How to End Wars
By David Swanson
Around the United States, peace groups are engaged in effective campaigns against proposed new military installations, local funding of weapons companies, and the routine destruction of the environment and of workers’ health by such companies. Activists are building better media outlets, educating young people, educating old people, keeping military testing and recruiting out of schools, and discouraging the Army from building real-weapon video arcades in shopping malls. But when it comes to stopping our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, our citizens are less clear how to go about it.
The peace movement was defunded and demobilized by the absurd belief that an election alone would make a difference, and now there is widespread desire to tell everyone that it didn’t. Certainly, it didn’t. We have a larger military budget, bases in more nations, and more troops and mercenaries on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq combined now than before the election. We need to understand that this was entirely predictable and predicted. Those who expected something from an election alone need to be clear that such expectation was entirely – not just partially – misguided. Disappointment with a president needs to be replaced with acknowledgement of strategic error. The latter generates less despair and allows clearer thinking about strategy going forward.
There is still and will always be a role for journalists, bloggers, authors, and pundits to expose the abuses of any and all government officials, including the president. But the primary role of peace activists should have nothing to do with presidents, or with senators. We have virtually no ability to influence them. When you’re invited to discuss these wars on a television show, by all means expose what the president is doing. But asking members of an activist group to spend their time writing or calling the White House is a waste of energy that could be better used. It should be directed at the House of Representatives.
And when we look at the House, we see that the easiest way to quickly generate a large list of cosponsors is to propose bills. This pleases our closest allies in the House and impresses funders and allies in Washington, D.C. But it is not the easiest way to use the House to actually end wars. A bill with no teeth to it instructing the Pentagon to produce a plan to exit Afghanistan someday is something that one could almost imagine passing the Senate and being signed by the president. At best that process might move public opinion a bit more in the right direction. But it would further enforce in the public’s minds, and Congress’s, the idea that when and where wars are fought should be determined by the president or the Pentagon.
Passing a bill barring the spending of any money on an escalation in Afghanistan shifts the discussion to one of opposing an escalation rather than demanding withdrawal. This has led many peace groups to self-censor their demands for withdrawal. And passing such a bill through the Senate and persuading the President to sign it, or overriding a veto is a beautiful fantasy, but a far, far, far more difficult undertaking than a simpler and more direct approach.
If you want to stop funding wars, or even just the escalation of wars, the easiest way is to just not fund them. This can be done in the House alone. The Senate is not needed. The president is not needed. Rather than passing a bill stating that you won’t fund wars, and then dreaming about getting the Senate to pass it too, you can choose to not pass bills that fund the wars. If the House makes clear that it will not fund an escalated war, then the war cannot be escalated. If the House makes clear that it will not fund a continued war, then the war cannot be continued.
The process of signing congress members onto a bill against funding or a bill requiring an exit plan is not counterproductive. It nudges them in the right direction. It creates a discussion about the possibility of including such measures in funding bills. It identifies lists of congress members to target in lobbying for stronger commitments. But when these bills are all we ask for, then they are not compromises or middle-ground. They are harder to move forward when they are all we ask for. And moving them forward without a broader vision of how we actually end the wars doesn’t get us anywhere in the end.
Our primary demand must be: publicly commit to voting no on any bill that funds these wars. If unrelated measures are included in such bills, they must still be voted down and those other measures passed separately. If your representative is worried about funding a withdrawal itself, assure them that a bill to fund purely withdrawal has our support. If they are worried about abandoning foreign nations, assure them that we support diplomacy and aid. But we need them to join the list <http://afterdowningstreet.org/whipwars> of their colleagues who have committed to voting no on bills that fund the wars. And we need them to lobby their colleagues to join them on that list.
By moving our focus to Congress we do something else useful. We allow people to protest wars who refuse to protest a president. By identifying wars with a president, we grant all future presidents the power to make wars, and we discourage participation in citizen activism by people who fantasize about the president being their friend or who think it’s not wise to protest a popular president.
