Jan 7, 2019
On December 20, Donald Trump proclaimed that he had decided to pull all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, as well as half the U.S. troop contingent from Afghanistan, another 7,000 troops ... all within 30 days. And he made these pronouncements by tweet – not the procedure that presidents are supposed to follow in carrying out policy. But for Trump, this political stunt was a way to appeal to his voting base at a time that he is coming under increased political pressure, as the Democrats were about to take control of the House of Representatives and the Mueller probe was getting closer to issuing its damning report.
Almost immediately, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and the U.S. Special Envoy to the Coalition to Fight ISIS, Brett McGurk, resigned in protest. And most of the U.S. news media attacked Trump for trying to single-handedly reverse longstanding U.S. policy. A parade of generals, politicians and self-proclaimed experts chimed in.
Within two weeks, Trump and his administration began to backtrack. While visiting U.S. troops in Iraq on New Year’s Eve, Trump said that U.S. troops would be withdrawn “slowly” from Syria. On January 3, Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News that Trump was still in the “process of evaluating” whether to withdraw any troops from Afghanistan. Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, a Trump ally, told the news media that Trump had assured him that the withdrawal of U.S. troops was “on hold.”
Obviously, U.S. policy is not made according to the whims or personal beliefs of any president – least of all by a ridiculous tweet. In the real world, U.S. policy is made by a huge apparatus composed of thousands of officials in the Pentagon, State Department, CIA, NSA – the permanent government apparatus that functions no matter who is in office, Republican or Democrat. That apparatus defends the interests of the U.S. capitalist class, that is, the interests and profits of the U.S. oil companies, military contractors, banks, engineering companies throughout the world.
While certainly the U.S. military has been bogged down in Syria for a long time and in Afghanistan for a lot longer, it is not about to suddenly withdraw from this vital region. And it is certainly not going to withdraw in order to feather the nest of a politician. For the U.S. military is in the Middle East to defend the profits and power of U.S. imperialism in a region vital for its resources, its markets and its strategic location, the crossroads of the world.
Of course, the U.S. military could make it seem like it is withdrawing some troops ... but only in order to replace them with more CIA, Special Forces, mercenaries and stepped up bombing. This is what the U.S. military has already been doing in Afghanistan for many years.
All the excuses that U.S. officials drum up to justify carrying out these wars are plain lies. No, the U.S. military is not in those countries to stop terrorism. On the contrary, the wars themselves create a breeding ground for terrorism. All the sides arm and train religious fundamentalist terrorist groups. Certainly, given the level of devastation, these groups can always find desperate people, with no future and totally brutalized, in order to do their bidding.
The U.S. military machine has its own terrorists. Al Qaeda, for example, was originally created by the U.S. CIA to wage war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And the U.S. CIA still supports terrorist groups that call themselves al Qaeda in Syria today! In Afghanistan, the officials that the U.S. military anointed in order to run the government and army are themselves war lords and power brokers, that is, terrorists.
But the biggest terrorist is the U.S. military itself. The U.S. military has carried out heavier bombing of Afghanistan over the past year than ever before. And in Syria over the past three months, the U.S. carried out more than 430 bombing missions. In reality, the U.S. military has helped set the entire region on fire, a fire that is growing increasingly out of control.
Trump can pretend that the U.S. has nothing to do with these terrible wars, that they are just a product of “foreigners,” using his usual demeaning, “America First” rhetoric. But the fact is that these wars are a product of the capitalist system, a system that is in decay and decline, that is creating increasingly barbaric conditions over growing stretches of the world.
These wars are not a mistake, or a supposedly bad policy carried out by this or that politician. They are a necessary product of the functioning of a capitalist society based on the profit of a tiny minority at the expense of the vast majority. The wars are based on the drive of the capitalists to plunder the world in order to enrich themselves.
To end these wars, the workers in this country and around the world are going to have to get rid of the cause of the wars: the capitalist system itself.