Failed American Interventions
The United States emerged triumphant from the Second World War as the champion of freedom and democracy. Since that time, we have not been able to replicate the same dramatic and long-lasting success, nor have we always furthered American interests when we tried to act as the world's policeman.
In Korea, we succeeded in pushing back North Korea, but left North Korea as a failed communist state. The vibrant economy we facilitated in South Korea proves the inferiority of communism.
In Vietnam, we lost many lives and billions of dollars only to see a communist regime to take over. In time, that communist regime, like most of the others, figured out that communism does not work and eventually embraced capitalism. Although our prior military intervention may have hastened the fall of communism by a few years there, it appears communism fell due to its own economic inefficiency. We fought communism for the right reasons, but did not have enough confidence in our own system to know it would triumph and communism would fail.
In Cuba, the invasion we supported failed miserably at the Bay of Pigs.
In Lebanon, we lost many Marines to a large truck bombing and left without doing much if anything there.
In Somalia, we accomplished a short-term humanitarian goal and got some of our soldiers killed for our efforts. It seems like folks ought to be grateful when we try to help - but as George Washington told us, there is no real gratitude among nations.
In Panama, we nailed Manuel Noriega but not the drug trade. Then we had to keep Noriega in prison at taxpayer expense until other nations had their chance to incarcerate him.
In the First Gulf War, we succeeded in pushing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, but then regretted leaving him in power. In the Second Gulf War, we took Baghdad and the other Iraqi cities ... And then got bogged down with terrorism, sectarian conflict and the cultural hatreds that cause us to be disliked in Muslim countries. ISIS is now a real problem, the Kurds and the Turks are at odds, and the Iranians now support the Shiites in Iraq. Our goal of fostering democracy in Iraq seems to have failed.
Our mere presence in Saudi Arabia, even though we were defending that country, angered Osama bin Laden and ultimately contributed to terrorist attacks on the United States. Now, we try to have our troops stay at the secret Saudi airbase, out of sight. We successfully killed Osama bin Laden, who had been hiding in a country we subsidized with billions of dollars in military support.
In Afghanistan, we had to pay back our enemies and slaughter as many of them as we could, but our efforts to foster democracy there will probably not succeed. Our military successes in Afghanistan were always followed by isolated attacks on Americans and our NATO allies. To the extent we were welcomed in Afghanistan, it was because we spent money and maintained peace. When we pull out of nations like Iraq and Afghanistan, they revert to armed conflict.
The good news is that there has not been a general war since 1945, and the main reason is nuclear deterrence. Nukes keep the peace among the nuclear powers and so far have only allowed limited, indirect or proxy wars with conventional weapons. NATO has protected us and grown stronger with additional NATO allies. U.S. forces were truly welcomed into Europe; we did not really intervene.
We need a strong military for deterrence purposes. Things would be much worse without American military power. But when our forces are committed without a clear goal to support vital American interests, we misuse them. Let's face it: there is an unlimited supply of evil in the world, and the U.S. military cannot be asked or expected to eliminate it. The world is too big. People with dictatorial power are too wicked. Yes, the world is interdependent, but we still have the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as moats.
Our troops are valuable, too valuable to be spent on futile nation-building or in countries that do not deserve their sacrifice. Like the ancient Spartans, we have the best armed forces, and like Sparta, we should use our military power sparingly abroad.