Last weekend, we celebrated Independence Day (our Fourth of July). It makes us look back at what we have achieved as a nation. It also should cause us to contemplate our future.
Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, made a casual comment that got him in a lot of trouble with a number of conservative Republicans. He said the war in Afghanistan may not be “winnable.” Perhaps as chair of the Republican Party, he should not have said this, but that’s not my point here.
My point is that as we celebrate our history and look to the future, we need to rethink our role in this new and changing world in which we live. Maybe, just maybe, the war in Afghanistan is not winnable or, if it is, is it worth the cost in dollars and lives?
We need to have a national debate on this serious subject. We have been fighting there for more than eight years.
Beyond the question of our involvement in Afghanistan, what is our appropriate role in the rest of the world?
Look at the realities. The Cold War is over. Ronald Reagan drove the Soviet Union into submission. Around the world, we have strong, powerful countries that want to build their economies. They want stability. They don’t want war. Why don’t we lean on them to carry some of the global responsibility for security? Maybe China should carry more responsibility for dangerous North Korea. Pakistan might be given more responsibility to keep an eye on Afghanistan. Russia can help. Russia has a lot at stake.
I haven’t even mentioned Europe. Europe has historic ties to Africa.
Our military dominance of the world is unsustainable. We have bases, troops, ships all over the world. Do you know that we have 90,000 troops stationed in Europe? They were put there to help defend against the old Soviet Union. We are spending almost $700 billion on national defense. The defense expenditure of the five closest countries to us combined (all together) totals less than that. This is ridiculous. We cannot afford to police the whole world.
I realize that what I’m suggesting might not get a rave review in some conservative circles, but we need to give up the “Cold War” attitude and look to a different future.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my Web site, which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.