It’s déjà vu all over again as Iraq once again erupts into turmoil and the U.S. is being drawn in, sending advisors and boots on the ground to Iraq. The phrase “sending advisors,” makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. “Sending advisors” happened in the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, among others, and it always seems to be a euphemism for going to war.
ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham) forces comprised of militant Sunni Muslims from a variety of countries are taking over huge parts of Iraq and Syria. An estimated 87 percent of the world’s Muslim population is Sunni with a few countries such as Iraq, Iran and Bahrain having a majority of Shia Muslims. The government now teetering in power in Iraq is Shia.
The Sunnis and Shiites have been at each other’s throats since 632 A.D. when the Muslim prophet Muhammad died — 1,382 years. A decade of U.S. troops fighting, training and promoting the American Way was not going to fix this.
And it didn’t. So here we are again, taking grief from an Iraqi military leader who blames the United Nations for not coming out against the war crimes being perpetrated in Iraq. Isn’t that the job of the Iraqi Security Forces? Where is the Iraqi army we trained?
The Iraqis are using weapons we left, money we continue to give them and training we spent billions of dollars to provide to throw off their uniforms and run away. That’s pretty disheartening after 10 years of U.S. involvement and training. If someone doesn’t get it after 10 years, then either they are not trainable or they see no point in learning.
If they don’t stand up for their own country and way of life, why would we? Last year, we were giving Egypt $1.5 billion in aid, Israel $3 billion, Afghanistan $2.2 billion; Iraq $2.1 billion and Pakistan (the people who cheered when the Twin Towers went down) $1.7 billion. Part of that is military support and part is economic support. There is a lot you could do with $1.7 billion to help cities in the United States — a few things you could fix with that much tax payer money that tax payers might appreciate more than giving it to a country that actively hates us. Billions of dollars in equipment and finances with no accountability — why do we keep paying it?
I want us to get out, stay out and leave them to decide their own destiny. We need to get off the oil dependence fostered by the greed of market traders and oil companies. Contracts with a fixed price of $1.40 a barrel of oil are the monkeys that keep us in this circus. The profitable sale of arms is another. Why should we send troops to protect the greed of the wealthy?
I wonder when disgust at oil greed and dependence will finally allow us to step back and allow these countries to work this out in some fashion — their own fashion. We don’t seem to be making things any better and leaving equipment behind for them to use to kill each other seems to have been a bad idea.
Islamists have told us over and over again that our Western ways are hateful to them; our humanitarian efforts are regarded as weakness and they have shown us over and over again that they do not want to discontinue the blood feuds that have continued for hundreds of years. ISIS has made it clear that after they take over the Middle East they will be coming for us. Who is the stupid one, here? Have we no better way to use billions of dollars?
Only days ago, Iraqi military forces and local tribespeople started to fight back and make an effort to take back their country and that’s who should be doing this, not the U.N. or the U.S. It’s the people who live there who will decide. We need to get out and stay out and be prepared to deal with whatever government emerges instead of trying to impose our set of values and conditional benefits on others. I don’t believe our government is being altruistic and trying to save the Iraqi people — it is trying to protect oil interests and arms dealers.
Now that the Islamic State has announced a leader and demanded all Muslims swear fealty to him, let them exhaust themselves trying to take over the Middle East; let them split into divisive factions trying to impose political rule over a wildly volatile area and let the people who live in these countries make their own decisions about how they will live. When, and if, they turn on us, we’ll be waiting.
Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.