Anti-war movement

social movement opposed to a nation's status of armed conflict

An anti-war movement (also antiwar) is a social movement of people who advocate peace, diplomacy, & adherance to the rule of law in international relations as opposed to the use of military deadly force to start or carry on an armed conflict, typically in order to gain control over coveted resources. Anti-war activists work through protest and other grassroots means to pressure politicians to avoid or end particular wars or conflicts.

The best insurance against a catastrophic war of choice, now and going forward, is a permanent anti-war movement that opposes all illegal or imprudent wars, insisting on public debates and congressional votes, no matter how small the conflict. ~Conor Friedersdorf
Last Thursday [May 23, 2019], the US Army asked its followers in a tweet, “How has serving impacted you?”...More than 10,000 people replied in response with an outpouring of antiwar sentiments detailing the horrors, crimes and ravages of war. Many of the comments are harrowing stories of lives completely undone, a portrait of an entire population scarred and destroyed by US militarism at home and abroad. “Your impact is that you’re a death cult,”... ~ George Marlowe
"Many of us are a shell of who we were before,” said one military veteran...“My best friend from high school...was denied his mental health treatment and forced to return to a third tour in Iraq, despite having such deep trauma that he could barely function. He...shot himself in the head two weeks before deploying. ~George Marlowe
A United States Army suicide prevention poster
if you add in... veterans’ issues & ... nuclear weapons, over a trillion dollars that we spend every year on militarism. ~Medea Benjamin
The Pentagon budget is out of control. It’s been out of control since after World War II. And then especially since after 9/11 and the war on terrorism has been an excuse to keep building up and building up and building up the Pentagon budget. ~Medea Benjamin
The only thing that is going to counter this is if we get Congress to stand up to pass legislation that says, “We will not allow any unauthorized attack on either Iran or Venezuela,” if we get all of the presidential candidates to stand up and say no to an attack on Iran and if we get the American people to be very loud and clear saying, “We are totally opposed to any attack on Iran.” ~Medea Benjamin



(alphabetical by author)

  • Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. In a modern economy it is impossible to seal oneself off from injustice.

    If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neocorporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.

    If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whos hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes.

    The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them.

