Rethinking America

Quo Vadis, America?

Enmeshing itself in unnecessary wars has weakened the United States considerably, both materially and in terms of international prestige.

Takeaways


  • Today’s crises call for a new look at life and its possibilities. We can create a better world if we truly want it.
  • Mine is a plea for the leading powers – notably the United States — to strive for policies that can create a better world.
  • When I came to the U.S. decades ago, I expected this nation to further the ideals of peace and justice. What I found was a country enmeshed in unnecessary wars.
  • U.S. interventions in other countries have generally not led to better living conditions for the populations of those countries, rather the opposite.
  • Is it possible that instead of exporting war, we could export technology, together with people to help create a better world?
  • Savings from war could fund a concerted effort to eliminate disease among the poorest of the poor. We have the resources.

I am not an expert on military issues or the consequences of war. I am an ordinary citizen concerned about the turn of events in Afghanistan that are costing lives.

Mine is not an admonition, nor a directive — not even a suggestion. It is a plea for the leading powers – notably the United States — to strive for policies that can create a better world.

Unnecessary wars, instead of pursuing justice and peace

I arrived in the United States as a resident 50 years ago Later I became a citizen. I came with the expectation that this nation would persevere in furthering the ideals of peace and justice that we all so badly wanted and needed.

Instead, what I experienced was a country enmeshed in unnecessary wars that have weakened it considerably, both materially and in terms of international prestige.

That saddens me, because no other country has given me, my wife and my daughter so many wonderful professional opportunities.

Numerous interventions have bred only contempt

U.S. intervention in other countries have generally not led to better living conditions for the populations of those countries. In most cases, it has had the opposite effect.

This is true not only in the case of Afghanistan. It is also true of countries such as Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

It is not cynical to replace the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” with “intervention in other countries breeds contempt.”

The irony of “defeating” the Taliban

We wanted to get rid of the Taliban, whose growth, ironically, the U.S. had fostered decades ago.

The Taliban, however, has come back in full force after 20 years of a draining war with the consequent loss of lives and expenditures of billions of dollars. These funds have mainly served to increase corruption in that afflicted country.

To slaughter without shame

In his poem “How to create an enemy”, the writer Sam Keen reminds us of the brutality of war,

“When your icon of the enemy is complete

you will be able to kill without guilt,

slaughter without shame.”

The military-industrial complex prevails

President George Washington alerted us to the dangers of foreign entanglements. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the threat to democracy of the “military-industrial complex.”

This military-industrial complex consists of people. Those people have children and grandchildren to whom they want to leave a better world.

But a world where war shows its demonic face is not a better world.

Are human tragedies inevitable?

In health-related missions that I have conducted in more than 50 developing countries, I have seen the ugly face of widespread poverty and disease. And I have seen the terrible consequences of war and displacement in countries such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mozambique and Angola.

Are these tragedies inevitable? Is it possible that instead of exporting war, we could export technology, together with people such as teachers, artists, doctors and researchers to help create a better world?

I am convinced it is possible. Why not foster policies based on humane values? We need to replace the paradigm of confrontation for one of cooperation.

As the Pakistani physician and theater director Bina Shariff told me, “Colonizers don’t have a concern for other human beings, so they never think of improving people’s lives by a better health system, culture, education and nation-building. Those thoughts are far removed from their minds. They want to keep imperialism going and war is the permanent feeding tube.”

Savings from wars and investing in people

Policies should be developed for improving people’s lives worldwide. For instance, to combat poverty and disease in developing countries, provide them with low-priced agricultural machinery and fair-trade conditions.

Such policies could also include an exchange of artists, sports figures, and physicians and researchers with other countries. We need to step up contact among people.

We fear what we don’t know

Savings from war could fund a concerted effort to eliminate disease among the poorest of the poor.

Savings could strengthen research projects leading to better health and quality of life for everyone and conquering diseases such as Alzheimer’s, lung and heart disease and cancer, to name only a few.

Finding a cure for them sooner would have an enormous impact on people’s health and quality of life at equally enormous material savings.

Conclusion

We have the resources. What we need is a new look at life and its wondrous possibilities. I may be called naïve. But those who are not naïve are the ones that have led us into these wars. We can create a better world, if we truly want it.

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About César Chelala

César Chelala is a global health consultant and contributing editor for The Globalist. [New York, United States]

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