"Again, I haven't been following the happenings in Ukraine, but... is financial aid a provocative act? Really, the EU has an interest in stable neighbors, if nothing else."
Even financial aid would be provocative given the circumstances and our history of trying to turn the states that formed Russia's buffer zone into our allies, but it doesn't stop there. I am supplying a link to an intercepted conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which they are discussing their choices for various positions in the pro Western government in waiting. In a reference to the European Union's understandable reluctance to push Russia too far, she says f%$$%^k the European Union. It would be worth your while to read this one. Apparently the Russians intercepted it and put it out on twitter where it has proved to be a major embarrassment to the US. In any case, it reveals just how involved we are in egging on the Ukrainian uprising.
"The truth is that the shift westward seems to have been a Ukrainian idea (which even you don't seem to be disputing) and the west was merely willing to help them out. And then the Russians went all apesh!t and cloak-and-dagger. Which is sort of par for the course, I agree."
I just wish I could get you to agree that the Russians have vital interests in the area, both historically and strategically.
"I will also note that you again seem to want to excuse Russia's threats of military intervention in the internal affairs of another sovereign state. How about criticizing them? Isn't threatening to seize the Crimea a bit "aggressive"? (And before you try to go all two-wrongs-make-a-right on me I will acknowledge that the US is not guiltless of similar actions in the past.)"
It is not a matter of criticizing them on moral grounds but, rather, recognizing the facts on the ground, the history, and the thinking of the Russian government, because that is what will determine their course of action. As you are no doubt aware, it is no longer a Russian threat of invasion. They have just put the 'real' back in realpolitik, and we are powerless to do a d@mn thing about it. Something to do with the correlation of forces being in Russia's favor, as the Joint Chiefs probably would have told the fools behind our policy making, had they been consulted. And, as I said previously, there is a world of difference between aggression undertaken to neutralize a perceived threat on a state's borders and aggression perpetrated by another state without a legitimate strategic interest in the situation on those borders. This a situation tragically analogous to what we did in Hungary(1956), Czechoslovakia(1967), Kurds in the 70's, Shia'a in southern Iraq(1991), and may well end up with a similar outcome.
"My point, which I may not have made well, is that you ascribe possibly secret and nefarious intent on the part of the US regarding the ABM plans, yet refuse to consider that Iran may have secret and nefarious intent with regards to its nuclear ambitions. To you the Iranian reason for wanting nukes is obvious and rational, and you don't seem to be able to conceive that they would misuse them, whereas "who knows for what real reason" the US wants ABMs. I maintain that the US wants ABMs for exactly the purpose that they have stated."
I guess I didn't express myself clearly enough. I don't ascribe nefarious intentions to the US re ABM's in Eastern Europe, because I'm not sure what our intentions are. I am quite certain, however, that the Russians do ascribe such intentions to us. As for Iran, they may harbor all sorts of nefarious intentions toward us, almost certainly do in fact, nor do I doubt that they might well use nukes if they thought they could get away with it, just like Bush II was contemplating using them against Iran to take out their nuclear facilities. However, proceeding from the premise that they are, in fact, rational actors, as they have so far proven to be, the prospect of certain annihilation following their use makes that likelihood about as remote as it can be.
"And when have the US or Israel blackmailed anyone with nukes? (Seriously- have we?) MAD doesn't count. The US did warn (and later admitted it was a bluff) Saddam that we would nuke him if he used chemical weapons, but I wouldn't call that blackmail. Israel doesn't even admit it has nukes, so it would be hard for them to blackmail anyone with them. Israel has a disturbing tendency to interfere militarily in nearby places like Lebanon, Gaza, etc, but Iran is further away and IIRC they have never acted against Iran without provocation. (I could be wrong- not really my area.) Yet Iran insists upon threatening their existence. Repeatedly and enthusiastically."
It is implicit in our being the only nation to ever have used them. JFK threatened the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis by putting our ICBM's and SAC on high alert, similarly during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Later admitting that the warning to Saddam was a bluff doesn't discount the initial blackmail. Everybody knows Israel has nukes, and during the Yom Kippur War, they opened their missile silos when they knew US and USSR satellites were overhead to indicate they had them and that they were operational and ready to launch if their situation grew much worse. Presumably the USSR passed that message on to the Arabs and calibrated its own actions accordingly. Israel threatens to strike Iran preemptively all the time, and was intimately involved in the development of Stuxnet. What is the Iranian provocation? To level the playing field. I could say a lot more about Israel, but that would be derailing my own posts to this this already derailed thread. Iran's threats to Israel are rhetorical, for reasons already stated having to do with their own existence.
