Comments by Dave Atwood

Submitted by Bill Crosier on January 21, 2007 - 1:51pm. :: | |

(Memorial Park, Houston, January 17, 2007)

The 3000th Memorial in Houston is very moving and I want to thank the people who created it - Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out and others. The Memorial honors not only the 3000 plus U.S. military and contract personnel who have died in thie Iraq war, but also the thousands of Iraqi citizens who have died. We don't like to talk about the Iraqis who have died, but they are also our brothers and sisters.

President Bush vows to continue the war in Iraq despite the fact that the majority of the American people want to end it. Recently, a news commentator said that the war was already lost and that Bush was just stalling for time by sending more troops there. I don't know what the President's motives are, but he certainly seems arrogant and uncaring about what the American people want at this time.

Since we are celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, it is quite appropriate that we consider his words about another war that was raging 40 years ago in Vietnam. I think that his words apply to today's Iraq War, especially since the United States is in the process of accelerating the war and putting thousands more of its young people in harm's way.

In 1967, King described the U.S. Government as the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and said that he could no longer remain silent. He had to speak out for the sake of those who had died, for the sake of his own government and for the sake of those trembling under the violence perpetuated by the United States.

He spoke about the multiple ill effects of war:

1. The harm it brings to the young people of this nation and their families.
2. Its negative impact on the poor.
3. The bad example it sets for the youth of the nation on how to solve problems without violence.
4. The devastation it brings to the country where it is being waged.

King went on to say that the people of Vietnam must see Americans as "strange liberators". He commented about how "deadly western arrogance" has poisoned the international atmosphere.

He spoke of the need to immediately end the war:

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother of the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of dashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initative to stop it must be ours".

King also spoke about about war being a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit. He called for a revolution of values that would say of war:

"This way of setttling differences is not just. This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologially deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love."

He said, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death" . He called for a reordering of priorities so that the "pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war" .

King said that we have a choice between "nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation" .

I personally believe that this war with Iraq was unnecessary. These deaths were unnecessary. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction or ties to al Qaeda as claimed by the Bush Administration. I also don't believe that the war was about bringing democracy to Iraq or getting rid of a brutal dictator. I think it was conducted primarily to secure the oil reserves of Iraq.

However, in spite of the misguided motives of the politicians and powerbrokers of our nation, we honor the memory of those who have died in Iraq. They paid the ultimate price. And we resolve, in their names and in their memory, to end this war and to do our very best to avoid wars in the future.

David Atwood
Houston Peace and Justice Center