We should recognize the political and media class condemnations of Trump’s recent Syria retreat for what they are: Angry cries from U.S. imperialists who are seeing their grip on the world slip away, and who are helpless to stop the resurgence of the socialist and anti-colonial movements that they’ve long tried to crush.
The U.S. empire’s defeat in Syria
Both materially and narratively, the empire’s ambitions for Syria have fallen apart since Trump had troops retreat within the country. The Syrian government has regained control over Syria’s northeastern parts. The Kurdish forces, which have long served as proxies for the U.S. and Israel, have gone to the side of America’s adversaries as they’ve come to partner with Assad and Putin in fighting off the Turkish invasion. Russia has taken over key U.S. outposts in Syria, filling the vacuum the empire has left and better equipping the Syrian Arab Army to fight off the ISIS forces which the U.S. had a significant hand in creating.
Trump has been roundly denounced by politicians and pundits for pulling the plug on this part of the empire’s project in Syria. But he’s only the one who’s had the job of finally terminating a miserably failed facet of the U.S.’ Middle Eastern wars. As The Economist admitted this year in an appropriately bitter cover story titled “Assad’s hollow victory,” Assad and the Syrian people have successfully resisted eight years of attacks on their nation from largely Quatar, Saudi Arabian and U.S.-backed Islamic jihadists. Now that Trump has cut the empire’s losses, all that the neoconservative class can do is lament the situation while acting like it would have been avoided if not for Trump’s lack of finesse.
Pro-war figures, from Meghan McCain to Bill Kristol to Chuck Schumer, have had to downplay so many inconvenient facts about the situation as they’ve made their defenses of what the U.S. has been doing in Syria. From its efforts to aid terrorist groups in the attempted overthrow the Syrian government, to its weaponization of the Kurdish forces, to its perpetration of the recent Middle Eastern wars (Iraq, Yemen, etc.) that have exacerbated the region’s instability, the U.S. is to blame for a huge portion of the chaos throughout the region. U.S. involvement has done the exact opposite of improving the situation, and it would keep causing destruction if it were to continue as it has. These glaring contradictions in the claims of the warmongers, coupled with the fact that even U.S. officials now admit the Free Syrian Army forces they’ve armed to topple Assad aren’t freedom fighters at all, but terrorists, brutally expose the pro-war narratives about Syria.
From the start, the best solution has been to protect the Kurds from Turkish aggression by having them live within the borders of the Syrian government, an option which the U.S. has sabotaged to tragic effect. Now that Kurdish leaders have finally been prompted to embrace this solution, with Syria moving closer to peace as a result, the motives of those who advocate continued U.S. intervention are undeniable: to preserve American military influence within Syria, no matter how much violence and regional instability it would cause.
Washington’s war against Syria is still far from over. The U.S. is using sanctions to slow the country’s reconstruction. Western aid to jihadists is still in motion; and there are still U.S. soldiers in the country despite their partial pullback. But the events of the last month have accelerated the increasing ineffectiveness of the American empire. The U.S. has lost its last major territorial stronghold against Assad. It’s lost its valuable Kurdish allies. It’s had its already frayed relationship with Turkey devolve into threats from U.S. senators to sanction Turkey, as well as calls for Turkey to be expelled from NATO. Washington is losing allies left and right while having to literally cede ground to its enemies, making the overall trend—both in Syria and worldwide—move towards victory for the forces of anti-capitalism and indigenous liberation.
The fall of imperialism and the rise of indigenous liberation movements
The Western propaganda about “chemical attacks” won’t tarnish the anti-imperialist accomplishments of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. Assad’s leadership, guided by the socialist ideology of his Ba’ath party and prudent alliances with Russia and Iran, has saved Syria from becoming another failed state at the hands of Western imperialism. As he now works to ally with the Kurds and reclaim an important food and energy-rich region of Syria, he’s successfully helping society recover from the war; the Syrian Ministry of Education has managed to rebuild 1554 schools that were fully destroyed by NATO-sponsored terrorists. Assad, in partnership with China, is also overseeing the transfer of great amounts of Chinese humanitarian aid to Syria through bilateral and multilateral channels.
