Opinion War & Peace

Don’t Stare at The Sun

There is a truly disturbing reality for citizens of the Middle East nations. The most powerful militaries and wealthiest nations, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, manage to keep relative peace, much like we enjoy in the United States, but in Iraq, Syria, and Gaza (to name only a few) life is constantly threatened by factional infighting and western forces.

There is no doubt that Americans kill more Americans than al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined, including local peace officers who might even kill more Americans than they save, and judges might even incarcerate and send to death more Americans than they rehabilitate. When we look at the issues of the Middle East, we should treat it like we are there: don’t stare at the sun. Perhaps then we might not be so blind to our own problems.

President Barack Obama’s foreign policy approval rating has reached a dismal low of less than 40%. I am brainstorming ways to measure the idiocracy factor of contemporary America. I would bet that Americans don’t know squat about international affairs and merely look at the brightest most obvious thing in the sky to blame for everything, like some trivial-minded, uncultured caveman.

How do you quantify the result of endless self-absorption through social media, streaming media of all kinds, the collapse of reliability from television news, ultra-polarizing political bandwagons, and misleading partisan nonsense transferred direct to the American psyche through television and radio commercials thanks to the massive build-up of campaign funding since 2010?

I am offended by comments made by a swath of politicians and most glaringly, Hilary Clinton who was Secretary of State during the time that Syria entered civil war. She believes that ISIS aka ISIL aka “Islamic State” grew from a vacuum, advancing in to Iraq this year, causing the emergency recently announced by United Nations. She wants to take advantage of the low approval rating and whip the horse’s eyes so that it may lead her in to the oval office somehow.

Had she been President, she would have joined General Petreaus in a plan to arm Syrian rebels, with the belief that a “moderate” faction existed that could have prevented an ISIS infiltration while toppling President Bashar al-Assad. Obama allegedly called that point of view “horseshit”. He is backed by Middle-East Correspondent, Patrick Coburn, agreeing that arming rebels meant arming ISIS. It is a bad situation.

Economist Cover "Hit Him Hard"
Assad Cover Story, August 2013

As that was happening, numerous media organizations and politicians on both sides of the aisle were calling for air strikes with options for ground deployment against Assad, especially when reports of chemical weapons attacks on civilians implicated Assad. I reported in a criticism on protests that chemical weapons discovered in Syria did not implicate Syrian forces at all and in fact looked more like a Turkey false flag operation to force Obama over┬ásome “red line” that he whimsically drew against Assad based upon international law. Turkey, like many nations, have a stake in the result of the Syrian civil war.

At this time, I applaud Clinton’s successor in the office of Secretary of State, John Kerry for stumbling upon the way out of Syria. He managed to avoid the hawkish calls for air strikes if not boots on the ground by accepting a Russian plan for the chemical weapons disarmament of Syria.

John McCain took a disturbingly active role in stoking the fires, undermining the President’s foreign policy in a way that I can only view as playing president in a fit of cantankerous delusion. He went through the trouble of covertly traveling to Syria for photo-ops with rebels and consistently denied that radical Islamists were leading the rebel front there. He never discussed any scenario of Islamist factions gaining control of American weapons to use them in Iraq. But my gut tells me he knew better.

John McCain standing with Syria rebels
John McCain (center) photographed with Syrian militants.

Obama’s policy: aiding militants aids in terrorism. “Geopolitical prudence” is an interesting idea worth developing; this notion that America does not involve itself everywhere, all the time, perhaps we can have more beneficial relationships with everyone, all the time. Does Obama’s policy actually make it all the way down the line? I doubt it. CIA has always undermined executive authority and that is why Kennedy wanted ultimately to dismantle it. Hence his death.

Obama hedged his bets and when I learned that ISIS was encroaching Iraq and turned out to be the face behind Syria’s rebels, it dawned on me that Bush’s shit hit the fan while Obama’s foreign policy was being vindicated. Now the beleaguered Nobel Peace Prize winner is actually confronted with blow back from the growth of ISIS and the disintegrating Iraq democracy that we forcefully propped up and he has to do something quickly, something with force.

American special forces have been deployed to assist with territory-recovery missions; air strikes have been launched against ISIS targets. Obama today declared the humanitarian mission accomplished, and Kurdish forces are being overtly armed. These are specific strategies that you can see were at-the-ready under Obama’s policy and a sign that he weighs options before acting. Some call it malaise, some call it prudence.

Obama’s cards have been terrible. It is highly questionable the extent to which he has altered the events of the Middle East. I would suggest that secret CIA programs stoking the Arab Spring were out of his executive authority yet it was up to him to work it out. Senator Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq invasion, producing the very specific conditions for an ISIS uprising. Horizon Times presented archival audio from Daniel Sheehan and the Christic Institute, with revelations of blow back from Bush covert operations. If you really consider it, the 22 year old lecture tells you almost everything you need to know to approach current events in Iraq and to trace back history to Kennedy.

