Syria Emergency Response Protest- 9/23/2014

Speech by Meredith Aby-Keirstead of the Anti-War Committee.

Last night the US war on terror expanded in a new way in Syria with 20 targets hit by US bombers. 47 tomahawk missiles were launched from two destroyers.  The skies of Syria were filled last night with US surveillance drones.  I can only imagine the fear and devastation the US caused last night to the people of Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that 160 people were killed during last night’s attack on Syria including 31 civilians.

While the president has focused his rhetoric on fear mongering, it is important that the American people know what the president is really doing in their name.

Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at Institute for Policy Studies who has spoken in Minneapolis several times for MPAC on Iraq explained the realities of this bombing campaign today, “You can’t bomb extremism out of existence.  The U.S. bombs do not fall on ‘extremism,'” they are falling on Raqqah, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people—men, women and children who had no say in the take-over of their city by ISIS.  The Pentagon is bombing targets like the post office and the governor’s compound, and the likelihood of large number of civilian casualties as well as devastation of the ancient city, is almost certain.”

Bombing isn’t the only way the US is growing the war in Syria.  The president’s plan is for US intervention in Syria to expand and continue for years.  Obama is working a program to train an extra 5,000 “moderate rebels” – who US officials privately concede “don’t really exist”.  This war has spread from an internal conflict to a regional one and is now on the brink of becoming even bigger.  At each stage the US has poured gasoline on the fire by sending in more weapons and troops.  At every turn more US intervention has made the reality of life for the Syrian people harder.

President Obama last week told the American people he was authorizing a war on ISIS.  It’s debatable whether or not he even has the authority to do that, but in the first night of US bombing Obama targeted ISIS and the Nusra Front and the Khorasan.  So in the first week of the “mission” we’ve already seen mission creep.  Even mainstream news sources today have remarked that they were surprised that the war has expanded so quickly to new targets.  Who will be bombed tomorrow?

It’s important to note that this war isn’t just in Syria.  The U.S. also launched four more airstrikes in Iraq last night, bringing the total number since  August, 2014 to 194! US-backed attacks by government forces this month killed 31 civilians, including 24 children, in a school near Tikrit.  Bombing campaigns and support for the puppet Iraqi government will only further the conflict and enlargen ethnic tensions in Iraq.  Current US foreign policy will not bring democracy, freedom or peace to Iraq or Syria!

I feel like I’m watching foreign policy déjà vu.  This is almost an exact replay of other chapters of the U.S. war on terror.  We are seeing the cycle again repeated of more bombings which will fuel more attacks which will be used as excuses for more attacks. The Guardian newspaper reported that since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process.  This is the path of imperialism – not of peace.

As one friend told me – you don’t call an arsonist to put out a fire.

Our role is to stop this escalation.  We have the power to put out this fire.  Last year we stopped the president from attaching Syria.  This year Obama has used a sophisticated set of techniques to convince people that US intervention would be helpful.  We need to use the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan to challenge his version of recent history.  I work with young people who have no memories of the world before this endless war on terror.  We need to stop this never-ending US war.  Hands off Syria!  Stop the bombing now!