My answer to How did the policy of containment place the United States at the center of international conflicts?
Answer by Ken Larson:
I had 2 combat tours in Vietnam and worked in the Military Industrial Complex for 36 years while the policy of containment you have questioned was applied.
The lessons of Vietnam have not been remembered and once again political factors govern our presence in several countries. This time it is the Middle East.
Operation Desert Storm had a clearly defined mission to liberate a small country from an aggressor. We accomplished the mission utilizing the best weapons in the world.
Unfortunately, we did not leave the area.
The terrorist enemy has grown to become a formidable force, cable of striking without notice even within our own country. He threatens the world economy with violent disruptions in several domains at the same time.
He is a product of our own creation, rebelling against the "US Police Force" with help from neighbors who play either benign or active roles.
Our enemy knows his neighborhood far better than we do. US intelligence and military capabilities are strained to the maximum monitoring perceived hot spots all over the globe. We must face the fact that our long term presence in other countries is resented.
When we consider the largest evolving countries in the world today, such as China, India and others, we should note that they are successfully competing with us in a fast moving, complex world economy.
These countries are not all pure democracies and probably never will be. No overt action on our part created these powerhouses. As we struggle to compete with them we must have education, research and development and a healthy work force to keep pace. How much can we afford to spend forcing our capitalistic ideologies on other societies? Events have proven that the world has become a tightly wound place economically. Countries who wish to succeed and grow will play the game anyway.
My odyssey was driven by a need to manage illnesses acquired in warfare. I found a way to deal with the maladies for years by spreading myself thin and accepting every new challenge. I thrilled at success and moved on after defeat, pursuing a misguided goal. Out of necessity I have now been forced to look inward, wind down to a smaller perspective, take care of my health and begin serving the little guy.
Perhaps it is time for our country to consider a similar transition.