U. S.’s Endless Wars by Glen Anderson

U. S.’s Endless Wars

by Glen Anderson (360) 491-9093 glen@olywa.net


This essay includes these sections:

Page Topic
1 70 years of endless wars
2 “Do something” means:  Do something violent – and militarize our “Homeland”
3 Deceive the American people and normalize violence
4 Militarism backfires:  Military “solutions” are really the problem
6 A nonviolent foreign policy
6 TRUE security

The U.S.’s Endless Wars and Frequent Attacks on Other Nations
Have “Normalized” the Use of Violence Abroad and at Home

by Glen Anderson

70 years of endless wars:

While the U.S. had a Department of War from 1789 to 1947, our nation fought only a few foreign wars during that century and a half, but – in an Orwellian irony – since 1947 when the Department of War changed to the Department of Defense, the U.S. has been almost constantly at war.  We simply pretended that endless wars were for our “defense.”

In 1948, George Kennan, Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, said this in U.S. State Department Policy Planning Study #23 after noting that the U.S. has only a small part of the world’s population but consumes a very large portion of the world’s resources:

“Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity [U.S. military-economic supremacy]…  To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming…  We should cease to talk about vague and…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts.  The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

Since the late 1940s, the U.S. has felt free to bomb and attack a great many countries and militarily overthrow their governments – including functional democracies that U.S. businesses and politicians did not like.  Likewise, the U.S. has armed and supported a great many dictators and violent thugs who served U.S. business and geo-political interests.

The US has been fighting wars practically non-stop for more than 70 years, but 1942 was the last time Congress actually declared war.  All of our subsequent wars have been started by presidents with or without approval by Congress, in violation of the US Constitution and often in violation by the Vietnam-era War Powers Act.

President Obama – like recent imperial presidents – has said he does not need Congress’s approval.  He says he is authorized by the Congressional rubberstamps that occurred soon after September 11, 2001.  Obama has already deployed 1,600 “military advisors” to a currently troubled region on the opposite side of the globe.  We remember when sending “military advisors” to Vietnam were an early step before a full-fledged force of half a million troops.  Initially the U.S.’s current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and now Syria and elsewhere in the region) were predicted to be quick operations, but already the Administration and top military people are saying we will need ground troops and this could last 10 more years.

I’m not accustomed to looking to the older President George H.W. Bush for wisdom, but in their 1998 book, A World Transformed he and Brent Scowcroft wrote this about why they did not proceed to occupy Iraq after attacking it in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War:  “Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish.  Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”

Instead of fighting “enemies,” the U.S. commits much of our military violence in our allies’ own countries (South Korea, South Vietnam, the U.S.-occupied nations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and a great many of the U.S.’s new drone weapons kill people in allies such as Pakistan.

“There is no corner of the world so remote, no nation so insignificant, that it does not represent a vital interest of the United States.”  This statement by Casper Weinberger, U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan, has been the U.S. policy for decades before and since.

Now the U.S. has about 800 military bases in other countries – in fact, in nearly every country on earth.  These provide subtle and not-so-subtle pressure on those countries.  The U.S. dominates our European allies through NATO, which the U.S. has forced up to the borders of Russia, and has created other military alliances in Asia and elsewhere.  The U.S. also sells weapons to other nations and conducts joint military exercises with them as ways to hook them into domination by the U.S. and make them dependent on our nation’s military-industrial complex.

Historically, diplomacy was a way for nations to interact with each other and talk their way into resolving disputes.  Now it seems that diplomacy is merely a front that is backed up with threats to bomb or overthrow another nation.

“Do something” means:  Do something violent – and militarize our “Homeland”:

When an international crisis occurs, Americans want our government to “do something.”  Because militarism has been the U.S.’s default policy, “do something” is nearly always assumed to mean “do something violent!  Honest diplomacy (sincere communications for nonviolent problem-solving) is “off the table.”

