[internetworkers] Fwd: 'An Open Letter to the Members of Congress' from The Nation
David R. Matusiak
dave at matusiak.org
Thu Sep 26 16:05:26 EDT 2002
might be of interest if you live on this planet...
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> Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 13:09:09 -0400
> Subject: 'An Open Letter to the Members of Congress' from The Nation
> If you like this article, please consider subscribing to The Nation at
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> please, if you believe in true freedom and peace on earth, send this
> email to everyone you know - especially to those you think won't agree.
> let's start the debate - why aren't we all talking about this now, all
> day, every day? because of this administration, their words and
> i fear for my future, my child's future, and the future of the entire
> human race. what our president hopes to do is wage an unjustified
> war, a
> "war on terror" that itself borders on terrorism. war without end is a
> life without hope. peace now, i say, in our hearts and in our hands.
> peaceforevermore. pass it on.
> An Open Letter to the Members of Congress
> by The Editors
> Soon, you will be asked to vote on a resolution authorizing the
> United States to overthrow the government of Iraq by military force.
> Its passage, we read on all sides, is a foregone conclusion, as if
> what the country now faces is not a decision but the disclosure of a
> fate. The nation marches as if in a trance to war. In the House,
> twenty of your number, led by Dennis Kucinich, have announced their
> opposition to the war. In the Senate, Robert Byrd has mounted a
> campaign against the version of the resolution already proposed by
> the Bush Administration. He has said that the resolution's
> unconstitutionality will prevent him from voting for it. "But I am
> finding," he adds, "that the Constitution is irrelevant to people of
> this Administration." The Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the
> Washington Post, oppose the war. Telephone calls and the mail to
> offices run strongly against it. Polls and news stories reveal a
> divided and uncertain public. Yet debate in your chambers is
> restricted to peripheral questions, such as the timing of the vote,
> or the resolution's precise scope. You are a deliberative body, but
> you do not deliberate. You are representatives, but you do not
> The silence of those of you in the Democratic Party is especially
> troubling. You are the opposition party, but you do not oppose.
> Raising the subject of the war, your political advisers tell you,
> will distract from the domestic issues that favor the party's
> in the forthcoming Congressional election. In the face of the
> Administration's pre-emptive war, your leaders have resorted to
> pre-emptive surrender. For the sake of staying in power, you are
> told, you must not exercise the power you have in the matter of the
> war. What, then, is the purpose of your re-election? If you succeed,
> you will already have thrown away the power you supposedly have won.
> You will be members of Congress, but Congress will not be Congress.
> Even the fortunes of the domestic causes you favor will depend far
> more on the decision on the war than on the outcome of the election.
> On April 4, 1967, as the war in Vietnam was reaching its full fury,
> Martin Luther King Jr. said, "A time comes when silence is
> And he said, "Some of us who have already begun to break the silence
> of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a
> of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility
> is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak."
> Now the time to speak has come again. We urge you to speak--and,
> the time comes, to vote--against the war on Iraq.
> The case against the war is simple, clear and strong. The
> Administration calls it a chapter in the war on terror, but Iraq has
> no demonstrated ties either to the September 11 attack on the United
> States or to the Al Qaeda network that launched it. The aim of the
> war is to deprive President Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass
> destruction, but the extent of his program for building these
> weapons, if it still exists, is murky. Still less clear is any
> intention on his part to use such weapons. To do so would be
> as he well knows. Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo of California
> has reported that in closed session Administration officials have
> been asked several times whether they have evidence of an imminent
> threat from Saddam against the United States and have answered no.
> She elaborated, "Not 'no, but' or 'maybe,' but 'no.'" On the other
> hand, if he does have them, and faces his overthrow and possible
> death at the hands of US forces, he might well use them--or, more
> likely, give them to terrorist groups to use after his fall. He may
> be doing so even now.
> Some observers have likened the resolution under discussion to the
> Gulf of Tonkin resolution of 1964 authorizing President Johnson to
> use force in Vietnam. But that was passed only after a report was
> received of two attacks on US naval forces. (We now know that the
> first attack was provoked by a prior secret American attack and the
> second was nonexistent.) The new resolution, which alleges no
> not even a fictional one, goes a step further. It is a Tonkin Gulf
> resolution without a Tonkin Gulf incident.
