Our local state representative, Chrissy Houlahan, has maintained a nearly perfect humanitarian voting record along with most of Pennsylvania’s Democratic state representatives. Nearly all hold their socially liberal policies at the forefront of their political makeup, swearing support to associations like labor unions, Planned Parenthood and rehabilitation centers. Domestic policies such as these provide incredible domestic support for everyday American citizens faced with the trials of a modern capitalist environment.
Opposite to the domestic issues lies the ever-tangling web of thorns called foreign policy. The American House and Senate float a decent amount of legislation up to the president for allowance each month. Some of these bills propose budgetary adjustments to the Department of Defense. The bill in question today is H.R. 2500 – The National Defense Authorization Bill. This bill passed through the House in July and is currently sitting in the Republican-controlled Senate. The bill proposes stronger overseas contingency operations, stronger drug enforcement, counter-drug activities and procurement of foreign military technologies, among a good deal of other propositions. No budgetary authority is present, which would be provided in future legislation.
Now, the interesting aspect of this bill passing through the House of Representatives is that it was passed unanimously by House Democrats, and staunchly opposed by all Republicans. Any informed reader might turn an eyebrow up at this, baffled at the notion that Democrats seek to inflate our war machine, and that Republicans seek to minimize it. The bill does not grate to specifics on how these claims are to be met or the American interest behind them. Interestingly, a national media consumer might see these proposals falling parallel with current interests.
Media seeks fuel. Through this lens, we can liken the power of war to a brick oven that heats itself effortlessly. Americans have watched from their living rooms as the Department of Defense wrings the Middle Eastern failed states for all they’re worth, discarding the fruitless to die face-down in the sand. This has been happening for decades: interventions warranted by the promise of spreading democracy, followed by the syphoning of all a nation’s resources, leading to the failure of the state. Today our apparent opposition, according to American mass media, is Iran.
Any informed reader might turn an eyebrow up at this, baffled at the notion that Democrats seek to inflate our war machine, and that Republicans seek to minimize it.
If you have been paying attention to the news, you are probably familiar with this situation. The Iranians are the last ‘unstable’ force in the Middle East combated by America and allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both of these countries carry out human rights violations on a regular basis: Israel coalitions continually dehumanizing and restricting the rights of Palestinian citizens, Saudi Arabia carrying out the horrifying genocide of Yemenis peoples.
Polish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin describes the end of a culture by genocide as such:
“The end may be accomplished by the forced disintegration of institutions, of the culture of the people, of their language, their national feelings and their religion. It may be accomplished by wiping out all basis of personal security, liberty, health and dignity. When these means fail, the machine gun can always be utilized as a last resort.”
Lemkin’s words have rang true throughout our current century, and are some to keep in mind when considering legislation.
Bills like H.R. 2500 could enable the perpetuation of these actions in the Middle East. The fact that Democratic representatives like Houlahan sign off on these proposals should concern the public that they are sworn to represent. Surely, actions like these do not detract from the domestic liberal policies that help us all. But the lives of those on the Gaza Strip and the war-torn fields of Yemen deserve the same humanitarian attention that Americans expect for ourselves. American civilians rarely have a say in foreign affairs, which means the shout must grow louder, harsher and concise. No liberal citizen voting in Chester County is pro-war. No liberal American wants to be force-fed the “dangers of a nuclearized Iran,” if it means we’ll we staring at another failed state in 10 years’ time.
While preparing for this article, I reached out to Rep. Houlahan’s office in Goshen Township, unable to receive a response on my specific questions. I will provide further updates on this issue in later articles if I ever receive word back.
Our representatives call themselves progressive; I believe in a comprehensive platform for modern progressives. I believe in a platform that does not hide behind domestic policy in order to line our pockets with oil money, with blood money. This is not one candidate’s issue – it is a party issue. War crimes cannot be excused by the laws set forth to prevent them.
For more on these issues, visit VoteSmart.org to see how our representatives vote. The information is all there in writing; it is on the public to process the information and speak out.
CJ Fudala is a fourth-year student majoring in English Writing and minoring in journalism. CF895983@wcupa.edu