President Obama chose the tenth anniversary of the first US battle of Fallujah to announce he is almost doubling the US military deployment in Iraq, sending another 1,500 US soldiers back to the war, some of them right back to Fallujah’s Anbar province.
Apparently the White House has forgotten the lessons of that earlier bloody round of fighting. And President Obama has seemingly abandoned his own oft-repeated understanding: there is no military solution to ISIS and the crises facing Iraq and Syria. He was right – there was no military solution when George W. Bush sent hundreds of thousands of US troops to Iraq, and there is no military solution now.
The additional troop deployment and plans for new congressional authorization for war, plus the White House request to Congress for $5.6 billion more of our tax money to pay for it, on top of the $60 billion previously requested for continuing US wars, all mean we are already sliding fast down the slippery slope of escalation of another failing US war.
More troops are not going to solve the problem. US troops there will mean more violence for Iraqis and Syrians, and they will not make us any safer here at home. We need intensive US investment in diplomatic efforts to deal with the ISIS crisis and to end the Syrian civil war, particularly with Iran and Russia. We need a ceasefire on all sides in Syria and the ISIS crisis, not more troops and more weapons that will only cause more violence. We need US support for new UN negotiations, and US encouragement of local and potentially expanding ceasefires as urged by key representatives of all sides in Syria. We need billions of dollars to increase humanitarian assistance to the millions of refugees from Syria and Iraq.
We don’t need another war.
Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, where she directs the New Internationalism Project. Her books include Before & After: US Foreign Policy and the War on Terror, and Ending the Iraq War: A Primer.