The U.S. has long been obsessed with its military strength, thinking it can do whatever it wants in the world as the strongest military power. However, such mirage is once again broken by the Afghan War that lasted entire two decades, as American guns and grenades brought no peace, but only misery and constant regional turbulence.
The willful use of force of the U.S. is not a solution to, but a generator of problems, which is a great irony to the military-worshipping American hegemony.
The chaos triggered by the hasty withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan aroused heated discussion in the U.S. society.
“The magnitude of the United States’ failure in Afghanistan is breathtaking,” said professor Jeffrey Sachs of the Columbia University in a recent article. Sachs called it an abiding failure of American political culture, a failure of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment’s belief that the solution to every political challenge is military intervention or CIA-backed destabilization.
Adam Weinstein, a researcher with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and one who was deployed in Afghanistan by the U.S. military, said that the chaos that follows intervention and the chaos that follows withdrawal are rooted in the same fundamental mistake — that the U.S. thinks it can use its military to affect permanent social and political change in countries that it occupies.
The strategic failure of the Afghan policy of the U.S. reflects how the country’s willful use of force can harm the globe.
According to incomplete statistics, 201, or around 81 percent of the 248 armed conflicts taking place in 153 regions between the end of the World War II in 1945 and 2001, were initiated by the U.S. Besides, military means have been placed at an important position in American strategies since the Cold War ended.
The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs of Brown University found in its Costs of War program that the U.S. has spent more than $6.4 trillion in counterterrorism wars and smaller operations it has launched in 80 countries since 2001. Over 800,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting in these wars and operations, including 335,000 civilians. The number of indirect deaths could be several times than the figure. Another 21 million people have been displaced due to violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The willful use of force is making the U.S. the world’s largest exporter of chaos and maker of humanitarian disasters.
To prevent what has happened in Kabul recently from happening again, the U.S. must abandon its willful use of force. Since the U.S. declared independence on July 4, 1776, only less than 20 years have passed without a war in the country’s 240-year history, which makes it the most warlike nation of the world. Since 1945, the U.S. has established nearly 800 military bases in some 70 countries around the world. According to statistics released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. military expenditure reached an estimated $778 billion last year, accounting for 39 percent of the world’s total. Analysts believe that the U.S. is not stopping its steps of abusing its military power.
To prevent what has happened in Kabul recently from happening again, the US must hold back its impulse to transform other nations. Some U.S. media commented that from the “Vietnam Syndrome” in the last century to the “Afghanistan Syndrome” today, the U.S. once and again tries to mould other countries according to its own will. This has led the U.S. into disastrous abyss time and again.
French diplomat Gérard Araud said in a recent article that people can’t build democracy with hammers and swords. However, the U.S., declaring to “lead not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” only showcased its politicians’ fascination with military means, rather than introspection on its willful use of force.
Though the White House promised it will not promote democracy through costly military interventions, it is just striking a pose to protect its own image and interests, and the promise is not a conclusion reached for world peace and development. There will be no concrete change.
The situation in Afghanistan is another negative example. The U.S. will have another rough time if it doesn’t learn from it.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on China’s foreign policy and international affairs.)