No, Mr. President, we have not turned the page on war

In his september speech at the United Nations, the president Joe bidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment – American Clean Power – Supreme Court to Consider Power Plant Regulation Case Harris Makes Final Argument for McAuliffe Overnight Health Care – Brought to you by Altria – Young Children Get Close to Vaccine MORE said: “for the first time in 20 years… the United States [is] not at war. Unfortunately it is far from true. Not even in Afghanistan, where the president allowed continuation of the bombardments – with predictable horrible results.

Picture this: In a popular neighborhood not far from Los Angeles International Airport, a 40-year-old husband and father comes home from work on a Sunday afternoon. As he pulls his Toyota Corolla into the garage, his children run to greet him. From the sky, a Russian military drone fires a missile at the house, killing ten people, including seven children and five under the age of five. Russian President Putin initially claimed that the target was a Chechen terrorist, but then admitted that it was a big mistake and that the victims were just innocent American civilians.

It is exactly what happenedexcept that it was an American drone and the victims were in Afghanistan. This is nothing new. The same story plays out over and over again: a wedding procession in Yemen, a family dinner in Somalia, fields of care In Pakistan. At least 22,000 civilians have been killed in US airstrikes since 9/11.

Today, the US military is leading combat operations in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Kenya, Niger, Philippines, and yes, Afghanistan. And these are just the places we know. There is little public information and limited surveillance of CIA secrecy drone wars.

How is it not war? And why are blacks and browns so massively targeted?

If another country bombed the United States – even if the apparent targets were in fact plotting acts of terror – we would consider it an act of war. And if the government had invited a foreign country to bomb us, it wouldn’t be long before the Americans turned on their own government.

Congress and the American public must face the truth: the global “war on terror” has been a moral disgrace, a strategic failure and a humanitarian catastrophe. The wars after september 11 killed more than 929,000 people, forced at least 38 million people flee their homes, and cost the US taxpayer more than $ 8 trillion. Meanwhile, the number of armed Sunni Islamist groups that engage in terrorism has increase, and the far more pressing global challenges of climate change, racial injustice and extreme inequality have gone largely unaddressed. According to the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security, the greatest domestic threat facing the United States comes from violent white supremacists.

Ending the war on terrorism does not mean ignoring threats to national security. This means placing the challenge of transnational terrorism in its proper context among other more urgent threats and using all non-military and non-lethal tools at our disposal to deny terrorist networks access to funds, weapons, communications and communications. recruits. This requires the use of international legal, law enforcement, technical and intelligence channels to monitor, hinder, arrest and prosecute suspected terrorists in accordance with internationally recognized human rights and democratic principles. Instead of trying to kill people who it believes are using or planning to use violence for political ends, the government should strive to eliminate the structural and political issues that fuel grievances by causing injustice. , inequality and oppression. And since the conflict is the main driver of terrorism, with almost all deaths from terrorism occurring in countries already in conflict, we must redouble our efforts to prevent outbreaks of violence and resolve conflicts peacefully by including local civil society – especially women, youth and marginalized populations – in peace processes.

But these tactics must come with a do no harm pledge. By providing military aid to corrupt and abusive governments and security forces, we incur the wrath of those who are exploited and excluded. Our large global military footprint not only imposes unacceptable environmental and financial costs, but provides water for armed groups to attract new recruits and popular support, and creates openings for attacks against US forces. Widespread economic sanctions rarely change the behavior of regimes, and their burden increasingly falls on the poorest and most vulnerable communities. Ending these destructive practices will go a long way in eliminating anti-American animosity.

Ultimately, Congress will have to repeal the law that allows these endless and ever-expanding wars: the 2001 authorization for the use of military force. This law has been stretched beyond recognition and used to justify wars that Congress never approved or even voted on, against groups that did not exist when the law was enacted. But repeal efforts will not succeed until Congress and the American public realize that drone strikes and aerial bombardments are real acts of war and war is not the answer. to terrorism.

Diana Ohlbaum has served as a Congressional Foreign Policy Advisor for over 20 years, most notably as a senior member of the professional staff of the House and Senate Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations Committees. She currently heads the foreign policy team of FCNL, the Quaker Peace and Justice Lobby, and chairs the board of directors of the Center for International Policy, a progressive foreign policy think tank.


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