Viewpoint by Veterans For Peace
Veterans for Peace, an international organization made up of military veterans, military family members, and allies, calls for a reduction in the Pentagon budget and an increase in spending to meet human needs at home and abroad. This statement originally appeared on the organization's website.
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (IDN-INPS) - As military veterans from WWII to the current era of conflicts, who have trained for, and in many cases, fought in U.S. wars, we know that current U.S. policies have not only failed to bring peace but are morally bankrupt.
Veterans For Peace has called for a different approach than war to demonstrate power and strength and prevent and end violent conflict. For the past thirty-two years, we have called for the abolishment of war as an instrument of national policy.
As a nation, we have witnessed the failure and blowback of war many times, including when the U.S. government chose to respond to the tragic and depraved violence of the September 11, 2001 attacks with more violence by invading Afghanistan.
The U.S. went on to invade Iraq, overthrow the government in Libya and drop bombs in Syria,Yemen, Somalia and other nations. An October 16, 2016 New York Times article states, “This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.”
The President plans to increase Pentagon spending by $54 billion, claiming that the U.S. military is broken and depleted. Mr. Trump recently spoke to service members aboard the new $13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier reiterating his call for more spending.
Ironically the carrier is a real-life example of why more spending is not needed. U.S. military capabilities far outstrip all other nations. The carrier is an addition to a navy that was already unmatched by all others. With ten carriers, the U.S. has more than all other nations combined and the carriers are larger, providing more deck space per carrier than other nations.
The U.S. Navy has thousands of aircraft, making it the second largest air force in the world behind the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. already spends almost three times what any other country spends on defense and more than the next nine countries combined.
As citizens participating in self-government, it is our responsibility to ask, with this massive military capability and spending and endless global wars costing trillions, why are 15 years of war policy not working? Who is benefiting from more spending on killing and death?
The President has called for an escalation of war against ISIL, stating in his address to Congress, “I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS…” This long-standing policy of militaristic responses to stop terrorism is further evidence that the U.S. is operating according to a worldview of permanent war.
One part of our mission at Veterans For Peace is to end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. We are deeply concerned about recent statements and developments.
The President seeks to increase tensions with Iran by threatening to pull out of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P 5+1 - U.S., UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany.
Mr. Trump has also called for what many have termed a new nuclear arms race. He has made comments calling for increased spending on nuclear weapons and most recently said in a Reuters interview, “...if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack..."
Mr. Trump’s call for a nuclear arms race is frightening and the Democratic Party’s relentless anti-Russian rhetoric is irresponsible. The world does not need a new arms race or rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
In fact, the world must rid itself of these immoral weapons before they are used again, and Russia and the U.S. must find peaceful means to address the spread of global violence. There is no real defense against a nuclear strike and a new build up will only bring the world closer to the possibility of nuclear war resulting in millions if not billions of deaths.
Apparently, Mr. Trump has not learned anything from the previous failures of the Bush and Obama administrations. Case in point is the U.S. led raid in Yemen authorized by the President. The raid resulted in the killing of up to 30 civilians, including 10 women and children, and the death of U.S. Navy SEAL William Owens.
One of the children was an eight-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, also known as Nora. She was a U.S. citizen and daughter of the former al-Qaida propagandist and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a September 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Nora’s 16-year-old brother Abdulrahman – also a U.S. citizen, was killed in a second drone strike soon afterwards.
This is exactly the kind of incident that leads to creating more enemies dedicated to fighting the U.S. Is it reasonable to believe all the friends and families of the slain civilians will understand that their deaths are collateral damage or acceptable casualties of war?
Or would many of them want the same kind of revenge expressed by President Bush when he said to the world on September 13, 2001, “I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
The military response to that tragic day has only brought more war and death. It is time for a new way. We call on the President to learn from the past 15 years and step out on a new direction of peace.
If the President can’t learn from past failures, perhaps he can learn from success. The Iran agreement is a milestone in diplomacy that averted a war and met all parties’ concerns about Iran’s nuclear power program. Working with Russia in Syria, President Obama secured an agreement where the Syrian government willingly gave up its stockpile of mustard gas and nerve agents, a task that was completed in the summer of 2014. Syria also signed the international Chemical Weapons Convention. Diplomacy can work. Peace is possible, but we must work for it.
U.S. global policy of endless war and filling the coffers of an already bloated military budget has merged into a global response of violence. We need a global response that meets human needs and aspirations. Militarization is not the foundation on which to build peace. U.S. efforts have proven that war is the breeding ground for more violence and hatred.
We need increased spending in social programs here at home, including significant resources dedicated to our veterans who are suffering devastating effects as a result of their service. We need an increase in diplomacy to end the wars. We need to dedicate resources to helping bring relief to the refugee crisis resulting from endless war.
We, as veterans, know that peace is possible, but only if resources are directed towards caring for one another, not perpetuating militarization across the globe. [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 April 2017]
Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump signing the "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" order, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Secretary of Defense James Mattis (right). Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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