Dear Senator Kerry

From ABJ


Dear Senator Kerry,

We are your loyal supporters; we continue to be in spite of a body blow that our enthusiasm has undergone by your muted and complicated message on the Iraq war, that knowing what you now know about the misinformation and manipulation of intelligence by the Bush administration you would nevertheless still vote for the resolution giving the president a blank check to start this war.

We are more active this year in our organizing, canvassing and campaigning against the Republican agenda than we have ever been because we believe it is more important than ever before to do this to get George Bush and his ideologues out of office, more important for our country and for the world. So we will do everything we can to ensure your victory.

We hope you will too. Because we believe, from what journalists, pundits and even members of the Republican party have said, that of the many crucial issues in this election, that the most important in the public's mind is the issue of the decision Bush made to wage a preventive "pre-emptive" war in Iraq.

Indeed, former California Gov. Pete Wilson has said that, "Iraq is not hurting Bush more because voters fail to see a clear alternative in Democratic rival John Kerry...The American people -- including those in blue or red states -- are asking what's really being offered here ... as an alternative to the performance of President Bush, and they're not finding an answer." (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept.2, 2004)

Senator, the Bushes seem to be doing everything possible in the election campaign to avoid the discussion of the moral costs of the war -- in its large and growing casualties, in its long-term financial and human costs to the US taxpayer, and also in the fact that the US is seen overwhelmingly not as liberators but as an occupying force by the major groups who are increasingly joining forces to battle against the occupation.

Nor is the atrocity of what was revealed by the photos from Abu Ghraib prison -- which now implicates the highest levels of the Bush Administration in war crimes under federal and international law -- a subject for mention by the administration.

Senator, we feel these are indeed crucial issues which are missing from the public debate.

Missing too is discussion of the illusory and continuing premise, again construed at the Republican convention, that the war in Iraq and the war against the 2001/9/11 terrorists were one and the same, a premise which ought to be examined again for its myth-making and its outrageous political manipulation -- also whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action, as former Republican Congressman Doug Bereiter has said (who also had voted beforehand to authorize military force.)

Senator, we do not pretend to know a lot about what is required to win elections, but we do know when important issues that go to the moral heart of the matter are missing or hollowed out, removed from debate or discussion. Listeners become bored or disillusioned, leaving the field to the manipulators.

And we remember your previous eloquence because we re-read your uncoached and passionate statements to the Senate during the Vietnam war. You were fabulous, and according to the testimony many in the senate committee were very impressed by your eloquence.

One journalist from the Boston Globe recently stated that in former times the US government "behaved as if facts mattered, as if evidence informed policy." This is clearly no longer true, and it should be sharply pointed out to the public that our government is in the hands of a cabal with no intellectual shame for its crimes of broken treaties, abandoned alliances, thousands dead and hundreds of thousands at risk of disease and despair in the shambles that is Iraq.

We urge you, in the remaining days of the campaign, to declare yourself forthrightly and unambiguously against the heavy-handed and disproportionate military tactics in Iraq, as described by senior British commanders in the field. Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said:

My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They view [the Iraqis] as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life...Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful. (Telegraph UK, April 11, 2004)

An honest criticism of the coarse "insensitivity" of US tactics in Iraq can lead to a more humane policy of bringing UN relief and allied collaboration -- in line with some of your stated ideas for extrication of US troops.

But we urge you, again in the remaining days of the campaign, to declare yourself clearly on the moral questions raised by the disdain the world feels for the United States because of the war, and to declare yourself equally sharply in your criticism of the Bush administration's curtailment of civil liberties, its indifference to protection of the environment (in its particulars), the loss of good jobs, tax cuts for the rich, the disingenuous prescription drug legislation, and its desire to roll back the Roosevelt-era social reforms we all depend on.

We hope and pray for your success in November, and we will do everything we can to ensure your victory. We hope you will not shrink from doing the same.