Members Speak Out

A feature of Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation's web pages! We welcome contributions of Letters to the Editor, whether submitted or published, as well as letters to politicians and speeches given by our members. We will be happy to include brief reports of meetings with elected officials and other activist efforts. Please send information to Jean Buskin bb369@scn.org or to the WWFOR office wwfor@connectexpress.com. Note that the opinions expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily those of FOR or of other FOR members.

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most recent at the top

Larry Kerschner on inhumane prescription drug benefit, Letter to the Chronical Dec 8, 2005

Glen Gersmehl on Too much violence, another approach to security submitted to Seattle Times Dec 8, 2005

Jean Buskin, on Detainees have rights, Senators have obligations, letter to Sen. Cantwell Nov. 26, 2005

Ed Myer on Politics or science to determine scientific policy, letter to Sen. Murray, Nov 11, 2005

Larry Kerschner on Where's the morality of the Church? Oct 31, 2005, letter to The Chronicle

Larry Kerschner on Racist Hurricane Response, Sept. 8, 2005, letter to The Chronicle

Cowlitz County protesters support mother's peace vigil Aug 16, 2005

Susan Donaldson, Tacoma, on Army recruiting, submitted to The News Tribune, July 29, 2005

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, July 18, 2005, Letter to The Chronicle, on how terrorists are created

Jean Buskin, Seattle, letter to the Seattle Times, on Bush the criminal

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, letter to The Chronicle, May 16, 2005, caring for veterans

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, April 22 2005 letter to The Chronicle, on a culture of war

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, March 7, 2005, letter to The Chronicle on spending priorities

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, letter to The Chronicle, Feb 3, 2005, on Social Security hoaxes

Larry Kerschner Pe Ell, Jan 9, 2005, letter to The Chronicle, on honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Article by Glen Anderson of Olympia chapter on "MORAL VALUES." published Jan. 1, 2005

Larry Kerschner of Pe Ell, active in Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to editor Dec 16, 2004, SUPPORT THE TROOPS BY BRINGING THEM HOME

Dennis Mills, co-chair of Olympia chapter, letter to the editor in The Olympian Dec 14, 2004 "We should NOT BENEFIT FROM THE WAR economy"

Larry Kerschner of Pe Ell, active in Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to editor Nov 30, 2004, the POWER TO MAKE CHANGE

Glen Anderson of Olympia Chapter letter to the editor submitted to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer November 18, 2004 on MAKING THE CIA A PROPAGANDA ARM

Glen Anderson letter to editor submitted to The Seattle Times Nov 17, 2004, on US TRAINING TERRORISTS at the School of the Americas

Larry Kerschner, of Pe Ell, Fire Mountain chapter, letter to editor Nov 9, 2004, NO MANDATE

Larry Kerschnerof Pe Ell, Fire Mountain chapter, letter to the editor Oct 19, 2004, PRE-ELECTION CONSIDERATIONS

Dan L.Smith of Longview, Cowlitz County Chapter, letter to the editor of The Daily News, Oct 12, 2004, on the right to PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE

Dennis Mills, co-chair of Olympia chapter letter to the editor in The Olympian Oct 9, 2004 "Understand how tax dollars are being spent" MONEY FOR DESTRUCTION?

Larry Kerschner of Pe Ell, Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to editor, Oct 1, 2004, DEBATES NOT GETTING TO THE POINT

Cora Lawrence, Seattle, writing the mayor Sept. 28, 2004, about NOT CUTTING THE SOCIAL SERVICES budget further

Rosy Betz-Zall, Seattle, Sept 28, 2004, acting to KEEP SOCIAL SERVICES FUNDING

Jamie K. Donaldson, Bellingham, Letter to the editor, Sept. 21, 2004, THOUGHTS FOR IRAQ on International Day of Peace

Larry Kerschner Sept 21, 2004, letter to the editor, THOUGHTS ON ABORTION

Susan Kay Donaldson, Tacoma, letter to the editor, September 9, 2004, Moral and Physical COST OF WAR Preparation

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to the editor, Sept. 1, 2004, WHO'S REALLY SUPPORTING THE TROOPS?

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, Fire Mountain chapter, letter to the editor July 28, 2004, NEEDLESS LOSS OF LIVES

ORGANIZING FOR PEACE & JUSTICE During an Election Year by Glen Anderson, Olympia, July 21, 2004

Shulamit Decktor, Seattle, June 23, 2004, a REPLY TO SENATOR KERRY's letters.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to the editor, June 11, 2004 on REAGAN'S RECORD

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, May 31, 2004, letter to the editor on DRUG DISCOUNT PROGRAM

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, letter to the editor, May 19, 2004, Iraq - THEY DON'T WANT US

PRISONER ABUSE IN IRAQ. Letter by Ruth Yarrow, WWFOR organizer, published in The Seattle Times, May 7, 2004

"PRESIDENT" BUSH WREAKS HAVOC. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted April 26, 2004

MASSACRE IN FALLUJAH. Letter to the Editor by Ruth Yarrow, WWFOR Organizer, published April 16, 2004, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

MASSACRE IN FALLUJAH. Letter to the Editor by Susan Donaldson, Tacoma FOR, submitted April 15, 2004

HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAQ. Letter to the Seattle Times, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted April 10, 2004

JESUS NEVER TAUGHT KILLING. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted April 6, 2004

BUSH CHOOSES VIOLENCE OVER DEMOCRACY IN HAITI. Letter to the Editor, The Olympian, by Glen Anderson Olympia FOR, submitted February 29, 2004

WHERE'S THE COMPASSION IN BUSH ECONOMIC PRIORITIES? Letter to the Editor, the Chronicle, by Larry Kerschner of Fire Mountain FOR, submitted February 3, 2004

WHO ARE THE KILLERS? A letter to the Seattle Times, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted Jan. 20, 2004

COMPASSION AND THE SPIRIT OF MARTIN LUTHER KING. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted Jan 13, 2004

DEATH PENALTY UNNECESSARY. Letter to the Editor, The Olympian, by Glen Anderson Olympia FOR, submitted January 1, 2004

Vice President CHENEY CALLS FOR MINDLESS KILLING. Letter to the editor by Susan Donaldson of Tacoma FOR submitted Dec 24, 2003, to The News Tribune

Mike Yarrow letter to editor Dec 16, 2003, re: SADDAM HUSSEIN'S APPREHENSION

BUSH HAS HURT WORKING PEOPLE. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted December 10, 2003

"PRESIDENT" IS A DISMAL FAILURE. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted July 8, 2003

DETAINEES HAVE RIGHTS DENIED. Letter to Senator Maria Cantwell by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, sent June 10, 2003

EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS BY U.S. AND FRIENDS. A letter to the Seattle Times, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted Jan. 31, 2003

BUSH'S EMPTY PROMISES. A letter to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted Jan. 31, 2003

SUSAN KAY DONALDSON of Tacoma on a PEACE HOLIDAY SEPTEMBER 11 published in The News Tribune on August 12, 2002

DAN L SMITH, of Longview, Co-chair Cowlitz County Fellowship of Reconciliation, August 17, 2002 Letter to the Editor on PEACE NOT WAR

JIM TRUE of Seattle letter to NPR's Morning Addition and All Things Considered on 9/11 DETAINEES August 16, 2002

JODY CHASTAIN of Longview Aug 6, 2002, letter to The Daily News on WHO IS THE WAR AGAINST?

TRAPPINGS: An Essay on the Occasion of the Presidential Inauguration by MARGARET TUTHILL, Seattle, read aloud February, 2001

LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell, letter to the "Chronicle," July 16, 2002, on the abridgement of civil rights by the new TERRORISM INFORMATION AND PREVENTION SYSTEM

JIM TRUE of Seattle, letter July 13, 2002, to NPR's All Things Considered radio show, on John Wallach and the Seeds of Peace for ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

LARRY KERSCHNER, of Pe Ell, WA, letter published in the Colorado Springs Independent in their June 27-July 3 issue, on EFFECTS OF IRAQ SANCTIONS

MARTIN FLECK, of Seattle, letter to Seattle Post-Intelligencer June 12, 2002, on SHAMEFUL WITHDRAWAL OF U.S. FROM THE ABM TREATY

LARRY KERSCHNER, of Pe Ell, May 6, 2002, letter to the Chronicle, on the Sanctity of All Life including PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

BERNARD EDWARD MEYER of Chehalis letter to The Chronicle April 18, 2002 on STEREOTYPING MUSLIMS AND PEACE MAKING

SUSAN KAY DONALDSON, of Tacoma, letter to The News Tribune on THE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL; published in revised form April 21, 2002

DAN SMITH, of Longview, in a weekly protest makes the April 13, 2002, front page ot The Daily News as a PATRIOT FOR PEACE

TOM & MARY SAVAGE of Seattle, letter April 12, 2002, to Caterpillar, Inc., on CATERPILLAR AND DESTRUCTION IN THE WEST BANK

LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell, letter to The Chronicle, April 1, 2002 on IRAQ IS NOT SADDAM HUSSEIN

DAN SMITH of Longview, Cowlitz County FOR, published in The Daily News March 14, 2002, on JOIN LOCAL PROTEST OF THE AFGHAN WAR.

JODY CHASTAIN, of Longview, Cowlitz County FOR, submitted to The Daily News March, 2002 on STOPPING THE WAR

LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell on CHILD SLAVERY IN CHOCOLATE INDUSTRY

SUSAN KAY DONALDSON of Tacoma, Troubled by THREATS IN STATE OF UNION ADDRESS

JEAN BUSKIN, Seattle, WA, on State of the Union: BUSH'S HYPOCRISY ON TERRORISM published Feb 3, 2002

LARRY KERSCHNER, Pe Ell WA, on UNDERSTANDING 9/11 ATTACKS, Jan 22, 2002

LARRY KERSCHNER, Pe Ell, on the SPIRIT OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., Jan 10 2002

RICHARD AND FLORA COLE, Seattle, on EXTENDING THE WAR TO IRAQ, Jan 4, 2002

LARRY KERSCHNER, Pe Ell WA, on HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN PALESTINE Dec 19, 2001

LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell says STOP KILLING INNOCENTS - Dec 10, 2001

ROY HOLMAN of Everett on US AS TERRORIST, in the Seattle Times, Wednesday, November 28, 2001

RICHARD DAVID GREENE on CATASTROPHE IN KUNDUZ Nov.24, 2001

RUTH YARROW of Seattle on "WORRIED ABOUT OUR DEMOCRACY" - Nov. 20, 2001

MICHAEL FROME from Bellingham had this letter on the WISDOM OF PACIFISM published in the Bellingham Herold - November 2001

RUTH YARROW of Seattle pickets for CIVIL LIBERTIES Nov. 15, 2001

DORENE CORNWALL of Seattle reports on MEETING with SEN. CANTWELL and URGES LETTERS to SEN. BAUCUS to PROTECT CIVIL LIBERTIES - Nov 14, 2001

DORENE CORNWALL'S letter to SEN. BAUCUS on CIVIL LIBERTIES- Nov 14, 2001

JERRY CHROMAN of Seattle on JOB CREATION in The Seattle Times on Tuesday, November 13, 2001

GLEN ANDERSON of Olympia letter published Nov. 8 in "The Olympian" on WAR DOESN'T SOLVE PROBLEMS

TOM AND MARY SAVAGE of Seattle letter on AFGHANISTAN WAR AND STARVATION published in the Seattle Times on Tuesday, October 23, 2001

BILL LAVELLE of Seattle letter - LOOK AT IRAQ: WHO ARE THE TERRORISTS? published in Seattle Post Intelligencer, October, 16, 2001

GLEN ANDERSON'S outline of a talk given Oct. 7, 2001 AGAINST THE WAR

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Inhumane prescription drug benefit

Dec 8, 2005

Editor, The Chronicle,

Every day I see how inhumane the current Republican White House and Congress are. I have been trying to help my patients understand the supposed Medicare prescription drug benefit that will go into effect on January 1, 2006. All recipients of Medicare must sign up for a plan before the end of the year. If they do not sign up by January they will be charged a higher premium later in the year for each month they have not signed up. There are dozens of plans available and each plan charges a different amount for a number of different levels of coverage.

In the capitalist system if you buy a large amount of something generally you can reduce your per unit cost. The Veterans Administration negotiates with pharmaceutical companies to get lower cost medications for veterans. However with this new law, the Congress caved in to drug company lobbyists so this law specifically states that the government cannot bargain the price of the covered medications. This gave the drug companies a huge built in profit. A few million dollars for lobbyists can lead to a few billion dollars in profits taken out the pockets of average Americans. When you finally choose a plan you are committed to that plan for a year. Generally you will look at the lists of medications that each plan covers and try to choose a plan that covers most if not all of your medications.

What they don't tell you is that while you are stuck with a plan for a year the insurance companies can change the medications that they cover whenever they want. You can pick a plan to cover that medication that costs you several hundred dollars a month and the insurance company can stop covering it. So you are stuck with paying your premiums with no coverage for a year without any redress. Tell me again about compassionate conservative.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

Too much violence, another approach to security, Dec 8, 2005

To the Editor,

The lead story in the Seattle Times (12-8-05) vividly reported on a man who threatened others with a bomb (that didn't exist) and was shot by air marshals. While I want my government to protect me against genuine threats, I regret that he wasn~Rt arrested and tried instead.

Several years ago, a small group of people repeatedly invented threats about bombs that didn't exist. Tens of thousands of people died as a result including several thousand US soldiers. Yet that small group of people is still at the helm of the world~Rs most powerful country, promoting a war that has made us less secure, a war that absorbs attention and money needed to confront real threats like climate change and desperate poverty.

A few months' cost of the Iraq war could feed the billion poorest people in the world. Another month's worth could dramatically reduce disease and improve infant and maternal mortality rates. What terrorist could find anti-American recruits in communities receiving such help? Let's make Peace on Earth something real this year by supporting efforts like the ONE Campaign to help the world's poorest people -- while improving our security (see http://www.onecampaign.org).

Sincerely, Glen Gersmehl, Shoreline

Detainees have rights, Senators have obligations

November 26, 2005

Dear Senator Cantwell

Thank you for your "Nay" vote on Graham Amendment No. 2516, Thursday Nov. 10, 2005, a gesture on your part in support of human rights and due process. This defense of the Constitution was just a small step to overcome the egregious violations of the Constitution under the current administration.

I understand that you took an oath of office and swore to uphold the Constitution. I am writing to urge you to do more in regard to the detainees at Guantanamo, in US controlled prisons around the world, and in prisons in the US.

Imagine if you were detained a single hour at the airport for security purposes and consequently missed your plane. If you couldn't reach your family and friends, imagine how upset you would be knowing they would be frantic with worry. Imagine how irritated you would be if the delay made you miss an important meeting with constituents. All this could happen with a mere hour of mistaken identity.

Now imagine detention without accusation or prosecution for 3 years! Imagine if this detention included being shackled and hooded and taken on airplanes around the world. Imagine if this included being put into an outdoor cage with no explanations, no rights, no contact with your loved ones. Imagine if this included invasive searches of your private parts, harsh and sometimes brutal treatment, and disrespect of your religion.

Imagine if this treatment came at the hands of a country claiming to respect freedom and democracy. Imagine if this treatment were supported, or not opposed, by Senators sworn to uphold these rights:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Please note that in no place does an Amendment to the Constitution place exclusions on these rights if the person has been declared to be an Enemy Combatant; if the person is outside the U.S.; no distinction is made for citizens or non citizens.

Please let me know what you are doing to protect the Constitutional rights of prisoners in US custody.

Sincerely yours,

Jean N. Buskin

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Politics or science to determine scientific policy

Nov 11, 2005

Dear Senator Murray:

I am appalled that this is even an issue, but the current administration's abuses of "scientific" reports apparently requires consideration of Amendment #2228 to the Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education appropriations bill now in conference committee.

Both the House and Senate have approved a ban on a "political litmus test" for federal science advisory committee nominees. We must regain some honesty if this nation is to lead the rest of the world. Decisions MUST be made on the best available information, rather than unilateral political agendas. The senate version of the appropriations bill also includes a ban on the distribution of false information (of which the current administration has repeatedly been guilty).

Please include both 1) a ban on a political litmus test for federal science advisory committee nominees, and 2) a ban on the distribution of false information in the conference committee of the Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education appropriations bill.

Thank you sincerely,

R. Ed Myer, M. D., Seattle

Where's the morality of the Church?

Oct 31, 2005

To the Editor, The Chronicle,

As a Christian living in the United States, I have a concern about the silent position taken by so many churches concerning the war in Iraq, the increasing disparity betwen the rich and the poor in this world, and the continued blight of racism in our society so clearly highlighted by the tragedies in New Orleans. Many if not most Christians in our country believe they are following the path set by Jesus.

However, we find ourselves in a country engaged in a brutal and devastating war in Iraq and elsewhere which has left over 2,000 U.S. soldiers dead with tens of thousands of others wounded, and thousands upon thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis dead, wounded and imprisoned. Our leaders continually call for more tax cuts for the already wealthy with plans to take this money from funds set aside for the poorest among us.

There is no longer any understanding of the common good in our country. Despite the gains during the Civil Rights movement there is still clear racism in many areas including those of health, wealth and opportunity in our country. Although there have been some Christian leaders who have been outspoken and prophetic on these issues, there has been a disturbing silence from most of the clergy in our country.

The Church should be at the forefront pointing to the issues and raising questions about this unjust war, the obscenity of the accumulation of wealth at the expense of the poor and the continued injustice related to accidents of birth such as race. I invite all religious leaders to mindfully and prayerfully critique the presence of evil and sin in our imperial society.

The main moral problems of today are not the narrow questions related to areas of sexuality so often focused on. Jesus spoke very little if at all about these areas. He spoke very often about how we are to treat the weak and the poor. Christians need to be reminded that their first God is not the nation that they happen to live in. The leaders in the Church have the responsibility to take a loud and visible stance against all the injustice being perpetrated in the name of the war on terror, the free market and updated Bush manifest destiny.

The Church should be defying the fear and greed being promoted by the powers and principalities resident in Washington D.C. and other power centers in our country. Forty years ago Rev. Martin Luther King prophetically named the three main evils in the U.S. society as militarism, racism and poverty. What has changed? Where are the prophets today who will speak truth to power?

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

Racist Hurricane Response, Sept. 8, 2005

Editor, The Chronicle

About four years ago I predicted that the current Presdent would go down as the worst President in our history. Every day there is more evidence to support this thesis. After September 11 one would think that emergency preparedness would be a high priority for our government. Why then did Bush place someone in charge of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) whose only previous work experience was to monitor the judges of contests for Arabian horses?

The inept response of FEMA to the catastrophe in Louisiana and Mississippi is criminal. Republicans should be happy with this situation though. Republicans have been saying for years that their goal is to down-size the government to the point where they can drown it in a bath tub. Well, they have their drownings now which are a direct result of their down-sized government.

I hate to point out the part racism has taken in this but if you compare the government response to Hurricane Frances in the largely white communities of Bush-governed Florida a year earlier to the current response to a largely poor African-American community in New Orleans it seems obvious. When it was clear that the hurricane was going to hit Florida hundreds of truckloads of food, water and ice were in place before the first winds hit. Arrangements were made specially to provide fuel and generators to area hospitals. The Army Corps of Engineers provided tens of thousands of tarps to homeowners. The National Guard had thousands of troops including hundreds of emergency medical personnel standing by to help. FEMA coordinated public information messages to direct evacuees. Disaster relief checks were under way within a week.

Where was this response to Hurricane Katrina? Did the fact that New Orleans is a Democratic stronghold with 70 percent Black with the highest perecnt of people in poverty of all American cities play a part in the government response? It seems likely that there are thousands of dead people lying in the streets of New Orleans. There needs to be a criminal investigation into their deaths.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

Cowlitz County protesters support mother's peace vigil

News coverage from The Daily News sent to WWFOR

Local protesters support mother's vigil. By Barbara LaBoe. Aug 16, 2005

Their numbers were small, but a group of anti-war protesters said Monday afternoon their message isn't any less important.

Organizer Dan Smith has protested the war in Iraq numerous times, but he said Monday's event at the west end of the Allen Street bridge was to support Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq. Sheehan is camped outside President Bush's Texas ranch, saying she'll stay until he agrees to talk her about bringing all the troops back home. Her vigil has attracted national attention.

