What is our mission in the world? Is it to make it safe for Democracy? Is it to bring freedom to the world? I know many think this is still the USA’s purpose to be the greater force for good. I have heard conservative leaders espouse these views. I am starting to be convinced however that the world does not really want the “good” or “freedom” we promise. They want familiar. They want their basic needs met and a little comfort and that’s it. They also want their society to line up with their core beliefs.
For 1 billion souls on Earth who believe in Islam, the concept of freedom and Democracy is very different than the rest of us Westerners. It has become ever too apparent that invading Iraq was not a good idea. We picked off a painful scab in Saddam Hussein, whose regime was forcefully holding together disparate peoples with different values like Shia’s, Sunni’s, Kurds etc … and replaced it with nothing near as strong or forceful. Now the country is slowly heading into the radical Islamic camp. Recently two cities Mosul and Tikrit, cities we once controlled, are now firmly in our sworn enemies hands, led by a man we once held captive. Invading Iraq was kind of like raking leaves around the bottom of a tree. You may clean them up, blow them away but in the Fall they will be back again. To say invading Iraq was a waste in money, lives and resources is an understatement. For us as Westerners to come into a country impose our values on a society that for the most part has not changed its concepts of freedom and servitude in centuries is foolish. Additionally while going after Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan may have been a good idea, invading the country and trying to impose our will on those people was a mistake. Also, its foolish to think completing civic projects for these people will somehow change their opinions of Westerners who do not have the same religious values as them. When we eventually leave Afghanistan just like Iraq, the same people who were there before the invasion, that were swept away, will come back and nothing will have changed. Vietnam should have been enough of a lesson for us to learn. Nation building may have been appropriate immediately following the second world war but its outgrown its purpose and has morphed into something else that most in the world resents.
In my opinion we should not make war unless we are prepared to annihilate a country’s infrastructure and completely subjugate its people in perpetuity or assimilate them into our culture. If countries continue to harbor terrorists giving them shelter, funds and training then we should go to war with those countries regardless of how big they are or how much they pretend to be our “friends”. End it one way or another that’s how I would do it.
This new asymmetrical war being fought in the shadows and in the open in the 21st century is still war. We are still killing people to impose our will against someone else’s will but there will never be a peace the way this war is being fought. It will never end and more and more money will be spent to “win” and more and more people will die. Is this the cost of freedom now, perpetual war fought over ideological and religious differences that are incompatible with one another? To talk to our military industrial complex they would say yes, and be okay with that. Do you agree with them?
In America, clearly 40% plus of voters continually choose leaders that promise a government that will take care of them. They do not want individual freedom and in fact view it as dangerous. They don’t want Republican Democracy they want Socialism. They want to be just like the rest of the world and no different. The possibility of being exceptional they find distasteful and somehow “unfair”. If this block of dependent citizenry is permitted to grow and with the defacto open border policy we currently have with future Democratic voters from Latin American coming here by the truck load legally and illegally to access our “free” things, America the land of prosperity and opportunity will disappear. What replaces it is not going to be pretty.
So , if we cannot even convince our own citizens that freedom and democracy is desirable and that America is exceptional, how can we possibly convince a jihadist to change his spots? The best course of action is to make our system work here not try to sell it elsewhere. We need to annihilate our enemies and put the big nations that oppose us like China and Russia on notice. We need to root out the hard core leftists in this country and start teaching our young what an exceptional America looks like. We need to bring back a flourishing economy, a growing manufacturing base; encourage technological innovators and then we won’t have to sell America to the rest of the world. They will look to us, as they have in the past and say, how can we be more like them?