Nonviolent Action to Stop Production and Use of Napalm: Initial Strategic Outline

by Stop Napalm Production Subcommittee 

Basic Assumptions

(1) The focus of the action will be on Dow Chemical Company, as the nation’s primary producer of napalm.
(2) The program will be carried out in step-by-step fashion, over a specific time period, and moving from less to more intense action steps.
(3) The action will be carried out in a variety of locations and should be as nearly nation-wide as possible.
(4) A Quaker Action Group will initiate and carry out the program in accordance with its nonviolent philosophy. Cooperation from other concerned groups is welcomed. Members of such groups, who are in accord with the nonviolent discipline, may be coopted onto the Napalm Strategy Committee of a Quaker Action Group.


(1) To forcefully demonstrate to the American public the horror of napalm, and show our responsibility for its use.
(2) To help create revulsion of this terror weapon, which will help increase the ranks of those who are pressing for an end to the Vietnam war.
(3) To bring maximum pressure to bear on Dow Chemical Company to recognize its responsibility and involvement in the use of napalm and cause the company to cease production of the weapon.

Program of Escalating Action

Note that each of the following steps are taken only if former ones fail to bring change in company napalm policy.

(1) Have a widely-representative group, involving religious and humanitarian leaders, as well as a Quaker Action Group representative, meet with Dow officials, explain our concern, and ask that they voluntarily refrain from napalm production. Explain our program and the steps that we feel that we must take if Dow continues to produce napalm.
(2) Ask a Dow representative to speak at public meetings on Dow’s position and debate persons who feel Dow should change their policy. People known for scientific and humanitarian endeavors should participate. If Dow will not come, hold the meeting anyway and debate a vacant chair representing Dow.
(3) Encourage persons across the country to write letters to Dow, explaining their opposition to Dow’s policy. Have representatives at the Dow stockholders’ meeting raise questions from the floor.
(4) Hold several concurrent press conferences across the country to explain the failure of steps taken so far to get Dow to change its policy, and to outline in general the nonviolent direct action steps which will be pursued. Explain our concern about napalm and publicly appeal to Dow to change.
(5) Picket Dow plants and offices across the country with signs and with leaflets aimed at Dow employees, encouraging them to quit or at least to write a letter of protest to Dow’s president.
(6) Initiate a nationwide boycott of a selected vulnerable Dow consumer product. Encourage a nationwide consumer’s letter writing campaign aimed at Dow, and companies which handle Dow consumer products, explaining opposition to Dow’s napalm policy and an intention not to purchase Dow products or do business with companies which handle Dow consumer products. Undertake public leafleting at Dow offices and at shopping areas, etc., linking the Dow product boycott with a napalm-burned child. This phase of the program will continue until Dow changes its policy on napalm, and could conceivably outlast phase 10 below.
(7) Demonstrate at Dow offices and/or elsewhere “napalm-burned dolls” carried by women dressed up as Vietnamese and carrying signs such as, “Suffer the Little Children” or, “Little Children Suffer”.
(8) Demonstrate carrying blown-up pictures of people hit by napalm, such as those that have appeared in Ramparts magazine or the York Gazette, or with signs saying such things as,  “Dow Says This Is Your Duty”.
(9) Demonstration in which homemade napalm (which can be produced easily) is used to show napalm’s effects. For example, have stage on a flatbed truck with model Vietnamese village. Person on loudspeaker recounts actual story of napalm use: “According to the New York Times of September 11, 1966, American navy planes carrying napalm . . .” As he is speaking, have model planes, carrying homemade napalm, fly in on wires over the model village and drop the napalm on the huts and inhabitants while the loudspeaker identifies the village as “a suspected Vietcong concentration as kids go up in smoke.”
(10) Demonstrations revolving around acts of civil disobedience such as sit-ins or live-ins, such as the two following examples:

(A) In selected cities pre-selected people who have sufficient depth of commitment will subject themselves to arrest by saying in effect  “I am here to remind you that you are murdering people. To stop me you must arrest me.” These people will be supported by general demonstrators who are not able to be arrested but will carry signs and who will agree to fast in protest.
(B) A project team pre-selected and trained will begin civil disobedient actions in a target city.  They will be saying, “To continue to manufacture napalm Dow must see that I am kept in jail indefinitely or I will be a constant reminder of their complicity with murder.” This team, after arrest and release, will continue to return and be re-arrested. They will be committed to a year or more of nearly continuous jail.

Example A above can continue while example B is in progress with new people being introduced for arrests. There must be several support committees working while B action is taking place. These committees will use the project team as a focus while they are in jail and will organize support demonstrations when the team is released from jail and walks back to be re-arrested.

Sit-ins or live-ins should be spread out over as long a period as possible, so that those arrested (as in A) will have their places taken by others willing to be arrested, so that this dramatic action can be brought home to the public for as long as possible.

Reference: IISG/WRI Archive Box 404: Folder 10. We are grateful to WRI/London and their director Christine Schweitzer for their cooperation in our WRI project.

“When planted in the garden, the mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, became a large tree, and birds came and made their home there.” Luke 13:19

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.” M. Gandhi