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Screaming In the Wind

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Clearly, I've had better weeks.

Oh, this one started out OK. A meeting with my Democratic Congressional representative, arranged with no expectations whatsoever that he would be actively listening much less agree to get back to me, ended on that positive note. Over the weekend he must have pondered my position opposing military intervention in Syria, because his community liaison Thomas phoned on Monday. The Congressman wanted to know if I had changed my position, in light of John Kerry's stern remarks at the State Department, citing Assad's "undeniable" use of a chemical weapon on the civilians of Ghouta.

Since the Tomahawks were on lock "n load, my email reply (below) had to be crystal clear. The survival of the species was at stake.


Just to recap, during our meeting last week I urged Rick to "actively oppose any military intervention in Syria"while supporting diplomatic approaches to conflict resolution. This preferable peaceful alternative should also include an endorsement for constitutionally approved elections scheduled for next year in Syria as a non-violent opportunity to permit political change without violence or the threat of violence. Until all key actors are seated at the negotiating table, including Iran, the political tensions at play will only escalate."   

While this diplomatic alternative to "letting slip the dogs of war" may seem simplistic, it could work. A ceasefire could be obtained if the Obama Administration pressured Saudi Arabia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, as well as Turkey to halt the flow of weapons to the Syrian opposition, while negotiating in good faith with Russia and the now moderate Iranian leadership to do the same. Appeasing Israeli right wingers and DC warmongers by wreaking additional havoc on a war-torn country that poses absolutely no threat to the US doesn't even have an end game. Remember the end state that Bush redefined for five years? Or is the next so-called "coalition of the willing" actually gearing up for an attack on Iran?...

In short, VFP ( Veterans For Peace ) seeks t o abolish war as an instrument of national policy, so there would be no change to my position since we last spoke. As a leader in the organization and a combat veteran who knows first-hand war's enormous costs, I would urge Rick to not line up in support of more destruction and protecting Obama's right flank -- like John Kerry. I listened to Kerry's remarks today and he was a disgrace -- he "Colin Powell-ed" us, without even the courtesy of a faked proof of a chemical attack. And this from a fellow vet that once said of the Vietnam disaster "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Well, how about the next ! Or the next kid, or the next thousand kids.

Thanks for calling, Thomas. I'm hoping Rick does the right thing.

The following day a DC Congressional Defense aide actually took my call and indicated that he had reviewed my position paper from the district meeting, along with my email reply, thank you very much, and found them particularly informative. I was on a roll. And considering it was the 85th anniversary of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact, what could go wrong? It wasn't quite time to be worrying about a Mine Shaft Gap with the Ruskies"not yet. But the Russians are in the mix, along with Iran and Hezbollah, and thousands of missiles targeting Israeli and US assets. Even one or two lucky hits and the Dr. Strangelove Doomsday Device will pale by comparison.

The ''Act now to stop war and end racism'' (ANSWER) coalition holds a rally outside the White House in Washington, August 29, 2013. The group rallied their opposition to U.S.-led military action on Syria.
The ''Act now to stop war and end racism'' (ANSWER) coalition holds a rally outside the White House in Washington, August 29, 2013. The group rallied their opposition to U.S.-led military action on Syria.
(Image by Reuters/Jason Reed)
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The ''Act now to stop war and end racism'' (ANSWER) coalition holds a rally outside the White House in Washington, August 29, 2013. The group rallied their opposition to U.S.-led military action on Syria. by Reuters/Jason Reed

People are more than war weary this time around, they are legitimately scared. Oh, not our Congress. That pillar of governance successfully abdicated its Constitutional mandate under Nixon, moving it into the "not my job" column when its repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was ignored by Tricky Dick. With notable exceptions like Barbara Lee, most looked the other way every time the 1973 War Powers Resolution was sidestepped by elected and non-elected actors playing national security or freedom cards. They know their partisan bases of support -- fundamentalists, Tea Party conservatives, and faux progressives - "got their backs". And the last thing our courageous legislators need is to get "primaried" after actually going on record.

Maybe this run up to war will lose momentum. Unlike 2003, the polls favor, by leaps and bounds, no military intervention in Syria. The Iraq Syndrome could be in play. And if my Congressional Representative is listening, maybe other recess conversations might be making a difference. Right, Thomas?          

In the meantime solidarity actions are taking place all around the world. And unlike the failed attempt to stop the Iraq War, organizers and sympathizers with "WTF -- SYRIA?" and "Honk If You Don't Want War" signs are showing up from all sides of political perspectives. Likely repercussions from ratcheting up jihadist reactionaries and geopolitical posturing in the Arab Levant now have global consequences, with thermonuclear fallback contingencies. And fear is totally bipartisan.  

But Obama's stuck between a rock and a hard place with his tough guy bona fides at stake. Like Daddy Bush our Nobel Peace Prize Commander in Chief must contend with the wimp-factor. If only he had come up with something other than the "red line" calculus on chemical weapons, giving the media a timpani to beat for ratings. Mind-numbing replays of Katie Couric "Navy Seals rock!" are reverberating already. Now I ask you, how can we demand this empty suit to back down?

But millions, everywhere, are doing some ratcheting up of their own. Demonstrations and rallies, non-violent civil disobedience is next, all cranking up opposition to another senseless war.   Times Square, the streets of London, Seattle, even Jordan are filled with visual and vocal dissent and the polls are holding firm. As Tim Hardin sang in 1969 , "We the people here don't want no war." The difference now, almost no one, anywhere, wants another war.   The world gets it -- while the rest of Europe is vacillating , the UK Prime Minister is standing down from an attack on Assad, for now. And here at home, an actual general officer spoke up last year while he was still on the payroll, and counseled "It's not about: can we do it? It's: should we do it, and what are the opportunity costs?"

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The author of this piece is Vietnam Veteran and former Naval Aviator Gene Marx. He has served as a member of the Veterans For Peace Membership Committee and was the past Secretary of the VFP National Board of Directors. He lives in Bellingham, (more...)

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