US interventionism abroad has failed, Obama fails to bring troops home
For a candidate that ran just three years ago on a platform of opposing futile and ineffectual wars that needlessly drain our country of resources, President Barack Obama sure seems to be gung-ho for adventurous foreign military conflicts these days. In fact, since accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, Obama has commanded more active military troops and launched more tomahawk missile attacks than any previous peace prize-winner in history.
One look at our continued military involvement abroad will lend itself to the conclusion that the United States is in a perpetual state of war and will remain that way into the foreseeable future. In Iraq, a US military presence remains on the ground at the president’s discretion seven and a half years after Saddam Hussein was captured by American forces. Although troop levels have been reduced since January of 2009 and our “combat role” supposedly ended in 2010, 45,000 American troops in Iraq continue to be mortared, rocketed and car bombed on a weekly basis.
Further east in Afghanistan, American troops are still fighting with insurgents over 10 years after our war there began. Despite the fact that Osama bin Laden is dead and gone, administration officials maintain that gains in Afghanistan are fragile and easily reversible. One would think that after ten years we would have achieved something slightly more solid than that, but that would require the dubious assumption that “gains” in Afghanistan are even a distinct possibility. If the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s should have taught us anything, it is that there is no winning in Afghanistan.
In the wake of the president’s recent address to the nation, the media called much attention to the fact that troop levels in Afghanistan would be reduced by 30,000 by the end of 2012. As Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., pointed out on his website, what they conveniently failed to mention was the fact that there would still be 70,000 troops remaining after the drawdown – more than there were at the end of Bush’s presidency.
As if this wasn’t enough for Obama, he has since decided to selectively launch a war in Libya against an oppressive dictator, who could have arbitrarily been picked among half a dozen others in the region. The administration prefers not to use such language as war, however, because it sounds much too violent and expensive. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes prefers the mystifying euphemism, “kinetic military action.”
According to the AP, the White House even went so far as to claim that our violent assaults in Libya don’t amount to “hostilities” subject to the War Powers Act. Now, you and I might ask, “We are firing missiles and performing air raids on foreign military targets, so what’s the difference?” Apparently this question, among countless others, deserves no substantive answer.
Now call me crazy, but this whole thing sounds an awful lot like “the past eight years,” as candidate Obama so often derided on the campaign trail. Sadly, the foreign policy sold to the anti-war crowd in 2008 is virtually the same as that of Bush, merely rebranded and sold in shiny and deceptive packaging.
Military interventionism abroad has failed in as epic a fashion as governmental interventionism at home. Unfortunately, politicians in both major parties fail to acknowledge this, and instead continue trying to save the world through American empire even as the republic crumbles at home. When a charismatic candidate pledged to “fundamentally change” our nation in 2008, evidently an end to our current role as nation-builders and world police wasn’t part of the program.
Steven Christopher is a first year graduate student in the C.T. Bauer College of Business and may be reached at [email protected].