A Veteran for Peace

Photograph Source: Fibonacci Blue – CC BY 2.0

When was the last time a foreign army invaded the United States? When was the last time our “national security’ was really at stake? Was it Mexico in 1846? Spain in 1898? Even Germany in 1940 could not cross 30 miles of English Channel. By what means could it cross the Atlantic Ocean to fall upon Boston? I was taught as a schoolchild that the United States had gone to war against Hitler and Japan for the sake of freedom and democracy and in the case of Germany to save the Jews. But these were falsehoods as were the fabrications that brought us the Korean War, Vietnam and the so-called war on terror that really provided pretext for war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, I ask you, what are the real reasons America goes to war?

Many years ago I read an article about the archaeological discovery of the oldest known game of chess. Dating to about the 11 th century the main pieces represented the rulers of the day but I was struck by the pawns. All were represented by tombstones, and I immediately thought, well, of course, that exactly sums up the nature of warfare. The rich, the powerful, and mostly old rulers of whatever country, in pursuit of more power, more riches, more territory and more domination of the powerless, propagate their rationales for war and then heartlessly sacrifice the lives of countless others in the name of contrived disinformation. The tragedy of course is that almost always, and at least at first, the citizenry believes the dishonest justifications …and so utter calamity and anguish inexorably follows for those on the receiving end of the merciless chain of ever more destructive machines of death, and those who are dispatched to do the killing.

Today our nation is most certainly waging a proxy war in Ukraine on the rationale that it must come to the rescue of unlawfully besieged innocents. In 2014 the elected government of Ukraine was overthrown in a coup to which Washington contributed 5 billion dollars. In 2015 the Minsk Agreement was crafted by the new government of Ukraine, in league with France, Germany and Russia that intended to avert the terrible desolation that we witness today. But the U.S. refused to join the agreement and, in fact, actively undermined this diplomatic effort to secure peace. Meanwhile Ukrainian neo-Nazis and other armed elements attacked the entire population of the Donbas which had been granted autonomy by the Minsk Accords. Thus, in reality, the current war was initiated by Ukraine and the United States. Today Ukraine is on track to become a failed state with deaths in the tens of thousands among its troops and civilians while millions of refugees, mostly women and children, flee into neighboring countries at great burden to their NATO hosts.

There is nothing new about such catastrophe.

Why do we continue to allow the deceptions and outright lies?

Recently the Costs of War Project at Brown University estimated that at least 4.5 million deaths have been caused by the War on Terror alone and emphasizes that “death outlives war.” According to its report war often kills far more people indirectly than in direct conflict, “particularly young children.” As veterans we know all too well that Vietnam suffered 3-4 million deaths as a direct result of our fraudulent war and that unexploded bombs left over for 50 years still kill in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and Agent Orange still poisons the water and food chain causing innumerable birth defects across the population. In Iraq, Kuwait and many other areas of the Middle East radiation from Depleted Uranium missiles also cause cancers and birth defects and miscarriages. As the report emphasizes, no death across the entire population of Afghanistan is unrelated today to the decade of American war experienced by that nation. As the proxy war in Ukraine threatens all out nuclear disaster our military prepares for warfare with China over Taiwan.

It has been estimated that our government has spent 8 Trillion dollars since 9-11 yet war abroad and violence here at home accelerate while the nation fast tracks the national debt into the stratosphere and politicians ignore the fact that 20% of the nation’s homeless are veterans, and insist that Social Security payments, Medicare, veterans benefits, military pay and aid to the nation’s poor be drastically cut for the sake of a national liability that has been colossally incurred by the guardians of our military-industrial-congressional intelligence complex who most definitely do NOT safeguard the welfare of the people.

We in Veterans for Peace say NO to endless war. All of us know that our planet faces an existential threat from climate change which is accelerating far beyond early predictions. Unless we devise an overarching internationally cooperative response the very future of the human species is in extreme danger. The ultranationalism that has emerged must be replaced by what I term SPECIES-ISM, for we are truly on the brink of our existential day of reckoning. If we the people fail to meet this challenge in an internationally collaborative manner conflict between nations will accelerate and intensify and we will face the Armageddon President Biden so nonchalantly warned us about last year.

Remarks at Boston Common, Memorial Day 2023.

Paul Atwood is the author of War and Empire: the American Way of Life.