We write to you again, this time to say we are saddened to see that you now clearly believe in the tired, inhumane and unworkable assumption that violence will somehow work; that might makes right. But that is not the only thing we need to tell you.
We are not just saddened. We are angry. We are outraged by these actions—this practice of “death from above”—you are ordering, causing the killing and wounding of hundreds of innocent people, as exemplified by the recent horrific attacks in Afghanistan.
When will it be enough, Mr. President? What is the number of dead and injured at which you will say “this can’t go on"; the number at which you will decide it’s time to turn away from violence and find another way? This really is the question upon which everything else will turn—how many bodies are too many? You know it is impossible to kill our way to a resolution, if for no other reason than every death and injury creates even more people willing to fight and die to remove us from their land.
We’ve been through this before, Mr. President, and I don’t mean that in a rhetorical way. We veterans have indeed been through this all before—unlike most of the people in our country or in your administration. We have seen and heard and smelled and felt what “death from above” actually means, not in a briefing report but right there in our hands and before our eyes. We’ve seen the look in the eyes of the people we occupied. We felt their anger and their humiliation. We remember these things well, Mr. President, because these images and feelings will not go away no matter how many years pass.
Veterans For Peace will continue to speak out against such crimes. We will do so along with the growing numbers of people who are telling you that by going down this road you are making a tragic mistake. We no longer face the old question of “guns or butter?” Now the question is: Will we completely destroy our economy with all that that means, or will we step back from the brink and do what our humanity demands of us before the slide into moral and economic ruin is irreversible?
At some point, Mr. President, you will decide to turn away from violence, to end these occupations. As we wrote before, we stand ready to assist you in any effort to find another way. Until then you will find us in the streets.
Veterans For Peace
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This story was published on May 17, 2009.