Tag Archives: War

Memorial_Day_at_Arlington_National_Cemetery

On Memorial Day, Let’s Remember the True Costs of War

Americans Must Claim Memorial Day as a Day to Promote Peace

Memorial Day often seems to bring about uneasy feelings among many Americans. People too often allow their anti-war views to manifest into disdain for U.S. troops. This shouldn’t be the case.

Memorial Day is an opportunity for Americans to honor the memory of American soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice — a reminder of the true costs of war.

Memorial Day began as a Union holiday to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War and was eventually merged with Confederate remembrances to their Civil War dead. The joining of the north and south’s Memorial Day celebrations into a national remembrance for the fallen of all American wars was a critical step toward post-Civil War reconciliation between the north and south.

Today, Memorial Day can serve the same purpose. Americans must join together to honor the brave people who gave their lives in service of their country. But we must also take the next step by making the moral case of honoring the fallen through peace, rather than more war.

There have been 6,882 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 15 years. This is more than a statistic. Every soldier who has died was a human being with parents, siblings, a spouse and possibly children. Every life lost through violent conflict prematurely cuts short the hopes and dreams these men and women, and their families, had for the future.

Memorial Day is an opportunity to honor the fallen, and to highlight the need to ensure that more Americans are not sent to perish in conflicts that do not advance our national interests.

Read the full article at the PanAm Post.

Congress War

If Britain Can Debate Military Action, So Can the United States

The decision to go to war is the most consequential and serious choice a government ever has to make.

Recently, the United Kingdom’s House of Commons voted 397 to 223 in favor of bombing Syria, with the main purpose of combating the Islamic State (ISIS). More important than the decision is the fact that it was reached democratically, and that there was ample time for lawmakers to consider their position, with the debate lasting around 10 hours.

The United States should take note of this respect for the democratic process. Like Her Majesty’s Government, the US legislature should debate the pros and cons of military action, and not allow such a profound decision to be made by the president alone.

This is exactly what the Constitution intended. While there is legitimate debate about how to interpret other parts of our founding document, Article 1, Section 8 unquestionably gives the power to declare war to Congress.

Read the rest on the PanAm Post here.

troops

If You Really Want To Support the Troops Tell Them the Truth

With the recent passing of Veterans Day, social media, TV shows, and commercials were singing the praises of the brave men and women who defend America. Reading or listening to some of the praises heaped upon them, one would think that America would long ago have been overrun by barbaric hordes intent on enslaving and pillaging the entire country. Yet, such statements betray a lack of critical thinking on the part of those from whose lips such profuse praise pours forth.

When people thank soldiers for their service, does anyone stop and ask what the service being rendered is? Are the soldiers stopping hosts of invaders from sweeping in and destroying life as we know it? Are they repelling seaborne invaders making landfall on the East Coast? Clearly not.

Rather these soldiers are either on garrison duty domestically, deployed internationally to maintain the United States’ so-called strategic interests in places like Germany, Japan, Korea, Bahrain, and Italy, or they are fighting insurgencies in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen, in order to spread American global hegemony.

Read the rest on AntiWar.com here.

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Advocate Sarah Published by Antiwar.com on Iraq

Advocate Sarah Harvard was published in Antiwar.com on US’s options in the ongoing turmoil in Iraq.

President Obama finds himself in yet another difficult situation where any move or strategic decision would result in faulty blowback or risk to Iraqi civilians, security forces and the United States. The White House and Iraqi intelligence are desperately scrambling to prevent ISIS from reaching and taking control of Baghdad. However, with the current security measures at play and the perilous risks involved, hope is dwindling for the future of Iraq.

You can find the article online here.

If you’d like to speak with Sarah or any other Advocate, please contact Young Voices.

radha

The New Addiction: War Fever

The Nation just released a strangely relevant excerpt from the recently published in ebook format Vonnegut by the Dozen, a collection of 12 essays by Kurt Vonnegut.  The excerpt is from the essay “The worst addiction of them all.”

Vonnegut starts by praising Alcoholics Anonymous as America’s “most nurturing contribution” to the world we see today. This support group encourages people to begin recovery by identifying their vice. This is undoubtedly a powerful statement to make, it is the steepest step of all twelve. A number of authors writing about their experiences in AA have made the 12 steps the crucial plot element, and have seen accolades by Oprah’s book club and on other more reputable platforms. By requiring a confession of just what you are, the AA scheme is attributed “measurable success in dealing with the tendency of some human beings, to become addicted to substances that give them brief spasms of pleasure but in the long term transmute their lives and the lives of those around them into ultimate ghastliness.”

