Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The War

I used to support the war in Iraq. I wasn't for war in general, but I agreed with the rhetoric of the White House and Congress. "If we don't take the battle to them, they'll bring it here." "They hate us and want to destroy us." "9/11 changed everything." "If we leave, then they'll all die." You've heard them all.

While I was never 100% sold on any one of these arguments alone, I felt like they together made a decent case for war.
I no longer feel that way, and the reason isn't some kind of viceral hatred for Bush (although I've been pretty disappointed with him). Rather, I've started thinking about foreign policy and the best approach to it. My conclusion in a nutshell: we need to butt out of things that aren't our business, and pay better attention to the things that are.
Basically, the framers of our constitutional republic never intended for us to go on the OFFENSIVE when it comes to military action. In other words, preemptive war was not a part of what they envisioned. Rather, the military's place was to PROTECT the nation by DEFENDING it against attacks.
Does this mean that we have to wait until we've been hit to hit back? No. It means we have to know that there is an imminent danger of being hit. In that case, we prevent the enemy from hitting us. Knowing that a country hates us and would hit us if they could doesn't justify a war! They have to have three things: capability, desire, and intent.
Our military is not supposed to be used to "spread democracy." If democracy is forced on a conquered people, is it really democracy?

In my view, the military should rarely (if ever) be used in "humanitarian" missions. As much as my heart goes out to the people of Darfur, for instance, and as much as I think our nation can make moves to encourage the violence to end, I do not believe it is within the scope of the military's purpose to solve the problems of other nations, even if those problems are severe. The purpose of the military is strictly to DEFEND the nation. The constitution gives the government no authority to send the military into another country to enforce what we think their policy should be.

So how can we protect our foreign interests and address humanitarian needs in the global community? Diplomacy, trade policies, travel etc. can do wonders. Will those things fix the problems in places like Darfur? Maybe, maybe not. But we must come to the realization in this country that just because we have the ability to force people into submission at the end of a gun doesn't mean we should. When seeing tragdy in the world, our first reaction should NOT be, "Well, let's send our military in there to fix it." It's that kind of thinking that leads to quagmires like Vietnam and Iraq.

Most Americans don't realize that we currently have our military stationed in 130 different countries! And military leaders complain that we don't have enough troops to do everything they have been tasked to do. What if we were only asking the military to do what the military is supposed to do? We would have more than enough troops and we would probably do a better job of defending this nation.



Klasher5 said...

"Rather, I've started thinking about foreign policy and the best approach to it. My conclusion in a nutshell: we need to butt out of things that aren't our business, and pay better attention to the things that are."

I think you're on the right track, and maybe one of the few positives you can say about this fiasco of a war is that some people will stop listening to rhetoric and rationales and will start trying to think. If only that had happened back in early 2003 (and for that matter in November, 2004), a lot of people who are now dead wouldn't be.

But the thing is, who gets to decide what is "our business"? The people seem to repeatedly get suckered in by feel-good slogans about getting even with enemies (even though the Iraqis were not our enemies---at least they weren't when the war began).

If you go on trying to kill all your enemies, you'll end up making a list of them so long, you'll never ever have peace.

And that's what Bush has been doing to us. He needs to go, to be impeached. And Cheney along with him. They certainly have not defended the nation. They have, as you pointed out, made it greatly hated in the world.

Anyway, I think you're headed toward a good idea, which is that if we stop behaving in the way we have for such a long time, we might get better reactions from the peoples in the world.

Good luck with your thinking about this.

Jeff said...


Welcome and thanks for the comments. I hope to see you become a regular part of our little conversation. I've not yet seen the "high crimes and misdemeanors" that would warrant an impeachment. Stupid and poorly executed policy is not enough for me. But I could be convinced if a strong argument could be made.