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Dec

2007

Enough Heroes to Fill a Book (Book Review by David Swanson)
Friday, 07 December 2007 00:23
by David Swanson
"A very few serve the state with their consciences, and so necessarily resist it." -Henry David Thoreau
"We should never forget that everything Adolph Hitler did in Germany was legal and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was illegal."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
"A real cynic isn't going to blow the whistle. And a real radical probably won't be in a position to do it. It takes someone who believes in the system far more than the system ever believes in itself."
- C. Fred Alford
Actually Thoreau is wrong. More than a few serve the state and resist its abuses, at significant risk to themselves. But very few of us know all of their stories. Resisters of the occupation of Iraq in the U.S., British, and Australian governments and militaries are plentiful enough to fill a book, and they've filled a good one.

"Dissent: Voices of Conscience: Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq" is the forthcoming work of U.S. Army Colonel (Ret.) Ann Wright and Susan Dixon (forthcoming after a long delay imposed by the State Department). Wright is herself one of the many heroes whose stories are told in the book. Many of us who follow the war and the peace movement know Ann and know that she resigned from the U.S. diplomatic corps in protest of the invasion of Iraq. But can you name the other two U.S. diplomats who had already done the same thing? Do you know their stories?

What about the stories of the high level resisters in the British government? We've heard some of their names before, but here are the stories and statements of people like Katherine Gunn, Robin Cook, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Clare Short, Carne Ross, and Craig Murray. Here is Frank Grevil, a Danish military intelligence officer who revealed how early his government knew of U.S. plans for war and how clearly his government knew there was no solid evidence of weapons in Iraq. Here, too, is Andrew Wilkie, an retired Australian Lieutenant Colonel and a civilian analyst who resigned in protest of his government's lies about Iraqi weapons, leading to censurein the Senate of Prime Minister John Howard, who recently lost a bid for reelection.

And what of whistleblowers in Washington? Do you know what Bunnatine Greenhouse, Jesselyn Radack, Mary Ryan, Sibel Edmonds, Russell Tice, and Coleen Rowley, among others, did, and what their government did to them to express its gratitude? These are our heroes. And like all heroes, they are often flawed. They knew about evil deeds because they were working for organizations some of us would never choose to work for, or because they went along with things they shouldn't have. And in some cases it took them a long time before they found the courage to speak out. The same can be said, of course, of members of the U.S. military who have resisted this illegal invasion and occupation.

But military heroes fill much of this book: officers, lawyers, whistleblowers, resisters and deserters, those facing court martial, those fled to Canada. Here are collected the stories and statements of those who spoke some bit of unpermitted truth: General Eric Shinseki, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Brent Scowcroft, General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni, Lieutenant General (Ret.) William Odom, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Gregory Newbold, Major General (Ret.) Paul Eaton, Major General (Ret.) John Batiste.

Here are the lawyers within the military who have worked for justice: Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz. And the whistleblowers in the ranks: Specialist Joe Darby, Captain Ian Fishback, Seargent Samuel Provance. Do you know these stories? These are our heroes. Do you know anyone serving in the U.S. government or military? Please send them a copy of this book. I'm sure the authors would be delighted to print an expanded edition with your friends in it when they speak truth to power.

Above all, "Dissent: Voices of Conscience" presents a sampling of the many stories of soldiers who have put down their weapons in this unjust war: Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman, Stephen Funk, Abdullah Webster, Aidan Delgado, Katherine Jashinski, Melanie McPherson, Ehren Watada, Augustin Aguayo, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Joshua Key, Patrick Hart, Chris Magaoay, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Kyle Snyder, Ben Griffin, Malcolm Kendal-Smith, Mohisin Khan. There are many more.

All of these people have recognized that there was only one thing they could justly do, and they have done it. Perhaps it was illegal or disobedient, but it had to be done. Our Congress has one legal move remaining in impeachment, beyond which it too will have to step outside what is legal or lose its existence. But we as citizens have no right to ask that of our representatives or to ask those in the position to do so to resist, to leak, or to refuse illegal orders, unless we too recognize our one remaining move. We've voted and marched and lobbied and educated. Creative nonviolent civil disobedience is the one move remaining to us. It's our turn to step up and be heroes. It's now or never.

Want some inspiration? Read this book.
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