Archive for November, 2005

Transcript and Audio of Scott Ritter on war with Iraq and Iran – Amherst – November 17, 2005

Monday, November 28th, 2005

On November 17, 2005 in Amherst, MA, 110 heard Scott Ritter speak on war with Iraq and Iran at this Traprock sponsored event.

Audio may be replayed on radio with email notice to charles[AT]traprockpeace.org and attribution to Traprock for producing the program. Otherwise, it is for private non-commercial use only. Audio copyright 2005 Traprock Peace Center; all rights reserved.

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mp3 audio of talk – 1:04:46 – 64 kbps mono

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Thank you very much for the kind words of introduction. It’s certainly an honor and privilege to be here tonight to talk with you. Look, it’s an honor and a privilege to be here tonight. I wish it was under better circumstances. I wish we were here to talk about how good things are happening in the cause of peace, how congress has reversed course and they’re bringing our boys and girls home, how the Bush administration has woke up suddenly and said, ‘you know, this concept of global domination through the unilateral application of military force is not sound policy,’ and the Democrats woke up for the first time in a long time and said, ‘you know, we facilitated this war in Iraq. We’re as much to blame as George W. Bush.’ But that’s not the case. We live in a time where bad things are happening. .. . The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, we live in very sad times, and, if you reflect long and hard on the reality of the issue, as I’m sure everyone in this room does, not just sad times but depressing times. I’m not going to say much here tonight that’s going to give you hope because there’s not much to be hopeful about. We are in a war that shows no inclination of ever ending. Yes, there’s a lot of rhetoric in congress now about ‘let’s create new benchmarks that need to be fulfilled in Iraq so that we can have a time table of bringing the troops home.’ But, ladies and gentlemen, that’s just political rhetoric because the benchmarks they talk about putting in place are unrealistic. Therefore, there will never be a time line. And let’s keep in mind that this is a congress that voted for the war, Republican and Democrat alike, and they are trapped by that vote to the extent that they cannot meaningfully interfere with the Bush administration’s plans on Iraq, and the plans of the Bush administration regarding Iraq was most recently articulated by Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, when she told the congress of the United States that we will be in Iraq for at least ten years. All right, this is the reality. See, I told you that it wasn’t going to be very uplifting. This is the reality, and we have to deal with the reality, because if we don’t deal with the reality, if we don’t have a true grasp of what is happening as we speak, there cannot be a solution. Now one of the things that they pounded in my head early on when I joined the Marine Corps was that, before we talk about solving a problem, Lieutenant (because every Lieutenant has a solution to every problem in the world. We were the smartest people on the face of the Earth. I’m sure you businesspeople see that with your young executives. High school teachers see that with every new student that comes in. They’re the smartest, the brightest. They have the answer to everything. ) But the answer to what? What problem are we solving? Don’t talk to me about a solution until you’ve defined the problem, and right now, In Washington, D.C. and right across the country, we’ve got a whole host of people now that suddenly are anti-war. It’s amazing how many anti-war people have come out of the woodwork now that President Bush’s popularity ratings have plummeted down to an all-time low. Where were these people of courage when we needed them? Where were they when they could have made a difference, when they could have stopped the war? Well, they weren’t anti-war back then because it wasn’t convenient to be anti-war. You see, the President had high popularity ratings.

People were trapped by their own ignorance and the fear that is induced by ignorance so that they could not stand up and speak truth to power because, frankly speaking, most people didn’t know what the truth was. We were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and, to be honest, most Americans didn’t have a clue what a weapon of mass destruction was. They didn’t know what chemical weapons were, biological weapons were, long-range ballistic missiles. They might have a vague understanding of what a nuclear weapon is, but not really, not what it takes to build a nuclear weapon. They were so ignorant about nuclear weapons that they bought into the argument that Iraq, a nation that is sitting on many tons of yellow-cake uranium ore, would have to go to an African country to buy new stockpiles. They were so ignorant about nuclear weapons that they bought at face value Dick Cheney’s proclamation that Iraq was acquiring aluminum tubes to build a new family of centrifuges to enrich uranium when everybody who deals with the enrichment of uranium using the centrifuge method knows that aluminum tubes will never work. We don’t build them with aluminum tubes. It doesn’t happen. But, no, the American people, informed as always about the complexities of these very difficult issues, said ‘my gosh, the President has said yellow cake, and Dick Cheney has said aluminum tubes, and there must be a nuclear threat because Condoleezza Rice has told us ‘we don’t want to wait for the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud.’ So like the compliant little sheep that we are, we *bah, bah* get led down the path towards a war that has been a disaster, an unmitigated disaster, a war based on a lie, a war based on not just the ignorance of the American public but the moral indifference of those whom we elect to hire office to represent us in our name, namely the congress of the United States of America.

A lot of people want to call this George W. Bush’s war. It’s a little convenient to say that, especially if you are a Democrat or somebody who is not very fond of the Republican Party, either a progressive, a Green, etc. It’s George W. Bush’s war. Well, you know, if that’s what you’ve been calling it, you’re wrong, and, remember, we’re looking for a solution here tonight. We’re trying to find the way forward. I already told you there’s not going to be a solution until you’re honest about the problem, and, if you call this George W. Bush’s war, you already have a problem of definition because this isn’t George W. Bush’s war. This is America’s war. This is Bill Clinton’s war. This is the Congress of the United States’ war. This is an indifferent American public’s war. This is our war. We’re to blame. We’re responsible. We’re the ones that facilitated this mad rush to insanity that has occurred in Iraq today.

