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RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War

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OpEdNews has published several chapters from RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War by William T. Hathaway. Recently released by Trine Day, the book presents the first-person experiences of war resisters, deserters, and peace activists in North America, Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

RADICAL PEACE has aroused controversy because of its favorable portrayal of illegal resistance to war. Conservative critic Joanne Eddington described it as, "Loathsome ... further evidence that the hatred of America is reaching hysterical dimensions." On the other side of the political spectrum, Noam Chomsky described it as, "A book that captures such complexities and depths of human existence, even apart from the immediate message."

Here now is an interview with the author.

OpEdNews: What made you write RADICAL PEACE?

Hathaway: I wanted to convince people -- including myself -- not to give up on their efforts to end this terrible violence. So many people have retreated into apathy and futility after Obama continued the war he'd pledged to stop. Their disappointment is turning to despair. Obama has shown himself to be another imperialist killing thousands of people just to maintain US power in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A similar betrayal of democracy occurred in 2006 when the Democrats gained control of Congress by pledging to end the war. Instead those same politicians then voted a huge increase in military spending and supported US troop surges.

The sad fact is that American voters don't control our government. Corporations do. The government represents business, not us. If business needs cheap oil, the president and congress will make war to get it, with time-out every few years for some campaign rhetoric about peace. It's obvious now their rhetoric is lies.

These swindles have led to a voter rejection of both parties. Since elections, demonstrations, and petitions have proven ineffective, people are searching for alternative ways to end the war.

OpEdNews: Have you given up on politics?

Hathaway: Many peace activists have given up on the major political parties. Obama's morphing into a war president was the last straw. It's clear now that both parties are designed to prevent basic changes, to divert the public's demand for change into dead-end streets that don't challenge the power structure. The Democratic Party exists to drain our potentially radical energies off into superficial reforms that actually strengthen the establishment.

OpEdNews: What does the group you portray in RADICAL PEACE have to offer instead?

Hathaway: Now that changing the system from within has failed, their program is sedition, subversion, sabotage: direct action to bring the system down so a better one can be built. They're helping soldiers to desert, destroying computer systems, trashing recruiting offices, burning military equipment, and sabotaging defense contractors. As criminals for peace, they're defying the Patriot Act and working underground in secret cells to undermine the US military empire.

OpEdNews: Those actions seem quite violent. How can they call themselves peace activists?

Hathaway: Violence means harming living creatures. It's only because our society sees property as more important than people that it labels destroying property as violence. They are destroying the government's means of violence, the equipment it uses to kill people. And they're very careful not to injure anyone while they're doing that. In other words, they'll throw a rock through the window of an army recruiting office, but they won't throw a rock at the recruiter. They don't have anything against him as a person. And they don't have anything against the police as people. It's the system they're trying to break, and breaking its windows, burning its trucks, and zapping its electronics helps with that.

Setting bombs and burning buildings where people could be inside can't achieve anything worthwhile. It just reproduces the same mentality they're trying to change.

Rather than randomly smashing windows and torching autos, they restrict their activities to institutions that support or profit from the war. Their goal is to make the war too expensive to continue, to convince the politicians they don't have enough money to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan. A few acts of sabotage won't do that, but thousands can. Government and corporate resources are limited. Taxes and the deficit are already so high that they're crippling the economy. Every dollar the government has to spend keeping things running here is one they can't spend killing people overseas.

The militants believe that direct actions like these aren't a substitute for traditional organizing, but in critical situations like the present they can supplement it. Sabotage won't build a new society, but it can help weaken the old one so the new one can be built.

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William T. Hathaway is an award-winning novelist and an emeritus Fulbright professor of creative writing. His peace novel, Summer Snow, is the story of an American warrior falling in love with a Sufi Muslim and learning from her that higher (more...)

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