Domestically, we have a domestic “War on Drugs” that really is waged on despised kinds of Americans – a war with militarized SWAT teams and heavy weapons used in residential neighborhoods to batter down doors.  Hawks like to say, “After 9-11 everything changed,” and repeat it often, so as to drill into our brains the notion that we are in endless wars – as Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others told us repeatedly – so we need to accept the loss of our Constitutional rights and the militarization of Homeland Security and the militarization of local police.

Indeed, a federal program (“the 1033 program”) urges the Pentagon to provide extremely militarized weapons to local police departments.  The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL, www.fcnl.org) recently wrote, “The government program to transfer military weapons, vehicles and equipment from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to U.S. police departments is both a symptom and a cause of the militarized approach to policing.”  It’s hard for local officials to turn down free or extremely cheap weapons offered by the Pentagon.

Also, local police departments tend to hire military veterans who have been trained in how to occupy and dominate foreign populations – and who also have absorbed experiences and traumas and strong emotions arising from such violent militarism.  Local police forces deploy these persons to occupy local communities within the U.S., so militarism comes home to roost in our local communities.  Local populations – especially in poor neighborhoods and communities of color – are treated like enemy populations to occupy, rather than as people to be served.

Is it any surprise, then, that so many people within the U.S. are experiencing the police as an occupying army, and that police very often overreact with far more violence than needed, including shooting unarmed people?

Martin Luther King, Jr., said that the bombs the U.S. was dropping in Vietnam were exploding at home.  King objected to the Vietnam War for a number of reasons, including the fact that the U.S. was failing to fund anti-poverty work here in order to spend more on the war.  On April 4, 1967, one year before his assassination, his “Beyond Vietnam” speech included this powerful statement:  “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”  But when public opinion surveys find more and more Americans saying our nation is “on the wrong track,” they don’t look at this kind of perversion as a major reason underlying that dissatisfaction with our nation’s “wrong track.”

As a result of all this, military violence in other countries – and also at home – has become the default assumption for how to deal with any problem, foreign or domestic.

Imagine if al Qaeda had stolen trillions of dollars and killed or disabled many thousands of young Americans.  We would be outraged.  But the U.S. government – with bipartisan support – wasted trillions of dollars (much of it stolen by corruption abroad and at home) – and killed and disabled many thousands of young Americans.  Why aren’t Americans angry with our government for such massive betrayal?  We have been brainwashed by politicians and mainstream news media, so we do not even see that the worst damage to the U.S. has been done by our own leaders, not by our so-called “enemies.”

Deceive the American people and normalize violence:

In the same powerful speech quoted above, King criticized the U.S. for being on the wrong side of history in violently fighting poor people while militarily protecting corrupt elites, not only in Vietnam but also elsewhere.  The U.S. government has manipulated other nations’ elections.  The U.S. military and CIA have actually overthrown a number of democracies and installed dictatorships.

The rest of the world knows this, but the American people are largely ignorant because our mainstream media and our politicians are subservient to the dominant economic and political elites, so they deceive the American people into thinking we are “the greatest democracy in the world” – a “shining beacon of freedom and liberty” – and that terrorists “hate us for our freedoms.

Actually, the U.S. imprisons far more of our population than any other nation on earth, and U.S. militarism provokes people to take terrorist actions against us.  The U.S. creates a vicious cycle of violence of attacking more countries in more ways (now with drones) and spying on more people around the world and domestically.  This violence and oppression only provokes more people to become enemies of the U.S.  This merges with other forms of corruption and abuse in causing Americans to feel powerless and weakening Americans’ support for our national government.

Repression of journalists and whistleblowers actually increased during the Obama Administration.  Tom Engelhardt’s “Tom Dispatch” article from February 4, 2015, concluded, “In the Obama years, the only crime in official Washington is leaking or whistleblowing; that is, letting the public in on something that we, the people, aren’t supposed to know about the workings of “our” government.”

Politicians, mainstream media, and the dominant nationalistic culture not only misinform us but also disinform us – replace knowledge with lies.  This national self-deception further depresses the spirit of democracy among us and also results in “American exceptionalism,” the notion that the U.S. is so special that we are not bound by international law, and that the U.S. is entitled to attack any other nation on earth if our government chooses to.  In ancient times the writers of Greek tragedies referred to this as hubris, the kind of arrogance that led to tragic outcomes.  The U.S. keeps acting on the hubris of “American exceptionalism,” and we are reaping the consequences.

