Thursday, January 5, 2012

Make Commerce, Not War

That clown car carrying the Republican presidential candidates is down one more since the Iowa Caucus ended with Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul essentially sharing the top 75% of the votes.  Hearing the brief clips from the candidates' stump speeches, I found myself agreeing with Ron Paul in terms of foreign policy more than any of the others.  It is his anti-war stance that I like. He sees the whole of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as unnecessary. I agree. I was opposed to those war endeavors from the beginning. Rick Santorum, on the other hand, seems to think that the President of the United States should be Emperor of the World and bomb whoever wants to get in the way of us and our “freedom.”

Ron Paul would prefer business ties over war mongering. My anti-war stance comes from a different philosophical base, being more in line with the Quakers' historical stand against war.  Paul’s libertarian view does not make adequate provision for the preservation of human rights, in my opinion, but at the same time, not-war is always better than war. As Benjamin Franklin said, “There was never a good war or a bad peace.” So I’ll take not-war any day, however you can get there.

War takes its toll on society. We have been engaged in full-scale armed conflict for over ten years now.  We have tried to shield ourselves from its effects by relying upon our lean volunteer professional armed forces and not forcing the public to make any visible sacrifice or life-style change. Instead, we have let a new “fighting class” bear the brunt. This fighting class includes many from lower socio-economic levels whose best opportunity is to join the military. It is those men and women and their families who know the pressures of war after numerous re-deployments, deaths and permanent injuries both mental and physical. Our congressmen and senators and the public, by and large, have avoided the obvious scars of war, shifting them to the shadows of our paid warrior class.

But the truth is, we all bear the ill effects of war, whether it is obvious or not. We have already been too long in a war that has cost more than we can pay in material and monetary means and has done nothing to lessen the threat of terrorism.  It is time to turn down the war machine.  If we can’t “make love, not war,” as some said back in the 1960s, we can at least start to spend our time, money and efforts on projects at home: rebuilding roads, bridges, schools, and parks; paying attention to our children; working to increase the common good.  It is time to find a common purpose other than war. My hope is that the time of tearing down will come to an end and the time of building up will come to ascendency. 


1 comment:

  1. "Clown car": priceless metaphor! Yes, that's one thing about Ron Paul I admire, his criticism of our pointless war-mongering. We've done it our entire history, too. We invaded Mexico; we pretended to "liberate" Cuba and the Philippines in the 1890s and ended up massacring tribes in the Philippines and only gradually giving our newfound colonies their freedom. We annexed Hawaii. We reluctantly joined World War I, the most pointless war of the 20th century. We stuck our noses into many other places: Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Chile, Honduras, Iraq, and the list goes on. But for some reason, in this country, we only seem to shift from selfish isolationism to hypocritical, self-serving militarism. I'd love to see more candidates who were willing to take an anti-war, anti-militarism, pro-peace stance. The few who take such a stand seem to be dismissed as eccentrics or hopeless idealists (look what happened to George McGovern and more recently Dennis Kucinich). So yes, if the Republican clown car ends up with Ron Paul vs. Mitt Romney, I hope Paul wins. That's because I think he would lose the general election (and despite all of Obama's flaws, he's three times preferable to the Republican candidates), and because he would force some honest conversations in the general election campaign. A Ron Paul vs. Barack Obama debate would be worth watching!


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