Being so far unable to militarily achieve regime change in Syria, Iran, Venezuela, or any of its other rival nations, the U.S. is increasingly resorting to sanctions and manufactured internal unrest to try to subdue them. The U.S. maintains a covert Syria-to-Xinjiang pipeline of violent religious extremism which is aimed at radicalizing Uighur Muslims, also resulting in heightened threats of terrorist attacks within China. This is connected to the Hong Kong protests, which the U.S. has been funding and encouraging through agitation propaganda. The U.S. keeps escalating sanctions against its adversaries, especially Russia and China, due not only to their economic power and growing world influence, but to their crucial role in militarily protecting smaller countries like Syria and Venezuela.
Yet, ironically, these actions ultimately speed up America’s global decline. America’s ever-increasing sanctions are causing economic blowback, such as U.S. farmers going bankrupt due to Trump’s trade war with China or the international decline of the dollar due to America’s sanctions on dollar transactions from disfavored countries. The Hong Kong protests, unable to achieve their ambitious policy demands or ignite a larger anti-communist movement throughout China, are losing credibility as they increasingly devolve into violent street battles between protesters and police. China has been able to very effectively contain its Uighur terrorism problem. This year’s coup attempt in Venezuela has failed, and the citizens of Syria, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Iran, north Korea, China, and Russia are all far from rising up against their governments like the U.S. hopes they would.
According to the estimate of historian Alfred McCoy, the American empire is going to be gone by 2030. On the level of international strong-arming and economic leverage, we can clearly see the trend heading towards this outcome. In the next decade and beyond, the U.S. will likely continue trying to give weapons to Middle Eastern terrorist groups, carry out drone attacks and bombings, sanction its rivals, and sow unrest within independent and anti-imperialist nations. But it will soon come to lack the economic power it needs to be a global hegemon, and when China surpasses the U.S. in military strength, the U.S. will be tied down from invading more countries. America’s imminent economic crisis, exacerbated by a weakening dollar, may also eventually force the U.S. to withdraw its forces worldwide.
Unable to regain popular support for its war operations both abroad and at home, the U.S. empire will continue its turn inward. Even as America has lost its war against Syria, war-narrative dissenters like Tulsi Gabbard are sure to be denounced and smeared by the political and media class. Censorship of socialist and anti-imperialist voices is going to keep increasing, as well as efforts from America’s police state to suppress dissent. Immigrants and Muslims will remain the scapegoats for the Western world’s crises, with continued state violence against these groups being the consequence. Faced with their own decline, the imperialists are trying to wage a war on all fronts, one that increasingly consists of militarizing society within the core imperialist nations and manufacturing domestic enemies.
As Mao Zedong said:
“When we say ‘imperialism is ferocious’, we mean that its nature will never change, that the imperialists will never lay down their butcher knives, that they will never become Buddhas, till their doom. Fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again…until their victory; that is the logic of the people, and they too will never go against this logic.”
While we fight for a new world that’s free from exploitation and imperial control, it will help to apply such reasoning to how we act.
Bolivia’s indigenous socialist president Evo Morales, who’s overseeing an anti-imperialist military school to train Bolivians to defend themselves in the event of a U.S. invasion, understands that this is war. The DPRK’s Kim Jong Un seeks a nuclear weapons stash for the same reason. Also recognizing the threat that late-stage imperialist America poses, China’s officials have already built a military that would be able to defeat the U.S. in a world war if China were to militarily partner with Russia. These state-level anti-imperialist leaders are paralleled by citizens leading movements to overthrow the neoliberal U.S.-backed regimes in Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, and Ecuador; in Ecuador especially, the anti-government protests have used class solidarity to persevere amid police repression.
The imperialists may be in decline, but they’ll never put down their weapons or stop fighting for their power. For those countries and citizens who align with Syria, Palestine, Venezuela, Bolivia, China, the DPRK, and the other forces which are attempting to advance indigenous freedom and class liberation, this approach must be applied likewise.
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