Tag Archives: Antiwar

Mark Twain: Oh Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them!
 
“With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

“O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells;

“help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead;

“help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain;

“help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire;

“help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief;

“help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it

“— for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord,

“blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

“We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.

“Amen.”

-from Mark Twain’s The War Prayer

LTE, 1899: May the thunderbolt which is to fall from heaven upon this nation

For Independence day we might ask: is it more patriotic to support illegal wars than to oppose them? I’d like to revisit a century-old letter to the editor submitted to the Springfield Republican on April 21, 1899, by Caroline Hollingsworth Pemberton a few days after tax day. She wrote to defend another letter writer, critic of America’s imperial expansion into the Philippines, accused of “treason” for suggesting that his taxes should not be funding a war of aggression.

The number of persons who share, without expressing, the sentiments of the young single taxer, F. Stevens, is doubtless increasing daily. It may be a wise economical policy for the government executives to decide that his utterances do not constitute “treason,” for the reason that there are not, and probably never will be, enough prisons in his land to contain all the “traitors” that now reside in it.

Alas! we are all of us made traitors (and against our wills in many cases) by the deliberate acts of those whom we have chosen to represent us. We are already traitors to the high ideals of a free people: traitors to our constitution and to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Whether we want to or not, we “treacherously” support a policy of “criminal aggression” whenever we lick a revenue stamp and stick it on a check or receipt, and help pay the cost of sacrificing our principles before the world.

My soul loathes this Filipino slaughter, yet I am actively supporting it out of my own pocket every day of my life. I count myself the worst kind of a traitor, –yet it is well that our government has decided to look leniently on traitors, for there are thousands and millions like me, some willingly and many most unwillingly made traitors like myself!

One can choose between two kinds of treason. Mr. Stevens chooses what he takes to be the lesser kind. We have that much choice and that is all that is left to us.

For my part, I pray that the thunderbolt which is to fall from heaven upon this nation for its career of crime in the Pacific ocean may fall quickly and end the iniquities for which in the sight of God we are all individually responsible. If this is “treason” of the peculiar brand that newspapers do not approve, it is to be remembered as an “extenuating circumstance” that my education in treason has not progressed far enough yet for me to distinguish with certainty the various brands, –accidentally, as it were, I have picked up the wrong kind– for which I ask their kindly indulgence.

C. H. Pemberton

Springfield Republican, April 21, 1899

Quoted in The Anti-Imperialist Reader, Volume I, Philip S. Foner, ed., p. 404

Condemnation of Israeli state piracy

New Israeli flagCOLO. SPRINGS- Join IMPROMPTU PROTEST OF US-ISRAEL MILITARIZED REPRESSION. Protest Israel’s deadly raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Called by Coloradans For Peace, Colorado Springs, Acacia Park, NOON. Pro-Palestinian, Free-Gaza, and all anti-imperial voices welcome. This Memorial Day, remember the USS Liberty!

“Warrior” drops peacekeeping pretense

Wounded Warrior OlympicsCOLO. SPRINGS- Just down the street, all week, the Olympic Training Center hosts the Warrior Games,
a Special Olympics for wounded vets. And there it is.
Not injured peace- keepers, not disabled freedom-bringers, not usurpers of foreign lives and liberty taken down a notch, but Wounded fucking Warriors. I suppose it had a ring to it that trumped showing moral decorum. We’re soliciting slogans for a cross-the-street banner.

BABY KILLING, cost: ARM & LEG
CLEAN CONSCIENCE: PRICELESS

Is that to mean undue disrespect? Just what part of 1.4 million deaths seems out of proportion to you?

If “warrior” is just a word, so is killer. Why not wounded paid-killers? Or wounded not-sorry death dealers?

Again, if disabled veterans need something to keep themselves busy and out of the halls of the VA, they can give back to Iraq or Afghanistan and stop feeding the Department of Defense propaganda machine. A four star general joined the Colorado governor to give props to their uniformed mercenaries. All volunteer, remember. Do they recognize the harm they did? Do they feel like they were duped into the deeds? They’ve got a lot more soul searching to do if they think salvation will come of rolling up and down a basketball court in a wheelchair. Community Service. Figure it out.

