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war

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Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Lee’s story is how little credit she or her constituents receive for what they got right. Even though a majority now considers the war most understood the AUMF to authorize to be a mistake; even though it has been used to justify military interventions that no one conceived of on September 14, 2001; even though there’s no proof that any war-making of the last 13 years has have made us safer; even though many more Americans have died in wars of choice than have been killed in terrorist attacks; even though Lee and many of her constituents were amenable to capturing or killing the 9/11 perpetrators, not pacifists intent on ruling out any use of force; despite all of that, Representative Lee is still thought of as a fringe peacenik representing naive East Bay hippies who could never be trusted to guide U.S. foreign policy. And the people who utterly failed to anticipate the trajectory of the War on Terrorism? Even those who lair voted for a war in Iraq that turned out to be among the most catastrophic in U.S. history are considered sober, trustworthy experts. Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror

A true revolution of values will lay a hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. Dr. Martin Luther King

One of the critiques of Just War Theory that happens to be entirely correct is that, in practice, it is nothing but window dressing for war. That is, the existence of this theory and its various proponents does not constrain war actors that much. It just gives them a language with which to justify things they are going to do anyways. When military acts clearly run afoul of the principles, that doesn’t matter. Militaries still do them if they feel it is necessary and in their interests and supposed adherents to Just War Theory find ways to justify them nonetheless. Just War Theory is window dressing

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War – this war and the many others like it – has changed us. It demands that a young man brutalized in captivity, that over a hundred of his counterparts brutalized daily in Guantanamo, never meet with any compassion from us ever again. And from Iraq to Syria, Afghanistan to the Ukraine, U.S. war makers will demand newer wars of us, more rage, and more fear cloaked in expressions of our exceptional humanitarian concern for others. We are absolutely forbidden ever to walk away from war. Bowe Bergdahl and the Voice of War

War is not a sport. It is about killing. It is dirty, messy and deeply demoralizing. It brings with it trauma, lifelong wounds, loss and feelings of shame and guilt. It leaves bleeding or dead bodies on its fields. The pay is lousy. The working conditions are horrific. And those who come back from war are usually discarded. The veterans who died waiting for medical care from Veterans Affairs hospitals could, if they were alive, explain the difference between being a multimillion-dollar-a-year baseball star and a lance corporal home from Iraq or Afghanistan. At best, you are trotted out for a public event, as long as you read from the script they give you, the one designed to entice the naive into the military. Otherwise, you are forgotten. Kneeling in Fenway Park to the Gods of War

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As Afghanistan has shown time and again, dropping bombs into messy situations we very clearly do not understand will never be an effective, moral, or practical plan, no matter how much we wish it might be. War is just one more big government program

People who carry weapons and travel with armed units have a terrifying God-like power to humiliate, to demand instant and unquestioned obedience and to kill. Those who do not carry weapons live in states of unrelenting terror and powerlessness. The powerless often seek to become invisible, avoiding contact with the hydra-headed groups of killers that roam the landscape and speak in the language of violence. Chris Hedges

I live in a country that is so wealthy we can wage wars and not have to think about them. It is a pathology handed down from generation to generation. We talk about our military. We use words like ‘heroism.’ But when will we start to care about people whose names are difficult to pronounce? The list of people lost is so vast. How do I write about this and share it in a country that does not want to hear it? We want narratives that are easy and complete, ones we can process. We want wars to be recorded the way historians or people who make tombstones in cemeteries do. They give us the start, the duration and end of the war. But for those of us who were in war it does not end. If you talk to my grandfather in Fresno, Calif., at some point during the day you will be in the presence of World War II. Brian Turner

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