ACTION ALERT: Reactions to the Call for Troop Withdrawal from Syria
December 21, 2018
Veterans Against the War & World BEYOND War & Massachusetts Peace Action
Yesterday Donald Trump announced a withdrawal of 2,000 troops from Syria, putting the national security state into a tailspin and the GOP into a full-on meltdown. Removing ground troops and ceasing base construction will be a start. More important is ceasing to bomb from above. The US should close its 800-plus military bases around the world and provide aid instead of arms.
Reactions to the Call for Troop Withdrawal from Syria
About Face / Veterans Against the War
(December 20, 2018) -- Yesterday President Trump announced a full withdrawal of 2,000 troops from Syria, putting the national security state into a tailspin  and the GOP into a full-on meltdown. 
While troop withdrawal is a step in the right direction -- and this a rare moment when we agree with the administration's decision -- we have a couple of important caveats and, not surprisingly, concerns about Trump's motives:
(1.) The significant bombing campaigns waged on Syria, which are arguably more devastating than the US troop presence, need to end.
(2.) Diplomacy must happen alongside the withdrawal to make sure that this is not an opening for the Turkish government to devastate Kurdish communities in Northern Syria, whom Turkey has already threatened to target with significant military action.  As Trump steps up his communication with the authoritarian Turkish President Ergodan, the timing of this move is suspect to say the least. 
(3.) The US must commit to accepting more Syrian refugees, and the Muslim ban (in every iteration) needs to be overturned.
The ongoing civil war in Syria has been deeply complicated and deadly, and the US pulling troops out of it represents an opening for possible withdrawal from other places where our military is stationed.
Still, one thing is very clear to us: all state forces -- whether they be from Russia, Iran, or proxies from Israel and Saudi Arabia -- should also withdraw. The US is far from the only state power attempting to influence outcomes in Syria, and the violence has already cost too many lives.
We know that this struggle is far from over, and we will be closely monitoring developments and letting you know of any chances to take action. Thank you for being alongside us in our work for a world free of militarism.
Matt Howard, Co-Director
About Face: Veterans Against the War
(formerly Iraq Veterans Against the War)
1. 'No one knows what's happening with Trump's Syria decision,' Vox.com, December 20, 2018
2. 'GOP Senators give Pence 'earful' on Syria,' CNN, December 19, 2018
3. 'Turkey says Syrian Kurdish militants will be buried in ditches: Anadolu,' Reuters, December 19, 2018
4. 'US Exit Seen as a Betrayal of the Kurds, and a Boon for ISIS,' NY Times, December 19, 2018
ACTION ALERT: US Military Out of Syria
David Swanson / World BEYOND War
(December 20, 2018) -- US President Donald Trump has announced his intention to remove all US troops from Syria. If that happens it will fulfill part of the demand that World BEYOND War has been making since Trump promised nine months ago to get "out" of Syria "like very soon."
Removing troops from the ground -- all of them, not just some -- and ceasing base construction, if it happens, will be a start.
Even more important is ceasing to bomb from above.
In addition, alternative approaches need to be launched, including unarmed peaceworkers, a weapons ban for the region, a disarmament program, major actual humanitarian aid (and an end to sanctions that harm ordinary people), and diplomacy.
The fact that politicians and the parties they belong to generally do more harm than good is simply no reason not to encourage the good and discourage the bad.
Opposition to this withdrawal of troops is coming from a variety of disturbing quarters for a range of unconvincing reasons.
"If Trump does it, it's wrong." This is simply nonsense. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and Trump hasn't done this yet -- we need to raise a public demand for actual follow-through.
"If Putin approves it, it's wrong." This is a recipe for ongoing and escalating hostility between two governments sitting on huge supplies of nuclear weapons. Russia has been scaling back both its presence in Syria and its overall military spending.
The United States has been dramatically increasing its military spending and its NATO presence on Russia's border, while tearing up disarmament treaties, shipping weapons to Ukraine, abandoning a Russia-backed agreement with Iran, and opposing Russian energy deals. Doing something for once that Russia agrees with is a mark in favor of the troop withdrawal.
"The US military should decide, not the President." That's a recipe for a military government lacking representative or democratic control, diametrically opposed to the values the US government often claims to support. In fact, Congress should decide, as it may finally do on Yemen.
And, if we're going to be legal about this, war is actually a crime under the UN Charter (with limited exceptions not met by any current wars) and under the Kellogg-Briand Pact, meaning that neither Congress, nor the President, nor the military can legally choose to launch or continue a war.