Support the troops? Of Course — Bring them home!

Proud of our boys? You’ve got to be kidding.

Originally it was Antiwar Mother’s Day

Antiwar songFor how many war years longer will a MOTHER’S DAY tradition be to remind the vast Hallmark-washed that Mom’s postbellum holiday originated as a grassroots resistance by mothers opposed to enlisting their sons in war? Quoth abolitionist/pacifist/feminist/poet Julia Ward Howe in the Mother’s Day Proclamation: “We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.” Take heed war-loving patriots, Howe also penned the lyrics to Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Up against the wall, antiwar mother.

During WWI the plea expressed itself in a popular song: “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier.” Of course the song provoked many jingoist responses such as “I didn’t raise my boy to be a coward,” and “I tried to raise my boy to be a hero.” Blood lusty teabaggers were up to their same knee jerk patriotism back then, egged on no doubt by the same industrial military interests. From across the Atlantic, Punch magazine reflected the British eagerness to see the US join their war and lampooned with “I didn’t raise my girl to be a voter.”

Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions
decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us,
reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them
of charity, mercy and patience.

We, the women of one country,
will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth
a voice goes up with our own.

It says:
“Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough
and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel
with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,?

Each bearing after his own time
the sacred impress, not of Caesar,?
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity,
I earnestly ask?

That a general congress of women without limit of nationality?
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient?
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,?
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,?
The amicable settlement of international questions,?
The great and general interests of peace.

Photos from DC antiwar actions

First bust on National Mall
WASHINGTON DC- First citation issued to Camp Out Now, unloading Funk The War sound gear on northwest quadrangle of National Mall.

Washington DC protest in Faragut Square
My PEACE NOW design for the SDS Funk The War BAD ROMANCE march on Friday.

Antiwar drum circle
Conclusion of Saturday A.N.S.W.E.R. march on the White House, before the eight arrests. Cindy Sheehan’s account here.

More pictures on Facebook.

If Camp OUT NOW won’t end the US military corporate empire, will you?

POTA - Peace Of The Action
In 2005 Cindy Sheehan staked her tent in Crawford TX until President Bush would deign to meet with her; she didn’t pack it up until she had launched an antiwar movement. From there Sheehan met with world leaders, challenged Nancy Pelosi at the polls, and made herself ubiquitous wherever antiwar was raged. This time Sheehan is laying siege to the White House and she’s not going to let up until Obama calls off his dogs of war. Will it work? It should.

George Bush could have halted the grieving mother’s momentum if he’d heard her out. This time no beer summit is going to pass for Obama’s promised change. Sheehan has already been arrested in front of the White House, the new president has already snubbed her on Martha’s Vineyard. Didn’t hear about it? The media can pretend none of this is happening unless Camp OUT NOW reaches critical mass. You should join in. Sheehan’s promising no less than the crumbling of the US military corporate empire. Can it happen? It won’t happen without you.

Camp OUT NOW delayed for St Pats

Peace of the Action with Cindy SheehanPEACE OF THE ACTION and Cindy Sheehan had to delay their March 13 start by two days, to accommodate the Washington DC’s St. Patrick’s Day. Parade organizers objected to sharing the National Mall with an antiwar protest encampment. Deja vu? Camp OUT NOW will raise their tents on March 15 on the lawns between the White House and the Washington Monument, to protest America’s ceaseless war-making. Sheehan and co will direct civil disruptions of DC activities and don’t plan to strike the tents until troops -and drones- are OUT. Join them!

Obama visits Denver to hear from you

Daddy Warbama
President Obama will make an appearance in Denver on Thursday, February 18, to survey Colorado Democrats about how to change our nation’s imperialist course. Clearly, he’s plum out of ideas. We can hope the newbie warmonger kleptocrat hears we hold America to higher ideals than torture, assassination, racism, and genocide. Obama is coming to endorse Senator Michael Bennet’s Act Blue campaign. Huh, blue blood? Cold blood? Black or blue, these are pretenders.