"For that matter I'm trying to think of any war that Israel actually started. They did act preemptively in the Six-Day War but it's kind of hard to fault them when Egypt was mobilizing on their border with the Sinai, considering the situation at the time."
They started the war when they cleansed most of the Palestinian population from what became Israel. It actually began in the 1930's, but that is another story. What you call wars are only battles in a war that is far from over.
"Don't get me wrong- Israel is not a warm and fuzzy nation. They are not nice guys. But if I compare them to their opponents I guess I'd take their side if forced to choose one. It's rather hard to sympathize with the Palestinians when they blow up school buses and launch missiles randomly into urban areas from Gaza. I mean, hell, they launched over 2,200 rockets in 2012! (Just imagine what we'd do if Mexico shelled Brownsville...) Sonofacrap! Kind of hard to claim that they are trying to do anything other than terrorize civilians."
Might I suggest "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" by Ilan Pappe(a noted Israeli historian) and "My Promised Land" by Ari Shavit(a prominent columnist for Haaretz) for your bedtime reading? Seriously, Dean, they will provide some context for how the Palestinians behave. You will come away will a more balanced view of terrorizing civilian populations, for sure. It is how Israel came to be, simple as that.
"*Cough-cough* Hamas? Hezbollah? The Riyadh compound bombings of 2003? They have a proven history of supporting terrorism. There is an entire Wikipedia page on the subject for crying out loud."
See my comments immediately above. As for Riyadh, we are viewed by most of the Arab World as THE enabler of Israeli actions and main supporter of oppressive regimes that have left generations of Arab youth with no prospect for a decent future, and they have begun to react accordingly. Note our muted reaction to the military coup in Egypt and the brutal suppression of the majority Shia'a population of Bahrain by a Sunni minority, not to mention a corrupt medieval monarchy in Saudi Arabia and its oppressive policies. They are the major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, as well as the madrassahs in Pakistan, BTW. How ironic, huh?
"The Iranians understand the dictum that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend.""
As do we, and many others. It also explains their support for Hamas, a Sunni organization. Hizbullah, BTW, is an organization of co-religionists that was originally organized to protect the downtrodden Shia'a plurality in Lebanon. It only got involved in the resistance to Israel after the Lebanese Shia'a became collateral damage during Israel's campaigns against the Palestinians in Lebanon.
"This is a complex issue. I deny that I instinctively think of other nations as adversaries. But it's hard to deny that Iran is in fact an adversary at the moment. And I do think that he Russians are paranoid, nationalistic, and militant but not an outright adversary. I think of them more as annoying, frustrating, and potentially dangerous than as an overt adversary. North Korea is pretty much everyone's adversary, with the sole possible exception of China. What I do recognize is threat, which in military parlance has nothing to do with intent, merely capability. Thus even the UK is a "threat." Does that make sense?"
Perhaps not entirely, but certainly more than I do, as evidenced by the positions you take in our dialogue. This is not intended as an ad hominem criticism, BTW. I think it is part of military culture everywhere. It is part of the raison d'etre for militaries the world over. Some of it can't help but inform your thinking, or at least so it seems to me. In any case, it makes for a very interesting conversation, at least to me.
"And give me some credit- I certainly find the Russians, Iranians, etc. interesting. I just also happen to be in a demographic that places me at risk of stopping bullets issued from either of them when they get their hackles up so, yes, this colors my perspective. When you're a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail, it's true."
He!!, man I'll give you lots of credit. You're by far the most interesting person I engage with here, as evidenced by the length of our posts. And I do appreciate how your demographic colors your perceptions/thinking. It would mine, too, were I in your boots. That is why I said above that I think your thinking is colored by your military background and that I did not mean it in an ad hominem sense. I guess that mean I love you, too. :)
"But sort of by definition we only tend to argue over issues on which we disagree. So we both might suffer from sampling bias, there. We probably agree on more than one might otherwise think. I just like to make the point that, yes, although I can understand other nations motivations I am still capable of disapproving of their actions."
