Statement On the Khan Sheikhoun Massacre and the US Strike Against the Assad Regime
Statement written by Zachary Medeiros (SPUSA International Relations Committee Co-Chair) and passsed by the SPUSA National Action Committee
On April 4, at least 82 people in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, were killed in a chemical weapons massacre, including dozens of children. Contrary to the conspiratorial, unscientific, and outrageous theories that Damascus, Moscow, and their global apologists began to spread almost immediately, all of the evidence available so far points to the Assad regime as the most likely culprit. Although only an independent expert investigation will be able to identify the perpetrators for certain, this act of butchery is consistent with the regime’s longstanding use of terror against the Syrian masses. A mere two days later, the United States launched a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Shayrat Airfield, the Syrian government airbase that was apparently used to carry out the massacre. Content to ignore, cheer, or rationalize the nearly 8,000 US attacks on Syria since 2014, which have targeted just about every Syrian besides the Assadist forces, the world snapped to attention. The SPUSA condemns the US attack as a cynical, reckless act by a president and an administration who have never displayed anything but ruthless contempt for the lives of Syrians, as exemplified by their ban on refugees and their regular aerial massacres of civilians, most notably the March 16 bombing of the al-Jinah mosque in Aleppo and the March 21 bombing on a school/refugee shelter in Raqqa. The idea that a man who once bragged on the campaign trail that he’d look Syrian children in the face and tell them “they couldn’t come” would be moved to avenge those same children after they were gassed to death is ludicrous. The missile strike was a blatantly political and symbolic move, meant to demonstrate American imperial credibility. Following the Israeli and Russian brokered chemical weapons agreement of 2013, Assad could not be allowed to publicly flout the terms of the devil’s deal that helped keep him in power: kill all the people you want, but stay away from the gas. In addition, it also served as a demonstration of Trump’s personal reliability as the CEO of American Empire, which has come under question within the ruling class thanks in large part to his multiplying Russian connections. The Trump gang’s rhetorical about-face regarding Assad, who was “not a priority” only days before Khan Sheikhoun, and its born-again outrage towards Moscow, should be seen in this light. The fact that Russia was given prior warning about the strike by Washington, which it then passed onto the regime, does not suggest an administration willing to start WW3 over Syria. While we condemn Trump’s missile strike, we recognize that many Syrians cannot do the same in good faith, even when they are opposed to US military campaigns in their country. The regime and its military are not hapless victims, but the primary killers and oppressors of the Syrian people, and it is difficult to shed a tear for an airstrip that was used to bomb thousands of civilians into oblivion. US militarism is a scourge upon the earth, but the kleptocratic, fascistic Baathist dictatorship does not need or deserve defending by any socialist or leftist, nor does Russia, Iran, or any other capitalist government that happens to be at odds with Washington on this issue or that. They’ve spilled too much blood to be covered by any mangy, false anti-imperialist flag. The day they are overthrown-not at the behest of Washington or its allies, but by the masses themselves- is a day that cannot come soon enough. *** In the middle of the First World War, the German socialist Karl Liebknecht wrote that “the main enemy is at home.” In other words, it is the responsibility of all revolutionaries to fight the ruling classes of their own countries first and foremost. For those of us in the United States, which is still the most destructive and aggressive power in the world despite its decline and the growth of imperialist rivals, this is even more imperative. In the chaotic age of Trump, we cannot afford to waver in the fight against the depredations of our rulers. When they seek another barbaric war, designed to line the pockets of the military-industrial complex and crush those who dare to disobey their will, we will fight like hell to oppose it. When they manipulate, lie, and exploit, we will do whatever we can to expose them. Their defeat is our duty. T
hat said, we believe that every genuine revolutionary struggle in the world is connected in a great chain, just as the capitalist forces are. When one link in that chain is successful, all of the oppressed people of the world advance. When one is beaten, all are weakened. That is the spirit and material truth of internationalism. Despite years of savage counterrevolutionary violence, the poisonous meddling of over half a dozen states, the rise of extremists like ISIS, and a fractured and compromised opposition leadership, the Syrian masses have not given up on their revolution. And neither should we. Therefore, we join with the countless Syrians and allies who demand peace AND justice for all Syrians. We call for the removal of all foreign militias and armies from Syrian soil, an end to all bombing campaigns, and accountability for each and every war crime perpetrated in this conflict, no matter the criminal, in a process led by Syrians themselves. We must support the people of Syria in their drive towards liberation and self-determination. Lastly, in the face of the hostility of the US government towards the Syrian cause, we call for the creation of a new radical anti-war, anti-imperialist movement to achieve these ends, one whose efforts are linked with the democratic popular struggles across the world, not the regimes that murder and slander them. We urge all of those who seek freedom and dignity for Syria to do the same.