In the recent Bloomberg article “Assad Is Close to Victory, But New Conflicts Are Bubbling Up in Syria” authors Onur Ant and Amy Teibel outline the risks of a complicated and potentially catastrophic regional war that might emerge out of the Syrian conflict, but what’s most consequential is left unsaid: the entire situation is the result of the US’s many illegal wars.
Indeed, the most important takeaway is MIA: the greatest military threats to human survival aren’t the terrorists that spring up enraged after illegal wars decimate their people, nor the vacuums of power these wars leave, nor the sectarian conflicts they enflame, nor the humanitarian catastrophes they cause. These are merely the results of the original sin. The greatest threats are the illegal wars themselves. Wars of aggression are the “supreme international crime” because they inherently possess the accumulated evil of all the war crimes and suffering that follow.
Say Ant and Teibel:
“President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops has fanned much of the flames. While it would leave the field to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s Russian and Iranian allies, it has also emboldened Israel to advertise that it’s pummeling Iranian positions, practically taunting Tehran to respond. Some analysts warn of a confrontation between them that could spark a regional war also drawing in Lebanon and Iraq.”
While all this is true, and the article goes on to mention how the conflict would draw in Turkey, Iran and Russia, it does little to illuminate the causes of these potential conflicts, nor the potential consequences. Saudi Arabia is led by a young, impulsive autocrat in MBS who’s brashly deployed his military might to disastrous effect in both Yemen and Syria. If the conflict were to spread, there’s a good chance Saudi Arabia could opportunistically attack Iran while Iran’s attention is focused on Israel and Syria. Israel is an illegal nuclear power allied with the US–a declared nuclear power. If the conflict spirals out of control, the potential for nuclear war with Russia rises dramatically. There’s even a significant risk that China–who sees Iran as an extremely valuable client and asset–could get involved. It’s no exaggeration to say that a nuclear war on this scale could be the end of human civilization as we know it. It could, in fact, kill us all.
So the real question is, why are we here in the first place?
The answer has everything to do with the US’s recent regime changes and illegal wars in Iraq, Libya and most recently Syria.
Firstly, there wouldn’t even be an ISIS were it not for the US’s illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. When the US deposed Saddam Hussein (who was himself put into power by the CIA in a coup in 1963) on the false pretense of preventing Saddam from obtaining nuclear weapons, the US took the precipitous decision to ban the Ba’ath party and put the entire Iraqi army, not to mention hundreds of thousands of civilians, out of work.
This predominantly Sunni segment of society soon bristled under majority Shiite rule, and it wasn’t long before they were radicalized. While Al Queda was nowhere to be found in Iraq under Saddam, it grew with frightening speed under US occupation. It wouldn’t be long before Al Queda in Iraq would become ISIS, and it would do so with considerable Western aid.
After the West’s illegal regime change operation in Libya, which turned the wealthiest-per-capita state in all of Africa into smoldering ruin overrun by warlords and terrorists, Western intelligence agencies set up a “rat line” to smuggle Libyan weapons to Syria. When the weapons were given to fighters embedded in the protests in Deraa to gun down Syrian policemen and soldiers, the Syrian state responded with force and the Syrian civil war began in earnest.
Just as the Pentagon predicted the rise of ISIS, it now saw an opportunity to use it as a “strategic asset” in yet another illegal regime change operation, this time against the secular regime of Bashar Assad. A poorly conceived operation with no clearly stated strategic goal that saw Pentagon-armed rebels fighting CIA-armed rebels and US military trainers left disgusted by their role in training jihadis, the results would be disastrous not just for Syria, but for the entire region–the fallout affecting states as far as Europe: an entire country destroyed, around 500,000 killed, around 12 million made to flee their homes as refugees.
Today, the Syrian battleground could become the scene of a much larger conflict. The threat of nuclear war looms worryingly large. Absurdly, it comes as a result of illegal wars of choice launched on false premises whose goals were all either ill-defined or directly compromised the US’s own security.
Since 2001, illegal wars and regime changes may have killed up to 2 million people, cost the US around 6 trillion dollars, and increased terrorism by at least 6500%. Not only have all these conflicts made the world, including the US, less safe by weakening international laws prohibiting illegal wars, it now threatens to bring us to the verge of total annihilation.
Yet somehow, these counterproductive illegal wars happen again and again. The US war machine has become self-perpetuating, dependent on constant conflict to keep the trillion dollar taxpayer funded gravy train flowing. Pro-war pundits paid by pro-war think tanks dominate the air waves of massive media conglomerates which count military contractors amongst their owners and advertisers. Millions are spent lobbying politicians to keep the US on a war footing and military budgets bloated. It’s parasitism predicated on the flow of unlimited funds–and unlimited blood. The best way to kill this parasite? Starve it.
The US could cut it’s military budget by 75% and still be the world’s biggest spender while remaining perfectly safe. Not only would illegal wars end–as the US couldn’t afford them–there would be a big financial windfall too. Reduced deficits would mean lower interest payments on government debt. Less military spending would mean more money available to rebuild crumbling infrastructure, to finance education, to clean up the environment and fight climate change, to give the people affordable healthcare and more.
Defunding the military doesn’t just save us from illegal wars and potential nuclear annihilation, it’s an opportunity to dramatically improve quality of life in the US and the world.