, Salem, MA

May 27, 2013

Letter: A plan to prevent war

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

It is both fitting and traditional to observe Memorial Day by saluting those who have served, with particular attention to those who gave “the last full measure of devotion.”

Perhaps it is time to honor them more fully and more meaningfully by enacting legislation that would put American troops in peril only when the nation is in peril; or at least make our foreign policy more like that of John Adams and less like that of John Wayne.

We have a society now that is happy to put ribbon decals on their cars, “support the troops,” etc. but which thinks it pays no price for militarism. We have a military-industrial complex that colludes with Congress to make obscene profits from warfare. Most Americans have no “skin in the game.” Young people with a very narrow range of life choices often fight these wars. In our recent wars, as in all those following World War II, very few sons or daughters of members of the Senate and House of Representatives have seen combat duty.

Given these facts, I propose an act of Congress that I would call the Prevention of War Act (POW for short).

This act would have three essential sections that I believe would make us far less likely to go seeking out “evildoers,” using military might to open and enforce markets and getting ourselves into messes from which extrication is nearly impossible. Thus the Prevention of War Act (POW):

1. A War Tax will be enacted whereby every cent spent on combat operations will be paid for in the following tax year by a direct tax on all Americans to pay off that year’s combat bills. There will be no deductions. The nuclear families of combat troops will pay no taxes while a loved one is in combat.

2. All businesses making, selling or distributing war materials and war-support materials used during said period of combat shall do so at no profit. It shall be their patriotic duty to do so. Ditto for “security” companies such as Blackwater or whatever its current name is.

3. Upon the onset of hostilities a draft shall be immediately implemented. First on the list of draft eligible citizens shall be age-eligible (18-35) members of the nuclear families of members of Congress, including said members of Congress. There shall be no exemptions.

Pie in the sky? Of course, unfortunately. Why would it work? Because it would hit Americans in the pocket, eliminate war profiteering and make members of Congress think really hard. We could honor our fallen troops by making it very likely that there would be far fewer of them. But why would we want to do that?

Brendan Walsh