[sixties-l] Friends, Americans, Countrymen

From: Ron Jacobs (rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu)
Date: Thu Oct 03 2002 - 11:10:39 EDT

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       October 20, 1990--Twelve years ago almost to the day I was at a rally in
    Olympia, Washington that was called to oppose the upcoming war against
    Iraq. Back then, we were told by the administration in DC that the reason
    for that war was to drive Iraq from Kuwait-a country it had recently
    invaded and occupied. Today-almost twelve years later, the regime in DC is
    proposing to do the exact same thing to Iraq-invade and occupy it. Why?
    Well, it depends on which week's White House press release you read.
    According to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the axis leaders, it is
    necessary to make war on Iraq because (and these are just the first four
    supposed reasons that pop into my head)

          a) Saddam's military is a nuclear threat,
          b) Saddam's military used poison gas against the Kurds in northern
    Iraq and against Iranians in wars where the United States supported Iraq,
    or the US needs to make war on Iraq because
          c) (and I love this one) Such a war would liberate Iraq's women-yeh
    right, Old GW, the Susan B. Anthony of the 21st century (talk Iraq's women
    being more equal to men than most other countries in the world much less
    the Arab world)
    d) He has weapons of mass destruction that threaten the region.

         Let's talk about these: the reasons given by the Bush administration
    are not only poor reasons to go to war, they are just plain lies. Some of
    you might be shaking your heads and thinking I'm misinformed and misguided
    or, even worse, an apologist for Saddam. After all, Saddam might have
    nuclear weapons and he definitely gassed those people. Heck, maybe he even
    has other weapons of mass destruction. Without granting legitimacy to these
    possibilities, let me make a couple things clear-every single international
    agency that studies nuclear proliferation has stated quite clearly that
    Iraq does not have nuclear capability and is years away from even beginning
    to develop such weapons. Hell, even Tony Blair's dossier said this-probably
    one of the few truths in that entire piece of hearsay. As for the gas-yes
    this did happen-what's left untold in this story is that the US provided
    the chemicals and lent tacit support to the attacks because at the time
    Iraq's war against the Kurds and Iranians were seen as serving US
    interests. On top of that, the man who ordered some of those attacks,
    General Nizar Al-Khazraji, is now one of the United States' top candidates
    for Saddam's job if the US is able to defeat the Iraqis and put in a client
    regime. What about those weapons of mass destruction? I say, what about
    them? One certain way for them to be used (if they even exist in the
    physical plane and not just in the minds of Bush and Cheney) is to attack
    Saddam's military. Additionally, one can easily argue that it is the US
    weapons of mass destruction that truly threaten the region, not Iraq's.

         But all these reasons are ultimately irrelevant. The real reason for
    this attack can be found in a paper Dick Cheney finished writing not too
    long before that rally I was at twelve years ago-a paper whose composition
    was funded, by the way, by Gulf Oil, the chemical and munitions industries,
    and Rockwell International, the defense and aerospace conglomerate. As many
    of you probably know, the premise of that paper (which is now the primary
    operating document of the Bush foreign policy team) is that the US has
    every right to be the only superpower and should use that power to expand
    and ensure its continued domination. Of course, the language is not usually
    that blunt. Instead, this plan for world domination is phrased in terms
    like security and democracy. And freedom. Unfortunately for everyone, it
    will bring neither, not even for those who champion it. It won't bring
    security for Bush and crew because it will only breed greater enmity
    against them. It won't bring democracy because, after all, Dubya, Rice,
    Cheney, et al. don't have a clue what democracy is. As for freedom, the
    only freedom guaranteed by world domination is the freedom for the rulers
    to go wherever they want, take whatever they want, and use what they take
    however they want. In other words, the freedom to exploit at will.

         Not too long ago, when asked by a congressperson if the plan was to
    colonize Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld answered, "We covet nobody's land." You know
    what, I believe him. I really do. They don't want the land-they just want
    the oil that lies underneath it, the strategic position that military bases
    built on the land would provide, and the potential labor source and markets
    the people living there represent. No, they don't covet the land, they just
    want to suck it dry.

         I'm gonna' ask you all to step outside of yourselves for a minute. Out
    of this room, out of this life, out of this country. Are you there? Now,
    place yourself in Iraq. If you are a college student here, than now you're
    a college student in Iraq. If you are a teacher or a nurse here, than
    you're one there. If you work at a clothing store here, than you work at
    one in Iraq now. And so on. You have a lover or maybe you don't. You live
    with your parents or you live with friends. Maybe in the city, let's say.
    When you finish your day's studies or work, you go out for coffee or a
    beer. You discuss politics or you ignore them completely. For the most part
    you don't get too involved in them, though, because they don't seem to mean
    much in your daily life.

