10 Reasons Why Americans Opposed, and Averted, a US War on Syria


As I took part in rallies, marches, vigils, conference calls, personal conversations and meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area during the recent crisis over Syria, these are the reasons I heard that Americans opposed even a “limited” US strike on that country:

1 – It won’t do any good. The insanity of killing people with cruise missiles and other conventional weapons to “send a message” that killing people with poison gas is WRONG, was repeated over and over, to good effect.

2 – We’re supporting Al-Qaeda now, really?! I heard this at the August 4 Restore the 4th rally in San Francisco as this crisis started to build. I have the sense that this was mostly a libertarian and right-wing perspective, though Dennis Kucinich came down hard on this as well.

3 – Don’t get involved in someone else’s civil war. People expressed overall wariness not only about Al-Nusra and/or Al-Qaeda in Syria but also unease about the violent and divided Syrian “rebels.” Sometimes an ugly “let the bastards kill each other” or “they’re not worth us getting involved” message was a barely hidden subtext to this oppositional messaging.

4 – Iraq. The US didn’t help that country. Yeah, no kidding.  For millions in this country who believed the propaganda in 2002-2003, the lessons from the horror of the Iraq War are finally sinking in. Many people saw a US “strike” as the beginning of Iraq II, and they weren’t having it.

5 – We’re not going to war for Obama. Republicans and Libertarians were the first and some of the strongest opposition; see Bruce Gagnon’s analysis: http://space4peace.blogspot.com/2013/09/many-to-thank.html Some of this opposition was based in a racist desire to thwart our first “black” (really, biracial) president regardless of the issue, but some was principled opposition based on a lack of trust and respect for Obama’s policies overall, including his “dirty” drone strikes and special operations in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.http://dirtywars.org/the-book

6 – It costs too much, and we need the money at home. The Bring Our War $$ Home http://www.codepink.org/section.php?id=429messaging has been circulating since 2009, and many people across the political spectrum picked up on it. Also sequester cuts happening simultaneously with this latest propaganda push, and the weak economy, added to the force of “we can’t afford it.”

7 – Our military has been stretched and overdeployed for too long. Active duty troops photographed themselves opposing another war – an unusual and brave move link. People didn’t believe Kerry’s/Obama’s reassurances about how limited a US (air) war on Syria would be.

8 – Afghanistan. The US is still engaged in a “hot” war, one that is still sending young Americans home in coffins or wheelchairs.http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-military-deaths-afghanistan-2135-20281097?.tsrc=tmobustoday Even if the mainstream media can’t be bothered to cover that war, Americans, especially veterans and military families haven’t forgotten.

9 – Libya. Americans are (dimly) aware that all is not right in Libya and there have been many unintended, negative consequences from the US/NATO air war there.

10 – The UK Parliament voted NO. Last but certainly not least. It’s one thing to say, write, chant “Say no to war” — it’s quite another, and more mobilizing, thing for our country’s closest ally to do so in a public vote of their legislature, pushed by their citizens. The vote being close didn’t even matter – it was an historic NO, and a pivotal moment in this crisis – the push to “take it to Congress” really took off after this vote.

Final thoughts: This crisis isn’t over, and the US warships, jets and other machinery of destruction are still hanging fire in the eastern Mediterranean, at vast taxpayer expense. Going forward, we in peace/antiwar organizations, from whatever political perspectives, need to amplify these “talking points of the people” and stay ready to take action again.

There isn’t a single “movement” against war, but an informal, multifocal opposition from across the political spectrum. “Yelling at empty buildings” aka the huge marches of the past especially in DC, may be a tactic that’s outlived its usefulness. Americans live on our phones these days, and we found ourselves ready to use them to call Congress. The timing of this crisis was helpful – we were able to show up at representatives’ town halls during the August recess and speak our minds in person. For now, that was enough to avert a war. More may well be needed later in the year, as the military-industrial-media complex hasn’t gone away. But for now, let’s reflect on a rare, and much-needed victory, staying humble and nimble for the challenges ahead.

Janet Weil is a longtime CODEPINK-er and a co-founder of SF 99% Coalition.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce