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Why the Peace Movement Will Continue to Fail

It is time to change the strategy.
Why the Peace Movement Will Continue to Fail

"...As individual citizens, we all have rights and responsibilities. It is the responsibility of all citizens to resist any government, anywhere, anytime, when that government is slaughtering civilians..."

March 20 is a day of historical importance. On March 20, 2003 there were world-wide protests against US military aggression. Millions of activists around the world participated. Some of the protests were inspired by US plans for "Shock and Awe". "Shock and Awe" was promised by the US government to be one of the most destructive military campaigns in history. In addition, the US was at the same time threatening the use of nuclear weapons.

Historical perspective is needed. It has to be remembered that the US had been bombing Iraq since 1991. The bombing was a prelude to 9/11. 9/11 was Blowback - a predictable response to the many years of bombing. Two other reasons for the 9/11 attack were the US policy against the Palestinians, and the location of US bases in Saudi Arabia. It is also important to remember the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of US imposed sanctions.

Pro-government propaganda from the media is a big part of the problem. The failure of the educational system is also part of the problem. Think of how much different things would be if Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" was the required text book in every classroom. That is a taxpayer friendly change that would cost nothing and could change the world.

Some peace activists have been protesting since 1991. Many stopped opposing war when a Democratic president won the election. By what kind of convoluted moral code would the killing by a Democratic Commander-in-chief be less offensive than killing by a Republican.

How effective have the protests been? Since 1991, the killing has continued. Civilians continue to die. The US killing machine has become even more deadly. The Pentagon killing machine continues to have access to unlimited funding. Private contractors and advancing technology add to the problem.

The war is often engineered and managed from military bases within the US. Drones controlled from bases close to home provide an added level of comfort for the troops who can now go home for supper with the wife and kids. Killing has become as easy as going to the office - just another 9 to 5 job. Heard at the supper table: "Hey Daddy, how many kids did you kill today?"

There is a dedicated group of protesters near Syracuse, NY. They have participated in peaceful protests at the Hancock Drone Base. Recently, they were arrested in a pre-emptive arrest. A pre-emptive arrest is like being arrested for a thought crime. Thinking about 'peace' has now been criminalized in the USA.

It is time to re-think the peace movement. Meantime, most protesters have not changed their tactics. Old school protesting does not work. Singing songs, lighting candles, and holding peace vigils have not saved one human life. Innocent children and other civilians continue to die. The time for more creative opposition is now... right now.

Why does the way to achieve peace allude all of us? Do we lack the courage needed for powerful resistance? Boycotts would be effective if enough people participated. That is not likely. Many in the US feel an exaggerated sense of entitlement and exceptionalism. They believe that it is our right to kill innocent civilians anywhere in the world. Many of those we have killed are children - kids just walking to school or attending a family wedding.

Voting is not an effective anti-war tactic because more than 90% of US voters feel compelled to vote for Democrats and Republicans. There are always better candidates. Most voters ignore these candidates who could make a real difference. Why do voters continue to repeat the same mistake over and over again - voting D/R and expecting change?

For years, voters have been making a plea of Innocent by Reason of Ignorance. Voters blame the media - that is a cop-out. Sure the media lies. Since everyone knows that, it should not not be an issue for thoughtful voters. Accurate information about USA Foreign Policy is readily available - as easy to access as one click on Google. There are many thousands of accurate articles up on sites designed to spread the truth. There are some excellent investigative journalists still at work - Jeremy Scahill, Robert Fisk, Greg Palast, Glen Greenwald and many others. We have Bradley Manning and Julian Assange and other whistleblowers. There are dedicated activists in the OCCUPY movement. Lack of access to reliable information is not an excuse.

But, on the other hand we are living in a Perfect Storm of ignorance - a culture that worships celebrity, a failing educational system, and extreme voter apathy. And there is one more thing. Too many writers and journalists, even the good ones, are reluctant to criticize the voter. They know that there are risks for anyone who does that. It is easy to criticize the government. Blaming the Pentagon is fun, but too few are willing to call it like it is and place the blame where it is deserved. The simple fact is that voters have the ultimate responsibility. Voters are the root of the problem. Voters have enabled the war machine. Some voters do this consciously, believing that war provides jobs. Some voters do it out of ignorance. But the bottom line is that voters are responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians. Somebody needs to say that out loud.

A few have put forth the argument that voting is meaningless. Even if a peace candidate was elected - a non Democrat, non Republican, it would not change things. The Pentagon and CIA would just continue to wage war. The Commander-in-chief would be irrelevant and the Congress would be powerless. There is some validity to that argument. But, if that did happen, it would be time for another American Revolution. Before we start killing each other in violent Revolution maybe we should give informed voting a try. Let's try ballots first.... ballots before bullets. When that plan fails, it will be time for armed rebellion.

