A fickle nation and predictable results

The history professor goes over The tough choices of overseas intervention.

As a general rule over the last 100 years, any time the U.S. has bombed or intervened and then abruptly left the targeted country, chaos has followed. But when America has followed up its use of force with unpopular peacekeeping, sometimes American interventions have led to something better.

Donald Trump has rightly reminded us during his campaign that Americans are sick and tired of costly overseas interventions. But what Trump forgets is that too often the world does not always enjoy a clear choice between good and bad, wise and stupid. Often the dilemma is the terrible choice between ignoring mass murderer, as in Rwanda or Syria; bombing and leaving utter chaos, as in Libya; and removing monsters, then enduring the long ordeal of trying to leave something better, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The choices are all awful. But the idea that America can bomb a rogue regime, leave and expect something better is pure fantasy.

There are examples where the U.S. maintained a presence and there are examples of where it abandoned its efforts. When it comes to people and their nature, quick fixes are often just a poor band-aid on a festering sore. Without proper attention, infection will destroy.

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