Creating people's geographies
Peacebuilders do have cause for hope. Despite the disastrous, brutal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the various operations in Africa and elsewhere; despite the warmongers rattling their sabres at Iran in continued hubris; we would do well to hold up the oases of persons of integrity swimming against the tide of manufactured warmongering and the influence of certain powerful lobbies. Now more than ever, we could encourage those that speak up and act.
The recent comments of Representative Jim Moran and of Seymour Hersh, for example, were covered in the last fortnight or so. In the past year we’ve seen Mearsheimer and Walt’s landmark article and subsequent book on the influence of the Israel Lobby in the US, coming after former President Carter’s book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, and other moves in the right direction.
Here are some other glimmerings recently picked up.
1. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams
The Head of the Anglican Church (there are around 77 million Anglican Christians globally), has said of Israel’s apartheid wall that it is “a sign of all that is wrong in the human heart” and symbolised “the terrible fear of the other, of the stranger, which keeps us all in one kind of prison or another” when visiting Bethlehem last Christmas. The good doctor and Archbishop has also spoken up against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Just in the last few days, Dr Rowan has kept up his public criticism of the belligerents picking a military fight against Iran and Syria:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has issued an angry rebuke to those in the United States who favour military action against Syria or Iran. “When people talk about further destabilising of the region, when you read about some American political advisers speaking about action against Syria and Iran, I can only say that I regard that as criminal, ignorant and potentially murderous folly,” he said.
Dr Williams has just returned from a visit to Syria where he met hundreds of Christian Iraqi refugees.
2. Helen Thomas, The Democrats Who Enable Bush (Seattle PI, 4 Oct):
Bush ought to know about campaign rhetoric. Remember how he ridiculed “nation building” in the 2000 presidential campaign? Now he claims he is trying to spread democracy throughout the Middle East.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is another Democratic leader who has empowered Bush’s war.
Pelosi removed a provision from the most recent war-funding bill that would have required Bush to seek the permission of Congress before launching any attack on Iran. Her spokesman gave the lame excuse that she didn’t like the wording of the provision. More likely, she bowed to political pressure.
Is it any wonder the Democrats are faring lower than the president in a Washington Post ABC approval poll? Bush came in at 33 percent and Congress at 29 percent.
Members of Congress seem to have forgotten their constitutional prerogative to declare war; World War II was the last time Congress formally declared war.
Presidents have found other ways to make end runs around the law, mainly by obtaining congressional authorization “to do whatever is necessary” in a crisis involving use of the military. That’s the way we got into the Vietnam and Iraq wars.
So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?
3. Eric Alterman on AIPAC (2:33)
And on another occasion, he writes:
Call me a Nervous Jewish Nellie, but I don’t like it when enormously wealthy Jews use their enormous wealth exactly the way anti-Semites have historically tried to accuse them of doing. This administration has lied us into one war with the help of some of these same people and it has inspired what many insist are a spate of anti-Semitic accusations against Neocons and others. Just what do they expect from this one? We are at war with Iran and they are striking back at us through terrorist acts the world over? How are people supposed to distinguish their dishonesty about Iraq and Iran from their commitment to protecting Israel? Oh, right, I forgot. There is no such thing as a conflict between U.S. interests and Israeli interests, period. Well, that settles that.
To tell you the truth, I’d feel a lot better if these rich folk were volunteering their children to fight in Iraq and Iran rather than just using their money to ensure that other people’s children will have to fight and die there…
4. Senator Robert Byrd
See: Byrd: Senate’s ‘Saber-Rattling’ Is ‘Sleep-Walking’ America To War With Iran:
It is deeply troubling to see the U.S. Senate joining the chest-pounding and saber-rattling of the Bush administration. I am no apologist for the Iranian regime, anymore than I was for Saddam Hussein, but I fear that we may become entangled in another bloody quagmire. We have been down this path before. We have seen all too clearly where it leads.
5. Senator Mike Gravel
PBS News Hour, October 2, 2007:
MIKE GRAVEL: I love my country, and I love the human race. And I want to see a change made in the leadership of our country so we can do more to protect the human race….With respect to my country going to war when there’s no reason to go to war, killing human beings, I’m ashamed of this. I’m ashamed of the leadership we have, whether it’s Democratic leadership or Republican leadership. That’s the reason why I’m in. Look what we’re trying to do with Iran right now. Last week, the Lieberman resolution — he’s the guy that wrote the resolution with Iraq and killed over 3,000 Americans and a million Iraqis. And now he comes forward with another resolution, and the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate doesn’t even have the brains or the judgment to recognize what he’s doing. Sanctions on the Republican Guard? They already have sanctions. The U.N. passed them in March, Resolution 1747. What is the game they’re playing right now to have sanctions? I mean, this was AIPAC that put Lieberman up to do this. This is disaster…
RAY SUAREZ: You’re saying that the national legislature of this country, rather than doing the will of the citizens of the United States, passed that Iran resolution, sanctioning the Republican Guard, because of the American-Israeli Political Action Committee?
MIKE GRAVEL: Wait a second. They’ll be some information coming out about how this thing was drafted. So the answer is yes, the short answer.