Will the US Government Ever Leave the Middle East Alone?


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October 18, 2014 14:41 EDT

With US boots on the ground, the military presence in the Middle East will make the situation worse.

There now seem to be well over 2,000 US boots on the ground in Iraq, assuming that each of our soldiers still has two feet and all are wearing boots. So, let’s get beyond “boots on the ground.” While we are at it, let’s get beyond using “justice” as a substitute for “retribution.”

The US government has a host of international problems, all of which would be immeasurably easier to understand if President Barack Obama could break himself off the habit of repeating things that he surely knows to be untrue, and develop a new habit of sharing his real concerns and convictions with the public.

On the international front, Obama is the best friend this country has — he has actually tried to define achievable results before putting the US war industry in motion in the pursuit of loosely-defined and unachievable results, regardless of the death and destruction to be left in its wake.

Within the US government, there seems to be a complete aversion to seeking new solutions to old problems. From the eye-for-an-eye response to horrific murder to community outrage at the death of another young black man, the same tape gets rolled again. Next up will surely be another school shooting or another US warplane shot down with all of the predictable thoughts, prayers and anger focused on the same flawed responses as the last time and the times before that. It would be really nice to see something new.

How about opening a dialogue with “terrorists” for starters? The US has had open diplomatic relations with some of the most reprehensible historic figures — the list is long, but Stalin, Franco, Trujillo, Batista, Duvalier, Pinochet and Idi Amin come to mind. All tortured and killed their own people and imprisoned those who got in the way, and worse.

Yet this country and others around the world found a way to try to engage. Maybe talking with the “terrorists” will not yield anything worth taking about, but how well has our strategic killing machine worked so far, even if only measured since 9/11 (with a quick nod to the Vietnam War and its 58,000 US dead, countless wounded, billions spent and a victorious enemy in control when it was all over)?

While trying to talk will not miraculously end hostilities around the world, it might create an opening to better understanding, some kind of measured readjustment of priorities and critical efforts to find common ground.

So, US boots on the ground — those already there and those who will miraculously appear in the weeks and months ahead — will get sucked into the vortex, and another round of killing, coffins and wounded warriors will begin.

To be useful, however, those doing the talking have to stop demonizing everyone who doesn’t agree with them, and threats of violence as the only reasonable response must be shelved. To be serious, talks must be direct. Israel and Hamas know each other so well that they should be on a first name basis, yet they can only engage in “indirect” talks, using the newest dictatorship on the block — the Egyptian government — as the intermediary. Would it really be so hard to leave the Egyptians out, along with the US, and talk directly to their enemies? It is working in Colombia, as direct talks to end that intractable and deadly civil war are now underway with meaningful potential to end the conflict.

Dialogue will not achieve much in the short-term. But we do know one thing: It might be a start toward finding new solutions to old problems. Perhaps as importantly, we know for sure that over a decade of killing and providing the world with the weaponry to kill has produced only mayhem.

Today, we are told that we face a greater terrorist threat than ever before. How can that be after all the coffins that have come home and the battles fought in the “War on Terror”? It strongly suggests that either we have lost that war or are losing it badly. Maybe it is time to try something new.

After a few weeks of wandering in the strategic dessert and praying on it, it appears Obama is ready to lead the way to the John McCain and Lindsey Graham promised land of more war, savaging the savages and protecting the homeland from eight-foot-tall Sunni extremists and their 50 or so American cohorts. I am sure the word “degrade” will be the new word of the day, and join “justice” as another synonym for killing. We will ask other nations to put their boots on the ground, they will agree, then they will defer.

So, US boots on the ground — those already there and those who will miraculously appear in the weeks and months ahead — will get sucked into the vortex, and another round of killing, coffins and wounded warriors will begin.

It is difficult to see a humane way out for the US. Perhaps, for once, the US government could simply leave the Middle East to its own cataclysm. Our military presence and our weaponry only make the situation worse. Yet national vanity renders our absence seemingly impossible to accept as the better alternative.

*[A version of this article was originally published by Hard Left Turn.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Mykhaylo Palinchak /


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