Statement of Historians Against the War

Following is a statement approved by a group of historians at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. (Their website: www.yachana.org/haw.) As of January 24, 2003, it had been signed by more than 1,000 historians.

  • Click here for the developments at the OAH annual meeting 4-4-03.
  • Click here for the news release 1-22-03.
  • Click here for a list of signers.
  • Click here for details about the circumstances that led to the circulation of the petition.

At a meeting on the evening of Friday, January 3, 2003 at the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, historians from more than forty colleges and universities agreed to form a new national network,"Historians Against the War." A committee was appointed to draft the following statement:

We historians call for a halt to the march towards war against Iraq. We are deeply concerned about the needless destruction of human life, the undermining of constitutional government in the U.S., the egregious curtailment of civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad, and the obstruction of world peace for the indefinite future.
Any historian can endorse and circulate this statement. All signatures collected on Saturday, January 4, at the AHA Meeting should be turned into the Radical History Review table near the Message Center in the Southwest Exhibition Hall, before 1 PM, or between 5 and 6 PM. Signatures collected later should be mailed to Van Gosse, Department of History, Franklin & Marshall College, PO Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17604, or emailed to van.gosse@fandm.edu.

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Homer Simpson - 5/6/2003

Yet another idiot!!

I still say that it's not possible for so many idiots to actually be historians.

Edith, you don't really exist. It just some guy in the back room banging away on his word processor.

I stand against Edith the Dumb, commie suck-up and laughable jerk.

Homer Simpson - 5/6/2003

How surprised will you idiots be when George Bush is re-elected?

Are all historians are dumb as the ones that visit this site?

Does anybody out there have a brain?

Bill Maher - 3/25/2003

This is one historian who will not gladly become a useful idiot. There seem to be more then enough to go around. Indeed, if I understand Samantha Power's A Problem From Hell, much of the current problem is very much connected to those who resisted American involvement in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Rwanda. Diplomacy for the sake of diplomacy is not always a virtue. It can be sheer stupidity passing itself off as idealism.

W.J. - 2/6/2003

Vote Democratic to rid our country of a coming facist police state by the bush cartel.

Ronald Kinum - 2/4/2003

Date: 2/2/2003 7:45 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: Apt Opinion

++Date: 2/1/2003 9:48 PM Pacific Standard Time
++From: Rick0109
++The Dumbocrats seem to be blaming our President for EVERYTHING bad, including
++the weather. Why is this so?

Why? After all the crap Republicans have posted in AOL political boards you ask why? Are you blind????

It's interesting how the religiously-brainwashed / politically indoctrinated
Republican communists berate Democrats, but isn't it interesting how, if
you re-write just some of the parts in the history of the French Revolution,
it parallels very closely to the past and present Republican administrations'
Read this:

Legal divisions among social groups that had existed for hundreds of years,
between the Federalists and the troublesome constitutional Democrats,
created much discontent. According to law, US society consisted of three
groups called political parties. Members of the minority Republicans
gradually came to make it up to the the top first party by late 1979,
Democrats the second, and the rest of the people as the various upstart
independent third parties.

The peasants formed the largest group and supported the second party. A
lot of them were in unions, but after the War on Trade Unions was won in
the 1980s, by the 1990s the peasants earned so little after corporate
downsizing and computer automation and relocating most of the big US
businesses overseas and creating NAFTA, that the peasants could barely
afford to send their children to colleges and universities, where the nation
educates its political, government and business leaders. This was planned
in a first party conspiracy, wherein almost all of the Republican states'
governors cut their state's higher education funding during the early to
mid-1990s. The California Republican governor scoffed, "The peasants
are starving for education and equal opportunity? Well, let them eat
trade school cake, they don't need college degrees!" But the first party
also included the working people of the cities and a large and prosperous
middle class made up chiefly of merchants, lawyers, and government
employees who also sent their children to state colleges, and since they
begrudgingly were part of the first party, the first party designed a way
to keep them brainwashed by religious and political indoctrination by
separating them from the peasants with education vouchers.

The second and third parties individually resented certain advantages of
the elite members of the first party, and the third party resented certain
popularity advantages for the two other parties. The Republican nobles did
not have to pay as many taxes, as they hid their income behind huge trusts
and by hedging money into corporations, and used the privacy-invading
Internal Revenue Service's establishment-prejudice to conceal those
profits through special corporate tax deductions and subsidies that the
rich somehow profited from, but wasn't obvious to the peasants due to
the overly complexly invasive burden of the tax system they struggled
under. The second and third parties, especially the second one with the
peasants, had to provide almost all the country's tax revenue that the
first party's "Trickle Down Economics" passed on to them through doubled
annual store prices, and yet were accused of being given huge privileges
and tax deductions, which of course were scams that were aimed to make
the common people betray their private financial matters to the huge
government spy called the Internal Revenue Service, which was the chief
government means of owning and controlling the common people.

