I’m not sure there are strong enough words in the English language to explain how much I do not want to go to war with Iran, but since I’m a writer, I’m going to try. Here are my words: My baby brother is deployed on a Navy ship somewhere in the Arabian Sea.

I guess I shouldn’t call him “my baby brother.” He’s 25. I was proud when he joined the Navy, but a little nervous, since the Navy is still definitely the military and when you enlist, you sign up to die if necessary. But everyone told me to calm down (including my brother) because the Navy was pretty safe.

I have a map of the world to the left of my desk. I look at it whenever I see a tweet from the president about Iran. The Arabian Sea is very close to Iran. Too close.

My brother’s deployment was planned long before the Trump administration insisted on undermining the Iran nuclear deal, tightening sanctions to squeeze their economy and giving them no off-ramp to compromise. (Compromise: a word my dad used a lot with us as kids. Not a dirty word.) My brother doesn’t have a particularly dangerous job. He is an interior communications electrician, which mostly involves fixing stuff. (Mom and I have a whole list of projects for him when he comes home.) Which is weird, because I’m used to him breaking things (his record is two windows in one weekend).

Up until recently, I figured the most dangerous threat to his personal safety was the equatorial sun; my mom sent him off with enough sunscreen (spray, sticks, balms) to coat the whole fleet.There are about 1.4 million active-duty members of the military. That sounds like a big number, but you have to remember that the population of the United States of America is 327 million. So the ups and downs of military service – the lack of communication, the separation, the staticky phone calls, the handwritten letters, the endless fidgeting and worrying – fall on a tiny percentage of the population. The risks fall on a tiny segment of the population, too. These are the lives that the Trump administration gambles with.

One of those lives is Spencer’s. My brother.

(He would like me to mention that this column does not represent his opinion or that of any branch of the United States military, and is 100 percent the Maine Millennial’s thoughts alone.)

He is named after his maternal grandfather, who died in a military training accident when my mother was 6 months old. He has terrible taste in music, he rips the sleeves off all his shirts and he drinks way too much milk. He looks exactly like my father, to the point where I’ve done double-takes when seeing him out of the corner of my eye. He’s a dork. He has freckles. He is 15 months younger than I am. Because of him, I literally do not remember a time when I was ever not a big sister. He’s tough, but he has a heart like an enormous marshmallow. Which, in my opinion, is a good combination.

The president is the commander in chief. That’s not a ceremonial title. The occupant of the Oval Office has the power to decide whether my brother just conducts drills and comes home safe, or if he goes to war. That is a huge responsibility; it requires a clear mind, strong shoulders and a big heart. I can’t say that the current president has any of those. I do not trust him with life-or-death decisions.

And it’s not just my little brother who could be at risk. Millions of Americans’ brothers and sisters; mothers and fathers; boyfriends and girlfriends. All of these people are loved just as much as we love my brother. All of them have hopes and dreams for the future that involve them coming home safely.

Of course, it’s not just the president, his shoddy Cabinet and the chickenhawk advisers he surrounds himself with who are the problem. (So brave, when it’s not their own family members within range of Iranian missiles.)

Members of Congress are more than willing to lie supine and give away their constitutional responsibility to declare war (check it out: Article I, Section 8). Representatives and senators love to brag about supporting the military.

You know what’s the best way to support the men and women who serve in the military?

By bringing all of them back alive.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial



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