Friday, June 29, 2012

Tuesday July 3: Independence from Drones

On Tuesdays, many of us are active tweeting to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan: #AfghanistanTuesday.

On Tuesday, July 3, join us to call for an end to drones killings and drones surveillance in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and everywhere else. We'll be tweeting using the #nodrones tag, and we'll be tweeting members of Congress.

Let's make it a REAL Independence Day this year -- Independence Day from DRONES!


Senator Rand Paul: Just introduced a bill that protects the privacy of Americans
from the government's unwarranted use of #drones
Joe Scarry: @SenRandPaul How about a bill to protect lives of non-Americans
from the government's unwarranted murder by drones?


Related posts

We are seeing a groundswell of opposition in this country to drones killings and drone surveillance. Grassroots resistance to drones: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

(See Independence Day - from DRONES! )










Kentucky has something very important to bring to the national movement to bring U.S. drone killings under control.  Kentucky's Rand Paul has been a lone voice in the U.S. Senate asking questions about drones and putting his foot down against the unilateral exercise of executive authority in conducting war by drone.

(See Question #1 for Kentuckians: Where Does Rand Paul Stand On Drones? on the No Drones Kentucky website)


There is an eerie similarity between events in the book Paul Revere's Ride and events in our world today. I'm thinking particularly of how a network of mass resistance springs into action.

(See New World Counterinsurgency: Deja Vu All Over Again)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Foucault and Drones: "Surveiller et Punir" Indeed!


It was several years ago that I first drew the connection between the work of Michel Foucault and drone surveillance and drone killing. At the time I pointed out that "Foucault understood [surveillance] to be symptomatic of the much larger project of societal rule. To Foucault, prior to the physical and bodily aspects of control and manipulation, there are aspects that have to do with seeing, knowing, naming, and categorizing."

We now know far more about how the Obama administration carries out drone surveillance and drone killing, especially in light of the New York Times article exposing Obama's "secret kill lists" several weeks ago. It seems like an appropriate time to revisit Foucault's dissection of surveillance and punishment.


"THE MEANS OF CORRECT TRAINING"
The fundamental insight of Foucault's work, "Surveiller et Punir: Naissance de la prison" (published in English as "Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison") is that through a set of practices (observation, norm-imputation, examination), extra-legal compulsion in diverse forms comes to permeate society. These practices are, in part, mimetic of the truth-finding and justice-dispensing practices of a true legal system, but fall far short of judicial due process.

Why speak of "rights" and "justice" when you have the means to impose power -- i.e. "train" your subjects -- unilaterally?

"HIERARCHICAL OBSERVATION"
According to Foucault, one of the principal marks of modern social organization is that observation is so important that whole categories of roles are reserved for simply watching what others are doing; in fact, organizations now institutionalize armies of watchers, as well as watchers of the watchers. (Got supervisors?)

Drone operators are certainly quintessential "watchers" of this kind. But Foucault's insight that these systems tend toward hierarchical (and total) observation alerts us to the fact that what lies ahead will almost certainly be worse. Work is being done to make drones "autonomous," that is, fully computer-controlled. "Signature strikes" -- in which observations are processed according to an algorithm to determine if a strike should be carried out, independent of human judgement about the actual identities of the people observed -- are a first indication of how this will be done.

In other words: "drone surveillance"? You ain't seen nothing yet!

"NORMALIZING JUDGEMENT"
All of the surveillance done by the watchers can only be put to use if there are standards of "normal" or "right" or "acceptable" behavior against which to compare the observations. This sets up both a fiction that there is a "right" way to be, and that the watchers are qualified to sit in judgement over the judged.

As the New York Times' description of Obama's secret kill list makes clear, Obama and his national security team sit as judge, jury, and executioner over a process of judgement of people subject to drone observation in Pakistan.

What is less clear is the "norm" against which the people there are judged. Is any adult male in the relevant areas of Pakistan assumed to be a "militant," unless proven otherwise?


What is similarly unclear is the qualifications of the "judges." As Eric Holder made clear when he (partially) divulged the rationale for the Administration's killings during his speech several months ago in Chicago, "due process" does not necessarily mean "judicial process."

"THE EXAMINATION"
Inherent in the scheme of "training" that Foucault understands to be at the heart of modern imposition of control is a third step: examination. If everyone is subject to observation, and everyone is subject to comparison to some "acceptable" measure of behavior, there must be some ritual(s) wherein the individual is required to stand and prove that they "pass the test."

The strange thing about the current state of U.S. drone killings is that they do not yet hint at what the "examination" stage will look like. At present, people are observed, and judged, and then unilaterally killed. But is that where it will all end?

If Foucault is right, the killings are just the beginning; they are just the leading edge of a much broader pattern of social control.

* * * * *

In the old order of things, power places itself on display, and hopes that the population sees fit to obey. In the new order of things, power compels every member of the population to display himself or herself.

In the old order of things, individualism is the way of the world. In the new order of things, individualism is relegated to the margins - the abnormal - and the cost of extreme individualism is extermination.

In the old order of things, all of society's capability for science and humanism is focused on the operating of due judicial process. In the new order of things, the courts are bypassed and the instruments of discipline -- observe, classify, examine -- run rampant.


Related posts

The biggest idea coming out of the 2013 Drone Summit? We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )







The panopticon was a prison design that reversed the old paradigm, in which prisoners were stored away, "out of sight, out of mind," and instead arrayed them in a way in which they could be observed as efficiently as possible by the fewest number of managers.

(See Drones, 1984, and Foucault's Panopticon)






Re-reading George Orwell's 1984 recently made me see at least 15 ways 2013 is like the world he describes in the book . . . .

See 2013 = 1984 ?






More at: Can we stop the DRONES?

* * * * *

Image sources:
Predator cockpit from Drone Wars UK
Situation room from Churls Gone Wild

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Independence Day - from DRONES!

We are seeing a groundswell of opposition in this country to drones killings and drone surveillance.


I N D E P E N D E N C E !


There are editorials against drones in local newspapers -- Chicago, Akron, Pittsburgh, and others -- and a new one seems to appear every day.

Grassroots networks to oppose drones killings and drone surveillance have sprung up in states like Illinois and Wisconsin:
Other states -- like New York and Nevada -- are the homes to longstanding drone opposition movements:
Leaders like Medea Benjamin will be in California, Oregon, New York, Maine, and other states in the weeks ahead to encourage the development of grassroots resistance to drones.

You can read more about the groundswell of drones resistance across the U.S. in this survey I prepared for Come Home America.

My prediction is that by the time the 4th of July rolls around, there will be grassroots networks established in most states, and the menace of drones will be in the front of everybody's minds.

Grassroots resistance to drones: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

* * * * *

Do you want help establishing a blog and Twitter account for the grassroots anti-drone network in your state? Contact me at jtscarry [at] yahoo.com.

Image source: Town of Williamsport, MD


Related posts

The patriotic thing to do on Independence Day is to start a conversation about something really important to our country (and the world), like stopping war and militarism.

(See Independence Day - from WAR and VIOLENCE! )



Check out these links to anti-drones activities that sprung up in 2012. Obviously, this is just a sampling of drones activism nationwide -- but a great place to start! (What are you prepared to do?)

(See Drones Activism: Big Stories in the No Drones Network)






The April Days of Action Against Drones 2013 have been imaginative, colorful, powerful, and inspiring! Look at the images on this page and click through to learn more about the ones that you want to know more about.

(See April Days of Action Against Drones: HIGHLIGHTS!)


Grassroots "No Drones" campaigns are happening across the country, and soon there will be one in every state. Get active with the people working to stop drone killings and drone surveillance in your area today!
(See Drones Groups Nationwide - State by State List )









Joe Scarry: @SenRandPaul How about a bill to protect lives of non-Americans from the government's unwarranted murder by drones?

(See Tuesday July 3: Independence from Drones )





Tuesday, June 12, 2012

VIVAS! to the "Unlawful Enemy Combatants"

The current conduct of the "war on terror" depends fundamentally on placing certain people "beyond the pale" -- in other words, entitled to neither civilian justice (because they are fighters) nor military justice (because they are not "soldiers"). They belong to a third, ill-defined category, that of "unlawful enemy combatant". They exist in legal limbo. This is the basic fact exposed in the film The Response, about the Combatant Status Review Tribunals.


I remember being at a screening of "The Response" at Columbia University in January, 2010, and hearing the legal scholar Matthew Waxman talk about the possibility that the legal field really needed to address this third, not-civilian, not-military status. At the time, I felt an inward revolt against this categorization, this reduction of people to "non-person" status. I held as an article of faith an idea I learned in Jane Mayer's book, The Dark Side: there is no such thing as a person who does not have a status under the Geneva Conventions.

