When the US was bombing levees and hospitals in North Vietnam and peasants in their rice paddies 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 DC to a standstill, and broke into an FBI office stealing the records of Cointelpro disruption and spying and into a draft board destroying the records of hundreds of potential potential draftees.
When in the 1980s US 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 US intervention in those countries’ internal conflicts. Even as late as 2003 as the US was preparing to invade Iraq on the pretext of false claims that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction,” record numbers of Americans poured into the streets to oppose that war.
Now 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. Now 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. Israel has already, a week ago, cut off all supplies of food, medicine, water (in a desert!), electricity, and oil for the enclave’s on rickety power plant, already for a week. When it stops working, so will the regions sewer system. But this Tim the protests by Americans have been anemic, and have been largely 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 member of Congress like Reps Rashida Tlaib ,AOC and Ilhan Omar have denounced Israel’s war crime of collective punishment and US support for it, there is actually more criticism of Israel and of US military aid to that country from Republicans than Democrats, (though the Republicans aren’t talking about the war crimes, since they favor those in other circumstances), As for the Democrats, one of the arguments they’e using to convince fractious Republicans to get their shit together and elect a House speaker is so they can pass legislation to give Israel (and Ukraine) more military aid.
And still, no burgeoning, blooming peace movement. An exception is Jewish Voice for Peace, a Washington, DC-based group that that calls itself the “largest Jewish anti-zionist progressive organization in the world,” which is organizing protests against Israel’s collective punishment of all Gaza’s Palestinians for the Hamas raid, calling it a war crime and calling for an end to US military aid to Israel. (That’s something some US peace groups and progressive organizations have been skittish about doing for fear of dividing their membership over the issue,)
The US may not be technically at war, but the US war machine is everywhere, on every continent, in ever 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 US troops were in that country fighting, dying (and losing) a hot war. Meanwhile its hugely expanded 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 in Ukraine, Yemen, Gaza, Syria, Niger, Haiti, and elsewhere while making trouble off the coast of China, on the Korean peninsula (where th UD 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, DC?
Americans are mad at Washington, correctly perceiving that it is corrupt and rotten to the core, 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 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 focussed 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 US Americans be accepting that almost all our 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 pay five percent or more on in interest on that ballooning national debt. 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 US 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 US 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 it works there, our troglodyte leaders should try the same thing in the Ukraine/Russia conflict.