Our foreign policy is bankrupting us, poisoning the minds of our children, and turning the world against us.
Iraq: We have so far spent $1.7T on war in Iraq and will pay $490B more in benefits to veterans, according to the Costs of War Project at Brown University. The rationale that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was false. The results are a traumatized Iraqi society, reinvigorated Islamist militants throughout the region, and we destroyed Iran’s only military rival.
Afghanistan: The combined cost of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is almost $4T. The estimated death toll from the three wars is 330,000. The rationale was to make Afghanistan a well ordered democracy that could no longer be used as a refuge by Al Queda. But unless we remain there permanently, the Taliban will regain control.
Pakistan: The UN terrorism and human rights envoy just issued a statement that our drone strikes in Pakistan violate international law. “The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear,” he said. “It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. See here for a table and map of our drone strikes inside Pakistan.
Libya: After we supported the French-led overthrow of Gaddafi, his Tuareg supporters allied with Islamist militants to fight for the independence of northern Mali. A French-led force is now pushing them back but they can return temporarily to Libya, or just as easily go to Algeria, Niger or Mauritania. Throughout North Africa the driving force is not nation states set up in the relatively recent past by France and other European conquerors but milennia of tribal rivalry.
Yemen: Bordering Saudi Arabia and major oil shipping lanes, Yemen was almost brought to civil war last year by southern separatists and northern rebels. They sabotaged its major oil pipeline for long enough to shut down Yemen’s main refinery. They blew it up again a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, we’ve made 65 drone attacks in southern Yemen, mostly in the last 15 months, according to this report.
Syria: Secretary of State Kerry recently promised aid to fighters against the Syrian government. Because there is little real separation between them, the al-Nusra Front and others we say are terrorists, some of our aid will inevitably get to the terrorists.
Iran: We say Iran is developing nuclear weapons and threaten whatever it takes to stop them. Late last year former Secretary of Defense (2006-2011) Robert Gates said: “The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations … An attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert.” The US Director of National Intelligence told the Senate this week that Iran is not enriching to weapons grade and we could quickly detect it if they do. Inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency who monitor Iran’s nuclear sites say the same thing.
Insanity: But, stupefyingly, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently introduced “for himself, Mr. Menendez, Ms. Ayotte, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Cornyn, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Casey, Mr. Hoeven, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Kirk, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Cardin, Ms. Collins, Mr. Begich, Mr. Blunt, Mr. Brown, Mr. Wyden, Mr. Portman, Mr. Manchin, and Mr. Lautenberg” Senate resolution 65 which “urges that, if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”
S.Res.65 means: It would not be our President but Israel’s who decides whether or not to invade Iran. S.Res.65 ends: “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war”. That is, however, exactly what it does do.
I will not say more in this post about the cost or counter-productiveness of our invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan. I will just highlight again Secretary Gates’ warning: “a military strike on Iran could … haunt us for generations” and say why drones are not the answer.
Drones: See this excellent piece on the legality, morality and practicality of drones: “[they] provide a highly efficient way to destroy key enemy targets with very little risk. But they also allow the enemy to draw the United States into additional theaters of operation … in the jihadists’ estimate, the broader the engagement, the greater the perception of U.S. hostility to Islam, the easier the recruitment until the jihadist forces reach a size that can’t be dealt with by isolated airstrikes.”
Islam: It’s not just that drone attacks make other people believe we are hostile to Islam. A teacher friend tells me our relentlessly sensational media reporting has made our own children believe Muslims hate us.
What we must do: Stop trying to control the world. In particular, stop threatening Iran. They do not have nuclear weapons. Fearing they would attack with them is foolish because Iran would be destroyed if they did. Therefore, they will not. Never again go to war to destroy weapons that do not exist or make wars that cannot be won. Scuttle Senate Resolution 65.
I agree heartily. What do we do?
We do everything in our power to stimulate others to understand what we’re doing and its implications. We tell our Representatives what we want – use my words or your own.
We are all in contact with other people every day. We should not assume they know what our government is doing. We should not assume they’ve thought through what they do know. We must make sure they do know and do understand.
This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. Representatives of both parties support this fatally flawed strategy. We must make them understand we do not.
Feel free to share what’s in this post in any way and anywhere. Link to it, copy bits of it, rephrase it, post something in your own words. Speaking up does make a difference.
Felicity commented via Facebook:
“War is not the answer. Wars were devised centuries ago as a political tool to expand territory. Rulers forced the peasants into armies, to go out and kill the peasants of another ruler. The peasants were considered as expendable cannon fodder. The winner, as in a game of chess, then took over the other territory. Rape and pillage was often involved, but generally not as a policy of the rulers, more of a reaction of the victorious armies after their violent acts.
Modern day warfare has taken the idea of the chess game one step further, we now not only pit armies against each other we use our war machines to decimate whole populations and destroy their infrastructure. The march of Sherman through the South in the Civil War was a portent of the new way of waging war. In the case of the United States we now do this to peoples thousands of miles away. How do we know we have “won” and it is time to stop, how do we expect the people of these devastated lands to suddenly decide that the American way is the right way to live, what do we expect the world to feel about the people who sit comfortably across the ocean while their money and machines create pain and suffering to unseen thousands. The reaction here to 9/11 is an example of how it feels to be violated by foreign attack. We were outraged. Outrage fuels fanaticism.
We do not always agree with the way people of other lands run their affairs. There are violations of what we feel are basic human rights all over the world, we applaud when a people rise up and try to change dictatorial regimes in their own countries. Here in the US we believe in freedom of speech and the freedom to live the way we want as long as it does not impinge on the rights of others. How would we feel if people from another way of life came here and started “taking out” our key infrastructure to try to change the way we live. What happened to “do as you would be done by”?
Yes we need to be able to defend our country and its peoples from attack, in fact one of our sons is in the military, but it is time for us to rethink this knee jerk reaction of bombing and drone attacks as the answer to the worlds differences.”
Plus ca change. Tom Clancey’s protagonist Jack Ryan says in the 1984 “Hunt for Red October” which I just re-read flying back from CA:
“Sir, the truth is that Moscow moved in there [Afghanistan] by mistake. We know from both military and political intelligence reports. The tenor of the data is pretty clear. From where I sit, I don’t see that they know what they want to do. In a case like this the bureaucratic mind finds it most easy to do nothing. So, their field commanders are told to continue the mission, while the senior party bosses fumble around looking for a solution and covering their asses for getting into the mess in the first place.”
The change since that time is the nationality of the bosses fumbling around for a solution.