This article notes that American freedoms, democracy, and social stability derive from the founding affirmation of human equality and the natural protection of human rights derived therefrom, NOT from powerful security forces in this country.  For this reason, to use the United States military in foreign countries as an instrument for the spread of democracy is counterintuitive. It leaves the fine young people in our Armed services engaged in a self-defeating agenda, with their lives at risk.

There are seven areas of great political interest at this time, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon, Palestine, Taiwan, and Korea.

The similar cases have strong differences and unique aspects. Still three basic groupings are evident: 1. Afghanistan and Iraq, 2. Ukraine, Lebanon, and Palestine, and 3. Korea and Taiwan.

Afghanistan and Iraq are countries recently invaded by the United States, and presently sustain strong, U.S., military presence.

Ukraine, Lebanon, and Palestine are countries shedding or seeking to shed historical “oppressors” and “occupying” forces through internal political evolution, and internationally monitored dialogue with an historical “oppressor” (Russia for the Ukraine, Syria for Lebanon, and Israel for Palestine).

Taiwan and Korea, though different, make a group because the U.S. is associated militarily with one partner in both cases (South Korea in the fragile, nuclear tinderbox on the Korean Peninsula, and Taiwan in the complex and deeply ideological standoff involving the claims of the People’s Republic of China.)

In sum, two cases with the U.S. military already embroiled, 3 cases without explicit U.S. military presence, and two cases with the U.S. military teetering precariously on the periphery of nightmare scenarios.

Of the 3 groupings, only in Iraq and Afghanistan do death and war-related injury increase daily, the Iraq death toll is now over 3,000 US and coalition deaths, and over 11,000 US and coalition casualties. Iraqi civilian casualties exceed 17,000. In Afghanistan they exceed 4,000. The new category of soaring deaths and injury is among Iraqi police and security personnel, intensifying since the formation of Iraq’s interim government. Of all U.S. killed and wounded, 92% have been since the declared end of combat operations on May 1, 2003! 18,000 U.S. Military remain in Afghanistan, 120,000 in Iraq. Current war costs for Iraq stand at 168 Billion dollars.

In virtually all places in the world notorious for militancy and conflict, positive signs of progress abound. Sharon and Abbas display mastery and courage despite extremes hovering to the left and the right like vultures waiting for a misstep. India and Pakistan positively glisten as examples of positive, political vision and courage. Even Taiwan and Beijing inch timidly toward the dance floor.

Only where the US has injected itself militarily is death and war-relted injury a daily phenomenon.

The US military arguably is the best in history; not only for its power, but more gloriously for the humane ethic and ideal it pursues (Even the horrific exceptions meet swift, self imposed justice). Nevertheless US military presence has proven perfectly ill-conceived as concept for bringing peace and stability. The tragic attempt at diplomacy-by-army is surely discredited if even so “good” and so powerful a group of young people prove powerless to suppress ideological commitment to resistance.

The experiment is a failure not in its result, but in its premise. The world no longer admits of mixing war and good. It is a crime to ask America’s noble young soldiers to serve as the agents of “good-will,” and the bearers of the “democratic ideal.” The contradiction of purpose endangers the lives of our sons and daughters. 1. They are members of an organization designed for destruction and violence. 2. They began their stay in Afghanistan and Iraq violently. 3. They are not trained as Ambassadors, despite their frequently loving and compassionate acts in the countries where they are stationed, 4. They represent an enemy to entrenched resistance. These young people are saddled with improper and self-contradictory expectations, an impossible mission for which they are losing their lives.

America’s rise to the position of “world’s sole super-power,” blinded us to the roots of our greatness. In both Afghanistan and Iraq where violence abounds, we claim our massive military presence remains to train and support the nascent, indigenous, security forces to protect and rebuild the infrastructure deemed necessary to allow the maturation of “democracy” and social stability.

The problem here is that the roots of American freedom and stability are not security based. We do not have military and paramilitary forces keeping majorities and minorities apart in our country. American Democracy, freedom, and social stability are the result of theological and social concepts that convince us of human equality. From this we recognize, support, and defend the rights of our compatriots, even those whom we do not like. On this foundation we live together, at first reluctantly and over time in harmony.

Our democracy, freedoms, and social stability were not imposed upon us by force by foreign powers. They are imposed on us by conscience and an enlightened ideal. If these are our roots, where did we get the idea that security and military force are the roots of democracy? Our greatness lies in a compelling theological and social case for human equality. It seems 168 billion dollars should be enough to help spread this notion.


* Dr. Frank Kaufmann, Director of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace.

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