Hard to disagree here. I am also capable of disagreeing, even loathing, other nations' actions, including all the ones under discussion. But I was trained to separate my moral judgments from my analysis of international relations and what can realistically be accomplished in any given set of circumstances. To do that, one often has to hold their nose. This does not mean I discount morality in foreign policy formulation, but I realize that advancing moral goals must take account of realities on the ground and must often proceed at a more measured pace, if bloodshed on a vast scale is to be avoided. People's minds change slowly, a process that cannot be accelerated at the point of a gun. Even Mao recognized that basic reality.
This is particularly true when trying to impose one's beliefs on peoples of different confessional persuasion, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"That's why I'm not running US foreign policy... :)"
Precisely why our Founding Fathers, in their deep wisdom, put the military under civilian control, and further created 3 separate branches of government. Simply put, they realized that "The Lord ain't finished with us yet.
"peaking of which, I recently read an article in (of all things) Mother Jones written by one of those three hikers that Iran kidnapped. Remember our argument about that? About how "understandable" you found it that Iran would seize someone who trespassed across their border? Well, at least according to the kid they were on a ridge in Iraq when an armed Iranian border guard on the next ridge over directed them to approach him. Quite reasonably they elected to do as the nice gentleman with the automatic weapon had requested. Then they were detained because they had "crossed into Iran."
As I said then and as I maintain now, Iran likes to play games. How long did they keep those kids? And for what? A bargaining chip? A little poke in the eye to the west?"
I remember the conversation well, and I don't doubt for a moment that this was a case of Iranian nefariousness. However, given the contest, and the fact that those kids had been in the Middle East studying Arabic(in Damascus?) and presumably learning something about how things were playing out over there, my first thought is that were I in their shoes, I would have turned around and hightailed it back to the first friendly village. The kids were undoubtedly pawns in a much larger game, and the Iranians used them for whatever purposes they had in mind, very likely including the two you mentioned. They can be extremely cruel, as can the Arabs. And Israelis. It is a very rough neighborhood. I didn't approve of what the Iranians did to those kids, but as I said at the time, they were naïve to the point of being stupid. That said, I felt deeply sorry for them and disgusted with the Iranians, but at the same time at least partially understood why they did what they did. It's a rough neighborhood.
"Most of that, yes. But if you really feel that it is literally none of the business of the rest of the world that they strangle children for the crime of being gay and stone women to death for all the usual asinine reasons, I pity you."
It's not quite that simple, Dean. I loathe that kind of behavior as much as you, but at the same time realize that we can not change their beliefs and cultures at the point of a gun, and that trying will only result in violence on an even grander scale
and change nothing in the end. After we leave Afghanistan, do you really think they will not go back to abusing their women, stoning adulterers, sodomizing young boys, etc? And in the meantime, we will have pi$$ed away the lives of thousands of our young men and women, as you know far better than I, doomed hundreds of thousands more to lives of living hell from PTSD, and wasted vast amounts of our taxpayers money. For what? Better, I say, to put our resources to work right here at home to work on problems we can reasonably hope to solve, and leave those benighted medievals to sort their situation out on their own. Or not. Either way, the world will go on its merry way, and I suspect that even they will gradually come to the realization that they will be far better off cleaning up their act and joining the civilized world.
"And when they threaten to close the Straits of Hormuz, that most certainly affects our interests. As much as I would prefer that we were not so dependent on middle eastern oil sources, that is not the reality."
Can you tell me how closing the Straits of Hormuz in the event of a US or Israeli attack on their nuclear facilities would be unjustified? Or how it would be different in principle from what we are doing to them now with our sanctions? They will respond in a manner that they feel offers them the maximum possibility of inflicting damage on us and our interests.
>>>OK, US foreign policy. [etc]
"Hallelujah, you have restored my faith in you. But I do notice that none of that is recent, as I had requested. :)
How about something post-Cold War?"
China, as I said. Prior to the end of the Cold War, China was not high on our list of priorities, but it is now, and I think we have done reasonably well, although we will be severely tested if the island disputes boil over. On second thought, Nixon's opening to China also qualifies, as does our success for several decades in maintaining a relatively peaceful world. That last is no small achievement, and I should have thought of it sooner. I got too far down in the trees in responding to your multi faceted post and lost sight of the forest. My bad.
