Joe Biden’s first known military action since being inaugurated as president came February 25 in the form of vicious airstrikes on Syria. This serves as a reminder that for victims of U.S. imperialism abroad, there is no lesser evil.
Pentagon spokesman Jack Kirby claimed that the airstrikes were directed at a point along the Syria/Iraq border and destroyed facilities controlled by Iran-backed forces. The strikes reportedly killed 22 militiamen of the Iraqi-Hezbollah and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces. Whether it is true or not that the targets of the attack are backed by Iran, the airstrikes risk creating a greater conflict in the region which would inevitably fall on the backs of the working classes of the Middle East, as has been the result of all U.S. intervention in the region in the past.
This strike comes as hopes of a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), popularly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, are fading, largely due to the Biden administration’s refusal to remove deadly sanctions on Iran. The “max pressure” sanctions were a staple of Trump’s attempt to establish greater U.S. economic influence in the Middle East. These sanctions have escalated conflict between the U.S. and Iran and deprived the Iranian working class of vital medicine. While Biden campaigned on a commitment to return to the JCPOA, his attempt to play hardball with Iran and the airstrike against Syria signal a foreign policy intent on continuing U.S. imperialism in the Middle East.
Syria has long been a battleground in the United States’ proxy war against Russia and its attempt to re-establish itself as the undisputed imperialist power. Biden and his team have promised to take a more hardline approach to Russia, Iran, and China. The U.S. uses the threat of terrorism and human rights violations to explain its escalations against these countries; however, the real threat to the Biden administration is that Russia, Iran, and China seek to grow the influence of their own capitalist classes, challenging the United States. If Biden’s escalations result in greater conflict in the Middle East, it will be the working classes of all nations that suffer.
The airstrikes also signal the Biden administration’s support for the Israeli regime. The Trump administration enabled Israel’s escalations against Iran. This included Israel’s own airstrikes along the Syria/Iraq border. Biden’s foreign policy team is packed with staunch Israel-enablers, such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan, who have been candid about their desire to aid Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his increasing hostility toward Iran.
The Pentagon tried to justify the airstrikes as a retaliation against a rocket attack on a U.S. base in Iraq on February 22. The attack killed a private contractor and injured eight other private contractors, in addition to a U.S. service member. The Pentagon would have Americans believe that such an attack justifies a reaction from the U.S. military, but this is nothing but a further cover for U.S. imperialism. The fact that all but one of the victims of the February 22 attack were private contractors should also raise doubts about any moral posturing from the Pentagon. Privatized forces in the United States’ imperialist wars have a long history of atrocities against the people of Iraq.
Biden, of course, is no stranger to the use of airstrikes. As Vice President, he was complicit in the Obama administration’s attempts to institute regime change in Syria. The Obama/Biden administration also pioneered the use of drone strikes and airstrikes in the Middle East, infamously bombing seven different countries at one time. Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was one of the strongest supporters of regime change pursued by the Obama administration. He now has even more influence over U.S. foreign policy than he did under Obama, meaning that airstrikes on Syria will continue if all those opposed to U.S. imperialism do not organize a militant anti-war movement.
These airstrikes come as Biden is quickly back-tracking on any campaign promises that might have compelled the U.S. working class to vote for him, such as an increase of the minimum wage or student debt forgiveness. The United States’ currently has a military budget of $934 billion, yet the working class is told that programs which could improve our lives, such as universal healthcare, free college, free housing and green infrastructure programs are too expensive. This is because the Democratic Party and all its members exist to serve the interests of the capitalist class. Socialists in the United States must organize to put anti-imperialism at the center of their politics and denounce U.S. imperialism at every turn. For the well-being of Syrian workers and the workers in the U.S. whose interests are being ignored in favor of imperialism: No U.S. attacks in Syria! No war with Iran! U.S. out of the Middle East!