“A Call to Resist the War in Iraq” Is Promising

On I criticized the Appeal to Global Conscience that was issued by some anti-war figures. Although the appeal was worded as though it were a call to action, it was mostly a call for someone else to take action, and for the right-thinking readers of the appeal to urge them on from the sidelines.

On MLK Day I contrasted that Appeal with the resolution that launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott and showed how that resolution was not a call for someone else to take action, but a determination by the people who adopted the resolution to take action themselves.

Now there’s a new anti-war appeal that is much better in this regard: A Call to Resist the War in Iraq. A group of (mostly Christian, but theoretically interfaith) religious leaders from Connecticut called Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice has started circulating the appeal and plans to make it public . Here are the calls to action embedded in this new appeal:

We believe it is the moral responsibility of every U.S. citizen to raise our voices and take action to stop this illegal war and bring our soldiers home. We believe it is our duty as both Americans and members of the international community to insist that our government immediately adhere to the international agreements binding us, including the Geneva Accords protecting prisoners from torture and indefinite detention.

Many members of the armed services are seeking ways to avoid service in Iraq or leave the military completely; some young men are refusing to register for Selective Service. Increasing numbers of enlisted men and women are risking prison sentences or forced immigration in order to avoid collaboration in an immoral war. We applaud these choices and will do all that we can to encourage others to follow their example.

More specifically, we support and will spread the word about the G.I. Rights Hotline and other efforts to support soldiers in withdrawing from the military. We will counsel young men turning eighteen on the moral obligations as well as risks inherent in a refusal to register with the Selective Service, and we will raise funds to support them in their legal defense. Should a draft be reinstituted we will encourage young men and women not to comply.

The War Crimes Tribunals following World War Ⅱ declared, “Anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something is a potential criminal under international law, unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes.” We, the undersigned, commit ourselves to undertake all affirmative measures available to us to fulfill our obligations under these treaties, which have guided our world for half a century. We will continue to raise our voices and engage in nonviolent resistance until our government has withdrawn from Iraq and brought our soldiers home.

It’s kind of vague, but if you take away the fuzzier calls to “raise our voices” or “insist that our government” behave there remain calls to action that are actually calls to action. An email announcing this put things more directly:

…we are organizing around two specific, and very connected acts of nonviolent resistance to the war for : first, by deliberately violating, on a nationwide scale, the federal law which tells us that we can not encourage a soldier to exercise their right of conscience by refusing his or her orders to fight in an immoral war; and second, by organizing nonviolent actions at recruiting stations, where young people are lured into the military (and this war) with false promises.…

…we will [also] be encouraging and organizing a variety of resistance tactics and strategies in an ongoing nonviolence campaign, including (but not limited to) alternative direct action strategies and the “Hang Up On War” campaign of federal phone tax resistance. Our goal is to involve the greatest number of fellow citizens and activists possible in some form of nonviolent resistance against the war, and to focus these energies to build public opposition and bring the war to an end at the earliest possible moment.

This is a call for people to obstruct military recruiting, to counsel soldiers to disobey their orders and to give them sanctuary and support as they turn their backs on the military — in other words, actions that are probably considered high treason over much of your AM dial. Attorney General Gonzales will probably spend many a wistful daydream imagining such traitors as these being dipped in boiling oil or broken on the rack.

In other words: That’s more like it!