POLICY: Sustainable Peace
HUMINT: America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are hell on earth. All wars are. Every sane person in America wants to see them both come to an expedient end. Unfortunately, the quest for peace cannot and should not overshadow America’s relentless pursuit of sustainable peace. Sustainable peace throughout the world is not only a legitimate American foreign policy; it is the only legitimate foreign policy. Irrespective of the violence we are witnessing in Iraq and Afghanistan today, the pursuit of sustainable peace is the ultimate American foreign policy objective.
It is a fact that the United States Government is working hard to achieve sustainable peace around the world today. If you do not believe it, try seriously asking yourself what any person, organization or government might actually do in order to attain sustainable peace. When you’ve answered that question for yourself, consider all of the successful international programs the United States either operates or fosters around the globe.
To be sure, any organized effort to achieve sustainable peace around the world would be ambitious, dangerous and difficult. That fact exists regardless of how any one of us answers the question, what policy should a nation adopt to help achieve sustainable peace? This question is extremely hard to answer in today’s overheated political climate.
Set aside partisan political debates engineered to increase network ratings. Those arguments represent little more than background noise. It is imperative that we, as a nation, remain focused on helping our leaders find solutions to serious international problems, like America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Speaking generically, to find a solution to any problem requires a thorough understanding of the problem. Unfortunately, understanding complex problems is never easy. Nevertheless, the difficulty of a task is not a reason to abdicate America’s national and international responsibilities.
Now, take a moment to consider what America’s national responsibilities actually are. Americans are inundated almost every day with proclamations from President Bush and his Administration about national security. But how does America’s security relate to its foreign policy? In other words, how does an American foreign policy geared to achieve sustainable peace support national security? These two ideas are inextricably linked. U.S. national security is directly improved as the international community approaches sustainable peace. Inversely, national security is an unattainable objective without a citizenry that accepts its national and international responsibilities.
Therefore, it is the duty of American citizens to support an American foreign policy that fosters sustainable peace. Throughout American history, Americans have witnessed wars far more devastating than the Iraq and Afghanistan war, including the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. However, the measure of violence in a given war is not indicative of the morality of its purpose. Once committed to a justified war, there can be no other purpose than victory. It is the duty of the President of the United States to engender the will to persevere toward victory throughout war. On this front, President George W. Bush and his staff are failing. Make no mistake, Americans cannot afford for him to fail on this front.
The seemingly unending waves of political attacks on this Administration are hurting its ability to perform duties. The role of Commander and Chief deserves a respect that is independent of the personality of the Commander. The legitimacy of America’s political chain of command is at stake. Certainly, every political, diplomatic and military situation is unique. Some situations afford greater room for dissenting opinions. In crisis however, a competent chain of command is essential.
Right now, American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan represent the only competent chain of command in those two countries. President Bush and his Administration are leading both. Without their presence, without their perseverance, without American confidence in them or support for them – the inherent social fissures in both countries will combine with unscrupulous foreign influences to perpetuate horrific violence there.
Historically, American foreign policy in the Middle East has played an indirect role in regional crisis. History however is a reference from which to learn and grow. American history cannot explain America’s current or future intent. Evidence suggests the contrary. The current wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan represent a clear break from Soviet and American Cold War policies. Those policies exacerbated conflict in the Middle East.
Following events on the ground closely one can see that the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq represent new policy in the form of an appeal to regional leaders. The appeal; they should abandon despotism and religious zealotry as their primary instruments of government. Every word spoken by American officials on the subject of Middle Eastern crisis today implores Middle Eastern leaders to stop wasting their resources, stop bleeding each other to death and begin working in concert to achieve sustainable peace.
Unfortunately time is running out. If Americans, their President, their Congress and the foreign policy they simultaneously project cannot work in concert, they will fail. They will fail to sufficiently influence Middle Eastern leaders to achieve sustainable peace and eventually they will be faced with only alternative, sustained war.