Today Foreign Intrigue is pleased to present an opinion piece by a guest contributor. Chris Masiello has submitted an article on the role of the United States in the dynamic geopolitical conflict currently engulfing large portions of the Middle East.
Chris spent four years as an enlisted soldier in the United States Army, deploying to Iraq for 15 months in 2008-09 as an all-source analyst with 2nd BDE 1st Armored Division. Following the completion of his enlistment, Chris spent 16 months in Afghanistan in support of US, Afghan, and Australian forces. He is currently attending The George Washington University while working towards a degree in statistics and data analysis. He is also working as a policy and data analyst with the Veterans Benefit Administration. Follow Chris on Twitter: @.
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Commentary (Guest Submission): Pump the Brakes on United States Intervention in the Middle East
By Chris Masiello
To Whom It May Concern:
I’m not sure who will be in office in 2017, I can fathom a guess or two, but not without having to fight my gag reflex; but whoever it is, I know you want to fight in Iraq and Iran. But you shouldn’t, and I will tell you a few reasons why.
First, I’ve served in Iraq, it was only 16 months of my life, but I’ve got an idea of what goes on in conflicts in that region. I think it would be selfish to make another group of young soldiers go through the same experiences my generation of soldiers had. Or even worse, send back soldiers and marines that had to live through that fight once. I know that these aren’t your children, as they are likely in expensive private schools somewhere, with no chance of joining the service, but these are someone’s children. I know you are willing to sacrifice these lives (even though you will call them martyrs for your cause later on, in order to endear more to your cause) but who are you to send people into a war for such petty reasons?
We can start with Iraq, a nation that our military spent nearly a decade in over the last 15 years. These are battered, and broken people, currently mired in a very ugly situation with ISIS. But when the extensively trained and U.S. funded Iraqi defense forces were required to fight against ISIS to defend their people, they ran. The forces doing the most good in Iraq against ISIS are the Kurds and foreign imports. What does that say about Iraq and their people? When the local populace is not willing to fight for themselves, why do you believe I should? Or the soldiers I trained with, lived with, and went to war with one before? No thank you, that does not sound like a good idea to me. We once fought for them, but they do not seem willing to fight right now.
Iraq does not have a government or military capable of maintaining any semblance of security, even after years of direct assistance, training, and money from Western nations, why would any of that change if we were to fight and defeat ISIS? That suggests that it would even be possible to defeat ISIS in a direct conflict when after 13 years in Afghanistan, the Taliban and AQ are still fighting back against Coalition forces and no signs of giving in. The ability to hide on the other side of a boarder in Pakistan gave TB/AQ reprieve, just as the Syrian border would do in another Iraq conflict. Should we dive headfirst into a conflict with no foreseeable end once again? I sure hope not.
There is no tangible benefit provided by sending troops to Iraq. Yes, ISIS is doing terrible things, but they are not an organization with support, money, and leadership in regions across the world. A focused action by local nations could turn the tides on the ISIS Crisis™, where as American intervention would mean once again the region is not responsible for stopping internal conflicts. While ISIS may seem scary on television, they are not a worldwide threat, and should be dealt with by regional partners working together. The US Army is not a worldwide protector; it is a group of individuals who have volunteered to protect the borders and interests of the United States. I fail to see how the current situation in Iraq/Syria involves any US borders or interests.
Now, everyone’s favorite talking point in the region before ISIS was born was (and remains) Iran. For some reason, conservatives and liberals alike seem to think that conflict with Iran is inevitable. Even with a regime change to a much more Western-friendly, or at least open government. In a time when Iranian locals are joking about getting access to Whisky, and US hate-themed billboards are coming down, we have people speaking of Iran as if they are on the brink of causing World War III. For the first time in decades, Iran is not only openly speaking with Western nations, but they are willing to give concessions in order to have a place at the table with Europe and North Americans.
Iran is no threat militarily to Israel or Saudi Arabia, but they are an economic threat. It seems our old bonds with “friends” like Saudi Arabia are clouding our decision making process. Iran has large amounts of oil and natural gas, if sanctions are decreased, or even lifted, and they could provide that to Western nations fairly easily. That would negatively affect OPEC, our… friends I guess? So, instead of working with a nation who is attempting to rebuild the bridges they burned as the pariah of the region, we have individuals within our government trying to shoot down talks with Iran. I find that to be hilarious, when after two terms of G.W. Bush, the nation seemed tired of conflict, and President Obama was elected in a wave of hope for non-military discussions that could still provide a positive outcome. Yet here we are, less than 7 years later, and all the future leaders of our nation can think of is conflict.
ISIS likely does not have a directly diplomatic end game, I can agree with that, but Iran surely does. The idea that more oil and natural gas could flow into European nations would drastically decrease oil prices across the world, providing a huge boost to the lower and middle classes in America who would, while not immediately; see huge savings on their commutes. But for that to happen, we would have to forego a military conflict which would even further pad the pockets of companies who have made billions upon billions of dollars while the taxpayers fund these wars and the American death tolls continue to rise.
I don’t want to pay the required prices for even more unnecessary conflicts. For once, how about we try to stay out of a regional conflict and then try to avoid starting another. Sure, your billionaire buddies might not make as MANY billions, but I’m sure they can take the financial hit better than our families can take the tax burden and emotional toll of sending our friends, brothers, or children off to another stupid war. Our bridges and roads are collapsing, our health care still needs help, and the gaps between social (never mind racial) groups widen by the day, can we please focus on fixing some of those issues before we dive head first into the almost empty pool that is armed conflict in the middle east?
Chris Masiello: Former US Army, Taxpayer, and hopefully just a tourist next time I see the Middle East.
Chris spent four years as an enlisted soldier in the US Army, deploying to Iraq for 15 months in 2008-09, serving as an all-source analyst with 2nd BDE 1st Armored Division. After his enlistment, Chris spent 16 months in Afghanistan in support of US, Afghan, and Australian forces. He is currently attending The George Washington University working towards a degree in statistics and data analysis. He is also working as a policy and data analyst with the Veterans Benefit Administration. Follow Chris on Twitter: @.