Why We Mourn and Protest

Many of the this week’s crit­ics of the Non­vi­o­lence Web are insist­ing that the U.S. needs to bomb Iraq in order to secure a future world of peace: “Are you an idiot? We need­ed to bomb them. 

Oth­er­wise, many more INNOCENT will even­tu­al­ly die at the hands of Sad­dam Hus­sein. Some­times force is nec­es­sary in order to pre­vent much greater vio­lence later.”

This is the log­ic that has brought us to most vio­lent cen­tu­ry in human exis­tence. War is always fought for peace. Acts of vio­lence are always jus­ti­fied with the argu­ment that they’re pre­vent­ing acts of vio­lence lat­er. We kill for peace. And they kill for peace. And as the death count ris­es we build even big­ger and smarter bombs. And they build even big­ger and smarter bombs.

The million-dollar cruise mis­siles going into Iraq aren’t go to hurt Sad­dam Hus­sein. He’s safe­ly ensconced in one of his pres­i­den­tial palaces watch­ing CNN (mean­while, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton sits in the White House watch­ing CNN as well). All the cruise mis­siles in the U.S. Navy won’t bring Hus­sein from power.

It is the peo­ple of Iraq who feel the sting of these bomb­ings. Just as it is them who have born the brunt of eight years of bru­tal sanc­tions. It is the moth­ers who suf­fer as they watch their chil­dren die because even the most basic med­ical sup­plies are non-existent. It is the lit­tle ones them­selves suf­fer­ing as yet anoth­er wave of bombs come rain­ing down on their world from that abstract enti­ty called the “U.S.”

Amer­i­can pol­i­cy is wrong pre­cise­ly because we are at war not with Sad­dam Hus­sein, but with the peo­ple of Iraq-the cit­i­zens, the poor and meek, the down­trod­den and hurting.

The nation of Iraq will always have the tech­ni­cal know-how to build weapons of mass destruc­tion. Because the fact is that we live in a world where every indus­tri­al­ized nation with a cou­ple of smart chem­istry Ph.D.‘s can build these bombs. India and Pak­istan just a few months ago set off nuclear weapons, we know Israel has a stock­pile. We can’t just bomb every coun­try with a weapon of mass destruc­tion or with the capac­i­ty to pro­duce such a weapon.

We need to build a world of real peace, of peace between nations built on the rule of law, yes, but also on rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. We need for­eign pol­i­cy that rec­og­nizes that it is the rulers and the poli­cies of oth­er nations with which we dis­agree. That rec­og­nizes that it is wrong to ever con­demn a whole peo­ple for the excess­es of their leaders.

A num­ber of U.S. peace groups have called for today to be a day of Nation­al Mourn­ing and Protest. Let us gath­er to remem­ber that we stand togeth­er in sol­i­dar­i­ty with those suf­fer­ing in Iraq. Let us vig­il qui­et­ly and then yell out loud­ly that war to end war is wrong.

End the Sanc­tions. Stop the Bomb­ing. Declare peace with the Iraqi People.