Must America always be at war? Certainly, if the nation’s leaders consider America the world’s police force. There will always be wrongdoers to fight against.
Viewed from this perspective, deploying troops in Syria – which President Obama vowed so earnestly not to do – might seem justified, even inevitable.
But what international law is America enforcing in Syria? Or Iraq? Or Yemen? Or Afghanistan? Or Somalia? Or Niger? Or Chad? Or other far-off countries?
Surely, to be a law enforcement agency, you must have a set of laws to guide you?
I suppose there is a kind of common law that is obvious to anyone. Beheading, raping, enslaving, looting… anything that you or I would find outrageous and barbaric must be against he law. And any self-respecting law enforcement agency would feel obliged to punish the perpetrators.
Surely, no decent person – or country – can allow groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to commit unspeakable atrocities with impunity? America has the military might to intervene. It is completely understandable that Americans should feel morally obligated to intervene.
But under what authority?
Without some kind of international authorization, any military intervention in the affairs of another sovereign nation is a vigilante operation.
After Nine-Eleven, George W. Bush gave himself the authority to attack “terrorists” wherever they might be if he felt it was necessary in order to block planned assaults on America. Under the Bush Doctrine,U.S. foreign policy includes unrivaled military supremacy, the concept of preemptive or preventive war, and a willingness to act unilaterally if multilateral cooperation cannot be achieved.
In this global “war on terror,” America maintains a vast network of foreign bases, costing billions and employing well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors. And American troops seem destined to be perpetually in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan
This policy has expanded over the years. American forces, arms and dollars are increasingly involved in conflicts that have no apparent implications for American security.
The justification for American military involvement now includes some kind of moral imperative.
But have America’s leaders stopped to contemplate the scope of such a mission? Human beings all over the world are prone to outrageous behavior.
I read on the Internet recently that mobs in some remote place – I think it was Borneo – are hunting “witches” and burning them at the stake. Will I soon read thatAmerican bombers and drones are bound for Borneo? And, later, that there are American “boots on the ground” there?
What about the atrocities that the press does not choose to cover? And what about the atrocities committed by America’s “allies”?
It seems to me that America’s leaders are on a slippery slope, and there’s no telling where their current policy will lead.
Throughout much of the world, injustice is rampant. Women are oppressed. Children are abused. Wildlife is poached to extinction. Rain forests are leveled. The environment is dangerously polluted…
Can America expect to fix everything? Or is that the job of an international body? The United Nations, perhaps?