By Shawna Foster
â€œI was a Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapons Specialist for a war that didnâ€™t have any Weapons of Mass Destruction! So I deserted. Iâ€™m one of the 40,000 people that left the United States Armed Forces because this is a lie!â€
Those were the words I screamed into a microphone before thousands of people as I threw my Global War On Terror Service medal back to NATO. I had to throw it because no one from NATO came out to get it, and the police wouldnâ€™t allow us up to the barricade. Their fear of us — US war veterans who challenge ten years of US war-making and publicly advocate for peace — is symbolic of their fear to confront real problems.
I threw my medal back, though, in fact, I never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
How was I even awarded this medal? Any service member who served in active duty after 9/11 was awarded this medal for NATOâ€™s Global War on Terror. Why? If you didnâ€™t know it, terrorists are everywhere, anywhere, and can strike at any time. Even in Omaha, Nebraska, where I waited to be deployed. Terrorists could have been there and so I was awarded this medal.
I threw back my medal because there is no â€˜global war on terrorâ€™. For that to be true, Iâ€™d have to be afraid. But, I am not afraid and I reject the peddling of fear that our leaders and media have fostered for more than ten years. When our nation becomes afraid, we are forced to do things we would rather not – like spend trillions of dollars on endless wars. Tragically, more than three thousand innocent people were killed on 9/11 at the hands of criminals and political terrorists. In response, our national leaders fabricated a war of lies that led to the death of thousands of US service members. Weâ€™ve been responsible for the death of 33,000 civilians living in Afghanistan. Tragedy beget massacres when we responded with fear and military might. And after 9/11, fear came to rule as true courage was sidelined.
I am not afraid anymore. I do not believe in the â€˜global war on terrorâ€™. I will not be made a coward by my government to hurt other people because I have been hurt. Instead, I will stand up as a United States citizen and disobey unlawful orders to perpetuate war. Ben Franklin once inferred that those â€˜who sacrifice liberty for security, deserve neither.â€™ I agree. The United States has not â€œwonâ€ a war since War World II – instead, its imperial interests and rush to war have only bred international scorn. We go to war zones and the weapons often aimed at us are the ones we sold our â€œenemiesâ€ in the last war. If the United States truly wants to protect its people, it should courageously emphasize peace, not exploit the NATO mandate to justify unilateral actions.
Take your medals back NATO. Do the right thing. Disband the outdated military alliance and form a new coalition that fosters peace, not war.
Adjust to a world beyond the Cold War and stop using â€˜terrorismâ€™ as an excuse to perpetuate endless wars and ever-growing military expenditures. Brokerage of peace is a more potent weapon against militant extremists than occupations and standing armies. NATO, you have made the problem worse, and I refuse to be a part of it.
As one who has rejected this false military campaign, I dare you to do the same. I dare you to be brave enough to hold yourself to account. I dare you to do the right thing: build a path towards peace and lead us away from war. I dare you to take my medal back.