The United States has been at war for most of my life.
And make no mistake — despite what President Barack Obama says about not sending troops to Iraq to combat the swift rise of extremist Muslim militants there, we’ll be back at war in the Middle East before we know it.
Our leaders have failed us.
Both the postwar situation in Iraq and the coming conflict in Afghanistan are clear indications that it’s time the United States relinquishes its self-appointed role as the world’s police force. We are not responsible for proliferating democracy anywhere in the world, particularly when we’re doing such a fine job of it here at home. Our track record indicates that we’re simply not able to recreate the liberties of this country elsewhere, or even create an advantageous position for ourselves in the places we invade. We do have the capability to be a force for good through humanitarian aid, rather than sowing fear and discord through the faceless drone strikes and assassinations that are Obama’s favorite method of warfare. Aid should be the cornerstone of our foreign policy.
Instead, our foreign policy, particularly during this administration, has just accelerated the downward trend of sentiment toward the U.S. in the rest of the world. The conflict in Iraq was utterly pointless — we’d be better off dealing with a clear antagonist in Saddam Hussein than a shadowy, unknown enemy in the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The war in Afghanistan was even more fruitless. The Taliban is coming back, and Osama bin Laden was killed not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan.
That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially given the massive loss of coalition, Iraqi and Afghani life and the thousands upon thousands of American troops maimed during the wars. The men and women in the White House and in Congress who supported those efforts have as much blood on their hands as the insurgents.
The U.S. should always be prepared to defend itself — our position as a superpower dictates such. But we have to stop sticking our nose into places it doesn’t belong.
There doesn’t have to be another generation that knows nothing but war.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.