The Insomniac Giant
After the surprise attack on Perl Harbor, Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto is quoted (possibly apocryphally) as saying "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.". Not only did the Japanese wake a sleeping giant, but apparently they also induced insomnia, as the giant has never slept again.
Since that fateful day, the United States has been involved in innumerable wars, all unjustifiable, with the exception of World War II itself, and possibly Afghanistan. The exceptions should illustrate my criterion for a justifiable war: a justifiable war is one which is a purely defensive war. World War II clearly began with an attack on the United States. Afghanistan may have been justified by the attack on the World Trade Center. All of the others were offensive wars. This includes those which have been called "police actions", "peacekeeping missions" and the like. They were attacks on countries which had not attacked us first. And that cannot be justified.
The Cold War served as a container for many of these wars. They were merely battles in that larger undeclared conflict. But the Cold War itself was unjustifiable as it did not follow an attack or attempted attack on America. It followed rhetorical attacks on America. That's not nearly good enough. Some will way "what, are you a socialist?". Hardly. It is precisely because I have so little respect for socialism that I oppose the Cold War. Socialism is not a viable way to organize an economy.. It's not just unjust. It's not just unAmerican. It's also unworkable. And therefore we were fighting a paper tiger. Socialism collapsed under the weight of it's own stupidity. And by providing Stalin and his ilk with an enemy to scapegoat, we probably prolonged it's existence. Note the famines that were recurrent in the Soviet Union. You cannot fight effectively in the long run if you cannot even manage a working economy.
But our government felt the need to fight the Soviet Union. And to fight Korea. And to fight Vietnam. And to fund Israel as a foil to the Soviet Union. And to fund the Shah of Iran as a foil to the Soviet Union. And to fund just about every dictator to take over any country, as a foil to the Soviet Union. They, of course, took offense and funded every dictator that we weren't funding (and some that we were) as a foil against us. And so it went. The Cold War was a wet dream for any dictator, be he right wing, left wing, or pure authoritarian. One doesn't find many Libertarian dictators.
The problem is, the dictator business is hard work. Dictators have to relax. And the favorite way for dictators to relax is to kill people. Sometimes he kills his serfs. Sometimes he kills people in a neighboring country. There are lots of people in the world, and any dictator who looks around can find somebody he wants to kill. And with his shiny new American F-16 (dictators generally like shiny things, that's why they wear so many medals), available at deep discount prices and easy credit terms from Crazy Georgie's Discount Dictator Supply House, you can kill 'em in style.
Of course every nation, like every individual, has the right to keep and bear arms. And like the companies that sell weapons to individuals, the companies that sell weapons to governments should not be held accountable for how those weapons are used. But when a nation gives weapons away, that's a bit different. That is an endorsement of the policies of that country/dictator to whom you give the weapons. And we picked some real winners.
Of course the people upon whom the weapons are fired and the bombs dropped feel rather put out by the whole affair. And they blame America. Sometimes they make up conspiracy theories to explain why we do the things we do. They say we fund Israel because of the Zionist Lobby. They say we funded Noriega so that he would give cocaine to the CIA to import into America. They say we hate blacks, and Jews, and Arabs, and Spanish speakers, and the French (most of use really aren't crazy about the French), and pretty much everybody else. And if you look at the people our weapons have been used on, you might even think it true. But here is the deep dark secret to which nobody wants to admit. Giants aren't that bright. They bumble and they bluster and they step on people and they cause floods whenever they take a piss. But giants aren't evil. They've just got a dangerous combination of big and dumb. There is only one way to make a Giant safe: put him back to sleep. When they're sleeping, they look soooo peaceful!