Critics of American foreign policy may now be living a "We told you so moment." The carnage and new upheaval in Iraq, the anarchy in Libya, violence and instability in Afghanistan along with the unhindered blood-letting in Syria amplifies one hard to swallow fact...the Western democracies, especially America, have a less than stellar record of policing Islamic nations. And it's primarily because their actions are based on western logic and ideals rather than understanding how to deal with antagonistic tribal societies.
And US President Barack Obama is the nation's first leader to realise this fact, seemingly determined to keep the US free from future Middle East conflicts. But this means the public's attention will shift to domestic issues, equally worrisome for politicians. Their worries may be short -lived as Iraq fragments as critics claimed it would back in 2000.
Yet, with Iraq it was a case of naivety, blind stupidity or a gamble that has been first gradually and now speedily evolving the wrong way thanks to a new player the Syrian war created called ISIS. It's an extremist pan Islamic war machine determined to create a Mid East wide caliphate. And it may force NATO back into this land...this time oil is at stake...the magic phrase for military action.
Since WW2 America has squandered its great wealth mainly on ideological and economic centred military adventures which have gained nothing for Americans, except thousands of young people killed in action.
It's one thing protecting one's country from foreign enemies and another saving the world for democracy, Halliburton and Standard Oil.
After Operation Desert Storm in 1991 NATO knew the deep tribal and religious divisions of Iraq would prevent a united country. And with Saddam Hussein still in command, it still didn't register with airy fairy western leaders that ruthless tyrannical rule is the only way religious and tribally diverse Arab nations can be united. To this day this fact doesn't compute with in a developed world filled wishful thinkers.
A prime reason why the West has so much trouble emerging victorious in Third World conflicts is simply we won't do what the other side would do to win. America got close in Vietnam with the wide use of now banned napalm. But these days we're too civilised.
You can see what Syria's Bashir al Assad does to quell rebellion. He effectively destroys everything, ethnically cleansing an area. If situations were reversed do you think the Palestinians, Arabs similar to Syrians and Egyptians, would try to hold peace talks with the rebellious Jewish minority? They would act as other warring Arab factions act. We won't do that.
So, let's look what we have done in a Post WW2 scorecard:
•The 1950-53 Korean War was the first major UN action, lead by the USA. It ended in a stalemate, with around 36,000 American killed and an uneasy truce that has kept the country divided with a large American troop presence still there 65 years later. On the plus side it enabled South Korea to become an industrial powerhouse. On the negative side is has forged North Korea into a nuclear powerhouse, one that threatens the West. Result: Stalemate
•The 1961 Bay of Pigs debacle: The US orchestrates a half baked invasion of Cuba by anti Castro exiles which totally failed. Result: Failed
•Vietnam (1959-1975) was America's second geo-political war, and longest involvement fought mainly to preserve US hegemony in Southeast Asia, but sold to the public as part of the Cold War against the spread of communism. Again stalemate and growing popular discontent forced America out and the North Vietnamese in after nearly 60,000 US troops died there. Today, a united communist Vietnam has mended fences with the US to the point of now depending on America to protect it from former best buddy China. Result: Failed
•Lebanon, 1982: After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to oust the PLO from that country, U.S. troops formed part of a multinational peacekeeping force to help the fragile Lebanese government maintain power. In 1983 241 U.S. Marines and 60 French soldiers were killed by a truck bomb. Result: Failed
•Grenada, 1983: U.S. President Ronald Reagan invaded the Caribbean island nation of Grenada to overthrow its socialist government, which had close ties with Cuba. A U.S. peace-keeping force remained until 1985. Result: Win
•Panama 1989: U.S. President George Bush, the elder, invaded Panama and overthrew Panamanian dictator and drug-smuggler Manuel Noriega. Noriega was later tried and convicted on a number of charges, and was imprisoned in the United States. Result: Win
•The 1990 Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, was a US-led, UN sanctioned NATO action in response to the Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Again it was sold on the idea of freeing Kuwait from an invading tyrant, but it really was about safeguarding the Gulf and Saudi oil region. Result: Win...temporary
•Bosnia, 1992-95: Late in the Bosnian civil war, after years of EU and UN inaction, the U.S. launched air strikes on Bosnian Serbs to prevent ethnic cleansing of Muslims. This ended the conflict. Result: Win
•Kosovo, 1999: A U.S. led NATO force intervened with air strikes after Serbian forces uproot the population and embark on a plan of ethnic cleansing of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population. Result: Win
•Somalia, 1993: In what was supposed to be a humanitarian mercy mission to feed a starving people winds up a war with warlords and a bloody nose for Americans and their good intentions: Result: Failed
•The 2002-Iraq War: The Gulf War eventually led to the Iraq War, a conflict that should never have happened. There were no weapons aimed at the West. It was an all out war for regime change. It was related to the Afghanistan War, if you can call it that, still in progress, both fought as part of the War on Terrorism... a war that may never end since there may always be terrorists somewhere. Result: Given the enormous civilian death toll during and after the Iraq War and what happening to the country now, it's hard to consider this a victory
•Afghanistan: Going on for 12 years mainly to get Osama Bin Laden and to keep women from horrors of the Taliban. There's no end in sight except NATO will be gone in a few months. But America will keep some troops in that country for "training" Afghans...the same way they trained Iraqi troops. Result: Not in yet...but it doesn't look good.
Since its creation, the USA has been involved in 13 major conflicts and dozens of minor ones resulting in 1.5 plus million military deaths. This isn't counting civilian casualties, which in Iraq alone numbered in excess of 500,000. Yet most of these conflicts have one thing in common, they didn't occur because of perceived threats to national security or survival. They were economic or political in nature, but sold to the public, as most wars are, on the grounds of national security and patriotism. In fact, there's probably only one country today that fights wars of national survival, Israel.
In the end what has America gained from its human sacrifice? We trumpeted our victory in the Cold War, yet now are in debt and at the economic mercy of the biggest communist nation of all.
While communist Vietnam is now our friend, atomic armed North Korea, with little to lose, remains a gateway to Armageddon.
America has a national debt of more than $17.5 trillion due largely to unnecessary wars we have fought partly on the false jingoistic view that our way should be everyone's way. So, in the end the main beneficiary of American conflict has been the Military-Industrial Complex. You won't find this mentioned in the Constitution, but it exists as much as Congress.
Proof of it existence has again been revealed in a $50 billion arms deal with our favourite extreme autocratic oil-producing nation, Saudi Arabia. It's designed to counter a perceived regional threat from Iran and will generate 50,000 jobs back in the USA.
And you can bet board members of the complex are milling over plans for America's next possible military adventure, what's in it for them and how they will sell it to a public frustrated by our lagging economy and costly foreign involvements. Yet as long as terrorism exists, there will always be a cause to rationalise conflict. And with the rise of ISIS you can bet the pressures to take action and more action and even more action will grow and grow,