By David Swanson
The Stop the War Coalition in the UK has set a standard for anti-war activism that we in the United States struggle to match. They’ve held larger protests, convened more significant conferences, and moved their agenda further in public opinion, in Parliament, and in the courts than we have done. On Tuesday they organized protests nationwide outside the studios of the BBC, which of course already provides a level of openness and honesty in its reporting that those of us in the Land of the Free can only fantasize about.
Many in the U.S. turn to the BBC for better news than the muck our networks produce. Many of us who want to end the war in Iraq look to the Stop the War Coalition’s leadership and are grateful for the protests they create when Condoleezza sets foot on their soil, and for the statements, posters, pamphlets, and books the coalition produces.
The newest book from the Stop the War Coalition is called “Not One More Death.” It’s 57 short pages, about the size of a TV Guide with all the ads cut out. The book is composed of short essays by Brian Eno, John Le Carre, Harold Pinter, Richard Dawkins, Haifa Zangana, and Michael Faber. It’s as good a statement as I’ve seen of why this war is cruel and destructive and why we must devote our energies to ending it as soon as possible.
Want to persuade some friends and neighbors? Buy this book and give it to them. Buy a supply, hand them out. Have a book discussion. It’s short enough that you can ask anyone to prove their open-mindedness by reading it.
When you first open the book and begin reading Brian Eno’s essay, it may not strike you as a vehicle for persuading the unconvinced. It may seem as though it’s preaching quite dramatically to the peace-activist choir. There’s nothing here about the glories of militarism, nothing that would suggest a Democratic strategist had vetted the text for Red State acceptability. In fact, seemingly unrelated controversial topics are tossed in quite gratuitously, or so it may seem. The first sentence of the book is this:
“The defining event of the last ten years was the fraudulent election of George Bush as President of the United States in 2000.”
The approach this book takes to persuading people is not that of point-by-point argumentation, beginning from where the readers supposedly are and progressing didactically to some location just right of John McCain and left of Hillary Clinton. Rather, the book drops one into a worldview that may be very different from your own but is more likely to strike you as coherent and compelling than would an argument that started from Fox News and progressed by stages from sadism all the way through to sacrifice.
The world view presented in this book just might appeal to people, perhaps especially young people, who have not encountered it before. It’s a view that actually makes sense of why the war was launched, why the lies were told, what Blair’s relationship was to Bush, and what the total loss has been in life, limb, safety, and useful projects forsaken. This is a view in which we recognize the significance of the planning done by the Project for a New American Century, in which we see that Iraq was attacked because it was the least, not the most, threatening nation in the Middle East, and in which this crime is placed in the context of a half-century of criminal U.S. foreign policy.
This book, not just Harold Pinter’s brilliant Nobel acceptance speech (which is included), is an attempt to shape our understanding around an accumulation of facts that are habitually ignored. The result should prove eye-opening to many if we can get this book into their hands.