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Reviews | Weaning the State Department from War

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Other than being an ancillary reinforcement to the Pentagon’s military operations abroad and bolstering its vulnerable embassies, what else does the US State Department stand for and do?

Sometimes it’s hard to see much difference from the much larger Department of Defense (DOD). His more belligerent statements or threats since the days of Bill and Hillary Clinton have made the DOD almost wary.

Recall that it was the Secretary of State, “Generalissimo” Hillary Clinton, under Obama, who, against the opposition of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, urged the President in 2011 to illegally overthrow the Libyan regime, triggering the Chaos, violence and mayhem in Libya and in neighboring African nations still prevails today. (Obama later said that was his biggest foreign policy regret.)

The founders of our country created the Department of State in 1789 to conduct diplomacy (plus consular functions). Its charter explicitly states that its function is to have peaceful relations with other nations.

We now have Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who comes from the Hillary Clinton school of routine, unconstitutional and illegal adventures abroad. It ignores arms control treaties, especially with Russia, that have expired, are about to expire, or are being violated by both Russia and the United States and other nations such as the Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT).

Then there are the treaties signed by 100 or more countries for which the US State Department barely made a move for ratification by the Senate. These include the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the International Criminal Court, the Landmine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Convention on the Rights of the child.

Making peace and resolving conflict should be the primary mission of the State Department. There’s plenty of legacy work for Antony Blinken and a revived Foreign Service Corps to fully commit to. Mr. Blinken could push aggressively for a “ceasefire,” for example, as in the case of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In 2019, former President Jimmy Carter called the United States “the most warlike nation in the history of the world”, adding that only 16 of our country’s 242 years have been times of peace.

Washington and its “military-industrial complex” (in the words of President Eisenhower) have set records by overthrowing duly elected foreign governments and supporting right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, Africa and Asia, as long as ‘they obey us and our societies. (See: War is a Racketeer by General Smedley D. Butler, 1935).

Against this militaristic mania, you might want to know about the Veterans for Peace (VFP) organization of which I am a member. VFP is embraced by veterans of all our wars since WWII. Its members have written, spoken, picketed, and pursued nonviolent disobedience against the recent wars of the American Empire. VFP highlighted the immense harm caused to millions of innocent victims in these countries, denouncing the injuries and illnesses of returning American soldiers. VFP advocates for robust peace missions and enforceable arms control treaties.

I found VFP’s short report on the links between militarism, environmental destruction and climate violence particularly noteworthy. (See, VeteransforPeace.org: https://www.veteransforpeace.org/).

Veterans for Peace challenges the proliferating impact of militarism and the vast, inflated, unauditable military spending in our political economy, culture, and educational institutions.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Garett Reppenhagen, VFP plans a major expansion of its business. Membership is open to non-veterans and they welcome donations. In particular, very wealthy seniors who are looking for a universal cause to recognize might envision what a new future of peace and social justice looks like for our posterity. They can call Mr. Reppenhagen at 314-899-4514 / [email protected]veteransforpeace.org.

Maybe the State Department can arrange a reunion with Veterans for Peace to remember its original mission.