Doug Bandow
November 19, 2017
The National Interest

Veterans Day has passed. The annual ritual never changes. Politicians who didn’t serve in the armed services start unnecessary wars, killing military personnel whose sacrifices are then lauded. Officials say these heroes died defending our freedom. That is almost always a lie.

Sometimes Washington must go to war. Not often, however. Despite the endless claims that we live in a dangerous world, America is amazingly safe. No other power could defeat, let alone conquer, the United States. Only Russia has a comparable nuclear arsenal, but it would be destroyed if Moscow targeted America. China and Russia trail U.S. conventional military strength and are more or less strategically isolated. In contrast, Washington is allied with every other major industrialized state.

Despite their bluster, the so-called rogue states, most notably North Korea and Iran, are not planning to attack the United States. Instead, they are desperate to ward off American attack. Since Washington routinely employs regime change against governments on America’s “naughty” list, Kim Jong-un looks rational, not suicidal, in seeking to create a deterrent to preserve his rule.

Washington’s most pressing security challenge is terrorism. But while targeting civilians is a moral outrage, terrorism does not pose an existential threat to America. Indeed, European and Latin American nations have confronted and survived more virulent attacks. Israel, Sri Lanka and Turkey also have suffered prolific terrorist bombings. So, too, Iraq, after Washington invaded that country and triggered sectarian war.

Moreover, interventions, invasions and occupations are no answer to terrorism. On the contrary, terrorism is a poor man’s weapons against stronger powers. It is politics by other means when the other side has a preponderance of traditional military power. To understand terrorism is not to justify it. But it long has been a political tool: two Russian czars, an Austro-Hungarian archduke (heir apparent), two former Indian prime ministers and countless other foreign officials have been assassinated by terrorists. Before Iraq, the most prolific suicide bombers on earth did their killing in Sri Lanka. Countries like Russia are not targeted because they are so liberal; Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait are not attacked for being infidels.

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