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 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.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail