In 1973 the Watergate Congress took the lead in throwing away the victory our heroes had won in Vietnam. In 1991 President George Bush I threw away the victory in the First Gulf War by not going to Bagdad and deposing Salaam Hussein. Then he compounded the error by not supporting the Southern Shia or the Northern Kurds both of whom he had encouraged to rebel against the dictator.
Following this post-World War II tradition of not declaring war and not retaining victory George Bush II led us into Afghanistan but instead of finishing the job at Tora Bora or leaving once the Taliban were crushed he/we stayed on for a nation building exercise that has now cost more than 2,000 lives. After the attacks of 9-11 we had every right to chastise the Taliban for sheltering and protecting the al Qaeda terrorists. We defeated these Islamic fundamentalists in two months. We smashed their power structure and drove them out of the country, a just punishment for facilitating and shielding the perpetrators of the sneak attacks on our nation. We won the war but we never pacified the country.
That is when we should have declared victory and left with the admonishment, “If you do it again we’ll do it again.” Instead we have stayed and stayed and stayed for what has become America’s longest war.
There can be no doubt that our heroes have fought with skill and valor. And there can be no doubt that where Bush turned it into a nation building crusade to spread democracy among the tribal peoples of central Asia Obama turned it into a political prop for his re-election. All the while during both administrations our soldiers have been dying and being wounded for something other than the national interest. Our policies are subservient to the political ambition of the Progressives who have captured both political parties, of the cronies who control the major industries, and the life-tenured black-robed infallibles who decide what the Constitution means.
One sure way to end up in a bad situation is to fight the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place. The Middle East is disintegrating. Our so-called allies, the Sunni states want us to fight for them in a thousand year-old sectarian religious war between them and their Shia co-religionists.
This brings me to several questions. If the Shia states of Iran and Syria and their affiliated militias are such an existential threat to them why aren’t they willing to fight? If the Sunni Reaction to the Shia is ISIS whom we have declared to be the next BIG thing, the one we are sworn to degrade and destroy and our Sunni allies have been supporting them or at least refusing to fight them either, why should we? There is an old saying, “When your enemies are killing each other….let them.”
War is the deathbed of empires. Look at History and see how war has debilitated and destroyed empires from Rome to Britain to the USSR. Today we have been bled dry by endless wars for peace. Our economy cannot seem to recover from the late great recession. Our leaders are not really engaged in foreign affairs. We are adrift as they concentrate on fundamentally transforming us into a Progressive utopia.
Now is not the time for another war whether it is against the Shia states or militias or against the Sunni ISIS. Our allies seem to want us to fight both ends against the middle. A formula which will lead us to disaster: we can’t afford more war and our people will not support more war.
Let’s give peace a chance.
The crushing weight of maintaining hundreds of bases around the world which are akin to precinct houses for a world police department is draining us dry and not making us any friends.
Why should we still defend a Europe that has a GDP as large as ours? Why can’t they defend themselves? Why can’t South Korea with a GDP more than 40 times that of the North defend themselves? Some might say all right maybe we shouldn’t still be defending nations that can defend themselves but what about Russia?
Look at this situation. Russia did not annex Crimea, was a part of Russia for centuries, is the home to the Russian Black Sea fleet and is populated by mostly Russians, until after a western backed coup toppled the democratically elected government of the Ukraine. If Russia wanted to conquer and absorb all of the Ukraine they could have accomplished that within a few weeks at most. The Eastern part of the Ukraine, the part that is in revolt against the western imposed government in Kleve is populated by a vast majority of ethnic Russians who have always wanted to be re-united with the motherland. This is a European problem. Let the Europeans deal with it. We have enough problems of our own.
Entangling alliances were not a part of the original model for the United States. From the time of the Founders and for more than 100 years afterward we believed they would involve us in quarrels and rivalries which were really none of our concern.
This was more than a policy. This was an expression of the American people through their government that did not change no matter which political party occupied the White House. This expressed how we viewed ourselves in the world. We contrasted the virtues of our Republic with the corruptions of European power politics and imperialistic overreach. From 1789 until the WWII, except for our relationship with Panama, the United States did not enter into treaties of alliance with anyone. In the 70 years since the end of the war, however, in a dramatic reversa l of national policy, we have allied ourselves with:
- NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY PARTIES: United States, Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom. During 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia were added to the list.
- AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND PARTIES: United States , Australia, New Zealand.
- PHILIPPINE TREATY (Bilateral) PARTIES: United States, Philippines.
- SOUTHEAST ASIA TREATY: PARTIES: United States, Australia, France, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
- JAPANESE TREATY (Bilateral): PARTIES: United States, Japan.
- REPUBLIC OF KOREA TREATY (Bilateral): PARTIES: United States, Korea.
- RIO TREATY PARTIES: United States, Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Looking at this long list of people we have pledged to support with the blood of our finest and the treasure of us all I ask myself where were all these countries after 9-11? Where are they now? And why should we bear the burden of their defense. Critics of America love to point out that our defense budget is larger than the next five countries combined. And that is true. However it is true in large part because we have taken on the burden of their defense. Look at the people we have pledged to cover with our umbrella. Try to find one that is spending even 2% of their GDP for their own defense.
Enough is too much already. We are not Atlas. We cannot carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, and if we are Atlas isn’t it time that we shrugged?
I stand with our George Washington. He advised us in his Farewell Speech,
Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all....
Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded....
The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest....
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence...the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republic Government....
The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little Political connection as possible....
'T is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world....
Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies....”
I also stand with Thomas Jefferson who said in his first Inaugural Address, “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”
What’s to be done? Can I offer some solutions as well as comment on the problems?
Close the overseas precinct houses. Bring our troops home. Stand ever ready to defend ourselves. Offer fair trade with all; if you put tariffs or restrictions on our goods we will put them on yours. Defend our borders. Restore limited government, individual liberty, and economic opportunity at home instead of wasting ourselves building nations for people who want to be left alone.
In other words, jettison the empire to save the Republic.
Dr. Owens is a guest contributor to Constitutional Rights PAC. He teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He can be found on Twitter @drrobertowens.