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Opinion: Our leaders would make fewer mistakes if they knew cultures, histories of other countries
Trump Iran
President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House on the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Washington, as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others look on. - photo by Associated Press

The assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani has united Iranians in their hatred of the United States. Their government has taken revenge and has resumed its nuclear program. 

And President Trump has further inflamed the Iranians by threatening to destroy their cultural sites, which is defined by the Geneva Convention and the United Nations as a war crime.

Some of our other government leaders have demonstrated ignorance of the different cultures of the Middle East. During a planning session for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush overheard his staff discussing Sunni and Shia factions and reportedly said, “Oh, I thought they were all Muslims.”

On the other hand, W’s father, President George H.W. Bush, did understand the different factions in Iraq. In 1990, the U.S. led a U.N. coalition to remove the Iraqi Army from its occupation of Kuwait. After that successful operation, the president was asked why he didn’t go all the way to Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein from power. He answered that it was easier to get to Baghdad than to get out. He realized that the U.S. would be caught in a religious/political quagmire.

If our government leaders knew more about the cultures and histories of other countries, perhaps we would not see as many serious mistakes dealing with other countries. 

Michael L. Drake


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