I maintain my view that the types of combatant status defined under the Geneva Conventions should be our guidepost. But now I am also beginning to wonder if this notion of a "third type of status" -- one that differs sharply from our conventional notion of soldiers as "state actors" -- isn't pointing us to some profound truth about war and peace, violence and non-violence.

WHAT IF we stopped the pretense that "terrorism" is something different than "war"? (War IS terror.)

WHAT IF we admitted that, in terror/war, it is the commission of acts of violence and the injury of victims that is at issue? (Every other aspect of "military affairs" is a sideshow.)

WHAT IF we began to ask what ethics enter into the commission of acts of violence -- and in what ways this may be different when violence is committed in the service of a personal conviction/choice vs. when violence is committed in the service of state power? (In other words, personal responsibility EXISTS.)

Today, the U.S. government assassinates people week in, week out, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, using drones and other means, and the mainstream U.S. press unquestioningly publishes accounts of these killings, parroting characterizations of the dead as "terrorists" or "militants." And hundreds of people -- technicians, operators, analysts, etc. -- are in the "kill chain" for each of those killings, with very little sign that any of them ever raise a moral objection.

It has long ago been pointed out that these victims are in many cases indistinguishable from people who were hailed as "heroes" when they fought conscientiously against the Soviet invaders of Afghanistan (viz. Charlie Wilson's War).

I was recently present when a leader in the field of war crimes investigation denounced the failure of international courts to act on reports of war crimes. When "lawful" combatants can commit depredations with impunity, is the "law of war" and "military law" really of any significance?

SO . . . .

Is it possible that the so-called "unlawful" type of combatant is not more violent or less principled than the so-called "lawful" type?

Is it possible that the so-called "unlawful" type of combatant is, in fact, less violent and more principled than the so-called "lawful" type?

And if either or both of these are, in fact, the case, what consequences does this imply for human society?

These questions need to be addressed.
* * * * *
ON THE IMAGE ACCOMPANYING THIS POST
My children grew up in Lexington, MA, where they were given a very clear idea of the heroism of "irregular" combatants.

ON THE TITLE TO THIS POST
I grew up in Chatham, NJ, where we also had a Revolutionary tradition, but one that was a bit more conventional than the one to which my children were exposed.

When I was in high school, our revered English teacher, Mr. Foley, taught us the line "Vivas to those who have failed ...." from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass Mr. Foley encouraged us to think about people who have the courage to try something really difficult and also deal with the consequences of failure. That was a unique perspective in that very mainstream suburb where I grew up. I'm not sure I've fully internalized Mr. Foley's lesson, even today. But I'm trying ....
I play not a march for victors only . . . . I play great marches for conquered and slain persons.

Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall . . . . battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.

I sound triumphal drums for the dead . . . . I fling through my embouchures the loudest and gayest music to them,
Vivas to those who have failed, and to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea, and those themselves who sank in the sea,
And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes, and the number-less unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Was the Crucifixion a "signature strike"?


[I'm grateful to the Rev. Loren McGrail for initiating the dialog on drones and theology in Chicago, and for getting me thinking about this question.]

It seems to me that the locus of the problem of drones and drone killing for Christians really lies in this notion of how we see others. What Christ said, I think, is that it is necessary to really see each individual -- up close -- and also see beyond the usual set of categories that we apply in putting people in boxes.

So much of Jesus' teaching was about being with people without regard to the usual rules and prejudices of tradition, custom ... and Jewish law. The ultimate teaching is Matthew 25, which says "be fully aware of who and what you are really seeing."


This ties, I think, to a related problem that concerns me a great deal: the way in which victims of U.S. drone strikes are charactertized in the press as "terrorists" without any of the finding of fact or the real ajudication that is called for. And then we, the readers, inwardly and outwardly parrot these characterizations. To me, this has given weight to the commandment against "false witness," in a way I can really understand for the first time.

All of this is what is taking place at the edge of current military practice. There is the myth of "precision," when in fact there is no real contact between the adversaries. There is less "seeing" than ever before in the history of armed conflict. And now "signature strikes" are carried out -- not against a specific person, but against some person or people whose characteristics seem to fit a profile. (Yes, ultimately these decisions will be fully "automated" -- made completely according to computer programs.)

