As America reels from the embarrassing failure of the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan—which senselessly cost over 8 trillion taxpayer dollars and nearly 1 million lives (civilians) only for Afghanistan to end up right back in Taliban control—we must consider: is interfering in other countries worth it? The answer is a resounding no. The United States is allegedly the best military power in the world, yet when it comes to “helping” other countries (aka interfering in their governments), the American military leaves only a path of destruction in their wake.
In the past century, the American military has repeatedly lost or abandoned conflicts they started or amplified, leaving the national government in disarray and civilians who were depending on their protection to die. From Afghanistan to Vietnam to Korea to Iran, the United States has shown time and time again that they do not care about “democracy,” as they so claim, but instead their own selfish goals. Examining the causes leading up to these events reveals just how treacherous U.S. foreign policy really is.
Vietnam and Korea were both fighting civil wars—split between two ideologies, communism and capitalism—when the United States stepped in. After the rise of the communist Soviet Union, a so-called “Red Scare” abounded on U.S. soil. Communists were seen as horrible—punishable by jail, even—and the American government vowed to do everything in their power to prevent their spread into other countries. Foreign policy of this era followed the Domino Theory, which stated that if one country became communist, all countries in the region would follow. Americans intervened in Korea and Vietnam not because they wanted to help their citizens, but because they did not want the already-powerful Soviet Union, whose influence was quickly rivaling America’s, to gain another ally.
As the wars continued, however, it became clear that America was on the losing side, both times. The Korean War entered a stalemate that it is still under today, while the Vietnam War’s conclusion was a shameful and cowardly display where the Americans abandoned their Southern Vietnamese allies in their time of need. Combined, these wars resulted in millions of casualties and cost billions of dollars, essentially all for nothing as both Vietnam and North Korea stayed communist.
If that wasn’t bad enough, often, interfering in international politics makes the situation worse, as was the case with Iran. In the 1960s and early 70s, Iran was rapidly modernizing, a far cry from its current oppressive Islamic theocracy. Since the early 1900s, England and the United States had been making money from Iranian oil, giving the country only 16% of the profits despite the operation taking place fully on Iranian soil.
A movement to nationalize the oil company angered the United States, who sponsored a successful coup that overthrew the Iranian Prime Minister at the time. The Shah (King) of Iran sided with the United States over the Iranian people, which led to more anger amongst citizens that eventually resulted in the 1979 Revolution that turned Iran into what it is today. Ultimately, American involvement, due to their selfish refusal to lose out on oil profits, inadvertently established Iran as an enemy instead of an ally.
There is no denying the might of the American military, but unfortunately in recent years, this power is used for the wrong reasons. Nobody can know for certain what might’ve happened had America not gotten involved in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iran, but the current situations these countries are in, partly because of America, show that at the very least the United States should take a passive approach to foreign intervention.