ISIS, the media-hyped, primarily Sunni terrorist group, has won control over large areas in Iraq and Syria through fear, military might and horrific violence. ISIS seems unstoppable and is a threat to capture more territories in both countries, including in the Kurdish areas.
Ironically, much of the ISIS military strength comes from U.S. weapons it captured from the Iraqi military. Other ISIS weapons, many U.S.-made, were captured from other jihadist groups that are funded by radically conservative Arab regimes and some NATO states.
According to some U.S. corporate media, ISIS is uniquely brutal, has conducted massacres and beheaded people. Therefore the U.S. must act to prevent more crimes against humanity.
Somehow, it seems the corporate media manages to ignore massacres committed by the Iraqi military and Shiite militias, as well as beheadings routinely used by the Saudis. And of course, the media has seemingly ignored the horrific war crimes committed by the U.S. military against Iraqis in 1991 and during the U.S.-led attack and occupation of Iraq, beginning in 2003.
The media also seems to ignore U.S. decisions that turned Iraq from being a stable and secular society into a sectarian society with no governing infrastructure in place. These decisions, particularly harmful to Sunnis, played a role in creating ISIS. The violence and abuse of Sunnis by the Syrian and Iraqi leaders were two other important factors that led to the creation of ISIS, a group that claims to defend the Sunni population in both countries.
Unsurprisingly, the U.S. purportedly only considers violence to stop ISIS. However, we should look at how successful the use of violence has been recently before advocating the use of even more violence.
Western-supported violence, often without U.N. authorization, has been inflicted on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria. All four of these countries are devastated, the populations are suffering incredibly and their futures look terribly bleak.
Moreover, military intervention by the U.S. only plays into the hands of ISIS. Such intervention builds support for ISIS because it appears to help unite terrorist groups against the U.S, the common enemy.
Instead, the U.S. must end its addiction to violence. Negotiations involving key neighbors must begin immediately. Funding for all groups and the provision of more weapons and training must stop. Support for ISIS among Sunnis has already been undercut by ISIS actions, and the support will wane even more if political steps are taken to end abuse and provide justice for Sunnis in both Syria and Iraq.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.