"Trump is doing this to distract from something else or for various other bizarre reasons." Nobody knows why Trump does anything. Trump probably doesn't know why he does anything. Nobody knows what diplomatic and business deals, if any, are involved. What we know is that massive violence never gets us closer to a solution and cannot be justified.
"Trump is declaring victory while admitting there's no victory; are you going to let him get away with that?" The incoherence of his remarks is available equally to all to observe. If he would end each war and declare victory, and even have a celebratory weapons-marketing parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, the lives spared would more than outweigh the harm.
"It will make matters worse for those on the ground in that part of Syria." Things have been getting worse for years all over Syria, without that ever being understood as a reason to halt the militarism. Things may get worse during the process of ending the violence. But major steps can be taken to help avoid that.
Such steps, again, include unarmed peaceworkers, a weapons ban for the region, a disarmament program, major actual humanitarian aid, and diplomacy. Sanctions now imposed on Syria generally target ordinary citizens much more than the government. They have that in common with the bombs, and they must be ended.
Here's more information on alternatives to violence.
Here's a still relevant position on ending US war against ISIS from World BEYOND War four years ago.
Here's the full text of a petition we encourage you to sign:
We demand that you actually follow through on getting the US military out of Syria, including the skies above Syria. We insist that, for a small fraction of the cost of continuing the war making, the United States instead provide massive humanitarian aid and assistance.
We insist that this be the immediate first step as recently promised, to be followed by the similar withdrawal of the US military from Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.
Moreover, the United States must withdraw its hundreds of thousands of military personnel stationed on 800 to 1,000 bases in countries around the world.
ACTION: ADD YOUR NAME<.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Swanson was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the US Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
Support Total US Withdrawal from Syria NOW!
Shelagh Foreman / Massachusetts Peace Action
(December 20, 2018) -- We support President Trump's decision to withdraw the 2,000 US troops currently deployed in Syria.
He has ordered the immediate commencement of a withdrawal of the approximately 2,000 US troops, illegally deployed mainly in the north and east of Syria. Some reports indicate that his order also requires the termination of US air missions which were theoretically designed to support the troops.
President Trump's decision came days after an important conference in Geneva, led by Iran, Russia, and Turkey, which appointed a committee of diverse Syrian social and political forces to fashion a post-war government for the devastated country.
Many in Congress, the press, and the military and national security bureaucracies, are vehemently opposing the President's action and are trying to limit or reverse it.
Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action's national Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs, welcomed it:
"President Trump is absolutely right to withdraw US forces from Syria. President Obama deployed US soldiers to Syria in violation of international law, and the ongoing US presence there only serves to prolong the war and fuel the risk of confrontation with Russia, Iran, and other parties to the conflict.
"Withdrawal from the war does not mean the US can't contribute to a better future for the people of Syria. The US can and should pursue a more active role in negotiations aimed at securing a political solution and a lasting peace in Syria, and should step up funding for humanitarian aid.
"President Trump should also rethink his administration's callous, discriminatory refugee policies and immediately increase the number of refugees allowed into the United States rather than continuing to shut our doors to Syrians fleeing a war that the US has played such a significant role in.
"As long as Trump is rethinking the US role in Syria, he should also move to withdraw US forces from the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, and from the catastrophic Saudi-led war in Yemen. The US has been waging endless war for a generation, wasting trillions of dollars and costing countless lives, and we're no better off for it.
"We need a security strategy rooted in peace and cooperation rather than death and destruction. In the coming year, the new Congress should move to reclaim its long-lost authority on war so that these critical decisions are vetted by the people's representatives instead of left in the hands of one person."
Please add your voice to those calling for an end to the US involvement in Syria and an end to the seemingly endless wars in the Middle East.
US involvement in Syria is a violation of US law, authorized neither by Congress nor by the United Nations. The US is labeled an "invader" by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic, the internationally recognized government of Syria.
After seven long years of grotesque proxy wars among more than 10 regional and international powers layered on top of a civil war, all of which has cost the Syrian people more than 300,000 lives and immeasurable destruction of infrastructure and wealth, the first faint glimmers of hope for resolution and an end to the conflict have been seen in talks in Geneva, Astana, and Istanbul.
ACTION: Tell our Senators and your congressman: there is no reason strong enough to have our forces prolong the agony of the Syrian people. http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=neRSIgIAJfOevqT5JZWEQjzUQ1FHgraf"> Click Here.
Shelagh Foreman is Board Chair and Co-chair of the Middle East Working Group