University of Arizona instructor Musa al-Gharbi said the U.S. poses a "greater threat to peace" in the Middle East than ISIS in a column he wrote for TruthOut.
Al-Gharbi, who also serves as an academic affiliate at the university's Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts (SISMEC), called ISIS an "abomination" and says the group does pose a serious threat to Iraq and Syria, but questions whether the U.S. has a moral leg to stand on since it took varying degrees of military action against the same countries in the not too distant past.
It would not be a stretch to say that the United States is actually a greater threat to peace and stability in the region than ISIS - not least because US policies in Iraq, Libya and Syria have largely paved the way for ISIS's emergence as a major regional actor.
Al-Gharbi questioned not just U.S. military action in the region, but how they acted once they arrived. He cited instances of sexual assault by the U.S. military on Yazidi women, reported in a 2009 Asian Tribune article, and women in its own military.
Al-Gharbi recounted incidents of cruelty from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and reports of racial discrimination against Muslims in the military.
Meanwhile, its own armed forces were indoctrinated with anti-Muslim propaganda - complete with recommendations for servicemen to resort to "Hiroshima tactics," in a "total war against Islam," in which protections for civilians were "no longer relevant." Reflective of this mentality, the armed forces have been heavily infiltrated by white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups who believe and act as though they are engaged in a holy war to begin in the Middle East and then be carried back into America. This institutionalized misrepresentation of Islam and dehumanization of Muslims probably played a significant role in the aforementioned atrocities.
For those reasons, he believes the U.S. is being hypocritical.
But perhaps more disturbingly, many of the same behaviors condemned by the Obama administration and used to justify its most recent campaign into Iraq and Syria are commonly perpetrated by US troops and are ubiquitous in the broader American society. Until these problems are better addressed, United States' efforts to undermine ISIS will be akin to using a dirty rag to clean an infected wound.
Al-Gharbi told The Washington Free Beacon he was trying to raise awareness and address hot-button issues in a thought-provoking way to help "challenge America to grow better and stronger."
The goal, al-Gharbi explained, "was not to draw a 1-1 comparison, but to ask where our priorities should be. When America is facing tens of thousands of rapes which go largely unprosecuted, when in fact the victims often face various forms of retaliation for complaining—why is this not covered in the media?"
SISMEC distanced itself from al-Gharbi in an email to the Free Beacon.
"SISMEC is a consortium of researchers, instructors and intellectuals who work both collaboratively and independently on critical issues related to the MENA region," a spokesman said. "We stand behind all work published on the SISMEC website, to include the research of al-Gharbi. However, those works published externally represent the views of the author and do not represent the initiative."