Winning is not everything. It should be up to damaged nations to rebuild themselves with aid of the United States, not leave restructuring to U.S. jurisdiction.
The U.S. often seeks revenge on its enemies. And though the U.S. can win with force and diplomacy, when stuck in long, prolonged conflicts, it’s time to rethink the strategy. The U.S. has used its power to protect its interests abroad as well as lead compassionate missions aimed to better the lives of citizens from foreign nations. But from what starts as plans to help a country have underlying intentions, and can stimulate resentment against the U.S. among the native populations where the U.S. is involved militarily. Furthermore, the U.S. government should not focus on completely punishing a nation.
The U.S. has established itself as a foreign presence and superpower following World War II and during the Cold War, an ideological, economic and military rivalry between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the U.S, the U.S. dabbled its influence worldwide.
When nations are involved, and the deaths of innocent civilians are at stake, the cycle of vengeance can be very dangerous. For example, had Japan not surrendered and came to an agreement with the then USSR and the U.S. following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 of 1945, history would read much differently.
The U.S. also needs to reevaluate how they help other nations. Compassionate missions for the pursuit of making the lives of distraught people in troubled places better often turn into long occupations and resentment of the U.S. from the people living there. While aid missions start with the best intentions to help people living in countries where the U.S. involves itself, there is a turning point where citizens of these nations stop seeing the U.S. as foreign aid, and instead as occupiers. As time goes on, involvement abroad can develop more implicit intentions, such as economic reward, than just bettering the lives of those who live there, such as in the Persian Gulf, where much of the world’s fossil fuel supply lies.
Insurgencies are an example of this and how people react when someone invades their nation, like the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When the point where new conflicts may arise from long prolonged occupations, such as insurgencies, and the sole purpose of initial involvement is lost, the U.S. must change how it handles the situation and move toward diplomacy with other nations to gain assistance on how to deal with a problem instead of constant occupation and military action. While U.S. muscle is strong, it alone may not always be enough.
For instance, in the 1990s, the U.S. and coalition forces used their might to oust Saddam Hussein from the regime in Iraq following his advances into Kuwait, which would threaten the trade of oil from the Middle East.
But the involvement in Iraq in the early 90s led to even more action in the region, in the form of a no-fly zone over Iraq and the dismantling of the entire country.
And now, nearly thirty years later, the U.S. is stuck dealing with the repercussions in the form of countless insurgency groups, ranging from civilians who pick up arms off the ground and fight, to large terrorist organizations like the Islamic State.
To keep repercussions at a minimum, it is important for the U.S. to leave a nation before resentment takes a spike among the general population, while the aid is still seen as helpful, not as harassment, or to divide responsibility.
The complete and utter punishment of a nation has seemed to end in mass turmoil, and cannot be the intentions of the U.S. in any foreign involvement. The complete toppling of a government, although it may be a belligerent regime, leads to years of unrest in any nation.
Victory is no longer as simple as the destroying of a regime and the forceful placement of a new one.
To win is to put those who do wrong in their place, but finding a proper stopping point, to learn to coexist peacefully.
The U.S. military must learn from its history. When history is written, it will not treat the U.S. well.