The Iraq War has spawned many unintended consequences. The rise of ISIS spread into Syria, in part causing the Syrian Migration Crisis, which has thrown the world into a state of armageddon. The influx of millions of refugees has caused horrible consequences across Europe and other countries. The far-right movement in France, Germany and even Britain, who is leaving the EU to reform its immigration policies, has risen. Turkey is now a dictatorship, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the migrant crisis to consolidate power. The world as a whole has been devastated by naive, senseless American foreign policy.
Non-interventionism is the most optimal foreign policy, but unfortunately, once the U.S. invades a country, it has an obligation to help maintain stability. By invading a sovereign nation, the invaders become the sole perpetrators of its instability. Therefore, permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan are necessary.
The military bases left over in Japan post-World War II have fostered the growth of Japanese exceptionalism. Rather than feel resentment, the Japanese began to appreciate the U.S. occupation. This appreciation was encapsulated by cartoonist Kato Etsuro, who coined the term, “gifts from heaven,” which made reference to the bloodless democratic revolution ushered in by U.S. forces. In the period of reconstruction, the U.S. aid totaled $1.9 billion as land reform, women’s suffrage, labor unionization and other U.S. sponsored measures were instituted. The economy was liberalized with a series of capitalist reforms and by the 1980s, Japan had become the second-largest economy in the world.
That being said, the U.S. has yet to do this for Afghanistan. The U.S. meddled in the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 by giving support to the mujahideen, a group of Islamic fundamentalists, because they were the ones most willing to fight and die fanatically. When the Russians pulled out in 1989, so did the U.S., and the country fell into a state of sectarian violence for the next seven years. In the aftermath, the Taliban rose up and instituted totalitarianism, cultural genocide and abuse of women. Most regrettably, if the U.S. had created a permanent military base in Afghanistan in 1989 it could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. All of the Al-Qaeda operatives were trained in state-sponsored terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Analysis suggests that the Taliban plans to resume hostilities once US, NATO troops exit.
During West Germany’s postwar period the Marshall Plan was instituted under U.S. occupation. A total of $1.4 billion was spent rebuilding German roads, hospitals, schools and the development of a capitalist democracy. In the 1950s, while countries like Great Britain were still in a period of recovery, West Germany had become one of the strongest economies in the world. Similar to Japan’s “gift from heaven,” the Germans nicknamed their recovery “the miracle of the Rhineland.”
The U.S. has permanent military bases in countries all across the world. The U.S. military presence keeps the peace between North and South Korea. If the U.S. had left a permanent military installation in South Vietnam when it withdrew support in 1973, it would be a liberated democracy like South Korea today. American occupation of South Vietnam would’ve maintained a liberalized government and economy; the economic history of Vietnam shows that its impoverishment did not improve until its massive capitalist reformation in 1986. Today, in a post-capitalist Vietnam, it is the 47th largest economy in the world with a $241 million gross domestic product (GDP). Today, South Korea has the 11th largest economy in the world out of 195 recognized countries with a GDP of $1.7 trillion. After the 1973 withdrawal of American forces, Vietnam struggled for nearly a decade in a state of utter poverty and mass starvation as communization overtook the whole of the nation. The destabilization of Southeast Asia by the U.S. military led to the Cambodian genocide. Two million Cambodians died, a quarter of the nation’s entire population. Millions of Vietnamese people died in the communist takeover of the country.
The installation of U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan could very well be interpreted as American imperialism, advocacy for American interventionism and the promulgation of the U.S. as the globalist watchdog who holds the baton which beats the world into rightful submission to American interests abroad. However, this is not the case. The promotion of American imperialism would constitute championing the invasion of Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. It would be pleading for an intervention in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and support for U.S. soldiers in Taiwan and Hong Kong and Tibet to fight off the perils of Chinese imperialism, but that is not what is in advocation.
The U.S. should build permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, add it to the national defense budget, with the intention of never pulling out. Just as the U.S. built a base in Kuwait, after Iraq invaded Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Complete withdrawal gives the enemy a clear path to victory: they need to bide time and wait out the occupation. As soon as the withdrawal is complete, the enemy can resume hostilities. The installation of these military bases is not about invading new countries, it’s about protecting our victories and not letting those victories turn into losses.