Other folks active on this site were also active during the Vietnam War era, and can correct me if they feel that I am unfairly characterizing what I’m trying apply from that experience to today’s situation. Anyway, I’m writing because I feel that the content of the debate with respect to our involvement in Iraq reflects many people trying to make distinctions that seem inappropriate to me.
In the earlier period we could be grateful that there were so many war resistors, people who were actually willing to put themselves on the line for their convictions. Be it only the burning of a Draft Card (at least where that was not purely for show), absconding to Canada, attacking recruitment centers, and all of the way up to active duty military personnel resisting the legitimacy of the war on the battlefield, and even the rare few like the Berrigan brothers who were sent to prison repeatedly for their many acts of non violent, but effective, resistance. In Vietnam there was self immolation by Buddhist monks willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but in the U.S. not so much.
With respect to Iraq, I can recall one instance of Court Martial for refusing to continue to participate, but I’m just not coming up with wholesale instances of active resistance. For whatever reason, so many of us are content to protest and leave it at that. Some, however seem to wear their badge of protest as if they were actually engaging in active resistance, and I just won’t go there.
My main concern now is with the category of war facilitation, and who belongs in it. Personally, I have no problem with labeling everyone that is not a protestor, or the few that have moved beyond that, as a facilitator. Remaining silent facilitates war. Things thought to exhibit patriotism, while being symbols only of agreement with our policy of military aggression by people who believe in some innate right of ours to kill around the planet at will, are actually only facilitation of war. And at the level of government, all people who vote to enable what we are and have been doing in Iraq are facilitating that conflict. Are active accomplices of the Bush Administration, if you will.
War facilitators are able to become war protestors, and are encouraged to do so, but there is not a category of “don’t mistake my votes to fund etc. Iraq as my being in favor of what we are doing there”. The human mind is capable of many things but I don’t view being able to make that distinction reasonably as being one of them This is simply political calculation in it’s most crass form.
Has Senator Obama yet made the change from a war facilitator to a war protestor? Has Senator Clinton? At the legislative level, I feel that it is appropriate to say that the position of those few like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul actually even rises to the level of war resistance. Are some Dem legislators finally going to be willing to come out of the protest closet and out themselves as resistors? Why are there so few willing to go all of the way, and only slightly more even able to claim to be sincere in their call to protest?
I understand that this is just my opinion but we have needed an anti war Presidential Candidate in this country since Eugene McCarthy and have just not had one. It’s probably true that anyone like that would have been a sacrificial lamb before now but this may be a special time, people may really be sincere in their expressed quest for a better way, and that seems to me to make it very sad that the Democratic Party is not going to be able to rise to the challenge in 2008.