A political party's values are never more important than in a time of crisis. This week, President Trump's order to strike a Syrian air base with Tomahawk missiles is one such event.
The mask of empathy
On the face of it, the rationale offered by the administration, that it was punishment for Bashar al-Assad's recent use of chemical weapons, seems, at first, to be reasonable. It can be framed, as the president did in his speech to Americans, as an empathetic duty. No doubt, as witnessed in the corporate media, the message of empathy is one that resonates. It makes converts of many of the loudest Trump-haters.
What are the arguments against militarism?
But, what are the arguments against military attacks? From the Green Party point of view, what is the better solution to brutal dictators than "removing them" (a euphemism for killing)?
Green Party VP candidate, Ajamu Baraka, in a prescient article written earlier this week, recalled the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
Non-Violence, the better solution
Greens believe that the better solution to conflict is to resolve disputes by negotiation, economic pressure, nonviolent solidarity with the sufferers of injustice. We also recognize that military action as a response to conflict becomes the justifying cause of the next conflict. In other words, it is a cycle of violence in a continuum.
We reject imperialism. We oppose military options to conflicts. We look more closely and honestly at the causes of conflict as well as the injustices that form the bases of virtually all of them. Our solutions, then, are economic, legislative, and diplomatic. We seek to engage other governments and populations in exerting broad pressure on the purveyors of state violence and war.
There are many other challenges, not the least of which is our economy that thrives on weapon production, weapon sales, and weapon stockpiling. Another is the thirst we have for fossil fuels instead of weaning ourselves away from them, causing us to embrace states known to sponsor terrorism, such as oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
The unique value of the Green Party
One of the 10 Key Values of our party is Non-Violence. We say:
It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society's current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in danger. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.
Our commitment to peace through justice, rather than through conquest, sets us apart from the two major parties. It rejects the notion that military strength makes for moral superiority. This key value is integral to all the other values we hold. We choose peace over power.