State of Isolationism

We here in the US in 2011 are pretty much tired of wars and conflicts.  We’ve been in a constant state of war since September 11, 2001.  We have been involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan (along the Afghanistan border), Yemen, and Libya.  And at a time, when we are wanting to scale back our budget to get our financial house in order, we tend to look at the organization that takes up the biggest chunk of our finances… the department of defense.  After watching the CNN Republican debate the other week, I was shocked to hear something coming from the candidates… isolationism.  The Republican Party has been the party of defending the country since 9/11.  They have basically run the show with it and now here they’ve done a complete reversal on that.  Now that’s not to say that all Republicans are going for a more isolationist stance, but it is seeming to come across as the mainstream of the party these days.

I think back to the 2008 election when then-Senator Obama was talking about bringing down the number of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing an end to our involvement.  And I remember Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain slamming him for such things.   Move ahead to 2011, and here is Mitt Romney saying exactly what then-Senator Obama was saying.  So what is the difference between now and then.  Sure, as a population, we were tired of being at war and wanted our troops to come home then.  But a bigger part of the population now wants it… and even more important, a majority of Republican voters now want it and Romney (and the rest of the GOP field) are pandering those voters… though it is highly unlikely (like after the 2008 election) that the Afghanistan war will come to a rapid close.

I am not one for war.  I am a man of peace.  But I do realize that there are bad people out there that commit very bad crimes against humanity.  And sometimes… the use of force is warranted against such people.  But force should be used as a last resort option only… when all else has failed.  It is possible for us all to coexist on this planet so long as we learn to respect each other.  And before anyone starts finger-pointing at one another, we here in the US can be just as guilty of disrespecting other people as anybody.  I see it almost on a daily basis here… and we are supposed to be the ones setting the standards for the rest of the world to live by… and yet we fail at it miserably (whether here at home or abroad).  Despite today’s ability to have access to infinite resources of information, I see more people’s minds in a state of isolationism than ever before.  And some of that comes from the lack to use that access to information appropriately.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has  been very vocal against what he is hearing and seeing from his party as of late.  The isolationist talk is alarming because he knows (and even I do) that the US needs to be on the front lines and should be setting a good example for others to follow… war as a last resort and standing up on a united front, and also by accepting other cultures and other peoples and our differences.  He is also aware of history.  The talk of pulling out of Afghanistan immediately by the Republican presidential hopefuls means that they haven’t learned from the past.  We did pull out of Afghanistan once  (even the Soviets were beaten there, too), and it led to a failed state and a harbor for terrorist organizations.  For our own security, we need to finish the job, which goes against every fiber of my being.  But failure to do so could mean another failed state and it could find us back there again within a couple of decades starting over from scratch yet  again… which would cost us even more money in the long run.

Our nation tried isolationism between the two world wars, ad we turned a blind eye to the totalitarian regimes that were being created and were committing major crimes against humanity.  We cannot afford to return to that kind of mindset.  I don’t like war, but I want us to finish our mission rather than just up and leave.  Some would argue whether our mission in Afghanistan can be won or not… and I don’t know the answer to that since I’m not on the ground there.  And for those who have been readers of my blog for some time will remember, I lost a young man last year whom I graduated high school with.  So the war there, more than any other conflict, has hit home.  There are just some things that we have to take a stand and fight for.  We aren’t just fighting for our freedoms and our rights… but we have to set the example as the super-power to stand up for other people sometimes when they can’t do it themselves.  Where would we be today if France hadn’t taken a chance and stood up for a group of rebels in a far away British colony?  It is part of our history, and it is part of our existence.

May we always find peace.

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