Up With War
By David Howard
01 August, 2006
July 4, Gold Star Families for Peace and Code Pink began a fast to end
the war in Iraq. Hundreds of pro-peace supporters marched from the Gandhi
Memorial statue in Washington, D.C. to the White House to call upon
President Bush to bring the “Troops Home Fast.” The fast
will continue until September 21, International Peace Day.
Our Ventura County California
Peace Coalition contingent joined the fast on July 30 and will continue
in solidarity through Friday, August 4.
The fasters ask the US to
withdraw all forces from Iraq and refrain from building permanent military
bases on Iraqi soil.
Troops Home Fast has participants
in 22 countries and includes such peace heroes as US Army Colonel Ann
Wright, Daniel Ellsberg, Dolores Huerta, Cindy Sheehan and US Congressional
Representatives Cynthia Mckinney and Lynn Woolsey. They are now joined
by over 4,000 ordinary citizens, many of whom served in the armed forces
or are surviving
family members of Iraq War veterans.
We know that on every day
of this fast the news from Iraq will be grim. US soldiers will die,
adding to the 2,578 already dead. Iraqis will be blown up, kidnapped,
shot and beheaded, adding to the at least 39,593 civilians who have
perished since the war began. Prisoners will be tortured. Children will
be displaced, impoverished and terrorized.
Yesterday, for example, a
car bomb near a gas station in Kirkuk killed six people and wounded
17. It was the fourth time this month that drivers and passengers were
attacked while waiting in line at a gas station. The decapitated and
tortured corpses of four policemen were found 30 miles south of Kirkuk,
and four US marines died in Anbar province, including Tony Butterfield,
a 2005 graduate of Buchanan High School in Clovis, California.
This is why we fast: to end
the immense horror and suffering for Iraqis and to ensure that our high
school graduates of 2006 and 2007 don’t end up dead, like Tony
The paradox of fasting is
that although the lack of nourishment weakens the flesh, it strengthens
the spirit. Gandhi said that fasting for peace comes from the depths
of the soul.
Fasting is an important component
of our Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious heritage. Jesus and Moses both
fasted for 40 days in the wilderness; Muslims all over the world fast
each year in the month of Ramadan. The prophet Isaiah exhorted his people
to fast in order to “release those bound unjustly” and “set
free the oppressed.”
Those who fast bear witness
to wrongdoing, and their refusal to partake in food is a refusal to
participate in the wrong. A Gandhian fast is also a demand for change.
The faster’s message is, “Just as I can withstand the impulse
to nourish my body, politicians and generals can resist their impulse
to affirm and sustain violence.”
The wrong our fasters protest
is the debacle, tragedy and atrocity of the Iraq War. The fasters are
fed up with the deception, propaganda and cruelty of this war. They
are fed up with torture, secret prisons, abrogation of the Geneva Conventions,
fabricated stories about weapons of mass destruction, ruthless campaigns
of “shock and awe,” war profiteering, the seeding of terrorism,
the squandering of our wealth, and the profaning of our good name among
the peace-loving peoples of the world. They are fed up with the daily
bread of car bombings, beheadings and executions that have plunged Iraq
into a US-induced darkness, perhaps for decades to come.
The Iraq War is an outrage,
an obscene feast of aggression. Here’s how US citizens can help
end it: Write, call or e-mail Congress and the President; sign the Voters
Pledge to refuse to support pro-war candidates at http://www.votersforpeace.us/.
Support the fast and learn more about waging peace in the Middle East
David Howard is a member of the Board of Directors
of Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions/CPR. Email: DavidHoward@aol.com.