While President Obama and Congress are planning to spend billions of dollars dropping bombs and missiles on Syria, the public school systems in Philadelphia and many other American cities are in crisis. Increasing numbers of Americans, now 17 million, experience food insecurity, meaning they skip meals and experience hunger for lack of food, while Congress plans big cuts in the food stamp program and Medicaid for the poor to save money.
The only plan so far in Philadelphia for closing the funding gap for the school system is forcing teachers to accept reduced pay and benefits!
Deliberately embarking on a war of choice destroyed the promising presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. It destroyed the promising presidency of George W. Bush. And it will destroy the promising presidency of Barack H. Obama. Maybe that’s why Republicans are going to support it!
The best case outcome for an attack on Syria is that the American taxpayers for years will be stuck paying the bill for reconstructing Syria after we attack it. The worst case scenario is that young Americans will again lose their lives in a widening war.
U.S. wars of choice in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have driven the booming American economy of the mid-20th century into the current doldrums. While the official white unemployment rate remains high at 6.6%, black unemployment is nearly double that rate at 12.6%. The official rate of unemployment for white teenagers seeking work is 20.3%. For black teenagers seeking work, the official unemployment rate is 41.6%.
Those estimates don’t even count discouraged workers who have given up seeking work after concluding there are no jobs for them. They don’t reflect the reality that millions of those counted as working have involuntarily accepted part-time jobs, or minimum wage jobs without benefits for want of any better opportunities.
Bombing Syria will inevitably generate new hatred of America among the families of our victims. It will create new waves of refugees throughout the Middle East, some of which will end up in the United States as legal and illegal immigration, further limiting the job prospects for unemployed and underemployed Americans, and threatening homeland security.
Terrible crimes have been committed against innocent civilians in Syria, as in Sudan, the Congo, and many other countries. For the U.S. to unilaterally try to bring the perpetrators to justice, without the support of the United Nations, will require enormous sacrifices by our citizens over many years of war.
Mere gestures of disapproval like dropping a few bombs and missiles are worse than meaningless. They create positive harms. They make a bad situation worse. No attack on Syria! Build American schools, infrastructure and jobs!