How long will the people permit it?
By Daniel L. Davis
September 29, 2016
The American Conservative
One has to wonder just how much longer the American people will silently permit the categorical failure of American foreign policy, both in theory and in practice. The evidence confirming the totality of our failure is breathtaking in scope and severity. Changes are needed to preserve U.S. national security and economic prosperity.
Recent headlines have captured the character of this failure. Fifteen years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released findings that “corruption substantially undermined the U.S. mission in Afghanistan from the very beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. … We conclude that failure to effectively address the problem means U.S. reconstruction programs, at best, will continue to be subverted by systemic corruption and, at worst, will fail.”
Earlier this month, a British Parliament study found that the result of Western military intervention in Libya “was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”
Airstrikes and drone attacks are accidentally killing thousands of civilians, aid workers, wedding parties, and now even the troops of a nation against whom we are not at war. Each of these mistakes, repeated hundreds of times over the past 15 years, creates more antagonism and hatred of the United States than any other single event. Whatever tactical benefit some of the strikes do accomplish, they are consumed in the still-worsening strategic failure the misfires cause.
Bottom line: The use of military power since 2001 has:
- Turned a previously whole and regionally impotent Iraq that balanced Iran into a factory of terrorism and a client of Tehran;
- Turned Afghanistan from a country with a two-sided civil war—contained within its own borders—into a dysfunctional state that serves as a magnet for terrorists.
- Turned a Libya that suffered internal unrest, but didn’t threaten its neighbors or harbor terrorists, into an “unmitigated failure” featuring a raging civil war, serving as an African beachhead for ISIS and a terrorist breeding ground;
- Contributed to the expansion of al-Qaeda into a “franchise” group, spawned a new strain when ISIS was born out of the vacuum created by our Iraq invasion, and seen major terrorist threats explode worldwide;
- Joined other nations in battles in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other areas within Africa whose only result has been the expansion of the threat and the deepening of the suffering of the civil populations.