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Tuesday, 11 April 2017 06:54

Airstrikes on Syria Are the Latest Reason We Need to Start Learning Peace

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My childhood began in World War II, my teenage years framed by the Korean War and the Cold War. My friends and I grew up under fear fueled by McCarthyism and the threat of atom and hydrogen bombs. We learned in school to "duck and cover" as though nuclear fallout could be dissipated by a child's wooden desk. Our lives as young adults became enmeshed with the Vietnam War.

As a woman, I was not subject to the draft. My male friends were "called up" -- an attempt to equate military enlisting with that of a religious calling. I attended draft board hearings as a character witness for friends who objected to serving based on personal or religious beliefs. These often were not accepted. Friends fled to Canada, leaving us behind to protest the war. From growing up with wars as children to our activism protesting them, war dominated my generation's entire existence. A youth born in 2001 has lived an entire lifetime during the war on terror.

Not since those 13 days in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis, have I felt on the precipice of another war or possible nuclear disaster. I was a senior in college, away from my home town. Many parents pleaded for us to come home. They had lived through WWII, and feared this might bring another major war. We left for home and remained vigil for each development in front our televisions.

Eventually, President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev negotiated a peaceful solution. We might have had that nuclear disaster if the current hot-heads-of-state had been the non-negotiators.

The US bombing of Syria has brought war to the forefront again.

Trump, without approval or consent of Congress or the United Nations, ordered an attack on Syria with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This occurs in an international imbroglio of threats and counter threats, during a return of the "Cold War" with Russia, an escalated arms race around the globe and proxy wars in the Middle East.

Syria denies making the attack. According to Putin's spokesman DmitryPeskov, the strikes dealt "a significant blow" to relations between Moscow and Washington. Prior to what could constitute an act of war, a thorough investigation of the chemical attack should have taken place.

The Trump administration intends to increase Pentagon spending by $54 billion. Trump postures the threat of reprisals against Iran for testing its capabilities in ballistic missiles. The United States has tested unarmed ICBM Minuteman III with thermonuclear warhead nuclear capacities that could be used to attack nations all over the world. Thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were not reported to the public. The Doomsday Clock has moves closer to midnight, the closest since 1953, because these actions make international security more dangerous.

We have the never-ending "war on terror," and though officially the war in Afghanistan is over, US troops are still there, 16 years and counting. Drone warfare is now our stealth weapon of war. In March, the US military in an airstrike believed to have killed more than 200 people in a single day in Iraq -- just one of the onslaught of deaths by US-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Today, the White House cabinet is dominated by military generals. Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, in charge of homeland security, formerly oversaw activities in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Guantánamo Bay. Secretary of State James "Mad Dog" Mattis, retired US Marine Corp general, warns North Korea that any nuclear attack will be met with "effective and overwhelming" response." Trumpt weets. "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

I worked on the Dennis Kucinich 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, drawn by his proposal of a cabinet-level Department of Peacet o explore peaceful negotiations as alternative to invasions or wars. The proposal also addressed violence in the home, spousal abuse, child abuse and more.

We know war, now we must learn peace -- no more invading other countries to "uphold democracy," no glorified war reenactments, no more war toys, no more forcing youth facing no other alternatives except joining the military.

As teachers and parents, we can promote teaching conflict resolution in our schools. Engage with community boards in your neighborhood. Find a peace organization to join. Contact the US House Representatives to sign on to H.R. 669/S. 200 to make the world safer by prohibiting the president from unilaterally starting a nuclear war.

Peace activist and songwriter Michael Franti's words describe a truism, "You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace." We can join with 50,000 people around the world, who have pledged to work to end all war.

Patricia Jackson is a community activist and a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.