"She's one of the few people who is actually calling Bush's bluff," Smith said. "The Democrats aren't doing it, but she is."

Smith said his fellow peace activists only had about 15 hours' notice, so he wasn't expecting a large turnout. Nationwide, a number of vigils are being held for Sheehan on Wednesday -- including one in Rainier -- but Smith said he didn't want to wait.

"I'll be happy if we get three or four people," he said, unloading protest signs from his van. "Whatever we can do to get the message out."

Three is exactly what he got, as Iva O'Shaunesy, Greg Lapic and Tedine Roos all joined the cause. All said they were motivated by their belief the war is wrong and soldiers are dying needlessly. And, they said, peaceful protest can spark change.

"Ghandi did it. Martin Luther King did it. Lech Walesa did it," Smith said. "It can be done."

The group drew mostly thumbs up by the motorists who acknowledged them, though one angry man screamed something that couldn't be made out.

The four weren't optimistic that Bush would meet with Sheehan, but they said it's still important to continue their protests.

"She's standing up for a lot of people who want reasons (for the war), and there aren't any," Roos said. "And I think the sentiment is shifting."

Rainier's vigil, according to the meetwithcindy.org website, is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of J&R grocery outlet.

Susan Donaldson, Tacoma, on Army recruiting, submitted to The News Tribune, July 29, 2005

In Saturday’s Military Update column, Tom Philpott notes that it took nearly four hours in a congressional hearing on the failure of the armed forces to meet their recruiting goals for anyone to have the courage to suggest that the pointless war in Iraq might be a reason. It seems to me that another reason young people are not flooding military recruiting offices, despite fairly harsh competition for few jobs stateside, might be a higher level of morality than that of many of their elders, in recognizing that while there are many causes and principles worth dying for, there are none worth the taking of another human life. To help young people make a public stance of such conviction, incidentally, the Fellowship of Reconciliation recently inaugurated an "I Will Not Kill" campaign. Those wishing to register their own promise to that effect and those wishing to support others in this endeavor can do so (or just learn more about the campaign) at either the specific website http://www.iwillnotkill.org or at the FOR’s general website, http://www.forusa.org.

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Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, July 18, 2005, Letter to The Chronicle, on how terrorists are created

Despite Prime Minister Tony Blair's claim otherwise, it is clear that the four tragic bombings in London last week are a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain. The media coverage of the stiff-upper lip Brit being brave is interesting to compare to the media coverage of the suicide bombings in Iraq. We don't see stories on the bravery of the Iraqis who go on with daily life in the midst of similar bombings. The steady almost daily drum beat of bombings must be much more difficult to live through than a single, however horrendous, incident of violence.

Suicide bombings have become the most common form of terrorism in the world since September 11, 2001. The unprovoked attacks on innocent people in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. were largely condemned by clerics as a violation of Muslim law but now many Islamic religious leaders say that the fighting in Iraq is justified. The Koran supports fighting to defend innocent people who have been attacked by foreign invaders.

Two-thirds of the insurgent attacks in Iraq have been suicide missions. There have been 400 suicide bombings in Iraq since we invaded that country with 90 carried out during the month of May. This past weekend suicide bombs killed close to 200 people. There were eleven suicide bombings on July 15 alone in and around Baghdad.

Several recent studies by the Saudi Arabian government and by the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Israel have concluded that the vast majority of those going to fight the Americans in Iraq were not formerly terrorists but have been radicalized by the invasion of an Arab land. These studies refute the Bush claims that these people are fighting because they hate democracy and our way of life. They are fighting because we have invaded their neighbor's land in an illegal war.

As of today 1,961 allied troops including 1,767 Americans have died as a result of this invasion and occupation of a sovereign country that was no threat to the U.S. A recent estimate by the Iraqi Healrth Ministry is that some 130,000 innocent Iraqis have died since the invasion. There is less clean water, health care and electricity now than there was with Saddam Hussein under the sanctions. The invasion and occupation of Iraq is a total deadly mess that we are responsible for.

The American people are finally awakening to the fact that they were lied to in order to gain support for this illegal and immoral war. It is time to impeach the President and bring our soldiers home.

Jean Buskin, Seattle, letter to the Seattle Times, on Bush the criminal

Thanks to the Times for the report "Saddam faces first criminal case in Iraq," (July 18, 2005) subtitled "150 deaths: one of lesser alleged atrocities."

Too bad that the US supported Saddam until August 2, 1990, long after this massacre, and long after the 1988 chemical attack that killed 5000 Kurds in Halabja. Too bad that the US didn't and still doesn't support the International Criminal Court which could have long ago prosecuted Saddam, and perhaps prevented further atrocities.

Interesting that the crime chosen for prosecution is retaliation for an alleged assassination attempt against Saddam. It brings to mind the alleged assassination attempt against George W. Bush in 1993, which led to US bombing of Iraq, killing 8 civilians. When will former Pres. Clinton be prosecuted for this "lesser" atrocity?

When will Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II be prosecuted for the greater atrocities of 2 illegal wars that killed hundreds of thousands, plus the sanctions that killed over a million?

We rightly decry the recent terrorist attacks on London. But if we value life, we need to hold accountable all those who take it needlessly.

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Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, letter to The Chronicle, May 16, 2005, caring for veterans

It is easy to see that the military programs in the United States are controlled by those willing to use our children for political purposes. It is also easy to see that they do not value the service of these veterans. This may be because most of those in power were rich enough or connected well enough to never have to actually serve.

I make no secret of the fact that I think that there should never be any veterans because there is never a need for war. However, I believe that as long as we allow our children to be sent into kill or be killed situations we should be honoring the promises made to them. I think that the attitude of the current administration can be summed up in the outrageous assertion made by Under Secretary of Defense David Chu that veterans benefits are responsible for the Pentagon's inability to provide weapons and equipment for our troops.

Clearly those in charge at the Bush administration believe that veteran's don't deserve benefits or that the government cannot afford to pay for them. This at the same time that Bush and the Republican controlled Congress is giving billions in tax rebates to the wealthiest people in our country. I wonder how many of those getting the tax money back have children in the military.

Whatever budget problems the Pentagon may be having, it is unconscionable to blame health care, disbility compensation and other promised benefits for veterans as the source of the problem. The Republican controlled Senate rejected 53-47 an amendment to the President's request for veterans health care offered by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee ranking member Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) that would have added $2.8 billion for veterans health care.

During floor debate in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives repeated attempts to increase funding for veterans were rejected. Among them was a Democratic alternative budget resolution offered by Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), the ranking member of the Budget Committee, that would have added $2.4 billion to veterans benefits and services. The Disabled American Veterans, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMVETS, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars co-authored a study that shows that Congress needs to increase funding more than $3 billion to maintain current services.

Current services are clearly not going to be adequate for the veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. The President's veterans budget would increase spending by 1.1% but this increase would be paid by charging veterans a $250 a year fee and by doubling pharmacy fees. So instead of adequately funding the needs of U.S. veterans the President proposes to shift the cost onto the veterans themselves.

Again I wonder how many of the very rich getting tax breaks have family members in the military. Until the time comes that we have abolished war as an instrument of national policy we are morally bound to care for those we put in harms way.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, April 22 2005 letter to The Chronicle, on a culture of war

I understand that my last letter to the editor engendered some negative responses. For the record I am a combat Infantry veteran. I am a member of Disabled American Veterans. I am President of Veterans for Peace Rachel Corrie Chapter #109. Thus I have some background when I speak about the military. I am also a Christian who believes that when Jesus called us to love our enemies He was not being naive. I believe that a true disciple of Christ has no choice but to oppose evil wherever it may be seen.

Our culture, instead of being marked by justice and compassion, is marked by retribution and revenge. Our government under the current warlord President does its best to keep the populace in a state of fear. Martin Luther King, Jr. rightly named the three main evils of our society as racism, poverty and militarism. Christians who wish to be true to Jesus' message must confront all three. Not confronting them publicly is the same as assenting to evil.

America has become a society in which a state of war is considered normal. There is little public discourse about our assertion of permanent global military superiority. It is taken that our constant war status is an obvious good. The U.S. spends more on the Pentagon budget than the combined defense budgets of all the other nations of the world. We have over 20,000 nuclear weapons and are planning to build more. In the four years between 1989 and 2003 the U.S. military were involved in nine major military adventures. That does not include the various cruise missile strikes around the world, weekly bombing attacks against the people of Iraq during the sanctions, or the missions of GIs sent to Rwanda, Colombia, East Timor and the Philippines.

I believe that the only possible stance for a Christian is as a pacifist. The churches are complicit in the evils of our day when they preach their justified war theories. Christ never justified violence in any form. The churches need to separate themselves from the ruling power structure and return to the simple message of Christ.

That being said if you look closely at the letters that I have written I have never suggested that our children should not join the military. All I have suggested is that anyone taking this step should not do so without having all the information before making a decision that places one in situations to kill or be killed. I applaud the deire of the young people to do something positive for their country. I believe that the current selfish American culture abuses this laudable desire.

I personally long for the American that honors the peacemakers at least equally with the warriors.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, March 7, 2005, letter to The Chronicle on spending priorities

The federal budget for FY 2006 contains $643 billion for current military spending. This includes the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental spending that the President forgot to include in his budget request. The past military portion of the FY 2006 budget ($384 billion) includes veterans benefits and interest on the federal debt related to past wars and the previous enormous military budgets. This is more than a trillion dollars.

Consider what positive things could be accomplished with this money. It has been estimated that for the amount we spend in one year on the military, starvation and malnutrition in the world could be eliminated, shelter could be provided for all homeless, all landmines could be removed, all nuclear weapons could be removed, illiteracy could be eliminated, clean water could be provided for everyone, the world population could be stabilized and soil erosion around the world could be eliminated. Health insurance could be provided for over two million children with the $4.9 billion in taxes that Washington State citizens provided for the Iraq war last year.

The military spends about $3 billion a year to convince our children that enlisting will give them college money, job training and an alternative to flipping burgers. What do we get for the $16,000 per recruit that we pay in taxes? Mostly we get recruits who are ignorant of the reality of military life. The recruiters don't tell the students that fifty-seven percent of those who enroll in the GI Bill receive no education benefits from the military despite spending $1200.00 of their own money on the program. Additionally, 23% only receive half of their maximum benefits.

Recruiters don't mention that the estimated lifetime prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among American Vietnam veterans is 30.9% for men and 26.9% for women. Recruiters don't mention that most people don't have time to attend college while in the military. Most recruiters don't point out that the enlistment agreement says that your status, pay, benefits, and responsibilities in the military can change without warning and without recourse. In the military you can be punished with no access to a lawyer or a trial.

Recruiters don't point out that military personnel no longer have the constitutional rights of civilians. Your right to free speech, assembly, and petition is eliminated under the Military Uniform Code of Justice. Recruiters don't point out the fact that few if any military jobs have a civilian equivalent. Most recruiters won't tell you that they were assigned to recruiting jobs against their will.

Anyone considering enlisting in the military should consider whether they are willing to kill someone else solely because they are ordered to do so. A recent survey found that 30% of women reported being victims of rape or attempted rape while in the military. I recommend talking with a veteran before signing enlistment papers. You can find a vet who will tell you the truth about the military at www.vfp109.org. Don't join the military without knowing all that you can be.

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Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, letter to The Chronicle, Feb 3, 2005, on Social Security hoaxes

Once again President Bush is trying to hoodwink the American people with fear, lies and a manufactured fake crisis. The Propaganda Minister of Adolph Hitler was Joseph Goebels. He said that if you tell a lie big enough and repeat it often enough the people will come to believe it. Bush and company understand that the big lie can only be maintained as long as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and military implications of the lie. A changing lie can be used to confuse the people. A search for invisiible weapons of mass destruction seamlessly becomes a bold fight for truth, justice and the American way.

The newest lie being promoted by Bush is that there is a crisis in the Social Security system. He is trying to induce fear among the young by selling the idea that they will have no retirement funds unless the system is changed according to the gospel by Bush right now. This is also a way to politically divide the people with the young pitted against the old. The truth is that the report from his own Social Security Trustees states that the program is fiscally sound for at least the next 38 years even if nothing is changed. With minor tweaking it can maintain current levels of benefits indefinitely.

Remember that currently 48 million people get SS checks and 38% of those are disabled, widowed and children. Social Security checks, whose recipients have an annual median of $11,000, are the sole income of one-third of Americans over the age of sixty-five. Under the President's plan of privatizing a portion of the Social Security payments, conservative estimates expect a reduction of 40% in the payments to future retirees. The transition costs to set up the Bush plan involves the government borrowing $2-3 trillion. This increase in the deficit is money that future taxpayers will have to pay back with interest.

The rationale Bush gives for his plan is that by playing the stock market workers can make more money than the government currently earns by selling bonds. The stock market earnings are not guaranteed but the bonds are backed by the full faith and trust of the U.S. government. If his plan had been in place 6-8 years ago when the stock market crashed how would you like to have been relying on that income to pay your bills? Argentina tried a similar system a number of years ago. Their economy tanked with a huge increase in the destitute elderly.

A cynical person might suggest that the real reason for the Bush plan is the billions in commissions which will flow through the brokerage houses which were among his major financial supporters in the last election. A simple plan that would raise most if not all the extra funds that may be needed 40-50 years from now would be to extend the social security tax to the wealthy. Currently no social security tax is paid on all income above $90,000 a year.

Why should those who are wealthy not pay their fair share? No one in this country gets wealthy solely by their own efforts. They either inherit wealth or they earn it in the context of our whole social and economic culture. The name Social Security implies a social contract to provide security to those in our society who cannot provide their own.

I have confidence that the younger generation will see through the lies that Bush is promoting to induce fear of the future and division between generations. The younger voters were the only age group to not support Bush in the last election. They know bull when they hear it.

All of us have relatives and friends who are dependent on their Social Security benefits. Let Congress know that this attack on the poor and aged now and in the future will not be tolerated. Don't be taken in by the political language coming out of the Republican mouths that sounds truthful but are only wind. (452 words)

Larry Kerschner Pe Ell, Jan 9, 2005, letter to The Chronicle, on honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

We celebrate the life of Martin Luther King on January 17. In a speech delivered one year before he was assassinated, he prophesied that a nation that continues year after year spending more money on the military than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. This year we will spend over $600 billion on the military while cutting social programs.

When I look around I can't help but wonder about the spiritual health of our nation. Recently I read about a private Christian school in North Carolina that teaches its students that slavery wasn't that bad for the slaves. I hear that the hottest new show on television, Desperate Housewives, features story lines such as a married women having an affair with her seventeen year old gardener. I'm disgusted by the description of the new FOX show called "Who's Your Daddy?" in which a woman adopted at birth interviews eight men to try to determine which one abandoned her at birth. If she figures it out she gets money; if not he gets money.

There are news reports that the Pentagon wants $25 million to build a prison to keep people in for life without trial or access to courts or lawyers. The U.S. is one of the only nations in the world that has not adopted the 1989 Convention on the Rights of Children so that we can have children under eighteen in the military.

Abortions in our country have increased each year of the Bush administration compared to Clinton's eight years. Multichannel ews reports that adult entertainment revenue on cable television has grown from $263 million in 1998 to $609 million in 2002.

In 2003 15,000 children with mental illnesses in this country were improperly incarcerated because of a lack of access to mental health treatment. Eighty-one million people, 32 percent of the U.S. population under age 65, were uninsured at some point during 2002-2003. More than one hundred high-level officials of the current administration are now regulating industries they formerly worked for.

Until recently the U.S. never officially practiced torture. Torture was viewed as repugnant and un-American. Now the U.S., through officially santioned torture and the sanctions against the people of Iraq, which resulted in the death of 500,000 children, have sent the message to the world that America will kill your children and torture you unless you cooperate with us.

Eighty-one percent of Americans subscribe to some organized religion. Many Americans may go to church and consider themselves morally superior but the stench of the spiritual death Rev. King prophesied pervades our society.

I am reminded of the passage from Matthew where Christ says, "Woe to you hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful but inside you are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness." Rev. King also once spoke of a dream he had for all children. I don't think this is the America he had in mind.

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Article by Glen Anderson on "Moral Values."

Glen explains: This article will appear on the religion page of the local newspaper, the Olympian, on Saturday January 1, 2005, and on the Olympian's online version, http://www.theolympian.com The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation is an affiliate member of Interfaith Works, the local organization comprising a diverse range of religious congregations and a few other faith-based groups. One of that organization's many activities is scheduling people to write articles for the "Perspectives" column of the newspaper's weekly religion page. When the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation was invited to submit an article our Steering Committee assigned me to write the article. I wrote the following, and the Steering Committee has approved it.

A Broader View of "Moral Values" by Glen Anderson on behalf of the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation for the Olympian's "Perspectives" column on Saturday January 1, 2005

Some exit polls said that 22% of voters chose "moral values" as the biggest issue guiding their choice of presidential candidate.  The term "moral values" is politically charged but poorly defined.  Let's look at moral values more thoughtfully.

Mainstream media assume that "moral issues" are those involving sexuality.  But this is really far too limited.

Pax Christi, a Catholic-based organization, commissioned a poll about which issues motivated voters.  When asked to choose "the most urgent moral crisis facing the US," voters identified "greed and materialism" (33%) and "poverty and economic justice" (31%) twice as often as abortion (16%) and more than 2 ½ times as often as gay marriage (only 12%).

A nationwide poll asked voters to identify the "moral issue" that most influenced which candidate they voted for.  While 13% cited abortion and 9% citied same-sex marriage, a whopping 42% cited the war in Iraq.

The wars against Iraq and "terrorism" grossly violate international law and the Church's traditional "Just War" criteria.  The Bush administration has been authorizing torture and other brutal violations of the Geneva Conventions. What do our moral values say about this?

Should the Port of Olympia be complicit in this illegal and immoral war? When local citizens challenged the shipment of war supplies, officials rationalized it by saying the port was making money from it. Is "anything for a buck" our ethical standard?

After World War II the U.S. was figuring out its role in the post-war world.  In 1948 George Kennan, chief of the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Staff, said: "We have about 60 per cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population.  In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment.  Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity.  ...  The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts."  Indeed, this is how the U.S. has been acting for more than half a century.  What do our moral values say about greed and violence?

Aren't our moral values offended by the following?

* The widening gap between rich and poor

* Weakening environmental protections

* Using more than our fair share of oil and other natural resources

* Leaving 45 million Americans without health care

* Punishing people harshly for their legal offenses instead of healing and rehabilitating them

* Keeping the minimum wage so low that full-time workers can't afford rent and food

Jesus and the Hebrew prophets emphasized these kinds of moral issues, but they said very little about the sex-related topics that preoccupy media coverage of "moral issues."  They emphasized meeting the needs of the poor, welcoming the outsider, respecting everyone's full dignity, and valuing fairness instead of greed.

Through biblical prophets like Amos and Isaiah - and more recent spiritual leaders like the Quakers' George Fox, Mahatma Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, and the Dalai Lama - God keeps trying to rescue us from our hang-ups, distractions, and false gods of power and wealth - and to point us back toward God's call to practice social justice and love our neighbors - yes, ALL of our neighbors - as ourselves.

All religious traditions support similar moral values, including love, peace, compassion, forgiveness, social justice, and care for the earth.

The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation invites you to explore this topic further on our TCTV program (channel 22 or 29) at 1:30 p.m. Mondays and 9:00 p.m. Thursdays throughout January.

Larry Kerschner of Pe Ell, active in Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to editor Dec 16, 2004, support the troops by bringing them home

Editor, The Chronicle

For a little over two years, each Saturday at noon a group of people have gathered at Washington Park near the War Memorial to witness for peace.

This group is composed of members of the Fire Mountain Chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Rachel Corrie Chapter #109 of the Veterans for Peace. Both organizations are opposed to the use of war as a tool of international relations.

We believe, that by questioning this policy of our government, we are in fact serving our nation. We believe that it has been shown that the current administration lied and manipulated intelligence data to convince us to support their desire to subjugate a sovereign country that was no threat to America.

International law, developed during the Nazi trials in Nuremberg after the Second World War, holds that attacking and invading another country that poses no threat is the primary war crime. The genesis of this letter is that occasionally people will respond to the signs that we hold during our vigils. Several women have yelled that they have sons in the military in Iraq and castigate us for not being supportive of their relatives. Generally, they then speed off without stopping to talk.

We believe that it is our duty as human beings to increase awareness of the actual costs of war. The real costs of war are not limited to money although the billions wasted prevent our society from doing many worthwhile things. The best troop support is to be honest about the fact that the U.S. government has placed our children in a situation where they commit war crimes to protect themselves. Recent polls show that seventy percent of the American public have concluded that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake.

We support the troops with our prayers and our hope that they do not have to kill or be killled in order that international corporations can maintain access to petroleum reserves. We support the troops by seeking justice for veterans and other victims of war. We support the troops by joining with Military Families Speak Out and the recently formed Iraq Veterans Against the War in their call to bring our children home now. You cannot be all that you can be if you are dead or maimed in body or soul.

The recent election showed divisions in our country that have been fostered by the fear-mongering of the current administration. In order to counter this deep mistrust we need to look for and commit ourselves to healing acts of truth and reconciliation. I encourage the mothers of these troops and anyone else driving by to stop and talk. I think that you will find that we can agree on the necessity to seek peaceful alternatives to war. A yellow vinyl sticker on the back of a vehicle does nothing to support my nephew who is in Iraq right now. Promoting peace is the greatest support we can give him and the others we have placed in harm's way.

Larry Kerschner

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Dennis Mills, co-chair of Olympia chapter letter to the editor in The Olympian Dec 14, 2004 "We should not benefit from the war economy"

Moving war materials from the Port of Olympia might give some people the impression that we are supporting the troops. In my opinion, we are only extending the likelihood that more people will die.

Sending more armor and troops to Vietnam didn't help end the war. Recently, I read the names of my friends on the Vietnam Memorial on the Capitol Campus. More weapons and troops shipped out of our Washington state ports didn't save their lives. Admitting that we had a failed foreign policy and pulling our forces out of Vietnam saved lives, both American and Vietnamese.

We need to build a peace economy in Washington state and not benefit from the war economy. We need to bring the troops home. We need to revisit the lessons learned from Vietnam, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

I have been told that the port receives a profit from military shipping approximately equal to $3 per resident. If that is so, I donated $9 from my family to start a fund so that our port no longer has to rely on war to make a profit.

Dennis W. Mills, Olympia

Larry Kerschner of Pe Ell, active in Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to editor Nov 30, 2004, the power to make change

Editor, The Chronicle

The twentieth century was the bloodiest century ever with more people killed in wars than in all of previous history. The first two-thirds of the twentieth century also saw a burgeoning of the ideals of hope and democracy.

Here in America we saw the women's movement in which the sufragettes began the road to the recognition of the equality of women. We saw the heroic struggles of the working people to organize themselves into cooperative unions. Workers demanded to be treated with dignity. We saw the people of color rise up and demand to be respected as human beings in the civil rights movement.

Besides the spirit of democracy and equality what these movements had in common was that they were essentially non-violent. These movements filled the streets of America with people who acted out of the best ideals of America and the gospel. These movements eventually led to the government developing programs like Social Security which were meant to lift people up. People began to act like they believed that 'all men are created equal'.

Unfortunately not long after the Second World War, corporations, assisted by the 'free' press, began using propaganda to counteract the risks that they saw in true democracy. Business interests were sold as being the same thing as national interests. Churches helped keep the masses asleep by promoting the idea that some segments of the population are not worthy of God's blessing. The military-industrial-security complex became the governing body of this country. The anti-war movement of the sixties was the last time that the people were able to change the direction of our rulers.

Over the last 30-40 years, the powers and principalities controlling the right-wing Christian and political movement have promoted selfishness, greed, fear, and mean-spiritedness. These are all anti-democratic and anti-Christian ideas. Violence has become our norm. One quarter of all the people in the world in prison are in U.S. prisons. On the average four unarmed people are killed by the police in this country each week. They are generally people of color.

Corporate profit is the sole governing principle of political decisions under our plantation capitalism. Laws continue to be written to stop democratic organizations like unions from developing. The health of our children isn't profitable enough so is ignored. America is the greatest armaments creator in the world from the .38 pistol to the nuclear bomb.

The earlier voices of the people were heard when committed people literally filled the streets and stood in the way of the evil that has control of our country. The people do not have $600 billion year to oppose those in power but we do have our voices and our bodies. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and many others have shown the power of the people to non-violently change chaos into community. Only the will is needed. True change only comes from the power of the people. The national security complex and it's world vision cannot be reformed. It must be replaced.

Larry Kerschner

Glen Anderson of Olympia Chapter letter to the editor submitted to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer November 18, 2004 on making the CIA a propaganda arm

Editor:

Bush is Politicizing the CIA & Promoting More "Faulty Intelligence"

In 1947 President Truman and Congress created the Central Intelligence Agency in order to compile and analyze the most accurate information possible about international problems. Truman and Congress wisely designed the CIA to be objective and free from political tampering, so they made it independent from the Pentagon and State Department, which are heavily influenced by political partisanship.

Now Bush is politicizing the CIA with hard-core loyalists and purging the CIA of people who are not his "yes men."

For several years the people who populate the Bush administration were itching for a war against oil-rich Iraq. When the CIA's honest intelligence did not justify a war, Cheney badgered the CIA to generate excuses to justify war, and the Bush administration lied repeatedly about evidence that it knew was not valid.

Rumsfeld bypassed the Pentagon's accurate intelligence and created a different intelligence unit specifically to produce intelligence to justify war.

Lie after lie has been exposed.

In a truly historical break, many dozens of longtime professionals from the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies protested these manipulations of intelligence. They formed an organization, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, and blew the whistle on Bush's lies and distortions, but the news media gave them little coverage.

Bush and his cronies deliberately lied their way into the Iraq war, and most politicians and news media mumble their blame on "faulty intelligence."

Now Bush is further undermining the CIA's mission of objectivity by purging employees who disagree with him. When Bush makes the CIA another propaganda arm of his bull-headed, trigger-happy foreign policy, he will blunder into more wars.

The "faulty intelligence" that led us into Iraq was clearly Bush's fault. Now he is setting us up for even worse!

Sincerely, Glen Anderson

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Glen Anderson letter to editor submitted to The Seattle Times Nov 17, 2004, on US training terrorists at the School of the Americas

Editor:

The American people, Congress, and Bush all say they oppose terrorism and terrorist training schools. We have an easy opportunity to shut down a school that has trained terrorists since 1946.

The U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia, has trained Latin American soldiers to commit human rights abuses in counter-insurgency wars against their own poor populations.

SOA's graduates have a long history of human rights violations. From the atrocities in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s to recent human rights violations in Colombia, they consistently appear in reports on human rights abuses in Latin America, including civilian massacres, assassinations, disappearances, death threats, and countless other crimes against humanity.

All over the world, people who support human rights have urged the U.S. to stop training terrorists at SOA, but despite some cosmetic changes, including changing SOA's name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), this persists as one of the largest terrorism schools in the world.

The US government - in our name and with our tax dollars - continues to train soldiers from Latin American countries with the worst human rights records.

The US pays lip service to opposing terrorism, but actions speak louder than words. The rest of the world is watching what we do. If Congress really cared about stopping terrorism and human rights abuses, it would pass HR 1258 and close WHISC.

More information is at http://www.soaw.org

Sincerely, Glen Anderson

Larry Kerschner, of Pe Ell, Fire Mountain chapter, letter to editor Nov 9, 2004, No Mandate

Editor, The Chronicle

My first reaction to the election results were that America will now get what we deserve but almost half of those who voted chose to repudiate the narrow world vision of George Bush. Bush claims a mandate but in fact only won by three per cent. Almost half of us don't deserve what we are going to get.

If 70,000 voters in Ohio had voted otherwise John Kerry would be the next President. Considering that Bush received 4,000 votes in one Ohio precinct that has just over 600 registered voters maybe 70,000 did vote the other way. Be that as it may, we have to get ready for more tax cuts and regulations written by and for affluent corporations. A wave of conservative judges on the Supreme Court will diminish workers rights and environmental protection for the next generation. We can also expect to see a continuing cut in funding for housing and other social programs for the poor.

Vice President Cheney is now on record as supporting the idea of abolishing the income tax and replacing it with a highly regressive flat national sales tax which would increase the tax burden on the poor and middle class. In his last pre-election speech in Florida, the President pledged to liberate Cuba. Career diplomats at the State Department are concerned that this promise may lead to military intervention in Cuba.

Republican strategist Richard Viguerie is calling for abolishing the Medicare prescription drug benefit recently passed. He also calls for greatly increased oil and gas exploration in the continental U.S. with the increased environmental damage. Overseas, to go along with the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Republicans, along with Israel, plant to overthrow the government of President Assad in Syria and to eliminate the nuclear facilities in Iran.

The new Republican Senator from Oklahoma is on the record stating that doctors who perform abortions should be executed. This is the same man who as a Congressman said he saw nothing wrong with having access to and using bazookas.

As bleak as this future seems, those who opposed the policies of Bush need to look at what was accomplished over the past two years. Millions of new voters were energized, many of them young people, and became involved. Florida passed a new law increasing their minimum wage. Democrat Barack Obama trounced his right-wing opponent in Illinois. Here in Washington a tax cut initiative was turned down. The right wing built their power base over the past thirty years. Much was accomplished by Progressives in two years. Activist driven activities must continue and expand.

Those of us who are Christians and Progressives also won't cede "moral issues" to the right wing. The 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians who have been killed by the U.S. might argue about how pro-life Bush is. We should remember Psalm 37:7-8 "Do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices. Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret - it only leads to evil".

Larry Kerschner

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Larry Kerschnerof Pe Ell, Fire Mountain chapter, letter to the editor Oct 19, 2004, Pre-election Considerations

Editor, the Chronicle

Just some facts to consider before voting. Health insurance premiums have risen by more than one-third since Bush took office leaving 44 million without health coverage. The health plan the President proposes gives affluent people one more tax break. Health Savings Accounts are useful for the healthy and wealthy only. Under the new Medicare drug prescription law, seniors and persons with disabilities must pay annual out-of-pocket expenses of between $5,100-$2,251.

Bush's plan to privatize Social Security would divert payroll tax revenue needed for Social Security payments into new private accounts with stockbrokers taking their percentages. Bush doesn't mention the fact that world oil production has peaked. This along with the Iraq war and the growing demand for oil in India and China point to continued increasing oil prices.

The wealthiest 20 percent of households in the U.S. account for 50% of the total U.S. income. The poorest 20% account for 3.5% of U.S. income. The Forbe's 400 richest Americans are doing better under Bush as their collective wealth has risen $45 billion since 2003. Median household income has fallen for the fourth year in a row.

Two million jobs have been lost since Bush took office. Some recent job growth has been concentrated in health care, food services, and temporary employment firms, all low paying sectors. Temp agencies account for 20% of all new jobs. One in six manufacturing job has disappeared since Bush took the oath. Workers wages have risen 0.3% while corporate profits are up 28.4 percent since Bush was made President.

For fiscal year 2005, which started this month, the U.S. gross federal debt is projected to be $8.1 trillion. Just recently, in order to not raise the current federal debt limit of $7.38 trillion just prior to the election, the administration decided to stop paying into the federal employees' retirement fund. The most commonly reported federal budget deficit doesn't include borrowings from federal trust funds --mostly Social Security and Medicare. When these takings are included the current annual federal budget deficit is $639 billion.

The U.S. borrows more than $600 billion each year from the rest of the world, especially from the central banks of China and Japan. With the trade deficit nearly 6% of the Gross National Product, the dollar has lost one third of its value against the euro. When the President says things are going well in Iraq he isn't talking about the military or the Iraqis, he is speaking of Halliburton and the other U.S. corporations receiving dollars meant to reconstruct Iraq. The Vice-President's old company alone has received about $18 billion in contracts.

Last week at the Capital lawn in Olympia we placed crosses for and read names of the eleven hundred plus U.S troops who have died useless deaths in the President's war. This doesn't count the thousands of troops who have been terribly maimed or the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have died. Consider your vote well.

Larry Kerschner

Dan L.Smith of Longview, Cowlitz County Chapter, letter to the editor of The Daily News, Oct 12, 2004, on the right to peaceably assemble

Check the facts before writing

In response to Carol Harrison's Oct. 2 letter titled, "What more do you want?", letter writers might be more effective if the facts were checked before writing.

When preparing for the candlelight vigil to show respect for more than 1,000 young Americans killed in the Halliburton-Cheney/Bush war, I went to the Kelso Police Department, requested a permit for 10 people to stand on the sidewalk and was refused. It is not as though the Kelso police did not know who we were. The Cowlitz County Fellowship of Reconciliation has been peacefully vigiling with a legal Kelso permit for the last three years.

On the day of the vigil, I did take the time to personally apply for a permit. I was told by the chief's secretary that the chief was out for the rest of the day. Therefore, she told me, we would not be allowed to gather that night.

We felt that night it was essential that we exercise our First Amendment right to "peacefully assemble." My constitution says nothing about a citizen's obligation to first request to his government for the right to assemble.

I am sure that the Kelso City Council meant well and thought it was protecting its citizens by passing this ordinance. Unfortunately, it did the opposite.

Dan Smith, Longview

Dennis Mills, co-chair of Olympia chapter letter to the editor in The Olympian Oct 9, 2004 "Understand how tax dollars are being spent" Money for Destruction?

It is time to let our elected officials know that there are other viewpoints to ponder. It's hard to believe, even to rationalize, that the U.S. government can proceed ahead and not consider the long-range consequences of its foreign policies.

Tropical Storm Jeanne left hundreds dead and many thousands of people homeless in Haiti. The European Union pledged $1.8 million. Venezuela offered $1 million worth of emergency supplies.

The United States? Well, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince kicked in $60,000. This is embarrassing and disgusting!

Our administration is further exacerbating the problems in the Middle East. The failed foreign policies have not made the Palestinians or the Israelis any safer.

Under the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, countries receiving U.S. weapons are allowed to use them for internal security, for legitimate self-defense or for "preventing or hindering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

The $319 million arms transfer, proposed by the Bush administration on June 1, went ahead after Congress took no action during its 30-day review period.

The United States is moving ahead with the transfer to Israel of 5,000 heavy, precision-guided bombs, including 500 "earth-penetrating" 2,000-pound bombs designed for use against underground facilities. In my office, I have a piece of rubble I gathered from a destroyed Palestinian police building that was next to the Friends School in Ramallah. It reminds me of how our tax money is used!

Dennis W. Mills, Olympia

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Larry Kerschner of Pe Ell, Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to editor, Oct 1, 2004, Debates Not Getting to the Point

Editor, The Chronicle

During the first so-called Presidential debate Senator Kerry was clearly better prepared and in command. The President was defensive and had little to say outside of a few impotently repeated refrains. Limiting their debate to Iraq and North Korea they both ignored areas of importance to the U.S.

There was no mention of the 3,000 Haitians who have been murdered by the thugs we installed after abducting the elected President of Haiti. There was no mention of the daily killings of Palestinians by Israelis; nor of the killing of Israelis by Palestinians.

They both agreed that the greatest threat to the U.S. is proliferation of nuclear materials. While I agree this is a grave threat, they might have mentioned the fact that on September 20 a young mother in Thailand died from a virus (H5N1) which she contracted from her dying child. H5N1 is the so-called "avian flu". This was the first human-to-human transmission of this particular virus.

This may be a serious threat because the bird-to-human form has had a 70% lethality rate. H1N1, which was the avian flu of the infamous 1918-19 pandemic had a lethality rate of 5%. Between 50-100 million people died around the world from that virus. It would seem that H5N1 might be considered a grave threat along with stray nuclear materials. A prototype H5N1 vaccine is being developed but won't be available for public use for some time.

But back to Iraq where the President continues to claim steady progress. Progress for who? Halliburton? The recently released report from the Defense Science Board, a panel of advisors to the Defense Secretary, states that the "inadequate total numbers" of troops means that the United States can "not sustain our current and projected global stabilization commitments".

President Bush kept saying that Senator Kerry accuses him of being in "the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." Senator Kerry denied saying this but I think that it describes things perfectly. We invaded a country 10% our size which was no threat to us but which has huge oil reserves. We have killed over 14,000 Iraqi civilians, imprisoned tens of thousands, most without cause, and permitted a pattern of torture and abuse. We took control of their oil, wrote their 'new' constitution, appointed their leaders, allowed no opposing views and are in the process of building several large permanent military occupation bases. No wonder there were no flowers and candy to greet our troops.

The President claims a coalition of supportive nations but Costa Rica, the Philippines, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Norway, Thailand and New Zealand troops have left or plan to leave Iraq soon. Singapore has only 33 troops left and Moldavan troops have dwindled to twelve.

The 1197 U.S. and coalition troops who have died thus far in Iraq may disagree with Mr. Bush's assessment of progress. I look forward to the next 'debate' when Mr. Bush will try to defend his domestic programs.

Larry Kerschner

Cora Lawrence, Seattle, writing the mayor Sept 28, 2004, about not cutting the social services budget further

Dear Mayor Nickels, The social service budget must not be cut any more. Social services which promote individual growth and independence to productive citizenship are the only answer to homelessness.

Please, please! Sincerely, Cora Lawrence, R.N.,Ph.D.

Rosy Betz-Zall, Seattle, Sept 28, 2004, acting to keep social services funding

Dear Friends of Mine,

I am one of the many people taking time to fast and sit in outside the mayors office this summer. This is in solidarity with the people in our neighborhoods who are "doing without". The budget for helping these people is much too reduced already. I am asking you to please call or e-mail or pop a postcard in the mail to the mayor expressing your feelings of the subject.

Thanks, Rosy Betz-Zall

Jamie K. Donaldson, Bellingham, Letter to the editor, Sept. 21, 2004, Thoughts for Iraq on International Day of Peace

Bellingham Herald,

On the occasion of International Day of Peace (Sept. 21), I'm moved to ask my fellow citizens to consider the Iraqi people whose suffering you won't see pictured in The Herald.

First there was the double whammy of life under a brutal dictatorship and crippling economic sanctions, both supported by the United States. Next a war that left the infrastructure of their country in ruins. Then another war and life under military occupation. Contrary to what the current administration predicted, U.S. troops were not greeted as liberators when they entered Baghdad last year.

According to a June 2004 study by the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus, 80 percent of Iraqis express "no confidence" in U.S. civilian authorities or coalition forces.

Democracy cannot be won by shooting, bombing and torturing its intended beneficiaries. And no, we cannot cut and run on the Iraqis; we have a moral obligation to clean up the chaos and destruction that we've wrought. But the military occupation must end now, for their sake and ours.

Instead, send the civilian doctors and nurses to heal the suffering, the civil engineers to rebuild the country and the international peacekeepers to restore security and help begin reconciliation.

Jamie K. Donaldson, Bellingham

Larry Kerschner Sept 21, 2004, letter to the editor, thoughts on abortion

Editor, The Chronicle

Abortion is a problem for many in our society. It is a problem for those who oppose it. It is a problem for those who believe that only the woman who is pregnant should decide this issue. It is a problem for the fetus.

Why do women get abortions? Generally the reasons come down to the fact that the woman sees the baby as a threat to some part of her life either physically, emotionally, financially, or mentally. When we perceive that someone threatens a portion or all of our life we would commonly identify this person as our enemy. For whatever reason the fetus becomes the enemy of the pregnant woman.

Jesus tells us to love our enemies. He also shows us that we don't love unless we are willing to suffer. For this reason I don't believe that someone who identifies herself as a Christian can in good conscience have an abortion. In no way am I condemning those who have had abortions. Jesus did not condemn the woman found in adultery. Condemnation does not lead to reconciliation.

I would guess that more often than not the women having abortions are young and poor. As Christians we are called to help free the poor from the injustices of our society. We should be doing all that we can to reduce the need for abortions. We should be supporting early sex education, contraception, counseling and adoption. As parents we should be living lives that show our children what it means to love and be loved.

A society in which 20% of the children live below the poverty level does not value children. A society where an equal number have no health care does not value children. A society that is not willing to spend the money needed to educate them does not value children. A society that sexualizes almost all advertising does not value children. A society that sends it's young off to kill or be killed does not value children.

