Letter: America's muddied role in the Middle East

To the editor:

With its renewed threat to bomb Syrian government forces, I fear our government has finally gone too far. Unfortunately, the average American remains largely ignorant of the realities of the Middle East and the insanity of this country’s foreign policy in that region.

As someone who used to live and work in the Middle East, I feel qualified to comment on the situation. My first conclusion is that U.S. Mideast foreign policy is, at best, hypocritical. For example, Israel dropped phosphorus/chemical bombs on Palestinian civilians in July of 2014. Hundreds were killed. Where was American outrage then? Next, the Russians and Iranians were invited into Syria while we were not. To make matters worse, the U.S. is supporting “moderate” rebels there. But these “moderate” guerrillas would probably impose a harsh Muslim theocracy on the Christian and Shiite communities (25 percent of the Syrian population of Syria) if they win. Indeed, most Christian Syrians support Bashir Assad. However, the interests of Middle East Christians have never been a concern to our politicians.

Osama Bin Laden’s attack on New York City started the ball rolling in bringing about this mess. Interestingly, very few in this country know the main reason for the attack. Bin Laden did write an open letter to the American people explaining the reasons behind his actions. However, to my knowledge, not one single mainstream newspaper or magazine in this country ever printed that letter. Anyway, the big reason why the attacks occurred were mainly connected to this country’s longstanding support for Israel versus the Palestinians. Indeed, the abhorrent treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis is close to every Muslim heart, as I discovered when I resided in the Middle East.

We all know that the events of Sept. 11 ultimately led to the second Gulf War, which was the spark that started ISIS. ISIS is now nearly defeated inside Syria, thanks in no small part to the Russians and Iranians. So why are American forces still inside Syria? The answer seems to be that we are there to protect Israel’s interests, as Iran and Bashir Assad are no threat to the American people. Thus, it was no surprise that after President Trump announced he had decided to pull American forces out of Syria, he received a phone call from the prime minister of Israel urging Trump not to pull American forces out of Syria. This time, though, the stakes are much higher. Russia has military assets inside Syria that the U.S. has already bombed. Dozens of Russians died as a consequence. The Israelis have been provoking war by bombing both Iranian and Syrian military positions. Most worryingly, It would appear that Russia has had just about enough of American militarism and arrogance; they are finally prepared to retaliate the next time our military attacks Russian soldiers or her Syrian allies.

America is allied with Saudi Arabia, which is a dictatorship that propagates its hateful form of Islam all over the world in general and in Syria in particular. I want to know why the Saudi bombing of Houthi civilians in Yemen is acceptable to Washington, D.C., while alleged gas attacks in rebel-held areas by Syrian government forces in its own country are not. What’s the difference? Innocent people die in both cases. The point is this: Why does America look the other way when terrorism is committed by our so-called allies in the Middle East yet condemn it when non-allies do far less evil than said allies?

Inflaming the situation are evangelicals, who comprise roughly 30 percent of the population. For example, when I turn on the religious channels, invariably some evangelical leader seems giddy with delight over the prospect of war against the Syrian military and Iranian soldiers inside Syria. I suppose that is because American evangelicals tend to be Zionist and wish to see America fight for the interests of Israel.

Suffice it to say, this country’s politicians are continuing to make policies and decisions that are most definitely not in the interests of the majority of the American people.

C.M. Phillips


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