The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to produce stable democracies. Both nations are less stable and the common people there arguably worse off now than before our interventions. Americans are rightfully angry about the monetary, physical and emotional costs of these wars especially considering the outcomes.
With all this in mind it is no wonder most Americans do not want to intervene in Syria.
History repeats itself. After World War I, the American people were war-weary and cynical of politicians who insisted that intervening in the wars of Europe would bring about peace. Because of that cynicism, the U.S. sat on the sidelines early in World War II while the armies of fascism butchered the continent.
If we had it to do over again. I think we would have stopped Hitler at the start. Those who oppose all war would have at least removed immigration caps for refugees seeking to escape the tyrants of Europe. We shouldn’t let our fear of another useless war stand in the way of saving lives.
We can also learn from the aftermath of Russia’s war in Afghanistan. We spent many billions supplying the Afghan insurgents who fought the Russians. After that war the nation was destroyed, with many living as refugees in Pakistan.
Afghanistan became a nation of emotionally vulnerable children raised by traumatized parents without hope for a better future. We had the opportunity to rebuild that nation and create an ally. Instead we sent about $200 million after the war and called it a day.
We had money for war but not money for peace. Afghanistan fell into civil war and Pakistan continued receiving refugees.
Pakistan, despite being a poor nation, continued up until recently allowing Afghan refugees in. It didn’t have the resources to educate and care for these refugees and now is paying a price for its kindness. Today 90 percent of terrorist attacks in Pakistan are linked to Afghan refugees.
When children grow up traumatized and deprived of basic needs they tend to be driven to hurt themselves or hurt others, or avoid reality through substance abuse. They have difficulty delaying gratification and forming the type of trust necessary to build a stable home, which can create generations of dysfunction.
In an anarchic Middle Eastern refugee camp who do you think will recruit them? Who do you think they will seek to hurt?
The effects of war are hard to overcome. Sweden opens its borders to refugees and has a very large social safety net, yet it recently had riots in neighborhoods populated mainly by war refugees and their children. Since wealthy Sweden is having such difficulty helping large groups of people heal from their war wounds, is it any surprise that impoverished Pakistan has lost control of a border region due to a large wave of refugees?
There are millions of Syrian refugees, and 1 in 4 people in Lebanon is a refugee. They need peace and support. Military action isn’t the only answer.
I think it sad that we pledge as one nation under God, the Prince of Peace, yet when it comes to dealing with our enemies, our first thought is bombing something. We spend more money on military bands than the Peace Corps.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let us stop the creation of new terrorists before it starts. Let’s build refugee centers there to make sure these people get the food, clothing and education they need to rebuild their nation.
We are still fighting a war in Afghanistan; let’s help Pakistan with its refugee crisis. How long can we sit in our air-conditioned homes and debate to bomb or not to bomb?
We are all one family, the human family. Let us show our love for our brothers and as a nation feed, educate and give shelter to these refugees. It may not bring peace to the region but it’ll make friends out of potential enemies.
Brandon Givens is a Hall County resident and occasional columnist.