Experts Say Iran Attack Is Irrational, Yet Hawks Are Winning the Debate. [Peter Beinart | The Daily Beast] - From the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the head of Mossad, the experts are speaking out against attacking Iran over its nuclear program, but hawks like the GOP presidential candidates are drowning out the warnings.
Posts Tagged ‘War’
We are still at war.
U.S. Soldiers with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Afghan National Army, and members of the Community Based Security Solutions police organization, climb a steep path above Pata Tili village, on January 29th, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Bill Steele, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Inside Homs, ‘The Blood Is on the Floor’. [The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS] - Reports from the besieged Syrian city of Homs paint a dire picture. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that dozens have died there in the last 24 hours, 14 of them children. The assault by Syrian government forces came after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Assad regime. “Assad is using the veto as a license to unload on the opposition,” said Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute.
Sgt. Jared Dillon, a member of the Personal Security Detachment for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, carries a duffel bag full of cookies, candy and personal hygiene products for the Soldiers of Forward Operating Base Pacemaker on Dececmber 25, 2011. On Christmas Day Sgt. Dillon and the other Warhorse Soldiers traveled to five different forward operating bases delivering gifts and holiday cheer.
Throughout our decade of war in Afghanistan (and, indeed, throughout the war in Iraq), there has been an eerie disconnect between the reality of the situation for those who have been called upon to serve and the experience of the vast majority of the rest of us in American society. It is like we have been sleepwalking.
I, for one, am redoubling my efforts in 2012 to be mindful of our service men and women, of their families, of the Afghan People and of all others around the world who are living with war.
It is way past time to wake up.
What’s Happening in the Persian Gulf Explained. [Mother Jones] – Why Iran is talking tough, the US is maneuvering warships, and gasoline is getting more expensive by the hour.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
This past week saw the formal end of a war that lasted more than eight years, resulted in more than 150,000 deaths and countless more injuries, and cost trillions of dollars. I find myself struggling with ambivalence in its wake.
I am thankful, of course, that the last of our troops have finally left Iraq and that they will now be able to come home to their loved ones. I am grateful to all who served. I am hopeful that we may not see another struggle like this in my lifetime.
I am, at the same time, mindful of the continuing war in Afghanistan, frightened by the sabre rattling over Iran, and frustrated at our seeming inability to find better ways to resolve conflicts in the game of nations.
Last year, the United States spent $687,105,000,000 (and change) on the military. That is, by far, that largest military budget of any nation on Earth. It is more than 40% of all military spending on the planet. It is more than was spent by all of the other nations ranking in the top 15 of military budgets combined. It is more than six times what China (number two in military expenditures) spent. It represents nearly 5% of our Gross Domestic Product, and constitutes well over half of our federal budget.
As staggering as those figures may seem, they do not include expenses that are not part of the formal Pentagon budget. When you include related spending that is not under the Department of Defense (such as foreign arms deals, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security, defense-related costs at the Department of Energy, FBI Counterterrorism efforts, interest on debt incurred for wars, etc.) the total price tag balloons to more than $1 trillion dollars annually. By some estimates, the figure is close to $1.5 trillion.
China spends less than $75 per capita on the military each year. The United States spends more than $2100 per capita each year on the DoD budget alone. Add in the other defense-related expenses listed above, and we’re crowding five grand per year in military spending for every man, woman and child in the country.
By conservative estimates, the United States now has active duty military personnel on the ground in more than 100 countries around the globe, and maintains more than 650 bases on foreign soil.
Abraham Maslow said “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” America seems cursed with the hammer of military might…
Though the current situation may seem overwhelmingly daunting to people who care about peace and justice, and we may be tempted to think of it as a remote and inaccessible problem, in truth it is not.
Today I pray for an end to the war in Afghanistan. I pray for an end to violence as an accepted solution to conflict on God’s good Earth. Especially in this Season of Christmas to come, I will pray that humankind will open our hearts to the Spirit of the Prince of Peace.
Prayers, however, will not be enough. We need to take away the hammer, or at least put some new tools in the box.
If the events of this past year have taught us anything, they have taught us that the power of ordinary people who come together, resolute in solidarity, seeking justice, is greater than any other power on Earth.
War is over, if you want it.
If you are involved in an organization that practices peace and advocates for it, or if you have other resources to recommend, please leave a comment or email me with a link and I’ll consider posting it here.
To all who served in the war in Iraq, I say, simply, thank you – and welcome home.
On this, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we remember those who lost their lives that day, and those who served their country in the Second World War. We pray for peace in our own day.
The photo above (from the National Archives) depicts sailors honoring those killed during the attack on the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe, Oahu. This ceremony likely took place on Memorial Day of 1942.
The official U.S. Naval History and Heritage site recounts that the attacks of December 7th, 1941 caught the United States by surprise.
By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan’s diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well.
More than 2400 American soldiers and sailors died in the attack and nearly 1300 more were wounded.
It is difficult for those of us who weren’t alive at the time of this attack to fully comprehend what it meant to those who were, and the mark it left on their memories. I know that December 7th was a solemn day for my mother throughout her life, as it was for other family members, particularly those who were serving at the time or who followed the call soon thereafter.
I find myself filled with feelings of sorrow and bewilderment today. I wonder what lessons we might draw from the events at Pearl Harbor and those that preceded and followed. I ponder how I might have reacted had I lived in my parents’ generation. I mourn the lost and ruined lives that are always the cost of war. I consider the grave personal responsibility to work for peace and justice in this world (for that is a task that cannot be entrusted to the politicians, the diplomats and the generals). I pray for those who are living with war on this December 7th.
Surely there must be a better way.