What does it mean to “act blue?” The Blue Dog Democrats have already taught us blue means pissing on your constituents. Just when “Democrat” has come to mean nothing, now we have “blue” to mean less. What a bizarre turn of events that the so-called people’s party assumes the mantle of the Blue Meanies to distance itself from red, the universal color of socialism, the real people’s party.

Actually, the event’s a fundraiser, so it will cost you $25, $100 or $250 to see the president, and then that’s only for the privilege to LISTEN, to hear him justify why his actions seem diametrically opposed to your interests, I guess.

As usual, the only opportunity to TALK to President Obama will be from the street, where of course any activist message will by design be diluted with stewed tea. It’s the new Kool-Aid.

Self-defense: overdoing it

Toons weekly peace vigil at Nevada and Dale, Colorado SpringsCOLO. SPRINGS- These past years have been a boon to our local defense industry. Despite the deployments and casualties, war pays the bills and builds corporate fortunes. For so many in Colorado Springs whose bread and butter comes from defending freedom, our little weekly peace vigil is a disquieting sight. There are always more smiles than frowns, but those displeased are pretty livid.

Beyond MLK worship: Beyond Vietnam

MLK“A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”
Martin Luther King Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence
Full text of 1967 speech below.

Riverside Church, New York City, 4 April 1967

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines:

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

“I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.”

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

“For the sake of those boys,
for the sake of this governent,
for the sake of hundreds of thousands
trembling under our violence,
I cannot be silent.”

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath —
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

“Surely we must see
that the men we supported
pressed them to their violence.”

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for “the brotherhood of man.” This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men — for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the “Vietcong” or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

“Before long they must know
that their government has sent them
into a struggle among Vietnamese,
and the more sophisticated surely realize
that we are on the side of the wealthy
and the secure
while we create hell for the poor.”

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its re-conquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not “ready” for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to re-colonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at re-colonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators — our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change — especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy — and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us – not their fellow Vietnamese — the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go — primarily women and children and the aged.

“Somehow this madness must cease.”

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one “Vietcong-inflicted” injury. So far we may have killed a million of them — mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force — the Unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on — save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front — that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the north” as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

“We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam.”

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them — the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

“When machines and computers,
profit motives and property rights
are considered more important than people,
the giant triplets of
racism,
materialism
and militarism
are incapable of being conquered.”

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

“Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

“A nation that continues
year after year
to spend more money on military defense
than on programs of social uplift
is approaching spiritual death.”

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

• End all bombing in North and South Vietnam

• Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

• Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

• Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.

• Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

“If we do not act
we shall surely be dragged down
the long and shameful corridors of time
reserved for those who possess
power without compassion,
might without morality,
and strength without sight.”

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy-and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said,

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway.

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”

It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.”

This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept – so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force – has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says :

“Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.”

There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world – a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah,
Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ’tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.

Cindy Sheehan, Phil Ward & Travis AFB

Action against UAV drones at Travis AFB, CaliforniaColorado Springs has its own loony pro-war vet, every bit the ass like retired sergeant Phil Ward, pictured here trying to intimidate antiwar luminary Cindy Sheehan. The good news is these puffed chests are easily deflated, but you have to act decisively. Sheehan and her colleagues plan to press charges against Ward, who police had let pass, and whom the media permitted to remain nameless.

The media have blamed last week’s altercation on Sheehan, although the video shows otherwise. The elderly vet can be seen moving straight into Sheehan, standing nose to cheek until she steps back and attempts to keep him one bullhorn’s length away. Then Ward strikes at the horn, and pushes others who come to Sheehan’s rescue.

Though he put Sheehan and her fellow activists at risk, Sgt. Ward brought the media’s attention to her new tour to protest the US Air Force bases, in this case Travis AFB in California and Creech AFB in Nevada, from which air strikes on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are being conducted via unmanned drones.

Hmm. Where is our good old Major George when we need some publicity?

Here is Sheehan’s own account of “What happened at Travis AFB on Saturday.”

“Killing is right and proper”

Cindy Sheehan

On Saturday, Bay Area CODEPINK and I, started our caravan to Creech AFB in Nevada with a morning peace rally at Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA.

