As we are learning, U.S. wars are based on lies. Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and his links to al-Qaeda, both fabrications used to justify the Iraq invasion, were finally exposed. Seventeen years into the Afghan war, Americans still associate the Taliban with al-Qaeda. “We make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them,” declared George W. Bush in 2001. This was at the heart of the Bush doctrine, using confusing distinctions to encourage Americans to see the Taliban as actively in cahoots with al-Qaeda, hence enemies of America and “terrorists” by definition.
Al-Qaeda is an Islamist global terror outfit intent on provoking and intensifying conflict between the Muslim world and the West. The Taliban is a Pashtun-nationalist movement that grew out the disorder in their country from 1978 to 1996.
For years, our military commanders have acknowledged that they cannot defeat the Taliban, yet President Trump has recently intensified the war against them. “I have lifted restrictions and expanded the authority of the commanders in the field. The gloves are off. Our military is now looking for any opportunity to target the enemies in Afghanistan wherever we find them in the theatre.” In 2017 alone, some 20,000 Afghans were killed.
A US-Saudi-led coalition has waged a cruel war against the Yemini Houthis, a home-grown Shiite movement, that turned the country into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The destruction of infrastructure in Houthi-held areas has destroyed a once-functioning public health system, touching off a cholera epidemic with over a million suspected cases. Even worse is Yemen’s man-made famine, a direct result of US-Saudi air campaigns and a naval blockade aimed directly at the country’s economic life. While there is a sufficient supply of food in the country, the Yemini have no money to buy it. Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia claim the Houthi enjoy Iranian supoort. There is no evidence to support such a claim.
If there is a place in the Middle East almost as miserable as Yemen, it is Syria. Since 2011, when a nonviolent movement to unseat Assad dissolved into a vicious civil war, more than half the country’s pre-war population of 22 million have become internally displaced or obliged to take refuge in neighboring countries. No doubt there is plenty of blame to go around with over 500,000 deaths, but on any list of culprits we must include the neoconservatives, the same ones who fostered the myth of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As far back as 1996, these neocons had already hatched a “Clean Break” strategy with Benjamin Netanyahu, then serving his first term as Israel’s Prime Minister. The idea was to reconfigure a Middle East favorable to Israel’s interests. First, Saddam Hussein had to be removed, then the US would undertake regime change in Syria. The loudest advocate for both Iraq and Syria destruction during the Bush administration—John Bolton—is now Trump’s national security advisor.
Will conflict with Iran be added to our long list of endless wars? As I wrote in The Syrian, “Syria is the conduit between Iran and Hezbollah. Syria is ruled by Alawites, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam; Iran and Hezbollah are also Shiite. In order to weaken both Iran and Hezbollah, Israel and the US must first destroy Syria. Geopolitically, there is a much bigger issue at play—the proxy war between the US and Iran. Such a war would amount to an inter-Islam war which would be even more worrisome. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, mostly Sunni, support U.S. and Israel’s attempt to destroy the three Shiite entities. With Trump and his Secretary of State openly talking about a possible escalation between the U.S. and Iran, there is a major risk that some combination of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabic threesome could initiate a war with Iran.
For more than 70 years, Americans have largely ignored the effects of U.S. foreign policy around the world. Rubble in Syria? Famine in Yemen? They wonder what all of this has to do with them.
It is past time for the debate to begin. It is time for Americans to pay attention to what their government does in their name. It is time to take note of the $1 trillion in annual profit that the military-industrial compound rakes in annually, and ask why?
There is neither discussion, nor debate, nor protest about our endless wars. Perhaps if the media did not put all its resources into Donald Trump’s tweets, they would find the time to expose the evils of America’s endlamazoness wars.
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