March 20 is a day of historical importance. On March 20, 2003 there were world-wide protests against U.S. military aggression. Millions of activists around the world participated. Some of the protests were inspired by U.S. plans for "Shock and Awe," which was promised by the U.S.government to be one of the most destructive campaigns in military history. In addition, the U.S. was at the same time threatening the use of nuclear weapons.
Historical perspective is needed. It has to be remembered that the U.S. had been bombing Iraq since 1991. The bombing was a prelude to 9/11. 9/11 was Blowback -- a predictable response to the many years of bombing. Two other reasons for the 9/11 attack were the U.S. policy against the Palestinians, and the location of U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia. It is also important to remember the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of U.S. imposed sanctions.
Pro-government propaganda from the media is a big part of the problem. The failure of the educational system is also part of the problem. Think of how much different things would be if Howard Zinn’s "People’s History of the United States" was the required textbook in every classroom. That is a taxpayer friendly change that would cost nothing and could change the world.
Some peace activists have been protesting since 1991. Many stopped opposing war when a Democratic president won the election. By what kind of convoluted moral code would the killing by a Democratic Commander-in-chief be less offensive than killing by a Republican.
The war is often engineered and managed from military bases within the US. Drones controlled from bases close to home provide an added level of comfort for the troops who can now go home for supper with the wife and kids. Killing has become as easy as going to the office -- just another 9 to 5 job. Heard at the supper table: "Hey Daddy, how many kids did you kill today?"
There is a dedicated group of protesters near Syracuse, N.Y. They have participated in peaceful protests at the Hancock Drone Base.
Recently, they were arrested in a pre-emptive arrest.A pre-emptive arrest is like being arrested for a thought crime. Thinking about ‘peace’ has now been criminalized in the USA.
Why does the way to achieve peace allude all of us? Do we lack the courage needed for powerful resistance? Boycotts would be effective if enough people participated. That is not likely. Many in the U.S. feel an exaggerated sense of entitlement and exceptionalism. They believe that it is our right to kill innocent civilians anywhere in the world. Many of those we have killed are children -- kids just walking to school or attending a family wedding.
Voting is not an effective anti-war tactic because more than 90 percent of US voters feel compelled to vote for Democrats and Republicans. There are always better candidates. Most voters ignore these candidates who could make a real difference. Why do voters continue to repeat the same mistake over and over again -- voting D/R and expecting change?
Are we living in a Perfect Storm of ignorance -- a culture that worships celebrity, a failing educational system, and extreme voter apathy. And there is one more thing. Too many writers and journalists, even the good ones, are reluctant to criticize the voter. They know that there are risks for anyone who does that. It is easy to criticize the government. Blaming the Pentagon is fun, but too few are willing to call it like it is and place the blame where
it is deserved. The simple fact is that voters have the ultimate responsibility. Voters are the root of the problem. Voters have enabled the war machine. Some voters do this consciously, believing that war provides jobs. Some voters do it out of ignorance. But the bottom line is that voters are responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians. Somebody needs to say that out loud.
In the meantime, there is no light at the end of the war tunnel. Peace will not come until the people want it. Maybe U.S. citizens needto have it explained in simpler terms -- maybe in pictures drawn with crayons. Maybe set to music with scantily clad women dancing in the background. Maybe we are waiting for the next ‘Blowback,’ and then we will ask: "Why do they hate us?"
Rosemarie Jackowski is author of "Banned in Vermont,"a first-person account of the March 20, 2003 protest and the four-year legal battle that followed.