1. Statement
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

The Only America We Know Is an America at War

By Alex Frandsen, Alicia Cannon, Bobby Trice, Don Chen, Joe D'Antonio, Karla Molinar-Arvizo, Monica Montgomery, Sergio Mata-Cisneros , January 15, 2020

As young adults, we only faintly remember what life was like before Sept. 11, if we remember at all. Since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, we have made it through elementary, middle, and high school. We’ve applied to colleges, finished our degrees, moved away from home, and entered the workforce—and the entire time, the U.S. has been carrying out military actions halfway across the world.

FCNL young fellows holding signs that say "War is Not the Answer"

The cost has been devastating. The post-9/11 wars have directly killed over 800,000 people —including more than 335,000 civilians—and countless more have been impacted by hunger, disease, and trauma. American military aggression has contributed to the displacement of 21 million people and crippled multiple economies for a generation. The U.S. has spent more than $6.4 trillion and expanded our unaccountable surveillance state to unprecedented levels.

We’ve applied to colleges, finished our degrees, moved away from home, and entered the workforce—and the entire time, the U.S. has been carrying out military actions halfway across the world.

These are staggering numbers; yet somehow, we have become numb to them. The distance of the violence, the advent of drones and other war technologies, and sheer time elapsed have combined to sanitize war. Instead of being a catastrophic event, war has become an unfortunate reality.

Two decades worth of evidence make it clear—this is who we are as a country.

But it’s not who we have to be. With the recent escalation of violence with Iran, fueled by yet another president bypassing Congress to commit an act of war, we have a chance to change the paradigm. And we as young people are the ones who must do it.

From Greta Thunberg admonishing world leaders for their inaction on climate change to Parkland activists putting their foot down on gun violence, we have proven that our generation is hungry for change and ready to lead. And now, as the president toys with yet another needless conflict abroad, it’s time for us to stand up to endless wars.

It will be hard work. We will have to undo years of desensitization and reopen our eyes to the horrors of war. We will have to move beyond Twitter jokes and memes about World War III and make a concentrated effort to humanize and remember those truly impacted by American wars abroad.

War was not the answer in 2001. War has proven not to be the answer over the course of two decades. And war won’t be the answer going forward.

And above all, we will have to recognize this as a systemic problem. Endless war has become an institutional reality of American politics, so dismantling it will require institutional change. For two decades now, Congress has neglected to limit the president’s powers, essentially abdicating its responsibility over war and peace. And all the while, Congress has signed off on ever-growing military budgets while turning its back on the hungry, poor, and sick.

We—and the world as a whole—deserve better. Through letters, phone calls, protests, op-eds, and social media posts, we need to call for a better Congress. A Congress that is willing to repeal outdated Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, which have been unjustly used to wage war in dozens of countries across the globe. A Congress that favors diplomacy over unchecked military spending. A Congress that prioritizes the future of this planet over military gains overseas.

Through our votes and our advocacy, we have more power than we realize. It is on us to take a stand for peace and demand more from our government.

War was not the answer in 2001. War has proven not to be the answer over the course of two decades. And war won’t be the answer going forward.

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This statement was collectively written by FCNL's 2019-2020 class of Young Fellows.

Alex Frandsen

  • Digital Communications Associate

Alex Frandsen is the Digital Communications Associate. Through close collaboration with the office’s various teams, he strives to highlight the impact made by FCNL and connect our messaging with the outside world.

Alicia Cannon

  • Program Assistant, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Alicia was the Program Assistant for Sustainable Energy and Environment for 2019-2020. She advocated for the preservation of the environment, recognition of climate change, and the enactment of legislation that promotes sustainable solutions to our current climate crisis. She met with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to promote FCNL’s environmental policy.

Bobby Trice

  • Quaker Engagement Associate

Bobby is the Quaker Engagement Associate. He works alongside Alicia McBride (Director of Quaker Leadership) to cultivate relationships with Friends and other FCNL constituents. He supports Quakers’ spirit-led advocacy on Capitol Hill and around the nation.

Don Chen

  • Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights

Don was the Program Assistant for Militarism and Human Rights for 2019-2020. He worked to move U.S. foreign policy towards a more peaceful and ethical direction, primarily supporting efforts to end the war in Afghanistan and repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Don worked with nationwide grassroots supporters, coalition partners, members of Congress, and legislative staff to reduce the human cost of American foreign policy.

Joe D'Antonio

  • Program Assistant, Criminal Justice and Election Integrity

Joe D’Antonio was the Program Assistant for Criminal Justice and Election Integrity for 2019-2020. His primary responsibilities included lobbying members of Congress, writing policy updates, and conducting legislative research.

Karla Molinar-Arvizo

  • Program Assistant, Immigration and Refugee Policy

Karla was the Program Assistant for Immigration and Refugee Policy for 2019-2020. In her work, Karla tracked key legislation on congressional appropriations and funding, collaborated with partner organizations, and uplifted the values of FCNL through congressional visits and lobbying. She believes in the importance of maintaining relationships with constituents, and advocates for an immigration system where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Monica Montgomery

  • Program Assistant, Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending

Monica was FCNL's Program Assistant for Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending for 2019-2020. Alongside constituents and coalition partners, she worked with Congress to promote bipartisan support for nuclear arms control and cutbacks in the level of defense spending. In addition to her lobbying tasks, she was responsible for maintaining the FCNL Nuclear Calendar.

Sergio Mata-Cisneros

  • Program Assistant, Young Adult Outreach

Sergio Mata-Cisneros was the Program Assistant for Young Adult Outreach for 2019-2020. He worked alongside FCNL's Advocacy Corps Coordinator, Larissa Gil Sanhueza, to build FCNL’s young adult network and advocacy throughout the country.