ISIS and the Endless War in the Middle East

Ever take a step back from the hubbub of the terrorist news and ask yourself why it started and if there is another approach?

Retired army colonel Andrew J. Bacevich discussed his new book America’s War for the Greater Middle East:A Military History and he argues that President Jimmy Carter used the occasion of his State of the Union address to designate the Persian Gulf a vital U.S. national security interest, meaning it became a place that we would fight for.

I’m not singling out President Carter as the source of the problem. After all, both parties embraced the opportunity for war there since then. By Mr. Bacevich’s count, the US has participated in four Gulf Wars over the past forty years.

Yet the actual purpose has been far more ambitious in my view. We have made things worse—at very considerable cost to ourselves and to others. The real mission has been to sustain the claims of American exceptionalism that have long since become central to our self-identity—to bring into compliance with American purposes the revolutionaries, warlords, terrorists, despots, or bad actors of various stripes given to defiance.

. . .

U.S. forces have been in action every where from Iran and Iraq, Lebanon and Libya, Somalia and Sudan, Bosnia and Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan. . .

. . .

Along the way, we tried overwhelming force, and shock and awe. We invaded, occupied, and took a stab at nation-building. We experimented with counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism, regime change and decapitation, peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention, retaliatory strikes and preventive attack, even something that the Air Force called “air occupation.” U.S.forces operated overtly, covertly, and through proxies. Almost certainly, they went places and did things about which we, the American public, today remain in the dark.

If you’ve heard any of these phrases before, now you know what its been part of.

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