With the recent news of the United States pulling out of Syria and reducing forces in Afghanistan, it seemed as if everyone would be happy that troops were finally coming home. The U.S.A, for the first time in forever, actually putting an end to military action in the Middle East and choosing to step down a bit in their role as the world police they’ve come to embody seemingly came out of nowhere. Hawkish Republicans and those with close relations to defense contractors may have their reasons to oppose the decision, but in general it was a move that should have pleased us all as a move towards peace.
Instead, partisanship reared it’s ugly head again and we were presented with the subject of today’s bad arguments: what about Russia? The argument goes that we cannot leave the situation in the middle east to other countries, especially Russia. The (unsubstantiated) fear that walking away from Syria means Russia will gain control over the oil supply alongside Iran, and that ISIS will begin to regrow seems to be the core of their concerns. The region will continue to destablize unless America continues to stay and fight.
Let’s dissect this one. The first issue with this argument is the whataboutism of it. The notion that ISIS will magically rebuild to new heights despite other countries remaining in the area lands on the side of arrogance. While there definitely is a risk in minor resurgance, it borders on insulting towards the allies that have been involved to claim that they cannot handle what is left. It’s a clear case of appeal to probability, and it’s one that sets rather poor metrics for the foundations of it’s odds. The worry that the region will be destablized with the withdrawal simultaniously lays the claim that our allies cannot handle things and that Russia isn’t as powerful as we’re suppose to think. If Russia having power in the region is as terrifying as we are being led to believe then that would assume they have the power to stablize things as well as we could. Either they’ll do the trick and that’s the issue, or they won’t and that’s the issue: pick one.
The next issue here is the priorities they are setting with Russia. In simple terms, which is more valuable: the lives of the civilians and our troops, or the oil and further political manipulation in the region? The answer should be clear regardless of the imagined negatives that might come from it. Which is more just: us actively participating in the slaughter, or leaving them to their own devices? While there is an argument to be made for participation under the guise that we can reduce overall death through our actions, that simply leads back to the lack of trust in our allies’ capabilities.
The worst aspect in my eyes though is the hypocrisy. The bulk of the people I’ve encountered making these arguments about Russia and ISIS in Syria, demanding that we stay, are the same that opposed Bush Jr going into the Middle East the first place. “We can’t let Russia get the oil!” I thought they stood for the value of life over economics hence their attacks on capitalism? “Russia will gain power in the region!” I thought they opposed America being the world police? “The region will destabilize!” Weren’t they aghast at the notion of a foreign power interferring with the politics of other countries? “This could impact our national security!” Yes, it would be terribly if a foreign power suddenly started bombing us and interferring with…oh right.
America, as far as the world stage is concerned, has acted with the heavy air of “do as I say, not as I do” ever since the cold war. Hypocrisy and hyperbole are one thing if we’re politicking domestically. When that same double-think starts costing the lives of people otherwise unrelated to us we should know it’s time to stop.
You can read more from Killian Hobbs on Think Liberty here.