However, many members of the middle class, who thought they were also
priviliged for being anti-conservative conservatives, were also troubled by
their social status. They were among the most important people in US
society but were not recognized as such because, although most of them
belonged to the first party, the real upper-class and corporate conpirators
of the Republican machine were prejudiced against the danger of those
insubordinate upstarts. For that reason, the corporations and upper class
conspired to infiltrate the major religious organizations of the USA, and
began a program of brainwashing followers into believing that their
religion supported the first party, and that the only way to be right with
god was to be a Republican. "Be hateful and vile about those damn liberal
democrap constitution-lovers, you don't have to be honest, just be loyal
believers so even the peasants won't want to be liberals any more! We'll
blacklist the liberals from jobs and make them so sorry they're democraps!"
The first party was amazed that no one noticed they had violated the
Separation of Church and State, and so they were confident no one would
promote the needed idea of a Separation of Business and State to protect
the US Constitution from subversion.

During much of the 1900's, anti-war protesters called on philosophers
from the US and from other countries to enlighten the common peasants
about how their government ruled over the people in anti-democratic,
unConstitutional fashion to colonize and conduct wars in absurdly-oriented
politics, and they raised new ideas about freedom. Some of these thinkers,
including some members of the Democrats, suggested that the right to
govern came from the people. The Republicans reacted with angst and
called the Democrats "communists", even though in recorded history, the
religions had invented social communism probably 6,000 years ago, and
the British corporations invented commercial communism in the 1400s after
the British King invented the corporation to control capitalists who were
making too much wealth and gaining too much world-wide power through
oceanic trade. The ignorant King's plan backfired, the corporate
structure just made the captains of capitalism smarter and richer and
immensely more powerful over entire realms, which is why they replaced
the monarchies' tyranny to end all of the monarchies in Europe and Africa,
resulting in only a handful of true monarchies to reamin in the Middle East
and tiny parts of Asia by the turn of the 21st century.

But a 20th Century financial crisis had developed because the nation had
gone deeply into debt with two World Wars, only to end up financing the
cold war (1946 to 1991), fighting for the second time since World War II
both in Korea (1950 to 1954) and Viet Nam (1964 - 1976), and due to the
immoral and costly conspiracy of perpetually supporting the illegal territory
created by England and the USA between 1946 and 1948, after in 1948,
Isreal was promoted and recognized internationally as a "real" nation
under the name "Is Real". A further huge cost was added to the debt by
the Desert Storm operation to save Kuwait and even possibly Saudi Arabia
from the first party-armed Iraqis, who had been heavily armed with
biological weapons of mass distruction by King Reagan.

By 1992, the US government was almost bankrupt. But the newly
Republican-dominated Congress in Washington, DC insisted that King
Bush 1 could borrow more money by selling US government debt bonds
to the rich, use the Social Security fund to pay some of the more
immediate debts, or raise taxes to hide that nearing bankruptcy and
encourage the common people to place their pension funds in the stock
market to bolster sagging stock prices. What an all-encompassing remedy;
but since people were very reluctant to gamble in the stock market, a
nation-wide clandestine government approval of lotteries in most of the
populous states was enacted to "teach" the public of the lucrative
"chances" they have to become "rich" by giving most of their grocery
money and savings to state run gambling schemes, knowing gamblers
rarely have more than a planned one-in-one-and-a-half million chance of
a payoff default, which they propagandistically called "winning" to
discourage the people's mentality and judgement. Then the Republican
party also promoted the ideas of countering the Democratic party's
"spend-spend-spend" mentality by emplacing a new Republican policy of
cutting taxes and increasing government spending, to make a smaller,
more ineffective government that would become powerless to counter
huge international corporate abuses of the nation's laws and avoidance
of the free market and anti-trust regulations, and called the Democratic
party traitors "to America" for protesting, not realizing that America is
almost 300 years older than the USA, and that other American nations
may not think like the US Republican cult; but the Democrats retaliated
bravely by saying this preposterous "Reaganesque" strategy could only be
adopted by calling a meeting of the Parties-General, in a body known as
the US Congress. This body after World War II was originally made up
of nearly equal numbers of representatives from the first two of the
three parties. Unwillingly, the king called the meeting, but he figured
enough people in the USA had been brainwashed to Republicanism so
that it didn't matter.