After we got there we were informed that we had to move off the base and were shown by MPs where we could protest. As good warriors for free speech and peace, we groused about it and we were moving forward to where we were supposed to go, when a very angry older man pulled up and started yelling at us to: “Don’t go, I want to counter protest you.” I told him, first of all, he shouldn’t be drinking so early in the morning, and secondly not to worry, that we were going anywhere, we were just moving about 100 yards away.

We decided to just stop and take a picture by the Travis AFB sign and then we were going to get back in our cars to caravan down to Lemoore NAS because it was extremely windy and we were running a little late anyway.

I was giving a little speech denouncing the drone-bombing program and the upcoming 50 percent troop escalation to Afghanistan, when the angry old man, now dressed in a military uniform, charged around the corner and got right into my bullhorn-I told him to get out of my face and he very violently slaps the bullhorn away from me.

Everything happened so quickly: I was so shocked that I was actually physically assaulted that I just turned away from him and that’s when my colleague, Suzanne immediately jumped to my aid and got between the man and me. He swore profusely and pushed her-and then a mini-melee ensued. The numerous MPs and POs that were there finally intervened after I asked them to stop the man from assaulting my friends. I touched no one even though I was within my rights to defend myself. The video clearly shows that the aggressor and the person who brought unreasoning anger and violence to the rally was Sgt. Phil Ward

After the mini-melee, a Fairfield Police Officer, told Suzanne and I that we couldn’t press charges against the man who physically assaulted us because it was a “he-said, she-said” situation, when at least one dozen law enforcement officers were standing around and witnessing the events AND if we did press charges, then Suzanne and I would also have to go to jail until things got sorted out! Complete bullshit.

After all that, when we were leaving, like we were asked to, I got about 2 feet out of the parking lot and I noticed one of the CODEPINK women was not in the van, so I pulled over to the side of the road to wait for her and as soon I we got rolling again, to add insult to injury, I WAS PULLED OVER and detained for about one-half hour and kept isolated in my car from the others until I was presented with a ticket for “impeding traffic!”

We dropped my daughter’s car off and I hopped in the van with a group of desperadoes, (with me being the third youngest, at 52, and six out of eleven in the van being over 70), and we headed down to Lemoore NAS and a National Guard post in Fresno. After another three- hour drive from Fresno, we landed at a cheap motel in Mojave California and I was shocked to open my email and see that I had received numerous emails attacking me for essentially “bullying” a poor, old military veteran.

I watched the news videos to confirm my recollection, which was 100 percent correct. I got to watch an interview that Phil Ward did after his attack on us and he says that the killing in the wars is “right and proper” and was exceedingly upset with Obama because he is only sending 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan when the generals asked for 40,000 more. During an interview with me, I am clearly shaken, but I say, “no matter how much violence they bring to us, we will bring them more peace.”

A thing to think about in this whole episode, is that at least one area newspaper posted that we were going to be at Travis AFB, and it only drew ONE person out to protest us who was unreasonably aggressive and almost comically out of control? Hmm-it makes one wonder what Phil Ward was up to. He charged out of his car at us from the second he got there and felt it was okay to be physically aggressive towards me and the other protestors and he did get away with it with impunity?

We will bring them more peace, but we will also bring them justice, too, as we are planning on pressing charges against Phil Ward as soon as we return from Creech AFB.

There’s scum that attack and more scum that protect those attackers.

There’s scum that take away our rights to peaceably assemble and to freedom of speech, and more scum that protect those who try to steal those rights.

We the People need to be the ones to vigorously defend our rights and defend peace on earth from everyone from Sgt. Phil Ward to President Obama who think that killing is “right and proper.”

Video of Phil Ward attacking our protest.

We will be pressing charges against Phil Ward and Officer Glasshoff from Fairfied, CA and I will be fighting the ticket that I received that day

We Are United For a Peaceful Obama

Come to Acacia Park, TUESDAY, 5PM
ACACIA PARK, 5PM- COLORADANS FOR PEACE are not alone urging President Obama to escalate his attention to the antiwar mandate given him by the American voters. Michael Moore & Keith Olbermann have made eleventh hour pleas, and the nation’s prominent antiwar activists signed a collective letter to President Obama (see below). Here are the national organizations taking to the streets tomorrow:

United Against Afghan Escalation, Women Say No To War (Code Pink), No Escalation in Afghanistan (UFPJ), Veterans Oppose Troop Build-up (IVAW), US Labor Against War, A.N.S.W.E.R., Stop the Escalation (World Can’t Wait), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Just Foreign Policy, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, The Peace and Justice Resource Center and Voters for Peace.

