President Trump has taken a serious drubbing from both the political right and left for his decision to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. I am not pleased. This is perhaps the one issue on which I’m inclined to support the president, against the united warmongering front presented by the military-industrial-corporate media-Congressional complex. Social workers, after all, have a predilection for peace over politics.
What can be wrong with reducing U.S. involvement – at great cost in both dollars and human lives (most of them civilian) – in aimless, strategically-dubious and never-ending wars? For that matter, Mr. President, please don’t stop with Syria and Afghanistan. Close down most of the 800+ military bases the U.S. operates across the world, and bring home most of the 1.3 million troops we have deployed.
It’s not “isolationist” (and certainly not disrespectful to the troops) to say that it’s not our job – in fact, that’s it’s downright wrong – for the U.S. to serve as imperial ringmaster for an exploitative and unjust global economic system that fails to address the needs of the vast majority of people alive today, and which has the entire planet on a beeline course for ecological catastrophe.
Whatever became of the “peace dividend” we were promised after the collapse of the old Soviet Union? I’ll tell you. It was rather immediately swallowed up by the “war on terror,” fighting the new “axis of evil” – which just so happened to bloat a far-flung U.S. military still more, intensify the growth of a voracious national security state apparatus, and further fatten the pockets of giant “defense” contractors such as Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and their like. Can you imagine – can you just imagine – what might be done with the $50-60 billion per year going to the top 15 defense contractors alone? That’s a lot of desperately-needed infrastructure development and repair, a lot of support for struggling public schools, a lot of mortgage relief for working-class people still suffering from the 2008 financial meltdown.
The USA insists it is a nation of “good guys,” motivated only by pure and magnanimous intentions. “Nationalist” rhetoric aside, we claim to want nothing but justice, peace, and freedom for all the peoples of the world. Endless wars – and an economy driven by a state of permanent warfare – provide neither justice, nor peace, nor freedom, but just their opposites – destruction, death, violation of human rights, trauma and protracted misery (themselves the seeds of resentment and retaliatory violence) – for untold millions.
I doubt it, but perhaps the president has stumbled onto the peace-loving thinking of Reverend King: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” We can always hope.