Can America Bring Peace to the World?

by Harry Browne

October 5, 2004              

I received this email yesterday:

I just finished a book The Pentagon's New Map by Thomas P. M. Barnett, a strategist for the Navy and Defense Department, in which he talks about America's role in the world, with concepts such as exporting rule-sets to the world, and dividing the world into "core" and "gap" countries.

Overall, what he presented challenged some of my assumptions about America's role in the world. I was wondering if the same ends he describes, e.g. peace in our lifetime, could be achieved in more freedom-oriented ways that you have figured out.

I commend this book to your reading, and if you have time, I would be interested in your thoughts.

Unfortunately, because of the book I'm currently writing, I can't spare any time for reading books that aren't related to my current project.

However, from what the email-writer said, I would guess that Thomas Barnett has never bothered to examine the history of government programs and the sad record of failure after failure after failure. It isn't just the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty or the War on Illiteracy that has failed to fulfill its promises. There hasn't been a single American war in this century or the last in which the U.S. government actually achieved the results that were promised when it went to war.

Here's a brief overview . . .

World War I

Objective: Bring democracy to all the countries of the world, self-determination for everyone, and a new world order that would end wars forever.

Result: American entry into the war prevented the two sides from negotiating a just end to the war. Instead, the Allies saw American entry as decisive, and so they rejected all peace overtures, fought the war to a bitter end, won the war, and imposed devastating, humiliating peace terms on Germany.

The result was an expansion of the British and French empires, subjecting millions more people worldwide to foreign rule. In addition, millions of Europeans were herded into foreign countries.

The U.S. entry into the European war prompted the Germans to finance and facilitate Lenin's takeover of Russia creating the Soviet Union. And the oppressive peace terms imposed on the German people caused them to accept a thug named Adolf Hitler as their avenging angel. Thus U.S. entry into the war was responsible for what many call the two worst regimes in world history and the cause of 52 years of wars from 1939 to 1991.

World War II

Objective: Liberate Europe and China, and impose peace upon the world.

Result: Half of Europe was controlled by the Soviet Union, and China was quickly taken over by the Communists.

The Cold War

Objective: Free subjugated countries.

Result: In the process of "fighting" the Cold War, Iran's democracy was overthrown with the help of the CIA leaving the Iranians subjugated by the oppressive Shah. That's just one example, however. The U.S. government imposed or assisted dictators in Panama, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, China, South Korea, South Vietnam, the Philippines, and numerous countries in Africa.

The Korean War

Objective: Save South Korea from being taken over by an oppressive dictatorship.

Result: South Korea was left in the hands of an oppressive dictator, Syngman Rhee, who was just as oppressive as the communist North Korean dictator, Kim Il Sung.

The Vietnam War

Objective: Save Indochina from Communism, and prevent dominos from falling all over the world.

Result: Indochina was overrun by communists. (Surprisingly, the world didn't come to an end.)

The Panamanian War

Objective: Stop Panama from being a conduit for drug-running.

Result: The Panamanian army was destroyed, leaving the country more vulnerable to drug-running.

The First Iraq War

Objective: Free Kuwait and stop Saddam Hussein from taking over the world. (Seriously, George H.W. Bush called him a modern-day Hitler, who had to be stopped the way Hitler should have been stopped at Munich.) At the end of the war, George H.W. Bush called on the Iraqis to overthrow Hussein.

Result: Kuwait is still run by a family dynasty that has no interest in democracy or in providing rights for the people. Apparently, Saddam Hussein wasn't stopped from his diabolical plans of world domination at least according to George H.W. Bush's son 11 years later. And Bush Sr. helped put down the postwar rebellion that would have overthrown Hussein.

The Bombing of Serbia

Objective: End the ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo, perpetrated by the Serbs.

 Result: Once the Serbs had been defeated, the Albanians ethnic-cleansed all the Serbs and gypsies out of Kosovo, and began terrorizing the Macedonians in Macedonia.

The War in Afghanistan

Objective: Stop the country from harboring terrorists, get rid of the Taliban, create human rights for women, and establish a free Afghanistan.

Result: Al-Qaeda operatives continue to function there, and Osama Bin Laden himself may be safely hiding in Afghanistan. Women are still treated as tools, rather than people. And as for freedom, the Afghan people are subjugated by brutal warlords, and the Taliban have been invited back in to help restore order.

The War in Iraq

Objective: "Disarm" Saddam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people.

Result: Turns out that there was nothing to "disarm." (Surprisingly, George Bush is still justifying the war by saying that "Saddam Hussein had no intention of disarming." Disarming what???) And over 10,000 Iraqi deaths later, Iraq is not only not liberated, it's being occupied by a foreign power that's being fought by a determined resistance movement.


So while Mr. Barnett's objectives may be attractive, they are irrelevant since the odds against the U.S. government actually achieving them are at least 100 to 1.

The Pentagon will try to export rule-sets to other countries, with no success (rule-sets that, incidentally, don't apply in the U.S.). If I understand the terms correctly, the "core" countries will be those whose rulers agree to do whatever the U.S. President tells them to do, and the "gap" countries will be those run by rulers who insist on making their own rules.

There is no way that America can make the entire world peaceful or, in fact, any part of the world except America itself.

Peace in our Time

We could lift the state of siege in America tomorrow morning if the U.S. would simply stop meddling in other countries' affairs.

The supposed "hate America" feeling is really the fear that America is going to come into one's country and throw its weight around as it has in Afghanistan, the Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, Libya, Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Grenada, Guatemala, Indonesia, East Timor, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan, the Congo, and dozens of other countries.

The question really is simple: Which do we want . . . 

To have our government make a futile effort to bring peace and democracy to the world in the process generating such hatred that we live the rest of our lives in a state of siege, with America becoming progressively more like the chaos that exists in Israel and the Palestinian territories?


Bring all the troops home, end all foreign aid to friends and foes alike, keep out of the affairs of other countries and restore the peace and liberty that America experienced throughout most of the 19th century?

You decide. But when you decide, remember that you're choosing the inevitable consequences at the same time you choose the objective.

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