On June 10, 2014, ISIL, a Sunni jihadist military group, invaded Iraq. Since then, ISIL has increasingly expanded its control in Iraq and parts of Syria. Here is a map detailing the areas in which ISIL has control:
While ISIL has become a threat to the Kurds and the Yazidis, it has also taken pride in recording executions of American reporters. Although ISIL is an extremely violent organization that has frightened the lives of those in the Middle East, the U.S. should have no role in helping terminate ISIL and should, instead, delegate its power to other nations.
In 2003, President George Bush invaded Iraq toppling Saddam Hussein’s government and making the time ripe for another organization to rise; that organization was ISIL. ISIL was created by Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, similarly know as The Stanger, who had dreams of uniting Sunni Muslims in the Middle East. As a result, high numbers of foreign fighters (Sunni Muslims) came to Iraq from all over the world to support The Stranger. Recently, ISIL has clarified that their goal is to establish a caliphate in the Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq and Syria, which would be ruled by a Caliph.
It is important to note that the U.S., specifically the CIA, brought the Saddam Hussein regime into power. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator to his people and in 2003, before the U.S. toppled his government, gassed 5,000 Kurds, the same people that ISIL is targeting, in Halabja in northern Iraq (Sellar). It is also interesting that the CIA knew about the chemical weapons that Iraq was using against these Kurds and did not intervene even though Hussein was killing innocent people—just like ISIL is. The U.S. should not assign a leader to govern people in another country because its choice ultimately results in tyranny and violence.
Aiming at achieving its long-term goal, ISIL has been using violent tactics against the inhabitants of Iraq and Syria, but America has not hesitated to try to impede its path. On September 10, 2014, President Obama has declared that “we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists” along with “send[ing] an additional 475 service members to Iraq,” making the total number of military service members approximately 1600 (Fox News). This action that the President is conducting is very similar to the action that America took under Harry S Truman. In September 1950, the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) was established in Saigon, South Vietnam. The U.S. spent $10 million to support the French, who were combating the Viet Minh forces. By 1953, spending soared to $350 million, and the U.S. had deployed between 750 and 1,500 military advisors to South Vietnam between 1955 to 1960. After President Johnson took office, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and in 1965, the Viet Cong attacked an American military base. As a result, 200,000 U.S. troops were sent into Vietnam by the end of the year. As one can infer, American presence in Vietnam escalated over years, but it eventually led to war in Vietnam. Why should America repeat the same action in the Middle East? President Obama’s strategy will only upset ISIL and force Iraqi and Syrian minorities to rely on America. It may also lead the country into another pointless, expensive war like that of Vietnam.
Additionally, the Obama administration’s response to the initial start of ISIL’s invasion in Iraq on June 10, 2014 brings up an important point about America’s global policy– its “police state” relation to nations around the globe. It is clear that America has assumed the role of becoming the world’s policemen. America is always becoming involved in other nations issues and would rather spend money on their issues instead of letting those nations resolve them by themselves. It also has become notorious for toppling governments like it did in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. There is little doubt that the U.S., more specifically the CIA, has created more issues by trying to police the world than it has resolved. In fact, former CIA officer Graham Fuller has described ISIL (IS at the time when he commented) as “made in the USA” (Basaran). Although America has made many mistakes as it relates to foreign policy, it does not have to make another mistake trying to combat ISIL.
One part of ISIL that is interesting to examine is how they are funded. ISIl’s major source of finance is through smuggling of oil and robbing of business owners; nevertheless, American taxpayers have unwittingly financed their weapons and military machines (NBC). When America came out of the Iraq war, it generously left its vehicles and arms their for the Iraq army (Washington Times). However, during ISIL’s campaign, it has managed to fight through the Iraqi army. In an article from OneIndia news, Panwar writes: “It is said that the retreating Iraqi soldiers in the fallen town of Mosul were so scared of the ISIS terrorists that they took off their uniforms lest they had to go through worst kind of torture.” ISIL, financed through robbery and the oil trade, has managed to fight off the Iraqi soldiers and has looted their weapons, which were given to them by the U.S. Thusly, it is clear that part of America’s foreign policy in Iraq has inadvertently led to the funding of ISIL.
