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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/7/08

Peace is not an absence of war: it's an absence of preparing for war or an absence of using violence...

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Peace is not an absence of war: it's an absence of preparing for war or an absence of using violence or threats of violence to solve problems (Cindy Sheehan).

Today is the 67th anniversary of the "day that will live in infamy." Likely, if you were alive 67 years ago, you were a very young person. I know a few people who can still remember when the Japanese attacked a US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, but I remember the stories that my parents told me about that day.

My mom was sitting at the kitchen table eating biscuits when she heard the news on the radio: she was 10 years old. My dad lived in Oklahoma, but my mom lived in Hawthorne, California so her family was terrified that California would be struck soon. I can imagine that in years to come, my children will be telling their children about what they were doing when they heard that the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked on 9-11-01.

There was already a terrible world war raging on December 7th, 1941, but that was the symbolic day that the US entered WWII. The event led to Congress formally declaring war against Japan four days after the attack. Even though the US has been embroiled in many wars, police actions and covert wars since then, this was the last time that a war was constitutionally declared. Not that it makes violence correct, but the "manual" was followed. Millions of people perished in World War II and weapons of mass destruction were unleashed by the US on innocent civilians. 

The US and the USSR emerged from WWII as the world's "Super-Powers." The "Super" powers of the US appear to be violent intimidation and gross militarism. The USSR Empire has already crumbled under the weight of its military machine and it looks like the US won't be far behind, especially with President-Elect Obama wanting to foolishly increase the mistake in Afghanistan. Will someone please tell him that Afghanistan has been the burial ground of many Empires----or don't tell him, it is time for the US military Empire to crumble, too.

If the USA had a national Peace Movement, Obama would not be our President-Elect right now. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh) would have been the nominee for the Democrats and Ron Paul (R-Tx) would have been nominated from the GOP and Cynthia McKinney (G) and Ralph Nader (I) would have had seats at debates. What we have here in the US is an "anti-war" movement that is selective in its opposition to war. It seems that for many of the national organizations, Democratic Wars are okay, while Republican Wars are bad. That's why we need a movement with integrity and vision that doesn't exist to shill for the Democrats, but exists to be the clarion call that ALL violence is wrong and solving problems using violence or the threat of violence is a crime against humanity and always criminally prosecutable---whether George Bush or Barack Obama is the one making these threats or promising escalation of violence. The use of violence is inherently wrong in an individual and millions of times worse coming from a state.

Last year, on the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I called for a mass mobilization in Washington, DC, but the leaders of some national organizations did not want to "embarrass the Democrats." What is going to happen now that we will have a Democrat as President in 2009, on the 6th anniversary of the invasion? Obama is a President who is clearly not only not a "Peace President" (is there such a thing?) or even "anti-war." He never promised an immediate and complete withdrawal from Iraq and has promised to escalate the violence in Afghanistan. These were his campaign promises, folks. Obama has betrayed the base that got him elected by exploiting this mis-perception of himself to win and then appointing people to his Cabinet that are causing the neocon hawks to swoon with joy. 

The tiny Peace Movement that we do have in the US has always said that the US invasions and occupations of BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan are illegal and immoral and our troops should be brought home immediately and the US Empire should be reduced to a size that can be drowned in a bath tub. The "anti-war" movement was always very careful to make a distinction between Iraq (bad) and Afghanistan (justified) which to me was always a failure and bad reasoning that would eventually harm the integrity of the movement.

You know the US Peace Movement.You have seen it at work. The members ride their bikes or take public transportation to protests, or drive ancient vehicles seemingly held together by bumper stickers. They are the ones that stand outside of prisons holding candles protesting the state-sanctioned murder of even one individual. They are the ones that kneel in front of the White House in orange jumpsuits protesting torture. They are the ones that gather in the thousands every year to demand the closing of the School of the Americas (WINSEC). The Peace Movement knows that violence is self-perpetuating and creates more violence. The Peace Movement does the hard work of confronting Empire and does it in a peaceful, yet righteously strident, way.

The Anti-Republican-War movement are the ones that hold marches on the weekends where the status-quo won't be inconvenienced, pat themselves on the back, and then go to their national meetings to plan how more Democrats can be elected.

Working for Peace is not monetarily rewarding, but the lined faces of the people I know who have worked for Peace for decades glow with the satisfaction of the work and are faces that can be looked at in a mirror without shame.

The Anti-Republican-War Movement will stand down during the Obama regime and "give him a chance." The Peace movement is still working and will continue to work no matter whom is President. 

Peace is not for cowards. Peace takes a lot of work, resources and energy. Most people do not have the will or stamina for peace. 

The Peace Movement demanded from Bush and will demand from Obama a complete and immediate withdrawal of US Forces and independent contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan and a declared end to the USA's War of Terror.

We demand that ALLl torture prisons, in Guantanamo Cuba and around the world be closed and that the humans incarcerated in those prisons be released, or tried with full protection of commonly held law (that used to exist in the US) and that the Military Commission's Act be repealed.

We demand that the US take a more balanced approach to Israel's occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people and work with the international community to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 

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Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is a co-founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of two books: Not One More Mother's Child and Dear President Bush.
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