Religious Violence vs. Secular Violence

Image of the aftermath of a 2021 suicide bombing in Baghdad, Iraq that killed 32 people (source)

Less than a week ago (as of writing this), we had the twenty-first anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks that collapsed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and sent four planes worth of people to their deaths, in addition to those killed in the buildings (2,996 people killed in total). Just over a year ago, the U.S. finally abandoned its occupation and nation-building project in Afghanistan, a misguided enterprise that resulted from the 9/11 attacks two decades earlier. As the image above shows, violence has not yet ended in Iraq, either – a country that had no ties to al-Qaeda, nor possessed any “weapons of mass destruction”, even though those were the casus belli for the U.S. invasion. The violence perpetrated by the 9/11 terrorists is said by some to be religiously motivated, a sort of clash of civilizations, while others say it’s political (as a result of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, it’s support for Israel, and it’s cozy relationship with the Saudi government). The violence perpetrated by the U.S. in 76 different countries (as of 2018) is said by some to be anywhere between a necessary evil and noble. Others argue that it’s imperialist, racist, Islamophobic, and/or no different than what the 9/11 terrorists did. How can we parse these different views?

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Afghanistan Withdrawal: Symptoms and Etiology

Afghanistan withdrawl Taliban

I have not made a post here about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan not because I don’t have opinions about it, but because I don’t really have a hot take on it. The war was misguided from very early on, strategically inept, and the withdrawal was a complete boondoggle. I think one would be hard pressed to find many differing opinions on that third point, though possibly for different reasons.

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Foreign Policy Realism, Idealism, or Transactionalism?

An article in The American Conservative by Daniel R. Depetris contrasts Mitt Romney’s approach to foreign policy (as a synecdoche for the Republic Establishment) to that of Donald Trump. The former is a sort of idealism, where America takes point in the “U.S.-led liberal international order.” The latter sees international relations as a business transaction, where alliances are treated as a quid pro quo relationship. Is there a foreign policy realism that can be used as a middle ground?

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The U.S. Does Not Need Israel

I’ve written an article on Medium looking at the U.S. relationship with Israel from a geopolitical perspective.

In the past week, Tweets by Minnesota’s 5th congressional district representative Ilhan Omar have sparked controversy about the link between antisemitism and criticism of Israel. Particularly Israel’s influence on American lawmakers through lobbyists. Due to the dark history of antisemitism being linked with conspiracy theories about Jewish control over banking and other financial arenas, this is a conversation that requires tact and nuance.

However, those are not the conversations I’m attempting to start here.

What I’m interested in is what the U.S. gains, in a geopolitical sense, from its association with Israel. I’m careful here to say association and not alliance, since there is no formal treaty-based alliance between the U.S. and Israel.

Click here to read the whole thing.