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To Blame in Iraq: United States or Islam’s Cultural “Growing Pains?”

One of the many assertions made by people both on the right and the left is that the current state of sectarian violence is directly attributable to the actions of the U.S. While this is true in a limited way – and in a way where both the left and the right have it correct – blaming America does not tell the whole story about the problem.

As those on the right have (correctly) claimed, when U.S. forces pulled out of in Iraq in 2011 – an agreement entered into by President Bush, but one which President Obama touted as his achievement – the Shiite-led government began to persecute their Sunni opposition almost immediately. This would have happened had we pulled out in 2006 or 2106. Add to that the Syrian civil war – which America has also stayed out of publicly – and it created a perfect storm of instability.

However, the left points out that people like Richard Clarke or other national security personnel who had extensive knowledge of the region knew that the sectarian violence was only kept at bay by strong governments in Syria and Iraq. Not nice governments, but able to keep the religious tensions from boiling over. However, looking at history, it does seem as if this was inevitable.

The Islamic faith began around the year 600, which means that the religion itself is a little over 1400 years old. If one examines the 1400th year of Christianity (at the time only Catholicism) – which conveniently is the year 1400 – there were three popes which led to bloody battles that made Joan of Arc famous. Jews were routinely victims of, at best, displacement, and, at worst, genocide. Peoples from the Moors to the Indians of the New World were converted to Christianity against their will.

Perhaps when Richard Clarke and Glenn Beck agree on something, we should take notice. Perhaps this conflict is a necessary part of any large religious population’s cultural evolution. However, unlike during the 15th century, for Muslims it is happening in an age of weapons of mass destruction.

American must not turn a blind eye to the Middle East, and like Richard Clarke implied, there may come a time when some (limited) action will have to be taken in the interest of national security. But in the meantime, perhaps, this is a struggle the Muslim world must face on its own.

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.