Kang: An anti-war movement is more urgent now than ever
April 21, 2017
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Recently the threat of war has, like an ominous storm cloud, smothered us with fear. The war machine that we have seen ravage other countries like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has only grown with the Trump administration’s foreign policy. In the last couple of weeks, we have seen President Donald Trump order missile strikes on a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical attack, heightening tensions not only with Syria but also with its allies in Russia and Iran. And if this wasn’t already bad enough, the Trump administration has been beating the drums of war in the Korean Peninsula, threatening military action against the North Korean government’s nuclear weapons testing program.
Though these regimes may have questionable policies, it is important to remember that American warmongering can never solve other countries’ problems. The time has come to build an effective, comprehensive and working anti-war movement both throughout Northwestern’s campus and the entire country. The threat of war is something that concerns me not only because of how many innocent lives would suffer, but also because it directly endangers the people in my own life. Many Korean students take two years off school for mandatory military service in South Korea. A Korean war would send them directly to the front lines and put them in serious danger. As a second generation Korean American, I know much of my family will be put in immediate danger if major cities and towns turn into battlefields. Though I don’t live in Korea myself, it is the land my parents grew up in and the nation whose culture and language are central to my life, and as of late I am concerned for its safety.
Contrary to what politicians and media may say, American intervention is hardly positive. We are often told that the U.S. military was sent abroad to another country — which most Americans can’t even point to on a map — for “humanitarian reasons,” or to play the role of the world police. We see images of starving North Korean children, putting fear into the hearts of American citizens and a desire to “liberate” the North Koreans, but we brokered the deal with the Soviet Union that divided the Korean Peninsula in the first place.
Throwing bombs at a problem never solves anything. It has only created more resentment, conflict and destruction abroad, not to mention the great irony behind U.S. criticisms of other regimes despite our own countless problems. While we chastise authoritarian regimes for brutalizing ethnic minorities in their countries, our police beats and murders black and brown people constantly. While we criticize countries like Russia or Saudi Arabia for disenfranchising queer people, we have queer, undocumented people in detention centers and people in prison fearing abuse. Many say we are at the brink of direct conflict with North Korea over a nuclear weapons program, but we are the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons in war. Our saber-rattling not only expands the profits of corporations and politicians, but it also distracts from issues here. Historically, these military interventions have disproportionately caused people of lower socioeconomic status and people of color in America to go abroad and fight innocent people.
That being said, some may question what to do with threats of global war looming over us. I think that there is only one thing we can do: Get organized. Part of why Americans lost the Vietnam War was because people, especially disenfranchised people of color, realized that this war was not in their interests and organized against it. We need to start doing this now. Start talking to your friends, colleagues, partners and families. Start organizing around the banner of anti-imperialism and anti-war in your spaces. We must create an effective anti-war movement throughout the U.S. that is not only able to mobilize and protest quickly, but disrupt the war machine through civil disobedience and direct action. This is our only hope of survival, and the best we can do to stand in solidarity with all other oppressed peoples.
One possible way to set up the foundation of an anti-war movement on campus is by forming an organization adamantly opposed to war and the hawkish stances held by people in power. Another method would be to set up a coalition of various activist and cultural organizations to organize the campus against war. But frankly, one of the most important things I think is key to building an anti-war movement is dialogue. Talk to the people around you, and you would be surprised how many people find common ground with you. Make the idea of anti-war resistance an idea that crosses everyone’s minds. Whatever we do, we have to act and we have to act now.
William Kang is a Medill freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.