Time magazine’s writer, Joe Klein, recently published an article quoting Ryan Crocker, “who probably knows the Middle East better than any other living American diplomat,” that is convinced that we must counter ISIL. Klein cites Ryan Crocker:
“This is about America’s national security,” he told the New York Times. We don’t understand real evil, organized evil, very well. This is evil incarnate. People like [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have been in a fight for a decade. They are messianic in their vision, and they are not going to stop.”
Crocker’s belief embellishes the threat that ISIL really imposes on the U.S. ISIL is not threatening America’s national security at all. They may be killing nonconformists in Iraq and Syria, but they pose no danger to America’s national security. ISIL has also been killing reporters; however, they were explicit in their execution video that America is to blame for the death of these reporters. It is important to note that the execution videos were after America started to send airstrikes over Iraq, thereby showing that the execution videos were in response to the airstrikes. However, ISIL’s response is not as crazy as it may have seemed: If a country sent airstrikes over America, is it that much of a stretch to say that America would most likely kill people from that nation just like ISIL did?
Joe Klein wrote in his article “there will be no escaping this fight, unfortunately,” which is a poor mentality to fix the situation with ISIL. To think that America is obligated to fight ISIL is ridiculous because America has every right to make the decision to stop intervening in Iraq. Indeed, America has been in the Middle East for a little more than a decade, but that gives America no obligation to stay involved with the current affairs. Had we not interfered in the first place, ISIL would have never risen to pose a problem. America’s track record of foreign policy decisions is gradually degrading. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have adopted foreign policy philosophies that are too interventionist. They have already sent over 150 “successful airstrikes in Iraq” (Obama), and it is clear that ISIL will keep trying to target Americans for as long as the airstrikes are in session.
Later in his article, Klein writes: “There is not a politician, policymaker or journalist who hasn’t been wrong and about Iraq at some point.” Here Klein seems to be asserting that the situation in the Middle East is so complicated that almost every politician or commentator has been wrong about Iraq at some point. Instead of speculating on how ISIL will rise to “threat” America’s national security, the wiser situation would be to stay out of the Iraqis problems and focus on America’s.
Of course, the most common question would be: “Should the U.S. really let ISIL keep gaining power from violence?” and “What happens if ISIL were to gain much more power than it already has?” ISIL is not America’s responsibility to be dealt with. America should withdraw its “military advisors” as well diminish the use of airstrikes. If ISIL were to gain a lot of power, there is the possibility of the UN standing up to combat it as well as at least one other nation besides the U.S. that would try to break up its plans. The most problematic principle that America holds is that it is responsible for keeping peace in the world; if it were to let go of that principle, affairs in the Middle East would be much better. For one thing, Saddam Hussein would most likely still be in control. His dictatorship kept Iraq in check, and the probability of ISIL rising during his reign was so unlikely.