The reason I can't come up with more is that I think our foreign policy has been mostly a disaster since we got into Viet Nam. There is not much there to find comfort in, IMO. Discussing it in detail is far beyond the scope of this thread, so I will leave it at this for the time being: When ideologues and corporate interests seize control of foreign policy, the results are predictable. Q.E.D.
Prior to JFK, to whom I assign the blame for initially involving us in Viet Nam, foreign policy was made, for the most part, by the sober pragmatists who so successfully constructed the post war world order and contained Soviet expansionism.
Beginning with JFK that began to unravel and has now gotten to the point where our moral credibility has been compromised to the point where our primary foreign policy tools outside the Western community of nations are military force and economic sanctions/inducements, or the threat/promise thereof. In the process, we have seen our position of primacy in the world degraded, to be replaced by an emerging multipolar structure that promises to be at best challenging, and at worst extremely dangerous in years to come.
"I will defer to your expertise. :)"
I have to give credit to my wife for the Punjab part. The rest I got from reading National Geographic. ;0)
"Are we innocent? No. However, it is also farcical to blame it all on the United States:"
And I don't. I merely pointed out a major reason for their behavior.
"How were they "provoked" to kidnap those kids, again? Or kidnap those British troops, whom they also falsely claimed were in their territory? (I give props to the Australians for not submitting to that crap and shooting back.)"
See my comment immediately above. We threaten and harass them, they threaten and harass us. Tit for tat until it turns into rat a tat tat. Ya gotta keep up appearances in a rough neighborhood.
"The Sixth Fleet is there for a reason- I have already mentioned Iran closing the Straits of Hormuz."
And I responded with the conditions under which they would attempt to do that. Notice that they haven't tried to do so in response to sanctions that verge on acts of war, which both proves that they would only do so as a last resort because of likely consequences, and that they are therefore eminently rational in their calculations.
"So, a response to militant jackassery on the part of Iran. I'd want a source for special ops teams in Iran, sorry. Not that I would be surprised given our worries about Iranian nukes, but I'd need sources."
It isn't militant jackassery that has resulted in special ops units being infiltrated into Iran; it's the nuclear facilities that we're scoping out. As for sources, if you go back thru our previous conversation about Iran, I gave you a link to a New York Times article where we admitted it. Sorry, I'm not going back to dredge it up now.
"We had that CIA guy get nabbed, no doubt, but everyone does espionage so that's a wash."
That's a side show, standard espionage. He got caught, end of story.
"The US says that the drone was on the Afghan side of the border when it was spoofed or malfunctioned. Who to believe? Again, would I be surprised if the US were checking out Iran? No. They may in fact have been doing exactly that from the Afghan side of the border. But it would definitely be stupid on our part to cross into Iran- their integrated air defense network is good enough to detect such a partially-stealthed aircraft. On the other hand meaconing an aircraft is an act of war, so if Iran did jam it in Afghan airspace (and they have already demonstrated their, um "creative interpretation" of their borders) then yes they were being militant belligerent @$$holes by definition. And I wouldn't doubt it for a second. Hopefully, given their record, you at least would entertain the possibility as well. Economic sanctions are not militant. Threats of action? Yes, generally in response to Iranian provocation, or at least refusal to consider valid requests such as listening to the IAEA re: enriching uranium. Related: Stuxnet?"
I'd believe the side that ended up with the drone. ;0) As for being stupid, we've been known to do stupid on more than one occasion. I doubt that the drone in question was the first we had sent in their direction, so I would not blame them in the slightest if the became a little, uh, proactive after a while. If they did take control of it in Afghan airspace, it seems we would have intercepted, and recorded, their command signals. I mean, we pick up and record just about everything else, don't we? If so, where is the proof that they did so? Which is another way of saying, yes, I would certainly entertain the idea.
As for sanctions, I'm afraid we'll just have to disagree here. If they threaten a nation's economy and government, that government would be justified in considering them to be an act of war. As far as I can tell, they are within their rights to enrich uranium. As for inspections, do we submit to inspections? Do the Russians?
And why are we so exercised about Iran, when Israel, Pakistan, and India refuse to allow them? I know,I know, none of them are signatories to the NPT, but in terms of the potential consequences of any of those states possessing nuclear weapons, that is just a bunch of legal BS. The real reason is that Iran is considered by Israel to be an existential threat, and has brought irresistible political pressure to bear on a succession of US administrations to do something about it. If you want to bring Iran into our interpretation of compliance with the NPT, I would suggest a full court press to get the Israelis to cough up theirs as well as part of a regional denuclearization treaty.
