Vietnam Vet, Former Minister Walks to End the War
I have a soft spot for people who travel around the country for a good cause. Check out Bill McDannell's site:
My name is Bill McDannell. I am a father of five and grandfather of four. I am a Vietnam era veteran and a former pastor of the United Methodist Church. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, I still firmly believe that, as a citizen of the United States of America, I have a voice in the activities of our country, and that my voice can be heard and can have an impact.
On Saturday, November 4th, 2006 I began to put that belief to the test. Mindful of my constitutional right to petition my government, on that date I left my home in Lakeside, California to begin a walk that will end in Washington, D.C. I am carrying with me a petition I intend to present to both the executive and legislative branches of our government requesting that we, as a nation, declare an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I am only one person, and do not pretend to have the individual wisdom to dictate exactly what actions should take place as a result of a declaration of the end of the wars. In fact, this is the reason I am walking to Washington. I expect it will take me nine or ten months to walk from California to Washington, D.C., and I believe that the leaders who managed to figure out a way to get us into these wars in just a few months ought to be able to figure out a way to get us out by the time I arrive. The details of how many of our sons and daughters in the military will be brought home and how soon they will arrive home must be left to those more familiar with the logistics than myself, but I certainly believe that a declaration that the wars are over must come immediately and that, with the wars officially over, our sons and daughters should begin to return home immediately.
The basis for my petition is quite simple. First, regarding the war in Iraq. We the people of the United States of America have been given several reasons why we went to war with Iraq in the first place:
1. We have been told that we went to war to liberate the people of Iraq from the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. We have accomplished that. Saddam Hussein has been deposed and is now standing trial.
2. We have been told that we went to war to locate and destroy weapons of mass destruction and the capability to deliver them. We have discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction, neither was there any means to deliver such weapons.
3. We have been told that we went to war to establish a democratic government in Iraq. The Iraqi people have voted and there is a democratic form of government in place.
Since the objectives we believed were the purpose of the war have all been accomplished, it is now time to officially declare that the war has ended.
The only possible argument for not ending the war revolves around a perceived need to establish some sort of stability in the nation of Iraq. But the evidence is now quite clear that our continued military presence in Iraq is the primary cause of the continuing instability. As our continued military presence only serves to further exacerbate the situation we want to resolve, it is clear that we must officially end that presence, beginning with a formal declaration that the war is over.
Next, regarding the war in Afghanistan. We went to war with Afghanistan to depose the rule of the Taliban, whose influence and support assisted the terrorists that attacked our country on September 11, 2001. Like Iraq, Afghanistan now has a government in place that has been freely elected by its citizens. We no longer have a grievance with the leadership of Afghanistan, and the country and its government do not pose an imminent threat to the sovereignty or safety of the United States. Therefore, it is also time to declare an official end to the war in Afghanistan and to immediately begin to remove our military presence from the country.
Finally, regarding the war on terrorism. War has historically been viewed as an armed conflict between states or nations in order to establish boundaries, authority, or power, or to redress a wrong inflicted upon one nation by another. The war on terrorism does not fit this definition. It is instead an effort to prevent terrorist activities, to locate and eliminate those individuals or groups who engage in such activities, to dissuade any and all nations from harboring or abetting such groups and to keep not only our country but countries around the world safe from such activities. It is first of all obvious that this will be an essentially endless task of vigilance and intervention. It is also obvious that such an effort does not fit the definition of war any more than does a war on poverty or a war on drugs.
Since the war on terrorism does not fit the true definition of a war, once our leaders have officially acknowledged that the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan are over, it will mean that the United States will not be at war with any other sovereign state or nation. Therefore, along with the official declaration that these wars are at an end, I will petition the president of the United States to immediately relinquish the wartime powers ceded to him by the Congress, and petition the Congress to immediately rescind the wartime powers it granted to the executive branch. I do not believe the structure of our democracy ever conceived of a situation where the ceding of wartime powers by Congress to the executive branch would be a permanent arrangement, as this would be a significant step toward dictatorial powers. Therefore, a continuing war on terrorism can neither be viewed as a war in the historic sense nor a justification for the executive branch to retain wartime powers in the absence of any authentic war.
I am doing this as an individual citizen - with the help and support of my loving wife - and not as a member of any group, organization or political party. I am doing it as a grandfather, in the belief that if the grandfathers and grandmothers of our nation do not raise our voices, we will one day see our grandchildren being sent off to a seemingly endless war.
That said, I welcome any and all individuals, groups and organizations who believe it is time to end these wars to meet me along the way and sign my petition, to walk with me for a while, and to demonstrate our conviction that it is time to take definitive action to end these wars. I am doing this on faith, hoping that those who feel as I do will be inspired to lend their assistance to my effort. But whether or not such assistance comes, I am committing my time, my energy, my health, and my fortunes to this effort. God willing, I shall arrive in Washington and I shall present my petition to our country’s leaders.
I am calling my effort Walk To End The Wars, and this website will be the place where you will be able to find a regular journal of my walk detailing my experiences along the way, a progress report that will allow you to locate me and join me on the walk or sign my petition if you desire, and methods of contacting me directly should you wish to lend support to my effort. I deeply appreciate your support in whatever form you wish to offer it, and wish you and the generations that will follow you Peace.