Here is one local example:  Some years ago at our Wednesday noon-hour peace vigil, I was holding a sign asking, “Is war really necessary?”  A man walked by without pausing and simply told me, “Yeah.  Sometimes you’ve got to beat them up.”  As an American, he was assuming the entitlement to beat up other people (“them”).  He would never have said this about himself or his nation:  that sometimes he and his nation should be beaten up.  No,  he assumed that – as an American – he and his nation were entitled to be the “beater,” not the “beatee.”

So violence becomes “normalized” in foreign policy and in policing.  How else does violence become “normalized”?  Some men feel entitled to control and use violence against women.  Some whites and straights feel entitled to create and use laws and regulations that use violence and oppression against racial or sexual minorities.  Some states have passed “stand your ground” laws to give explicit for people to use gun violence.  And so it goes.

The American gun culture is part of the problem of “normalizing” violence.  In a 2007 study of 178 countries by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the U.S. ranked number one in the number of guns per person (88.8 per 100), far ahead of all the other countries in the study.  Yemen was a distant runner-up with 55 guns per 100 people, 40 percent less than the U.S. rate.

Militarizing our culture can happen when massive amounts of fear are injected into it – fear of Communists, fear of foreigners, fear of Muslims, fear of terrorists, fear of dark-skinned Americans, fear of homeless people, etc.  General Douglas MacArthur said this on May 15, 1951:  “It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.”

War is terrorism with a bigger budget.

If we were to ask the public whether they want peace, nearly everyone would say yes.  But violence and war have become so “normalized” that many people think war is the way to achieve peace.  (In fact, another passerby at today’s peace vigil told us exactly that.)

Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote this in his 1968 book The Trumpet of Conscience:

“It’s one of the strangest things that all the great military geniuses of the world have talked about peace.  The conquerors of old who came killing in pursuit of peace, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon, were akin in seeking a peaceful world order ….  Every time we drop bombs in Vietnam President Johnson talks eloquently about peace … but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it a means by which we arrive at that goal.  We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.”

In our daily lives, we have better sense than to choose violent ways of solving problems.  If your neighbor’s dog is barking, you do not shoot your neighbor’s dog.  If you disagree with your spouse or partner, you do not assault him or her.  During my decades-long career of working in a Washington State agency that interacted with other state agencies, we sometimes disagreed with another agency about how to solve a problem, but none of my co-workers ever said, “Let’s get a bunch of guns and go over to their headquarters office and start shooting people until they surrender to us.”

If we want to have a civilized nation and a civilized world, we must renounce violence in international matters, just like civilized individuals do at the interpersonal level.


Militarism backfires:  Military “solutions” are really the problem:

Many people do not see the connection between ends and means.  They think “the end justifies the means.”  In contrast, Gandhi, King, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation all affirm that the ends we reach depend significantly on the means we use to get there.  Whatever we sow is what we will reap.  Just as an oak tree is in the acorn seed, so war is in the seed of militarism, and peace is in the seed of nonviolent alternatives.

In many of our recent and current wars, we are fighting enemies who are using weapons we had provided to our allies.  Now ISIS is using weapons that the US had provided to someone, and the US – which had wanted to overthrow Syria’s President Assad – is now his ally in fighting ISIS, and the US also is on the same side as Iran and Hezbollah – both of whom our government has demonized – in opposing ISIS.  In mid-September 2014 Congress rushed to pass a bill authorizing President Obama to train and arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight ISIS.

This backfired also decades ago when President Reagan armed Afghanistan’s Mujahedeen to fight the Soviet Union’s troops that were occupying Afghanistan in the 1980s.  The Mujahedeen evolved into the Taliban and led to al Qaeda, so then the US started fighting the very forces that we had previously armed.

The US has a long history of arming one group to fight another, only to discover that the group we had armed became a new enemy, so we fought against our own weapons.  The brutal US occupation of Iraq prompted people there to create “al-Qaeda I Iraq,” which led to the “Islamic State,” which created another US enemy that would not exist if the US had not already attacked Iraq in 1991 and 2003.