Our focus on Congress should include their responsibility on Iraq as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Congress has now required the Pentagon to provide it with monthly reports on its progress toward fully withdrawing from Iraq by the end of 2011. When those reports are not forthcoming or do not credibly suggest progress toward that goal, congressional committees must be forced by us to subpoena Secretary of “Defense” Robert Gates. And in fact, the House Judiciary Committee must be compelled by us as soon as possible to restore the checking power of impeachment by opening an impeachment inquiry into Jay Bybee, a federal judge who, while employed by the Justice Department, signed memos purporting to legalize torture and aggressive war. At the very least, Bybee must be subpoenaed, and Congress must use the Capitol Police to enforce that subpoena rather than futilely asking the Justice Department to do it.
If Congress asserts the power to hold war criminals accountable (which, again, can be done without the Senate or the president), we will be in a far better position to deter further wars and escalations, and Congress will be in a better position to cut off funding.
In June, 32 congress members voted No <http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/43479> on war funding. They should be thanked and rewarded <http://www.actblue.com/page/afghanistan> . But they should, above all, be asked and pressured to make a commitment to join this list of members committed to voting No from here on out: http://afterdowningstreet.org/whipwars
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that he’d like to see another $50 billion <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/world/05military.html?_r=2&ref=world> passed in another supplemental war spending bill in the next few months. This is money to fund an escalation that we are supposed to believe has not been decided upon yet. This must be stopped. Some congress members are speaking against it <http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/47539> . Even the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee David Obey has suggested <http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/46864> he might oppose this. He very much needs to be encouraged by people around the nation to not put our money where his mouth isn’t.
I just had the privilege of speaking at a rally <http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/47540> in Portland, Maine, where an enthusiastic crowd of Mainers demanded the actions I’m proposing here. Their two congress members voted the right way in June, and they are working to win their public commitments to continue that practice and to lobby their colleagues to join them in that commitment.
Resources to help in this effort (and a place to report your results) in your congressional district can be found at http://afterdowningstreet.org/whipwars. Here’s a flyer on ending the war in Vietghanistan: PDF <http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/sites/afterdowningstreet.org/files/flyerafghanistan.pdf> . Here’s how to step up your activism <http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/47338> . Here’s what’s needed instead <http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/47340> of bombs and guns. Here’s a way to nonviolently resist <http://vcnv.org/pac> .
Here’s a very useful list of top targets and multiple ways to contact them <http://www.democrats.com/war-whip-0911> . You can help with that even if they are not your representative.
What I am proposing is not easy. It’s just the easiest path we have. It will be easier, the more of us get involved, the more of us refrain from discouraging each other with our knowledge of how hard the struggle will be, and the more of us who are willing to go beyond lobbying to nonviolently disrupting, including by sitting in our congress members’ offices and refusing to leave until they agree to leave Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. These wars, like all wars, are Congress’s wars. The blood is on their hands and they represent us.
- David Swanson is the author of the new book “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book <http://davidswanson.org/book> .
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
I am sending you the link below in the hope that you too support a woman’s right to choose. This is often the most difficult choice a woman will ever have made in her life, one which stays with her for as long as she lives… The right to choose is in my view sacrosanct on this planet, and MUST be in our country.
Why did, how COULD some pro-choice Democrats vote to approve the Stupak Amendment, the most serious assault on abortion rights in a generation????
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, 20 of the 64 Democrats who joined Republicans to pass the measure are nominally pro-choice!
We need to tell these 20 to reconsider their vote, and we need to urge Congressional leadership to do everything they can to ensure the health care bill that comes out of committee does not take us back to an era of coat hangers and back alley abortions!!!
I just signed a petition to these 20 formerly pro-choice Democrats — ALL OF THEM MEN – who voted to take away women’s rights.
(Left to my own devices I’d probably send a coathanger to everyone in both Houses as a reminder, but this is better than nothing…)
For every person that signs the petition a coat hanger will be sent to remind them what happens when women can’t get access to reproductive health care including abortion.
