It seems like yesterday when this writer was posting one article after another in support of Barack Obama while he was running to become our nation's first black President. And to a degree, I still support him as your President. However, this view is becoming more difficult for me all the time. One of the platforms Obama promised was to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than five years after he took office, this promise by Obama remains unfullfilled. Not only that, but now we are moving on to Syria, and making plans to support certain rebel groups in that country.
This situation reminds me of the days of LBJ and Vietnam. In fact, the Afghan war has been going on now for even LONGER than we were involved in Vietnam. Did we not learn any lessons from this? How much longer do we sacrifice our best volunteers in these foreign wars? How many TV commercials do we have to see from the Wounded Warriors Project to know something is wrong? How many more billions of dollars do we spend each month (while we let our bridges, roads, and infrastructure collapse) before we admit that the United States is NOT first-in-the-world-at-everything, not the Top Dog Loner Sheriff of the Entire World, and decide to make our efforts in the Middle East a global effort? (Link leads to actor Jeff Daniels' famous speech on America from HBO, which if you haven't seen, you should.)
Maybe you're asking yourself:
If these wars are so bad for America, why aren't people marching the streets with signs and shouting angry slogans, as they did during the Vietnam War? The answer is simple.
There is no longer a military draft. If there were, it is this writer's opinion that protests would erupt in every major city in America for needlessly sacrificing our young people in stupid foreign wars. We have to fight terrorism you say. Terrorism has been around as long as war has been around. Genghis Khan was a terrorist. So was Hitler, but he had a military machine behind him that made the target obvious. With Middle East terrorists, the target is often vague and incomplete, and fighting them comes with heavy suffering from the civilian populations wherever we go next. I haven't seen any terrorists landing on the beach at Coney Island and invading the USA lately. Have you? Terrorists both foreign and domestic have always been with us, and they will continue to be with us. If they come here to wreak havoc, we will do as we have always done as a people and deal with them. But trying to chase them haphazardly here and there around the globe is a doomed effort that costs us much more than we gain.
There is an unspoken promise when as a country you establish an all-volunteer force made up of your best people. The promise is that you will not waste them stupidly, which is the situation now. We gain nothing by chasing terrorists militarily around the globe. This only feeds into what they want on two levels. First, you give them targets to attack, like ducks in a row. Second, you provide recruiting posters for them they can use against us. Meanwhile, perhaps your son, daughter, cousin, are sacrificed in this effort.
Terrorism in the Middle East, repression, and violations of human rights in foreign countries cannot be defeated by the United States alone. It must be a global effort and actively supported by every free country on Earth able to do so. Not only militarily, but by economic sanctions. Anything else is a waste of our young people, our resources, and will eventually end in defeat. This lesson was supposedly learned by us in Vietnam, and by the Russians in Afghanistan. We have obviously forgotten those lessons, and if our policies do not change, we will eventually be reminded of them...again.
In this writer's opinion, it is time for our President to take a long, hard look at what is going on and to remember that charity, like fighting terrorism in America...begins at home.
(Robert Blevins is the author of the science fiction novels Say Goodbye to the Sun, The Corona Incident, The 13th Day of Christmas, and other works. He has written more than thirty articles in support of Barack Obama since 2007, most of them for Newsvine.)