It is time that we learn that actions have consequences, and the mother of all bombs may have the mother of all consequences.
After the election of President Donald Trump, many Americans worried about the state of the world, militarily speaking. Muslims were particularly concerned, since during his campaign he had repeatedly condoned the use of torture and vowed to kill terrorists’ families as a means to curbing the threat of ISIS and other militant groups. To peace-loving citizens of every faith, all across the world, these pledges implied that Trump was going to have a “shoot first, ask questions later” sort of military strategy.
Over the past few weeks, all our fears seem to be coming true. First came the airstrike in Syria, which seemed to come out of the blue — or a hypocritical concern for children killed by Assad’s chemical attacks, when Trump himself has banned refugees fleeing Assad’s terror. Then came the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB), the largest in the world, dropped on the beleaguered nation of Afghanistan. If this bomb was intended to strike fear into people’s hearts, it certainly achieved its purpose, because Americans and citizens of other countries have now added the fear of an imminent third world war to their list of worries about the Trump presidency.
As a Muslim American, the MOAB is a terrible idea for a variety of reasons, all of which raise three very good questions:
1. Haven’t We Learned Anything from History?
History may be America’s least favorite subject. The National Center for Education Statistics has found that the number of history majors has been declining steadily over the last several years, and the number of students with history degrees is falling in proportion to overall degrees awarded. Further, and perhaps even more alarmingly, students in high school are increasingly being taught history as a rote skill rather than one that encourages historical research, critical thinking and analysis.
What all this means from a political/military standpoint is that Americans really don’t recognize when history repeats itself, and are not able to learn from the mistakes of our previous generations when it comes to war, politics and almost everything else. We see everything from the lens of our own cultural context and often from a very “here and now” perspective, which hurts not only ourselves but the entire world.
2. Why Do We Think Everyone Hates Us?
When a terrorist attack occurs on our shores, we wonder why people from other cultures or countries hate the American way of life. We imagine a patriotic environment where all those who wish us harm are evil, and we are innocently undeserving of the violence that is meted out. Our national narrative leaves no space for the other side of the picture, to open up our hearts and minds to attempt to understand why many of these attacks happen.
Imagine a child who watches, terrified, as a U.S. drone kills his family. Will he grow up loving America — or wanting to take revenge? Imagine a country that has just felt the wrath of the Mother of All Bombs. Will the government of that nation want to be friendly, or help us militarily? We have seen the effects of our bombings around the world and witnessed the rise of terrorist ideologies as a direct result of our indiscriminate bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. For instance, reports are clear that ISIS was created as a result of the Iraq occupation. Yet we ask ourselves: why do so many people hate us and want to harm us? It is time that we learn that actions have consequences, and the mother of all actions may have the mother of all consequences.
3. Do We Want to Lead the World with Positive or Negative Examples?
After World War II, America came to be known as the savior of the world. We helped keep our neighbors and allies safe and enjoyed the role of beacon of freedom and equality in a way that hadn’t been possible before. But as time has passed, our military actions have shown less regard for justice and more for power. We like our designation as leader of the free world and we intend to protect that reputation with mighty firepower. Instead of creating alliances and working with our neighbors to solve military and political crises, we prefer to drop bombs and missiles to protect what is ours. In our wake we leave innocent bodies bloodied and helpless, forgetting the responsibility that comes with leadership.
History, religion and common sense tells us this is never a good strategy.