Dennis Kucinich: Why are we at war in Syria?

By Dennis Kucinich | March 14, 2017

The United States government is now at war in Syria, with nearly 1,000 combat-ready U.S. troops providing artillery and air support in the north. We have put our troops in an impossible and perilous position, with enemies on all sides.

The war in Syria is not a fight for democracy. The U.S. is fighting alongside and supporting the cause of 80,000 jihadis from 90 different countries. Nearly a half-million Syrians have died in the war fueled by this sinister worldwide participation.

The U.S. is equipping terrorists who keep changing their name, but the game is the same: To unite and achieve a radical Islamic fundamentalist takeover of the region.

Billions of U.S. tax dollars have helped spawn this war, creating death and misery, massive migrations of refugees and immigration crises.

The U.S. presence in Syria is an illegal act of war. It violates international law and it is unconstitutional. Syria did not invite the U.S. to come in. Congress has not approved it. Syria has been fighting Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS and other radical Islamic terror groups to whom Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the U.S. have given direct and indirect aid.

ISIS and the other terrorist groups can be defeated by cutting off their funds, which is exactly what Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s just-introduced bill, the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (HR 608), aims to do. A companion bill, S. 532, has been introduced in the Senate by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Most of the media is fueling the war, unwittingly becoming a mouthpiece for the masterful, intelligent propagandists of jihadi groups whose “humanitarian” messaging permeates every level of social media. It tugs at the conscience of caring people while masking the reality of violent subjugation and religious extremism that propels their movement.

A deeper question needs to be asked: Why is it U.S. policy to upend Syrian society, whose tradition has been to respect freedom of worship by people of all faiths, and replace it with religious extremism?

Syria provides its people with universal health care and universal education, up to postgraduate level. Its literacy rate is approximately that of the United States. Before the war, Syria was moving progressively toward a society where women have full rights and are free to come and go as they wish, to dress as they wish, to participate in all occupations.

Have we not learned our lessons from Iraq and Libya, where our direct interventions set the trajectory for democracy back to the Dark Ages? We are destroying every American value we say we support with this senseless, reckless behavior.

Is the U.S. presence emboldening those who want to destroy Syria? On Saturday morning, more than 40 Iraqi pilgrims traveling by bus to a holy site in a cemetery in downtown Damascus were killed, and more than 120 were injured, when explosive devices were detonated. The group claiming responsibility for this massacre? Tahrir al-Sham, a deadly hybrid of Al Qaeda, so-called “moderates” previously backed by the U.S.

The attack on this previously safe area of old Damascus signals a new and more dangerous phase of the efforts of radical Islamic fundamentalists to overturn the Syrian government through acts of terror and paramilitary assaults.

Why in the world does the United States want to help establish a fundamentalist caliphate, guided by Shariah law? Why, in fact, has our government given mere lip service to the slaughter of Christians and the desecration of holy places in the region? How does this reflect American values?

Some people say that if we fight them over there, we won’t have to fight them over here. They are wrong. It’s not that we are fighting them over there. We are supporting them over there, with our tax dollars and now our troops.

Every day we occupy Syria, we arm, train and empower our enemies and put our brave young men and women at risk, using them as pawns in an insane game of nations.

If we really are serious about fighting terrorism and making America safer, we must look to history, learn from our mistakes and get off this endlessly expensive wheel of war.