War. War is always a delicate subject, intensely emotional, and devastating word. The destruction from one word so little is tragic. Yet the prevalence of conflicts persists. Today I am going to briefly discuss American forces starting to return to Iraq in larger numbers, in an advisory role of the American troops to the Iraqi security forces. I would like to start with a brief caveat, that I have not been following the news as closely as I typically do while in Canada for the Women’s World Cup so there could easily be further developments I am neglecting to take into account.

The tragedy of death should never be glossed over. In America, it has become commonplace to hear of vast number of beheadings by Daesh (also known as ISIS/IS/ ISIL). These news stories have started to slowly desensitize us, or at least me, against these acts of terror. If there is anything that can be done to slow down these acts of terror it should be done. I recognize that there are few to no perfect solutions in how to overcome Daesh; however, I place a high value on protecting the lives of the people in Daesh’s path of destruction. With that preface, I think that it is helpful and wise of President Obama to send American troops in an advisory role.

America is not currently, and likely will never be, in the position to solve political, economic, religious, or territorial conflicts in the greater MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. We simply do not understand the complexities of the MENA area, as seen by our role in dividing up the MENA region after the World Wars and more currently in how we fail to see the religious and cultural complexities in the wars in War(s) Against Terror following the atrocities on September 11, 2001. We have not gained a right to speak into the cultural and religious settings of the MENA region, but America does have significant military power and wisdom. This comes from America maintaining a vast group of well-trained and brave men and women who are equipped with the latest military technology. America is in the right in attempting to ensure that life is sustained against the tyranny of Daeash and America providing advisement to international forces is helpful in that goal. However, as America finds itself more and more involved in the Middle East America must ensure that it is not acting unwisely, like it has so often done in the past, and America must consult other international players, especially those in the Middle East, about what the best plans are and who are the groups that America is wise to advise. It is easy to see the enemy of my enemy as my friend, but the long-term consequences must be considered. This lack of consideration has repeatedly brought America into issues with having to deploy soldiers in never ending or reoccurring conflicts in the same area.

Life is valuable and war is terrible. These two facets can cause a great tension, especially for a country like America that does not fully understand the religious and cultural intricacies of a region, like the Middle East. I believe America is right in sending well-trained soldiers to advise in fighting against Daeash, in the confines of getting recommendations from other key players in the Middle East and the international community as a whole. There are means of ensuring cultural and religious intricacies are considered in war assessments (the United Nations seems like a good place to start a discussion on how to protect life and minimize negative repercussions). This will take substantial effort and foresight on the behalf of American military leadership; however, in no circumstance war should be a quick response to the loss of human life because in that moment you are taking human lives to protect others. In other words, the costs of war are high enough that it is worth intensely deliberating the costs.

I would be grateful to know your thought on the positives and negatives of American service members returning to the Middle East in larger numbers as they serve in an advisory role.

Your friend,