2003 marked the invasion of Iraq, with a corresponding escalation of the United States’ foreign entanglements via war and occupation continuing unabated ever since. As of 2018, America is involved in military action throughout North Africa and the Middle East, in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Tragically, there have been hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in these countries, either as a result of collateral damage from U.S. strikes or due to the chaos and instability caused by America’s actions. And even millions more were forced to flee their devastated home countries, worsening the already severe refugee crisis around the globe. 

If producing new generations of potential terrorists, harming the United States’ legitimacy as an agent of good in the world and compromising American prosperity are the goals, then by all means, let’s continue on this path. Mission accomplished. It has become painfully clear that a course correction is needed and long overdue. Something needs to drastically change when we’re told that there’s not enough money yet Republicans and some corporate Democrats always seem to find the financial resources to fund a $1.1 trillion-dollar fighter jet program or a $1.7 trillion-dollar nuclear weapon “modernization” program. These costs are extreme and unwarranted. In 2018, the Pentagon’s budget was $700 billion dollars. To repeat, that is SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS! And what do we get for that enormous budget? The country gets to continue battling an endless War on Terror and re-fight the Cold War, this time engaging in a new arms race in which there are no winners. 

WAR is the absence of PEACE. It’s when we don’t have peace, there’s war - it’s not the other way around. So, what are we doing, waging war, and expecting peace? It’s insanity. We need to put our money where our mouth is and wage peace. In contrast to the $700 billion spent on war, we spend $1 billion towards peace-making organizations out of a $40 billion budget given to the State Department. And this must change. We must be spending more at making peace and working together with all nations towards a more sustainable, livable earth and world economy.

Moreover, the right to declare war rests with the legislative body, according to the Constitution. Despite this fact, many of America’s interventions around the world have never been voted on by Congress. We’ve even seen cases where the U.S. has acted unilaterally, lacking the support of the United Nations. 

Our country does not need to be in the business of disrupting other countries. We shouldn’t be, yet it occurs every single day. It’s fair to say that some of us may see ourselves as liberators, however more and more the broader global community looks at us as invaders and occupiers. We must fight together to not only change this perception, but also alter the reality that’s causing other countries to view us this way. I firmly believe that we need to bring our troops home in order to end the “forever war.” We must put an end to the calamitous air strikes which serve to perpetuate the never-ending pattern of terrorism around the world. 

Bringing our troops home will allow us to start the healing process and begin to address the countless open wounds caused by all of our ongoing military interventions. We would be able to begin the arduous task of mending our tarnished image. By reuniting our military families, separated far too long and often by multiple deployments, we can work to unite our people. We will strive to become a stronger nation as we forge stronger economic and diplomatic ties. Ultimately, we can build a more secure and robust country if we save our armed forces only for times when they are absolutely necessary and really start waging peace, not war for war is the absence of peace.