Is the U.S. too quick to use military force when conflicts arise? Yes, of course, the U.S. responds too quickly in using military force when conflicts arise. Tragically, the U.S. enters wars without considering the horrendous consequences of such actions; a peaceful solution to the dispute or conflict should always be pursued and accomplished.
When U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2005 – 2015), he observed and stated, “Peace is today dangerously in deficit.” A follow-up indicator of this peace shortage clearly shows that violent conflicts in 2018 destroyed the lives and land in nine countries: Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Mexico (drug war), Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria (and Boko Haram), South Sudan and Mali. These wars in 2018 resulted in 123,643 killings, but other smaller conflicts also occurred during that same year and caused the deaths of thousands of people, according to Wikipedia. The failure to prevent war or resolve disputes led to this huge loss of human lives.
In addition to the war-related deaths, the number of individuals who fled their homes in 2018 because of war, violence or persecution totaled 70.8 million, according to UNHCR. This number exceeded that of previous years and of the 60 million refugees or displaced persons identified during the post-World War II era. The 70.8 million total consisted of 25.9 million refugees, 41.3 million internally displaced persons and 3.5 million asylum seekers. Children, including unaccompanied minors, accounted for more than 50% of the total.
Economically, the cost of war is exceedingly high. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace’s latest “Economic Value of Peace,” the economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2018 reached $14.1 trillion in purchasing power parity terms. Divided among the people of the world, the equivalent equals $1,853 for every person.
These numbers demand an answer to the question: How do we stop the quick response by the U.S. and other nations to use military force and prevent such an enormous death toll, the upheaval of millions, the high economic costs and corresponding environmental destruction? Obviously, the answer is the U.S. and other nations should not use military force when conflicts arise, but should seek peaceful solutions instead. Leaders of the U.S. and all nations need to adopt Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s statement of July 4, 2018, after decades of war with Eritrea, “We have tried war and found it useless.”
Anne Hoiberg, Point Loma
Is the U.S. too quick to use military force when conflicts arise? Yes. I asked this at the YMCA’s Read Aloud gathering and the answer from the women was swift and short, a no-brainer.
They knew the backstory and the history of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. has engaged in endless war from the beginning, with only 17 years of peace. Perhaps it is our manifest destiny? We want something, we take it – by force and intimidation as needed. The U.S. has broken every treaty and international agreement, from tribal lands to nuclear arms to raw resources. The U.S. has a war economy, and it enriches the 1%.
President Eisenhower warned us in 1961. War makes money, and profit has more value than human lives. If there isn’t a conflict, we escalate or prevaricate to rationalize military action.Corporate media remains silent on military overreach, or worse, complicit, repeating the official narrative without investigation nor question. Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico suffer from covert U.S. interventions. This part of the story remains untold, perhaps due to media’s financial ties to the military-industrial big business.
Iran shot down a drone it claims come too close to its air space. On the face of it, U.S. denial and threats of retaliation seem understandable. The truth is in the backstory: the Pentagon plan to topple seven Mideast countries one by one, a plan decades in the making to control the oil. Remember the infamous Colin Powell speech to the U.N., with the concocted story of Iraq and Nigerian uranium? By 2019, U.S. has destabilized or militarized all but one Mideast country. All part of the plan.
The collateral cost of war has come home. The high costs of education, rampant homelessness, poverty, untreated mental illnesses and failing infrastructures are a direct product of the U.S. budget’s skewed priorities. The military consumes around 50% of discretionary U.S. spending. Naomi Klein laid out the complex web of profits, corporations, military contractors, GNP and elections in “Shock Doctrine.” The war industry drives the intensifying income inequality. It has militarized us. It has made acceptable army tanks in our streets and child prisons along our borders.
Peace is not part of the plan. Instead, the administration had a war on peace. Ronan Farrow had a firsthand view as the U.S. dismantled the State Department’s diplomacy service. There is strong popular support for peace and diplomacy. Despite the propaganda, patriotism and the revival of the unconstitutional COINTELPRO CIA program, the peace movement grows. Volunteerism for the military is at an all-time low. Conscientious objection filings are on the increase, and Selective Service filings are in decline. Protests have moved from the streets to the board rooms in divestment campaigns. New members of Congress are challenging the war business. It is time for a Department of Peace and Reconciliation.
Anne Barron, Board Member
Peace Resource Center of San Diego