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Editorial: Keep our hands off

Over the past 13 years, the United States has poured billions of dollars and hundreds of lives into the chaotic Middle East in an attempt to stabilize the region while taking advantage of its enormous oil resources.

After a successful effort to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion force in Kuwait — an effort that was supported by a coalition that included some Arab nations — American politicians decided to launch our own invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although those invasions were also initially successful militarily, it quickly became obvious that those in Washington who were guiding the efforts had failed miserably at planning for what came next. In Iraq, a series of bad decisions helped create a quagmire of ferocious guerrilla warfare, while in Afghanistan, reliance on a corrupt and inept central government in Kabul, coupled with traditional Afghan rejection of outsiders and Pakistan’s refusal to seal its border, has led to a growing resurgence of the Taliban.

We wish we could believe that much has been accomplished by these military interventions, but we can’t.

What’s more, we can’t understand how our government ever thought they would. Diplomacy is slow and frustrating, and international aid is often diverted into corrupt pockets. Sanctions against dictators tend to harm the ordinary citizens of their countries more than the ruling elite.

Non-governmental agencies are sometimes at cross-purposes and tend to be uncoordinated in their efforts.

But these non-military methods of righting the world’s wrongs and helping the poor, sick and downtrodden peoples around the globe are, in the long run, a better way for Americans to intervene internationally.

We must stop trying to use soldiers to change the world.

In most cases, the record clearly shows, it simply doesn’t work.

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