Veterans for Peace (VFP), a progressive organization if ever there was one, took the courageous step of voting for the “impeachment of President Barack H. Obama for war crimes” at its annual national convention in Portland Oregon in August. The resolution, which called on Congress to immediately begin impeachment proceedings, passed with a majority vote.
The resolution sounds the death knell for the view that advocates of Obama’s impeachment are no more than right wing, racist Birthers.
A call for impeachment, whatever the prospects for success, makes clear that the antiwar community regards the President as a criminal – whether that President is Bush or Obama. And it puts a stop to the nasty tactic of shutting up impeachment advocates by calling them racists.
The impeachment resolution is modeled on another that VFP passed some years ago calling for impeachment of Bush. The anti-Obama resolution merits reading in full and is included below. It has telling additions to the one targeting Bush. It opens thus: “Whereas, President Obama, on 19 March 2011, committed a criminal act by ordering the U.S. military to war in Libya without first obtaining the consent of the U.S. Congress in a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.” Bush told lies to get us into war. Such is his arrogance that Obama, acting in the Democratic tradition of Harry S. Truman in the Korean war, did not even bother to lie. He simply went ahead and trampled on the Constitution without pretense.
The seventh in the list of reasons for impeachment is a tight summary: “Whereas, millions upon millions of Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali, and Libyan civilians have been maimed, poisoned, displaced from their homes, and killed in a direct result of ongoing, illegal acts of war by the United States.”
It concludes, “Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace call on the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for failure to uphold his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic, and for his commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, obstruction of justice and the violation of numerous national and international laws, treaties and conventions.”
This victory of the VFP rank and file who submitted the resolutions did not come easily. It took three years. The first such resolution was written shortly after Obama took office, on his fourth day ordering Hellfire missiles to strike Pakistan, killing dozens of civilians including three children. That prompted Tom Santoni of the Central FL VFP chapter to write an impeachment resolution. It was taken up at the national convention the following August and was supported by the admirable Adam Kokesh who was at a meeting next door of VFP’s sister organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War. But the VFP leadership, that is the Board, voted against it, thus requiring a two-thirds vote of the membership.
This bit of gate keeping worked, and the resolution failed at the August convention. Santoni quit in disgust, a big loss to VFP. The Central Florida chapter tried again in 2010 under the leaderhship of its co-chair Phil Restino. This time Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan endorsed the resolution, but again it failed. Finally, this year the Central FL chapter once again submitted the resolution and this time the board did not vote it down! The unstoppable Restino reached out to all 128 VFP chapters urging support and passage. And spontaneously Jesse Perrier of Boston’s Smedley Butler chapter of VFP arose and gave an impassioned speech that brought down the house and won the day. The resolution passed.
Now what about the implementation? The Impeach Bush resolution was pushed aggressively in 2005 running up to the 2006 election when Democrats were running on the promise of impeachment, on which they promptly reneged, most notoriously John Conyers, the poster Congressperson for impeachment. Mike Ferner, at the time executive director of VFP, made an indignant Bush-bashing speech for impeachment in front of the White House. You can view it here in all its glory. A hard copy letter with the signature of the VFP president was mailed to each member of the House calling for impeachment.
How about the present resolution? Mike Ferner opposed it in the floor debate at the August convention. There has been no rally and none is planned – not in front of the White House or anywhere else. This time a fax of the resolution has been sent to the House members without signature of the President. Currently the Central FL chapter is trying to send snail mail letters on its own to every House member once it gets the signature of the president.
Unfortunately this story can be repeated in different ways in a variety of “progressive” organizations with leadership more loyal to Dems than to antiwar principle. This writer has witnessed it himself in organizations like PSR and United for Justice and Peace. But the ground is shifting, and much to its credit VFP has led the way.
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com. He thanks Phil Restino, co-chair of Central Florida Vets for Peace and Jesse Perrier of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Vets for Peace in Boston for their help. He attempted twice to reach a voice against the resolution but received no reply.
IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT BARACK H. OBAMA FOR WAR CRIMES Whereas, Barack H. Obama is Commander In Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces and the head of the Executive Branch of the United States government, and
Whereas, President Obama, on 19 March 2011, committed a criminal act by ordering the U.S. military to war in Libya without first obtaining the consent of the U.S. Congress in a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, and
Whereas, the illegal U.S. invasion, bombing and occupation of Iraq initiated by the Bush administration continues under the Obama administration; and
Whereas, the U.S. government is currently engaged in illegal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and President Obama pledged to increase the number of military personnel and tax dollars spent on the these wars, and
Whereas, the U.S. military used and continues to use depleted uranium munitions, cluster bombs and white phosphorous in densely populated areas in violation of U.S. laws and international laws and treaties prohibiting the indiscriminate killing of civilians; and,
Whereas, the Geneva Conventions specifically prohibit the use of especially injurious weapons and materials causing unnecessary harm that remain active and lethal after battle, and over large areas of land, and
Whereas, large numbers of babies born in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer life-long illness and deformity like severe disfigurements and brain damage, Down’s syndrome, and weak hearts doctors state are caused by the U.S. military’s massive and widespread use of toxic and radioactive materials, and
Whereas, millions upon millions of Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali, and Libyan civilians have been maimed, poisoned, displaced from their homes, and killed in a direct result of ongoing, illegal acts of war by the United States, and
Whereas, illegal, immoral and counterproductive detainee torture and brutalization at the hands of the U.S. military’s Immediate Reaction Force continue at Guantanamo under the Obama administration and in particular, the torture of Pfc. Bradley Manning at Quantico, Virginia, and
Whereas, President Obama is an accessory after the fact in obstructing justice by failing to order the Department of Justice to initiate investigations into numerous and blatant U.S. war crimes committed by the Bush administration, for which it is manifestly accountable under the law, and
Whereas, millions of Americans, including Veterans For Peace and Prosecute Them Now, supported the impeachment of Bush/Cheney for the same war crimes that are being committed now by Obama in violation of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. federal laws, the United Nations Charter, the Hague Convention, the Geneva Conventions, The United Nations Convention Against Torture and the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, and
Whereas, Veterans For Peace and Prosecute Them Now are committed to the stated mission to restrain our government from intervening overtly and covertly in the internal affairs of other nations, to seek justice for veterans and victims of war, to increase public awareness of the exact costs of war, and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy;
Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace call on the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for failure to uphold his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic, and for his commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, obstruction of justice and the violation of numerous national and international laws, treaties and conventions.
Approved at the 2011 VFP National Convention