Save for the War of 1812, has America ever fought a “just war” for her real national interest? During America’s last conflict in the Persian Gulf, Pat Buchanan aptly described Kuwait as “an oil company with a seat at the United Nations.” It should have been obvious to most Americans that the war we were fighting over this tiny Arab fiefdom was not in America’s national interest. Yet the war drums kept beating.
As chairman of GW’s conservative Young Americans for Freedom in 1991, a patriotic naivet? overswept me as I led a weekly contingent of protesters to Lafayette Park. Our signs were blazing with “Turn Iraq Into Glass!” and “Kick Saddam’s Ass!” Obviously, our real motivation for protesting was not for freedom and democracy in Kuwait; rather, we were incensed by the “anti-war” protesters chanting “No blood for oil!” In mature retrospect, I now realize I was on the wrong side.
But where are the pacifists today? Those traditional “peaceniks” of the Cold War days are certainly not preaching peace in Bill Clinton’s “New World Order.” Rather, today’s pacifists are the populists of Middle America who are fed up with paying the price of foreign intervention with their blood, tears and taxes.
And today, there is a war scenario brewing that is far worse than the Gulf War. American soldiers are still stationed in foreign lands – from South Korea to Bosnia to Haiti – ready to shed their blood, not for God and country, but for the amoral goals of globalism.
It is an all-too-familiar story written into America’s history in which young American boys are the first to die in a bloody conflict planned by America’s elites. And yet, the populist pacifists who suggest we put America’s interests first and bring our troops home are derisively denounced by critics as “isolationists.” Go figure.
If anything has accurately defined America’s role in the post-Cold War era, it is the total absence of national interest and moral principle in our misguided foreign policy. Let us be frank: Is any country in the world worth dying for? If the draft was re-instituted, would today’s MTV generation be cheering for war? Even if tomorrow, Israel was overrun by Syria, how many Jewish students would be putting on uniforms and beating the war drums at Hillel? Not many.
As our government continues to lay the tripwires of war in tinhorn countries around the world, voices in the heartland are asking why it is always Americans who must sacrifice. Why should 37,000 Americans in South Korea be the first to die if North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il invades the South? Why are 8,000 Americans still in Bosnia, donning U.N. “blue helmets” and acting as multicultural educators in a cauldron of 700 years of ethnic hatred? Why should tens of thousands of Americans defend all of Europe in perpetuity with the provocative and dangerous expansion of NATO?
These questions deserve a response from our corrupt commander in chief and from our complacent Congress, unwilling to reassert its constitutional authority in foreign policy.
The Cold War is over. Are we not the victors? The time is long overdue to bring all our troops home. In the process, we should assist our allies in creating structures to defend themselves. Our new policy must be clear: The United States will no longer waste lives and dollars unless American citizenry or soil is directly threatened.
As we enter the 21st century, we ought to think not only of America and Americans first, but of true, moral peace. Let us heed the sage advice of George Washington – the namesake of this institution – in his famous Farewell Address in which he warned about the consequences of foreign wars: “The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty of nations, has been the victim.”
-The writer received his M.A. in international affairs from GW in 1996 and a B.A. in international affairs in 1993.