End the Assault on the Middle East by the United States

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

by Heather Gray

April 9, 2017

Justice Initiative International

I need to state forthrightly that I am heartbroken by the aggression of the U.S. and Europe in the past and currently in the Middle East and the recent bombing by the Trump administration against Syria. In my opinion, what Trump has done has solved nothing except to make us all more vulnerable everywhere in the world. As Martin Luther King would say, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Greed

And we can’t look at all this totally as military initiatives as being the problem. Greed plays a central role here as well. Regarding the U.S. missiles against Syria:

“Fifty-nine tomahawk missiles launched from an aircraft carrier hit their target. At $1.59 million a piece, the attack cost the Defense Department $93,810,000.” (Yahoo Finance)

The U.S. Defense Department used $93,810,000 million in this bombing? These are U.S. tax dollars being used to destroy and kill Syrians. Did Congress approve this huge expenditure and bombing? No, it did not!

I am convinced that when violence takes place anywhere in the world – domestically or internationally – board members of military industrial companies go their board rooms, open a bottle of champagne and celebrate because they know they will be able to advance their profits and receive more U.S. tax dollars as a result. Their goal is not peace but war both domestically and internationally as it is this that is contingent on their profits.

The U.S. military industrial complex receives more tax dollars than any other segment of the U.S. budget. And yes, while Congress did not approve this bombing it has been approving this decadent budget. We are caught in a bind! And, one would think, the military industrial complex has to justify its budget by supporting violence by the U.S.!  From the 2015 budget the military gets 55% of the U.S, tax dollars.

Act of War

Regardless of the official definition, to me the act of killing people by drones or missiles in another country is an “act of war”.

I am also convinced that if the reverse was true and that some other country was killing Americans by drones or missiles on American soil, Americans would say the same. This is war.Can you imagine American’s response if the same kind of thing was done on American soil? As in, drones killing American civilians and tomahawk missiles killing and destroying American facilities? Can you imagine Americans not expressing concern or wanting to do something about this violence?

Again, did Congress play a role in making a determination about the recent strike against Syria as required by the Constitution? Absolutely not! I had foolishly thought that the President and the Pentagon served at the behest of Congress and that they were mostly not independent actors in this scenario. I had always assumed, perhaps foolishly, that “war” was to be determined by Congress and not the president or the pentagon. Here is the clause from the U.S. Constitution:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution, sometimes referred to as the War Powers Clause, vests in the Congress the power to declare war, in the following wording:

[The Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water…(Wikipedia)

Presumption of Innocence?

“In the coming days the American people will learn that the [US]Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib.” Former DIA Colonel Patrick Lang

There are also presumptions in the United States regarding justice that people are supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty.In many states, presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is also regarded as an international human right under the UN‘s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted. Under the Justinian Codes and English common law, the accused is presumed innocent in criminal proceedings, and in civil proceedings (like breach of contract) both sides must issue proof. The same principle is recognized by Islamic law. (Wikipedia)

So it appears the United States apparently and sadly pays no attention to this concept in international and increasingly domestic police aggression as well. I know we’ve all noticed lately the increased violence by domestic police and their “killing” of suspects rather than “arresting” suspects. The presumption here is “guilt” rather than “innocence” that is contrary to our understood policy in America. So the police are playing the role of judge and jury? Everyone is vulnerable under these circumstances.

And this attack on Syria by Trump and seemingly against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because of the poisonous gas assault on civilians, was neither investigated nor proven as fact that al-Assad was indeed responsible.

There has to be Another Way – Another Policy Directive or Diplomacy Maybe? Possibly Even Compassion?

Surely, there can be more humane initiatives and negotiations that can be arranged and encouraged. And yes, perhaps looking for something humane rather than ruthlessly killing people with drones and other weapons. There has got to be another way.

Negotiations maybe, as Obama was wisely doing and did with Iran? Can we not have more negotiations with Middle Eastern and western leaders overall on how to both resolve and end this violence and end the lack of respect of the Islamic religion?

And in particular, can we not end the huge amount of U.S. tax dollars going to the military industrial complex and instead use this money for domestic needs such as education, health, domestic small farmer and urban agriculture, as just a few examples.

Can we not seek alternative renewable energy initiatives and end this reliance on oil and coal that destroy our climate and lead to increased violence and competition for these resources?
Many of us are heartbroken by the desolation and suffering of the Syrians and others in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and other countries in the region. Trump, then, bombs them and complains about children being killed in Syria and does not allow the refugees into the U.S.? To say this is the ultimate of hypocrisy is an understatement. This militarized response, in my opinion, gets us nowhere. It becomes a vicious cycle and everyone loses in the end.
Many are also no longer willing to sit by and accept this violence without recourse.Many throughout the world and in the U.S. are no longer willing to allow the military industrial complex in America to use our hard earned tax dollars to reap huge profits through the development and use of decadent weapon systems at the expense of Syrian children, our own children here in America, our immigrant children and countless lives lost in Middle East and around the world.

I am also reminded of author Karen Armstrong and her book the “The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions” or the Axial Age 900 to 200 years before Christ, when there was excessive violence in the world as there is today. The likes of the Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu and others at the time basically agreed that there had to be something else rather than this violence. There has got to be a better way forward. Almost all of them recognized that what was needed was “compassion” and not just compassion within their own group but what was particularly important was compassion outside their group. This concept should be enshrined in the United States Constitution.Many of us seek peace and an end to this violent aggression in the Middle East and an end to U.S. violence altogether in the region or anywhere else for that matter.

And, believe it or not, many also seek compassion, even and especially in U.S. government’s international and domestic policies.

Below is the “Charter for Compassion” launched in 2008.

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others-even our enemies-is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings-even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

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