By Mary Susannah Robbins
In 1966, I was visiting Vietnam with the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and witnessed the bombing of Hanoi. I barely escaped with my life. The people there asked me to go back and tell the people of the United States about what I had seen in Vietnam and to ask them to stop bombing their country.
Forty-two years later, the United States is bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in more unwinnable wars, destroying the countries this country wants to conquer.
The Obama team has its work cut out for itself.
Obama must withdraw American troops from Iraq, troops not even armed for the job they set out to do. There are fewer deaths in the Army than there have been in the past and more injuries: brain damage, spinal injuries, loss of limbs, as well as post-traumatic stress syndrome; the Veterans Administration cannot deal with the number of returned soldiers needing care.
The U.S. government is spending billions of dollars on military ventures oversees while the United States itself and therefore most of the world is experiencing an economic depression on a scale never known before.
Global warming and the environment must be brought under control, and this is the second task Obama’s presidency must undertake. There is no time to lose. Obama is committed to putting people to work repairing the infrastructure of this country with bridges, roads, schools, and committed to putting the country to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to solve these problems, along with the increasing unemployment in America.
He should also create an agency that will do these things abroad in countries like Iraq, where the U.S. has destroyed the infrastructure.
All these projects will be essential if the planet is to survive; time is of the essence. If we can stop destroying the planet by war and waste and start rebuilding our country, our economies, our educational systems, and the lives of the people—instead of putting all our country’s money into trying to win unwinnable military battles—we may win the ultimate for peace and prosperity.
The alternative is unthinkable.
Mary Susannah Robbins is the author of Against the Vietnam War: Writings By Activists, Peace Not Terror: Leaders of the Antiwar Movement Speak Out Against U.S. Foreign Policy Post 9/11, and Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: A Memoir of the Sixties and Beyond.