Iraq Pledge of Resistance Gets Down to Brass Tacks

I continued a series of Picket Line entries critiquing some of the calls-to-action that have been coming from the anti-war movement.

My intent was to do this in the spirit of constructive criticism, but I allowed myself to get a little carried away in paraphrasing the The National Pledge of Resistance, which I characterized as “being almost comically vague.”

The group Iraq Pledge of Resistance has released a new call, however, which is much improved, in that it calls for more-specific actions and asks the people signing on to the call to be the ones to take the action (as opposed to those many and worthless calls to urge other people to take action).

In short, the new call announces a coordinated effort to disrupt military recruiting efforts, and to encourage U.S. troops to refuse their orders.

Please note that this National Call for Nonviolent Resistance encompasses both legal actions and civil resistance/civil disobedience. We intend to serve notice to our government that we will be acting forcefully, nonviolently and — for some of us — risking arrest, legal jeopardy and our own freedom to underscore our determination to end this war. For those who cannot take such risks at this time, we encourage you to participate in the campaign by supporting those who are. We urge all to act according to their conscience, talents and organizational capabilities to resist the war in Iraq and challenge this administration’s ability to wage it.

Specifically, “[t]o in any way support or encourage a soldier to disobey orders is an illegal action, as specified in 18 United States Code, Sec. 1381 and Sec. 2387” and “we intend to support soldiers who are speaking out and otherwise resisting by organizing widespread, coordinated civil disobedience of this law.”

We are calling for this action to be done in a widespread and massive way to demonstrate to the government that its citizens will willingly break a law that abrogates our right of free speech and dissent, and which conceals the truth about this immoral war and its oppression of our soldiers — and that we will freely risk the consequences of doing so in the service of the higher moral principles at stake.…

As we organize this act of nonviolent resistance to support the troops, we must be fully aware that soldiers are at far greater risk in resisting the war then we on the outside might be for supporting them in doing so. Therefore, it is our moral responsibility to share that risk to the extent that we can by openly and publicly violating these laws. While we understand that many among us have pacifist principles which compel us to resist all war, the focus of this action is not to compel members of the military to refuse their orders, nor to blame those who do not, but rather for us to collectively disobey an unjust law while simultaneously offering encouragement and support for soldiers who choose to refuse orders to fight in Iraq or who otherwise speak out.

This represents real progress, in my opinion. It acknowledges that to end this war is going to take some serious individual sacrifice and effort, and it takes pains to say that they’re not just expecting other people to do this work for them.

The statutes voted Best Laws to Violate in by Peacenik Magazine are:

18 USC § 1381. Enticing desertion and harboring deserters, Whoever entices or procures, or attempts or endeavors to entice or procure any person in the Armed Forces of the United States, or who has been recruited for service therein, to desert there from, or aids any such person in deserting or in attempting to desert from such service; or Whoever harbors, conceals, protects, or assists any such person who may have deserted from such service, knowing him to have deserted there from, or refuses to give up and deliver such person on the demand of any officer authorized to receive him — Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

§2387. Activities affecting armed forces generally (a) Whoever, with intent to interfere with, impair, or influence the loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military or naval forces of the United States: (1) advises, counsels, urges, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States; or (2) distributes or attempts to distribute any written or printed matter which advises, counsels, or urges insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States -Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction. (b) For the purposes of this section, the term “military or naval forces of the United States” includes the Army of the United States, the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Naval Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve of the United States; and, when any merchant vessel is commissioned in the Navy or is in the service of the Army or the Navy, includes the master, officers, and crew of such vessel.

And, from TomDispatch, some more on the weird, regal, sedan-throne life of our god-emperor:

“The great motorcade,” wrote Canadian correspondent Don Murray, “swept through the streets of the city… The crowds … but there were no crowds. George W. Bush’s imperial procession through Europe took place in a hermetically sealed environment. In Brussels it was, at times, eerie. The procession containing the great, armour-plated limousine (flown in from Washington) rolled through streets denuded of human beings except for riot police. Whole areas of the Belgian capital were sealed off before the American president passed.”

Murray doesn’t mention the 19 American escort vehicles in that procession with the President’s car (known to insiders as “the beast”), or the 200 secret service agents, or the 15 sniffer dogs, or the Blackhawk helicopter, or the 5 cooks, or the 50 White House aides, all of which added up to only part of the President’s vast traveling entourage.

Tom quotes a letter from a resident of one of the towns in Germany that Bush descended on during his tour:

Last Wednesday for his arrival, all Autobahnen (highways) around Mainz were closed for several hours. A helicopter flight from the airport to the city might have seemed like a more practical way to transport the President than cutting the veins of the most frequented Autobahn-segment in Germany — and that was just the beginning of our voyage into the absurd.

Many citizens of Mainz weren’t even able to drive their cars. They were forced to park kilometres away from their homes, simply because they lived near one of the maybe-routes the President’s convoy might conceivably have taken. Using the railway system might have seemed a solution, but unfortunately over 100 trains were also canceled (and a similar number of flights at the airport in Frankfurt during the time that Air Force One arrived).

One could imagine George Bush sitting in a car, but in a train? If you smiled at that, you’ll laugh when I mention the Rhine River. The route of the President crossed the Rhine and so the whole river was closed to shipping. (Estimated losses in profits only for this: 500,000 euros.)