  • We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time that we have and to do something that is meaningful and satisfying. This is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards.
  • NATO member states are harnessed into endorsing Washington’s imperial design of World conquest under the doctrine of collective security.... Chossudovsky offers the most comprehensive list of ideas in this regard well aware that stopping NATO is intimately connected to the struggle to end war and globalization. Chossudovsky’s ideas range from organizational suggestions such as integrating anti-war protest with the campaign against the gamut of neoliberal economic ‘reforms’ and the development of a broad based grassroots network independent of NGOs funded by Wall Street, objectives such as dismantling the propaganda apparatus which sustains the legitimacy of war and neoliberalism, challenging the corporate media (including by using alternative media outlets on the Internet), providing encouragement (including information about the illegality of their orders) for military personnel to refuse to fight (perhaps like the GI coffeehouse movement during the US war on Vietnam...
  • As mainstream news outlets become increasingly complacent, and even supportive of pro-war policies, it becomes more essential that anti-war voices, and anti-war journalists in particular, resist the attempt by the United States to set the precedent that the act of publishing war crimes is a punishable offense.
  • After 20 years of the United States military destroying entire countries under the guise of fighting terrorism, there is finally a partial reckoning with U.S. warmongering around the world. It cannot be said that Americans are particularly anti-war now, but at the very least, Biden’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan was widely popular across the political spectrum. Yet, many news outlets instead chose to emphasize the minority position on Afghanistan by prioritizing commentary from interventionists and weapons lobbyists over anti-war scholars and activists, and by falsely representing the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan as a positive... a particularly dangerous line for journalists to push considering how little effort the U.S. media placed on covering the conflict prior to withdrawal.
  • In contrast to publications that take such a careless or outright supportive stance on the irreparable harm of U.S. foreign policy are WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Following his view that “if wars can be started with lies, they can be stopped by truth,” Assange has published some of the most vital information on U.S. foreign policy of the 21st century with perfect accuracy. Some of the information provided to the public (thanks to the anonymous online source submission system developed by Assange) includes the CIA rendition program, detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and more. It is this view on publishing which understands war as something to be exposed and resisted that has made Assange such a hated figure by warmongers in the United States.... Despite the many problems with the mainstream press, journalism as an institution remains one of the most effective methods of resisting, and at times, ending wars. Even those distrustful of the press should be willing to oppose attacks on the right to a free press when such attacks occur. It is the guarantee of press freedom that enables anti-war reporting to make its way into the mainstream at times, shifting people's understanding of what their government does.
  • Daniel Sjursen, a 37-year old veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan... has just written a new book called Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War... a short volume... Sjursen skillfully debunks the conventional wisdom of the foreign policy establishment, and the military’s own current generation of “yes men for another war power hungry president.” His appeal to the conscience of fellow soldiers, veterans, and civilians is rooted in the unusual arc of an eighteen-year military career. His powerful voice, political insights, and painful personal reflections offer a timely reminder of how costly, wasteful, and disastrous our post 9/11 wars have been. Sjursen has the distinction of being a graduate of West Point, an institution that produces few political dissenters... Sjursen’s initial experience in combat—vividly described in his first book...“occurred at the statistical height of sectarian strife” in Iraq. “The horror, the futility, the farce of that war was the turning point in my life,” Sjursen writes in Patriotic Dissent. When he returned, at age 24, from his “brutal, ghastly deployment” as a platoon leader, he “knew that the war was built on lies, ill-advised, illegal, and immoral.” This “unexpected, undesired realization generated profound doubts about the course and nature of the entire American enterprise in the Greater Middle East—what was then unapologetically labeled the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).”
  • At a time when the U.S. “desperately needs a massive, public, empowered anti-war and anti-imperial wave” sweeping over the country, we have instead a “civil-military” gap that, Sjursen believes, has “stifled antiwar and anti-imperial dissent and seemingly will continue to do so.” That’s why his own mission is to find more “socially conscious veterans of these endless, fruitless wars” who are willing to “step up and form a vanguard of sorts for revitalized patriotic dissent.” Readers of Sjursen’s book, whether new recruits to that vanguard or longtime peace activists, will find Patriotic Dissent to be an invaluable educational tool.
  • We are all saddened by the barbarism of humanity. The most negative manifestation of free will is seen in outbursts of war. People refuse to think about the terrible currents they evoke by mass murder and the consequences it will bring. The ancient Scriptures correctly warned that he who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.
    There is a difference between the karma of aggression and that of defense. It can be shown how aggressors suffer the most grievous consequences... People delude themselves by thinking that great conquerors do not reap bad karma during their earthly lives...
    Aggressors burden their karma not only by killing but also by polluting the atmosphere... The poisoning of Earth and of the other spheres is long-lasting. You who intrude into the lands of your neighbors, has no one told you the consequences of your 'fratricide?'
    Our Abode has witnessed many wars, and We can testify how this evil is increasing in the most unexpected ways... How sad We are to see free will, which was bestowed as the Highest Gift, manifested in this horrible, uncontrolled way. 88.
  • The expressions peace movement and antiwar movement were largely American and even in the United States were fast becoming old-fashioned in some leftist circles. European radicals were not as interested in an end to the war as in a North Vietnamese victory. They tended to see the Tet Offensive not as a tragic loss of life, but as a triumph for an oppressed people. The British radical Tariq Ali, using language that was also heard in Berlin, Rome, and Paris, said of Tet, “A wave of joy and energy rebounds around the world and millions more are suddenly, exhilaratingly, ceasing to believe in the strength of their oppressor.” We all carry our own history on our backs. The American activists wanted a stop to the aggression. The Europeans wanted a defeat of colonialism—they wanted the United States to be crushed just as the European colonial powers had been. This was particularly apparent in the French insistence that the marines in Khe Sanh might suffer the same humiliating defeat as had the French in Dien Bien Phu. The constant articles in the French press asking, “Is Khe Sanh another Dien Bien Phu?” had a barely concealed wishfulness to them. There was a touch of self-loathing to the European Left, especially the Germans, and all sins were compared to those of their own countries. To the French and British Left, the Americans were colonialists, to the Germans they were Nazis. Peter Weiss’s 1968 Vietnam Discourse argued that the Americans in Vietnam were a Nazi-like evil.
  • Last Thursday, the US Army asked its followers in a tweet, “How has serving impacted you?” It was meant to be a routine Twitter post ahead of Memorial Day to draw responses which would glorify the United States Army and veterans who served as cannon fodder for the military. It did not go as planned and backfired spectacularly.
    More than 10,000 people replied in response with an outpouring of antiwar sentiments detailing the horrors, crimes and ravages of war. Many of the comments are harrowing stories of lives completely undone, a portrait of an entire population scarred and destroyed by US militarism at home and abroad. “Your impact is that you’re a death cult,” San declared bluntly on the US war machine in a typical response.
  • The two major political parties, in power and out, have been so co-opted by the war machine that any modern anti-war movement has been completely subsumed and marginalized—even as American troops and killer drones continue to operate in or near combat zones all over the world... the few on the anti-war left who oppose war based on pacifist or religious reasons need to acknowledge that the majority of Americans believe in a strong national defense as outlined in the Constitution. Most people are willing to accept that there’s a big difference between that and the terrible waste and tragedy that comes with waging unnecessary wars overseas...
    Focusing on the money and influence that giant defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have on Capitol Hill—essentially making war a business—makes the anti-war point by raising the issue of crony capitalism and the cozy relationship between politicians and big business, which increasingly leaves the American public out of the equation. These corporations, along with Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, have accounted for $42 million in contributions to congressional candidates since 2009, with $12 million in the 2016 cycle alone. The majority of these funds have targeted Armed Services Committee members... Americans today are tired of war, which is good, for now. Unfortunately, without a strong anti-war movement, there won’t be much resistance when the next “big threat” comes along. The two major parties have proven to be false friends when it comes to opposing war—they only do it when it suits them politically. Moving beyond them and becoming stronger with allies and numbers—imagine, there’s no parties—is the best way to build a real opposition.
I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. ~Major General Smedley D. Butler
War is a racket. It always has been. ~Major General Smedley D. Butler

War is a racket, by Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (1935)


Full text online

  • War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
  • It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
  • A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
  • In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
  • How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets?...How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
  • Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
  • And what is this bill? This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
  • For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.
  • But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children? What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits? Yes, and what does it profit the nation?
  • There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making. Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?
  • A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.
  • The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits -- ah! that is another matter -- twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent -- the sky is the limit.
  • Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket -- and are safely pocketed.
  • I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
  • I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
  • Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?
  • The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

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