United States for Peace

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History has seen its fair share of empires since humans first began to realize the perks of being a superpower. You generally win geopolitical disputes before they begin, you get to shape the international narrative and smaller voices are often too afraid to challenge your reign.

But with these perks comes a downside that every empire has experienced, whether it’s the Greeks, Romans or Brits; they all come crashing down. It may take centuries, it may take just decades. How it happens is debatable, but the fact that it will happen is without question.

Americans know this, too, even if some of our political rhetoric does not reflect reality. In fact, our reign as the sole superpower of the world has already come to an end. At best you can argue there are several superpowers battling over the right to terrify the planet the most, but it largely amounts to a male anatomy measuring contest.

So if American leadership – or let’s just call it what it is – empire is inevitably coming to an end, it is important for American citizens and leaders to think about how we will make our exit from center stage. Do we repeat the past, kicking and screaming (code for explosions) our way into the next volume of history? Or do we search for a new way?

Hopefully only the latter sounds appealing. Assuming so, then I humbly suggest that the United States drastically changes its present course for one that will see Uncle Sam not as a political or military threat, but as a symbol of peace.

Military Shrinking

American rhetoric and its subsequent actions have always been out of a hope for achieving peace. At least that’s what the press releases say.

In reality, the actions of our country have largely been about military, economic and political strategies masquerading as steps toward peace. A snapshot of our history confirms just as much, everything from the Revolutionary War to Iraq. Obviously some conflicts have greater merit than others with the War In Iraq being a particularly brazen example of masking the takeover of natural resources with a pair of doves.

But the point, at least this time around, is not to discuss the worthiness of every American military venture. We are simply alcoholics at the first meeting admitting our reality here.

Though the steps we have taken to get to center stage would make a devout nun weep in uncertainty, what we do now in the denouemente of our reign could just as easily restore hope in a world increasingly resembling an orgy of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich’s respective production teams. Now is the time for the United States to grab the mic and announce our transition from world bully to international ally.

First we can announce the responsible closure of our overseas military bases, consulting with military experts and the respective host nations along the way. According to a Global Research, the United States currently operates between 700 and 800 overseas bases in 63 countries with approximately 255,000 military personnel. Those numbers should sound as ludicrous as a juggling orangutan to any rational human being.

By downsizing our military presence, we can start taking care of matters at home. Because without peace at home (Ferguson, anyone?) we cannot be taken seriously as an international leader in peace. It would be like a politician preaching family values getting caught with their pants down, not in the metaphorical sense. Nobody ever takes that person seriously again, just as nobody can currently take the United States seriously as a leader of peace given our state of domestic turmoil.

Currently we account for close to 40 percent of global arms spending; or six to seven times that of China. Imagine if we could turn even half of our current military budget over to something like, let’s say, education. Instead of preparing ourselves for perpetual war, we can start learning how to read a book and actually function like civilized adults. And let’s not forget that a lack of education perpetuates poverty and crime. Costa Rica is an example (albeit tiny) of a country finding a degree of success in turning military spending over to education.

Changing Our Culture

With all these nourished brains and less of an emphasize on turning geopolitical interests into mini-Americas, we can begin to change our culture, which currently normalizes a constant state of conflict, high military spending and that bad things are simply destined to happen elsewhere. We can return to a culture that idolizes the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which is very inline with peace, rather than explaining poverty or lack of opportunity as a case of bad luck in God’s lottery.

If we were to start acting behind this American ideal of individual liberty (which has since become cherished by nations across the world), then perhaps we would truly be interested in peace for all and not just those who have the oil. Now how we would help achieve peace in a nation enveloped in conflict is another story with each country deserving its own guideline that works for their specific circumstances. But we already know putting boots on the ground or dropping bombs does nothing for sustainable peace.

We also unfortunately know the United Nations with the security council’s current structure is powerless in being the international voice of peace, which would have been the ideal scenario. It is why it was created, after all. But the veto votes of China, Russia (and the United States for that matter) on the security council leaves the UN as helpless as a baby trying to stop a charging bull.

The intention and desire is there for an international peace leader. The creation of the UN shows that. But with aspiring superpowers crippling the organization, a vacuum is left. This is where the United States comes in.

For better or worse (most wouldn’t flinch before saying “worse”), the United States still harbors the power of the world in the palms of Uncle Sam’s hands. No nation matches our clout. If the American president is on the phone, someone very important is listening. In other words, nobody is listening to Costa Rica’s call for peace despite their half-century without conflict. Only we can make it happen.

Imagine the global reaction if an American president were to make an international pledge for peace with actions matching his or her words. We’re talking 2008 Obama tenfold.

Some would inevitably argue that we are setting ourselves up for an attack. But with what evidence? First of all, terrorism is not responsible for but a small fraction of American deaths when compared to car accidents. The threat is overblown. Besides, nobody is talking about getting rid of the agencies charged with monitoring terrorism in our country, though reform is certainly in order.

Second, much of the terrorism against the United States is perpetuated by our global military presence and the unfortunate fact that we have historically armed many of the terrorist groups we have been fighting, whether it’s the Taliban who we sold weapons to in order to fight the Soviets or ISIS stealing weapons we gave to the Iraqis. Not to mention bombing a community for one terrorist seems to end up creating nothing but an entire community of terrorists. Look at Yemen.

Clearly there is a structural problem with how we claim to be fighting for peace, meaning we need to change the system. Jimmy Carter was able to broker one of the more impressive peace agreements in American history between Egypt and Israel.

This was not done by forcing Begin and Sadat to look down the barrel of the American armed forces. It was through diplomacy. In that moment, the world saw the possibility of a real United States for peace.

We can be that voice again.

 

About Joe Baur

Joe Baur is a freelance writer, filmmaker and satirist with a diverse array of interests including travel, adventure, craft beer, health, urban issues, culture and politics. He ranks his allegiances in the order of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and the Rust Belt, and enjoys a fried egg on a variety of meats. Joe has a B.A. in Mass Communication with a focus on production from Miami University. Follow him at joebaur.com and on Twitter @BaurJoe
Posted in: Society