An open letter: averting the Iranian War

Diane Poole wrote:

From: "Diane Poole" To: "'Sydney Vilen'",,, CC: Subject: an open letter: averting the Iranian War Date: Sun, 2 Sep 2007 16:21:21 -0700

{Diane:  I'll let you know any addresses which
  don't work.  And I'll send notes to Brian & Mark
  to ask one of them to forward to Dan -- I don't
  have his e-addie.    Sydney}

Hi everyone,

Below is the text of a letter I am sending to my colleagues at the place where I work, and to all others with whom I am close, urging them to join the Iraq Moratorium. Although I suppose we should at least consider calling it the IRAQN Moratorium, but I suppose that's a discussion for another day.

I have asked Sydney to forward to the members of Nuremburg Actions and to cc me, so I can have all your addresses. I am also sending this to the Nuremburg Actions yahoo group which I encourage you all to join if you have not already done so.

September 2, 2007

Yesterday was an interesting day. Friends and friends of friends, we spent the afternoon remembering a fateful September 1st 20 years ago, when at the Concord Naval Weapons Station a US Navy munitions train brutally assaulted a decorated war veteran and long-time peace activist. Brian lost his legs and lived to become a pillar of the renewed anti-war movement, the largest since the end of the Vietnam War; and weapons trains don't run at Concord anymore. If you're interested, there are stories here and here

Against all odds the actions of that day and the actions that flowed from it

stopped the war in its tracks, so to speak. Our actions gave hope to thousands who had damn little on their side, and that was arguably even more important. Our actions definitely worked magic on each of our lives. There is much to grieve in the horror of those days so many years ago, but so much more to celebrate. And if that was all there was to our little gathering, it would have been forever a memory of hearts full to overflowing, but nothing perhaps of interest outside our little group. But that was not all there was.

For the stark presence of our current plight intruded, with its echoes of another September 1st, one 68 years ago. It has been clear for some time now how desperately George Bush longs to complete his trilogy of horror with a massive bombing campaign against Iran. Just today the Times of London carries a story of how the pending attack is designed to completely destroy the Iranian military, although from what we learned yesterday even this understates the size of the planned attack. Collectively we the people were unable to stop him launching his assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq and feelings of despair and grief inevitably arise.

Yet there is also reason to hope. George Bush is weaker now than ever before. With his previous adventures having soured into a full blown fiasco, key aides driven out in disgrace, a battered military on the brink of collapse, an economy on life support; only a madman would begin a war under these conditions against a country actually strong enough to fight back and against the councils of the departments of defense and state, the intelligence community, most of the barons of business and all of the nations of the world save one. Yet exactly that is his intention. And so we must ask ourselves, what do we do?

Ken mentioned the Iraq Moratorium . Immediately on hearing the word "Moratorium" Daniel lit up and told us a story. It went like this:

It was early October 1969, and Richard Nixon had not yet given up on winning the war in Vietnam. The situation was desperate and Nixon was desperate and he had seized on the idea of using nuclear weapons to bomb North Vietnam into submission. Directly and through intermediaries such as the Soviet ambassador he announced that "the train had left the station and was heading down the tracks," a phrase too cute by half meant to convey an unshakable resolution. His intention was to prevail by bluff or if necessary through a limited demonstration of his awful might and so win the war that boots on the ground were so obviously losing.

Then, on October 15th, that all changed. Two million people walked out of offices and classrooms across the country, vowing to repeat the action one month later, and every month for as long as it took. Nixon realized that such a massive display of civil disobedience would weaken his bluff and he might be forced to conduct an escalating series of bombings, with no clear certainty at which point the enemy would submit. And he realized that if two million were willing to walk out even before the campaign began, such an escalating series would trigger unprecedented reaction with unpredictable consequences.

Things did not get better right away; with Nixon denied his dramatic turnaround, the war dragged on. The invasions of Cambodia and Laos followed, later the Christmas bombings. And so for years, ordinary people had no idea how close the world had come to nuclear war in 1969. They could not know, and many still do not know, that moment was the turning of the tide. I learned this only yesterday. Maybe you just learned it too.

That moment has come round again, if we have the courage to seize it. It is inchoate and unformed; it is for us collectively to determine its nature. It is a simple thing really, and its genius is that it allows anyone and everyone to participate at whatever level they choose to become involved. Some may feel only able to war a black ribbon around their arm. Others, bolder, will be taking the day off work to rally and protest. Still others may wade into traffic banging pots and pans, snarling traffic and forcing people to confront the fact that all around us, as we go about our daily lives, millions of other lives no less precious than our own are being snuffed out, strangled, starved, poisoned and blown up so that we can relish our comforts.

Across this continuum as love overcomes fear a sense of responsibility is forged. And then the fire of courage is ignited: millions of people evaluating for themselves at which point they will say "this far and no further!" This is how a people give pause to a tyrant, this is why "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown". John did not go willingly to Runnymede, nor did Nixon or Botha or any other of the kings, presidents and dictators in between or since. They had no choice. This is our power.

And when you think about it, we don't have any choice either. To live in silent acquiescence is to commit moral suicide, slowly, day by day, small doses of slow poison. To all my fellow citizens I say the time has come to take a stand. Act. Wear a black ribbon on Friday, September 21st, and the third Friday every month, for as long as it takes. Do it for your conscience, do it for your country, do it for your God, do it for your children, do it for the people of the world. Do it for Frodo, if you must. But do it.

Tell your friends and family. Spread the word. And if and when you can. no, that's not right, that's not what I mean to say. What I mean to say is: If and when you must, do more.

As for us, I'm sure you agree we need to be among those who "do more". I don't know what yet, but I must confess the idea of wading into traffic with pots and pans does have a certain appeal. We could call it "pulling a Molly Ivins".

Seriously though, as we sat and talked in Mark's garden over and over I couldn't help thinking, if we don't act, who will?

I do fear the government, of course. But yesterday I discovered something greater than my fear. And in the light of that discovery I see now that I must act, and we must act together before it's too late. Because we love one another. And we love our country. And we love our world. And our love gives us power if we let it.

And on top of all of that, we have a track record.

It's time we gave our government a reason to fear us.


-- Diane Poole

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