Since the 1950s we have had political/economic interests and a military presence in the Middle East. It is no secret now that we are there because of Oil. In our self-interest we have attempted to maintain stability in that region so that the price of oil would remain under control. However over time we have been progressively drawn into that region to impose our version of stability by military force.
In the process we have supported dictatorships that have often treated their citizens with impunity, cruelty, and repression. When democracies have formed that are less favorable to U.S. interests such as Egypt, and even Iraq under Malachi we have opposed them. And we have been in bed with dictatorships such as the Shaw of Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to name a few. So it is abundantly clear that we are not there for the good of the indigenous people or to democratize these nations. This military presence has been at the cost of tens of thousands of American lives and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Arab lives, not all our enemies.
There is much talk about how we can bring about peace in the Middle East so we can successfully extract ourselves with dignity. Yet we seem to constantly underestimate our ability to maintain stability. At the same time there is much fear among Americans of the myth that those in the Arab world whom we have made mortal enemies such as Al Qaeda and ISIS will continue posing a terrorist threat to our homeland if we relent and withdraw from the Middle East (see What do we have to fear from ISIS and Al Qaeda Terrorist).
We proudly proclaim ourselves a civilized and peaceful nation with relatively high moral standards in spite of the fact that we as a nation have impose ourselves in a military fashion upon other nations and regions more so than any other nation in the last half century including the cold war and now in the war against terrorism in the Middle East. In truth we have achieved very few major political or military objectives in all this time. We claim victory over the Cold War but there were many other factors not of our making that lead to its end. We have succeeded in killing a few million of our so-called enemies at the cost of almost 100,000 American lives, and to what end? All that has been shown is that our military might is on the whole greater than that of our enemies.
Now that we have killed so many people in foreign lands we have made many more mortal enemies than had we not. The question I have is did we have the Moral Right as a civilized nation to put millions of American troops lives in harm’s way resulting in almost 100,000 American lives being lost prematurely? Did we have the Moral Right to kill millions of our self created enemies on their own land as a morally superior nation? In fact we spend far more money on killing people in other part of the world than educating our own citizens here on our soil. So what Moral Right do we have for spending more money on killing people than education or any other worthy cause at home? So much for the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword.” There are simply far more swords being used than pens being created by us.
In spit of our claim of being civilized we seem to have a proclivity towards war and violence. I am sure that those who have been victimized by our civilized manner do not see us in the same light. Perhaps ISIS may seem cruel to us in beheading a few people who probably had no business being there in the first place but I’m sure many Arabs find the efficient way we kill their fellow countrymen on their land using drones, cruise missiles, and other high-tech killing machines far more cruel and Morally reprehensible. Dead is just as dead whether by a sword or an efficient high-tech killing weapon. Both seem morally reprehensible to me.
The question of Moral Right begs an answer. I am Not asking if Arabs have a Moral Right to terrorize us. I’m asking does a civilized nation such as the U.S. have a Moral Right to impose its military might on other nations abroad who originally posed little danger to our nation? Do we have a Moral Right to protect Arab oil abroad from control by other Arabs. Keep in mind that today we depend upon about 20% of our oil from the Middle East. Are the troops we send in harm’s way worth the sacrifice in lives and broken bodies and minds in protecting the oil resources of Arab royal families to make them far richer than we?
Can we say that the lives and broken bodies of our troops have been invested wisely? Have the hundreds of thousand of Arabs killed been justly and humanely(?) killed. Do Arab lives have the same value as American lives? Will all these American lives sacrificed for war be in vain just as they were in the Vietnam war? How will history view our actions 50 years from now?