Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Price of Peace

While waiting to be processed at the Anacostia Park Police Station, I was drawn to a mounted post-9/11, Bush-era FBI reward poster. “The Cost of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance”, propagated the sign.  The unrestrained madness is as prevalent today as it was eight years ago: Obama is continuing Bush’s war folly.

On October 5th, 2009, sixty-one anti-war activists were arrested in front of the White House, calling on President Obama to end the war in Iraq, end the occupation of Afghanistan, and end the drone bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  We also called for swift closure of Guantánamo and Bagram military prisons.

An estimated 500 protesters watched as some of us, clad in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, chained ourselves to the fence, while others carried coffins, participated in a die-in, and wore shrouds bearing the faces of Iraqi and Afghan war victims.  “Mourn the dead,” the crowd chanted. “Heal the wounded.  End the wars.”

Entering our ninth year of occupation, numerous Americans oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; 58% of the public is now against these U.S.-led wars, while legislators across the House and Senate, from Rep. Barbara Lee to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are calling Gen. McChrystal’s request for escalation in Afghanistan into question.

As empty political rhetoric circulates endlessly through the halls of Congress, I try not to become desensitized by daily news about deaths of U.S. soldiers and deaths of militants. Other tragic stories tell about the torture and detention of prisoners without due process in the expanding prison at the U.S. base in Bagram.  I hear about weapon proliferation and seemingly endless war making, and I can’t help but think of impoverished people, vulnerable and voiceless, treated as though they are worth less than the dust under our feet.

The cost of my freedom, I am told, is eternal vigilance.  I live in the richest country in the world, the nation which monopolizes over a fourth of the earth’s resources, and am still imprisoned when exercising my so-called freedom of speech.  I’m to believe, instead, that our freedom depends on using the U.S. military and contracted mercenaries as  super-Vigilantes in Afghanistan’s impoverished provinces, targeting the loosely connected, oftentimes illiterate and highly unskilled network of the Taliban.

U.S. military strategy commands soldiers to enter villages, raid homes, take prisoners, maim, wound and kill targeted “bad guys”, possibly along with their families, and destroy all opportunity for a collective livelihood and security in Afghanistan.  What’s more, thousands of people are stranded in IDP camps, homeless and barefoot and uncertain as to why the U.S. ever invaded their land in the first place.  Is this the price of my freedom?

The U.S. has been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for over one third of my life, a time fraught with unfulfilled promises to people in both of those lands.  U.S. war and occupation has shattered the hopes and dreams of millions.  I believe, deeply, that I am implicated in the crimes my country is committing against our innocent sisters and brothers.  My daily complicity only reinforces Obama’s – and before, Bush’s – paradigm of occupation and militarism.  Both presidents have established patterns that are culturally insensitive, increasingly expensive and massively destructive.

Fifty one percent of my taxes (and yours) are spent on our country’s military machine.  In Afghanistan, over 90 percent of the current administration’s spending is on military operations – leaving a miniscule amount to rebuild bombed schools, reconstruct neighborhoods of decimated houses, provide even excruciatingly low levels of medical care, or attend generally to the common stories of desperation.

So I did the only thing I could.

Remembering the name and family of a Guantánamo detainee cleared for release under the Bush administration and still being indefinitely detained today, I secured a chain around my wrist and then locked it to the White House fence.  Like those who have been held for eight long years, like the Pakistani women mourning their dead children after an unmanned aerial drone attack, like the Afghan villagers wanting desperately to return to their fields, I am locked to the actions the United States makes on my behalf.  We have the obligation to unchain ourselves from these unjust and immoral wars.

JERICA ARENTS is a graduate student at Loyola University and a volunteer intern with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.   She is also a member of the Kairos Community in Chicago. She can be reached at: jerica.arents@gmail.com

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
Samantha Krop
Questioning Our Declaration on Human Rights
Morna McDermott
Classrooms, Not Computers: Stop Educating for Profit
Patrick Walker
Today’s Poor People’s Campaign: Too Important Not to Criticize
Julia Stein
Wrestling With Zionism
Clark T. Scott
The Exceptional President
Barry Barnett
The Family of Nations Needs to Stand Up to the US  
Robert Koehler
Two Prongs of a Pitchfork
Bruce Raynor
In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth
Max Parry
The U.S. Won’t Say ‘Genocide’ But Cares About Armenian Democracy?
William Gudal
The History of Israel on One Page
Robert Jensen
Neither cis nor TERF
Louis Proyect
Faith or Action in a World Hurtling Toward Oblivion?
David Yearsley
The Ubiquitous Mr. Desplat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail