What To Do About ISIS

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By David Swanson

Start by recognizing where ISIS came from. The U.S. and its junior partners destroyed Iraq, left a sectarian division, poverty, desperation, and an illegitimate government in Baghdad that did not represent Sunnis or other groups. Then the U.S. armed and trained ISIS and allied groups in Syria, while continuing to prop up the Baghdad government, providing Hellfire missiles with which to attack Iraqis in Fallujah and elsewhere.

ISIS has religious adherents but also opportunistic supporters who see it as the force resisting an unwanted rule from Baghdad and who increasingly see it as resisting the United States. It is in possession of U.S. weaponry provided directly to it in Syria and siezed from the Iraqi government. At last count by the U.S. government, 79% of weapons transfered to Middle Eastern governments come from the United States, not counting transfers to groups like ISIS, and not counting weapons in the possession of the United States.

So, the first thing to do differently going forward: stop bombing nations into ruins, and stop shipping weapons into the area you’ve left in chaos.  Libya is of course another example of the disasters that U.S. wars leave behind them — a war, by the way, with U.S. weapons used on boith sides, and a war launched on the pretext of a claim well documented to have been false that Gadaffi was threatening to massacre civilians.

So, here’s the next thing to do: be very sceptical of humanitarian claims.  The U.S. bombing around Erbil to protect Kurdish and U.S. oil interests was initially justified as bombing to protect people on a mountain.  But most of those people on the mountain were in no need of rescue, and that justification has now been set aside, just as Benghazi was.  Recall also that Obama was forced to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq when he couldn’t get the Iraqi government to give them immunity for crimes they commit.  He has now obtained that immunity and back in they go, the crimes preceding them in the form of 500 pound bombs.

While trying to rescue hostages and discovering an empty house, and racing to a mountain to save 30,000 people but finding 3,000 and most of those not wanting to leave, the U.S. claims to know exactly whom the 500-pound bombs are killing.  But whoever they are killing, they are generating more enemies, and they are building support for ISIS, not diminishing it.  So, now the U.S. finds itself on the opposite side of the war in Syria, so what does it do? Flip sides!  Now the great moral imperative is not to bomb Assad but to bomb in defense of Assad, the only consistent point being that “something must be done” and the only conceivable something is to pick some party and bomb it.

But why is that the only conceivable thing to be done? I can think of some others:

1. Apologize for brutalizing the leader of ISIS in Abu Ghraib and to every other prisoner victimized under U.S. occupation.

2. Apologize for destroying the nation of Iraq and to every family there.

3. Begin making restitution by delivering aid (not “military aid” but actual aid, food, medicine) to the entire nation of Iraq.

4. Apologize for role in war in Syria.

5. Begin making restitution by delivering actual aid to Syria.

6. Announce a commitment not to provide weapons to Iraq or Syria or Israel or Jordan or Egypt or Bahrain or any other nation anywhere on earth and to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from foreign territories and seas, including Afghanistan. (The U.S. Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf has clearly forgotten where the coast of the U.S. is!)

7. Announce a commitment to invest heavily in solar, wind, and other green energy and to provide the same to democratic representative governments.

8. Begin providing Iran with free wind and solar technologies — at much lower cost of course than what it is costing the U.S. and Israel to threaten Iran over a nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

9. End economic sanctions.

10. Send diplomats to Baghdad and Damascus to negotiate aid and to encourage serious reforms.

11. Send journalists, aid workers, peaceworkers, human shields, and negotiators into crisis zones, understanding that this means risking lives, but fewer lives than further militarization risks.

12. Empower people with agricultural assistance, education, cameras, and internet access.

13. Launch a communications campaign in the United States to replace military recruitment campaigns, focused on building sympathy and desire to serve as critical aid workers, persuading doctors and engineers to volunteer their time to travel to and visit these areas of crisis.

14. Work through the United Nations on all of this.

15. Sign the United States on to the International Criminal Court and voluntarily propose the prosecution of top U.S. officials of this and the preceding regimes for their crimes.

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  1. It never ceases to amaze me how out of touch with reality some people are……this “Blame the U.S. Brigade” really get under my skin…..e.g. I thought the Americans invaded Iraq after repeated peaceful attempts to get Saddam out of Kuwait.

  2. You simply do not answer your article title “What To Do About ISIS?” Some admirable aims, but nonetheless they are childlike and in no way reflect the situation involving the subject matter that the article simply does not refer to in any significant way.

