There is much to be debated in national politics, but no aspect is more frustrating than the electorate’s flippant attitude toward the value of human life. Sure healthcare, social services, the economy and fiscal solvency are important, but when it comes to real consequences—and a president’s unilateral authority—these issues all pale in comparison to war.
A Decade of War
In 2001, we went into Afghanistan in pursuit of Bin Laden. He was found in Pakistan and it’s estimated that less than 100 al Qaeda members remain in Afghanistan.
Ten years later: with 100,000 U.S. troops now deployed, our commitment to this foolish war in the graveyard of empires is greater than ever.
In 2003, we saw the Bush administration so easily lead the American public into Iraq on the premise that Hussein had ties al Queda and the WMDs to arm it. The media was very keen to let us know that quelling such a threat would take not years but months.
Eight years later: we still have 47,000 troops on the ground despite the utter falsehood of both justifications for the war.
Six weeks ago, we eagerly jumped into Libya on the premise that Gadhafi might begin indiscriminately murdering civilians. Obama was very clear that this “humanitarian mission” would last “days, not weeks.”
Six weeks later: the civil war rages on, our bombs continue to drop (including the recent obliteration of a school for autistic children) and we’ve grossly exceeded the UN resolution by murdering Gadhafi’s family. Meanwhile, Gadhafi has shown absolutely no sign of targeting civilians.
So goes the modern Military Industrial Complex: we are promised one thing and given something so much worse. And the cost of these foreign military adventures is not just the 5,000 Americans killed, the 40,000 Americans wounded and the 1.5 trillion dollars spent. It’s also the estimated 1 million foreigners who’ve tragically lost their lives as a result of our imperial hubris.
A New Hope?
Despite concerns about some of Obama’s domestic policies, I was very excited to see him earn his Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever obstacles he might encounter in the domestic realm, at least he could implement his sweeping foreign policy promises, right?
Sadly, we’re further from peace than ever. Those of us who truly believe in non-violence might be deflated, but we are not beaten. On Thursday night, we witnessed an historic Republican debate. Amazingly, two of the five candidates who took the stage—Ron Paul and Gary Johnson—are staunch anti-war activists with a history of consistent, strong, unequivocal opposition to all wars of aggression.
Now, I’m biased against any form of coercive force (social, economic or otherwise) and thus toward these libertarian-leaning Republicans. But I also believe that any anti-war activist would be well-served by some reflection: is it time to elect someone who will actually bring the troops home?
Kevin Hotaling is a freelance web design and marketing consultant from Boulder, CO. He ran for Boulder City Council in 2009 and spends all too much of his free time promoting Liberty in America.