Many of my progressive friends will not agree with me about abortion. They see a huge amount of hypocrisy in a society that does not value children but wants to force women to have children against their own judgement. I have heard it said that 70% of those calling themselves Christian who oppose abortion support captal punishment; 90% of them are said to support war as a legitimate foreign policy tool.

Jesus said love your enemies. He didn't say love your enemies before they are born but it's OK to kill them after they are born. The women struggling with the realities of their lives are being told they must love their unborn enemies. But these same Christians are saying that they don't have to love their own enemies. A priest recently told me that since the people in Iraq are threatening us it's OK to kill them. I can see Jesus just sadly shaking His head.

A truly pro-life society would make the perceived need for abortion unnecessary.

Larry Kerschner

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Susan Kay Donaldson, Tacoma, letter to the editor, September 9, 2004, Moral and Physical Cost of War Preparation

re: "Workers become anemic, so bomb production stops" (A3)

Dear Mr. Seago:

The sad irony of bomb-makers’ becoming sick from the very work they do, to ensure others’ deaths ("Workers become anemic, so bomb production stops", AP, TNT, 8 Sept., A3), mirrors a larger sickness in our society as a whole. Because of the United States’ addiction to war, our whole population suffers. We pour resources into our efforts to kill other people, but then lack the money properly to fund functions that enhance life—for example, education, health care, housing, job creation, transportation, and the arts. Additionally, the killing we do creates new martyrs—and consequently new enemies for us. Thus, military might does not bring security; rather, it erodes it. However, the greatest damage we suffer, it seems to me, is to our souls, as we are taught to be suspicious rather than to trust, to hoard rather than to share, and to hate rather than to love.

Let us instead choose life. Those bombs need never be made; all humanity will be far safer without them.

Yours truly, Susan Kay Donaldson

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to the editor, Sept. 1, 2004, Who's Really Supporting the Troops?

Editor, The Chronicle

The Republicans at the current convention in New York City are showing their true opinion of veterans. They are passing around bandaids imprinted with a Purple Heart for all the delegates to wear clearly demeaning the sacrifice of millions of veterans who have been awarded this medal. The President's attitude has been to do the macho strut and smirk while on stage but out of the limelight he has promoted policies that undermine the morale of the current troops and their families.

In Agust 2003, while Congress was recessed, this administration cut payments for imminent danger and family separation. Congress had earlier increased imminent danger pay by $75.00 a month and monthly allowances of $150.00 to help fund rent and child care for troop's families at home. Public outrage forced the White House to rescind those cuts but it showed the troops that they are a low priority for this administration.

By late Summer 2003 it became apparent that U.S. troops were inadequately equipped. Although Congress had approved funds for ceramic-plated body armor, by October 2003 over 50,000 U.S. troops had not been given this life saving gear. By September 2003 this administration decided to deploy National Guard and Reservists overseas due to the poorly planned over extension of U.S. military forces. Those who signed up with the expectation of serving one weekend a month are now being sent into dangerous situations for extending durations. This administration, disregarding the agreements under which these people signed up, began a Stop Loss policy keeping thousands of troops in danger beyond their enlistment time. This effectively is forcing troops to remain in combat through an involuntary draft. Many of the same people who signed up for National Guard duty are the very same local police and firefighters that we need for true homeland security. Many of them are the sole bread winners for their families.

The recent show of the political power of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani by settling the fighting in Najaf underscores the fact that the troops should be out of Iraq. Their continued presence in a country where they are clearly not wanted is the main reason that Iraq is so dangerous. The fact that there was a political solution to this situation and not a military one is being ignored by the Bush administration. The 1107 coalition troops who have died in Iraq have died because of the ideologically driven lack of planning by this administration. The above noted policies show what President Bush really thinks about those who serve at his whim in the U.S. military.

Larry Kerschner

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, Fire Mountain chapter, letter to the editor July 28, 2004, Needless Loss of Lives

Editor the Chronicle,

As of today, 1032 coalition troops have died in Iraq. 911 of them were young Americans. Bill O'Reilly and the Chronicle claim that President Bush about Iraq but it is clear that there was a concerted effort to mislead the American public to promote an ideological agenda. Those surrounding the President made up their minds to find an excuse to attack Iraq long before September 11, 2001. If you are not clear on this read Richard Clarke's book "Against All Enemies".

Seventeen of these young men who died for nothing were from Washington State. Their names are: Justin Hebert (Arlington); Christopher Bunda (Bremerton); Curt Jordan (Green Acres); Benjamin Colgan (Kent); Jacob Herring (Kirkland); James Shull (Kirkland); Cody Calavan (Lake Stevens); Jeffrey Shaver (Maple Valley); Kerry Scott (Mount Vernon); Marvin Best (Prosser); Jeremiah Schmunk (Richland/Kennewick); Michael Adams (Seattle); Nathan Nakis (Sedro-Wooley); Robert Benson (Spokane); Duane Longstreth (Tacoma); Cedric Bruns (Vancouver); and Dustin Sides (Yakima).

The national media owned and controlled by extreme conservatives also seldom mention the soldiers in iraq who have been injured many of whom have become amputees. The number of wounded are estimated between 5,000-10,000. Add to this number the 25,000 soldiers reportedly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Every day disasters this administration perpetrated on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are visibly unraveling. In 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces, there is less electricity available now than under Saddam under the sanctions. Every day insurgent attacks are killing common Iraqi people. The man we put in charge is known to the Iraqi people as a CIA agaent. It is estimated that over 5,000 new terrorists have joined Al Quaeda sice we invaded Iraq. There were no terrorists to speak of in Iraq before but now our soldiers act as sitting ducks.

Afghanistan is also a basket case. Over 100 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan. Elections that were to be held in September have been re-scheduled. Only 1.6 million of a possible 10.5 million voters have been registered. The Karzai government controls thr area around Kabul. The warlords, the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hikmatayar control most of the country.

The Nobel Prize winning orgnization Doctors without Borders have withdrawn due to the number of murders of humanitarian workers. Forced marriage, rape and other violence against women is widespread. The largest export commodity is opium which the Taliban had stopped. According to a White House report Afghanistan now accounts for 75% of the world output of opium.

We as Americans need to apologize to the families of those who have died in this so-called war on terror both here and in Afghanistan and Iraq. In our names, these people were put in harm's way. Their deaths belong to all of us.

As a veteran I would like to invite all who would like to see the end of this type of shameful government actions to join the Veterans for Peace. For information go to www.veteransforpeace.org nationally and www.criticalconcer.com/vfp/html for the local group.

Larry Kerschner

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Organizing for Peace & Justice During an Election Year by Glen Anderson, Olympia, July 21, 2004

Why settle for a republic when we could have a democracy?

Can the electoral process interfere with our efforts to promote peace and social justice?

Show biz or substance?

Regardless of who ends up being elected, the electoral process itself can distract activists from making progress on the real issues. The electoral game easily grabs our attention and can become an end in itself rather than a means to our real ends – making public policy flow from our deepest values of peace and social justice.

Especially in 2003 and 2004 we’ve seen attention, effort and money diverted from substantive issues to the game of presidential politics. The "anybody but Bush" mantra ignores that both major political parties support a horribly violent foreign policy and refuse to address important social and economic justice issues.

After the Cold War ended, Democrat Clinton ignored the opportunity to overhaul our foreign policy. For eight years Democrat Clinton kept the US at war against Iraq and kept Star Wars alive. Democrat Clinton supported NAFTA and the WTO, expanded the federal death penalty, abolished the welfare safety net, and supported the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. Most of the people opposing Bush now were silent for eight years while Clinton laid the foundation for Bush’s policies.

The US’s two biggest political parties (and major news media, corrupt campaign financing methods, restrictions on third parties, etc.) maintain the facade that we have free elections, but – like giant corporations that share a duopoly over a market – they share a comfortable symbiotic relationship that avoids meaningful political change. These parties don’t discuss issues honestly, but cynically exploit them for partisan ends.

In such a political climate, we don’t get real choices because candidates and parties don’t talk about real issues. We won’t make progress in a political system that is structured toward conservatism and middle-of-the-roadism. We won’t make progress by casting our lot with moderate candidates running as "the lesser of two evils."

This same pattern recurs every four years, and it persists because voters focus on candidates more than issues. If we want to make progress on the issues, we have to raise the issues proactively and organize on them explicitly. If the public demands a peaceful foreign policy and accepts nothing less, politicians will adopt those policies. When the people lead, the "leaders" will have to follow.

Build grassroots movements:

Our vision of political change is more profound than partisan. While millions of progressives seek salvation by defeating Bush on November 2, we must change the political culture in more radical ways.

We can’t just replace one politician with another. We must change the political climate. This requires not just an electoral campaign, but society-wide consciousness raising and an entire political change movement.

Gandhi and King did not run for office. They promoted nonviolent revolutions from the grassroots up.

The most important positive changes in the US (women’s right to vote, the labor movement, the Civil Rights movement, environmentalism, etc.) have arisen through grassroots organizing – NOT through electing this or that candidate.

Certainly we should vote and urge other people to vote. But please don’t let the electoral campaign season distract us from our real organizing at a more profound level. We practice democracy by what we do every day to build strong grassroots movements. Voting takes just a few minutes a few times a year. Let’s spend the other 99.999% of our time organizing on the issues and building a strong progressive movement!

Electoral campaign "buzz" distracts attention from the issues. News coverage that treats an election as a horse race with numbers and strategies displaces consideration of the issues that are really at stake. Unless we citizens make the issues the election year’s centerpiece, the politicians and news media will settle for trivial sideshows. Four years ago the media talked endlessly about Gore appearing "stiff" and changing to earth-tone clothing. During a recent campaign the media focused on which candidate for First Lady makes better cookies. The media can get away with this because we don’t force them to cover the issues.

Don’t we need to defeat bad politicians? Yes, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do that. Instead of focusing on personalities, let’s raise the issues so clearly that people will make informed choices. Then when bad politicians are defeated, we’ll also have a strong mandate for replacing bad policies with good ones.

For example, unless we challenge the premises underlying the so-called "War on Terror," we’ll just end up with a different president waging it. Unless we challenge dominance of global capitalism, we’ll just get a different CEO in the White House.

On the other hand, strong grassroots organizing for peace, economic justice, human rights, the environment, universal health care, and other issues would change our nation’s overall political climate and culture! This would let us make strong demands on politicians of all parties and at all levels. Issue-based organizing would make electoral changes in November AND establish grassroots movements that will hold the victors accountable throughout their terms. It would also lay a foundation for other political organizing over the long haul, including third parties.

Reach out to others:

Most people tend to discuss politics only with other people who already agree with them. Until we reach out and talk with people who are different from ourselves, we’re not really building our movements. We need to find people who can become allies on an issue-by-issue basis.

People who think they’re conservative actually agree with progressive positions on many issues. For example, couldn’t fiscal conservatives oppose massive military spending and unjustified tax breaks? Couldn’t the conservatives who oppose big government object to the Patriot Act’s intrusiveness? Couldn’t traditionalists who value honesty oppose a war rooted in lies?

How could we help ordinary people see that their deepest values are served better by progressive and peace-oriented candidates who are strong on real issues than by glib politicians with vague, pious platitudes – or by politicians who side with the elites against the public interest?

Re-frame the issues:

After the September 11 attacks Bush promoted the notion of a "War on Terrorism," which the news media and politicians of both parties accepted at face value. Framing the problem as a "war" has sent us down a road of endless military spending, governmental abuse of our freedom, and escalating global violence.

As long as we allow the concept of the "War on Terrorism" to persist, we lock ourselves into pretty much the same way of doing things – pretty much the same foreign policy – no matter who is in the White House or the Capitol Building.

We need to debunk the concept of the "War on Terrorism" in order to change the policies that flow from that misguided concept. We need to re-frame the issues of violence and security so we can help the public understand the real problems and work for real solutions. This is not a partisan matter. Politicians won’t lead the way toward peace. Only we can do that.

This is only one example. We need to organize from the grassroots up on and re-frame many other issues related to peace, social and economic justice, the environment, and so forth.

It’s not too late. Election campaign seasons are volatile. We can make that volatility work for us by lighting fires under certain issues now – and forcing politicians to deal with them now.

Let’s strategize boldly.

Let’s seize the initiative, proactively create news, and place hot issues squarely on the public agenda.

Let’s re-frame issues and change the terms of the debate.

Let’s create new demands and new expectations.

Let’s reach out to the public, not just to each other.

Let’s network with strategic allies and tactical allies.

Let’s win in more profound ways!

Shulamit Decktor, Seattle, June 23, 2004, a reply to Senator Kerry's letters...

Dear Senator Kerry,

You and your organizational supporters continue to send me letters and emails requesting that I support you in defeating President Bush in the 2004 election. Like most Americans I would like nothing better than to see the end of the policies of the Bush Administration . These policies have turned a surplus into a deficit, increased international and domestic dangers to Americans, and isolated our country diplomatically. At home, the Bush policies have been a disaster for the great majority of Americans, creating ever more joblessness and homelessness, loss of health care, security, privacy, and freedom. The 2004 presidential election is an opportunity to address these failures. I want a candidate who recognizes the crises that we face and proposes real solutions to change course. You are not that candidate. You do not act or speak as if there were any crisis to be resolved. What you have to say about issues of war and peace is either alarming or trivial.

Please understand that this election is not a popularity contest, as far as I am concerned. I do not care that you served in Vietnam and that George Bush did not. I don't care whether you had better grades at Yale than Bush. I am not impressed that you present yourself as a better champion of minorities and the poor. But I do care about your voting record and where you stand on the issues. Here is what this means:

1. On Iraq: you advocate sending more troops and bullying NATO and other allies to "share" in the illegal occupation of Iraq. That position is worse than the Bush position, not better. First, it not only disregards international law, which says we have no right to be in Iraq, but it also compounds the problem by pressuring other countries to participate in the illegality. I don't suppose you hold these views opportunistically, wanting to appear tough to "centrist" voters. I think you honestly believe that we have the right to force ourselves on the Iraqis. That makes you just as dangerous as George Bush.

2. On Civil Liberties: you have voted for the egregiously unpatriotic "Patriot Act." That is all that anyone who cares deeply for the United States' Bill of Rights needs to know, to recognize that you are not a civil libertarian.

3. On Civil Rights for Homosexuals, your difference from Bush's positions do not make your positions laudable. While your voting record on civil rights for homosexuals is better than his positions, your unashamed supposition that you or anyone else has the right to deny a basic civil right, such as marriage, to anyone else, a right from which you yourself fully benefit, is despicable.

4. On Fair Trade and jobs, you have supported all the major trade agreements that the Republicans have supported. Now you say that if elected president you would put all such agreements under a 120-day review and take unspecified "necessary steps" if they are found to be unfair to Americans. Again, I look at your voting record to make up my mind whether you can be trusted on this. I think you are not to be trusted.

5. Health Care: Forty-five million Americans have no health care insurance or inadequate coverage despite more money per capita being spent on health care in the US than anywhere else in the world. Our infant mortality statistics are worse than those of fifteen other countries. Still you remain opposed to universal health care.

6. You propose to cut the deficit in half within four years while continuing to increase defense spending. Your math does not add up, even if you were to propose increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The current defense budget is bigger in real terms than the average it was during the cold war despite persistent questions about waste and lack of sufficient over sight, questions that you yourself do not raise.

7. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, your rhetoric matches your record, and they are both wrong. You have supported Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which is nothing short of ethnic cleansing. The ongoing sickening destruction of Palestinian society, to establish and defend illegal Israeli settlements paid for by US tax payers, is thanks in part to your supine voting record in the Senate, along with that of other Democrats and Republicans.

8. On fighting terror you are as hypocritical and dishonest as Bush. You have chosen to alarm the public about the possible dangers of "nukes" in Iran and North Korea. Using fear to prepare the public for an illegal war is a wellworn Bush tactic, and will very likely lead to more anti-American terror.

Your record in the Senate and the positions you have taken leave much to be desired. As for your strategy, many people believe your chicken approach to campaigning to be a strategic decision that you have had to make. They tell informed Americans that you are actually opposed to the Iraq war, but for political reasons must hide this. The theory is that you are trying to capture the centrist voters. Whatever its lack of honesty, I might believe it to be your motivation if the polls were suggesting the opposite of what they do in fact indicate. But when so many people are opposing the Iraq war, as they now do, all that is needed is a leader who will be a leader and say what must be said in opposition to the war. It would have made you popular despite your dull rhetoric. Instead, you are continually losing the opportunity to attack George Bush on the war and on other vulnerable issues. Many people credit you for helping turn public opinion against the Vietnam War thirty years ago. But you yourself had supported and fought in the war, and only later changed your mind. How many more people must die in Iraq, be jobless and homeless and without hope in our own country, before you come to your senses on these current issues?

It is not clear what you and the Democrats ( with some notable exceptions) have to offer. On the one hand, you do not use the many opportunities available to you to discredit the Bush Administration. On the other hand, you complain when someone like Ralph Nader does speak to the issues. I understand that you might feel the progressive vote is owed to you. I am sure that Ralph Nader infuriates you, in providing informed voters with a real alternative. Let me put your mind at ease about that. If there were no independent or third party candidate running for the 2004 presidential race, I might decide not to vote. Because between a chicken hawk such as Bush and a chicken politician like yourself, there is very little choice.

I wish it were different. It is time that Americans had a decent choice.

Shulamit Decktor.

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Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, Fire Mountain Chapter, letter to the editor, June 11, 2004 on Reagan's record

Editor, The Chronicle

When any person dies they deserve respect. The family of former President Reagan deserves condolences for their personal loss and for the tragedy of watching him deteriorate with Alzheimer's Disease. This condition effects the memory of those afflicted. It should not effect the memory of the rest of us but when I see the canonization efforts in the media for Ronald Reagan I begin to wonder. The media would have us believe that he was the most popular President ever but his 52% average approval ratings place him sixth of the last ten Presidents.

When we consider his life we should also consider the lives of all those who were victims of his policies. Before Reagan, people sleeping in the streets were rare. After Reagan, the term homeless became common with over 2 million without homes. Reagan cut the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by three-quarters. That Department was the main supporter of subsidized housing for the poor. At the same time the Reagan administration changed the tax codes to reduce incentives to provide low income housing. During this time of tax breaks for the wealthy, the average family income for the poorest 20% of Americans dropped 6.1% while the income of the top fifth rose by 11.1%.

Reagan opposed the Civil Rights movement. His administration blocked busing programs and cut Head Start which was to bring equality to education. He supported tax breaks for segregated schools. His first campaign stop was at Philadelphia, Mississippi. That is the town where three civil rights workers had been murdered in collaboration with the Sheriff's department. He publicly supported States Rights which was code for racism. He supported the apartheid regime in South Africa which was responsible for the deaths of thousands of black people.

He supported the Argentine junta which was applying state terror and disappearing thousands of dissidents. An estimated 300,000 people died in Central America because of Reagan's support of governments with death squads and the invasion of Nicaragua by the terrorist contras.

The media gives him credit for defeating communism but it's pretty clear that the Soviet Union was collapsing from within at that time. An argument can be made that his Evil Empire belligerence lengthened the Cold War. The current Russian ambassador to Sweden, who was a Gorbachev confidante, says that the idea of Star Wars was exploited by Kremlin hardliners to complicate Gorbachev's attempts to end the Cold war.

AIDS was recognized in 1981 but because of his anti-gay bigotry Reagan couldn't even say the name in public until forced to by the action of activists in 1987. He supported fighters in Afghanistan who became known as Al-Queda and the Taliban. He supported Saddam Hussein. Under his watch America became a debtor nation for the first time. However, his worst legacy was to encourge a meaness and selfishness of spirit which still envelopes America today.

Let us give the man the respect he deserves but let's not lie to ourselves about who he was.