Please have a look and take action.
With aloha, mahalo nui ,,,,,,,,,G
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Why Is It We Have Finite Resources for Health Care but Unlimited Money for War?
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, 11/11/09
WASHINGTON – November 6 – Following a statement on the Floor of the House of Representative, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:
“Why is it we have finite resources for health care but unlimited money for war?
“The inequities in our economy are piling up: trillions for war, trillions for Wall Street and tens of billions for the insurance companies. Banks and other corporations are sitting on piles of cash of taxpayer’s money while firing workers, cutting pay and denying small businesses money to survive.
“People are losing their homes, their jobs, their health, their investments, their retirement security; yet there is unlimited money for war, Wall Street and insurance companies, but very little money for jobs on Main Street.
“Unlimited money to blow up things in Iraq and Afghanistan, and relatively little money to build things in the US.
“The Administration may soon bring to Congress a request for an additional $50 billion for war. I can tell you that a Democratic version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is no more acceptable than a Republican version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Trillions for war and Wall Street, billions for insurance companies… When we were promised change, we weren’t thinking that we give a dollar and get back two cents.”
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To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me in Downtown Savannah night before last. Date: 2009-05-27, 1:43 a.m. E.S.T.
I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend’s purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.
First, I’d like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn’t expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 .45 A CP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head … isn’t it?!
I know it probably wasn’t fun walking back to wherever you’d come from with that brown sludge in your pants.. I’m sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again].
After I called your mother, or “Momma” as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you’d done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, — on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!
I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go’s, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]
I then threw your wallet into the big pink “pimp mobile” that was parked at the curb … after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver’s side of the car.
Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what’s going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA’s office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target.
The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.).
In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you … but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you’ve chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky.
Have a good day!
P.S. Remember this motto … An armed society makes for a more civil society!
Taking Vitamin D Revolution to the Next Step
A Vitamin D-Deficient Woman Leads the Way
April 9, 2008
Encinitas, CA — The scientific breakthroughs are astounding, even jaw-dropping. The world has begun to hear of a “pinch me to make sure it’s true” development — what may be a preventive measure for cancer is on the drawing board, and it may also be an antidote for the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the Western World, ranging from diabetes to obesity, mental depression, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, heart disease, infectious disease, and even autism. It’s not a pharmaceutically designed molecule, it’s a ray of sunshine, or more specifically, what a ray of sunshine produces, natural vitamin D.
The problem is, leading vitamin D researchers are already loaded with reams of scientific studies, and it’s about time to aim this information at the public as well as health professionals, who are eager to learn of this discovery. The challenge is, how to get accurate and authoritative information into eager hands?
Public uncertainty is high. People have heard about recent vitamin D discoveries, but they want to obtain assurance and instruction from their doctors before embarking upon a regimen to increase vitamin D levels.
This may sound a bit silly, since vitamin D is obtained freely from skin exposure to midday UV-B sun rays. At a brief glance, it doesn’t appear the public needs instruction how to get out in the sun. But since the dermatology community made the public phobic over sun exposure, fearing more skin cancer, and medical textbooks mistakenly warn the public away from higher-dose vitamin D supplements, the public is a bit confused. Can vitamin D pills be taken with medicines? Can I overdose? Can I take vitamin D pills if I’m out in the sun all day? These are some of the questions. Even doctors were trained to be cautious in prescribing vitamin D, so they need first-hand instruction on safety and applications of vitamin D therapy.
Enter Carole Baggerly, founder of Grassroots Health, a non-profit organization that wants to carry the torch for vitamin D. The trigger for her role as a sparkplug for the unfolding vitamin D revolution was her own ordeal — breast cancer.
After undergoing breast removal, chemo and radiation therapy, treatment she thinks is barbaric, Carole kept saying to herself, “there has to be a better way. But what?”
