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Commentary :: Elections & Legislation

Peace Porridge #37

Is the election finally over? NO! It ain't over yet. Cries of
theft and reports of bizarre and unbelievable election data echo
back and forth across the internet. First the Ralph Nader campaign,
and then the Green and Libertarian parties file for recounts, while
democrats sit on the sidelines.

Is the election finally over? NO! It ain't over yet. Cries of
theft and reports of bizarre and unbelievable election data echo
back and forth across the internet. First the Ralph Nader campaign,
and then the Green and Libertarian parties file for recounts, while
democrats sit on the sidelines.

No sooner had John Kerry made his premature concession and
called for unity, then began the assault on the hapless City of Fallujah.
A beautiful historic city of 300,000 people - virtually emptied,
totally destroyed; hundreds, maybe thousands of civilians dead; an
entire population turned into refugees; superhuman resistance from the
embattled Iraqi people; and from the American people, stunned by
the election results, hardly a whimper of dissent.


Months ago I argued that Bush would never win re-election. Why?
He had failed so badly, by any metric one cares to use: the national
debt through the ceiling, the economy in shambles, the dollar and the
stock market down, our international reputation at an all-time low,
American corporations boycotted in Europe and the Middle East, the Iraq
war going poorly and costing billions, Afghanistan in chaos, the CIA
angry over the outing of Valerie Plame, our Latin America neighbors
thumbing their nose at us with impunity, nuclear proliferation into Iran
and Korea, and to top it off, Bush's (at best) failure to act to
prevent the September 11th disaster.

Basically, he failed to deliver the goods to many of the folks
who put him in office, folks who had the power to see to it that he
would not remain in the White House.

Kerry on the other hand was promising that he could deliver on
Bush's unkept promises. And folks were buying it. Money was rolling
into the Kerry campaign. Progressives were completely bamboozled, uniting
behind Kerry. He appeared unstoppable.

I kept waiting for Bush's numbers to fall precipitously. It
never happened - all this and more - brushed off, unimportant,

I really don't know how the Bush campaign pulled this one off.
Maybe someday I'll understand. Bribery? Threat? Theft? Fear? Fraud?
Prejudice? Bigotry? All of the above? It would seem that so many
acted against their own self-interest: not just ordinary people, but
also people of great power like Wall Street and the military.

I have a foreign-born friend who tells me simply, "Americans
like war; so they vote for Bush." There is much truth to this. Why else
have we spent almost six decades preparing for and fighting wars - often
with devastating results?

Most Americans know little of war. Few of us have watched our
children blown to bits by foreign guns and bombs. Few of us have watched
our children die of dysentery and pneumonia because foreign
soldiers, diplomats and businessmen have cut off our access to clean water
and medicine. Even in the attack on the Twin Towers, I have not
heard one single report of a young child being killed.

We have the power to wage war - so we do it - and enjoy it. Our
leaders are blinded by arrogance. And we follow like sheep, ignoring
Howard Zinn's warning that, "To rely on the wisdom of the people in
power is the worst thing you can do."

When (not if) Americans learn of war, will we still like war? I
suspect not.


Returning to the election: I can't help but wonder what would
have happened if everybody had voted for the candidate they thought
would make the best president. Suppose folks had not fallen for
slogans like, "Anybody but Bush" and "A Vote for Nader is a Vote
for Bush."

Quite likely, the Green Party would have overwhelmingly
supported Ralph Nader. Quite likely, Nader's performance would have
approached or even outdone Ross Perot's 1992 third party performance.
The Green Party would now have ballot status in most states. The Peace
Movement would be a real force to reckon with in U.S. politics. We
would be poised to elect more peace and justice candidates to Congress,
and maybe even to the White House. Perhaps, we would have prevented Bush
from stealing the election. Maybe John Kerry would now be President Elect.
Maybe we would now be strong enough to force those in power to back away
from making war. And maybe we could have prevented the destruction of

Instead, the Peace Movement has been decimated, having
squandered its credibility by supporting the campaign of a warmonger; a
man who claimed that the Iraq war was simply a mistake that he could
correct; a man who claimed he could win the war that he had voted for. In
2003, the Peace Movement brought a million Americans into the street
demanding no war in Iraq; now it can barely speak above a whisper. The
Green Party is only a shadow of its former self. And we don't even have
"Anybody But Bush" in the White House.

I fear the negative consequences of the terrible mistake that we
have made in this election will be tremendous.


In spite of our overwhelming military superiority, we are loosing the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as we lost in Vietnam, just
as the Soviets lost in Afghanistan. Aggressive imperial wars always
come to disaster sooner or later. Our capacity for destruction is
unparalleled in history. Our ability to create peaceful and just
solutions is non-existent.

I fear the war will again be brought to the soft underbelly of
the homeland. I fear the next attack may be far more devastating
than the World Trade Center.

There is a great sense of honor, justice and fairness in Islam;
and a willingness to give an adversary every opportunity to mend his
ways. I believe that in the Middle East many were awaiting the outcome
of this election. Would America elect a new President? Would it change
direction? Would it end its assaults on Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan
and other lands?

More than anything, this election was a test; and we have
failed. The cost of our failure may be tremendous.

In his October video address to the American people, Osama bin
Laden discusses the consequences of our desire to wage war. What a
shame that our media has treated us to so little of the contents of this
tape. Here are some excerpts:

"I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of
Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No. Your security is in your own hands.
And every state that doesn't play with our security has automatically
guaranteed its own security."

"[J]ust as you lay waste to our nation. So shall we lay waste to

"And know that: 'It is better to return to the truth than
persist in error.' And that the wise man doesn't squander his security,
wealth and children for the sake of the liar in the White House."


Another possible consequence may well be the first military coup
in U.S. history. Not all coups are the work of the CIA (although
many are). It is not unheard of for the military to take matters into
its own hands, when a civilian government becomes arrogant, corrupt,
ineffectual, and loses the support of its own citizenry. Indeed,
by this yardstick, the US is ripe for military takeover. All that
is missing is a catalytic event, like the attack on the Twin Towers.

I think many in the military are seething with anger at a
Commander-in-Chief who (at best) shirked his duty in the
National Guard, knows nothing of war and refuses to listen to
those who do, and frivolously endangers his own troops. I suspect
the Bush administration would not fare so well under a military

I suspect the Peace Movement would not fare well either. And
would those who believed that anybody is better than Bush support a
military coup? I rather think that many would hardly raise a word of


So what must be done now? First, we must recognize that many of
us were duped into putting our energies into the Kerry campaign when we
should have been working for peace and justice and an immediate end to
the Iraq war.

Second, we must resolve NEVER to let this happen again. We must
throw the "lesser of two evils" argument on the scrapheap of history,
once and for all. When we support evil, we get evil. If we support
peace and justice, we will get peace and justice.

Third, we must get over the shock and awe of the election, and
return to our work for peace and justice. Our movement was decimated
once before, on September 11, 2001. 17 months later, one million
Americans took to the streets demanding no war on Iraq. We can and must
phoenix-like arise again from our own ashes.


- Yusha

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