Zero More: A Call for Mass Revolt

2006-04-16

Richard Moore

a sincere voice experiences dismay, and seeks some way to make a difference...
rkm

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http://www.ctsastl.org/site/publications_more.php?id=334_0_12_0_M

Zero More: A Call for Mass Revolt

War anniversaries are dangerous things. As I read about the marches 
and rallies being planned for this weekend and the coming weeks, and 
receive myriad requests to add my name to online petitions or to 
email my representatives, I have one, clear, overwhelming feeling. We 
cannot afford to "celebrate" yet one more milestone in this horrific 
"Long War" so quietly.

"You brood of vipers!
Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees."
And the crowds asked him, "What, then, shall we do?"

War anniversaries are dangerous things. As I read about the marches 
and rallies being planned for this weekend and the coming weeks, and 
receive myriad requests to add my name to online petitions or to 
email my representatives, I have one, clear, overwhelming feeling. We 
cannot afford to "celebrate" yet one more milestone in this horrific 
"Long War" so quietly.

The assault these past years' -- 'on Afghanistan, on Iraq, on 
international laws and treaties, on the environment, on our 
democracy' -- 'has been so relentless, so sustained, so brazen, that 
the resistance often looks flaccid and half-hearted by comparison. We 
appear unconvinced that any of our activity really matters or that we 
could possibly achieve real results.

An attack on Iran is being prepared in full view of us all, another 
act of international aggression with horrendous implications, and we 
act as though we are mere passive observers. We're already gearing up 
for the witty conversations we'll have about Bush incompetence after 
the bombs fall on Tehran.

Who is the we? Most of us, I'd argue. Men and women of goodwill who 
polls tell us now form a majority, a majority that is growing larger 
each day. The majority who understand the fundamental role of 
international law and treaty obligations for our peaceful coexistence 
on this planet, know that debased language has poisoned our public 
discourse, and recoil at the violence that the United States 
continues to unleash. And yet, a majority that acts strangely 
disconnected and disempowered.

I sat down to write a much longer piece, all full of facts and 
figures, but before I could come up for air, my head was spinning and 
I was ready to vomit. Such is the toxic effect of the paralyzing 
propaganda we have come to mistake for oxygen. So, I've opted for the 
spare and stark. As Flannery O'Connor once counseled, in times of 
moral eclipse "you have to make your vision apparent by shock' -- 'to 
the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and 
startling figures."

Here is a grotesque and startling figure:

The United States is on a murderous rampage. The inexorable logic of 
unending, preventive war is now playing itself out, and though armed 
to the teeth and responsible for launching a series of wars of 
aggression, our own squeamishness prevents us from gazing directly at 
the destruction we continue to wreak.

The uncounted bodies of nameless Afghan and Iraqi men, women and 
children lie in heaps while our leaders hasten to pronounce it good. 
The unnamed languish in our prisons, tortured for our safety. But the 
rest of the world sees all too clearly' -- 'and these men, women, and 
children do have names and are being counted.

"War is essentially an evil thing," the Nuremburg Tribunal declared. 
"Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, 
but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, 
therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme 
international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it 
contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The accumulated evil of the whole: detention without charge, trial or 
hope of release of more than 14,000 Iraqis in prisons across that 
country and naming it democracy; construction of permanent bases from 
which our troops quietly order sharply increased and more lethal 
bombing raids masked by assurances of withdrawal; the wanton 
destruction of Iraq's infrastructure and pillaging of its economy. 
And torture.

Another startling image: Our democracy is in free fall. This is not 
mere rhetorical flourish, but rather a statistical reality. Except 
for the very few' -- 'so few as to be counted on the fingers of a 
couple hands' -- 'the members of Congress have abandoned control. 
They have abdicated. Not only can we not expect them to provide 
checks and balances or to mount an opposition, we can be assured that 
they are actively participating in our democracy's destruction.

After a talk in Binghamton last week, Noam Chomsky was asked a 
familiar question. "We agree with so much of what you said, but what 
should we do?" Chomsky was straight. "In Bolivia they don't ask, what 
can I do, they go ahead and do it." His prescription? "Start acting 
like you live in a democracy!"

He offered this analysis. "The more privilege and wealth and 
opportunity that people have, the more they feel helpless, because 
wealth and privilege are associated with massive indoctrination from 
infancy to make you feel helpless, isolated, incapable of doing 
anything alone, and so on, but it's just not true."

