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Martin Luther King Did Not Dream About War In Afghanistan

Reported by Ellen - January 16, 2011 -

Robert Greenwald and our friends at Brave New Foundation (with whom we remain proud to be associated) have a new video as part of their Rethink Afghanistan campaign. This one takes a look at what Martin Luther King would think of the war in Afghanistan. Hint: He would not have approved.

In a blog entry on Huffington Post, Greenwald wrote:

(V)irtually every reason given by King in his "Time to Break the Silence" speech for opposing the Vietnam War would damn the Afghanistan War as well.

Here are just a few examples:

King decried the awful willingness of his country to spend $500,000 per each killed enemy soldier in Vietnam while so many Americans struggled in poverty. Yet last year, a conservative figure for the amount we spent per killed enemy fighter in Afghanistan was roughly $20 million.

King spoke of the "monumental dissent" that arose around the Vietnam War. "Polls reveal that almost 15 million Americans explicitly oppose the war in Vietnam," he said. But today, 63 percent of Americans oppose the Afghanistan War, and when you do the math, that's 196 million people, give or take the margin of error.

Dr. King also spoke of the "demonic, destructive suction tube" yanking resources and lives out of the fight to get Americans on their feet. That tube is still demonic and destructive: we've spent more than $360 billion on this war so far and it will cost us roughly $3 billion per week in the coming year. Add to that the 10,000 people, including about 500 U.S. troops and countless civilians who died last year alone, and you can see exactly what he's talking about. The hope of our getting out of this abysmal economic vice is burning on the roadsides of Afghanistan every day we refuse to start bringing troops home.

No, it's safe to say that Dr. King would not regard any conflict that killed 10,000 people in a year as a humanitarian exercise. Nor would he "understand" how a nation in the grip of an economic meltdown like this one could again throw lives and resources away for almost a decade. It's safe to say that he would move beyond the "prophesying of smooth patriotism" and stand up to end this war that's not making us safer and that's not worth the cost.

Robert is right, of course. If we're going to honor Dr. King tomorrow, we ought to honor his entire legacy including, as he says in the video below, "I don't know about you, I ain't gonna study war no more."