Pamplin Media Group – Handelman: End Our Endless Wars
Dan Handelman of Portland is part of the regional nonprofit Peace and Justice Works
As an organization that participated in protests against the war in Afghanistan before it began in 2001, we want to share the advice of the Portland Tribune Editorial Board in celebrating the end of two decades of war.
While President Biden has followed through on former President Donald Trump’s pledge to withdraw US troops, the war is not over. The United States has declared its intention to continue the airstrikes from positions above the horizon, a tactic used during the withdrawal with dire consequences.
The Guantanamo Bay prison, established in January 2002, remains open with 39 prisoners, many of whom have been allowed to be released. The 2001 authorization for the use of military force to target Al Qaeda in Afghanistan remains in place and has been used to justify US military actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria. A separate authorization to use force in 2002 to attack Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was revoked by the US House this summer, but not yet in the Senate.
These wars are estimated to have killed over 7,000 Americans and at least 660,000 people elsewhere. Brown University’s Costs of War Project estimates America’s financial cost, including weapons, military personnel, veteran care, and spy infrastructure, to be over $ 8 trillion.
The United States does not intend to alert the Taliban of future drone strikes in Afghanistan. After an attack on Kabul airport during the August evacuation, a US drone strike killed 10 civilians, including several children and a man associated with a US non-profit association. The United States admitted that no activists were killed.
Future struggles will emerge over China’s interest in the estimated $ 1 trillion in minerals under Afghan soil. President Biden has said troops leaving Afghanistan will be repositioned for a potential war with China.
President Biden’s stated desire to end endless wars is admirable. However, his threat after the airport bombing to “hunt you down and make you pay” is not a man of peace.
Congress tried to get President Trump to end his support for the Saudi war in Yemen. Out of eight vetoes, Trump used three to reverse those efforts.
Congress made a provision in the 2021-2022 spending bill to end support for the Saudi war. This does not stop the US drone strikes that began in 2004, 344 of which killed at least 209 civilians in Yemen. While airstrikes in Pakistan and Libya apparently came to a halt in 2017 and 2019 respectively, Biden and Trump each carried out airstrikes in Somalia six times in 2021, and the United States launched a strike in Syria as recently as 2021. ‘in September. About 900 US troops remain on the ground in Syria.
By calling Afghanistan “America’s longest war,” people ignore the war against Native Americans that began before the United States was a nation and continued into the early 20th century and into- of the. The Korean War, which began in 1950, led to an armistice in July 1953, but no peace treaty emerged to end this war. The war against Iraq began when the United States imposed sanctions in August 1990, bombed in 1991 and continued both strategies until the invasion of 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 the time to end the state sponsored violence perpetuated by our country.
Dan Handelman of Portland is with the nonprofit Peace and Justice Works.
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