al-Assad of using nerve gas against civilians, Trump ordered a cruise- missile attack on a Syrian airbase.
Al-Assad is a vicious dictator, and this would not be the first attack he directed against civilians.
But we’ve been lied to before by U.S. presidents. Afghanistan supposedly directed the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Saddam Hussein supposedly stored nuclear weapons. Both accusations were fabricated, to justify the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and of Iraq in 2003.
In any case, the U.S. didn’t attack Syria to support the Syrian people. In fact, the U.S. was already bombing Syria as part of a much larger war it has been carrying out throughout the Middle East.
Since mid-2014, the U.S. carried out 18,900 air strikes on Iraq and Syria – targeting these countries with 72,000 bombs and missiles. This violent campaign, which started under Obama, continues under Trump.
In mid-March, U.S. air strikes killed hundreds of civilians near the Syrian city of Aleppo, and in the Syrian city of Raqqa. On March 17, U.S. air strikes flattened a big part of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. In early March, the U.S. sent 40 bombing raids against Yemen in less than a week.
For years, U.S. officials pretended that the wars Bush had launched in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003 were over. The wars going on in Syria, Yemen and Sudan were supposedly “civil wars,” with the U.S. playing no role.
In reality, the U.S. never stopped being the major player in these wars.
Most of the troops were sent by others: allied governments like Turkey and Saudi Arabia; puppet regimes like those in Iraq and Afghanistan; war lords with their militias and terrorist gangs; “private U.S. military contractors” with their mercenaries. They all may wear different uniforms, but they all get their money and arms from the U.S., no matter who is president.
Even if the U.S. never sent another of its own soldiers into the region, these wars would still be U.S. wars – run by the U.S. military, paid for by the U.S. government, fought to rob the region of its oil.
But today the U.S.’s own official troops ARE going back in: to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Syria and to Yemen. They may be mostly special forces, but they are there to command a vast collection of troops, from militias to private military contractors to armies coming from other countries.
The whole region is an intensifying catastrophe. Millions are dead. Masses of people have no place to live, no food to eat, no hospitals, no clean water, etc. The numbers are staggering. The United Nations recently warned, for example, that more than half the population of Yemen faces famine and starvation because of the war, while more than half the population in Syria has been forced from their homes and are living as refugees.
These are U.S. wars. And we pay a big price for them. We pay in a practical way because the money to pay for them is taken from our children’s schools, from our roads, water systems, from all the things needed for us to have a decent life.
But above all, we pay a price humanly. If we ignore them, we give free rein to the U.S. ruling class, which wants these wars, and carries them out in our name. In front of the whole world, they become wars owned by the American people.
Maybe the news we get about the Middle East hides reality, when it’s not an outright lie. But we should understand enough about this country’s ruling class to know that, if they go to war, it is not in the interest of any people. It is for the profit of U.S. corporations and banks.
The big companies and their government are our enemy in this country. They systematically and viciously drive down our standard of living.
They are every bit as much our enemy when they take this country to war. They are the enemy of peoples everywhere, here and around the world.