Two months ago, I had nothing in common with Sami Ullah.
Ullah is a 17-year-old Bajaur tribesman in a Pakistani farming village. I live in Ohio.
On Jan. 13, our paths intersected. My tax dollars funded a missile strike that killed Ullah’s family and leveled his hut. U. S. intelligence officials said al-Qaida bigwig Ayman al-Zawahiri was hiding nearby. He wasn’t.
Now Ullah’s grandchildren will hate mine.
It didn’t have to be this way.
There was once a land where people kept to themselves. They stayed inside their borders and didn’t bomb those who didn’t bomb them. That land was the United States circa 1789.
George Washington famously warned against permanent foreign entanglements.
“Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?” Washington asked. “Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?”
If that was true of Europe – which shares with the United States a common history, religion and tongue – how much more true is it in places like Iraq, Pakistan or Vietnam?
Here, critics will answer that much has changed since 1789. That fact is inescapable. The United States has faced down Nazism, Communism and terrorism. Equally undeniable, however, is that each “ism” has begotten a new foe, putting the nation into permanent warfare since 1917.
If the Yankees had left World War I to sort itself out, the ensuing century would have been far less bloody (with no Hitler, no Soviet Union and no sliced-up Ottomon Empire to beget terrorism).
There were warnings then like there are today. Sen. William J. Stone, Senate Foreign Relations chairman in 1917, issued a prophecy: “I won’t vote for this war because if we go into it, we will never again have this same old Republic.”
Stone was right. The war marked the end of American innocence. Now, war is peace. The United States switches enemies more often than George Orwell’s Oceania. In fact, the entire “Axis of Evil” consists of countries where the United States got into domestic squabbles and then got burned.
Iraq? Saddam Hussein was A-OK in the Iran-Iraq war.
North Korea? Didn’t a United Nations “police action” create that country in the 1950s?
Iran? That’s the best. In 1953, the United States decided to prevent nationalism in Iran by propping up the Shah. Two decades later, we instead got nationalism with a peppering of jihad.
There is another way. Turn back the clock. Return to the U.S. tradition of non-intervention, and stop creating enemies. Some will classify this policy as retreating from the terrorists. In reality, it undermines them by eliminating their motivation.
The terrorists don’t “hate us because we’re free.” They hate us because we make love to every two-bit dictator under the desert sun. They hate us because we bombed Sami Ullah’s house. They’re not going to stop hating us once they’re “free,” too. They’ll just elect Hamas.
What’s more, we’ve been warned – since the 18th century. Foreign meddling equals bad business. Washington bureaucrats can’t effectively rule Akron, let alone Azerbaijan. It is and always has been that simple.
Here’s to isolationism, the forlorn friend who can save us still.
Adam Milasincic is a senior journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]