When the United States threatened to bomb Syria in 2013, an outpouring of public opposition helped stop the Obama administration from launching a new air war.
This success also transformed existing disagreement over the conflict among anti-war organizers into bitter debates. Activists disputed the nature of the Assad regime and Syria’s domestic opposition forces; they diverged on what to do about ISIS, the neighboring countries and their militia proxies, and intervention by global powers. The intense intra-movement battle involved only a small cohort of people, largely on social media. But, while both sides agreed on many things, the feud derailed the rise of a unified and internationalist anti-war movement—a movement that would focus on ending the Syrian wars, rather than urging victory for a preferred side.
Of course, the movement’s mission extends beyond Syria. Anyone monitoring U.S. wars today is whipsawed as military crises—along with U.S. drones, bombers, troops, weapons and more—bounce from continent to continent, target to target. Iraq to Syria, North Korea to Yemen, Iran to Afghanistan, the Philippines to Somalia. Ending those lethal wars demands our urgent attention even as Charlottesville, Flint and Standing Rock continue to claim our time, commitment and passion.