Two sides to America’s new Middle East war

Should+America+get+involved+in+another+war+in+Iraq+after+the+failure+of+the+last+one%3F

Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi

[column]

USA not economically ready for a new war

In John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, he sent out a warning to the world: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Showing a similar attitude, President Bush launched “Operation Enduring Freedom” Oct. 7, 2001, sending troops to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda forces. Using the same justification, the United States began “Operation Iraqi Liberation,” invading Iraq with the goal of ending the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Now, with ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, threatening the American ideal of liberty, the United States is faced with two options: either to launch another military operation in the Middle East or refrain from intervening. But with the damage of military action in Afghanistan and Iraq still lingering over our economic stability, the United States lacks the funding to carry out an attack against ISIS, much less to secure a victory.
With a debt of $17.726 trillion as of Oct. 2013, the United States doesn’t have the financial means to start another war. The war in Iraq alone cost $1.7 trillion. Combining the cost of both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the cost ends up at about $6 trillion. These wars were primarily funded by borrowing money from foreign allies, resulting in the high debt that the United States has, not to mention the interest that we will eventually have to pay off.
From the fiscal year of 2001 to 2013, $316 billion were spent on paying off just the interest on Pentagon spending, and that’s with inflation rates calculated in. If the student body of Rock Bridge were to pay of the debt, with a total of 1,884 students, each student would have to pay roughly $168 million dollars. With that amount of money, each RB student could pay the tuition for 1,078 students to complete four years of undergraduate studies at Harvard.
But these wars don’t stop costing money even after the fighting stops. In regard to veteran benefits, the United States still owes $490 billion to war veterans. For the fiscal year of 2015 alone, the US Department of Veterans Affairs projects to spend $59 trillion in the medical care of veterans and $2.494 trillion in veteran benefits. With more military involvement in the Middle East, there are bound to be injuries, increasing the amount of funds needed to provide for all of our veterans.
Already, the United States spent more than $752.5 million (estimated amount for Sept. 30) on military operations against ISIS militants in Iraq. Ever since June 16 when up to 275 U.S. troops were sent to Baghdad to increase embassy security, the U.S. has spent an average of $7.5 million a day on military efforts in Iraq. Those military efforts include airstrikes against ISIS as well as roughly 60 surveillance flights each day over ISIS-controlled territory.
The United States is also indirectly funding the activities of ISIS. As acts of goodwill, the United States supplied the Iraqi military with ammunition and machine guns along with armored vehicles. Over the last two months, ISIS has seized 52 155-millimeter M198 howitzers (medium-sized, towed artillery pieces), 1,500 U.S.-made Humvees and 4,000 machine guns. Among the $6 trillion spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a portion is falling into the hands of ISIS militants, working counter to the intended purpose of the United States.
Even though it is seldom mentioned in the media, the United States had a hand in the beginnings of the conflicts in the Middle East. Since they had a hand in the beginnings of these conflicts, it’s only fair and logical that they should clean their mess. However, based on how the United States “took care” of other instances of political turmoil in the Middle East, it’s very possible that U.S. involvement will make matters much worse.
On July 3, 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed a directive, providing aid to opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Of these groups that received funding and support was a group of Muslim radicals that would later become known as Al-Qaeda. Starting out as allies, Al-Qaeda eventually began fighting against the United States.
Similarly, as a ploy to oust Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the United States provided funding and possibly training to rebels that opposed Assad’s regime. These rebels are known as ISIS.
Yes, the United States is partly accountable for the success of at least two terrorist organizations and yes, they should take responsibility for their actions, but if their plan of action is to fund groups that oppose those terrorist groups, they could end up in a continuous war against terrorism.
Considering the financial status of the United States and its use of backfiring tactics, sending more military assistance to organizations that have similar agendas isn’t the solution. Instead of getting more and more involved in the conflicts, America needs to focus in on its own troubles at home and improve its economic stability.
By Alice Yu
[/column]

USA should clean up the mess it made in Iraq

Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush deceived their nation and went to war in Iraq in 2003, killing hundreds of thousands, destroying families, shattering the lives of more than five million people and destroying a well-functioning state.

Once Saddam Hussein was disposed of in 2006, the United States government decided to implement a “democratic” leadership, and what resulted was the seventh most corrupt nation on Earth. Today, all of the leaders in Iraq don’t care about the fact that multiple suicide bombing and roadside car bombings occur each and every day and only care about the amount of money they will have in their pocket when the sun sets.

Art by Maddy Mueller
Art by Maddy Mueller
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a brutal man who committed atrocities in his nation, but what exists today is much worse than what people could imagine. Sectarian violence between the two largest factions of Islam, the Sunni, who are a minority in Iraq, and the Shia, with a vast majority of the population, is at an all-time high. Ever since the start of the year, an average of 600-1000 people in Iraq have been killed because of these acts of useless violence, and it is all because of the ignorance of Bush’s administration.
Two months before the invasion in 2003, Bush did not know that Islam had different branches, and for a country with a history of violence between those two branches, it is a big thing to not know.
By invading, the American leadership flipped the tables in the political atmosphere in Iraq, causing the Shia to have absolute power over everyone else. All the opportunities went to the Shia and the Sunni were left in the dust. In 2006, the two sides clashed in a civil war, which caused the American troops to stay longer than expected.
If Bush and his administration had thought about the consequences of making a group who used to be suppressed control every aspect of the nation that suppressed them, they would have logically understood that the oppressed group would punish the group who ruled them before.
The blood of Iraq is on Bush’s hands, Cheney’s hands and Rumsfeld’s hands, along with the other people in the government who took the decision to invade a country ignorantly. Now, a new threat caused by their deception emerged in Iraq, and as a responsible nation, it would only make sense to clean up the blood left in the destroyed state.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, fought Bashar al Assad in Syria for more than two years and gained a sizable amount of land through the war. Their leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, saw an opportunity to gain more land by entering Iraq and taking the North, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim and which the government of Iraq doesn’t care for much. They were successful.
However, they are also a terrorist group who wishes to make all their subservients think the same way they do. When President Barack Obama decided to bomb them after they threatened to destroy a small minority group, they responded by murdering two American journalists on camera.
ISIS is a threat to all Iraqis and the Middle East as a whole, and because the mess was caused by America’s government, it should be the American government who fixes it. Obama responded harshly in a speech to the nation, stating that he would follow ISIS wherever they moved and planned to destroy them completely.
America can only hope that this time, the government will not drag on the war for years upon years like each of the last three presidents before Obama did. There was no reason to do so then, and there is definitely no reason to do so now.
By Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi