March 13, 2005
The majority of Americans, even according to polls conducted by corporations with an interest in war, think that attacking Iraq was a mistake and that continuing to occupy it is a mistake. But the will of a majority of Americans means very little without a substantial minority of Americans willing to struggle and suffer for a goal. If majority opinion mattered on its own, we’d have clean elections, democratic media, a serious effort to slow global warming, major investment in public education, a decent minimum wage, single-payer health care, and other achievements that not enough of us have been willing to lay our bodies on the line for.
We do not, I repeat, not need to spin or frame our position better in order to make clearer our support for the troops or our love for God or our eagerness to fight terrorists. We already have a majority on our side. Stop and think about that and let it sink in. Your position may be denounced as radical and nutty by the news media every day, but it is shared by a majority of your fellow Americans. You’re mainstream. Propaganda is not what you need. What you need is power.
We must force US senators and congress members to act. We must appeal to them. We must threaten them. We must pressure, shame, cajole, and encourage them until they refuse to engage in further killing. We must not support the troops. Rather, we must work with the troops and assist those willing to refuse to fight.
Every person of conscience in the United States right now should be putting everything into ending the war on Iraq. The US military is killing thousands of human beings, wounding thousands, traumatizing infants and children, destroying families, destroying cities. This is not one issue among many. This is an emergency to which we must not become adjusted and numb. This is life and death. People are murdering in our name.
Anger and vengeance are being nurtured by actions we are allowing to occur. We are encouraging international armament and militarism by failing to restrain our government. We are allowing the world to move closer to nuclear disaster, a catastrophe that looms more urgently than global warming.
The war on Iraq will overrun any other issues we choose to work on. It will drain them of resources, and it will continue to create patriotic political cover for our opponents. (On the question of resources, see: http://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm.)
Our national discourse is corroded by three major forces: militarism, moral values, and corporate media. If we cannot oppose militarism, we are lost. But opposing it, at this moment, can allow us to oppose the other two forces as well.
Support for a wartime president played a much larger role in the last election than did hatred of gays or women or blacks. It is militarism that is now dividing us. And it can only be stopped by morality. If we are going to talk about moral values, we must talk about the moral value of lying to working people in order to get them to kill and maim other working people for the gain of robber barons. We must discuss the moral value of smashing a house with a family inside it or of killing and torturing people who have done us no harm.
In talking about these moral values, we cannot avoid talking about the lies that Bush used to start the war, and those lies are now the single strongest argument we have for persuading people to avoid the corporate media in favor of independent sources of news.
Turning to independent news sources will make people aware that the killing has not ended, the expense has not ended, the instability and hatred are still growing, and no democracy has been or can be established by the US occupation. What can be achieved, if US troops continue to occupy that country and continue to treat its citizens with the most reckless disregard for their lives or liberty, will be an attack on US soil. Should that occur, Bush will immediately declare another war. It won’t be another war on Iraq, but another war on whatever part of the world he pleases.
And then where will we be? What will become of all of our plans unrelated to ending this war right now? What resources will remain? What trust and stability in the world? What rights to speak out against flag-flying militarism?
We must push with everything we have right now for the US to get out of Iraq. Here are some sources of ideas for what you can do:
Progressive Democrats of America
United for Peace and Justice
U.S. Labor Against the War
War Resisters League
Voices in the Wilderness
David Swanson is a writer and activist, and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America. His website is http://davidswanson.org. He can be heard every Monday on the Thom Hartmann Show, http://thomhartmann.com.