April 7th, 2017
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, human dignity leaders showed up to be the voice of reason. We held vigils, rallies and town halls to ask: what is the Co$t of War to our communities? We wrote letters to members of Congress. We published op-eds and letters to the editor. We asked the important questions like: Are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan making us safer? Are we safer when we give up civil liberties? What is the war costing each of our counties? What other needs do we have and how should our tax dollars be prioritized?
In 2013, when President Obama was beating the drums of war, human dignity groups showed up again and demanded a public debate on going to war in Syria.
Once again we find the need to call for peace, justice, true diplomacy abroad and real democracy at home.
Late Thursday night, under President Trump’s order, the US military dropped over 50 Tomahawk missiles on Syria. The atrocities that have been brought upon the Syrian people by the Assad regime and so many other militarized actors in conflict are undeniable. We have witnessed how war has shredded the fabric of communities in Syria, and how rampant Islamophobia has denied refugees safe haven in supposedly welcoming western countries. We know from experience from wars waged by the US in the Middle East that more war doesn’t end wars, and it certainly doesn’t facilitate self-determination for the Syrian people. Check out this article in The Nation for a deeper analysis on what is needed to end the war in Syria: The War in Syria Cannot Be Won. But It Can Be Ended.
Bombs fell on Syria without congressional approval or public debate. We are called to hold space in our hometowns to discuss what it means when our executive branch leads us into war without public support or discourse. This raises a critical question for all Americans of just what is required of a democracy before making an act of war and military intervention. This conversation is especially vital right now, when President Trump has asked for an increase of $54 billion for the US military budget.
As bombs fall yet again in our name, we can serve as a moral compass and raise the crucial questions locally:
Share this Democracy Now! segment that discusses the crisis in Syria and the bombing, featuring Yazan al-Saadi, Syrian-Canadian writer; Alia Malek, author of The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria; Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies; and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK.
The path of militarization in the Middle East has led to unspeakable violence and instability throughout the region, and it has also unraveled democracy and social institutions here at home. We have not forgotten the ill-conceived “War on Terror”, nor the social and humanitarian consequences that persist today.
To the human dignity groups of rural Oregon who are a strong voice for human dignity, for peace, and for a real democracy, thank you for what you do. Let’s continue to invite our communities to join us in asking the critical questions required of a democracy.