From War Games to Peace Games, It’s Time to Stop Playing Games

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Common Dreams

From War Games to Peace Games, It’s Time to Stop Playing Games

I am having an uncomfortable feeling of déjà-vu as the winds of March come up, blowing us headlong into an uncertain spring.

Ten years ago we were reeling in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Governments and the media were howling for retaliation, and the massive U.S./NATO war machine was gearing up for a fight, first with Iraq, and then with Afghanistan.

Now it’s an Iranian president who is talking tough and daring the U.S. and Israel to bring it on.

Have we learned anything from our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan?

We have a different, much more cautious and diplomatically-minded president minding the store.

But what can he do when American troops are so stupid—even ten years after being embroiled in on-going nation-building efforts in the Islamic world—as to defame the holy Koran?

How can he possibly convince potential Islamic allies that the US means well when it’s so glaringly obvious that we are insensitive, boorish bullies?

It’s shocking that the troops were so mismanaged that such a huge mistake could have been made.

First there was a report from some remote province in Afghanistan that a few Marines had urinated on dead Taliban fighters.  That was bad enough, but no—the US military had to take it further and actually start BURNING A WHOLE TRUCKLOAD of Korans.

WTF?

I mean really! How would we like it if a bunch of Muslim soldiers came to one of our states and starting burning Bibles and Torahs? It smacks of unbelievable cultural arrogance, coupled with unbelievable tactical stupidity.

So now two American officers have died in the ensuing protests in Kabul, along with two other American soldiers killed in one of the outlying provinces.

Killing an American military officer in Afghanistan is like killing a police lieutenant in New York City. Do that and you’re asking for it.

Sparks are flying everywhere these days, and there’s way too much dry tinder sitting around. It’s impossible to see exactly where all this is heading, but it sure isn’t in a “and they all lived happily ever after” kind of direction.

Once again, it’s necessary for ordinary American citizens to stand up and be the friction that stops this war machine from advancing.

Occupy has gone underground for the winter, it seems, but it’s time for all of us Americans to start sending messages to our leaders, in no uncertain terms.

We do not want war. We want peace. We want to live harmoniously with our neighbors and fellow global citizens on this planet and we demand that our military representatives respect other cultures, as we would want to be respected ourselves.

I know I will be patted on the head and told that it’s more complicated than this.

But it’s not. It’s very simple. This is how it is:

Human beings have over-populated the planet. We are now fighting over limited resources like water, arable land, fossil fuels and natural resources. That is what the fuss over Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran has been about. That is what is going on with Syria, Sudan and Libya as well.

It’s all about the dangerous and difficult demise of the premise of unlimited growth and a globalized economy.

We now face the prospect of more war for two reasons:

  1. so that we can burn up a lot more resources and have to rebuild them, thus cranking up our military-industrial complex and giving a boost to the economy in an election year;
     
  2. so that we or our allies can gain control of valuable and strategic resources.

High-minded ideals like democracy, human rights and humanitarian aid have nothing to do with it. They are what you bring in to mop up when the resisters are lying belly-up in despair.

And meanwhile climate change looms over us all. All these little diversions are just so many more irrelevant goose chases that keep us from focusing on what’s really important: working feverishly to mitigate and adapt to climate change before we are swept away.

World leaders are playing a dangerously, devilishly simple zero sum game. But we need to change the rules of the game now so that all of us can win. Because if we don’t, one thing is certain: we will all lose, even those who currently seem invincible.

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez teaches comparative literature and gender studies with an activist bent at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, MA and blogs at Transition Times.

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