Between the cries of “mind your own business!” and “help those less fortunate!”, citizens of the United States have historically been torn in different directions in regards to international issues.
The country has a reputation for being war-hungry, like a soccer mom peering over her fence, ravenous for gossip while her toddler comically trips and falls in the background. Why does the U.S. get involved in other countries’ affairs when she has so much going on in her own backyard?
It’s simple. When America was young, before she was even America, she rebelled. She no longer wanted to be told what to do by her distant father. She fought viciously until she was free to make her own rules and decisions, changing the game for the rest of the world. She borrowed bits and pieces of ideas from her neighbors, put her own spin on things, and put on a fresh, victorious face.
As America grew, battle was imminent. This was a new place with the idea that the people could choose. With choices, with free will, there comes opposition. The United States has been a country divided since she released Daddy’s hand and went out west to find herself.
In the country’s early years, the only solidified reason for war was to ensure that America was indeed its own country; pushing Mexico out of Texas, Canadian rebels into submission, and its own native inhabitants into hiding. Though blood-thirsty and seemingly arrogant, the States got her message across: “I am my own country, and I will not be touched.”
The United States stayed in her own home, only really leaving to acquire more land until the Cuban War for Independence. The majority of Cuban exports were going towards America, who had previously shown interest in claiming the country as a territory. This didn’t settle too well with Spain, who at the time held political reign over Cuba. As Cuba and Spain squabbled disastrously, America began to get nervous. She was getting a lot out of her flirtation with Cuba, and Spain was ripping up their love letters. The U.S. begged for stability, not war. And eventually, America began to see herself in Cuba; a struggling colony trying to break free of an oppressive father.
After much back-and-forth, an agreement that Spain backed out on, and thousands of casualties on every front, the Spanish Empire collapsed. With the Treaty of Paris now in place and more territory being handed over to her, America was now considered to be an absolute powerhouse.
With her new reputation securing a front-row seat to all of the world’s major events, the U.S. was now privy to all sorts of “insider information” that hadn’t been her business before. She wasn’t at the top of the cheerleaders’ pyramid, but she was at least sitting with the cool kids at lunch now.
At the start of World War I, America was determined to stay neutral. She was happy to keep her head down for now; America was a fiercely proud, young country, desperate to be well-liked by the rest of the “in” crowd. When German U-Boats sank a ship with United States citizens on board late in the war, America finally realized that unless she dove head-first into battle, there would not be peace. She decided that staying neutral was no longer an option, especially if she wanted to keep her dignity intact. This shift in attitude was the spark that made this country what it is today: without war, can there be peace?
Two decades and a Depression later, a slightly more worn-down America quietly dealt with her debt. Until, of course, the fireworks of World War II began. Once more, America kept to herself until her people were harmed, this time from the infamous attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor. The shock of citizens being attacked, seemingly unprovoked on her own land, summoned a fury unlike anything the country had seen in a long time. When Congress was asked to declare war against Japan and his allies, a resounding “yes” rang throughout the country. America and her citizens rose up to the challenge with vigor. Both human and material resources were offered up handsomely towards the war efforts. The war pulled America back on track financially, and gave her a reason to be proud once more… She was rich, popular, and dating the quarterback-turned-lawyer.
Throughout every war and in the midst of every international issue, the United States has walked the line between minding her own business and barging in unannounced. To this day, America has more military personnel in foreign countries than any other country. Why is this considered to be acceptable by so many citizens?
Because America has been that teenager wanting to get away from her parents.
America has been that country who kept to herself, only to be bombed by a country with more resources and money.
America wants to know what’s going on in the neighborhood, because she wants not only her own children to be safe, but she wants all of the neighborhood children to play nice.
Through her experiences, she firmly believes that she is empathizing with other countries, regardless of how said other countries may feel about it.
Does the United States have the right to be so nosy? Does this country have the right to stick herself in other countries? Maybe it would be better to just let the Afghani and Korean military and police forces train themselves. Maybe it would be better if America didn’t reach out to donate money and time to people dying in Africa. It’s possible that things would be better in her own backyard if she just stayed there.
But the American mentality is that of a suburban mom. Things are going to happen in the neighborhood regardless of what America does, and it’s her decision to either lock herself inside and ignore cries for help, or to peek over her fence to make sure everything is okay.