The revolution begins.
The Parties-General opened in the Congressional building in Washington
DC, near the White House. Most members of the first two parties wanted
the members of the third parties to take a hike, while the other two parties
took up matters in a series of continuing, heated conflicting arguments,
because the Democrats wanted to vote on items separately issue-by-issue
and bill-by-bill, using the bi-party system they had created to keep out any
emerging third parties. Though the second party had more followers than
the other two parties combined, most Democrats will sign petitions and
picket but don't vote, whereas indoctrinated Republicans are brainwashed
to vote Republican for god, and so they do vote as often as possible.

The first party wanted the second party to give up and disband itself for
the "good of the Republican Party", and it insisted that all the parties be
merged into one national assembly, and that each representative have
one vote regardless of what the public wants. The second party, however,
wanted the Parties-General to follow something nebulous that was only
partially represented in school text books called a US Constitution, an
allegedly important national legal document that few common people
understand and that parents rarely teach to their children as being the
second most important document, the first being the anti-tyranny
Declaration of Independence, both of which are subversive to the
Republican idealism of representative, undemocratic government.

The king and the first two parties refused the demands of the third parties
to be recognized as valid conduits of public opinion. In previous recent
elections, several prominent representatives of the third parties lost major
national elections, but surprisingly, had made an impressive showing when
they declared themselves the National Spokesman of the USA's unrepresented
and ignored population. The third parties thus gathered at a bathroom in a bar
near the Supreme Court and pledged not to disband until they had been elected
to the US Presidency and had enough members in Congress to re-write the
Constitution. This vow became known as the Oath of the Bathroom. Seeing
the insignificant public support for the third parties, King Bush then allowed
the three parties to debate together on television. But he began to gather
police to break up the debate.

The National Emergency.
In September 2001, the USA found itself being punished for the public
decree by King Bush II, made immediately upon his innauguration wherein he
stated to the world that the USA would no longer take an interest in the
peace process of the Middle East, a move that was designed to allow Isreal
to inhumanly attack any Palestinian they chose in the overt annexation of
all the remaining Palestinian territory outside of Isreal. King Bush II
quickly unilaterally enacted, and the Republican party approved, the
Decrees of War Against Terrorism and the Declaration of the Suspension
of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The decrees abolished some
useless feudal privileges that the peasants were Constitutionally endowed
with and bothered the first party's overlords, increased the tax advantages
of the clergy and nobles, and gave regional privileges to all the state
governments to abuse foreigners' rights. The declaration guaranteed the
same basic rights to all citizens, including "suspended liberty, blindly
disregarded propriety, falsely-claimed security by the first two provisions,
and resistance to aggression from other peoples who have been caused
distress by the US's and the US corporations' arrogant invasion and
mistreatment in the prejudiciously so-called "third world", as well as
installing a representative government wherein the government and courts
represent themselves in a new "world order monarchy", one wherein the
public must obey for the common patriotic good.

The largely Republican Congress had often drafted many congressional
laws with hidden bills tacked onto the bottom of innocent-looking legislation,
and King Bush II was pleased that the first party did the same in his reign,
thinking to fool liberal legislative constitutionalists by a slick-Georgie move
that made the USA a limited Republican monarchy with a one-house
legislature. Wherein the USA was divided into 50 regions called states,
each with elected state congresses for local government, the state
governments were increasingly becoming one-party governments. But the
right to vote and hold public offices in the local, state and federal
government offices were limited to citizens who earned a certain
substantial income and who paid a certain lower amount of taxes. The
first party was assured of a "pure" congress in the very near term, for
nobody else could afford to become an elected political prostitute.

The first party also reformed the Supreme Court by implanting Republican
judges and rewriting the US Constitution into 65 volumes of interpretations,
and by requiring the US Supreme Court presidential election of 2001 to
be free of Constitutional mental rationality, saying that the court can too
decide the vote count without being scientific and honest about it, because
after all, didn't the Super Bowl administration get away with sending the
Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl twice with impunity, when the Broncos
couldn't beat the same teams the first time earlier in the season? What
better state than Florida, the state ruled by Prince Bush, the King's brother
and son to King Bush 1, to stage a phony ballot conflict to discredit the
most verifiable voting system in the world? They won't have such problems
when they bring on Electronic voting, where nobody can prove what is or
is not the real vote tally, and they add cheerfully, "It's the count that
counts, not whether it's genuine or not! Don't you BELIEVE? Trust in
the lord, we know the votes will be true!"

And so the people "believed", no longer able to mentally recognize the
difference between "belief" and knowledge, and the King of the Republic
saw that it was good and said that it was good. And it was good.

