Working towards peace and sustainability

Senseless Death, Misguided Authorization of War and the Compounding of Tragedy.

On the same week that American aid worker, Kayla Mueller, was

confirmed dead in Syria, President Obama sent a request to Congress to authorize the use of force against the so-called Islamic State (IS), something that was actually initiated more than six months ago, without specific authorization.  

The tragedies unfolding throughout the Middle East at the moment are largely the direct result of past U.S. interventions and aggression, including the illegal 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Now, Congress seems nearly certain to authorize further U.S. war-making in the region, for at least the next three years, likely longer, as there seems to be no end to this so-called Long War.

Peaceworks stands unequivocally opposed to attempts to bomb the region into peace or to train and arm proxy armies. As has been the case with every American military intervention in the region, Obama’s war on IS will undoubtedly bring more death and destruction. The likely outcome will be more, not fewer, enemies and greater regional instability. It will be very costly in every sense of the word.

We are, of course, moved by tragic loss of life, including the death of Mueller and the immolation of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. We also recognize that those who seek to expand and extend the seemingly perpetual war, are taking advantage of this, playing on our compassionate, caring impulses.

While Peaceworks condemns, without any qualification, the brutality of groups like IS, we oppose the new war on IS. Further, we recognize that the current situation must be understood in context.

Part of this is recognizing the responsibility the U.S. holds for the very existence of the IS. When the U.S. launched its Iraq invasion there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq (the group that has since morphed into IS). The U.S. invasion led directly to the very tragic loss of many hundreds of thousands of lives, the dislocation of 5 million people from their homes and, in the process, created a climate that allowed an extremist group like IS to rally a portion of the population to their banner.

Rarely do American media focus on the impact of the U.S. invasion and the subsequent counter-insurgency war on individual Iraqis or families. There are innumerable dead Iraqis every bit as innocent, idealistic and even photogenic as Ms. Mueller. Never seeing their faces; never hearing their stories; we are rarely moved in the fashion that an event like Mueller’s death—given the maximum media attention it’s received—has moved American public opinion.

Some seek to use the deaths of American captives, like Kayla Mueller, or the beheaded western journalists to rally support of an expanded war, or, in some cases, for encouraging fear and loathing of Muslims in general. They are clearly opportunists. Most others are just caught up in the emotional frenzy. Yet they are being played by those who prefer war to peace, larger military budgets to a Peace Economy, and empire over a cooperative world order.

While these atrocities, which have stoked many Americans’ fears, are being used to justify U.S. attacks in Iraq and Syria, the states of Libya and Yemen—both sites of U.S. military intervention—have been disintegrating. And, while feudal Saudi Arabia is embroiled in succession, Lebanon and Jordan totter on the brink, and Europe is reeling from Islamist militant attacks, anti-Muslim demonstrations and more.

Does any sane observer really believe that a new Congressional resolution authorizing continued or expanded war will improve upon this situation? Really?