Veterans For Peace urgently calls on the United States and NATO to cease all military activity in Syria, halt all U.S. and NATO shipments of weapons, and abandon all threats to further escalate the violence under which the people of Syria are suffering.
NATO troops and missiles should be withdrawn from Turkey and other surrounding nations. U.S. ships should exit the Mediterranean.
Veterans For Peace is an organization of veterans who draw upon their military experiences in working for the abolition of war. We have not entered into this work without consideration of many situations similar to the current one in Syria.
Peace negotiations, while very difficult, will be easier now, and will do more good now, than after greater violence. Those negotiations must come, and delaying them will cost many men, women, and children their lives.
No good can come from U.S. military intervention in Syria. The people of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and dozens of other nations in Latin America and around the world have not been made better off by U.S. military intervention.
While experts have great doubt that the Syrian government will use chemical weapons, while accounts of past use are dishonest, and while claims that such use is imminent are unsubstantiated and highly suspicious, the most likely way to provoke such use is the threat of an escalated foreign intervention. Required now by practicality, morality, and the law is de-escalation.
The possession or use of one kind of weapon cannot justify the use of another. Were the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Syrians, the United States would not be justified in using other kinds of weapons against Syrians. The United States possesses chemical and biological weapons, as well as nuclear weapons, and possesses and uses cluster bombs, white phosphorus, depleted uranium weapons, mines, and weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles — none of which justifies military attacks on the U.S. government.
The United States’ own military actions kill far more civilians than combatants. The United States facilitates and tolerates governments’ abuses of their own people in nations around the world and around Western Asia, notably in Bahrain — not to mention in Syria, to which the United States has in recent years sent victims to have them tortured. The world does not believe U.S. motivations for intervention in Syria are humanitarian. The motivation has been too openly advertised as the overthrow of a government too friendly with the government of Iran and insufficiently subservient to NATO. Syria has been on a Pentagon list for regime change since at least 2001.
The threat of war, like the use of war, is a violation of the U.N. Charter, to which both the United States and Syria are parties. War without Congressional declaration is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
How many times must we watch the same mistakes repeated?
The options are not limited to doing nothing or escalating warfare. Nonviolent resistance to tyranny has proven far more likely to succeed, and the successes far longer lasting. Nations and individuals outside of Syria should do what they can to facilitate the nonviolent pursuit of justice.
But Syria’s struggles should be controlled by the Syrian people without military intervention. The first step is a cease-fire and de-escalation. The U.S. military and NATO can assist only by departing.
Photo by Debra Sweet released under a Creative Commons license.