Properly understood, neoconservatism is an ideology that supports using U.S. diplomatic and especially military power to spread liberal democracy throughout the world. One would think that Afghanistan and Iraq would have taught the establishment some humility in this regard, but op-eds like this one by William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral and former commander of the United States Special Operations Command, suggest not:
We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.
But, if we don’t care about our values, if we don’t care about duty and honor, if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice — what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states?
As is often the case, Trump’s blunderbuss style is far from ideal, but is useful in showing the rot in the establishment.
If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?
Do high-level military officials really believe that Americans join the armed forces to try to liberate “the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states?” Or that the U.S. military is capable of doing this? Has nobody noticed the hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of lives lost trying to fix just Afghanistan, without any significant payoff? Exactly what does the McRaven think the U.S. military can do for the Rohingyas or the South Sudanese?