By Spring 2003, the National Congress of Republicans believed that
the revolution to eliminate the Democrats was over. It disbanded the
Democrat's forum in Congress at the end of the January, saying Democrats
are just a bunch of commie loud mouths who don't believe god ordained
the Republican cult and the party they also should blindly follow, and
Democrats should stop bringing up that outdated Constitution that they
keep yelling about with regard to people's representation, and the patriotic
Republican priests gave encouragement to the "believers" to make ready
for the newly declaired War on Terror, so that their King "Boy George"
Bush II, a.k.a. "Howdy Doody" and "Dubya", could secure a place in the
history books for himself like his daddy did, before it would be too late
for him to do so, by making the US go back to Iraq for the purpose of
blasting the nation into heeding their compliance with UN resolutions,
concealing the real purpose of gaining immortal fame for King Bush II
in a military training exercise and as a test for new advanced weapons,
even though the UN has not formally given final "new world order"
approval for an attack.

That damn UN, such a bother to deal with those kinds of legal details,
it only holds the US back from King Bush II's destiny with history!

Tammy Ballard - 2/3/2003

He is marching America into an unjust war.
He has threatened Iraq with nuclear weapons.
He is destroying our global environment and endangering earths inhabitants.
He has trashed Americas economy.

rj tyler - 2/3/2003

I would like to see the country back in the peoples hands with fair representation of the people. The sooner this appointed administration is hold accountable the better.

Rod McCaslin - 1/14/2003

My problem is when a sub-group within a historical discipline pretends(either overtly or by inference) to speak for the entire profession. This would be true pro-war/anti-war, conservative or liberal. Histiorians are shaped by their ideology, but they should be up front about it.

Ralph E. Luker - 1/13/2003

Several commentators here seem to have trouble reading. The petition does not claim to be a statement by the American Historical Association nor do those who signed it claim to speak for all professional historians. Why bother to comment on something you haven't bothered to read?

Van Gosse - 1/12/2003

Nope, I have never had a problem with students, including conservatives. Maybe because in a classroom setting, the kind of cheap macho invective heard on this string--"absurd," "sissy" etc. is not permitted. And yes, I do think that someone who has the nerve to post on this list that there's something "radical" and unprofessional about historians being engaged in current US politics is an ignoramus. Ditto the comment re "don't you think the President of the US knows more than you do?" There's a good 40 years plus going back to the early days of Vietnam when then-little-known "radical" academics had a much better understanding of the political-military quagmire ahead than the President, the National Security Adviser and most of the other civilians (e.g., thsoe who willfully ignored General Matthew Ridgway's 1961 recommendation to avoid at all costs another "land war in Asia"). In my personal experience, working on El Salvador from 1982 to 1995, grassroots activists from the US traveling there, as I did five times, had a much better understanding of what was going on than the State or CIA types. So for that matter did the best mainstream journalists. Official Washington is addicted to triumphalism, and no one wants to be the bearer of bad news, or contrary assessments.

Peter Jackson - 1/12/2003

Van Gosse writes "All of this pales, in a sense, besides the 70 years of practicing scholarship and politics in tandam by Dr. Du Bois. Or do you not even know what that means?"

In other words, Van Gosse is letting us know, that if you disagree with him, you must be a complete ignoramus.

I've been reading a lot of complaints by conservatives on this list that academics on the left assume every one on the right is an idiot. I was inclined to dismiss them. But Dr. Van Gosse gives us one example.

Are you this condescending to your students when they disagree with you?

Van Gosse - 1/10/2003

It's always amusing to see how outnumbered, disgruntled conservatives moan about "radicals" politicizing things. First, we are a formally affiliated society (MARHO/The Radical History Review) and had every right to participate in that fashion. Second, if you didn't like it, why not organize a pro-war petition, and see how many signatures you can get? Of course, the really telling thing is that some people think that teaching and historical scholarship are "neutral" activities and that we, or for that matter doctors and lawyers, should not take any position on social and political issues. How peculiar, and a-historical. I, for one, am happy to contribute in a small way to the tradition of engagement established by AHA leaders Charles Beard, Woodrow Wilson, Arthur Schlesinger, and more recently, John Hope Franklin. If women historians like Gerda Lerner and Joan Kelly had not gotten "involved" politically to change the profession and the larger society we would still be studying the history of the male minority of Americans exclusively. All of this pales, in a sense, besides the 70 years of practicing scholarship and politics in tandam by Dr. Du Bois. Or do you not even know what that means?

