What’s worse than having American soldiers die for one side of an Islamic civil war? My answer: having them murdered by the one faction of the war we are supposed to be protecting from the other.
We celebrated Veterans Day over the weekend. Our politicians offered lip service to the sacrifices of America’s all-volunteer military. Millions of our countrymen have signed up since 9/11 to fight and die in our war against terror. But our elected leaders’ kind words are pathetic — even disgraceful — if they choose to leave our soldiers in the vipers’ nests of Islamic jihad.
After two fruitless decades, 4,000 of America’s finest remain in Iraq and Syria. In just the past few weeks, our bases have faced dozens of attacks from Iranian-backed Shiite militias. At least 56 of our soldiers have been injured. Some of those injuries were worse than first reported.
Has Iran paid any price for these attacks? Not yet. Given Joe Biden’s willingness to appease Iran, maybe Tehran will suffer no consequences at all. The more fundamental question, however, is: Why are we leaving our soldiers exposed on small bases, aimlessly protecting Shiites from Sunni aggressors, when Shiite militias with ties to Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps attack our troops?
We spend nearly $1 trillion a year on defense, more than any other country in the world. Our military does well when we deter our enemies with the threat of overwhelming power and leave them to sort out their own internal affairs. We fail miserably when we engage in protracted “police actions” of Islamic civil wars in countries that mean nothing to us. Our painful endeavors abroad have merely served to enrich our adversaries, notably Iran.
In the middle of the last decade, Sunni insurgent groups tied to both al-Qaeda and ISIS took over large swaths of Iraq and Syria. At bottom, the insurgency was Iran’s problem, not ours. Even if one believed we had an interest in protecting the Iraqi Kurds, we should have stopped after achieving that goal. By far, Iran and its proxies pose a greater global threat to us than any Sunni group or country. Yet rather than making them bleed, we served as the Shiite air force for free.
Well, actually not for free.
While we were protecting them from ISIS, Shiite militias backed by the IRGC, such as the Hezbollah Brigades, Asaib Ahl-al Haq, Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, took intermittent potshots at our bases — not unlike what Iranian-backed Shiites did during the previous decade by planting IEDs all over Iraq. Throughout the war in Iraq, even as we were fighting to hand Iraq over to Iranian proxies, the insurgents made us bleed and die for their cause.
As a result, the balance of power in the Middle East has swung toward Iran and the Shiite axis in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. It imperils Israel and strengthens Iran’s ability to attack our assets in the Persian Gulf and fund Hezbollah’s network in our own hemisphere.
We shouldn’t be protecting Shiites from Sunnis. In fact, now would be a great time for them to be confronted with some Sunni jihadis without our guys bailing them out. Let Allah sort out the Sunni-Shia civil wars while we protect our own border.
This entire cycle of our stupidity in the Middle East is also sabotaging Israel’s fight against Hezbollah and Hamas. Not only have we cleared a lane for the Iranians to operate from Tehran right up to the Mediterranean Sea — including, of course, the Syrian Golan and the Israeli-Lebanese border — but the presence of our military itself hampers Israel’s efforts.
One of the reasons for the constant U.S. restraining of Israel’s military, aside from the obvious ideological ones, is that we are worried about inflaming “the Arab street” in places like Iraq where we have our troops precariously and irresponsibly spread around the country. We shouldn’t be there for a multitude of reasons. Those soldiers would be better off on the southern U.S. border, where a bona fide invasion is under way. By pulling our troops out of the Middle East, we would be putting America first and helping Israel.
Besides, ask any American soldier: Would they rather die for the Shiites at the hands of the Shiites or fight for our own border and protect their own neighbors and families from fentanyl poisoning, human trafficking, and an untold number of terrorists entering the country hidden among the flood of people entering the country every single day?
Our national interest doesn’t involve civil wars in the Middle East. Our national interest means protecting our people at home.