10th anniversary of U.S. war in Afghanistan: make jobs not war

Pat McCaughan writing in The Episcopal News of the Diocese of Los Angeles reports on an interfaith rally on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan:

Singing “we shall overcome,” the Rev. Canon George Regas and more than a dozen other anti-war protestors were arrested Oct. 7 in front of the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles after rallying against the war in Afghanistan.

The rally — to draw attention to the tenth anniversary of the war — drew a multi-ethnic interfaith crowd of several hundred. Included among the protestors were Hollywood actors Mike Farrell (MASH) and Mimi Kennedy (Dharma & Greg), along with supporters from the Occupy Los Angeles tent city a few blocks away and a surprise visit from Princeton University Professor Cornel West and radio and television personality Tavis Smiley.

Regas, rector emeritus of All Saints, Pasadena, and other clergy and faith leaders in vestments led the group, praying, chanting and singing, from La Placita past Los Angeles City Hall. He and others called for an end to the war and for the government to create jobs and to assist the poor.

Noting that the Afghanistan war is the longest running conflict in U.S. history, accounting for the deaths of more than 1,700 soldiers, Regas said: “War versus jobs is a concept that really resonates with the American public.

“We just want to hold up the concept that America must choose between a life of for all of its people, jobs for people, health care for people, taking care of the poor and the children as a priority — that has a greater claim on us than the perpetuation of America as using war as the primary instrument of a national policy.

“America is waking up to the fact that the enormous war machine trying to have dominance across the globe is a very costly reality as the country struggles to take care of the children and the poor and the unemployed. We want to do everything we can to nurture that growing dream of a country that puts the life of its people and the health and wellbeing and education of all its people above the use of instrument of war to accomplish whatever it is that we’re trying to accomplish with our militarism.”

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell reflects on the war as a mother of an Army veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

… we went to war. In Afghanistan. And then in Iraq. And if you’d told me on October 7, 2001 that ten years later we’d still be at war and I’d be the mother of an Army veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan deployments … well, I’m not sure I’d have believed you. And yet here we are: us as a nation and me as a mom.

Ten years of war that’s been fought without declaration and off the budget on what some have called “an imaginary credit card” — destroying not only lives (American, Afghani and Iraqi) but economies . You can find a variety of numbers in different places but according to the Center for Defense Information, the estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $1.29 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2011.

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