Tuesday October 11, 2016
There are really two questions here – when is the use of force justified in the context of the key word “abroad” and what have Americans learned regarding overseas interventions from the Iraq experience. As a foreign policy adviser for Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, I lean in a non-interventionist direction, but that is at least somewhat due to that fact that recent interventions have not worked very well and have in fact increased the number of enemies rather than reduce them while also killing nearly 7,500 American soldiers and more than a million inhabitants of the countries Washington has become entangled with.
One might also reasonably argue based on post 9/11 developments that destabilizing or attacking other countries consistently makes bad situations worse and has a tendency to allow problems to metastasize. This is sometimes referred to as blowback.
Nevertheless, anti-intervention does not necessarily mean anti-war when war becomes the only option to protect vital interests, but armed conflict cannot be entered into lightly. There is in fact a simple answer to when to use force: it is to defend the United States itself against a clearly defined threat to the country or to a genuine vital interest.