Recently the fallout of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria has been dominating the news. Trump tweeted about the event that “The Endless Wars Must End!” referring to not only Syria but the decade spanning wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This leaves a complicated question: how should U.S. military be used in countries that are not directly attacking our own?
The United States has little to fear from invasion. The massive size, weaker neighbors and two huge oceans separating our country from other powerful nations in Europe and Asia should let the United States rest easy.
After winning independence then killing Native Americans and Hispanics for their land, the United States mainly focused on using its armed forces for brief military occupations to change governments to be more “friendly” to U.S. economic and political interests.
This kind of intervention is selfish. Regardless of how much influence other countries have in an area, removing a government by force only makes that government work with you under the point of a gun. All the same, people will suffer as they do in any war.
We saw this happen repeatedly in the 20th and 21st centuries. It seems the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan stick out as prime examples of countries the United States intervened where the people did not want them.
During World War II, the United States sent its forces abroad where they were largely seen as heroes in every country they went into.
From the moment Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States was a welcome ally against the fascist and military run governments invading almost every country around them. The majority of the people in those countries hated the invaders and were willing to work with the United States so they could have their homes free from foreign imposed tyranny.
The United States did not simply leave as soon as the enemy was defeated. The United States instated the Marshall Plan to rebuild war-ravaged Western Europe.
The intervention in Syria can be likened to our WWII efforts. Instead of imposing our own way of life on them, we came as an ally against the invading force in their lands. This protected them not only from ISIS, but the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and Turkey.
All that protection went away as the United States pulled their forces out.
Within days, Turkey invaded the territory occupied by the now-abandoned U.S. allies, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
Now refugees flee from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s “safe zone,” ISIS prisoners are escaping from guarded Kurdish internment camps and the Syrian Democratic Forces has formed an alliance with the Russian-supported Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for his military forces.
At this time, a weak five-day cease-fire is all the U.S. has accomplished since then. Even then, there are reports that the cease-fire is occasionally being broken.
This decision by Trump only shows his ignorance in mistaking the American intervention in Syria to be the same kind the United States continues to wage in Afghanistan, where the enemy is the Afghan’s fellow countrymen.
The United States must use its military sparingly and with full understanding of the benefits and costs of going to war. Only then will the “Endless Wars” have a chance of ending and the United States be a true defender of democracy.