We Americans have, by and large, been a very fortunate lot. We inhabit a continent rich in natural resources and arable land. We have benefited from a restrained and stable government. But perhaps most importantly, we have found ourselves largely insulated from the scourge of war on our soil. Since the (not so) Civil War, the United States has seen little armed conflict and loss of life on our territory. The only examples to the contrary being Pearl Harbor and 9/11. And, while even an ocean is pretty minimal insulation in an era of long range bombers and ICBM’s, it has kept us apart from the disastrous ground wars that have devastated much of Europe and Asia over the past century.
It is often said, with some justification, that America’s military strength as projected around the globe has helped keep us safe. Our ability to detect and respond to any threat anywhere at a moment’s notice deters any enemy from even considering an attack. It may also be said, with some justification, that it is precisely that military presence and our willingness to use it, that is making us increasingly unsafe. We are, often correctly, seen as meddling in the affairs of other nations simply to serve our narrow economic and political agenda, not to protect the peace. While we may see our hundreds of military bases and hundreds of thousands of troops as a positive force for good, many perfectly reasonable people see it as aggression. And many of them see it as justification for terror attacks on our nation and our traditional allies.
And, while I have enormous respect and admiration for those individuals who are willing to risk their lives to protect and serve their fellow citizens, I can’t help but notice that, more often than not, they are not being used to defend anything but to intervene beyond our borders in matters that are not our business. (Unless, of course, our business is building planes and bombs.) Maybe we should be spending that money developing and deploying a missile and aircraft defense system that could actually make America more secure from any attack. Even if we spent half a trillion dollars and failed, that would have been better than spending $2 trillion in Iraq under false pretenses and ending up with more enemies than we had when we started.
But, if we insist on continuing our failed policy of intervention, let’s at least have the decency to go out and declare a good old fashioned war. And, for the sake of semantics, let’s go ahead and create a Department of Offense. They can have their own budget and their own soldiers, separate from the ones who volunteer to defend their country. Seems like a reasonable and modest proposal to me. I won’t be holding my breath.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this. I do hope you’ll join me next time for another blood curdling episode of the Ecumenical Libertarian! Until then, have a great week!