If you believe it is your duty to protect people from their enemies, the only way to do it is to go stand by them. Dropping bombs from the air in the hope you will hit some of their enemies will not do the job. You’ll kill bystanders and create more enemies for yourself and them; you’ll very likely kill some of the people you’re trying to protect.
Some of us Americans are concerned about the fate of Christians and other minorities in Iraq, currently under attack by the fanatical Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists. But our concern does not reach the level of being willing to send Americans to fight the ISIS in person. So it is tempting to many people, myself included, to think we can accomplish the same purpose, without risk, by dropping bombs instead.
But giving in to that temptation would be a big mistake.
- The ISIS is a fanatic Sunni movement in rebellion against the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq and the non-Sunni government of Syria. The only way to defeat ISIS is to separate it from the Sunni population of those two countries. Bombing will kill Sunni bystanders, solidify Sunni support for ISIS and bring ISIS closer to Al Qaeda.
- Intensive bombing of Fallujah and other parts of Iraq during the U.S. occupation never brought about any decisive victory. Iraq in fact has an air force if it wants to use it. There is no reason to think that an American bombing campaign will change anything.
- Persecution of Christians and other minorities has been going on a long time. More than half of Iraq’s Christians were killed or driven into exile during the American occupation. Bombing ISIS will not bring them back or end persecution.
- Once the initial small-scale bombing campaign fails, past history indicates the government will escalate U.S. military intervention rather than admit failure.
I admire the people of Kurdistan. They are willing to fight for their own freedom and to allow people of other religions (they’re mostly Sunni Muslims) and heritages to live in peace. I want the U.S. government to make sure they get all they need to defend themselves. But I don’t want to make their war an American war.