(originally published on http://thecollectivereport.weebly.com/joey/the-black-and-white-world-of-iraq)
With the threat of ISIS becoming more apparent our country has a few avenues we can take, but why are we going down the same path that got us here in the first place? ISIS is a creation of the US foreign policy. Maybe it wasn't intentional, but it seems to be a continuous trend with US foreign policy, ie. Osama Bin Laden. And instead of trying to offset this group through the country's own people and the surrounding countries that are threatened by ISIS, we're beginning a new war in Iraq and Syria as our pundits and political strategist urge that ISIS is a threat that needs to be destroyed before it's too late.
Although I admit ISIS is a horrid organization that continues to pervert the true meaning of Islam, while striking people with fear of their cruelty, I feel we shouldn't trap ourselves in the same pattern that the original war in Iraq did, and the wars we've become involved in since 911. We are too quick to react in ways that have terrible consequences, ISIS being the latest. I'm deeply disturbed and saddened by the recent death of journalist James Foley and Steve Soltoff, and I feel we need to take caution in our next steps and reach out to other countries for solutions. Anytime an American dies overseas at the hands of a terrorist organization, we as citizens lose our rational and instantly want the killers to pay. The media and military propagating the news of Foley and Soltoff's death does not help the situation, although both journalist deaths should be noted in the news, our media wrongfully uses the deaths to push the war mongering agenda.
I am not trying to belittle the deaths of the two journalists, if anything, I think all journalists who work in battle zones trying to uncover the truth of war should be highly admired and respected for their courage and work. It's unfortunate that we live in a world where journalists are being sent to report in more environments where there is a lack of concern or care for them. Soltoff's death became the 70th journalist to die covering the conflict in Syria.
But the main issue at hand with Iraq, ISIS, and Syria is the dilemma we see ourselves faced with again. It's like we jumped back eleven years and we're listening to the similar rhetoric of a threat that is purposefully being exploited and a media that is following all the cues. The two videos have hit a chord with the American public. Although the media had been discussing the rise of ISIS from Syria into Iraq and how they've managed to take city-after-city, the US seemed cautious, but little need to go over to stop the threat. It's only when they kill two journalists in a barbaric way do we consider them fully evil. It's not when they're slaughtering Christians, Muslims, Shias and Sunnis that refused to join them.
Yet, this is our foreign policy. It's been our policy for quite some time now and those who want to ignore or are following the propagated phrases that we're the “voice” and “embodiment of democracy” for other countries really misunderstand the situation. Iraq wasn't great under Saddam, but there was stability and after we stripped the country of its resources, disassembled its military (who didn't even defend Saddam), which unleashed a civil war, stripped all public services that impoverished both Sunni and Shia as well as helped turn them against the occupation, and lose around 5,000 US soldiers (6,000 additional private contractors), 32,000 injured, and close to half a million civilians dead and many more displaced, it's not hard to see our war failed: miserably.
Well, it was a failure unless you were a corporation who profited from contracts in Iraq. In that case the war was very successful. With multiple corporations with billions of dollars in contracts with the US pentagon, they benefited quite well. By 2011 there were more private military personal than US military personal (and getting paid in some cases as much as 8 times the rate of the US common soldier, and with no one to regulate them: think of groups like Blackwater).
The real thing to consider when we look at our foreign policy record and pretend that it doesn't exist for the sake of we're the good guys, is very narcissistic as well as extremely short sighted. We want to believe that the world of winning and losing great wars still exists. And by placating to this idea that we need to solve everyone's issue, because it's power put upon us like some great God, is ridiculous. It's naïve and most people who truly believe this have no real understanding of what has taken place in our military endeavors for the last half century. But that's the problem, we've become subdued to the idea that our country can do no wrong. Mistakes? Yes, but not full out wrongfulness. It's the reason no one in the last or this recent administration has not been indicted for war crimes. It's the reason we still give air time to the people who were calling the shots in the last war.
Still the war drum beats and the public polls are showing their interest and fear of wanting to rid the world of ISIS, ignoring the potential consequence of creating another threat down the line. People, largely fault to the media again, fear that the ISIS threat has hit home. The poll numbers are a mere reflection of how people felt in 2003. History does indeed repeat itself.
Just passing the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and no closer are we seeing an end to terrorism or the end of it's perpetual and endless war. If anything, we seem to only embed ourselves deeper into the beast, losing sight of the terrorist because the lines are becoming so blurred. Our country is facing a multitude of problems that were apparent before 9/11 and have only gotten worse since then. The economy is still sluggish, income inequality continues to grow, the public continues to grow more cynical of the government and its inept ability to do anything for it's people, and after pushing austerity measures, cutting jobs, people's benefits, and social programs for the sake of preventing further debt, we have a continued bloated military budget, while at the same time soldiers come home struggling to find a job, a home, and proper medical attention. Yet, here we are again going back to war, spending more money (that could be better spent saving people back home) to kill mostly more civilians than enemies, make a country more divided, and continue to stir hatred and offer free promotion to its cause as they're surrounded by their dead relatives.
There are many other ways we can assist in this problem without using our own military force or offering of weapons, which always falls into the wrong hands. There are countries that feel ISIS is a threat and are fighting their own wars against them. As many argue, we can work with the Kurdish region, the Iraqi government (as well as support a leader that is willing to work with Sunnis, Kurds, and Shias collectively), work with Turkey, negotiate with Assad in Syria, as well as working with Iran. The US, British, Germany, France, and other military efforts will always fall short of being productive because it's not helping the people of the region. When we work with the people in the region we can not only help in deflating ISIS, but even other terrorist networks that feed off our military actions.
The tragedy of using the two journalist beheadings as the rallying cry for taking action against ISIS is not only a misunderstanding to what the wars have been about, but also ridicules Foley's and Soltoffs names. The president and the media that use their deaths to expand the ISIS threat are ignoring the very nature of what these journalist reported on. James Foley, when reporting on the NATO protests in Chicago two years ago, talking with acclaimed filmmaker Haskell Wexler, Foley questioned “You know, to what end is the greater purpose? And that’s—I guess that’s the root question of NATO, right? What end are fighting these wars against?”