There are many reasons for opposing the wars that we are now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For me, my commitment to following the Prince of Peace is inconsistent with embracing violence of any kind. (Which isn’t to say that I’m not ever violent. Non-violence is a much higher goal than simply rejecting physical aggression.)
However, I know that not everyone shares my commitment to Jesus, and among those that do, not everyone embraces his call to peace. And that is why I’ve thought it useful to consider other ways of framing my opposition to war – ways that would resonate with the broader population.
Let’s talk about priorities.
More specifically, let’s discuss how we spend our money. Since 2001, we’ve spent nearly $1 trillion (with a ‘TR’, not a ‘B’ or a ‘M’) on the costs of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. I don’t believe anyone can make an argument that fighting two wars halfway around the world was the best use of that money.
What could your state have done with $20 billion dollars? Education? Infrastructure? Renewable energy? Health care, anyone?
You may wish to argue about the security of our country. Fine. I happen to believe that we’re less secure now than we were before. However, even if we are more secure than in August of 2001, I’d like suggest that there were even better ways of improving our security…
Instead of giving $20 billion to each state in our country, we’ll give $10 billion to each state. Then we’ll take the remaining $500 billion and make it available in the form of competitive grants to countries with significant Muslim populations. Use it for improving the health of your people. Use it for educating women. Use it for building roads. Use it for agriculture. But use it carefully, because continued funding is dependent on wise use of the funds. And if the funds aren’t used wisely, there are many other countries who would like a share.
Imagine the possibilities. And if you have trouble with this idea because it sounds like a handout, think of it instead as purchasing goodwill in the global marketplace. Think about how the competitive nature of the project would minimize waste. (It’s not as if there isn’t wastefulness already.) I can’t help but think that we’d receive more security in return for our money than we’re getting now.
So let’s reframe this debate as one about priorities. There are better ways to spend money.
For more ideas, visit the National Priorities Project.