By American Friends Service Committee
Hundreds of thousands dead. Millions displaced. The needs of a generation traded for massive investments in a global war on terror. Today, as we remember the victims of 9/11, we also remember the victims of the 13 years of war that followed.
What have we gained from these losses? Are the lives of Afghans and Iraqis better? Is the threat of violent extremism reduced? Is the Middle East more stable and prosperous?
Military approaches don’t work. Yet today, driven by fear, support for war is once again rising on the belief that violence can end violence.
There was no question in 2001 that the acts carried out on 9/11 were deplorable. There was no question that the Taliban was a cruel regime, or that Saddam Hussein was an authoritarian leader.
But the choice we made as a country and a global community—to use military means to “solve” these wrongs—has not worked.
There is no question that ISIS is a violent group, committing gross human rights abuses in Syria and Iraq. And there is no question that military action will perpetuate a devastating cycle of violence.
We can’t bomb Iraq and Syria into moderation. We can’t bomb them into stability. We can’t arm different factions to fight their way to peace.
Viable alternatives to violence exist. Sustained and transparent support for badly needed economic, political, and social changes are a start.
But before we can address the root causes of war, we need to stop feeding the cycle of violence. That means not only stopping direct U.S. military action, but also suspending all training, arming, and financing of government and non-government factions in Iraq and Syria.
We need to turn back to the global community—not to authorize another war through the UN, but to demand an end to all influx of weapons on all sides of these conflicts.
Tell your elected officials to stand strong in opposing U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria. Now is the time to dedicate adequate funding to developing non-military, multilateral approaches to building peace and preventing atrocities globally.