Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Ten ways to move on without becoming complicit in the war
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   03/28/2003)

The pressure is on to make us all complicit in the war on Iraq. So how should those of us who advocated peace behave? Should we drop our ideals, beliefs and fears to support the war effort? Or should we continue to speak out against it? Here are 10 ways we can truly "move on."

  • Applaud the bravery and sacrifice of American men and women who never asked to be put in harm's way. Never speak ill against them. Hold them in your prayers. They are exhibiting bravery and making sacrifices, some of them the ultimate sacrifice, on behalf of their country.
  • Be glad that however much we despise seeing our president become the new ruler of Iraq, the people there will be better off than they were under Saddam Hussein, if it happens soon. You wouldn't have chosen to get rid of Saddam in just this way, but it's important to acknowledge the world will be well rid of a Stalinist monster. Even if everything else goes wrong, this will be a positive outcome, assuming it's soon.
  • Light up the corner where you live. Quietly point out where you think the war advocates hold mistaken beliefs. Inform them that Saddam didn't destroy the World Trade Center, as half of them believe. Ask fair questions when conversation allows: Weren't we led to believe the Iraqi army would have collapsed by now? Shouldn't the people of Southern Iraq be showering us with flowers? Why are we having to send more troops? Where are the weapons of mass destruction? How much is this costing? How long will we be there? What about other potential enemies, such as North Korea and Iran and radicals in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Won't the war only add to the chaos and violence? Who stands to gain financially from this war? Is every war America ever fought justified? Is this one? These are fair but provocative questions, to be asked in a quiet, soft voice.
  • Own up in those instances when you are wrong, and be glad of it. For example, the World Health Organization estimated half-a-million people could die from our "shock and awe" bombing strategy. In my last column, I guessed at the more modest figure of 30,000, for reasons of discussion, but still got the number way wrong. I'm glad. We're obligated to share our worst fears, but when they don't come true, that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing.
  • Be prepared for special forces to discover Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. They may discover links to al-Qaida. Some evidence could be fabricated or misconstrued. All governments lie, especially under pressure. Remember Watergate? Iran-Contra? Remember Monica-gate? Remember those forged documents from Niger? The Gulf of Tonkin? Remember the Maine? Those who were for this war will not wait a year or seven to judge the Iraqi invasion a just and successful cause. Your best response in the short term will be one quiet phrase, "I hope you're right."
  • Look to the long term, and be proud that you are part of something bigger than a war. For the first time in history, most of the world opposed a war that hadn't even started. Millions marched in the streets worldwide, and country after country, including most of the world's democracies, opposed the war. Yes, war came anyway, and the peace movement lost a battle, but it's winning a greater struggle. A new global consciousness has arisen in the world. More and more people are seeing the human race as mutually interdependent and are working towards the day when forces other than violence will determine history.
  • Prepare for more wars, however, despite the growing peace movement. North Korea has armed itself with nuclear weapons. Does this nation dare let that stand? Urge your president to fly to China. Urge him to talk to the North Koreans, but prepare yourself psychologically for more war. Iran appears to be going nuclear. Syria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia hold enemies. Thinking pretty thoughts, even wise policy, will not solve all our problems.
  • Continue to educate yourself and others. It's possible the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) will spread eagle wings and encircle the globe, bringing with it American dominance of the Middle East, outer space, cyberspace, a damaged environment, a reduction in civil liberties and other consequences, intended or not. If you don't know about PNAC, or the Patriot Act II or concepts such as "monopolar hegemony," "unipolar hegemony" or "pax Americana," do a search on your browser. Prepare to be very scared.
  • Be patient. George W. Bush could find himself in the situation his father did 11 years ago. Bush the Elder had just won a war, was riding high in the polls, and lost in a landslide in 1992. History could repeat itself, in which case those of us who opposed his policies will be exonerated.
  • Again, remember the troops in a positive light. They didn't ask to be put in harm's way. Take them to your heart and pray for their safe return.