Leftists Again Mourn Fascist Militias
Superficial, reactionary analysis of American military activity leads to misdirected anger.
Many who participate in political discussions are bafflingly incapable of seeing the United States as anything other than the villain — in any geopolitical situation. This assumption is substituted for meaningful analysis in ways that make ripe meme content. Social media means people can get their dopamine fix from these assumptions, thinking they are on the right side of a serious situation, without ever bothering to look any deeper. This is self-evident in how leftists wind up repeatedly mourning dead fascist militants.
Several days ago, with zero civilian deaths and the enthusiastic consent of the Somali government, the Biden administration launched an airstrike against Al-Shabaab, a fascist militia with a fundamentalist Islamic ideology. They control large parts of the East African countryside and have committed devastating attacks against civilians in Somalia, Kenya, and Yemen — the last of which is across the Gulf of Aden, a lucrative shipping route, which has led to their on-and-off collaboration with the notorious Somali pirates who attack the lucrative Suez Canal route past the horn of Africa.
Three members of the heinous militia Al-Shabaab are now dead — and no innocents died or even shed a drop of blood. Leftist social media is ablaze with posts with thousands of likes attacking Biden for his supposedly warmongering and imperialist ways, even though the Somali government was eager for the United States government to take a stronger stance against Al-Shabaab. The US has the unique resources to protect Somali life, both military and civilian. When the airstrike was ordered, Al-Shabaab had ambushed Somali military forces.
We have witnessed the exact pattern a couple of times earlier this year with similar strikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah along the border between Iraq and Syria. These fascist militants also adhere to a violent, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. Unlike Al-Shabaab, they also get hearty backing from Iran financially and materially to enact their torment of innocent life. Assad, who is aligned with Iran, largely tolerates their presence, but even the Iraqi government has expressed approval for strikes against them.
When everything is seen solely through the lens of the Iraq War, the United States getting involved in these places seems imperialist and meddlesome. However, the US is often what keeps a fairly good government stably in place in the face of insurgent violence against it. With the recent withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban is already gaining ground once more. There is a high likelihood that China will take its turn as a superpower trying to keep Afghanistan peaceful by force.
Ultimately, with the sorts of airstrikes in question, there are two criteria we should apply. Are we protecting civilian life? And are those actions generally with the approval and consent of said people? The line between a helpful hand and an occupying force is narrow, and the United States often veers off into the latter. Airstrikes, without on-the-ground presence, at least help provide power that often these governments lack.
This is why the most important — and unfortunately ignored — proposal with regard to the slaughter in Syria was the creation of a no-fly zone. During the 2016 election, there was intermittent chatter, as Hillary Clinton was an ardent supporter of the idea. Many saw this as an aggressive act against not just Assad but Putin, when it is instead designed to stop the aggression they display towards civilians there. The Syrian Arab Air Force and its much more well-armed comrades, the Russian Air Force, have unleashed endless havoc on the Syrian countryside, killing hundreds of thousands.
Geopolitics is a game only played morally when you do not prioritize “sides” but rather the lives that they have the power to either protect or destroy. The United States has a history of being an imperialist force that, in some instances, has made things much worse upon getting involved. Other times, American military action has undoubtedly saved countless lives. We must analyze these situations for what they are in and of themselves. In these situations, all the powers at play have blood on their hands. The question is how we limit the shed of more.