If only the rest of us had Patinkin’s courage, sympathy amd humanity. Listening to the crowd’s roars of approval as he speaks you get the impression that it’s a message that goes far further than mere resonance–it’s something they’re desperate to hear: Let’s have a shred of decency, of humanity, let’s stop bankrupting the country and killing millions of innocent people abroad. He says that US wars have been counterproductive, that the Muslim world is full of young men and women looking for a future of hope and opportunity, and that the 4-6 trillion USD that has been spent on war since 2001 would have been better spent on building schools, homes, hospitals and development.
He’s right. US foreign policy in the region has been the mother of all failures, a litany of folly and tragedy:
Operation Iraqi Liberation: a massive war crime that probably killed around 1 million people.
The Oil for Food program. Meant to incentivize the Iraqi population to overthrow Saddam Hussein–a dictator the CIA put into power in the first place–what it actually managed to do was kill 500,000 Iraqi children. It’s chief administrator, Dennis Halliday, was so disgusted with the human toll he resigned in protest calling the sanctions “genocidal.”
NATO’s bombing campaign against Libya. A cynical regime change operation that turned Libya from Africa’s wealthiest democracy into a terrorist playground. Prior to the US-led bombing, Libya had the highest Human Development Index, the lowest infant mortality and the highest life expectancy in all of Africa. Where once people enjoyed free universal healthcare, schooling and a direct democracy that allowed citizens to override Gaddafi’s own policies, we now have a cauldron of despair. A failed state divided into two. ISIS runs training camps all over the south of the country; torture, human trafficking and murder are rampant, and all of Libya’s neighbors have closed their borders in response.
Western support of extremists to overthrow Assad. As with our support of Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban to counter Russia in Afghanistan, the Pentagon reports that Western governments supported Al Queda and a whole grotesque horde of extremists to get rid of Assad. And what did that odious alliance get us? Hundreds of thousands of innocents dead, a massive refugee crisis, an entire region lurching towards an outright sectarian war.
The so-called “War on Terror.” Somewhere over 1.3 million people killed and rather than a decrease in terrorism, the opposite. The drone strikes have been condemned by the very people we ask to execute them. In a recent letter to US President Barack Obama, a group of drone pilots write:“This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world,”
A damning indictment the media simply doesn’t report. The saddest part? These outcomes were one and all entirely predictable. Would we love a country that levelled our homes, assassinated our innocent friends and relatives and literally bombed our countries back to the stone age or would we swear revenge? We’re not hated over there because of our “freedom,” we’re hated because we’ve been ruining the entire region for decades.
From the CIA overthrow of Iran’s first democratically elected President, to the support of Saddam Hussein as he attacked Iran with chemical weapons, to the US invasion of Afghanistan and everything listed above, US foreign policy has been nothing but a blood-soaked, democracy-killing debacle.