NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 18, 2013

Best course for US: Stay out of Middle East affairs

As I See It
Richard Astukewicz

---- — Michael Scheuer wrote in his book “Imperial Hubris” some thoughts he had for an American debate. One question he proposed was, “Do we need for our security to install democracy in lands that give no hint of wanting it?”

Today we hear from Washington talk of getting involved in Syria, which is having a civil war. There is talk about Iran’s nuclear program and that we will stop it with “all the cards on the table.” Does that signal that we may intervene in Syria and Iran with our military?

In hindsight intervening in Iraq to rid the nation of its dictator may have been the wrong solution. Ten years later and Iraqis are not much better off. They lost thousands of lives while we sacrificed our treasure and blood for what cause?

Iraq is now an unstable nation searching for some kind of government in this modern world while using centuries-old solutions to its problems. They simply cannot seem to find any solution, as all the different factions of their civilization continue to war against one another.

Afghanistan is another failure. As soon as we leave, that nation will turn to its warlords the Taliban and maybe a growing al-Qaida. The poppy fields will bloom again and we might even see a resurgence of the Northern Alliance.

Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and now Syria — are these nations a real threat to the security of our country?

After World War II we helped rebuild Europe, Japan and other nations that felt the destruction of the war. These nations wanted some form of freedom and democracy. Japan and South Korea have become stable powers in the Far East. Europe has grown to form a group of strong nations with freedom and liberty for all its citizens.

These nations succeeded because they wanted a democracy not entirely like ours but free with liberty. The Middle East nations show no signs of wanting liberty, freedom and justice for their people; they seem to be mired in age-old warlords and factions constantly warring with one another while somehow enjoying the benefits of the new 21st century because of their oil.

Plato wrote, “Only the dead will have seen the end of war.” This humble American does not want this nation to get involved in any more wars in the Middle East. Syria is not a threat to our security — it’s a civil war that should be won or lost by the people of Syria. This is a problem for the nations of the Middle East.

Iran developing a nuclear bomb and a missile to carry it is not a threat to our national security. It’s a threat to the nations of the region and should be solved by them.

If the Middle East is a powder keg ready to explode into armed conflict, they should decide the future of the region themselves. We should not interfere and fight still another proxy war.

We had Korea and Vietnam fighting wars backed by China and Russia. We backed Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran. We supported the Taliban, Northern Alliance and Osama bin Laden in their war with the Russians. We put the shah in power in Iran and then deserted him as we’ve done in Egypt with Mubarak. We haven’t done well with Middle East foreign policy, have we, so let’s get out and let those it affects solve the problem.

I see these Wounded Warriors ads on television and I honestly get sick to my stomach. The men and women we sent into futile wars and now they come home destroyed with no hope of a normal life and I ask why — for an Iraqi nation still facing internal bombings; for those in Afghanistan who kill our loved ones dressed in Afghan police uniforms? This is madness and should not continue in any other nation of the Middle East.

William T. Sherman wrote in 1875, “Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.” This is exactly what has happened to our loved ones because we went to fight a political war expecting as victory new democracies from hellish nations.

Let’s bring our wonderful men and women home to safety so they can have the liberty, justice and freedom they deserve. The price we have paid in Iraq, the price we are still paying in Afghanistan is far too high for what were unattainable political goals. We need no more men without legs, no more women without arms, no more military with shattered minds.

Syria is not a threat to our national security. Iran is not a threat to our national security. We need no more failures like North Korea, like Iraq, like Afghanistan. These nations are not worth our country losing anymore of our treasures: our men and women in uniform.

In 1821, John Quincy Adams wrote the following and I think our leaders should take these words to heart.

“She America well knows that by once enlisting herself under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

“The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. She might become dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit.”

Let’s bring our military men and women home and never again send them into wars that are fruitless attempts at democracy.

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Richard Astukewicz lives in Salisbury.