"Did we do that? ;)"
Perish the thought!!! We are a nation of laws. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
"Come on, the US has a very valid and rational reason to oppose Iran's development of nuclear weapons. To claim otherwise is disingenuous. If they were really just trying to develop nuclear power we would not be this opposed to the process. Why would we? Just to annoy them? The sanctions already do that. The real reason, if I may indulge in some humor, is that they are batsh!t crazy and might just decide to use a nuke if they had one. They are a true theocracy, and by definition religion isn't rational. One cannot predict what they might decide to do.
We made only token protests about India and Pakistan, etc. because we can trust them to be rational actors, and they only seem interested in weaponizing against one another- no ICBMs. Not so Iran."
I've already tried to deal with the irrational actor claim, so I can't add anymore here, except to say that if you consider the Pakistanis to be more rational than the Iranians, I'm at a loss for words. It is worth noting that Pakistan, specifically Abdul Qadeer Khan, the director of the Pak effort, provided North Korea, Libya, and Iran with most of what they needed to get started, centrifuge specs, warhead design specs, etc. Pretty rational, huh? Worse yet, the French provided the Israelis a complete turnkey system in the late 50's to early 60's. How's that for responsible, rational stewardship? Most of Israel's top military leadership, Israel Galili, Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Rabin, et al, were opposed to Israel acquiring nuclear weapons because they thought it would result in an arms race that would lead to exactly where we are today, and that in the event of a nuclear exchange Israel would be the loser because of its limited land area. All it would take to annihilate Israel would be 2-3 warheads to get thru, whereas the Muslim world could sustain much greater damage and survive. Ben Gurion should have listened to them.
"We had tensions with the Soviets many, many times, yet we always managed to defuse them. It's a two-way street, though, and the Iranian government simply isn't interested, and have maintained the crisis for a generation beyond the end of the Cold War, now. Well, they are interested in removing the sanctions, but they aren't really interested in sharing the Earth in peace with either us or Israel. I mean, our Cold-War need to support the Shah is no more. The Iranian Revolution is a fait accompli. So at this point we really don't intrinsically care much about how Iran is run. If they'd simply stop threatening us we would remove the sanctions completely and happily co-exist with them."
I just can't understand how you come to these conclusions. Iran is extremely interested in reaching an accommodation with us. they tried to open channels of communication several time during the Reagan Administration and at least once during Bush 2, and were rebuffed every time. During the Iran-Iraq war, which Saddam started,
we even provided Iraqi chemical weapons units with targeting information that resulted in devastating casualties during the Faw Peninsula campaign and allowed the Iraqis to force an Iranian retreat. So how you manage to come to the conclusion that they are threatening us is simply beyond my comprehension. We have been meddling in their internal affairs and trying to bring them down ever since. How do you expect them to respond?
"So, I guess that all I'm saying is that Iran is maintaining the crisis, not us. Which makes sense- the Iranian government has an interest in maintaining the crisis. It lets them point at the US and blame us for everything that goes wrong in their country. They have a boogeyman on which to direct the ire of their people. It keeps them in power. There is a nascent movement among Iran's youth for some change, and this terrifies them."
See above. Why on earth would they want to continue the current state of affairs? Our ill advised aggressive policies, significantly influenced by the Israeli lobby, have been primarily responsible for the current sad state of affairs. I guess you could say their refusal to cave in to our threats is responsible for maintaining the crisis, but that would be a stretch, at least for me.
"We didn't apologize to Iran with whom, you are correct, we are engaged in a mini-Cold-War. We apologized to the victims' families, and paid restitution."
What can I say?
"It doesn't surprise me, either. :) They're still wrong. Or, more likely, still just trying to maintain their ability to use the US as a boogeyman."
We'll never know for sure. But yes, the incident did provide them with an opportunity to rally public opinion, and they ran with it, just like countless other governments have down thru the ages. -
"And I respect "pinko com-symps." :)"
Cut it out, Dean, I'm getting all warm and fuzzy inside. But that doesn't mean I'm going to let you off easy. ;)
"Well, you know what I mean. Someone has to act as the conscience of the United States. And if I could only keep one thing from the Bill of Rights it would probably be Freedom of the Press."
If you're depending on the current corporatized press to act as the conscience of the country, uh.......