Larry Kerschner

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, May 31, 2004, letter to the editor on Drug Discount Program

Editor, The Chronicle

A recent article in the Chronicle stated that only 400 AARP members, out of 35 million, have signed up for the new Medicare drug discount program. Medicare covers more than 40 million seniors and disabled Americans who are projected to consume $1.8 trillion of prescription drugs over the next decade. The Bush administration had projected that 7.3 million Medicare recipients would sign up for the cards. There is no specific requirement in the law that Medicare recipients sign up for the program However, beneficiaries who delay enrollment or temporarily leave the program could face steep financial penalties. Those who do not enroll when first eligible will pay a late enrollment penalty for the rest of their lives. If a beneficiary does not have prescription drug coverage for longer than two months they are subject to a one per cent increase in their premium for each month that they are not covered when they do sign up for the! program. Thus if you are not covered by a prescription drug program for whatever reason for ten months after you become eligible for the Medicare program your premium will be increased by ten percent each month for the rest of your life.

Another little examined aspect of this program is the claim that it will save the seniors money on their prescriptions. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that several million of the nation's poorest elderly and disabled beneficiaries will be worse off because they will have to pay more for drugs than they currently pay under Medicaid and can be denied coverage for medications they currently receive. With the cards the seniors receive from the so-called discount drug companies there is no guarantee that a specific drug will be available. Thus you may sign up for a card because a particular drug is offered but if they decide to stop providing that madication you cannot change cards for a year.

Why was President Bush so adamant about this particular program plan? It might be the close financial, professional and political ties he has to AdvancePCS -- the company that helped write the bill Congress passed. The CEO of AdvancePCS is a close personal friend of the President. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, David Halbert, before starting AdvancePCS helped clean up an insider trading deal with Harken Energy that had prompted an SEC investigation of George W. Bush. Soon thereafter, Halbert invited Bush to become one of the initial investors in AdvancePCS - a transaction which netted the President a million dollars.

AdvancePCS and four other companies control eighty per cent of the pharmaceutical benefits management programs and ninety per cent of the mail-order pharmacy business. This new Medicare program is designed to steer millions of patients away from local pharmacies and into using these mail-order businesses. Senator Ted Kennedy recently stated that only in this administration would the words 'discount cards' mean that the seniors get the cards while the corporations get the discounts.

Larry Kerschner

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, letter to the editor, May 19, 2004, Iraq - they don't want us

Editor, The Chronicle

Instead of refuting the same old tired lies about the war in Iraq played again in a recent Chronicle editorial, let's look at Iraq today. As of today, (5-18-04) the number of dead coalition troops in Iraq has reached nine hundred. To those dead remember to add the over one hundred and twenty troops who have died in Afghanistan.

Because of the lack of planning, the Bush government now has to move ten percent of the troops in South Korea to shore up the troops in Iraq. These 3600 troops are moving from the region of North Korea where, without lies, it has been shown that international terrorists and nuclear weapons intersect.

Part or all of nine of the Army's ten active-duty divisions are currently deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. 167,000 members of the Reserve and the National Guard are on active duty at this time. Now the Rumsfeld Defense Department has asked Congress to have the Internal Revenue Service to use confidential tax returns to locate members of the Individual Ready Reserve for possible callup. These 280,000 people are those who have completed their active-duty tours but are still subject to involuntary recall for a certain number of years. The problem for the Pentagon is that more than a quarter of these veterans have neglected to keep Big Brother informed of their whereabouts.

The Marines have announced that they are considering doubling the length of time for tours of duty in Iraq because of the lack of replacement troops.

Now let's look at things from the Iraqi point of view. Out of a potential workforce of seven million Iraqis only 25,000 are working on projects in the U.S. Reconstruction efforts. That should really jumpstart their economy.

A recent Iraqi opinion poll conducted by Gallup in March has discredited many claims of the Bush administration. After there were no weapons of mass destruction and after there was no connection to Al Quaeda or 9-11, Bush and his minions argued that there is a silent majority of Iraqis who regard the U.S. troops as liberators, who want the U.S. troops to stay in Iraq for a prolonged time, who oppose insurgent attacks on coalition troops, and are enthusiatics about a Western-style democracy.

While ninety-seven percent of the Kurds in the north view U.S. forces as liberators only ten percent of the Sunnis and seven percent of the Shias view the troops in this way. At the beginning of the war, when support for the U.S. would be expected to be highest, only forty-three percent of Iraqis viewed us as liberators. The poll results showed that sixty-one percent of Shias and sixty-five percent of Sunnis want our troops to leave immediately. Is it racism to think that the Iraqis can't figure out how to govern themselves without our directions?

Support for armed attacks on coalition forces is also not confined to a small minority of extremists. Twenty-two percent of respondents stated that such attacks were sometimes justified and twenty-nine percent stated that such attacks were always justified when a country is occupied by foreign invaders. Remember that this poll was taken before the exposures from Abu Ghraib were released. Less than forty percent of Iraqis support a Western-style democracy according to this poll.

It is kind of ironic that the U.S. State Department just released it's annual human rights report with pictures of smiling Iraqi children on the cover. It is clearly time to stop building permanent military bases in Iraq and stop the occupation of another country that doesn't want us. Bring the troops home.

Larry Kerschner

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Prisoner Abuse in Iraq. Letter by Ruth Yarrow, WWFOR organizer, published in The Seattle Times, May 7, 2004

War of terror

While I found it painful to look at the photos of Iraqi prisoners being tortured by the U.S. military, I deeply appreciate that you printed them in your May 4 issue. We need to know what our government is doing; not knowing spells the demise of democracy.

This administration says we are fighting a war against terror. I think we are fighting a war of terror, with well over 10,000 Iraqi civilians dead, many more thousands suffering, including these prisoners. I include our young troops among those who are suffering and terrorized, whether from physical and psychological damage or erosion of their consciences and humanity.

Let us speak up to bring our troops home, and to have our tax dollars go to peacekeeping forces and to rebuilding Iraq.

Ruth Yarrow, Seattle

"President" Bush Wreaks Havoc. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted April 26, 2004

Editor, The Chronicle

After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, President Kennedy said that while victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan he was, in the final analysis, the responsible officer of the U.S. government. During his recent press conference, President Bush could not think of a single mistake for which he was responsible. How about bombing the Afghanistan people into oblivion and then abandoning them to the opium dealers and the warlords? How about his concerted push to geat rid of the U.N. weapons inspectors so that they couldn't say there were no WMDs before 20,000 people including over 800 Americans were killed in Iraq? How about his alienating over 90% of the people of the world by his arrogance and hubris? How about his cutting the budgets for veterans and education while giving billions to the already super-rich? How about his swaggering and smirking "bring it on"? Why after a year of occupation are the hospitals, waste and water treatment plants and electricity plants in Iraq not any better than they were while Saddam was in charge? The Iraqi children are still dying.

Several years ago, in a letter to the Chronicle, I predicted that this George Bush will go down in history as the worst President America has ever had. I have seen nothing in the interim to change my mind. This man lives in a fantasy world. The recent fuss at the 9-11 Commission about a President's Daily Briefing that was presented about six weeks before the terrorist attack raised questions about the preparedness of the President.

The PDB is a collation of information which has usually been reduced to 1-2 pages. Instead of reading these brief documents the President has the Director of the CIA read them and then tell him what they contained. This President may not be stupid but he is intellectually lazy. He allows those around him to do his thinking for him. His reluctance to release the PDBs from the Clinton administration is probably because Clinton read them and made notes on all of them of questions he had and actions he wanted done. In other words, doing the job of the President.

America and the world must not be afflicted by four more years with this man as President.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

 

Massacre in Fallujah. Letter to the Editor by Ruth Yarrow, WWFOR Organizer, published April 16, 2004, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

IRAQ

There can be no democracy without truth Looking at what is happening in Fallujah, you might conclude that the U.S. policy is to increase terrorism. The NGO's Coordinating Committee in Iraq has witnessed real horrors including our coalition forces occupying Fallujah's hospitals and expelling the patients. The Bush administration does not seem to grasp that Iraqi terrorists are not born but feel driven to take extreme action when they see their loved ones traumatized, imprisoned and killed. The same could be said of our own soldiers who, under horrific conditions, fearing for their lives, become terrorists to Iraqi civilians.

Kudos to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for including the following paragraph in the Tuesday article: "A hospital official said more than 600 Iraqis were killed in Fallujah alone -- mostly women, children and the elderly."

A democracy can survive only when its citizens know the truth. And the truth is that our violence in Fallujah will generate much more violence. We need to demand a speedy U.S. withdrawal, international oversight to return control of Iraq to the Iraqis and a sane foreign policy that increases negotiation and peace, not militarism and terror.

Ruth Yarrow, Seattle

Massacre in Fallujah. Letter to the Editor by Susan Donaldson, Tacoma FOR, submitted April 15, 2004

Dear Mr. Seago: (The News Tribune)

re: Lee Keath’s "Iraqi women, children flee beseeged city" (Sat., 10 April, A1,9)

I am horrified by U.S. actions in Fallujah and at their implications for the future. In response to the desecration of the corpses of the four U.S. mercenaries killed there, I read that while "women, children, and the elderly were allowed to leave the city," military-aged men "were ordered by Marines to stay"—and were then shelled by a U.S. AC-130 gunship, resulting in so many hundreds of deaths that the bodies had to be buried in a soccer stadium. This is barbarity of such magnitude as to guarantee our country enemies for many generations to come. Such actions—in fact, violent actions of any sort—do not make us secure (the supposed task of the military), but endanger us, as we are shown to have little respect for life and to be primitive in our values. True security comes from having our needs met, but the money to support such needs as health care, education, and transportation lessens as we continue to fund killing other people.

Yours truly,

Susan Kay Donaldson, Tacoma

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Human Rights in Iraq. Letter to the Seattle Times, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted April 10, 2004

Editor, The Times:

How disappointing that the Times would publish a piece advocating U.S. violation of international treaties ("We must teach the insurgents to respect U.S. power" page B7, April 9). The author advocates collective punishments - punishing the innocent for acts of others - and a callous disregard for collateral damages - killing innocent people in Iraq. Mr. Na calls these positions "harsh" but necessary for the "noble" aims of the U.S., and he never questions to right of the U.S. to control Iraq. On the contrary, there is nothing noble about killing innocent people and denying a nation self-rule. Mr. Na makes the sweeping and racist assertion that the people of the "region" respect only power and need to be controlled by fear. An editorial the same day (A war not sold, cannot be abandoned, page B6) states, "The U.S. has no choice but to complete what it has begun." This is madness! What are the editors thinking? If you are driving the wrong way down a one-way street, you need to back up! We do have choices. The war was wrong from the start, and the sooner the U.S. withdraws troops, the better for both the Iraqi and U.S. people.

Jean Buskin

Jesus Never Taught Killing. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted April 6, 2004

Editor, The Chronicle

As of today 727 allied troops (including 624 Americans) have died in Iraq. 3466 troops have been wounded. Over 11,000 troops have been medically evacuated from Iraq. Over 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. Over 8,000 Iraqi troops died in this second Gulf War. According to the U.N., over 500,000 children under the age of five died in Iraq as a result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq between the two Gulf Wars. Over 4000 civilians died in Afghanistan as a result of U.S. bombing. Our country has been involved in a lot of death recently. A lot of death including the 3000 who died in the brutal attack on the Trade Center.

It is said that one in ten Americans have seen the Mel Gibson's depiction of the Passion of Christ. This film focuses on the brutal death of Christ. This Easter week marks the Death of Christ also but more importantly marks the Resurrection of Christ. In the Resurrection of Christ is the defeat of all death. Jesus teaches his followers to love one another as He loved us and to love our enemies. He didn't say that we should defeat our enemies in retribution and then love them.

George Bush claims Jesus Christ as his favorite philosopher. First, I would say, thatChrist was not a philosopher. The rationality of philosophy will not lead you to a love of your enemies. Second, I would suggest that the President should go back to the Bible and actually look at what Jesus taught. An enemy of any nation is not the enemy of God. All members, all members of all nations are children of God. If we look at what Jesus actually taught it will be self-evident that the love which is incarnated in Him and which Christians are called to participate and imitate is a non-violent love towards all - even those we call our enemies.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

Bush Chooses Violence Over Democracy in Haiti. Letter to the Editor, The Olympian, by Glen Anderson Olympia FOR, submitted February 29, 2004

Editor:

Once again Bush has chosen violence instead of democracy.The world has long recognized Aristide as the legitimate president of Haiti. He was elected fair-and-square (which is more than can be said of Bush). But Bush is complicit in the current coup against Haiti's democracy, just offshore from the U.S.

Venezuela's voters chose President Hugo Chavez by a landslide 1998 election that was internationally recognized as fair. The Bush regime was fully complicit in the violent 2002 coup that briefly overthrew Venezuela's democracy. That coup was short-lived because other nations and the Venezuelan people refused to let Bush and Venezuela's business elite get away with their coup.

This time, with Haiti, U.S. fingerprints are less obvious, but some sources have documented activities by former CIA operatives, and Bush allowed the coup to proceed.

If Bush really believed in democracy, he would have issued clear public statements supporting Aristide. Instead, Bush let armed thugs stage a coup. Then he told Aristide to resign. Now after overthrowing Aristide, Bush is invading with Marines to provide "stability" to lock the coup into place.

Once again Bush has showed his contempt for democracy and chosen violence and turmoil instead.

While paying lip service to democracy in Iraq, behind the scenes he overthrows democracies that elect leaders he doesn't like.

Bush's arrogance and belligerence have repeatedly angered the rest of the world. He has turned world public opinion - even our usual allies - against us. Bush is jeopardizing our national security.

Vote that loose cannon out!

Sincerely,

Glen Anderson, Lacey

Where's the Compassion in Bush Economic Priorities? Letter to the Editor, the Chronicle, by Larry Kerschner of Fire Mountain FOR, submitted February 3, 2004

Editor The Chronicle,

The 2005 Bush administration budget includes a record staggering deficit of $521 billion. President Bush explains the deficit in terms of the Iraq war, the attack on 9-11 and the recession and wasteful government spending but he doesn't mention the biggest cause of the projected deficit. The Congressional Budget Office shows that at 36% of the deficit the biggest cause is from his tax cuts for his rich corporate sponsors.

Bush blames goverment spending for the deficit but while starving veterans health care, low-income housing, and health care programs of funding, he is pushing more than one trillion dollars in new tax cuts, primarily for the wealthy. The tax cuts will cost $4.6 trillion including increased interest costs if extended over the next ten years.

The usual Republican cant is that government spending for social programs is the cause of fiscal problems but non-security related discretionary spending has only risen from 3.3% of the Gross National Product in 2001 to 3.4% in 2004. However to maintain the out of control spending for the arms merchants and other dogs of war Bush is making severe cuts in programs that effect real peoples lives. Defense contractors including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics all stand to benefit handsomely from the $401 billion military budget.

He claims to be an education President but Bush is underfunding the No Child Left Behind education program by $9.4 billion which is 27% less than authorized by Congress. Bush claims a committment to the U.S. military but he is cutting veterans funding by $13.5 billion over the next five years. He recently announced opposition to a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve troops access to the Pentagon's health insurance system while 20% of Guard members have no health insurance. He proposes cutting $1.5 billion from funding for military housing.

Bush proposes to take away childcare benefits for 350,000 low-and moderate income families by 2009. He eliminates funding for 38 existing education programs including after-school care. This law-and-order President is slashing funding for the Community Oriented Policing program by 94%. He is cutting federal assistance to state and local law enforcement by $1 billion. Bush is proposing to cut funding for programs to reduce violent crime, drug activity, and gang activity in high crime neighborhoods by 30%.

He is cutting the Federal Aviation Administration budget at a time of increased air traffic and heightened concern about terrorism. He is proposing $41 billion for Health Savings Accounts that primarily benefit the healthy and wealthy while cutting funds for the 40 million children and poor adults who rely on the Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. Bush also fails to add an estimated $40-50 billion that the military will need to continue occupying two other countries next year. He plans to come back after the election to ask Congress for that money.

Four different recent studies all came to the same conclusion that if Bush's economic policies prevail over the 10 year period of 2004-2013 slightly more than $5 trillion dollars will be added to the national debt that we and our children and grandchildren will have to pay. So much for the compassionate fiscal conservative.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

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Who Are the Killers? A letter to the Seattle Times, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted Jan. 20, 2004

Thanks to the Times for web-posting the transcript of Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech delivered Jan. 20, 2004. I'm glad I could read it because I finally have a point of agreement with Mr. Bush.

Oh sure, Mr. Bush and I have some disagreements. For example, how can the man who frittered away his first 40 years drunk and high on cocaine call for drug testing of school children? How can this man born to privilege oppose amnesty for the "illegal" immigrants who pick the food he eats. How can Mr. Bush oppose a health care system when some 40 million of our compatriots don't have insurance? And what is this "no one can now doubt the word of America" statement when the Bush administration has been telling outright lies about weapons of mass destruction?

But then Mr. Bush said, "Of the top 55 officials of the former regime [of Iraq], we have captured or killed 45." Although Mr. Bush forgot to mention the 8000 or more Iraqi civilians we have also killed, he finally came to a correct conclusion: "The killers will fail." Yes indeed, if there is any justice in this world, Mr. Bush will fail to be elected.

In fact, if there is any justice, Mr. Bush will be indicted and tried. I would like to see him get a fair and open trial - more than he affords to the detainees in Guantanamo.

Yes, Mr. Bush, the killers will fail.

Jean Buskin, Seattle

Compassion and The Spirit of Martin Luther King. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted Jan 13, 2004

Editor The Chronicle,

Dr. Gabel and others question the patriotism of those of us who have progressive points of view. America would be a pretty sorry place if we were all locked goose stepping to the selfish self-centered tunes that come out of the government these days. We need more heroes these days to help give us a vision of what America could and should be.

Dr. Martin Luther King was an ordinary man who had the extraordinary belief that we are in fact our brother's keepers. He called America to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humaneness. His words are maybe even more important today than when he first spoke them. In 1968 shortly before his murder he recognized that the movement for social change had entered a time of temptation to despair as it became clear how deep and systematic the evils that confronted them.

We might recognize this same mood today. Instead of despair he called for programs to bring the social change movement from the early and inadequate protest phase to a stage of massive, active, non-violent resistance to the evils of the modern system. He called for our economy to become more people centered rather than property and profit centered. If he were alive today he would be saying the same things about the current state of American society.

Since he is not alive today those of us who can see the evil being perpetrated must speak up. Dr. King said that our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

Death Penalty Unnecessary. Letter to the Editor, The Olympian, by Glen Anderson Olympia FOR, submitted January 1, 2004

Editor:

Death Penalty is Unnecessary

A letter in the January 1 Olympian claimed that the death penalty helps public safety. That letter's sweeping generalizations simply are not true.

Executions are not necessary in order to punish murder. Very few homicides meet the tight criteria to qualify for the death penalty. Nationwide, executions are carried out for less than 1% of the murders committed.

The letter writer is simply wrong to say that ^Óevery murderer in custody has a good chance to be released back into the public,^Ô and that the death penalty is needed to prevent convicted murderers from being released to ease prison overcrowding. Washington and many other states require that, if death is not imposed, the automatic mandatory sentence is life without any possibility of parole. This means exactly what it says. Cases with less severe sentences would not have qualified for the death penalty anyway. A life sentence in prison is an extremely severe punishment.

Death penalty opponents want to protect society from dangerous people, but killing them is simplistic and unnecessary. The Walla Walla penitentiary has extremely tight security for dangerous inmates. It is a leap of illogic to assume that we must kill them.

When we react to fear by retaliating with more violence, we only make problems worse. The death penalty is a statistically tiny quirk in our laws, but it poisons our entire society with bloodlust.

We can protect public safety without killing other people. Killing is wrong, whether committed by individuals or by the government.

Sincerely,

Glen Anderson, Lacey

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Vice President Cheney Calls for Mindless Killing. Letter to the editor by Susan Donaldson of Tacoma FOR submitted Dec 24, 2003, to The News Tribune

Dear Mr. Seago:

How chilling I found Vice President Cheney's words at McChord Air Force Base, as reported in the News Tribune yesterday: "Defense isn't enough. We need to go on offense, and that's where you come in "(to) take out the bad guys before they can launch new attacks." Those words reveal a mindset that sees perpetual warfare as a natural state of affairs, evince a lack of understanding (or even knowledge) of history, and demonstrate a profound disrespect for the world's peoples. The "bad guys" in the world, after all, don't just spring up from a vacuum, but are formed by conditions around them-conditions that U.S. foreign and trade policies often exacerbate. Moreover, the proper place for dealing with such "bad guys" is clearly the International Criminal Court, which was formed for just such a purpose. Vigilante "justice" of the sort propounded by Vice President Cheney is the stuff of popular movies, not of responsible diplomacy.