In defense of Bill Clinton, and I don’t often speak in defense of Bill Clinton, but, in defense of Bill Clinton, he inherited a problem. You see, the Iraq problem wasn’t something that Bill Clinton made up. When he came into office in 1993, we already had an Iraq policy in place, the Iraq policy of George Herbert Walker Bush, Papa Bush. You know, the big Bush as opposed to the Shrub. And Papa Bush had a policy that, in itself, was a reactive policy on Iraq. See, this is one of the problems that we face, not just in terms of foreign policy, but I’ll tell you it’s a problem we face as an anti-war movement, and I call myself part of the anti-war movement even though I’m not a pacifist. I’m anti-war, and I’ve been to war. I know what war is about. War is the most horrible thing mankind can inflict on mankind because war is only about man killing man. There’s nothing else. That’s what it does. What happens when you go to war? I’m anti-war, and here we are reacting. Where’s the proactive thought in the peace movement? We’re reacting. Bush does this; let’s have a demonstration against what Bush does. Congress does this; let’s have a demonstration against what congress does. Well, what the hell do we stand for? I know what we’re against, but what do we stand for? Where’s our proactive policy? But this isn’t just a problem of the peace movement. It’s a problem of the United States. This is how we got into Iraq to begin with, because we’re reacting. We’re not proactive. When we first started with Saddam Hussein’s government, he was a terrorist sponsor. He was a client of the Soviet Union. He was an enemy of the United States of America. This was in the 1970’s. He was somebody who gave safe haven to the Peoples’ Liberation Organization of the Palestinians, and then, in 1979, the good ally of America, the Shah suddenly isn’t in power in Iran, Iraq’s neighbor, anymore. Someone named Ayatollah Khomeini takes over, and Iran, instead of being a bastion of western-style, American thinking and defense against the Soviet Union, becomes this festering cesspool of anti-American sentiment, and Iraq, which was a state sponsor of terror, suddenly becomes an ally of convenience, a secular bulwark against the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism coming out of Iran, and Saddam Hussein, a state sponsor of terror, now becomes a critical ally of the United States. So critical, in fact, that we turned a blind eye to Iraq’s policies against the state of Israel. We turned a blind eye against Iraq’s oppressive policies at home. We turned a blind eye to Saddam Hussein’s acquisition of chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and long-range ballistic missiles. So long as Iraq is in the business of killing Iranians and holding the Iranians in check, Saddam’s a good guy, so good, in fact, that George Herbert Walker Bush sends a delegation to Iraq in the spring of 1990, led by a Republican Senator named Bob Dole, who embraces Saddam Hussein and calls him a true friend of the American people. A true friend of the American People. This state sponsor of terror in the 1970’s now, in March of 1990, is a true friend of the American people. And most Americans turn on their TV, take a look at the news, read the headlines, and go ‘that’s Saddam. Good guy. Two thumbs up for Saddam. He’s a true friend of the American people.’ Except in August 1990, this true friend of the American people invades Kuwait, and now the President of the United States has to convince the American people that it’s in the national interest to mobilize 700,000 American troops to go off and fight in a war against this true friend of the American people. Now how does he explain the shift? Is the President going to be honest and talk about the complexities of the relationship? Is he going to talk about the fact that we had a policy of constructive engagement with Saddam, that, yes, we recognized how bad this man was, but we needed him to stand up against the Iranians, and, now that the Iran-Iraq war is over, we need to make sure that Saddam doesn’t depart out of the fold, so we constructively engaged with him. We gave him billions of dollars of agricultural loans that he diverted to acquire chemical and biological weapons, and we knew this but we didn’t do anything to stop it, that we knew that he was building weapons that threatened the state of Israel, which was why Israel threatened to attack Iraq, which was why Iraq threatened to burn half the state of Israel? Do we get into the honesty and the complexity of this problem? Is that the kind of relationship we have with our politicians? Of course not. A general ones told me, “when you’re explaining, you’re losing, son. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. If you’re explaining, you’re losing.” And to have the President to stand up before the American people and explain why we’re going to war, he’s losing politically. I’ll give you a little insight into how politicians really interact with the people of the United States of America. They think we’re stupid. They think we’re dumb. They don’t think we understand complex issues. And as a result, they treat us like simple little children. That’s why the President got up in October 1990 in an effort to convince the American people that Saddam was no longer a true friend. He said Saddam Hussein’s now a personification of evil, one of the most amazing transformations that’s taken place in modern history. A man went from being a true friend of the United States in March of 1990 to being the personification of evil in October of 1990. Had the President left it at that, we would not be at war with Iraq today. He took the next step, and he was on a role, you see. He was explaining things now to the American people. Saddam Hussein is not just a personification of evil. He is the Middle East equivalent of Adolph Hitler, requiring a Nuremburg-like retribution for the crime of invading Kuwait and occupying Kuwait. Once the President uses that language, he has eliminated any possibility of a diplomatic solution, because, once you invoke Hitler, you have invoked evil itself, and no American politician can ever talk about negotiating with evil. Ladies and gentlemen, the policy of regime change against Iraq began in October of 1990 when President George Herbert Walker Bush trapped himself with his own rhetoric. Now how did he trap himself? Because we, the people of the United States of America, are too stupid to say, ‘excuse me, Mr. President, you used the term “Hitler” too loosely. Saddam may be a bad guy, but he’s not Hitler, and we disagree with your analysis.’ No, the dumb American people went, ‘yeah, Hitler, evil. Yeah, we accept that.’ And now we trapped our politicians in congress, you see, because, if the constituents buy into the notion of Adolph Hitler, the congressmen and women can’t deviate from this policy. Even if congress said, ‘wait a minute. This is stupid. This is bad policy. We need to go back to the policy of constructive engagement,’ and, even as bad as that was, it’s better than this rush to war. Now they can’t, you see, because, if a congressman or woman says, ‘hey, I want to have constructive engagement with Iraq,’ the voters will say, ‘wait a minute. That means you want to have constructive engagement with Hitler, and nobody has constructive engagement with Hitler. We’ve got to go to war. We’ve got to get rid of this guy,’ because that’s what we talked about, going to war.

