Sadet Karabulut: Stand up to Trump’s war policies

20 May 2017

Sadet Karabulut: Stand up to Trump’s war policies

During the US presidential campaign Donald Trump gave the impression that he was the antiwar candidate, especially when set against his opponent, the hawk Hillary Clinton. He attacked, for example, the billions of dollars swallowed by American wars which, in his stated opinion, just led to more terrorism, more dead, more bodies. The US billionaire also stated, in contrast to some other candidates, that war and aggression would not be his first instincts. This was, together with his intention to normalise relations with Russia, one of the few attractive elements of what was otherwise a worrying and regularly even bizarre campaign.

As is the case with so many election promises, this died the death in the first few months of Trump’s presidency. This was after months in which the president came under fire due to the alleged influence of Russia on his team. Only with the attack on a Syrian airforce base early last month, which did considerable damage to relations with Russia, did this criticism subside. In fact, it was transformed into praise. The most powerful man in the world, many analysts agreed, was at last looking ‘presidential’. Support amongst the populace, which had fallen to an historic low, crept a little higher.

This praise worked as a perverse stimulus and did not fail to have its results. On all fronts Trump cranked up the US war machine or threatened war, a tendency which had long been visible.

That the struggle against Islamicist terrorism would be intensifieD had already been announced, but that it would swiftly lead to more than a thousand civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria is bewildering. Shortly after the attack on the Syrian air force base, presented as retaliation for a poison gas attack by the Assad regime (though one for which responsibility has still not been demonstrated), there followed the dropping on Afghanistan of the biggest conventional bomb ever employed.

In the meantime tensions rose swiftly with both non-UN member North Korea, and Iran. From the US side we heard an emphatic ‘all options are on the table’, which is nothing more or less than a threat of war. This is, it should be noted, at a time when the Americans themselves admit that Iran has concluded a deal with them and others on the country’s nuclear programme. Fresh sanctions, which go directly against the agreement and which could put an end to it, are in preparation.

January saw a completely failed operation by US commandoes in Yemen in which dozens of civilians were killed. Trump has also greatly stepped up drone attacks on this, the poorest country of the Arabian peninsula, a country moreover which just over two years ago was bombed by Saudi Arabia – with extensive American support – resulting in thousands of civilian victims and an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

I could give a lot more examples, such as the hundreds of millions of soldiers sent to Syria and the thousands of additional troops who will likely go to Afghanistan, as well as the lifting of restrictions of the US armed forces, rules of engagement designed to prevent what are referred to euphemistically as ‘collateral damage’, which in reality are civilian deaths and woundings. Then of course there’s Trump’s request to Congress for an increase in the defence budget, already far and away the highest in the world, of a cool $54 billion. In short, the picture is clear: Trump=War.

That’s not only deadly dangerous, but also somewhat remarkable. Trump was absolutely right, during his candidacy, in his analysis that the ‘War on Terrorism’ was only leading to more terrorism. That’s logical as well, because Al Qaida and Islamic State, the latter a product of the US occupation, thrive in the chaos and anarchy that over and over again are the results of rash American military adventures. Air raids which kill large numbers of civilians ensure that jihadist organisations can recruit new fighters with ease, fighters who increasingly turn their sights toward targets in the west.

It’s high time that this war policy was called to a halt, because with the exception of arms manufacturers, who have seen their profits rocket, the War on Terrorism produces only losers. The Netherlands can make a small contribution to this by no longer running blindly after the US when once again Trump seeks a foreign policy way out of a situation when things are getting a little hot for him at home.

It’s also important that the American president is given a firm reply when he attends the NATO summit in Brussels later this week. The expectation is that the other NATO member states will fail to do any such thing. That’s why it’s important that the demonstration against Trump’s war policies, but equally against discrimination, sexism and continuing attacks on the environment, is a huge success.

This article first appeared on the website Joop.nl


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