What a distraught and noxious world we live in, when Americans kill and kill other people and basically take no notice of the fact in their daily lives. More distressingly, Americans are never held accountable for any of the deaths or the suffering they inflict on others.
How healthy it is then to see an article like this one:
by Chas Freeman
Sometime between 460 and 450 B.C.E., Herodotus wrote The Persian Wars, his account of the Greeks’ two wars with the Persians, which spanned thirteen years. Even in a time when trends and events unfolded more slowly than they seem to now, that was a famously lengthy conflict. But the ancient Greeks and Persians have nothing on us Americans in that regard.
The United States has now been engaged in a cold war with Iran – Persia – for thirty-seven years. It has conducted various levels of hot war in Iraq for twenty-six years. It has been in combat in Afghanistan for fifteen years. Americans have bombed Somalia for fifteen, Libya for five, and Syria for one and a half years. One war has led to another. None has yielded any positive result and none shows any sign of doing so.
The same might be said for the wars of others we Americans subsidize and supply. Israel’s wars to subdue the Palestinians and deter other Arabs from challenging its ongoing dispossession of them are now sixty-eight-years-old – and counting. U.S. drones have been killing Yemenis for fourteen years, Pakistanis for twelve, and Somalis for nine. Saudi Arabia’s bloody effort to reinstall an ousted government in Yemen is almost a year old. In none of these wars is an end in sight.
It’s hard to put a price tag on these inconclusive misadventures. The unsuccessful Afghan and Iraq pacification campaigns alone have cost the United States an estimated $6 trillion in outlays and obligations. Over 7,000 Americans have died in combat since these wars kicked off in 2001. At least another 50,000 have been maimed. A million have filed claims for war-related disabilities. And well over two million Afghans, Arabs, Persians, and Somalis have perished. This is a great deal of sacrifice and suffering for no apparent gain in the region and continuously escalating risks to our homeland. Perhaps a bit of reflection is in order, followed by a change of course.
It is said in this regard that before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. (That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away, and you have their shoes.) In that spirit, let me offer a few thoughts as well as a question or two about America’s Persian and Arabian wars.
What it is that we Americans are trying to accomplish? Is there no better way than warfare to protect and advance our interests? How can we finally end the many wars we have begun? On what terms should they be ended and with whom? At what point is enough enough?
Unraveling the tangle of wars in which the United States is now engaged with or against Arabs, Berbers, Hazaras, Israelis, Kanuris, Kurds, Palestinians, Persians, Pashtuns, Somalis, Syrians, Tajiks, Tuaregs, Turkmen, Turks, and Uzbeks – as well as Alawites, Christians, Druze, Jews, secular Muslims, Salafis, Shiites, Sunnis, and Yazidis – will not be easy. In large measure through our involvement, their conflicts have become interwoven. Ending one or another of them might alter the dynamics of the region but would not by itself produce peace.