Even as the Security Council talked about a war of liberating Kuwait, when George Herbert Walker Bush compares Saddam Hussein with Adolph Hitler, it becomes a war against evil, a struggle of good versus evil of biblical proportions that can only be terminated when George H. W. Bush delivers Saddam Hussein’s head on a platter. That’s what he wanted. I fought in that war. Yeah, we fought to liberate Kuwait, but we fought to do a heck of a lot more than that. I was part of a targeting team that tried to track down Saddam Hussein, put a bomb on the place where he was, not because we called this assassination. We’re far too civilized to assassinate leaders. We simply called it removing critical national command authority targets. *Laughter* We’re cute with terminology. So we’re going to get rid of a critical national command authority target, but we didn’t. Saddam survived the war. We liberated Kuwait, a great success for the international community that said that Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait could not stand, that, by invading Kuwait, Saddam was acting in flagrant violation of international law, the United Nations charter. That’s why the UN supported the multilateral approach to liberate Kuwait. That was law, after all. The UN didn’t support the unilateral objectives of the Bush administration, getting rid of Saddam Hussein. That was never on the UN’s books. That’s why, when the war ended, because it did end with the liberation of Kuwait, and the troops came home, at first, everybody was wildly cheering. We had great victory parades in New York City and Washington, D.C. Vietnam was behind us. The American military had stood up to the test and had passed the test, defeating the world’s forth largest military in a decisive land battle, except the American people maybe weren’t so dumb after all, because they’re sitting there, scratching their heads, saying, ‘well, Mr. President, you said this is a battle of good versus evil, and you define evil as Saddam Hussein, and troops are home. We’re declaring victory, but evil still resides in Baghdad.’ Ladies and gentlemen, the President has a problem, not a problem of national security, because Saddam Hussein does not pose a threat to the United States of America, especially after the 1991 Gulf War. No, what Saddam Hussein poses a threat to is the political fortunes of George Herbert Walker Bush. Saddam Hussein’s survival is a political embarrassment to George Herbert Walker Bush, and George Herbert Walker Bush turns to the CIA and says ‘what do I do? We have to get rid of this character, Saddam. He’s causing me some political problems here at home.’ The CIA said ‘don’t worry, Mr. President. Six months max, and that guy’s gone. He can’t survive the war, the devastation, the economic consequences of sanctions that were imposed in 1990 that are squeezing the country.’ They said, ‘all we have to do is contain Saddam for six months, and he’s out of here,’ which is one of the reasons the President said that the Iraqi people must take things in their own hands, and the Kurds rose up in the north, and the Shi’a rose up in the south, we stood by and did nothing while Saddam Hussein turned to surviving remnants of his military on the Kurds and on the Shi’a and crushed them.

You see, there was a calculation going on. Yeah, we didn’t want Saddam Hussein in, and here’s the ultimate hypocrisy of regime change. See, regime change means more than just getting rid of a leader. It means getting rid of a system. When we speak of regime change in Iraq, we’re talking about getting rid of the Baathist party, the system of oppression that has the Sunni minority holding in check through violence and coercion the Kurdish and Shi’a majorities that exist in Iraq. That’s regime change. We didn’t want regime change. We weren’t politically threatened by the Baathist, and they didn’t pose a national security risk to us. In fact, the Baathist Party was an asset to the national security of the United States because we recognized that Iraq was a nation state that was, in effect, a failed nation state, and, if you took away the glue that was Saddam Hussein and the Baathist party, Iraq would devolve into chaos and anarchy that would have the Shi’a fighting the Sunnis, the Sunnis fighting the Kurds, the Shi’a fighting each other, the Sunni fighting each other, the Kurds fighting each other. No, we didn’t want regime change. We wanted the Baathists to stay in power. We wanted Sunni domination through military force and a police state. Our problem wasn’t the regime. Our problem was a political problem because of the name Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was equated to Adolph Hitler. The Baath Party was not equated to Nazism, so we could live with the Baath Party. We just couldn’t live with Saddam Hussein. We had to get rid of him, get rid of a man, because of political problems for a President. Isn’t this already disturbing, that we’re talking about going to war because some politician has a political problem, that American boys and girls might be called upon to die in a foreign land because of a politician’s political problem? I always thought, when I joined the military, that I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies, foreign and domestic. It never once crossed my mind that I might have to go out and fight and die in a foreign land because of a President’s political problem. But that’s what’s happened. This is what has occurred here. The President has a political problem. He tells the CIA to get rid of Saddam Hussein. The CIA says, ‘well, we could have helped the Kurds. We could have helped the Shi’a,’ and they say, ‘no, no, no. We don’t want the Kurds or the Shi’a to win. We want the Baathists to be in power. We just want Saddam gone.’ Ah. What we need to do then is to create the conditions in which the Baathist Party turns on Saddam. They’re already unhappy because the military was defeated in a war. They’re already unhappy because the economy has been shut down because of economic sanctions. If we can continue to squeeze Saddam’s regime, somebody’s going to apply the 75-cent solution, the cost of 1 9mm bullet in the back of Saddam’s brain. That’s what we were hoping for. The best way to contain him? Economic sanctions. They were in place as we speak in 1991, but they were linked to the liberation of Kuwait, which has been achieved.

