And so it begins. Despite pledges that the U.S. will not put new “boots on the ground” in Syria, hundreds of Marines have been sent in, supposedly to prevent conflict between U.S. backed militants and Turkish forces. The illegal move has neither Congressional nor UN approval, and it violates Syria’s national sovereignty. Similarly, the Trump administration is preparing to deploy more 1,000 combat troops to Kuwait (currently there are 6,000), to act as a reserve in the “war against terrorism” in Syria and Iraq.
It appears that the Trump regime is projecting a more overtly militarist line, as opposed to Obama’s less bombastic but equally deadly “soft power” approach; in 2016 alone, the U.S. dropped 12,192 bombs on Syria, further destroying infrastructure and killing thousands. The ongoing U.S. sanctions deprive ordinary Syrians of basic necessities of life, and billions of dollars have been spent by the U.S. and Gulf State monarchies to train and arm so-called rebel forces. We’ve seen the results of this strategy before. It was the U.S. invasion of Iraq that gave birth to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to the Islamic State and other terror groups which seek to destroy the secular Syrian state, including so-called “moderate” groups and the “Free Syrian Army.” Going back further, the unintended consequences of U.S. meddling in Afghanistan reverberate to this day.
Well-intentioned progressives who defend western imperialist interventions – such as those who cheered the Oscar win for the “White Helmets” propaganda film – need to ponder these harsh realities. The truth is that any foreign troops fighting in Syria without the invitation or permission of that country’s elected government are invaders. The latest dangerous developments give new urgency to the need for a revitalized anti-war movement in Canada, not more paternalistic cheer-leading for more militarism.