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Our bombastic president
My wife and I have been watching the recent series on PBS on the Vietnam War. Thousands of people on both sides gave their lives, and the question today remains "For what?" Nothing seemed to be accomplished and even early on there was doubt in the minds of several decision-makers as to whether this conflict was "winnable." Nonetheless, more and more young soldiers were deployed. Many of the generals involved kept saying we were on the verge of winning, clearly underestimating the persistence and fortitude of the enemy. Both newspersons and soldiers on the ground saw it more realistically. On the part of both the administration and the generals it appeared ego prevailed over objective, thoughtful assessment. Did the U.S. involvement gain anything? The answer is clearly no!
It is now clear that we went into Iraq under false pretenses. There were said to be weapons of mass destruction. Yet, none were ever found. To this day things are still not settled and we continue to commit funds and military assistance.
The Russians gave up on Afghanistan. We are there today in what is now considered the longest war our country's history. There seems to be no end in sight. There is some question as to whether we are still sure why we are even there and for what purpose. Yet, we continue to send more troops. We have a military presence in Syria and also some other places around the world that we civilians are not even aware of. Again, I think there is a legitimate question as to why. Is it that we have a need to see ourselves as "policeman of the world?" Are we still intent on imposing our interpretation of democracy in places where that form of government is neither welcome nor feasible?
Even though I shudder when listening to President Trump's bombastic and ill-informed approach to the world, I do agree that the U.S. should be focused on its own self-interest. However, although operating in and protecting one's self-interest, whether personally or as a country, is the most honest and healthy way of being in relationship, it doesn't mean living in a bubble or acting unilaterally. More than ever we live in a world that is much like an extended family. Even though there are disagreements, sometimes heated and hostile, we are very much interdependent, maybe more so than ever before in history.
What does it accomplish to call the leader of North Korea "Rocket Man" and threaten to annihilate his country? Or, to put down the "Iran deal" and threaten to pull out, seemingly unilaterally. No doubt much of his bombast is calculated to energize his supporters. Yet, these seemingly childish threats are dangerous when lacking a worldview and an understanding of the potential ramifications of such actions.
There is the question that if he keeps making threats, will his seemingly fragile ego cause him to have to act and thus unilaterally involve the U.S. in another Vietnam or Iraq? Does it not place us on the brink of engaging in a conflict that in the long run goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing?
There is no question that North Korea and Iran are dangerous players on the world-wide stage. But, China, Russia and South Korea, as well as possibly others, need to be a part of whatever strategy is eventually decided upon. To go it alone may satisfy the "macho" instincts of some, including our president, but let's hope more thoughtful and reasonable voices determine our future action.