In the meantime, there is no light at the end of the war tunnel. Peace will not come until the people want it. Maybe US citizens need to have it explained in simpler terms - maybe in pictures drawn with crayons. Maybe set to music with scantily clad women dancing in the background. Maybe we are waiting for the next 'Blowback', and then we will ask: "Why do they hate us?" In the words of comedian Ron White: "You just can't fix stupid".

On March 20, 2003, I was one of the millions who participated in a peaceful protest against the war. I was one of 12 in Bennington, Vermont who was arrested, incarcerated, handcuffed, booked, fingerprinted, and photographed. I alone was tried and convicted. Courtroom procedure allows the condemned the Right of Allocution at the time of Sentencing. This was the first time that I was allowed to speak freely and openly to the court. My Courtroom speech was delivered with passion. The passion remains today - but all hope has been abandoned.

Below are my words, as I spoke them at my Sentencing, to Judge David Suntag, in Vermont District Court, in Bennington, Vt., on October 7, 2004.

A Courtroom Speech

Your Honor, I would like to express my gratitude to you, the Prosecutor Mr. McManus, the members of the Bennington Police Department, to my family, especially Christine, to all those who support me, and especially to Mr. Saltonstall.

It is my profound respect for the Rule of Law that brought me to the 4 corners on March 20, 2003. At the precise moment of my arrest, the federal government of the United States was bombing civilians. The bombing of civilians is a violation of international law, a violation of U.S. treaties, a crime against humanity, and a war crime. Now that same government is sitting in judgment of many who have protested the war. Last week, in a court in Philadelphia, Lillian Willoughby, an 89-year-old deaf woman, in a wheelchair, was sentenced to prison. She had participated in a peaceful protest. Also in Philadelphia, Andrea Ferich, a 22 year old, was sentenced and she has just spent a week in solitary confinement. She also had participated in a peaceful protest. I have just been told that Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg, was arrested in a peaceful protest on Saturday, in Washington. All over this country, hundreds of those who have peacefully protested the war, are now condemned by the government. The way that this country is headed, eventually, all people of peace will be behind bars. I am in solidarity with them and all others who have resisted the government in the past, or will do so in the future.

Your Honor, it is with deep respect that I voice some concerns. How can it be that a nation, that is itself in violation of the law, can then hope to impose the rule of law on its citizens? I believe that either the rule of law applies to everyone, or else it applies to no one. Even a nation as powerful as the United States, can not have it both ways. The fact that the government of the U.S. is in violation of the law, is a fact that has been documented by many around the world. William Blum, one of the world's leading historians, and also former member of the US State Department, has authored several books on the topic - even naming one of his books about US foreign policy, Rogue State.

I have here a copy of the Indictment of 19 charges against members of the government as compiled by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. [I held the documents up for all to see.] Also, here is a statement from a group of US law professors. The statement is entitled "US Lawyers Warn Bush on War Crimes." Also, here is a report from an international human rights organization that is accredited by the United Nations. This report documents extensive US war crimes in Iraq. This is just a small sample of information that is easily available. Can all of these experts be wrong? Also, I have here an Associated Press report that was released shortly before my arrest, stating that the US was threatening to use nuclear weapons. That, too, is a war crime.

Your Honor, I believe that our government will not regain its legal and moral authority until it gives up its life of International Crime, and in the words of William Blum, is no longer a rogue state. It is important to say here, that the war in Iraq is not the first violation of human rights and International Law by the US. The abuse of people, people just like you and me, started back in 1492 and has been a consistent pattern ever since. Talk to some Native Americans, especially now that Columbus Day is upon us. Talk to our black brothers and sisters. Talk to the people of Diego Garcia or Panama or Hiroshima or Cuba...the list is endless.

As individual citizens, we all have rights and responsibilities. I believe that it is the responsibility of all citizens to resist any government, anywhere, anytime, when that government is slaughtering civilians. I, and many other protesters that I know, would gladly spend the rest of our lives in prison, if only the US would stop bombing civilians.

I have always been opposed to any form of violence. Seeing the photographs of the bombed Iraqi children has changed my life and strengthened my commitment to working for justice for those children. I do not understand how anyone can stand by silently, while knowing that civilians are being bombed. If what I, and the many thousands of others who protested the war, did, was wrong - what then would be the right thing to do? If you saw a child being beaten up and murdered on Main Street by a gang of thugs, should you write a letter to the editor or call your congressman or write a book on how adults should interact with children? Of course not. When children are being killed, immediate, direct, and powerful intervention is called for. What the other protesters and I did should be criticized in only one area. We all did too little. To all of the people of Iraq, I would like to say, "I am sorry. I will try to do better in the future."

