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Don't bomb Syria!

By: 
Jesse McLaren

August 29, 2013

Yet again, Western nations are calling for war in the name of fighting dictatorship and confronting weapons of mass destruction—this time in Syria. Yet again, the greatest weapon of mass destruction is Western imperialism.
 
WMD = Western Military Destruction
US Secretary of State John Kerry is justifying war on Syria by stating that “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.” But that’s exactly what the West has done for decades—from Agent Orange poured over Vietnam, depleted uranium fired into Iraq, white phosphorus unleashed on Gaza.
 
The West armed the Taliban, but then in 2001 we were told to support a NATO invasion because Afghan women were incapable of liberating themselves. The result: massacres, torture, NATO kill teams, drone attacks spreading to Pakistan, and a brutal Western-backed regime where women are no better off.
 
The West supported Saddam Hussein when he used chemical weapons in the 1980s, but then in 2003 we were told to support a US invasion to liberate Iraqis. The only weapon of mass destruction was Western military intervention: following the Gulf War and a decade of sanctions that killed a million people, the new war and another decade of occupation killed another million people—while threatening war on Iran.
 
Real regime change: protest and revolution
But there were historic protests against the Iraq War that stopped the Canadian government from officially participating (including Harper, who as then leader of the Opposition desperately wanted war). The protests also forced the withdrawal of Italy and Spain—including toppling the Spanish government.
 
The mass movement also exposed inter-imperial rivalry, as France and Germany refused to participate, and gave confidence to the Iraqi resistance who bogged the US down in quagmire. Unable to advance into Iran, the US has resorted to brutal proxy war—unleashing Israel to bomb Lebanon and Gaza, and Ethiopia to invade Somalia—but these wars were also resisted.
 
In the Arab world, solidarity with Palestine, opposition to the Iraq War and growing confidence in workers struggles erupted in revolutions. The Arab Spring toppled Western-backed dictators in Tunisia and Egypt and has challenged repressive regimes in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia—all regimes armed to the teeth by the West, including Canada. Revolutions also erupted in Libya and Syria, against dictators that claimed to oppose the West but who had records of repression, neoliberalism and complicity with the West.
 
War = counter-revolution
The Arab Spring has shaken Western control of the oil-rich region, and NATO powers have been desperate to regain control. So two years ago the West cynically used the brutality of the Gaddafi regime (who the West had previously supported, including weapons from Europe and prisons from Canadian corporation SNC-Lavalin) to launch a war. Dressed up as “humanitarian intervention”, NATO—led by a Canadian general—dropped thousands of bombs on Libyan civilians, hijacked the revolution and imposed a Western-backed regime that continues repression and austerity.
 
This is what the West wants in Syria. While Assad allies himself with Iran, he has provided torture chambers for the West (including torturing Canadian Maher Arar on behalf of the US government and with the complicity of the Canadian government), a naval facility for Russia on the Mediterranean, and has not challenged Israel. The Syrian revolution—which emerged as part of the Arab Spring, and has included protests and strikes across ethnic lines, and splits in the military—threatens to destabilize imperial control of the region. As Syrian socialists explained, "these regional players and Western powers are not at all interested in seeing a victorious popular revolution occur in Syria. Such a victory would upset the current balance of power in the region, and threaten to spread the flame of revolution to the other imperialist powers in the region, to the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia on one hand and to the Zionist state on the other"
 
Harper: don’t bomb Syria
That's why imperial powers are intervening. Russia has armed Assad, while the West has tried a variety of interventions to undermine the revolution and bring it under Western control: from calling for a UN “peace plan” that would remove Assad but keep his regime intact, to arming sectarian sections of the opposition through Saudi Arabia, and now direct military intervention.
 
Like Iraq, there’s no proof Assad has weapons of mass destruction. Like Libya, military intervention in Syria will only make things worse—killing thousands of civilians, undermining the revolution, and installing a repressive regime compliant to Western corporations.
 
We need to remember the words of Martin Luther King and challenge “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world: my own government.” In Canada that means exposing and challenging the warmonger Harper regime, which has promised to be in “lock-step” with NATO—as it has been in wars that have killed Palestinians, Afghans, Lebanese, and Libyans.
 
Imperialism is central to the Harper agenda. Harper has denied Canada’s history of colonialism while furthering the oppression of indigenous peoples, and wasted $490 billion on military spending over 20 years, just to mention a few examples. But this new wave of imperialism also exposes a weakness. The anti-war movement stopped Canada from going to Iraq and forced Harper to admit the war was an error; Harper was forced to prorogue Parliament the first time to avoid the Afghan torture scandal; Idle No More has challenged the colonialism on which Canada is built; and now Harper has prorogued Parliament to avoid debating senate scandals.
 
We need to oppose the war on Syria to prevent further bloodshed, create space for progressive forces in Syria to build their own revolutionary movement based on self-determination, and build our own anti-imperial movements against our own state. We need to rally democracy for below—in our communities, on the streets, in our campuses and at our workplaces—and demand: don’t bomb Syria!
 
Join anti-war protests across the country this Saturday. For details visit the Canadian Peace Alliance.

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