Note: You might want to check out my comment policy before proceeding as this topic has provoked a lot of emotion in the past.
A major reason we (United States) invaded Iraq in 2003 was the Bush Doctrine that insisted we had to smash a future threat. Not a clear and present danger to the United States, but because of what Iraq MIGHT do to us later. We struck out of fear of the future. Because we were afraid, we kept a 100,000 troops in the country for ten years. In the process over 5,000 American soliders were killed and tens of thousands were badly injured. Estimates of Iraqi casualties vary widely, but conservatively at least 50,000 Iraqis died as a result of our invasion and occupation over and above the number who would have died if we have left well enough alone. We also spent over a trillion dollars.
Bush’s “preventive war” was a stupid, expensive and most of all, deadly idea. What did we get after a ten year occupation with 100,000 troops? A broken country that is more closely aligned with Iran than the United States.
You’d think that this deadly and experience would make us swear off “preventive war” forever. I thought so. But I was wrong. But President Obama now embraces it, in concept if not in scale. Here’s what he said in his “four point” strategy statement on 9/10/2014 (bolding mine):
So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our Intelligence Community believes that thousands of foreigners -– including Europeans and some Americans –- have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.
A lot of coulds and ifs. That’s the basis that we want to carry out attacks on Syria against the wishes of that country’s admittedly unsavory government and outside of UN authorization. We violate international law and go to war on another Muslim country that is not involved in attacks on American soil because of what they MIGHT do later. That was a bad idea in 2003 and it’s a terrible idea now.
I admit that ISIL does pose a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, but we shouldn’t be the ones carrying out military actions: There are a number of reasons why, including:
- There are abundant Muslim military resources in the region. Turkey alone has 400,000 soldiers and a number of attack helicopters. ISIS is on their borders. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are bulging with US supplied fighter jets. If they see ISIS as a threat, they have the means to respond.
- The neighbors of Iraq and Syria are refusing to fight despite their armament. Despite lip service in a recent meeting in Jeddah, no nation in the region has committed troops. Turkey not only will not join us in fighting, but they are denying the use of our main air base in Turkey to launch attacks. They will only offer humanitarian aid. If they’re not willing to fight ISIS, the threat to the wider region is lower than it is being portrayed.
- It’s another violation of international law to attack targets in Syria without the consent of the government.
- ISIS has not attacked US soil. We haven’t typically bombed every country where US journalists have been killed. 711 journalists have been murdered since 1992. I don’t know how many of these were American, but I’m sure some were. Our outrage seems very selective.
- ISIS is sadly not unique in their brutality, despite what President Obama says. Saudi Arabia beheads people for witchcraft, Madagascar practices forced marriage, and Mauritania practices slavery,
Although President Obama’s proposed war on ISIS/ISIL is much smaller than President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, it will grow in size because if we couldn’t secure peace and stability in Iraq with a ten year occupation with 100,000 troops, the President’s measures won’t work. Rather than cutting our losses, we will once again “Stay the Course” and pour more and more resources and people into the Iraqi/Syrian black hole. And for what, for what someone MIGHT do LATER? This is madness again. Congress should put the brakes on it. Only I’m afraid they want to punch the accelerator. Again.