The letter composed by the National Assembly:

President Barack Obama?
The White House?Washington, D.C.
November 30, 2009
 
Dear President Obama,
With millions of U.S. people feeling the fear and desperation of no longer having a home; with millions feeling the terror and loss of dignity that comes with unemployment; with millions of our children slipping further into poverty and hunger, your decision to deploy thousands more troops and throw hundreds of billions more dollars into prolonging the profoundly tragic war in Afghanistan strikes us as utter folly. We believe this decision represents a war against ordinary people, both here in the United States and in Afghanistan.  The war in Afghanistan, if continued, will result in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of U.S. troops, and untold thousands of Afghans.

Polls indicate that a majority of those who labored with so much hope to elect you as president now fear that you will make a wrong decision — a tragic decision that will destroy their dreams for America. More tragic is the price of your decision. It will be paid with the blood, suffering and broken hearts of our young troops, their loved ones and an even greater number of Afghan men, women and children.

The U.S. military claims that this war must be fought to protect U.S. national security, but we believe it is being waged to expand U.S. empire in the interests of oil and pipeline companies.

Your decision to escalate U.S. troops and continue the occupation will cause other people in other lands to despise the U.S. as a menacing military power that violates international law. Keep in mind that to most of the peoples of the world, widening the war in Afghanistan will look exactly like what it is: the world’s richest nation making war on one of the world’s very poorest.

The war must be ended now. Humanitarian aid programs should address the deep poverty that has always been a part of the life of Afghan people.

We will keep opposing this war in every nonviolent way possible. We will urge elected representatives to cut all funding for war. Some of us will be led to withhold our taxes, practice civil resistance, and promote slowdowns and strikes at schools and workplaces.

In short, President Obama, we will do everything in our power, as nonviolent peace activists, to build the kind of massive movement –which today represents the sentiments of a majority of the American people–that will play a key role in ending U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Such would be the folly of a decision to escalate troop deployment and such is the depth of our opposition to the death and suffering it would cause.

Sincerely, (Signers names listed in alphabetical order)

Jack Amoureux, Executive Committee
Military Families Speak Out
 
Michael Baxter
Catholic Peace Fellowship
 
Medea Benjamin, Co-founder
Global Exchange
 
Frida Berrigan
Witness Against Torture
 
Elaine Brower
World Can’t Wait
 
Leslie Cagan, Co-Founder
United for Peace and Justice
 
Tom Cornell
Catholic Peace Fellowship
 
Matt Daloisio
War Resisters League
 
Marie Dennis, Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
 
Robby Diesu
Our Spring Break
 
Pat Elder, Co-coordinator
National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth
 
Mike Ferner, President
Veterans For Peace
 
Joy First, Convener
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
 
Sara Flounders, Co-Director
International Action Center
 
Sunil Freeman
ANSWER Coalition, Washington, D.C.
 
Diana Gibson, Coordinator
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice
 
Jerry Gordon, Co-Coordinator
National Assembly To End Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupation
 
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
 
David Hartsough
Peaceworkers San Francisco
 
Mike Hearington, Steering Committee
Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Atlanta
 
Larry Holmes, Coordinator
Troops Out Now Coalition
 
Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D., Executive Director
Fellowship of Reconciliation
 
Hany Khalil
War Times
 
Kathy Kelly, Co-Coordinator
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
 
Leslie Kielson , Co-Chair
United for Peace and Justice
 
Malachy Kilbride
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
 
Adele Kubein, Executive Committee
Military Families Speak Out
 
Jeff Mackler, Co-Coordinator
National Assembly to End Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations
 
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair-Elect
World Parliament of Religion
 
Michael T. McPhearson, Executive Director
Veterans For Peace
 
Gael Murphy, Co-founder
Code Pink
 
Michael Nagler, Founder
Metta Center for Nonviolence
 
Max Obuszewski, Director
Baltimore Nonviolence Center
 
Pete Perry
Peace of the Action
 
Dave Robinson, Executive
Director Pax Christi USA
 
Terry Rockefeller
September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows
 
