In its involvement in the Middle East, the United States military has been responsible for the deaths of many civilians. Likewise, coalitions that it has led, funded, or aided have caused the collateral deaths of many children and other defenseless citizens in hospitals in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and other countries in the region. But now, a recent Amnesty report suggests the United States reported just over one-tenth of the civilian casualties in Raqqa, Syria.
Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Cassandra Twining | @cass_twining
I was born in July of 2001, making me 17 years old. Here is a short list of things I currently cannot legally do in the United States: vote, drink alcohol, drive more than one non-family member in my car, get married, rent a car, get a tattoo or pierce my ears without parental permission, you get the idea. There’s a lot that I can’t do. However, I can enlist in the military to fight in the Middle East. Born in November of 2001, (exactly 4 months younger than me) Juan Tellez is one of the newest enlisted Privates of the Marine Corps
Juan Tellez, just like me, has so many legal restrictions on his actions. He could not enlist without his parent’s permission. His parents, unlike him, were actually alive and witnessed the attacks on 9/11. The attacks that started the war, Juan Tellez, is now fighting.
We have spent over 1 trillion dollars on the war in Afghanistan. Everyone knows that’s a lot of money, but what does it really look like? For starters written out that’s $1,000,000,000,000. That’s a lot of commas. Now to give you some scale to understand the insane amount of money that is, here is what 1 trillion USD in $100 bills looks like next to a person for scale.
Children are fighting in wars that they weren’t even alive at the beginning of. This is not our war. This also is not our fight. I write this as a plea to those who are my age watching this happen. This needs to stop. We need to be the generation that puts a stop to it. We can no longer rely on the older generations to enact change. They have failed us time and time again. I fully expect that trend to continue. Change needs to happen, and we need to be the ones to bring it. Before more of our peers are subject to the danger and pain that a war like this brings as well.
Juan Tellez is a 17-year-old kid who has little to no rights as a citizen. He has no voting rights, therefore no say in foreign policy. Within the military, he also has no voice. In an interview, Scott Horton, author of Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, discusses our fear to criticize the military for fear of offending people. For far too long the generations before us have silently and passively allowed the military to unilaterally make decisions with no backlash.
Our generation needs to stop being silent on these issues and speak up for what is right. We need to be the generation of critical thinkers. The generation that questions authority and demands something better for us as citizens. We need to step up where those before us have failed. I believe with my whole heart that letting a 17-year-old child risk his life for a war that is not his to fight is not right and I refuse to sit back while this is tolerated and even encouraged… And neither should you.
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Ryan Lau | @agorisms
Already, the 2020 election cycle is beginning to heat up. After a 2016 rift in the Democratic Party, the political party is seeking to reunite against President Trump. Yet, eight candidates have already declared their own shots at the presidency. One of these candidates is Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard.
A veteran of the Iraq War, she claims to be of the non-interventionist wing of the party. In many ways, she hopes to cater to those who voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016. Gabbard does happen to be like Sanders in many ways, but this only reflects her deceit and double-sidedness.
Is Tulsi Gabbard Really Antiwar?
One of Tulsi Gabbard’s biggest talking points so far is that she opposes wars. In particular, she has criticized continual actions on the part of the United States in Syria and Afghanistan. However, it would be foolish to equate these limited responses with truly opposing the practice on its face. There is a clear difference between opposing a particular war and opposing the very concept of war.
An excellent place to begin searching for Gabbard’s true position is her voting record. But rather than portraying the 37-year-old congresswoman as a dove, it suggests that she is more mixed on the matter. Admittedly, she did oppose two key defense funding bills in 2018. Yet, the same is not true for the bill that would appropriate this funding.
On September 26, 2018, Tulsi Gabbard voted in favor of a key defense appropriations bill that, quite frankly, had some absurd elements. First of all, it appropriated a grand total of $670 billion for the military in 2019. Though she seemed to oppose gargantuan spending levels previously, it appears Gabbard had no problem voting for it the next time it came through.
Moreover, the bill prohibits any funding to be used for the release or transfer of individuals at Guantanamo Bay. Amnesty International has long since called the detention camp “The Gulag of our time“, and the inhumane modes of torture that the base forces on its prisoners are no surprise. Even the United Nations, an organization in no way fervently dedicated to peace, has tried to get the United States to close Guantanamo Bay. Tulsi Gabbard, though, voted for an appropriation bill that would make it much more difficult to remove those detained from the subhuman conditions that the camp does little to hide. Such a move shows blatant disregard for human life, a value generally necessary to truly be antiwar.
