No matter how the election results continue to go in the Democratic and Republican primaries, one thing is clear: The U.S. government is going to continue occupying Iraq for the indefinite future and killing Iraqis in the process. For example, just this week U.S. forces conducted a major offensive operation against what U.S. commanders call “the enemy” located in Diyala Province, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. The “enemy” that U.S. forces are trying to kill consists of Sunni insurgents
Now, let’s look at this carefully because it’s actually a microcosm of U.S. foreign policy and its adverse effects on both foreigners and Americans.
In its operation against the Sunni insurgents, the U.S. government is killing Iraqi people, people who never participated in the 9/11 attacks. In fact, none of the Sunni insurgents that U.S. forces are targeting ever attacked the United States.
So, why are U.S. forces trying to kill these Sunni insurgents? Because the insurgents don’t want a foreign invader and occupier in their country and are doing their best to oust the occupier from their land.
To understand their reasoning, imagine if the Soviet Union had invaded, say, Afghanistan. Suppose Afghan insurgents had begun operations against Soviet troops, perhaps even with weapons supplied to them my friendly foreign powers.
Wouldn’t most Americans proclaim that the Afghan insurgents were doing the right thing in trying to oust their country of a foreign invader and occupier? Wouldn’t they condemn the Soviets for invading and occupying Afghanistan? Isn’t that what the current movie “Charlie’s War” is all about?
Yet, when the U.S. government does the same thing, many Americans get a blind spot — the same blind spot that afflicted some Soviet citizens who felt that it was their patriotic duty to support their government and its troops when they invaded and occupied Afghanistan.
What the interventionists do not understand is that people get angry when a foreign power kills or maims their husbands, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, or other relatives and friends. The interventionists seem to think that such anger or rage only rises within Americans, such as when foreigners attacked and killed Americans on 9/11. The interventionists simply will not permit their minds to entertain the thought that that’s what happens to foreigners who are killed or maimed by U.S. forces operating overseas.
Let’s assume that a relative of a Sunni insurgent killed at Diyala Province makes his way to the United States and blows up a federal building. What will U.S. officials say? Whether the president is Bush, Clinton, Huckabee, Guliani, Obama, or McCain, the response will be predictable. They will say that the attack shows that America is still at war against “the terrorists.” They will say that this confirms that U.S. officials acted properly in enacting all their anti-terrorist legislation; and they’ll call for more such legislation. They will say that this confirms that we must tighten up our borders even more, even militarize them. They will say that this will require a new reign of terror against immigrants. They will say that Americans will have to give up a few more liberties for the sake of security. Government spending will soar even more, producing an even more calamitous drop in the value of the dollar.
And the sad part of all this is that many American will not trace the entire process back to the fact that their government — the U.S. government — is occupying a country whose government never attacked the United States and whose citizenry played no role whatsoever in the 9/11 attacks. All that will matter is, “The terrorists are coming to get us! Do something! Do anything!”
The newest mantra arising in the campaign season is that “change” is necessary because “Washington is broken” because of partisan politics. People are hoping that “change” will bring a man on a white horse who will fix and unite Washington..
But the fundamental problem is not that Washington is broken. It’s that the federal government is doing very bad things to people overseas, sometimes even in the name of doing it for their own good. Those very bad things have very bad consequences. Until Americans finally confront the truth about their own government and its policies and put a stop, once and for all, to the bad things that they are doing to people, bad things will continue to happen to the American people.