Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, interventionists are learning the wrong lesson from their ongoing debacle in Afghanistan. They are coming up with all sorts of reasons why this particular intervention has gone bad. Undoubtedly, they will promise to do better in the future.
That’s not the lesson Americans should learn from this forever-war disaster. The lesson everyone should be learning is that America’s founding heritage of non-interventionism is the way to go in the future.
In other words, rather than engage in “smart” interventionism, as the interventionists will advocate, America should engage in no foreign interventionism whatsoever. That would mean that the United States would bring all of its troops home from overseas and discharge them. It would mean abandoning all U.S. military and CIA bases and installations in foreign lands, including the U.S. torture and prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It would mean no more interventionism in foreign lands, including invasions, wars of aggression, coups, alliances with dictatorial regimes, and foreign aid.
This is what Americans should be discussing and debating going forward. Rather than focusing on the “mistakes” that led to the Afghanistan debacle, Americans should raise their vision to a higher level, one that challenges the overall concept of foreign interventionism itself.
In the process, it would be wise for everyone to read or re-read John Quincy Adams’s Fourth of July address to Congress in 1821, entitled “In Search of Monsters to Destroy.” In the speech, Adams sets forth America’s founding principle of non-interventionism. Another thing to keep in mind was George Washington’s admonition against entangling alliances.
The turn toward empire and interventionism began with the Spanish American War in 1898. It accelerated with the two world wars. Then, the Cold War was used to justify the conversion of the federal government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, which is a totalitarian form of governmental structure. That’s when Americans began living under a regime that wielded the authority to engage in state-sponsored assassinations.
Americans have been inculcated with the notion that the Cold War was necessary. That’s another point that needs to be discussed and debated. In fact, the Cold War was nothing but a racket that was used to justify the existence of the national-security establishment. Don’t forget, after all, that President Kennedy announced an end to the Cold War a few months before he was assassinated.
With the Cold War, interventionism accelerated with the Korean and Vietnam wars, coups, state-sponsored assassinations, kidnappings, executions, torture, secret mass surveillance, and other dark-side actions on the part of the national-security establishment.
With the sudden and unexpected demise of the Cold War, the national-security establishment was not about to go quietly into the night. Having ostensibly lost its principal Cold War enemy — the Soviet Union and “godless communism” — the Pentagon and the CIA began intervening in the Middle East with the aim of producing terrorist retaliation.
When terrorist retaliation came in the form of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, the USS Cole, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 9/11 attacks, the national-security establishment had its new official enemy — terrorism and Muslims.
That’s what they used to justify their invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which provided an endless stream of new terrorists, which was then used to justify the never-ending “war on terrorism,” which was actually an even more lucrative racket for the military-industrial complex than the Cold War.
Meanwhile, knowing that their forever wars in the Middle East were faltering, the Pentagon and the CIA never gave up hope of restoring Russia and China as official enemies. That’s what NATO expansion, the trade war on China, and the hostility against Russia were all about: old official enemies being converted into new ones.
There are those today who are now arguing for a policy of enlightened foreign interventionism. They are saying that U.S. officials should only intervene in foreign lands when the interventionism is “clearly” in the interests of “national security.”
Nonsense! After all, don’t forget that U.S. officials were convinced that the interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East were in the interests of “national security.” Under a foreign policy of interventionism, U.S. officials will always consider their interventions to be in the interests of “national security.”
The time has come for Americans to do some serious soul-searching with respect to the future direction of our nation. It’s time to raise our vision to a higher level — one that rejects foreign interventionism entirely and restores our founding principles of non-interventionism and a limited-government republic to our land.