It was a surprise decision that shook the Neoliberal establishment in Washington to its core. U.S. President Donald Trump declared Daesh defeated and the mission in Syria – accomplished. It was time to bring the troops home.
Of course there were war-hawks who were looking for a little more – i.e. regime change. These forces nearly got their way with the U.S.’ tomahawk missile targeting of Syrian government bases in 2017. The strike was even on Trump’s order, who apparently hopped onto the «deadly chemical weapons» bandwagon against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. It seemed that Trump’s election promises of non-intervention all went out the window.
But now, he’s done serious harm to Washington’s imperialist endeavors, infuriating Neo-liberals from inside and out of the U.S.
James «Mad Dog» Mattis led the charge in reacting to Trump’s decision. After his advice to stay in Syria repeatedly fell on deaf ears, Mattis jumped ship from his position as Secretary of Defense. His resignation letter read more like a 5 star review of imperialism – praising NATO and stressing the need to sustain «strong U.S. global influence». Though it’s really no wonder why a former U.S. Marine General nicknamed «Mad Dog» would want another opportunity for bloodshed. He’s already shocked the world with his brutal leadership style in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with statements like «have a plan to kill everybody you meet» or «it’s fun to shoot some people».
Trump’s Security Advisor John Bolton was right on board with Mattis, reportedly throwing a «livid» tantrum after hearing the news. And expectedly so – let’s not forget what Bolton said about denuclearization back when Trump was trying to see through historic peace talks with North Korea:
«We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004. There are obviously differences. The Libyan program was much smaller, but that was basically the agreement we made.»
Unfortunately for Washington though, neither North Korea nor Syria had forgotten how the Libyan deal ended with the brutal murder of sovereign President Muammer Gaddafi.
So in typical fashion, a bunch of hawkish Republicans reacted badly to a political move towards peace. But in the U.S., as in Europe, partisan politics divided between left and right are becoming less and less significant.
We are starting to see a world divided more between imperialists and populists, both of which exist across the political spectrum. And there was certainly no shortage of liberals who came down hard on Trump’s anti-war decision. One of them was former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She said the pullout is «putting our national security at grave risk», «empowering Daesh», and «playing into Russia and Iran’s hands.» And of course Hollywood liberals followed Clinton like a bunch of baby ducks. Mia Farrow tweeted that Trump is only benefitting Daesh and Putin by the world’s «failure to halt a humanitarian catastrophe».
You can also bet the Democratic political lobbies that opposed the Iraq War two decades ago, will be towing the party line as it develops into double-think.
Now we’re expected to believe imperialists’ on both the right and the left that the only reason for remaining in Syria had to do with preventing Daesh from regaining strength. But what exactly is the looming humanitarian catastrophe? How will Daesh regain strength? The Syrian government has already essentially brought the civil war to a close, having restored most of its pre-2011 territory. And the tide of war turned significantly only after Syria invited the Russian military to assist counter-terrorist efforts. As for U.S. involvement, the history of the Syrian Civil War shows that combating islamic fundamentalism was not it’s first intention.
In fact, the U.S.’ funding of «moderate rebels» had a more negative effect on Assad’s government and civilians, than terrorist forces. In 2013, Former U.S. President Barack Obama approved a $1 billion annual budget for CIA operations that actively worked with rebels to overthrow Assad. These operations, combined with coalition aerial bombings, had devastating effects for the country. According to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, the amount of civilians killed by coalition airstrikes outnumbers how many civilians have been killed in Daesh executions – 3,740 and 2,142+ casualties respectively. And let’s not forget the U.S. intervened without a U.N. mandate or government invitation – a move explicitly in contradiction with international law.
Still, the U.S.’ imperialist lackies are looking for more bloodshed. French President Emmanuel Macron was among many who criticized Trump for abandoning the U.S. allies and praised the «Mad Dog» for his defiance.
“To be allies is to fight shoulder to shoulder. It’s the most important thing for a head of state and head of the military,” Macron stated. “An ally should be reliable… I want here to pay tribute to General Mattis and the comments that accompanied his decision, for a year we have seen how he was a reliable partner.»
Trump’s troop withdrawal from Syria means the U.S.’ allies will likely have a much harder time benefitting from the coalition’s intervention there. Especially now that the remaining coalition members don’t have the strongest military in the world to protect them as they violate international law. And amidst the backdrop of Trump’s push for NATO countries to pay for their own defense, it’s not difficult to see why actions like a U.S. military withdrawal would instill imperialists with a fear of losing out on all the spoils of war.
It’s true, troops haven’t been pulled out of Syria just yet, and Trump has a track-record of flip-flopping on his statements. But judging by the wave of negative reactions across Washington’s Neoliberal political establishment, one thing is certain: the imperialists are set to lose out.