By Mary Hladky

First: It’s time to end the Afghanistan War, bringing all the troops, not some, home now.

But not just Afghanistan. ALL US troops across the Middle East, and throughout Africa, where the US has more military bases than in the Middle East, must come home now. Our military interventions have overwhelmingly increased resentment, fear, and hatred of America, making Americans everywhere less safe.

The US has had endless war for almost 20 years, beginning with Afghanistan (our first attack on that country was Oct. 7, 2001) and spreading to Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, with combat operations in Niger and many other African countries. We have normalized war. War is no longer a last resort but the US answer to everything. Hate, anger, control, and violence must stop being the language the government and too many Americans speak and act upon.

The over $6 trillion spent on recent wars have been epic failures that continue to inflict death, injury, and immense human suffering on all sides. These wars have created 59 million refugees, the most since World War II.

When the government chooses to spend trillions of dollars on war and nuclear weapons, it chooses to forego the health and welfare of the American people. It chooses not to focus on effectively addressing the pandemic, racism, poverty, and the climate crisis, all of which continue to add to a horrific death toll. 

The Biden Administration and our state and local legislatures need to realize that the time for meaningful change is at hand, that the people will no longer accept incremental change meant to pacify while enormous human suffering continues.

It is the responsibility of all of us to stand up for peace and justice. The problems facing people and the planet are massive. What is needed is a rapid-course change. We must act in solidarity, as a fusion movement, to intensely pressure our elected leaders to do the right thing, putting the lives and safety of the American people, and humanity, ahead of power and profit.

—Mary Hladky, vice chair of the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors, is the mother of a vet from the Afghanistan War.