Samina Sundas, Founding Executive Director
American Muslim Voice
 
David Swanson
AfterDowningStreet.org
 
Carmen Trotta
Catholic Worker
 
Nancy Tsou, Coordinator
Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice
 
Kevin Zeese
Voters for Peace

And Michael Moore’s letter:

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new “war president”? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do — destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true — that all politicians are alike. I simply can’t believe you’re about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn’t so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That’s the way General Washington insisted it must be. That’s what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. “You’re fired!,” said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in’ hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea — “Let’s invade Afghanistan!” Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.

There’s a reason they don’t call Afghanistan the “Garden State” (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan’s nickname is the “Graveyard of Empires.” If you don’t believe it, give the British a call. I’d have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev’s number though. It’s + 41 22 789 1662. I’m sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you’re about to commit.

With our economic collapse still in full swing and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head, full throttle, into oblivion if you become the “war president.” Empires never think the end is near, until the end is here. Empires think that more evil will force the heathens to toe the line — and yet it never works. The heathens usually tear them to shreds.

Choose carefully, President Obama. You of all people know that it doesn’t have to be this way. You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking. You know that nothing good can come from sending more troops halfway around the world to a place neither you nor they understand, to achieve an objective that neither you nor they understand, in a country that does not want us there. You can feel it in your bones.

I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! A hundred thousand troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush’s Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.

Your potential decision to expand the war (while saying that you’re doing it so you can “end the war”) will do more to set your legacy in stone than any of the great things you’ve said and done in your first year. One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone — and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout “tea bag!”

Choose carefully, Mr. President. Your corporate backers are going to abandon you as soon as it is clear you are a one-term president and that the nation will be safely back in the hands of the usual idiots who do their bidding. That could be Wednesday morning.

We the people still love you. We the people still have a sliver of hope. But we the people can’t take it anymore. We can’t take your caving in, over and over, when we elected you by a big, wide margin of millions to get in there and get the job done. What part of “landslide victory” don’t you understand?

Don’t be deceived into thinking that sending a few more troops into Afghanistan will make a difference, or earn you the respect of the haters. They will not stop until this country is torn asunder and every last dollar is extracted from the poor and soon-to-be poor. You could send a million troops over there and the crazy Right still wouldn’t be happy. You would still be the victim of their incessant venom on hate radio and television because no matter what you do, you can’t change the one thing about yourself that sends them over the edge.

The haters were not the ones who elected you, and they can’t be won over by abandoning the rest of us.

President Obama, it’s time to come home. Ask your neighbors in Chicago and the parents of the young men and women doing the fighting and dying if they want more billions and more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you think they will say, “No, we don’t need health care, we don’t need jobs, we don’t need homes. You go on ahead, Mr. President, and send our wealth and our sons and daughters overseas, ’cause we don’t need them, either.”

What would Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would your grandmother do? Not send more poor people to kill other poor people who pose no threat to them, that’s what they’d do. Not spend billions and trillions to wage war while American children are sleeping on the streets and standing in bread lines.

All of us that voted and prayed for you and cried the night of your victory have endured an Orwellian hell of eight years of crimes committed in our name: torture, rendition, suspension of the bill of rights, invading nations who had not attacked us, blowing up neighborhoods that Saddam “might” be in (but never was), slaughtering wedding parties in Afghanistan. We watched as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and tens of thousands of our brave young men and women were killed, maimed, or endured mental anguish — the full terror of which we scarcely know.

When we elected you we didn’t expect miracles. We didn’t even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn’t even function as a nation and never, ever has.

Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God’s sake, stop.

Tonight we still have hope.

Tomorrow, we shall see. The ball is in your court. You DON’T have to do this. You can be a profile in courage. You can be your mother’s son.

We’re counting on you.