In Vietnam the National Liberation Front (“Vietcong”) whom we were fighting were using many of the weapons the US had provided to the South Vietnamese army.

This is a long, repetitive story.  Military violence nearly always backfires.  The US continually creates new enemies for the US to attack, provoking the creation of new enemies, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Jeremy Scahill, the brilliant journalist, has written, “US policy has been its own worst enemy…  We’ve created the very threats we claim to be fighting.”

Indeed, Navin Bapat from the University of North Carolina found that between 1997 and 2006, U.S. military assistance correlated with a 67 percent increase in the duration of terrorist campaigns in the country receiving the aid.

The U.S. has long opposed Iran, but U.S. war and other disruptions in Iraq ended up tilting Iraq’s new government toward Iran, another majority Shiite country.

The Department of Homeland Security says ISIS poses no immediate threat to the United States.  ISIS is a relatively small extremist group that is surrounded by enemies on all sides (governments of Syria, Iraq, Iran, plus the Kurds).  ISIS is so extreme that al Qaeda opposes them.  Their current domination over some local areas is not sustainable.  U.S. military violence is not needed.  Nor is there anything helpful that the US could do.  The last thing that region needs is more violence, but the U.S. keeps pouring more gasoline onto the region’s inferno.

ISIS vigorously publicized its beheadings of three journalists strategically in order to antagonize the U.S. and provoke the U.S. into an unwinnable military struggle there.  The U.S. politicians and news media foolishly took the bait and escalated the U.S. wars there.  Increased U.S. militarism and drone violence provoke more terrorist reactions, so the U.S. escalates again, the in this vicious circle we chase our tail in escalating wars against entire populations in many countries.

Of course, this means more power for the Pentagon and CIA, and more profits for the U.S.’s weapons manufacturers.  Military contractors spend $150 million a year on an army of 1,000 lobbyists designed to keep America at war, protect the Pentagon’s budget and keep those dollars flowing into their corporate accounts.  (Source:  www.winwithoutwar.org)  Col. John R. Boyd (U.S. Air Force, retired) has been a fighter pilot, tactician, strategist, conceptual designer, and now a reformer.  He stated:  “People say the Pentagon does not have a strategy.  They are wrong.  The Pentagon does have a strategy.  It is:  ‘Don’t interrupt the money flow, add to it.’”

The Pentagon and CIA have long understood the concept of “blowback” – the retaliation that occurs after the U.S. uses military or covert actions in another country, but the Pentagon and CIA keep escalating these violent escapades.  Are they playing the President and Congress and American people for fools?  Are they deliberately escalating the “war on terror” for self-serving purposes of power and profit?

The CIA – which has become like another branch of the military – hides its budget from Congress, and presidents seem to let the CIA do whatever it wants without any transparency or accountability or Constitutional limits.

Most Americans assume that our government wants peace.  But the harsh reality is that peace would reduce the budgets and political power of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the National Security State (Homeland Security, NSA, etc.).  Therefore, the U.S. government – while paying lip service to seeking peace – actually wants endless wars with more enemies.

The biggest threat to U.S. security is the recklessly violent military-industrial complex.  They get rich and powerful while endangering and bankrupting the 99%.

The US government – whose agencies have publicly written about “blowback” – does not really want to “win” a war, but rather to continue provoking new enemies and conducting endless wars in order to continually shift hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars every year into the business corporations that supply the War Machine – and to continually shift political power from honest democracy into the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, and other parts of militarized America.

This, however, is suicidal.  Many years ago, George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Nations are like bees: they cannot kill except at the cost of their own lives.”

Military “solutions” make problems worse!  If we want peace, we must use only peaceful means.

If we want a peaceful and just domestic society, we must use only peaceful and just methods at the local and national levels.

