Libya, Syria and Iraq are again in the news. Not because of anything hopeful. Washington and its imperialist allies have opened up dangerous new offensives in these three countries.
By “imperialist,” we mean the countries that own and control most of the world’s finances, technology and weaponry, and that exploit labor and plunder raw materials from the rest of the world for the benefit of the 0.01 percent super-rich. Most of these imperialist countries are in NATO. There is also Japan, which is remilitarizing under the aegis of the U.S.
These new offensives go beyond drone warfare or sending a few military instructors or advisers. They include bombing runs and the potential for sending combat troops. They will inflict even more suffering on the people of West Asia and North Africa.
U.S. planes bombed Libya on Aug. 2. It was the first extensive attack since U.S.-NATO forces destroyed the legitimate government of Libya in 2011 and organized the murder of President Moammar Gadhafi. This brought chaos to Libya and destabilized much of North Africa, exacerbating the refugee and migration crises.
Washington and its NATO allies have also been targeting the Syrian government, especially since 2011, when NATO armed al-Qaida-type groups to fight the Damascus government. This is what opened up Syria to the Islamic State group, or IS. The resulting war has killed about 300,000 Syrians and turned millions into refugees. Lately, the U.S. has changed its tactics and bombed Raqqa, the IS “capital.”
The Pentagon is again sending thousands of troops to Iraq, this time to help the Baghdad regime retake the city of Mosul from IS. No one should forget that it was the illegal U.S.-British invasion in 2003 that destroyed the Iraqi government in the first place and opened the door to IS. Most recently, U.S. bombs have again destroyed the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in order to retake them from IS. The bombing of Mosul is on an even bigger scale.
In Iraq, Syria and Libya, the Barack Obama administration now explains its intervention by the need to destroy IS.
But what is Washington’s relation to IS?
The U.S. approach to organizations like IS and al-Qaida is two-sided. Beginning in 1979, the CIA and Saudi Arabia secretly funded and nurtured al-Qaida and groups with similar feudal ideology to fight against a progressive government in Afghanistan, one that had abolished the bride price and opened schools and other institutions to women.
When the Soviet Army came to the government’s defense, Washington used this as an excuse for stepping up an all-out war in Afghanistan. When Afghan women teachers were killed by the reactionaries the U.S. was arming, the imperialist media still called them “freedom fighters.” Yet ever since the U.S. invaded in 2001, the imperialists have pretended to be on the side of Afghan women.
After 9/11, Washington switched allegiance. Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, who had been on their payroll, became the enemy of choice. They said al-Qaida was allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan and with Saddam Hussein in Iraq. These lies became pretexts for U.S. troops to invade those countries.
In Libya and in Syria, NATO forces first armed similar reactionary groups against the legitimate governments. When IS became a problem beyond their control, the imperialists switched to using IS as a pretext for direct intervention.
In mid-July, coordinated U.S.-French bombing raids were reported to have killed more than 100 civilians near the city of Manbij in Syria. The French government even pointed to the truck massacre in Nice as its excuse for this slaughter of innocents. The Nice attack, the act of an individual, was emblazoned in headlines; the Manbij bombings, the deliberate act of two governments, are forgotten.
Not all the news is bad for Syrians: A Syrian/Russian offensive appears poised to liberate Aleppo, the largest city and commercial capital, from IS and similar forces. The Syrian/Russian forces have surrounded the area held by reactionaries, opened a corridor for civilians and offered fighters amnesty if they surrender.
With the U.S. election dominating news here, the campaigns and the candidates are not discussing the war danger. The Democratic Party is pursuing the war while the Republicans cheer it on.
Whichever capitalist party holds the White House, it’s up to the anti-war movement in the U.S. to combat these acts of imperialist aggression.