Once again our hearts are breaking – this time, with the tragic news of the deaths of at least 73 civilians, including 35 children, as a result of US airstrikes on the village of Tokkhar in Syria. This horrific attack, the deadliest assault on civilians in the military campaign against ISIS to date, happened because our military admittedly made a “mistake” in identifying these men, women, and children as Islamic State combatants.
This latest accidental atrocity in Syria ought to be America’s last. How long will it take before our government learns that bombs do not settle problems? How many more innocent civilians must die before our Commander-In-Chief finally realizes these “mistakes” are only making the problem worse? How many more hospitals will be destroyed and medical personnel and patients killed? How many more women and children must be maimed or killed by Hellfire missiles before the US grounds the drones in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria?
What will a potential President Clinton or Trump do as the War on Terror continues to “come home” to San Bernardino, Beirut, Paris, Istanbul, and Nice? ISIS – a direct outgrowth of the Clinton-supported US invasion and occupation of Iraq – is a force that feeds on the outrage of people on the receiving end of our disastrous, belligerent approach to foreign policy and national security. Clinton’s destruction of Libya added to the chaos by unleashing vast stockpiles of Libyan weapons that then became available to ISIS.
Groups like ISIS cannot be stopped by more violence. On the other hand, they can be stopped by a weapons embargo, a freeze on the bank accounts of countries funding them, and by stopping the flow of jihadi recruits across Turkey’s border. We must ensure a pathway to dignity, self-respect and full inclusion in society that will undermine ISIS recruitment to the path of violence.
In my platform, I call for a new approach to foreign policy based on human rights and international law. We must lead by example by respecting human life and national sovereignty, just as we would like ours to be respected.
We must also put an end to the weapons profiteering that fans the flames of violence domestically and over seas. Whether by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman or the NRA, the promotion of brutality and violence for profit needs to be stopped. We need to disarm ISIS by enacting an arms embargo on the Middle East, rather than effectively arming all sides. Congress and the White House need to stand up to the enablers of terror at home and around the world.
Neither America nor the world can afford another four years of failed Obama-Clinton policies in the Middle East. We can make the world a safer, more peaceful place – but only if we stop investing in the destruction of other countries and reinvest in the future of our own. We should be using our vast resources not to spread death, but for the things we urgently need for life: education, health care, infrastructure, and solutions to the climate crisis that threatens us all.