Stop the Next War Now

By David Swanson

Now might be the time to read, if you haven’t already, “Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism,” an amazing book edited by CODE PINK cofounders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, which includes a forward by Alice Walker and an introduction by Arundhati Roy.

While this book was published last year, its title and theme take on a new urgency with each new revelation that our unitary executive (a.k.a. the lying bastard, as Cindy Sheehan christened him) intends to start killing Iranians and piling them beside his heaping piles of Iraqi corpses.

Check out the number at the end of that URL: we’ve now posted over 10,000 articles on the After Downing Street website. The accumulation of information can be a bit overwhelming. Some of the latest postings deal with who forged the Niger documents and who authorized the leaks to the New York Times. But the bigger picture remains very powerful and very often ignored. I tried to summarize it in six paragraphs on Thursday night:

Bush authorized the leaking of selected portions of classified documents, selected in such a way as to constitute a lie. He painted a picture of a nuclear threat that he knew did not exist, and used it to scare people into supporting an illegal war, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Of course, the leaking itself was illegal. Of course, Bush’s past promises to fire leakers were lies, and his eagerness to investigate other leaks that he didn’t authorize is hypocrisy. Of course, it is quite likely he also authorized the leak of Plame’s undercover identity. Of course, this was retribution against a whistleblower. Of course, he may have lied to Fitzgerald and be guilty of obstruction of justice.

But all of that rather misses the point that Bush and his gang of thugs were spoon-feeding immensely destructive lies to the New York Times and other media outlets, which were passing them on to us unquestioningly, obediently. Had Bush legally declassified the NIE, reporters and editors would have seen the whole thing, not the misleading bits that Bush illegally leaked.

I expect that when I read the newspaper Friday morning I’ll want to shout “It’s the war, stupid!” The stories will touch on hypocrisy and low approval ratings and paint the issue as a competition between two political parties, treated roughly as sports teams. The US corporate media is very, very reluctant to confront the issue of the lies that launched the war.

Now, if we can impeach Bush and Cheney and remove them from office, we will stand a chance of ending the war and of restoring democracy and a separation of powers in Washington. For that purpose, it makes no difference what we impeach them for. A blow job would suffice.

But whichever crime(s) we end up nailing them on, we must make clear to the world that we as a nation are rejecting aggressive war, torture, detentions without charge, and weapons of mass destruction. We must end our rogue state status and return to the community of international law. The period following the end of the Nazis’ crimes saw a dramatic increase in the development of international law. The period following the end of Bush and Cheney’s crimes could see the same – if we raise the issue, if we demand accountability, if we don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.

But I digress. It’s the interruptions to feed my brand new son that are throwing me off.

But he is also why I find CODE PINK’s book so important. It’s an extremely well organized collection of essays by over 70 women that paint a picture of what a peaceful world would look like and what we can do to get ourselves there. The absence of male writers in the book, sad to say, leaves nothing missing and something gained. The feminine culture of peace depicted here is a model for men as well – and for children.

Early essays in the book address the critical importance of caring for young children and educating them in peace and nonviolence. Other sections provide some of the best analysis I’ve seen of the US peace movement. And contributions from outside the United States provide incredible inspiration, including Neela Marikkar’s account of massive nonviolent action in Sri Lanka leading to a change in political power and to peace – and doing so just a week after the 9-11 attacks in the face of noisy shouts from Washington to get tough on terrorism. Equally inspiring are the accounts of joint Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts.

A section on the media includes essays from Katrina vanden Heuvel, Amy Goodman, Janine Jackson, Andrea Buffa, Nina Rothschild Utne, and Tad Bartimus. But the piece worth buying the whole book for is an interview of Helen Thomas by CODE PINK cofounder Gael Murphy.

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey has contributed an essay on her SMART proposal for national security, and Medea Benjamin writes of Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s bill that would establish a Department of Peace, an idea that has now been proposed in the US Senate as well by Senator Mark Dayton.

CODE PINK’s book goes further into the steps we must take to create peace, including brilliant articles on disarmament and nonproliferation, and on the need to close the 700 military bases that the US empire has set up in other people’s countries. The most remarkable essay, to my mind, in the whole book is Gar Smith’s “Armies for Peace,” which reports on efforts well underway to establish paid professional nonviolent peace forces – not peacekeeping forces, but organized groups of nonviolent resisters to war.

The book’s penultimate section deals with oil and what can be done to reduce its use. The last section of the book may seem less important, but CODE PINK has demonstrated its usefulness time and time again over the past three years. This section addresses art, music, and creativity as part of a people’s movement. Without these, we would certainly be lost – and working for a better future would be a whole lot less fun.

If we have any hope of stopping the next wars, we need the whole vision laid out here, and we need to act on it. The 10 steps Medea recommends on the book’s last two pages are excellent. I would only add an 11th: impeach the lying bastards and remove them from office.

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