The High Cost of Appearing Presidential

by: Frederick Foote

In the wake of the Syrian tomahawk missile strikes, an argument is made for looking at the United States’ military engagements with a more astute historical perspective…

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One way to look presidential is to start a war, an invasion, an incursion, or a police action using the military. After the missiles are launched, patriots will don their red, white and blue and the politicians, on both sides of the aisle, will rally around the commander-in-chief. After your regularly scheduled television program is interrupted by “Breaking News,” the nation is sure to be diverted from ongoing or planned congressional and criminal investigations, the crush of “fake news,” and the rising tide of dishonesty permeating our highest office.

Military operations are often masculine adventures helping to affirm the tumescence of our missiles, rockets, bullets and blades. These military scenes are staged displays, enacted under the guise of defending the innocent with a “rain of terror” from the sky.

The recent tomahawk missile attacks in Syria were authorized by the same caring, tender-hearted administration that has slashed the budget for meals on wheels, argued that after school programs that feed low-income children are worthless, is working towards reducing funding to the U.N. and to the various foreign aid programs it provides, and has put all who live on Planet Earth at risk by denying substantiated climate change science. Yet, the United States still claims to be the defenders of Western civilization and human progress. However, our deeds define a brutal, barbarian culture with regressive human behaviors.

These theatrical presidential events, such as last week’s tomahawk cruise missile attack in Syria, may have little or no strategic value, and may even be counterproductive. But, Americans love their action scenes in movies, television, and in a modern world increasingly riddled with fake news and staged events. Even if these military actions are of questionable legality, and enacted for domestic political considerations more so than for military advantage by a president who has proven himself to be untrustworthy, it is astounding that so many among us still give the commander-in-chief the benefit of the doubt.

It must be noted, that Syria is only one front in our international war for the “sake of all of humanity.” By way of historical perspective, our military has been engaged in a sixteen-year struggle in Afghanistan against enemies previous administrations have claimed to have vanquished within the early months of fighting. As a member of a multi-national force, our military has been part of a fourteen-year-long military engagement in Iraq yet militarily, we’ve claimed to have won two Iraq Wars (one of these claims may have been premature). In addition, our armed forces are currently involved in military actions in Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, North, Central, East and West Africa and, of course, Syria. This is a smorgasbord of military escapades for the hawks to feast on and the patriots to celebrate.

The United States of America currently spends about fifty-four percent of our discretionary federal budget on national defense, more than the next seven highest spending countries combined. Despite these extraordinary expenditures we essentially fought to a draw in the Korean War and in countless ways lost the Vietnam War, and the outcomes of our current military endeavors are a crapshoot as well. With this background one would think that most American citizens would view every new and all existing military actions with caution, skepticism, and deep suspicion, but this is unfortunately not the case.

Historically, our nation relies on an unsustainable military strategy to resolve political problems no matter the party in office. However, this particular administration appears to favor reckless, “instinctive” actions that could very likely lead to military conflicts that have grave consequences for the entire world.

As a nation we urgently need a historical perspective for viewing our military interventions. We desperately need a free press and a Congress that questions every expansion of our military activity.

We do not appear to have either at this time.

We, as a nation, are walking blindfolded through a minefield, led by a madman. The results are predictable.

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