“Why should three Presidents and the elected representatives of our people have chosen to defend this Asian nation more than 10,000 miles from American shores?” asked President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.
He was talking about Vietnam.
“We cherish freedom—yes. We cherish self-determination for all people — yes,” he continued. “We abhor the political murder of any state by another, and the bodily murder of any people by gangsters of whatever ideology. And for 27 years — since the days of lend-lease — we have sought to strengthen free people against domination by aggressive foreign powers.”
These were all noble sentiments, then and today. But most Americans today would also tell you our war in Vietnam was one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in U.S. history.
You have to ignore A LOT to justify the Vietnam war based on these flowery words. Few if any defend that war today.
Yet, President George W. Bush said in 2004, “Our agenda … is freedom and independence, security and prosperity for the Iraqi people.” He framed America’s war in Iraq in terms of self-determination for Iraqis many times.
Again, you can’t argue with the sentiment. But the prettiest Dubya speech imaginable will never erase the colossal disaster that was the Iraq war in the minds of a majority of Americans.
“We stand not for empire, but for self-determination,” President Barack Obama would later say of Afghanistan in 2011, where the U.S. would remain for another decade.
Today, most Americans believe the Afghanistan war was not worth fighting.
Saying that America must have skin in the game to fight for the self-determination of other countries is an old, bipartisan trick that skips over the dangerous intricacies and unintended results that come with any war. Now, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins this club.
AOC made headlines last week when antiwar protesters challenged her at a town hall for voting for every U.S. bill that has pumped billions into America’s proxy war with Russia over Ukraine, which has now even led to the possibility of a nuclear confrontation.
Yes, nuclear war. Probably something our leaders should at least be concerned about.
Nope. Doing her best Lindsey Graham impression, AOC explained away the protesters as merely peddling “pro-Putin talking points.” She added that her support for prolonging the war in Ukraine was due to her belief in “self-determination” for Ukraine.
Accusing antiwar voices of being “pro-Putin,” or “pro-Saddam” in 2003, or “pro-communist” in 1967, is a well-worn hawk trick.
So is prioritizing “self-determination” for other nations, which rests on the assumption that it is America’s role to do this. Never mind if so many drafted young men come in so many body bags after years of fighting an unwinnable war in Southeast Asia. Never mind if so many U.S. soldier and civilian deaths are the result of toppling a Middle East dictator, creating a vacuum for even more terrorists to survive and thrive.
Never mind if U.S. involvement in a war against one of the world’s major superpowers results in nuclear armageddon. And this is only the top reason we should be concerned about America’s continuing role in this conflict right now. There are others.
But not for AOC, apparently. Maybe she’ll run for president in 2024 and tap Liz Cheney as her VP pick to truly flesh her new foreign policy direction out.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once presented herself as a rebel, always willing to challenge the establishment.
Now she’s joined it.
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book “The Tea Party Goes to Washington” and the editor of the libertarian news site Liberty Tree, published by Sen. Paul’s campaign. Republished from based-politics.com