Taking a Stand Against Perpetual War
Many people are urging the Obama administration to exert more leadership in the struggle to reduce gun violence in the United States. President Obama has spoken to the nation in the past about the need to undertake war while dodging the domestic gun violence issue – first in the surprise drone strikes around the globe, next concerning Libya, more recently in Syria until overwhelming public opinion against another war forced Obama to change his mind, and most recently when he informed Congress and the American people that US troops will be in Afghanistan until as late as 2024. I recently viewed a CNN video where the terrible problem of rape in U.S. prisons was lifted up. Violence surrounds us. It is ingrained into and embraced by U.S. Society. This needs to change.
More than 50 years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the growth of the military-industrial complex. He cautioned us about the need to guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, “whether sought or unsought,” by the military industrial complex. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist,” he said. More than 60 years ago, George Orwell wrote of “perpetual war,” a situation in which war operates as a means of controlling the population by constantly rallying them against a common enemy. It matters not whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House; wars go on and on and on, perpetually it seems. World War Two lasted 4 years for the US and six years for Europe, yet US troops have been in Afghanistan since October of 2001.
Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi was the longest-serving ruler in Africa, having taken power in 1969. He was a strange character, noted for many eccentricities. He also has supported horrible terrorist incidents over the decades. The United States wasn’t really sure who to side with against Gaddafi. Libya is a complicated stew. As the winds of change blew across the Middle East, many in Libya seized the moment to revolt. At first, it appeared the momentum of their rebellion would carry the day. Sadly, Gaddafi unleashed his military forces against the rebels, and the rest is history. Obama administration officials maintained that United States decided to wage war on Libya because of the threat the horrible Gaddafi was to his own people. Then why not attack Bahrain or Yemen or Somalia? Tyrants in those countries are committing similarly repugnant acts against their citizens, maybe even worse.
It’s a good thing that America decided not to attack Syria. It could easily have started World War Three. Had America bombed Syria from the air, Syria would have called in reinforcements from its ally Russia, and it would have been only a matter of time before the nuclear weapons started flying. For this reason and more, I am excited that ordinary people are rising up, first across the Middle East to cast off autocrats, tyrants, kings and dictators, not to mention the secret police who harass the citizenry daily, and also in America with the formation of the Occupy and “the 99%” Movements. The most damning thing about our federal government is the recent disclosure of an out-of-control foreign and domestic spy network, which proves to me that Obama is morphing from a US president into a tyrant. People want peace and justice, not war and violence. We’re all sick and tired of all the fighting, all we want is some peace and quiet for a change.
In the United States, including right here in Atlanta, many leaders and members of churches constantly, loudly lament about a shortage of money. There is a reason for that – vast sums of the incomes of their members are being drained off for war, death and destruction. These are people who become enraged over an aborted fetus, but who have no problem going overseas to kill oftentimes innocent strangers. To call this a glaring contradiction would be an understatement. At any rate, and given the near silence of America’s pulpits in the face of the violence and war that surrounds us, the exertions of our theologians in justifying war, the devotion of denominational members to the myth of redemptive violence, it is certain that future historians will view the church as a slave to the vast war machine that engulfs us. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” It looks to me like the USA is already there due to the fact that America spends more money locking people up than is spent on educating them. Will we rise up against this madness of violence and backwards priorities, or are we dead already?