What War Leaves Behind

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source: Possibilitator

Notwithstanding the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the continental U.S. has been spared war on our shores for 150 years. Thus no one born here and still alive has experienced the devastation that lingers after war here, although many a soldier has seen too much of it. This week marks the 50th anniversary of our marines landing in South Vietnam, and a cover story in this week’s The Nation, follows a former Vietnam veteran who has returned to Vietnam to work with the legacy of the war we left behind.  It is a moving piece of journalism.


More recently we can see the affects of our wars; 2.0 million Iraqi refugees and another 1.7 million internally displaced; 2.6 million Afghani’s and additional 680,000 internally displaced; This doesn’t even include the homes and businesses and infrastructure destroyed or poisoned; the tons of unexploded weapons lingering, or the environmental destruction.It should awaken us to the follies of war and those who rattle sabers as if military might will bring a just and lasting piece. –note the thunderous Congressional approval last week of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s criticism of diplomacy with Iran.


Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Vice-President, George Perkovich, forcefully contradicted Netanyahu’s speech to Congress that criticized the President’s stance on Iran, “There is no better alternative to this approach. Period.” 50,000 Israeli citizens we out clamoring for the end to the madness just this weekend, and even Israeli military and intelligence leaders were calling Netanyahu’s belligerence, madness.

Perkovich went on, “Indeed, it is peculiar how much deference is being given in the U.S. Congress to a prime minister who does not have a great track record in resolving conflicts. He has not resolved fundamental differences with any of Israel’s neighbors, or even within his own country.”

The President’s new budget calls for yet more money for military solutions to address our global challenges as if we just buy and sell more weapons, teach more people how to be effective killers, we’ll all somehow live in peace. What a colossal waste of resources – human, financial, environmental. The Military-Industrial-Complex counts on American citizens apathy or sense of futility to continue this madness. Our attention is easily diverted via March madness, Academy Awards,  television, and the pursuit of more technologically enchanting devices. Meanwhile the pundits and chicken-hawks call for more weapons for our favored side as of the moment.


They might consider, for example, reflecting on International Crisis Group senior analyst for Libya, Claudia Gazzini’s recent piece on why more weapons are not the answer in Libya.

What are we leaving our children?

Will we step out of our apathy and self-satisfying amusements long enough to come together to create alternatives to violence. I think it’s possible.
Apathy is consent.

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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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