CINCINNATI — Earlier this month, in Cincinnati’s Washington Park, people gathered to celebrate domestic and international peacemakers in honor of the annual UN International Day of Peace. On that same day, millions around the world marched for more resources to be directed to the planetary threat of climate change.Yet the United States is at war again, a war that could cost up to $10 billion a year, and the drumbeat of war was the centerpiece of President Obama’s recent address to the United Nations General Assembly.More than half of Americans support air strikes in Iraq and Syria as well as arming groups to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. That support is not shared by those who celebrated the International Day of Peace, including many women’s organizations that have long decried war as a tool to end violence. Their calls for non-violent solutions have flooded my mailbox in recent weeks. Perhaps it is time to for more to listen to those women who say “no” to more war.
Critics of such policies, however, continue to remind the public that it was the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and broader U.S. foreign policy that created the conditions for ISIS to rise in the region and warn that further military escalation in either Iraq or Syria is a mistake that plays right into the hands of jihadist groups like ISIS.
As Tom Engelhardt, editor of the online magazine TomDispatch.com, wrote on Tuesday:
Though the militants of ISIS would undoubtedly be horrified to think so, they are the spawn of Washington. Thirteen years of regional war, occupation, and intervention played a major role in clearing the ground for them. They may be our worst nightmare (thus far), but they are also our legacy — and not just because so many of their leaders came from the Iraqi army we disbanded, had their beliefs and skills honed in the prisons we set up (Camp Bucca seems to have been the West Point of Iraqi extremism), and gained experience facing U.S. counterterror operations in the “surge” years of the occupation. In fact, just about everything done in the war on terror has facilitated their rise. After all, we dismantled the Iraqi army and rebuilt one that would flee at the first signs of ISIS’s fighters, abandoning vast stores of Washington’s weaponry to them. We essentially destroyed the Iraqi state, while fostering a Shia leader who would oppress enough Sunnis in enough ways to create a situation in which ISIS would be welcomed or tolerated throughout significant areas of the country.
And Engelhardt warns that for Obama to be so easily goaded into escalation by the brutal videos released by ISIS would be a foolish, and rather transparent, mistake.