By David Swanson
Remarks on RootsAction Livestream
We have so many knowledgable speakers on this call, and I am so incapable of cramming into 10 minutes all the basic facts about the war that corporate media consumers have never heard and never will, and we’ve been over them so many, many, many times on so many calls during the past 9 months that we ought to have given birth by now and in any case I just couldn’t do it yet again even if I had time, with all the videos and articles already out there to be watched by anyone who wants to watch them. Some places to start are
So, instead, I’m going to offer just a few ideas for creative nonviolent actions.
Idea #1 Billboards
One useful type of campaign, which may or may not cost money, involves billboards. Most billboard companies, and advertising companies that handle the ads for public transit stations, trains, and buses, will allow ads selling things like fighter jets, even though most people who see them will never buy a fleet of fighter jets, and even though the ads celebrate war. But they will refuse to rent ad space to any message that is not selling a product or that is seeking to change public policy in any way other than driving public funds into particular weapons. So, you can try to put up a billboard with a message against war and/or in favor of peace, never have to spend a dime, and sometimes get a good news story about the censorship.
Other times, you can get your ad accepted, and then you have to pay for it. But there are people out there who will donate money for billboards and nothing else, so take them up on it. Get news stories about your successful ad campaign. Hold events flyering and signature-gathering in front of your billboard. Generate letters to editors about your billboard. Hold a public debate about the idea on your billboard. Etc.
The Metro Center subway station in Washington DC now has ads that say “Peace On Earth. worldbeyondwar.org” I thought they’d refuse them and we try for news of censorship, but they said yes and we decided to go ahead. If you want to be part of related events in DC this next month, or to see more about billboard campaigns, or to let me know ideas for new ones, go to worldbeyondwar.org
Idea #2 Bases
One way to open up a conversation about the global disaster of NATO expansion is to oppose current NATO expansion at the level of particular families. NATO is trying to create a giant military training ground on mountain plateaux in Montenegro, where the people have organized protests, elected government promising to prevent it, and put their lives on the line as human shields against it. NATO is telling them that environmental destruction is good for the environment, and unwanted military expansion is good for peace and democracy. Support and talk about such resistance campaigns as a means of opening some minds to thinking about NATO. See worldbeyondwar.org/sinjajevina
Idea #3 Debates
Polite public debates on controversial issues, especially debates that include positions not permitted in the corporate media, attract more interest than events promoting a single perspective, reach people who don’t already agree with you, and simultaneously model for the public how to passionately disagree on something without becoming hostile or violent. There’s hardly any peace event these days without people attending who support and oppose sending weapons to Ukraine. Find the best speaker for each position and announce a debate. If you promote it well and poll the audience at the start and end, the opposition to weapons will gain support if its advocate just provides basic facts that people have never heard: who is profiting, what the money could do instead, that victory is not imminent, who favors and opposes negotiations, etc.
Idea #4 Go to Ukraine
World BEYOND War is organizing a group of unarmed nonviolent defenders to travel to Ukraine and protect a nuclear power plant from attacks, as a model of what unarmed resistance can do. If you’re interested in learning more or taking part, go to worldbeyondwar.org/zap
If you’d like a list of dozens of times nonviolent action has been successfully used instead of war, go to worldbeyondwar.org/list
Idea #5 Go After the Media
Last year, when Biden and Putin met and then spoke separately to the media afterwards, U.S. so-called journalists pushed both presidents for more hostility. You could practically smell their lust for blood and war and ratings. Without the corporate media you could not have wars. A protest, when your numbers are small, looks larger in the lobby of a local media outlet than it does in a street. Demand that media outlets cover the nuclear risk, the U.S. government’s resistance to ceasefire or negotiations, the tradeoffs of dumping all that money into weapons, and the alternative of peace to endless cheerleading for war on the delusional eternal promise of imminent victory.
Idea #6 Cease Fire
Create local events that are part of national and global days and weeks of events demanding a ceasefire, or a holidy truce, negotiations, compromise, and no victory for anyone. Highlight the calls from leaders around the globe for such steps. Celebrate the tradition of Christmas truces including in World War I. And educate on the wisdom of the need for compromise. If Russia gets what it wants, or if NATO gets what it wants, through mass murder, that will bode ill for our prospects of avoiding mass murder and nuclear armageddon. Or if they go on for years both failing to get what they want, that too will bode very ill for humanity’s prospects. The only way we all get what we need is for neither warmaker to get what it wants. This is called compromise. The are children’s books and signs on playgrounds with basic wisdom that one is not permitted to say to the State Department or at a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Promote this basic understanding.
Idea #7 Even When Not in Rome
Italy has dock workers blocking weapons shipments, and giant peace rallies with top politicians opposing weapons shipments, demanding a ceasefire, and insisting on negotiations and peace. I’ve lived in Italy. Italians are the same species as Americans. They have no special magical powers. But they do have a tradition, perhaps based on numerous political parties and chaotic short-lived coalition governments, of being able to separate policy from party. Waiting to support peace until one of the two political parties empowered to participate in U.S. government is a death sentence. Being for peace first and demanding that the politicians follow is the only path to survival. Believing the lies that protests do not matter is as tragic as believing any particular war propaganda. Believing climate collapse is real, but not taking advantage of 80 degree winter days to rally for peace is climate denial. So, get out there and rally for peace. Do it in mid-January. Do it in February. Do it in March. Do it until war is over.