The U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on January 3 in Baghdad, Iraq has raised tensions to a level unseen since the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. Iran has threatened retaliation against U.S. targets in the region and elsewhere, and the U.S. Administration has stated it would respond with more violence possibly targeting Iranian civilians and cultural sites which would be war crimes. The Department of Homeland Security has warned of potential terror attacks within the U.S., and Iran is asserting its right to resume its nuclear program — which could lead to a regional nuclear arms race including Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Mainstream debate in the U.S. has focused on whether the airstrike was justified, and even if so, if it was prudent. There has been comparatively little talk about how this latest episode is a continuation of a cycle of violence and retaliation. The Cold War led to the U.S. building up both Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, as well as a long history of meddling in Iran that resulted in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The first Iraq War inspired Al Qaeda; 9/11 led to the second Iraq War and the rise of ISIS. Each response has created new adversaries, and a war policy rooted in drone strikes and bombings has left civilian casualties and resentments that birth new militants. Both sides seem to have forgotten Gandhi’s warning: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
There is a better way.
The U.S. showed there was a better way than fighting between states when we created the federation known as the United States of America and agreed to solve our disagreements in a court of law instead of on the battlefield. Most citizens of the U.S. forgot their history lesson that the states used to fight each other to solve their problems before we created our federation. The creation of the European Union has dramatically decreased the outbreak of wars in Europe. Nations whose citizens can cross borders and embrace shared economic and social values can settle differences without force.
The people of the world need to demand that we create a United Federation of Nations and agree to solve our disagreements in a court of law rather than through force and violence. A global federation of states would end the rationale for killing as statecraft. The national leaders are not going to give up their reliance on violence and military force without the people demanding it.
A world federation will take a lot of work. But won’t the lives saved be worth it?
Here’s how you can help:
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