In a piece published on Thursday in the Tacoma Weekly, Tom McCarthy argued that the political process has failed, and that Americans need to take action themselves in order to end the Iraq war.[1]  --  "[V]oting isn't going to cut it," he wrote.  --  McCarthy sees the prominence of young people in the recent port militarization resistance movement activities at the Port of Tacoma as an encouraging sign:  "Maybe the young people will show us the way to bring our troops home." ...


Guest editorial

By Thomas McCarthy

Tacoma Weekly
March 8, 2007
Page A4

Most everybody in Pierce County, WA, is connected to the military in some way or other. With two of the three biggest employers being Fort Lewis and McChord AFB, with active duty, retirees and us military brats, there is no question that the Army and Air Force have touched all of our lives deeply. When it comes to the war, most of us have mixed feelings. We support the troops because they are us, but we're not sure about publicly opposing a war gone bad. And now the Stryker 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is being shipped off a month early, even while the 3rd is being held over in Iraq.

The problem is how do we get out of this. We tried voting. Does anybody really believe that folks voted for Democrats? Most Americans voted against a war that was started by a Republican president. So the Democrats took over Congress, but what have we won? The president escalates the Iraq war and all the Democrats can do is pass a non-binding resolution. Oh wait, the Senate hasn't even done that. And this non-binding resolution isn't even against the war, just the "surge." According to the February 2007 *USA Today*/Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans say we should get out of Iraq by the end of the year. If our electoral system really represented the will of the American people, our troops would be coming home right now instead of even more going to Iraq. The problem is that voting isn't going to cut it.

According to a Zogby International poll in February 2006, 72 percent of our troops wanted the war to end within a year. Given the past year's downward spiral, does anyone think our men and women are now thinking the civil war zone that is Iraq is getting better?

Although even the Pentagon admits that 40,000 troops have gone AWOL since 2000, and a few, like Lt. Ehren Watada, are refusing to fight in this crummy war, most of our service men and women feel that they must serve out their time. The truth is that it is up to us to end this war and just voting is not going to do the trick.

My father was a career military man drafted during the Vietnam War. I remember him saying that the Army was a wreck after Vietnam. That's what happens when our "leaders" drag us into a bad war. It hurts our economy. It hurts whatever people our government goes to war with -- something to think about, with over two million Iraqis dead since the first Persian Gulf War.

What maybe hurt the worst for us military families back home is what happens to our soldiers, inside and out. A friend of mine married to a Vietnam vet says that there are no unwounded war veterans. And now we find out the government that has spent $500 billion on this bloody war is neglecting the war veterans whose bodies and minds are damaged. If the politicians are not going to end the war, and they are not even making sure that those who have given the most are given decent medical care, we must end this war.

How? There are groups out there, like the Tacoma chapter of Veterans For Peace (VFP). In a community with the military as deeply rooted as in ours, an organization like this could help raise our voice to end the Iraq war. Who would have more moral authority than those who have given the most? We just need to be clear that it is not criticizing our servicemen and servicewomen to call for an end to the war. Attacking the Iraq war is only attacking the politicians that put us there.

Even though military families have the most at stake, it is up to the American people to back up what polls suggest their opinions already are. This week, we will see young people taking direct action to end the war. In the time of Martin Luther King Jr., when the politicians failed, people had to take to the streets.

Students, and a few gray-hairs, aimed to keep the 4th Stryker Brigade home by blocking these armored units with their bodies from being loaded on a ship headed toward a civil war in Iraq. Thirty-seven were arrested, including a veteran. Maybe the young people will show us the way to bring our troops home.