urlIt’s time for Americans to stop supporting the wholesale of American firepower to the battlefields of the world. Since 9/11, and perhaps before, every time American weaponry is poured into a region where there is in unrest, open conflict or civil war, the conflict worsens, more civilians are killed and more refugees created; all the while, major defense companies and contractors line their pockets with taxpayer money from a country that is already over 17 trillion in debt. The results of this flawed foreign policy have never been clearer to see than it is now with the crisis involving the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is largely a result of this policy of flooding the Middle East with American weaponry.

With tens of billions of dollars of military aid and weapons sales to virtually every nation in the region, save for Iran, it’s no surprise that ISIS has ended up with billions of dollars of American military hardware, including hundreds of Humvees and high-powered artillery, as reported by Business Insider. ISIS was able to acquire all these big guns and armored vehicles with ease when the Iraqi army, who we spent tens of billions to train and equip during the last decade, turned tail and fled, leaving huge stocks of armaments undefended. Iraqi officials admitted to the Guardian that 30,000 Iraqi troops fled in the face of just 800 ISIS militants who then proceeded to capture Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The Obama administration and Republicans alike have decided the appropriate action is to provide new American weapons to the Iraqi army to fight ISIS … new American weapons paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Starting to see the paradox?

Now we have a heavily armed radical militant group, brandishing U.S. weapons, controlling territory in Iraq and Syria that’s rampaging through towns committing atrocities and threatening the very existence of the country of Iraq. So how do we respond to this threat? By supplying more weapons to more groups of militants, of course. The Obama administration has reacted by also supplying increased amounts of weaponry to the Iraqi government, the Kurds in northern Iraq, who are actually seeking independence, and more recently to the loose coalition of citizen soldiers that identify themselves as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to the tune of 500 million dollars of guaranteed support to the FSA alone. The FSA, Iraqi government, the Kurds, ISIS and the Syrian government, under the dictator Bashar al-Assad, all have different interests and are essentially each on a separate side in this Mesopotamian shit show in which we have entrenched ourselves.

So here we have a civil war spanning two countries with no less than five distinguishable separate factions, four of which are now armed or being armed with heavy American weaponry, while the U.S. stirs the pot further using its own arsenal to directly bomb targets in Iraq and, more recently, Syria. A popular weapon used against ISIS is the Tomahawk Cruise Missile with a hefty $1.4 million price tag per item. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments reports that nearly a billion has been spent by the U.S. in the campaign against ISIS as of Sept. 24, with much of that money going to weapons manufacturers that provide the ordinance. It’s also noteworthy to mention that many of the popular media figures promoting U.S. intervention against ISIS on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC actually receive money from many of the defense corporations that stand to profit from U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria.

While millions flee Iraq and Syria to neighboring Arab nations that lack the infrastructure or resources to take of them, the U.S. is spending billions of dollars to make sure every side of this conflict has quality, made in the U.S.A. firepower. The amount of money spent to provide food, water and shelter to refugees of this humanitarian disaster continues to be limited due to the amount spent to arm most every faction of the conflict itself.

Perhaps some questions to ask yourself, or your congressman (do people still do that?) would be “Will funneling more weaponry into these warzones help the situation or the people suffering from it in any way? Why isn’t more being done to help refugees? Only 36 Syrian refugees have been allowed into the U.S. since the civil war started there in 2011 as reported by Vox.com. And why the fuck are we bombing Iraq AGAIN when we’ve been bombing the impoverished country for 19 of last 23 years with nothing but a shittier situation to show for it (and at least a million civilian casualties, mostly children, according to UNICEF and The Lancet medical journal)?” You likely won’t get an honest response if you get any at all, but if you were to hear the truth from your representatives, it would probably mention the tens of millions in lobbying spent by defense companies Raytheon, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin that ensures there is always an open market for their deadly products.

It’s time to think critically about who stands to gain from the latest round of conflict in the Middle East and reject the usual excuses used to arm groups that will invariably turn on the U.S. like they have so many times before. Remember the photo of John McCain posing for a picture with suspected ISIS members two years ago? Recall Reagan supporting the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq during the ’80s? As Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Ultimately it’s our responsibility as Americans, students or not, to think critically about the consequences of our military involvements around the world and who truly benefits and who suffers.

David Jackson is getting sick of this shit.

The views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, October 23, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.