Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration’s move to pull the military out of Syria sparked numerous discussions in the political sphere, with many criticizing Trump for seemingly abandoning the Kurds in the area. However, this move has also generated a greater debate of the general idea of U.S. military intervention across the world–whether it is good or bad. On the whole, the U.S. participated in several noteworthy international wars. There is the famous Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War, amongst others. U.S. troops have been deployed into these wars to fight, and several thousand have died in combat. In fact, the Vietnam and Korean Wars resulted in the fourth and fifth most deaths in U.S. military combat history, while the Iraq War ranked ninth. As such, many have questioned why the U.S. is stationed in these international locations, and whether or not it is worth it to have them there in the first place.
The question of American foreign policy was also brought to the forefront by Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, noteworthy for her strongly anti-war stance. Gabbard has criticized the “interventionist wars of regime change” that “cost[s]… trillions of dollars and thousands of lives”. However, many have criticized Gabbard for some of her foreign policy stances, and allegedly being close with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (widely criticized as a brutal dictator). Hillary Clinton recently slammed Gabbard and suggested that Russia was grooming Gabbard to be their third-party candidate, while other critics in the Democratic party have suggested that Gabbard acts as Putin’s puppet. However, Gabbard’s defenders have used these criticisms to seemingly demonstrate that questioning the Democratic establishment and criticizing American wars results in smears by pro-war politicians.
Trump’s move to pull the troops out of Syria and allegedly abandon the Kurds also sparked discussion on the subject. President Trump announced he would withdraw about a thousand troops from the region, but this move was met with bipartisan criticism, with even conservatives like James Mattis–former Trump cabinet member–and Ben Shapiro, not to mention anti-war Tulsi Gabbard, criticising the move.
On a bigger picture than the Kurdish-Turkey conflict, an increasing number of people no longer support U.S. international wars in general. Some analysts noted that this could be because, for much of Generation Z, the U.S. has been at war for their entire lives (the U.S. has been in Afghanistan since 2001). Furthermore, many have criticized the Iraq War as it began because Bush claimed that Iraq potentially possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), despite later evidence strongly suggested that Bush knew it was not the case. Furthermore, the continued American military presence across the world has led many to lament its seemingly never-ending wars, with some expressing the sentiment that “America is not the world’s police force.”
On the whole, U.S. military intervention has always been a hot discussion topic, and it does not seem that the matter will go away any time soon. The overall political landscape may be shifting more towards an anti-war, dove-like foreign policy, but numerous differing opinions that transcend political lines will continue to persist. And, as the U.S. is already involved in several wars across the world, it may be a long and complicated process if the government decides to finally “bring the troops home”.
Whatever the situation, military intervention has and always will be a complicated situation with many nuances.