Archive | September, 2014

Confronting ISIS

30 Sep

In a congress that is about as dysfunctional as it can get, they were able to come together to support arming rebels half-way across the world to fight ISIS.  If this sounds familiar that’s because it is.  Our country has a long history of making short term friends, only to have them become future adversaries.  Why do we keep doing this?  Sometimes it is because we have to, other times it’s because we don’t look at what will happen in the future.  I honestly don’t know what will happen 10 or 20 years from now as a result of giving weapons to rebels, but I would be surprised if it doesn’t come back to bite us.

In World War 2, we became allies with the Soviet Union.  It wasn’t a pleasant or warm alliance, but it was a necessary one.  The Soviets suffered heavy losses from fighting the Nazi’s and we needed their help to free Europe.  After the war many post-war disputes started the Cold War.  The Cold War continued for nearly half a century.  I have no doubt that even with the Cold War looming, it was necessary to ally ourselves with the Soviet Union.

Towards the end of the Cold War history repeated itself again.  We secretly agreed to help Afghan rebels push back a Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.  The Taliban were even at the White House in the 1980’s.  The same theme resurfaced from WW2, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  We spent money and weaponry to help the Afghans and it was used against us years later.  There has been a suggestion that if we had helped developed the country, they wouldn’t turn against us.  I honestly don’t know if that is true, but there is no doubt our decision to help them in the 1980’s hurt us about a decade later.

All of that brings us to today.  Al Qaeda has been decimated but a new threat has emerged.  ISIS threatens to further destabilize the Middle East, and spread.  It may not be a threat to us now but it could be in the near future.  In a very similar move from the Soviet-Afghan war, we are once again giving weapons and aid to a rebel group we don’t know.  I don’t know for sure what will happen but it concerns me given our history.

Foreign Policy isn’t an easy thing to calculate by a long shot.  In many cases we don’t know what will happen if we intervene somewhere.  There isn’t always a right thing to do.  Almost 12 years ago we decided to attack a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.  President Bush invaded a country without considering what would happen after the invasion.  He also did it without examining Iraq’s history or what could be done politically to stabilize Iraq.  What President Obama is doing right now is similar to Bush in some ways but different.  It is similar because we are getting involved in an area without thinking of the consequences down the road.  It is different because this time, some U.S. citizens have been brutally murdered.  We need a long-term strategy for ISIS or we will be fighting another war in the not too distant future, possibly with a foe we helped train and arm.