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Reich writes: "We are ineluctably moving toward a world war against the Islamic State. Whether you support such a war or not, the signs are ubiquitous."

Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

We Are Moving Towards a World War With ISIS

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page

22 November 15


e are ineluctably moving toward a world war against the Islamic State. Whether you support such a war or not, the signs are ubiquitous. No sane person welcomes war. America’s record in Afghanistan and Iraq does not reassure. Yet if we do go to war we need to keep a watchful eye on 5 things:

1. Who does the fighting? To date, America’s “volunteer” army is made up mainly of lower-income men and women for whom army pay and perks provide the best options. But if we go into a larger war on the ground, we can’t rely solely on volunteers from low-income families. How do we spread the burden and sacrifice? Are we ready to reinstitute the draft?

2. What if any civil liberties are we prepared to sacrifice? The debate over NSA/CIA spying on Americans is still fresh and the more imminent possibility of terrorism on U.S. soil will revive it. War can also lead to internments of suspects and suspensions of constitutional rights. We must be vigilant that we maintain the freedoms we are fighting for.

3. How many more innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq will be killed or injured by such a war? The bombing raids have already claimed a terrible civilian toll, contributing to a mass exodus of refugees. We must demand that civilian casualties be minimized. And we must do our part to take in a fair portion of those refugees.

4. How do we prevent the spread of anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States? Some Republicans are already suggesting Muslims should not be admitted as refugees. Ben Carson argues no Muslim should ever be president. Marco Rubio wants to close down mosques. Donald Trump refuses to rule out requiring all Muslims to carry special religious identification, and warrantless searches of their homes and places of worship. Says Trump, "We’re going to have to do things that we never did before….we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago." We must do everything we can to stop the hate-mongering.

5. How do we pay for such a war without raising taxes or cutting vital public services? We must not let Republicans use the war as a pretext to cut Social Security and Medicare, or programs for the poor. It should be paid for the way we used to pay for wars – with higher taxes, especially on the wealthy.

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