When will we elect someone to office in this country who will completely, courageously, and without delay, disavow war? When will the U.S. learn to put our resources, both human and economic, to work for peace and posterity? We can’t have it both ways. We cannot fund the largest defense budget in the world and promote peace at the same time. Why? Because “defense” is a euphemism; it isn’t defense, it is an offense budget. We use these public dollars to wage wars, some may arguably be defensible – as in Korea and Desert Storm, others are surely indefensible – as in Vietnam and Iraq. Nevertheless, having the largest defense budget on the planet, greater than all the other nations of the world combined is, I believe, not sane.
Wendell Berry writes, “Endless preparation for war/is not peace.” Our obsession with – or perhaps I should say – our domination by the military-government-industry iron triangle only guarantees that wars will continue, that innocents will be murdered, and that healthy and valuable dreams and ideals will not be fulfilled.
I was born in 1937 as World War II was beginning its unfolding. I went to high school during the Korean War and since then have sadly watched Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan, as well as conflict and tragedy in Laos, Bosnia-Kosovo, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Rwanda, and the Congo. And almost always I see our government cozying up to and supporting dictators whom we believe will help our economy. I see the U.S. providing weapons all over the world to almost anyone who will buy them, and, I see the U.S. actually peremptorily attacking other countries when we think it is in our best interests, all the while hiding behind rhetoric of exporting “democracy.” As we do so, we appear to be cynical, selfish, and far from being the idealists we fancy ourselves.
I would so like just once in my life to have a president clearly and unequivocally stand up for peace and posterity. Note posterity, not prosperity. Not stuffing the pockets of the war industry, but finding ways to promote health, education, and happiness all over the globe.
I would so like to just once elect a president who made the alleviation of poverty within America and all over the globe his or her predominant mission and guiding force for decision making.
We have been and seemingly are currently hell bent on pouring billions more dollars into conflict in Afghanistan under the misguided notion that we can use force to create democracy in the tribal chaos of that country and that somehow this war in that one country will help to make the U.S. safer.
Safety for all of us upon this earth will come only when there is greater equity and respect for diversity. This will not be accomplished by waging wars. It will come when we walk a true talk of peace. When we clean up our own messes at home and export hope through the means of building schools abroad, building hospitals, assisting poor peoples with their cities and agriculture so that they do not have to chop down rain forests to survive.
Peace will come to us all only when we examine what it truly is. “Peace is not a preparation for war.” Manufacturing and selling guns are not a means of generating peace. Building drones to anonymously drop bombs upon people is not a move in the direction of peace. Peace has its own curriculum, and it is not comprised of courses on weapons, domination and exploitation.
President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize during his first year in office. By his own admission, he had not earned it when he received it. Clearly this prize was a hope and a call to action, a call to act for peace. My hope is that he will decide to truly earn the prize and lead us away from war to true peace. Hope springs eternal.