And so now, many people are sitting here going ‘hey, you know, Iraq’s sitting on the second largest proven reserves of oil in the world. We’d like to gain access to that oil, because oil means money, and money means that I get to buy a yacht and a vacation in the Bahamas. I like oil, but I can’t get to the oil as long as sanctions are in place. Let’s lift the sanctions.’ But, if you lift the sanctions, you break containment, and the CIA’s saying, ‘you can’t break containment. We’ve got to squeeze Saddam for six months.’ So we need a new justification for economic sanctions. A justification comes in the form of weapons of mass destruction: chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, long-range ballistic missiles. Saddam’s got them. Prior to 1991, we knew he had them. We didn’t view him as a threat to international peace and security. It was a regional issue. If you’re Israeli, you should be concerned. If you’re Kuwaiti, you should be concerned. If you’re Saudi Arabian, you should be concerned. If you’re Iranian, you should be concerned. If you’re American, you’re yawning because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t impact you in a decisive fashion. But, suddenly, in March and April of 1991, Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction become a threat to international peace and security of such a great magnitude that the Security Council has to pass a Chapter 7 resolution, the strongest kind of resolution, saying that Iraq must be disarmed of these weapons. Furthermore, they say that economic sanctions imposed in August of 1990 linked to the liberation of Kuwait will be continued until Iraq is found to be disarmed, so the lifting of sanctions is now contingent upon Iraq’s compliance with their obligation to disarm. Now this is important. This is critical not only for what happened historically but what I’m going to talk about in a little while regarding Iran. What is the onus behind the sanctions, the onus behind extending the sanctions? Would you say it was more linked to disarmament or regime change, and the answer is regime change. Disarmament was a vehicle used to facilitate regime change by creating the framework for the continuation of economic sanctions that would contain and squeeze Saddam Hussein. The United States was a drafter of this resolution. The United States voted in favor of this resolution, and the language of the resolution makes it sound as if this is about disarmament. It says Iraq must declare the totality of its weapons holding, turn them over to inspectors for inspection and eventual dispossession, and then, and only then, will economic sanctions be lifted. The United States voted for this resolution in April of 1991. Immediately, members of congress came up and started whispering to Bush. ‘Hey, boss, what are you doing?’ ‘What do you mean, what am I doing? I passed a resolution.’ ‘Yeah, but that resolution holds within it the key for Saddam Hussein to break out of containment. If he cooperates with the inspectors and gives up his weapons, we’ve got to lift sanctions, and, if we lift sanctions, we’ve broken containment, and Saddam Hussein comes back into the fold of the international community as the head of Iraq. That means that we’re letting Hitler survive.’ And bush said, ‘don’t worry.’ In May of 1991, the Secretary of State, James Baker, issues a speech. The speech goes along these lines. Even if Iraq complies with its obligation to disarm, economic sanctions will be maintained until which time Saddam Hussein is removed from power. Do you see the utter hypocrisy of the American position? While we vote for a Security Council resolution to continue economic sanctions based on Iraq’s obligation to disarm, and then we turn around a month later and say it’s irrelevant, we’re going to keep the sanctions in place forever, even if Iraq disarms, until Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

