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Since military action in Syria seems inevitable, I feel it’s an appropriate time to discuss the possibilities of a non-interventionist worldview for the United States. Foreign policy has been a hot button in this country for the past decade. The two unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have left many Americans concerned about our role in the world. It is with this concern that most citizens do not want to see us getting involved in another mess 6,000 miles away.
Non-intervention is a foreign policy based on the principle that a country does not get involved in alliances with other countries, but retains diplomacy and free trade with those same nations. In addition, countries practicing the principle of non-intervention only partake in military action when national security is at grave risk. I believe that a republic needs a strong military presence to protect its citizens from foreign and domestic enemies. However, it is against a nation’s best interest to involve itself with the affairs of other countries. There is just too much risk, and not enough reward. The Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 illustrates this precedent. The failure of the invasion helped strengthen Castro’s socialist movement and affirmed his strategic relationship with the Soviet Union. This eventually lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the proverbial egg being splattered on the face of U.S foreign policy. Borrowing from such a lesson, when we are faced with the possibility of war there are three major factors we must account for: the effect the war has on our economy, the American citizens who will lose their lives, and the fallout of war.
The National Priorities Project has estimated that since 2001 the American government has spent over 1.4 trillion dollars in our war efforts. That’s right, trillion! We might as well fund these wars with monopoly money. This is money that could be invested into our own economy. It could be spent on strengthening our own self-defense, and not spent on the training of foreign armies that are within unstable countries. All of this rapacious spending to fund a war puts a terrible burden upon a nation’s economy.
There have been tens of thousands of American lives lost in wars that do not directly concern the United States. We can’t put a monetary value on a life, but it is absurd to think that American citizens have died for the sake of other countries’ problems. How can we rationalize the deaths of all these soldiers? How can we ensure that their lives were not lost in vain? Are America’s interests better safeguarded when these soldiers are thrown in harm’s way? For example, in the 1970s American money and citizens were sent to Afghanistan to help aid and train the rebel mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union. The result of that intervention was the strengthening and organizing of various terrorist networks, which included Al Qaeda. I think we can all agree that the resulting “investment” into terrorist groups was not in America’s best interest. The problem with getting involved in civil wars and rebel affairs is that you really don’t know who your true enemy is (*cough* Syria *cough*).
I am not naïve to think that America will ever go cold turkey and revolutionize its foreign policy to become non-intervention. However, to save our economy, our influence, our citizens, and ultimately our freedom we need put our focus on the issues at home, and not the problems of unstable nations. Let’s hope that the events of Syria don’t escalate, and we then find ourselves in another unnecessary war.