Women for Genuine Security Statement on Syria and Militarisms

September 11, 2013
Women for Genuine Security works toward the creation of a society free of militarism, violence, and all forms of exploitation. We affirm the safety, well-being, and long-term sustainability of all peoples. We advocate for nonviolent solutions to the violence in Syria. We believe that violence begets more violence, and that alternatives are urgently needed. Despite the push by the Obama administration to use military force to secure peace in the region as an ultimatum should peace talks not work, we stand with the larger U.S. public who opposes military intervention. We believe that non-violent solutions are not an alternative, but rather, the decisive way to encourage international peace.
As the U.S. government contemplates military intervention,[1] we remember the dire consequences of past Cold War interventions. For example, U.S. militarization of Korea has led to the division (and ongoing war) between the two Koreas where families remain separated. Today, farmers in Pyongtaek are displaced as Camp Humphreys expands, and Jeju island hosts new military facilities. Although the Korean War is thought of as the “forgotten war” by the United States, the Koreans do not forget how this reality haunts the Korean peninsula and diasporas. Displacement trauma is passed on generationally. The movement for redress for the chongshindae (Korean sex slaves) during WWII and ongoing sexualization of Korean women by the U.S. military is a continuing legacy. The Vietnam War had far-reaching consequences with the displacement of Vietnamese, Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, and Lu Mien peoples.
As U.S. leaders condemn chemical warfare, they ignore U.S. use of Agent Orange[2] and napalm during the Vietnam War, or the use of white phosphorous in Iraq,[3] which is known to melt the human skin to the bone. While President Obama, Secretary Kerry and other promoters of the military attack on Syria denounce the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a humanitarian crisis, we remember that the U.S. is one of five countries that have officially declared owning stockpiles of chemical weapons. 6.2 million Syrian people have been displaced by war since 2011 (two million displaced outside the borders of Syria, including one million children).[4] While we oppose the use of chemical weapons against civilians as a violation of human rights, these U.S. politicians are hypocritically masquerading how they instigate war, and do little to address the consequences of war, such as the current Syrian refugee crisis.
The United States has been in a perpetual state of war since WWII. We call for an intervention in the U.S. government’s own security policies! As the U.S. political leadership moves to “rescue” Syria, women’s and children’s experiences and voices are glaringly absent from international dialogues. What do those most marginalized recommend? How would they be impacted by military intervention? Second, these debates on a proposed military attack on Syria have distracted us from more important issues such as the U.S. budget crisis and cuts in expenditures on essential needs such as education and welfare, as well as the National Security Agency’s extensive spying, domestically and internationally.
War and militarism carry long-term costs: loss of life, environmental contamination, militarization of daily life and culture. Bloated military budgets rob many people of needed support and services. Systems of militarism have disenfranchised indigenous peoples around the world, as in Hawai’i, Guam, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Okinawa.  Military build-up, contamination, and violations of civil and human rights continue as the U.S. “Pivots” to the Asia-Pacific region. We must end perpetual warfare that relies on military “solutions.”
We urge our representatives in Congress to
  • Imagine nonviolent actions. Genuine security does not come from further violence and militarization, but from building sustainable communities – locally, nationally, and internationally.  We endorse many U.S. organizations that advocate diplomacy and humanitarian aid in Syria, with the inclusion of ordinary people, especially women, in all discussions and actions.
  • Resist and critique U.S. perceptions of its exceptionalism.  The U.S. is one member of the world community and has endorsed the UN charter. Yet, there is an assumption on the part of the U.S. government and too many people in this country that “no matter that others disagree, the United States alone has the duty to act as it sees fit.”[5]
  • Build alternatives towards a demilitarized future. Current political debates about Syria are not critically engaging with militarisms, but rather, the politics of in-action / action.  The U.S. mustaddress its ingrained systems of military recruitment and military interventions. Women for Genuine Security and our allies locally and internationally work withcounter-recruitment campaigns to help build alternatives to a militarized future.  Our young people need investment, resources, meaningful activities and work, and opportunities to contribute and take leadership in their communities, not military recruitment and a future of perpetual war.
Diana Cabcabin
Ellen-Rae Cachola
Annie Isabel Fukushima
Michiko Hase
Eriko Ikehara
Gwyn Kirk
Deborah Lee
Ayano Ginoza
Taeva Schefler
Partners of Women for Genuine Security, USA

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