Opinion: Citizens should oppose and protest U.S. presence in the Middle East

Sean Kennedy

War never changes, and unfortunately for Americans and Middle Easterners, neither has U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century.

Last Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the U.S. would mobilize special operation troops to Iraq that would, despite President Obama’s promise of no boots on the ground, establish a permanent force in the country far greater than the 3,300 currently stationed there.

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This move reintroduces a ground element to the United States’ attacks in the Middle East, as the focus in recent months has been aerial attack via drones and manned aircraft. In the context of the conflict with the terror group Daesh, some might support this as an appropriate escalation, but to students of history and anyone, frankly, who has paid even remote attention to the U.S. occupation in the Middle East for the last 15 years knows how ridiculous and willfully ignorant of current events this strategy is.

This needs to stop. Now.

I’ve written before about how the United States’ invasion and decade-long belligerence in the Middle East is an act of terrorism, but even for those who may disagree with that assertion, it must be at least admitted that the U.S. attempting to reestablish a ground presence in Iraq is an incredibly stupid strategy that ignores how badly the U.S. failed to do so in the recent past.

Now this isn’t to say that terrorism isn’t a threat to our country — of course it is — it’s just that the way that the Pentagon and Congress choose to respond to the threat makes it far, far worse. Washington officials have been quick to decry Daesh, just as they were to decry Al-Qaeda and the Taliban when they were in the public eye. However, they’ve also been quick to fund them when they were deemed useful for intervention abroad.

Even in the current conflict, the U.S. has continued this tactic of supporting allies as dangerous as their identified enemies: U.S. ally Turkey continues to slaughter Kurds in its country while other Kurdish troops supported by the U.S. to fight in Syria have threatened to kill Shiite Muslims if they return to towns they’ve liberated from Daesh.

You would think that after 15 years of failure cycling through the same policy that the Pentagon might be inclined to change its approach, but this latest move to once again add more ground troops to Iraq doubles down on the willful stupidity and overwhelming failure that U.S. military policy has been throughout this century.

At this point, it seems more than reasonable to question if Washington actually has any desire to lessen the threat of terrorism at all, as even common-sense legislation, like banning weapon sales to people on the FBI’s no-fly list, has failed. How come in this entire 15-year period, no one has ever brought up the idea of banning weapons and munition exports to regions of violence? How is it that, despite in-conflict evidence that brutalizing populations of people in search of terrorists only breeds even more terrorists, that U.S. leaders double down on doing so? How is it that U.S. leaders claim to oppose militant radicalism when they continue to lend support to radical groups with violent histories? How can this foreign policy be defended as for the good of Americans and foreign peoples when the only stakeholders to benefit from these bloodbaths have been weapon manufacturers and defense contractors?

It’s time we as citizens actively oppose U.S. aggression in the Middle East, because the devastation we inflict upon foreign populations abroad also endangers ourselves as well as those we love serving in the military. Federal leaders seem content to continue this expensive, devastating cycle of superfluous terroristic violence on the backs of American taxpayers and over the bodies of U.S. soldiers and Middle Eastern people, but we don’t have to support their commitment to carnage.

Protest recruitment events, discourage enlistment in the military and oppose politicians who support continued violence abroad. Military service is honorable, but our troops are being endangered while being misused against the public interest. Terrorism is indeed an unfortunate concern in present-day America, but we can fight it by withdrawing our support from its source at home.

Collegian Senior Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @seanskenn.

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