Chris Vanneson, history professor at Pierce College, lectured Nov. 10 on conflicts in the Middle East.
He began his presentation by thanking and applauding the veterans and explaining his respect for their services. On Sept. 11, 2001, it started with 19 men who attacked the U.S. Their plans originated in the Middle East as they were trained by al-Qaeda. They hoped to inflict as much death and destruction as possible using hijacked airplanes to crash into major landmarks in the United States.
Vanneson explained how Americans should still be vigilant because some terrorists are still trying to do harm.
He explained how the United States is presently fighting against the remnants of the Taliban in Afghanistan and how they have crossed neighboring borders into Pakistan. In Pakistan, some people are trying to sabotage the United States and others that support the nation. For the most part, Americans consider Pakistan allies, Vanneson explained.
The cost of the military in Afghanistan and Iraq has amounted to $1.3 trillion. More importantly though, is the immense loss of blood and lives. Thousands have given their lives in service to the country and even more have been severely injured.
Vanneson explained that the nation’s goal is to have the military government in Afghanistan removed by 2014.
“How can we define success in Iraq and Afghanistan?” Vanneson asked the audience. “What is our final objective?”
America has been overseas for more than 10 years, making it the longest war the United States has ever fought. At a time when Saddam Hussein ruled the country, we wanted to remove him from power. Vanneson explained Hussein’s role in being part of the BAATH Party, or the Arab National Socialist Party that was founded at the end of World War II.
Ninety-eight percent of people in the Middle East declare they are Muslim and most people in the south are either Shia or Sunni Muslim. The majority are Shia Muslims and they hope to dominate Iraq with their radical Muslim dictatorship when American troops leave.
When the United States leaves, the big question is what will happen to Iraq. In comparing cultures, we can’t convert them to have a democracy our way.
“Do we have the right to tell these people what is right and what is wrong?” Vanneson asked.
Maybe what they think is right is what Americans think is wrong. These are momentous events that are taking place. Vanneson concluded by proposing a definition of commonality. He explained how the people in the Middle East want more rights, increased respect and a higher standard of living. The majority of the population in the Middle East are young men and women under 30 who are desperate for work—so they vent their frustration out on the government. They view the government as corrupt so they form rebellions using technology as a tool.
Vanneson explained that his only regret is not having enough time to talk about everything, however he hoped that on this Veterans Day, and every day—that Americans remember and thank those serving the country.
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