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Nonviolent Strategies for Protesting War

The aggressive policies of the current Bush administration, especially against Iraq but also the "war on terrorism" and the new strategy for world domination by military might, have aroused the peace movement throughout the world. Many people are outraged that the United States is perpetrating a "pre-emptive war" on specious grounds. Millions of people have marched in various cities all around the world to protest these crimes against peace (as defined by the Nuremberg Principles). I have much experience in protesting, and for those considering civil disobedience I recommend they consult the Nonviolent Action Handbook. Now I believe the time has come for direct action and resistance against an immoral and illegal war, although many people may continue to engage in creative Actions that are legal and will probably not result in being arrested. It is important that we build as large a movement as possible, because this is going to be a long campaign, which if successful could lead to a nonviolent revolution and world-wide disarmament. We need what Einstein called a "chain reaction of awareness" to educate people that nonviolent solutions work better than military ones. Usually the people dedicated enough to commit civil disobedience are the most aware on the issues and can be educating many people with bold and daring actions. The Bush administration has plans, as Reagan did in the 1980s, to arrest and intern dissenters to an active war; but budgetary constrains in both federal and state governments make it difficult to incarcerate large numbers of people. Fortunately the democratic process deterred Reagan from ever actually invading Nicaragua or El Salvador with U.S. forces, and this was prevented; but the Bush administration has already started locking up "terrorists" based on their ethnicity and national origin. These already violate the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the United States Constitution. Bush hard-liners would like to imprison many protestors on justifiable grounds that they broke the law. Many people might see them as martyrs, but many others would think that they broke the law and deserve to go to jail. In addition many active protesters can use our First Amendment rights to speak out, to assemble for the redress of grievances, and to publish educational materials and leaflets to hand out to many people in public places in order to reach many more people. If people are arrested for exercising their rights, oppressive authorities will not have any justification, and people will have more sympathy for those arrested. I think people can do both. I intend to use direct action in order to make a strong protest, and I expect that I will soon be arrested. I ask you to consider your strategies carefully.

I recommend that people sign the Iraq Peace Pledge whichever you decide. I ask people of conscience to refrain from paying federal income tax to the U.S. Government, because half of it supports expenditures for war, which are crimes against international law. You can file a new W-4 form with your employer indicating that you are exempt from federal withholding tax so that you can refuse to pay for the war crimes. During the Clinton administration the United States passed a law making it illegal to contribute money to any terrorist organization. The United States Government is the largest terrorist organization in the history of the world. Since the era of the Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the United States military has killed by far more people than anyone else. Therefore, like Thoreau, I ask people to stop paying for war and recommend the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

Since the United States is invading Iraq, I recommend that people either go on strike or go to work and vocalize their opposition to the war crimes. Then meet with your local peace group to plan other actions.

BEST FOR ALL: How We Can Save the World
Letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan
2003 Peace Campaign (Sanderson wrote this account of his educational peace campaign for the Presidency of the United States during his four-month incarceration for nonviolently protesting the illegal invasion of Iraq.)
Opening Statement by Sanderson Beck, May 1, 2003
Testimony by Sanderson Beck, May 1, 2003
Closing Arguments by Sanderson Beck, May 1, 2003
May 2003 Letter to Judge Walsh by Sanderson Beck

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