President Joe Biden ordered an airstrike Feb. 25 against Iranian-backed militias in Abu Kamal, Syria, killing at least 22 people in the process.
This is yet another instance of the United States choosing violence over diplomacy, a trend which has persisted across several administrations, regardless of their political leanings.
The attack represents the need for new, anti-war leaders in Washington.
This is not to defend the Iranian regime, nor any other specific geopolitical entity. To be clear, the attack in Abu Kamal was a response to earlier attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq and not a random assault against unrelated forces.
Still, the issue is not one of moral judgment, about who deserves violence, or whether attacks by the U.S. are justifiable, proportionate or defensive. The issue is the hypocrisy of U.S. leadership and the oblivious, outdated mind-set of those who believe our nation should be the police force of the international community.
On the point of hypocrisy, it was only in January of last year that Biden condemned former President Donald Trump’s administration’s killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. After Soleimani’s death, Biden stated that the assassination was a “hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region.” Yet, less than two months into his presidency, Biden continues to exhibit that same escalatory behavior.
However, the consensus that missiles are the best negotiators has been one of the few constants throughout the post-Cold War era.
In 1993, former President Bill Clinton ordered an airstrike in Iraq that killed nine civilians. Former President George Bush’s invasion of Iraq resulted in at least 110,000 Iraqi civilian deaths by 2009, according to statistics published by the Statista Research Department. Former President Barack Obama ordered over 500 drone strikes, which killed an estimated 324 civilians. Airstrikes and escalation are the bread and butter of U.S. foreign policy.
Since 9/11, approximately 6,967 U.S. soldiers have died in military conflict. At least 52,000 have been wounded. The number of military deaths alone is more than double the 2,977 casualties the U.S. suffered during 9/11, yet we remain embroiled in similar conflicts, with no end in sight, as we move closer to yet another war, this time with Iran.
With the relative consistency of U.S. international violence across administrations, one is left to wonder whether our nation has ever left the Cold War-era mind-set of strength through force. American foreign policy seems to have no endgame. We must be able to avoid conflict, not promote it.
The U.S. is one of the richest, most powerful nations on Earth, yet it insists on exporting Western ideology primarily through armed conflict rather than communication. There have always been evil people and evil leaders, and there always will be. We cannot kill all of them. If the ultimate goal is to reduce conflict, then that goal cannot be accomplished through violence. Maintaining this course will do nothing other than perpetuating others’ hatred for America. It will not make us safer.
Texas has a veteran population of over 1.5 million, many of whom have fought in nations where we have a continued military presence. With no end in sight to our existing conflicts, nobody should support attacks that lead us closer to yet another prominent military exchange. All Texans should take a stand against escalation, not only to prevent innocent deaths abroad, but also to protect the lives of our own citizens and servicemen and women.
There are certainly people on all sides of the political spectrum who acknowledge this reality. While America is undoubtedly more divided than ever on most important issues, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike should agree that there is no benefit to escalation, not for other nations, and certainly not for Americans.