In opposition of perpetual war

Send a message to lawmakers that we no longer want to pay with our children's blood for wars in the Middle East
By The Courier-Gazette Editorial Board | Jan 09, 2020

It is simplistic to paint President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate a top Iranian general as a matter of the good guys killing a bad guy.

There are “bad guys” all over the world. We ally ourselves with Saudi Arabia. We restrain ourselves from carrying out drone assassinations in North Korea and Russia and any number of countries with terrible human rights records.

In this case, however, President Trump has made a unilateral decision to take our nation to war with Iran.

Since he has taken office, the president has put increased economic pressure and used threats of force to escalate tensions between the two nations.

Previously, we had the nuclear deal. This was an admittedly imperfect instrument, but it prevented war. The nuclear deal was an agreement that involved not only the US and Iran, but the UK, France, Russia, China, Germany and the EU, all of whom want to maintain it.

President Trump’s philosophy of foreign policy in terms of Iran has been to apply “maximum pressure,” pulling out of the nuclear deal and imposing sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy.

Iran is likely to respond to this attack with violence against Americans working in the Middle East, and it is already being reported that Iran is resuming its work toward obtaining atomic and/or nuclear weapons.

Both factors are likely to prompt war between Iran and the US and/or Iran and Israel.

It may already be too late to pump the brakes and avoid catastrophe, but we urge our leaders in Washington to do what they can to seek diplomacy rather than military aggression in the Middle East. To commit to war with Iran will likely mean the loss of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. Escalated war in the Middle East will destabilize the region further, and has the potential to lead to a humanitarian crisis.

It is well past time lawmakers made it increasingly difficult for presidents to unilaterally commit us to war.

“If there is a lesson to be learned in Baghdad, it is that useless suffering is not a byproduct of war but the essential nature of the thing,” wrote Sam Thielman in an editorial on NBC.com.

“Violence begets violence, and however noble the reason for invasion, bombing or Reaper drone strike, the effect will be ruinous: destroyed infrastructure, economic devastation, graft, corruption and chaos. And, reliably, the people who suffer the most will be small children, old people and the very poor.”

President Trump’s threats to attack 52 sites in Iran based on the number of hostages held in 1979 and his threats to attack culturally significant sites is outrageous. Threats like this help unite enemies against us. What would be our response to a nation threatening to destroy our cultural heritage in a military campaign? What could do more to rally people to a cause?

We have had nearly two decades of war in the Middle East, and the cost has been paid in national treasure and in the loss of our sons and daughters.

The only benefit we see to war with Iran would only be to President Trump, in that it would help distract us from his impeachment proceedings and allow him to campaign as a wartime president.

We believe the cost of war is too high, especially when there were diplomatic solutions on the table.

We must demand reductions in toxic emissions

Our front-page report this week on the number of toxins released in Knox County alone is sobering.

According to an EPA report, 44,530 pounds of toxic chemicals were emitted into the air during 2018 in Knox County. That is the most since 2007 when 50,673 pounds were released.

The amount released in Knox County reached a low of 13,166 pounds in 2010. They peaked in the late 1980s when the amount exceeded 100,000 pounds.

These chemicals include styrene, ammonia, lead, and mercury.

What is at stake? Our health and that of our loved ones for one thing. The big picture health of our planet is another important consideration.

Some of our local community governments, including Rockland and Camden, have shown their commitment to the environment. Locals are using re-usable bags at the grocery store. The city recently hired a sustainability coordinator in a move that was somewhat controversial.

However, we need to demand more from our government in terms of protection from environmental devastation.

The recent movie, “Dark Waters,” helps highlight the problem. It deals with DuPont's poisoning of water supplies in West Virginia and how it took about 20 years for justice to be served.

It shows that citizens cannot rely on the government to protect us. Many of the existing regulations setting the "safe" limits on various toxins are shaped by industry lobbyists.

If you are concerned about these issues, raise your voice and encourage local lawmakers to create stronger legislation. Vote for candidates who are strong on environmental issues in November.

We can do better.

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