After the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States responded by invading Afghanistan and seeking out those responsible. What initially was a military mission to hold those who dare attack us responsible, what it became was hardly that. Just a few years later, the United States found itself entangled in Iraq under questionable justification. What seemed to be a noble mission in the beginning to remove a tyrant from power ultimately ended up becoming a mission that enabled the rise of something much worse.
ISIS rose from the ashes of a fallen Iraq.
The world has been subjected to numerous horrors since this point. While terrorists previously just killed, ISIS makes a theatrical performance out of it, putting its atrocities on display for the world to see. The Internet has become home to graphic recordings of Jordanian pilots being caged and burned alive, Christians being beheaded, and homosexuals being thrown from rooftops to their death.
We live in a world that has grown darker with time. But it’s only the beginning of something that’s going to grow more horrific in the coming years.
The hearts of human beings across the planet broke after mass shootings broke out across France. The images of people lying dead in the streets and around restaurants really shocked people. These were innocent lives out to enjoy their evening together. Some were even at a rock concert. Who expected to be gunned down by terrorists and religious extremists?
Attacks that have since happened in California, Florida, and then recently in Nice, France, have only grown worse. People had gathered in Nice to celebrate Bastille Day, again innocent lives and just celebrating life. Then a truck came roaring through the crowd and just ran people down. Innocent people and even children, plowed down beneath the wheels of a vehicle to their deaths.
The world stands shocked, hearts broken, and unable to comprehend how people can justify doing this to other humans. What do we do next?
In terms of United States foreign policy, in the last century there has been a growing eagerness to play the role of a superhero to the world. Wherever there is darkness and despair, our military should be there to save the day. While it is a noble idea and not wrong to want to help people, there are human limits to what we as a country can achieve. As shown in Iraq, while the people may have been liberated from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, we failed to protect the country from the radical threat abroad that is now flowing into the country.
We can’t save the world. We all want to, but it’s not possible. So how do we react?
Political responses about solidarity, thoughts and prayers, and expressions of horror aside, there isn’t a lot of difference in the foreign policy proposals of the candidates.
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump affirmed he would seek a declaration of war from Congress to avenge the attacks in France. He noted this is war and we have to be firm, even if it is another country that was attacked. Associated Press-nominated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also affirmed we are at war with radicals and has a political history of supporting intervention abroad.
While Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson has sold himself as being the alternate, he’s shown himself to be anything but. The former New Mexico Governor has previously noted that the United States has treaties with 69 countries that obligate our country to defend their borders. That accounts for about a third of the planet.
Of those is France.
In terms of legitimate non-interventionists, there isn’t a sound solution this cycle. While libertarians may point out that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the usual battle ready two-party candidates, the Libertarian Party is putting up a left-leaning libertarian lite with a neoconservative running mate. Semantics aside, all three tickets have taken the general stance in some way that the United States has a responsibility to defend France and the borders of other countries, continuing the interventionist foreign policy that got us in this mess in the first place.