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 [towards war] a hearing. After how Iraq turned out, Libya, Syria, heck even Bosnia, somewhere along the line, 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 terrible! I can say that with little doubt. I know people who had to flee the country as refugees because of the tyranny of the Ayatollahs.
Iran is also a fantastically unique country, with individuals who – like us – are herded by propaganda and expediency, moved by the threat of outside aggression in the same we are, to excuse the “need” for more 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. “Bad” governments and “evil” regimes can be found all the way up the list to the most significant actual threat to the United States in China’s own growing imperialism.
There are tyrannical governments the world over – in fact, 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 merely geopolitical games at play – the strengthening of allies in the region, many of whom 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 a slow death from inside.
I specifically made a point regarding America’s internal unity in a previous article on war with Iran. Much of this unity began to unravel around the time of the Vietnam war – a war that is very loudly propagandized as “unnecessary” though that point is less accurate 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 colonialists or the cause of the issues they set out to solve.
I don’t think a war against Iran – one 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.
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 genuinely 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. If this inner conflict and the recurrent interventionism are not addressed, then like Rome, we will see only a shell of the former glory survive. America will be just another mighty empire that safeguarded the legacy of the wisdom, technology, and knowledge of generations on the back of violent struggle and will have spent itself in pursuit of that global security in a thankless sacrifice.
The people voted for Donald 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 nation’s wars is obsolete – if it ever was necessary.
Though America is in many ways an empire (in that they’ve been given a great responsibility as the bearers of the baton of global supremacy), it is made up of people who reject the idea of Empire as it was once known. America is, as Niall Ferguson (Historian and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution) termed it, “An empire in denial” but a benevolent one nonetheless.
It is through this very benevolence, however, that American power is being manipulated by those who would wield it for their own purposes: lobbyists and politicians whose fortunes and continued electability depend on endless war, as well as regional powers who are more than happy to have another do their heavy lifting.
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 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 a cause that – while noble – is not the most pressing to the security of the nation they leave behind.
There will be battles to fight in the future. There will be unavoidable wars that 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.
We must focus on fixing ourselves, and ensure the strength of this nation continues, as the lines of a most beautiful song so perfectly describe: “… and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”