Part of a series on the Five Biggest Problems Facing America:
5. Unnecessary wars
4. Inequalities in public education (Monday)
3. Corporate tax loopholes (Tuesday)
2. Medicare (Wednesday)
1. Money in politics (Thursday)
It seems to me that we in America had a decent track record at armed conflict from the Civil War until the Korean Conflict. I consider the Civil War not a part of modern American history, but still growing out of proto-America. For instance, we still only had 34 states. As something that forged our identity as a nation, the Civil War was closer to the Revolutionary War than it was to WWI or WWII. The Spanish-American War, though begun on a questionable premise, was only six months long.
But then, it seems, we lost our way.
Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Each of them a fiasco that has sapped our country of money and morale. The most successful of these wars, the Gulf War, cost only $10 billion and 294 lives. But, of course, it didn’t solve the problems of Iraq and Iran. Instead, it exacerbated them.
Although the casualties of the two wars in which our country is currently engaged are a small fraction of the losses in WWI, WWII, and even Vietnam, the cost to our economy is staggering. By the end of this year, it will reach $1.29 trillion.
And war has changed. Although it was a struggle, engagement in WWI and WWII is generally thought to have benefited the US economy. But modern warfare does not. Instead, it has crippled us. And what have we gotten for the investment? Not even clear victories? Instead, the US populace has been steadily demoralized by conflicts with no clear victory (Vietnam, Afghanistan), and no clear benefit to our country (Gulf War, Iraq).
We’ve had an ongoing conversation in this country about whether we, as a global “superpower,” should be the world’s police force. Two versions of this, non-interventionism and isolationism, have been held by everyone to Thomas Paine to Ron Paul.
It’s time for us to stop intervening in the conflicts of other countries except by means of diplomacy, which is an art we should re-learn.