Editorial, A jihad without Americans?

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Aleppo
Forget those slogans about “terror,” against which war might be waged. Real terror is flight amidst death and destruction, with every instinct to scream but with vocal chords frozen by fright. This was yesterday in Aleppo, after a Syrian government airstrike.

What if they gave a jihad and no Americans came?

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
Joshua 6:21
Describing the destruction of Jericho, circa 1400 BC

 

I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me and draped their skins over the pile of corpses; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile…. I flayed many right through my land and draped their skins over the walls.
Ashurnasirpal II
King of Assyria 883 – 859 BC

 

I saw them take babies from their cots and cut off their feet with knives. They cut their throats. Then they threw them in the air and the babies fell onto their knives. When I saw them do this, I knew I couldn’t help anybody, that I could only try to save myself.
Yepraksi Gevorgyan
Survivor of the 1915 Armenian Genocide

 

I heard whizzing for a moment, then came the explosion. It was a huge explosion inside the yard. The sky turned red. I didn’t realize at that moment it was an airstrike and still now also can’t believe it — it’s like a nightmare that plays before my eyes.
Muhammad Jamal Saleh Ghouba al-Sanabani
Survivor of a 2015 Saudi airstrike on a village in Yemen

 

What sort of fool believes that US forces can implant American values in the Middle East? Yes, the United States might participate in international efforts to punish war criminals and suppress inhuman forces that offend the values of all humanity. No, that region is not going to accept US notions of freedom and democracy — all of which are challenged, disputed and degraded in the USA itself — under the compulsion of drone strikes, clever alliances in the region or the seductions of “soft power.” Americans would be well advised to vote against any candidate for a US federal office who suggests otherwise.

But throughout all of US history there have been people from that region who dreamed the American Dream, and many of them came to the USA to be Americans. Most of these were good citizens who added their muscle and intellect to the building of a great nation.

Is there something to be done about the horrors of the Middle East? Providing refuge from those sorts of nightmares is the traditional American role. With relatively few exceptions it has worked well and still does.

Drone warfare? Special operations units? Mercenaries? Alliances in which America lavishes money and weapons on vicious bigots, pompous dictators and pretentious kleptocrats? Been there, done that and there is little worthwhile to show for it.

Should the likes of the Islamic State leaders be brought to justice? Of course they should be, and one of the things that the United States should do to advance that cause is to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and insist that all of humanity must do likewise.

Are there human beings who are suffering, to whom Americans owe a moral duty of protection? It’s the world’s duty and the Americans should shoulder a fair part of the burden.

But these are not America’s wars. Whether governments of the Muslim world should be secular, Sunni or Shia is not a US concern. Whether and how Iraq or Syria ought to be partitioned are not decisions that should be made in Washington. This is not a matter of isolationism, but of moral and practical guidelines for a positive US role in the world.

 

Bear in mind…

Women live in a time of transition, of longings and of redemption.
Clara González

 

Useful manual labor, intelligently performed, is the means par excellence for developing the intellect.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

 

We have made the revolution that we could make and not the one that we wished to make.
Fidel Castro

 

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