Do you understand why weapons inspections were never a valid, legitimate process to begin with? It didn’t matter what the weapons inspectors wanted. It only mattered what the policymakers wanted. In fact, disarmament becomes the enemy, especially after six months when Saddam Hussein continues to survive. The wildly little crafty dictator didn’t just roll over and play dead. He sustained his rule. He expanded his rule. He became more of a viable leader in Iraq. And now Bush is stuck. What do you do? We don’t have a plan. The plan was to wait six months, and Saddam’s gone. So what do you do? So Bush reacts, ‘just keep the sanctions in place, contain, and we’ll come up with a solution here, but nothing dramatic. Nothing dramatic because I’ve got to run for re-election in 1992, so I don’t want a new war. I don’t want a new war which highlights the fact that I didn’t accomplish the mission in the first war. I want to build on the notion that we won a grand victory in the first war.’ That’s a hard notion to sustain when you’ve got the Iraqi government at first confronting the inspectors, not cooperating with them, and thereby maintaining the impression that Saddam Hussein is thumbing his nose at the United States. It didn’t matter that the weapons inspectors were actually on the ground doing their job. It didn’t matter that the weapons inspectors were actually succeeding in disarming Iraq. It didn’t matter that, in June of 1991, after Iraq failed to declare a nuclear weapons program, that weapons inspectors found a convoy of 100 vehicles on the back of which was enrichment equipment related to a nuclear weapons program, forcing the Iraqis to admit they lied, forcing the Iraqis to turn over the totality of their nuclear weapons program. It didn’t matter that the weapons inspectors … with the fact that the Iraqis had failed to declare almost a hundred missiles, through the perseverance and tenacity of their work, compelled the Iraqis to admit, oops, we lied, here’s your missiles. It didn’t matter that the weapons inspectors were destroying more chemical agent than people could shake a stick at. No, this was irrelevant, you see, because disarmament was the enemy. If inspectors succeeded, you create a political problem. This is why, when I went to the CIA in October of 1992 and briefed them on the fact that we had succeeded in accounting for all of Iraq’s ballistic missiles, instead of being greeted with high-fives and cheers, I was greeted with stoic silence. You see, because what I was telling them was that their policy of regime change was on the brink of failure, because, if inspectors can succeed in disarming Iraq, the world’s going to talk about lifting the sanctions. This is why the Bush administration did two things in October 1992. The first thing they did was issue a rebuttal to the U.N. inspectors’ report saying, ‘no, we disagree. We disagree with your finding.’ They did an amazing thing, too. And we talk about the American public and how they gain access to information. We gain access to information by watching TV. Let me give you a little insight here. We inspectors just finished doing, in a serious of inspections over the course of several months in 1992 where we went to hundreds of sight sin Iraq, we interviewed hundreds of people, we did forensic investigation, and we came up with a technically based determination that we could account for almost all the missiles. The CIA, in disagreeing with us, and not only were they disagreeing with us, but George Tenet [sic] got on national TV before the United States Senate, and said that the United States government’s position is that there’s up to 200 missiles missing in Iraq. That’s mathematically impossible. It couldn’t happen. But, if you’re an American citizen, you turn on the TV or you open the newspaper and see on the front page of the New York Times, it wasn’t George Tenet at that time, the CIA director says 200 missiles in Iraq, you’re thinking there’s 200 missiles in Iraq. You’re thinking that there’s a threat there. See, the CIA’s job is not to disarm Iraq. They’d never received that task from the President of the United States. The CIA’s job is to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and one key aspect of getting rid of Saddam Hussein was to contain him through the continuation of sanctions. The continuation of sanctions required that the CIA maintain public perception of a noncompliant Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, what I just told you should shock you. The CIA knew in 1992 that there were no missiles left in Iraq. The CIA knew in 1992 that there was no nuclear weapons capability in Iraq. The CIA knew in 1995 that all chemical weapons and all biological weapons were accounted for. And, yet, here we are today, and it’s amazing. Turn on the television, and listen to the President, and listen to the Democrats. The President will say,’ we got it wrong on the weapons. We thought they were there, and they weren’t. Oops.’ And then the Democrats said, ‘we were misled. The President said that there were weapons there, so we voted for the war, but now it turns out there weren’t. We went to war on the basis of a lie. We were misled. Don’t blame us.’ Blame everyone, ladies and gentlemen, because I’m here to tell you they knew there were no weapons. They knew it. The CIA knew it. The U.S. intelligence community knew it. Congress knew it. The Senate knew it, especially those who sat on the oversight committees and were cognizant of the intelligence information. They knew that the policy was regime change. They supported the policy of regime change. They were part of the implementation of the policy of regime change and the formulation of the policy of regime change. There was a Republican controlled congress in 1994 that used Bill Clinton’s inability to deal with Saddam Hussein as a political foil to put pressure on the Clinton administration, thereby making Bill Clinton concerned about his prospect for re-election in 1996, thereby having Bill Clinton order the CIA to up the ante and go after Saddam in a very aggressive fashion which culminated with a coup attempt in June of 1996 which used the UN weapons inspection process not only as a vehicle for the CIA to gather intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s security but as a trigger for military action. Don’t tell me congress didn’t know. They knew. They knew it was never about disarmament. They knew it was always about regime change, and Bill Clinton’s inability to get rid of Saddam in 1996 empowered congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to unite in a bipartisan fashion, to pass what is called the Iraq Liberation Act, which set aside $100,000,000 of U.S. taxpayers’ money to fund Iraqi opposition groups to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Regime change not only became U.S. policy. It became U.S. law, public law, and congress pretends they didn’t know what was going on. How absurd is that? You know, we have a guy touring Washington, D.C. as we speak, a guy named Ahmad Chalabi, and everyone likes to boo and hiss about Ahmad Chalabi and say that he’s the man that sold the bad information to the Bush administration. Well, you know what? Ahmad Chalabi is a creation of the Clinton administration. Bill Clinton created Ahmad Chalabi. Bill Clinton’s CIA funded Ahmad Chalabi. Bill Clinton is the first administration to swallow Ahmad Chalabi’s poison, but, you know, it wasn’t Ahmad Chalabi’s poison. It was our poison. We created Ahmad Chalabi, created the poison that we would swallow, to sustain the notion of a noncompliant Iraq. A lot of people talk about the interim Iraqi government. You know, there’s that guy Iyad Allawi who used to be the Prime Minister of Iraq, but, before he embarked on a career of Iraqi politics, he was a paid agent of the CIA. He’s the guy behind the 1996 coup attempt, a product of Bill Clinton, briefed to the United States congress. They knew what the facts were. Bill Clinton gets on TV in December 1998 to sell the American people on a program of action called Operation Desert Fox, a three-day bombing campaign ostensibly against targets of weapons of mass destruction. Read Bill Clinton’s speech. It’s available on the Internet. Read it. Compare and contrast it to what George W. Bush said. There is no change. There is no difference. It’s the same speech. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The United States has no choice but to act and bomb Iraq. The only difference was Bill Clinton wasn’t sending in troops to invade. He was bombing, but it was the same story, the same lies, and Bill Clinton knew they were lies. In April of 1998, Bill Clinton appeared before the United States congress to explain why inspectors might believe that the United States wasn’t supporting the inspection process, and Bill Clinton was aghast. He said, ‘no, no. It’s the policy of the United States of America to give the inspectors all of the support they need. We’re behind the disarmament of Iraq 100%.’ He came back from congress, turned to Madeleine Albright, his Secretary of State, and Sandy Berger, his National Security Advisor, and ordered them to have a secret meeting to redraft American policy not to support the inspectors but to undermine the inspectors, to disengage the United States away from the inspectors because the inspectors were causing Bill Clinton a huge problem. We were disarming Iraq. We were succeeding, and the United States could never allow the inspectors to succeed, so the United States put the break on the inspectors, started undermining the inspectors even more than they did, and, in December, 1998, popular mythology may hold Saddam Hussein kicked the weapons inspectors out of Iraq, but this is wrong, ladies and gentlemen. They were ordered out by Bill Clinton. He ordered them out and then said that Iraq is not cooperating with the inspectors, and that’s why we need to bomb. The purpose of the bombing wasn’t to get rid of weapons of mass destruction because there were none and they knew it. The purpose of the bombing was two-fold. To target Saddam Hussein using intelligence information gathered by weapons inspectors. The first four cruise missiles that went into Iraq tried to knock out Saddam Hussein because U.N. intelligence said he might be sleeping either in Baghdad or in Tekrit. Of the 120 targets hit, 111 dealt with the security of Saddam Hussein. The others hit factories that we knew not to have any relation to weapons of mass destruction. Now they didn’t get Saddam, but what they did do is kill inspections because, when the Iraqis woke up after three days and walked through all the targets that were bombed, they realized that these targets were the exact same places inspected by United Nations weapons inspectors. They realized that the only way the United States could have received precise coordinates of where to strike was through the intelligence gathered by UN weapons inspectors. The Iraqis said the inspectors are not welcome back in, which is a victory for the United States because, without weapons inspectors, we can’t disarm Iraq. If you can’t disarm Iraq, economic sanctions will not be lifted, and they’ll continue. Now a lot of people like to talk about weapons inspections and disarmament of Iraq as if it’s a big victory for us. We weapons inspectors did a good thing, but let me educate you on a couple of things, ladies and gentlemen. Weapons inspections do not exist in isolation. They didn’t just happen. They were an outgrowth of a war. United Nations weapons inspections were extensions of the war. We cannot treat them as separate events. UN weapons inspectors may not have had guns, but we actually inflicted more harm on Iraq than military weapons did because we were responsible for the continuation of economic sanctions, economic sanctions that devastated Iraq for a decade, economic sanctions that killed between 700,000 and 2.5 million Iraqi civilians, and yet we sit here and talk about disarmament and weapons inspections as if it’s something neat. Disarmament only works if you can isolate it from war. Disarmament is a proactive measure in its own right, but disarmament is simply an extension of the war and war objectives using disarmament as a cover. It’s not disarmament. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be fooled. UN weapons inspections in Iraq were not about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. They were about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. They were about continuing economic sanctions to destabilize Saddam Hussein. Why is this important? Well, it’s important, first of all, because we’re talking about our politicians today, our brave politicians who are taking advantage of George W. Bush’s low popularity ratings to suddenly come out of the woodwork like rats on a sinking ship and declare how they’re against the war, but they’re not really against the war, because talk to them in depth. They’re against what’s happening now. They’re against the quagmire we face today. They’re against the fact that the Bush administration did not plan adequately for a post-Saddam environment. They’re not against the war. They’re political opportunists. To be against this war, you have to say that we shouldn’t be in Iraq to begin with. To be against this war, you must say that Iraq was better off with Saddam Hussein in power than it was with Saddam Hussein out of power. To be against this war, you must recognize that the congressional vote for war in 2002 was a complete abrogation of Constitutional responsibility. That’s being against this war, and there isn’t a politician out there today that is against this war using that terminology, or very few politicians, none that aspire to national political leadership. No, all the great politicians out there who say ‘I want to run for President’ are saying it’s good to have gone to war to get rid of Saddam Hussein. They say it’s just that we’ve done badly in the post-war phase. No, ladies and gentlemen, you can’t be half against this war. You have to be all against this war, and, sadly, there’s far too few politicians who are all against this war.

