[pjw] FACTS: US Out of Syria and Afghanistan! (9/25/20)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Mon Sep 28 17:08:38 EDT 2020

Supporters of peace and justice

Below is the text from the fact sheet we had to hand out on Friday, which 
we'll also be using this coming Friday for the "Get US Troops Out of 
Afghanistan" rally this Friday at 5 PM (and for next Tuesday's "19 Years 
in Afghanistan: End The War" action).

It can be found in PDF format with images at:


I added an extra footnote about the Syrian casualty figure.

Feel free to share! And don't forget to let us know if you plan to attend 
one of the upcoming events.
---dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

US Out of Syria and Afghanistan!
September 25, 2020

Astonishingly, October 7 marks the 19th year since the US began its war in 
Afghanistan, often called "the longest war in US history."* Also, 
September 23 marks six years since the US entered into the civil war in 
Syria, a move they made without a Congressional vote, a UN mandate, nor 
the invitation of the Syrian government.

In February, 2020, the US signed an agreement with the Taliban to end the 
Afghan war, leaving the Afghan government out of the talks. To date, the 
Afghans have taken actions to support that agreement, including releasing 
hundreds of Taliban prisoners, most recently in early September (Radio 
Free Afghanistan, September 1). This set the stage for talks between the 
Afghan government and Taliban beginning in mid-September in Qatar. 
President Trump's words indicate he wants to end America's "endless wars" 
and bring the troops home, but so far the US has only drawn down from 
14,000 troops to about 8,600, with plans to leave 4,500 in Afghanistan 
after the next drawdown (CNN, September 11).

In early 2019, Trump initially called to remove US troops from Syria, but 
faced backlash from Congress and the military. Since then, the President 
has supported the current mission in which US troops on the ground are 
guarding oil fields in northeastern Syria. An American company is planning 
to sell oil from that area to fund US-backed Kurdish rebels, a move 
Syria's foreign ministry correctly calls "stealing" Syria's oil (Army 
Times, August 10). There are currently "less than 1000" US troops in Syria 
(CNN, August 17), but a deployment of 100 more was announced in September 
(NBC, September 18).

Locally, the continued unlawful war in Afghanistan impacts Oregon 
directly. Six of the thirteen Chinook helicopters that could have been 
used by the Oregon National Guard to fight this year's wildfires are 
currently in Afghanistan (Newsweek, September 10).


The wars launched by the US since 2001 have taken the lives of over 7000 
Americans: 2451 in Afghanistan and 4586 in Iraq (icasualties.org), not to 
mention tens of thousands of wounded. The number of people killed in the 
9/11 attacks was 2973. At least 43,000 of the estimated 157,000 people 
killed in Afghanistan since 2001 have been civilians (Watson Institute at 
Brown University, January 2020). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights** 
says that as of March 14, at least 14,024 Syrians have been killed by 
US-led "coalition forces." Over 185,000 civilians have died in Iraq 

Just in 2020, the US has conducted at least 1012 airstrikes/drone attacks 
in Afghanistan (TheBureauInvestigates.com). The number of strikes in Syria 
are harder to track as the US has stopped publishing data, but there were 
at least six in August (The Hill, September 16) including a US helicopter 
strike at a Syrian checkpoint that injured one soldier (Reuters, August 

The estimated costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over $6 
trillion (Watson Institute, January, 2020). While the US military claims 
they remain in Afghanistan to train local forces and maintain stability, 
the reasons are most likely the $1 trillion of minerals estimated to be in 
Afghanistan (Bloomberg News, August 20).


Because it has been 19 years since September 11, 2001, anyone born after 
the Afghan war started is now eligible to serve in a war that is older 
than they are. The War in Iraq will enter its 18th year in March 2021. The 
US involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Syria-- as well as its 
military activity in Yemen [2002], Pakistan [2004], Libya [2011], and 
Somalia [2011]-- traces back to the Authorization for Use of Military 
Force (AUMF) passed by Congress just days after 9/11. The US has troops on 
the ground in Yemen and Somalia.