Yours,
Michael Moore

On Afghanistan, tell Obama NO NO NO

UPDATE – TUES DEC 1 ANTIWAR ACTION- Show up. Bring a get-out-of-Afghanistan slogan, or hold extras from Coloradans For Peace.
afghanistan antiwar banner
Sport a healthy indignation over the new administration wanting to “finish the job” ie. continue war-making. Our action will be joined by peace organizations nationwide. As President rallies the officers of West Point, his words will be met by NY demonstrators, and more in Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle and Saginaw. Followed by Allentown, Boston, Eugene, Greensboro, Hartford, Los Angeles, Madison, Maine, Milwaukee, Newark, Newton, San Francisco, to name only the early listings. We’ll be Acacia Park, 5PM Tuesday, and if Obama doesn’t respond to our message, we’ll be there again Wednesday.

Obama to announce on Tuesday: surge of 34,000 body bags to Afghanistan

White House spokesmen have announced that President Obama will address the nation on Tuesday, December 1st, to declare his intention to send 25,000-34,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Join COLORADANS FOR PEACE in Acacia Park at 5PM TUESDAY to show our vehement opposition to this plan. Explained spokesman Robert Gibbs about the week’s time still needed for deliberations on Afghanistan: “It’s not just how we get people there, but what’s the strategy for getting them out.”

Marching orders from Vets For Peace

Veterans For Peace are stepping forward to plan the unplannable: how to protest the regularly postponed announcement of an escalation in Afghanistan? I forgot how we picked March 19-21 to demonstrate against the attack on Iraq. Did we protest its beginning, or did it start afterward? Bush snuck the “surge” past public outcry, and that’s how Obama will surge Afghanistan. Vets for Peace suggest activists be ready this time with a “March of the Dead” immediately when Obama decides.
death masks

A MARCH OF THE DEAD requires dark cloths, preferably robes or hoods, and plain white masks with eyes and mouth backed with black gauze. Generic masks are available here, for example.

Already this year Obama has doubled US troops in Afghanistan without having to announce a decision.

As far as planning protests, it’s been easy to forecast the thousand-mark milestones of US soldier deaths, and the anniversaries of the wars. How are we to project when a decision is coming? The administration keeps setting back the date for Obama’s decision, owing to the complexity of the issues. Afghanistan may be so complicated, it will never be answered.

Participating in the Veterans For Peace call to action are: Military Families Speak Out, the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition, National Assembly, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, United for Peace and Justice, and World Can’t Wait.

Let’s add Coloradans For Peace march for the dead.

Our mission, should we chose to accept it:

1) Within the next few days, ideally prior to any decision from President Obama, conduct any of a wide range of local activities — from calling Members of Congress to nonviolent civil resistance and everything in between — demonstrating our opposition to and disgust with any decision to widen the war in Aghanistan. To show unity of purpose, we suggest local “March of the Dead” to Federal Buildings, local Congressional offices and government buildings of any sort.

2) On the day immediately following an announcement to escalate the war in Afghanistan, respond again in a variety of ways. To show unity of purpose, we suggest:

a) making an appointment that day with at least one group that you’re not already a member of — a church, union, civic group, etc. — to go and speak with them about the war

b) return to the streets and again conduct any of a wide range of local activities — from calling Members of Congress to nonviolent civil resistance and everything in between — and be prepared to comment to the news media about the escalation of the war.

Social justice, peace and reparations

black is back coalition
Stop U.S. Occupation and War inside U.S. and Abroad! We demand the end of U.S. support for the colonial government of Israel and recognition of all rights of the Palestinian people. We demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the Middle East. We demand the removal of U.S. troops and contractors from Colombia and an end to counterinsurgent intervention in Venezuela and South America.

8 yrs in Afghanistan, still boot-counting

How is Colorado Springs marking the 8th year of war in Afghanistan? Couple choices. Visiting priest-activist Louie Vitale will speak at Colorado College on the THE MORAL DIMENSION OF DRONE WARFARE.
The moral dimension of drone war
CC students were dissuaded from hosting a peace rally on campus which might have interfered with the week’s homecoming activities. Instead, beginning at 1PM Wednesday, the CC students will chalk the sidewalks of Acacia Park with the names of the 869 US soldiers killed in the Afghan campaign. Coloradans For Peace will join the boot- counting but will commemorate Afghan deaths, whose number is “n/a.”

