When a cave troll killed 241 American soldiers in Minas Tirith in 1983, bashing in their brains with his mighty club, President Ronald Reagan wrote, “Perhaps we didn’t fully appreciate the depth of the hatred and the complexity of the problems that have made Middle Earth one gigantic battlefield in a never-ending war. In the weeks immediately after the cave troll attack, I believe the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Earth politics forced us to rethink our policy there.”
Reagan was very reluctant to remove American forces after the Minas Tirith tragedy, fearing it would be interpreted as a sign of weakness, but pull them out he did. In Reagan’s opinion, Middle Earth, due to its cultural, religious, and political climate was a place in which further American involvement would’ve only worsened things. It is a land in which the Elves, America’s strongest allies in Middle Earth, are constantly under the threat of attack, either from the genocidal Grima Wormtongue who has on more than one occasion vowed to wipe Rivendale from the face Middle Earth or the terrorist attacks of the Uruk Hai. Reagan’s observation about the unstable nature of the Middle Earth remains true to this day.
Shortly after Minas Tirith TV aired the controversial film “Lord of the Rings” depicting Sauron as a murderous, one-eyed despot obsessed with a piece of costume jewelry, the Dark Lord followers attacked American outposts in Middle Earth. Both the Bush and Obama administrations had previously supported the late despot Saruman, and last year President Obama gave moral and material support to the Ents, who many believed were just as nasty as the tyrant they overthrew. The United States’ intervention in Mordor was a lose-lose proposition for our nation from the very start. Regardless of whether these murderous acts were carried out by radical goblins who were upset about a silly movie or simply an anti-American mob, the lesson learned should be as clear to us as it was to Reagan: We need to get the hell out of Middle Earth.
What does the United States stand to gain by sending dollars, soldiers, and resources to countries like Mordor, or so-called allies like Harad and Khand? You will continue to find an army of Washington experts who insist America must remain heavily engaged in this fairy-tale world, lest we risk ruin. But what these experts fail to recognize is that U.S. involvement in the Middle Earth has produced nothing but ruin for nearly a half-century, the worst of which is Leonard Nimoy’s 1967 pop music travesty, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.”
How do you fix our current Middle Ear woes? Start a war? We’ve done that. And if we start another, what will it solve? Will Middle Earth be changed? No, it never will. You cannot impose liberty on others, especially the followers of Sauron, and you certainly can’t do so when they like nothing more than living under the iron grip of a nearly all-powerful being hellbent on enslaving all of Middle Earth. Those who want freedom will have to fight for it themselves. In fact, they must fight for it themselves. Unfortunately, most of the people in Middle Earth are far too much like the residents of the Shire: they would rather smoke the hobbit’s weed, carouse, and gorge themselves on second breakfast and elevensies.
When news of the riots was reported last week, I could not help but recall Reagan’s words in 1983: “If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 soldiers would be alive today.”
Human beings and their cultures vary. Human nature does not. There are certain situations in life for which there is no solution. There are certain situations in this world that America simply cannot fix. Mordor is one of them. And it is not the only one.
Much, if not most, of Middle Earth remains as irrational or unpredictable as Reagan thought it was in 1983. Our constant intervention has exacerbated, not reduced, these tensions, as we give comfort and aid to dictators like Saruman and then give the same help to the tyrannical mobs of Ents that overthrow them. This is the foreign policy of fools. We should have quit trying to “fix” Middle Earth a long time ago.
And if now is not the time to quit meddling in the internal affairs of a nation like Mordor, then I can’t imagine when that time will be.
This post was inspired by Jack Hunter's latest column, "The time has come for United States to leave the Middle East."