Right now you may be thinking it's over.
The neo-cons who've long wanted the US to smash Iraq, only the first act in their global tragedy and domestic farce, have won the day. The Telepromptee, sounding like the Lyndon Johnson of "Come, let us reason together," has uttered the fatal words. It doesn't seem to matter that the final condition --- Iraq will be spared if Saddam gets out of Dodge --- is as insincere as the now-terminated "diplomacy."
But the resistance has just begun. The movement to stop this filthy little war --- millions of anti-war demonstrators worldwide --- has hardly flexed its muscles.
As the hours tick by, some activists are still pursuing action at the United Nations, apart from the now discarded Security Council.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and Greenpeace are seeking public support for a "Uniting for Peace Resolution" within the UN General Assembly. (You remember the GA, which was consigned to the ashbin of irrelevance long ago.) This resolution, says CCR, "allows the General Assembly to meet to consider the threat to international peace and [to] recommend collective measures to UN members to maintain or restore peace." It takes just one member state to get this ball rolling, says CCR.
A Uniting for Peace resolution "may be the last hope to avert [or stop?] war," says CCR head Michael Ratner in a prepared statement. "If passed, it will put the US and UK on notice that a war without Security Council authorization is utterly illegal and a crime against the peace." Here Ratner is following not some arcane legalisms but the clear meaning of the UN Charter and international law.
Perhaps more important, anti-war activists all over the map are ready with a "Rapid Response."
In Rochester, for example, people will gather at the Liberty Pole downtown at 4 p.m. the day a US offensive begins. Plans call for a 5 p.m. march from there to the Federal Building, 100 State Street, and for repeat demonstrations as necessary. This response is being coordinated by the Rochester Campus Action Network, which sponsored a March 14 anti-war rally downtown that drew more than 1,000 people. (For more information, contact RCAN at 414-7138 or visit www.rochesterhope.org/RCAN/.)
Lyndon Johnson's "reasoning together," even while his administration conjured up Ho Chi Minh's dominoes of mass destruction, took a phrase from the Bible. But George W. Bush has taken an entire Manichean worldview from his conversion experience. And that's in itself a danger to world peace.
Not that Bush is alone in his delusions. The Southern Baptist Convention, for example, proudly posted a finding by its "top ethicists" that "war with Iraq is justified according to Biblical standard." But other large denominations have their souls together. Pope John Paul II has spoken out against this war, for example, and British church leaders have opposed UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Greater Rochester Community of Churches will hold a prayer service, "A Gift of Lamentation," at 3 p.m. in Immanuel Baptist Church, 815 Park Avenue, the Sunday after war starts.
But ethical questions, unlike presidential elections in theory, aren't matters of majority rule. It takes personal soul-searching. And gathering two or three or a dozen at a time can do wonders. The Rochester Friends Meeting (Quakers), for example, has been leaders in counseling and supporting war resisters and conscientious objectors --- categories sure to be relevant soon, as in previous wars.
"War crime" will be a pertinent category, as well. And here each person must judge, using such principles as came out of the Nuremberg tribunals after the Second World War.
The Nuremberg principles hold that planning or waging a "war of aggression" in violation of international agreements is a war crime. And complicity in such acts is criminal, as well. That's food for thought as Americans prepare to rally round the flag and "support the troops."
The only way to support the troops morally is to support their transportation home, immediately and unconditionally.
This war is going to take big bucks; according to the Congressional Budget Office, merely putting the troops and equipment in place and bringing them back will run $23 billion. But some Americans will protest the war on Iraq by withholding some or all of the tax they pay to the military.
We can be proud that this movement's epicenter is now in the Finger Lakes. You can contact the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee at PO Box 6512, Ithaca, NY, 14851, 800-269-7464, website www.nwtrcc.org.