By Parul Assudaney:
On 7th August, 2014, President Obama announced that he had authorized ‘targeted airstrikes if necessary’ in an effort to protect the delivery of humanitarian aid to threatened Iraqis, and to ensure the safety of US personnel providing assistance in Iraq. This was happening when the world was remembering the 100th anniversary of First World War and politicians assured themselves this could never happen again. It surely didn’t look like that.
It is quite ironic that the US will be fighting against terrorism in Iraq again when the US-led invasion of the country, in the first place, was the reason for the rise of terrorism in the country. The military intervention by U.S in other people’s countries has not just been happening of late, but has happened before and has had some dire consequences.
For instance, the 2001 US led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in retaliation to 9/11 bombings and then in 2003, the invasion and occupation of Iraq which led to the destruction of the country’s state and social institutions and emergence of terrorism in the country. Or, the military intervention in Libya, in 2011, to implement ceasefire and an end to attacks against the civilians and to impose a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace, making it a no-fly zone, which ultimately led to the overthrow of Qaddafi Regime. But the intervention in Libya turned it into a lawless land that attracts terrorists and puts its neighbours at risk, making it a higher threat than it was before the military intervention.
The US government, when they seek to explain or defend these military interventions, they do it in the name of protecting and providing humanitarian aid to civilians of that country and to promote democracy in that region. But does it make sense to use force to compel others to become democratic?
Analysis of the countries that faced military intervention by US showed the difference in democratization between the year of and the year after the intervention, 63% of the countries experienced no change. Positive change occurred in 37% of the cases comparing the three-year pre and post-intervention democratic averages. But the analysis also showed that when comparing the progress of democracy in nations which did experience US intervention with those which did not, the former group boasts greater movement toward democracy.
But Obama, touted as a risk-averse president, showed a fundamental shift in his risk-averse foreign policy by approving air strike on Iraq. This made civilians across the border in Syria wonder why their struggle has seen no response by US. In a speech given by Obama in May, 2014 for commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point, he called the conflicts in Syria or Ukraine “not ours to solve”.
This clearly shows that US pursues the intervention when it very clearly serves the interests of the country — political, economical or military. But when a situation doesn’t rise to the standard of threatening any of vital US interests, he follows his instinct of staying out of it.
Various other reasons have been given by the government of US for pursuing this military intervention. First, they explain it to the US public as defending the rights and lives of their own civilians but as the United States confronts ISIS, the dangers that Americans will be targeted at home grows. Or it’s them taking a stand against the violence by the terrorists or atrocities onÂ “civilians”, while defending the same actions by them.
In his West Point speech, Obama had said,
“I believe that a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative; it also helps keep us safe. But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution. Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action, without levelling with the American people about the sacrifices required.”
And US really needs to stick to this because another war in Iraq won’t fix the damages caused by the last one. History has shown, that when US and its allies intervenes in other people’s countries, it leads to a catastrophe.