Tuesday, March 6, 2007

How To Stop The Next War Before It Starts

If I were King for a Day, I'd issue a Royal Decree instructing all my Subjects to read Arthur Silber's three-part series, "Dispatch from Germany, Summer of 1939".

Parts I and II provide essential background, but here I want to focus on Part III, which carries the subtitle "Building an Effective Resistance".
Two or three years hence, no one will be happier than I to look back on this time and laugh about how worried we were about what turned out to be nothing in the end. [...] That is not a chance I am willing to take. Even if my assessment should turn out to be completely wrong, the steps suggested below would be wonderfully good practice, in the awful event that an equally maniacal administration should hold power in the future. It would be enormously useful and comforting to know that an effective force of resistance can be built to check the mad ambitions of those who hold the reins of power.
Oh, yes! Useful and comforting indeed, if it can be done. And even more comforting if it can be shown to have been done.

The question -- the big question -- some would say the only question -- is: HOW?

Arthur Silber's ideas seem useful, so I want to pass them along. I also want you to read the whole piece -- or the whole series! -- but I know there's a good chance you won't do it, so here for your consideration is a quick summary of Silber's message.
Two fundamental guidelines should be kept in mind all the time:

1. The criminal and immoral nature of an attack on Iran in the present circumstances and in the foreseeable future must be identified and stated with all the force imaginable, without qualification, in virtually every interview, every television appearance, and every news story that any politician (or any other public figure) takes part in, beginning tomorrow. THE INSANITY AND CRIMINALITY OF SUCH AN ATTACK MUST BE MADE NATIONAL TOPIC NUMBER ONE, UNTIL THIS ADMINISTRATION FULLY AND COMPLETELY DISAVOWS ANY AND ALL SUCH INTENTIONS AND PLANS -- AND UNTIL THE MAGNITUDE OF PUBLIC OPPOSITION CONVINCES US THAT THEY MEAN IT.

2. In every statement about an attack on Iran, no opponent of this administration can accept any of the terms of debate chosen by the administration. Such opponents must argue on completely different terms. If you argue within the framework they prefer to any extent at all, you will lose -- and the next global war may begin.
Silber gives examples of what these principles should look like in practice; you can find the details here.

What can we do with them? That depends on our individual situations, but surely we can all do some of the following:
Jonathan Schwarz outlined several actions you can take a few weeks ago. Those are all very good ideas, and you should do what Jon suggests if you care about this issue. But I also think those actions are not nearly enough.

ONE: If I had the money, I would take out full-page ads in the leading national newspapers -- at a minimum, in the NYT, the Washington Post, and the LA Times. The major focus of the ads would be the explanation of why an attack on Iran by the United States directly or by proxy (via Israel) in the present circumstances would be a criminal war of aggression, and a blatant violation of basic precepts of international law, including the Nuremberg Principles.

TWO: Contact your Senators and Representatives, and demand that they take the actions I outlined here. Two of those are absolutely required: they must rescind both Authorization for the Use of Military Force resolutions, the one passed immediately after 9/11 and the one on Iraq. The Bush administration uses the AUMFs as the "justification" to launch any war of aggression of its choice, while they simultaneously use them to destroy our remaining liberties here at home. Wipe the AUMFs off the books.

THREE: Tell every politician, Democratic or Republican, that they must stop repeating the Bush administration propaganda on Iran. Above all, they must stop saying that "all options are on the table," which in this context can only refer to a threat to launch an unprovoked war against Iran.

FOUR: Contact every politician you know who appears on television or gives newspaper interviews, and tell them they must be sure to explain briefly in every appearance they make why an attack on Iran at present would be a monstrous crime. IN EVERY APPEARANCE.

FIVE: Talk to everyone you can, at work, in your family, among friends, and at social gatherings. Explain the issues to them in a way that is appropriate for the relationship and the occasion, and urge them to take all these actions themselves. Explain briefly why this might be the most important battle they will ever fight.

SIX: If you are a writer well-known to any extent at all (and even if you're not well-known, in which case you can contact your local paper), write several op-eds on this subject, and submit them to every newspaper you can.

The major goals here are to educate, to lead, and to motivate a critical number of Americans to take action themselves.
Your cold correspondent supports these goals entirely, and hopes this post (and this site!) will help to bring them closer.

Does it seem futile? Futile is over if you want it. In other words, maybe one voice won't really make much difference, but what if we all started doing it?

It's not so hard to do something like this if you know where to start. So I'm giving you two good starting points:

Here's the House of Representatives. You can find your Representative using the search box at the top left corner.

And here's the Senate. You have two Senators and you can find them using the box at the top right corner.

As noted, the preceding has been a very brief summary of a thoughtful and detailed post. Please read the original.

Thanks to Arthur Silber for a great website and to Chris Floyd for the pointer.