Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to avoid the same old mistakes in Iraq

As events in Iraq continue to intensify, the United States government is trying to determine the best way to respond in light of all of the lives and money that have already been sacrificed in trying to create a democratic government in that country.  In the U.S. News and World Report article shared here, Michael Shank and Yemi Melka of the Friends Committee on National Legislation address reasons why the U.S. should not use military force in this conflict.

Forget military strikes. The U.S. should address sectarian tension by promoting regional cooperation.
By Michael Shank and Yemi Melka
Published June 18, 2014

As fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL or ISIS, and bands of insurgent groups seize new cities and head south toward Baghdad, Iraq’s escalating humanitarian and security crisis necessitates a radical rethink in how the West handles this threat. If America wants to help the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families impacted by this violence, it must be willing and ready countenance a completely different foreign policy path forward.
Washington’s current proposal for a military strike will only increase the volatility of the situation and imperil the population on the ground even more. In the nearly 10 years of the most recent American warfare in Iraq, the strong military arm of the Defense Department failed to guarantee stability and security in the country. More of the same approach, then, will similarly fall short.
What must be considered, instead, is first an understanding of how the West failed Iraq and, secondly, how it can help remedy these failures. To be clear, this current uprising resulted, in part, from devastating sanctions followed by years of bombing and the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Whether it was the overlooked importance of political reconciliation, the lack of sustainability and accountability in Iraq’s security force training or missteps in recruiting regional cooperation, Iraq will continue to witness instability unless these points are addressed promptly.  Read more here...

Michael Shank    Michael Shank, Ph.D., is associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee
                        on National Legislation.

Yemi Melka Yemi Melka is a legislative intern with the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

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