A good bit of drama found its way into John Walsh’s blog post for Antiwar.com about a resolution, passed at the Veterans For Peace convention last month, to impeach President Obama. Unfortunately, not all the drama was based in reality. Here’s to setting the record straight.
1) The “impeach Bush” resolution Walsh refers to that VFP adopted in August 2004 was not an “impeach Bush” resolution. It said that whoever was elected President in the upcoming November 2004 election had 10 days after inauguration to announce the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and if a timely announcement was not issued, VFP would join the already ongoing effort to impeach Bush. So it would be just as accurate to say that the August 2004 resolution was an “impeach Kerry” resolution or an “impeach whoever was the frontrunner in August” resolution – Republican or Democrat.
2) Walsh added, “…that Mike Ferner, at the time executive director of VFP, made an indignant Bush-bashing speech for impeachment in front of the White House. You can view it here in all its glory. A hard copy letter with the signature of the VFP president was mailed to each member of the House calling for impeachment.”
- I was not executive director of VFP when I made that speech June 16, 2005
- A hard copy letter was not “mailed to each member of the House…”
3) Continuing: “How about the present resolution? Mike Ferner opposed it in the floor debate at the August convention. There has been no rally and none is planned – not in front of the Whhite House or anywhere else. This time a fax of the resolution has been sent to the House members without signature of the (VFP) President.”
- I did not oppose the impeach Obama resolution at the August convention. I was not even present for the debate.
- The June 2005 White House rally was not organized by Veterans For Peace. I gladly accepted a speaking invitation from “AfterDowningStreet.org” who did organize it.
- Our office faxed a copy of the entire impeach Obama resolution, with a cover letter on our letterhead, to each member of the House, just as we did with the 2004 resolution. Walsh is correct that the letter was not signed by the President of VFP. I signed it in my capacity as VFP’s interim director.
4) Walsh concludes, “Unfortunately this story can be repeated in different ways in a variety of ‘progressive’ organizations with leadership more loyal to Dems than to antiwar principle. This writer has witnessed it himself in organizations like PSR and United for Justice and Peace. But the ground is shifting, and much to its credit VFP has led the way.”
- Thanks to Mr. Walsh for the “…has led the way” statement, but let’s be clear on one important point: The most dearly-held section of VFP’s Statement of Purpose is we seek to “…abolish war as an instrument of national policy.” Our experience tells us that the American Empire is a bi-partisan effort and that lives are at stake if we play partisan favorites. We owe no allegiance to party – none.
5) In his bio note, Walsh says “He attempted twice to reach a voice against the resolution but received no reply.” On September 2, I emailed him the names and contact information of two articulate VFP members who gladly agreed to speak with him. I’ve since checked with one of them, Ward Reilly, who sent me a copy of a Sept. 2 email he sent Walsh, explaining in very clear terms why he opposed the resolution.
Finally, I’d like to add that although Mr. Walsh’s article contained a good bit of drama, not all of it was based on the record. But more importantly, what he made no mention of was the spirited debate, before and at the convention, about why to vote yes or no. It cannot be simplified into a debate between principled members who campaigned to “do the right thing” and those who didn’t want to offend Democrats or were afraid of looking like racists. It was this: in order to live up to our Statement of Purpose, how can we strategically join forces with those most likely to be our natural allies so we can gain the political power needed to stop war? Viewed in that light, the story of this resolution looks a little different.
Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio and a former Veterans for Peace President who is now serving as VFP’s interim director.