Featured image: Image by Jim Vallee on Shutterstock. Edited in Affinity Designer. Due to technical difficulties, there is no YouTube video this week.
4 for Now
The United States finally pulling out of Afghanistan is a big deal. While I’m happy that the deployed folks (who survived) get to come home to their families, that’s not my biggest reason for applauding this news. The United States never had any business getting involved in Western and Central Asia in the first place.
The US has been active in Western and Central Asia in various capacities since the 1940s, but after our first major military conflict with Iraq, it “morphed into a seemingly permanent state of war,” as NPR’s Greg Myre puts it. We were at war in Afghanistan for 20 years. The US occupation of northern Syria—and its oil fields—has benefitted the opposition to the Syrian government, extending that war. And in his acceptance of the State of Israel 74 years ago, President Truman effectively proclaimed them our proxy in colonizing Palestine and in attacks throughout the region.
When the US invades a country, we do so in our own government’s interests, which often work against the best interests of civilians. Osama bin Laden left Afghanistan shortly after the US began our attack, but we expanded the war there. As we pull our troops out, we’re destroying resources rather than leaving them for civilian use. And Afghanistan is just one of many examples.
Arguments Against Ending US Involvement in Western and Central Asia
I must hate my country if I’m not “supporting the troops,” right? Remember, all of this is happening while US citizens suffer the neglect of their own government. In 2020 alone: the US accounted for over 25% of worldwide confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 20% of the global deaths from the virus. More than 41,500 people were killed in shooting incidents across the nation. One in six US-ians and one in four US children were at risk of hunger.
Over the long term: the national life expectancy has been shrinking, the wealth gap between workers and the 1% has ballooned, and every state is on track to face severe consequences of climate change. We spent more than $8 trillion dollars on the War on Terrorism. Imagine what we could have used that money for here at home.
You may say, “But our troops are in Western and Central Asia to save people!” To which I ask, from what? According to Brown University’s Costs of War project, over 929,000 people have died in the post-9/11 wars due to direct war violence. Several times as many people have died from the indirect effects of war. Over 387,000 civilians have been killed and 38 million people have been displaced. Tell me, who have we saved?
As Lebanese diplomat Mohamad Safa once commented, “If the United States saw what the United States is doing in the United States, the United States would invade the United States to liberate the United States from the tyranny of the United States.” Thus liberating the world.
4 for Later
- How America Destroyed the Middle East by Scott Horton (7.5-minute read)
- 9/11 attacks: Why young Americans know nothing about the ‘war on terror’ with Dr. Nazia Kazi (7-minute video)
- Yemen’s rebels say latest U.S. sanctions will prolong the war by Samy Magdy (3-minute read)
- Barack Obama’s legacy in the Middle East: Six things we learned from ‘A Promised Land’ by Alex MacDonald (9-minute read)