The United States has not been in a formally declared war for the longest time in our history. Yet in the 74 years since WW II ended, ours has not been a nation of peace. Members of both major political parties have found undeclared military actions to be far more convenient than compliance with Article 1, sec 8 of the Constitution.
Such military actions have coincided with overthrow of democratically elected governments in favor of dictatorships to allow U.S. corporations to grab natural resources at bargain basement prices. We bomb, people die, and dictators, often in military finery, receive pats on the back and nice kickbacks.
In the 1950s, we overthrew Iran’s elected government for fear it would nationalize Iran’s oil. We returned to power a dictator (the Shah) who (eventually in 1973) placed Iran’s oil resources under government control in 1973 (that’s nationalization), helped form OPEC and jacked oil prices.
The majority of the people in this country were stunned, in 1979, when people in Iran violated international law, stormed the U.S. embassy, and took U.S. citizens hostage. The majority of people in this country were ignorant of our own violations of international law - i.e., overthrow of Iran’s elected government - that created the crisis.
Some here, in 1979, wondered why Iranians were angry. After all, the U.S. only allowed the Shah to enter this country for cancer treatments. Americans were unaware of SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, and its acts of atrocities. For example, SAVAK agents locked the doors of a movie theater in the city of Qom and set the theater afire. Several hundred people died.
We harbored a criminal when we allowed the Shah to receive treatments here. If we had been concerned for international law, we would have taken the Shah into custody to be prosecuted in the proper jurisdiction.
Of course, if we had been concerned about international law, we would not have overthrown Iran’s elected government. We would have faced higher oil - as we did anyway- but we would have adhered to principles in the Declaration of Independence: Governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The Islamic revolution that placed clerics in power in Iran in 1979 garnered popular support as a result of a quarter-century of despotic rule under the Shah. These religious forces always had been strong in Iran.
We do not know if those religious forces, without the overthrow of Mossadegh, would have been strong enough to take control. Contrary to what some here blieve, history is not so simple. However, oil was nationalized anyway, people died, we replaced government based on democratic principles with a monarchy, and a lot of people there hate us.
Also, Iran is governed by a despotic regime.
Our undeclared wars carried out as military actions have been counter productive. Iran is an example of a security threat we are told we face that was created by our overthrow of Iran’s government.
War carries a gravity and implications of international law. Wars also have beginnings and, as importantly, ends. The idea that we must maintain this militaristic approach is absurd. Worse, as one of my opponents proclaims, she wants to “rebuild” our military.
We spend more money on weaponry and personnel than the next seven biggest spenders. According to the Peter G. Petersen Foundation, the United States military budget accounts for thirty-seven percent (37%) of the World’s total military expenditures.
This attempt to allay insecurities has caused us to be more insecure. We bomb, or attack with drones, people half-way around the World. Some estimates of the accuracy of our drones is five percent (5%). That means we have 95% “collateral” damage. No matter the accuracy - or inaccuracy - of our weapons, we kill people.
We face significant fiscal problems. One important step we need to take is reverse the absurd giveaways to the rich in the form of tax breaks.
Another step we need to take is to cut in half our military budget. Defense spending accounts for fifteen percent of all Federal spending and about one half of discretionary spending. Cuts in defense expenditures will make us more secure. People do not like bullies. They like even less bullies who kill indiscriminately.