"All that's required is to overcome the democratic deficit," Chomsky 
argued. "That is, to organize people who are already convinced."

So, here is a simple call.

Let's begin organizing those who are already convinced that wars of 
aggression are illegal and immoral and must be stopped. Let's do it 
with a seriousness and passion that announces the belief that we will 
prevail.

Let's choose a single tool that is readily at hand.

Let today mark the beginning of a concerted, thirty-day mass tax 
revolt. Refuse to pay the taxes you owe. Take the money that you are 
about to enclose with your 1040 or your quarterly estimated return 
and put it in an envelope in your desk drawer. Write your 
representative and senators and tell them that you will provide ZERO 
MORE to this government until it renounces a policy of aggressive war 
making.

If your taxes are withheld and you don't owe anything right now, 
complete a new W4 and increase your number of exemptions to reduce or 
eliminate your withholding. Let your representatives know that you've 
done it and why.

Then issue this call to everyone you know who is already convinced. 
Pay no taxes, today. This is not tax resistance, this is a tax revolt.

This is a tactic. It's a way of putting our communal hand on the one 
lever over which we have direct control.

The endless war of aggression

On March 16, the Bush administration released its newly updated 
national security strategy in which it renewed its commitment to 
unilateral, aggressive war, cloaked ever so thinly in the language of 
legitimacy. "If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of 
self defense, we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, 
even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's 
attack. When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially 
so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers 
materialize."

The war on Iraq that was to be a cakewalk' -- 'and would pay for 
itself' -- 'has robbed the humans of this planet of hundreds of 
billions of dollars, and even were it to stop this instant, will 
continue its bloody demands well into the future in care for the 
victims, combatants and civilians alike. Estimates put the real total 
cost somewhere between 1 and 2 trillion dollars.

The war on Iraq is a brutal war of aggression. German and Japanese 
leaders hanged for this crime. "No political or economic situation 
can justify" the crime of aggression, wrote Associate United States 
Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the 
Nuremberg Tribunal. "If certain acts in violation of treaties are 
crimes they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether 
Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of 
criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have 
invoked against us."

Threatening Iran' -- 'in their own words

And now, Iran.

"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from 
Iran," says the administration's March 16th security document. While 
vowing that the US is committed to diplomacy, it ends with a naked 
threat of military action. "This diplomatic effort must succeed if 
confrontation is to be avoided."

The rhetoric has been escalating for more than a year.

Dick Cheney (Jan 2005): "The Israelis might well decide to act first, 
and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic 
mess afterwards'...' I will never take any option off the table."

George Bush (Feb 2005): "This notion that the United States is 
getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, 
all options are on the table."

George Bush (Aug 2005): "As I say, all options are on the table. The 
use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we've 
used force in the recent past to secure our country."

Hillary Clinton (Jan 2006): "We cannot take any option off the table 
in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran."

Donald Rumsfeld (Feb 2006): "All options, including the military one, 
are on the table."

John Bolton (March 2006): "The ability to deal with the threat of 
proliferation of nuclear weapons that Iran poses is something that is 
going to be very important for us to track closely and that's why the 
President has said repeatedly no options are off the table."

Robert Joseph, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control (March 2006) 
"We are giving every chance to diplomacy to work'...' No options are 
off the table."

Dick Cheney (March 2006): "The Iranian regime needs to know that if 
it stays on its present course, the international community is 
prepared to impose meaningful consequences. For our part, the United 
States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the 
irresponsible conduct of the regime."

Richard Perle (March 2006): "If you want to try to wait until the 
very last minute, you'd better be very confident of your intelligence 
because if you're not, you won't know when the last minute is. And 
so, ironically, one of the lessons of the inadequate intelligence of 
Iraq is you'd better be careful how long you choose to wait."

Condoleezza Rice (March 2006): "We may face no greater challenge from 
a single country than from Iran. We do not have a problem with the 
Iranian people. We want the Iranian people to be free. Our problem is 
with the Iranian regime."

What should we do?

Tom Porteous, a BBC analyst writes this week in TomPaine.com, "Make 
no mistake. The current posture and policy of the United States are 
leading inexorably towards a military showdown with Iran that could 
have profoundly negative consequences for Iran, for the region and 
for the United States. For all the studied vagueness and ambiguity of 
senior United States and European officials, for all the talk of a 
long diplomatic process, of economic sanctions and political 
isolation, at the end of this road lies the opening of another front 
in America's 'Long War'"

On March 15, Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies 
offered an equally sobering assessment, "The Bush administration's 
rapid escalation of anti-Iran rhetoric in the last few months should 
not be dismissed as posturing. Some of the attacks, especially 
Vice-President Cheney's and UN Ambassador John Bolton's speeches to 
the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee convention, were clearly 
aimed at least partly at that specific audience. But this 
administration has a history of carrying out actions widely viewed, 
even among U.S. elites, as reckless and dangerous."

Given the complete collapse of democratic processes in Washington, it 
is no surprise that Porteous concludes, "So there is no serious 
debate about the credible alternatives to military action in Iran. 
The United States is drifting unnecessarily towards military 
confrontation with the largest and richest state in the Middle East, 
with grave implications for the future of Western relations with the 
Muslim world. And everyone is busily pretending that it is not 
happening."

On February 16 the House of Representatives voted 404-4 to condemn 
the Government of Iran for violating its international nuclear 
nonproliferation obligations and expressing support for efforts to 
report Iran to the United Nations Security Council. New censures are 
in the works in both the House and Senate.

Speaking of Iran, John McCain told a panel, "I don't know of any 
carrot that works."

Asked whether Congress had the political will to use military force 
against Iran if necessary, Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist said: 
"The answer is yes, absolutely."

No reader of this piece doesn't already know more than enough. What 
is left is to act.

Enough! ZERO MORE! Richard Perle is right' -- 'in the face of 
imperfect intelligence we cannot wait to act. Now is the time to 
mount our revolt.

As you put your name on the next petition, or take yourself to 
another rally or march, I urge you to also pledge ZERO MORE. Take 
whatever you currently owe the government and put it in your bottom 
drawer. Tell the IRS, your representatives, Bush, and anyone who will 
listen to you that you will contribute ZERO MORE to this global 
madness and that your money will stay in your drawer as long as it 
takes to bring our government under control. If you are about to 
enclose a check with your 1040, send a note for ZERO MORE instead. 
Likewise your estimated quarterly tax. Your telephone tax.

This doesn't require a long-term plan. You don't have to arrange the 
rest of your life around tax resistance. But if you are serious about 
bringing the killing and destruction to an end, pledge ZERO MORE now. 
This is a tactical decision. Serve notice to elected representatives 
that there will be no more money to spend until the United States 
joins the civilized nations of the world who respect international 
laws and treaties.

This is a simple tactic. In the next thirty days we will organize the 
already convinced. After you have put your own tax dollars in your 
bottom drawer, talk with ten people you know who are already 
convinced and persuade them to do the same.

Then get the message out. Paint a red Z on your front window and tell 
passersby what it means. Hang a ZERO MORE banner from an overpass. 
Take to the streets this weekend with ZERO MORE leaflets. Make sure 
that everyone taking part in a vigil, rally, march, protest, or 
demonstration has heard the ZERO MORE call and get them to join the 
revolt.

If you have ever written a blog entry denouncing the Bush 
administration's wars, put your tax dollars in a drawer today and 
blog about that.

Inclined to write a letter to the editor? Fine. Withhold your tax 
dollars and write about that.

If you are a lawyer who has worried about the assault on 
international law and domestic freedoms and have perhaps even written 
about it, put your tax dollars in a drawer and let your colleagues 
know.

If you are a medical professional and are outraged by the complicity 
of doctors in the torture of prisoners, pledge ZERO MORE, tell ten 
others you've done it and ask them to join you.

If you belong to a military family and want the troops home now, 
pledge ZERO MORE, and spread the word.

If you've taken part in a conversation with a colleague, friend or 
relative any time over the past five years lamenting the wars of 
aggression and demise of democracy, pledge ZERO MORE, and gain the 
commitment of those same conversation partners.

By April 15 how many will have joined this mass revolt? And by April 
29, when the next big demonstration is planned for New York City, 
will the tens of thousands who gather in the streets be a potent sign 
of the revolt that has been launched?

I am starting my conversations today; beginning with members of the 
Center for Theology and Social Analysis, close friends, neighbors, 
and colleagues. I'll let you know where we stand one week from now.

Will you pledge ZERO MORE today and spread this call?

Go to http://www.zeromore.net to download a page to share. Withhold 
your taxes today.

Posted by: Andrew Wimmer on Mar 16, 06
-- 

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