The dominant question of #Foreign Policy is that of preventing attacks on the United States such as those that occurred on 9-11. The terrorist acts do not justify the response. The end result of the American response was the devastation of two countries and has no end in sight. Despite two declared ends to the Second Iraq War and an occupation of Afghanistan that has gone on longer than the Soviet intervention in the same country, we have not won. The resolution to the current international tensions present in the world is that the United States should stay out of regions in which it has no actual national interest like the Ukraine or Syria.

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Covert operations, like ones which armed the Free Syrian Army, lead to situations in which the right hand of the federal government does not know what the left hand is doing. The paramount conflict the United States is engaged in is called the #War On Terrorism. Terrorism, legally speaking, is only the threat of violence to accomplish objectives, and there exist criminal statutes for dealing with the act. Criminal laws as such, apply to countless everyday people in situations ranging from alterations to domestic disturbances. The idea is so vast as to include ordinary citizens decidedly not Islamic, let alone foreign. We cannot wage war on a tactic, nor can we simply say we are at war with a religious idea.Then there is the question of method: BH Liddel Hart, a noted strategist, favors an indirect approach to warfare, and it stands in direct opposition to the hyper-power approach followed by the American government post-September 11th.

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Fabius defeated Hannibal by denying him battle, and starving him of his supplies. But instead of fighting smart, America fought dumb. The recent contradictions relating to Syria are grand. America armed Syrian rebels to destroy one of the few remaining secular Arab regimes. This same Syrian government had cooperated with it against Sunni terrorists in the past. Not only is there no clear enemy, there is no clear strategy.

Interventionism and Salafists

Often cited as the 'good war' by vast swathes of the political spectrum, World War 2 was far less interventionist than any war since. Indeed, during the lead-up to the war, Americans did not assist Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The United States did not intervene in Europe in some attempt to prevent the rise of Fascism as it did post-Great War with Bolshevism. But we have not followed this successful template in our international affairs since then. Terrorism is an asymmetrical response to the American 'hyperpower'.

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People are rightfully afraid of this tactic, which managed to get past NORAD and accomplish what the major empires in the 20th Century never could. Why not maintain such a military presence as we do when there are such wide-ranging threats? The existence of the military-industrial complex grew out of a desire to dominate the Soviets and prevent a Red Pearl Harbor. The American response to the destruction of three buildings in the World Trade Center complex can best be analogized with an example. Suppose a punk puts a brick through his neighbor Sam's window. This punk causes some damage and maybe harms or kills members of Sam's family and runs. Sam is angry and finds where the punk is staying. The punk turns out to be a guest in someone else's home. Sam goes, kills members of the family the child is staying with and lays claim to the damaged home. But the Punk escapes. Rather than tracking him down, Sam attacks a neighboring home because they shared similar interests with the Punk. Sam justifies this by saying he never liked the shady nature of the residents in the second household anyway. America did exactly this in launching two invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The result has been hundreds of thousands of deaths, untold numbers of wounded and millions homeless. This act of retributive justice has left the U.S. looking like a rogue state in a unipolar world order.

There are two competing theories about the origin of Islamic terrorism. One blames Western foreign policy and blow-back for terrorist attacks. The other blames Islam itself for birthing and harboring the theology that drives the attackers. Blaming Islam ignores the differing interpretations of Islam. It also ignores the modern roots of the Salafist organizations which have roots in the very interventionist approach that is supposed to solve it. Fighting this global movement with military force merely leads to the replacement of the destroyed terrorist network with that of another, ad infinitum. We need a new alliance structure and a redeployment around the globe to reflect the nature of the actual mission. Contrary to the counterfactual claims of Trump, Iran is not the source of recent terrorist actions. The reality is that our Gulf 'allies' provide the ideology, manpower, and money necessary for ISIS to exist. While there are strains of Islamic theology which are violent in the extreme, we cannot solely blame this for the current geopolitical challenge of terrorism. Colonialism, and neo-colonialism have contributed to the current state of the region. We cannot establish religious tests for entry to the country. Nor can we take over and remake the entire region in our image. The interventions in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria have all failed to drain the swamp of terrorism. Blowing up hundreds of thousands of people and demolishing states has done nothing but strengthen the non-state actors that threaten the world.

