Evolving Peace

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Peace and Cindy Sheehan in VT

A weekend of flurries fell throughout the state of Vermont this weekend. I am not stating the inches of snow that befallen the state, but the rise and commotion driven by a visit from the pro-peace activist Cindy Sheehan.

On Friday, Cindy addressed the Vermont Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee. Given that it was an official invite from a legislative committee, Sen. Illuzi had to invite members of the anti-peace faction of the population. Due to the nonexistence of prominent individuals remaining that actual support the fool hearted war, Sen. Illuzi brought attention to the media by stating that he could not find individuals to testify. So, this past Friday amongst a day that the Statehouse was virtually empty due to the snow storm and an upcoming break of the legislature, the House chamber was buzzing with debate. As a result, not only was the delegation of peace activists there to attend but the desperate remains of Vermont’s pro war faction.

National media portrays Vermont as a “liberal” sanctuary, but lost within that fold is an angry hospitable crowd that leans towards the libertarian side. They trump the issue of small government with very little jurisdiction, however they overwhelming seem to support a large withstanding military. I never could understand them since they seem to be the most vocal of the anti-taxation crowd while at the same time they support the single largest expense of the US Government. The United States spends over seven times the amount of money on military needs than the next closest country. China spends about sixty-two billion while the United States spends over four hundred twenty billion a year (not including the Iraq War). At current rate the US military expenditures are bursting at its seams and while the President parades around the world it appears as if the value of the US dollar is rapidly shrinking.

While, Friday the topic of the day was to hear from Cindy Sheehan, the voices of the remnants of Vermont’s angry pro-war contingency echoed to the mostly empty House chamber. I wondered if any of those realized that the debate for Senate Resolution 11(SR 11) was moot since it had passed effortlessly a few weeks earlier. Despite the loudness of the pro war’ers, the pro-peace message was hardly debatable. As stated by the vast speakers in favor of the SR 11 the war is wrong since every piece of evidence the President has used to justify this action has unequivocally been proven wrong.

Lonely cries that the armed forces need support to continue their mission of bringing democracy and hope is dying out fast. Former Marine Corporal Matt Howard(Iraq Veteran) of Burlington Vermont clearly stated that “650,000 Iraqi’s have died, so how can Iraq be better of today than it was under Saddam.” Yes, Saddam had been a brutal ruthless dictator, but if it hadn’t been for past Presidential policies in supporting and supplying Saddam Hussein with his weaponry or chemicals he would not have risen to his stature.

Still to this day, US policy tends to favor undemocratic leaders, such as the Saudi Royal Family or the undemocratic leaders of Egypt. Both nations receive billions of aid in weaponry while they brutally oppress their own population. Additionally, while the US has diverted its attention away from Afghanistan there has been a resurgence of the growth and support of the Taliban.

With all the talk and promise of democracy and fighting the “noble “war on terror, one could assume that US stature has risen throughout the world; however in reality the US has steadily lost ground. Extremism is on the rise and fanaticism is marking the US as its biggest antagonist. An insurgency in Iraq reflects Iraqis resolve to remove foreign powers from their home, while most may have been grateful to remove Saddam Hussein most Iraqis are now without electricity, running water, clean streets, or have directly been faced with death and destruction of their families and are living in far worse conditions than four years ago.

The initial onslaught had most of the world rebuking the President and many demonstrations were held throughout the world, so as the war continues the US further alienates themselves from the international community. Condemnations are not only coming from the likes of Hugo Chavez but Vladimir Putin is now claiming that US actions are leading to another “Cold War”.

Most of the world questioned the war’s inception, while most Americans had remained on the couch and watched the events enfold like the latest video game. Now while America is waking up from its coma and finally questioning an unjust war, there remains a fraction of the population desperately trying to cling to the ways of the past. Many of us are flabbergasted that there are those who vehemently defend the President and stake claims of patriotic duty when it comes to this war.

Yes, some of them may be considered kooks or crooks but in reality many of them may righteously believe it, and if they were to change every piece of their identity and existence would crumble in front of them. They have been told since birth the promise of democracy and that the US is always the good guy. The “my country, right or wrong” credo or that “boys become men with war” logic has been ingrained in their heads and anything that questions that is an affront on their own individual being. My advice is to be patient with them for they do not know better, besides as everyday ends the memories of the last “good war” fade further away. The image of war and glory is being lost like the memories of World War II and everyday more and more people are waking up to the realities of war.

As I listened to the speakers on Friday, I pondered the direction of the war. While there was no pressing need in the House chamber that day, the message and debate of the war is expanding further. Cindy Sheehan was in Vermont for more than just that, she was scheduled on a whirlwind tour of the state in a hope of gaining further support in calling for impeachment of the President (and Vice President). For other reasons, I attend her event in Rutland, VT and witnessed the full momentum of the drive for impeachment. In addition, to her speaking was Dan Dewalt, (Newfane, VT select Boardman who initiated his town’s Impeachment resolution), Iraq war vets’ Adrienne Kinee and Matthew Howard, and Nation reporter John Nichols. People gathered around to hear their words.

Everyone there wants to see and end to the war except for a man who duped organizers by claiming he was a vet from Iraq. He gained the microphone and began to confront the crowd with the US’s righteousness in Iraq. While the crowd patiently listened to him, he was eventually asked to end his comments. Debate followed into the streets in what I saw as that man desperately needed more attention. I could see that Dan, Adrienne and Matthew were a bit flustered by this lone fanatic, but as I told Adrienne and Matthew not to worry about him and that they were doing the right thing by speaking out and voicing their conscience.

A threshold has been crossed and the paths of ending this war are approaching quickly and that while there are those who are still clinging onto the anachronistic notions of violence there are enough people who know the war is wrong. Cindy Sheehan may have started the progression of debate against the war, however the people now are overwhelming pro-peace. Unfortunately, Cindy had to loose her son, I hope not another mother losses her son, or another Iraqi.

Robb Kidd

“It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labour of peace.” Andre Gide, French Writer and Nobel Prize Winner for Literature in 1947


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