On Friday, March 8 from 12:30 – 2:00 pm No Endless War and Excessive Militarism will be gathering on the sidewalks along Centerville Road in Warwick outside the Summit complex at 300 Centerville Road that houses the office of United States Representative James Langevin (Democrat, Rhode Island).
We will be trying to raise the awareness of a number of issues we feel people need to contact our legislators about, but before we get to this, we think it is appropriate to restate our purpose in holding these rallies outside officials’ offices and clarify what it is we are telling people about our elected Democratic officials.
The United States has been at war for 18 straight years. Both major parties have jumped headlong on the global war bandwagon, basically shifting our nation to a permanent warfare state to the extent that one might posit an argument that the 9/11 attacks were a success. With their attack, Osama bin Laden and company essentially destroyed the old United States that was not always at war and put in place something that has morphed into a perpetual warfare state, one that is slowly but surely strangling its own civil liberties, constitutional balance, democratic processes and domestic wellbeing, impoverishing itself and depriving its citizens of tax money that is needed for our schools, roads, poor and elderly citizens. This transformation has been a bi-partisan effort; during the eight year Obama administration the changes initiated by the Bush administrated were enshrined as national practice and in some cases intensified by a Democratic president.
The authorizations for military force issued to fight Osama bin Laden after 9/11 and to take non-existent weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein have been used to fight a global war on terror virtually anywhere with means at the choosing of the president or the Pentagon. The declarations have been used 41 times for actions in 19 countries. The collateral damage (slaughter of civilians) is concealed from our citizenry by a cooperative corporate media; and everyone is fine with not showing the coffins of our own dead soldiers. Out of sight, out of mind, the United States has ringed the globe with bases and fights in myriad countries without any vote on this in Congress. Under President Donald Trump, hardly any news of what United States forces are doing anywhere is reported.
It has been estimated – and never challenged or disputed except by those that argue that the frequency and rate of bombing is significantly higher – that the Trump administration drops a bomb every 12 minutes. That is a rate of 121 bombs dropped a day and 44,096 a year. The Obama administration claimed it dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. It was reported that the Trump administration was on pace to break that record by Labor Day in July of 2017. While the defeat of ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria were amply reported in the United States media, the unprecedented level of civilian casualties throughout the summer of 2017 received much less attention. Photos of the liberated cities that showed piles of rubble where most of the cities had been, were easily found in foreign publications but not in domestic ones. Finally, as the Taliban recaptures much of Afghanistan and as ISIS (created by the United States’ failure in Iraq) seems to be digging in there, the United States has set new records for bombs dropped on that nation, 17 years after Kabul was liberated.
Meanwhile, at home, we have secret FISA courts making secret rulings on United States citizens accused of terrorism, war is being waged globally without Congressional declarations of war, fighting terrorism is used as an excuse for illegal surveillance of American citizens, throwing reporters in jail unless they reveal their sources over leaks, patriotic whistle blowers are prosecuted and more and more government information is concealed from the citizenry by being classified. And those that question or dissent from celebrating United States global warfare are accused of betraying “the troops.” Woe to the person who suggests that sending people to fight unwinnable wars or that sending them back home to a nation that has no funds for good schools or health care for their parents or children is not supporting “the troops!”
And now our country, facing unprecedented levels of debt due to the Trump tax cuts and the ability of corporations and the wealthy to avoid taxation, devotes half of its discretionary spending to war. Just two years ago, the military budget was $620 billion. It is now $717 billion, and Trump wants it upped to $750 billion!!
This is insanity. Endless wars that we cannot win, a squandering of our wealth as the nation’s educational system and infrastructure crumbles, untoward violence perpetrated across the globe, the growth of executive power that threatens to destroy our constitutional balance, and a dumbing down of the discussion of issues of war and peace to a simplistic knee jerk deference to all things military, with the lives and the wellbeing of our citizen soldiers being used as a cudgel to pummel dissent and intelligent debate.
Our Democrats have been on board with this agenda for the most part. They are objecting more frequently now that Trump is in the White House, but their commitment to domestic priorities did not prevent them from passing budgets that gave half the money to war. Slowly, Congress is growing a backbone and demanding a say in matters of war and peace. Without citizens calling our representatives to account, without people making it clear that a D next to a Rpresentative’s name does not mean that he or she has an interest in preventing our moral and economic bankruptcy through a futile bloody and wasteful pursuit of full spectrum global dominance gussied up as a war on terror, the insanity will continue.
So we will gather outside of the office park that houses Representative Langevin’s office and we will be saying thank you for his vote in favor of Congressional control of our role in the Saudi coalition war on Yemen. We will be urging Langevin to support Congressman David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island)’s similar measure on Venezuela and Senator Mike Lee (Republican, Utah)’s Authorization of Military Force bill for the war on terror. We will be reminding Langevin that the Democrats control the House and that the House will be initiating next year’s budget and that as a Democrat, he must work to place much much more money into domestic needs and cut back our spending on war.
But we are there also to bear witness, to question our national priorities, to awaken the public to what we are doing in so many places, out of sight, out of mind, every 12 or 9 minutes, to point out that we are on the path to moral and economic bankruptcy through a futile bloody and wasteful pursuit of full spectrum global dominance gussied up as a war on terror.