Begetting Violence

Image of Barack Obama

It should be noted by at least some people in conservative Oklahoma that there is opposition in this country and state to President Barack Obama’s escalation of military action against ISIS, the Islamic extremist group.

I’m one of those people who oppose Obama’s decision to unleash American bombs on ISIS in Syria and for any additional escalation of military action in the Middle East. But then again I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and, yes, I was right about that, too. Getting it right somehow doesn’t count anymore in America’s international affairs or in the corporate media.

Here are two obvious frames of reference on why we should deploy different tactics in responding to ISIS:

(1) Bombing ISIS won’t work. It’s utterly impossible to eliminate ideas—whatever you might think about those ideas—through brute force. Those ideas, which include opposition to the values and actions of the Western world and especially the United States, will live on even if every current member of ISIS were killed today. Bombing and killing people in the Middle East will only increase support for the ISIS cause. This should be incredibly obvious to everyone.

(2) Innocent people, who don’t hold any animosity towards the Western world, will also be killed in the bombing. This is morally wrong, of course, but, again, it will only increase support for ISIS. Relatives and friends of these innocent victims will seek at the very least some justification for their loss if not direct retribution. How this most obvious scenario of cause and effect doesn’t enter into Obama’s case for military escalation shows just how oblivious the prevailing political establishment—Democrats and Republicans alike—has become to the death and destruction it continues to perpetuate around the globe and especially in the Middle East.

I’m sure that just like in 2003, I and other people who think in these terms will be labeled naïve and simply ignored. Yet we were right about the military occupation of Iraq, a senseless endeavor that left us no safer, generated an onslaught of animosity and cost us much in lost lives and money. Killing people in Syria during that country’s own civil war accomplishes just the opposite of what we should be seeking, which is our own security and peace.

I’m not an isolationist. The U.S. and its allies need an active and holistic approach to our relationship with Middle Eastern countries, one that relies less on military action and more on diplomacy and outreach. This requires actual thinking, intense debate and momentous shifts in policy.

It might be easier in the short term to just kill people than try to build wide consensus among seemingly disparate groups of people from different countries, but history has repeatedly shown violence begets violence.