Dear World beyond Our Borders,
These are your choices:
- A world where the United States government and its military, supplied by corporations you find distasteful, responds to aggression and provocations through shows of force and military interventions. These interventions — sometimes on a large scale and sometimes on a small scale — inflict regrettable but inevitable collateral damage on civilians. These actions are ones that in the past you have labeled “imperialist” and “aggressive” and that prompt you to lament that the world is being run by “cowboys” and — the post-millennial all-purpose pejorative label — “neocons.”
- A world where the United States government and its military do not respond this way, and disputes about territory, ideology, and power beyond our borders are hashed out by the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Pakistanis, the Saudis, various jihadist factions (including those so violent and bloodthirsty that not even al-Qaeda wants to be associated with them), terror-for-hire groups like the Haqqani network, and anyone else who wants in on the brawl.
In other words, this shock and awe:
Aerial bombardment of Baghdad, March 21, 2003.
Or this one:
The dead from a sarin attack in Damascus, August 2013.
Pick one. There is no “Option C” where the United Nations suddenly becomes an effective, respected peacekeeping force. There is no “Option D” where the world’s strong men and brutes are talked into taking up yoga and become calm, mellow guys, eager to hug it out.
The death toll is much, much higher under option B. But that’s your call. Maybe you’re okay with that.
The Guinness Book of World Records contends that the largest anti-war protest in the history of the world was a protest against the Iraq War. Millions are not flooding the streets of Rome, London, Barcelona, and Sydney to protest the Russian aggression in Ukraine, nor its prequel four years ago in Georgia. They’re not protesting Assad’s actions in Syria, nor North Korea’s increasingly regular firing of advanced missiles. They yawn as China runs military exercises that look suspiciously like a training run to seize the disputed Senkaku islands from Japan. No, American military action is deemed uniquely bad and worthy of protest.