On April 7th, President Trump approved a strike of 50 tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airbase near Homs, Syria’s third largest city. Syrian media sources reported that at least nine civilians were killed by the U.S. military strike, including four children. The national body of New Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) strongly condemns the Trump administration’s vicious attacks against the Syrian people, and vows to channel our anger into organized resistance through our 30+ member chapters and affiliated student organizations on campuses across the country.
The U.S. government claims their missile attacks against a sovereign country in the Middle East was punishment for a recent poison gas explosion in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed 70 people, which Trump blamed on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Corporate-owned media immediately began parroting these war-hungry claims, without any independent investigation, even though the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice just two months ago publicly boasted on NPR, “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile [in 2014].” In Hillary Clinton’s first interview since her presidential election defeat, she also eagerly encouraged the U.S. military to bomb Syrian airfields mere hours before the attacks started.
The missile attacks cost the U.S. government $93.81 million, but added nearly $5 billion to the collective stock value of corporations that produce weaponry including Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. While Trump campaigned against U.S. intervention in Syria, his position as a billionaire politician with investments in Raytheon puts his interests directly at odds with the working people he claims to represent. The Trump administration’s hawkish military budget of $1.45 trillion, nearly half the total federal budget, is money robbed from crucial social programs like education and healthcare which face significant cutbacks. Trump’s attacks on the Syrian people are therefore also an attack on the rights of workers and oppressed communities here, including students, and only benefit the wealthiest 1% of corporate owners.
Trump’s attacks are a dangerous escalation of the six-year-long U.S. war on Syria, as it is the first time that Washington is openly announcing military strikes aimed at the Syrian government. Such attacks could create a deadly confrontation between two nuclear powers: the U.S. and Russia. Russia has been assisting the Syrian government against U.S.-funded proxies dominated by al-Qaeda. For years, the U.S. government has spent over $1 billion per year funding and arming right-wing proxy forces that have ripped the country apart, creating millions of refugees. In 2016 alone, the U.S. military dropped 12,192 bombs on Syria, destroying the country's infrastructure and killing thousands. Economic sanctions have strangled the Syrian economy, resulting in massive inflation and poverty. The Syrian health service, one of the best in the Middle East before the U.S. intervention, is now close to collapse.
It has long been the strategy of the U.S. government to fund right-wing proxy groups to weaken or overthrow governments which do not fully align with U.S. corporate interests. The ‘war on terror’ is effectively a war on the nations and liberation movements that oppose the foreign domination of their country’s land, labor and resources. Syria is a passageway of important oil and gas pipelines, while the U.S.-backed state of Israel perceives the Syrian government as a threat due to its support for resistance against the Israeli occupation of Arab lands across the Levant. Trump’s attacks have allowed Israel to accelerate its drilling of oil and gas from the Golan Heights in Syria, an area which has been under Israeli military occupation for the past 50 years.
We believe students in the U.S. are in a unique position to expose and oppose the concrete role of university administrations in running higher educational institutions as centers for promoting racist wars, designing weaponry, and predatory military recruitment. By identifying actual policies or contracts that maintain the relationship between a university and the war industry, we are able to educate and mobilize ourselves as a collective force against a concrete issue on campus, which allows us to strike real blows against the 1% and threaten their ability to continue profiting from endless U.S. wars. SDS at UC Davis is protesting Chancellor Gary May’s direct role in profiting from war, as he is on the board of two weapon manufacturing companies.
We also recognize that the U.S. government continues to wage wars abroad while depriving the very people impacted by these wars any avenues of refuge and sanctuary here. Therefore, to express solidarity with victims of U.S. military devastation means to fight for sanctuary campuses at home, where all immigrant and Muslim students and workers are protected from the threat of racist deportations or anti-Muslim bans. All of the countries in the Middle East and Africa included on Trump’s racist Muslim bans have been subjected to the terror of US-backed military occupations, bombings, and killer sanctions for decades.
As an organization committed to fighting for the democratic rights and liberation of all exploited communities, SDS sees the student movement as an important part of the larger struggle for a society where workers and oppressed people have the power to run societal institutions in our interests, as the social majority who produce all wealth and make society run. This includes funding education and humans needs, not racist wars for corporate profits.
Fight Trump’s Racist Attacks - at Home & Abroad!
Hands off Syria! Sanctuary for All!
At our last national SDS conference, we became a member of the international Hands Off Syria Coalition, as well as a signatory to the coalition’s Points of Unity, available here: HandsOffSyriaCoalition.net