This is Vonnegut’s statement on what addiction is. While more may be said by those in the know, we can stick with that definition for our present purposes.

For example alcohol, or narcotics or gambling. Vonngeut is gonna focus on gambling to make his point, since gamblers do not ingest any particular substance. The actions they take, through their own biochemical processes, create for them a high unmatched by any of the substances we classify as drugs. Thus far gambling is unscheduled, probably because the chemicals and/or substances causing the high can be produced by every human brain. As it turns out, humans have the capacity to create their own toxic high through a variety of activities. We can get that brief spasm of pleasure through video games, through pornography, or even through shopping, not just placing bets and risking money, and not just through illicit activities.

Kurt Vonnegut identifies a new class of addiction in Vonnegut by the Dozen:

It is more like gambling than drinking, since the people afflicted are ravenous for situations that will cause their bodies to release exciting chemicals into their bloodstreams. I am persuaded that there are among us people who are tragically hooked on preparations for war.

Of course he’s correct. They’ve been around just as long as alcoholics and sex-addicts and probably even longer. Compulsive war-preparers are “more tragically addicted” than the stockbroker, the alcoholic or the gambler, who just wants a dollar bet on who can spit farther than whom. But what might it take to get the war-preparer his high?

For us to give a compulsive war-preparer a fleeting moment of happiness, we may have to buy him three Trident submarines and a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles.

…aaaahhh. For a fleeting moment of happiness, “we” have to get him what?

A couple of these:

missile

Hmmm.

Vonnegut goes on to identify the sick few who have fallen between the cracks: “If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing it to War-Preparers Anonymous.” Thereafter, Vonnegut fails to clarify the sick entity that he dubs “Western Civilization,” except in an unacceptably overbroad fashion. His further characterization/personification of Western Civilization is completely erroneous. It takes his substantive addendum to the character of the West from a tautology to a simple buzz in the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and maybe not even the buzz that you might pass on.

By dubbing this new category of addict Western Civilization, he makes all of us geographically located in the Western Hemisphere feel guilt, without assigning responsibility to those who are actively seeking their fix. He doesn’t stop there. He says, “Western Civilizations, which surely now includes the Soviet Union, China, India, Pakistan and so on…” What a claim to make! So we all are sick? The whole globe is afflicted? We have a collective addiction to preparing for War? I cannot submit that this is what Kurt intends to mean because he goes on to say:

Let us recognize how sick such people are. From now on, when a national leader, or even just a neighbor, starts talking about some new weapons system which is going to cost us a mere $29 billion, we should speak up. We should say something on the order of, “Honest to God, I couldn’t be sorrier for you if I’d seen you wash down a fistful of black, beauties with a pint of Southern Comfort.”

That is, I couldn’t be sorrier for you (national leader, or just a neighbor) than if you were drowning in alcohol, with a liver the size of your ribcage, and you were whining for more booze. I couldn’t be more sorry for you. At this point. we should speak up. We should say to such a person, craving for the urgent, weighty sting of preparing for combat, you need help. You seek a brief spasm of pleasure from a substance that will transmute your life into ultimate ghastliness. The first step is a confession. This will be the first of many steps on the long journey back to sobriety that those people will have to take.

Finally, Vonnegut’s solution: Let us not mock them. All we have to do is separate them from the levers of power.

Here, Vonnegut admits that Western Civilization itself it not sick with this kind of addiction. Rather, Western Civilization, in failing to recognize this condition as an illness, has venerated these persons by rewarding them with complete control over the levers of power. Western Civilization, in the act of insinuating war on others, seeks to appease, not antagonistic nations, but its own addicts to war preparation. Moreover, nations will lose most of their freedom and wealth in seeking to appease such addicts.

After describing how war-prep addicts come into being (“it starts innocently enough in childhood, under agreeable, respectable auspices”), Vonnegut clarifies the contours of the addiction and how to recognize it. But until now, Vonnegut is just bringing the reader to the precipice. He lets the reader glance over when he asks:

Should addicts of any sort hold high office in this or any other country?

Absolutely not, for their first priority will always be to satisfy their addiction, no matter how terrible the consequences may be–even to themselves.