‘All we are saying is give peace a chance’

The U.S. cannot be the world’s watchdog and must refrain from more costly military conflicts.

Luis Ruuska

I’ve spent more than two-thirds of my life living in a country at war against terrorism. The war has cost more than $1.5 trillion since 2001 and has cost thousands of lives.

At the end of this year, the U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan, and the country will no longer have a long-term ground war for the first time in about 13 years. However, this raises several questions about what the U.S. will do next.

One of the top concerns is what will happen to the Department of Defense’s budget, which more than doubled from $310 billion in 2001 to $691 billion in 2010.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently committed to shrinking the military to pre-World War II levels, as well as a host of other spending cuts in order to curb the bloated defense budget.

These are wise moves that will allow the U.S. to reinvest in other areas in dire need of attention, such as education and the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

The other question that remains is how long the U.S. will be able to refrain from intervening in another international conflict.

While Libya, Syria and now Ukraine have all been tempting for politicians, a war-weary public has succeeded, for now, in staving off lawmakers’ calls for military action.

But why is military involvement even on the table?

If the U.S. ever hopes to have a chance at sustaining long-term peace and progress, then it’s imperative that we stop focusing more on the problems of the international community than we do on our own problems.

I am among those who believe that the War on Terror was largely ineffectual.

We’ve burned bridges with many in the Middle East, spent far too much money and lost far too many lives.

Additionally, terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan are already beginning to work to reclaim territories they have lost over the past decade.

It’s time we give peace a chance. That doesn’t mean we refrain from helping our neighbors in the future; it just means changing the way we do it: through diplomacy instead of warfare.