It’s a recurring debate, how America, and by extension, how any, well funded and well armed nation should handle conflicts abroad.
Walking away I think is something ethical people can’t fully defend as it feels like walking away from a house fire, especially when you can make a good argument that your previous actions had a hand in starting the blaze. We kind of intrinsically know that willful inaction is an action.
So what can we do that doesn’t make things worse? How can we behave ethically and break the cycle of violence?
Well here is one option.
The solution is to essentially behave like doctors without borders. We should setup shop in the most unwanted unused area, someplace we alone can operate because money and technology and will, and provide something that only we can provide that’s good for all humans in the area.
What that is depends on context. Start with the basic needs. But only things that can be made on site. Make the useless area you were in useful in a humanitarian way.
Our military could then be deployed around these asset sources purely as defensive measures. If an area drives (or votes, etc) us out, we leave what we’ve made. Because we didn’t make weapons.
Like imagine setting up (or sailing and parking) a nuclear reactor on the coast and setting up a free electricity/water giving point. No strings. Just buying moral authority because doing the right thing full stop. Investment in the long term human capitol of the region and in our credibility.
A passive alternative talk-is-cheap approach to all the toxic ideologies that cause kids to get blown up.
Actually I think we should do that here via a ubi and deployment of nuclear and other tech, but I don’t expect anyone to listen.
Basically we should repurpose all our bases and military spending to be primarily creative rather then destructive forces.
If we do feel the need to intervene on someone’s behalf, our activities should be limited to ethical forms of aid (beans and bandages, are two thirds of warfare after all) and passive defenses like walls, bunkers, etc. Armor only, no swords. Let whoever we are helping defend us while we build, and if they can’t then we withdraw. Follow the principal of no lives taken, no collateral damage tolerated.
Half our defense budget needs to go to NASA, and their mandate should be expanded to include developing what is essentially terraforming technology by way of greening the world’s deserts. Then share/use that power to build infrastructure everywhere.
Make it clear that we have common enemies. Thirst. Hunger. Death. Pain.
You see what I’m saying? We don’t have to engage in any pro-active killing. No one can honestly say giving someone a sandwich and a clean cup of water and a bottle of iodine and a secure place to sleep is intrinsically wrong. Make no martyrs. Turn potential enemies into allies.
Make our presence anywhere we go a good thing for anyone we encounter if we can at all manage it.
Make people excited to see us. Not with lies and violence, but with truth and compassionate action.