I think this is very much what Jesus was teaching about; it is also what he went up against in giving up his own life. At Easter, I read the part of Pilate in the reading of the Passion (from Mark) at St. Luke's Logan Square, and I was struck by how Pilate seemed very aware of -- and very uncomfortable with -- the "box" that he was being asked to put Jesus in. And Jesus was very much struggling to deal with those boxes. ("You say that I am.") As such, the Crucifixion was a form of "signature strike."



Related posts

We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )








"Who's being left on the margins? Isn't that exactly who we should be working to be in relationship with?" A big part of this is creating a safe space for people who are most often marginalized to be present and be heard. 

(See Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry))






In the old order of things, power places itself on display, and hopes that the population sees fit to obey. In the new order of things, power compels every member of the population to display himself or herself . . .  In the new order of things, the courts are bypassed and the instruments of discipline -- observe, classify, examine -- run rampant.

(See "Surveiller et Punir" Indeed!)


More at: Can we stop the DRONES?

Image: Jesus before Pontius Pilate (Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna) from Nick in exsilio on Flickr

Saturday, June 9, 2012

When "Pre-emptive Violence" Is Automated ....

The passing of science fiction visionary Ray Bradbury is a good moment for all of us to pause and think deeply about the unexamined characteristics, and social consequences, of technology.

In particular, I am thinking today about what happens when you combine a political idea like "pre-emption" with a computer technology like unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).

An ideology that has grown in the past twenty or thirty years is that of "pre-emption" -- namely, "get them before they get us." Let's be clear: the word "pre-emption" really means "pre-emptive violence." It has spurred a whole discourse about the logic of saying "your violence is unacceptable, therefore I will use violence to stop (or prevent) it."

Practitioners of "pre-emptive violence" come in all shapes and sizes. One flavor is the "Strauss" school of foreign policy, which is generally recognized to have informed the Bush aggressions in the Middle East. Another flavor is what we in the West refer to as "terrorism," such as that practiced by Al Qaeda. Unless you have been asleep for the past decade, you are aware that, with each passing day, there is more and more recognition that all forms of "pre-emptive violence" are related, and that all are forms of "terrorism."

Beyond recognizing the inherent contradictions of "pre-emptive violence," we must confront an urgent problem related to technology: the automation of "pre-emptive violence" -- e.g. via drone technology -- is leading to a spiral (or "loop" or "recursive process"*) that we may not be able to get out of.

I've written frequently in the past about the moral problems inherent in the violence being carried out every day by the United States using drones. But today, please consider a consequence that goes beyond the moral: as more and more drones are put in the air, with more and more automated logic, and "signature strikes" become more and more prevalent, and the populations subject to those "signature strikes" devote more and more of their time, energy, and commitment to pre-empting such strikes -- almost certainly with advanced technology of some sort or other -- how long will it be before people are no longer "in the loop" and have lost the opportunity to intervene in the spiral of violence?

Please: I'd like the apostles of "pre-emptive violence" to explain how this ends.

*Note: alert readers will notice that I lumped together "loops" and "recursive processes," though these two concepts are not exactly the same. Watch for a future blog post on the implications of this difference!

Related posts

With drones, people become just dots. "Bugs." People who no longer count as people . . . .

(See Drone Victims: Just Dots? Just Dirt? )





The biggest idea coming out of the 2013 Drone Summit? We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )






Many of us who weren't in Pakistan to participate in the massive rally against U.S. drone strikes participated in this protest by holding rallies where we were (for instance, in London), or by participating virtually via the #PakistanAgainstDrones campaign on Twitter.

(See What Would a Global Movement to Ground the Drones Look Like?)


Nautilus shell image: Fantastic Forwards

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Obama? NO! Activism? YES!

I made the provocative suggestion yesterday that antiwar people should withhold their vote instead of supporting Barack Obama -- resisting "Barackmail" -- and instead put their time and energy into activism.

For myself, once I recognized that no one else -- not Obama, not anyone -- was going to be the simple answer to reversing U.S. war, militarism, violence, and human rights violations, it opened whole new doors to activism.


Occupy Palm Sunday! 2012 in Logan Square, Chicago


One place I've focused my activism is my church community. Last fall, at the time of the Afghanistan invasion anniversary, I posed the question, "Where is the Church?" In the weeks and months that followed, I realized that I, myself, had to be part of the solution of giving direction to the Church.

Below are posts about some of the activities that we've done in our church community at St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square (Chicago) to try to take on questions of war and peace, and to explore the ways of nonviolence and justice.

