Hey, Berkeley, Want To Be Really Antiwar?

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City of Berkeley
2180 Milvia St.
Berkeley, CA 94704

April 8, 2008

Dear members
of the Berkeley City Council,

I have been
following with some interest your protest of US Government foreign
policy in Iraq and, in particular, your actions regarding the United
States Marine Corps, to include your initial vote and subsequent
retraction. While I am sympathetic with your overall aim, I believe
the strategy you pursued in this case was less than optimal and
fell short of its potential of actually affecting US foreign policy.

The main problem
lies in the target of your protest. The US federal government and
its foreign policy are the real problems, not the USMC. The Marines
are merely one of many tools in the executive branch's toolbox for
prosecuting its interventionist policies. The USMC does not create
policy; it follows that which it is given. Even if your actions
were to reduce recruitment, you could not change that fact. Additionally,
protests at USMC recruiting stations only served to inflame public
opinion everywhere outside of the Berkeley city limits, further
marginalizing your efforts.

If you are
truly serious about asserting your beliefs by taking a stand, as
a duly elected local government body, against federal government
actions that are grievously injurious to international relations
and to the concept of federalism itself, I offer the following practical

1. Issue a
formal statement to the effect that, while the Berkeley City Council
remains adamantly opposed to US government foreign policy in Iraq,
protests against the USMC were misdirected and counterproductive.
Effective immediately, the City Council of Berkeley will no longer
target the USMC exclusively. It will now support protests against
the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the Departments of
State, Energy, Education, Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation,
Health and Human Services, all branches of the Armed Forces, and
any other federal entity maintaining an office within the city limits.

2. Issue another
formal statement to the effect that, because the City of Berkeley
is adamantly opposed to US foreign policy in Iraq, the following
actions are intended to deprive the federal government of the resources
necessary to prosecute its foreign and will remain in effect until
all US forces are withdrawn:

  • Effective
    immediately, the City of Berkeley will stop withholding federal
    income taxes on city employees. (Note: this is not supporting
    the individual non-payment of federal income taxes, but
    rather the non-withholding of same by the city. Non-payment
    is illegal; failure to withhold can be fought in the courts.)
  • The City
    Council will not object if private corporations within the city
    limits fail to withhold federal income taxes on their employees.
  • The City
    Council will not enforce collection of federal corporate income
    tax within the city limits nor will it enforce the collection
    of any federal tariffs, excise taxes or any other federal fees
    on goods and services traded within Berkeley.
  • To show
    resolve in this issue, the City of Berkeley will return all unspent
    federal payments, including subsidies, grants, and other monies
    received from any federal agency. In addition, the city will accept
    no further federal grants, subsidies, or other payments.

This is not
a long list but, by implementing these suggestions, your city council
would clearly demonstrate to the federal government and the rest
of the world that a local government can understand and practice
the principles of federalism and that Berkeley is doing its part
to rein in the excesses of a presidential administration run amok.

Will you actually
implement any of these recommendations? My guess is no, but I'd
like to be proven wrong. If you did, Berkeley could lead the way
for other American communities and become the very nexus of a new
freedom movement that recognizes an ever-growing groundswell of
public opinion across the entire nation, a groundswell consisting
of individuals and organizations that are fed up with the expansion
of federal power, influence and intrusion into every aspect of our
lives and the lives of others across the globe.

If you don't
implement any of these suggestions, then your protest is revealed
for what it truly is; namely, an empty gesture that appeals only
to a small anti-military fringe, having perhaps cathartic value,
but no lasting impact.

I will continue
to watch with interest and remain,

Randall Bentz

11, 2008

Randy Bentz
[send him mail] is a retired
army colonel living in Oregon.

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