Foreign policy is an issue. It would appear that almost every war we've ever fought since WWI, arguably every war since the Revolutionary war, has laid the groundwork for the very next conflict, sometimes several more after.
A short-sighted foreign policy has lead to more conflict than communism or terrorism combined.
An example of this is the Cold War. The entire ground work for the Cold War was laid down by funding communism. Communism, despite it's post WWII popular portrayal and it's eventual evolution into totalitarianism, was ideologically opposed to fascism of any kind. Funding and training was given to many communist forces by the Allies to fight German, Japanese, Spanish and Italian fascism. Naturally, in the 50's, the threat of communism suddenly loomed large in the eyes of the administration, probably because they'd been armed and trained by the very people who now felt threatened by them.
Amongst several reasons for communism taking hold where it did, one possible factor was that the communist systems success with the backing of the Allies in WWII was a historical reason for people to trust in it's capabilities. If they were able to beat back, defeat, route or at least stifle other forms of government and ideology, well, they must be superior.
In order to fight communism, Islamic groups with Islamic ideologies were funded. So naturally, they had the capability to dominate opponents other than communism when they felt that had to do so.
History is the reason for people to do anything. Everything we know, and even more what we don't know, is based on history.
As an example, there is a myriad of reasons why young men go off to war, and they all involve history in one way or another. Al lot of them involve old men. Traditional: "My old man was in the war," Rebellious: "My old man opposes war," Protective "My old man should be safe in his home," Directional "My old man left when I was five," Functional "Some old man I've never met said I had to do this," and so on and so forth.
Historically, American ideology has been structured around pure ideals based on freedom, liberty and by extension, human rights. There are parts of the world when the men in power don't want their people receiving regular medical care or regular meals because then they would be capable of rebellion. What's agonizing about American ideals and ideas is that, despite their erosion in this country, we believe basic human rights are a concept that everyone should enjoy for one reason or another. Our history tells us that those things are good.
Old men get up on our televisions and tell us that our intentions are good, our goals are pure and our objective is just.
Let us say, for moment, another man gets on TV. He's the king of Whatevaland. He says "Listen, all I want is to subjugate people, destroy their spirits, control their lives and crush under jack booted heal anyone who opposes me. It's my god-given right."
Naturally, a lot of people in this country would say "That's not right," but what makes the military worth while is that we can have the resolve to say "That's not right, and we're going to stop you."
The military is a fine tool for getting things done. Sometimes it doesn't feel like that, but really it's true. The military is a group of people who, through shared experience, will behave the same way and understand things in a similar way, most of the time.
Ideals are instilled in people in the military, through not merely basic training but through examples of good leadership during military career.
In order to win a war, of course, you have to have a defined sense of right and wrong, as well as win or loose. This is the old way and doesn't leave a lot of room for compromise, but it can be very motivating.
War has become more and abstract in terms of it's reason as time has progressed. Instead of land, or resources, a non-country ideology has declared war on all "western" ideas and ideals. What's truly interesting about this, is now both ideologies are put to the test.
The very idea that religious systems, thousands of years old, are in some way opposed to modern methods of thinking is completely insane.
Religion is a system of governance. It's a system of thinking and teaching intended to bring about order. Secular government is the next evolution in maintaining order, while religions have taken a step back and become opposition to government.