Steve Chapman
When historians sit down decades from now to address the events of the early 21st century, they will have no trouble explaining why Americans elected Barack Obama president. They elected him out of a firm conviction that the United States was not involved in enough wars.

Problem solved. Today, American forces are fighting in four different countries.

No. 4 is Yemen, where we learn the administration is carrying out an intense covert campaign against anti-government militants, using fighter aircraft and drone missiles. It is being handled by the Pentagon in conjunction with the CIA, and according to The New York Times, "teams of American military and intelligence operatives have a command post in Sana, the Yemeni capital."

Feel safer? Probably not. Most of what presidents do with the U.S. military is not aimed at enhancing the security or welfare of the American people. It serves mainly to advance our domination of the world, even -- or maybe especially -- in places irrelevant to any tangible interests. Like Yemen.

Or Libya -- also known as War No. 3. Since March, the administration has been immersed in a grand humanitarian mission requiring us to deliver bombs on a regular basis. Obama's stated goal was to prevent a mass slaughter he accused Moammar Gadhafi of plotting. But that pretext has given way to the real purpose: killing the dictator, pounding his regime into submission, or both.

No end is yet in sight, but an optimistic Defense Department official told the Times, "We are steadily but surely eroding his capacity." If that statement is false, we have burned through $700 million on a futile offensive in a country that posed no threat.

But in this case, a pessimist is someone who thinks the optimists are right. If NATO is truly on the way to defeating Gadhafi, we will soon face the question: What next? Having demolished its government, we will suddenly inherit full responsibility for the fate of Libya and its people.

Piece of cake. I mean, look at how well things went in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, when victory gave way to violent chaos that killed thousands of American soldiers.

Or consider our record in trying to transform Afghanistan. The U.S. has 100,000 troops there, triple the number when Obama took office. Civilian officials and generals invariably assure us that our efforts are succeeding, but never quite well enough to allow our departure.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

©Creators Syndicate