         Now, imagine your sleep interrupted by the sound of 500 pound bombs
    falling nearby, the smell of fire and smoke, the screams of children
    piercing your sleep and the sound of sirens blaring as you run down the
    stairs of your apartment building with only a minimal amount of clothing
    on. After finding a bomb shelter and hiding there through the night, you
    finally hear the all-clear siren and you head out into the light. Your
    world is in ruins. This continues for weeks. Every night you hide in a
    cellar. School and work are meaningless. You wonder how your friends in the
    countryside are doing. Then, one day the foreign soldiers arrive,
    swaggering through the city streets, breaking into houses and stores and
    dragging men and boys out into the streets where they are pushed around and
    arrested, hauled off to who knows where. All the while you are just trying
    to keep your sanity. You help out in a hospital or a food shelf. You cry
    when you see the children and the old ones as they wonder what happened to
    their world. Already so many of them have seen their cousins taken ill
    because of hunger caused by US sanctions and now this. Some of your friends
    are angry, most are resigned. None are happy.

         WAR! The rulers of this country have chosen violence solely because
    they can use it and get away with it. They have chosen violence because
    they do not seem to have the intelligence or the will to try something less
    harmful. They have chosen violence because what the rulers of this country
    and the money that backs them want is inherently unjust and greedy and can
    only be obtained through the force of excessive violence. This is the
    violence of imperial war. This is what I oppose.

         I can't repeat it often enough-this war is about global domination. It
    is not about freedom for Iraq or a future of peace and justice free of the
    threat of war. It's not about when to go to war or whether Saddam should be
    killed. It is about global domination, starting with Iraq, and those who
    are calling for it know no shame.

         And although the rulers in DC would like to convince and cajole the UN
    and other of their ilk in other countries of the world to go along with
    their plan, they don't really care if they don't. They would also like to
    convince those men and women we elect to represent us to go along, too, but
    they don't really care if they don't. Even if they do, that still does not
    make this war right. It only means that these people have received their
    thirty pieces of silver. When all is said and done, this war is still
    primarily about killing, Indeed, it is about killing when several other
    options exist. This is why this war is still wrong and unjust. The
    cooperation of Congress and the UN Security Council only means that they
    too will have the blood of innocents on their hands.

         If we fail to prevent this war, then we must work even harder to end
    it once it begins. Even if the warmakers get their man and kill Hussein,
    this war is wrong. There is no morality in one group of mass murderers
    killing another mass murderer. Especially when, if the killers in DC are
    telling the truth, the defeat and occupation of Iraq may be just the
    beginning of a war without end that would move its savagery and destruction
    to Iran, Korea, and even China. This isn't the plan of a sane group of
    individuals. A boring group of individuals, yes. A drab group of
    individuals, too. But calling them sane requires a particular definition of
    the word that allows for planned mass murder in the pursuit of power and
    money. This is why I consider their plans to be psychopathic madness.

         WAIT! There is hope. And that hope lies with those of us who oppose
    this war. It is essential that everyone who does not want to see this war
    begin get into the streets in their hometowns and in DC and San Francisco.
    Go to your classrooms and your churches. Your workplaces. Your hangouts.
    Get people to think seriously about this horror perpetrated in their names.
    Get them to join you. If you know folks in the military, talk with them
    about what they could be doing. Let them know there is a choice. Nobody has
    to fight. Structures exist to get them to a safe place. Remind them that
    Dubya never went to any war. Nor did Cheney or Rumsfeld or a good number of
    the folks who want them to go fight for oil profits. Get people together
    and, then make as much noise as you can. Be willing to risk arrest, your
    studies and your job. Whatever you think this effort is worth. Let me
    repeat myself. If they start this war despite our protests, it's even more
    important to protest. Indeed, we should step our protest up. We can't do
    that you say? After all, we need to support our troops. Of course we do.
    But we need to support them as human beings, not as war machines. We need
    to support them in their lives as our friends, brothers, sisters, mothers,
    fathers, and partners, not as killers for the empire. In short we need to
    bring them home.

         Of course, our struggle will not be easy. At times, we will want to
    quit. At times we will question the point of our resistance. But we must
    never quit. No! We must raise our level of opposition to a greater level
    then. Sometimes we will offend some folks, maybe even our family or
    friends. Sometimes we will be verbally abused or physically assaulted. We
    must not, no, can not, give in. More than that day twelve years ago, more
    than the 1960s, in fact, I would endeavor to say more than ever before, the
    future of the planet depends on us not giving in. Like the great fighter
    for the liberation of black people in this country from slavery , Frederick
    Douglas, said, in a manner so eloquent it bears repeating over and over:
    "If there is no struggle, there is not progress. Those who profess to favor
    freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up
    the ground. They want rain without the thunder and lightning. They want the
    ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a
    moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both mental and
    physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a
    demand." Remember Douglass' words. Remember them and commit yourself to the
    struggle we are engaged in. Our children, those who live today and those
    you will have in the future, are counting on us.

    - Ron Jacobs
    Burlington, VT.

    from www.neravt.com/left/
    among other places

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