Americans Must Learn to Reject Unjust and Unnecessary Wars
Danny Sjursen calls for remembering the original meaning of Armistice Day:
My fellow veterans don’t necessarily need more thanks. We need, instead, your attention, your support, your careful deployment of our energies and sacrifices only in defense of the most vital national interests and the homeland itself. Most of all we need the reinvigorated dream of Armistice Day—-a holiday imbued with hopes and dreams for a better world. At the very least, for a nation that chooses not to wage forever war.
The standard for sending Americans to war should be a very high one, and even a cursory glance at the many military interventions of the last three decades shows that almost none of them has even come close to meeting it. From the invasion to Panama to the unending war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has been hyperactive in using force in other parts of the world for the last 30 years and very little of it has had anything to do with vital interests or the defense of the United States. Instead of “careful deployment,” we have tended to see reckless and irresponsible deployments of U.S. troops who are tasked with carrying out vague, impossible, and sometimes illegal missions. Virtually every intervention in that time has been a war of choice, and most of the time it has been the wrong choice.
The U.S. has frequently engaged in hostilities against other states in this period because our government could and not because it had to. There are very few instances in which the U.S. used force as a last resort. In several cases, U.S. intervention has been flagrantly illegal under international and/or U.S. law. The U.S. resorts to force too quickly and too easily and with far too little consideration for the consequences it will have for the people serving the military and the people living in the affected countries. Unlike people from a century ago, many of us have lost our disgust with war, whose human costs are obscured from view or simply ignored. Despite our extraordinary security, many Americans readily accept their leaders’ threat inflation. Preventing more unnecessary wars and bringing the current ones to an end will require a constant effort to counter the alarmist and fear-mongering claims about foreign threats.
Steven Katz makes a similar case for how Americans can best honor veterans:
This year, as one of thousands of veterans who suffered moral injury in the Iraq War, I ask that in addition to the annual “thank you for your service” that you also “thank” veterans by helping us avoid waging unjust wars.
To that end, Americans have to learn an abhorrence for starting wars. Preventive war is inherently unjust, and it needs to be rejected on principle. We need to understand that the Iraq war wasn’t simply a “mistake,” but a terrible crime that should never be repeated. Preventive war is not just another “option” that our government can choose, but rather something illegitimate and wrong by its very nature. When politicians and pundits entertain the idea of launching aggressive attacks on Iran or North Korea or any other country, they need to be shamed and ridiculed as the warmongers they are. The U.S. should never engage in aggressive warfare again. Until Americans and our leaders learn that lesson from the Iraq debacle, we will not have learned the most important lesson.