Twenty-four hours following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden addressed the nation, claiming that, “it is not just about Afghanistan… it is about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.”
Since becoming the “unipolar” in the 1990s, the US, like a person with narcissistic personality disorder, has developed a growing sense of the illusion that it has the right, even the obligation to “remake other countries.” The conviction that Uncle Sam can project his moral ideals around the world—by force if necessary—comes with a detrimental repercussion: civilian casualties and displacement.
Since setting foot in Af-ghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the US military has killed more than 38,000 civilians and made over 12.7 million refugees, according to statistics from the United Nat-ions High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the non-profit monitoring group Airwars.
If America’s narcissistic personality disorder afflicts only itself, other countries may spare themselves from getting involved. But when it comes to millions of civilians displaced and killed, the disorder deserves our high alert and needs to be dealt with.
Beneath Uncle Sam’s self-bestowed obligation to “remake the world” lies one contradicting unconsciousness: all lives outside the US borders are secondary to its own national interests. The greatest paradox of its foreign policy is not the result of an excess of concern for foreign life but a lack of it. From the genocide of Indigenous peoples to the transatlantic slave trade, from the “New Monroe Doctrine” in Latin America to “Color Revolutions” in the Arab world, the US keeps a long and notorious record of sacrificing innocent lives on the altar of its US-exceptionalism fantasy.
Uncle Sam’s narcissistic personality disorder continues to plague the world and often implicates its own allies. The current Belarus-Poland border refugee crisis appears to be the direct consequence of the political conflict between the Belarusian government and the EU. Underneath, however, the refugees, which found their temporary shelter in Minsk, came largely from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan, all of which the US has been militarily engaged with. The EU’s sanctions against Lukashenko are backed by the US. The crisis exemplifies how the US interventionist approach in the Middle East spills over to Europe. If millions of refugees can be regarded as the survivors of Uncle Sam’s smug missionary spirit, tens of thousands of unaccounted civilians killed by the US military are the true victims of this disorder.
The most recent case in Baghuz has not faded from the headlines. On November 13, 2021, an independent investigation carried out by the New York Times shockingly revealed that a 2019 US military drone operation in Baghuz, Syria, killed 64 innocent women and children, making it one of the worst civilian casualty “accidents” of the US’ war against the Islamic State (IS). The “rewards” of the strike: 16 IS fighters. Sixty-four innocent lives for 16 terrorists? Patient Uncle Sam weighs costs and benefits without feeling guilty.
To cover up its mess, the US Central Command made a statement, alleging that it was not clear that they were civilians, in part because women and children in the IS sometimes took up arms. This is the typical pretext of how the US military addresses civilian casualties which are considered as unavoidable collateral damages of its counterterrorism missions.
Biden’s address may signal his acknowledgement of the total failure of the US military operations in Afghanistan, but with mass deployment of American forces across the world and numerous economic coercion and political manipulations still in place, the US fixation with interventionism will make this world more insecure and uneasy.
Uncle Sam’s self-righteous responsibilities of spreading US-style democracy in the targeted countries have turned into “a weapon of mass destruction” against those with differing political views. There are already too many cases indicating that the US’ imposition of “universal values” has not been well-received by other countries. Uncle Sam can never be a savior as he indulges himself in his self-created sense of entitlement.