By Jillian Hammer, Asian American Affairs Specialist
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by ECAASU.
The United States’ sudden launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airbase earlier this month is unjustifiable and unforgivable. The action is a continuation of the U.S.’s deadly habit of intervening on foreign soil through military occupation. It’s time for us, the Asian American community, to stand up for Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, whose lives have been ravaged by our country’s military invasion.
Few Asian Americans can say that their home countries have not been affected by either the U.S. or European intervention and colonialism. For example. only a few decades have passed since the U.S. rained down bombs on Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Parents and grandparents came to the U.S. with war stories and traumatic memories. Now, Middle Eastern countries are enduring similar deadly techniques inflicted by the U.S. that our families faced. The communities of Southeast and West Asia are linked through the shared experience of being driven from their homes due to the United States and its imperialistic military.
The U.S.’s attack on Syria under the guise of retaliation against a chemical attack is no different than the Bush administration’s lies of “weapons of mass destruction,” which were spread to justify the invasion of Iraq. Although many of us were children during the Iraq War, we are adults now, and thus it’s our turn to engage in the upcoming anti-war movement. We are at a breaking point in world history. It falls upon on our shoulders to reject passivity and ignorance about what our government is doing abroad.
I call our Asian American community, a community that is dominated by East and Southeast Asian voices, to express solidarity with the West Asian community. Countries typically described as “the Middle East” ultimately fall under the umbrella of Pan-Asia. Thus, we must express condemnation of interventionist policies in U.S. foreign affairs. We should refuse to limit our work to an United States-centric lens. It’s time for us to broaden our perspective on social justice outside of the U.S., and instead think internationally. U.S. tax dollars are going towards funding deadly attacks overseas; thus we must hold our government accountable.
This is not merely a call, but a demand for action. Asian American student leaders must broaden their organizing scope from merely East, Southeast, and South Asian experiences and provide a space for West Asian students to speak about how Bush, Obama, and now Trump’s war mongering tactics have affected their lives. It’s time to research the history of American and West Asian relations, and host teach-ins with our peers. We must begin deconstructing the complicated relationship between West Asian experiences and America, as they are now irreversibly linked.