The Acquiescence Is On

The Acquiescence Is On

The US’s Mideast allies appear to be giving in to the Shrub. A senior Japanese official hints that there may be growing support for Bush’s war. A similar story can be found in Europe, where eight nations are calling for solidarity in backing the US-led war on Iraq. NATO, however, is still delaying its Iraq military plan. And 11 of 15 United Nations Security Council members still oppose the war.

Say what?: The right-wing Cybercast News Service says security experts charge that the early support for war shown by France and other US allies was only a means of getting a share of the Iraqi oil pie, and their newly proclaimed opposition shows a lack of commitment to human rights.

Whatever. Make no mistake — there is plenty of still-growing opposition to this war because of people’s commitment to the rights of all humans. South Africa’s The Star presents reasons why people should condemn Bush’s policies, his war, and his “cowboy talk.” Even Cuban President Fidel Castro sees it. So does the Canadian Christianity web site, which says the war is motivated by governments’ lust for power and wealth. Yep, there are leaders out there swimming in oceans of greed.

The option of exile appears to be on the negotiating table as the US is considering finding a haven — outside of his home country — for Saddam Hussein. At the same time, the Bushites are studying international law to determines who, in war, gets rights to control Iraq’s oil.

However much Iraqis loathe their regime, they will soon loathe the American occupation that will follow its demise; photo from InTheseTimes.com The question I hear most often from rank-and-file war supporters is: What other option exists beside war? Truth is, there are many alternatives. Gulf-News.com offers ways to prevent war — this article is particularly interesting in regard to gauging the feelings of Iraqi people. What’s telling is that the ire these endangered souls felt toward Dubya Bush and Tony Blair is expanding to include the American and British people. According to the report, Iraqis are beginning to believe that those nation’s citizens ought to be able to control the leaders who establish such inhumane policies. As much as that saddens me — and it does, deeply — I can see their point. News site In These Times echoes a similar chord — the war will create more US foes. Australian-based Iraqis, meanwhile, seem to be divided on the issue of taking military action against Saddam Hussein, but most fear the cost of war. In the UK, the Guardian says the war can not be sold honestly as “liberation.”

Newly re-elected Israeli PM Ariel Sharon has been a big winner of late (depending on how one defines the term “win”), but his troubles are far from over.

Shrub’s Big Sell: Reaction

Comedian Dennis Miller I suspect few minds were changed by Dubya’s State of the War, um, Union address. Well, except, perhaps, for comedian Dennis Miller, who sounded like a true-blue hawk on NBC’s “Tonight Show” last evening. Aside from a very funny reference to North Korea’s “Kim Jong Il and his Kim Jong ilk,” Miller sounded like a vengeful, bloodlusting — and thoroughly unfunny — Republican. Perhaps Rush Limbaugh would have been a better choice for ABC’s “Monday Night Football” than the formerly sensible ex-“Saturday Night Live” star. (I am now so glad he got the boot in favor of John Madden.) But otherwise, most war supporters still support it, and most of those who didn’t support it prior to Shrub’s Tuesday night pitch still do not. That isn’t to say that a few weren’t convinced to back the war

But lots of people from many places have plenty to say about the State of the Union. For some, the Resident failed to “connect the dots.” The New York Times reports that Arabs in the Middle East say the speech proves Bush fully intends to do battle. At the same time, columnist Bob Herbert characterizes the oration, which he calls “moving,” as a classic case of the oldest marketing con in the book — bait and switch. USA Today says the oration shows that the Bush administration is walking the line that separates church and state. The San Jose Mercury News says the speech did not address the true state of the nation at all. Wired reports that the AIDS plan Bush outlined Tuesday is drawing fire — but some are saluting the effort. (U2 singer and activist Bono gives it a thunb’s up, though.) World Socialist says the address gave voice to the war fever of a ruling elite. The Islamic magazine Khilafah calls the Iraq war Dubya’s “pipe dream.” Bay Area Indymedia presents Berkeley, CA, public-radio station KPFA’s “Flashpoints,” which features a sampling of progressive viewpoints on Bush’s spiel, along with a humorous reconstruction of the speech that probably is a truer representation of the Shrub’s thinking. The link will take you to a page where you can read the transcript or listen to the audio; I recommend both. Meanwhile, Michigan’s Kalamazoo Non-Violent Opponents to War took the occasion of the State of the Union to call for peace. WBIR-TV in Tennessee offers a roundup of students’ opinions of the Bush show. North Korea says the speech was an “undisguised declaration of aggression.” (Well, um, yeah, it was.) Saddam Hussein’s reaction to Dubya’s threats is pretty predictable: As Iraq’s ruling party called the address a “Hollywood farce,”, their leader said yesterday that Iraq “has huge capabilities” and is ready to face a US attack, “destroy it and defeat it.” (Heaven help us all — Americans, Iraqis, everyone on the planet.) And the entire world, pro- or anti-war awaits the presentation of still-unseen US Resident’s “evidence.”

