|December 27, 2018|
On December 19, President Donald Trump announced that he would remove 2,000 US troops “now” from the territory of Syria. Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned over differences with his President over this drawdown. Trump also announced he would remove 7,000 troops from the war on Afghanistan, arguably the longest single US war.
Corporate media and many top officials in the Democratic and Republican Parties raged against what they perceived to be a move toward ending the US wars on those two countries. Some couched their disapproval by criticizing the suddenness of the troop reductions, or by calling attention to the fact that the figure they have a satanized — Russia’s Putin — expressed approval of the withdrawal, but they didn’t oppose continuing the wars.
How ironic it is that the establishment and the establishment media in this country object not to starting a war but to moving in the direction of ending it.
We should rejoice, if indeed Trump were to stop, or even reduce, the unconstitutional, illegal and immoral US war on Syria and equally its war on Afghanistan.
We join the broad range of US peace groups that are welcoming this decision in the direction of reducing the US wars: Veterans for Peace, Black Alliance for Peace, CodePink, Peace Action, AboutFace (formerly known as Iraqi Veterans Against the War), World Beyond War and others.
Public support — above all, in the antiwar movement — for Trump’s withdrawal decision is urgent and necessary. Many in the peace movement recognize the power of the military-industrial–national security complex, the warmongering of both major political parties and the corporate media. These ugly forces oppose withdrawal. Under pressure from them, Trump has backtracked before on his withdrawal pledges.
In Syria, the aim of the US from the beginning was to overthrow the government of Syria, the elected government recognized by and represented in the United Nations. The US — with its allies Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq, Australia, Turkey and other NATO countries — has failed. The Syrian Arab Army did not disintegrate. The majority of Syrians did not join in the imperialist quest, but rallied around their leaders and their army to protect their secular state against the US chosen spearhead of violent regime change: The jihadists, including ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and their various other brand names, whom the US and its allies encouraged, weaponized, escorted and salaried. Syria is not a stalemate. Plan A failed. Regime change policy failed.
Trump’s decision is a matter of tactics. He is not giving up the US drive to dominate the Middle East. He is moving from Plan A to Plan B. He wants mercenaries to do more of the fighting and proxy states to pay more of the bills. This has happened before. Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq left 105,000 private mercenaries in that country.
Nevertheless, Trump’s decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria is a welcome beginning. It should be supported.
A complete change in the toxic US foreign policy toward Syria requires that the US:
- Remove all its troops and military equipment from Syria and bring them home; guarantee that the US won’t make incursions into Syria from neighboring countries and seas.
- Return to Syria all US-occupied territories of the country.
- Stop bombing, stop sending drones over Syria and end all its illegal flights over Syria.
- Remove US spy-agency saboteurs, US mercenaries and other operatives. Ensure that no state gives external support to ISIS, al-Qaeda and the other jihadists in any way.
- End all economic and political sanctions on Syria as evidence US is ending all efforts to overthrow President Assad.
- Stop trying to force US allies to replace US troops and funding; insist that those allies, including Turkey and other NATO powers, Jordan, Israel and the Gulf States, end their invasion of Syria, remove all their military forces from Syrian territory and respect Syrian sovereignty.
- Ensure that NATO ally Turkey not invade Syria to attack the Kurds.
- Clean up the toxic environmental detritus created by the US bombing and its illegal military bases in Syria.
- End the US effort for political isolation of Syria, preventing Syrians from traveling and doing commerce internationally.
- Open US borders to Syrian refugees, terrified by the bombing, devastation and chaos that US imperialism enabled.
- Immediately begin funding humanitarian and reconstruction aid delivered by independent parties as part of reparations.
During the US imperialist war on Vietnam over half a century ago, some opponents of the war suggested, “Declare victory and get out!” In Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and so on, Trump can do just that.
The US Peace Council supports any real moves to end aggressions led by the most powerful imperial economic and military force in world history.