2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in World War I. This war and the many before and after have left indelible marks on our country, our people, our military and our societal structure.
The 1918 armistice brought hopes of world peace after the “war to end all wars,” and Armistice Day was soon designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated.” Congress rebranded this day as Veterans Day in the 1950’s, and as time went on, it changed from a day of remembrance and peace to a day to celebrate militarism.
Militarism is but one of the Triple Evils emblazoned in American consciousness that Martin Luther King described as being a “barrier to our living in the Beloved Community,” the other two being racism and poverty. On militarism, King wrote in 1967:
“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war- ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped (or) psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
- First among threats to peace, not to mention humanity’s survival, is nuclear war. While the Pentagon under Obama pledged a trillion dollars over three decades to upgrade an already overwhelming nuclear arsenal, the Trump Administration has instituted measures that increase the likelihood of nuclear conflict.
- In February his Pentagon released the updated Nuclear Posture Review that advocates production of low yield nuclear weapons, lowers the threshold for responding to even non-nuclear (including cyber) attacks, calls for development of modern sea launched cruise missiles and states that the United States will not seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
- In May, the US withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Three weeks ago, President Trump announced his intent to leave the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF.
Together, these reduce important avenues of discourse between nations, increase the already dangerous numbers of nuclear weapons on the planet, and shorten the time to intelligently respond to a perceived threat.
But our militaristic policies go further. Having already destroyed numerous countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, we continue to give full military support and diplomatic cover to Saudi Arabia to flatten Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. Here, arms deals that for decades have been hushed are now shouted loud and clear, as President Trump equivocates on punishing the Saudis for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi because it could jeopardize $110 billion in arms sales and loss of American jobs. Sad it is that this is the driving force of our economy and foreign policy.
We, in Veterans for Peace, call to end war as an instrument of foreign policy that impoverishes our country and its foreign victims, to restrain our government from intervening in the internal affairs of other nations, to abandon threats to use nuclear weapons, and to seek justice for veterans and victims of war.
Please join us and the Women in Black to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the World War I Armistice at 10:45 on Sunday, November 11 at the Vietnam War Memorial in Missoula’s Rose Park.
Dexter Aspvig, Missoula
John Garrity, Missoula
Rob Holden, Missoula
Dave Herries, Missoula
Walter Honan, Missoula
Steve Hutchens, Stevensville
Mac Palmer, Missoula
Danny Showalter, Turah
John Snively, Missoula
Pat Vaughan, Hamilton
John Walker, Missoula