U.S. Secretary of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1400
Re: The War Budget Generally & Specifically the Sending of My Student to Afghanistan
Dear Mr. Gates,
I write to you as a former high-school teacher, a person of faith, and a citizen concerned for marginalized communities and our national values. The current debate about funding and sending more troops to Afghanistan misses the point in that it frames the choice as between Iraq and Afghanistan. War is not inevitable; conflict is. War is not a viable long-term solution to conflict – it has never brought about real peace in any circumstance, unless it was the stillness of a cemetery. General Barry McCaffrey himself has said, “We can’t shoot our way out of Afghanistan;” this is not solely limited to Afghanistan but applies to war in general.
In a time of rebuilding after a worldwide economic crisis, Dr. King’s words ring louder than ever: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” The trillions of dollars funding the killing of other human beings overseas would be better served in feeding hungry children, funding small business, investing in schools, and enabling social welfare programs which have been gutted recently by many state and federal budgets.
One of my former students, Tony, is leaving for Afghanistan this week because of your orders. He was one of the most intelligent and promising students I had the pleasure to work with as a high-school English teacher at Rivera High School in Brownsville, Texas. Tony plans to one day attend law school and give back to his community. Tony joined the military to fund his higher education.
While he will be in my daily prayers, I owe more to my student than that. I am writing to you in hopes that you will reconsider all our current wars and pursue peace-building, civil solutions with all parties involved. I close with another quote from Dr. King: “I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor . . . I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop must be ours.”
Please take the initiative to end our current military engagements, for Tony, for me, for our nation, for the world.