As I write, there is a momentum toward war in the land. It hovers over us like a cloud, full of fear and imminent tragedy. The war fever originates from the White House, remains fundamentally unchallenged by the Congress, and is fueled each day by the media.
From the beginning of the crisis in the Gulf, the government and the media claimed a virtual consensus of public support for U.S. actions. It soon became clear that the alleged national consensus was being used to lead us to war.
Indeed, during the first weeks of the crisis, articles appeared in the press about the silence of the churches and the peace movement and even reported statements of support for the actions of the Bush administration by certain leaders normally critical of U.S. foreign policy. Meetings of church representatives called to discuss and formulate responses to the Gulf crisis were ending in division and confusion, while the U.S. continued its massive military buildup without any real moral or political challenge.
Realpolitik, constituency nervousness, and an admittedly complicated political situation combined to induce a paralysis from the very people and places the nation has grown to depend upon to speak and act with clarity and courage in such a time of crisis. In particular the church had seemingly lost its voice, after having found it in recent years by speaking out on the nuclear arms race, U.S.-backed violence in Central America, and support for sanctions against South Africa. The few voices of dissent raised at the outset of the Gulf conflict were covered over by the media portrayal of national consensus.
When I returned home from a speaking tour of Australia in early September, it appeared to me that the most important first step was to disrupt that consensus. I spoke with a number of friends around the country about the need for action.