It is this type of political half-stepping that creates a quandary not only for Iraq but for Iran. You see, a lot of people, when I started talking, and Sunny knows this, in 2001 and 2002, we traveled around the country and talked about the impending war with Iraq. And everyone went, ‘well, there isn’t going to be a war with Iraq. That’s insane. The President’s embarked on diplomacy. There’s going to be a diplomatic solution. They’re going to give inspectors a chance. There will not be a war.’ I kept saying no, war has been decided upon because it is the policy decided upon to remove Saddam Hussein from power. No one wanted to recognize that policy. Then the war came. Then today there’s a growing recognition that we were misled into this war. But now I’m mentioning the war with Iran that’s already occurring, and everybody goes ‘no, there’s no war with Iran. Don’t be crazy. We can’t go to war with Iran. We don’t have enough troops. We’re bogged down in Iraq. No one would be crazy enough to go to war with Iran.’ Ladies and gentlemen, the same man that got us involved in this war in Iraq (I should say men, Clinton and Bush), got us involved with a future war with Iran. The die has already been cast. The decision has been made, and, as much as Bill Clinton facilitated war with Iraq, he facilitated war with Iran by embarking on a policy of dual containment in the 1990’s, putting unilateral U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, creating the politics of demonization where the American public on a daily basis has been bombarded with nothing but negative visuals, negative information about Iran, nothing positive. According to the U.S. media, Iran is populated by 50 million anti-American whirling dervishes who want nothing more than to come out of the country and cut off our heads. We don’t recognize the cultural diversity of Iran. We don’t recognize the fact that Iran is populated by human beings that care about life just as much as we do. We don’t recognize that the Iranian mothers want a good future for their children just as much as the American mothers want a good future for their children. We don’t recognize that Iranian men just want to have a job, a job that pays the bills, so that they can go home and maybe have a nice weekend with their family. That’s the reality of Iran, but we don’t have that. You see, we’re told that Iran is a threat. We’re told that the mad mullahs in Iran must be done away with in the same way that the mad dictator in Baghdad was done away with. The policy of regime change is in place today. This is why, when the Bush administration speaks of regional transformation, it’s not just hypothetical. They mean it, and, just like the Downing Street Memo, that British document that refers to meetings that took place in July, 2002, says that the United States had a policy of regime change already in place that was not going to be changed and they were fixing intelligence around the policy, I’m here to tell you today that we have a policy of regime change in place about Iran, and we are fixing the intelligence around the policy. We have a congress that is unwilling to stand up and talk about the reality of Iran. And listen to Hillary Clinton when she asks ridiculous questions, when she has testimony about the Iranian threat. She doesn’t have probing questions. She sits there and reinforces the negativity. She sits there and reinforces the notion of an Iranian threat, and the danger with that is that the compliant beast we call the American public, these sheep that allow themselves to be led to and fro, are listening to what she says. That’s why I could be a pollster and ask the following question. Do you think America should go to war with Iran? And most Americans say no, it’s stupid, we’re already bogged down in Iraq, why should we go to war with Iran? Put those polling numbers up, and everybody will go ‘see, there’s not going to be a war with Iran, Scott. What are you worried about?’ Let me get a little more tricky with you here. Do you think the Iranian government poses a threat to the United States of America? 78% of the American public says yes. How does the Iranian government pose a threat? Do they pose a threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons? The same numbers, 78%, yes, Iran poses a threat in the form of nuclear weapons. Now comes the cute part: how should we deal with this threat? Oh, we’re not going to that war thing because it sort of went bad in Iraq. How do you want to support? Ah, economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

