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State of the Union: Ignore the Elephant at Your Own Peril

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Message Coleen Rowley

We are soon going to hear about our "State of the Union," but no matter what is said and no matter how good the speech, the current war machine dominating the state of the union will remain difficult to turn around. Even a president with military leadership like Eisenhower quickly discovered his powerlessness 50 years ago. Someone totally lacking in military experience has an even harder time, especially given that the military industrial congressional complex in our Citizens United corporatocracy has only more firmly ingrained itself during these last 50 years. The only hope now resides in that long ignored branch of government the founding fathers called "we the people." Trusting in politicians and campaign promises has proven ineffective. Obama knew this himself when he once said: "you've got to make me do it."

I predict the elephant in the room will not just be the Republicans. It will be the wars and military occupations. No doubt Obama will say something euphemistic enough in his speech tonight about "the US having to vigorously pursue its national interests around the world" but this euphemism will actually mean that he's committed to continuing the costly military escalation that consumes half of all US tax dollars; that he's signed onto destructive shock and awe bombing campaigns despite the fact that over 90% of the casualties are women, children and civilians; and the harm from these 10 years of wars is blowing back onto our own country in a myriad of ways.

A rather long list of peace activists (including myself) have sensed the dire state of the union even before hearing the president's speech and have already signed this new statement: "We will oppose Obama as long as he supports war." It seems to me there's only one way to stop feeding the war machine and deal with the elephant in the room. More people must exercise their political muscle by exercising their democratic rights. It's easy, as a first step, to sign this pledge. And it would be nice to see the list of citizen signatures grow so huge that by the time Obama takes the stage tonight, he's forced to ad lib and change his prior stance on the wars. Citizens in a democracy not abdicating their own responsibilities are our only hope of gaining control over the elephant in the room.

Like the sign at the YMCA says -- the workout begins with the first step -- signing a simple statement can be the start. 

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Retired FBI Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel.
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