We are losing the war. Not just the war in Afghanistan, but the war against war itself – the Peace War.
One hundred and fourteen members of Congress voted against the Afghanistan emergency supplemental. To secure the end of these unnecessary wars, we must change that number to a majority in the House of 218. The others who voted billions for more war will be encouraged by campaign contributions from individuals and corporations that benefit from the war budget and the spending it makes possible. Many incumbents run unopposed. Their challengers must come from the people they are supposed to represent, the people of their election districts. Every single one of those who have voted for the wars should be challenged in elections.
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The whole peace movement needs to be far more active, more vocal, and reach out to the unemployed, to all who are being cut back, threatened and limited by this huge military boondoggle. We must work far more diligently to form coalitions that enhance our clout and theirs.
I imagine a peace movement that is as influential as AIPAC or the NRA, a movement that can remove the hawks from Congress and prune the military budget down to a basic defense budget.
I imagine a peace movement that works in every community to reshape the Congress to better serve the American people and their needs, not corporate greed – a transformation that is absolutely essential for the preservation of democracy.
I imagine a peace movement that is regarded as an essential partner of the environmental movement, because in addition to depleted uranium and other extensive military pollution, we urgently need the money that is now being lavished on missile defense, weapons and foreign conquests to be invested in greater energy efficiency, a smart grid, and alternative sources of clean energy to bring our atmosphere below 350 parts per million of CO2.
A peace movement that is a friend of labor because we must invest in jobs, in our people and their education, our roads and bridges, our water supply and the future of our industry. The rising cost of fossil fuels will make the transportation of foreign manufacturing too costly and risky for future needs. Our future security lies in being as self-reliant as possible for our needs.
A peace movement that encourages the development and effectiveness of the United Nations. Recently the U.S. has relied upon NATO to support its international activities. The expansion of NATO is a shortcut to legitimize questionable operations and increase our arms sales, while avoiding the censorship of the far-broader United Nations. As the GDP of the European NATO nations now exceeds that of the U.S., it is irrational for the U.S. to continue to be the main support of European security.
A peace movement whose actions are not limited to the East Coast, but can organize a Peace Day Strike across the nation, when the issue deserves such action.
How to Build the Peace Movement
The key to building the peace movement is for everyone to focus on the top priority of ending the war and pruning the Pentagon budget. What is required to accomplish this goal? Local social- activist organizations, peace clubs that encourage their members, develop strategies and whose members support the best available candidates. We believe that supporters and volunteers will respond to an ambitious, active, well-reasoned program. The slow advance of Congress to 114 anti-war votes is encouraging, but no substitute for a movement that reaches out to the public with a renewed sense of vigor and possibilities.
Most national peace organizations urge their members to send money and occasional signatures on petitions and letters. They seldom introduce their local members to each other. We can build a far more powerful peace movement by inviting all peace people to join a local Peace Club. It is encouraging to work and socialize with people of similar attitudes. Peace Clubs can overcome the sense of isolation that results from being critical of our government. Through outreach, local Peace Clubs can expand their memberships to the point of influencing elections and nominating peace candidates. They can also do outreach and fundraisers to support national peace issues. Looking at the national picture, we believe that the combination of national organizations and local clubs can deliver the one-two punch that magnifies the influence of the peace movement.
Is Now The Time?
In spite of disappointment with the Obama administration, the current scene provides ample evidence of the failure of militarism and the misguided attempt to dominate the Earth. People are outraged by untouchable war budgets that cause cutbacks in our educational system and price many out of attending college. They are outraged by shoveling money into Afghanistan, while millions of Americans lose their jobs and homes. Now is an excellent time to be reaching out for more members, sympathizers and supporters of the peace movement.
We must ask all peace people to do more. We need to connect the dots for people who read the major newspapers and watch TV. These media are not going to say that war and military spending are stealing tax dollars from education and other needs of our children. They are not going to encourage community action. They are not going to search for progressive candidates who can’t be bought. They are not going to encourage people to join organizations and work for a significant change in national priorities, Which means that our members have to educate their neighbors with meetings and door-to-door contacts, explain the situation and create peace events that are appealing as well as educational.
This is by no means the classic version of the Peace Vision. It is a beginning, a reveille, a first draft of what is so urgently needed. My hope is that this simple outline will be developed by peace leaders and organizers, who are working every day to save lives and preserve the battered soul of America.
The very idea of “Global Dominance” is obscene. The idea that any one country should dominate the Earth is dangerous hubris – a sick fantasy that is being proved wrong in Central Asia and is squandering the future of our nation.
Pentagon spending has run up a debt that will burden our grandchildren. In towns and cities across the nation, we are cutting back on health, education, libraries, maintenance and infrastructure, which means we are stealing from our children and their future to pay for the effort of dominance. Who benefits if the Afghanistan war were to succeed? The international corporations and their free-market access, the same elite that has discarded our workers and emaciated the Great American Market. I sometimes think of the United States as a Thanksgiving pumpkin with a fierce face, but with the inside hollowed out to make juicy pies for the military, corporations and the wealthy.
Ending the wars and the giant Pentagon budgets they encourage must be the first priority of every concerned American. We must stop the killing of Americans and Afghanis and end the flow of dollars that increases the corruption of their society and ours. We need to focus our energies on limiting the increasing dangers of climate chaos, and create jobs building the neglected and half-starved future of the United States. If we are to burden our children with weight of debt, let it at least be created by investments to improve their lives and our national future.