Yes we can, host the 2016 Olympics

Obama Epcea Now Mr-FishPresident Obama came into office with quite a checklist:
Stop war-making,
Close Guantanamo,
End renditions/torture,
Rescind the Patriot Act,
Restore the rule of law,
Address global warming,
Reform US health care,
Re-regulate bankers,
Talk to Iran, and doubtless many other items, including
Secure the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.
 
Are his handlers staking the measure of his success on the last one?

George McGovern, 5pm, Colo. College

QUESTION: WHY an antiwar protest at elder statesman George McGovern’s appearance at Colorado College? (Cornerstone Arts Center, South Theater, 5PM) He supports unions, health care, progressive causes; he has been against US interventions in the Middle East, Africa and Central America, and he’s very outspoken against the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.
ANSWER: YES, but what about YOU?

Pink goes to war

VietnamThe color pink seems incongruous juxtaposed with war. Code Pink banks on the contrast being inherently diametric. But just as pink can be enlisted to oppose war, it can serve to humanize, even glamorize it.
 
Remember the Afghanistan theater photo snapped of a US soldier wearing pink boxers and flip-flops while he stood guard on a rampart? Disarming wasn’t it? Here’s its antecedent from the Vietnam conflict. We’re searching antiwar archives for tools to fight this war, our bastard adversaries are already there.

Army Specialist Zachary Boyd was worried when his picture made the front page of the New York Times. Boyd thought he’d be in trouble for being shown out of uniform.

“I can assure you that Specialist Boyd’s job is very safe indeed,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who instead praised the soldier for making American bravery look so nonchalant. “What an incredible innovation in psychological warfare,” said Gates.

Antiwar COS -report from the front line

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009COLO. SPRINGS- Well, that wasn’t so hard. Our message was warmly received by soldiers who shook our hand in the staging area, and afterward we were thanked by others for what we are trying to do. Antagonism came from the crowd, but not as fiercely as we’d braced ourselves for. Eight years of horror has taken the edge off the “these colors don’t run” mentality. Hence the military imperative for parades like these. Our antiwar presence was all the more important to show the soldiers that some at home are fighting to rescue them. The rest of the attendees were giving them a “welcome home” as they did in 2004, and will keep doing only to redeploy them. The soldiers need to see more real support: a determination to stop these wars.

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009

Compatriots of ours were circulating along the sidewalk with this flier:

We ask that you consider the costs of war
as you take part in this celebration.

War kills people. War hurts people.
War kills animals. War destroys things.
War devastates the environment.

This parade is a propaganda exercise
promoted by those who profit from war.

The money spent on war could go to
making friends instead of enemies.
Many of us are mourning today not celebrating.

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009
Note the “American Furniture Warehouse” is the most prominent part of that “thank you” handout.

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009
This woman was trying to drown us out with cat whistles, until I took her picture.

More of our HEALTH CARE NOT WARFARE contingent stood further south on the corner, just out of frame.

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009
Also not pictured:
LET’S NOT WORSHIP WAR, and U.S. OUT OF AFGHANISTAN,
and my banner backdrops WAR NO MORE and PEACE NOW.

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009
A young group made threats and tried to crowd us out, until the police intervened.

We were most appreciative of the officers’ prompt interventions, although one officer’s method was hardly comforting. He told one young lady, in a voice for us to overhear: “I know. If it were my choice I’d rip them from the sidewalk, but they have a right to be here.” We took that more as an expression of sympathy than an attempt to intimidate us.

Colorado Springs Tejon Street Parade August 29, 2009
Five officers all told, protected us, from leaping unto the parade route.

Coloradans4Peace condemn COS parade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: COLORADANS-FOR-PEACE CONDEMNS COLORADO SPRINGS PRO-WAR PARADE.
 
–And why not? The rationales for the Iran and Afghanistan wars have been repudiated by the Obama administration. What place has this city to celebrate them? The wars have been declared illegal by international magistrates. How then can Americans presume to cheer their soldiers’ actions? Regardless the jingoism of the Colorado Springs community, to idealize militarism, while thousands of innocent civilians suffer under its boot every day, is unconscionable. A bigoted majority of Lamborn voters want to lynch a certain black man, should we give them a permit?