Americans like to imagine that their political disputes stop at the proverbial water’s edge. The opposite has been nearer to the truth ever since the nation’s founders split over whether to support France in its revolutionary wars in the 1790s.
For the past three decades, however, consensus has reigned. Having bested its Soviet rival in the Cold War, the leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties believed that the US should bestride the world.
That view might now be changing. Beneath the furious volleys between President Donald Trump and his critics, a common understanding has emerged. This year, for the first time ever, the presidential nominees of both major parties are promising to end the “endless” or “forever” wars in which they acknowledge their nation to be engaged.
In an era of severe political polarisation, the rise of endless war as a bipartisan bugbear is a stunning development. It reflects the public’s clear sentiment. Roughly three-quarters of Americans, according to a series of polls this year, favour bringing troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Twice as many Americans say their country spends too much on the military as too little. A mere one in four believes that military interventions in other countries make the United States safer. These days, a president might do more to unite the country by pulling forces back from the world than by deploying them against the next enemy.
Read the full article in The New Statesman.