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You Say ISIL, I Say ISIS, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off


John McCain frequently justifies his most war whacky ideas with, “I’d rather fight them over there than fight them here.” As if those are the two choices. As if presenting a non sequitur null set false dichotomy is a response would ever work.

Right, well, the joke is on us. It works all the time—not to actually fix the problem, but rather to extend it for the benefit of those who profit from it. It is a horrific piece of false logic that has many nodding their heads and ceding authority and dominant opinion to an elite group who profit in money or power or status when they lead us into more bloody hell. After Obama gives in, they all pile on and screech “Too little! Too late!” Obama is not barreling quite fast enough in the wrong direction for them.

And McCain is simply typical, not a bit out of lockstep with this woefully incomplete consideration of options.

There are excellent reasons that most Iraqis believe that the US government provides support for ISIS. The evidence may be circumstantial but the old adage, There is no such thing as a coincidence, is one that militates toward generation of such conspiratorial notions.

Based on lies, we invade a relatively stable country—Iraq—driving it into receivership. We fire their military from their jobs with nothing to which they can transition—of course they are going to self-organize and seek financial and trade backing to set up shop as a violent insurgency. We ludicrously claim to be productively training in the Iraqi police and soldiers, none of which takes. Indeed, they present a tempting target for anyone with an idea of political power.

Who benefits? Who loses?

US elites benefit. Owners of military contractors benefit the most ($711,000,000 the last day of 2015 alone, nearly $40 million per hour around the clock), and they share their largesse with those who serve them best—friendly bellicose politicians, persuasive media, high-level military officers.

Iraqis, now Syrians, and by extension even the Europeans who are now awash in refugees from the wars we help foment, and the US taxpayer, and, documented by a Brown University study, the US job seeker—these are the losers. Every $billion spent on the military is a significant job loss, since taxpayer money spent on education, health care, clean energy development, or infrastructure upkeep creates many more well paying jobs for Americans.

May 2016 be the year we turn this around.

Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

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