Nearly a century ago on January 5, 1916 – before the U.S. entered World War I – Helen Keller said this at Carnegie Hall in New York City:

“Congress is not preparing to defend the people of the United States.  It is planning to protect the capital of American speculators and investors….  Incidentally this preparation will benefit the manufacturers of munitions and war machines….  Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought!  Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder!  Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings!  Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction!  Be heroes in an army of construction!”

Subconsciously, those in power know that the US Empire is withering, so they escalate the rhetoric to maintain public support for the Empire.  Those in power – and the sycophants in mainstream news media – routinely call every soldier a “hero.”  This is a vain attempt to justify the US Empire as heroic, and therefore moral, even while they subconsciously know it is bankrupt – morally and politically, as well as financially.

“A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both.  If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic, it will lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.”  This is what Chalmers Johnson wrote in his book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.

If we want to save our nation from suicide, we must REPEAL the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), rather than extend it as President Obama was urging in early 2015.  The AUMF has led to endless war and “mission creep” as the U.S. escalates its global “war on terror” to more countries and more “enemies.”  Actually, the AUMF has provoked terrorism and created a cycle of violence, as explained earlier in this essay.  The AUMF is suicidal for the U.S.  If the U.S. really were a democracy, our entire nation would hold a robust debate on this.  The American people – and the Congress that pretends to represent us – must take responsibility for repealing this blank check for endless war.

A nonviolent foreign policy:

Most Americans think that the U.S.’s foreign policy focuses on advancing democracy and helping poor nations with “foreign aid.”  The early part of this essay debunked the first assumption.  The second is not true either, because most of the U.S.’s aid has a political agenda – and especially a military agenda – because it is designed more to manipulate than to help, and much of our “aid” is actually subsidies for nations buying weapons from U.S. manufacturers.

More militarism cannot solve the world’s problems, and it only makes the U.S.’s problems worse.  Bombing Iraq and Syria will not solve either their short-term or long-term crises or help the victims of violence there.  Instead, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL, www.fcnl.org) urges:

  • Stop U.S. bombing in Iraq
  • Pursue alternative strategies for long-term peace
  • Reject any new war authorization
  • Repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

FCNL recommends additional actions, including:

  • Work with other nations in the region to cut off the supply of weapons to the Islamic State
  • Address the political discontent and deep poverty that have created conditions ripe for extremism, in order to deprive extremist groups of people willing to fight for them
  • Stabilize the region by seeking political solutions that engage the Gulf States, Iran, and other regional powers.

Beyond this, we need a foreign policy that is truly nonviolent – a foreign policy grounded in profound respect for the oneness of the entire human family and in profound respect for human rights and for environmental integrity.  Fleshing out this vision would require another essay – or better yet, an open-minded discussion among people of good will.

For now, let’s proceed to consider a radically fresh alternative to the “national security” concept.  See the next section.

TRUE security:

If we want to truly be secure, we must stop war and the culture of violence – both in our foreign policy and in our domestic policy.  And we must profoundly reform our political, social, economic, environmental, and energy systems in order to truly serve the broad public interest and protect our environment and our climate.  Instead of a narrow military approach that ends up being suicidal, TRUE security would improve all aspects of our lives.

One step toward peace would be stopping dishonest speech (e.g., the “defense” budget, which is really the military budget and is used much more for “offense” than “defense”) – and demanding honest words instead of Orwellian deception.

Also, notice that in recent decades the U.S. government has used the euphemism of “force” instead of the accurate word “violence.”  When I think of “force,” I think of a strong grip on a pickle jar lid and twisting it hard to open the jar.  Politicians keep saying “force” when – if they were honest – they would say violence, and acknowledge that our military violence actually kills many innocent people.  This is like the deliberately deceptive reference to “surgical strikes,” which sound precise and medically clean, when actually U.S. bombs and drones kill enormous numbers of innocent persons.

Another step toward true security would be to reverse our violent federal budget priorities.  The budgets for the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and other violent and oppressive parts of the federal budget are much bigger than most American realize.  These violent federal agencies endanger our security, take away our human rights and civil rights, and oppress us in other ways.  By consuming money that should be going to help human beings and the environment, the gigantic military budget oppresses us by starving the civilian sector for the funds we need.  This is oppressing people and our environment.  We need to reverse federal budget priorities:  Slash the military budget and fully fund human needs.

