I was never clear on why we went to war in Iraq. I remember how President Bush referred to Iraq, Hussein and 9/11 often enough in the same speech that a measurable number of Americans thought Saddam Hussein had something to do with the 9/11 attacks.
I also am unclear on the benefit of having successfully killed Osama bin Laden if we remain engaged in these wars. I want to look at his death as the end of something. I am just unclear of what that something might be.
If our aim is to end terrorism, I think we should look at what causes terrorism. I am talking about big-ticket items like hunger, poverty, racism, classism and disease. If any of these were halved, what impact would that have on terrorism in our world?
Sure, there will always be the ego-driven broken and defeated who garner followers and cause innocent people to die. Timothy McVeigh and his cohorts come to mind.
But just imagine with me for a second that we took the gobs of bucks we spend on waging war in Iraq (we still have like 90,000 troops there) and Afghanistan and directed those funds to … oh, food, health care, education and housing.
I realize that such an idea requires we stretch our national moral imagination, because war has made us morally flabby. It is past time for us to firm up!
We have proven that we know how to make war. In fact, other nations emulate and envy our ability to make war. Globally, all nations combined spent $1.6 trillion on their militaries in 2010. Our country spent 43% of that sum! We are truly fearsome.
So we are the masters of war. Do we remember how to make peace?