Thinking about War
About this site:
The goal of this site is to become a repository of material to assist you in thinking through the underlying issues related to pacifism, militarism, and conscience.
We intend this to be a broadly-based participatory site. We invite you to submit essays, articles, and personal stories if you have thought deeply on these issues and/or have had experiences you would like to share.
There are excellent resources on the web covering practical, legal, and a wide variety of other issues related to conscientious objection. These include:
Rights Hotline: 1-877-447-4487
See also an article by David Wiggins which gives a good summary of the legal issues involved in non-registration and draft resistance.
Objection as defined by the Military Selective Service Act
Writings/Media Archived on this Site
Just and Unjust War, by Howard Zinn -- This is a firsthand reflection by the author of A People's History of the United States, 1492 to the Present (highly recommended to anyone who knows only the history that was taught in school). Howard Zinn was a World War II bombardier who believed deeply in the justness of the cause of ridding the world of Fascism, but ended up summarizing his experience with the words, "Never Again." In questioning the nearly universal acceptance of World War II as a just war, he brings all war into question as a way of resolving disputes among nations. This work is both profound and beautifully written. It should be read by anyone contemplating these issues. The essay originated as a chapter in Declarations of Independence, but is also included in The Zinn Reader, and Howard Zinn on War.
"Why I fight For Peace " -- Brief mp3 audio clip with a statement (a poem, actually) by Cloy Richards, a US Marine and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, reflecting on his tours of duty in Iraq, the effect it had on him, and why he is determined to fight against the war. (See http://grassrootsamerica4us.org/ for more about Cloy Richards and other poems.)Webb School Chapel Talk, ~1980, by David Chandler-- Reflections on decision to become a Vietnam-era conscientious objector.
Conscience and War, by David Chandler -- Reflections on broadening the definition of what it is to be a conscientious objector.A Rationale for Counter-Recruitment, by David Chandler -- What justifies opposing recruitment into an all-volunteer military? A Frank Response to an Enlistee, by David Chandler -- "The mandate to 'Support the Troops' is a red herring: it is an orchestrated propaganda campaign to de-legitimize dissent." The Case for Conscientious Objection, by Andrew YoungStatement by U.S. General Smedley Butler (1933) -- Reflections on his military career. Statement by Alfred F. Andersen -- A reflection on a deeper "conscription": the claim of "sovereignty" each nation makes over those born within its borders.Interview with Harry Wright-Johnson, a World War II COWritings by Dale L. BerryThe pacifist, the warrior, and courage--An interesting quote by Jean Giono (1895-1970) cited by Jean Paul Sartre in The War Diaries.
"Quaker Heroes" -- Three World War II conscientious objectors told their stories to the Upper Elementary Meeting of the 2001 session of the Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The children responded by writing and illustrating the three narratives.On Working Against War -- By Elsa Sabath
Articles/Resources (on the web and elsewhere)Wars Currently in Progress (There are more than you think!) The
Press and the Myths of War by Chris Hedges -- A deeply thoughtful
and articulate account of the realities of war from the vantage point
of an experienced war correspondent.
"For war, when we confront it truthfully, exposes the darkness within all of us. This darkness shatters the illusions many of us hold not only about the human race but about ourselves. Few of us confront our own capacity for evil, but this is especially true in wartime. And even those who engage in combat are afterward given cups from the River Lethe to forget. And with each swallow they imbibe the myth of war. For the myth makes war palatable. It gives war a logic and sanctity it does not possess. It saves us from peering into the darkest recesses of our own hearts."Thoreau's Civil Disobedience A classic statement about government, taxes, the Mexican War, and nonviolent resistance.Quaker Peace Testimony in Times of Terrorism by Robert GriswoldJust War Theory -- from the Internet Encyclopedia of PhilosophyThe Catholic Church, in its great diversity, supports a significant peace movement through the Catholic Peace Fellowship and Pax Christi. The Catholic Peace Fellowship actively supports conscientious objectors. Its web site has much that would be of interest even to non-Catholics. Individual parishes support conscientious objector to varying degrees (see, for example, the blog of Elsa Sabath who works with a parish in Lubbock, Texas).Study Guide for a Quaker Response To Times of Terrorism and War -- materials for a workshop presented by Hal Wright at the 2003 Intermountain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. This gives an excellent overview of the broad range of Quaker responses to war, historically, and raises many issues that must be grappled with in living out the Quaker Peace Testimony.KNFS Community Radio program on Counter Recruitment IssuesHomefront (an anti-Iraq War novel and part of the larger Homefront trilogy) looks at a number of "journalist-and-politics" questions as well as examining many issues of state-corporate activity and citizen responsibility. Homefront revolves around the family of a U.S. soldier slain during the invasion and their awakening and reacting to the facts of the war and occupation.The Trip into Milky Way is a novel by Gary Paul Corcoran about the spiritual journey of a Vietnam-era "draft dodger" contending with the world of the 1960's. Although the novel is a work of fiction, it is informed by the author's own experience