Yours truly,

Susan Kay Donaldson, Tacoma

Mike Yarrow letter to editor Dec 16, 2003, re: Saddam Hussein's apprehension

Letter to the Editor, Seattle Times, 12/16/2003

Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War was organized last fall as part of the growing opposition to a war with Iraq. We feared a war would lead to needless deaths on all sides, increased chaos in Iraq, instability in the region and heightened hostility toward the US. All this has come to pass.

We welcome the apprehension of Saddam Hussein. We rejoice with the millions of Iraqis who suffered under his brutal rule and imagine that they will breathe a sigh of relief.

While the US military occupiers of Iraq have hunted down Hussein and other top ranking members of his regime, they have not been able to restore stability and democracy. We believe the restoration of sovereignty to the Iraqi people will require the expertise and resources of the international community and the full participation of the Iraqi people. Instead, the Bush administration under 'Operation Iron Hammer' is escalating indiscriminant violence against Iraqi civilians. This includes fencing in entire villages with barbed wire and demolishing homes of those suspected of aiding or harboring guerillas.

The trial of Hussein can be a demonstration of the openness and fairness of international law. It must not be a show trial. Already the Wall Street Journal reports some administration officials are concerned about allowing access to Hussein. Are they afraid that he may divulge the many ways in which his regime was supported by the US and other western powers? To gain international confidence the trial should be held at the International Court in The Hague.

The arrest of Saddam Hussein provides a golden opportunity to promote early elections for a representative Iraqi government. The current US plan is to have a new Iraqi provisional government chosen indirectly by 18 regional caucuses. Even a provisional government, especially in this war torn country, cannot survive without the expressed consent of the governed. We fear that caucuses managed by an occupying power will not satisfy Iraqis or the international community whose assistance is needed in the difficult transition to self-rule.

We hope that people in the Puget Sound region will communicate to our elected representatives the need for a trial of Saddam Hussein at The Hague and rapid elections of a representative government.

Mike Yarrow, coordinating committee of Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War

Bush has hurt working people. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted December 10, 2003

Editor The Chronicle,

I see that the Chronicle has gotten in lockstep with the Bush claim that the economy has gotten better due to the tax cuts he forced through Congress. After all, the third quarter GDP grew by 8.2%, manufacturing orders are increasing, the stock market is up along with profits and the value of stock options.

Ask yourself though, do you see an improvement in your personal economy? Most people in this country get their income from the labor market, not the stock market. The Dow Jones is up 15% for the year but unemployment is essentially unchanged. More than 3 million private-sector jobs have been lost since Bush took the office. The recent blip in employment was a result of the tax cut and more importantly the huge amount of mortgage refinancing which pumped more than $200 billion into the economy over the previous year. either one of these stimuli will be repeated.

The White House projected that the tax cuts would produce 306,000 new jobs each month. The recent "strong economic growth" has in fact produced 125,000 new jobs for the past 2 months after nine months of job losses.With the continuing 3.4% gain in population there are 150,000 new workers seeking jobs each month.

The first two years following the recession that cost Bush's father his job produced a net gain of 1.4 million jobs. The two previous modern economic recoveries (1982 and 1975) produced 7.2 million and 4.7 million jobs respectively, in their first two years. The first two years of Bush policies has a net loss of 768,000 jobs.

This president claims to be a fiscal conservative but overall spending is up 16% since he took office. The government now spends $20,000 a year for each household in our country. Despite all this spending nine million people are out of work, wages and salaries are down and healthcare costs are increasing at double digit rates.

More than 12 million American children live in poverty. The United States has the highest child-poverty rate of all industrialized countries. Last year 34.6 million people in this country were trying to live below the poverty level. Hunger is increasing. It is estimated that about 33 million people in this country don't know where their next meal is coming from. Pe Ell has a population of around 700 and each month over 70 households come to the food bank for assistance.

Instead of being photographed serving a plastic turkey in Iraq the President should look intently at the real state of this union. His policies promote short term growth and long term damage the results of which fall most harshly on the working middle and low income people like those living in Lewis County. The only recovery going on in this country is in the bank accounts of the President's corporate contibutors. Remember thiswhen you begin hearing the expensive propaganda which will lead up to the next elections.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

Bush Is a Dismal Failure. Letter to the Editor, by Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain Chapter FOR, submitted July 8, 2003

Editor, The Chronicle

As of the writing of this letter 75 troops including 6 Brits have died in Iraq since President Bush declared victory. Morale of the U.S. soldiers in Iraq is reported to be at rock bottom. They are surely aware that our Commander-in-Chief's macho comment to the Iraqi dissidents to "bring it on" only makes them more of a target while he sits safe in the White House.

The rest of us are seeing the credibility that the White House once enjoyed erode. According to a recent poll by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes a majority of the public now believe that the administration claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and alleged Al Queda links were not true. Only 32% of the public believe that the administration was "being fully truthful" about weapons of mass destruction.

Three out of four respondents consider the negative image the U.S. has gained internationally under the Bush presidency an issue that needs attention. The public sees the real problem of international terrorism as needing a multilateral approach instead of the unilateral cowboy approach of Bush. Bush's overall job rating has decreased 10% in the past six weeks. People are beginning to see through the lies that come from the White House.

Before pushing his tax cut through the Congress, President Bush claimed that a report by leading economists concluded that the economy would grow by 3.3% in 2003 if his proposals were adopted. There was no such report. When he tried to explain why he turned a $100 billion surplus into a $400 billion deficit he claimed that during the campaign he said he would allow the budget to go deficit in times of war, recession or a national emergency but never imagined that he would hit the "trifecta" of all three.The problem is that it was Al Gore not George Bush who made this statement during the campaign.

The President said to a father of twins, "I've been to war. I've raised twins. If I had a choice, I'd rather go to war." The truth is that he was in the Air National Guard and never left the country in pursuit of his duties. These statements from a man who pledged to "restore integrity to the White House."

Meanwhile Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and all their confidantes all remain conspicuously at large. Post-war Iraq is in chaos with no legitimate government in sight. We have refused to let them have elections. The Bush regime change in Afghanistan controls Kabul all the way to the city limits while a resurging Taliban is moving back into the war-lord governed countryside. Although to give the free market it's due the opium crop in Afghanistan is the largest in many years.

Wake up America. We have a coward and a liar in the White House and it's time to be looking at alternatives. Support the troops. Elect a different President.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

Detainees Have Rights Denied. Letter to Senator Maria Cantwell by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, sent June 10, 2003

Dear Senator Cantwell (also send to Senator Patty Murray)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Why are the detainees at Guantanamo not subject to human rights due to all human beings? What are you doing to ensure that they are treated humanely, given access to lawyers and human rights groups, released unless charged with a crime, given access to the evidence against them?

Jean Buskin, Seattle WA

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Extrajudicial Killings by U.S. and Friends. A letter to the Seattle Times, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted Jan. 31, 2003

To the Editor

George W. Bush in his State of the Union address professes many fine principles, "we are building ... a culture that values every life." and "The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad." Neither Mr. Bush's actions nor his subsequent words back these fine sentiments.

Just a short time later, Mr. Bush states, "more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested." He goes on to joke, "many others have met a different fate. Let’s put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."

Human rights groups call this different fate "extrajudicial executions"; they are murders committed by, or commissioned by, the U.S. The victims may be "suspects" but their rights to a fair trial, to be confronted with evidence against them, to legal representation, have been ripped away.

U.S. intelligence can be wrong. For example, the four people killed near Kandahar on April 17 would surely have been tallied in the "many other" suspected terrorists who met a "different fate" - except they happened to be Canadian military personnel. How many other innocent people have been murdered? This is nothing to joke about.

George W. Bush does not value human life - he jokes about killing human beings. Mr. Bush's words make me sick at heart and sick to my stomach, and I am more resolved than ever to oppose a war on Iraq that would kill more innocents.

Jean Buskin, Seattle

Bush's Empty Promises. A letter to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, by Jean Buskin, Seattle FOR, submitted Jan. 31, 2003

To the Editor

Mr. Bush, in his State of the Union address, promises to support some wonderful programs: AIDS prevention and treatment in Africa, affordable health care for all Americans, cleaner technology, programs to help drug addicts. I wish I could believe him.

In the same speech, he announces his real priorities: war-making and tax cuts for the wealthy. He proposes to abolish taxes on dividends. Those of us who have to work for a living will continue to pay taxes. Those who live on investments (quite possibly from untaxed inheritances) get a free ride. They get all the benefits, and pay nothing.

Mr. Bush would accuse me of "class warfare" for mentioning these inequities, but it is Mr. Bush who is leading the charge in the war against poor and working people.

If Mr. Bush gets his way, our tax dollars will be spent on immoral and unnecessary wars. There will be nothing left for those lofty purposes Mr. Bush talked about at such great length. Our only hope is to oppose a war on Iraq with all our energy, to oppose tax cuts for the wealthy, and to hold Congress and Mr. Bush to the promises made.

Jean Buskin, Seattle

SUSAN KAY DONALDSON of Tacoma on a PEACE HOLIDAY SEPTEMBER 11 published in The News Tribune on August 12, 2002

What a wonderful idea young Jacob Glickman had, to establish a peace holiday on 11 September, and what a fine program following up on that idea Associated Ministries is now sponsoring, to have us consciously do acts of kindness in honor of one of the victims that day (Kathleen Merryman, 3 Aug., B1)! It seems to me that the best way we can honor those victims is to work to prevent the war President Bush is proposing to wage in Iraq. Surely it dishonors the roughly 3000 people killed in the attacks for us to kill many more thousands in Iraq, simply because we don't like the leader they have. Petitions against the war, along with other suggestions for preventing our government from committing such a crime against humanity, can be obtained from the Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation [225 N. 70th St., Seattle, 98103-5099; (206) 789-5565; http://www.scn.org/wwfor ], which joins other groups in saying that such aggression on our part is unjust and not in keeping with the values we Americans hold dear.

DAN L SMITH, of Longview, Co-chair Cowlitz County Fellowship of Reconciliation, August 17, 2002 Letter to the Editor on PEACE NOT WAR

I am very disappointed in our response to 9/11. At the dawn of the twenty-first century we were emerging as the only world's superpower. Nations of the world were watching us and hoping that we would use our unique position to lead the world in peaceful, legal solutions of conflicts . Most nations were behind us and eager to capture and bring the villains, who instigated the attack on The World Trade Center, to justice. We had the opportunity to share our ideals of justice with many other nations.

Instead, we reverted back to the barbaric ritual of waging war to keep our power. We passed the Patriot Act which dangerously limits the rights of all of us. Our government refused to sign on, or participate, in the World Court treaty, a treaty endorsed by over 100 Nations. We renounced our participation in the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, an act that tells the world that we continue to put our faith in continual war rather then world law to keep the peace.

For those of you who are equally disappointed in the way we, as a country, are handling 9/11, please join us each Friday for our 4:00 vigil, at the West end of the Allen Street Bridge.

JIM TRUE of Seattle letter August 16, 2002, to NPR's Morning Addition and All Things Considered on 9/11 DETAINEES

I'm sure there was a smooth talking, reasonable sounding attorney like Mr. Paul Kamenar of the Washington Legal Foundation around in 1955 to explain, regretfully, why the all black Charleston SC team couldn't play in the Little League World Series.

I wonder how his sensible sounding argument yesterday that the Justice Department can be trusted to act responsibly in the matter of the 9/11 detainees without public scrutiny will look in the year 2049?

Perhaps we can get a clue from Daniel Shore's report last week of newly declassified government documents showing that CIA agents tortured foreign nationals to death back sometime around 1955?

Isn't NPR grand? The scope of your reporting in time and subject matter is simply breathtaking! Keep on digging; our liberty depends on it more now than ever.

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JODY CHASTAIN of Longview Aug. 6, 2002, letter to The Daily News on WHOM IS THE WAR AGAINST?

War is necessary to protect freedom. I have a problem with that statement. How can traveling to Afghanistan and dropping lots of bombs protect our freedom? How can bombing Kosovo back to the stone age protect our freedom? I don¹t feel more liberated as a result.

We are told that we have to protect and promote democracy around the globe by stationing our troops wherever democracy is threatened. I say bring them all home then because our democracy is in serious peril.

We have an unelected resident in the white house who is wasting our tax dollars by broadening the powers of the FBI, CIA, blah blah blah and also by starting up a whole new 40 billion dollar waste called the departmemt of homeland security. It just means that more innocent people will be detained, spyed upon, harrased, etc.

The problem with the FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, and too many more agencies to list is not just that there are too many agencies. It¹s that they collect far too much information to be able to effectively sort out the proper infornation in a timely enough manner to be effective.

Attorney General John Ashcroft is shredding the Constitution by detaining an american citizen because they think he might have been planning to build and deploy a low-level nuclear ³dirty bomb².

He is being held by the pentagon without charges. Charges? We don¹t need no stinkin charges. Any person our leaders choose to label an ³enemy combatant² can now be detained indefinitely without being charged.

The fact of the matter is that the good old US of A is the only country who widely uses ³dirty bombs² on a regular basis and has done so since the gulf war. Depleted Uranium tipped shells were widely used in Iraq, Kosovo, and now Afghanistan and most likely other places we aren¹t being told about. DU ³penetrators² as they are reffered to ignite upon impact and release 70 percent of the DU in an aerosol form that can be inhaled and trapped in the lungs and kidneys. The Pentagon says it¹s harmless. Scientific evidence indicates otherwise. My point in this tirade is that the ³war on terror² is very much like the ³war on drugs².

It is actually a war on the common folks like you and me. It¹s not about democracy. It¹s never been about democracy. It¹s about keeping the world safe for manufacturers of land mines, cluster bombs, daisy cutters, Depleted Uranium shells, etc. These merchants of death are making a killing at the expense of thousands of innocents here and abroad.

Please join myself and other like-minded individuals each friday at 4;00pm at the west end of the Allen Street Bridge to protest this outrage and help put an end to the business of war.

Trappings: An Essay on the Occasion of the Presidential Inauguration by Margaret Tuthill, Seattle, read aloud February, 2001

I love the word "trappings." And always have -the trappings of power, the trappings of wealth... "Trappings" means "accoutrements" more or less, of course, and it comes from the word for the outfit that a horse wears when it's all dressed up to go to a crusade or the like...

Etymologically "trappings" is not related to"trap," a word that comes from a Greek root and means something you step or fall into. But I like the by-play between the words "trap" and "trappings." "Trappings" are certainly something you can fall into.

I watched the inauguration - I have a strong stomach. There were sure a lot of trappings associated with that. All those dances and parties that cost all those millions of dollars... And did you see that grand bulwark that President Bush stood behind and sort of on top of when he gave his inaugural address? I shouldn't say this, I know, but it reminded me of those huge stage sets and back-drops that certain National Socialists employed at rallies.

I haven't read what Thomas Jefferson's inauguration itself was like but there is a story about how, after he gave his speech, he walked back to the boarding house where he was staying and found that all the places at the dinner table were taken. Nobody got up and offered him a place, and nobody was asked to. And the President just quietly and politely went up to his room without getting his dinner.

There must be a lot of stories about Abraham Lincoln and simplicity, though I don't know anything about his inauguration. People used to be surprised about how he would sometimes answer the door at the White House himself. And there is a story about how the British Ambassador was shocked to find President Lincoln shining his own shoes in the White House.

"In Britain we don't shine our own shoes," the ambassador said.

"Well whose shoes do you shine?" the President responded.

There are some pretty good statements about trappings in the Book of Matthew.

"And if any man will sue thee at law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also."

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven."

America used to set great store by such ideas. I wish we still did.

The stories about Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln are in Washington Money-Go-Round by Jack Anderson.

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LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell, letter to the "Chronicle," July 16, 2002, on the abridgement of civil rights by the new TERRORISM INFORMATION AND PREVENTION SYSTEM

Loyal Americans, wake up! Where are the liberals who claim to be interested in the welfare of little guy? Where are the conservatives who claim to be interested in protecting individual rights and personal liberties? I heard neither of these voices when J. Edgar Ashcroft and his cronies passed the so-called U.S. Patriot Act through Congress. Next month the Bush administration in the guise of the war on terror is taking another step down the road that George Orwell predicted in his book 1984. The government is seeking to develop a program of American volunteers who are willing to spy on their neighbors under the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. By next month the administration wants to have one million recruits in ten American cities under a pilot program of organized government informants. Assuming the ten largest cities are chosen this would mean that the neighborhood spy program will include about 4% of the population. This is approximately the same percent of the population of East Germany who were "domestic informants" for the Stasi, the now-disbanded East German secret police. This program is aimed at people like letter carriers or utility workers who would have a normal reason to enter your home. Will the government use these volunteers to enter homes to monitor residents and make searches without a warrant thus by-passing the Constitution? Under this program informant reports will be entered into Justice department databases and thus be available to many police agencies without the targeted individual being aware of either the report or its content. If you think this sounds unlikely remember that under the Patriot Act a person's home can be searched and surveillance devices planted without that person ever being informed. The TIPS program will be co-ordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency which was given among other sweeping powers the power of internment. Just think what a wonderfully safe America we will have with every twentieth person acting as the eyes of those in power.

JIM TRUE of Seattle, letter July 13, 2002, to NPR's All Things Considered radio show, on John Wallach and the Seeds of Peace for ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

Until your report last Friday, I had not heard of John Wallach or his wonderful legacy, the Seeds of Peace camp for Israeli and Palestinian children, even though it embodies one of my most deeply held values. You stated that value so well. You said: ^ÓWhen they think of the people their parents call enemies, the enemies will have names.^Ô It was this very value that prompted an English Quaker and a German Lutheran to pledge never to become enemies even as the drums of war began to beat in 1914. That simple pledge led to the founding of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, known as the F.O.R., which now has many thousands of members in more than 40 countries around the world. Since 1915, the F.O.R. has been very busy opposing war and changing the world. In 1917, for example, the F.O.R. helped create the ACLU. In WWII the F.O.R. did many things not the least of which was hiding the Jews and others from the Nazis. In 2002 the F.O.R. is helping to rebuild Palestinian houses smashed by Israeli bulldozers. Hurrah for John Wallach, like the thousands of members of F.O.R., he was obviously a man who knew well that personal friendship in the face of national hostility can and does literally change the world.

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LARRY KERSCHNER, of Pe Ell, WA< letter published in the Colorado Springs Independent in their June 27-July 3 issue, on EFFECTS OF IRAQ SANCTIONS

Jane McBee's June 20th story about her trip to Iraq shows the true story. Iraq is not Saddam Hussein. Iraq is 23 million people, thousands of whom have died each month for the past 11 years of the sanctions. One need not be an apologist for Saddam Hussein to point out the responsibility the United States bears in this situation.

We purposely destroyed the water an waste treatment plants as part of our plan to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq. Defense department documents clearly show we intended to cause the epidemics of disease that have occurred.

Until the sanctions are removed and the deadly water is cleaned the deaths will continue. Sometimes it is not so clear where the axis of evil is.

MARTIN FLECK, of Seattle, Northwest Disarmament Coalition Convenor (WWFOR is a member of NWDC) submitted to Seattle Post-Intelligencer June 12, 2002, on SHAMEFUL WITHDRAWAL OF U.S. FROM THE ABM TREATY

Effective June 13, the United States officially withdraws from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. This venerable agreement--to prevent precious resources from being wasted on a dangerous new arms race--was good for our security in 1972 and it still is. But the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush team is eager to clear the treaty from their path, so they may rush to deploy "missile defenses" and eventually dominate space.

"Defense" is appealing to our terror-weary population. But "National Missile Defense" is a dangerous and expensive hoax being perpetrated on the American taxpayers. Even after 100 billion or more of our tax dollars are pumped directly into this corporate welfare program, and even if it works, NMD will still do nothing to protect our nation from all sorts of threats that are much more plausible than a ballistic missile attack. NMD would not have stopped the September 11 hijackers and it will not defend us from weapons of mass destruction assembled here or smuggled in via airplane, container ship, motor vehicle, or even cruise missile. There are much, much better uses for our security funding.

