Actions in Iraq may have negative consequences


The Appalachian Online

Kevin Griffin

Once again the United States is taking military action in Iraq, and once again Americans are afraid of a violent, extremist terrorist organization.

It is easy to see why Americans would be fearful: the swift conquest of Iraqi territory by ISIS, the brutality with which the organization operates and the public beheadings of two American citizens in the past few weeks.

However, if the last 13 years of war against terrorism have taught us anything, it should be to resist fear and hysteria so that we can deal with the problems that face us in a smart, effective way.

ISIS does not currently present an immediate threat to the United States itself. The U.S. intelligence community, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and even President Obama himself have all made this clear, according to The New York Times.

While we should certainly monitor ISIS to gauge the actual threat it does pose, we cannot afford to get caught up in the hysteria that has characterized the post-9/11 world.

During the lead up to the Iraq War, the frightening rhetoric of the Bush administration convinced people that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and connections with al-Qaida.

Of course, these claims turned out to be untrue. Americans should not be so easily convinced this time around.

Careful consideration of the situation facing us is because of the unintended consequences that can occur through interference in situations as complex and difficult as Iraq.

Though it may seem that the current situation in Iraq and Syria is the worst possible, news reports suggest that there may be other problems that could arise.

The tensions between Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds in Iraq have only been exacerbated by the current situation. Increasingly, Sunnis are being threatened, in some cases even having their homes burned by Shi’ite militias, according to Reuters.
U.S. support for the Shi’ite and Kurdish groups could certainly encourage Sunnis to ally themselves with ISIS as a means of protecting themselves.

The potential negative consequences of action are enormous. Above all, the U.S. must stop doing what it has done for too long: arrogantly assume that we can manage the internal affairs of Iraq.

Trying to resolve the complex interrelationships and intractable animosities among the factions in Iraq is an impossible task for the United States.

What we must do is be aware of our interests, and act to defend them as much as we can without creating an equally bad, or potentially worse situation.

Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.