Can we admit that we’ve failed in the Mid East and start to move on?

Sam Smith – Regardless of our military strategy, regardless of how many laptops we ban from trans-Atlantic flights, regardless of how many Syrian refugees we keep out of the United States, our Mid East war is the longest and one of the most futile in our history.

There is really no mystery to this; we just don’t talk about it. And the major media covers it as though the war was simply another scheduled sport event.

Yet, as Veterans for Peace pointed out several years ago:

Many of the conflicts in the Middle East are rooted in particular tribal, ethnic, and religious factions who have found no way to resolve their problems through existing and often repressive regimes…

Western states have often played a role in these conflicts. For example, after WWI, national boundaries drawn by victorious Western powers cut through tribal, ethnic, and religious groups, and put different people together in a political system where one group’s interests conflicted with those of other groups. After WWII, Western countries supported the establishment of a Jewish state that displaced Arabs who had lived in the area for many generations. The U.S. was involved in the overthrow of a popular government in Iran, and in the subsequent installation of the oppressive regime of the Shah. We can easily understand how America can be seen as the root of many problems experienced by the people of the Middle East.

We have, however, approached these problems not through negotiation, compromise, economic and social solutions, but overwhelmingly by military actions that have, in fact, failed. As Veterans for Peace asked, “What if we had used the $5 trillion we have spent on our wars in the Middle East differently? How can we invest in a common future that benefits everyone? How can we support the basic needs and dreams of people in regions of conflict?”

Our refusal to even publicly discuss such questions and the media’s failure to even mention them, is a sign that our policies are not only practical failures but reflect a serious collective mental problem. We left far more American bodies in Vietnam and Korea but we did eventually pull out. Now we continue to pursue a war of even lengthier failure, one for which no one can contrive a clear and arguable reason for its existence, and one in which public debate is virtually non-existent.

Our leaders in politics and the media will give us little help in this. As with Vietnam it will have to come from the streets.


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