The Slaughter of the Kurds, the Fight over “American Interests,” and the Interests of Humanity



This past week, Donald Trump withdrew American soldiers from a Kurdish area of Syria.1 This gave Turkey a green light to cross the border and attack the Kurdish-led militias controlling the region, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF had earlier allied itself to the U.S. to drive out the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist force ISIS.

In doing so, Trump came under political attack not only from the Democrats and sections of the U.S. military and spy agencies, but also some otherwise reliable Republican-fascist allies.

Four things need to be said about this:

First, this Turkish invasion will lead to terrible slaughter and excruciating suffering for those who are not outright killed. At this point, the only question is how bad it will be.

Second, with little concern for the lives of the Kurdish people, those within the US ruling class who have criticized Trump for this have largely either posed this in terms of what is best for “U.S. national security” or made a putridly narrow appeal to protecting American lives (“these Kurdish fighters are shedding blood to protect Americans from terrorist attacks by ISIS, so we should support them to keep doing that”).2 Trump defends this move in those same terms.

These phrases cover over the reality of a system of imperialist domination of the huge majority of the world’s people and nations, and the imperialist competition over who will be top dog. The U.S. military has murdered nearly ten million people since the end of World War 2 in defense of that system—a system which grinds up the lives of billions of people worldwide in its daily operation and which causes the needless death of millions of children a year through preventable disease.

Third, this is not the first time that forces which have gained the leadership of the struggle of the Kurdish people have tried to ally themselves with greater powers than their immediate oppressor—like in this instance, the U.S.—to gain some form of national self-determination. Every single time this has led to betrayal. This history shows what happens when the masses of people are not led to sharply distinguish their interests from those of the imperialists who promise them deliverance but give them betrayal, and continued oppression.

Fourth, this move by Trump and Turkey is occurring in the context of major changes in the Middle East. Great-power rivalry for the domination of a strategically vital part of the world is heightening, even while regional powers like Turkey and Iran seek to extend their sphere of influence and seek to contend in this mix. Differences and splits in the U.S. ruling class are really sharp over how to extend and maintain U.S. dominance, and this is what is meant by U.S. “national security” interests—the national interests of the U.S. imperialists.

In regard to the significant splits among the rulers that this has widened, it's important for all concerned about humanity and the danger of fascism to return to the crucial orientation which appears on this site every week:

The Democrats, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc., are seeking to resolve the crisis with the Trump presidency on the terms of this system, and in the interests of the ruling class of this system, which they represent. We, the masses of people, must go all out, and mobilize ourselves in the millions, to resolve this in our interests, in the interests of humanity, which are fundamentally different from and opposed to those of the ruling class.

This, of course, does not mean that the struggle among the powers that be is irrelevant or unimportant; rather, the way to understand and approach this (and this is a point that must also be repeatedly driven home to people, including through necessary struggle, waged well) is in terms of how it relates to, and what openings it can provide for, “the struggle from below”—for the mobilization of masses of people around the demand that the whole regime must go, because of its fascist nature and actions and what the stakes are for humanity.

And to further quote Bob Avakian, who pointed to those paragraphs in his new preface to “Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of ‘Painless Progress’” and wrote that “Clearly, the removal of not just Trump, but also the Christian Fascist Vice President Mike Pence, and indeed this whole fascist regime, is of urgent importance. But this will only serve the fundamental interests of the masses of people—not just in this country but in the world as a whole—if this is achieved, not on the basis of confining things within the terms of and through the furthering of the ‘national interests’ of the monstrously oppressive U.S. empire, but on the basis of the mobilization of mass opposition to the fascism of this Trump/Pence regime, which has been produced by and risen to power through the ‘normal functioning’ of this system, of which it is an extreme but not somehow an ‘alien’ expression.”

1. The Kurdish people are a bitterly oppressed minority who live in the nations of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, and they are the main group in this area of Syria. [back]

2. Christian fascists have more cast this as a question of defending religious freedom against Sunni Islamic fundamentalist forces like ISIS. Christian fascists who are now in power with the Trump/Pence regime want to institute a Christian-fundamentalist fascist form of rule in society. They perceive and portray their fascist view of Christianity as under siege, and locked in a holy war for domination, and recast current conflicts in society in this framework.  [back]

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

With a Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

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