Being an eager student of history made me wonder: why has the U.S. become an easy victim? The book Savage Peace gives me some answers. (David P. Polger. Savage Peace: Americans at War in the 1990s. Presido, 1995). For other questions I have to find explanations elsewhere, but not from the world media, because their reports of war are not clear-cut but sensationalised outcries branding the U.S. a dreadful bully and evil conqueror. They bellow that the Iraqi war is illegal. But I ask you, were the wars of Napoleon legal? Were all the colonial wars legal? Are any wars legal?
In fact Americans have done most of their bleeding and dying for others. It isn't the fault of the U.S. that our world is a dangerous place where 80 percent of the population are disgruntled folks who want their piece of pie now. To think that in the brief time since the end of the Cold War due to crushing poverty, exploding populations, long-standing ethnic and religious feuds there were fifty-one wars raging in 1992! Often Americans get involved in strife because they are asked, and that in spite of the outcry about American “neocolonialism and economic imperialism.”
I had to dig deep to validate the world ‘asked’. I quote here from Encyclopedia Britannica: “The British government's official notice in Feb. 1947 that it could no longer afford to supply military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey, key Mediterranean countries which the U.S.S.R. sought to bring into its orbit. In what became known as the Truman doctrine, the president announced that the U.S. would undertake the responsibility. This was the inauguration of an ever-widening program under which the U.S. took over the global burden England had borne since the middle of the 18th century.”
A turbulent world
The United Nations organisation was supposed to prevent future wars, but like its world body predecessor, The League of Nations, it lacked teeth to grant ‘collective security’ to a turbulent, dangerous world. Eventually the U.N. became a great arena with poor nations bashing Uncle Sam. It was obvious at its very inception that the U.N. couldn't work under the democratic principles of majority vote, when the five big members had veto rights, as if justice came by size!
After WII the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forged strong economic ties between its European members, Canada and America. In actual fact NATO does not act if the U.S. does not join in and is thus only willing to fight to the last American.
Why has the U.S. become the fall guy? Because the U.S. is the only democratic country that takes action for abstract ideas like freedom and democracy. It is the only superpower that is willing to intervene in world affairs for moral reasons and address problems of human welfare in any hopeless situation. The French have profited by such principles when the Americans died for their freedom in the two World Wars. But they soon forgot their liberators and General De Gaulle turned against the politics of U.S.
America bled in the U.N.-initiated Korean War 1950-53 for nothing. The Demilitarised Zone solved no problems and became a lasting burden. The U.S. also stepped into the French defeat in Indochina and bled for nothing in Vietnam.
When the Berlin Wall came down in November of 1989 people believed that the universal peace had arrived. This didn't happen. Instead small wars, political actions, stability operations, low intensity conflicts, peacekeeping, peacemaking, peace enforcement appeared classed as ‘operations other than war’ (OOTW).
Canadians, British and Scandinavians insisted on limited use of force and strict impartiality. This is music to pacifists, but in dangerous situation there is no substitute for a clean, loaded rifle. How can anybody keep peace in countries where there is no peace?
Consider Lebanon where America was asked to interfere in 1993. The mission was from the outset impossible and ended with the horror truck bombing, where 239 Americans died for nothing. Even worse was to come in Somalia where the U.S. had, in 1992, flown in some fifty million meals and almost fifteen thousand tons of humanitarian cargo to a savage country with fifteen major warlords and seven million starving people. It must be noted that during the Cold War the U.S.S.R., and also the U.S., had supplied weapons to Somalia dictator Siyad Barrah. When Barrah fell complete anarchy arrived with Somalis driving small trucks armed with machine guns and rocket launchers. There was looting of warehouses, harassing relief workers and firing at merchant ships in Mogadishu's harbour, while the International Red Cross strictly prohibited arms in and around cargo conveyances. How can one “Provide Comfort, Restore Hope and Provide Promise” in such circumstances?
The next strong man was Muhammed Frah Aidid, backed by the Somali National Alliance who were eager to kill Americans. It is interesting to note that most of Aidid's fourteen children lived in the U.S. In October 1993 the big firefight near the Olympic Hotel concluded the U.S. operation and by March 1994 Americans withdrew from Somalia with all their blood spilled again for nothing. This could have been the reason why U.S. was reluctant to sort out the hell in Yugoslavia, but somehow was forced to help restore order also there.
In Afghanistan America faced a complicated situation because the CIA had pumped millions of dollars worth of guns and Stinger rockets to the Taliban during the Soviet invasion. Americans actually showed the Afghans how to activate the Stinger rockets by holding them close to a man's cheek. Some of these rockets have eventually fallen in the hands of al-Qa'ida fighters, the most powerful terrorist organisation the world has known. Smaller terrorist groups have been active for years blowing up planes and embassies, but when al-Qa'ida blew up the Twin Towers in New York then 9/11 became the call to arms.
Unfortunately, the machine of democracy is complicated and slow to act. Every order has to go through too many channels. A nasty word - ‘containment’ - crops up too often. For instance, when planning for the Iraqi invasion General T.R. Franks kept cutting the numbers down and hoped to win the war and hearts of the Iraqis with a truncated army. The result was that he won neither.
The odds against America are tremendous. Islam includes a billion people worldwide and al-Qa'ida has a vast number of fighters and suicide bombers ready to die. If this sounds frightening, then calculate, that in the next century there will be two billion Muslims in the world.
It looks like the global burden is too much for the U.S. to bear. If there is no satisfactory resolution to the Iraqi War, then the 3000 young Americans died for nothing and the world may very well become an Islam domain.
Why is America the fall guy? (1)