FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is the Peace Movement Finally Awakening?

by SHELDON RICHMAN

What America needs most today is a peace movement, a broad-based coalition that opposes not only the American empire’s operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (as well as less overt activities elsewhere), but also their attendant accretion of presidential power, which diminishes or eliminates civil liberties and the traditional protections accorded criminal suspects.

Unfortunately, there have been impediments to the development of this long-overdue movement. People on the Right typically are not inclined to oppose wars. Even if they are uneasy about a given war, they equate anti-war activity with left-wing opposition to the military, failure to support the troops, and lack of patriotism. If a Republican is running the war, they are even less likely to make a fuss. Some on the Right are authentically anti-empire and are ready to join an anti-war coalition, but they seem to be waiting for others to take the initiative.

The Left of course is much more comfortable opposing war and executive power and did so during the reign of George W. Bush. But they can alienate potential nonleft coalition members by stressing their interventionist domestic agenda.

A more recent problem with the Left is Barack Obama. With a few exceptions, Obama’s election has silenced the critics of empire, invasion, occupation, Predator bombings, and civil-liberties destruction. Maybe they feel he is one of them, so they are giving him time to get settled in before he begins to dismantle the empire. Well, Obama is into his 17th month and there has been scant progress on that front. It’s safe to say that he has no intention of scaling back, much less liquidating the empire.

Maybe that’s why a group of prominent leftist intellectuals, activists, and actors has ended the ceasefire and has finally criticized Obama’s war policies. It’s about time. In a statement placed in the New York Review of Books, headlined “Crimes Are Crimes No Matter Who Does Them,” the group said, “Crimes under Bush are crimes under Obama and must be resisted by anyone who claims a shred of conscience.”

Hear, hear!

The group specifically referred to Obama’s ordering the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and radical Muslim cleric living in Yemen, “because he is suspected of participating in plots by Al Qaeda.” The statement notes that “Al-Awlaki denies these charges. No matter. Without trial or other judicial proceeding, the administration has simply put him on the to-be-killed list.”

The Obama administration claims it has the right to kill people such as al-Awlaki, who has been linked to the shooter at Fort Hood and the would-be airplane bomber over Detroit last year. This is an extraordinary claim of unilateral executive power. Al-Awlaki, who has made inflammatory statements about killing American civilians, is not operating on a traditional battlefield but rather is suspected — having never been charged or tried — of engaging in illegal activities.

Thus a president who spared no criticism of the horrendous powers claimed by the Bush-Cheney administration has one-upped his predecessor by openly declaring the authority to murder even American citizens. Why aren’t all Obama supporters expressing their disgust over this despotic policy?

The statement also singled out massacres committed by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, cover-ups or dissembling after those events, and homicides represented as suicides at Guantanamo Bay.

“In some respects this is worse than Bush,” the statement continues. “Obama says that the government can detain you indefinitely, even if you have been exonerated in a trial, and he has publicly floated the idea of ’preventive detention.’ [And] the Obama administration, in expanding the use of unmanned drone attacks, argues that the U.S. has the authority under international law to use extrajudicial killing in sovereign countries with which it is not at war.”

Acts that might have been “anomalies” under Bush, the group notes, “have now been consecrated into ‘standard operating procedure’ by Obama, who claims, as did Bush, executive privilege and state secrecy in defending the crime of aggressive war.”

It closes with an appeal to “end this complicity of silence.” This is a hopeful sign, indeed. Maybe it’s the spark that’s needed to launch a real peace movement so that this immoral and criminal behavior will finally stop.

SHELDON RICHMAN is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.

 

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

Sheldon Richman, author of the forthcoming America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail