Opponents of using the military as a tool for nation building have for years been successful in convincing the American people that the practice is imperialistic and should, under no circumstances, be condoned. The idea of interfering with a sovereign nation in an attempt to alter the way that nation is governed has been avoided. In the interim, anyone suggesting the practice ever had merits has been roundly criticized.
United States Special Forces missions have often been undertaken in order to insure a particular party or a particular leader was successful in ruling his people precisely because the success of this particular party or this particular leader was best for the country in question and the world at large. These missions have entailed nothing more than training indigenous forces and equipping them for success. But the end result has most often been successful for that country and the world at large.
Decades ago, the outcry from those in opposition to such activities were voiced loudly and in a timely manner, resulting in those in Washington, DC who have control over foreign policy and military operations began to view this type of operation through the eyes of those who condemned it, and thus declared the practice of “nation building” abhorrent and ruthless. Further, anyone who supported such a process was labeled a hawk and ridiculed by his peers.
The end result is what we have today — a world in which immoral barbaric leaders slaughter their countrymen who disagree with them; a world in which those who have been targeted flee for their lives, filling squalid refugee camps and dying there in unspeakable filth and degradation, unable to return to their homes.
Yes, the opponents of nation building have successfully ended the practice. Today, America doesn’t interfere while despots slaughter babies or Muslim tyrants slaughter those who refuse to convert to Islam. Today, people like ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, Syrian President Bashar Al Asad and North Korean leader Kim Jong-II continue the legacy of those despots before them like Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin or Saddam Hussein. And they routinely erase any evidence of the existence of people who oppose them. They kill the innocent by the thousands, burn homes, eradicate any havens of worship and make their countries an unbearable place for millions.
Their goal is similar to that of former tyrants like Hitler, Burma’s Than Shwe or deceased Libyan dictator Muammar Al Gaddafi. They kill or otherwise rid themselves of anyone who may interfere with their tyrannical rule. Killing them seems, in the beginning, to be most advantageous, but tyrants soon learn the most convenient way of accomplishing their objective is to simply make their lives so unbearable that mothers and fathers are willing to risk death for immigrating with their children to squalid refugee camps in another country where they will not be hunted down and slaughtered.
Daily we see the evidence of the risks people take to flee the dangers and oppression in their respective countries when they are found murdered. Like the two year old Syrian Kurdish boy who washed up on the shores of Turkey — his family having drowned while fleeing their home to avoid certain murder by ISIS jihadists. Though the young boy may be the face of tragedy, he is also representative of the largest refugee crisis the world has known since WWII.
It’s okay, though, because America has never interfered in the inner workings of these countries. We are — officially — out of the nation building business. Our hands are clean in the eyes of those who abhor such interference, labeling it hawkish. The only problem is, while our hands may be clean of such, the dirt of interference has been replaced by the blood of this 12-year old boy. America and its allies have long held the power and influence to end such genocide. We just haven’t had the leadership of men willing to risk criticism from those who would rather set on the sidelines and watch the slaughter of whole families.
Today, America has its own refugee crisis to deal with. Though families entering America from our southern neighbors are not necessarily fleeing government sanctioned slaughter, they are fleeing a type of economic genocide that has a similar consequence. Our neighbors to the south are seemingly unwilling to provide for the simple wellbeing of their own people, comfortable in the knowledge that America is weak and submissive and willing to be manipulated. Why go to the effort to provide for the welfare of your ownpeople when America will do so. Just make life unbearable enough for them so that they will head north.
Another argument against involvement in the affairs of other countries has always been that of economics. Those opposed to taking action to prevent genocidal tragedies use simplistic arguments such as, “it’s not our place,” or “it costs too much,” or, simply, just “let someone else take the responsibility.” And all the while, our economic obligation to these tyrannical governments increases and is guaranteed by these same spineless, characterless, American leaders.
America is maintaining a hands-off policy in these matters, safe in the assumption that we are taking the high road by allowing these tyrannical governments to chart their own course. Meanwhile, we are watching from the sidelines while a continuing flow of dead 12 year-olds wash on the shores of foreign lands thousands of miles from the place they called home while we continue to shell out billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid and refugee aid every day to pay for this.
Our hands-off policy is definitely not saving money.
America must take the lead and demand that our allies stand with us while we wipe from the face of the earth any tyrant or evil dictator who would kill his own people. If we have to invade Syria, or Iraq, or Sudan, to stop these slaughters, then we must do so just as quickly as any real man would do to stop a child rapist from grabbing a victim off the street.
Leaders of nations who take it upon themselves to slaughter half their population do not deserve to lead, much less lead. Alhough intervening may require some attitude of superiority or willingness to take the responsibility to mete out justice where no one else will, America must do so. In turn, America and its allies have the moral right and obligation to remain on the soil of any nation we see fit until that nation’s leaders take it upon themselves to provide a safe haven for their own citizens.
If we, as a nation, can somehow regain our position of leadership in the world — though we may have to do it with a firm hand as a father would regain control over unruly children — we also have the right to demand that those countries we support behave in a certain manner. Our contribution in foreign aid to any particular country should be reduced proportionate to the number of illegal immigrants from that country we are forced to support.
We may think we can bury our heads in the sand and avoid facing a crisis, but those are the assumptions of cowards and men without character. Like it or not, we are the leader of the free world, and as such, we have rights and responsibilities. We have the responsibility to ensure tyrants don’t commit genocide, and the obligation to dictate how a country will govern as long as they take our money or assistance.
There’s nothing ostentatious about that. There is, however, something very, very foolish about doing anything less.
Contributing Writer Godfrey Garner is a veteran special operations counterintelligence officer who retired from US Special Forces in 2006. He served two military tours and six civilian government related tours in Afghanistan. His work there most recently was as a counter-corruption analyst. Garner is author of, Danny Kane and the Hunt for Mullah Omar, and, The Balance of Exodus.