A Veteran’s Day Reflection

Our failed war in Afghanistan of 20 years should be a flashing red light and blaring siren of warning of the futility of war and military adventurism.

Back in 1998 Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously declared, “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall.” With those words she as much as declared that “might makes right” when we are the perpetrators. Andrew Bacevich, historian and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, has called this the “Indispensable Nation Syndrome.” In other words, when we bomb, kill, and maim people in countries around the world, we are right to do so because our motives are, well, pure. And let it be noted that more often than not, the people in those countries are POC.

But let’s put our failed wars in the Middle East and the wars of previous generations in context. The United States is part of a settler colonialist tradition that rationalizes the use of war and violence. For centuries settler colonialists have rationalized violence and murder in the name of bringing “civilization” – read women’s rights or democracy – and the religion of the Prince of Peace (irony unintended) to the uncivilized and brutish heathen. Look no further than the genocide of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples around the world. Back in the 19th century it was called “Manifest Destiny.” Sounds an awful lot like the Indispensable Nation Syndrome, doesn’t it? Generations have changed, but our rationalizations for violence and war have not. 

President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address

We must remember that our military adventurism abroad has implications for what happens at home. President Eisenhower, in his farewell address, warned of the “military-industrial complex” that would seek to expand its influence throughout our country and the government. But in another address, he specifically warned that, 

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”

According to Policy Advice, 11% of the unhoused population consist of veterans. Homelessness is a national disgrace and catastrophe and it is not likely to get better unless we stop feeding the monster of the military-industrial complex.

May it be so.

Written by: Geoff Browning, Activist Council Member and Peace Church Working Group

Take Action this Veteran’s Day

PPF is working with others to repeal the draft registration law for young men.

Congress is likely to expand the requirement for registration to include women.

Please help us to repeal draft registration for everyone by calling your senators and telling them to support the Wyden/Lummis bipartisan amendment #4161 to the National Defense Authorization Act.