We live in a divided country, but there’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans are unified about, and that’s foreign policy. They basically agree on what we should be doing in other countries: dominating them or blowing them up.
In the last couple years, America has been actively bombing at least 7 countries. And we have special forces in countless more. We have active military personnel spread out over roughly 150 countries. We man 800 bases worldwide.
We’re told by our leaders that this is absolutely necessary to keep us safe. And this assumption is rarely questioned. But maybe we should question it.
The hardest part is coming to terms with the realization that the leaders of the country we call home are perfectly willing to commit acts of extreme violence in our name. We just don’t want to see our leaders as violent people, so it becomes hard to reconcile that when we hear that in October 2015, the U.S. blew up a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, killing 42 people.
This isn’t because there’s an evil cabal of shadowy men with cigars sinisterly twirling their moustaches in dark rooms taking great pleasure in blowing up hospitals. The reality is that America is the most powerful nation in the world, and powerful nations tend to use their power in their own self interest.
This was true of the British Empire and the Mongol Empire and the Roman Empire. It’s just what empires do.
But empire has a price.
It’s impossible to know how many people we’ve killed since WWII, but some studies say roughly 20 million people. A lot of those deaths were in wars you’ve heard about like Vietnam and Iraq. But many were in wars you haven’t, like Cambodia. It’s not that they’re secret, there’s no conspiracy, we just don’t talk about them.
But we should talk about them way more. And we should try to understand what’s going on just beneath the surface. The murky zone that exists outside of polite discourse. The Danger Zone, if you will.