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Stop These Wars or We'll Fill Your Jails

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By David Swanson

Here's an easy question: would you rather go to jail for a few hours with a bunch of friends or die?

Here's a poorly kept secret: the wars that a majority of Americans want ended are not ending, and the war machine that a majority of Americans want cut back is growing.

Here's a situation that is not secret at all but too horrifying for us to acknowledge: if the war machine continues on its current course, we will not survive it economically, environmentally, or with any civil liberties or representative government intact. If we do not reach those catastrophes it will be because blowback or nuclear proliferation takes us out first.

You may not die for the Pentagon, but if you do not it will be your children or grandchildren. Would you rather go to jail for a few hours with a bunch of friends or see your grandchildren killed? Is the question getting easier?

Here's a well kept secret: many Americans are doing something about it, and Veterans for Peace is taking the lead. We're going to the White House on Thursday, December 16th at 10 a.m.:

You may have other obligations, but do they outweigh what's at stake here? How about this question: If you cannot risk arrest at the White House with us on December 16th to stop these wars, can you be there in support? Can you help with transportation or take photos and shoot videos and write reports? If you cannot be there in support, can you phone Congress and the media and demand the defunding of the war machine and an end to wars opposed by majorities of Americans in every poll?

The last time I was arrested at the White House we were "processed" at a table outside a jail and never entered any jail at all. Yes, it takes hours to do what could take minutes. Yes, the handcuffs pinch. But doesn't the knowledge that we are bombing families in other countries pinch a little too?

Don't take it from me. Take it from these people who will also be there:

"I am shamed by the actions of my government and I will do everything in my power to make it stop killing innocent people in my name." -- Leah Bolger

"'….to protect and defend the Constitution…' I took that oath as a sailor, and later as a police officer. I don't consider that oath to have an expiration date because I believe in accountability, justice and peace. Where I come from, we say: 'You don't have to stand tall, but you've GOT to stand up.' Stand up December 16, 2010, at the White House." -- Erik Lobo

"Besides causing untold suffering and destruction, our futile and unending wars distract us from addressing unprecedented humanitarian and planetary crises. To allow war to even exist dishonors the teachers of peace who came before us. To fail to oppose war is to submit to those who make war. I choose to honor the peace teachers; I choose to oppose and resist the war makers." -- Kim Carlyle

"As Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner of a year ago, embraces war on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, he's joined by most all the Democratic Party, and pushed on by the cabal of Republican war-mongers newly dominant in Congress. Obama was the right man for the job of expanding US domination internationally, and domestic surveillance and police-state measures. He's not solely responsible for the system.; neither is he a socialist, or illegitimate based on his birth. But we are right to be protesting at the White House now, as we were right when the Bush regime lived there. People who want to stop these wars being carried out in our name have to be visible and vocal about it, now!" -- Debra Sweet

"I strongly and enthusiastically support these actions! May we move forward peacefully, nonviolently, and with great courage." -- Ron Kovic

"I speak and write a lot about these things; but there comes a time when if you don't put your body on the line, then the speaking and writing becomes posturing. That time is now. December 16 at the White House. " -- Joel Kovel

"Those who know the full extent of America's imperial reach have a unique obligation to let their fellow citizens know what is being done in all of our names. But it is more than an obligation for veterans, since many of us have served in America's invasions and occupations abroad. Perhaps it is also a privilege, another chance to express our love for this country, this time putting their bodies on the line to demand that America once again join the peace loving nations of this world." -- Fred Nagel

"I listened today to Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech given at New York's Riverside Church in 1967, 'Why I Oppose the Vietnam War.' If any of us don't know it, make it a point to hear it. His truth is timeless. When I hear it, I feel as deeply as possible, the necessity and the responsibility to be a Veteran For Peace. My conscience, my refusal to let the world change me are in the forefront of my existence. I will be with my brothers and sisters on Dec. 16." -- Jay Wenk

