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Military Veterans Applaud President’s Appeal to Stop the Hate and
Call on President to Strike Out in a New Direction of Diplomacy and Peace Making

St. Louis, MO. Sunday night President Obama outlined his plan to deal with ISIL and called for an end to fear mongering and cultivating hate here in the U.S. He called on us to reject discrimination and proposals that Muslim Americans should be treated differently.

Veterans For Peace applauds the President’s appeal to the better nature of our humanity and his call to live up to our nation’s values of recognizing human dignity. We agree that, “… no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal…”

The President laid out a four-point strategy to confront ISIL.

1. Hunt down plotters in any country where it is necessary.

2. Train forces in the region to take away safe havens and deploy Special Operation Forces to assist with this effort.

3. Cut off financing, disrupt terrorist plots and prevent ISIL from recruiting more fighters. The U.S. is cooperating with Muslim-majority countries — and with Muslim communities in the U.S. — to counter the vicious ideology that ISIL promotes online.

4. Diplomacy with the international community to establish a process and timeline to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the war in Syria.

Most of this is nothing new. For the past 14 years in Afghanistan and Iraq, both President Obama and Bush have told the public that the U.S. military is engaging the enemy in all aspects of operations and forces are being trained on the ground from the local population. Diplomacy is the newest point of the strategy. It is disappointing, but not a surprise that it was last on the list.

Veterans For Peace calls on the President to:

  • Make diplomacy the number one priority with all interested parties and without pre-conditions.
  • Stop the airstrikes because the Sunni leaders and militia, who President Obama acknowledges must be persuaded to break with ISIL, see the U.S. as acting as the air force for the Kurds and Shia against Sunnis. Bombing Sunnis will not help mend this relationship.
  • Stop the slippery slope of sending troops to the fight.
  • Stop sending more weapons that fuel the conflict, killing more civilians and ignoring human rights violations committed by “allies.”
  • Initiate a new effort at building a broad diplomatic solution in the United Nations to use diplomatic and financial pressure to stop countries from financing and arming ISIL and other fighters in Syria. An arms embargo on all sides should be on the long-term agenda.
  • Massively increase humanitarian efforts through the UN and any other means. The United States should welcome more refugees from Syria and other war torn nations, and should donate generously to United Nations refugee resettlement programs.

The president mentioned diplomatic efforts and working with Russia, a key ally of Syria. Russia’s help can go a long way in developing a political solution to end the war in Syria and Russian opposition will make a settlement impossible. Yet Washington is engaging in activities that will make working with Russia very difficult. Just last week Montenegro, once in the Eastern Bloc as part of Yugoslavia, was invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO. The U.S. is the most powerful member of NATO. The invitation would not have happened without U.S. agreement. Russia has reacted negatively to this invitation as it sees the incorporation of Montenegro and many other former Eastern Bloc countries into NATO as an attempt to isolate Russia. True or not, this belief by Russia is also central to tensions between Russia and the U.S. in the Ukraine. Russia has pledged that there will be consequences for a Montenegro integration into NATO. Further, the U.S. insists that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not have a role in the future of Syria. But Russia sees Syria as a strategic ally in the region and al-Assad as a partner. They want a government that is friendly to them. At least at this point, ousting Assad is not in the interests of Russia. The road to diplomacy in Syria is made nearly impossible by these unnecessary frictions with Russia. The U.S. and its Western allies must stop antagonizing Russia and find ways to work together to address common threats.

Today the most important concern for the U.S. in the region is to end the conflict in Syria and stop the refugee crisis. ISIL and al Qaeda remain the top threat to the security of the average person in the region. More Muslims have been killed in the Middle East by ISIL and insurgent violence than non-Muslims in Western nations. The Obama administration’s insistence on putting other strategic objectives above ending the violence in the region will prolong the wars and ensure more innocent people die in Western coalition bombing campaigns, and at the hands of ISIL and al Qaeda. This will guarantee “radicalization” of more people creating more and more enemies and potential terrorists here in the U.S. and throughout Europe. This is exactly the game plan ISIL wants the U.S. and its allies to follow. Washington and other power centers are showing us that the best interests of everyday people take second seat to the pursuit of power and their narrow interests. The lives of service members and civilians mean nothing in pursuit of their goals. We call on all Americans and people around the world to reject war and hate and to demand our leaders find political solutions through diplomacy and drying up the weapons and material to wage war. In the U.S., we must do all we can to counter racism, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hysteria, and to make refugees welcome in our communities.

Peaceful solutions are possible, but only if we utilize peaceful means.

* Veterans For Peace is a 30-year-old U.S. based nonprofit educational organization with chapters in over 100 US cities and several international chapters. VFP members include veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as non-veteran allies. The mission of Veterans For Peace is to abolish war as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy.

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