Veterans Day, 2018. 100 years after the signing of the armistice that ended World War 1. It was supposed to be “the war to end all wars” and yet, wars have not stopped, and the world hasn’t figured out how to end our differences without looking down the barrel of a gun.
Before World War I, there were other wars, but, this was the first “global war.” We’d had wars over borders, we’d had wars over slavery, hell, we’d had wars over tea and taxes. As early as the Bible, we started having rules about how to “do war correctly.” Then came treaties like The Lieber Code, the Hague Convention, the Geneva Convention, all as attempts to make warfare more fair and “humane.”
This is a problem. War is inherently unfair. Children die. Children who are not old enough to have a say, and children of parents who think their sons and daughters are going off to fight a noble cause. Elders die as well- collateral damage. And, we, as the human race, have gotten so much better at war that we can wipe out entire cities- Hiroshima and Nagasaki should have made war obsolete, “mutually assured destruction” was even a “strategy” for winning the battle against war. But wars continue.
We have wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and points elsewhere that we go about our daily business and ignore. Blue Star Mothers still become Gold Star Mothers- the one “promotion” you never want. We continue to build “new and better weapons” to “support the war-fighter” when the reality is we have the weapons to destroy the world many times over, what we don’t have is the smarts to know how to end their use.
The United States spends more on our military than out nearest half-dozen competitors combined. We have huge corporations getting fat and rich by selling machines of death to almost anyone with a buck. We have a huge standing military, yet there are generals complaining that their service is too small, that they don’t have the ability to fight two battles or three at once.
We, here in Dayton, believe that Wright Patterson Air Force Base is the key to our survival, when in fact, it holds the keys to humanities destruction. We invest in war as economic policy. We elect tough talking hawks who have no problems buying weapons of war, but can’t find the money to fix Flint’s pipes- or ours for that matter.
Our country mocks government health care, yet the VA and the Military’s own health system does a better job (despite what the media says) than our corporate run health system.
The same guns used in battle, are killing civilians here at home, but we’ve forgotten the part about a “well regulated militia” as being a part of the 2nd Amendment. We’re better at killing our own at home than foreign enemies are at killing soldiers over there- but, then again, we’re “making things safe for democracy” by killing them, their children, their loved ones, with efficiencies that are devastatingly unmatched. But, we don’t watch them on the National News like we did in Vietnam, we fight a sanitized war. We’ve re-branded our enemies to be terrorists. Ones who fight dirty and don’t follow the rules of war. It’s as if there is some kind of “balance of power” that makes war just or injust. Yet, we have some god-given right to have the upper hand.
In the last election, how many candidates did you hear talk about bringing the troops home? Cutting military spending? Fighting for the health and safety of our own children- from the weapons of war, the misery of poverty? You heard a lot about the opiate epidemic- a natural outcome of a failure to have proper health care though.
War is the failure of statesmanship. I am not the first or last person to write a essay on the reasons to end war and wage peace. You are not the first to read one.
But on this veterans day, 100 years after, please think about how we all can stop the violence and create a world where statesmen are held accountable and are the first to suffer their failures, not the last.
~I served my country during what was mostly peacetime, from 2001 to 2007 in the United States Army. I fully believe in universal conscription as a fundamental building block of citizenship.