All our dreams of world peace seemed to be coming true: President Bill Clinton of the U.S. and Boris Yeltsin of Russia, having laughs and drinks together whenever they could. The formation of the European Union. International laws and coinciding free-trade agreements. Israeli and Palestinian leaders shaking hands
and signing treaties. The World Wide Web!
An optimist could draw a straight line from 1998 to Star Trek.
The critics of America, in which I include myself, are quick to point out that this bright and shining “new world order” was cited by George H.W. Bush
as a reason to fight the first war against Iraq (which set the table for the second). That Clinton’s push for U.S. intervention in the Balkan War proved how meager the “peacekeeping” ability of NATO and the United Nations really was. And that Bush’s son using 9/11 as a blanket mandate for the U.S. to fight whatever wars it wanted (and under which attendant use-of-force authorization we bombed Somalia this week
) is what really shattered the old alliances.
But critique and dissent are essential parts of self-rule. If we want to improve society somewhat, we can’t just point out our past and present failures, but constantly push ourselves to live up to our values.
It doesn’t matter how many treaties the U.S. government has broken before, we should still honor the ones we have. And we promised Ukraine we’d have their backs
in exchange for giving up their old Soviet nukes.
If the Cold War taught us anything, it’s that proxy wars are bad for everyone involved. And direct U.S.-Russia conflict is no less likely to result in catastrophic nuclear war than it was 30-plus years ago. But I urge anyone reading this and rolling their eyes about U.S. imperialism or whatever to train their eyes back on the news. On the bombings. On the violence. On the refugees.
Look at what’s really happening.
There’s one aggressor, one agitator, one imperialist, one expansionist. He’s not a communist or a socialist or a leftist. He’s attacking a sovereign, democratic nation we promised we’d help protect. It’s in our best interest, and everyone else’s, to do so however we can.