Just in time, I just received a release from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith organization that seeks to replace violence, war, racism, and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace, and justice:

PRE-EMPTIVE PEACE, NOT PRE-EMPTIVE WAR: THE F.O.R. RESPONSE TO STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS 

According to President Bush, the regime of Saddam Hussein is the most urgent foreign policy issue we face today. No one contests the ugliness of the Hussein government – but when the President claims that Iraq presents us with a security emergency, the world abounds with skeptics. Now without presenting new or convincing evidence that Iraq is an imminent threat, President Bush, in defiance of global opinion and the deliberation necessary to UN inspections, continues his massive military buildup in the Middle East. He makes the case for a war that we will wage alone if necessary and on our own terms.

War is hell. That hell is not being forced on us. Our policies are making it more likely.

The costs of this dangerous war are passed over with little comment. Not only will the Iraqi people suffer greatly from a pre-emptive attack, but the possible reverberations at home are enormous. War can destabilize the entire region, triggering the growth of Islamic and nationalist extremism, toppling the governments of such key US-connected states as Jordan and Pakistan, or even Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It could foster terrorist attacks in the West and increase even further the fear and insecurity to which Americans do not wish to become accustomed.

Pre-emptive war by the United States encourages other states with serious conflicts, such as India and Pakistan, to go to war themselves rather than patiently seeking a diplomatic solution. It sets up our country as the worst possible example to others.

Pre-emptive war weakens the United Nations, international treaties, and the growing framework of international law that encourages the settlement of disputes and crises through peaceful means. The United States devoted much blood and effort throughout the 20th century to establishing this very system.

The massive financial costs of war with Iraq will have a devastating impact on the US economy. Rapidly retreating federal and state budgets are already producing severe suffering among the poor and unemployed, gutting our schools and damaging or destroying other public services. The President’s main policy for dealing with these problems is to suggest further tax cuts. Gestures of good will toward the bottom four-fifths of our population (and there were many in the speech) cannot mask the social shock of the enormous reductions in taxes paid by the richest 1%.These lopsided tax cuts did not create the jobs promised last year. They won’t do it this year, either.

The most serious weakness of the President’s approach is its moral simplemindedness. In demonizing those he calls “the evil ones” and in exalting the goodness and purity of the United States and its policies, he removes himself from the rational world in which problems can be solved. Evil is not something “out there” in others. Good and evil reside in every human heart, and in every society. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely: nobody is exempt. As the most militarily and economically powerful nation, the United States should beware of hubris and the attitudes and policies that flow from it.

Martin Luther King, Jr., whose holiday this country has just finished celebrating, spoke to us of the triple evils of racism, poverty, and war. He called upon us to build the Beloved Community through the work of justice here at home as well as abroad. We need to put our faith and prayers and resources to work in combating poverty, disease, illiteracy, and despair, the pools of misery in which terrorism and violence thrive. That is an American ideal that will win us the world’s respect, rather than its contempt.

Together the community of nations can marshal the great resources of humanity to bring healing, peace, and hope to all people. This was the vision that led to the founding of the United Nations, and the one that still beckons us today.

Ah yes, a toast to healing, hope, and yes, PEACE.

Taking It to the Streets

Jan. 27 protest at United Nations That’s what peace-loving people around the globe are — and will be — doing. Hundreds rallied in chilly Washington after Bush’s sales pitch to say, “We’re not buying!” Students from the University of New Hampshire paid a visit to their nation’s capitol to raise a ruckus for peace. So did students from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Some take their peace message to the airwaves: A high-ranking Methodist bishop will appear in an anti-war advertisement aimed at persuading George Bush, a fellow Methodist, that a US attack on Iraq would violate “God’s law.” George the First disagrees, but then, the Bush Klan has a direct line to the Creator, right?

Other religious leaders have, of course, stood against Bush’s war call. A top Anglican bishop calls the war policy “reprehensible” and says he is tired of having to be ashamed of being American.

