Peter Myers for Congress

I'm Peter Myers, the Green Party candidate for the 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Congress. On this blog, you can read about the campaign and the issues, and offer me feedback as well. I hope you enjoy reading the blog, and I hope you'll join the campaign for change.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why are we there?

According to reports, last Friday's U.S. airstrikes killed 90 Afghan civilians, including 60 children. This raises the fundamental question: What are we doing in Afghanistan?

As little as a year ago, I saw Iraq as an immoral war and Afghanistan as a just reaction to the attacks of September 11. The more I have thought about and researched the Afghanistan war, however, the more I doubt the reasons behind it. Considering that the sole declared purpose of invading Afghanistan was to capture Osama Bin Laden, and he is now widely considered to be in Pakistan, one question remains: Why are we in Afghanistan?

If the goal had been to capture just Osama Bin Laden, a full-scale invasion that through the country into disorder and disarray seems to be the worst possible way to find him. Muddying the water prevents you from seeing the bottom of the well, and it makes it impossible to draw good water. The best action would have been to covertly capture Osama Bin Laden and bring him back for trial in America for the crime that he committed in our country.

Afghanistan did not need another war. It had still not recovered from its invasion by the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s (during which the United States funded the mujihadeen that would later enforce the Taliban's rule). Instead of helping recovery, the U.S. invasion has plunged Afghanistan into a new seven years of despair and chaos, with no end in sight.

My issue, as always, is never with the American soldiers in Afghanistan, who have done their best with the mission they've been given. I am disappointed in our national leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, who feel that the only way to solve any situation is by plunging an impoverished country into war and destruction. I have not yet had a chance to read it, but Greg Mortenson's book, Three Cups of Tea, gives me hope that there are individual Americans who understand how to help a country like Afghanistan. Mortenson has spent 12 years so far building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the 55 schools that he has erected are a miracle in their communities. Because of these schools, children will choose facts and education over fundamentalism; children will see a friend in the United States of America, and upcoming generations in the Middle East will look to the United States as a source of kindness and development, not warmongers.

There seem to be two approaches to the Middle East these days. The Democrats and Republicans see military force as their greatest chance for making change. The Green Party and people like Greg Mortenson know that only friendship, not bombs, can create peace, development, and understanding.

Wouldn't it be the ultimate tragedy if the 60 Afghan children who were killed in U.S. air strikes on Friday were students at one of Mortenson's schools? It would be a perfect symbol for how policy-makers in Washington are ruining the possibility for progress in Afghanistan.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Retired Army Colonel: "Our biggest problems are within"

I recently came across this Bill Moyers interview with Andrew J. Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who served in both Vietnam and the first Gulf War. Bacevich was also a professor of mine at Boston University, and helped me understand how militarism has grown to consume so much of American life.

The entire interview transcript is worth reading, but if you read only part, this is what grabs me as most important:

The most obvious, the blindingly obviously question, is energy. It's oil. I think historians a hundred years from now will puzzle over how it could be that the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the world, as far back as the early 1970s, came to recognize that dependence on foreign oil was a problem, posed a threat, comprised our freedom of action.

How every President from Richard Nixon down to the present one, President Bush, declared, "We're gonna fix this problem." None of them did. And the reason we are in Iraq today is because the Persian Gulf is at the center of the world's oil reserves. I don't mean that we invaded Iraq on behalf of big oil, but the Persian Gulf region would have zero strategic significance, were it not for the fact that that's where the oil is.

Back in 1980, I think, President Carter, in many respects when he declared the Carter Doctrine, and said that henceforth, the Persian Gulf had enormous strategic significance to the United States and the United States is not going to permit any other country to control that region of the world.

And that set in motion a set of actions that has produced the militarization of U.S. policy, ever deeper U.S. military involvement in the region, and in essence, has postponed that day of reckoning when we need to understand the imperative of having an energy policy, and trying to restore some semblance of energy independence.

Because of our energy policy, we are unable to think rationally when it comes to the Middle East. The United States has repeatedly had to put our stake in with the likes of Pervez Musharraf and Ahmad Chalabi, not to mention, of course, the decade in which we provided military aid to Saddam Hussein. Without Americans rethinking our lifestyles, we will continue to create wars in order to provide enough material goods for those lifestyles.

Running as a Green candidate has caused me to look in the mirror about my own activities. I walk to the grocery store. I bike the five miles to my job nearly every day. I run the dishwasher sparingly, if I don't wash the dishes by hand. I don't list these things as a way of showing off, because there is much more that I can do to improve my consumption. I am offering myself up as an example of little things that one can do to make a big change. Because I bike, I'm not only healthier, but I also get a good laugh as I bike by a gas station, and I spend less than $50 a month on gas.

To live Green is to be responsible for your actions and your impact on the world around you. It is a less wasteful way to live, and as the saying goes, "Waste not, want not." If we as a nation can teach ourselves to want less, to be responsible for our actions, then our wants will not expand into the Middle East.

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