War on terror or the Middle East? | The Triangle

War on terror or the Middle East?

Photograph courtesy of Poxnar at Wikimedia

The “War on Terror” is the reason our country went to war in the Middle East; the reason nearly 4,500 civilians have died from airstrikes and raids in the past eight-and-a-half years.

Under President Barack Obama, an estimate of 2,300 civilians were killed due to U.S.-led coalition strikes.

The estimate of civilians killed as of July 13 under President Donald Trump reached 2,200 people.

Think about that for a second. During eight years of presidency, Obama’s administration heralded the deaths of 2,300 civilians, averaging 80 civilians per month.

In right around seven months, Trump’s administration has brought 2,200 civilian deaths to the countries of Syria and Iraq. That’s 314 people per month.

What is the war on terror? Is it fighting terrorist organizations like ISIL and Al Qaeda? Fighting radical islamic terrorism? Or is it fighting the anti-Western ideologies many Middle Eastern radicals seem to have? Realistically there isn’t one simple definition, all of these aspects are included under the umbrella of the war on terror.

We should ask ourselves if what we are doing is worth it.

The main reason most of these terrorist organizations exist today is because of the U.S. trying to force democracy down the throats of Middle Eastern countries during the ’80s and ’90s. When we went to war with Iraq in early 2003, emotions were running high. With 9/11 having happened recently, everyone was terrified of another terrorist attack.

What are we fighting for today? We should know better.

The U.S. has been interfering in the Middle-East since the 1940s when Truman tried to strengthen relations there post-World War II. Tensions began to escalate in the ’80s when the U.S. sent soldiers to occupy the Middle East (Iran-Contra Affair). Major terrorist organizations started springing up (Al Qaeda, Taliban) after that.

Airstrikes and raids in areas populated densely with civilians may kill a couple terrorists, but are the lost innocent lives worth it? I would imagine the countries we are trying to “liberate” from ISIL and related terrorist organizations see us as the terrorists. While ISIL may be leashing their rights and activities, they aren’t killing 314 civilians per month.

Imagine how U.S. citizens would feel if 314 citizens were being killed by another country each and every month. There would be riots to wage war. President Trump promised to “bomb the s— out of ISIS”, and he has kept that promise. He’s also bombing the s— out of innocent civilians. While this isn’t quite an executive matter and there are other concerns involved including national security and international security, the president is the face of our country and he is ultimately responsible for attacks such as these.

Obama was no saint when it came to airstrikes abroad but at least he wanted to follow the extremely strict rules of engagement the U.S. military practices. One of Trump’s first requests as president was asking the military to get rid of all extra rules of engagement that aren’t required by international law. While the U.S. has not officially removed the stringent rules we practice, the mere fact that the president asked to shows his disregard for innocent life.

Imagine if we did get rid of the extra rules of engagement; the additional life that would be lost would be catastrophic.

After nearly 80 years of interference, we should have learned from our mistakes. There have been no positive results, and if anything, we are only giving cause for more terrorists to be indoctrinated.

Trump has not been attentive to keeping the war focused on terror but rather, he has been allowing for the war to bleed into becoming the “war on the Middle East.”