of evading the draft and how that experience affected his life ever since. Militarist Christendom and the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, a conservative Christian, Biblically-oriented, understanding of pacifism and militarism, by Daniel H. ShubinConsciousness-raising videosSir! No Sir! -- (See also Amazon.com, Netflix and elsewhere) Did you know that one of the biggest antiwar movements during the Vietnam era was going on within the military itself? Probably not, if your source of information was the mainstream media. This documentary resurrects a piece of history that has been buried for years. (Now available to view online at Google Video)Hearts and Minds -- (See also Amazon.com, Netflix and elsewhere) This film won an Academy Award in 1974 for Best Documentary Feature. It is a remarkable account of the Vietnam war. The viewer reviews on Amazon help convey the power of the film, short of seeing it oneself. Winter Soldier -- (See also Amazon.com, Netflix and elsewhere) This is a documentary about the Winter Soldier Investigation, conducted in 1971 by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, to publicize the extent of atrocities committed by US troops in Vietnam. The film, which features interviews with soldiers telling about their personal experiences in Vietnam, is powerful, emotional, and graphic. Not Your Soldier (view online here) -- This short, direct, hard hitting, counter-recruitment music video was created by the Ruckus Society to convey some of the information found in Sir! No Sir! in concise form to the same segment of the population that is being recruited by the military. (Warning: those squeemish about crude language and graphic expressions of strong feeling may find parts of this video to be offensive.)Antiwar Links Dealing with Current EventsLetter to Prime Minister of Canada (reprinted in The Canadian a national newspaper in Canada) regarding residency status for US military resistors. Why War? From Mission Statement: Why War? works to organize, inform, and motivate the general population of America toward the goal of questioning and evaluating the current "war on terrorism" in the hopes of finding a rational, effective alternative to the current approach to the problem of global terrorism.Antiwar.com "Antiwar news, viewpoints, and activities"War Times A newspaper devoted to war-related news.A Just Cause, Not a Just War, by Howard ZinnVoices in the Wilderness: "Since its founding in 1996, Voices in the Wilderness has campaigned to end economic and military warfare against the Iraqi people. We have done this by organizing over seventy delegations to Iraq in deliberate violation of UN economic sanctions and US law. We have lived alongside ordinary Iraqis before and during the US invasion and throughout the current US occupation of Iraq."Other Links"I Will Not Kill"--This site is an outgrowth of the The Conscience and Courage Gathering sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The "I Will Not Kill" campaign affirms the fundamental human right to refuse to kill.An excellent CO web site focusing on getting out of the military with a CO claim
Excerpt from a story published February 7, 2005 by the Associated Press:
Conscientious Objector Launches Web Site -- "A 22-year-old veteran from Peaks Island, Maine who was granted conscientious objector status from the Army last November is taking to the Internet to share what he learned with others. Perry O'Brien, who served a tour in Afghanistan as an airborne medic before he was honorably discharged."Avoiding violence often involves learning to resolve differences peacefully. Beyond Reason, an outgrowth of the Harvard Negotiation Project, looks at how emotions, as well as reason, enter into conflict situations and must be addressed in successful negotiation. This book teaches negotiation skills that can be applied both individually and internationally. See also a discussion of some of the themes in the book by Elsa Sabath.Two counter-recruitment organizations with useful web sites:
Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities and
Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft.Movies on Peace and War Recommended by Quakers From submissions on the Quaker-L e-mail list.Quaker Peace Page A site maintained by Chuck Fager with links to material related to the Quaker Peace TestimonyUniversal Declaration of Human RightsVietnam Veterans Against the War, and the more radical Vietnam Veterans Against the War--Anti Imperialist -- Lots of articles and links by and about Veterans whose eyes were opened by their experiences. (The two antagonistic organizations are not related. Both pages have thought provoking material to offer. Judge for yourself.)Buddhist Peace FellowshipWe don't advocate one way or the other on the issue of non-registration, but DraftResistance.org is a site that does, and it makes some valid points. You may decide to go this route, but it is an act of civil disobedience with possible legal and financial consequences, so it is important to understand the issues clearly. Read widely.PeaceHost.net was established in 1999 as a host to Web sites for organizations working towards peace and social, environmental and economic justice. Its founder, Daniel Zwickel, hosts his own site on the net called Pacifist Nation. Both are worth exploring.The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund works to pass legislation that would allow conscientious objectors to pay their federal taxes into a fund that would be distributed to nonmilitary appropriations. They work closely with the Center on Conscience and War.Bruderhof Peacemakers' Guide. The Bruderhof is a network of faith-based communities that began in Europe in the aftermath of World War I and now has branches in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, England, Germany, and Australia.
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Web site designed and maintained by David Chandler