The Platform

Carlos Lopez/USMC

America has a love-hate, well mostly love, relationship with the institution of war.

As shown in a timeline of U.S. wars, and in a list of wars involving the United States, the United States has been more or less continuously at war since 1783. Often several wars have taken place simultaneously. America’s earliest years were particularly genocidal involving a bloody campaign to forcibly remove native inhabitants from their native lands.

Over the last twenty years, the United States undertook several grand adventures. One of the most costly was the Iraq War which didn’t unfold as originally envisioned. We should remember that the threat or the use of military force violates both the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles.

The defense sector seems to have a hold over both Republicans and Democrats. With almost no dissenting voices, both parties have embraced larger and larger defense budgets.

Militarism is the U.S. national religion

Here are some quotations from an article by William Astore:

“We believe in wars. We may no longer believe in formal declarations of war (not since December 1941 has Congress made one in our name), but that sure hasn’t stopped us from waging them. From Korea to Vietnam, Afghanistan to Iraq, the Cold War to the War on Terror, and so many military interventions in between, including Grenada, Panama, and Somalia, Americans are always fighting somewhere as if we saw great utility in thumbing our noses at the Prince of Peace.”

“We believe in weaponry, the more expensive the better. The underperforming F-35 stealth fighter may cost $1.45 trillion over its lifetime. An updated nuclear triad (land-based missiles, nuclear submarines, and strategic bombers) may cost that already mentioned $1.7 trillion. New (and malfunctioning) aircraft carriers cost us more than $10 billion each. And all such weaponry requests get funded, with few questions asked, despite a history of their redundancy, ridiculously high price, regular cost overruns, and mediocre performance. Meanwhile, Americans squabble bitterly over a few hundred million dollars for the arts and humanities.”

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq

March 20th marked the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It was based on a lie, which asserted that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. When Iraq was invaded, no such weapons were ever found. The invasion ultimately resulted in more than 5 million Iraqi deaths.

Many of those who died were children, deprived of food and medicines by postwar sanctions.

War has become prohibitively dangerous

War was always madness, always immoral, always the cause of unspeakable suffering, economic waste, and widespread destruction, and always a source of poverty, hate, barbarism, and endless cycles of revenge and counter-revenge. It has always been a crime for soldiers to kill people, just as it is a crime for murderers in civil society to kill people. No flag has ever been wide enough to cover up the atrocities of war.

But today, the development of all-destroying thermonuclear weapons has put war completely beyond the bounds of sanity and elementary humanity.

Today, existing nuclear weapons have half a million times the power of the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A nuclear war would destroy human civilization, together with most of the plants and animals with which we share the gift of life.

Research has shown that firestorms produced by a nuclear war would send vast quantities of smoke into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight, and blocking the hydrological cycle. The climate would become very cold for a period of about ten years. Human agriculture would fail. Plants and animals would also be killed by the nuclear winter.

Can we not rid ourselves of both nuclear weapons and the institution of war itself?

We must act quickly and resolutely before our beautiful world is reduced to radioactive ashes, together with everything that we love.

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John Scales Avery was born in 1933 in Lebanon, where his father was Professor of Anatomy at the American University of Beirut. He received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles, both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. In 1969 he founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and he served as its Managing Editor until 1980. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization between 1988 and 1997, and as Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs between 1990 and the present.