The public knows we have better uses for our tax dollars.  In 2013 the world spent $9.8 TRILLION trying to contain and deal with the consequences of violence, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, which released its annual “Global Peace Index” in June 2014.

Although glib politicians keep saying, “America is #1,” the truth is that the U.S. ranks 34th on the list of 35 developed nations in the well-being of children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.  The U.S. ranks 35th in life expectancy, 34th in infant mortality, 17th in education, and 37th in health care.

Congress is too compliant to stop our endless wars or our addiction to military violence.  We can stop these only if the peace movement reaches out to the general public to create a majority of opposition to war.  In September 2013 the American peace movement and others prevented US military intervention in Syria.  We actually convinced to reject Obama’s proposal for air strikes against Syria.  Now we need to mobilize again.

A number of years ago I wrote about True Security, and I summarize those ideas here.

TRUE security can’t be won by weapons.  It’s rooted in social and economic justice, civil liberties, a vibrant democracy, a healthy environment, and humane values.

The American people are afraid of terrorists.

But they also have deep, troubling fears about the crumbling economy, the loss of civil liberties, the deteriorating environment, and the future our kids and grandkids will inherit.

The government keeps escalating the first kind of fears deliberately and the second set of fears unwittingly.

The so-called “war on terrorism” failed to address the underlying causes of terrorism.  Instead, the Bush regime exploited the September 11 attacks to frighten the American people into supporting more militarism, giving up our constitutional rights, and letting the government claim dictatorial powers – all in the guise of “protecting” us.  Militaristic and repressive reactions only turn more people into enemies and escalate the cycle of violence.  In 2008 the voters chose Barack Obama, but he continued the Cheney-Bush foreign policy and escalated some aspects of it (especially in Afghanistan, drone wars in many countries, in Syria, etc.)

Leaders in both of the big political parties manipulate the American people’s fears in order to increase the military-industrial complex’s power and serve the US’s global empire.  But ironically, militarism and the centralization of power are not the solutions but rather are actually the root causes of people’s real fears in the first place!

On the other hand, the public really is justified in fearing for their economic security, health security, environmental security, civic security, etc.  For several decades, both political parties’ presidents and Congresses have passed laws and appointed officials that have pushed most Americans downward, threatened our retirement plans, hurt our quality of life, degraded our food supply, ruined our environment, restricted the media, corrupted our political processes, and so forth.

This is not a partisan rant about a particular administration, because the politicians have come from both political parties.  These cruel changes have been accumulating over a few decades, including the Clinton and Obama years, as well as the Reagan and Bush years.  Clinton, after all, maintained the brutal and deadly Iraq economic sanctions, illegally called large parts of Iraq “no fly zones” and bombed them repeatedly, bombed several other countries illegally, dismantled the welfare safety net, vastly expanded the death penalty and reduced defendants’ appeal rights, promoted horribly undemocratic “free trade” agreements, etc.  Such trends were well underway before the Bush regime accelerated the pace of these abuses and carried them out more brazenly than ever before.

In any debate, whoever frames the terms of the debate has a tremendous advantage.  If security means more guns and wiretapping, then Bush is providing security, so anyone who disagrees becomes defined as a threat to public security because “you’re either with us or against us.”  Obama has escalated Bush’s fetish for repression by attacking, prosecuting and punishing more whistleblowers and more journalists than any president in U.S. history.  An honest government need not fear and repress journalists and whistleblowers.  The truth is not our nation’s enemy.  The truth does not threaten our true security.

However, if the peace and progressive movements can show that Americans’ feelings of insecurity really come from gross and specific injustices (social, economic, political, environmental, etc.), then we can re-define TRUE security as reversing those injustices.  We can promote progressive alternatives, take the moral and political high ground, and win the public over to our side!

The peace movement and multi-issue progressive movements can support each other toward common goals that will serve the broad public interest and protect our future.

