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Commentary Last Updated: Mar 1st, 2007 - 00:51:18

Never again to antiwar battle fatigue
By David Howard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 1, 2007, 00:49

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An explanation of writer�s block may not be a good way to begin a political essay or to preface an exhortation to protest the infamy of the war on its fourth bloody anniversary. But the truth is the Iraq catastrophe has many of us peace activists despairing, almost to silence. The war, criminal from its inception, has gone on far too long and is increasingly painful and frustrating to write and talk about.

Scores of editorials, op eds and letters to the editor have already been written to express outrage over the invasion, the slaughter and the continued occupation. Those of us who can�t help ourselves scour progressive media outlets and read a half dozen stories of murder and mayhem every day. Why write one more?

Isn�t the immense redundancy of protest by now an exercise in futility? After all, the antiwar movement has already been effective in persuading a majority of the nation that there must be no more escalations, and that going to war in the first place was a grave mistake.

Who is left to convince? Isn�t the 2007 surge the final anticlimactic blunder of a cowboy regime already repudiated by a disgusted electorate?

So why not give in to the peace movement�s battle fatigue, and let the present carnage play itself out until Congress finally emerges from its stupor, grinds the occupation to a halt and brings our soldiers home?

The answer to the temptation of silence is the moral imperative to say, �Never Again.� Over and over again. Forever.

�Never Again� in the peace community is a preventive philosophy rooted in historical experience. We are inspired by our ancestors and elders --Holocaust and Hiroshima survivors, descendants of slavery, genocide and occupation -- who have devoted their lives to bearing witness to violence of such unforgivable magnitude as to teach us all the lesson that fear of redundancy is a luxury we can ill afford. We must awaken each morning from our Iraq nightmares and follow in their brave footsteps.

Just as Holocaust survivors have never stopped telling their stories of the Nazi extermination camps; just as African Americans never forget the narrative of the Middle Passage and nearly 250 years of slavery; just as Cherokees never forget 4,000 dead on the Trail of Tears; we must join our sisters and brothers in Iraq and never stop telling the story of this horrific war. We must tell it today, tell it all our lives long, and teach it to our descendants.

These are the stories of the Shock and Awe campaign that resulted in 6,616 civilians dead in the first three weeks of the 2003 invasion. The stories of waterboarding and porno-torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The stories of perhaps several hundred thousand Iraqi civilians dead and maimed, whose beautiful names we never learned. The stories of over 3,100 dead US service men and women; the stories of our wounded and disabled, including 500 with amputated limbs. The stories of the attacks on young students at Mustansiriya University, killing over 70 on January 10, 2007 and another 40 on February 25. The stories of a suicide bomber blowing up in a Mercedes truck at a Baghdad market, killing 130 people and injuring 300 on February 3, 2007. The stories of a series of attacks on the prayerful at both Sunni and Shia mosques, starting with the 83 dead at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf on August 29, 2003.

From the Holocaust witnesses we have learned to say never again to regimes of racism and fascism. From Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors we have learned to say never again to nuclear weapons. From the Iraq War we must learn to say never again to preemptive war, to torture, and to the insidious ideology of democratizing by the sword.

On the weekend of March 17-19 demonstrations against the war will be held all around the world. Find one in your area at United for Peace & Justice. Join us in stopping the war and ensuring that it will never happen again.

David Howard is a member of the Ventura County California Peace Coalition and serves on the Board of Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions/CPR. Contact him at

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