War Is Suicide

"Love everyone, and tell the truth." Neem Karoli Baba

Namaste is a term from the Hindu culture, which translates as "I bow to you". A deeper translation is "The divine within me recognizes and honors the divine within you". This unity perspective recognizes that we are each a specific expression of the divine whole. This is the perspective Jesus shared when he said, "love your neighbor as your self". An attack on the "other" is an attack on our "self", so war is suicide, or at best, a self-inflicted wound.

This month we observed the 16th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on America, which killed over 3,000, and shocked the nation. In New York, the World Trade Center towers were hit by two airplanes. Tower Two fell an hour later, followed 30 minutes by Tower One. Seven hours later World Trade Center Seven, which was not been hit by a plane, also fell. The buildings fell at free fall velocity into their own footprint. These three steel re-enforced concrete buildings are the only ones of this kind of construction to fall due to fire. Thousands of engineers and architects requested an opportunity to investigate this rare failure in order to improve building techniques, but an in depth investigation never happened.

Within hours we were told that 17 Saudi nationals had hijacked the planes, and the leader of the group, Osama Bin Laden, was hiding in Afghanistan. Seven weeks later, we attacked Afghanistan, and two years after that we attacked Iraq, which was not associated with the 9/11 event.

The allied casualties amounted to over 6,000 dead and 900,000 wounded. Afghanistan is still costing money and lives, and is the longest military engagement in US history. The invasion of Iraq destabilized the entire region and contributed to the rise of ISIS. An estimated 470,000 have died in Afghanistan, and another 500,000 have died in Iraq, with millions wounded and displaced. The resulting refugee crisis flooded into Europe, disrupted economies and societies, stressed the cohesion of the European Union and NATO, and aided the rise of nationalist/fascists movements. Around the world, Islamic rage about these events generated further anti-American feelings, which spread like a metastasized cancer.

These wars have cost over $7 trillion. This includes not only direct war expenditures, much of which is unaccounted, but also the medical costs of treating the wounded, as well as VA benefits for long term care, replacement costs for equipment lost, and interest on the debt to fund it all. The expanded military budget has become a permanent fixture, to the detriment of increasing social needs. The righteous effort to avenge 9/11 allowed the government to fund wars without raising taxes, doubling the national debt in eight years.

The war on terror has eroded civil liberties at home. The Patriot Act was passed 45 days after the 9/11 attack. It allowed indefinite detention, new permission for secret search and seizure, and increased search by the FBI without court order. The NSA was expanded to intrusive levels never before imagined. The transfer of military weapons to the police has increased, making citizens feel like an occupied population. Travel restrictions from the TSA are now commonplace, without any demonstration of real effectiveness. These were to be temporary emergency powers, but most have been made permanent.

Let's imagine what the world might look like if our country had chosen the perspective of unity in response to 9/11, reacting like Jesus might have suggested. We might have tightened security to prevent a repeat, but our first focus would be to clean up, heal, and rebuild. We would have assisted the survivors, and grieved those who died. We would have investigated not only who and how, but also why the buildings fell. We would have embraced the outpouring of love from all over the world and maintained a moral standing on the planet.

Without war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we would have saved trillions of dollars, and the thousands of lives. PTSD, homeless and suicidal veterans would not be such problems. With a lower national debt, the Wall Street excesses might have been noticed before the economic collapse of 2007. Iraq might still have been destabilized, but without our being responsible. The tidal wave of war refugees wouldn't be burdening European stability.

This is the road not taken. Our choice for war is a self inflicted wound.