This coming November, the Bush administration plans to hold the Middle East peace conference in Maryland, inviting key regional players including Israel, Syria, Egypt and Palestinian National Authority. Many hotly contended issues will be discussed, including the possible establishment of Palestinian statehood – hopefully with the help of Israel. With any luck, this conference could end decades of conflict and finally bring peace. These discussions would never occur without global intervention from the United States.

Many people in America and around the world are quick to criticize our government for interfering in international events. Critics believe the U.S. extends its reach into issues and conflicts it should have no part in. However, many important accomplishments in the 20th century could not happen without U.S. intervention. Additionally, these critics never stop to wonder how America assumed a position in the world.

Fueled by growth from the industrial revolution, changing technology and a deep desire to assert dominance, the first half of the 20th century was nothing short of tumultuous. After World War I, nations decided to turn their focus inward, choosing to concentrate on domestic issues. Specifically, after the failure of the League of Nations, largely in part to the U.S. Senate’s inability to approve American membership, no dominant power stepped up to protect global interests. As a result, Germany quickly built up her military and began annexing weaker European states. Again, none of the strong global powers wanted to put forth the effort to intervene and protect these nations. As a result, the world was drawn into a conflict that could have been easily prevented.

At the conclusion of World War II, it was clear that in order to maintain global stability, some kind of overarching authority was necessary. Our pathetic attempt at regulation was the United Nations, largely funded and influenced by the United States. This governing body was necessary to prevent another World War II-style catastrophe from occurring. However, as the U.N. quickly proved its ineffectiveness, the United States was forced to step up to the plate.

How quickly we forget the lessons of the past. Fast-forward 50 years, and we see many nations condemning U.S. action throughout the world. If we are to prevent another all-out global war, it’s essential the U.S. continue to have the influence it does around the world. History has proven how necessary it is for the U.S. to take on such a role, no matter how small the conflict.

Some say that an isolationist policy would be in America’s best interest, but these individuals are far from correct. We live in a new age with new technologies, resources and motivations. Yes, isolationism may have worked for the U.S. 150 years ago, but this was before a small nation like North Korea could scare the crap out of the entire world. Increased military capabilities, including nuclear weapons, require an authority to keep the use of these destructive tools in check. In addition, we have already seen isolationism simply will no longer work. As we learned from 1930s Germany, focusing only on domestic issues allows other rogue nations the opportunity to roll through its neighbors and possibly trigger large-scale world combat. Finally, when compared with the long history of conflict around the world, American presence has been important for maintaining our relatively calm global climate.

While I, too have had my skepticisms about certain military actions the U.S. chose to engage in, ultimately I believe it’s all been for the greater good. So many people are quick to demonize the U.S. as an evil empire bent on world domination. We should look at lessons of the past to realize how crucial American involvement in international affairs can be for events such as the Middle East peace conference. This and many other important steps toward global peace would not be possible if America chose to step back and let things take their course. For this, I’m proud to call myself an American.