A Hawk on Terrorism
In addition, it is worth noting that Gabbard has even admitted to not unilaterally opposing war. Particularly, she proudly supports wars against terrorism. In 2016, she told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that “When it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk”.
The interesting thing about this statement is that it undermines her very opposition to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria. Without a doubt, there are active terrorist groups in both of those areas. By her own definition, therefore, she logically favors wars in the Middle East that fight terrorism. Yet, these have had disastrous effects. In particular, our actions in Afghanistan led to a surge in Al Qaeda membership. At the time of 9/11, the group only had about 400 members, but at the height of the war, they boasted tens of thousands.
Wars against terrorists, and specifically, the War on Terror, usually lead to the terrorists winning. And considering that the definition of terrorism is violence for political gain, it is unclear just at what point Gabbard’s own military interventions would qualify as acts of terrorism. Being a hawk against terrorists is not an admirable trait.
In Favor of Drone Strikes
Furthermore, Tulsi Gabbard has very clearly stated that she favors the use of drone strikes against military opponents. Admittedly, this is preferable to supporting an all-out ground war, but it is also a far cry from being anti-war. It appears that her concerns more closely are for the lives of exclusively Americans. This position blatantly disregards the lives of the many foreign civilians that American drones kill every year.
In this way, Gabbard appears to more closely mirror the tactics of Presidents Trump and Obama. After all, Obama’s drone strikes have killed many civilians in eight countries. There is absolutely nothing that indicates that Gabbard’s use of drones against “terrorists” (I use the term in quotations because they are the ones defending their homeland, while the American military ravages their cities) would produce a noticeably different result.
All in all, it appears that Tulsi Gabbard is not truly opposed to war. Though she may be slightly less hawkish than some other candidates, this is an easy task; it does not, in any meaningful way, show a real dedication to peace. Do not let her words fool you, and do not expect a sudden policy of peace if she wins the presidency in 2020. Tulsi Gabbard, through her support of wars and drone strikes, is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
By Josh Hughes | United States
It is not uncommon to see many headlines that currently highlight President Trump’s shortcomings. Many of these accusations are warranted, and he has done some things that have been questionable. However, it’s time to give credit where credit is due. The President has made many decisions recently that are being praised by conservatives, liberals, and libertarians all over the country. In a time where the media is quick to point out the negative aspects of the Trump administration, let us take a look at the successes.
Over the past few weeks, big changes have come involving the United States’ involvement in the Middle East. Last week, the US announced it would be pulling its 2,000 troops out of Syria over the next 100 days. This came as a surprise to many and angered certain Republican leaders in Congress.
An even bigger surprise, however, came soon after when the President announced a reduction of US forces in Afghanistan, cutting the number of troops in half from nearly 14,000 to just 7,000. This shocked everyone, including Afghani leaders, and signaled a sudden change in Trump’s policy. During the campaign in 2016, the President promised to bring the troops home but reluctantly added 4,000 more overseas earlier this year.
With the drawback of troops, it is refreshing to see a promise kept by President Trump. Not everyone is supportive, however. Senator Lindsey Graham and other Congressional Republicans have publically expressed their disapproval of the decision. Secretary of Defense General James Mattis also suddenly announced his resignation from the spot after two years citing “disagreements” with the President’s foreign policy.
For those who are unaware, the Farm Bill recently passed both the House and the Senate and made it to the President’s desk where he signed it into law. The bill contains many controversial elements, but one aspect is the federal legalization of hemp. Hemp, which is not to be confused with cannabis, contains little to no THC, rendering it non-psychoactive. However, it has many agricultural and industrial purposes including plastics, paper, oil, construction, and food. While it has yet to clear the FDA, there is a good chance the hemp industry will soon explode thanks to the passage of this bill.
Criminal Justice Reform
The First Step Act was signed into law by President Trump on December 21. The bill is designed to help those already in federal prison as well as those that commit crimes in the future. It eases minimum sentences for drug offenses, allows for more opportunity for getting out on good behavior, allows for more vocational training, and provides better feminine hygiene. The bipartisan support Trump mustered with this bill came as a surprise, but he proceeded in spite of opposition from leaders like Mitch McConnel and Lindsey Graham.
The President is far from perfect. He has done his share of terrible, hypocritical things that have outraged people from all sides in the country. However, during this holiday season it is a time for optimism, and as we approach the new year, everyone in the country is undoubtedly hoping President Trump will continue with this streak of common sense legislation and good policy.
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