An Iraqi friend whom I’ve known for ten years looked worn and very weary yesterday when he came to visit me in my apartment here in
His life was completely changed when a piece of paper was tossed into his kitchen in
Weeks later, assailants killed his younger brother who was returning home from University studies. My friend moved his family to a village outside
Still, my friend’s case is hardly unique. Relative to other stories we’ve heard, he is somewhat fortunate. He was not captured and tortured before fleeing
Anyone listening to my friend’s experience of loss and tragedy would surely understand his feelings of cynicism, even bitterness, when he thinks about how the Bush Administration has sold this ongoing war. Turn the page back to May of 2006, when sectarian violence had already begun to consume
“For the people across the broader Middle East, a free
The speechwriter who equipped President Bush with these lines should be burning with shame. President Bush indulged in a fantasy at a time when thousands of Iraqi civilians were fleeing abroad, every month, to escape worsening violence and tens of thousands more were being displaced internally – nearly half a million in the last ten months, according to UNHCR.
In reality, there were no encouraging signs of the
Nevertheless, the President will likely ask the Congress to approve $97.7 dollars in supplemental spending for the wars in
A New York Times article called “Heady Days for Makers of Weapons” notes that military contractors are profiting more than ever as Pentagon spending has reached record levels. Nobody expects the Democrats, now in charge of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, to interfere with the lucrative deal making. With an eye toward 2008 elections, Democrats want to establish their cooperation with the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, the “defense” lobby.
“I think the Democrats will be on good behavior,” commented an analyst with JSA Securities in
Ultimately, this means that
No one asks us to behave accountably on behalf of the 100,000 Iraqi refugees who, every month, according to U.N. estimates, flee from
We have yet to see a proposal for a generous package of reparations intended to help rebuild
Lawmakers should have at least enough integrity to acknowledge that current plans to support ongoing troop presence in Iraq at a cost of billions of dollars show very little promise for lessening the violence, displacement, and signs of civil war that afflict Iraqis today.
Beginning in February 2007, when lawmakers will discuss the Administration’s proposed supplemental budget, Voices for Creative Nonviolence will launch “the Occupation Project.”
Although we have paltry financial means compared to the weapons makers who wield so much influence on Capitol Hill, we do have resources. We have our bodies. We have our determination. We have our compassion for Iraqi people and for
Now is the time for seriously strategizing about the best ways, in our hometowns, to engage in sustained civil disobedience at the offices of elected representatives, demanding that they vote against the supplemental spending bill.
A polite refusal to leave an elected representative’s office may entail some hours spent in jail. Some will receive minor misdemeanor charges from federal or local police, for “disorderly conduct,” or “trespass” or “failure to comply.” We’ll prepare for a day in court; we’ll discuss how to handle any fines imposed on us. These are slight inconveniences and discomforts when I think of Iraqi friends, so wearied by war, and of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the thousands of Americans whose lives are forever altered by the cruelty and senselessness of war and of those who prolong it. Much more grave is the risk of growing adjusted to a warlike culture that feeds the multi-billion dollar weapon industry.
I shudder still, thinking of the note that landed in my friend’s kitchen, ugly paper wrapping a bullet. Who pens such a letter? Who delivers it? Who authorizes these threats? What kind of organization thrives on sundering families, on death and torture, on driving whole societies into flight and chaos and despair? The answers are murky and unclear.
But we should all shudder with disgust at the clear fact that
It’s hard to put your foot down over something called a “supplemental spending bill” – over a piece of paper, a bit of writing that you didn’t write yourself but are perhaps helping to deliver. My friend’s life was ruined by such a piece of paper. Iraqis are leaving their homes in
That’s why many of us will be occupying our representatives’ offices this winter. We don’t want to help deliver a death threat to people all across
This bill, this message of continued
Kathy Kelly ([email protected]) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence