Hello. I brought my reading glasses tonight, so bear with me. I'm reminded, I'm gonna focus more on the military side of things because there's a lot of people here with a much deeper background in activism than what I have, and the one thing that I can bring to this discussion is a certain level of military expertise. So actually I'm going to talk about something a lot of you don't hear very often.
I'm going to talk about military doctrine a little bit, and there's an old joke, I don't know if any of you have heard it: What's the difference between George W. Bush and Jane Fonda? The difference is that Jane Fonda went to Vietnam. (Laughter) And the reason I bring that up, and there really is a point, but right now there's a struggle inside the Bush administration over the direction to take in this new foreign policy that's being designed in sort of a Rube Goldberg fashion to attempt to restructure the global architecture by dint of military force. And I want to talk about two predominant military doctrines that sometimes coincide and that sometimes exist in tension with one another, and they're gonna have a lot to do with what happens on the ground in the event of another invasion of Iraq.
The first doctrine I want to talk about is called the Powell doctrine. And it's named for Colin Powell, who is the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now Secretary of State.Powell's first test as a young black officer was to be the deputy assistant chief of staff of public affairs for the Americal division in Vietnam, and this is where he was given the difficult and dubious task of damage control after revelations about the My Lai massacre, where United States soldiers tortured, raped, and eventually slaughtered 347 unarmed civilians in a remote Vietnamese hamlet. And Powell performed brilliantly in his damage-control role, and he showed a real talent for negotiating politically sensitive bureaucratic and diplomatic mazes, and he was noticed by someone Caspar Weinberger, who would eventually appoint him as his deputy security adviser, when Ronald Reagan appointed Weinberger Secretary of Defense. Powell was then personally groomed to become the youngest, and to date, only Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And Powell took a lot of lessons from Vietnam, especially as a public affairs officer. He never forgot those lessons that he learned or that he imagined he learned from Vietnam; and these lessons became the Powell Doctrine. The Powell Doctrine states there needs to be some simple and clear criteria for national interest that determines when military force will be used, and that the full weight of government and press should mobilize their influence to ensure public support of the military action, and that overwhelming and devastating force has to be employed against the entire society with whom we are at war -- as opposed to "proportionality," which I'll talk about in a minute; that's the bugaboo that many, including Powell, incorrectly hold responsible for the US defeat in Vietnam, and was resurrected later on to explain the defeat of Task Force Ranger in Somalia.
And the other component of the Powell Doctrine is there has to be something called a clear exit strategy. Implicit in the Powell Doctrine, with its heavy public relations emphasis, is the obsessive minimization of US casualties, and this is one of the reasons that, in the recent past, we've seen the United States very willing to employ military force, but not as willing to employ military force where there's a high probability of sustained ground action. They only tend to employ military force when that force can be decisive as employed from the air. Most of the ground action that results in any real casualties is incidental, and much of it is caused now by fratricide.
Now proportionality is this notion that the Powell Doctrine grew up to challenge, because it's the idea that military action is proportional to need. And as a principle of war, this is called economy of force, and it's preached from the pulpits of all service academies, like West Point, where I taught military science for three semesters. But when civilians are blamed, using the sort of retrojection analysis the military very fond of, then they don't call it economy of force, they call it proportionality and they transform it into a civilian heresy. It says that civilian pressure subverted the war effort. This is the notion that we lost in the war in Vietnam because civilians who didn't understand that we had to apply adequate force, even though we killed three million Southeast Asians in the process; proportionality limited our application of force and thereby caused us to lose the Vietnam war. Powell believes that that defeat in Vietnam was a consequence of proportionality, and in part, that implies that was a failure to be willing to escalate with whatever means were necessary, including tactical nuclear weapons.
That's the Powell Doctrine, and you're gonna hear a lot of other people, but sort of keep these in the back of your mind, because the implication for what's gonna happen to people on the ground after what I suspect – I would almost assure you -- is gonna be a devastating air campaign directed against Iraq. And let me tell you something about the surgical weapons. Yes, you can fly a Tomahawk cruise missile through a three-by-three-foot window, but that's not surgical, because the bursting radius is 200 meters. So I want you all to just stand here for a second and imagine 200 meters in every direction around you, and right here is the center of the burst. And if you can describe for me why that, how that's surgical, then you've educated me. They're talking right now about one of the primary targets during an invasion of Iraq being Saddam Hussein's hometown. Civilians live in Saddam Hussein's hometown.
I want to talk about the other doctrine, and again this is a doctrine that sometimes conforms to the Powell Doctrine, and it's a doctrine that sometimes exists in a great deal of tension with that, and it's called Full Spectrum Dominance. Full Spectrum Dominance is a key term in Joint Vision 2000: Dept. of Defense Blueprint that was issued by Henry Shelton. Full Spectrum Dominance means the ability of US forces to operate alone or with allies, and now this is a quote, `to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations.' They use the word `any' twice. This makes it perhaps the most grandiose hallucination in US military history, in contrast to the semi-conscious caution inherent in the Powell Doctrine, but don't forget that Powell has some military experience; Rumsfeld and Bush do not.
"Full spectrum" refers to three things: geographic scope, level of conflict, and technology. And what this means, or what this, how this is going to play out is based on sort of a technocentric notion of warfar that dominates in the administration right now of Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush. And this is a very naÔve faith in the power of superior technology to prevail in all theaters of conflict. And I'll be, because I'm short on time here, I'm gonna leave you with that thought, and I'm gonna tell you, gonna make the assertion here that superior technology does not prevail in all theaters of conflict, it cannot prevail in all theaters of conflict, and in fact, in some cases, it sets us up for a long-term defeat even though we have short-term victories.
