Walter Reed Vigil Report No. 13
November 11, 2005
The participants in the Walter Reed Medical Center Vigil met last Wednesday night and decided to limit the November 11th vigil to candles and two large banners. One banner would read ARMISTICE and the other SUPPORT OUR TROOPS BRING THEM HOME NOW. We chose the word Armistice both to recall the original name for this day of remembrance and to put forward the solution for those who claim we cannot leave Iraq. There is a way out—Make Peace.
Friday night, KT, one of the Freeper spokespeople, told us, "Armistice is French for surrender." Well, kiddies, let's check this out and see if this is true.
From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary:
Armistice n [F or NL; F, fr. NL. armistitium, fr. L. arma + -stitium (as in solstitium solstice)] (ca. 1707): temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement between the opponents: TRUCE
Armisitice Day n [fr. The armistice terminating World War I on November 11, 1918] (1919): VETERANS DAY – used before the official adoption of Veterans Day in 1954
Sorry, KT, you were mistaken. Armistice means termination of a war. It means put the guns down. Cessation of hostilities is not surrender. Both sides must put down their arms and agree to end the fighting. It's been done before. We did it in Vietnam after a dozen years of blood and frustration. If there is conflict after the occupying troops have been withdrawn—the Iraqi people are smart enough and tough enough to deal with it. It's their country.
Hassan Juma'a Awwad Al-Assadi, President of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra (GUOE) lately become the Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq Basra, has written, "The union’s stand is frank and clear, and it is an inner [deeply felt] and patriotic feeling of all the union’s members that the occupation forces must leave the country immediately, whatever the consequences."
This is the solution for Iraq. Suspend hostilities. Declare the end of the occupation and bring our troops home. Why are there hostilities? We are attempting to occupy Iraq. We control the infrastructure, commerce, production, movement, freedom of expression, even freedom of religion. We control her ports, trade, and international relations. We control Iraq's economy, most important, her debt. One of the first things the US provisional government of Iraq did after the overthrow of the old regime's army was enter into new loan agreements with the International Monetary Fund. This debt included provisions limiting freedom in Iraq, especially the freedom to form trade unions. The US is forcing a constitution and a set of handpicked leaders down the throats of the Iraqi people. The force behind this occupation is the US military machine (aided and abetted by British military forces and other mercenaries). Declare an end to US occupation of Iraq and the force is no longer needed. We can declare an armistice and bring our troops home.
Sometimes an answer to a difficult problem is the simplest alternative. When confronted with the problem of undoing the Gordian knot, Alexander the Great cut it with his sword.
Before the Cold War, we called November 11th Armistice Day. That name derived from the incredible joy and relief felt by people all over the planet when the guns fell silent on the Western Front in France. The world had seen enough of useless death. The soldiers of WWI were supported by their people at home. They were praised for doing their duty. They spilled their blood in the mud of France for absolutely nothing, not even for peace because the victorious governments did not make a peace to make the world "safe for democracy" but enriching for the US, British, and French capitalists, and 24 years later war erupted again in Europe and spread all over the world. Before WWI the great powers were engaged in an arms race with one end in mind, to see who would control the world—a futile dream. WWII was an extension of that same mad dream. But a vision emerged out of WWII called the United Nations, not a perfect solution but a big step forward. Unfortunately, the contest for world hegemony between the "East" and "West" confounded that hope—the urge for world peace has been a struggle ever since. Those of us who take the side of Peace in opposition to War are the legacy of an entire world that blessed peace in 1918. We were in the majority then and soon we will be again. But we have matured since 1918—we now understand that Peace can only come with Justice, Tolerance, and the fundamental rights of all peoples to determine their destiny. Differences should be settled at the bargaining table not on the battlefield. Rapacious exploitation of the weak by the mighty must be stopped and relegated to the history books. Color, religion, sex, and even political philosophy are not justifications for war. Gustave Herve suggested that the only war that made sense is civil war—but the weapons of his time were not so terrible as those we have today. Today we must say, all of us of any cause, must say no war makes sense. Only humanity makes sense. Is a parent overjoyed to see her children fighting amongst themselves? If there is a God, is it possible that an almighty being could be pleased with the horror of war amongst its creations? If there is no God, or at least not a god being, than humans murdering humans for any reason makes no sense. Our time in this world is too short already.
On Armistice Day, November 11, 2005, Mr. Bush said, "We will never accept anything less than complete victory." Who are the "we"? How does he, or us, define "complete victory"? If he means crush the people of Iraq into dust, I reject his terms. The President speaks in the same language as Osama bin Laden the language of fanatical determination without regard to humanity. I reject that language.
Workers around the world speak a common language. All human beings can learn it if they are willing to accept that we are all sisters and brothers. The manufacturers of hate seek to divide us. It takes courage to defy them and hold hands. But those calloused hands and our calloused hands can be bound by a strong grip.
Armistice—I have a hunch that those serving in Iraq may be the first ones to cry "Thank you!"
[Cut and run, is that like lock and load? Where do we come up with these cliches?]