Study Restraint and Introspection not War

By Noble Johns

If the people in this country who are studying war because the terrorists attacks on our country had to send their children to war, they will study war no more. In other words, if the Bushes and Powells had to send their children to war, we wouldn’t have even the threat of war.

Given U.S. resolve to retaliate militarily against the 911 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the East Coast anti-war activist saw the banner as a purer symbol of peace.

Sheehan, who chairs the London-based War Resisters International, said the United States cannot wipe out terrorism by bombing it away: It's both impractical and morally appalling.

``Our response should not be to kill more innocent people,'' she said. ``Calls from the Bush administration would do just that.''

Pleas for restraint and justice by other, nonviolent means such as diplomacy or an international war crimes trial, are echoed by pacifist demonstrators and world leaders — Pope John Paul II, former South African president Nelson Mandela, and Cuban President Fidel Castro among them.
It is a minority view: Recent polls show most Americans believe the United States should retaliate, even if innocent people die in the process.

Those in the U.S. who are against retaliation are even urging national introspection into why the country was targeted for terrorism.

``It's not good and evil, us and them, it's more complex than that,'' said Larry Leaman-Miller, Colorado director of the Quaker group, American Friends Service Committee.

Years of U.S. economic and military domination, and U.S. foreign policy have hurt and exploited people, and left them feeling helpless to respond except by terrorism, Leaman-Miller said.

Additionally, Arab resentment has been building over U.N. sanctions and bombing in Iraq, military support for Israel, and U.S. refusal to criticize the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, he said.

Filmmaker and social critic Michael Moore, in an e-mail circulated widely last week, wrote of thousands of children orphaned around the world with ``our taxpayer-funded terrorism'' in Chile, Vietnam, Gaza, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

In an essay in The New Yorker magazine, American writer Susan Sontag criticizes U.S. public officials and media commentators for trying to ``infantilize'' the public in the wake of the attacks.
``Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?'' Sontag wrote in the Sept. 24 issue of the magazine, due out Monday.

In small ways around the country last week, some U.S. citizens pressed for nonviolent solutions to the cause of the nation's heartache.

In Brooklyn, a sign urged residents to lobby Congress for a peaceful resolution.

At a prayer service in Plainfield, N.J., Presbyterian minister Bob Hillenbrand warned of the high cost of inflicting yet more violence, a tack anathema to all faith traditions, he said.

Dave Robinson, national director for Pax Christi, USA, a Catholic peace movement that began after World War II, said once the nation has stopped grieving, it must look within itself.

``This is a time when America can be a light to the world,'' Robinson said. ``It's a moment for conversion from a sea of weapons and escalating violence ... letting God's way show us the direction, not our basest fears and emotional reactions.''

On Sunday, about 1,200 people marched through downtown Portland, Ore., singing Vietnam-era peace songs.

``The peace movement is alive and well today,'' said Chris Ferlazzo, a member of the Portland Peaceful Response group that organized the march and a rally that preceded it.

``It's a senseless crime, but more violence won't help and we're concerned more innocent people will die,'' he said.

In the San Francisco Bay area, the homebase for the lone Congresswoman who voted against the U.S. taking military action, about a thousand people gathered Sunday in Precita Park.

``We feel a special responsibility in the Bay area to be a sane rational voice saying this drumbeat of war is dangerous,'' said Medea Benjamin, a former U.S. Senatorial candidate who helped organize the event.

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