SCREENING: "The Response"
As we approached the 10th anniversary of the use of Guantanamo for indefinite detention of suspects in the “war on terror,” we screened and discussed this film about the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) at Guantanamo. The screening gave us a chance to talk about the issues, the film itself, and the upcoming efforts by Amnesty International and a coalition of a dozen other organizations to reform U.S. detention practices.


ceasefire: "violence interrupters"


SCREENING: "The Interrupters"
At the end of March, we did a screening and discussion of this film about the program being undertaken in Chicago and elsewhere by Ceasefire to "interrupt" incidents of neighborhood violence. We were joined by Eddie Bocanegra, one of the Ceasefire “interrupters” featured in the film. Eddie now works with the Community Renewal Society, and he was joined by Kristin Holm to talk about some of the CRS initiatives in which St. Luke’s is participating (see below). In addition, Raul Echevarria and Darrell Johnson from ALSO joined us to talk about specific programs in the Logan Square & Humboldt Park areas.


OCCUPY PALM SUNDAY
Members of St. Luke's and other congregations from across Logan Square and Humboldt Park processed from their respective houses of worship to the Logan Square monument at the end of services on April 1 to Occupy Palm Sunday! We sang and chanted songs of protest and praise as they occupied the green space at Kedzie, Milwaukee and Logan Boulevard. We held a series of teach-ins on topics reflecting the real needs of our neighbors in Logan Square and the ministries of our congregations, including healthcare, housing, hunger and immigration.


Berlin: Ged├Ąchtniskirche


ADULT EDUCATION: "NATO: A Mighty Fortress is Our God?"
With NATO about to come to Chicago for its summit, we did a 4-week study program. It was our hope that, through our shared community, we could all attain a greatly expanded understanding of the significance of NATO, of our own responsibility for addressing the growing militarism in the world, and for coming up with ways that conflicts can be resolved without violence. We also hoped, through our example, to engage in conversation with other congregations in our neighborhood and throughout Chicago — and, in fact, everywhere! — about these issues and how faith communities can take them up.


SCREENING: "Bonhoeffer"
On May 6, we looked at the experience of the WWII-era Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazi regime for his acts of resistance. We screened and discussed Martin Doblmeier’s film “Bonhoeffer”. Our guests for the discussion included people knowledgeable about modern-day resisters against militarism, such as Bradley Manning.

ART EXHIBIT: "Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan"
St. Luke’s is fortunate to be exhibiting a selection of reproductions from a special lending exhibition of the Windows and Mirrors project -- an art collection and traveling exhibition consisting of 45 murals created by artists from all over the world who have tried to capture the experience of the war in Afghanistan and to make it visible to people everywhere. The collection is a project of the American Friends Service Committee.


Celebration of Resistance
Evening of Arts to Resist NATO


 PERFORMANCE: International Voices for Humanity and the Planet
On Friday, May 18, St. Luke's hosted an event sponsored by World Can’t Wait: an evening of arts and music entitled, “International Voices for Humanity & the Planet: Unite! Inspire! Resist! An Evening of Arts to Oppose NATO.” Singer/songwriter David Rovics headlined an evening of story, poetry, inspiration, resistance to US/NATO war crimes – and the evening included a special acoustic set by OUTERNATIONAL!


ASCENSION SUNDAY
This year Ascension Sunday coincided with the NATO Summit in Chicago. On this day, we addressed ourselves to the challenge of “taking our faith public” and lifting up peace. On May 20, we held a joint open-air worship service with area congregations, after which some members of our congregations followed the cross out at the end of worship to proclaim a message about peace during the protests at the NATO summit in downtown Chicago.

 
That's how we've been working to tackle these questions in Logan Square, Chicago. What conversations are you having where YOU live?


Related posts


In the tallgrass prairie native to Chicago, there are certain flowers that are very pretty but if you try to cut them down, they just come back ten times as strong.

(See Never Try to Silence a Tuesdayista )














Saturday, October 8, 2011 (or thereabouts) ... when people are together with others, protesting the war. Now is the time we must: Get people to make a commitment! What are they going to do to make a difference in this problem? What time will they commit? What promise will they make to themselves that will make sure they don't fail to contribute to the solution of this problem?

(See The hour is approaching: Make a commitment! )











Grassroots "No Drones" campaigns are happening across the country, and soon there will be one in every state. Get active with the people working to stop drone killings and drone surveillance in your area today!

