I know some people in the region would not appreciate a Trotsky quote, but I know of nothing better than this:
Let us imagine that in the next European war the Belgian proletariat conquers power sooner than the proletariat of France. Undoubtedly Hitler will try to crush the proletarian Belgium. In order to cover up its own flank, the French bourgeois government might find itself compelled to help the Belgian workers’ government with arms. The Belgian Soviets of course reach for these arms with both hands. But actuated by the principle of defeatism, perhaps the French workers ought to block their bourgeoisie from shipping arms to proletarian Belgium? Only direct traitors or out-and-out idiots can reason thus.
It is difficult to argue with anti-imperialism. Who wants to be a pro-imperialist? Unfortunately, it is also difficult to stomach what passes as “anti-imperalism.”
There are the inconsistencies. On one hand, imperial powers are all omniscient and omnipotent. Every action taken, whether it is bombing or supplying weapons, will always necessarily further cement imperial power. Everything that has happened has happened because that is exactly what the United States has wanted. Spain and France manipulated the slaves into ending slavery in Haiti. On the other, imperial powers are bumbling fools. Weapons given to one group end up in the hands of some “bad guy” other. Any ally will become an enemy. Some people are innocent of the inconsistency, sticking to one side of this coin, but as a discourse anti-imperialism likes to push both.
I don’t have the patience nor give enough of a shit to do anything other than kinda mock crude anti-imperialism here. The great relief is that at the end of almost-endless bickering over who and what to support, almost none of it matters. Few military decisions are made in response to left-twitter. Few guerilla movements fail due to merely tepid intellectual support from college town coffee shops.
It is unclear anything can be done unless you happen to have a gun and access to Kobane. (Sorry codepink, there are no non-military solutions here.)
There is, however, a (small?) chance that the question is not whether but when NATO will attempt to help defend Kobane from ISIS. In that case, international pressure may do something. The potential benefit of waiting is that the Turkish government may prefer to let the city be cleansed first. The cost of this strategy is the loss of legitimacy. This is something people can do something about. It should be made clear to the US, Turkey, and other allies that the world is watching and we are not fucking morons. If it just so happens that Turkish tanks begin to face the right way and bombing increases only after the massacres are completed, we will not accept this as a coincidence. Kurds within Turkey are pushing up the cost of the wait-and-take strategy at the cost of their own lives. (Given the electoral dominance of Turkey’s ruling party it is not clear internal legitimacy is a pressing issue.) Internationally the dangers of action are much less without necessarily being ineffective. A NATO country sets a BBC crew’s van on fire by shooting tear gas through the window from close distance and attacks Kurds attempting to cross the border to help stop a massacre as a IS flag waves in the background. At the same time Joe Biden, complete dooshbag, is apologizing to everyone in the region except Kurdish fighters, martyrs, and refugees. This is intolerable.
I’m having a hard time writing this. Seems fucking obvious. If the anti-imperialists are right and everything is just a complete imperialist con, and sending weapons to left wing fighters (in a region we are already in) so they can defend themselves from brutal fascists is actually a bad thing somehow, there is no downside to supporting military support. It might make you feel dirty, but it was going to happen anyhow. It is not like Obama is worried about Monthly Review retweets. If the crude anti-imperialists (“traitors and out-and-out idiots”) are wrong, there is a chance international pressure can save thousands of people.
I refer to this chance as potentially “small?” but I don’t think this is a coincidence. (As for the existence and extent of bombing near Kobane, that is a decision to be made by the people currently defending the city.)