Beginning with the "Gulf War" in January 1991, continuing through the 
invasion in 2003, the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria 
(ISIS) which began in August 2014, and the assassination of Iranian 
General Soleimani in 2020, the US has never really stopped its attacks in 
Iraq. In 2002, Congress approved a separate AUMF designed to remove Saddam 
Hussein from power. Although that goal was accomplished, the 2002 AUMF 
remains in effect today.

Meanwhile, the US has conducted at least 776 strikes in Libya after the US 
acted to overthrow its government in 2011 (The Intercept, May 22). Under 
President Trump, the US has ramped up airstrikes in Somalia (which began 
in 2007), with a total of 63 in 2019 and at least 42 in 2020 (Newsweek, 
August 14). Though no drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since 
July, 2018 (Airwars, August 2020), American drones have been used to 
attack so-called Islamic militants in Yemen since 2002, with at least 374 
recorded airstrikes (NewAmerica.org). The US continues to support Saudi 
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in their war on Yemen, in part because 
Trump has used three of the eight vetoes of his entire administration to 
block Congressional limits on that war.

Trump used another veto to overturn limits on starting a war with Iran. 
While a possible outcome of the US pulling out of the "nuclear deal" 
there, it seems the global appetite for such a war is weakening. In 
August, the US was resoundingly defeated when trying to extend an arms 
embargo on Iran-- a 2-2 UN Security Council vote with 11 abstentions (The 
Hill, August 14)-- and when trying to invoke a "snapback" of sanctions 
under the nuclear deal despite no longer being party to it. The Indonesian 
ambassador leading the Security Council rejected the US' efforts without 
allowing a vote (The Hill, August 25). One reason the US is withdrawing 
from many bases in Iraq is a parliamentary vote there demanding the US to 
leave after the assassination of General Soleimani.

The US is also stoking the flames of a war against China, sending planes, 
warships and submarines to the area around contested islands in the South 
China Sea. America is even seeking to create a NATO-like military alliance 
against China (Economic Times, September 1).

The US also continues to ratchet up tensions with Venezuela-- a country 
with the world's largest known oil reserves-- by using naval blockades to 
stop imported gasoline and repair parts from arriving, mostly from Iran 
(Associated Press, August 13). There are also increased tensions with 
Russia and North Korea.


Here at home, the government continues to engage in spying and unlawful 
detentions, including 40 men still held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Lawmakers 
seem unable to rein in the police institutions in this country, which like 
the military, enforce state policy through violence. Despite a national 
awakening around racist and violent policing, no meaningful national laws 
have been passed in the months since George Floyd was killed in 

Other than entire nations, the US military is the world's #1 user of 
fossil fuels, a huge contributor to climate change.

Despite the fact that President Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace 
Prize for getting the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to recognize Israel 
(The Hill, September 10), those deals include attacks on international 
norms. The UAE has agreed to open an embassy in Jerusalem, even though the 
UN recognizes Tel Aviv as the Israeli capital to avoid rewarding Israel's 
occupation of the West Bank. The deals with these countries are seen as a 
betrayal of the Palestinians' demand to be recognized and granted their 
own country, after over 50 years of Israeli occupation.

America also has refused to recognize the authority of the International 
Criminal Court, which has launched an investigation into possible US war 
crimes in Afghanistan. In response, the Trump administration put sanctions 
on an ICC prosecutor and one of her aides, drawing condemnation (Al 
Jazeera, September 3).


The US has no right to be in Syria. The failure of nearly two decades of 
war in Afghanistan indicates it is time to bring all the troops home. 
Congress passed a military budget of $740 billion while the nation is 
struggling with a pandemic and the economic fallout from that health 
crisis. It is criminal to keep spending money on war instead of human 

The "War on Terror" has made life more difficult for many Arabs, Muslims 
and immigrants in the US with lines between law enforcement and 
immigration blurring, and has fueled the rise of hate groups. Americans 
must call for an end to state-sanctioned murder and agree to support 
international law, human rights, and civil liberties.

* But the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, in 1953,
   so that war continues; the war on Iraq began in January 1991 and has
   never really ended.

** Note that subsequent to publishing the fact sheet, we found that
  the Syrian Observator stated 3835 Syrian civilians have been
  killed by the US-led coalition but are unsure where Wikipedia
  got the rest of the 14,024 figure.

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