"What Can I Do to Stop the War?"

by Harry Browne

February 13, 2003        

There's no question that George Bush has been determined to go to war with Iraq for at least two years. Insider David Frum, wrote in his book "The Right Man" that at the time of his inauguration in January 2001, Bush's only firm policy objective was "to dig Saddam Hussein out of power in Iraq."

Since he's the President, he will most likely find a way to fulfill his desires no matter how many people oppose him, here or overseas.

And once the war is underway, a good deal of the anti-war movement will collapse as it always does when America goes to war.

So what point is there in trying to stop the war?

Can you stop it by yourself? Of course not.

Can you and I together stop the war? Of course not.

Can you and I and thousands of other people stop the war? Perhaps, but we don't control thousands of other people. Each of us controls only himself.

So why should we continue struggling?

Why Delay Is Helpful

I believe there's good reason to do so.

The opposition to the war has helped keep Bush on the defensive. Enough troops have been in place and enough missiles armed that the war could have started a month or more ago. And every day's delay seems to bring greater opposition, as well as new revelations of the flaws and misrepresentations in the administration's arguments. More and more people are coming to believe that it makes no sense to risk the lives of our young people and risk the safety of our cities by going to war against a country that can't hurt us.

George Bush's approval rating and public enthusiasm for his foreign policy have been slipping steadily. He's probably too arrogant to let that stop him, but the erosion of support confirms that the longer we can delay the start of the war, the more people will oppose it.

Why We Fight

Perhaps neither you nor I can single-handedly create the tidal wave of opposition necessary to stop George Bush from continuing on his obsessive course.

But every person we persuade that war should always be the last resort, rather than the first, is one more person no longer reciting the trite slogans of war, one more person who understands that our Keystone Kops can't make the Middle East safe for democracy, one more person who understands that giving up our liberty for a government-promised security will mean we have neither liberty nor security.

And the next time a President wants to drag us into a dangerous war, that one more person will be on our side from the beginning. And he'll be pointing out the dangers to his friends and associates.

And among all the people we talk to, there may be someone who does have the power, the ability, and the influence to create that tidal wave of opposition that will force the politicians to quit putting us at risk.

Having lived with the Cold War from the time I was 12 years old, I came to assume it would last for the rest of my life. I was happily amazed when the communist Hungarian government opened its border to allow vacationing East Germans to flee into Austria. A few weeks later the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, and a year later the Soviet Union disintegrated.

Miracles do happen.

I don't know that a miracle will happen in the present situation, but I know that it can happen. And so it's important to take every opportunity to allow it to happen.

What You Can Do

Your first responsibility is to yourself and your family. So I don't suggest that you put your job at risk or create problems for your family by speaking out in situations that could cause trouble for you.

But, whether or not you feel free to speak out, there's a great deal you can do. Here are just a few examples.

  1. You can preserve your self-respect by never agreeing with jingoistic statements. And if you feel free to do so, try saying what you believe, rather than what you think people expect you to say. You might discover that other people have similar beliefs but have been afraid to reveal them. They might thank you for encouraging them to say what they really believe.

  2. You can email your friends, giving them links to your favorite websites that are opposing the war. Let the websites speak for you.

  3. You can go to TruthAboutWar.com, a new website and ad campaign that's currently running anti-war radio spots in major cities. The website provides evidence backing up the claims in its ads rebutting the common reasons given for attacking Iraq. At the website, you can listen to the ads or read the scripts. While you're there, consider making a tax-deductible donation to expand the reach of those ads.

I can't promise you we'll stop this war. But we can help keep the administration on the defensive perhaps causing the hawks to cut short their aggression before the worst happens.

And you may help create enough new skeptics to stop the next war whether that was meant to be against Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Colombia, or Lower Slobovia.

More than anything else, you just may somehow reach those people who can do something to stop this war.