There's a lot more to discuss about this. I don't want to monopolize the podium. I'm going to leave you with that for a while, and cede the podium to the next speaker. Thanks for your attention very much. (Applause)
Good evening. Well, I'm not a former soldier, or a scholar, just a rank-and-file worker and activist and a little experience in civil rights movement and the black liberation movement. Just want to share a few things with you. Tonight, tonight my [indecipherable] labor council is meeting over in Raleigh, and I can't be there, and the reality of things is I need to be here. The other reality is, though, that the labor movement should be here but is not here, and at this point is kinda lined up behind this pro-war activity. That's another discussion.
I'd like to make a few related but not necessarily coherent comments about the war and then get into some stuff that I think the black community is thinking and feeling. I just want to call on two progressive icons, at least icons of peace around the world, Nelson Mandela is one and Noam Chomsky's the other.
Mandela has been quoted as saying around the world that it would be a disaster if the US bombs Iraq, and that it will introduce chaos into the international community if this happens, and he's urging, he's pleading with the US to go through the UN and to not bypass that process and not to have this unilateral activity that we see. And he's also pointed out that he thinks the appearance, at least, that's perceived in the international community is that the US is too tilted towards and to pro-Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So that's Nelson Mandela.
And then there's Noam Chomsky, and in discussing the situation in Israel and Palestine, he's made reference to draining the swamp if we want to get rid of the mosquitoes. And I think it's really apropos the mosquitoes represent the horrible violence that's taking place in Israel, in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip, all over the region. And that the swamp is the lack of Palestinian rights, the lack of a Palestinian state, the lack of self-determination. And should that be addressed and solved, that the mosquitoes certainly will go away. I would add the Dillahunt analogy to that, and say that unlike the West Nile virus that we have here in this country, we've got the East of the Nile virus that plagues that area of the world.
Theories – there are many theories about why we've got this conflict. I just want to run down the quick list: W wants to finish the work of his dad, they want to deflect the attention away from the failing economy, they want to strengthen the position for the November elections -- and then there's the whole idea of regime change, which really terrifies and angers me and many in this room and around the world. And under regime change, we've got, you know, weapons of mass destruction and perhaps links to al Qaeda, we've got oil, the big oil question's always in front of us, we've also got the dollar versus the Euro kind of argument there, people, you can take a look at. And then there's the military strategic goals in that area, and of course the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
I believe all of these have some semblance of truth; there's a kernel of truth in all of them. But I think the anti-war movement shouldn't become fixated on any one, and in particular the ones that deal with carrying out his dad's mission and the election type of reflection. I think that that's counterproductive for us in the anti-war movement.
The other thing that I would like to know is that, you would think that there's no opposition to Bush around the world if you listen to the US media, the US press. (Loud applause) Tony Blair is not Britain! Tony Blair is not Britain! (Loud applause)
The Independent reports that Claire Short, who's the international development secretary, is mounting a campaign to put pressure on Blair. She's saying that innocent civilians will be killed if they bomb Iraq, shouldn't have that. Robin Cook, who's a leader in the House of Commons, has also spoken against unilateral US military action. Not to mention the people on the street, people in the trade unions and whatnot.
The German election, not reported very well here, but it TURNED on this issue of the war. Let me tell you. (Applause) Say what you want about Schroeder on everything else, but he was right on this question. (Laughter) He was right, OK?
And then there's even Republican opposition, some of it is waning, stronger back in August but it's waning now, but there 19 Democrats who are forming an anti-war coalition that are pushing for some resolutions that say follow the UN. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is the leader of that coalition, and one of the stalwart members of that is our dear sister Barbara Lee. (Cheers, applause) Barbara Lee said there's alternatives, we can't just be bombing people, it takes thinking. OK.
And then there's this whole thing, I mean, Stan (Goff) kinda alluded to it, the preemptive strike and the regime change – these are all new ways of looking at international relationships and foreign policy that we gotta challenge. But in terms of regime change, in many way it's not a change, right? The last five decades the US has engaged in regime change, except now it's more overt, in terms of what they will do. And as someone important to so many of us in the movement, Lea? Abu Jamal has said, you know they didn't call for regime change in South Africa during the apartheid movement. Loud applause) They didn't call for regime change in Rhodesia when it was [unintelligible] And it's on and on and on. So regime changes are selective, as we very well know.
There's the economic fallout that we're concerned about. Estimates of four trillion dollars in military spending over the next three to four years, if this war goes on. Fifty percent of discretionary income spent by the government on military spending, and what does it mean for jobs, education, health care, prescription drugs, and so on. And when you mention any of those areas in the black community and other communities of color, we're already under attack, and this kind of spending is going to put us further and further into the hole of despair that we face.
We're also concerned about repression, and that's one of biggest [undecipherable] So we look here not just at the war with Iraq, but also the war against terrorism. And we know as victims of the government's COINTEL program what they intend to do with this. So programs like TIPS, you know, Terrorism Information and Prevention, which would even have postal workers looking at what you do, what kind of mail you get, who comes into your house, to drop a dime on people. Right? But there's also another one, which you scholars should have some concern about, and this is the library surveillance, right? What books do you take out of the library? If my granddaughter or my son does a paper and takes out a volume of Lenin, and a volume of Mao, or maybe a copy of Atticus cookbook, they're going to jail! (Moaning in the audience.) They're going to jail! Even if it's just for research, they wanna know what your habits are. It's something for us to watch out.
But there's also some more repression that goes on. And I think that the defeat of Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard is another example of how they're using this repression in a kind of legal sense – and certainly it's to repress the movement of dissent in the African-American community. We've got resistance in our community and we've also got fear. I would argue that the patriotism that you think you see around you among some black folks is more in fact fear that people have. They're afraid like everybody else. And the way they express that fear is, `Well, we're gonna go along with this; maybe we'll support some racial profiling, maybe we won't.' But it's not the predominant opinion. And I would also argue that the involvement of black soldiers is gonna be very important. Right? We still have today the economic draft, right, the conscription of people based on economy, the poverty draft is still important, and as my good friend Stan (Goff) has pointed out to me, in a war that uses large numbers of ground troops, OK, we're talking about African-American and Latino troops. And when they come back home, they're not gonna tolerate any forms of white privilege, just like they didn't after Vietnam, after the Korean War, and after World War II, all right, they're gonna be a factor when they come back. (Loud applause)
We've got to build an anti-war movement connected to domestic issues, connected to international issues, the world conference on sustainable development, the world conference on racism, of things that we must keep in focus, and we've got to lobby – Sen. Edwards (of NC) needs to be lobbied every day – we need to be blowing up his phone, right? (Laughter) You know what we mean. We've got to march any time there's a march; any time there's a picket, a demonstration, we've got to be there. And finally, we've gotta do education, because in fact we can stop the war, on the other side of this madness, right, we would have had to educate our people to all of these problems that we've got in this country, and what foreign policy really does. Thank you. (Loud applause)
I belong to the Silk Hope Catholic Worker. We are an intentional community of four people in Chatham County that offer shelter to homeless families in our home. We also agitate peacefully and nonviolently for justice in the world in a variety of different ways. And also along with my husband I'm a military counselor for people in the military who are trying to get discharged.
In the last week I spent more time that usual listening to the radio and reading the hawkish rhetoric and unsubstantiated claims of people like Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, and North Carolina Senator John Edwards. I've been overwhelmed by shock and horror at the deceptiveness, the arrogance, that these leaders of the US empire, bent on getting the invasion they want. I feel a rage, both at them and at a media that doesn't ask the hard, obvious questions. And I feel deeply saddened, I feel miserable thinking about the people of Iraq, already so beaten down, barely surviving after nearly twelve years of war with the United States. I'm saddened that many US leaders pushing their military action, like the president, call themselves Christian.
As a Christian, when I hear them clamoring for war, I feel the way I'm sure many of my Muslim sisters and brothers feel when Osama bin Laden calls for Islamic jihad. Embarrassed is not the word. Betrayed, sickened, and afraid. Where do I go with these emotions, which accompany a deep sense of responsibility, to stop the unspeakable injustice about to occur. A sense of responsibility that stems partly from being a US citizen, to be sure. But mostly from my belief that we are all God's children, regardless of where we're from and who we are.
In the Catholic tradition we often use body imagery; more specifically, the image of the broken body. We remember and identify with the broken body of Jesus that was executed by the Roman empire for his radical social views and nonviolent civil disobedience. We understand the Church as a broken body, imperfect in our separation from God. And like other spiritual traditions, Catholics struggle to embody justice, love, and truth in the world.
War also brings with it a good deal of broken body imagery. During the past eleven and a half years of the US war with Iraq, friends of mine who have gone to Iraq have described for me the bodies of little children lying near death on soiled hospital beds without sheets, in rooms without medical equipment, as their mothers helplessly watch them die. The underfed and malnourished bodies of children can still be counted among the living, move through streets where the raw sewage runs, from water treatment plants bombed by the US over a decade ago.
We've heard about the contaminated bodies of Iraqis and US soldiers exposed to US fire depleted uranium. And it's note hard to imagine the destroyed bodies of Iraqi and US soldiers and Iraqi civilians that will surely appear in the coming months if the administration gets its way. The tangled mass of human wreckage, concrete, and steel that we witnessed on 9/11 showed us in horrific detail what war does to bodies.
All these broken bodies cry out to us, and when I consider this spiritual challenge to embody justice and truth and love in the world, I feel called to respond beyond thought and word. I am driven to commit my body in a physical way to show my opposition to the insane idea that there can be any justice or righteousness in breaking and killing bodies.
Such a witness can be simple, nonviolent, direct action like holding a sign on a street corner. It can be dramatic, with huge puppets and street theater. And it can be civilly disobedient, breaking the law in order to draw attention to the more criminal, though often unacknowledged, injustice. We have many wonderful teachers in this respect, including Mahatma Gandhi, and Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, and Nelson Mandela.
One of the most important aspects of nonviolent action and civil disobedience is that when we use our bodies to publicly take a stand, we make ourselves vulnerable. We open ourselves up to disapproval from those who find public action inappropriate, to jeers and ridicule, to the scorn of judges and the harshness of jail cells, occasionally even to physical attack. Our willingness to make ourselves vulnerable in this way embodies the radically different intention that the post 9-11 vision of the Bush administration, which says that we will protect ourselves at all costs, even at the costs of others' lives. We recognize the false promise of that vision, knowing that in the militarized world, no one is safe. That was the lesson that the revelation of 9-11. Engaging in civil disobedience, we choose vulnerability and publicly reject a future of false security guarded by US global domination.
In this way, I answer the call of my faith to stand with the poor and the oppressed, rather than with the empire. (Loud applause, cheers)
There's another emotion that I have struggled against these past weeks, and that's the feeling of powerlessness in the face of a US political system turned rubber stamp and an already mobilizing US war machine. We want to stop this war, and even the likelihood that we may not shouldn't deter us from taking action. I believe in a God who calls us to embody justice, truth and love. We should judge our actions primarily by whether or not they answer that call, and not primarily by their effectiveness.
So what sustains me in my attempts to answer this call faithfully? I'm sustained by the assurity that all I'm feeling about this war – even this awful powerlessness – God is also feeling. God has been suffering these past eleven and half years alongside the Iraqi people. If and when the latest phase of this awful war brings new agonies upon the Iraqi people, God will suffer that, too.
Recognizing this, whatever the outcome of the next weeks and months, I believe we have two choices. We can embrace our exhaustion, frustration, fear, and our vulnerability, recognizing that these feelings the opportunity to unite in solidarity with the discouraged longsuffering of broken Iraq. Or we can allow ourselves to slip quietly into a state of numbness, or indifference, or resignation, where we may feel less torn asunder but perhaps are also less honest with ourselves. As people of faith and people of conscience, the least we can do and perhaps the most we can do for the people of Iraq is to choose the path of solidarity.
I want to start off – Stan Goff did the Powell Doctrine – and I want to lay out the Donald Rumsfeld Doctrine. And here's what Rumsfeld had to say recently; he said quote, There are things we know that we know, there are known unknowns, that is to say there are things that we know we don't know; but there are also unknown unknowns, there are things we don't know we don't know. (Laughter) Each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.
Now this, I mean, this sounds like a classic Bushism, right? Only Bush could have come up with something like this (rest drowned out with laughter and cheering). There's humor in these words, I think there's a very sinister message. The idea that we're now in a world where there are unknown unknowns, we don't know what we don't know, and we're gonna have to go after that which we don't know in order to prevent it from happening. This is the ideology behind the new military strategy of the US, of preemptive strikes.
Now there's a much more sort of elegant way of putting this, and this was put by Richard Hans, who's a policy planning director at the State Dept., and he argued that quote, The principal aim of American foreign policy is to integrate other companies and organizations into arrangements that would sustain a world consistent with US interests and values. So Richard Hans was very clear about what this war on terrorism actually is about, and what the US is willing to go out and do in order to wage this war on terrorism.
Now the war on terrorism, it must be remembered, has already taken – and this is something, you know, on the anniversary of Sept. 11, there are numerous groups around the country actually gathered to honor, to remember, even mourn the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center last year, and absolutely many of us were there with them in spirit and so on – but we also remember the 4,000 Afghan civilians who were killed as a result of the US bombing of Afghanistan, civilians that are not mentioned by the US media and never really talked about, except as some sort of collateral damage, statistics that we don't really care about. And what I want to argue is that this new phase of the war on terrorism is both, represents both a continuity of what's been going on over the past year but also a significant shift.
If you go back to the 1990s, the main sort of military strategy that, you know, that advocated by Madeleine Albright and others like her, was the policy of going multilateral if we can, unilateral if we must. The current policy reverses that completely. It says we will go unilateral if we can, multilateral if we must. And it's in this context that I think we need to see this whole debate about the UN that's going on around the world. People who are calling for UN support, calling on the US administration to go through the UN, I would argue, are being misled by what is essentially a debate about strategy, a debate about war strategy, not so much a debate about whether it is right for the US to go and intervene around the world at will in the first place.(Applause) I say a strong anti-war movement is going to have to raise that question in a very concrete way. Does the US have the right to go around the world and establish regime change wherever it desires to change a regime? Does the US actually have a right to talk in terms of humanitarianism, democracy, freedom, etc., etc., when the history of US involvement abroad is littered with examples of puppet dictatorships, military regimes, repressive, brutal repressive governments, that have been sustaine, developed, armed, funded and supported to the hilt by the very government that claims to stand in the name of democracy and freedom? (Cheering, applause.)
Now don't, you know, don't take my word for it, this is Michael Ignatieff who wrote in New York Times Magazine recently on July 28, he wrote quote, The entire war on terror is an exercise in imperialism. This may come as a shock to Americans, who don't like to think of their country as an empire. But what else can you call America's legions of soldiers, troops, and special forces traveling the globe?
Now that sounds like an anti-war argument, but here's what Ignatieff goes on to say. He doesn't flinch from the project of empire. He says quote, Imperialism used to be the white man's burden. This gave it a bad reputation. But imperialism doesn't stop being necessary (moaning from audience) just because it becomes politically incorrect. Big powers believe simultaneously in the right of small nations to govern themselves and in their own right to rule the world. (Laughter)
So what we're looking at here, in other words, is, is an attempt by the US, by the Bush administration, to reshape US foreign policy and actually to remap the world coming out of the collapse, you know, the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union and so on. This is a process that has been going on for the last decade or so, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I think that there was a general sense that the sole remaining superpower in the world is gonna have to define itself, define its interests, define its ends of activity, its spheres of influence, and you saw throughout the 1990s – what's the word – a series of demonstration wars, let us show you what we're capable of doing. But those wars -- the wars in the Balkans, the war, you know, the invasion of Somalia, the invasion of Haiti, the bombing of Serbia – these weren't necessarily wars of the nature that we're going to see now, and that we're going to see in the future. That is, the war that's coming now – and it is coming, the war in Iraq, despite whatever we may think in terms of the debate that exists, the so-called debate that exists in the media among the political establishment and so on, we have to know that this war is coming – and this is going to be a war to reshape, to remap the world and establish US imperial dominance in areas that it hasn't had before.
And one of the things that I want to sort of talk about is how the, what I think the anti-war movement should say about the debate around the UN, because I think this is absolutely crucial. If you go back to the first Gulf War, in 1991 the anti-war movement, there was a sense, there was a fundamental debate in the anti-war movement, some of whom were arguing, you know, against all forms of US imperial domination, including sanctions. But there were sections of the anti-war movement that said, If we go through the UN, sanctions can be a lesser evil, a better alternative to war. Unfortunately, we got that demand. And there's a tragic history of consequences coming out of that demand. The sanctions over the last 11 years have taken such a toll on the Iraqi people, and let's not forget that those sanctions are being imposed under the auspices of precisely the United Nations. The US might be the main instigator of it, the main supporter of it, but it's being done under the fig leaf of the UN. And it's, I would argue, that's going to be true over and over again. The US will use the UN when it can and when it must. And the UN will provide it a useful multilateral fig leaf for pursuing US imperial interests abroad, and that's, that too, I would argue, is coming.
France and Russia, that appear to be opposing the US invasion of Iraq right now, there's an article in Business Week about two-three weeks ago, and the article was very clear. It said France and Russia are rumbling right now. Offer them a deal in a post-Saddam Iraq. Give them some oil contracts. And that's exactly what the US is going to do. The US goes to the UN with a carrot in one hand and a stick in the other, and that's the approach they're going to use in order to cobble together whatever the line of support they can get and use that as a multilateral power to extend US imperial interests.
We have to stand up against that. Because I think, and I'm sure everyone here would agree with me on this, imperialism was wrong under Caesar's Rome. Imperialism was wrong in Queen Victoria's Britain. And imperialism is wrong in Bush's America. (Loud applause)
Well, it's great to be with you, and I'm, personally I'm glad the Republicans are here (referring to the teach-in protesters in the back). And this is why I'm glad you're here.
I get interviewed quite regularly on rightwing or otherwise known as mainstream TV and radio talk show hosts. And one of the things that they are so, one of the things that they have been asking me quite regularly, and Laura Ingraham, who is a CBS syndicated talk show host, asked me this, which is, Don't you care about the Iraqi women? Don't YOU care about the Iraqi women? Because I am standing opposed to the war, therefore I don't care about the Iraqi women.
And then she said, Will you tell me the Iraqis, they're going to be celebrating on their rooftops when they get liberated? (Pounding podium) Won't they be celebrating? She did this, Shepherd Smith did this on Fox National News, it's now their latest line. The Iraqi women and liberation, and we are going there out of the goodness of our souls (boos and hisses) to liberate the women and to liberate them from a dictatorship. (Someone in the crowd: "By killing their husbands and sons!") And I, I told Laura Ingraham, I said, No actually, this is about oil. And she accused me of conspiracy and pessimism and naivete.(Laughter) So then I quoted, I quoted Gen. Anthony Zinni, when he stated in Congress in 1991 back when he was Commander in Chief of the US Central Command, he stated that the Gulf region, with its huge oil resource, is a quote, vital interest of longstanding for the US, and the US must have free access to the region's resources by military and economic control. Here we have him saying it's about oil. Don't take my word for it.
Take what Dick Cheney wrote back before he was vice president, along with Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush's younger brother Jeb – George W. did not write this (Laughter) – Lewis Libby, Cheney's now chief of staff; they got together and they wrote a document called Rebuilding America's Defenses back in September 2000. They stated that they want to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. They then stated that the bases of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently despite domestic opposition. That doesn't strike me as liberation there.
They went on and they said after Iraq, Iran will be targeted. And they want to go as far as China so that they can have control of Southeast Asia. They then stated that although Iraq may be developing weapons of mass destruction, the US needs to develop biological weapons. This is what they stated. And they went on and they said that we need to develop advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes. They are talking about controlling Southeast Asia, all the way back, and the control of space, and the control of cyberspace. They make it very clear once again that this is the control of oil and access to oil.
And so when we stand up in 1990, members from the right and members from the left, Republican and Democrat, libertarian and socialist, and we said, No blood for oil, we repeat that again: No blood for oil. And we repeat it, not just no Iraqi, brown, Muslim blood for oil, but no blood, anyone's blood, for oil. And what we need to understand (drowned out by applause). We need to understand that the alleged Democratic-controlled Congress – I say alleged because we are a one-party country and the sooner we recognize it (drowned out by cheers). $400 billion we are in debt. $400 billion. This war, according to the Pentagon, will cost us $100 billion. It will cost the State of North Carolina $1.8 billion. Think about what you would do with $1.8 billion in North Carolina, for your families, for your educational system. Just think about what you would do with it.
And then there's a sign in there that says, Support our military. Yes, support the military. Soldiers. Back in 1991 we had one-third all Gulf war veterans return disabled by US activity in the Gulf War (applause). US government declared a third of all veterans were made disabled by US activities. So when we say that we support our military, I must ask, Are we supporting our soldiers, or are we supporting the military contractors? (Applause and cheers)
And then we talk about where it really matters, because no matter how hard it's gonna hit us here, and it will hit us here, we are still the lucky ones compared to the people of Iraq and the people of Palestine. Because according to the Senate hearings just a few hours ago, when they stood there from the military and made their appeal, they stated that one of the four people state quite clearly, we need to have an intensive air bombardment. An intensive air bombardment on urban cities cannot possibly not kill tens of thousands of people -- cannot not kill them. So tens of thousands of Iraqis will die, at least, on top of the 500,000 children under the age of five that have died because of sanctions. That is more people than have died because of sanctions than all the people who have died from every weapon of mass destruction throughout history, including Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined. And they died not by bombs, they died by sanctions. And on top of that, there will be tens of thousands of others who will die. And anyone who dares say this is an act of liberation or an act in support of Iraqi women – there's nothing more I can say to you other than go into Iraq; you tell those families of Iraq that you are doing this out of love for their women and their families, when every member of the family in Iraq has lost a loved one. Every single family in Iraq. That's not liberation. You don't liberate me by killing my father or my mother.
And, on top of that, Ahmad Chalabi opposition regime that is touted to us as the liberation force that will go on to democratize Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi, the head of this team, is none other than a convicted embezzler, who was wanted by the Interpol before he was hired by the CIA. (Murmurs of surprise) Ahmad Chalabi himself has stated that he will open Iraqi oil reserves to American companies. He himself has stated this.
So there is no way that this alleged liberation force – which includes Iraqis who want to reinstate a monarchy, and which includes the top three US candidates for replacement, who are all former chiefs of the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein, every one of the three men presented by George W. and company to replace Saddam Hussein are all former heads of the army of Saddam Hussein's army. When they, if they get to destroy the country by air, by sea, and by ground, and get to replace Saddam Hussein's regime with this regime, it will simply be a change of face. And it likely will result in a civil war. A civil war that goodness knows how it will end. And it will result in the denationalization of Iraqi oil resources, so that WE can control THEIR resources. What right do we have to control their resources?
This is the most un-American thing you can think of. (Applause, cheers)
It will not only affect Iraq. We already have the Israeli government making it very clear that when the bombs start dropping on Iraq – and by the way, we are at war with Iraq, the bombs have been dropping since December 1990 (Applause) – but when the military war has escalated, the Israelis have stated that they will expel, and kill, and destroy Palestinian communities and Palestinian villages. When Iraqis are going to be killed, and exterminated, by the US military machinery, is when Palestinians, who have been made refugees and destitute for 54 years, will continue to be killed by the Israeli government, And it will spread. And this is all that they (pounding podium) have stated! Not what the Palestinians are expecting, but what the Israeli government has stated.
This will be a test. And yes, we need to stand behind our leadership, perhaps – IF (shouted) – if our leadership stands behind what makes this country – or what should make this country -- good. To stand behind our president blindly is, in my opinion, the greatest betrayal to patriotism that we're (drowned out by cheers and applause)
There's a banner that says, Remember 9-11. And we need to remember 9-11, and 9-11 taught us two things: That the military, although it spends 60 percent of our federal budget, did not protect us (someone in the crowd: "That's right!"), has not protected us; and, 9-11 meant to me that innocent people were killed. Let us remember our sense of humanity and our outrage when innocent Americans were killed in 9-11, so that we as Americans will not continue to kill innocent people. Because war is nothing but mass murder. (Prolonged cheers and applause – counter-demonstrators chant "USA" as protestors chant "No more war!")
(After making their presentations, the speakers fielded questions from the attendees. Following is a transcript from the question-and-answer period.)
I didn't hear anyone mention anything about the suffering of Iraqi people directly caused by Saddam Hussein, the Kurds in Iraq, or the nerve gas that Saddam Hussein used against his people. Why was that?
The number one reason I didn't talk about it is because I had eight minutes. So if you want to talk about it, yes, Saddam Hussein's regime and the Baathist regime, which by the way was a regime that came into power completely with US support, and yes it did, did cause a great deal of civil rights erosions and political rights erosions, and it did commit specific human-rights violations with regards to killing large numbers of people. Yes, there is no debating that.
However, what should interest us more as Americans, is what was the US government's stance with the Iraqi regime during the time of the Halabja massacre? During the time when the Iraqi regime was committing its most outrageous massacres? And specifically what happened after Halabja in 1988 – actually 1986 – Sen. Bob Dole, when he was senator at the time, personally went to see Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, and we assured him that the US government would not condemn him in the least, and on the contrary will continue to support him with military and financial support. Just as the US government was supporting Iran during the very same war with military and financial support. So yes, although we need to recognize the violations that the Iraqi government committed, I think we also need to recognize the stance that our government took to that government.
And what we also need to recognize is if we have a government committing human-rights violations, does that exonerate our government from committing WORSE human-rights violations against the very same population? And we have killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein would ever have imagined possible. Specifically by sanctions. And we are threatening to kill more Iraqis than again he ever have possible.
And let us please not think that we are doing this because we are opposed to the Iraqi regime. Let us remember what happened on another September 11th. 1976. (One person claps.) When we had the US government support a military coup ("Chile!" someone shouts) to oust democratically elected President Salvadore Allende in Chile and instate the Gen. Pinochet. (Applause)
Audience member (male):
I think we have to remember that the main reason that the Bush administration is for pushing the war just now is because Bush doesn't want to talk about the domestic economy, the domestic problems, and all the other things that all piled up in his term. (Laughter and applause)
Audience member (female):
I'd like to say that the young people here don't know what Hitler said in 1933, but it's the same thing that President Bush said. And the war in, First World, Second World War, started by Hitler because no one had any money there that meant anything. The inflation was so high that you couldn't buy a loaf of bread without a barrel full of bills. And that was an economic problem. And we are beginning to see just the tip of the iceberg of financial problems in this country. (Applause)
Audience member (male):
I don't know if this point is so obvious that it's kind of stupid to say, but we've entered this kind of New World Order where you can preemptively strike someone, what's to keep Iraq from preempting our preemption and, you know, sending a terrorist attack and say, Hey, we're just beating y'all to the punch?
