Waging Peace

The Military-Industrial Complex

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”President Eisenhower, 1961

War is a Racket 

“There is always enough money for more weapons and jails, and never enough for education and the poor…Instead of this money going to healthcare and education for our citizens who so desperately need it, it goes toward padding the pockets of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and the list goes on and on.” – Anthony Clark, Air Force Veteran, and Democratic Candidate for Congress, IL

Retired Marine Corps General Smedley D. Bulter uttered the words “War is a Racket ” in his famous anti-war speeches of the 1930s. The words both spoken by both General Eisenhower and Bulter have fallen on deaf ears but remain so relevant today. The nation edges on the brink of a third full-scale war in the Middle-East, with its long-time adversary, Iran. The United States has been at war since 2001. Since 2003, the United States has been engaged in a conflict with Iraq. There are now 17 and 18-year-old sailors and Marines who are younger than the Afghanistan War itself.

I joined the Navy in June of 2001, and three-months later, 9/11 happened. I was deployed to Kuwait during Operation Freedom, and I’ve seen firsthand how war changes people. For two decades, three different presidential administrations have lied to the public about the prolonged wars in the Middle East and the ever-expanding War on Terror. It’s never been an endgame in sight. It’s just been a blank check to the defense industry and weapons contractors. Both Democrats and Republicans have joined hands in making endless war a bipartisanship endeavor. The potential war with Iran has defense stocks booming. But what about the human cost of war? And why aren’t Americans ready to say no more endless wars? That’s because things have changed much since the days of the Vietnam War.

During the Vietnam War, the institution of the draft forced the public to maintain at least some basic level of awareness about the war. But the creation of an all-volunteer military has made the conflicts much easier to ignore. As public attention has waned, it has become easier for the U.S. government to obscure its own role in helping foment violent crises that have sent waves of desperate refugees streaming across the world. It has also helped deflect attention from wartime expenditures that are now estimated to have sucked up over $6 trillion in public funds — money that could have done much good in a country that is starving for infrastructure and public health spending.

While Americans continue to search for explanations for their own eroding domestic national stability, the wars that continue to rage outside of public notice may help explain some of the ugly direction of U.S. politics in recent years.” – The Intercept

Iraqi Child.jpg

While there’s no longer an official draft, there is a poverty draft. It takes people from poor rural communities, middle-class suburban towns, and working-class city neighborhoods to fill the frontlines of our armed forces. I was one of those young people from the Southside of Chicago looking for a better life and a way to pay for college. An all-volunteer force means most Americans can ignore the cost of war. But in war, it’s not just the servicemembers who face the consequences of battle. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, countless civilians have been killed, many more injured, and homelands have been destroyed.

On the home front, military veterans deal with the visible and invisible wounds of war. Many of my fellow comrades suffer from depression, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and amputation. Many veterans, unfortunately, succumb to drug addiction and suicide. Every night in the United States, over sixty thousand veterans won’t have a bed to sleep in tonight. I’ve talked about my own mental health struggles since my service days. We aren’t any safer, and we aren’t any freer today than before we started these conflicts. We’ve only created more terrorists havens.

I am writing today to say I am against a war with Iran. I’m against harsh economic sanctions that only cause more suffering of everyday people in that region. I’m against more men and women dying in vain. I’m against drone strikes that kill innocent civilians. I want the current administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m against the the continued occupation of Palestine and the apartheid state of Israel. The United States doesn’t fight wars to liberate peoples from tyrannical governments but for oil, and shocking markets to make multi-national corporations’ fortunes grow.

As Dr. King once stated, we need a “Revolution of Values.” There are many organizations and anti-war veteran groups to get involved with like Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, About Face, The Combat Hippies, and many more. If you want to support the troops. The best thing you can do is to vote for politicians that won’t send men and women to the frontlines. Vote for men and women who will use diplomacy instead of force to solve international disputes. It’s time America stops its war machine of destruction, and environmental harm. It’s time we start waging peace.

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Me and my boy Johnson at Pearl Harbor circa 2003

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