by Tony Magliano

Consider these insightful words from one of America’s most moral voices: “We must find an alternative to war and bloodshed.” The war we are fighting “has strengthened the military-industrial complex … and put us in the position of protecting a corrupt regime that is stacked against the poor.” This war “has played havoc with our domestic destinies. … It has put us in a position of appearing to the world as an arrogant nation. … The judgment of God is upon us today.”

These words spoken by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. concerning the Vietnam War could just as easily be spoken about America’s 10-year violent involvement in Afghanistan – America’s longest war!

Yes, indeed, like the Vietnam War, the armed conflict in Afghanistan – not to mention the wars in Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and God and the CIA only knows where else – “has strengthened the military-industrial complex” once again. Weapon producing corporations like Boeing, Martin Marietta, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics are reaping huge wartime profits at the expense of the poor and war-torn.

Just as the American government supported the corrupt Diem administration during the Vietnam War, the U.S. now supports the corruption plagued Karzai administration in Kabul, which is not very interested in helping Afghanistan’s poor.

Like Vietnam, the war in Afghanistan “has played havoc with our domestic destinies.” According to the National Priorities Project, during the 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan, the Bush and Obama administrations, along with a very willing Congress, have spent over $456 billion – so far.

And what good has it accomplished? Honestly, very little. Instead great harm has been done – over 1,775 American troops lost, hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghanis killed, their nation bombed into prehistoric times and the U.S. economy is in the tank.

And throughout it all, Washington’s politicians have showered corporations and the rich with huge tax breaks while threatening the poor, working class and old, and are doing little to help the 14 million unemployed Americans. Many thousands of teachers, police officers and firefighters have already been laid off, and if the American people let them have their way, Congress and the Obama administration will cut essential programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

As Rev. King said during the Vietnam War, the same holds true today: most of the world views the United States “as an arrogant nation.” The world’s people overwhelmingly believe the use of America’s military might is a major cause of international instability, and a huge obstacle to peace.

Over 40 years ago, King warned Americans: “The judgment of God is upon us today.” And a few years before King’s warning, the world’s Catholic bishops, during the Second Vatican Council, issued a similar warning. They urgently proclaimed, “The men of our time must realize that they will have to give a somber reckoning for their deeds of war. For the course of the future will depend largely on the decisions they make today.”

In the prophetic words of Rev. Martin Luther King, “We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence, or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

Tony Magliano is a columnist whose work appears in diocesan papers throughout the United States. If your diocesan paper does not carry his column, we encourage you to call them and request that they do.

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