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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/14/18

Ilhan Omar for Peace

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Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar
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Ilhan Omar is the second person this year to win a Democratic Party nomination for Congress in a Democratic Party district with a platform advocating peace in a way not seen inside the Beltway. The first was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York City, whose advocacy for peace I wrote about. Ilhan Omar has just won the nomination from Minnesota's Fifth District.

I am making zero predictions as to whether having peace on a campaign website will, in the case of Ocasio-Cortez or the case of Ilhan Omar, translate into serious advocacy and action for peace in office. I'm well aware that our choices for Congress are usually either lifelong mediocrities or promising candidates who immediately become dedicated mediocrities. Omar's predecessor in that seat, after all, is Keith Ellison, who wanted to impeach George W. Bush until the very moment he was elected and became Captain Humanitarian Wars. I'm also aware that any good cause in Congress would require a couple of hundred Congress members, not two.

But the evidence is overwhelming that you are more likely to get decent behavior out of someone who campaigned on it than someone who did not. Almost nobody now in or running for Congress has ever campaigned on the sort of platform put forward by Ocasio-Cortez or Omar. The two of them ought to hear our support and encouragement, our preferences for where they put emphasis. And other candidates ought to see that support every time they raise their eyes from their donor call lists.

Here's Ilhan Omar's platform:

Promote Peace & Prosperity

We must end the state of continuous war, as these wars have made us less safe. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed, entire countries have been destabilized, and we are currently in the midst of an extreme global migration crisis. Meanwhile at home, there have been increasingly cuts to spending on healthcare, infrastructure, education, and housing. We must scale back U.S. military activities, and reinvest our expansive military budget back into our communities. Once this happens, we can begin to repair the harm done, repair America's broken image, and invest in diplomatic relationships.

She points out that the wars are counterproductive on their own terms, endangering rather than protecting. Servants of the weapons dealers do not do that, no matter how they vote on legislation. She begins with the central evil, the mass killing, and she gets the numbers right. And she cites the wars as a cause of the refugee crisis. That's all almost unheard of, even in the peace movement completely outside of electoral campaigning, where the habit is to focus on financial cost or harm to U.S. troops. She notes the financial tradeoffs as well. I wish she didn't say the money all needed to go to U.S. domestic spending. I don't think she'll see the sense in saying that once she finds out how much money it really is.

  • We spend by far the most on our military budget, and more than the next seven countries on the list of top spenders combined

  • In 2017, the United States spent over $700 billion dollars--well over half the country's discretionary budget

  • The Pentagon has spent $400 billion dollars on the F-35 fighter jet program, and will eventually spend over 1 trillion dollars in costs and maintenance

  • American intervention in democratically-elected governments has contributed to the migration crisis

  • The executive branch has escalated U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, with no authorization from Congress

That's as close to accurate on the money as I've seen from any candidate. She also names a particular war, that on Yemen. The focus on Congressional "authorization" rather than immorality or illegality is disappointing from someone from the hometown of Frank Kellogg of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But it's a start. Now read this:

Vision and Policy Priorities

End funding for perpetual war and military aggression

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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