Deadline Now: Mike Ferner

Deadline Now: Mike Ferner

Friday, April 12, 2013 at 8:30 p.m.

Veteran, former Toledo city councilman, mayoral candidate and peace activist Mike Ferner joins host Jack Lessenberry to reflect on the war in Iraq -- 10 years after it began. Ferner is the author of the book, Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran for Peace Reports from Iraq. Ferner is a former national president of Veterans For Peace.

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Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

Years ago, I knew a man who had been bitterly opposed to Hitler, but who had not at first been able to get into the army during World War Two.  Why? Well, turns out he had fallen under suspicion for having been right too soon. He had volunteered to fight to keep Spain from a military dictatorship back in the late nineteen-thirties.

That got him labeled a “premature anti-fascist,” and kept him out of our military for a couple of years. He had committed the terrible sin of having been right too soon.

Well, when it comes to the war in Iraq, Mike Ferner and a lot of people like him were right too soon for their own good, and the nation probably would have been better off if the policy makers would have listened. If you go back and read the newspapers from February and March two thousand and three, about everything the government was claiming was dead wrong. Most of what the protestors were saying turned out to be right, including Mike Ferner’s prediction that we’d be in Iraq for ten years.  We were, and thousands of Americans and untold tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died.

That doesn’t imply that Saddam Hussein was anything other than an evil man running a truly terrible regime. But the days in which Washington thinks it can topple any government it doesn’t like should have ended a long time ago. And we should never again take actions on the world stage without fully considering the consequences.

Regardless of our politics, I think we should all agree that is one of the biggest things we ought to have learned from our experience in Iraq. I’m not sure I’ve always agreed with Mike Ferner, nor am I sure that he has always been right. But for many years and on many issues, he’s been trying hard to make us question authority, and think. That’s what Thomas Paine and William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown and Martin Luther King before him did. All were part of a time-honored tradition that has helped make America great.  

Nobody can say how Toledo would have been different if Mike Ferner had gotten a few more votes and beat Carty Finkbeiner twenty years ago. But I’m not sure that Mike would have been better off.

As a matter of fact, I think he might have been frustrated, and bored.