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Replies to a Letter to the Editor - Silverton Appeal-Tribune

Regarding the letter to the editor from my old Navy buddy Rick Ernst, (4/23/2009 - "War is the only way to achieve peace"). As one of those quoted in the original story, I felt that I aught to respond to Rick's piece. His is the reaction of many from the starboard side of the isle: He confuses the military with the military industry. That which Republican President and former General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about.

In his abridged history lesson, pretty much the same old chestnuts were trotted out; Saddam was a bad guy, we would have found WMDs if we waited longer for him to develop them, peace in the past was won by the barrel of a gun ... sword ... spear ... club ... etc. Is "peace" really a lack of war as Mr. Ernst implies? If so, Germany during the 1930s and the Soviet Union in the 1950s had "peace."

I get the impression, that many perceive us Peaceniks as misguided starry-eyed dreamers at best, or a danger to the American life style at worst. But as they look into the rear-view mirror of history as a means of interpreting the present, they often fail to take into account several key points:

The first is the fact that the incredible amount of money spent on the military by this country dwarfs not only all other Federal spending, but is also much more than all other nations' military spending on planet combined! Does this make us safer? Does this make us secure?

Second and most important: We are at a stage in the development of our society that historical analogues are becoming irrelevant anyway, due to our technology. It indeed does make a profound difference when we can actually talk to someone in real time immediately pretty much anywhere on the planet. Never mind the global "brain" that is the Internet, with humans acting as the neurons. This situation has never existed in the history of our species. Never. Ever. Will it make a difference? It already has!

A third point, (that at least applies to me), is that I am not "anti-military." I am "Pro-Peace." I am a veteran, like Rick, of the United States Navy. I am proud of my service to my Country and would do it all over again. I am also deeply ashamed at how our Corporate community has co-opted Congress and the good folks in the military for their own profits. I am deeply saddened that "patriots" like Rick don't recognize this obvious fact, that sits in front of their faces like so much rotten meat. They wave away the flies and talk about bad men with guns and bombs out to get us, while the stench from our rotting neglected society wafts around our heads.

Sure there are bad guys and bad countries out there. Many in the middle East. Several that are our staunch allies. A couple of those that for all practical purposes, consider half of their population property. As to "Iran snubbing the olive branch" I would be more concerned about our other ally, Pakistan, which does possess nukes, and unlike Iran and Venezuela, has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Neither, by the way has Israel.

-- Gus Frederick

'War never leads to peace' or 'Meanings of "peace" differ'

Evidently Silverton People For Peace receiving some local media publicity caused Rick Ernst to feel sufficiently threatened (presumably by the implicit moral condemnation of war he believes in) to defend the legitimacy of war by claiming that "The only peace that has ever been achieved in this world has been by war."

Well, if your definition of 'peace' is 'cessation of combat by means of one side being made incapable of continuing combat as a result of defeat', then war resulting in 'peace' is practically a tautology. The implication is that, for the losing side, 'peace' means being occupied by a foreign power, being coerced (by means including torture) to change their form of government and subordinate their national interests to those of foreign business enterprises against their will.

That sense of 'peace' doesn't sound very appealing. It's obviously not the sense of peace that we peace activists are advocating. While there's a spectrum of opinion within SPFP, speaking for myself, 'peace' is best summed up by a quotation from Benito Juarez, "the Abraham Lincoln of Mexico", translated as "Peace, among nations, as among men, is respect for the rights of others."

That value is so nearly universal among humanity that, in nearly all wars, both sides feel compelled to claim that they are defending their rights (- or, with less legitimacy, their 'interests' or 'needs'), using aggression to force respect for their own rights while denying the other side's claims of rights. Thus every war begins with a dance of escalating provocations, tallying of grievances, and spin on reality. When every war ends, which side's claims of defensive justification become 'history' is determined, not by facts or justice, but by which side most successfully deployed force.

In the context of that reality, I feel that it is not unreasonable to conclude that, in fact, war has never led to peace - only to the suppression of resistence to the power of the strongest, with the greatest power achieved by unjust means. The 'Bush Doctrine' of "pre-emptive" defense, designed to eliminate completely the moral distinction between imperial aggression and 'genuine' defense, clearly demonstrates to the world the real purpose of American power.

If our cause is so just, why do we need to spend 45-50% of the entire planet's military spending? Why is our 'defense' spending (counting the DoD budget, the additional appropriations for conquest and occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and intervention in Pakistan, veterans' benefits and interest on the debt for military spending) account for nearly 60% of the Federal budget? (Hate taxes? - look at what you're really paying for.) With military production being the single largest sector of the U.S. industrial economy since 1950, why has our economy become dependent on military spending?

We are told that 'they' hate us 'because of our freedom'. No, they hate having our troops in their country (in over 750 bases - not counting the secret bases - in 140 out of 192 countries on the planet). How would you feel about foreign troops stationed in our country?

We peace activists are dismissed as being naive idealists. We do not delude ourselves that the motives of profit and power can be overcome by merely telling the truth. We do believe that we have a moral obligation to speak truth to power, challenging the illusions that keep the corrupt in power.

-- Greg Franck-Weiby