How to best work to end American foreign wars?
September 13, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Effective steps for the average American citizen to help to end our foreign wars?

Pretty simple: If I have two hours every week to devote to getting American soldiers home from combat zones across the globe, what is the most effective way to spend those hours?

I am a healthy, fit, 29 year old male American citizen of above average income, married with no children, in Seattle. I have a fairly small social circle and few political connections-we are pretty new to the area.

More interested in spending time than money here, though I would listen to arguments along the lines of 'taking on two more hours of consulting work and donating the proceeds to x would be more efficacious than anything else you could do'

Two hours is not a hard cap; ideas along the lines of, 'you couldn't do it in two hours a week, but if you had four hours, you could do y which would be far better than anything else' would also be appreciated.
posted by Kwine to Law & Government (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
My hunch is:

1. Start a meetup group devoted to writing letters about this once a week. Meet either in your living room, or in a local coffee shop or something.

2. Write letters with your new friends once a week.

3. Keep doing it.

The advantage is that you also meet people in your community that way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:43 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and:

4. Next time elections roll around, see who in your district is an anti-war candidate, and volunteer for their campaign.

5. Vote for them, of course, every chance you get -- the primaries, the elections proper.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:45 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For an interesting talk on how best to go about writing those letters, see this TED talk.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:49 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Work to get Ron Paul elected President? He is the only candidate (AFAIK) that is on record for pulling out of all foreign entanglements. Whether or not he could do that without Congressional approval is an open question. And of course, Paul brings all sorts of other baggage to the table.

But if you really want to bring all the troops home, I don't see any other option. Our current legislators are all on the take from the defense firms, and with an all-volunteer military supplemented by for-profit mercenaries, there is no fear of being drafted to stir up the people. I don't see any way in the short term to motivate Congress to change anything, so I think your most realistic option is to get Paul elected and hope he has a way to actually do it.

Of course, when your most realistic plan is to get Ron Paul elected, you have a lot of work to do!
posted by COD at 12:58 PM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bring down the two party system. Otherwise, it's hopeless.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:59 PM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd suggest reading John Perkins, Confession of an Economic Hit Man. It's an interesting system that's emerged from the convergence of profit motives and a legitimate effort to ensure US economic success.
posted by trevyn at 1:09 PM on September 13, 2011


spend that 2 hours per week by driving places slower or riding bike/walking instead of driving?
posted by H. Roark at 1:11 PM on September 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would listen to arguments along the lines of 'taking on two more hours of consulting work and donating the proceeds to x would be more efficacious than anything else you could do'

This. Sending money to people who are involved in the political process full-time as their vocation will almost inevitably be more effective than you trying to reinvent their wheel.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Become a community and/or union organizer.

The fact is, the wars will not end as long as the people in charge of the government are funded by the same people who are getting stupendously rich off these wars.* One person can't do anything against it unless they have a whole shitload of money. That's why we need to organize.

On September 17 on Wall St and on October 6 in front of the White House, there are movements to mobilize huge numbers of people with the intent of starting a popular movement to hold the government accountable to the 99% of the population that isn't multi-millionaires. They will be a start, and there will probably be more of them soon.

*the same is true for healthcare, food policy, education, living wage, etc.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:14 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you mean to temporarily stop foreign wars, working for Ron Paul's campaign or contributing earnings to his campaign would be most effective. However, the president after Ron Paul would probably resume attacking other countries so it's not a permanent solution.
posted by michaelh at 1:18 PM on September 13, 2011


Write to your congresspeople, even if they are republicans or pro war. A lot of letters change minds. See, number of GOP congress members voting against further funding of Viet Nam war, 1974.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:46 PM on September 13, 2011


[please address answers to the OP and do not make this your GRAR platform, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:56 PM on September 13, 2011


I realize I wasn't clear that those letters in my first suggestion were letters to senators and congressmen, and maybe letters to everyone's family and friends urging them to write their own letters.

The "letters to eveyrone's family and friends" may be a bit dicey, so take it as read that the "family and friends" your'e trying to target are more people who agree with you politically but just don't see what good their writing a letter would do. (Unless you really want interesting Thanksgivings, I'd lay off the weekly letter campaign against your Uncle Sid who once said he wanted to "personally blast that beard off O-SAMB-a's face".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:13 PM on September 13, 2011


Start a meetup group devoted to writing letters about this once a week.

Letters to whom?
posted by grouse at 2:13 PM on September 13, 2011


grouse, either you or I is clairvoyant, I can't decide which.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:14 PM on September 13, 2011


The Friends' Committee on National Legislature is a pacifist lobbying organization associated with the Quaker church. Their website has some resources on doing grassroots lobbying on this sort of issue, including for instance a page on organizing letter-writing events. They've been doing this shit for a while and it might be worth looking at what they have to say on the subject.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:18 PM on September 13, 2011


I'm not a single-issue person; I've GOOGLED RON PAUL and the costs of having him as President outweigh the benefits.

Sending money to people who are involved in the political process full-time as their vocation will almost inevitably be more effective than you trying to reinvent their wheel.

You might be right. Do you have a suggestion for the most effective use for my dollars, assuming that I believed this to be true and wanted to act on it?

nebulawindphone and Wretch729, those seem like great resources.
posted by Kwine at 2:31 PM on September 13, 2011


You might be right. Do you have a suggestion for the most effective use for my dollars

Give directly to candidates.
posted by jgirl at 2:49 PM on September 13, 2011


Matt Yglesias just addressed this question on his blog. His advice is two part, first to write and call your representatives and make your support or opposition known, and second to "be personally annoying about your political views when they’re relevant to your interactions in everyday life." That's potentially less applicable to your situation because the examples he gives are connecting people's gripes about high prices in bars to the politics of liquor licensing and zoning, and since you're in Seattle you might not run into many pro-war people (or maybe you do) but I think it's an interesting bit of contrarian advice, pushing back against the notion that you have to soften your approach and be on your toes about alienating the people who might agree with you or be persuaded to. You'll have to be a bit creative to adapt that specifically to your antiwar aims, but I think it's interesting advice for the broader themes of your question about how one person can have an effect in a democracy.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:18 PM on September 14, 2011


Heh, I just came here to post the yglesias link.
posted by Kwine at 10:28 PM on September 14, 2011


There is nothing you can do.
posted by tarvuz at 1:31 AM on September 15, 2011


« Older help anonymize data   |   My iPhone Freezes Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.