“I am firmly convinced that the passionate will for justice and truth has done more to improve (the human condition) than calculating political shrewdness which in the long run only breeds general mistrust.” Albert Einstein, “Moral Decay,” 1937
I’ve always liked this quote of Einstein’s. It’s extremely relevant to our situation today. And by today I really mean today, this week, this month, right now.
It’s relevant for those “calculating” Democrats who have been afraid to call for or to vote to cut off the funding that finances the Iraq war. The only money that should be voted is to finance the withdrawal of troops, equipment and private contractors, the shutting down of military bases, and for reconstruction and reparations.
The use of funds for those purposes would not just undercut Al Qaeda’s appeal to those in the Arab world furious at Bush/Cheney’s brutal war and occupation. Such a change in policy would signify some real hope that the U.S. government is getting it when it comes to respect for national sovereignty and a turn away from oil imperialism. It’d be a good first step in the direction of what we desperately need-not Democratic Party “imperialism light” but a foreign policy truly based upon social and economic justice, peaceful resolution of conflicts as much as possible, and dramatic support for the spread of solar power and wind energy technology to the Global South.
The Einstein quote is also relevant for those “calculating” Democratic Presidential candidates who have kept their mouths shut while George Bush makes it clear by his recent rhetoric that the “bomb Iran” option is very much in play. You can’t be a candidate committed to peace and justice and keep quiet on this fundamental issue.
It may be that Bush is ratcheting up the rhetoric because he knows from experience that this works with chicken-hearted Democrats who are afraid of looking like they are “soft on terrorism.” It is likely that this is part of his criminal gang’s strategy for getting their $460 billion dollars for the Pentagon, their $147 in “supplemental” funds for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and, now we learn, an additional $50 billion more for the Iraq war on top of all of that.
It may also be that Bush and Cheney have decided to ratchet up their escalating pressure on Iran to provoke the Iranian government into an action that they can use as their Gulf of Tonkin, their Niger yellow cake incident. Then they can unleash bombing by U.S. planes ringing Iran at military bases and on aircraft carriers. It makes absolute sense that these power hungry, mad men would do something like this as a desperate “hail Mary” action that they hope will scramble the U.S. political scene to their benefit.
All of this will only happen if the Democratic Party and the leading Democratic Presidential candidates pull their punches, act in their usual “shrewd” way, refuse to seriously mix it up with a President and Vice-President whose Nixon-like polling numbers should actually be emboldening them.
And, of course, this is where the anti-war and progressive movement come in.
September is going to be a big month. The national anti-war actions in Washington, D.C. on September 15th and September 29th are both important, as are the local actions planned during Declaration of Peace week the 14th-21st, both the traditional legal actions and the up-the-ante nonviolent civil disobedience. The September 6th call-in to Congress is also important.
It seems to me that all of us within driving range of D.C., including UFPJ members, should make every effort to turn out for one or the other of the September actions. I understand why UFPJ made a decision two years ago that they weren’t going to work with ANSWER (which at that point had not split in two) anymore. But politics and history move on, and given the urgency of now, today, this month, when it comes to the war in Iraq and a possible war in Iran, our “passionate will for justice” should lead us to appreciate that there are good reasons to support and participate in major demonstrations in D.C. right now.
Those who are active or passive supporters of one of the Democratic Party Presidential candidates have an obligation to communicate in no uncertain terms that any continuing support is contingent upon whether they speak up loudly and strongly against military action in Iran and against funding of the Bush/Cheney imperialist war of occupation for oil.
Which leads to the October 22nd No War, No Warming mass nonviolent direct action being planned for Capitol Hill, with local actions around the country (http://www.nowarnowarming.org). We should all be very vocal about our intention to be part of and to organize for the Capitol Hill intervention on the morning of Monday the 22nd. Democrats in particular should know that we’ve had it with the fumbling of their mandate from last fall’s elections. If they roll over again and let Bush get what he wants, they should be prepared for thousands of angry, determined activists descending on their work space.
This is a decisive fall season. We need to meditate on that. The Bush/Cheney gang are politically wounded but they continue to have their hands on the levers of power. Absent a much stronger impeachment movement that could put them on the defensive-as the impeach Nixon movement did in 1973-74, insuring that the U.S. government completed its withdrawal from South Vietnam–we cannot underestimate the dangers we face.
I’ll be fasting this September and possibly into October as part of the Climate Emergency Fast (http://www.climateemergency.org), but that won’t stop me from participating to the best of my physical and other abilities in the rest of this fall’s essential peace, justice and climate actions.
Ted Glick is the coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council. He can be reached at [email protected] or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.