The opposition to the idea of not intervening abroad is sure to include the moralistic component that underlies American politics. Americans are as outraged at a beheading as Romans were at the accounts of the Wicker Man ceremony. But any argument against intervention always meets with the notion that you 'do not support the troops' if you do not support a given military action. This argument is akin to saying you supported your local firefighters but chose to ignore members of your city council engaged in open acts of arson. There is a certain wisdom in being afraid of people who hold the Salafist interpretation of Islam and who have no apparent fear of death despite American superiority on all levels. There is a history of conflict between Islam and every other religion it encounters and a theocratic impulse towards establishing the religion. The American Republic even fought wars early on against Barbary pirates. But the current conflict is not about what Ibn Ishaq wrote in the Sirat Rasul Allah. It is not about Quranic verses no less violent than the various genocidal passages in the Torah. Most Jews and Muslims do not regard them in a literal manner. The conflict is modern and rooted in recent historical events. If one claims that the United States has some culpability in the international situation, one is not 'blaming America first.' You are just attributing to the United States the very agency that has as the sole superpower in the world. Al Qaeda was a Frankenstein creation, cooked up by Zbigniew Brzezinski and carried out by Pakistani intelligence, funded by Saudi oil money. ISIS has similar roots, with its leadership being radicalized as prisoners in Iraqi jails, with its weapons and money provided by agents of American foreign policy.

Destabilizing Consensus

What would a voluntary withdrawal from the world stage look like and how could it be accomplished? Bases in Europe are antiquated. Continued NATO expansion is absurd. Putin is not Stalin. Massive commitments in the middle east have destroyed two countries and dismantled one terrorist network, merely to see another rise on its ashes out of American desire to overthrow Bashar Al Asaad. These conflicts are not something America should be involved in actively. The American commitment to Israel began in 1973, so this relationship is not sacrosanct. Our foreign aid to this country and Saudi Arabia is another example of our indirect and destabilizing influence on the globe. Syria and Iran are nations with whom we need to be negotiating. Our defense treaties in the Pacific are likewise nonsensical. North Korea is so starved that if it ever crossed the DMZ, its soldiers would spend more time eating than fighting. South Korea is perfectly capable without the American presence of arming and defending itself. China is not some Maoist backwater, but now the second largest economy on earth. Japan was long ago capable of building a navy and air force to defend itself and the idea of such a country being under our 'defense umbrella' is insane. Afghanistan is a choice of occupying a country until the end of time, to forcing its various groups to continue pretending to be a nation, or to bring the troops home and let that country sort itself out. I am not suggesting that in each of these cases negotiating would work, but we need to be making that attempt in a serious manner. War is politics by another means, and in many ways, when we go to war, we are admitting that our political solutions are not workable. Democrats and Republicans see military action as something that can solve international issues. In many cases, it is used as a first option. When the Obama administration drops thirty thousand bombs in a year for no objective strategic gain, we have a problem. Our military spending outstrips all competitors, and yet there are claims our military is practically broken and needs to be rebuilt. We have a bipartisan rationality deficit that seems to be climbing with our growing budget deficit.

The world looks to be in a bad state when viewed through a media filter that is owned, and operated by a handful of companies. Sensationalist internet reports and cable news of whatever bent make it their bread and butter to report on the chaos in the globe. These news programs are broken by commercials to convince you that you are undersexed, unhealthy, or otherwise flawed. All of this causes the person watching such programming to become more insecure about themselves and the world's political environment. The American consensus on foreign policy sees enemies everywhere, and constant threats to our way of life. This media fed hyper-reality is mistaken for reality itself. This media centered view of reality ignores cold hard actuarial facts that Americans are far more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist. It also ignores the fact that you are in more danger from violence carried out by American citizens. This consensus ignores that more people are going to be killed by a lifelong relationship with fast food rather than terrorism. It ignores the fact that this exact kind of consensus paranoia led to the atrocity called the Cold War. It ignores the fact that if you act like an empire, you will be subject to the deprivations of liberty inherent in imperial action. It ignores the destruction of rights carried out by our government representatives in response to international terrorism. Legislation like the Patriot Act or NDAA of 2012 has done far more damage to American freedom than any foreign power. Our military can kill people holding certain ideas, but the ideas themselves do not die. There is no way to democratize the middle east by force of American arms, or the police borders drawn up in centuries-long struggles that predated the United States. We have rarely achieved our foreign policy objectives in conflicts since World War Two, and it is high time that we wake up as a country and realize that most of them were not rational in the first place.