Sunday, November 30, 2008

Worried By Obama's Picks? Support Anti-War Groups

by John Nichols

Tens of millions of Americans prayed for peace as they celebrated Thanksgiving Day, and they will do so many more times during the coming Holiday Season.

Even non-believers will acknowledge that prayer can be powerful - providing measures of solace, insight and inspiration.

But prayer is made meaningful when it is linked to action.

So how do we act upon a prayer for peace?

By acknowledging that, despite all the spin from the Bush administration and its Republican allies and the acquiescence of too many of members of the Democratic opposition, America remains mired in a pair of undeclared wars that continue to cost previous lives of young Americans soldiers and innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fantasists will claim that the occupation of Iraq has become less horrific, yet the truth is that the death and destruction is merely less reported. Fifteen American soldiers have been killed so far this month. Thirty-three American soldiers have been severely wounded in recent weeks. For Iraqis, the toll is much higher: Hundreds dead, thousands of wounded each and every month. No wonder polling suggests that the one thing uniting Iraqis is a desire for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from that country.

It is now just as bad in Afghanistan, where circumstances have grown dramatically worse. The American death for the year has risen to more than 150 - three times the number for the entire first year of the occupation. Soldiers are being wounded at a rate that is becoming competitive with Iraq. And civilians are being killed and maimed in such numbers by U.S. bombing raids that Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Washington's man in Kabul, warns that battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people is being lost. This week, Karzai met with a United Nations Security Council to demand a timeline for the end of the foreign military intervention in his country.

The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are not "good wars."

They are neither moral nor responsible.

And they are certainly not necessary.

These military misadventures are in conflict with any sincere prayer for peace.

So how do we act upon a prayer for peace?

By supporting efforts to end the occupations.

The biggest lie of the last few years has been the claim that there is not a viable peace movement in this country. In fact, every state and many communities across the country have peace and justice networks that are doing great work. (You'll find a great master list of organizations on the United for Peace and Justice website.)

From Washington state's Port Townsend Peace Movement to Veteran for Peace Chapter 1 in Walpole, Maine, there are dozens of local, regional and state groups that need support. The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice is one worthy recipient of Holiday season donations. The group has been highlighting and supporting nonviolent activism for peace by groups in Iraq, educating Wisconsinites about the fact that the Iraqi people want foreign military forces withdrawn from their country. Online donations can be made at

Nationally, consider Peace Action, which says: "At Peace Action we take concrete steps to promote and more peaceful and just world by building a community of engaged and active citizens. We never forget that it's not the policy, but the people whose lives are at stake that matter most.

"Your money will be use to press for an end to the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. We're reaching out to the millions of Obama supporters who voted for real progressive change to push for reductions in runaway military spending and direct that money to fund human needs."

It is easy to donate online to Peace Action at:

© 2008 The Nation


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