A country is a sum of its people, and much like its people, a country's government makes mistakes. These mistakes can take the form of personal rivalries causing civil war, having an inadequate military strategy, having an unqualified officer corp, and a host of other prerequisites of maintaining order and quality of life. The following mistakes will deal with recent policies and decisions that affect foreign nations with dire consequences for the United States in return.
The most recent misfire happened in 2003. The invasion of Iraq was a celebration of American military supremacy and moral righteousness. The shattering victory over the Iraqi army shortly lead to the dethroning, statue desecration and seizure of Saddam. Unfortunately for America, and tragically for the Iraqi people, the victory did not last. A failure to maintain a curfew early in the occupation led to widespread looting, and the debaathisation of Iraqi state agencies led to inadequate and under-trained staffing of security services, which led to American soldiers having to become policemen, firefighters, trash collectors, et cetera.
The purged Iraqi state agents, prevented from legitimate employment, found their livelihood in joining the growing insurgency - an insurgency focused on the now overstretched and increasingly vulnerable American soldiers and marines. The American military officially pulled out of Iraq in 2011, but for Iraq, the war was just beginning - the self-proclaimed Islamic State was a direct descendant of a group born from post-invasion insurgency, and the devastation they wrought in western Syria and northern Iraq is a tragedy that will take generations to recover from. Iraq will be unlikely to get that time to recuperate - Iran has a vested interest to its formerly bellicose neighbor, and supplied Shia militia against the American military in an attempt to counter the spread of Saudi influence in the area. The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a long, complicated issue that predates the United States, but one that the United States had a definite hand in exacerbating.
Believe it or not, Iran was formerly a liberal bastion in the Middle East. It was ruled by a secular, democratically elected prime minister named Mohammad Mosaddegh who instituted a number of reforms to take away power from religious and foreign influences and give it to the outspokenly liberal Iranian society. Unfortunately, this looked an awful lot like socialism, and in the early 1950's this was an easy way to draw the United States' antipathy. The most immediate cause of Mosaddegh's overthrow was the nationalization of Iranian oil fields owned by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, currently called British Petroleum - the same geniuses behind the Deepwater Horizon spill. AIOC petitioned the British government for help so they could maintain their monopoly on Iranian oil production; Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed to assist the AIOC and recruited fellow World War II legend Dwight Eisenhower to assist.
Though President Truman opposed the CIA involvement in the coup attempt, President Eisenhower did not share his concern of precedent, and let the CIA off the chain - the subsequent coup destroyed the most stable democracy in the Middle East in favor of a more easily controllable Shah, who would remain in power for the next 26 years. He would be removed by a civil war involving many factions, but it would be Shia Islamic fundamentalists would prevail - partly due to being more organized than the other factions, partly due to Saddam Hussein's invasion of the Iranian oil fields stirring up nationalist passion. The Iranian regime that threatens Israel and undermines American influence is a direct result of that, and while there is currently a undercurrent of secularization among the numerous youth of Iran (the median age of Iran is 27 years, while the median age of the USA is 37), a mismanagement of American foreign policy can bolster support for the fundamentalist doomsayers that currently hold power. The subsequent slaughter of liberalized Iranians in suppression would inherently be a tragedy, but would likewise be a staggering blow to American foreign interests - Iran is a natural ally for the United States, and to have a secular, liberal ally in the heart of the region would be of wondrous benefit in expanding the American Order.
But both the Iraqi and Iranian mistakes are relatively distant from American borders and are of abstract relevancy to most Americans. Less abstract is the effect of the American Drug War in Latin America; American attempts to apply morality to its citizens (and allow Richard Nixon to imprison his political opponents) has lead to a black market to develop that has empowered criminal elements such as cartels to express great - sometimes absolute - influence over vast swaths of Central and South America.
The governments of this region had a tenuous grasp on sovereignty to begin with during the Cold War; the introduction of billions of dollars to cartels sourced from American drug consumers led to war and torture that has caused the mass migration of Nicaraguans, El Salvadorians, Guatemalans and Mexicans to the United States seeking asylum from chaos and carnage. The grand irony is that those that support the Drug War most fervently likely belong to the same political team as those that loathe migrants.
Even if one lacks an ounce of empathy for these people and would rather gun down every child brought across the border than lift a finger to help, the cash put toward erecting a border wall and funding border security could be spent on something that actively improves American lives such as new infrastructure, better schools or lower taxes if the Drug War didn’t make the peaceful United States such a strong pull.
Moreso, if there was a legal avenue for Americans to purchase currently illicit drugs rather than giving money to the rabid curs that cause this migration, the outward pressure for migration would decrease while also increasing government revenue through taxation. The question of what drugs should be legalized can be answered by asking how much money do you want MS-13 to have.
Addressing and recognizing the mistakes of the past is not demonizing America. It is acknowledging that our government is made up of fallible individuals that make mistakes, and we must learn from our mistakes to avoid making them again. That is what a patriot does. It is jingoists, not patriots, that refuse to admit that America has occasionally been on the wrong side of an event. Such an outlook does America no favors, nor makes America stronger; it only increases the likelihood of another misfire that further weakens the position of America in the world.