OP-ED: Let’s have an end to endless war
In President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address to the country, he warned the nation about the dangers of the military-industrial complex, and the dangerous political influence that a permanent armaments industry could have on government. This warning came from the same five-star general who led the Allied forces to victory in World War II. If anybody should have been aware of these dangers, it was Eisenhower.
We need a reminder of that warning now, as allies of the military-industrial complex clamor for a continuation of U.S. involvement in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.
In fact, every president since Eisenhower has found a reason to invade some other territory or threaten force to achieve our national ends. From invasions or bombings or intrigues in Guatemala, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, American presidents have deployed U.S. military might in questionable ways. Even Jimmy Carter got his fingers burned sending a hostage rescue party of helicopters into Iran.
The cost in terms of lives lost and lives forever harmed has been enormous. Since the end of World War II, the number of Americans killed in foreign engagements is measured in the tens of thousands. For the poor countries that got in the way of our wrath, it’s measured in the millions.
In terms of financial cost, the numbers are staggering. Afghanistan alone has cost a trillion dollars. Just think what we might have accomplished at home if that money had been spent on education, job training, medical research, infrastructure improvements, water purification and sanitation. You can add to this list. It’s all important, but taking a backseat to our military funding.
The senseless wars that the United States has waged since Sept. 11, 2001, have nearly bankrupted America and rendered impossible the other vitally needed infrastructure and research projects. For all the money we have spent, we could have built a new home for every family in Afghanistan. We could have built schools and hospitals and roads. In short, we could have initiated a program of investments in peace.
Instead, the United States has rained ruin on vast stretches of the world, killing and impoverishing tens of millions of innocent people.
What happens now? Either we learn to pull in our militaristic horns and try to live in peace or watch a growing national debt crush our chances for economic progress. Continuing to wage endless war against Muslim countries is a sure path to financial ruin. Bin Laden is dead, but the war will never be won. It’s time to recognize that fact and begin to bring our troops home.
— Leon Anderson is a retired international businessman who lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. This column was written for the Progressive Media Project, affiliated with The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.