As the drums for yet more war in the Middle East beat louder and louder, cheered on by the ratings-hungry American media, we the people stand by helplessly as the Obama administration ponders yet another certain foreign policy fiasco. We’ve already sent troops to the area and we’re conducting bombings of suspected ISIS strongholds, but if you listened to the talking heads on the Sunday news shows, Obama’s response is weak and ineffectual. The pundits demand blood and another full-scale invasion. Endless war seems our destiny, just as it was for Rome, and we all know how that turned out.
Are the times that we live in an anomaly? Weren’t we once a peace loving country that only used its military as a last resort? Aren’t we the global standard bearers of freedom and democracy?
The answer is no, no and no.
We are, in fact, an international bully that has been interjecting its military might around the globe since the beginning of the nineteenth century. Our violent recklessness has touched people from the Ivory Coast to Iraq, Cambodia to Croatia, Argentina to Angola, not to leave out two world wars, Korea and Vietnam. The Global Policy Forum has put together an extensive list titled, US Military and Clandestine Operations in Foreign Countries - 1798-Present, and if you go to this site, your jaw will certainly drop at the extent of American intervention (both military and CIA operations) around the world, and it only goes up to 2004. Add to that the past ten years of war in the Middle East and the list would probably grow by a third.
America has a long, sad history of violence and meddling that now extends well into the twenty-first century. When historians of the future look back on the history of the United States, will they focus on our lofty rhetoric and self-satisfactory smugness, or will they look at our actual record, like the Global Policy Forum list? If they do that, we’re not going to end up being a shining example of good in the world.