The United States is stuck in a cycle of violence in the Middle East. Since George H W Bush’s war in Iraq the West has been trading bombs and bullets with various counties, terrorist organizations, and radicalized individuals. After tragedies like Paris and San Bernadino, Western Nations gear up for more bombings and some ground troops in Iraq and Syria. Our leaders tell us that this will solve the problem of terrorism. They will lay out strategies and tell us that a few well-placed bombs and troops will solve the problem. They tell us that after this intervention Americans can finally stop being afraid of terrorism. However, their strategies will continue the cycle of violence and ensure that the next generation of Americans will be fearful of terrorism as well.
George H W Bush started bombing Iraq in 1990 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. A large air war and some ground troops were used to push back the Iraqi army. You can argue if the US should have bombed Iraq over the invasion of Kuwait, but you cannot deny the war had unintended consequences. The war resulted in about 3,500 Iraqi civilian casualties. The US would also hit key infrastructure targets that would result in the death of 70,000 – 111,000 Iraqi citizens. By 1993 terrorist attacks start to occur against the US as a result of our foreign policy in the Middle East.
President Clinton continued sanctions on Iraq. These sanctions prevented Iraq from being able to rebuild after the first Gulf war. As a result 500,000 Iraqi children died. In an interview on national television Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, said the death of those 500,000 children was “worth it”. Al Qaeda would carry out a few terrorist attacks during the Clinton’s first term, citing American foreign policy and the Iraq sanctions as reasons for the attacks. In response President Clinton would bomb several targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. One of those targets was a pharmaceutical manufacture in Sudan. The likely cost of the bombing was tens of thousands of lives of people who were unable to get the lifesaving medication they needed.
In response to US intervention in the Middle East, Al Qaeda planned and executed the barbaric attacks on 9/11. In response the US started wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as, drone wars in Yemen and Pakistan. Since those wars began, started the fighting has spread and escalated. Terrorist attacks continue today with the West’s interventions into the Middle East often cited as their reason for attacking.
The trend has been the US bombs a civilian target by mistake. The jihadist leaders then use that tragedy to recruit new members. Those new members become radicalized and trained to commit terrorist attacks. Then a terrorist commits an attack against a Western country. The leaders of the West use the attacks to gain support from their citizens to drop more bombs on the terrorists. Then the cycle repeats.
We are now in December of 2015 and the cycle continues. It has been 25 years since the first President Bush went to war against Iraq and 14 years since second President Bush started the official war on terror. We are further from victory than ever. Our leaders look to continue this cycle by increasing attacks on ISIS. By now it should be clear that this problem cannot be solved through force. We have tried it over and over and it has only caused the problem to get worse. The cycle will only end when people stand together and tell their leaders “no more war”.