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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    U.S. government is arrogant with ISIS

    American attitudes and policy during the early Cold War era were perfectly demonstrated by the frequent use of the phrase: “the loss of China.” It was a term used to bestow blame upon those in the U.S. government deemed responsible for the ousting of the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek by the Communists of Mao Zedong. The blame was readily placed on the intelligence officers from the Office of Strategic Services, which had worked with the Communists to defeat the Japanese in World War II. The phrase is imprinted onto our national psyche, and the question of who to blame is still debated in history classes all over the country.

    But Americans should spend less time worrying about the answer to the question, and more time contemplating whether the question itself is valid.

    In truth, China was never ours to lose in the first place. The world does not belong to America and the sooner we accept this, the better off we’ll be. We need to realize that the U.S. and its leaders cannot, logically, control and manipulate events in countries and regions on the far side of the world. We have been so well-conditioned to believe this that the average person, pundit or scholar becomes almost hysterical when they see events unfolding around the world that our government, diplomats and military are powerless to control.

    Americans quickly look for someone to blame for the current debacle. They look to place historical responsibility on those in the past who may indeed have made mistakes, but who could not have known the future and never wielded the absolute power we imagined they had.

    Roger Cohen’s op-ed in The New York Times at the end of August is a perfect example of this mentality. He places historical responsibility on the U.S. and its leaders for the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Cohen goes through a long list of missteps made by the U.S. and President Obama, which paved the way for the rise of the IS. While certainly the U.S. has made mistakes, this belief that the people and governments in the region bear no responsibility for their own actions is bordering on ridiculous, and it infantilizes the local people. This patronizing attitude says, “You are so insignificant, the only actions that matter are those of a government and a president halfway around the world.”

    This belief that we can control others and should be able to dictate events on the ground with such detail is a special form of narcissism not even displayed by the European colonial powers of the 19th century. They were content with tactics of divide and rule; our tactic seems to simply be: rule.
    As this is being written, Kurdish guerrillas, the Iraqi military and Shi’a militias are attempting to push back the advance of the IS through Iraq with the help of American air power. Intelligence is being gathered by surveillance drones in preparation for air strikes on the IS within Syria. Whether our allies on the ground are capable and equipped to carry out the task of eliminating IS is not known. Whether air power alone will be enough is also unknown.

    But let us look at history — even at the peak of American power at the end of World War II, the “loss of China” could not be averted. We shouldn’t fool ourselves; the road against IS is full of calamity and uncertainty and the possibility of failure is very real. And that’s not necessarily anyone’s fault.

    —Abe Jimenez is a Middle Eastern & North African Studies graduate student. Follow him @A_Ximenez

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