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Hejira

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

My sister, Laura Comley, and I joined Cindy Sheehan on Martha’s Vineyard last week to participate in events to breathe life into the antiwar movement. Cindy’s project is a mission of hope which she calls International People’s Declaration of Peace. She spent a portion of her time on the island drafting her message to be circulated around the world.

Meanwhile, Gen. Stanley McCrystal has acknowledged failure in Afghanistan and is calling for a new strategy. Those of us who subscribe to the Gandhi principle that “There is no path to peace. Peace is the path,” believe that the only strategy for war-torn Afghanistan is complete withdrawal of troops. Same for Iraq, a humanitarian and environmental disaster. No more drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These unmanned instruments of torture drop missiles that have killed entire wedding parties instead of the intended “target.”

Certainly, Barack Obama understands that any surviving friends and relatives of those we incinerate will be inspired to avenge these deaths.

Our foreign policy is the product of savage plotting by men and women who have other-ized and dehumanized entire populations living in countries whose resources we covet.

Our support for Zionism has resulted in deaths, maiming, displacement, and despair of Palestinians.

Rep. John Murtha said that “war sears the soul.” It not only sears the souls of the troops who deploy multiple times and return with post traumatic stress disorder but also the souls of the men, women, and children who live in unremitting fear in the countries we occupy. We are searing souls and we are also severing limbs. The limbs of civilians. The limbs of babies and children. We are causing Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis to be afflicted with the hopelessness of present traumatic stress disorder.

Conservative columnist George Will has just weighed in on the side of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. His reasons are vastly different from mine and from members of peace groups. Will proposes the use of drones, cruise missiles, and air strikes. In other words, increased civilian casualties and carnage. More unmanned weapons whose controls are activated from a bunker far away. Video game war.

We have a huge mercenary army in the Middle East. This is, probably, unconstitutional. Those who participate are unaccountable to anyone but their own conscience. Their crimes indicate that most are bereft of this. Definitely unconstitutional is the invasion of sovereign nations.

A majority of Americans now believe the war in Afghanistan is not worth the cost in blood and treasure. Does this shift in perspective reflect any empathy whatsoever for the people who inhabit the countries we destroy in our quest for power and oil? Richard Holbrooke says we’ll know success in Afghanistan when we see it. Truth is we will never see it. Winning is impossible. It has been from day one. Because no one wins in war. Not even those who bank the big bucks. After all, they are making the world less safe for their children and grandchildren.

So the distillate of this is a moral imperative. We must end war, all wars. Not because supporters of Barack Obama are worried that war will ruin his chance for a second term. And not because we need the money here at home. We must end war for one reason–because we have an unavoidable obligation to correct injustice.

MISSY BEATTIE lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com

 

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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