I pray for the day when factory workers join with farmers, and police officers join with poets, and judges join with veterans in protesting the illegal acts of our government. Now is a time in history when silence is the greatest of all crimes.

What happens to me here today is not important. Since the day of my arrest, more than 13,000 Iraqi civilians, many of them children, have been killed. That IS important.

Rosemarie Jackowski --- Jackowski is author of BANNED IN VERMONT. The book is a first person account of the March 20, 2003 protest and the four-year legal battle that followed. Copies have been donated to the public tax supported library. The library banned the book. The First Amendment has been suspended in Vermont.


Counter the US Propaganda by revealing US aggression 17.Mar.2013 08:20

Revealer of Truth

Due to the pro-Imperialist propaganda produced by the US Government, the education system, and the corporate-controlled Mainstream Media, most US citizens are brainwashed into supporting the Imperialism.

The brainwashing with pro-Imperialist propaganda causes most US citizens to be unaware of how deceitful and uber-violent the US Goverment is. That includes the author of the above article, who describes the 9/11 attacks as "blowback" perpetrated by Arab terrorists. The reality is that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by the US Government as a False Flag attack, which was falsely blamed on Arab terrorists to provide an excuse for the US-led War on Terrorism, which is actually a US/NATO war of aggression for control of the resource-rich Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

Most people who self-identify as Liberals and Democrats support US interventionism throughout the world, which they justify on the basis of alleged threats - bogus threats that are the product of US Government and Mainstream Media propaganda.

Most people who self-identify as Liberals and Democrats support the myth of a noble US Military - while the US Military are actually the callous and brutal enforcers of the violent and aggressive US Imperialism.

To make the Peace Movement effective, we must counter the propaganda of the US government and destroy the false, positive image of the US Government and the US Military as the "good guys." The public must be brought to recognize the US government and the US Military as the uber-violent aggressors that they truly are.

The US Government is Murder USA 17.Mar.2013 08:58

Eliot Ness

The US Government, which claims to be the self-appointed "world policeman," is actually the world's foremost criminal Godfather.

Ten Years 17.Mar.2013 14:51

Den Mark, Vancouver WA

On march 20 2003, our protest in Portland began typically, with government, police, media, & passers-by acting typically, ... that is, containing us, misrepresenting us, disrespecting us, ignoring our message.

Then something happened. We got angry. We showed our outrage. We ran down the streets of downtown, to the intersections, to the bridges, to the freeway, doing whatever occurred to us, unleashing our own brand of shock & awe, for many hours.

For the first time, & pretty much the last, i felt that we did not give a fuck what vile power the vile elite unleased. We were brave, & there were hundreds of us.

I was never more proud of Metropolitan Portland/Vancouver activists. It could have been the start of major rebellion. It would have been the start of major rebellion, except that most citizens did not care &/or were afraid.

We were the spark. It wasn't our fault that the spark had so little kindling.

Typical Lefty Reaction 18.Mar.2013 13:47

Candy Kane

So, den, you were ignored because 99 percent of people think your politics and agenda sucks, then you "got mad by god" ran down the street breaking shit just like 2 year old brats. Your spark died before it began because an overwhelming majority reject your stupidity. An elitist lefty moron whining about the "elites". Den you crack my ass up with your idiotic hypocrisy.

Americans people so we can steal their stuff. Get used to it or get out. 18.Mar.2013 16:23

Miss America

Yeah, Den. This is America. We kill people so we can steal their stuff. That's why we have a lot of stuff in the USA. Most of us Americans like it that way. If you don't like it here, we suggest you consider moving to Cuba or Venezuela.

Move away from dumb people. 18.Mar.2013 17:08


"Think of how much different things would be if Howard Zinn's 'People's History of the United States' was the required text book in every classroom." Later Jackowski writes, "information about USA Foreign Policy is readily available - as easy to access as one click on Google" ... "Lack of access to reliable information is not an excuse." Jackowski is contradicting their self. The problem is that two-thirds of this country doesn't give two shits who we are at war with or why we are at war. I know a lot of highschool students who read Zin's book, and they still don't give two shits because they're American.

I worked as an antiwar activist for several years in Portland. I was asked multiple times to lead national organizations and coordinate national antiwar strategies. Hell, I still get dumbfucking emails from the people who strategize the West Coast's peace-programs, they still want my input. Their strategy now is to "write your congressmen." In Jackowski piece, they have failed to provide the real reasons these wars continue on, instead this article is more of a rant about how bad the situation is. Of course the situation overseas is bad. Hopefully the author of this finds my comment, because here's the truth:

Wars overseas end when the riots at home become too large. There's a million reasons to riot in this country, at least 9,999,999 that have nothing to do with the War(s) - and yet, no one riots. Hell, just Friday night there was a call out for a riot (ahem, "action") against a fascist force in PDX, and I understand that less than 100 people showed up. A friend of mine hosted an antiwar film the other day, there was all of 1 new face in the crowd. People don't want to riot, people don't even want to care, so these wars won't end. Political issues, regardless of if we're talking about the Wars or Equality or Justice or whatever - they're all dead. Most people don't care about politics.

