“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” – Voltaire
As liberals and conservatives continue to struggle over the right for women to “control their bodies,” or in other words, “kill babies,” thousands of men, women, and children around the world continue to have their lives ripped away from them without the courtesy of a vote in Congress. This is in part due to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, or AUMF, which was signed by President George W. Bush in September of 2001. This authorization calls for the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001, and any “associated forces.” Because of the AUMF, the U.S. has involved itself in interventions in a multitude of Middle Eastern countries over the last decade, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
Libertarian Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently gave a riveting speech on this topic, not even necessarily arguing for ending the conflicts in which the U.S. is currently involved, but simply whether or not Congress should be returned the constitutional authority to vote on this matter. The accompanying amendment to his speech was tabled, with a vote of 61-36.
An interesting aspect of using the AUMF to justify military force in various Middle Eastern countries is that the authorization specifically mentions that said force is to be used against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. However, there is ample evidence suggesting that not only were the hijackers and perpetrators of those attacks not from any of the seven countries previously mentioned, but instead from Saudi Arabia, a country with whom the U.S. regularly does billion dollar arms deals. While we continue to sell weapons, drop bombs, and pull triggers, we are no closer to ending the threat of terrorism than we were in 2001. In fact, global terrorism is on the rise.
While military intervention may seem to be the most efficient way to deal with global violence and extremists, some would argue that using violent intervention ultimately causes more extremism. In Iraq alone, war-related deaths have reached nearly half a million, with about one quarter of those being civilians. Often referred to as “collateral damage,” it’s easy to see these numbers as abstractions, disconnected from the truth that these were living, breathing human beings. Human beings who had the desire to have families, occupations, and lives of their own.
Imagine being an individual living in the Middle East within the last decade with no connection to extremist groups or radical Islam. But nonetheless, outside forces come in and try to change your way of life, toppling your government and infrastructure, perhaps killing a family member. When looking at this situation with true empathy, I find it hard to view their extremism as anything but a reaction to ours. You simply cannot fight terrorism with something that will be viewed by innocent people as “terrorism” itself.
In my view, prolonged war is nothing but a tragic, massive waste of valuable time and energy. Hundreds of thousands of human beings have been murdered in the name of humanitarianism, propelled by propaganda and a false idea of what it means to be patriotic. While we irreparably damage the livelihoods of those overseas, our very own soldiers come home in body bags or with severe psychological issues. It’s not only my opinion, but the opinion of many who have served as well. Iraq Veterans Against the War, among several other veteran-led, anti-war groups, have been speaking out on this topic for years. It’s time we take a hard look at their message, and stop using our military power and irrational fears to justify intervention and murder.
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