[pjw] OPINION: Let's put an end to our endless wars (Portland Tribune 11/17)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Fri Nov 19 14:55:59 EST 2021
While I'm mourning for the future of our country, with the acquittal of
young white supremacist rifle-toting killer vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, I
have some slightly good news to share. The Portland Tribune ran the
following op-ed that I wrote based on our Afghanistan 20 years later fact
sheet last month. Apparently it's been up on the internet since Oct. 21--
I didn't check because I (probably incorrectly) remembered another
person's op-ed having run first in the paper, then online.
Oddly, they changed the title from something about the wars not really
being over to "Let's put and end to our endless wars," which I guess is
Anyway, feel free to share. It may seem familiar since a lot of it is
lifted from the fact sheet. But it's getting to a much wider audience now!
peace and justice works
Handelman: Let's put an end to our endless wars
October 21 2021
Dan Handelman of Portland is with the regional nonprofit Peace and
***FILE PHOTO - Thousands marched in early 2004 against plans to
invade Iraq and against the Afghanistan war.***
As an organization that took part in protests against the Afghan war
before it began in 2001, we wish we shared the Portland Tribune
editorial board's advice to celebrate the end of two decades of war.
While President Biden followed through on former President Donald
Trump's pledge to pull out U.S. troops, the war has not ended. The U.S.
has stated their intent to continue airstrikes from over-the-horizon
positions, a tactic used during the pullout with disastrous
Guantanamo Bay prison, created in January 2002, remains open with 39
prisoners, many who have been cleared for release. The 2001
Authorization for Use of Military Force intended to target Al Qaeda in
Afghanistan remains in place and was used to justify U.S. military
actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria. A separate 2002
use-of-force authorization to attack Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq
was repealed by the U.S. House this summer, but not yet in the Senate.
These wars are estimated to have killed more than 7,000 Americans and
at least 660,000 people elsewhere. Brown University's Costs of War
project estimates America's financial cost including weaponry, military
personnel, veteran care and spying infrastructure is more than $8
The U.S. does not intend to alert the Taliban to future drone strikes
in Afghanistan. After an attack on the Kabul airport during the August
evacuation, a U.S. drone strike killed 10 civilians, including several
children and a man associated with a U.S. nonprofit. The U.S. admitted
no militants were killed.
Future struggles will emerge over China's interest in the estimated $1
trillion in minerals under Afghan soil. President Biden stated that
troops leaving Afghanistan would be repositioned for potential war with
President Biden's stated desire to bring a close to the endless wars is
admirable. However, his threat after the airport attack to "hunt you
down and make you pay" are not the words of a man of peace.
Congress tried to get President Trump to end support for the Saudi war
in Yemen. Of eight vetoes, Trump used three to overturn those efforts.
Congress put a provision in the 2021-22 spending bill to end support
for the Saudi war. That does not stop the U.S. drone strikes which
began in 2004, 344 of which killed at least 209 civilians in Yemen.
While strikes in Pakistan and Libya apparently stopped in 2017 and 2019
respectively, Biden and Trump each led strikes in Somalia six times in
2021, and the U.S. launched a strike in Syria as recently as September.
About 900 U.S. troops remain on the ground in Syria.
When referring to Afghanistan as "America's longest war," people ignore
the war against Native Americans that began before the U.S. was a
nation and continued into the early 20th century and beyond. The Korean
War, which started in 1950, led to an armistice in July 1953, but no
peace treaty has emerged to end that war. The war against Iraq began
when the U.S. imposed sanctions in August 1990, bombed in 1991 and
continued both of those strategies until the invasion in 2003.
Thirty-one years later, 2,500 American troops are still in Iraq.
It is unthinkable to spend money on war instead of human needs in this
time of crisis. Now is time to end state-sponsored violence perpetuated
by our country.
Dan Handelman of Portland is with the nonprofit Peace and Justice
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