Published on

A Call for A Truth Commission

Dean Hammer

During this season of electoral politics in the United States, I find it very challenging to keep a focus on the critical task of healing the wounds of our nation.  Barack Obama is certainly one of the best orators I've heard in a long time.  For me, he is the hands down choice for president over McCain .  However, amidst the fanfare and celebration of the Democratic Convention, my heart was deeply troubled and my soul was crying out on behalf of the civilian casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These innocent victims are deemed to be 'collateral damage.'  Last week, newscasts reported that ninety civilians died in Afghanistan due to American bombings--sixty of them were children. We heard this information sandwiched in between the roar and celebration of the Convention without a moment to pause in mourning.  Amidst the charisma of Obama's acceptance speech, there was not one word by him that might have indicated the need of our nation to repent for the killing of hundred of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and now for the mounting death toll of civilians in Afghanistan.  And so, the plot thickens and we must look beneath the surface of the hoopla and celebration of the Convention.

The spirit and inspiration of Martin Luther King pervaded last Thursday's historic moment when the Democratic Party nominated an African American to be president.  While Obama spoke, I continued to hear Dr. King's warning against 'the giant triplet idolatries of racism, militarism, and economic oppression.'  I cringed when Obama demonized Osama bin Laden and committed to 'hunt him down out of his cave.'  Surely Obama needs to use this kind of tough talk in order to be electable as commander in chief.  But for me, this is an insidious form of racism. Secondly, if elected Obama will have the power to use nuclear weapons and potentially to commit the Hitlerian act of murdering millions of people in the name of protecting our country.  Isn't this the worst form of militaristic idolatry?  Thirdly, Obama is obliged to promote a platform that will develop our country's military and economic policies at the expense of others in our global family who die needlessly of starvation and other preventable diseases.  And so, I hear an anguished cry rising inside of me: 'Even the best of the candidates fall prey to the triplet idolatries.'

In the spirit of Dr. King, I too have a dream.  I have a vision of a Truth Commission in the United States that will create a process of accountability for the war crimes and human rights violations committed by the Bush administration during these past eight years.  I see a campaign that will enable our citizens to eventually cast a vote for the principles of the Hague and Geneva Conventions that protect the rights of prisoners of war and of civilian populations.  I see a growing movement of citizens empowered to bring Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others into a process of justice for their commissioning of illegal wiretapping, torturing prisoners, and killing innocent civilians.  This movement for justice will enable the citizens to reckon with our failed responsibility and the failure of the Congress to prevent such crimes.  As Obama aptly stated, change will not come from Washington, it will need to come to Washington.  So too, with this proposal for justice, we must bring it to Washington.  Will you join me in creating a common dream for a Truth Commission in the U.S.? Please share your ideas with me at


This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Won't Exist.

Dean Hammer is a licensed psychologist and a member of the Plowshares 8 (1980) and Griffiss Plowshares (1983) disarmament actions.

Share This Article

More in: