I oppose endless wars because I love America!
A friend of mine brought an interesting point to my attention when he said, “As bad as the Iranian regime is (and I believe it’s very bad), I can’t help but give this skepticism [regarding involvement in war with Iran] a hearing. After how Iraq turned out, Libya, Syria… heck even Bosnia, etc. somewhere, America stopped winning wars and its power and lives were squandered. Endless (and un-won or even counterproductive) wars would seem a reliable way to fritter away “superpower” status. Patriotic Americans might pause to wonder who would want such a thing.”
Iran’s regime is bad! I will say that with no qualms. I know people who had to flee the country as refugees because of the tyranny of the Ayatollahs.
However, Iran is also a fantastically unique country, with individuals who – like us – are herded by propaganda and expediency, as well as, I’m sure, the threat of outside aggression that likely drives the same excuses we see for the necessity of tyrannical powers in government.
If the goal of American “imperialism” (a hegemony that I am not necessarily opposed to) is to abolish all regimes that are “evil,” I can point out some very low-hanging fruit in dictator-ridden Africa, as well as some allies of ours. In fact, “bad” governments and “evil” regimes can be found all the way up the list to what is likely the greatest threat to the United States, China’s own growing imperialism.
There are tyrannical governments the world over. According to The Economist’s “democracy index,” only 4.5% of the world’s population live in nations with “full democracy” while nearly 36% live in full-fledged authoritarian regimes. Is the goal really to change the fundamental structure of all these nations? Or is it simply geopolitical games at play? The strengthening of allies in the region, many of which should be near the top of the list of authoritarian regimes in need of change.
But, to make a tired comparison to empires of the past, it is precisely this overreach, this continuous expenditure of blood and treasure in the pursuit of aims that do not directly affect the people of the United States that causes the slow death from inside.
I specifically made a point in a previous article (on war with Iran) regarding America’s internal unity. Much of this unity began to unravel around the time of the Vietnam war – a war that was very loudly propagandized as “unnecessary” (though that point is likely less true than it is popular).
Since then the myriad of interventions that took place, presumably in pursuit of thankless global security on the backs of the American soldier and taxpayer, seems to have served only as fuel for anti-“American imperialist” sentiment. A sentiment in which Americans, attempting to make the world a better place, are instead browbeaten in their schools and media as colonists, oil hungry, or the cause of the very issues they set out to solve. While intervention has been helpful in the strengthening of allies’ positions in their respective regions, it seems to have created a steadily increasing divide at home.
I don’t think a war against Iran – a war that Israel and Saudi Arabia could easily win on their own – would help this issue at all. It would weaken American credibility further in the interests of these other nations perfectly capable of their own defense.
The people voted for Trump because they wanted “America first” policies, just as they voted for Barack Obama and George W. Bush for the same reasons. That needs to be America’s focus, first and foremost. The need to die in other nations’ wars is obsolete – if it ever was necessary to begin with!
America has the greatest military might the world has ever seen. However, nothing can stand if its core is weak. The strength of America relies entirely on the strength of its people, of its character, and its national resolve. If those fade – which is happening right now – the mightiest fleets in the world will not save her.
If China or Russia are truly competing with the United States, they have only to feed the flames of internal strife and sit back to watch as America eats itself from within. Then, like Rome, we will see only a shell of her former glory survive. Another mighty empire – which safeguarded the legacy of the wisdom, technology, and knowledge of generations on the back of violent struggle, will have spent itself in pursuit of that global security in a thankless sacrifice.
Though they’ve been given a great responsibility as the bearers of the baton of global supremacy, America is made up of people who reject the idea of empire as it was once known. They are, as Niall Ferguson (historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution) termed it, “An empire in denial” but a benevolent one nonetheless.
However, they are being manipulated by those who wish to wield American power for their own purposes; this includes corporations, lobbyists, and politicians whose fortunes and continued electability depend on this continuation of war as well as regional powers who are more than happy to have another do their heavy lifting.
I read an interesting article recently which mentioned that it is this very need for manipulation that shows the inherent goodness of Americans. Americans don’t want war. They, however, do want to help others. Anyone who has spent even a little time in the United States knows the hearts that Americans have for those less fortunate, and the statistics for philanthropic giving prove the point! Yet, it is this very goodness and desire to help to protect that is manipulated to sell weapons and secure regional hegemony for others; this is what Americans need to be aware of!
Yesterday it was Libya, then Syria, today it’s Iran, and tomorrow it will be somewhere new. Each nation will be easily defeated, but each war will be a protracted one and will be used as propaganda in the continued corrosion of the character of the American people. Each will be yet another tool with which to invoke guilt among future generations as the bravest fathers, brothers, and sons give their lives for causes that – while seemingly noble – make little difference to the nation they leave behind.
There will be battles to fight in the future. There will be unavoidable wars which will be necessary to win, and each of these brave men, as well as a unified national character, will be critical when that time comes.
Until then we must focus on fixing ourselves and ensure the strength of this nation continues. pursuing the original ideas, values, and beliefs that made America great to begin with. As the lines of a most beautiful song so perfectly describe: “…and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”