Unity Needed To Combat Global Threats
By. Raimondo Graziano
~ Written towards the end of my senior year in High School for the paper, The Seaside Chronicle.
I want to begin this by first saying that there is simply not enough column inches at my disposal to comprehensively detail the many issues we as a country, and we as a global community, face. I urge the reader to conduct their own research, leaflet their representatives, peacefully assemble, practice active and fervent civil disobedience and overwhelmingly demand a world where peace, security, and opportunity for all citizens can occur free from hatred and oppression.
In the Middle East, due to civil conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, religious disputes between Shiítes, Sunnis, Kurds, a litany of other ethnic groups, foreign government and military intervention by what we would call ‘The West’, a tinderbox has been all but lit causing one of the most devastating humanitarian crises the world has seen. In the ensuing turmoil, an opportunistic militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have gained ground in both Syria and Iraq.
The group is responsible for upwards of a thousand civilian deaths, although the exact number is unsure. The group is responsible for bombings in Paris and Beirut, as well as numerous others, and many other attempted bombings. The global recognition of the group has now produced more questions than definitive answers. How did they manage to gain prominence, and what factors led to the tense state of global affairs we find ourselves in?
The group has also spurred a distrust and cautionary approach to the Muslim American Community. Though to call it simply ‘distrust and cautionary’ is not giving it the gravity it rightfully deserves; a bellicose, racist and discriminatory agenda is underway, in part thanks to comments made by some that are seeking the office of the President of The United States, against the Muslim American community in the country. Ordinary citizens – your neighbors, your friends – are targeted now, not only by those that would wish to do them harm, but also by some elected officials sworn to protect their rights, their freedom, and their security. And for what? It is opportunistic and shameful fear mongering. It is attempting to continue to drive a wedge between the numerous American communities that should live in unity to face these issues; rather we are pitted against each other at the behest of politicians for political expediency. Firstly to combat this militant threat, we must unanimously reject the notion that bigotry and boisterousness are a solution – we must reject racist ideas and toss them aside simply because of what they are. By joining together the entire United States community, regardless of race or religious affiliation, and saying we stand as one, united against hate of any kind, united in combating this existential threat that puts not only American lives at risk, but also the entire world as a whole. From the book of Mark and through the mouth of Abraham Lincoln, “if a is house divided against itself, then that house cannot stand”, and so it seems we must stand united, or dramatically, and possibly disastrously raise the risk of our country’s fall.
We are faced with the same issue we faced more than a decade ago when The United States was attacked on September 11, 2001. After the events of these attacks, the country was galvanized toward action. The U.S. was united in a fight for justice, but some ignorant groups within the United States saw the Muslim American community as a scapegoat. After these events religious-hate crimes rose, and bigotry and disruptive, unconstructive rhetoric came from many people in positions of power. Whether we choose to accept it or not, this was a major role that played out in the destabilization of the Middle East.
The invasion of Iraq set the precedent for a destabilized and highly volatile Middle East. We emboldened militant groups in their collective hatred toward the United States, invigorated our regional foes by disposing of Saddam Hussein making them stronger both militarily and economically in part due to the fact that much of Iraq had been left in shambles. The United States’ effort to rebuild the country were fruitless – all this at the expense of the American taxpayers wallet.
In his final report to Congress, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen concluded that the United States reconstruction effort “grew to a size much larger than was ever anticipated.” According to the report to congress, much of $60 billion allocated for Iraqi reconstruction was “misspent.”
On top of this, according to the Congressional Budget Office, including all military and diplomatic costs and other aid, the U.S. has spent at least $767 billion since the invasion was spearheaded by the United States in 2003.
Combine this with circumstances that are entirely out of our own control such as protests and entire nations of peoples yearning for liberty and democracy of their own making – I’m talking about the widely praised Arab Spring of 2011, that trickled into becoming a catalyst for numerous civil wars across the region (i.e. Syria, Yemen, Libya) – and you have a recipe for regional disaster.
So here we stand today. The Middle East, despite what some may say, is not better off than it was before our intervention. Rather, it is far worse, and more volatile than it has been in the past. Some regions of Syria and Iraq have fallen under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Millions of refugees are pouring into Europe. Multiple international parties are now vying for some semblance of supremacy in the Middle East. Russia, The United States, England, France, Turkey, and Israel are all performing combat operations in some way in Syria, with China hoping to assist Russia sometime in the next year. Of those six powers, five are nuclear capable. All of them are playing into Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s hands because we collectively are perpetuating a culture of fear, division and disillusionment.
In order to combat the growing unrest and the threat that is endangering not just one nation, but all nations, we must set aside petty differences that divide us and unify to tackle this threat. Why must it be geopolitical doctrine that The United States, Russia and China cannot work together to combat a threat so dire it should elicit cries of support from all sides but does not? Why is it that NATO cannot work collaboratively in the region with Russia and China? Why are all parties so unwilling to reach common ground on one of the issues of our time? Of course, these nations will not be the only ones required to take up the task, but a coalition of Arab nations that reject the tenets of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant must work alongside the American, European and Asian security forces.
Although some will argue against getting involved in another Middle Eastern War, we mustn’t simply turn our back away from a problem we helped to create. Through military strength, economic opportunity, infrastructure financing, jobs programs, through governments formed by the majority of the people and through diplomacy – united – we can tackle and solve this debacle.
Of course, understand, there is no easy solution to these issues. We need unity and strength in a time when what we are receiving and giving is division. The situation is dire, the circumstances are clouded and often confusing, and the history is storied and rife with moments of conflict. At different moments in history the Middle East, and in the grand scheme of things the greater world, have needed different things. At this point what we need is unity as a global community, a dismissal of hatred and bigotry.