Actually, legally speaking, right now Iraq could claim that if Iraq were to attack the United States it would be doing it in self-defense because the US government has declared its clear intention to attack Iraq and because the US government is already increasing its intense military entrenchment in the region in order to attack Iraq. So imagine if the tables were turned. Imagine if Saddam Hussein was sitting here, to the world, saying, You know, I don't think President Bush was actually democratically elected. (Loud laughter, applause, cheers) Some would argue he was, and some would argue he wasn't.
My point is not to go into that discussion. My point is for us to think about what would be our response as Americans if we had the Iraqi government, or any other government, saying, We want to go attack the United States because guess what? The US used nuclear weapons not once, but twice, and the US has declared its intention to use them again against every country that does not have them, and because the US is right now so militarily entrenched that even according to peace activists like Nelson Mandela, the US is the greatest to world peace, therefore we have the legitimate right to preemptively strike the United States.
OK, IF we heard Saddam Hussein making that case, what would be our response? What would be our feeling? How would we be reacting in the streets? And I think we need to think about that, so that we can just for a little bit understand what Iraqis are going through, and then, before we really understand what they're going through, let us spend a week, a week, eating nothing but a handful of lentils, and let us think how we would feel if we knew for a fact that every single hospital – in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh – had no antiseptics, had no medicine, had nothing to cure us, and that we had no electricity for two to four hours a day if we were lucky, and 50 percent of our schools were bombed, and that every single family was crying over a child that was killed. And, on top of that, that for the past two years, we would have been regularly bombed three times a week by F-16s and F-15s that we do not have the means to protect ourselves against. Then we may understand what Iraqis are going through. (Applause)
First I want to suggest that everybody pick up a copy of War Times and take a look at this map. Very instructive. It shows where US military presence is deployed around the world. There are only 47 countries left that do not have a US military presence, and around the world. The business of Iraq is a threat to the United States, a military threat to the United States is a complete red herring. Iraq has NO – ZERO – military capacity to cause a threat to the United States. It is this massive, conventional military threat that we stand up and nations all around the globe that have forced people for whatever reason that they choose to resist, to choose to resist through unconventional means. This is a provocation that's going to make a self-fulfilling prophesy of the Bush prediction that we're going to be attacked again.
But the business of Iraq posing a threat, Iraq being shown, not one iota of credible evidence that Iraq is associated with al Qaeda or any other international terrorist activity around the world right now. What Iraq has done, what Iraq did before 1990 was develop themselves to the point where they were about to release themselves from dependency. (Someone laughs.) They had to be put back in line. Because if they were no longer dependent, that meant they then had control of over 20 percent of the remaining sweet oil in the world, and we need it. (Audience member: "SUVs"!)
This stuff about military threats from Iraq is a total red herring. Iraq is a devastated country right now. It has no military capacity to employ against anybody. (Applause)
Audience member (male):
I just had a question about 1997, that whole period when UN inspections were still going on, and all those chemical and biological materials they found and removed from Iraq. What do you think that would have, I mean, as far as Saddam's ideology, to just say, OK, so I don't have any more of those nuclear bomb-building materials anymore, I'm not going to try to acquire them again. What makes you think he hasn't tried for the last five years and has not acquired those materials again to build weapons of mass destruction for use against the US? And then, one other thing, what the gentleman that was talking about the massive support for, supporting no war, not supporting the war, I was currently researching ABC News polls, Gallup polls, Pew Research polls (interrupted by laughter, hisses, someone shouting "The rightwing!" and another saying "Great sources there") – the lady who said that the media is rightwing; I must say I haven't heard too many funny things since I moved to Carolina and Chapel Hill, but that really topped it, I was really surprised (drowned out by applause from the back, the counterprotesters). FoxNews –
Interrupted by program moderator:
OK, that sounds like a topic for another evening. I don't think we need to hear anything else. (Laughter, expressions of mild disbelief)
I just want to say one thing about that, you know, the media may not be rightwing enough for you (Laughter, applause, cheers) – but to the Bush administration, it's rightwing enough. (More laughter) That is, the media has been putting up a constant barrage of image, you know, I mean, what do we see when we see Iraq on TV? We see Saddam Hussein firing his gun! That's what Iraq represents! (Murmuring) For this, for media, there aren't, there isn't anyone else living in Iraq, you know, it's populated by this one guy (drowned out by laughter). It's insane. –
Audience member again:
How do you explain the news media saying one thing – (question drowned out by audience, people saying "Sh!" and "Let him (meaning Lal) finish!" and "No respect!")
On the question of popular support, I think it is a very important, I think it's a very important question, about, you know, whether a majority supports a [indecipherable]. I think we have to look at the fact that Iraq is not Afghanistan. Right? After Sept. 11 this past year, there was a massive outpouring of patriotism, and support for the war on terrorism, and so on and so forth. But since then, in the intervening period, a lot has happened. And, you know, first of all, the war in Afghanistan hasn't quite gone the way it was supposed to. No one knows where Osama bin Laden is, is he dead, is he alive, you know. Hamid Karzai, former consultant for Unocal, is now the, you know, newly coronated president of Afghanistan, and has how many attempts on his life so far? You know, you lose count of the assassination attempts and so on and so forth that's going on there. It's a complete basket case.
