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
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 Young
Statement 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.
The 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
Other Articles/Resources (on the web and elsewhere)
Wars Currently in Progress (There are more than you think!)
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.
Friends Peace Testimony in Times of Terrorism by Robert Griswold
Just War Theory -- from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The 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.
Sir! 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 on YouTube)
The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight it. -- (See also Amazon.com). The Second World War was a hard war to oppose as a Conscientious Objector. It was widely supported and considered to be a "Good War." It was also one of the bloodiest wars on record, killing over 60 million people worldwide. This is an excellent survey of the range of beliefs and actions of Conscientious Objectors and their impact on society in the years following the war.
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. (Now available to view online on YouTube)
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.
Antiwar Links Dealing with Current Events
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 Zinn
Voices for Creative Nonviolence: "We recognize that for years now the U.S. has stood on the precipice of all out devastation-of itself and of the world. We look to history as a guide-and try to learn lessons from those who preceded us in far more dire circumstances, who somehow found the ability to form communities of resistance to oppression in Nazi Germany, in apartheid South Africa, in the Jim Crow South of the U.S. and in the super segregated cities of the North."
"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.
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.
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 Testimony
Resources for Peace A site maintained by Robert Seeley, author of the classic Handbook for Conscientious Objectors. The handbook is now out of print, but it is still available from used book sources on the internet and elsewhere. Some of the legal details are obsolete, but the discussion of issues is still a valuable resource.
Vietnam 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.)
We 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.
Daniel Zwickel, hosts a site called Pacifist Nation that is 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.
Please contact us if you have information about local peace centers,
military/draft counseling programs, related web sites, and other resources.
Web site designed and maintained by David Chandler