Saturday, February 4, 2017

The War on Terror is once again in the center of attention after the Executive Order banning all Syrian refugees from entering the United States and banning anyone from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from coming into the US for from 60 to 120 days.

Questions have been raised about what countries are and are not on this list. Why is Egypt not on this list, or Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan? The answer is unclear. But in all the countries on the list, US military or para-military forces have been active. The CIA fomented a revolt against a duly elected government in Iran in the 1950s, putting the Shah of Iran on his throne and thereby making a powerful country in the region into an enemy. When in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein attacked Iran, we supported him for a while. Since 1991 we have conducting open or covert war against Iraq. We bombed Libya into chaos where, now, the country has two governments, neither able to govern effectively. We have conducted military actions in Sudan, and involved ourselves in the civil wars in Somalia and Yemen.

 It is not unreasonable to expect that natives of any of these countries might attempt some sort of terrorist attack in our country. We have interfered in their nations militarily . In several cases we have bombed their cities and used drone strikes that killed civilians.

Terrorist attacks on us are not as they are often said to be " unprovoked." It is true, that for any particular terrorist act , it is not easy to explain why the perpetrators chose to do what they did, and when they did it. But it is important to realize that the same is, of course, equally true of our actions.

The earliest of these events, the overthrow prime minister Dr. Mohamed Mosaddegh in Iran, had the goal of securing control of the petroleum resources in Iran for us and other Western powers. But subsequent history shows that this was an extremely ill-considered action. Iran is not a good enemy to have. The US government officials who cooked up this project did not consider the consequences of their actions at all well. It is unclear how anybody could have thought that we could manipulate the internal politics of a fairly large and flourishing modernizing country for any length of time without paying a high price for that manipulation. What were they thinking?

There is indeed a war on terror , but that is only one half of the war because the other half is a war of the United States against a large number of countries concentrated in the Middle East, a war that surely sows terror among the citizens of these nations. We are not merely the victims of terrorism; we are terrorists.

We bring to bear our fearful military power with most advanced technology. They fight back flying airplanes into buildings, by killing a few civilians, or military personnel . The imbalance between our military actions in the Middle East and the terrorist response is pathetic. We have a much much more powerful military than they do, but we are not winning. Neither are the people in the countries affected, witness the flood of refugees in Europe. No one is winning.

This is the fundamental lesson we should draw from these events: it is impossible to justify most, if not all wars. Our military attacks on Mid Eastern countries and the terrorist response by inhabitants of these countries creates enormous pain on all sides . The only people that profit are the arms manufacturers and maybe the generals. The enormous burden of suffering is borne by the foot soldiers and by the civilians who lose their lives , their family members , their homes and their livelihood.

Instead of continuing to kill and destroy, instead of continuing to sow hatred between people who do not know each other —how many Americans even know exactly where Afghanistan or Iraq are on the map? — we should learn the lesson that is so very obvious. Most wars -- and the present ones are clearly among them-- have no reasonable justification. They are entered for poorly thought-out reasons or, as the second war against Iraq, are justified only by lies and deception.

We must stop.

We must seriously reduce our military expenditures and use the money saved to build the roads and bridges and schools the president has promised us.