'Plenty of Blame to Go Around' Among Democrats, Republicans in US Wars

© REUTERS / Carlos BarriaThe mascots of the Democratic and Republican parties, a donkey for the Democrats and an elephant for the GOP, are seen on a video screen at Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio March 8, 2016
The mascots of the Democratic and Republican parties, a donkey for the Democrats and an elephant for the GOP, are seen on a video screen at Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio March 8, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Dr. David Schultz, political science professor at Hamline University, has shared his views with Sputnik on the history of military conflicts involving the United States.

Sputnik: Have you done a lot of investigation into this subject matter? 

David Schultz: I certainly would say that the United States, given its status in the world, has been involved in lots of military conflicts. And I would say that both parties have engaged in military actions that may not have been appropriate, or may have started those actions for a variety of political purposes. 

My whole point was to say that yes, if we look at some of the major wars that have occurred in the United States' history – World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, they took place, or at least were initiated, under Democratic presidents; but if we also look at for example the war on terrorism, it was led by a Republican. We could [also] argue that the Vietnam War was really escalated by Richard Nixon, a Republican.

So I think there is plenty of blame to go around for both parties. And depending on how you define military action or war, we can reach different conclusions.

Sputnik: Much of it is perhaps related to this US strategy surrounding regime change; when there is a regime that the United States is not happy with or uncomfortable with, this whole culture seems to pervade. What's your take on this particular trait of the US, and how does it characterize US foreign policy? In the early 1990s, many Americans seemed to share in the sentiment that their country should stop being the policeman of the world, but 30 years on, this is still the case, isn't it?

A statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in front of building of the Iraqi Olympic Committee 09 April 2003. The US tanks and troops poured into the heart of Baghdad as the Iraqi leader's regime collapsed after a blistering three-week onslaught. - Sputnik International
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David Schultz: I think for good or for bad, one of the traits of United States foreign policy since at least World War II has been, as you describe it here, sort of a world policeman, or the policeman representing a certain set of values in the world.

There are lots of people across the world who rightly criticize the United States for that; there are a lot of us here who also criticize the United States and say that is perhaps not always our prerogative, or should not always be our role to be intervening in other countries in terms of telling them what to do…

That's one statement; the second statement is the fact that again, for good or for bad, the United States is one of the superpowers in the world. Like many superpowers, it sort of views its role in terms of furthering its national interests; and sometimes it has viewed its national interests in terms of wanting to bring about regime change. And in many situations, one can argue either that that violates United Nations principles or charters, or b, that it has not always been the smartest tactic for the United States. I would argue for example that the efforts to bring about regime change in Afghanistan or Iraq have largely been failures.

Sputnik: How do you find a balance between what is geopolitically in US interests and the interests of global harmony? 

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David Schultz: It is very difficult, and I think there are challenges here in the sense that there are many of us who would like to see the United States engage in more multilateral types of actions. What I mean by that is using the channels of the United Nations, using international channels, doing more consultation in terms of pursuing its foreign policy, versus often times acting in a unilateral fashion. 

I think we're seeing this playing out right now within the Trump administration.  On the one hand, we have many people trying to urge the president to do more negotiations, whether it's with the Paris Accords or other actions, to basically try to figure out ways of negotiating actions to harmonize what's in the best interests of the United States versus what's in the best interests of the rest of the world. But at the same time, we're increasingly seeing Trump pull the United States into unilateral action.

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