From the December 2003 Idaho Observer:
American Voices Abroad established to promote peace and cooperative coexistence
Coalition of American ex-patriots form to oppose current U.S. foreign and domestic policies
There are some 6 million Americans living abroad who are being heavily impacted by the posture of aggression the U.S. government has assumed throughout the world. Experiencing first hand the human suffering and environmental degradation that is the result of U.S. military operations throughout the world, a high percentage of American ex-patriots are opposed to the paranoid U.S. doctrine of preemptive war. With hardly a peep from American or the international press, American Voices Abroad has formed to promote the cooperative and compassionate side of the American mind.
By Radek Vogl
In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, groups of Americans across the World formed to oppose the present Bush policies. Among many Americans living and working abroad was an urgent need to show the residents and governments of their host countries that there is another America opposed to current U.S. foreign and domestic policies.
It was during this time that these groups of Americans, mostly in Old (western) Europe, began to communicate and coordinate their activities in some form of civic organization. On July 4-6 they came together at a convention in Berlin, Germany and there established American Voices Abroad (AVA).
AVA declared itself a non-partisan organization, part of the rising tide of civil-society opposed to current U.S. government policies.
The association of American ex-patriots also stated, Our movement is conservative in that we seek to put America back on the road to democracy and the rule of law; it is progressive in that we seek reforms in American foreign and domestic policy, as well as in the United Nations and other international legal structures.
AVA membership draws from a wide spectrum of groups and individuals -- from members of mainstream political parties to democracy activists and unaligned professionals, journalists and teachers.
The second worldwide congress of the AVA coalition convened November 28-30 in Prague, Czech Republic -- the heart of New Europe. Around 50 delegates from all across Europe and into the Middle East came to Prague to negotiate initiatives against the American civil liberty-destroying Patriot acts and the Doctrine of preventive war that the U.S. is using to justify preemptive military strikes against any nation it deems to be threatening its interests.
The goal of these initiatives are to awaken the interest of their compatriots abroad to the ramifications of U.S. domestic affairs by seeking their participation in discussions and voting as absentees in American elections. I think its very important for Americans, no matter where they live, to begin discussing the state of our democracy. It's important to say that, 'just because we're not in the United States, doesn't mean that we don't care.' We care very deeply, commented a representative of one of the organizations in attendance at the Prague conference.
At present time around 6,000,000 American civilians are living abroad and many of them, according to AVA information, are not taking advantage of their civil right to vote as absentees. AVA would like to change this situation by encouraging Americans abroad to vote.
In this respect AVA members approved in Prague a project timed to coincide with the 2004 presidential election called, 100,000 for 2004, which is a drive for 100,000 pledges from Americans abroad rejecting the USA PATRIOT Act and the policy of preventive war.
There were a number of guest speakers at the conference, including Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq who has been critical of America's policy in the Middle East. In his animated and very charismatic speech before a fully-packed hall in Prague he voiced his opinion that the U.S. should immediately withdraw it's troops from Iraq.
This three-day convention took place in the beautiful autumnal Prague without gaining much attention from local or international press.
Ritter summarized an interesting observation during an interview for Czech radio: What I have found in coming to Prague is that there is this inherent trust among the people that the United States is doing the right thing and that the U.S. is the provider of freedom and liberty. Along with this trust comes an unwillingness to accept criticism of the United States and its policies. Somehow to do so would betray the nation that many Czechs feel is responsible for their new-found liberties.
Radek Vogl is the editor of Dimenzie magazine, a publication intended to support the growth of an entrepreneurial spirit in the Czech Republic.
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