Last week the president authorized the withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq by year’s end. Immediately, John McCain denounced the president’s timing, suggesting it was the president’s seeking a way to get votes in the 2012 election. McCain’s views seem to support the belief that once we have been involved with another nation-state, we should plan to be there for decades on end, as we transition our goals from liberation, or protection to “nation building,” something at which we are very unskilled.
An article by the Cato Institute said that in 1998 we had more than 200,000 troops in 144 foreign countries and territories. More current numbers were not available, but watch the news and see about troops stationed in South Korea, Germany and other areas of Europe and Asia, and see our involvement in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Cuba, to name but a few. Think, too, of the cost to maintain our presence on foreign soil when or economy is in disarray.
Reading our Constitution, I don’t find any reference by the founding fathers about taking up arms unless it is to respond to a direct threat our nation, and it doesn’t include nation building. We have a history of sending money to people who don’t like us (an understatement), trying to buy their loyalty. It hasn’t worked in the past and we have succeeded in supporting some terrible dictatorships. We need Washington to get its priorities straight — our country first, then the help for others.
ALLAN W. RUSSELL