84% of Americans believe that we should impose sanctions against Iran through the United Nations as a manner to deal with the Iranian nuclear weapons threat that threatens the security of the United States. That’s why we’re going to war, ladies and gentlemen, because we have bought into the notion that Iran is a threat without question, without thinking. We just parrot back what’s told to us by our elected officials. We bought into the notion that Iran is a threat in the form of nuclear weapons, even though no evidence has been put forward by anybody to sustain this notion. In fact, all of the intelligence information points to the reality that there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran as we speak. Every case made by the Bush administration has fallen apart on investigation of guess what, the eternal threat to peace and security, United Nations weapons inspectors who had the audacity to go to Iran and investigate baseless allegations and expose them as baseless allegations. Well, they have nuclear weapons. And, now that we’ve said there’s a threat, we say that the only way to deal with this threat is to impose economic sanctions, but you know what? They have to be imposed by the United Nations Security Council. The United Nations Security Council has members such as Russia, France, and China, not so much France right now on the issue of Iran but Russia and China, who have said ‘we will not allow economic sanctions to be imposed because we have seen what you’ve done with the Iraqi model, that this isn’t about getting rid of a nuclear threat. This is about regime change, and we’re not going to let this occur.’ But the United States is pushing hard to have the issue brought to the Security Council knowing full well that Russia and China will veto it. What does this mean, ladies and gentlemen? It means that, when Russia and China veto it, as we know they will, the President has no choice. His hands are tied. He didn’t want to go to war, but he has no choice, you see, because Iran is a threat, a nuclear threat, and the United Nations will not do anything about this threat, and no President is going to stand by and let a threat exist. No President is going to allow the national security of the United States of America to be held hostage by the United Nations, and, as distasteful as war is, the President has no choice but to engage in a war with Iran. That’s why we’re going to war, ladies and gentlemen. The President wants it. The American people have been preconditioned to accept the terms of conflict, and the vehicle for facilitating this is in place: John Bolton, the United Nations ambassador, has already written his speech that he will deliver before the Security Council when they refuse to impose economic sanctions. That speech will be that America will not allow itself to be held hostage by the United Nations. Then the President will order bombing, and this is where it gets really interesting, because one of the true things about the Iranian threat is we do not have enough troops to invade and occupy Iran. You see, the Bush administration is amazing. They don’t believe in reality. *laughter* Laugh. They say this themselves. They say that America has overwhelming economic, diplomatic, and political strength that we can bring to bear on any given situation and create our own reality, that the old rules of diplomacy no longer apply, that we have such overwhelming force that we can shape events so that a new reality is created. Now they sort of had a hick-up, a bad one in Iraq where they thought the new reality would be greeting us with songs and flowers. They were a little wrong on that one, but they’ve modified their formulation apparently because they believe that, if we bomb Iran with a massive aerial bombardment, then the Iranian people will rise up and remove the Mullahs from power, even though history shows that it’s not very likely that a nation that’s bombed is going to rise up and support those who are bombing them. But, if that fails, the military has been told to be prepared to send troops from Azerbaijan, along the Caspian Sea coast, to the outskirts of Tehran where it would project a force of 40-60,000. The Iranian people would be motivated by our presence and rise up and overthrow the mad Mullahs of Tehran. We’ll even put another 20-30,000 Marines on the coast where we can control the Straits of Hormuz, preventing the Iranians from shutting down that. .. oil shipping lane. What happens when that doesn’t work? And it doesn’t take a mathematical whiz to figure that it’s not going to work, ladies and gentlemen. Iran is a nation about 2.5 times the size of Iraq. Iran has a population of almost 50 million people, and we’re talking about putting 60-80,000 troops on the ground. We can’t control a nation of 25 million people with 161,000 troops. What makes us think we’re going to control 50 million with 80,000? It’s not going to happen. Now is where it gets really frightening, because the Bush administration, if they go down this course of action, will have no choice at that point in time but to use nuclear weapons, and they have already developed the weapons — they call them usable nukes. It’s funny that term, usable. This is not about mutually assured destruction anymore. This is not about deterrence. The Bush administration has radically departed from past doctrine to say that we will have a family of nuclear weapons that are usable nuclear weapons, meaning that we can conceive of using them, and then they’ll say we could use them preemptively in a non-nuclear environment, meaning that it’s not about opposing somebody with nuclear weapons or biological weapons or chemical weapons, it’s we can use them any time we want to if it’s in the strategic national interest of the United States.

