Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
For decades now, the U.S. has continued to entrench its unnecessary presence in the Middle East. And throughout this time, various reasons have been presented as to why the U.S. must remain there. More recently, with the rise of the Islamic State group, we have been led to believe the solution is our deeper involvement in and monitoring of this region. We have increased drone strikes as we shifted away from sending more troops. However, as a Syrian who understands the region well, I believe there is no policy more disastrous than one that increases U.S. involvement in that area. The only solution lies in this country's ability to accept a full withdrawal from the Middle East.
While a full withdrawal appears deceptively simple, it is in fact a very complicated political process. The past several elections have focused on supposed threats from the Middle East, and the candidates' methods of responding to them. To declare a full withdrawal would mean reversing the common rhetoric that emphasizes the importance of a U.S. presence in the region. We're told that without the United States' aggressive monitoring and fighting of terrorists in the Middle East, our country would be all the more vulnerable to an increased number of threats and dangers. We've been led to believe our country is rooted in that region for our own protection, when various evidence has proven otherwise.
Here are seven reasons why America must withdraw from the Middle East:
1. Our presence extends the practice of colonization: America, along with many European countries, has a long history of colonizing land for the economic benefit of its empire. However, as Americans become increasingly critical of past instances of colonization and the lasting implications they have had, we must remain keen to present occurrences of similar behavior. We must not dismiss acknowledging America's wrongful presence in the region merely because it rests under ambiguous titles such as "American values," "invasion" and "expanding democracy."
2. Military involvement breeds the very thing it claims to eliminate: In killing one suspected terrorist, we give rise to multiple others in his place. Each person killed in a military strike has family and friends who are now motivated to join local militant groups for reasons akin with revenge, not ideology. Making matters worse, air strikes can be imprecise, killing civilians in addition to their intended targets. Drone strikes in Yemen, for instance, have "fostered anti-American sentiment in the tribal regions of the country and encouraged friends and family of civilians killed to join various militant networks," as described in Michael J. Boyle's The Costs and Consequence of Drone Warfare.
Additionally, the rise of the Islamic State group provides the greatest testimony against our further involvement in the region, although it is used as an excuse for the contrary. The "bloody Islamic State" is the very product of "the chaos created by our own earlier decisions to invade Iraq." In liberally carrying out strikes against countries in the Middle East, we are inciting revenge and hatred, a lethal combination.
3. Our concentration on that region assigns terrorism a particular nationality: A limited perception of what constitutes terrorism is evident in this country's targets for drone and military strikes. The U.S. heavily targets Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. By concentrating our military efforts on these regions, we are disproportionately focusing on Muslims in our "war on terror" while dismissing the presence of non-Muslim terrorists.
4. It wreaks havoc on those countries: In our ongoing military occupation and intervention in this region, we are destabilizing much of the area and debilitating the efforts of local governments to maintain peace and order in their countries. It is under these chaotic conditions that terrorist organizations thrive. In addition, when the infrastructure and economy is weakened because of military intervention, poverty rises. It is often this poverty, and not radical ideas of religion, that urges many young men to join such terrorist networks as the Islamic State group, who pays them.
5. It undermines the authority of domestic governments: For instance, within Pakistan, where campaigns against drones are made popular by politicians, the legitimacy of the government is severely tarnished when such strikes continue to occur without its consent. Since the government has openly protested drone strikes within the country, it consequently appears weak and incompetent. It becomes very hard for such countries to carry out proper governance with constant reminders of a foreign power dismissing their authority.
6. It disrupts local efforts against terrorism: Such strikes multiply the enemies of local governments, even if they are carried out by a foreign power. This increase has aided local militant efforts in gathering recruits, which pose a great danger not to the U.S. but to the "government[s] of the countr[ies] where the strikes take place." Additionally, such military intrusion cripples local efforts to conduct peace talks with terrorist groups. In Pakistan, for instance, drone strikes have harmed government efforts to conduct peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban.
7. It further marginalizes so-called "third world countries" by rendering their sovereignty easily disruptable: The U.S. illegally carries out strikes against countries it has not declared war against, such as Syria. It normalizes the idea that boundaries are arbitrary lines that are easily dismissed when it lies in the interest of a particular country. Additionally, countries targeted by our military and drones often already lie on the margins of global power, and are consequently subjected to various decisions of countries with greater say in global affairs. Intruding upon these countries with our military further decreases international respect for their sovereignty and independence.
Aiyah Sibay is a senior English major. She can be reached at AK_Sibay@hotmail.com.