Detroit — A diverse crowd of various nationalities and ages gathered here on June 30 for a Workers World Party public forum on the imperialist war threats against Syria. The featured speaker was Sara Flounders, a WWP Secretariat member, co-director of the International Action Center and a leader of the United National Antiwar Coalition.
Flounders began by updating the audience on the “new deal” brokered by United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan for a transitional government in Syria. An international conference in Geneva earlier that day agreed to the plan, although at Russia’s insistence the plan left open the possibility of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad being allowed to remain as part of an interim government.
Syrian opposition groups — instigated and supported by the United States and other imperialist powers and their puppets — rejected the U.N. agreement. Flounders said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “remained adamant that Assad has to go, and even had the audacity to state that ‘those with blood on their hands’ cannot stay in power.”
Flounders reviewed the background of the Syrian conflict, referring the audience to a fact sheet published in Workers World newspaper which gave a timeline of U.S. and Western interference in Syria. (See “The U.S. & Syria: Facts you should know” at workers.org.) She discussed the shooting down by Syria of a Turkish F4 fighter jet. “Will that be the pretext for U.S./NATO intervention? So far, not yet. But this or any other incident could be used as a pretext at any time to justify the imperialist military onslaught.” She also discussed the role of sanctions as a de facto act of war.
Flounders called the war moves by the U.S., NATO and Turkey against Syria — and Iran — “part of the U.S. plan to reconquer and recolonize the globe, to take hold of a very strategic region that has oil and a skilled working class.” She described imperialist war as “massively destructive and massively profitable,” with trillions of dollars in government-subsidized profits for the arms makers at the expense of human needs and social programs.
“The ruling class of capitalists makes a concerted, special effort to disorient the progressive movement and demoralize it. They use groups and media like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, National Public Radio, Democracy Now and others to build support for imperialist intervention,” Flounders said. “Our job as revolutionaries and internationalists is to side with those under the gun of imperialism, no ifs, ands or buts, and to educate our class as to who our real enemy is: the capitalist class, whose military interventions have never been to bring peace or humanitarian aid to anyone.”
Abayomi Azikiwe of Pan-African News Wire and Workers World newspaper also spoke, reviewing the devastating effects on working class communities here caused by Pentagon intervention around the world over the last decade.
“Since the advent of the Afghan war some 11 years ago,” said Azikiwe, “the conditions of workers and the oppressed have worsened to unprecedented levels. The economic crisis facing the world is the most severe since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“Socialism provides the only solution to the current crisis of capitalism,” he added, “and the sooner we dispose of the exploitative system the better off we all will be in the long term.”