The horrific attacks in Paris last week are only the latest acts in ongoing conflicts that can be traced back to U.S. and Pakistani support for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. The U.S. and Pakistan trained and armed extremist Islamic (Wahhabi) fighters to oppose an expected USSR intervention in Afghanistan.
In a 1998 French magazine interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the following question was posed:
"And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?"
Brzezinski responded: "What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"
Since then, these "agitated Moslems" (al-Qaida) used violence in response to: 1) military forces in Saudi Arabia; 2) brutal and inhumane sanctions against Iraq; and 3) support for Israel's illegal and violent occupation of Palestine.
After the 9/11 attack in New York City in 2001, U.S.-led forces attacked Afghanistan where al-Qaida had its headquarters. This attack removed the Taliban from power and temporarily weakened al-Qaida. However, the Afghanis have paid the price — 14 additional years of war and hardship with no end in sight to their deaths and suffering.
In 2003 the U.S. launched an illegal and horrific attack on Iraq that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 700,000 Iraqis and devastated the country. The U.S. used a divide-and-conquer strategy, pitting Sunnis against Shias and set the stage for the creation of ISIS, a force that claims is protecting Sunnis from brutality by the Shias.
Since then, the West has played a major role in the devastation of Libya and Syria, with the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of millions.
There has been little outrage expressed by the "civilized" nations about Western war crimes and the incredible suffering these crimes have caused.
It is almost as if the lives of non-Westerners don't matter.
Is it surprising there has been blowback to Western violence and war crimes? Can't we finally learn something from this recent history? Violence doesn't work and only begets more violence. It is well past time to try diplomacy as a way of stopping the crimes by the West, by Assad in Syria, by ISIS and other radical Islamic forces, and by Israel.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.