by Judy Reynolds
Our ship is sinking in the Middle East. In every country where we have tried to enforce our will by violence, it have only made the situation worse.
According to a recent Reuters report (July 20), about 3,000 civilians per month are being killed in Iraq. This death toll is roughly twice that of last year. The number of wounded is even larger. American soldiers continue to loose their lives, or suffer wounds of both body and mind.
In Afghanistan, the country is "close to anarchy" according to Lieutenant General David Richards, head of NATO's security force. (Guardian, July 22). The death rate of American soldiers is on the rise.
In Lebanon, the U.S. government has given the green light and weapons to the Israeli government to invade and destroy the most modern and liberal country in the Middle East. What this invasion has done to U.S. standing in the Middle East and the rest of the world can only be described as disastrous. The Israeli government's war on Gaza and the West Bank continues unabated without protest from the Bush administration.
These military actions are justified as facets of the "war on terror." Yet it is generally acknowledged, even by our own CIA and various military leaders involved in these wars, that these actions have the effect of creating more and more anti-American terrorists.
Apart from their enormous human cost, all of these campaigns are very expensive, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. Estimates for the cost of the Iraq war have varied from $200 billion (Larry Lindsay, Bush's former top economic adviser, 2002) to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. To support our wars, money is being borrowed by our government and will have to be repaid with interest by us and our children and grandchildren.
Net foreign ownership of U.S. assets alone has reached $2.5 trillion (Money Week, Aug. 6). We are selling our country to help finance war while education, our environment, health care and affordable housing are suffering. What Can we Do? * The use of force and violence to counter terrorist acts has not worked and will not work. The reasons underlying terrorist acts, including poverty and resentments from past political and social events, are complicated. They must be understood if these acts are to be stopped.
One of the main things we can do is educate ourselves as to their cause so that we can seek non-violent means, including diplomacy and international aid, to end them. For alternative news and analysis, see alternet.org. commondreams.org, democarcynow.org and robert-fisk.com. * We can talk to family, friends and neighbors about issues of peace and war. Remember that minds are changed only one at a time, and your view is important to accomplish change. * We can attend the meetings of and try to influence our political parties to change our country's foreign policy and reverse its emphasis on war and pre-emptive strikes. It is only the party politicians who are in a position to make final decisions on war and peace, and we have a duty to do our best to educate and influence them.
It takes only 5 minutes to call or email your congressperson or senator's office to tell them what you think. Politicians do care about what their constituents say on issues. Also, we can support peace candidates through financial donations and political actions. We can work the phones for our favorite candidates.
The petitions include the Voter's Pledge to not support war candidates as well as the Declaration of Peace and the Congressional Declaration of Peace to end war on Iraq. For the "Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience Against War and Repression," see nion.us.
Other updates on peace demonstrations can be found on the Web sites for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, internationalanswer.org; Code Pink, codepink4peace.org; and United for Peace and Justice, unitedforpeace.org.
We, the people, can control our future.