"When Barack Obama claimed that by not prosecuting the war crimes and crimes against humanity of the previous administration we would be able to go into the future with our core values intact, he was condemning this country to have no moral future. He was, in effect, saying that our core values worth defending are imperialism and capitalism and hypocrisy. All three can only flourish in a climate of no accountability and a belief in the necessary ethic of collateral damage. It is our responsibility to change that." -- Robert Shetterly

"War for empire, endless and cruel war, resulting in untold suffering, destruction and death for millions, a war economy here at home that steals from ordinary citizens and makes the few enormously wealthy, these are powerful reasons for us to put our bodies on the wheels, the levers, the apparatus of this vile war-making machine and demand that it stop. Enough is enough. There is no glory, no heroism, no good wars, no justification whatsoever, it is all, all of it, based on lies. I'll be in Washington on December 16 with other veterans, resisting this war mentality, demanding its end. -- Tarak Kauff

"For what do I stand? First, I will not stand for: a Democrat, a Republican, a flag, a border, a government, or a war of any kind. I will stand for the People, to protect and defend the Constitution, for peace and justice. See you in Washington, D.C., December 16, Twenty-Ten." -- Will Covert

"I could not miss this manifestation of veterans' strong condemnation of the wars, and of Obama for continuing them. In this season of supposed peace on earth, we who previously carried out U.S. foreign policy with our bodies must speak out to say, 'NO MORE! Bring the troops home NOW!'" -- Ellen Barfield

"We are at a critical time in world history. Will the Western democracies continue to develop along the lines of Rousseau, Voltaire, Jefferson, King, Chavez and company? Or does the future hold a feudal world committed to slavery and fascism? The extent to which we resist is the extent to which there is reason to hope. Our witness, even if ignored in our times, will be on record and will inspire democratic revolutionaries far into the future. -- Doug Zachary

"The Empire has met the Resistance and it is us! 12.16.10. Washington. Be there!" -- Mike Ferner

"I have three granddaughters whose futures will be bleak unless we can reverse the American slide into endless war. It's time to move the resistance up a notch. That's why I'll be joining the veteran-led civil resistance on December 16 at the White House." -- Ken Mayers

"I'm joining my fellow veterans on December 16 because, plain and simple, it is the right thing to do. I am against war, murder, and torture. Enough! I have a beautiful daughter and a very cute goddaughter. I owe them my best effort towards achieving a more just world. When we all stand up for peace war will end." -- Mike Tork

"The trip to Washington will be an opportunity to stand in solidarity with fellow engaged citizens who are paying attention. As much as it will be a privilege, it is an obligation to add another voice to the growing chorus objecting to obscene wars that serve none other than the rich and powerful. The majorities in the lands subject to our occupations and wars object to our presence, and we the people share more in common with the victims in those countries than we do with the war profiteers here at home. Though we can expect the mainstream media to give little notice to our presence in D.C., that failure will only serve to make these truths more evident." -- Dud Hendrick

"I will not be silent. I'm going to the White House to demand an end to these wars!" -- Mike Hearington

"All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration." -- Chris Hedges

David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie"

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Submitted by regulararmyfool on

If the wars were stopped, the American economy would collapse like a pricked balloon.

The enormous spending on the wars and the military is the only thing between the current state of affairs and the total collapse of the American economy.

This is the reason that I attack every economist as a total fool. They simply cannot look ahead but always look back. Reality is a real drag.

badtux's picture
Submitted by badtux on


The economic effect of war on production is that factories get employed to build stuff of no conceivable use to any living human being... and said stuff is then blown up. On the employment side of things, the economic effect of war is that a million or so men get paid to stand around with tools doing nothing of any conceivable use to any living human being... and then meet interesting people, and kill them.

We could get the same economic effect as war on production by simply having the government buy those $500 billion in factory output and explosives, then blow them up in the desert without any killing involved. We could get the same economic effect as war by simply having the government hire the million or so people involved in the war effort to dig holes, then fill them back in. From the viewpoint of the economy, this would be identical to war -- paying people to build stuff, and paying other people to dig holes and blow it up. We don't need any of that nasty killing other people stuff involved to replicate the economic effect of war, we just need to look at what that actual economic effect is on both production and employment.

