I wrote a bit ago about the idea of America becoming a Switzerland-like neutral country. The more that I think about it, especially lately, the more that I like the idea. The catalyst for this is, not surprisingly, the current mess in Syria.
It is sad and bad and horrible what is going on there, and we should use all our diplomacy and good graces to try and find some sort of settlement that ends the violence and provides as good of a peace as anyone can hope for. We should use our diplomatic skills through the EU and the UN to try and arrange not just that settlement, but serious penalties and war crimes charges against Assad for the use of chemical weapons (though I still believe killing a few hundred with those isn’t any worse than killing a hundred thousand people through other means). What we should not do, at all, is use weapons to kill even more people.
What is happening in Syria is not our fight. We should not pretend that it is.
Allowing ourselves to act as the peacemakers in Syria, ala Theodore Roosevelt’s efforts at ending the Russo-Japanese War and the efforts of Jimmy Carter to bring peace between Israel and Egypt, is a far better role for us than that of violent warmongers. Sure, it’s less sexy, but better, more effective and just a hell of a lot more moral.
This can and should be applied on a wider scale, too. We should just wash our hands of the Mid-East and associated regions entirely. You wanna know why “they” hate us? Partly because after two buildings were knocked down and about 3,000 people killed, we went on a decade long murder spree that destroyed most of the functionality of two entire countries and killed several hundred thousand people. You wanna know why “they” hated us before that? Because of our knee-jerk support of Israel in any and all matters. We get uptight over a few hundred dead in Syria, and we should, but we ignore the crimes committed by the Israelis on a daily basis.
Now imagine if we just…stepped away. Israel has more than enough military strength to handle whatever the region can throw at them. It might not be pleasant or pretty, but they can do it. Once we’re out of the picture, the various terrorist groups would be far less interested in attacking us. They’ll probably attack Israel a lot more, but Israel knows how to deal with terrorists (and do so without sacrificing their own freedoms…well, except for those of the Palestinian Israelis).
Suppose that we pulled back our army and our navy from the various overseas locations. What do we think is going to happen? Pull our troops out of South Korea and North Korea still won’t dare move on them; they’d stop existing a few days later. Japan is hardly going to go imperial again; it’s bad for business. China is already paying more attention to Africa than we are, and, again, aren’t likely to go overtly imperial, since it’s bad for business. They won’t even dare to attack Taiwan. If we pulled out of Germany, the Fourth Reich isn’t going to suddenly appear and invade Russia, nor vice versa.
Imagine the money we’d save. Imagine the lives we’d save on all sides. Imagine the greater glory and prestige we could have as a nation if we simply became a new Switzerland; the country everyone went to when they wanted fair, diplomatic solutions to their problems. Imagine how much better it would be if we weren’t the kind of country that toppled democratically elected governments, engaged in torture, held people without charges for over a decade, and waged war on almost everyone almost all the time. Wouldn’t that be better?
Thomas Jefferson, in his 1801 inaugural address, called for, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none”. I like that idea. Imagine if we weren’t enemies with any nations and weren’t allies with any. Imagine that we’re just the honest broker who tries to be friends with all and with those we can’t be friends with, well, we can safely ignore them. I mean, at that point we’d have the largest military in world history based entirely at home; no one would dare fuck with us.
I don’t want isolationism. I don’t want us to withdraw from the world, and leave the UN. I want us to engage on the global stage, but not as warmongers. I want ours to be a nation of peace and diplomacy. I want us to be a role model to the world. Is that so bad?