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by Francis Chiappa (Remarks at NOAC Rally, Cleveland, on the 7th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq, March 20, 2010)
Today is the 7th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Peace Action, along with every other peace/antiwar group, is once again calling for an end to the twin tragedies of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But if these wars were somehow over tomorrow, would we then all go home, celebrate, and declare antiwar activism irrelevant?
Pres. Eisenhower, in his 1961 farewell address, coined the term "military-industrial complex," and warned of its growing influence. They don't make Republicans like this anymore. I think if he were alive today, he would be mortified - 725 Billion dollars per year for the Pentagon, with these dollars and influence flowing into most of the nation's congressional districts; the US accounting for at least 42% of the world's total military spending; the national debt tripling on George W. Bush's watch, thanks to cutting taxes while fighting two wars. So far we've spent nearly a Trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We're in a huge economic mess and the military industrial complex is partly to blame. Too many Americans ignore the costs of war to our own national financial security. They believe it is the USA's job to intervene anytime, anywhere in the world, whenever we deem it necessary. This is justified by saying we are making the world safe for democracy. But it should be known that democracy is rarely created through the barrel of a gun. According to Steven Kinzer's Overthrow, (2006) over the 110 years prior the 2003 invasion of Iraq, "Americans overthrew at least 14 governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons." Many of these governments - for example, Iran in 1953 and Chile in 1972 - were democratically elected. These interventions typically had dire, unintended and far-reaching consequences. Yes, the USA has a long history of making the world free, not for democracy but for multi-national corporations to do business. This is our tax dollars at work.
We can feel a bit powerless if we pin all our hopes on ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars will end, though not soon enough. Even then, US influence will continue in those parts of the world, and American taxpayers will continue to pay for it. We have to show Americans the back-story of US interventionism - the costs and the effects of not only fighting wars but projecting its military might over every part of the globe. The US is addicted to war and to power, calling it "defense" and rationalizing it by any means. And like any addict, America is in denial. And its up to the peace movement to break through that denial.
Its up to us to prevent the next war. To reduce the influence of the military-industrial complex. To cut military spending, the one sacred cow in the Federal budget. Until this happens, our government will be hard pressed to meet any of the real needs of the very people whose tax dollars have funded war and intervention. By taking away from the military will we pay for rebuilding infrastructure, for green technology, for education, and of course, for health care.
Great political struggles go on and on. War may not be much in the news these days. But it will be again. And we'll still be speaking out for peace as a better way.
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