Besides those two questions, American politicians would then argue that they are trying to “retain and uphold the principles of democracy.” It is easier making a case that America does not support democracy globally. When Russia annexed Crimea, many critics were pointing out that the voting was botched and unfair due to Russia military presence. Former Congressman Ron Paul was cited saying: “Critics point to the Russian “occupation” of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a “triumph of democracy”?” Paul’s statement brings up another great point about America’s belief about democracy. How can America believe in democracy if it goes around nations and topples the governments run by leaders who it disagrees with and ushers in those who it approves of? The entire point of democracy is to have officials, elected by the populous, help govern the country that they were voted in. Instead, the U.S. has fully discarded that principle and chooses leaders that are beneficial to the U.S. rather than the people who inhabit the country that is being ruled. The Iranian revolution is a great example of an American ousting of a leader that it did not approve of. In 1953, Britain aided an American CIA plan to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh to install Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, a leader it approved of. Another example of America toppling other nations’ governments is when the CIA deposed President Jacobo Árbenz in 1954. The CIA originally brought Jorge Ubico, the leader before Árbenz took power, into power, but because his regime was too oppressive, the people led a revolution that was later called the “October Revolution.” After the revolution, the people then democratically elected Árbenz. UFCO, an American food company that distributed product into central America, did not agree with Árbenz’s social policy of distributing private land to landless laborers and lobbied that the U.S. topple the government. Following UFCO’s lobbying orders, the U.S. toppled another democratically elected leader and installed another military leader Carlos Castillo Armas. It is clear that America does not stand by the principles of democracy that it iterates to its people and other nations. Harry S Truman, the president who signed the CIA into law, seems to have been right when he later wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “Limit CIA Role To Intelligence.” (see here: http://www.maebrussell.com/Prouty/Harry%20Truman’s%20CIA%20article.html)
Whatever moral obligation the U.S. has in combating ISIL, it seems that the U.S. is incapable of handling the situation due to so many failed plans in foreign policy it has initiated, and therefore should withdraw. America’s policies have financed ISIL operations and have led to the death of more innocent people. America has tried to implement an interventionist policy to help innocent people, and it did not work. The U.S.’s decisions will not help the people in neither Iraq nor Syria and will only help make the situation worse.
America is able to make the decision to pull out of Iraq and diminish its plans to send more airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. These foreign policy decisions will only cost American taxpayers more money and expand its presence in a region that it does not fully understand. America should call an end to its plans of intervening in other nations’ affairs and focus more on fixing its economic and social problems at home.
- Scarborough, Rowan. “Gear galore left in Iraq as last troops pull out” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/15/gear-galore-left-in-iraq-as-last-troops-pull-out/?page=all
- Panwar, Preeti. “Iraq war crisis: What is Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?” http://news.oneindia.in/feature/what-does-islamic-state-in-iraq-and-syria-isis-want-in-iraq-1468356.html
- Tobal, Katharine. “Who Are The ISIS, And Where Did They Come From?” http://www.exposingtruth.com/isis-origins/#ixzz3D4csUCq4
- Smith, Patrick. “George W. Bush’s horrific, deadly blunder: Would Saddam Hussein be better than Iraq’s new hell?” http://www.salon.com/2014/06/18/george_w_bushs_horrific_deadly_blunder_would_saddam_hussein_be_better_than_iraqs_new_hell/
- Shirlow, Peter. “Explainer: what is ISIS and where did it come from?”http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-isis-and-where-did-it-come-from-27944
- Filozof, Michael. “Why Should We Care about ISIS?” http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/09/why_should_we_care_about_isis.html
- Joffe, Lawrence. “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi” http://www.theguardian.com/news/2006/jun/09/guardianobituaries.alqaida
- Bilchik, Gloria. “Military mystery: How many bases does the US have, anyway?” http://www.occasionalplanet.org/2011/01/24/military-mystery-how-many-bases-does-the-us-have-anyway/
- Fox News. “Transcript of Obama’s address on ISIS strategy” http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/10/transcript-obama-address-on-isis-strategy/
- NBC and Reuters Reporters. “Oil, Extortion and Crime: Where ISIS Gets Its Money” http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/oil-extortion-crime-where-isis-gets-its-money-n200991
- Basaran, Ezgi. “Former CIA officer says US policies helped create IS http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/09/turkey-usa-iraq-syria-isis-fuller.html
- Klein, Joe. “An Evil That Must Be Stopped ISIS is the most serious threat to American interests in a decade. Why we must counter it.” Time. August 25, 2014. 25.
- New York Times. “The Iraq-ISIS Conflict in Maps, Photos and Video” http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/12/world/middleeast/the-iraq-isis-conflict-in-maps-photos-and-video.html?_r=0
- Sellar, Don. “Did Saddam Hussein Gas His Own People?” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1779.htm
- Harris, Shane and Matthew M. Aid. “Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran” http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/25/secret_cia_files_prove_america_helped_saddam_as_he_gassed_iran
- Truman, Harry. “Limit CIA Role To Intelligence” Washington Post. December 22, 1963. http://www.maebrussell.com/Prouty/Harry%20Truman’s%20CIA%20article.html