(See No Drones Groups Nationwide - State by State List on the No Drones Network website)





I've realized that when we ask ourselves, "What is it that we hope people will do?" we must include an element of recursivity: One of the things we want people to do is to involve more people in doing it. In a way, that element of recursivity -- dare I say "evangelism"? -- defines what it means for people to really become part of a movement.

(See Invite More People into Activism! (Pass It Along!) )

Monday, June 4, 2012

#Barackmail

I don't know about you, but I'm getting really pissed off at the Obama campaign people and other Obama supporters who think that the way to rebut criticism of Obama is to say, "Well, you have no other choice but to vote for Obama."

"Mitt would be worse!" is NOT a rebuttal to "I cannot support a President who kills children with drone strikes."

"Do you think Romney would be any better?" is NOT an answer to "I am morally opposed to a President who directs extrajudicial executions."

"If you don't vote for Obama, the Republicans will win!" is IRRELEVANT to the question, "What happened to closing Guantanamo and ending indefinite detention?"

"What do you think the Republicans would do?" is INSUFFICIENT to the questions, "Ten more years in Afghanistan? Daily CIA incursions into Pakistan? Threats of war against Iran? Yemen drone strikes? Somalia drone strikes? ....."

Until we Americans start voting our consciences, and fight back against "Barackmail," we're going to be stuck in an endless swamp of civil liberties violations, foreign aggression, and war crimes.

Election2012: YOU are the candidate!

For a long time, people have been beginning to realize that the Presidential election in the United States is a farce, and that their attention to the vote for President is a distraction from the opportunity to apply energy and pressure to bringing about REAL change.

Nothing could have made that more clear than the exposition of the Obama role in carrying out extrajudicial executions, published last week in the New York Times.

We get told that we have to swallow this behavior (and a lot more) from one or the other Presidential candidate because we have no alternative. That there are only two choices ....


What are people supposed to do?

Here is my simple suggestion for how to make the rest of the Election2012 season meaningful for you:

(1) WITHHOLD YOUR VOTE
Make up your mind right now that you are not going to surrender your vote to any Presidential candidate that does not meet your standards for moral, legal, and peaceful conduct.

Make up your mind that WITHHOLDING your vote is actually a greater expression of power than being forced to proffer it when you are getting nothing in return.

Recognize that the consequence of a large number of people withholding their vote will be to expose the lack of mandate that the President has to continue unilaterally and high-handedly embarking on wars and killing.

And now start to think of how you will apply your energy and intelligence, now that you are free of the illusion of participation in the Presidential charade ....

(2) PUT YOUR ENERGY WHERE SOMEONE IS LISTENING
Now that you're no longer wasting your time engaging in imaginary conversations with Barack Obama (or Mitt Romney), find a real person to talk to.

(2)(a) Fire your congressman
C'mon. You know you want to.

If you still have some hope left that Congress is able to represent us -- able, for instance, to exercise its war powers -- then by all means put some energy into getting rid of the current members who have been so complicit in war after war. Maybe better ones can be found.

But, at the same time, promise yourself that you won't let Congress eat up your all your energy ... because the really valuable place to spend your time is ....

(2)(b) Have conversations with your fellow citizens
Imagine if you took all -- or nearly all -- of the energy that you save paying attention to the Presidential campaign charade and devoted that to serious conversations with others about what it would take to really the US's war-making ways. Imagine conversations in which you used all of your intelligence and realism to talk honestly about why things are the way they are, and what it would really take to change them. Imagine talking about it from the standpoint not of the limited choices we've been handed, but -- first and foremost -- what our moral standards demand. Imagine talking about what we want for our children. Imagine talking about how we would make it happen if we used all of our ingenuity and determination.

(3) BE SURPRISED!
Be surprised -- be very surprised! -- at how different the landscape appears, once you step up to the plate and start to make the effort to have these conversations. Discover that, instead of being isolated in a sea of people who don't care and aren't willing to do anything, you are, in fact, surrounded by people who think and feel the same way you do, and are yearning for opportunities to work together to stop the wars and killing.

* * * * *

Is this the perfect solution? Perhaps not. But at least it's a first step in getting people talking about how to make this election season different ... and to start us on the road to REAL change!

What's your solution? Let's have a conversation ....

* * * * *

Check out some of the ways we've been broadening the conversation about war and peace, justice and nonviolence, and more in Logan Square, Chicago.