Thanks to the internet, information that could previously be suppressed is now becoming available to the public. Wikileaks in particular shows the extent of U.S. government interventions into other countries, and their counterproductive and costly results. These Wikileaks cables, along with great journalism by alternative media, add even more credence to the case for scaling back U.S. interventions abroad and adopting a foreign policy that favors free-trade, diplomacy, and prudent neutrality over aggressive military force.
A recent Wikileaks cable details how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers secretly enforced the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by helping the Egyptian government detect Palestinians passing through the myriad of tunnels that they have built (and catch the building of any new ones) in order to escape into Egypt.
According to documents recovered in Libya, the CIA and MI6 cooperated quite intimately with Muammar Gaddafi’s regime by sending terrorist suspects to him to be tortured. One of those rendered and tortured, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, is a former Al-Qaeda member and now the military commander in Tripoli for the rebels’ Transitional National Council. And speaking of Libya, although President Barack Obama promised that he would not send in ground troops, the Pentagon confirms that the administation is doing so.
The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill explains we now know that the U.S. is waging an extensive war in Somalia and operating “interrogation” black sites in Mogadishu.
And in perhaps the most grim story to come out recently, a Wikileaks cable reveals that U.S. soldiers shot at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a five-month-old infant and a woman in her 70s, then called in an air strike to destroy the evidence.
What these recent stories reveal is that U.S. policymakers, and the Americans who elect them, need to examine what should be the proper role of the U.S. in the world – what we should do be doing, and just as important, what we shouldn’t be doing.
Not only are government interventions around the globe doing serious harm to many people, but they are also counterproductive in a modern era of increased globalization and instant communication.
Perhaps the biggest motivation behind the 9/11 attacks — and of Muslim anger at the U.S. in general — stems from U.S. support for Israel. It is this support that frustrates diplomacy with other Middle Eastern countries, creates resentment, and puts U.S. security and energy interests in the region in jeopardy. Is unconditionally supporting a militarized state with billions in aid and weapons worth it?
What U.S. military interventions tend to do is entangle us into costly conflicts, create blowback, and foster a dependency in much the same way that domestic government intervention does. It is time the U.S. lets other countries defend themselves and their own interests.
Israel has dozens of nuclear weapons and a powerful military that can easily defend itself. Japan is a rich country that can easily defend itself considering Japan’s military helped the U.S. bomb Afghanistan. Germany and South Korea, which have had U.S. troops on their soils for more than five decades, don’t need us either.
There are, of course, consequences to removing our “security umbrellas” around the globe, especially in East Asia where China is beginning to flex its muscles; the world is a dangerous place. But just because the U.S. Navy isn’t policing sea lanes around the world does not mean we can’t be both secure and strong. Perhaps a bit of diplomacy and free trade could replace the spear of the American Empire as forces to spread American values, peace, and security.
Ultimately, as James Delingpole writes in The Telegraph, we can’t afford these foreign interventions. “We can all come up with plenty of good reasons as to why the world is a healthier, happier, and safer place when America (and its allies in the free West) are out there spreading democracy, keeping peace, defending freedom and so on. Unfortunately, we are moving out of the Age of Ought (as in "We ought to do this because it's the right thing to do") into the Age of Can't (as in "Sorry, but we can't ruddy afford it anymore")."
He’s right. As America figures out how to fix the many domestic problems we face, ending our costly foreign interventions would be a good start.
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