How much Congressional support has the movement gained?
"The response from Congress has been decent, considering the untraditional approach of what we are doing. It is not traditional, nor is it everyday for Congress members to hear from active duty service members. The first member of Congress to endorse the Appeal For Redress, was Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, followed by John Conyers of Michigan, Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta, Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts, among several others," says Jonathan. He also believes that as the movement continues to grow, so will political support for the movement. Not all of the Appeal movement's Congressional endorsers voting records reflect the level of commitment that Jonathan would like to see, given the amount of funding the war continues to receive from the politicians in Washington, "We need to continue to hold them accountable," insists Jonathan.
How do you feel about the antiwar movement's inability to be effective, in terms of stopping the war, bringing the troops home, changing the direction of Congress or even in terms of failing to unite with the antiwar conservatives?
"I think what the antiwar movement has been effective in doing, at the beginning of the Iraq war, was mass mobilization and education of the populace and also in connection with the mobilization that was happening all over the world and also in terms of effecting change at the ballot box, from the so-called war party to the party for perceived change," says Jonathan, "But I think where the antiwar movement has fallen short, is holding that party, which is now in power in the Congress and Senate, accountable for following through on the mandate it was given at the ballot box in 2006. It has also failed to look at alternative strategies, outside of traditional strategies that have been used. The Civil Rights Movement had a strategy of non-violent, direct action but when that strategy started to break down and when the strategy was no longer effective, people were willing to look at other forms of dissent such as mass refusal and militant action. A movement has to be willing to debate all tactics and strategy."
How do you feel about the Democrats failure to acknowledge the will of the people? The people continue to struggle to end this war but they are continually ignored or marginalized by the party?
"Somehow, the people of this country have been oriented to believe politics is voting and then they wait for the politician, whoever he or she is, to deliver on what it is that you voted for. But you know, voting is only meant to be an extension of the 'political process', that you are already engaged in, the political movement. You know you are organizing, you are mobilizing, you stop by the ballot box and you vote, then you organize and mobilize to hold the politicians accountable. When those things don't work, then it's time to try something new, we move to potential mass refusal which may lead to acts of civil disobedience, whatever it may be but we have to make the government understand, you are not going to govern, you are not going to occupy another country, in our name and at our expense. We must continue to engage the ballot process because, as flawed as it is, it still belongs to us and I believe that ultimately if we are going to radically change society and if in fact that process doesn't work, we have to prove to people, practically and pragmatically that it doesn't but until that process breaks down I think we must engage it. Malcolm X told us years ago it would either be the ballot or the bullet. If politicians fail to respond in the streets, the masses will take justice by any and all means in the streets. The recent collective refusal of the 2nd Platoon in Iraq is a direct result of no relief from politicians in Washington."
Recently you sent a letter to Ron Paul endorsing his candidacy for President, tell us about that...
"I believe Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is serious about ending the war in Iraq and I believe the antiwar movement should actually consider voting for him; he's the only candidate representing us (the antiwar movement) in the Republican party and I am personally going to vote for him. As a person who doesn't agree with him on everything, on the issue of the Iraq war, I'm with him ninety percent, as far as his non-intervention and bringing our troops home. Supporting Ron Paul is strategic in terms of what needs to happen. I hope that other people will consider this too. The antiwar movement needs to give him a serious look. The antiwar movement, ninety-plus percent of it is supporting the Democratic party and what has the Democratic party done for us on the question of war? They have consistently been complicit in funding the war, that's what they have done. I also believe it is unintelligent for the entire antiwar movement to be confined within one political party; we need to be looking at it from a broader-based perspective and I'm glad that Ron Paul is running. The one thing I can say about Ron Paul is that he is consistent. I think he is very courageous to take the stands on issues that he does. It is very empowering. I hope more active duty members and citizens in general will take a better look at his candidacy."
"You know, we are patriots. When I read the Constitution, when I read the Declaration of Independence, these are beautiful documents, you know? They actually give you instructions on what to do when your government is not accountable to the people. The Declaration of Independence is a radical document. I believe in it and I'm going to live it. Not just talk about it."
Where do you see us in one year or two years if we don't stop this war?
"Unfortunately, if we do not stop this war, if this war is not stopped, if we're not able to halt it, I see us losing more friends around the world, I see more lives being in danger, I see more American lives being lost, on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I see, sadly, more terrorist attacks abroad and potentially here on our own soil. I see more Imperialists wars, I see a potential, future attack on Iran, I see the possibility of invasion of other sovereign countries, perhaps in Pakistan, I see a sharpening rivalry with Russia and China, in Latin America and other countries that dare to stand in opposition to US Imperialism. I see more military recruitment of so-called illegal immigrants in exchange for citizenship and a lowering of military standards and a continued breakdown within this country."
"At the same time, what I see as a result of all of this, is that the people are being forced, especially as things become worse at home, to make a decision to become involved politically. I believe that if you don't join the movement to end the war and to change the course of this country, then the movement's gonna draft you, whether you like it or not."
Jonathan, thank you for your time and also for your service to our country. Thank you for joining us in this struggle to end the war and also for joining us in our struggle to regain our country and the principles upon which it was founded.
For Jonathan Hutto and others fighting in this illegal war, it is time to come home.
From Nation Books:
Navy Petty Officer Jonathan W. Hutto, Sr. enlisted in the United States Navy in January of 2004. Two years later, along with a small group of fellow service men and women, he helped build one of the first active duty antiwar groups since Vietnam. Drawing on his own experience as an activist, as well as the experiences of the GI resistance movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Hutto reminds us of the citizenship rights of active duty, reserve and National Guard forces, while providing guidance and expertise for those who wish to be heard.
In the short term, writes Hutto, the goal is to "mobilize hundreds and thousands of military members throughout the world to file their grievances and reservations with members of Congress on the Iraq War." In the long term: "To build permanence with the formation of an Active Duty Network that can advocate on behalf of active duty members on a range of issues to all levels of government."
Disclaimer: Jonathan Hutto's views and opinions, in this article, in no way represent the United States Military or the Appeal for Redress movement.
Jonathan Hutto can be reached at [email protected].
For more information about Jonathan Hutto, Sr. see:
thanks to Randy Aronov, activist and Ron Paul supporter for helping
to arrange this interview.
January 4, 2008
Donna Volatile [send her mail] is a radical, screenwriter, researcher and political writer living in the mountain of northern New Mexico.
Copyright © 2008 Donna Volatile