Once you realize this, then it also becomes apparent that with real needs in our country -- a crumbling infrastructure, declining living standards for anybody below the upper middle class, millions of unemployed -- we can use the money currently being used to make things of no conceivable use to make things that *are* of use, like, say, new bridges and highways and high speed rail cars and such. We can use the money currently being used to employ people carrying tools around in the desert building nothing of any use to anybody, to instead employ people to carry tools around and clean up our trashed roadsides, beautify our highways, maintain the crumbling trails in our national parks, and otherwise make our nation better. We don't need war to have the economic effect of war -- we just need an open mind.

- Badtux the Economics Penguin

badtux's picture
Submitted by badtux on

The U.S. currently has a huge national security state created for the "war on drugs", with millions of militarized policemen trained in suppression of dissent, and plenty of sports palaces that can be used to "process" people. All that you accomplish by being arrested is street theatre.

The Soviet Union did not collapse because of demonstrations. The demonstrations happened after the Soviet Union had already basically collapsed. The Soviet Union collapsed because of a collective decision by a supermajority of Soviet citizens that they were no longer going to support the Soviet state. The Soviet Union rotted from within when the citizenry withdrew their labor from the support of the state, and the demonstrations at the end were merely the finishing coup de grace upon a rotting corpse. As for morons talking about violent revolution, I cannot think of a violent revolution in the history of this planet that had a good outcome. All it did was replace one group of thugs with an even worse group of thugs. Lest you talk about the American Revolution, it was actually a war of secession between the lawfully constituted governments of the colonies against their mother country, which is completely *not* a revolution, it was a civil war, thank you very much... which is why it's called "The American War of Independence" in English history books, not "The American Revolution", because it wasn't.

- Badtux the History Penguin

Submitted by Aaron Em on

I don't see how getting arrested in front of the White House is going to have the slightest effect on the course of the American empire, but y'all have a blast.

Submitted by Aaron Em on

With the prison industry going private as fast as it possibly can, reducing the judicial system to nothing more than a cattle chute for the newest sort of "human resources" -- how on Earth do you figure in the first place that "filling your jails" is going to redound to the benefit of anyone but those who own and profit from them?

Submitted by hipparchia on

that would be a combination of methods 193 and 195.

but you can't just fill the jails, you've got to get enough people arrested to completely overwhelm the jail c.apacity. admittedly, that's a tall order - we have a lot of jail capacity, and most people don't like getting arrested and going to jail.

Submitted by Aaron Em on

And the Department of Homeland Security is known to have plans for rapid expansion of prison capacity, too; while they're presumably laid against the necessity of interning large numbers of foreign nationals for their supposed terrorism, I have no doubt they'd work just as well on American citizens, should the government find itself suddenly with a surfeit of citizens it feels the need to imprison. For a nation which already confines one whole percent of its adult population -- three million people,give or take, and that's not even counting the kids -- how much more effort do you imagine it taking to bulldoze a big stretch of scrub woods, wrap razor wire around it, and call it a prison camp?

Submitted by libbyliberal on

The protest is important. It is a tremendous sacrifice to risk going to jail. But it is standing up against evil, not enabling it. The fewer the protesters the more vulnerable they are. If one is not ready to go to jail ... and I am not there I confess ... we can still do as much as we are capable of now to protest the amorality of war. To awaken our own consciences and those of our fellow Americans. Using our voices and whatever tools we can find and explore.

Submitted by Aaron Em on

None of it worth a damn thing, too.

One side has principle and outrage; the other has government, media, capital, industry, and all the guns worth caring about. I don't say the side with the guns will certainly win, but the good guys are at one hell of a disadvantage, and I'm not seeing any suggestions of how to overcome that and actually do something meaningful, something that might turn the course of our collapsing empire away from the fascist nightmare it appears to be hurtling toward right now -- well, at any rate, I've yet to see any suggestions which seemed worth the effort of taking seriously for any longer than it takes to point out the most obvious of the holes.

Anybody got any ideas that don't end with either a) us all getting our asses kicked to no good purpose, or b) us all being so utterly ineffectual in the first place that no one needs to bother? For those kinds of suggestions, I'm all ears.