Besides the American founders’ moral and wise advice to avoid “foreign entanglements,” or collusions between the U.S. government and foreign governments, there are practical reasons for avoiding wars. One big reason is all the blowback against America that decades of the U.S. government’s intrusions abroad have been causing. If nothing else, an analysis of America’s past century of wars and interventions, and recognizing their destructive long term consequences, should be enough to finally stop the vicious cycle. Those who appreciate the messages of history will oppose war against Iran.
The U.S. government is empowered with territorial protection and defending 300 million Americans against foreign invasions and attacks. But the U.S. government’s own interventions, invasions and violence abroad have resulted in making its own population more vulnerable to aggressions and hostilities.
Just look at the controversy over Imam Feisal Rauf’s wanting to build an Islamic community center two blocks away from the former World Trade Center site, known as “Ground Zero.” Rauf has stated that the U.S. government’s intrusions and violence abroad are responsible for many more deaths of innocent Muslims than Al Qaeda is responsible for the deaths of innocent Americans, and that the U.S. government has culpability in the September 11th attacks because of an invasive foreign policy in the Middle East having been provoking Muslims in those territories.
On his radio show, Sean Hannity has been repeatedly playing those statements by Rauf, and implying that the statements are incorrect. Hannity and likeminded pundits seem to view as “anti-America” and “pro-terrorist” anyone who recognizes exactly what the terrorists themselves have been saying as far as their actual motivations for their terrorism – those motivations being the U.S. government’s intrusions in the Middle East for 60 years. It is unfortunate that some people’s faith in their government can be so sheepish that they just cannot see the immoralities that their government has been committing for decades.
U.S. Government Interventionism in the Middle East
I’ve written about these events several times recently, but they are important and relevant to today’s problems, such as the CIA’s overthrow of Iran’s Prime Minister and the U.S. government’s supporting the subsequent Shah’s murderous dictatorship that led to the 1979 taking of American hostages in Iran, and there have been further U.S. government intrusions and interventions that have done nothing but provoke hostility and rage among the Middle-Eastern Muslim population for 60 years now.
The U.S. government’s actions in Iran in the 1950s ultimately led to the imposition of repressive Sharia Law in Iran that continues to this day. Similarly, the U.S. government’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent manipulations in that country has now led to the same thing: repressive Sharia Law in Iraq.
The U.S. government had also been expanding its size and power across these Middle-Eastern territories, with hundreds of military bases that it has no moral right or constitutional authority to be doing. These occupations are considered to be intrusions into the holy lands of millions of Muslim inhabitants of these territories.
The most significant point of the intrusions into these Middle-Eastern territories, in my opinion, was the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War of then-President George H.W. Bush, which involved the destruction of civilian electricity, water and sewage treatment facilities, while the subsequent sanctions led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as increased cancer and infant mortality rates. These facts of history are important to reiterate because these events further inflamed anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East during the 1990s leading up to the September 11th attacks in 2001.
It is unfortunate that Sean Hannity and others can’t understand what Imam Rauf is saying as far as U.S. government culpability in 9/11 and continued Islamic anti-Americanism from the Middle East. Sadly, Hannity and many others just can’t comprehend the possibility that their government could possibly commit immoral acts. (Unless it’s the Obama regime doing it, that’s different!)
A Century of Repeating History
The futility of the last 9 years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, also Pakistan and Yemen, has shown how the U.S. government is repeating its own mistakes, at the further disservice of the American people, as evidenced by a whole century of U.S government interventions, intrusions and especially wars abroad, all of which have backfired against the U.S.
According to Jim Powell of the Cato Institute, and author of Wilson’s War, How Woodrow Wilson’s Great Blunder Led To Hitler, Lenin, Stalin And World War II, President Woodrow Wilson’s taking the U.S. into World War I not only made World War II’s intensity and destruction possible, but had destructive results for the Middle East as well. Powell notes that
If the United States had stayed out of World War I, there probably would have been a negotiated settlement, and the Ottoman Empire would have survived for a while. The Middle East wouldn’t have been carved up by Britain and France. But as things turned out, authorized by League of Nations “mandates,” British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill was determined to secure the British Navy’s access to Persian oil at the least possible cost by installing puppet regimes in the region.
In Mesopotamia, Churchill bolted together the territories of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra to make Iraq. Although Kurds wanted an independent homeland, their territory was to be part of Iraq. Churchill decided that the best bet for Britain would be a Hashemite ruler… During the 37 years of the Iraqi monarchy, there were 58 changes of parliamentary governments, indicating chronic political instability. All Iraqi rulers since Feisal, including Saddam Hussein, were Sunnis. That Iraq was ruled for three decades by a sadistic murderer like Saddam made clear how the map-drawing game was vastly more complicated than Wilson had imagined.
