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Are You There McMaster? It’s Me, the American People.

Words: Kate Kizer
Pictures: Pablo Heimplatz

H.R. McMaster, are you there?

It’s me, the American people. I know we don’t talk much, with US foreign policy being decided by a bunch of mostly older, white elites and all.

But I felt the need to speak up thanks to your recent comments about how millennial Americans think about the US role in the world. I know your life must be challenging these days after being ousted by a mercurial and childish president, and becoming chairman of a project at a think tank that’s calling for a new war in the Middle East. But let me clear some things up for you about why the majority of Americans — particularly those of us who are under 30 — are sick and tired of foreign military interventions.

Young Americans are war weary. But it has nothing to do with being brainwashed by a false media narrative. For eighteen years our country has been in a state of perpetual war around the world. The US has been at war for so long, we now ask young men, women, and nonbinary servicemembers to risk their lives in a war that was last voted on before they were born.

Young Americans are war weary. But it has nothing to do with being brainwashed by a false media narrative.

It’s not to say that we young people don’t care about foreign policy or the well being of other people. On the contrary, we care — particularly about helping protect the human rights of people around the world — more than many older Americans. We just don’t believe that protecting other people’s well being is best done at the barrel of a gun. Nor do we believe that wars of choice should take priority over more pressing policy priorities like the survival of humanity.

Over the past eighteen years, our military has bombed or fought in over a dozen countries with little public debate or transparency. These wars have cost thousands of American and countless civilian lives, and cost the American taxpayer $6 trillion and counting. Meanwhile, the influence and number of violent groups the US is targeting in this global war have only proliferated, while our own infrastructure is crumbling and thousands of Americans are dying due to lack of health care. Does that sound like a viable return on investment to you, Mr. McMaster? Does it sound like something the American people – whose representatives are supposed to decide whether, when, and where the United States goes to war – should remain silent on when it does not clearly benefit their own or the world’s well-being?

We’re properly weighing the costs of war, Mr. McMaster. On the contrary, it seems your own judgment is clouded.

You claimed the American people should view the war in Afghanistan – the longest running war in our country’s history – as an “insurance policy.” An insurance policy for whom? It’s certainly not an insurance policy for the Afghan people, when the United States and the Afghan government are killing more civilians than the Taliban. It’s certainly not an insurance policy for the US servicemembers and their families. It would seem that continuing to spend $45 billion dollars per year to wage war indefinitely in Afghanistan is only an insurance policy for the military-industrial-congressional complex that profits exponentially off American taxpayers.

We, the American people, are not too naive or scared to gauge whether or not the United States should stay at war around the world for years to come. No, it is our job, through our elected representatives, to decide if war is in our best interests. Eighteen years later, all available evidence has indicated we are spot on in our desire to question whether these wars make us safer.

If we follow your logic, Mr. McMaster, the United States — and more accurately, us “naive” young people — will forever be at war around the world to solve political problems, and you of all people should know how that ends.

Kate Kizer is the policy director at Win Without War, a national network of grassroots organizations working for progressive foreign policy in the United States. Follow her on Twitter @KateKizer.

Kate Kizer

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