People want security, but we can’t gain TRUE security through wars and sacrificing our civil liberties.  TRUE security must be based on peace, social and economic justice, a sustainable environment, a vibrant democracy, civil liberties for everyone, and many other progressive values.

Let’s help the American people see that the familiar policies of militarism, dominance and greed are a sham being foisted upon us.  Let’s empower the American people to reject that false notion of security and affirm the deeper, more profound kind of TRUE security.  Let’s collaborate with a wide range of allies in a strong movement so the American people can choose a peaceful, just and sustainable future.

Progressive movements for peace, social justice, economic justice, healthy environments, etc., offer positive alternatives that can actually solve the problems.  We progressives can relieve people’s fears and increase their TRUE security.

Sometimes our movements debate whether to work on a wide range of progressive issues versus focus our energies on a specific issue (e.g., Iraq, or minimum wage, or the climate).  If we reframe the unifying issue in the overall context of providing TRUE security, we can connect at this more profound level, so all progressives become allies rather than competitors.  A multi-faceted campaign for TRUE security can unite and support all peace and progressive movements!

It can also unite the broad American public across many social and political categories (age, religion, race, class, occupation, political spectrum, etc.) into an electoral majority.  Current policies threaten everyone’s security, but progressive alternatives offer TRUE security for the American people.  This bottom-up approach deals with many kinds of security, including (but not limited to):

  • Economic security: Job security, living wages, job safety, cures for poverty, help during hard times, protection from child labor, secure retirement income, etc.
  • Food security: Safe and nutritious food, locally grown food, freedom from hunger, etc.
  • Health security: Access to affordable health care, respectful treatment, choices in health care options, focus on preventing diseases, strong public health services, etc.
  • Environmental security: Sustainable ecosystems, enough water, clean water, clean air, freedom from toxics, healthy forests, land use planning for sustainability, etc.
  • Personal security: Thoughtful and sensitive policies and services for domestic violence, child abuse, gender issues, human dignity, substance abuse, etc.
  • Community & cultural security: Respect for all cultures and languages, freedom to practice any religion or no religion, corporate accountability, limitations on corporate power, removing the underlying causes of crime, comfort in walking anywhere at any time, ways to heal and reconcile when someone hurts another person, etc.
  • Political security: Freedom from governmental oppression or abuse, support for civil rights and civil liberties, meaningful opportunities to participate in democratic political processes, etc.

The table on the next page contrasts the typical American way to achieve national security with this better way to achieve TRUE security.

I invite each reader to incorporate this kind of strategy within your respective issues and movements.  How can you reach out to the public with this welcoming and supportive approach?  I invite your feedback.  Please feel free to contact me at (360) 491-9093 or glen@olywa.net

  Typical American Way to Achieve National Security Better Way to AchieveTRUE Security
Vision: U.S. dominates all other countries. U.S. cooperates fairly with all other countries.
Axis of Evil:  Iraq, Iran, North Korea Martin Luther King never called people evil, but he identified 3 evil systems: Racism, Militarism, Poverty
Goals: National security against other nations Global security and equitable relationships among all nations
  Political, military, economic, cultural dominance Self-determinationEconomic well-being for allRespect for other cultures & religions
Methods: Military action, arms sales, covert operations, selective diplomacy Sincere diplomacyNonviolent direct action at international level (e.g., nonviolent peace force)
  Unilateral actionCoalitions that the US controls and others must endorse Multilateral resolution of conflictsSupport the UN, international law, treaties
  Development initiatives linked to “good” governmentsEconomic practices that support US interests A new Marshall Plan to eradicate global povertyUnconditional commitment to the poor
  Volunteerism and acts of charity to help the poor without changing structural inequities Short-term:  Generous actions with no selfish motivesLong-term:   Structural changes for justice
  Minimum wage Living wage.  Guaranteed minimum income
  Conflict management focused on violence as individual pathology Nonviolent resistance to systemic violence.  Interpersonal conflict resolution skills
Motivation: Hatred Love, compassion
  Fear Faith
  Power Justice
  Self-centered (Greek word porneia: people as objects) Other-centered for the other’s sake (Greek word agape)
Result: Global chaos Global community

Leave a Reply