US President Donald Trump’s order to pull back US troops from northeastern Syria in the name of calling a halt to Washington’s “endless wars” has touched off a political firestorm. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has joined with Trump’s staunchest Republican defender, Senator Lindsey Graham, in opposition to the troop withdrawal. Pelosi tweeted of her meeting with Graham: “Our first order of business was to agree that we must have a bipartisan, bicameral joint resolution to overturn the president’s dangerous decision in Syria immediately.”
Democratic presidential candidates have roundly denounced the threat of a US pullout from Syria, many of them invoking the plight of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which served as Washington’s proxy ground force in the Pentagon’s five-year-old direct military intervention in the country.
Putative Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden declared, “It’s shameful what he’s done.” The same Biden has expressed no shame for his vote in support of the criminal US war of aggression based upon lies that claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, or for his role in the orchestration of the CIA wars for regime change in Libya and Syria that killed hundreds of thousands more.
Not missing an opportunity to demonstrate his reliability in matters relating to “national security,” Bernie Sanders proclaimed: “You don’t turn your back on allies who have fought and died alongside American troops. You just don’t do that.” Sanders has conveniently forgotten that back in the 1960s and 1970s, the main argument made by Johnson and Nixon against withdrawing from Vietnam was that America could not “cut and run” and desert its South Vietnamese political and military allies.
For her part, Elizabeth Warren, talking out of both sides of her mouth, found the best platitude for the occasion: “We should bring our troops home, but we need to do so in a way that respects our security.” In other words, the US should continue to wage war in Syria.
Trump, who has secured a $750 billion budget for the US war machine, while just last week ordering another 3,000 US troops deployed to Saudi Arabia in preparation for a confrontation with Iran, is no pacifist. He is also no fool. Even as he prepares for bigger wars, particularly against China, he knows that his public appeals for an end to Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East strike a chord with an American population sick of these interventions.
This is particularly the case for the countless families who have borne the brunt of back-to-back deployments for their loved-ones, and the tragic cost paid by those who have returned with grievous physical and mental wounds. Significantly, the cover story of the current issue of Time focuses on “America’s Forever War.” It includes a harrowing account of the impact of one soldier’s death in Afghanistan on his wife and children.
In an essay that precedes the story of the bereaved family, novelist and Marine veteran Elliot Ackerman writes: “The burden of nearly two decades of war—nearly 7,000 [American] dead and more than 50,000 wounded—has been largely sustained by 1 percent of our population.”…