There are so many myths that have been thrown around in the last few weeks. One of them is, as you mentioned, that there is this one bad guy that we are stepping in with our good allies to save the day and get rid of. And this is not an accurate description of the situation in Iraq or in Syria. Although ISIS — this terrorist group — has been committing gross violations of human rights and other atrocities, other groups in Iraq — the ones who we call our allies — have been also committing similar atrocities. Actually, a couple of days ago, one of our allies beheaded Sunni militants. We didn’t see much about that in US media. A few weeks ago there was a massacre committed by one of the Shiite militias backed by the Iraqi government. This massacre was documented by Human Rights Watch and other international organizations. We didn’t seem to hear about that either. We never hear about violations and war crimes committed by the Iraqi government itself — or by other ethnic and sectarian militias in Iraq. That is one part of the problem: that there is media focus on the crimes of one faction in Iraq without focusing on other factions. I don’t think that the crimes committed by ISIS in any way are unique. They are bloody, but they are similar to other crimes committed by others in Iraq — especially those who we are funding with our taxpayers’ money.
The other part that is a myth is that we can defeat ISIS through military action. And that is, I think, one of the byproducts of our foreign policy, which brings up the question that you mentioned, “We have to act!” We either don’t act at all or we have to act by dropping bombs. It doesn’t seem like there are any shades of grey between not acting and dropping bombs on other nations. And this myth that we can bomb Iraq into stability and we can bomb Iraq into moderation — that we can destroy extremism by throwing more bombs on Iraq — there is no evidence that this can happen! The US has tried that many times in the past. Actually, the US tried it while the US had more than a hundred thousand troops on the ground in Iraq. There was a military engagement with ISIS. It used to be called ISI at the time: the Islamic State in Iraq. And obviously, the group was not defeated. I think this is what many people in the US and around the world have been saying for a long time: we can’t defeat extremism by dropping more bombs. Actually, dropping more bombs, and having US military intervention fuels extremism.
—Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee
Interview on CounterSpin