"Don't get me started, I might end up facing UCMJ action..."
I'll volunteer as a character witness on your behalf, if you let me tag along on the Mongolian Rally. ;0))
"As I've said before, I think that some of my opinions would surprise the hell out of you. I tend to be critical of a lot of prominent general officers, too."
Doesn't surprise me at all. It's just the Middle East/Russia where I think you drift off into the ozone at times.
"Eisenhower was right."
"Down with Citizens United!"
"Then why keep harping about ABMs? :)"
Just to send you off to do my research.
"But honestly, I don't think that ABMs are much of an issue between us and Russia, as it seems you are now acknowledging. They are annoyed that places like Ukraine and Georgia would dare leave their sphere, though. I agree with you on that. They are still a de facto hegemony, and would like to remain such."
They have a synergistic effect on a relationship that is in deep doo doo for more serious reasons. It gooses their deep seated suspicions of the West into overdrive.
They are beyond annoyed at this point, as should be pretty clear from the events of the last 24 hours.
While we're on the subject, you mentioned that they grudgingly accepted NATO's expansion into former Warsaw Pact countries. My take is that they were economically and politically incapacitated during the 90's and realized there was nothing they could do. so, they acquiesced to the reality, and set about rebuilding with a vengeance. We continued to act as if they were the basket case they were back then, and formulated our policy in Georgia and Ukraine as if that were still the case. Not surprisingly we got a rude awakening. Realpolitik 101 for those who delude themselves into believing that the world is as they want it to be instead of what it actually is.
"I admit that I still struggle with the concept that responding to overtures of fellowship from sovereign states like Ukraine or Georgia would be "aggressive." Does that mean that you would say thet we were justified in invading Cuba? :)"
The question would be who made the overtures? the Ukrainians or us? Did you read the transcript of Nuland's conversation with Pyatt I linked you to?
I would say we were justified in demanding the removal of the Soviet IRBM's during in 1962 crisis. But again, they were put there in response to our placement of IRBM's in Turkey, and we removed ours in return for them removing theirs.
As for invading Cuba, it was not geographically contiguous to us and had never been used as an invasion route into the US mainland. Nor had it ever been part of the US, as was Crimea part of Russia. Different situation. Besides, we had already invaded Cuba twice, once during the Spanish American War, and again in 1906 under Teddy Roosevelt, and we definitely considered it to be our playground. But that doesn't equate it to the Russian situation.
"Part of this is just that I don't really think of Russia as an imminent threat. Annoyingly nationalistic and militant, yes, but without the ideological motivation of the Soviet era they are unlikely to just decide on a whim to launch their ICBMs some day. So to a certain degree, yes, I wonder why they don't realize the same about us. Why should they care if Ukraine wants to join the EU? Really? Other than that they still consider Ukraine to be somehow "theirs"? Yes, I know their history and I know that they are scarred by it. But their Greatest Generation is dying off just as ours is. There should be no more institutional memory, there. The idea of an EU invasion of Russia is ludicrous. So, yes, I wish that they could see that. Hell, I wish they would join the EU! Then we could join with Canada and Mexico in the NAU, do away with the dollar, replace it with the Amero, and turn our military over to the UN!"
They have a much keener sense of history than we do, and the trauma of the Great Patriotic War is very much alive to this day, as is the Cold War. As long as we keep meddling on their borders the memories, institutional and individual, will remain very much alive. It is not the Europeans that exercise them so much as it is us. The EU nations are much more reluctant to provoke them, with good reason, as is indicated by the Nuland conversation I linked you to.
I wholeheartedly agree that bringing Russia into the EU first would have been the way to go, for reasons I stated earlier.
"OTOH we left Iraq when asked. It's looking like we're likely to leave Afghanistan when asked. Unfortunately I can't think of good recent examples closer to our shores. There was as I hinted Cuba, about which I admit that we grew one eyebrow, but that was the Cold-War so I don't feel it's really the same. Can you think of any similar recent (i.e. post-Cold War) examples where the US acted as Russia is acting over Ukraine? I'm drawing a blank."
We left Iraq because it was bleeding us white. Ditto Afghanistan. Closer to our shores? Grenada, Panama, were both in the one eyebrow camp for reasons which escape me, unless you subscribe to the opinion that maintains Reagan was just tying to rebuild our military's confidence/morale after the trauma of Viet Nam.