Columnist Stanley Maron: Focus on negotiated peace settlements

  • U.S. military personnel work on board the damaged USS Fitzgerald at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

As residents of the United States, we wake up each morning to a reasonably safe environment and follow the course needed to assure our survival.

Unfortunately we weren’t given any specific details on how our course would play out with the exception of a statement by former president Dwight Eisenhower. In his farewell address upon leaving office in January 1961, he warned: “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Eisenhower then counseled American citizens to be vigilant in monitoring what he aptly named the “military-industrial complex.” However, the old general was not a dove. He went on in his address to say: “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

It’s now 56 years after the general’s wise words and an agonizing reappraisal is in order. What are we as a nation doing to ensure our goals so that security and liberty may prosper? Certainly not by producing twice as many armaments as the entire world combined. Certainly not having 900-plus US bases stationed around the world, not including NATO bases.

So the big question remains: How did we get to the quagmire we’re in and how do we get out? Certainly not by feeding a foreign policy addiction based on perpetual war and xenophobia. Nothing can or will change until the working people of our country reach a level of cohesiveness as a voting bloc to vote for politicians who will work in the interest of working people and not billionaires.

In order to ensure a better future, we must learn from our mistakes and understand how and why we have been consistently duped by a majority of politicians who have learned the art of raising big bucks for their campaigns by peddling fear, hatred and hostility. This has proven good for the offshore banking industry, but little help for the working people and it’s got to stop.

Every aspect of our quality of life is suffering, from education to health care, unemployment, veterans with PTSD, lack of affordable housing and much more.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The perpetual greasing of the killing machines of war must stop. Negotiations must become the order of the day.

Nothing was gained from the Korean or Vietnam wars. The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war we have ever fought and no military solution seems to be working. In fact, U.S. foreign policy that propagates so many wars around the world has given rise to the growth of terrorism. We are presently involved in far too much militarism with no end in sight.

It is time for we the people to push our leaders to work seriously toward a solid program of negotiated peace settlements. The flower of our youth must not be sacrificed to war profiteers.

Stanley Maron, of Northampton, is a Korea-era veteran, member of Veterans for Peace, retired from New York City homeless services department, and author of “New York Hustle: School Rooms, Pool Rooms & Street Corners.”