"We are a peaceful nation," claimed Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson in an interview with Katie Couric late last year.
Carson voiced a view that is held by many in our society. Like most people around the world, we naturally like to think of ourselves as a peace loving country.
Unfortunately, the record does not bear this out. It, in fact, indicates something quite opposite: The United States has had a long and bloody history of aggression and war making.
A survey of history shows that America has either been involved in armed conflict or conducted some form of military operations during 223 years of its 240 years of existence as a nation. This is over 90 per cent of the time.
A congressional report titled "Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2015" reveals a virtually continuous deployment of American military personnel in operations in foreign lands during the last two hundred years. Many of those instances would be considered acts of war under international law. The list does not include covert actions by the US government in various places around the globe.
Rather than being a peaceful nation, America has been on a war footing for much of its existence.
There has hardly been an American president who did not authorize some form of military activity by the United States. Even Barack Obama who won the Nobel Peace Prize has been presiding over a country at war all throughout his two term presidency.
The American government invariably invokes national security when launching a war abroad. But national security is rarely the real reason. What danger did countries like the Philippines, Honduras, Vietnam or Iraq ever presented to the American people?
Almost all America’s foreign wars have been initiated against countries who posed no direct threat to the United States. Most American wars have been acts of unprovoked aggression against sovereign nations.
One notable exception was the war with Japan which was declared after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. But even that attack was incited by the actions of the Roosevelt administration which had led the campaign to cut Japan off from its vital sources of raw materials.
Most aggressors claim that their wars are defensive. The Romans maintained that their endless wars of conquest and expansion were a form of self-protection. Hitler also believed his actions were fundamentally defensive. America is no different in this regard.
Most of the countries America invades are left broken and in ruins. America’s military interventions around the globe have caused widespread devastation, suffering and the deaths of millions of innocent people. The invasion of the Philippines at the turn of the twentieth century was particularly notable for the widespread atrocities and massacres carried out by American military personnel. The behavior of the invading army bordered on genocidal and claimed, by some estimates, the lives of more than ten percent of the native population. More recently, it is estimated that in Iraq over one million people have died as a result of the war and disarray that followed the US invasion.
George W. Bush used to liken America to a peaceful giant aroused to anger by the evil acts of 9/11. This view is demonstrably false. America is a giant to be sure, but not a peaceful one. Rather it is a hyper-aggressive superpower that often attacks at the smallest provocation and sometimes with no provocation at all. It leaves in its wake destruction and heaps of corpses.
The notion of America as a peace loving nation is a myth which could not be further from the truth.
If we want an example of a peace loving nation we should look at countries like Switzerland. Even though the Swiss do not particularly boast about being a peaceful nation, they have not been involved in a foreign war in more than 200 years. They have managed this even though wars and conflicts have swirled all around them. Yet the Swiss managed to stay out of it all, because they are a truly peace-focused people who prefer nonaggression and nonviolence to war and destruction.
However heinous and despicable 9/11 was, it was not an act of war by a foreign nation or government. It was an attack by a terrorist organization motivated by grievances pertaining to US foreign policy. It was a blowback for America’s many years of interference in the affairs of the Middle East.
The War on Terror will ensure that the United States will stay on a war footing indefinitely. The so-called War on Terror is a prescription for a perpetual war, because it generates the very evil it ostensibly seeks to defeat.
Whatever America may be, it is certainly not a peaceful nation. Sadly, there is no hope for it becoming one in the foreseeable future.
Vasko Kohlmayer is a reformed neocon. His articles have appeared in a number of newspapers, journals and internet outlets. They include the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Times, the New York Sun, LewRockwell.com, Human Events, Frontpage Magazine, American Thinker, the Jewish Press, the Austin American-Statesman, Canada Free Press, RealClearPolitics, and Intellectual Conservative among others. You can email Vasko.