By John Long, Tom Casey and Victoria Ross

U.S. foreign policy has been a violent cycle of arming the perceived lesser evil or country (often a dictator) that best promotes our hegemony, and then of outrage when that entity becomes more violent and/or no longer serves our perceived interest.

Three of many examples:

First, it is well-documented that al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden received U.S. support to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, only later to become the trigger for the endless “war on terror.”

Second, U.S. support of Saddam Hussein even included help with the chemical weapons program he used on Iraqi Kurds. The United States ignored the oft-cited atrocity when it happened, continuing to support Saddam. Later, for political and/or strategic reasons he was targeted. The United States overthrew the existing government, destabilizing Iraq.

Third, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was one of a number of groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Syrian government forces with at least indirect U.S. support. According to the Associated Press, the European Union, with U.S. support, lifted sanctions on Syria to allow oil sales from refineries held by the rebels, of which ISIS is the principal entity, providing funding for ISIS. Now that ISIS’ violence has surpassed that of al-Qaida, the United States wants it out of Iraq.

According to a member of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative in Mosul, which is dedicated to bringing peace and human rights to all throughout the area, people in Iraq want civilians to rule their cities. He said America can help by working to guarantee and strengthen democratic, civil society. Iraqis want to solve their problems themselves, possibly in three ethnic regions. They want the extremists gone, the military activities ended and the weapons removed.

Peace in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Israel/Palestine – anywhere – will not be achieved by more violence. Violence only begets more violence, as history keeps showing us. The only long-term solution to the region’s crisis will be a political one, protecting civilians from the current ongoing horrors of war.

The Interfaith Peace Network, the Western New York Peace Center and Pax Christi urge all citizens to contact their congressional representatives and senators to insist they reject military action in the Middle East, stop funding and/or supplying arms (and persuade our allies to stop as well) and intensify diplomatic efforts for political solutions.

Let us pledge never again to allow the United States’ immense military power and enabling of violence to cause another Iraq war tragedy there or anywhere in the world.

John Long is chairman of the Interfaith Peace Network. Tom Casey is chairman of Pax Christi of WNY. Victoria Ross is a peaceful conflict resolution consultant for the WNY Peace Center and the Interfaith Peace Network.