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A time for intervention: get in the way

Oct. 9, 2007
by Rob Lafferty

In 1866 the U.S. Supreme Court issued an explicit ruling that no emergency––not even an open civil war like the country had just suffered through––can justify the suspension or removal of any rights recognized by the Constitution. Although five of the justices were appointed by Abraham Lincoln, the Court delivered a message that Lincoln’s deliberate disregard of the law of the land during his “war presidency” was illegal.

Their words were clear: “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.”

The same rights those justices were trying to protect 140 years ago are still being trampled today. The rights of the people of Kaua’i to assemble and protest are violated by Gov. Lingle and others in her administration as she orders the Coast Guard to arrest anyone who enters hastily-drawn “emergency security zones” in Nawiliwili Harbor whenever the Superferry comes to port.

Any government promotion of corporate and military interests over the rights of free citizens is a call for resistance. The brave folks on Kaua’i responded; across the country many other groups and individuals have begun to take direct action as well.

Representatives of 33 antiwar and environmental organizations have agreed to hold a national “intervention” this month to demand an end to the occupation of Iraq and strong action on the climate crisis. At a meeting last spring, representatives of those groups agreed to escalate their current activities. As a result of their commitment, the intervention will involve nonviolent civil disobedience.

Local solidarity actions are being planned to take place Oct. 20-22 during the IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington, D.C, with the day of intervention set for Monday, October 22.

“We will hold an intervention by taking over Capitol Hill on a day that Congress is in session,” according to a statement posted on the No War, No Warming website at www.nowarnowarming.org. “We will be putting our bodies on the line to say enough is enough. We will be taking positive action to make visible the cost of these failed government policies and to creatively manifest the world we know is possible.”

The coalition will help local groups across the country and world to deliver their message by demonstrating outside of federal buildings, U.S. embassies and the offices of corporate profiteers. “Until our government representatives change course off the path of destruction, we have no choice but to get in the way,” explain the organizers.

Their voices are needed to counter the advice coming into the White House and the propaganda that keeps flowing from it as Bush, Cheney and the war hawks in the inner circle try to redefine the occupation of Iraq as a strategic battle between the U.S. and Iran. Norman Podhoretz, a neoconservative mouthpiece who is also a senior foreign policy adviser to Rudy Giuliani, met with Bush last spring in New York.

“I urged Bush to take action against Iranian nuclear facilities and explained why I thought there was no alternative,” said Podhoretz.

John Bolton, our former ambassador to the United Nations, spoke recently with members of Britain’s Tory party, saying he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike against Iran. He also showed his yearning for more of the illegal, immoral behavior by the American government that has caused so much death and grief around the world.
“I think we have to consider the use of military force,” Bolton said. “It should be accompanied by an effort at regime change. The U.S. once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments. I wish we could get it back.”

This year our government will give $650 billion to the war machine but claims it can’t afford $7 billion a year for children’s health care. That policy is in direct opposition to the will of the majority, but it will remain in place. And it’s our fault because we allowed – in fact, we enabled –  empire-building warmongers to seize the reins of power. It will take a massive effort on our part to dismantle their war machine before it ruins our country. 

Governments rise and fall, as do the politicians and policies that make up any governmental body. The nation remains when the tide of government changes, for a nation is defined by a land and its people. Today the American people need to reclaim control over their government. As a beginning, our current “leaders” must be held accountable for the damage they have done. They will never face criminal charges for the blood on their hands but they can be impeached and removed from power as soon as possible. We are obligated; it is a requirement of honor towards those who have died.

We can then pursue a new and different path. For every single neoconservative, neofascist or warmonger in this land, there are probably fifty people who want to live in peace and freedom under a system based on honest justice.You are just one person but there are 100 million others just like you. Collectively we still own the Republic. We can hire new managers any time we choose and chart a new course for them to steer. For that to happen, we first must stop being afraid. We who seek to live free are the true Silent Majority; our voices have been stilled by fear for too long. Our worst nightmares have already come true and we no longer have much to lose. Our day of freedom has arrived.

As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “If we would guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold.”