To the astonishment of our closest allies, the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush team is trashing many vital international treaties besides this one. These "statesmen" define their new world order by declaring an open-ended war against whomever they choose, embracing thousands of nuclear weapons a decade after the end of the Cold War, fattening the military budget, specifically naming nations they are prepared to attack with nuclear bombs, and now recklessly fielding "star wars" weapons on land, at sea, in the air, and in space. And we wonder why the world seems like such a dangerous place?

Members of Congress: please use the checks and balances of our government to restore sanity to our international affairs.

LARRY KERSCHNER, of Pe Ell, May 6, 2002, letter to the Chronicle, on the Sanctity of All Life including PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

A recent column in the Chronicle by Adele Ferguson saddened but did not surprise me. She called for the murder of Palestinian children in order to force their parents to do the political will of Israel and The United States. I am not surprised at the sentiment because it has been the policy of the United States for some time. This is exactly what the then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was saying to the world when she said that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children was "a price we are willing to pay" in order to force the change of the government of Iraq. The 4,000 innocent people, mostly children, who died as a result of our bombing Afghanistan in order to change their government also fall into this category. It might be good to reiterate the definition in U.S. law of terrorism in U.S. Code Title 18-2331. Terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion. This all makes me think of a recent gathering of educators and social workers who met to look at the problems we have in our affluent society. Why do we have children killing children? Why is domestic violence of all kinds rampant? They concluded that the thing most lacking in our society is compassion. Compassion is the ability to have affection and sympathy for another just because they are a human being just like ourselves. It is very difficult to effect the policy and direction of those in power in Washington. It is much more doable to change the policy and direction of our own heart. I would challenge all who read this letter to look into your own heart and seek to decrease hatred, anger and greed and to increase love and compassion for others. This is not an easy practice and cannot be done once for all. It must be a daily practice. If we can increase the total amount of compassion in Lewis County by changing ourselves we can change the direction of the state, the country and the world. This sounds naïve but it is the core message of all the major religions of the world. Peace be unto you.

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BERNARD EDWARD MEYER of Chehalis letter to The Chronicle April 18, 2002 on STEREOTYPING MUSLIMS AND PEACE MAKING

To end violence, we must defeat Muslims was the headline on the April 16 Opinion Page article by Bill O'Reilly. This headline presents two dangers: violence ends violence and the United States must defeat all Muslims. It is difficult to know from the article how absolute the author and the headline writer intended to be, since he refers to "fundamentalist Muslims" and "Muslims". Then, it seems that only Middle East Muslims are the point of the article. What do the other billion Muslims think when being named in this way? Some fundamentalists claim the Christian identity, while other Christians distance themselves from the fundamentalist outlook. Muslims feel the same way about differences within their religion.

War and violence is the growing reality of our experience. (President Bush once again spoke of the "axis of evil" at the Virginia Military Academy on April 17th.) Killing does end the ability of the individuals and groups, who are killed, to kill, but does not end violence. Violent means produce violent results. The form of violence might change but will erupt again. I believe that working with the international community for social justice for all Muslims and for a police action to handle terrorists, fundamentalist or others, would go much further than the sweep of war.

Bill Reilly seemed willing to give diplomacy a try. He also had some understanding about the economic reasons Muslims are angry. History and the economic and political agenda of the United States did not come into his picture. Achieving true peace is not too simple. My concern is that we only make the situation worse by labeling all Muslims terrorists for our warmaking. The United States may be the most powerful country in many ways. We do not have a monopoly on human relations and wisdom.

Karen Armstrong concludes her book Islam by addressing the religious development of the Muslim world: "But the West has certainly contributed to this development and, to assuage the fear and despair that lies at the root of all fundamentalist vision, should cultivate a more accurate appreciation of Islam in the third Christian millennium." In other words, other Western nations and we have a role to acknowledge in the development of the fear and despair of the Muslim fundamentalists.

SUSAN KAY DONALDSON, of Tacoma FOR, submitted this letter to The News Tribune on THE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL; it was published in slightly revised form on Sunday April 21, 2002

I read with interest "World gets permanent war crimes tribunal" (12 April, A5-though I thought it deserved front-page coverage), for such a court has long seemed to be needed. However, how distressing it was to read that the United States has not only not ratified the tribunal, but boycotted the ceremony recognizing it, out of the desire to exempt our own soldiers from its jurisdiction-an action that seems particularly strange in a political climate that for the last 20 years has stressed a policy of law and order. Furthermore, doesn't such action on our part further exemplify the arrogance to which the attacks of 11 September were a response?

TOM & MARY SAVAGE of Seattle, letter April 12, 2002, to Caterpillar, Inc., on CATERPILLAR AND DESTRUCTION IN THE WEST BANK

Mr. Benjamin Cordani
Caterpillar, Inc.
100 NE Adams Street
Peoria, Illinois 61629

Dear Mr. Cordani,

A D8 or a D9 is a powerful and marvelous machine, wonderfully suited to moving earth for civil projects such as waterworks and irrigation projects. Yet in recent days we^Òve seen images of what appear to be armored CAT D8 or D9 bulldozers with ripper teeth tearing up streets and pushing down structures in the West Bank. We understand that similar CAT bulldozers have been used to rip up Palestinian olive groves. Presumably CAT did not armor those bulldozers, or intentionally sell them for those uses.

But they unmistakably are CAT machines.

We urge CAT to take exception to the government of Israel^Òs destructive use of CAT products. We also urge CAT to refrain from future sale of its products to Israel unless convincingly assured that they will be used exclusively for constructive civil projects, never for destruction of unwilling Palestinian (or anyone else^Òs) homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Sincerely,

Thomas E. Savage & Mary L. Savage

FOR members say PEACE IS PATRIOTIC

Dan Smith made the front page of The Daily News of Longview, Saturday April 13, 2002, in Cowlitz County Fellowship of Reconciliation's weekly Peace Demonstration. The Headline read "Patriots for Peace" and the picture by Roger Werth was accompanied by an article by Don Jenkins.

Dan is quoted saying, "This is our flag too. I don't want to give it up. We'll be out here whether there are two people or 20 people. What we're trying to get across is that we consider ourselves patriotic, and patriots can be against the war." Way to go, Cowlitz!!!!

LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell, letter to The Chronicle, April 1, 2002 on IRAQ IS NOT SADDAM HUSSEIN

Adolph Hitler in Mein Kampf said, "The great mass of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one." We hear about the axis of evil. We hear from the media how much of a threat Saddam Hussein is to the rest of the world. We hear that he is just waiting for his chance to kill us all with his Weapons of Mass Destruction. The drums of war are being beaten daily to prepare us for an attack on the people of Iraq. But stop and consider how much of a threat this Madman of the Middle East is. Saddam Hussein and his army had their greatest strength during the 1980s when he was our ally. He was supplied with money and weapons by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and others. The nerve gas used on the Kurds came from the U.S. At this time the leadership of the army of Iran had been decimated by the coup of the Ayatollah Khomeini. With all his powerful support while fighting an army with poor military leadership the best that Saddam could do in a ten year war with Iran was a draw. His army was able to invade Kuwait which had no defense but it took the allies all of two days to defeat his army. What is his real strength? During the Gulf War we dropped as much ordnance on Iraq as all of the bombs dropped during World War II. This on a country half the size of California. We have been bombing them 2-3 times a week for the last 12 years. Scott Ritter, chief weapons inspector for UNSCOM, has stated that Iraq was free of WMD by 1998. Iraq has no manufacturing infrastructure to build any significant weapons systems. During his recent trip to whip up the dogs of war Vice President Cheney got exactly zero support from the countries in the area who would be the first victims if Saddam did attack. They view him as no significant threat. With all this in mind ask yourself where the real threat is. Which country recently stated that it is seriously planning the use of "small" nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries? We have picked Nizar al-Khazraji to replace Saddam when we "take him out". Al-Khazraji was the commander of the Iraqi army who is being investigated for the war crime of ordering the poison gas attacks that killed 5,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988. We are moving our central command from Saudi Arabia to Qatar because the Saudis oppose our planned action against Iraq. We have sent the Army 3d Division to Kuwait. President Bush has clearly made up his mind to attack Iraq no matter what any one else thinks. When you listen to the propaganda whipping up war fever remember that Iraq is 22 million people just like you and me. Iraq is not Saddam Hussein.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell

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DAN SMITH of Longview, Cowlitz County FOR, published in The Daily News March 14, 2002, on JOIN LOCAL PROTEST OF THE AFGHAN WAR.

On Friday, a group of local patriotic citizens are gathering to protest the war in Afghanistan and the hysteria it has created here in the United States. We think that a true patriot is a supporter of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. When we see our leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, ignoring and rejecting these rights for our safety,we feel that it is our duty, as American citizens, to protest.

The Bush Administration wants to have it both ways. To Americans, they are spinning Afghanistan as a war against terrorism. Because we are in war, their justification goes, we need to give up certain rights in order to protect us from our evil enemy. Some of our rights will have to be forfeited for our safety.

On the other hand, as far as the prisoners in Cuba are concerned, this same administration believes that this is not a war. They view the prisoners as terrorists, not war criminals, and therefore we do not have have to abide by the Geneva convention.

As a result, we are losing our rights to a war which we have not declared. We have been told, by the leaders of both parties that in these times of undeclared war we may have to give up some of our freedoms for our safety.

According to most of the polls, the Bush spin doctors have so far convinced the majority of us that it is necessary to forgo some of our freedoms for our security. I don¹t think that the relatives of Joe Hill, Medger Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., or the Kennedy brothers would succumb to such nonsense.

Throughout our history there have been countless individuals who have voluntarily given up the comforts of safety for the challenges of freedom. Both the Cowlitz County Chapter of the ACLU and the Fellowship of Reconciliation are sponsoring Friday¹s rally. If you are concerned that the government¹s response to the war on terrorism is steadily nibbling away at our hard won freedoms, then feel free to meet us at 4 p.m. at the west end of the Allen Street Bridge.

Dan Smith, Longview

JODY CHASTAIN, of Longview, Cowlitz County FOR, submitted to The Daily News March, 2002 on STOPPING THE WAR

I am writing as a concerned parent to express my opposition to this madness we call the "War on Terrorism". It is but the latest of many "war ons" of the past few decades such as the war on drugs, poverty, etc. 9/11 has passed and so far our only response has been to drop bombs and get some of our kids killed. Where is Osama? Will we ever find him? If we do find him, which I doubt, this war will not end. It won¹t end until we get sick and tired of seeing our children come home in body bags. It won't end until the good ol' US of A stops supplying 60% of guns and bombs to the rest of the world. As in the book 1984, we are now perpetually at war with a vaguely defined and constantly shifting enemy. Today it¹s Osama and Al-Quaeda, tomorrow it could be the FARC in Columbia who just won¹t stop bombing Occidental Petroleum's pipeline. Or the Zapatistas in Mexico who don¹t want their land exploited by Multinationals in the name of NAFTA. Whoever our selected resident of the White House decides to call "terrorists" will be next on the list.

Meanwhile, here on our soil, it¹s business as usual for bombing of abortion clinics, racial profiling, secret searches, federal drug task forces, and other forms of domestic terrorism. So by all means, lets keep throwing billions down the crapper to the Pentagon who can't account for 1.2 TRILLION of our hard earned dollars. If you're against this insane war, I urge you to come to the West side of the Allen Street Bridge on Friday, March 15th, at

4:00pm and join in a non-violent protest against the War.

There will be folks from the local chapter of the ACLU and Cowlitz County Fellowship of Reconciliation who would be happy to have you protest with us.

Sincerely, Jody Chastain, Longview

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LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell on CHILD SLAVERY IN CHOCOLATE INDUSTRY

Editor, The Chronicle:

As we are enjoying our Valentine's chocolates it might be good to take a look at how that chocolate comes to us. 43% of the world's cocoa beans, the raw material for chocolate, comes from scattered farms in the poor West African country of Ivory Coast. And on some of the farms, the work of clearing the fields and harvesting is done by boys as young as nine who have been sold or tricked into slavery. The lucky ones live on corn paste and bananas. The unlucky ones are whipped, beaten and broken like horses to harvest the beans which are made into chocolate treats for Europe and America. Americans spend $13 billion a year on chocolate. In the first three months of this year 47,000 tons of the beans from Ivory Coast were shipped through Philadelphia and Brooklyn. From these ports the beans go to cocoa processors such as ADM Cocoa and Nestle USA. By the time the beans reach to processors the beans picked by the slaves are mixed with the beans harvested by free field hands so there is no way to know which chocolate coming from the large manufacturers taste of slavery and which are free. The Chocolate Manufacturers Association, a trade group for American chocolate makers, acknowledges that slaves are harvesting cocoa on some Ivory Coast farms. The U.S State Department's 2000 human rights report concluded that some 15,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 have been sold into forced slavery on cotton, coffee and cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast in recent years. It is possible to buy slave-labor free and fair trade certified cocoa and chocolate. If you are interested in learning more look at www.serrv.org <http://www.serrv.org> . Enjoy your candies.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, WA

SUSAN KAY DONALDSON of Tacoma, Troubled by THREATS IN STATE OF UNION ADDRESS

Editor, The News Tribune

I am deeply troubled by President Bush's pledge in last week's State of the Union address to spread the war to North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, which he has termed "dangerous regimes" and "an axis of evil."

For one thing, it makes no sense to talk of countries as being "evil" (or "good," either, for that matter). Actions can be good or evil, based on the motivations behind them and on their consequences, but nations can't. Neither, it seems to me, can people be categorized as "evil." though Mr. Bush has certainly thrown that word around a lot in so doing in the last few months. Rather, we are all capable of doing evil-and sometimes do-even as we are capable of doing good-and often do.

But for another very serious thing, war means killing. To kill people to show people that killing people is wrong makes no sense; furthermore, such killing seems to me to characterize evil in itself quite clearly. Although not much mentioned in US media, we have already killed over 4000 civilians in our bombing of Afghanistan. While that number is remarkably low, given the heavy bombing in which we have been engaged, it is still higher than the number of people of killed in the attacks of 11 September, for which we have seemingly been trying to get revenge. Surely that should be enough.

In addition, we have already been killing people in Iraq for over 11 years, both from the Gulf War itself, the deliberate targeting of sewage-and water-treatment plants at the time (intended to spread disease through the civilian population), and the near-monthly bombings that have followed, and through the economic sanctions that we have pushed through the United Nations that have kept food, medicine, and vast quantities of other goods out of the country. Already a year ago, U.S. policies had killed over a million ordinary Iraqi citizens, roughly half of them children under five years old. Again, isn't that enough? If nations could be evil, what would constitute an evil one if not being responsible for that many deaths? Although those sanctions were eased last spring, most observers have agreed that the changes are too little too late; Iraqis continue to die, mothers there continue to mourn their dead children, and physicians there continue to despair over the lack of medicines, equipment, clean water, and electricity that hamper their healing efforts.

Furthermore, war takes money. The money that we spend for killing people in other countries is then not available here at home for education, health care, transportation, housing, etc.: the social programs that constitute security and life-as noted in yesterday's "Domestic spending hit hard in budget."

The vision of the world and for America's place in it that President Bush seems to hold is alien to me. I would that our country stood for life and not for death, for justice rather than capriciousness, for cooperation rather than measures that seem aimed at world domination.

Susan Kay Donaldson, Tacoma

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JEAN BUSKIN, Seattle, WA, on State of the Union: BUSH'S HYPOCRISY ON TERRORISM published Feb 3, 2002

Editor, The Seattle Times

I only heard bits and pieces of the State of the Union address. Thanks to the Times for publishing the whole text on the web site.

I heard Mr. Bush talking about a country ruled by "an unelected few" and naturally I thought he was talking about himself and Mr. Cheney. After all, they are only in office because of the systematic disenfranchisement of African Americans in Florida and Tennessee. What a surprise to find he was talking about Iran!

I heard Mr. Bush talk about a government that harbored training schools for "thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder." Without a doubt, he must have been referring to the United States' School of the Americas, whose graduates have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Latin Americans. But no, unexpectedly he was talking about the Taliban in Afghanistan!

I heard Mr. Bush talk about a country "arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction." Of course he must have meant the U.S. with our deadly cluster bombs, and our nuclear, chemical, and germ weapons. Of course it's dangerous, our military can't even hold on to its own anthrax stocks. How astonished I was to read that Mr. Bush was referring to North Korea!

I heard Mr. Bush mention "a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world." No doubt he was referring to the U.S. which covertly brought the Taliban to power and supported al Qaeda - among many nefarious covert operations. Amazingly, Mr. Bush was talking about Iraq, which has been under intensive scrutiny by the United Nations weapons inspectors and oil-for-food administrators for the past decade.

Mr. Bush wants to "eliminate the terrorist parasites." If so, Mr. Bush should start with a long, hard look in the mirror and reform his ways.

Jean Buskin, Seattle WA

LARRY KERSCHNER, Pe Ell WA, UNDERSTANDING 9/11 ATTACKS, Jan 22, 2002

Editor, The Chronicle:

To help understand why September 11 happened we need to know how the rest of the world sees America. Are we seen as the good guys with pure intentions or as something else? In a recent poll influential leaders in business, government, media and culture in 24 countries around the world, 58% felt that U.S. policies and actions were a "major cause" of the September 11 attack. These are American allies not Vietnamese villagers or Arab anarchists. Asked if America over-reacted to the terrorist attack 42% agreed.

What does the rest of the world see when they look at us if our friends see us this way? Some of what they have seen recently is that in December 2001 the U.S unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty. They now see the Bush administration making preparations to resume nuclear testing. They saw the U.S. walk out of the July 2001 conference in London designed to strengthen the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

They saw the U.S. as the only nation opposing the UN Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Small Arms. They saw the U.S. opposing the International Criminal Court Treaty to be set up to try political leaders and military personnel charged with War Crimes. They saw the U.S. in December 1997 refuse to sign the International Land Mine Treaty. They saw the Bush Administration repudiate the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 for controlling global warning. They saw our Secretary of State on national TV state that the death of 500,000 children in Iraq was an appropriate price to pay.

In May 2001. They saw the U.S. refuse to meet with European Union nations to discuss economic espionage and electronic surveillance of phone calls, e-mails and faxes such as the FBI now uses on American citizens. They saw the U.S. refuse to join123 other nations pledged to ban the use and production of antipersonnel bombs and mines. In September 2001, they saw the U.S. withdraw from the International Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa. In July 2001 the U.S. was the only G-8 nation to oppose the International plan for Cleaner Energy.

They see that 90% of the world's executions last year were carried out by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, China and Iran. They see the United States giving only 0.1% of its GNP in aid to less fortunate countries. They see half of the world's inhabitants in poverty surviving on less than $2.00 a day and millions without jobs, adequate food or clean water. They see the U.S. using its great power to make the world safe for the oil companies. What must they think when Bush appoints a Unocal oil company adviser as our envoy to Afghanistan?

We can and must stop giving this type of aid and comfort to our enemies. We can change our political policies to show the world the big heart and compassion that is the true face of America. It is in our own best interests to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

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LARRY KERSCHNER, Pe Ell, on the SPIRIT OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., Jan 10 2002

Editor, The Chronicle

Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 33 years ago for his stands on militarism, poverty, racism and justice. As a nation we should look again at his proposals concerning the choice between chaos and community. September 11 makes clear that our choices so far have lead to chaos rather than community. Some of his suggestions are listed in the last chapter of Dr. King's last book "The World House". Among his proposals are: 1) end domestic poverty with a living wage and a guaranteed minimal annual income for all American families; 2) begin to eradicate global poverty with a Marshall Plan in which wealthy nations contribute 2% of their GNP; 3) examine the use of non-violent direct action at the international level as an alternative to war; 4) strengthen the United Nations; 5) stand on the side of racial and economic justice in foreign and domestic policies; 6) acknowledge the unjust transnational corporate practices concerning labor and the environment; 7) reduce our weapons of mass destruction; 8) bridge the gap between our scientific and technological progress and our moral progress; 9) reject excessive materialism and the moral and spiritual bankruptcy which results; 10) move from nation-state thinking to loyalty to humankind as a whole. In a speech Dr. King gave on April 4, 1967 he said," I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution in values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. We still have a choice today; non-violent coexistence or violent co-annihilation". If Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive today he would likely be leading the opposition to the war in Afghanistan and he would probably be charged as a terrorist under the new Patriot Act of 2001.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell, WA

RICHARD AND FLORA COLE, Seattle, on EXTENDING THE WAR TO IRAQ, Jan 4, 2002

Editor, Seattle Post Intelligencer

We understand that President Bush is considering pursuing military action against as many as 40 countries suspected of harboring terrorists, and that Iraq remains a prime target.

