1-4: Happy New Year, Make It Happen

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from Marjorie Cohn at Truthout: “A Year of U.S. Militarism.”]

[Wars Cause PTSD. Whether tomorrow, a decade from now, or 30 years down the line, the war experience today will torture a soldier’s mind. It is not necessary to argue, debate, or fight about our reason(s) for going to war; it is the act of war that attacks the psyche. End the wars, end the suffering.]

At 2016’s end, human rights lawyer and lecturer Marjorie Cohn summarizes what she terms

“the intensification of Cold War dynamics,”

with particular regard to U.S. foreign policy and actions, including, in her words,

  • the ongoing proxy war in Syria
  • the U.S.-supported Saudi-led bombing in Yemen
  • U.S. use of drones and manned bombers in Libya
  • U.S. bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • unprecedented U.S. military aid to Israel
  • U.S. special operations in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen
  • U.S. saber-rattling against China in the South China Sea, and
  • steps toward normalization of relations with Cuba.

Ms. Cohn’s context is her fear that the United States and Russia appear to be preparing themselves, their citizens, and the world for military engagement. Below are just the first paragraphs she writes about U.S. activities in the past year.

Syria

The tragic war in Syria continues unabated, with the Syrian government fighting ISIS … and defending itself against rebel forces. Although Assad has been responsible for large numbers of civilian casualties … the “fog of war” makes it difficult to sort out whether the liberation of Aleppo is “a good thing” or whether Russia and Syria are committing war crimes, which is “a bad thing…. the charge that Russia deliberately targets civilian facilities and centers is, of course, a part of the growing anti-Russian line that’s captured our politics and has led to this scandal in Washington.”

Yemen

The United States has supported the Saudi coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015. This conflict is part of a regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are bombing Yemen in order to defeat the Houthis, a Muslim minority who have been resisting government repression for the past several years. Iran has been accused of supporting the Houthis, although Iran denies this. Yemen is strategically located on a narrow waterway that links the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea. Much of the world’s oil passes through this waterway.

Surprise! Oil!

Libya

Obama [said] “the worst mistake” of his presidency was not planning for the aftermath of the U.S. 2011 regime change in Libya, although he stubbornly maintained that ousting President Muammar Gaddafi was “the right thing to do.” The U.S. regime change created a vacuum, leading to the rise of ISIS.

Iraq

Four U.S. presidents ― George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama ― have bombed Iraq almost continuously for more than 25 years.

Afghanistan

In October 2015, U.S. troops bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 22 people, including patients, three children, and medical personnel from Doctors Without Borders. Thirty-seven people were injured, including 19 staff members …

African Continent

The United States continues to pursue “low-profile missions,” “named operations,” and “quasi-wars” in Africa …

Israel

In late September, Obama pledged to give Israel a record $38 billion in military aid over the next 10 years, fortifying his legacy as the strongest financial supporter of Israel ever to occupy the White House….

China

In October, a U.S. Navy warship sailed close to islands China is claiming in the South China Sea. It was the fourth time this year the U.S. challenged what it considers China’s unfounded claims in the South China Sea.

Cuba

In March, Obama made a historic visit to Cuba, the first by a U.S. president since 1928. Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro forged a pact in December 2015 to work toward normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. They have concluded bilateral agreements connecting the two countries by direct telephone service, postal service and commercial air travel. The U.S. State Department removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Iran

Obama certified Iran’s compliance with its initial obligations under the nuclear deal and the corresponding lifting and/or waiver of international sanctions on Iran. Additionally, Iran released five Americans detained in Iran and the U.S. and Iran settled a long-standing financial dispute.

Where do we go from here?

No doubt the world of geopolitics played among superpowers and want-to-be countries is complicated and harrowing. But it is not a game. When mutual respect and diplomacy are forsaken, we are all losers. Let’s not just mouth to each other,

Happy New Year!

Let’s join together and make it happen.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

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