Van Gosse - 1/10/2003

Wrong. You may claim to have had many opportunities, but I've had dozens of emails from people who were there and didn't see it. We had a handful of volunteers standing around the book exhibit for a good part of Saturday asking people as they walked in but self-evidently we didn't buttonhole 3000 people in a few hours. A very large majority of those asked did sign.

Dave Livingston - 1/9/2003

These petitions are nothing but Leftist feel-good blather that accomplish nada positive.

Haven't these jokers paid any attention to what happened to the people of the Republic of Viet-Nam once the Communists were let by the Teddy Kennedy's amongst us to conquer their land? The murders of the innocent, the concentration camps, the pure evil aided & abetted by the anti-war movement here in the States?

Isn't it a bit arrogant for soft, chair-polishers safely ensconced in comfortable quarters here in the States to think they know more about the situation, the threat,than the President of the U.S., he with all the intelligence resources he has?

Where were your protests when Chicken Willie, the Bastard from Hope, was commiting American boys to combat in his Monica Wars for no better reason than to distract attention from his personal domestic and political scandals? What a disgusting bunch of soft, hide-at-home loud-mouthed sissies these joker

The largest Vietnamese community outside Viet-Nam is in Westminster, California. Recently, last year, the Viets of Westminster established a plaza that contains a huge bronze statue of an American G.I. and an ARVN, Army of the Republic of Viet-Nam soldier standing together. In the plaza are kiosks listing the U.S. KIAs, Killed in Action, in the Viet-Nam War & the ARVNs KIA defending their nation

Big surprise, Jane Fonda and other anti-war types of her ilk are unwelcome in Westminster.

Suetonius - 1/8/2003

as a petition by 2000 barbers.

Suetonius - 1/8/2003

U.S. presence in Venzeula? What are you talking about? We don't have any involvement in the Venezuela crisis.

Rod McCaslin - 1/8/2003

This is an old tactic. The Jesus Seminar also was exposed by Timothy Luke Johnson for doing exactly the same thing- a minority within the profession claiming (or infering) that their numbers speak for the profession's entirety.

Walter Hearne - 1/8/2003

One needn't be liberal to recognize the insipidity of this resolution. My guess is that most of the historians realized that the AHA has no business with this.

Of course, the AHA is hardly the only professional organization that has had a problem with radical members trying to use the group's name to push their own agendas. The National Education Association, for example, is notorious for this kind of thing.

john fillipovich - 1/8/2003

3300 historians attended the AHA (according to one source). So far, 667 historians have signed the antiwar petition. There were plenty of opportunities for historians to sign the petition (I was there, had multiple opportunities and did not sign). We don't know how many of the signatories were not at the conference but signed after receiving it via email, but we can assume it is some number less than 667. So the overwhelming majority of attendees at the AHA had opportunity to sign, but did not. Maybe the history profession is not so liberal as it is being portrayed by its conservative critics?

Edith P. Young - 1/7/2003

Hurrah! 700 historians stand against war. I stand with you.

Walter Hearne - 1/7/2003

I find it very hard to take seriously the occasionall professor's complaint about anti-intellectualism in American Society when intellectuals are so often issuing pronouncements that sound like the ruminations of a high school sophomore in social studies class.

Walter Hearne - 1/7/2003

Memo to "we historians" of the AHA: nobody cares.

Randall Besch - 1/7/2003

To "one historian here" it seems that the use of the unsubstantiated adjective "ridiculous" by Mr.Lenk to the petition against aggresive war without reason does not shine brightly upon his point of view or his veracity as a historian.
You sir do have space to elucidate,please do.

Don McArthur-Self - 1/7/2003

are due to the 3300 or so attendees in Chicago (myself among them) who did NOT sign. Please stop making the profession look ridiculous.

Claire M. Stern - 1/6/2003

Good start, but the leaders of the petition drive should consider joining with other organizations who are working to reduce the threats of war for oil in Iraq, and containment of North Korea, and US presence in Venezuela. the main issue appears to be safeguarding oil, not protecting human life.

H. Russell Cort - 1/6/2003

I am not a historian, but I strongly support AHA's efforts to oppose Mr.Bush's unilateral determination to carry out a war against Iraq. There has been no offer of evidence to support Mr. Bush's claims about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors have not reported finding stockpiles of any such weapons. There is no question about Saddam Hussein's barbarous behavior toward his own people, but that is different from Bush's claims about Hussein's military capabilities and adamant intentions.
I appaud AHA's efforts to stop Mr. Bush from casting our country into a disastrous military engagement.

Dave Lenk - 1/6/2003

Who did not sign the ridiculous petition.