Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

December 10, 2013

It’s time to bury the idea of endless war

Our 10 years of brutal and unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have left tens of thousands of innocent civilians dead and wounded, forced over four million Iraqis into either internal or external exile, killed thousands of U.S. troops, grievously wounding many times that number, and wasted untold billions of dollars.

Our military terrorism in the area, particularly with drones in Pakistan, has created almost universal loathing of the U.S. A Pew survey found that almost 75 percent of Pakistanis now consider their U.S. enemy.

Our brutal actions have actually helped insure a steady supply of recruits to terrorist organizations.

Why has this happened? What can we do to change our negative direction into a positive one?

First, we need to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

This bill has been used by two presidents to justify all sorts of constitutionally illegal actions, such as warrantless wiretapping, not to mention actions that are gross violations of basic human rights, such as drone strikes that have killed thousands of civilians. Please support either H.R. 2324 or H.R. 198, which repeal the authorization act.

Second, we as a nation must discuss and disclose the rules for using drones.

Right now, with every secret drone attack and their concomitant killing of civilians, we are creating people who despise us. Would you not feel the same in similar circumstances? We need accountability and transparency about our use of drones, not secret kill lists and secret decisions on deploying drones.

Congress must rein in the president’s war making power, a power that has badly corrupted two presidents so far.

Constitutionally, only Congress has the power to declare war, and Congress must retrieve that power and that right in order to prevent further wars of choice and illegal military actions that hurt our standing in the global community. Many consider us little more than a swaggering thug.

Third, we need to repeal the USA Patriot Act (PL 107-56), which has led to the permanent militarization of our domestic life by expanding surveillance laws that shred constitutional protections, while at the same time reducing proper and needed civilian external oversight.

As a much-needed first step, I would urge you to support the Wyden-Udall-Blumenthal-Paul legislation to reform domestic surveillance laws and the secret surveillance court.

Fourth, we need to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and put an end to indefinite detention, which is a gross violation of human rights and dignity.

Please support legislation to allow Guantanamo detainees to be transferred or released. This is a glaring blight on what we purport to be a basic ideal under our system of government.

It is time we buried this poisonous idea of endless war. Endless war breeds endless war because violence only leads to more violence, never peace.

If we want to end terrorism, let’s address its roots — lack of basic needs such as food, water, health care, education, and meaningful job opportunities for millions of people. Let’s offer our help in those areas, rather than shredding lives with drone strikes.

We need a foreign policy that seeks peaceful solutions to problems, solutions that protect the most vulnerable — especially women and children — strengthen and advance the rule of law, give no handouts to lawless governments, and replace fear-driven militarism — our present approach—with restorative approaches that heal.

To continue on our present course will lead to inevitable shipwreck.

Craig Etchison

Fort Ashby, W.Va.

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