No War With Syria

With the drumbeats of war growing ever louder as the US prepares to begin military action in Syria, human dignity leaders are stepping up to be the voice of reason.

Without Congressional approval and without public debate, how can we hold space in our hometowns to discuss what it means when our leadership goes to war without the people’s support and without real, open debate?

This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed; 116 lawmakers have signed a letter to President Obama letting him know that it would violate the Constitution by striking Syria without first getting authorization from Congress, including Oregon Representatives DeFazio, Schrader, and Blumenauer. Can we get Representatives Bonamicci and Walden’s signatures, too? MoveOn has a petition with thousands of signatures demanding that no action happen until Congress gets to vote, which you can sign and circulate here.

Human dignity groups all over the state are bringing a voice of sanity to the conversation as we get closer to military action. Saturday has been declared a national day of action and rallies are planned across the country. Several human dignity groups are planning to be rallying in their communities from Roseburg to Grants Pass to Redmond.
Check out our Facebook page for event details (and be sure to send info our way so we can share it out)!

For over a decade, rural Oregon’s human dignity groups were on the frontlines of challenging endless war through the Co$t of War campaign. We raised critical questions in our communities:

  • Are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan making us safer?
  • Are we safer when we give up civil liberties?
  • What is the war costing our county?
  • What other needs do we have?
  • What do those needs cost, and are those a higher priority for our tax dollars?

Today, when bombs are about to fall yet again in our name, we can serve as a moral compass and raise the crucial questions locally:

  • What does it mean when the only solution our politicians offer to human rights crises is to drop bombs?
  • What does it mean when US drone strikes are commonplace overseas?
  • What is required of a democracy before we declare war or take military action?

Below is a great piece from Leah Bolger, long-time Benton County ROPer and Veterans for Peace organizer, who wrote a press release on the behalf of the Green Shadow Cabinet punching holes in the “moral authority” argument being used to justify military action. In case this is the first time you’ve heard of the Green Shadow Cabinet, they “provide an ongoing opposition and alternative voice to the dysfunctional government in Washington DC. As with shadow cabinets in other countries, the Green Shadow Cabinet responds to actions of the government in office and demonstrates that another government is possible.”

To the human dignity groups of rural Oregon who stand strong as a voice for peace, for justice, and for a real democracy, thank you for what you do.

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The Green Shadow Cabinet is alarmed by reports that the United States is planning an imminent military attack on Syria, and implores the Obama administration to refrain from taking military action. There is no military solution to the political conflict in Syria and the unintended consequences of a military attack in that region are unpredictable.

The Obama administration is claiming that it has a moral responsibility to launch a “punitive” strike against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons, and seems anxious to go forward with targeted cruise missile attacks which would likely come from U.S. naval vessels already positioned in the area. This, despite the call of UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon for the international community to wait until their inspection is complete, and despite the lack of a UN resolution authorizing the use of military force.

The United Kingdom has submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council. It has been established since Nuremberg that attacking another country without UN approval is “the supreme international crime.” The Obama administration will be violating international law if it acts without a vote by the UN in support of military intervention.

Further, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution, it is the Congress that determines whether the United States goes to war. James Madison claimed that the war powers clause was the most important in the Constitution because the power to take a nation to war should not be vested in one person. More than one hundred Members of Congress have written President Obama reminding him that the Congress has the constitutional authority to begin a war, not the president.

The United States is in no position to claim moral authority with regards to using weapons condemned by the international community. The U.S. is responsible for the slaughter of millions of innocent victims through the use of weapons condemned by the rest of the world. These weapons have included the atom bomb, Agent Orange, white phosphorus, napalm, and depleted uranium. To this day, the United States refuses to sign on to treaties banning the use of landmines and cluster bombs. These particular weapons are responsible for killing and maiming well over one million civilians. In fact, the U.S. has just struck a deal to sell Saudi Arabia $640 million worth of cluster bombs.

It is immoral to kill innocent people, and it makes little difference if a bullet, a chemical, or radiation killed the person. If we as a nation wish to regain some moral authority, we can begin by renouncing the use of weapons banned by the international community. We should destroy our own stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Further, the United States should join the International Criminal Court and live within the rule of law.

Major media outlets seem to be fanning the flames of war while failing to ask even the most basic questions about the legality, morality, or effectiveness of an attack on the sovereign nation of Syria.

If President Obama launches an attack without prior explicit authorization by Congress, he will have committed an offense worthy of impeachment. If he launches an attack without authorization from the UN, he will be guilty of war crimes.

The Green Shadow Cabinet insists in the strongest possible terms that the Obama administration refrain from military actions against Syria.

This Cabinet calls on the people of the United States to rise up in marches, rallies, pickets, and nonviolent direct action where possible and necessary in order to confront the Obama administration as well as Congress and the major news media. We must stop the rush to war, and we must demand respect for the laws of this democratic republic and the treaties we have signed.