Working towards peace and sustainability

Joe Biden’s Rite of Passage?


So, Joe Biden has done what every new U.S. president has done for decades. Shortly after entering office, they have all ordered the U.S. military to drop bombs that take the lives of people thousands of miles from our shores; people who have done nothing to attack or threaten our country. This is supposed to show that they are tough. It’s a “don’t mess with me or else” sort of message. A way of showing they’re not “soft.”

Biden ordered the attack on a Shiite militia that he and the Pentagon allege was responsible for attacks on U.S. bases and facilities in Iraq, but this begs two questions:

First of all, is there any legitimate reason why the U.S. would have any troops or contractors based in Iraq, many thousands of miles from the USA? It seems the U.S. presence in Iraq is an artifact of the illegal, immoral and counter-productive U.S. war on that now beleaguered and divided country. There is no defensive reason for the U.S. to project military force into Iraq specifically or the Middle East in general. Their presence in Iraq or any other country in the region has no legitimate purpose.

Secondly, while the Biden administration claims this action was a measured, retaliatory response, this ignores the nature of cycles of violence. The U.S. perspective takes things back to the last action, one allegedly taken by this militia, but that ignores the actions of the U.S. This includes the 2020 U.S. assassination of Iranian military commander major general Qasem Soleimani.

Cycles of violence are incredibly destructive and have no winners. Given the stature of Soleimani, the Iranian response has been very measured. Can you even begin to imagine the U.S. response if Iran launched a missile that killed the chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff while on a visit to France?

What’s most relevant right now is getting back on track with the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which Trump withdrew from, and ending the proxy war in Yemen. Unfortunately, Biden and the Iranians are playing a high-stakes game of Chicken, with each insisting the other go first; the U.S. saying Iran has to get back in compliance with the nuclear agreement (they were in compliance when the U.S. withdrew) before sanctions are lifted, and the Iranians insisting that the U.S. lift the sanctions, which violate the agreement, and then they will come back in compliance. In the interests of peace, it’s rather obvious that both sides should take these steps simultaneously.

Biden should be given credit for halting the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that would be used in Yemen, but this alone won’t end the war there; the world’s most serious humanitarian crisis. It’s high time a cease fire and comprehensive halt to arms shipments is initiated and a conference of all concerned parties is held. Pursuing such a path would be a wise step for our new president. Dropping bombs on Shiite militias is not.

A true sign of strength would be turning to peacemaking and away from lethal use of force. The U.S. can, and must, do better.