People should run from any 2016 candidate who wants to stand out as a wartime president.
The U.S. in the lifetime of most baby boomers has been at war far too long. For 25 of my 60 years, the United States has vaulted from one war to another. It’s long past time for a president and Congress to work toward a lasting peace.
Too much money, too many lives and resources have been blown on conflict and fighting. Fifty-five years ago this month as President Dwight Eisenhower was leaving office, he warned of the military industrial complex. It is as big of a problem now as it has ever been.
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation notes that the $610 billion that the United States spends on defense is more than the $601 billion spent on defense by China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the United Kingdom, India and Germany combined.
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America’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan is stretching into its 15th year, sucking up more money, resources and lives. The U.S. military no longer carries out offensive operations in Afghanistan, with the end of its formal combat mission under President Barack Obama, but it daily patrols around the base to protect against the Taliban and other enemy groups.
That puts troops in harm’s way. Last month six Americans in a U.S.-led military coalition were killed and three others wounded near Kabul when a motorcycle filled with explosives was detonated in an apparent suicide attack. On Tuesday, near Marjah in Helmand Province, another attack left one U.S. serviceman dead and two others wounded.
Negotiations seeking a lasting peace would be a better option. Talks are to begin this month to find a diplomatic solution to end the civil war in Syria and the refugee crisis the fighting continues to create.
Imagine airstrikes in Syria ending and people, with help from the U.S., returning to repair that war-torn nation. Certainly if those peace talks are successful they could create a new path for peace in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
The tough talk of continued warfare from some presidential candidates would have no audience. People crave better solutions. The money that goes into making more bombs, warplanes and other weaponry could be put to better use in education, health care, safe affordable housing and job creation to build up this country. People need that, not the enormous load of debt that the ongoing wars have helped create.
Continued use of the military — whether through airstrikes or with U.S. troops on the ground — clearly isn’t working. The solution to reducing recruits for the Taliban, al-Qaida or the Islamic State is more complicated. But finding peace certainly is possible.
This war-weary nation is beyond supporting more fighting. Too many soldiers have returned with post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries and wounds that families and communities must shoulder to help veterans heal. Suicides are a problem, too. In the third quarter of 2015, there were 72 suicides among service members in the active component, 70 in the reserve component, which includes 38 suicides among reserve service members, and 32 among National Guard service members.
Servicemen and women have fought for the nation, but many haven’t gotten the support from the Department of Veterans Affairs that they need. Fortunately, that is starting to change.
A lasting peace can help. The candidates for president should turn their talk from war and giving arms to fighters in other countries who support the U.S. to finding solutions for peace.
We should all hope that the person who emerges as the next president will have the leadership skills and the popular support to make peace possible.