Trump, the withdrawal of troops from Syria, and the strange world of U.S. liberalism
Trump’s planned troop withdrawal from Syria is good news that reflects a major setback for U.S. attempts to dominate the Middle East, and is a real victory for the people of Syria and its anti-imperialist government. The anti-war movement, along with all progressive people, should insist that the Trump administration and the Pentagon follow through on this promise.
This is more than a redeployment of U.S. forces, and treating it so is like saying that U.S. forces in Southeast Asia were ‘redeployed’ after the defeat in Vietnam. To put it this way in the case of Syria negates the fact that the plans of Washington, the Israelis, and the most reactionary Arab states – such as Saudi Arabia – are now in ruins.
In some circles of U.S. liberalism, concern has been expressed about the fate of the Kurdish people in wake of the U.S. troop departure. Certainly, it is true that Kurdish people have legitimate national aspirations. The Kurdish national question is a real thing that needs to be dealt with in the context of a Middle East whose borders are largely the product of Western colonialism, and a just solution needs to be found that weakens the project of imperialist domination. Therefore, it makes no sense at all to rely on the Trump administration as a savior of the Kurds.
The principal organization that is leading the struggle for an independent Kurdistan is the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and this grouping has a large presence in Syria. However, the U.S. government has constructed a legal architecture that has criminalized the PKK – the ‘material support for terrorism’ law, which has been used to treat organizations leading national liberation movements (such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Communist Party of the Philippines) as participants in terrorism. So, the idea is that the U.S. is a defender of the Kurdish movement is a foolish one at best.
Given the history and present practice of the U.S. in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Middle East, the U.S. is anything but a champion of the oppressed – and the issue of Kurds in Syria needs to be evaluated from the standpoint of evaluating what serves to weaken the hold of the Western imperialist powers on the region.
The upside-down world of corporate liberalism
During the Cold War on the socialist camp, U.S. liberalism joined the far right in repressing communists, and waging wars abroad – putting a friendly face on brutality of empire. President Kennedy was typical of the tendency; underneath Camelot was the war on Vietnam, the attempts to strangle socialist Cuba, and efforts to spread and systemize torture thorough out Latin America.
Fast forward to the present time, and some liberal politicians who rightfully advocate a hatred for the Trump administration are opposing the moves to leave Syria and are sad about the departure of the war crime-justifying “Mad Dog” Mathis from the White House. Some have even gone so far as to glorify the United States’ political police, the FBI. The FBI exists to curb dissent, and has a history of repressing the Black liberation movement, anti-war activists, communists – and anyone else who wants progressive change. There is a kind of Alice in Wonderland politics swirling about it.
Challenges to empire in the Middle East
There is a growing camp of resistance to the U.S. in the Middle East. Iran, Syria, the popular forces of Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq, and the organizations fighting for the liberation of Palestine constitute this camp of resistance that is growing in capacity with each passing day. The United States wants to preserve its own influence in the region, but its spectrum of options is narrowing.
The U.S. setback in Syria is a sign of things to come. In part the setback was facilitated by the solidarity from patriotic forces of Lebanon and the Iranian government. Russia air power helped, but it was not decisive. The heroism of the Syrian people and help from the forces who know the true meaning of solidarity saved the day – beating back the threat of terrorism, and its supporters in Washington DC and Israel.