By JJ Jacobs
It is no secret that our country will have been at war for 15 years in 2017, but what is more disturbing beyond that fact is the complacency Americans attitudes have been towards this unfortunate reality. By going to war in the Middle East during the early Bush administration, our government sought to make the country or even the world safer, so everybody could sleep easy at night knowing brutal dictators and known terrorists would no longer be a threat post 9/11. Those paying close attention know that while others sleep well at night, our world is possibly more unsafe than it has ever been.
After 9/11 pretty much every American wanted retribution for the largest attack on American soil, but staying at war in Afghanistan for 15 years and getting in more interventionist wars in the Middle East during that time was not part of the plan. We went into Afghanistan to flush out Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, who were credited with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It took about 10 years for us to catch Bin Laden, and we caught him in Pakistan. That right there should be a big signal that these interventionist wars are doing nothing but destabilizing the Middle East since Pakistan was not pleased that we just waltzed into their country in the middle of the night to take out Bin Laden. The goal of the war in Afghanistan was to find and capture or kill Bin Laden, and we did that, but it made the world even less safe.
We all agree now that the war in Iraq was one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in American history. We went into Iraq under one of the biggest conspiracy theories and found absolutely nothing to substantiate us being there. There were no weapons of mass destruction and there was no proof that Saddam Hussein was making them or had the ability to make them. It didn’t take us as long to capture Hussein as it did to find Bin Laden, but once he was captured and then eventually put to death, carrying out his sentence, the world was no safer. We left a giant power vacuum in Iraq, and it devolved into a brutal civil war that we got caught up in trying to control the peace. The war in Iraq proves that you cannot just go into a country, kill the dictator, and try and replace them with a more sympathetic ruler. We should have learned that from the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979. Middle Eastern countries do not like the United States meddling in their governments.
Because of our bad foreign policy in the Middle East, we have now been sucked into the war against ISIS. We have been carrying out airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria since 2014, yet ISIS isn’t much weaker. We have once again given weapons to the groups that are fighting ISIS and in the Syrian civil war against Assad not caring if down the road, those very weapons are turned against us. Dropping bombs is not exactly a good way to declare your intention of peace for the Middle East, and if being at war with ISIS isn’t enough, our relations with Russia have deteriorated further as they have entered the Syrian civil war conflict now. Because we are conducting air strikes and Russia is conducting air strikes, and the fighting on the ground has not improved, we have a refugee crisis now that has divided our country regarding whether we should take in refugees or not. We created the problem, and now that Trump is president, we are going to do nothing to help as he stated, “I will look them in the face and tell them they cannot come here.”
I wish I could say that the destabilization and constant war in the Middle East was a big concern for the American voters, but it was very clear that they preferred more domestic issues like banning Muslims and building a wall on the Mexican border. America has a new president that would not tell anybody his plan to defeat ISIS during the campaign, and now, he is ignoring his national security briefings. It is safe to say that Donald Trump is not concerned with what is going on with ISIS and our air campaign against them, and I think a large portion of Americans are unconcerned with the fact that we’ve been at war for 15 years with no end in sight. The news was dominated by covering the stupid things Trump did or said instead of focusing on the very real issue of the destabilization in the Middle East and the interventionist wars that we seem to jump into. These interventionist wars do not keep us safe. They cost trillions of dollars that we could really use domestically, but we just put it on the credit card hoping one day we can pay it off, but probably will never be able to. We’ve become complacent to live in a constant state of war, not caring how much it costs whether it is taxpayer money or lives lost. It is more than unfortunate that this is the reality we live in, but it truly is out of sight, out of mind. These wars are thousands of miles away in distance and in some of our hearts and minds. One percent of the this country is fighting these wars for us, and there is a bigger disconnect between us. Soldiers come home and we can’t take care of them because we’ve spent trillions of dollars to send them over to the Middle East to fight unjust wars for us. These issues should be of top priority, but if anything, this election shows that the average American cares nothing of the world around him or her, but the world that they see right in front of their eyes.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a progressive political activist. I fight tirelessly for LGBT rights, women's rights, the rights of disabled individuals, and religious and social tolerance.