Op-Ed by Don Shay
According to the Council of Foreign Relations, a pro-government think tank, the Obama Administration in the last year alone has dropped over 23,144 bombs on predominantly Muslim countries. Whether or not one believes the force is justified on any pragmatic grounds, the carnage is irrefutable. In just Iraq and Syria, two of the most troubled countries today, over 20,000 of those bombs were dropped.
The U.S. government and its fourth branch, the mainstream media, have tried in vain to thwart and undermine the civilian casualty figures resulting from the air operations carried out by the U.S.-led coalition. According to a government report, U.S.-led airstrikes across Syria, Iraq, and other countries have avoided civilians at an astonishingly profound rate: of the 25,000 reported casualties, only six were considered to be civilians. Believing such a statistic is pretty remarkable, especially when considering that 42 civilians died in a single airstrike when U.S. warplanes bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
The claim that aggressive military action is required in order to effectively neutralize terror groups does not hold up to logical criticism. History shows us that military force has only strengthened the overall capability of those terror groups by exacerbating the conditions necessary for their success. In 2014, the CIA estimated the size of the Islamic State to be between 20,000 and 31,000 fighters, while as recently as January 6, officials again repeated the 30,000 estimate. In other words, U.S.-led airstrikes appear to be weakening ISIS as much as they are avoiding civilian deaths!
The war on terror has been proven to strengthen the cause of jihadist groups in the region, providing them much-needed legitimacy, which they rely on for recruiting new members to bolster their ranks. According to Foreign Policy Magazine, the Taliban fighting U.S.-backed forces in Afghanistan today is stronger than it was at the onset of the war in 2001.
Billions of dollars have been spent and countless lives have been lost, and to whose benefit? Jihadists such as ISIS or the Taliban thrive on creating a bipolar world of good versus evil, and the violence the United States has purveyed in the region exemplifies the illusion that the jihadists are a force for good.
This is a concept understood by those in the highest ranks of the CIA, and is known as ‘blowback,’ a term officially coined by CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson. In his book, Nemesis, Johnson describes the implications of this phenomenon:
“This means that when the retaliation comes — as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 — the American public is unable to put the events in context. So they tend to support acts intended to lash out against the perpetrators, thereby most commonly preparing the ground for yet another cycle of blowback. In the first book in this trilogy, I tried to provide some of the historical background for understanding the dilemmas we as a nation confront today, although I focused more on Asia — the area of my academic training — than on the Middle East.”
The United States has currently undertaken a war on terror, a war without limits. This war has no clear definition of victory, unless victory means the the death or capture of every terrorist on earth — an impossibility. The ultimate irony of U.S. foreign policy is that in its pursuit to bring democracy and eradicate terrorism, it has only created more and more failed states and boosted the ranks of terrorist organizations internationally. It is a downward spiral towards death, and it feeds off itself.
Robert Lifton, an American psychiatrist who specializes in the psychological effects of war, writes:
“The Effort to purify the world is self-defeating; the United States becomes a Sisyphus with bombs, able to set off explosions, but unable to cope with its own burden, unable to roll its heavy stone to the top of the hill in Hades.”
The politicians, media pundits, and citizenry who keep insisting the world can be controlled and shaped in our image through militarism and aggression are logically and morally bankrupt. The more aggressive their attempts to eradicate evil, the stronger evil becomes on both sides. Each of the 23,144 bombs dropped on Muslim countries in 2015 potentially created another terrorist.
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