Others take their peace stances at home: On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, about 250 folks came out for peace.

Some of those opposing the war are unable, for a variety of reasons, to hit the protest trail. That doesn’t mean they are inactive. Today I received e-mail from an anti-war disabled-rights activist, and I just had to share it. (I have left it largely intact so the words she wants you to hear come through as she intended.):

My letter IS to convey a stance on behalf of millions of disAbled lives unable to join much of the external world’s daily interfaces, and to that which voices and exchanges understandings for peace locally, globally. I don’t know how long my life will be, but I can not in good conscience keep silent, nor, not be participative in expressing my genuine expression to keep and promote peace, locally, globally. [I am on dialysis, with other disablities.] It may be my last ability to be part of, and reach a ‘caring world’, and I hope it will be a message that will carry far. It’s the least I can offer of my remaining energies. I pray it will have wings to light every human heart and connect solidly! 

I’ve sent on a post below to many lives, known and unknown. Hopefully, many human hearts will join in this visual expression to take our voices, our wishes to the world at large, in the stance to speak out against war anywhere. Perhaps I shall not hear from anyone, and that’s not needed really, although it would be nice. My only wish is that it will offer a positive understanding, we are a part of the world [regardless of our disAbilities, and profoundly], and must not be left behind, even in expressing our views to keep peace alive and well!

I’d hoped I might find address of past [present] Nobel Laureates, and others pledged to peace, to offer them the same message below, and ask for their joining in sharing and wearing our expression of peace. If you would have their address, and or e-mail, it would assist me greatly, as I am not able to run out at will to any given post office, etc.

I thank you kindly for your time, and wish you and yours a very happy new year, with all of God’s Blessings.

Respectfully,
Mrs. Tatiana A. Kostanian

Our message follows below:

January 2003 – San Francisco – Ca. 

Dear United Nations Secretariat:

Please consider me a human rights defender. I’m unable to really go far from home due to many disabling issues, including being on dialysis.

I would still hope my voice and fight for human rights, like millions around the world, would be just as effective as lives that are able to have on-going continuum in external world interfaces.

Sharing a message wherever possible, where hearts would be willing to join with our message of ‘peace’.

Please feel free to share our message however possible. Thank you.

Respectfully, …

Let’s hear it for do-gooders of all stripes and abilities!

Millions of do-gooders will take action in and outside of the streets between Feb. 13 and 21. In the US, it appears that Feb. 15 will be the biggest day of action. (See ya in New York!) And the US government is cancelling events such as poetry symposia because it’s afraid of what anti-war protesters will do. I don’t want to say anyone is moronic, but this is colossal stupidity. The government is afraid of nonviolent people??? Perhaps America can not be saved. And the US isn’t alone in this stupidity — in the UK, a London minister has out and out banned an anti-war protest.

Whatever happens with this war and with our efforts, reporter Bill Cahir says protesters will learn — or re-learn very hard lessons about the downside of democracy.

Oh, and dig this: The New York Daily News reports that a US government report says Iraqi spies are behind anti-war protests.

Let’s Hear It for Labor

Voice4Change reports that organized labor’s opposition to war is growing across the US. In California, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has adopted a strong anti-war resolution. LA is not alone — seven different national labor unions have come out against war. Three cheers for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Postal Workers Union (my conscientious-objector brother is a member), the Communication Workers of America, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Service Employees International Union, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, and the United Farm Workers of America!

So Much Trouble in the World

I can hear the Bob Marley tune running through my head…

Israeli troops and armour surged into Hebron, slapping a curfew on the West Bank city and carrying out house-to-house searches, while Israeli right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tried to corral the Labour party into a national unity coalition.

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo reneged on a French-brokered deal to end a civil war, faced with opposition to the pact from his army as hundreds of French nationals fled riots and anger.

Diplomats say the European Union failed again to agree on an extension of sanctions against Zimbabwe

US forces arrested 17 people near the site of the fiercest Afghan battle involving American troops since March.

The South Korean government was under fire after one of its top envoys returned home from a mission under a cloud after being snubbed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

And in the So-Called Land of the Free…

It’s still the economy.

And don’t blame McDonald’s for the US’s weight problem. A Washington-based think tank says the government is to blame for making poor people obese.

Point fingers, as well, at George W. Bush, whose health plan will stick it to the nation’s seniors.

Sen. Robert Byrd is still standing up to the White House.