I would suggest that the diplomacy I witness from John Kerry is an improvement from Clinton and that a Clinton Presidency would reiterate the same mindless policies that account for the fixed cards that our President has been dealt. One more suggestion, to rebuke The Economist’s hard line position against Assad: if Obama had listened to them, he would not only have fought that war but the last one as well.

Economist Cover - Fight this War
Obama Cover Story, September 2013

Palestine is an Orwellian crisis that has taken more news in the last month than Syria. The territory in Gaza is disputed and is not recognized as a nation despite decades of recognition that there is a people deserving of it. It is also governed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) whom are positioned to be the first democratically elected officials of a new state. Last week, I provided satire to illustrate what Israel wants news reporting to look like, but now I want to express my viewpoint more directly.

The demands of Hamas are necessary as they are the de facto military wing of PLO. Their Iran-backed arsenal of M-75 rockets aimed at Israel, unsupported by proper satellite coordinates are no match for Israel’s US backed Iron Dome and armed aircraft. Their demands are little more than an attempt to regain the agreements of the Oslo I Accord, September 13th, 1993. I recall during this time as an 11-year old boy the common phrase “Peace in the Middle East.” It was said so casually following the word “peace” that it prompted common misconception that improvements were happening there. Perhaps for a moment there was hope, on the other hand.

During the Bush years, violence escalated against Palestine. There was not a year of peace, even as Israeli deaths declined. The Obama years prove a foreign policy of engagement and lawful defense has worked to reduce conflicts. The Iron Dome was an Obama backed program to throw all support behind lawful defense systems while engaging with peace talks for a long-term two state solution per the Oslo agreement. I was not paying a great deal of attention to peace talks during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary, but we see how things blew up during her final year.

vp-violence-timeline-2012-11-23_0 IsraelGraph

Peace talks mediated by John Kerry fell apart before the most recent war launched in July. He threw his hands in the air, stating that neither side would budge. It has been suggested that Kerry himself was requiring a specific means of negotiation to hard line concessions and perhaps Kerry collapsed peace talks because of it. I would understand if his purpose was to force the end of quagmires, after all, he is trying to advance a twenty-year old agreement.

In truth, there is no certainty about most of this. We are talking about a lot of private conversations and secretly held beliefs that world leaders hold in their hand as they play the great card game of geopolitics. At least ISIS is quite out in the open with their hardcore worldview. I am personally horrified by their belief system. But Palestine is not that. These are people whom are born in to something out of their control and seek to live a moderate life. It is Orwellian because there are generations who know only war and propaganda, including the citizens of Israel.

While more than 2,000 Palestinians (mostly civilians) have been killed since 2012 in a 20:1 ratio (at best) against Israeli deaths (mostly soldiers), Syria has witnessed at least 120,000 deaths total since 2011, including an even more outrageous ratio of civilians to militants killed. There are 9 million refugees whom have fled from their homes there and most likely have nothing to return to other than citizenship. ISIS successfully gained a contiguous territory stretching from there to Iraq, drawing serious questions about the current map, whether or not it will ever look the same as it did entering the 21st Century.

There is no doubt that Bashar al-Assad is a democratically elected dictator with little regard for human life outside of his own ethnic lines. There is also no doubt that he is fighting the very same enemies that Bush supposedly waged war against: al-Qaeda and its renounced offshoot, ISIS. Assad will kill until he has all of Syria under control again. Iran and Russia will back him.

ISIS will kill until they have the world following their brand of Sharia-Law and not even Saudi Arabia or Iran will back them. Nobody will back them other than private funders. But they are doing quite well seizing oil fields, banks, and controlling commerce with the weaponry they obtain through forceful means.

I believe that ISIS is even more horrendous than Assad and certainly more backwards, resurrecting the medieval style caliphate. Vice News has produced a documentary series that I would have to call real journalism. I want to know what the folks are saying and doing in the areas being written about, not press release journalism like Huffington Post, BBC, NPR, CNN, NBC, Fox, CBS, Yahoo, etc.

But it is also true that Obama inherited the war against al-Qaeda and its offshoots in the same way that the CEO of a bank, like JPMorgan purchasing toxic assets, inherits those troubles. So his primary goal has been to deescalate problems and strategically end the wars to eliminate legal obligations with any kind of war before the next president takes office. World affairs don’t actually sway for the campaign promises of any politician, no matter how powerful.

The reason that I voted for Barack Obama is displayed within my argument: we would be throwing fuel on the fire were McCain elected. We would be sticking our necks out with Clinton. By now with Romney, there would be boots on the ground and I wouldn’t have health care. If you look too much at one person for change, you will miss it all around you. If you ignore the war of ideology taking place everywhere in the world right now, you miss the message that Obama fights against.

Even when I do not like it, I typically see the explanation to the middle ground I find Obama taking time and again. I have stopped looking at him for all the changes I want to see and for that reason I am not blaming him for what is going on. I take responsibility where I can and I believe he does too.

Sean Ongley

By Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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