Thursday, September 11, 2014

Frustration and Humility

Today is the 13th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, and the U.S. is ramping up another war in the Mideast.  I cannot be anything but frustrated about this.  ISIS is not a threat to the US homeland, but is a threat to the region. American involvement in the region is double-edged sword as it can be a recruiting tool for extremists but can also disrupt the extremely violent actors that are doing much harm.  I wrote a piece for today's Globe and Mail that basically laid out how complicated this new war is, as it might mean working with Assad and Iran. 

So far, the post 9-11 wars have started well and ended without satisfying outcomes.  Afghanistan is still facing a political crisis as the politicians refuse to share power.  The surge + Awakening worked in Iraq to reduce the violence, giving the politicians space to come to an agreement, but instead the Shia-dominated government betrayed the Sunnis.  Which means that Obama's strategy might just be a bit doomed since it counts on a more "inclusive" Iraqi government.  Power-sharing does work in many parts of the world, but Afghanistan and Iraq seem to be infertile for such grow-ops. 

Obama cited Yemen and Somalia as positive examples, which they may be.  But they do not fill us full of hope.  The strategy he laid means relying heavily on local actors.  This makes sense because the fight is really at the local level.  But if we remember, 9/11 was a largely Saudi affair, and Osama Bin Laden got to hang out in Pakistan for years, so excuse me if I do not have high hopes for what our local friends bring to the table. 

So, on this 9/11, I am sadder than perhaps I was on any previous anniversary.  Because we have sacrificed so many lives--American, Canadian, European, Iraqi, Afghan, etc.--and it is not clear what we have to show for it besides a dead Bin Laden. 

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