And so are justice-loving Americans now working to impeach Bush. (How weird is it that people have to impeach someone who didn’t win the job fair and square?)

Must-See TV

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has a tube tip for tonight: “Primetime Thursday” on ABC is scheduled to feature a segment on gays in the military, focusing in part on the Human Rights Watch report condemning the US military’s discriminatory anti-gay ban. Capt. Monica Hill and Arabic Linguist Alastair Gamble — both clients of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network — will share their experiences with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The show airs Thursday, Jan. 30 at 10 PM Eastern/Pacific on the ABC network. A full transcript of the segment will be available at GLAAD’s site on Friday afternoon, Jan. 31. For more information on the impact of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” visit SLDN and HRW.

Heroic Joe Curran A Hero in Maryland

And it sure as shootin’ isn’t Gov. Bob “Hang ‘Em High” Ehrlich. Joseph Curran, the state’s attorney general, has called for the abolition of the death penalty in Maryland. Cynical me wonders if this could be the end of his political career. (Grateful me says, THANKS, JOE!) Now that inexplicably popular Ehrlich has put the kibosh on the state’s capital-punishment moratorium — and the first state-sanctioned murder is set for mid-March — I suspect many in the supposed Free State are going to make Curran’s public life hell for a while. Good on Curran for doing what is right, just, and moral. It is unbelievably spirit-lifting when pols such as Curran and former Illinois Gov. George Ryan are willing to take the heat for doing what any responsible human should and would do — and what too many political types are afraid to do. Kudos, kudos, 100 times kudos…

You Can Do Good, Too!

Of course, you can do good every day at The Armchair Activist. But I will bring one activism opportunity to you here: Colorado’s Boulder Mennonite Church has launched what I think is an inspired grassroots campaign to protest war in Iraq in a simple, but potentially powerful way. You’re asked to place four ounces (113.5 grams) of uncooked rice into a small plastic bag (a snack-size bag or sandwich bag will work fine). Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag. Wrap it in a piece of paper on which you have written, “‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them.’ (Romans 12:20) Please send this rice to the people of Iraq; do not attack them.” Powerful, no? Then place the paper and bag of rice into an envelope (either a letter-sized or padded mailing envelope — both should be the same cost to mail) and address them to:

George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

In the US, attach $1.06 in postage. (Three 37-cent stamps equal $1.11.) Outside of the US, check with your local postal authorities for rates. Drop your letter in the mail, and you’re done. It is important to act NOW so that Shrub gets the letters right away.

In order for this protest to be effective, there must be hundreds of thousands of such rice deliveries to the White House. We can do this if you all get involved and if you encourage your family, friends, and associates to become part of the campaign. Get busy!!!

And here is one more activism opportunity for US residents that comes from the Baltimore Activists Coalition mailing list. Essentially, it is the plan for the “Buy Nothing Christmas” writ large. The author admits it may not stop the war, but you may feel better about yourself if you take part: “My own preference would be for us en masse to ‘drop out.’ On a personal level, it might help some of us survive this immeasurable pain and guilt of being a member of a nation that now, unapologetic about its ignorance, materialism, shallowness, and acceptance of genocide. On a larger scale, it will have effect only if a large, VERY large number of us drop out.

The idea: Buy nothing. Try to bring the economy to a halt. Those who would suffer have played their part in all this. I’ve played with the numbers here to try to get a taste of how much of a boycott would affect ‘them,’ and it may be little more than a windmill at which to tilt. Still, a thought. Simply buy nothing except for what is necessary to sustain our lives, basic food, necessary medicine. Still, we have to buy gas in order to get to our jobs. The same starts applying to other ways. The ‘buy nothing’ approach is VERY difficult. UNLESS we go to Canada (or elsewhere) and buy our necessities there. This is not possible for many (or most) who can not survive without the jobs they now have. But for some it IS possible. It is the ultimate rejection of what is happening here, the ultimate way of saying, “I will not participate.” It’s not easy. I am trying this very day to organize things so that I can be out of the country before the slaughter starts, but it’s very hard, in many ways, especially for those of us not young. I decided yesterday upon Canada and trying to get there within three weeks. No, it won’t do a thing to stop the killing or to stop Bush, but I think I can more easily live with myself. Maybe my son can look at that lovely maple leaf flag and feel good. It’s the only way I know to avoid participating in any way.”

Yes, it is difficult — I know that from my holiday experiences. But I, for one, will do my best to be part of this, if only to soothe my troubled heart and soul.

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