Stop the March to War

We are clearly seeing yet another deliberate series of steps to provoke war. This time Iran seems to be the target. This video from the editors of explains how President Lyndon Johnson used the alleged attack on U.S. Navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin to get support from Congress and the country to begin the Vietnam War. Johnson wanted the war in Vietnam as a way to stop the spread of Communism. He also saw it as a way to improve his chances for re-election, although ultimately he was forced to announce he would not run.

The video begins, “How do you start a war? Simple. You blame it on the other guy.”

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorized President Lyndon Johnson to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression” by the communist government of North Vietnam. It was passed on August 7, 1964, by the U.S. Congress after an alleged attack on two U.S. naval destroyers stationed off the coast of Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution effectively launched America’s full-scale involvement in the Vietnam War.
Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution at the insistence of President Lyndon B. Johnson, with the understanding that the president would seek their approval before launching a full-scale war in Vietnam with U.S. military personnel.
However, that ultimately proved not to be the case.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Editors

More recently, and more transparently, President George W. Bush and his Vice President, Dick Cheney, declared Iraq had weapons of “mass destruction”, which provided the excuse to invade Iraq in 2003. John Bolton, currently the National Security Advisor, was one of those then, who repeatedly made that claim. As we know, it turned out there were no such weapons in Iraq.

So it is concerning today that Bolton, who called for the U.S. to leave the Iran Nuclear Deal, seems to be trying to provoke war with Iran now.

Bolton’s influence over Iran policy has been more worrisome. Given his long record of advocating military action against Iran, Bolton sparked concerns at the Pentagon last year that he could be trying to precipitate a conflict when he demanded military options against Iran. Those concerns were hardly assuaged when in February, on the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, Bolton posted a video warning the ayatollahs: “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.”
The U.S. confrontation with Iran took a more ominous turn on Sunday night, when Bolton announced that, “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” the Pentagon would be rushing an aircraft carrier task force to the Persian Gulf. “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack,” Bolton said.
In Iran, however, I fear that Bolton is trying to instigate a costly conflict that could engulf the entire Middle East.

John Bolton may be trying to provoke Iran into firing the first shot, by Max Boot, The Washington Post, May 5, 2019.

As a Quaker, I don’t believe there can ever be a justification for war. In retrospect, knowing how flimsy the justifications for the Vietnam and Iraq wars were, it seems both could have been stopped by rejecting those justifications at the time. It is tragic how easily those wars were begun.

We should make sure the United States does not begin a war with Iran. We should proactively prepare to anticipate and counter the attempted justifications that the Administration is likely to use. We should make clear to our Congressional representatives that we expect them to reject a call for war, if it comes.

I’m old enough to remember the coordinated, national days calling for a Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. I was a Senior at Scattergood Friends School and Farm, near West Branch, Iowa. On one of the Moratorium Days, the entire school and most of the teachers walked in silence to the University of Iowa, 12 miles away, to participate in the activities on the campus there. I remember seeing mannequins floating in the river and passionate speeches.

Why don’t we organize some National Days to Prevent a War in Iran? Let’s be proactive and stop this new disaster that appears to be unfolding before our eyes now?

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1 Response to Stop the March to War

  1. Johan Maurer says:

    Pacifists are often challenged with “what would you have done in X emergency?” — as if the only point of intervention is when the bullets are flying. Since almost every conceivable emergency can be foreseen and confronted non-lethally ahead of time, we ought to be organizing NOW for peaceful solutions, as you suggest.

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