I was a military brat. I didn’t serve in the military, but my father was (is!) a career Marine, I know the sacrifices military members and their families make to protect America. This is one reason why I hate putting our military in harm’s way for stupid reasons. To me there are two compelling reasons too compel our armed forces to act– a direct threat against America (and for threats carried out, this can mean retaliation) and for humanitarian reasons. I am not of the opinion that we should be isolationist, nor that we should be the world’s police force. But if we can keep innocents from being massacred or raped without spreading ourselves too thin, I am all for it. The strong have an obligation to help the week or unarmed.
To some this may seem at odds with the whole liberal/conservative thing– to which I would say it was the liberals who took the fight to the Nazis when others wanted to sit out. The question is what is a good reason to use force? “Liberating” oil fields for corporations is not a good reason. Putting down popular uprisings because they interfere with profits is also not a good reason. Sending in endless soldiers to a lost cause is not. Stopping slaughters and tortures is. Backing up our allies is. Ensuring safe passage for American and allied ships is as well.
To explain where I am coming from, lets look at recent history, going back 40 some years–
Vietnam? No. It was a civil war and we weren’t wanted and we were backing a rather corrupt regime. (Ho Chi Minh was no prize either, but it was not worth the amount of dead we suffered.) We were not going to win that war short of committing ourselves to even more casualties. It is a common theme among the hard right that we “sold out” to the communists by not committing to a total war. Hindsight is great, but more casualties are a given to have “won”.
Iraq 1 (Bush the Elder). I was for this. This was an unprovoked attack by a rotten dictator (ironically one we enabled) and we showed that sudden attacks were not to be permitted.
Bosnia. The great error. Here we should have helped and did not until Serbs controlled half of the country and paid no price for their rapacious aggression. We could have gained trust in the Islamic world by helping an Islamic community in need against unprovoked attacks, but we didn’t. The senate argument contained what I thought were the best words that ever came out of Bob Dole’s mouth: “..People are going to say Britain’s not helping. France isn’t helping. Well we aren’t Britain, and we aren’t France. We are the United States of America…” Sadly nothing came of this until the Dayton accords which solidified the treachery in stone.
Iraq II. The greater error. This was George W Bush’s (another illegitimate president) and Dick Cheney’s machinations to capitalize on a National Tragedy that they incompetently failed to prevent. Going into Afghanistan was justified. Bin Laden (radicalized by his outrage at Bosnia) was in Afghanistan. Then the dogs were called off and fingers were pointed at Iraq.
W wanted to be a wartime president even if he had to lie and scare the American people into that stupid, stupid war.
Let’s get something straight, Saddam Hussein was a murderous sickening cruel bastard. He did a lot of evil things– but he did not cause September 11, 2001 in any way shape or form. That was a lie constructed by the Bush and his cabinet. If W were to have said to America “Look, Saddam Hussein is a bad guy. He tortures and kills his people, It is our duty as Americans to try to help these folks out.” he would not have received overwhelming support for the war. There would have been great argument. but he would have been honest about it and History would judge him as a man who controversially tried to do the right thing.
Instead, the big lies were constructed almost immediately: “Iraq caused 9-11. If we don’t act now a mushroom cloud could appear over America. Weapons of Mass destruction!”. All lies. Lies to get Americans to fight a war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, left the country in ruins and let American Petroleum companies pillage their resources.
In my opinion if we want peace in the middle east we need to support secular governments that attempt to be democracies. We should support an Independent Kurdistan and push for it to have NATO membership. I really don’t give a flip about Turkey. They are acting contrary to the way a peace-seeking secular country acts. This also means we should press Israel to undercut the Haredi. Anywhere religious governments and political forces exist, they should be opposed. It will serve human rights and peace in the long run.
I would also push for not only accepting the Paris Accords but expanding them, and work to ostracize countries that did not acknowledge climate change. (I know that is mostly us right now, but still…)
We should defend ourselves, defend free peoples, defend the oppressed and oppose tyranny and theocracies everywhere.