The global situation is careening out of control.
Our President, who stated in his 2013 inaugural address that “a decade of war is now ending”, has authorized the bombing of 7 countries (most with which we are not at war): Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. The U.S. is currently sparring with Russia over the Ukraine, playing a very dangerous game with another nuclear armed power.
We have been told by Obama administration national security and intelligence officials that there is no military solution in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, yet war is our continuing response. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not created a safer, more stable Middle East. U.S. and NATO involvement instead have caused chaos and an endless cycle of regional wars. Too many Americans have shown a willingness to go along with more war with very little questioning or objection.
It is irrational for Americans to believe that people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the Middle East will accept U.S. military intervention without fighting back. General McChrystal, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander in Afghanistan, warned that “for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” Former State Department official in Yemen, Nabeel Khoury, estimated that “Given Yemen’s tribal structure, the U.S. generates roughly 40 to 60 new enemies for every AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] operative killed by drones.” Body Count, a recent study by Physicians for Social Responsibility, provides a conservative estimate of civilian casualties: Iraq 1 million; Afghanistan 220,000; Pakistan 80,000. How many new enemies have we created?
There is no solid strategy in place. Wars seem to end, but then reignite with ever more violence. We did not bring democracy to Iraq. We invaded a country with no weapons of mass destruction and no Al-Qaeda presence until after the U.S. invasion. We brought about the death of one million innocent civilians on top of the half million deaths of children, under sanctions from 1991-2003, and left Iraq in chaos with no end in sight.
Some Americans may be quick to forget the tragedies and misdeeds of war. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the fighting takes place, have not forgotten. Nor have our military men and women and their families. We must not forget those who served and bore the burden of war, those loved ones who will never return, and all those who were wounded in body, mind and soul.
Now the war mongers are trying to convince us once again that war is absolutely necessary lest we be destroyed, this time by ISIS (Islamic State in Syria). ISIS would not exist except for our invasion and occupation of Iraq. The same kind of fear mongering led us to war in Iraq and Afghanistan with catastrophic results! Are we really willing to let those same fear mongers, who have been wrong about everything, lead us into more war?
ISIS is a terrible, violent entity, but more U.S.-led bombing is not the answer. A U.S.-led campaign against ISIS is seen as a continuing crusade against Islam. One immediate result of U.S. airstrikes has been a surge in ISIS recruiting.
ISIS is a symptom of deeper problems in the Middle East. The hard reality is that until the root causes that gave rise to ISIS are addressed, there will be no end to the cycle of violence. ISIS melts into the background, moves to another location, and returns when militias and U.S. air power move out. The struggle against ISIS and Al-Qaeda must be led by the Muslim countries in the region through political, social and economic development, not warfare. The U.S. should play a positive role by seeking diplomatic means to address the real grievances behind the violence.
There are no quick fixes. More than a decade of war proves that war is not the answer to violent extremism; it is, in fact, a catalyst. It is time to stop repeating the mistakes of the past. We need to put our time, money, and intellects into developing a long term strategy that will produce better results than endless war.
War affects us all, but the profits are reaped by a powerful few. What we need is a new definition of “national security.”
National security exists when people have jobs with incomes sufficient to provide a decent standard of living, affordable housing and healthcare, education without lifetime student debt, and child and elder care. National security includes efficient, affordable mass transit, modern public infrastructure, a proper social safety net, transition to sustainable energy, protection of our environment and wholesome food. National security requires our country to operate in the world by earning respect rather than instilling fear.
We must stop this madness. The only thing that has ever put the brakes on the war makers has been people in the streets. We need tens of millions in streets around the world demanding an end to this insanity. People are moving; there is an enormous amount of global dissent, but it’s not enough — yet.
In February of 2003, tens of millions of people around the world did take to the streets to object to a U.S. attack on Iraq. The New York Times called the demonstrations an expression of protest by the world’s other “super-power”. It is time once again for that alternative global super-power to take to the streets.
So spread the word –educate, organize, and mobilize! Let the super-power; which is all of us; be seen and heard. See you in the streets!
- For reflections on the connections between Peace at Home and Peace Abroad, read Michael McPhearson’s thoughtful piece for UFPJ, “Deepening anti-racism Work in the Peace Movement”.
- Join and support the Peace & Planet Mobilization for a Nuclear-free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World, April 24 – 26 in New York City and around the world!
All we are saying, is give peace a chance! If you appreciate receiving timely action alerts like this, please make a donation to UFPJ so that we can continue to keep our member groups and dedicated activists linked together for effective action and impact!