Are there any statistics concerning the number of innocent people being killed or made refugees as a result of our incessant bombing of Afghanistan? We thought the philosophy of our beloved United States is to assume people are innocent until proved guilty.

The current policy of economic sanctions and periodic bombing of Iraq which has been our policy for 11 years has not accomplished our goal of getting rid of SaddamHussein but has destroyed society in Iraq and caused the death of thousands, young and old. These facts are verified in daily reports from reputable international organizations such as the United Nations, UNICEF, World Health Organization, World Food Program and Human Rights Watch.

Our violent approach to problems seems to be hurting more innocent people than it is hurting the guilty. We would like to see a new way of solving difficult issues. This would involve determining why terrorists are targeting our country and taking steps that reduce the anger that is out there.

If you readers feel like we do, please let President Bush, your Congressperson, and your Senators know that we don't want the Iraqi people to be hurt any more than they are now.

Richard and Flora Cole, Seattle, WA

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LARRY KERSCHNER, Pe Ell WA, on HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN PALESTINE

Dec 19, 2001

To The Editor, The Chronicle

The situation for the Palestinian people is verging on a humanitarian crisis. The entire Palestinian population of 3.2 million is currently under the worst siege in their entire history. People are unable to move between villages and towns and goods cannot be transported. Large portions of many cities and towns are under 24 hour, or dusk-to-dawn curfews with tanks and armored personnel carriers sit in the streets outside of Palestinian homes. A shortage of supplies including gas and food is reported in many areas. Sewage and garbage remains uncollected precipitating a public health crisis. Immunizations for common childhood diseases are becoming unavailable as the primary health system is paralyzed making epidemics likely. Patients in need of kidney dialysis and cancer treatment cannot receive it. At least 30 Palestinians have died after being denied access to medical care. Numerous women have given birth at Israeli military blockades. Most schools and universities are not functioning. More than 50% of the population is unemployed and many who would be employed are not allowed to get to their places of work. Heavily armed Israeli soldiers arbitrarily occupy Palestinian homes. Israeli soldiers commonly make armed raids into areas under Palestinian Authority shooting people in their homes. Palestinians are being punished through a combination of military occupation, aggression and siege. During the past 14 months the Israeli army has killed 924 Palestinians and 25,000 others have been injured with 2,000 being permanently disabled. If you want more information call Dr. Mustafa Bargouth at 97250254218. This Israeli oppression is supported by $3-8 billion of your taxes every year. Write or call your representatives in Congress asking that they bring pressure on the Israeli government to return to the peace table before this humanitarian crisis truly becomes epidemic. Violence only begets more violence.

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA

LARRY KERSCHNER of Pe Ell says STOP KILLING INNOCENTS

Monday, December 10, 2001

Editor, The Chronicle

According to CNN between 3500-4000 innocent Americans died in the September 11 attacks. According to Marc Herold, Professor of Economics, International Relations, and Women's Studies at the University of New Hampshire, between 3500-4000 innocent civilians have been killed in Afghanistan by U.S. bombs. Data from his study will be available at http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/. Can we not call it even and stop the killing of innocents in the spirit of this Christmas season?

Larry Kerschner, Pe Ell WA 98572

ROY HOLMAN of Everett on US AS TERRORIST, in the Seattle Times, Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Who are the real terrorists in this war on terror?

Editor, The Times:

It's a good day to wake up, America. We poured several billion dollars into early elements of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden (called a freedom fighter by Ronald Reagan), Saddam Hussein and others to create the monsters we are now heroically destroying. Once again, our addiction to war and weaponry has enabled us to use up our "inventory," so that the defense contractors can build more of the same.

With our new "War on Terrorism," we have increased our largest-in-the-history-of-the-world annual defense (war) budget to $350 billion, or about $1 billion each day. Meanwhile, we are the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons in war, killing 150,000 mostly civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Quite honestly, we have been one of the leading terrorist nations on Earth over the past century. Let's be honest about Chile (1973), Nicaragua (Freedom fighters?), Guatemala (1954 and beyond), El Salvador (the School of the Americas), biased support for Israel, etc. We all want to see ourselves as "good," but the denial must end.

Please, let us take responsibility for ourselves, release the fear, hate and blame, listen to our hearts and heal ourselves and our nation.

Roy Holman, Everett

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RICHARD DAVID GREENE on CATASTROPHE IN KUNDUZ

It's catastrophic for the world's greatest power to block enemies' surrender in order to kill them en masse.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld makes global broadcast statements favoring killing encircled enemy troops and blocking their surrender to safety.

That's not civilization.

The war news is confused, but we must choose CIVILIZATION NOT MASSACRES.

Urge:

1. Allow surrender of the enemy to safety

2. No more massacres by any side

Email
George Bush president@whitehouse.gov
Britain's UN Mission uk@un.int
UN Human Rights (Mary Robinson) webadmin.hchr@unog.ch

Fax
Tony Blair 011-44-20-7925-0918
George Bush 202-456-2461
UN Secretary General 212-963-7055

Richard David Greene would like to discuss this with other concerned people, call him at 360-786-3039

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RUTH YARROW on "WORRIED ABOUT OUR DEMOCRACY" - Nov. 20, 2001

An Open Letter to My Congressional Delegation

I am deeply worried about our democracy. A week ago President Bush signed a military order on the treatment and trial of noncitizens, printed in the New York Times on November 14. Amnesty International states that this new order "violates the fundamental principles of justice in any circumstances, including times of war" and is contrary to the Geneva Convention.

Members of the WA Congressional delegation, please consider if the following mandates in this military order are worthy of a democratic government. To me they are contrary to our civil liberties, our Constitutional rights to checks and balances, and our justice system.

- President Bush can label anyone who is not a citizen as a terrorist.

- The Pentagon can put this alleged terrorist before a secret military tribunal.

- The military tribunal can be held anywhere in the world, at any time.

- Any evidence can be admitted that could "have probable value to a reasonable person. " There seems to be no barrier to admitting rumors or evidence extracted from a suspect under duress.

- A person might not be able to choose his or her own lawyer, but have one "designated by the secretary of defense."

- Not even unity among the military judges is required for conviction or sentencing, but only "concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the commission present at the time of the vote, a majority being present."

- The final decision is made "by me [Bush] or by the secretary of defense if so designated by me."

- Punishment may include "life imprisonment or death."

- Anyone subject to this order "shall not be privileged to seek any remedy."

This sounds like the language of military dictatorship, not democracy.

What is your stand, as members of Congress, on this military order?

We have national law and international law. Let's abide by them and use them.

Ruth Yarrow

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DORENE CORNWALL reports on MEETING with SEN. CANTWELL and URGES LETTERS to SEN. BAUCUS to PROTECT CIVIL LIBERTIES - Nov 14, 2001

Hi All

Yesterday a big delegation went to see Maria Cantwell. One message I got: they need to see messages from outside Seattle. Okay, so several people in the room mentioned statewide coalitions. And contacting Cantwell and Murray, as well as representatives, is very important.

However, today I did various sorts of math. I realized that Senator Max Baucus, D-MT is the senior Democratic Senator in the Pacific NW. I looked on his website, and he sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. So I put on my (former) Montanan hat and wrote him the letter below. I am guessing without FULLY checking that "stop the war" is not a place he is likely to be at all, BUT I think he is in a position to see and to try to redress wrongs done to bystanders caught up in "government gone too far." Hence my pitch below.

If any of you know of people In MT who might be able to weigh in, I think it would help.

Dorene F. Cornwell

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DORENE CORNWALL'S letter to SEN. BAUCUS on CIVIL LIBERTIES- Nov 14, 2001

November 14, 2001

Senator Max Baucus
207 North Broadway
Billings, MT 59101

Dear Senator Baucus,

I am writing you in your capacity as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. I am writing you the senior Democratic Senator in the Pacific Northwest. I am a former constituent. I have voted for you several times in the past. I have friends and relatives in Montana who still vote for you. I am writing you about an injustice that has been done in Seattle in the name of "fighting terrorism." This injustice smacks of the same blunt governmental forces that, 60 years ago, led to the internment of Japanese Americans during another conflict.

Last Wednesday, November 7, 2001, three Somali-owned businesses in South Seattle, a wire-transfer service, a grocery store and a halal meat market (meat slaughtered according to Muslim dietary laws) were raided by agents of the US Customs Service. Newspaper accounts allege that the money transfer service has ties to the Al-Barakaat network used by Osama bin Laden to finance his various enterprises. Perhaps the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is in a position to ascertain the basis and veracity of these allegations.

It should also be noted that members of the Somali community use this form of money transfer because it is cheap and reliable, and it makes deliveries and is accessible to small communities where their remittances literally keep family members from starving. The wire service rented space from the grocery store. No one is alleging any other ties than that to Bin Laden. Yet this raid stripped the Somali grocery bare down to the toilet paper and the shelving. All perishables were loaded into trucks and driven directly to the dump!

About $300,000 worth of inventory was taken; this is inventory intended for people who split their low wages between feeding themselves here and feeding their families in Somalia. The building has been sealed, the business is closed, and no information is being given to the owner. Newspaper accounts contain inflammatory claims about "food stamp fraud" and "drug sales." Yet no one has been charged with anything. In fact, many people in Seattle know the store owner as an important figure who has helped other Somalis settle in the US. For media accounts of this incident, I refer you to www.seattletimes.com .

As a US citizen, I see nothing in the national interest that requires the government to trample the rights of people from one desperately poor country because of issues involving someone from an entirely different country. Today the owner of the grocery store, Mr. Abdinasir Ali Nur, has written a letter to the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control petitioning to reopen his store. I hope you will take every step possible to ensure that legitimate businesses can continue to function. I urge the US government to compensate the store owner for lost sales and for the merchandise seized and not to stomp willy-nilly on the rights of other immigrant businesses. Finally I urge you in the strongest terms possible to recognize the importance of leadership at times when panic threatens to turn government agencies into a thundering herd trampling the rights of bystanders.

To quote from your statement on September 14, 2001 on your website: "Today, our nation gathers together in a day of remembrance, a national day of prayer. The waves of Red, White, and Blue that fly in communities across our great nation serve as a reminder of the principles America was founded on - Liberty, Justice, Democracy, and Freedom. Especially freedom." The owner of the grocery store seized during the "Operation Greenquest" raid deserves to see the fruits of this freedom and justice as well.

Thank you very much for noting this concern and for taking action to address the problems described here.

Sincerely,

Dorene F. Cornwell

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RUTH YARROW pickets for CIVIL LIBERTIES Nov. 15, 2001

After the feds seized all the inventory of a Somalian grocer, accused of nothing, whose business was near a money dispatch service accused of ties to bin Laden, who is accused of ties with terrorists, ... Ruth Yarrow, who lives near the grocery store went down the next day with a sign that read, "I'm not afraid of cornflakes, but apparently the FBI is." It became the quote of the week in the Seattle weekly, "The Stranger"

JERRY CHROMAN of Seattle on JOB CREATION in The Seattle Times on Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Jobs, not volunteerism

President Bush is calling for a new, volunteer civil-defense force to help police, fire departments and public-health agencies in emergency situations ("Bush challenges nation: New era requires responsibilities," Times, Nov. 9).

It's a good idea as far as it goes, but I think it can be improved dramatically. Maybe the president could inspire the Republican congressional leadership to take a very small percentage of the billions of dollars they want to give back to wealthy corporations and use it to create paid jobs in the public sector for the thousands of working people who have been laid off both before and after Sept. 11 - something akin to the Works Progress Administration during the depression.

This way we would get the extra help we need for the nation's security, and unemployed people would be able to take home a paycheck.

Jerry Chroman, Seattle

GLEN ANDERSON'S letter published in "The Olympian" on WAR DOESN'T SOLVE PROBLEMS

It's Naive to Think War Will Solve Problems

What do you do when you are good and your opponent is evil? You fight hard and never give up because you can't allow evil to prevail.

This is what many Americans believe. This is also what the terrorists and the Taliban believe. Each side is absolutely convinced that it is good and the other side is evil.

Each side sees the conflict in such absolute terms and does not understand the other side's perception of reality.

Each side feels justified in using violence. But that only causes retaliatory violence.

Violence cannot defeat either side, because both sides will sacrifice their lives for their core beliefs.

For 250 years the Roman Empire used torture and murder to stop Christianity. But violence is simply the wrong tool for dealing with religious sects and political ideologies. Violent suppression only drives them underground so they pop up elsewhere.

Thousands of years of history shows that wars lead to more wars. It is naive and unrealistic to think that yet another war will solve the world's problems.

For ten years the US has been the ONLY superpower. Our military spends $300 billion a year (more than the next 15 nations combined) and has thousands of nuclear weapons. But all this could not protect the Pentagon itself from a few guys with box-cutters! The military model does not work!

US dominance over the rest of the world actually makes us less secure. Our nation needs a soul-searching and open-minded discussion about our appropriate place in the world and how to achieve real security for everyone.

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MICHAEL FROME from Bellingham had this letter on the WISDOM OF PACIFISM published in the Bellingham Herold - November 2001

Military Service Opens Eyes to Wisdom of Pacifism

The letter from the Marine sergeant in the Nov. 9 Herald denouncing protesters for peace and directing us to visit a veterans hospital for a reality check brings to mind my own military service during World War II.

As an Army Air Corps officer and navigator, I flew many missions across the Pacific Ocean. On the way west we transported critical supplies. Once delivered, however, the very same plane was converted into a flying hospital so we could carry wounded personnel from the front line to better treatment at hospitals in Hawaii and California. Such experiences are printed indelibly in memory. On one flight, the nurses aboard hovered over a young soldier afflicted with gangrene. By the time we landed at Hickam Field in Hawaii it was clear his leg must be amputated to save his life. Along with the heroic flight nurses and crewmates, I shared his pain.

I proudly served my country, but my service to it led me to belief in pacifism as a direct form of patriotism. I support the good works of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Where wars fail, the principles of fellowship and reconciliation ultimately will succeed. We live on a planet deeply wounded, troubled by terrorism and its root causes, particularly poverty on a very large scale. But I look forward to a world where women and children are safe, where all life is venerated, where resources no longer are wasted on bombs and wars but are directed to the useful and enriching, such as schools, libraries, playgrounds, parks and health centers.

Tom and Mary Savage's letter on AFGHANISTAN WAR AND STARVATION published in the Seattle Times on Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Winter has begun to touch us in the Pacific Northwest. We now can better relate to the situation for approximately 7 million people who lack adequate food or shelter to withstand the sub-zero chill of winter in Afghanistan that will descend within the next three weeks.

Consider the size of their need. We are told that each C-17 airdrop flight dispenses about 35,000 packets of one-day rations. Even if every single packet somehow reached a hungry recipient, it would take 200 flights per day! The numbers are clearly impossible. Only an immediate and massive resumption of overland supply and locally-based distribution of food and shelter can blunt the depth of the tragedy now unfolding.

As a number of aid agencies have already said: cease bombing so that overland transport can bring food and shelter to those who need it.

Tom and Mary Savage, Seattle

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Bill Lavelle's letter - LOOK AT IRAQ: WHO ARE THE TERRORISTS? published in Seattle Post Intelligencer, October, 16, 2001

Consider Iraq, then look in the mirror

There are many faces to terrorism, destructive acts aimed at non-combatants undertaken by groups or governments to coerce political or other changes in the opposition. Consider this example: A group intentionally destroys much of a society's ability to make clean water, treat sewage and make electricity (e.g., U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, 1991). Compound the long-term effect of those acts by embargoing parts and supplies that would allow infrastructure repair. For added emphasis, curtail that society's importation of food and medicine. Watch as the weakest of that society die of malnutrition and preventable water-borne diseases (e.g. New England Journal of Medicine, 1991, 1992; UNICEF, 1999).

Watch the deaths of more than 1 million people over a period of 11 years. To put a name on the affected society: Iraq. To put a name on the offending group: the United States of America, in collaboration with Britain and with the acquiescence of the United Nations.

One million non-combatants suffering and dying from destructive acts undertaken in our name -- your name and my name -- undertaken for the purpose of affecting political change.

Terrorism can never be justified, whether perpetrated by the al-Qaida or by the United States or by any other group or government.

William Lavelle, Seattle

GLEN ANDERSON'S outline of a talk given Oct. 7, 2001 AGAINST THE WAR

The $300 Billion Fraud

Near the end of the Wizard of Oz movie the humble but brave sojourners reach the City of Oz and Dorothy's litle dog Toto pulls away the curtain, exposing the terrible Wizard of Oz as merely a little man pulling levers behind a curtain. Startled at being found out as a fraud, he tells them not to pay attention to the little man pulling levers behind the curtain. His defense is fruitless. His fraud has been exposed, and his power to frighten is gone.

On September 11 terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the very center of our military power.

For ten years after the end of the Cold War the US has been the ONLY superpower. We have BY FAR the most powerful military on earth. We have thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. The US military alone spends more than the next 15 nations combined.

But even with all of this -- $300 billion a year -- the Pentagon could not even protect its own building from a few guys with box-cutters!

Militarism itself has been exposed as an ineffectual little man hiding behind a curtain pulling levers -- and pulling the wool over our eyes in a $300 BILLION a year fraud!

People say that nonviolence is a nice idea but it doesn't work. It turns out that violence -- militarism -- despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year on it -- does not work! We really must consider alternative ways to address the problem of violence in the modern world.

Nonviolence deserves serious consideration -- and it actually does have a good track record. Nonviolent actions have accomplished historically significant results in opposing violence and oppression in a number of countries. For example, nonviolent action achieved India's independence, gained remarkable successes for the US Civil Rights Movement against entrenched racial oppression, overthrew the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, helped several Eastern European countries overthrow Communist dictatorships.

The gap is NOT between Americans and terrorists. The gap is between those who believe violence can solve problems and those who recognize that violence only makes things worse.

BOTH the terrorists AND the US claim to be the "good guys" fighting a war against evil. The terrorists feel righteous anger at the US and used violence to act on their emotions. When our country expresses our righteous anger through military action we descend to the terrorists' level. Each side feels pain and anger about its own suffering, each side feels justified in venting by using violence against the other, and each side at the receiving end of violence suffers a new round of pain and anger, which -- in turn -- causes it to feel justified in reacting violently to the other. This is the cycle of violence -- a classic "chicken and egg" cycle that repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats ...

Until nonviolent alternatives interrupt the cycle of violence and start healing, Bush is playing right into the terrorists' hands. A military response is exactly what they want. They already see themselves as victims -- under-dogs -- David vs. Goliath. People around the world feel oppressed by the US's domineering political, economic and military power. The terrorists see themselves as representing under-dogs everywhere struggling against the oppressor. A US military attack follows the script that the terrorists have written. The rest of the world can see the US military response and follow the script. While foreign governments might accede to US pressure, hundreds of millions of ordinary people are outraged by the violence used by BOTH sides in this struggle.

The US could frustrate the terrorists by refusing to play their game. What the US SHOULD do is begin a comprehensive program of nonviolent alternatives. These could include such remedies as:

CONCLUSION:

The US's virtual monopoly on military power in the post-Cold War era could not even defend its own headquarters building from attack by a few guys with box-cutters! Violence -- and militaristic defense -- is a wasteful fraud. It just does not work.

In a violent conflict each side feels its own violence is justified, and each round of violence only makes the other side feel more justified in using the next new round of violence. Therefore, violence is the PROBLEM -- NOT the solution!

The way to break the cycle of violence -- and to rise above the ethics of terrorists -- is to use nonviolence. Nonviolence actually has a good track record of success -- especially in recent decades. Mainstream authorities fail to recognize nonviolence as the wave of the future. Many constructive nonviolent solutions are available to break the cycle of violence.

web pages maintained by Jean Buskin, Seattle Chapter, bb369@scn.org revised August 16, 2005

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