When the U.S. was bombing levees and hospitals in North Vietnam, peasants in Laos and burning villages in South Vietnam, herding those not killed in the process into “strategic hamlets,” Americans took to the streets en masse, occupied the Pentagon mall, brought central Washington D.C. to a standstill, and broke into an FBI office stealing the records of Cointelpro disruption and spying and into a draft ward destroying the records of potential draftees.
When U.S. military “trainers” helped massacre and slaughter peasant guerrillas and their urban supporters fighting a brutal dictatorship in El Salvador, and the Pentagon was running a proxy war against the revolutionary government in Nicaragua, masses of Americans, even in the absence of a draft and of US deaths, rose to the occasion to massively oppose U.S. intervention in those countries’ internal conflicts. Even in 2003 when America was preparing to invade Iraq, claiming it was making or hiding weapons of mass destruction, chemical or even nuclear, Americans in record numbers turnout out in Washington to oppose going to war. (It didn’t work, but at least they turned out to protest war.)
Now when America is basically bankrolling and arming Israel as it prepares to commit a massive war crime, collectively punishing and killing ordinary Palestinians trapped in the open-air prison of Gaza. When the Israeli ‘Defense’ Force (IDF) is giving the 1.1 million Palestinians living in the northern 12-mile-long and 7-mile-wide half of the walled-off enclave 24 hours to relocate themselves to the southern half of the strip or face the full destructive force of an all-out IDF air and ground attack and invasion of the north—an impossible challenge. When Israel has cut off all supplies of food, medicine, water (in a desert!), electricity, and oil for the enclaves on rickety power plant, already for a week, the protests by Americans have been anemic, and have largely been by specifically pro-Palestinian groups, not by what is left of the once large and broad peace movement.
It is a shameful moment. While a few left-leaning progressive Democratic members of Congress like Reps AOC and Ilhan Omar have denounced Israel’s war crime of collective punishment and U.S. support for it, there is actually more criticism of Israel and of U.S. military aid to that country coming from Republicans than Democrats, (though they aren’t talking about the war crimes, since Republicans favor those tactics in other circumstances). The truth is, one of the arguments being used by Democrats to convince House Republicans to get their shit together and elect a House speaker is so they can pass legislation in that chamber to allow the U.S. to give Israel (and Ukraine) even more military aid.
And still, no burgeoning, blooming peace movement.
The U.S. may not be technically at war, but the U.S. war machine is everywhere, on every continent, in every ocean, its military budget, way over $1 trillion a year when everything is counted, bigger than it was in constant dollars than at the height of the Vietnam War when 500.000 U.S. troops were in that country fighting, dying (and losing) a hot war. But its special forces, its arms merchants of death, and its military “trainers” are busy stirring up and supporting local conflicts and pouring oil on fires like those blazing in Ukraine, Yemen, Gaza, Syria, Niger, Haiti, and elsewhere, while also making trouble off the coast of China, on the Korean peninsula (where it still has troops based and has had since 1950, and in Eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea.
Where is the public anger? Where is the organized protest against this warmongering permanent government in Washington, D.C.?
Americans are mad at Washington to be sure, correctly perceiving that it is corrupt and rotten to the core They know it ignores popular calls for taxes on the rich, for a well funded Social Security system that will pay livable retirement benefits as promised to all retirees into the foreseeable future, instead of facing drastic cuts in a decade or sooner, a medical system that doesn’t drive us into bankruptcy when we get sick, that gives everyone access to care they can afford and doesn’t give mega profits to private insurers and hospital executives, good public schools for our kids, affordable public colleges, an end to debt enslavement, police who are social servants not fear-inspiring centurions, clean air and water, and action of preventing a climate emergency. But too many of us don’t grasp that none of those things that huge majorities of us want will happen as long as the leaders in Washington, almost all of them bought and owned by large corporate and financial interests and the rich, are enamored of weapons, wars and militarism.
We need a focused campaign to use all available means to educate the American public to a common-sense reality: you cannot have guns and butter. And you can’t eat guns.
As a Vietnam War Era war resister and protester I’m disgusted. How can we U.S. Americans be accepting that almost all the income tax we pay each year (including income taxes on our Social Security benefits for gods’ sakes!) goes straight to funding the Pentagon and America’s endless wars and proxy wars, with the rest of federal government operations being funded using borrowed money– loans that we the taxpayers have to then pay five percent or more in interest on every year. In the end it’s all because of the military budgets.
It’s time to take that to the streets.
A good place to start would be demanding that the U.S. stop propping up the intransigent, apartheid, fake democracy of Israel and demand that it stop its collective punishment of 2.3 million Gazan Palestinians. For once, the U.S. should try to solve an international crisis by taking action to de-escalate conflict instead of pouring oil on the fire by mindlessly offering more weapons and ammunition.
If that approach works there, our troglodyte leaders should try the same thing with the Ukraine/Russia conflict.