Some of the comments in response to a recent blog I published shared our recognition that the promotion of peace in the United States needs to intensify. My response below provides an action for anti-war activists to consider as they gather to protest the occupation of Iraq this weekend on the two-year anniversary of the US occupation.
The current level of intensity is not sufficient to stop the war and bring the troops home. Activists focus on their neighbors and friends, to be sure, but the goal is to get Congress and President Bush to feel the heat and light of the peace drives to end the war-occupation in Iraq. Right now the biggest challenge to fill is the Congressional cop-out gap.
Congress violated its constitutional authority to declare war by assigning it to President Bush in October 2002. Since then many members of Congress have evoked private fury with Bush’s war lordism, the fabrications, cover-ups, the tens of thousands of horrific casualties, the vast waste of resources and our loss of respect throughout the world but they keep quiet or falsely warble their public comments with evasions.
A few – a very few – have said publicly what’s on their mind. For the great majority in Congress – Democrats and Republicans – Bush has intimidated them because they signaled in various ways that they could be intimidated.
So, let’s start getting smart about holding your member of Congress accountable. Below is a penetrating letter you can modify for your member of Congress to let them know you see ending the war as a high priority that they must attend to. Let us know what you think. And, if you take this approach, let us know how it turns out.
Dear Member of Congress (Representative and two Senators)
According to a Harris poll last month, 59 percent of Americans want US troops brought home within the next year. We are among them. You are not listening to us. Here is what we propose: To meet with you in a public auditorium with the media invited on [insert date]_ when you say you will back in your state (district). We wish to discuss specifically with you the following issues:
1. Do you support continued funding of the Iraq War and occupation without a specific exit strategy and timetable?
2. Will you announce an exit strategy for Iraq?
3. Will you investigate contracting abuses found by DoD auditors regarding the reconstruction of Iraq?
4. Will you investigate the $9 billion dollars unaccounted for in the Coalition Provisional Authority budget in Iraq?
5. How will you hold President Bush accountable to Congress?
If we do not hear favorably from you within a week of your receipt of this email (or letter or fax), we will double the number of signatures and renew the request.
If one week later we do not hear from you, we will again double the number of signatures and present some of us at your local office so you and your staff can meet your constituents.
If a week later we do not hear from you, we will peacefully and diligently street march in front of your local office to secure your attention.
You have often said how much you want to enjoy hearing from your constituents – well, here we are. Please do not take this as a hostile message; rather it is an effort to indicate to you the serious urgency we take to ending the occupation of Iraq and bringing U.S. troops home as soon as possible. Civilians, little children and soldiers are dying or being seriously injured every day.
In the meantime, we would appreciate answers to the following questions:
1. Do you have a summary of Paul Bremer’s vast directives which are still the governing authority of Iraq? These include extending Saddam’s ban on trade union organizing and allow a U.S. takeover of Iraq businesses.
2. Have you protested to President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld that they do not officially disclose the injuries to our troops there, diseases and severe mental trauma when they do not occur in combat situations – even if they are evacuated from Iraq? If yes, send us a copy of your letter. If not, why not?
3. Will you sign a simple pledge that henceforth you will vote against any attack on another nation unless Congress itself declares war as required by the U.S. Constitution? See: The United States Constitution’s War Powers Clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11.
4. Finally, would you propose a very selective service draft just for the children of members of Congress? The purpose of this request is that such a draft will focus the responsible attention on members of Congress in terms of realistic risks and consequences from the initiation of military hostilities.
(signed by a group of constituents)
cc: members of the press and many other interested parties
Why don’t you and your local anti-war advocates try this out today. The sooner we get serious about pressuring Congress, the sooner the war and occupation of Iraq, the sooner the killing will stop, the sooner our troops will come home.
RALPH NADER is a noted consumer advocate who has worked a wide range of issues including opposing the Iraq War. The column above is based on a blog published on DemocracyRising.US. Comments on this blog are welcomed on the site.