Most Americans have no idea how costly our military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have been and how little we have gained from them. Indeed, they have made matters worse. At least 1.3 million civilians have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as a direct result of these wars. If we knew of any other country that did this we would be calling it a holocaust. The financial cost will be well over $4 trillion by the time it is all paid for. Not only have we not gained anything, this has antagonized the Muslim world against us and actually created terrorist groups like ISIS that are now afflicting both the Islamic and Western worlds.
Our own awareness of this has come in part through personal contacts with Muslim leaders outside the USA, which has led to our own research and consultations with experts on Islam both in the USA and abroad. For us the issue of terrorism is something that is coming from far away. For our Muslim acquaintances it is an issue in their own villages.
We need more enlightened policies that are not dictated by inordinate fear of terrorism—though it has to be taken seriously—but informed by better understanding of the Islamic world and its radical Islamist groups, by a more accurate assessment of what we can and cannot do, and by more thoughtful reflection on how we can actually make a difference. More bombs and bullets alone are not going to help.
This blog is aimed at giving out information that will help us better understand the problem and possible ways forward.