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Signs of the Times for Mon, 10 Apr 2006

Signs Editorial:

By Cindy Sheehan
Being a so-called anti-war movement leader (at least to the MSM), brings much responsibility and so much love for the people and the groups who are working hard to end this insane occupation, but is this enough?

Recently, a blog written by an aquaintance, Scott Ritter, on AlterNet was called to my attention, where Scott, who is a self-proclaimed Republican, conservative who courageously opposed this war from the beginning, is predicting the eminent demise of the anti-war movement.

At first, I was highly offended and defensive at what I thought was Scott's arrogant attack on the movement that I am so intimately and overwhelmingly involved in. But then after my knee-jerk reaction, I realized that for all of the wrong reasons, Scott was partially correct.

The anti-war movement is not on the "verge of collapse" because we are not organized, or because we don't take a "warriors" view of attacking the neocons and the war machine using the tactics of Napoleon, or Sun Tzu-but because the two-thirds of Americans who philosophically agree that the war is wrong, BushCo lied, and the troops should come home, will not get off of their collective, complacent, and comfortable behinds to demonstrate their dissent with our government. Some, like Casey and almost 2400 other Americans and their families give all, while some, like the people of Iraq, have everything stolen from them by unlawful war; some, like myself, give a lot; some give some, by writing letters, attending an occasional vigil or march; but the majority of Americans give nothing-except an occasional vote, which we all know counts practically for nothing with our electoral process being so corrupted and almost rendered meaningless by paperless voting machine, no instant run-offs, and exploitation of the religious right by such contrived issues as gay marriage and teaching evolution in our public schools.

I also agree with Scott that true progressives have many issues that we focus rightly on: a woman's right to have control over her own reproductive system and other human rights issues such as an end to the occupation of Palestine and the atrocities of Darfur and the Sudan. But unlike Scott, I think that these things are all interrelated and we have to expose the people in our government who exploit our young people and people of other countries, who are usually browner than the ruling class in America, for their own profit and imperial arrogance. Scott is definitely correct about this though: even while we are focusing our attentions on ending the occupation of Iraq, the fascist fanatics are planning on spreading their evils of Pax Americana to the next bogus threat of Iran, and who knows where else their fantasies of empire and fabulous ill-gotten booty will take them, and our children's precious lives to. Our anti-war movement must transform itself into a peace movement to resist this with all of our peaceful might!

We saw tens of thousands of young people take to the streets recently to protests against the proposed election year antics of Congress in their smokescreen of an immigration bill. The teens took to the streets because they have something at stake: the very lives of their families. If this bill passes, the families will be split up as their parents are deported back to their countries of origin. The immigrants rightly know that they are being conspired against and that the only way to stand up for your rights, is to get off of your butt and stand up!

The challenge of the peace movement, now that we have identified the problem so well, and have the vast majority of Americans on our side, is to convince each and every last American that he/she has a very intimate and personal stake in what we are allowing our government to do in Iraq and the world.

We are not just outsourcing our torture to other countries or paying private mercenary contractors to do it: by sitting on our duffs and allowing the torturing to continue: we are the torturers. We are the subhuman beings who put the black masks on our victims, water board them, or do other inhumane and despicable acts on fellow human beings.

By writing to our elected officials and complaining about this or that, but by not voting our consciences and allowing ourselves to panic and vote for a party when we know that both parties (except for a few notable exceptions in all parties) have been bobble-headed, rubberstamp tools for the Bush Regime. We are electing people who do not have our best interests at heart, but who vote to fund more money for war and killing and absolve themselves of the responsibility by saying that "they were tricked." We should vote for people who want war to end and did not vote against America by giving George the keys to operate the war machine when they knew he was irresponsible, no matter what party affiliation they claim.

When we see the burned beyond recognition bodies of innocent Iraqi civilians who were targeted with chemical weapons by the US military; when we see babies with their heads blown off and children screaming in pain and dying by the thousands because they don't have the proper medical care, equipment or medicines, and we don't go and figuratively, or literally throw ourselves as human monkey wrenches into the murderous war machine, we may as well be pushing the button ourselves to activate the weapons that immorally and unlawfully kill innocent people: our brothers and sisters, who, no matter what BushCo says, are just like us in every way. They are dark, light; rich, poor; Christian, Muslim; old, young; happy, sad; conservative, liberal; nice, mean; etc: you get the picture. The only difference they have from us is that they live within different artificial boundary lines then we do: but this is not enough to make the innocent people of Iraq the enemies of we the people of America.

I grew up in the 60's during the nuclear-scare era where we would regularly have to dive under our desks in drills to make sure that if a nuclear bomb was dropped on my town that I would be vaporized under my desk, and during the travesty of another misbegotten (aren't they all?) war, Vietnam. I grew up terrified of Communists, until, no thanks to Ronald Reagan, the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight of a failed economic system that poured its rubles and human treasure into a gigantically bloated war machine and pissing contest of an arms race with the USA, and another misguided decade long war in Afghanistan. If we can't learn the lessons of Vietnam, can we at least learn the lessons of the U.S.S.R.?

Looking back on my life up until Casey was killed in Iraq, on 04/04/04, I have tried to analyze over and over again what went wrong.I knew that our leaders were bought and paid for employees of the war machine, and yet, when Casey came of age, he put on the uniform and marched off to another senseless war to bring his employers that rich reward of money and power. The warning for American mothers and fathers is this: the war machine will get your children, if not now, then your grandchildren. It is a hard and steep price to pay for the certain knowledge that the people in power think of us, not as their employers and electorate whom they swear to serve, but as their tools to be used as cannon fodder whenever the impulse strikes them.

Do we need a mandatory forced conscription to get America out the door and rising up against this same war machine? I am adamantly opposed to a draft, but look what happened with the immigration issue. Democrats have proposed bills with mandatory service to the country to insure equality for the rich and the poor in military service, but no one pays any attention to them because they are proposed by Democrats. Congress should do the people of Iraq and our over-reached and over-worked and abused military a break by proposing a draft bill which would insure massive protests against this war.

With recent revelations that George Bush, himself, authorized the leaks that lead to the outing of Valerie Plame, in revenge for her husband, ex-ambassador Joe Wilson trying to expose the yellow-cake uranium lie, what more proof do we need that Iraq is wrong, not being fought incompetently (we also need to quit buying into the bull crap that there can be a "competent" war), but just wrong from the absolute get-go. What more proof do we need that we need leaders with the courage do finally do the right thing and say that BushCo lied and they need to be held accountable and the troops finally need to be brought home?

There are several opportunities for us to band together and show the illegitimate leaders of our country that we mean business.

This April 12th to the 16th, even though George and family won't be coming to Crawford to celebrate Easter for the first time in years, we will be. We will be gathering at Camp Casey in support of our troops by calling for them to be withdrawn and brought back to their families as healthy and wholly as possible. As usual, everyone is invited down to Camp Casey and can get more information at

Also, on April 29th, UFPJ is calling for a massive gathering in NYC to protest the war. I am issuing an invitation to everyone who is personally affected by this war, which is every last person in this country, to come out and visibly show this administration that you don't want to be abused by them anymore.

Yes Scott, the anti-war movement is collapsing into a Peace movement. We won't use the tactics of Napoleon, or your hero, Sun Tzu, we will use the tactics of our heroes: Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nothing is gained by war, warlike tactics, or warriors, but destruction.

Nothing is gained by doing nothing, either. Do something.

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