Resisting Imperialism and the Illegal War on Syria

By Eugene V Dabs

    On April Shane Em6th, 2017, the Trump regime launched 60 cruise missiles into Syria. The strike followed questionable accusations that Assad had directed the use of chemical weapons on civilians. Interestingly enough, the barbaric assault came a mere hours after Hillary Clinton publically expressed her continued support for regime change in Syria. The architect of the destruction of Libyan civil society, Hillary Clinton is no stranger to the imperialist policies that the Democrats march lock-step with Republicans on.

For anyone who was alive for the media circus surrounding Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass direction, it’s hard not to be reminded of our nation’s long history of spilling blood on false pretenses. In fact, we are still involved in the war in Iraq. Since 2003, the so-called “war on terror” has spread from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and now, of course, Syria.  Where is the media outrage over the US/Saudi-airstrike-caused famine, whereby hundreds of thousands of Yemenis are starving to death? Where is the media outrage in Libya, where slave auctions are held daily?

               The Syrian airstrikes mark a shift in policy. Since 2011, the USA has merely armed, funded and trained fundamentalist Islamist groups like Al-Nusra, and others loyal to the Free Syrian Army as proxies. They seek to depose the secular, Russia-backed government of Assad and replace it with a Muslim Brotherhood-style religious autocracy. Like our support for Osama bin laden in the 80’s against the Soviet-backed secular government of Afghanistan, this support is all about undermining Russian influence and expanding the tentacles of the global US Military and economic empire.

Any suggestion that the current war is a ‘humanitarian’ one on behalf of the Syrian people is lying to themselves. If that were the case, we would not have destabilized Iraq leading to the deaths of more than 1 million civilians and engineering a refugee crisis in Syria, the likes of which the modern world has not seen since World War 2.

We are at a major crossroads. The anti-Vietnam war movement of the 60’s and 70’s was the thread that brought together so many disparate social and political movements and contributed to the massive success of the Civil Rights movement.  Similarly, the disparate social justice movements of today, such as Black Lives Matter, the LGBT movement, the Women’s movement, and the Environmental movement also need a common banner to rally behind. Only together can we hope to overcome this monopoly stage of capitalism.

         That is why at noon on Sunday, April 9th, around 50 protestors convened on crowded Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando, in an emergency anti-war protest and march. Organized by members of the ANSWER coalition, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the UCF student group Knights for Socialism and the Orlando Workers League, the march was very successful in initiating a dialogue amongst members of the community. All eyes were on the activists as they garnered attention from all ends of the political spectrum. Many supporters of the Trump regime shouted and swore their disapproval, while church-goers leaving their Palm Sunday mass greeted the protestors with affection and peace signs.

When asked why they had assembled to protest, one organizer exclaimed “It is all too similar to the buildup to Iraq. We don’t have all the information, we already killed civilians, including children, in that strike, and no military solution can bring about the kinds of changes necessary for the region to be palatable to western sensibilities and cultural norms, nor should they have to be. In short, you can’t bomb people into seeing it your way and any further military action by the United States will be used as a recruiting tool for ISIS. They have already taken advantage of the chaos we created with one strike and moved in on the areas surrounding the airstrip. War in our time is always indiscriminate, a war on the most vulnerable sectors of society. We consistently kill more civilians than intended targets and then wonder why people are willing to follow any group who promises vengeance on the west. The point of whether this was Assad or not is irrelevant, at this point, he stands between a stable Syria and allowing it to fall into the hands of ISIS. That is the choice we face in reality with regard to Syria.

Another commented “We stand against all imperialist wars. war is for the bankers, the billionaires, and the ruling class politicians. It’s not for our class, the working class. This war is killing people here by depriving them of basic needs and it’s killing people in Syria with the terrorism of illegal war.”

New Slaves: Mass Incarceration in the United States of America

By: Eugene Dabsfreedom

There is a disturbing problem in the United States criminal justice system. International human rights laws dictate that the aim of all penal systems should be that of rehabilitation, yet the number of people in prison in the United States has quadrupled since 1980. Despite making up only 5% of the global population, the USA incarcerates almost 25% of the world’s prison population. The skyrocketing rates at which we imprison our citizens cannot be separated from the problem’s roots in slavery and racial discrimination if we are to create a truly just legal system for the future.

As of 2013, more Than 2 million people are imprisoned in the United States. If you broaden the definition of correctional supervision to include those on probation and house arrest the figure balloons to nearly 7 million.  Even at the height of Stalin’s reign, official Soviet archives indicate that there was only 1.6 million people in the Gulags, a per capita rate only slightly higher than our own. (History of Stalin’s Gulag)

The root of our modern criminal justice system is in slavery. Despite outlawing slavery, the 13th amendment makes an exception for use as penal punishment. This lead to harsh racial discrimination throughout reconstruction and the Jim Crowe era that kept black Americans second class citizens all the way up until the civil rights movement.  Miraculously, the mass movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and others gave all US citizens full equality in the eyes of the law, no matter their religion, ethnicity or beliefs. Sadly, I fear that if Dr King had lived to see what was to come at the end of the 20th century, he would be quite disappointed that his dream had not been actualized. Beginning as early as 1968, aides in the Nixon administration have testified that the war on drugs was devised specifically as a way of neutralizing the threat of “blacks and hippies” that the government perceived in the Leftist Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam war movements.

The war on drugs caused the number of people in prison to rise out of control. The harmful effects of marijuana were deliberately exaggerated. Despite being chemically the same drug, powdered cocaine and crack cocaine were given different sentences, with the lesser being given to cocaine, the more expensive and traditionally White person drug.  Throughout the war on drugs, black people have been incarcerated at a rate 10 times higher than whites, despite using drugs at the same rate. (ACLU)

In the Reagan, Bush and Clinton eras, the number of people in prison eventually surpassed 2 million people as the turn of the millennia approached. The Crime bill of 1994 and Clinton’s “3-strikes you’re out” policy meant thousands of completely non-violent drug offenders in the United States have life sentences.

But all is not lost. The problems of mass incarceration are being brought to the forefront for the first time. Marijuana is being fully recreationally legalized in numerous states in a domino effect that is likely to culminate in the nationwide legalization of cannabis, medical or otherwise. After that, it is reasonable to assume that we will follow in the footsteps of more progressive nations that have fully decriminalized, though not fully legalized, all narcotic drugs. The question remains: Will we allow a multi-billion dollar industry to spring up out of seeming thin air, making mostly white people rich, while millions of black Americans are in prison for cultivating the exact same plant? If we are to create a more perfect society, with equality and justice for all, then the answer to this question must be no. In the majority of states, those who have been convicted of a felony lose their right to vote permanently. How can we call ourselves a true democracy when we relegate so much of our population to second-class citizenship in the name of archaic and draconian laws of a bygone era?