The Syrian Conflict: A Call to End U.S. Imperialism

The Syrian Conflict: A Call to End U.S. Imperialism

By ZACH BALL | October 13, 2018

On the night of April 13th, 2018, global news media exploded with wall-to-wall coverage of a joint air strike launched by the United States, Britain, and France against various research and military facilities in Syria. The attack came in response to reports earlier in April that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had purportedly launched a chemical weapons attack against civilians, killing at least 42 people and leaving many others hospitalized.  

While American involvement in the Syrian civil war has been ongoing since 2014 (in the form of military aid to various rebel factions in the region), the most recent airstrike, along with a separate air strike launched by President Donald J. Trump in April 2017, constitute direct attacks by the United States on the Syrian government. The Trump administration announced in January that it plans to sustain American military presence in the country in order to continue working toward overthrowing the Assad regime.  

As America ramps up involvement in the Syrian civil war, it is imperative for the world’s sole superpower to reflect on potential geopolitical outcomes of regime change operations. With an increased American military presence in Syria on the horizon, it is essential, now more than ever, for American voters and government officials to push back against mainstream media narratives about the true motives behind modern United States imperialism. It is deceptive to suggest that the United States’ desire for geopolitical dominance and the campaign contributions of defense contractors who stand to profit from war do not play a significant role in the United States’ international military presence.

The most notorious example of international United States involvement with unintended consequences is the American occupation of Iraq, which began in 2003 after the Bush administration reported that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, a claim which later turned out to be false. When the United States military successfully toppled the government of President Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, it created a power vacuum that increased tensions between domestic Sunni and Shia Islamic groups, and allowed jihadist terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (I.S.I.S.) to gain significant influence in the region. While President Hussein was no friend to human rights, President George W. Bush’s decision to oust him and implement a regime change inadvertently resulted in the destabilization of the region and paved the way for I.S.I.S. to come about. These ends certainly do not seem to justify the means, with there being tens of thousands of American military deaths and more than a hundred thousand Iraqi civilian casualties, not to mention the $1 trillion used to fund the Iraq war.

Back in 2011, the Obama administration approved military operations that were instrumental in ousting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The United State gave military support to rebel factions and militias who sought to remove Gaddafi from power to end the ongoing civil war. The effects of United States involvement in Libya are just now beginning to be observed, and they do not appear promising. Libya is now afflicted with similar political instability and violence to that of Iraq.

Additionally, slave markets have become more widespread in the region ever since the overthrow of Gaddafi, as African migrants arriving on ships are being forced into servitude. In the aftermath of the conflict, Libya has been branded a “failed state” by prominent media outlets, yet there seems to be little to no means for the United Nations to effectively stop these inhumane practices. Once again, United States military intervention in the Middle East has destabilized another country and can be argued to have aided in the expansion of slavery in the 21st century.  

If the United States were truly concerned with human rights and the well-being of the innocent around the world, then the United States would not be providing military support and arms to Saudi Arabia, a country which is currently blockading supplies to Yemen and, just recently, accused of killing a Saudi journalist and staunch critic of the government. The United States would also not be providing aid to the state of Israel, which upholds an apartheid system that discriminates heavily against Palestinian civilians and suppresses opponents by firing bullets at them.

If there is anything to be learned from Iraq and Syria, then it is that America cannot and should not police the entire world, even if that means that repressive governments like that of al-Assad retain power. With torture advocate Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and Iraq War apologist John Bolton as national security advisor, the Trump administration appears almost destined to reflect that of the second Bush administration. Americans must dissent against skewed media narratives and politicians who champion these types of irresponsible interventions. In addition, Americans must push for those in positions of power, regardless of their political affiliation, to oppose needless war and bloodshed. Oftentimes, the evil left unknown is greater than that which is known.

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