Forty years ago, a handful of smart Americans had an idea how to end a war. They published a call for moral, political and financial support for those refusing to serve. Initially signed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Grace Paley, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Marcus Raskin, and the Reverend William Sloane Coffin among others, eventually, 20,000 signed on and the indispensable RESIST foundation was formed.
Listening as it was read aloud at a 40th anniversary party this weekend, "Resist: A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority" seems as relevant as ever. How about a second Call?
1. An ever growing number of young American men are finding that the American war in Vietnam so outrages their deepest moral and religious sense that they cannot contribute to it in any way. We share their moral outrage.
2. We further believe that the war is unconstitutional and illegal. Congress has not declared a war as required by the Constitution. Moreover, under the Constitution, treaties signed by the President andratified by the Senate have the same force as the Constitution itself. The Charter of the United Nations is such a treaty. The Charter specifically obligates the United States to refrain from force or the threat of force in international relations. It requires member states to exhaust every peaceful means of settling disputes and to submit disputes which cannot be settled peacefully to the Security Council. The United States has systematically violated all of these Charter provisions for thirteen years.
3. Moreover, this war violates international agreements, treaties and principles of law which the United States Government has solemnly endorsed. The combat role of the United States troops in Vietnamviolates the Geneva Accords of 1954 which our government pledged to support but has since subverted. The destruction of rice, crops and livestock; the burning and bulldozing of entire villages consisting exclusively of civilian structures; the interning of civilian non-combatants in concentration camps; the summary executions of civilians in captured villages who could not produce satisfactoryevidence of their loyalties or did not wish to be removed to concentration camps; the slaughter of peasants who dared to stand up in their fields and shake their fists at American helicopters; – these are all actions of the kind which the United States and the other victorious powers of World War II declared to be crimes against humanity for which individuals were to be held personally responsibleeven when acting under the orders of their governments and for which Germans were sentenced at Nuremberg to long prison terms and death The prohibition of such acts as war crimes was incorporated in treaty law by the Geneva Conventions of 1949, ratified by the United States. These are commitments to other countries and to Mankind, and they would claim our allegiance even if Congress should declare war.