a day without the Pentagon

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Thu Sep 10 06:40:38 PDT 1998

[forwarded from David McReynolds <DavidMcR at aol.com>]

Dear friend,

This is going to lots of people, batch by patient batch, to make sure you have information on the Day Without The Pentagon. Some of you living in countries far from the United States may wonder why you are getting a post about a demonstration in Washington D.C. on October 19th. It is because you may take heart to know there is strong opposition to American militarism here, in America. You may want to send a message of support. (And if you may have contacts in the US, you can forward them this letter).

Each of you can, if you agree with this letter, send it on to those friends and co-workers you believe should see it. In that way, in a matter of days these few hundred posts can be duplicated many times, making up for the fact the organizers lack funds - counting instead on the human resources of concern and communication.

A Day Without The Pentagon is a project that began last year, when on October 24 of 1997 there were local actions at over 100 places across the United States. This year, the focus is on one demonstration - in Washington DC on October 19th".

Please note two addresses. One is the dramatic web site for this action, worked on by Ed Hedemann and Martin Kelly. Whether you are in Tokyo, Moscow, Paris, London, or anywhere in the United States, check out: www.nonviolence.org/wrl/nopentagon.htm

Second, if you want information on leaflets, posters, transportation - any details - send your query to the staff working out of the War Resisters League office - address it to Chris Ney or Linda Thurston at: wrl at igc.apc.org - you can also phone them at: 212 / 228.0450. If you are in New York City, come by the office, 339 Lafayette St., New York City 10012 - the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette in lower Manhattan.

The purpose of A Day Without the Pentagon is to focus on the basic problem of American foreign and domestic policy - the enormous hold militarism has on this country. The hold it has on our economy, the ease with which a heavily armed nation can act as a bully (look at the US role in Central and Latin America, in Indochina, in the Middle East - and, of course, in the most recent air strikes at Sudan and Afghanistan).

For most of its history, the United States had almost no standing army - virtually disarming after each war. But with the long Cold War we acquired a military unique in our history. We are a nation with undefended borders with Canada and Mexico. We have vast oceans on either coast, providing unique protection. Yet our military budget is SEVEN TIMES the total of the COMBINED military budget of all those nations considered to be "enemies". (And even this monstrous "overkill" doesn't take into account the additional military power of our allies in Europe and Asia). This enormously powerful military machine has not kept us out of war - we have fought in Korea, Indochina, and the Gulf, not to mention brutal interventions in Panama, Grenada, the occasional almost mindless air attacks on Libya, Iraq, and, this summer, Sudan and Afghanistan.

At the same time the military has become a great internal power, counting on its alliance with the corporations, the CIA, and with a profoundly reactionary political structure, so that the human and social needs of our nation are left poorly funded.

We have militarized even much of our domestic life, turning to more police and more prisons to deal with drugs, rather than providing drug treatment and counseling - or generating jobs that pay a living wage. While a part of our nation has profited from this imbalance in spending, the gap between rich and poor has grown. Every town and city has its population of men and women driven to despair, trying to hold families together on substandard wages.

We have the money to house every American. We have the money for making sure any qualified youth can attend college. We have the money for decent medical care for every person in our nation. That money is tied up in the Pentagon budget.

If you want to see an America moving away from a militarized approach to every foreign policy issue, an America brutalized on the home front by the psychology of militarism, then changing direction means taking on the Pentagon and the whole economic and political system which it represents.

A Day Without The Pentagon (known by now as "DWOP") was originated by War Resisters League, an American pacifist organization which will be 75 years old this year (and for which I've worked since 1960). WRL is affiliated to the War Resisters International, part of a world wide movement against the institution of war.

But while "DWOP" was conceived of by WRL, it has won wide endorsement. The range of organizations that have endorsed the project - this is a very partial list - include: the Alliance of Atomic Veterans, Center for Constitutional Rights, Christian Peace Conference, Citizen Soldier, Committees of Correspondence, Fellowship of Reconciliation, The Living Theatre, National Gray Panthers, National Interreligious Task Force for Criminal Justice, Nukewatach, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Peace Education Division of the American Friends Service Committee, Quixote Center, Progressive Queers, Socialist Party USA, Vietnam Veterans Against the War Inc., World Order Models Project - and many more, including many regional and local groups.

The campaign won't end on October 19th. It will be up to you – and to all the endorsing groups – to decide where it goes next. Personally I hope this becomes a campaign that "belongs to the whole movement", and is not the property of any organization, as the peace and social justice movement finally stops nibbling at bits and pieces of the problem and demands we make a basic shift in our national direction.

On October 19th starting about 11 a.m. there will be a legal rally at the Pentagon. For those who choose to risk arrest, there will be civil disobedience starting about 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome on October 19th – both those who feel they must risk arrest and those many more who, by being there as part of a large group, help make the statement that the United States is not defended by the Pentagon, but threatened by it.

Before the next several days are done, I will have sent out nearly 800 of these to those of you with whom I've had some email correspondence in the past. If you want to dialogue with me about it, by all means do. But the key thing is to go to the web site:

www.nonviolence.org/wrl/nopentagon.htm - see what is there, and contact the office at:

wrl at igc.apc.org

There is - I should add - an incredible 32 page "Tactical Manual" available for $2 - lots of photos, the history of past demonstrations at the Pentagon, full coverage of plans for the action. And there are two different posters available. In addition, there is a Washington DC office staffed by Jason Wallach and John Judge. Reach them by phone - if you are in the DC area - at 202 / 544.9355, extension 8, or FAX at 202 / 584.1021.

There are active local organizing committees in Washington D.C. and New York City and Boston. If you are in these areas, please call the WRL office to find out when the next meeting is - your help is urgently needed. A bus is coming
>from Seattle. Folks in Los Angeles plan to make the trip.

I know the revolution won't be televised - and doesn't come by email. But let's hope email can play a small part in raising consciousness. Citizens of America, move from your modems to the streets, help build a movement for an America which can think of 365 days a year without the Pentagon.

See you in Washington on the 19th. David McReynolds New York City

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