  3. 1.and how u expect to get info from terrorists ? by asking them nicely? please. 2.the nation of Iraq started to get destroyed not by US , Saddam Hussein started it in 1979 when he executed political rivals, when he started iran iraq war not to mention killing the kurds. 3.yeah after 8 years long war iraq had a lot of debt to repay to the Gulf states so they invaded Kuwait to steal the oil that US was buying. what u expect the US to say please take the oil we are buying?. 4.yeah here u might be right Turkey, Qatar ,Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and the US went a little to far whit the support. 5. they already provided political, military and logistic support to the opposition of a dictator 6.announce a commitment in iraq or syria or israel or jordan or egypt or bahrain or any other nation not to buy weapons ppl that sell them. 7.in order to make that posible ppl to run them and muslim countries with about 20 percent of the world’s total population generate less than 5 percent of its science hmm i wonder why i will tell you my opinion ,i think Islam is an obstacle to modern science , one simple example would be that women can be really smart … oh wait islam dosen t allow it. 8.–. 9. yeah new ways to make money in order to support terrorism. 10.that i agree on. 11.have you seen that video whit the 12 ppl that got their heads cut off by isis ? yeah those were journalists, aid workers, peaceworkers, human shields, and negotiators. 12.i agree whit that but some religious stuff dosen t allow that…or i don t know i might be wrong but still if ppl believe that blowing yourself up and killing innocent civilians

    • 1) It has been proven that torturing prisoners gives you faulty information because they’re telling you what you want to hear.
      2) Who supported and armed Saddam? The U.S. The vicious cycle continues: arm a violent leader/political group to take out another violent leader/political group; get surprised and outraged that the bad guys we armed starts wreaking havoc and killing/hurting civilians; arm another violent leader/political group to take out the violent leader/political group we armed. Where will it end?
      3) So we shouldn’t provide aid to civilians who have been harmed by our involvement in Iraq? Considering much of our involvement there is predicated on big businesses (oil corporations) who fund our politicians.
      4) Went a LITTLE too far?
      5) The article is saying ACTUAL aid which he defines in Point 3.
      6) Kinda unclear what you mean here. Are you saying we should make these countries to commit to not buying weapons? Enough with the strong-arming and policing other nations–how about WE stop providing them.
      7) The article is saying WE, as in us, the U.S., should commit to developing alternative energy instead of relying on oil because our dependance on these resources only furthers the unrest in the Middle East. You might be right in a sense–we can only give them the tools and know-how to help them develop the same; it’s up to them as countries to implement it.
      8-9) Self-defeating argument. This is where your cynical/nihilistic worldview is entering the picture. You basically assume that any economic self-reliance that nations in the Middle East develop will go to fund terrorism, therefore we need to stay over there to babysit and maintain military involvement.
      10) Wow, we agree on something.
      11) The author recognizes that this means risking lives. However, a lot less lives will be lost because we won’t be dropping bombs and killing innocent civilians (and in turn, sowing the seeds for more radicals pissed off at the West) and we’d be saving the lives of our men and women who serve in the military. Think about it: how much good has fighting done us over there, both in terms of lives we’ve lost, the lives of those who serve and come home with PTSD (many that end up committing suicide because of inadequate veterans’ services), and the lives lost on the other side from the bombs we drop and the weapons we fund?

      I don’t agree with the religion of Islam either, but a good majority of the people there don’t agree with the more extreme/radical interpretations. Watch some documentaries that follow our soldiers fighting in Iraq/Afghanistan, notably “Where Soldiers Come From”; read some memoirs written by soldiers who served (Phil Klay’s “Redeployment”). You’ll see that most of the people there are Muslim but are very similar to hard-working people in any other country who just want to work and live off their land and provide for their families.

      • So very very well-said. Why are we so naive to think our political leaders and the corporations who fund them have anyone but their own best interests at heart, at least much of the time.

        Why would our vanity and arrogance be so large as to make an apology seem threatening to our identity as a perfect nation?

        I wish we would simply pull out ALL troops, all weapons, all foreign WAR aid for a year or two simply to see where are actually needed. Stockpile the savings for true humanitarian aid.

        Thank you for this.

  4. True American says:

    This might be one of the most idiotic things I have ever read! The only peacemakers we should be sending over there are navy seals and marines. You want peace then you take these horrible things and blow every single last one of them to hell. There is no making peace with them because they do not want peace. Their mission is to kill all the “non-believers” in the name of allah. You do not negotiate with terrorists you kill them.

    • Thomas Hansford says:

      Exactly. If Terrorist live in Syria, then bomb Syria. Syria needs to use their own resources to police these terrorist. If not, then we should have a problem with Syria. If they keep terrorist out then we can all sleep better.

    • It doesn’t sound like you want peace either?

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