Like Al-Qaida, the Islamic State is a monster partly of our own making.
Voices are pushing for the Obama administration to step up a military campaign in response to journalist James Foley’s execution (“Will the Islamic State feel the follow-through?” Aug. 2). Yes, the world recoils at the beheading by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, referring to the areas from Turkey to Egypt). ISIL’s rise, the timing of this incident and other aspects should be looked at.
When the chemical attacks in Syria were the focus, U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain worked with Sunni Saudi Arabia to build up what’s now called ISIL as a counterforce to Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Shiite. Now we’re reaping the whirlwind. (During President George W. Bush’s term, “material support” for terror, even if indirect, became a crime.)
This is the same pattern as 9/11. We’re in on the creation of a monster, like Al-Qaida, which then does dastardly deeds, to which the public reaction allows segments of our society to milk the military cash cow. Someone from Congress on a Sunday talk show complained about defense sequesters, wanting that to be looked at upon legislators’ return. Also considered should be a new investigation of 9/11, which some have recommended. A degree of Saudi financing was implicated back then, too.
Our response should not stoop to the dark realms of ISIL barbarity. Yet we did so, back then, with our own CIA-led torture regime starting in Afghanistan right after 9/11. Without charges or much evidence, potentially guilty men and many innocent ones were swept up in a dragnet, and about 100 died in our custody after brutal treatment such as being slammed against walls or being put in cramped, insect-infested boxes.
The summary of this will soon be released by the Senate Intelligence Committee and White House. Any bad apples in the CIA are probably experiencing schadenfreude at the spectacle of the journalist’s gruesome death. It deflects outrage over the CIA’s own inhumane treatment.
Let this bad behavior of ISIL stand out there for all the world to see. Then let international intelligence, police, diplomatic/financial and peacekeeping forces be the adults in the room to deal with it. That is, approach this as a criminal matter, which should have been done after 9/11. If we don’t have strong enough countervailing voices, we’re letting ourselves be corrupted by rather unilateral militarization.
On Wednesday (Aug. 27), we celebrate the Kellogg-Briand Pact (ratified by a number of nations, including our own in 1929), which illegalized war. St. Paul’s Frank Kellogg led the effort and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for it. We and President Obama should not be drawn into unending war, with its hardware-heavy, military contractor-enriching results.
Fooled once, let’s not be fooled again.
Diane Steen-Hinderlie, of St. Louis Park, is a co-founder of Tackling Torture at the Top, a committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM).
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