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Before we ramp up military action against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, let’s review our many recent blunders in the Middle East.

After the 9/11 attacks, our government erroneously held groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan responsible, so we fought them to build a new, less threatening Afghani state. More than a decade later, our troops are still in Afghanistan, and extremist groups still threaten significant parts of the country and the world.

We were assured — again erroneously — that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein held weapons of mass destruction, and that we must invade Iraq and topple his government to keep America safe. Years later, Iraq, like Afghanistan, maintains a shaky hold over much of its territory — only recently did the Iraqi government declare victory over the Islamic State — and our military presence remains.

Years after we helped crush Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya, the nation still lacks a government controlling its entire territory. Now it is a hotbed for Islamic terrorists to threaten local and regional peace and stability.

As you can see, our military interventions in the Middle East have not been terribly successful. Hopefully, our government will weigh all options before plunging our armed forces into yet another regional conflict.

The other option is to embroil ourselves in yet another never-ending war, adding to the trillions of dollars spent and tens of thousands of lives already lost in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shouldn’t our politicians be asking what our desires are as citizens?

Trevor Rystrom, La Crosse

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