> Even if Saddam possesses weapons of mass destruction and wishes to
> use them, a policy of deterrence would appear perfectly adequate to
> stop him, just as it was adequate a half-century ago to stop a much
> more fearsome dictator, Joseph Stalin. It is not true that military
> force is the only means of preventing the proliferation of these
> weapons, whether to Iraq or other countries. An alternative path is
> clearly available. In the short run it passes through the United
> Nations and its system of inspections, now more promising than
> before because Iraq, responding to US pressure, has opened itself
> unconditionally to inspectors. At the very least, this path should
> be fully explored before military action--the traditional last
> resort--is even considered. Such a choice in favor of
> multilateralism, diplomacy and treaty agreements should be part of a
> much broader policy of nonproliferation and disarmament of the kind
> that has already enjoyed great success over the past several
> decades. Under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
> Weapons, for example, 182 nations have agreed to do without nuclear
> weapons. The larger issue is whether proliferation--not just to Iraq
> but to many other countries as well--is best addressed by military
> or political means.
> But the decision to go to war has a significance that goes far
> the war. The war is the product of a broader policy that has been
> spelled out in the clearest possible terms by the Bush
> Administration. Two other countries with nuclear programs--Iran and
> North Korea--have already been identified by the President as
> potential targets for military attack. The Administration's recently
> published "National Security Strategy of the United States" sets
> forth even larger ambitions. It declares a policy of military
> supremacy over the entire earth--an objective never before attained
> by any power. Military programs are meanwhile forbidden to other
> countries, all of whom are to be prevented from "surpassing or
> equaling" the United States. China is singled out for a warning that
> by "pursuing advanced military capabilities," it is following an
> "outdated path" that "threaten[s] its neighbors." The new policy
> reverses a long American tradition of contempt for unprovoked
> attacks. It gives the United States the unrestricted right to attack
> nations even when it has not been attacked by them and is not about
> to be attacked by them. It trades deterrence for pre-emption--in
> plain English, aggression. It accords the United States the right to
> overthrow any regime--like the one in Iraq--it decides should be
> overthrown. (The President would like international support and he
> would like Congressional support but asserts his right to wage war
> without either.) It declares that the defense of the United States
> and the world against nuclear proliferation is military force. It is
> an imperial policy--more ambitious than ancient Rome's, which, after
> all, extended only to the Mediterranean and European world. Nelson
> Mandela recently said of the Administration, "They think they're the
> only power in the world.... One country wants to bully the world."
> A vote for the war in Iraq is a vote for this policy. The most
> important of the questions raised by the war, however, is larger
> still. It is what sort of country the United States wants to be in
> the twenty-first century. The genius of the American form of
> government was the creation of a system of institutions to check and
> balance government power and so render it accountable to the people.
> Today that system is threatened by a monster of unbalanced and
> unaccountable power--a new Leviathan--that is taking shape among us
> in the executive branch of the government. This Leviathan--concealed
> in an ever-deepening, self-created secrecy and fed by streams of
> money from corporations that, as scandal after scandal has shown,
> have themselves broken free of elementary accountability--menaces
> civil liberties even as it threatens endless, unprovoked war. As
> disrespectful of the Constitution as it is of the UN Charter, the
> Administration has turned away from law in all its manifestations
> placed its reliance on overwhelming force to achieve its ends.
> In pursuit of empire abroad, it endangers the Republic at home. The
> bully of the world threatens to become the bully of Americans, too.
> Already, the Justice Department claims the right to jail American
> citizens indefinitely on the sole ground that a bureaucrat in the
> Pentagon has labeled them something called an "enemy combatant."
> the domestic electoral system has been compromised by the debacle in
> Florida. Nor has the shadow cast on democracy by that election yet
> been lifted. Election reform has not occurred. Modest campaign
> designed to slow the flood of corporate cash into politics, even
> after passage in Congress, is being eviscerated by executive
> decisions. More important, this year's Congressional campaign, by
> shunning debate on the fundamental issue of war and peace, has
> signaled to the public that even in the most important matters
> the country neither it nor its representatives decide; only the
> executive does.
> Members of Congress! Be faithful to your oaths of office and to the
> traditions of your branch of government. Think of the country, not
> of your re-election. Assert your power. Stand up for the
> prerogatives of Congress. Defend the Constitution. Reject the
> arrogance--and the ignorance--of power. Show respect for your
> constituents--they require your honest judgment, not capitulation to
> the executive. Say no to empire. Affirm the Republic. Preserve the
> peace. Vote against war in Iraq.
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