Of all the various types of high-intensity conflicts involving armed forces, a civil war is particularly destructive to a nation due to the large number of casualties and consumption of a nation’s resources; especially if the internal conflict is sustained for any length of time. However, a sectarian war between different sects of a particular religion, or religious ideology within a religion, can be every bit as destructive and violent as a civil war because each side believes purging the faith of heretics and apostates has the blessing of their deity. The idea of an outside entity intervening in a sectarian war is not unlike a person attempting to separate two vicious animals locked in a fight to the death because invariably the person will not escape unscathed; if they escape at all. It is an idea that America would do well to consider.
No American should delude themselves that the current violence raging in Iraq and Syria is anything other than an extreme sectarian war between the two major Islamic sects, or that American military intervention is ever going to bring a cessation to the violence. It is true, and sadly so, that America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq undoubtedly created the conditions that led to the rise of the Islamic State (IS, ISIL, ISIS) that now poses an existential threat to both Syria and Iraq.
Now that Islamic State forces are rapidly advancing as far as Abu Ghraib, effectively a suburb of Baghdad, the president of the provisional council of Anbar Province issued a desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back to the embattled country. A senior governor claimed that as many as 10,000 heavily-armed Islamic State militants are within striking distance of Baghdad and are poised to wage an all-out assault on the Iraqi capital. The province’s two main cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, were once known as “the graveyard of the Americans,” and the idea of returning there will not be welcomed by the Pentagon and should not even be under consideration; regardless of the threat to the Iraqi capital.
In fact, it is time for the approximately 1,500 American troops serving as “mentors to the beleaguered Iraqi army” to leave the country and let Iraqi Shias deal with former Iraqi Sunnis that joined extremists and formed the dreaded Islamic State. Thus far, the Iraqi government has been adamant that it does not want U.S. forces on the ground, and said it has not received an official request from Anbar province for U.S. military intervention and ground forces to help in the fight against ISIS.
New Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office said on Saturday that “If we receive any request, we will look into it and we will give our recommendation, but thus far we have not received any request.” That official statement was confirmed by an American defense official who said even if the Iraqi government did ask for ground forces, “The U.S. will not deploy combat ground forces to Iraq, and we remain focused on enabling the (Iraqi military) in the fight against ISIL through our advise/assist efforts and the air campaign.” Still, Iraqi army forces have threatened to abandon their weapons if the U.S. military does not intervene to help them because they are faltering under the ISIL onslaught.
On some level, maybe America’s guilt explains why it feels an obligation to intervene and halt the Islamic extremists intent on fulfilling its centuries-old mission of creating an Islamic caliphate in the region. However, at this point this country’s leaders have to comprehend that ending the violence in Iraq and Syria is the responsibility of Iraqi and Iranian Shias who pushed Sunni Muslims out of Iraq to join forces with extremists. It was, after all, Iraq’s Shia-dominated government that attempted to purge Sunnis from the country with valuable assistance from Iran, so if there is a threat to the Shia-led Iraqi government, then it is up to Iran, a predominately Shia nation to intervene and join the sectarian war against Sunni extremists.
The conflict in the region is not America’s fight regardless it was complicit in aiding former Prime Minister Maliki’s Shia-led government assault on the nation’s Sunni Muslims. When Iraq demanded, and George W. Bush agreed, that American ground forces get out, and stay out, of Iraq, they became responsible for defending themselves no matter what entity poses a threat. That the threat is from a religious sect they pushed out of the country is of no consequence to America. In fact, any threat to America or its allies is exacerbated by its ridiculous need to intervene where it obviously does not belong. America is no more a Muslim nation than it is a Christian nation so why it is taking sides in a war between Muslims is beyond comprehension.
This country refuses to spend even one penny on its own people or its crumbling infrastructure, so why politicians of either party think it is prudent to spend one penny of Americans’ tax dollars intervening in a foreign nation’s sectarian war is absurd; and dangerous. It is important to remember that America’s interference and intervention in the Middle East has driven Islamic animosity towards this country, and subsequent terror attacks, for decades. But still this nation persists butting in where it is not welcomed and has no business being involved; especially in a war between rival religious sects.
There is no debate that the extremist Islamic State is brutal, or that America is complicit in its rise to power. However, it is Iraq’s Shia-led government, and to some extent, Iranian Shia influence, that Sunni extremists in the Islamic State are waging a sectarian religious war against; not America. Therefore it is Iraqi and Iranian Shia’s responsibility to deal with the Islamic State; not America’s.
This country has been obsessed with Islam going back decades; even when the faith is warring amongst itself. It is noteworthy that America did not take sides, or intervene militarily, in the sectarian war between Christian sects in Ireland, so its obsession with warring Islamic religious sects is about helping Muslims kill other Muslims and nothing else. Republicans are wont to embrace the religious right’s bizarre claim that America is a Christian nation, and yet they cannot resist getting in the middle of Muslims warring against other Muslims. It is time for this country to completely extract itself from Iraq, and the sectarian war between Islamic sects, and let Muslims sort out their own religious differences that will eliminate any reason to threaten America.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.