In this assortment of “allies” and “enemies,” the advocate of liberty could find no champion. The “bad fascists” were busy at work in their death camps in Poland and Germany. The “good fascists” were busy at work firebombing civilian targets all over Germany and raining mass destruction on the Japanese. And the “well-intentioned” communists in the Soviet Union were busy charting their course to subjugate Eastern Europe and vast stretches of Asia, as the next steps to world Marxist victory.
These mid-20th Century conflicts among peoples and their collectivist governments – governments empowered at the expense of liberty and human rights – were made possible by the unnecessary extension of World War I by Wilson. While in the short term Wilson’s entering World War I led to a defeated Germany, had Wilson not entered the war and Germany been victorious, as Jim Powell notes, Germany “would have had a hard time holding their empire together because of all the rebellious nationalities, the same nationalities that figured in the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. Most likely outcome of a German victory: costly civil wars ending in German collapse.” Wilson entered the war despite the peace treaties in the works up to 1917, and because of Wilson the Treaty of Versailles that was signed was utterly hostile to Germany and her future, thus paving the way to Hitler and Nazism.
So one can assert how illicit actions, the abandonment of the principle against “foreign entanglements,” and using aggression and wars as means of socialist central planning have destructive consequences: Wilson’s interventionism was a contributor to the rise of Hitler and Stalin, Churchill’s interventionism and socialist planning was a contributor to the rise of Saddam Hussein, the CIA’s 1953 Iranian coup and the U.S. government’s propping up the Shah of Iran was a contributor to Iran’s subsequent repressive Islamic regime (and Israeli insecurity), and the two Bush presidents’ wars in Iraq have led to Iraq’s current repressive rule under Islamic Sharia Law, as well as the mess that is Afghanistan.
The socialist central planners George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush had asserted that their interventions and intrusions in other countries’ business would have some kind of positive benefit for the U.S., when in actuality, because such intrusions violated the sovereignty (as well as liberty and property) of those foreign peoples, the long-term effects of such intrusions and trespassing is backfiring and causing worse problems for the U.S.
In a speech before a Future of Freedom Foundation conference in 2008, former New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer, author of Overthrow and All the Shah’s Men, made this astute observation regarding the U.S. government’s intervention and war in Vietnam:
Now why did we decide we couldn’t tolerate Ho Chi Minh as president of the united Vietnam? It’s because we thought if we allow this election to go forward you’re going to have a united Vietnam under a communist leadership. Instead of accepting that, we went to war, we lost 58,000 American lives, something like a million Vietnamese were killed, a country was ravaged, and our country was psychologically disoriented forever. And what was the end result? A united Vietnam under a communist leadership, the same result that we could have had in 1956 without any bloodshed.
And the saddest or most pathetic aspect of this is that having a united communist Vietnam actually isn’t so bad for us. We’re getting along with them. Now, we don’t particularly like them, but we’re trading with them; we have an embassy. It’s not so bad.
It should be quite clear to any objective observer how history is constantly being repeated. A federal government with a monopoly in territorial protection upon which the population is compelled to be dependent gives that compulsory government overwhelming power. Given human nature, it is no wonder that the politicians in charge have deliberately caused or provoked hostilities with other governments.
Before being so critical of Imam Rauf, Sean Hannity and others need to stop being so self-centered and ought to look at the U.S. government’s destructive socialist interventionism more closely. People whose feelings are hurt by an Islamic center or a mosque near “Ground Zero” need to recognize the thousands of “ground zeros” in Pakistan and Afghanistan in which many families have lost loved ones from U.S. government bombs and drones – innocent civilians murdered for no good reason.
The inhabitants of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan don’t like their fellow innocent civilians murdered by foreign occupiers or by CIA remote-controlled drones, just as Americans didn’t like their fellow innocent civilians murdered on 9/11.
And the ones whose view of Ground Zero as “sacred” territory need to understand how the U.S. government’s hundreds of military bases on Muslims’ holy lands has affected many of those Muslims so deeply that it has actually motivated some of them to strike back. And as Gen. Stanley McChrystal was quoted by a recent Rolling Stone article to have said, “for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.”
So for this past century, the U.S. government has taken upon itself to be the world’s policeman, to fight other countries’ wars, to “spread democracy” onto foreign lands and fix other people’s problems. But the actual outcomes of such interventionism have gone against America’s interests (except for the Wall Street fat cats, of course).
I know it’s an old cliché, but it really is the case that, in the words of Spanish-American philosopher and writer George Santayana, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Or those who haven’t learned the lessons of history, thanks to government-run education, will repeat it. Many of our government leaders repeat history either because they don’t know their history, or they do know, but are willing to repeat it anyway for the sake of short-term political gain. Americans need to remember their history as they contemplate war against Iran.