You could spend a lot of time thinking and analyzing the reasons that people don't want to riot or their apathy - then you can take your explanation, feel like you know people better than they know themselves, and then get into their faces and give them 10 reasons they ought to riot. When that fails, you can get in their faces and DEMAND THAT THEY RIOT. More than likely, they'll just walk away from you - remember that: they walk away.

People don't want to riot. People don't want to care.

So, what's the solution? What is an antiwar activist supposed to do? It seems, to me, that there is nothing to do. These wars will come to an end when the dollar collapses, because when the $100 dollar bill is worth less than a Penny is now, then you'll see real riots in the streets. The collapse of the dollar (and the resulting hyperinflation) is inevitable when you have a perpetual war that you're not financing through taxation. When food-stamps and welfare checks stop coming, that's when people break windows and hang bankers in the streets, and the cops won't be around because cops work for money. So, what do you do for the people in your community who never had the time to listen to you? The people who ignored your warnings and threw away your literature? It's time you walk away from them.

@Revealer & @Den & @Shaker - I disagree with all of you; you're all implying that regular citizens care that we are at war. I've dedicated YEARS of my life, spent HUNDREDS OF HOURS talking to regular folks on the street and organizing people. I've stood in my military uniform and told people that their country is being destroyed and seemingly-educated people didn't bat an eye. The only people who care we are at war are the old hippies from the 1960's, people with family in the military, and veterans. To me, I've just given up on the concept of trying to convince people that ending the war is in their best interest. Objectively, regardless of how you feel about America, the wars are bad and the collapse of the American dollar will bring unprecedented suffering to everyone - and yet, just about everyone is unwilling to confront this existential problems with our national government.

The strategy of an "Anti-War Movement" is largely predicated on the concept that we live in a representative democracy, I don't think we do - I don't think our kleptocratic government will ever care how many people are in the streets with signs, they won't ever care if you elect a "D" or an "R" into office. The idea that "movements" will affect them is preposterous.

When I gave up on the antiwar movement I decide I would instead invest my time into preparing for the dollar's collapse. For me, this has been a much more rewarding experience than handing out antiwar propaganda in streets. Rosemarie Jackowski - if you're reading this, thanks for doing what you're doing, but sometimes you have to hang up your hat and walk away from dumb people. You can't convince dumb people that the war is bad.

Remember what Frederick Douglass said: "The general sentiment of mankind is, that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, nor put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others."

Economic Collapse of the USA - Heigh, Ho, the Wicked Witch is Dead! 18.Mar.2013 23:09

Mad Max

@ Fidelity:

I agree with all that you wrote here, but I also have a couple of comments pertinent to what you wrote. I, too, concluded some time ago that antiwar protests were fruitless in the USA. I've written a number of anti-American articles for the foreign press that have had a good reception, because many foreigners are smarter about politics than Americans.

I agree that the only thing that will stop US Imperialism is the collapse of the US economy - which will be bad for the USA, but good for the countries that the USA exploits, abuses, and aggresses. Bring it on, I say - a change will do us good.

Candy Kane? 20.Mar.2013 08:30


"Candy Kane", every word you wrote is YOUR fucked opinion. You don't speak for anyone but yourself, and you can barely do that, because you are fucked up in your pinhead.

To candy kane 20.Mar.2013 08:49

Den Mark

candy, you are so in the minority. Already, 53% of Americans say that the Iraq attack was wrong, & that number is growing. Protesters ten years ago were way ahead of the curve, as always. And you have been left behind, with your four trillion dollarb raid on our treasure, our thousands of dead troops, & hundreds of thousands of dead innocent Iraqis, because of george bush & his band of cowards & thugs.

Children, children 23.Mar.2013 08:07

Candy Kane

Thanks Kevin, your eloquent rebuttal is, well, um, so intelligent and eloquent, I mean wow, like you used fuck 2 times in one short sentence saying that my opinion was mine. What an intellectual giant.

Thinking you will get a positive reaction from mainstream americans, you know, the ones you have to win over, watching a bunch of thugs running down the street and breaking shit shows how stupid you are. Staying on message and representing the truth gets positive returns, acting like juvenile assholes got you 10 years of failure and an epic struggle to get the message out. Believe it or don't, your call, but it would seem that failure after failure would drive some to question tactics. Now "already 53 percent agree" den says, yeah after 10 damn years. Pfft