Trying to make the whole world agree with us forces the United States to fight an endless, hopeless war we can never win. If we insist on branding every country run by a religious fanatic or a dictator who abuses his own people as an immediate threat, we will be hard-pressed to even decide where to invade next, let alone be able to actually make ourselves safe.
Many countries have oppressive governments that Americans would find unacceptable. Many countries also have wildly different views from our own. For example, in Syria women must cover themselves from head to toe and in Canada, they put mayonnaise on French fries.
Differing from us culturally and having horrendous leaders, does not mean that a nation plans to attack the United States. They might want to, but nearly all of them can't and hating us simply distracts the people in these wretched nations from their own miserable lives.
As a rich nation with an in-your-face culture, the United States makes an excellent villain for foreign rulers to blame the problems of their country on. Iran and North Korea both have leaders who do exactly this and if we attack those countries based on their dislike of us, we've simply proved to be exactly what they say we are.
American soldiers must protect us from actual threats and not perceived ones. Much of the world dislikes us, but we can't attack everyone so we must only wage war when actually attacked.
You cannot fight a preemptive war against every nation that might wish to do you harm. Doing this would be like the 98-pound weakling picking a fight with every member of the football team just in case some of them were considering bullying him.
Perhaps more importantly, we can't attack one country because another country attacked us. No more invading Iraq because terrorists supported by the government of Afghanistan attacked us on September 11, 2001.
We must not be the people who have a fight with our spouse and take it out on our subordinates at work. If a nation attacks us, it must pay and its people should suffer for supporting a government that allows such an attack. But, without clear provocation, the U.S. should not be the aggressor.
America must also stop using the idea that we're spreading Democracy around the world as a justification for hostility. Democracy only works if people actually seek it out. Forcing our system of government on a nation as a way to make them like us and thereby not want to attack us simply never works.
Americans have trouble reaching a consensus as to who should be the next American Idol, yet we expect citizens of other countries to immediately agree with us as soon as we tell them about our system of government. It's irrational to think that the people in countries like Iraq and Iran want us to save them from the only way of life they have ever known.
If we consider every country whose people tolerate or refuse to overthrow horrible leaders a threat to our own security, than we'd have about 12 allies. In reality, very few countries pose any real threat to the United States. The world might hate us and want to destroy our way of life, but it's unlikely Iran, North Korea or any other potential enemy could mount the forces needed to land a single troop on our soil.
Of course, these rogue nations can hurt us in other ways. They can turn a blind eye or even sponsor terrorism. Perhaps one day they might even be able to create missiles that can be lobbed at the United States from a great distance.
Unfortunately, we're the good guys and that means no firing until fired upon. Superman never goes to Lex Luthor's house and punches him out because he might commit a crime. He always waits to stop him in the act.
That's the harder way to live and certainly the more dangerous way. Proudly, however, it's the noble way and, I'd like to hope, the American way.
Daniel B. Kline's book, "50 Things Every Guy Should Know How to Do," is available in bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.