Along with that, I think it's very important to remember what Ajamu said, which is that right now in the US, there's a massive, massive outpouring of anger against corporate greed. With the collapse of Enron, with the collapse of Global Crossing, Tyco, the exposure of all the corruption at the top of society, I think there's a lot of questions being asked by people. And I would say, if not a majority right now, I think large numbers of people in the US are very skeptical, if not totally against war yet, they're very skeptical. And if we can build the largest, most visible, most confident and active anti-war movement, that can give confidence to those people who are skeptical, who are sitting on the fence, to be able to stand up themselves and confidently say that they're against the war. (Applause)
I just wanted to add, to speak to the point about what Saddam Hussein has as far as chemical and biological weapons. Scott Ritter is the former head of the US weapons inspections who resigned in 1998, and he maintains that in '98 when the United States went through the inspectors from Iraq, not that Iraq had kicked them out, that 90 to 95 percent of their weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed, and that their chemicals and the biological substances that they had would have depleted over the next three or so years. So Scott also says that we don't know what Saddam Hussein has now, because there haven't been weapons inspectors in Iraq. And what the media has neglected to remind us is that when we went through Iraq's weapon inspectors, that the United States had already been, found out that we were using the information that we were gleaning from inspections for espionage, and we sold it to the Israeli, or gave it to the Israelis, and they used that information. And then we wonder why Iraq doesn't want weapons inspectors back in their country. I think that's information that's often overlooked when we talk about why weapons inspectors are not in Iraq. (Applause)
Scott Ritter spoke here two years ago. One thing about Scott Ritter is that he's not a tree-hugging liberal (laughter) or if he passes as a card-carrying Republican that George Bush [inaudible], but for whatever reason he happens to be [drowned out by laughter]. I just mean that it's rare to find someone in his possession who has principle and moral integrities and so on, and he's been motivated by this to, you know, to speaking out forthrightly the last two or three years. One thing that he pointed out when he was here was that Saddam didn't always accuse the UN team of being spies for the US. Ritter said that this was not true up until about 1995, but he said from '95, '96 onwards up to `98 that it was absolutely true. In fact in '96, Iraq bombed a bunch of sites that were the exactly the very same sites the UN team had just visited a few weeks earlier. It's also a matter of popular, received wisdom that Saddam kicked the teams out of Iraq on Dec. '98. In fact, and you can even read this if you read the New York Times closely enough, it will even say sometime in the middle of the article that the UN team of inspectors was withdrawn in Dec. '98. It was withdrawn on orders of, on the demand of President Clinton before the massive bombing raids of Dec. '98. So anyway, there's a lot lying beneath the surface of all this nonsense about the UN inspections and so on. And I would also suggest just look up some articles about Scott Ritter. He has a book actually, called Endgame, and his articles are reasonable to obtain.
We don't want to take too much time; just one thing, we're afraid people may succumb to the stifling heat in here and so on, we want to get into the workshops. But we can see if there's one or two other people who have an urgent comment or question.
Audience member (female):
I've heard a lot of people speaking here from a lot of different fronts, but I haven't heard anyone speak from the real homefront, I haven't heard any mother, or wife, or daughter speak up and talk at all about what it feels like to have a son in the military, a husband in the military, or a father in the military who's slated to go into Iraq. How it feels to worry day in, day out, and all night. I see young people here with signs. [rest inaudible]
I just came back three days ago from my son's basic training graduation. Myself retired from active duty, and I have four children. And I argued with him about going in the military. Unfortunately, when the indoctrination machine, it tells people this is such an integral part of the essential male script in US society was a more powerful motivator for my son than I was. My son is also a black soldier, so I have a lot of mixed feelings about this, and I'm very worried, because I suspect he'll probably be pulling security in Afghanistan, and participate in this insane notion of continuing to destabilize the Middle East with him. You know, you can quote me on this a year from now, but this is gonna have some devastating consequences on us right here. Right here. This is not gonna be something that just can stay out here because we're in a period right now where we're in a very fragile economy. You might not feel it at UNC, along Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, but they're gonna feel it real soon on Rosemary Street one block away. (Applause) The industrialized mass production workers out west right now are feeling it, and it's gonna get a lot worse. This costs a lot of money. This costs a lot of money. We're talking about trillions of dollars in the next year. But yes, I am one of those parents, and I have huge misgivings.
I just want to make one statement, and I hope that the Republicans in the corner can just stay long enough just for this, and everyone else. You know, we can debate the possible, officially presented reasons – Does he have weapons of mass destruction? Is he cruel to his people? Did he gas them, or did he nuke them? Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. We can do all that.
But I think what we need to recognize is according to the statements by the US administration, for the past year, before 9-11, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and company have been stating openly that they want to go to war, invade, and occupy Iraq, and their reasons continue to change. So whether or not we want to support our president or not support our president, at the very least let's read what the administration has been saying, and what they have been doing for the past year. They've planned a war, and they've been searching for the reason. Searching for a reason that we can accept, and what we need to remember is just two things: That when we say that we support this war or we don't support this war, what this war will do is it will kill mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, on the basis of no evidence, no threat, on the mere basis of speculation. This is the official story. So then let us just think about this. Whether we want to think about it weeks from now or we want to think about it right now. What are we individually going to do once we absorb the fact that our government is taking us once again to kill innocent people. Personally, what are we going to do about that to stop the further killing of innocent people?
Both brown American soldiers who will be sent to the grounds, and brown people on the other side who will be killed, and everybody else who will have their economy slashed. Personally, what are we gonna do? (Applause)
(Here the "teach-in" breaks into "workshops.")