America’s damaging propensity for war

Opinions_Adam Griffin_America's Wars_National Museum of the US Navy's photostream

National Museum of the US Navy’s photostream/ flickr

Adam Griffin
   Staff Writer

America has fallen into the trap of all great nations, superpowers and empires: perpetual wars on multiple fronts.

Of course, there is a difference between America and past empires because of America’s founding and the way it has always tried to avoid being an empire in ways similar to the Romans and British.

In fact, America has historically been averse to foreign entanglements; prior to World War II, for instance, we avoided most such situations.

However, in the wake of World War II and the Cold War, modern America has fallen into the sickness of empires, which includes never-ending wars.

These wars are not always physical soldier-to-soldier conflicts, and often the enemy is an indefinable target different from an invading or hostile country. Instead, these conflicts include the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty and, in a different way, the real or imagined War on Women.

War permeates every level and facet of American governance. From defense to welfare spending and everything below, an overwhelming majority of our debt-ridden budget is spent paying for these nontraditional wars.

These wars have no definitive ending because they fight foes that have plagued humankind from the earliest records of human existence.

The War on Terrorism is clearly the biggest geo-political threat facing America; however, as an enemy, terrorism is vague, and the landscape of the war is often changing.

While this war is more traditional, the enemy being terrorism, they have no boundaries, no borders and no definitive objective to victory unless eliminating every terrorist was somehow a realistic option.

The War on Drugs is, in many cases, a war against our own people and creates more crime than it eliminates.

By cracking down on drugs and outlawing a great number of substances, the government creates criminals and more violent and cunning criminal organizations.

Due to the enormous amounts of money that can be made in drug trafficking, the cartels and their syndicates will always plague the legal system both within our country and across the borders.

The War on Poverty, though a noble cause — the eradication of poverty — is again a war that creates as many problems as it solves and engenders the same kind of animosity war does but along socioeconomic lines when massive welfare or redistribution of wealth programs are instituted to fight this “war” by burdening citizens with higher taxes.

The War on Women, which some accept and some do not, is equally as vexing. It creates a rift between people who believe the system is rigged in favor of a certain gender and those who believe the system is naturally improving upon its strong stance for equality of genders.

These wars do not solve problems or advance necessary improvements in American society but are rather the battlefronts in which the government is overextending and mortgaging the future of America.

These problems are not problems that our constitutional system of government founded on liberty was built to solve — it is a free, upright, educated engaged and just citizenry that is the solution to these evils.

Unfortunately, perpetuating these wars strengthens the system in place and the power structure that grounds it.

Big money and power is involved in giving people positions in these fights. Massive industries fuel these war efforts through government.

Various lobbying groups are engaged in keeping politicians voting in a way that perpetuates these wars by lining their pockets and turning out support and voters for their campaigns.

Lobbyists for cigarettes and paper, for example, are strong supporters of keeping marijuana labeled an illegal drug.

The media is also complicit in perpetuating these wars and stirring up incidents that overemphasize a problem or a perspective on an issue that pulls or pushes public opinion one way or the other on the issue of these undeclared wars such that it maintains their power, supports their agenda and does not produce productive solutions to these problems facing our country.

Even academia strengthens these wars by inculcating certain modes of thinking on issues like poverty or gender equality that influence young students to think in such a way that they feel these wars are necessary and just, despite the toll it places on our sustainability as a country and the limits it places on individual liberty.

Certainly, these are generalizations, and opposing viewpoints differ. Of course, all of these wars are not supported by all of these entities.

However, the burden of constant warfare on any front is detracting from America’s ability to grow.

The War on Terrorism is a prime example. Perhaps there is no good solution to the problem. Terrorism should be eradicated and when incidents such as 9/11 and the Paris attacks occur, it is necessary that retaliation be made.

Yet, we should be wary of playing into the terrorists’ hands. They cannot overwhelm us by force or number, but they can bleed us dry of our economic well-being and our civil liberties by forcing us to employ our resources in aggressive actions and ramping up security measures domestically.

The threat that perpetual war imposes on great nations has been well documented throughout history — from the Romans and the barbarians to the British and their never ending quest for colonization.

Every time an empire has over-extended itself or engaged in multiple wars without definitive ends, it  has paid the ultimate price by losing all of those hard fought gains.

We are living in important times in which it is necessary to rethink old ways of attacking the problems faced by a prosperous society. It is not too late to turn the tide and reevaluate the wars we wage — to limit and reduce them within constitutional boundaries.

However, it is the millennial generation that will chart the course.

The seemingly perpetual wars that America is engaged in appear to be heading down the same paths that other powerful countries have in the past. 

These problems are great — terrorism, drugs, poverty and equality — but we should question whether waging a war is the proper remedy or if education and other means of ameliorating the human condition are more suitable avenues for bringing about positive change on these fronts.

Categories: Columns, Opinions, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: