Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Dangers America

December 18, 2015
I am deeply disappointed in the Republicans and Democrats alike that are weakening our national security while inciting Americans to fear Muslims. I spoke broken Arabic at best as a combat advisor to an Iraqi Army battalion in Baghdad from 2006-2007, and were it not for the actions of Arab Muslims, I probably would not be alive today to write this letter. I vividly recall at least one instance when I was alone and outnumbered by a group of armed Iraqis that spoke no English. Thankfully, an Iraqi soldier who came upon us chose to help deescalate the situation.

Governors and Members of Congress are strengthening the Islamic State with propaganda victories when they say vetted Iraqi and Syrian refugees would not be welcome in their home states or vote to link refugee entry to personal agency head approval. Members of Congress should be denying the Islamic State it's most successful propaganda by voting to increase the number of vetted refugees allowed to enter the US, close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and provide better oversight of the counter-productive signature drone strikes that create fear throughout the region by not targeting specific high level leaders. Furthermore, if Congress were serious about the Islamic State, it should demonstrate their resolve and vote on either a Declaration of War or an updated Authorization to Use Military Force.

The rise of the Islamic State ultimately stems from the Allied Powers of the First World War imposing the 1916 Sykes-Picot Accord on the Middle East, creating today's illogical nation state boundaries, and from the Western World's subsequent century of policies solely focused on protecting cheap Middle Eastern oil. These heterogeneous countries consequently developed economies solely based on this commodity leading to dictatorships, extreme inequality, and radicalization. The advent of social media then gave rise to the Arab Spring, Winter, and ultimately the Islamic State with our leaders now demonizing in the name of terrorism the affluent families able to seek refuge. Unfortunately, the current crisis is just a preview of things to come over the coming decades when access to water for crops, livestock, and subsistence itself becomes even more scarce if the West does not change its reliance on oil.

Climate change will become the most serious threat to our national security and a contributing factor to terrorism. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates how unprecedented droughts and scarce resources in the Fertile Crescent drove 1.5 million rural residents into Syria's already overcrowded and volatile cities compounding the country's woes. Recent predictions have Saudi Arabia, the epicenter of Sunni radicalism, becoming uninhabitable for parts of the year by 2050. If we do not change our approach to climate change, more nation states will fail, terrorism will spread, and millions of people will spill over international borders. Changing our approach will require the West to lessen its reliance on oil and thankfully America's need to send our servicemen and women to protect Middle Eastern oil reserves.

Upon returning from Iraq, I helped obtain a visa for our most relied upon translator, an Arab Muslim who could never return home due to death threats. He subsequently became one of the 3,500 Muslims currently serving in our armed forces, earned his US citizenship, and relocated his immediate family to America. Not only does his family pose no threat to us, my friend has deployed back to Iraq to assist the operations against the Islamic State. It is time for our Governors and Members of Congress to stop inciting our fears and take real actions to strengthen our national security for today and tomorrow.