It took another unwelcome disease diagnosis for Carole Baggerly to find it. Her doctor informed her she had osteoporosis. Carole asked why. Why me? Her doctor said, maybe it’s due to a low vitamin D level. Tests confirmed she was deficient (about 20 nanograms per milliliter in blood serum) for adequate bone health.
Just about then, Dr. Cedric Garland of the University of California, San Diego, had published authoritative data showing the risk for breast cancer could be reduced by 50% with adequate levels of vitamin D (48 nanograms per milliliter).
Carole reached the same freezing point the public now has — she didn’t know what to do. She sought out a world expert, Dr. Anthony Norman at University of California, Riverside. She asked Dr. Norman, “is the research on vitamin D true?” A two-and-a-half hour lecture later, Carole was beginning to be convinced. But she needed to hear more. She attended a scientific workshop on Vitamin D and Cancer at the National Cancer Institute in Washington, DC.
It was there that Carole literally jumped out of her turtle shell as an attendee of the workshop to become a change agent for vitamin D. Panel experts concluded more research needed to be done. To the contrary, Carole felt it was also time to get word out to the public, that cancer is too life-threatening of a disease to wait for more research when vitamin D therapy is safe and economical. She was appalled at the lack of urgency shown by many attendees at the conference.
Before she left Washington DC, a dozen or so people came to her and said something must be done. Then, with her husband in tow, they both motorhomed to visit all the leading vitamin D researchers in the country and interview them firsthand. The list included Drs. Robert Heaney and Joan Lappe at Creighton University in Omaha, Reinhold Vieth PhD of Toronto University, Dr. John Cannell, founder of The Vitamin D Council in Atascadero, California, William Grant of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, Cedric Garland Dr. P.H. at University of California, San Diego, Bruce Hollis PhD from the Medical University of South Carolina, Anthony Norman, PhD, University of California, Riverside, and Walter Willet, MD, Dr. P.H. and Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD. of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Michael Holick MD, PhD of Boston University Medical Center.
Carole mulled over how to become a change agent without much of a budget. She started by urging vitamin D researchers to develop a consensus statement over dosage. They came up with a recommended range of vitamin D blood concentration — 40-60 nanograms per milliliter sample of blood serum.
She then founded GrassrootsHealth, a non-profit corporation, to sponsor teaching seminars across the country about vitamin D for health professionals.
Next, Carole began attending medical association meetings, to prod them to produce policy statements regarding vitamin D. Work is now going on within the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine.
Carole’s latest developments are a set of community health projects on Chronic Diseases and Health Disparities. Carole’s prior experience in the computer industry has also led her to the observation that ‘there’s a better way’ for getting the public involved in health.
The first seminar, free for health professionals, is fully subscribed. Over 150 health professionals have registered, some from foreign countries. Dr. Cedric Garland, when he heard the seminar registration was standing room only, said “I never thought this would happen in my lifetime.”
Carole even has the Black Nurses Association volunteering their time as volunteers at the conference, invigorated by a presentation Carole made for their group. Black American health professionals need to lead the way, especially since Black Americans need far more sunshine to produce adequate levels of vitamin D compared to Caucasians.
Carole is utilizing skills she learned as a business woman in the computer software industry. Her desk at home serves as the world headquarters for GrassrootsHealth. The internet expands her reach to the world. She says it’s the biggest health development presented to humankind since clean water. She thinks of the fact that Edward Mellanby discovered vitamin D in 1922. The question arises in her mind and others, why didn’t this message get out to the public sooner?
Carole ended her interview with a touching story. Preliminary studies show vitamin D may be a godsend for young children stricken with autism. She sent a note to a pediatrician friend about that. Three days later her note was passed on by the doctor to a third party, a mom with an autistic child. That mom began taking her autistic child outdoors to get more midday sun, with noticeable improvement in behavior.
The vitamin D revolution trudges forward, one person at a time. For more information about vitamin D, and to see how you can help in this revolution, visit www.grassrootshealth.org
Founder and Director, Grassrootshealth
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