If we truly care, we'll stay out of other nations' wars
Saturday, September 20, 2014
By Beth Cody, Writers’ Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Here we go again: Another war that we’re assured will involve only a few months of bombing, with little risk to American lives and little cost.

Americans, who only last month were sensibly war-weary, now see that there are bad men in the world doing bad things: beheading American journalists, killing Christians and publicly executing locals.

These are indeed terrible acts, and it’s difficult to watch them being perpetrated. If we can do something to stop this butchery, shouldn’t we do it?

But military involvement is foolish for two reasons:

  • *What we want cannot be accomplished, at least not at a price that Americans are willing to pay – monetarily, morally and in lost freedom.
  • *Involvement contradicts the prime directive of our nation’s government: protecting American liberty.

Defeating these men won’t be as simple as bombing them. They will hide among civilian populations and we will fight a demoralizing war like the Israelis, with close-ups of women and children killed by our missiles on the daily news.

When confronted by such images, the American people will demand an end to the fighting. We will have wasted money and lives for nothing. This isn’t defeatist, it’s recognizing when fighting won’t accomplish what we want.

What we really want – instituting secular, liberal governments that value citizens’ individual freedoms – is simply not possible. Not enough people in those regions want that yet.

If those men were attacking U.S. borders to take my freedom, I would myself take up arms to help destroy them. But they are merely attempting to control their own nations, not mine, so it’s not my business.

From practicing martial arts, I learned about the Eastern concept of non-resistance: sometimes not fighting is the way to win. Perhaps we should allow the people who want an Islamic state to establish one and see how that works for them.

If the majority see the drawbacks of such a system and decide they don’t want to live under it, they will eventually do something about it. This may take decades or even centuries, but they must work it out for themselves. We cannot give them freedom, they must wrest it from tyrants themselves, or they will never appreciate its cost.

And if the governments of neighboring nations feel threatened, they will have far better justification to act than we do. Let’s let them figure out what to do and how to do it, without interfering.

Interfering is not only ineffective, it also threatens our own liberty, for these reasons:

  • *Money: We are already confronting a coming fiscal disaster due to overspending and monstrous debts, one that will greatly weaken and perhaps even destroy our nation. It’s time to scale back to protecting our own country and let other nations pay for their own protection.
  • *Morality: When we choose sides, we often end up supporting other bad men, which makes us immoral and causes people to hate us. (We’re supporting Bashar al-Assad, who has systematically tortured and murdered at least 10,000 people? Really?)  Let’s let these bad men fight it out amongst themselves and not get involved.
  • *Safety: Can anyone remember the last time Switzerland was targeted by terrorists? (The PLO in 1969.) Terrorists don’t target Switzerland because the Swiss leave them alone. They are neutral, and we should be too.
  • *Liberty: We lose our own liberties as our government tries to protect us from inevitable blowback from our meddling. Spying on us, monitoring our bank accounts, making travel difficult; is this acceptable to a free people?


We should stay out of other nations’ wars, not because we don’t care, but because we do.

We care about preserving liberty here, even if the rest of the world doesn’t seem to value it. There needs to be one place left that shows how freedom is better than the alternatives.

But we will lose our freedoms if we allow our emotions to entangle us in continual foreign wars.

There are other ways to help the people in those regions. We can invite the persecuted to live here and in other Western countries. If the men who want to return their regions to barbarity don’t tolerate educated people, free-thinkers, modern women or Christians, those people will strengthen our nation with their ideas and work.

There will always be bad men in the world, and fighting them all will squander our lives, fortunes and freedoms. Only fools are willing to pay so high a price for not accomplishing what we want.