[sixties-l] this speech by Ellsberg says it, I'm afraid

Date: Tue Oct 01 2002 - 02:28:00 EDT

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    I know I'm sending too many of these, but if there's one to read, it may well
    be this (copied from someone's post to aol message boards).

    Notes for the brief but important talk recently delivered by Dan Ellsberg at
    the Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship. The 16th anniversary of the kidnapping of
    Mordechai Vanunu provided the occasion; but his remarks have a wide embrace
    on the eve of this country's more than likely invasion of Iraq.

    [Notes for talk at the Berkeley Unitarian Church at a tribute to Mordechai
    Vanunu, September 28, 2002, 7 PM]

    Dear friends of Mordechai Vanunu:

        I have never, ever, written out a speech beforehand: or afterwards. And I
    haven't done so today. But I have lost my voice, . . .but I can't give up
    the opportunity to pay tribute . . .to Mordechai Vanunu, at this precise
    time, when his is exactly the inspiration the world needs. This dark time:
    Weeks before an election
    turning in a unique degree on whether our country should be for the first
    time in this century an open aggressor nation; days before our
    representatives in Congress will vote on that question-the majority, almost
    surely, shamefully, in support of it--weeks or months before our country or
    Vanunu's may launch the first nuclear massacre since Hiroshima and
    Nagasaki. So I've written hastily a few notes to be read for me by my
    friend Joanna Macy.

    Mordechai Vanunu is the preeminent hero of the nuclear era. He is the one
    who consciously risked all he had in life to warn his own country and the
    world of an existing, ongoing addition to the nuclear dangers of the era.
    And he is the one who has actually paid that price, a burden in many ways
    worse than death, for his heroic and prophetic act, for doing exactly what
    he should have done and what others should be doing. He is a prophet who
    deserves honor in all the world.

        The secret he revealed was that his country-like our own, and Russia, and
    several other nuclear weapons states-had a nuclear program and stockpile
    that went far beyond any supposed needs of nuclear deterrence. Its scale
    and nature was clearly designed for threatening and if necessary launching
    first-use of nuclear weapons against conventional forces, Israeli attacks
    comprising hundreds of tactical nuclear weapons. In this Israel was
    imitating and endorsing the legitimacy of the US and NATO first-use
    threats, which in turn required and rationalized a nuclear-arms buildup
    that mocked the pretensions and supposed commitments the US and the Soviet
    Union signed in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It endorsed the US
    concept of an indefinitely structured two-tier division of the world into
    Nuclear States and Non-Nuclear-Weapons States, in which Israel, with US
    acquiescence, would be in the first category, the first in the Middle East.

    First but not last. The US-Israeli policy, joined by the Soviet Union,
    Britain, and France (China has at least announced a no-first-use policy),
    made virtually certain that India, and shortly Pakistan, would choose to
    join that first tier, and that other states in the region-not only
    Iraq-would seek and eventually acquire these weapons. That
    prospect-dooming any prospect of non-proliferation, let alone abolition--
    made the Israeli policy of the utmost danger to Israel itself in the longer
    run. No other national policy so deserved searching and sober national
    debate and concern; which could not occur under the Israeli government's
    policy of censorship, secrecy, and misleading and false denial. Nor has
    that debate yet occurred; in this way, Vanunu's hopes were not fulfilled.
    In the short run, his efforts have failed. But that doesn't make his
    effort less heroic or appropriate. And I know from my own experience, that
    initial indications of ineffectiveness and failure, even over a period of
    years, can be misleading and premature. There is simply no way to know
    what the hidden, indirect--in his case global--ongoing consequences of such
    an act of truth-telling may be, nor to put a limit on the possible eventual
    benefits of it.

    We are at this moment where the worst possible consequences of the US and
    Israeli policies may shortly be realized. Either or both Israeli and US
    tactical nuclear weapons could very plausibly be launched against Iraq
    within months, if the US invasion being prepared leads Saddam Hussein to
    launch short-range missiles armed with chemical warheads against Israel or
    against US troops. Both countries have warned that such an act-which is
    highly likely to follow, or even shortly precede, an American ground
    assault-will lead to the "annihilation" of Iraq, the "destruction" of its
    society. These are clearly nuclear threats of the use of nuclear weapons:
    which President Bush has very accurately described to the UN as "weapons of
    mass murder." I do not believe, under this Administration or that of
    Israel, that these threats of mass murders are bluffs, or that they are
    meant solely for purposes of deterrence.

    Saddam Hussein probably also possesses weapons of mass murder: nerve gas
    warheads and biological weapons. I believe that the chance he would use
    these, or turn them over to others, when he is not under direct ground
    attack, is close to zero. (His ability to be deterred and to refrain from
    using them even when under heavy air attack, not accompanied by invasion of
    Iraq, has already been uniquely tested, eleven years ago). Thus, I believe
    that Saddam Hussein's Iraq, not under heavy attack, constitutes no threat
    at all to the national security of the US, or even-while US forces are in
    the region-to its neighbors. Americans who believe otherwise have been
    totally misled by the deceptive assertions of the Administration. But under
    the attack we are preparing, I believe the danger is very real that he does
    possess and will use enough such weapons to trigger a US or Israeli nuclear
    response: the first precedent for nuclear first-use since Nagasaki

    Thus, we are at this moment in the most dangerous nuclear crisis since the
    Cuban Missile Crisis. The very existence of the hundreds of Israeli weapons
    of which Mordechai Vanunu warned is not to this day not officially admitted
    by Israel to the world. Still less is the Israeli stockpile opened for
    inspection and monitoring, any more than those of any of the other declared
    or undeclared nuclear weapons states, including, very dangerously, those of
    Pakistan and India. Yet in dangerous mockery of this shadowy status, I am
    sure that Israeli plans for the possible targeting of their weapons are
    underway as we speak, in preparation for a highly likely "contingency" just
    weeks or months away.

    To try to avert that terrible slaughter and even more terrible precedent

    was surely worth Mordechai Vanunu's living entombment the last sixteen

    years. It would be worth the life of anyone who shared his view-as I

    do-both of the physical and the moral stakes. We have recently been

    reminded, on September 11, of the tribute by President Lincoln to those who

    "gave the last full measure of devotion…" Mordechai Vanunu, now out of the
    decade-long torture of solitary confinement but still in prison, is our
    shining example of that sacrifice. May he still, with our help, emerge
    from that to be our nuclear-age Nelson Mandela.

    But as Lincoln went on to say: "It is for us the living…" Us the free, us
    who still have, for some period, the privileges and powers and
    opportunities of a democracy, to draw strength from his example.
    Mordechai's action and life speaks to us in the words of Henry David
    Thoreau, after his night in jail protesting an earlier American war of
    aggression against Mexico. As if he were addressing this very night those
    who will be casting votes, or perhaps doing more than that, in the House
    and Senate next week and at the polls next month, Thoreau wrote, in his
    essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience in 1848:
    "Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole
    influence. A minority is powerless when it conforms to the majority; it is
    not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole

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