The current war in Iraq, for example, is based on the ridiculous idea that the people of Iraq would welcome with open arms an army of foreign invaders (that's us, numbskull) who came to take over their cities, their government, their economy and their way of life. It makes about as much sense as thinking that Americans would invite the Chinese military to just walk across the United States and take over our country because we're all just so jealous of China's way of life.
It's a stupid idea, but that's what the Bush Administration sold to the American people: All those Iraqis just love America! They want us to invade their country, kill their leader, take over their economy, install a new puppet government, and then stand around with automatic weapons waiting for everyone to spontaneously thank us for saving them from themselves. The arrogance is astounding.
We should have learned this lesson in Vietnam: Very few foreign occupying forces have ever succeeded in controlling remote territory in the long run. The British tried it with India and the original U.S. colonies. Hitler tried it with Russia and got stomped in Stalingrad. The Japanese tried it in China and Taiwan. The U.S. tried it in Vietnam, and of course, virtually every civilization throughout history tried and failed at the same strategy: the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and, more recently, Israel. And the result is almost always the same: the locals stage a violent revolt and power returns to the hands of the people who have lived there for ages.
There are a few notable exceptions to this, of course: the U.S. colonials managed to nearly exterminate Native Americans and continue to occupy their lands today (the entire state of New York, for example, technically still belongs to the Native American Indians). Similarly, the Australians (most of which were actually Europeans) pulled the same stunt with Australian aboriginals and gave them free beer, to boot. And, of course, the Hawaiian islands continue to be controlled by an occupying force -- the U.S. military, which maintains control over the islands for their obvious military strategic value.
Students of history could easily give other examples, but the point is the same: Running a country half-way around the world with an occupying military force is a losing proposition. It only gets more complex, not simpler. It only gets more expensive, not cheaper. And it only gets more violent, not more peaceful. Isn't it time the U.S. faced the fact that Iraq is a modern-day Vietnam?
That's the simple point of this particular CounterThink cartoon, which features my favorite Congressman, Rep. Ron Paul. On paper, he's a Republican, but in reality, he's more like a people's Congressman... a Libertarian. He wants the U.S. out of Iraq, and he actually belives in protecting the U.S. Constitution, unlike our current leaders who only seek to destroy it in their endless quest for centralized power. Ron Paul is one of the very few remaining honest elected officials in Washington.
The other fun part about this comic is the idea that Bush wouldn't know how to spell Iraq. It's not a stretch, really, when you consider some of the dopey things he's said in the last six years. If you think about it, most of the people who support Bush have a lower IQ than Bush himself. Do the math. That's a whopper.
Whether you agree or disagree with the initial invasion of Iraq (which was, by all accounts, a blatantly illegal war action that violated both international law and U.S. law), you will no doubt eventually come to the conclusion that escalating our presence in that region is only an invitation for a Vietnam-like quagmire. Only the dullest of the dull remain fooled by the continued war mongering propaganda campaigns engineered by the White House and the mainstream media.
Smart people have figured out that for the amount of money we've spent on bombs, bullets and war machines, we could have funded and built a massive Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) system in the Southwest deserts of the United States that would right now be providing enough electricity to power the entire nation, utterly eliminating the need for oil imports altogether and providing an infrastructure for electric cars and high-speed railway systems.
Or we could have built new schools in every single city and town across the country. Or, if we wished, we could have invested in disease prevention campaigns and slashed the rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease in America, saving over half a million lives each year.
But of course those are not priorities in Washington. War is far more important than progress, and blowing things up in a foreign land is a lot more fun than building useful things at home, apparently.
When the United States collapses -- an event that is closer than you think -- it will be remembered not for its contributions to the world, but rather for its incessant military bullying that has made the U.S. the No. 1 rogue nation in the eyes of other nations. Americans are now the most hated citizens in the developed world, and if you disagree with that, it's because you've probably never traveled outside the country. (I dare you to travel to Egypt on a U.S. passport. See how far you get...)
Virtually the entire world sees the U.S. as a serious threat to global stability. We are the bullies. We're the ones who violate international law and invade whoever we want, regardless of justification, even without a formal declaration of war at home. We export disease, impoverish the farmers of third world nations with our intellectual property claims over their seeds, devestate the populations of AIDS-sticken nations by refusing to release patents rights on AIDS drugs, poison nations by exporting banned pesticides and pharmaceuticals (which are illegal to sell in the U.S.), take over the banking systems of nations and force them into a system of financial servitude to the World Bank, and generally seek to control, destroy or claim ownership over everything in sight. It's the American way!
But many Americans have been fooled into thinking we're the good guys! We're the ones bringing PEACE to all these nations, right? (At gunpoint.) We're the ones bringing medicines to the world, right? (Pay up for those patent royalties.) We're the ones bringing FREE TRADE to the people of poor nations, right? (Here, buy our cigarettes, junk food and burger joints, and you'll get cancer just like we do. And if you don't buy all our junk, we'll slap trade sanctions on ya...)
And yet, when you look at the historical facts, the United States is the only nation in the world that ever dropped an atomic bomb on civilians. And we did it not once, but twice. We have made a habit of invading foreign nations, kidnapping their leaders, and either exterminating or prosecuting them (Panama, Iraq and others). We continue to act with no regard whatsoever for international law, choosing to distort it in whatever way suits us best at the moment.
The United States was once a great nation, and it once deserved respect. Today, however, it is no longer respected; only feared for its weapons. I hope the U.S. can someday be respected again. But it will never achieve redemption unless it relenquishes its false claims on the lands and resources of other nations around the world and begins to take care of its people at home.
I say, get out of Iraq. Bring the soldiers home. Use that money to build more schools, more parks, and more renewable energy. Spend money on education, infrastucture and genuine health care. Invest in the United States and the people who live here right now! You can only make a nation great by investing in your own people at home, not by killing other people abroad.