This war, ladies and gentlemen, has a good chance of beginning in 2007. What are you going to do, peace movement? What are you going to do? Sit back and go, ‘oh my God, this is too much to think about. I’m going to hit the delete button and pretend that Ritter never spoke.’ Or do what others do? ‘Na, he’s a crazy wild man. Na, I’m not buying into that garbage. We’re just going to move on thinking that Iraq’s bad and they’ll never going on into Iran.’ Study the facts I’ve just put on the table. You will not contradict a single one of them. You cannot contradict a single one of them because they are facts. I’m not making it up. It’s all based on written and spoken statements made by Bush administration officials, past and present. What are you going to do? Wait for congress to do the right thing? Congress has already sold out. Congress isn’t going to oppose this President. Congress has already bought into the notion of the Iranian threat. What are you going to do? One thing you can do is change congress, and you have a window of opportunity. The 2006 election may well go down in history as one of the most critical elections that this country has ever faced, because, if I’m right, and I pray I’m not, I pray I’m wrong, I pray I’m on drugs, I pray I’m having some hallucinations, I pray that none of this is true. What if I’m right and we don’t change congress in 2006? We will unleash forces that will devastate this country, not just economically, not just politically, not just militarily, not just morally. Physically, because, if we drop nuclear weapons on Iran, we will have uncorked the genie, and that genie will not allow itself to be recorked until an American city has been vaporized in a radioactive cloud in a terrorist counterstrike to the American initiation of nuclear holocaust, and that is the statement of fact. Right now, when people talk about terrorism and nuclear weapons, I’m not too worried about it because I still think that we have to be concerned about it, but there’s enough sanity that prevails in the world today where leaders such as Musharaf in Pakistan and others will not transfer this technology to the terrorists out of fear of the devastation that will be caused. If the United States drops nuclear weapons, all bets are off. The Muslim world will not rest until the Americans pay a price similar to the one that’s been inflicted on them. What can you do? … Find a candidate worth supporting, and put all of your resources into supporting that candidate and getting that candidate in position, reaching out across the nation to other states and say ‘we need to get effective checks and balances in place in Washington, D.C. right now to hold this administration in place, in check.’ History shows us that, when an administration starts floundering in the way that George W. Bush has, that they take on a fortress-like mentality. Witness Richard Nixon in the aftermath of Watergate. Things are going to get worse for George W. Bush before they get better, if they ever get better. More allegations of misconduct, more allegation of lies, deceit, distortion are going to be put forward, and we already see how this President reacts, not with an embrace that’s inclusive but to reject and be derisive and to go on a counter-attack. The President, unable to generate any friction in terms of getting his policies implemented here at home because congress is starting to rise up and revolt, will look for distractions overseas in the same way that Richard Nixon looked to create a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union and the Middle East. It’s very dangerous times, ladies and gentlemen, very dangerous times, and, therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to recognize that we cannot wait for someone to give us the solution. We must re-read the Constitution and take strength from the words in the preamble that speak of we, the people of the United States of America. The only way we’re going to get a solution to this dual deception that’s taken place today in Iraq and Iran is for we, the people of the United States of America, to re-empower ourselves as citizens, to break free of this cocoon of comfort, this consumerism we trapped ourselves into so that we are addicted to a lifestyle that can only be sustained by elected representatives who will carry out aggressive policies. We got to elect good people, and that’s the thing. We’ve got to elect. No one else is going to elect them. We’ve got to nominate them. No one is going to nominate them. We’ve got to support and sustain them because no one else is going to do that. I hope I’ve put out enough challenging words and thoughts to you, and now you can hold me accountable for every single one of them as I open up the floor for questions. Thank you. *applause*

We are very grateful to Mike Gorse, who transcribed this talk. Mike may be reached at mgorse[AT]mgorse.dhs.org
See also Mike’s website at http://mgorse.dhs.org:8000

Transcript – David Airhart speaking in Chicago, November 5, 2005 on the killing of civilians in Iraq and abuse of detainees at Guantanamo

Monday, November 28th, 2005

David Airhart speaking at the 2005 Midwest Socialism Conference
November 5, 2005 – University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

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Transcript prepared by Charles Jenks. Please compare the transcript to the audio before quoting.
http://www.traprockpeace.org/audio/david_airhart_05nov05_64k.mp3

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First of all I want to thank everyone for their support; that means a lot to me. The more support the better. What I’d like to talk about are things that are occurring in the military that are sort of unknown by the majority of the American public, mostly because the media deprives them of this information.

I spent 4 months in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and 6 months in Iraq and 7 months in Afghanistan, so I have a pretty well rounded perspective of everything that’s going on in this war on terror.

When I was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba my unit’s job was to transport the detainee’s coming from Afghanistan to Cuba. We’d transport them on a school bus where we removed all of the seats and all the prisoners would be shoved in there like sardines. We were encouraged to kick them in different sensitive areas like their ribs and parts of their legs if they made the slightest movement like maybe a movement of their finger or they took too deep of a breath. We were encouraged to use severe physical punishment to prevent them from moving. But after a while it became sort of a form of entertainment for a lot of marines to sporadically kick some of these detainees for entertainment purposes. And I started to realize I think then that there are things go on in the military aren’t quite as noble as our government tries to portray. We did that for 4 months. There wasn’t a day I was there there wasn’t some sort of prisoner beating festivity going on.

From there I went to Iraq. I guess I really wasn’t ready for what was in store for me and my unit in Iraq. My unit – I was in the First Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, Charley Company. We were the unit that went in during the whole Jessica Lynch thing in An Nasiriyah.

While we were there, we were supposedly fighting Iraqi rebels and Iraqi military personnel, but I can’t really remember ever seeing any actual Iraqi soldier that we were fighting during the supposed firefight. What I do remember, we were mostly being shot at by our own close air support and helicopters. 95% [of the soldiers who were killed in my unit were] killed by friendly fire and I’d say 98% of the casualties I saw weren’t fighters of any kind – they were civilian, women, children and people who had nothing to do with the fighting. They were just innocent bystanders.

When I realized how over the top it was, was after An Nasiriyah. We were supposed to set up a perimeter around the city. We were out of sand bags. We didn’t have enough sand bags to protect our holes from small arms fire and things like that. Conveniently, there was a flour truck driver riding a truck down the highway that was full of canvas flour bags. And sand bags are made out of canvas, so this was perfect for sand bags. We were ordered to open fire on this man – just say, a working family man, and to use his flour bags as sand bags. A lot of guys in my platoon opened fire and the man was killed. And the individuals who didn’t open fire on this man were ordered to remove his body from the truck and throw it off in a ditch on the side of the road and throw some dirt on top of it. And after that, I was an extreme, I guess, sort of anti-war marine (applause).

After An Nasiriyah, we spent most of our time doing vehicle check points where you just stop random civilian drivers and search their vehicles for weapons and things like that. Oftentimes if it was a very confusing situation and the drivers of the vehicles would not understand what we were saying when we told them to stop. And when they wouldn’t stop, we were ordered to open fire on these individuals. That happened on a daily basis. And never once out of all these occasions were there any weapons in these individual’s cars. Usually it was full of family, a husband and a wife and children and they would all be killed. This happened on a daily basis. This was pretty hard to deal with after a while. And people just started to shut down. Maybe part of them wanted to pretend that they killed some innocent little girl for some sort of good cause. But we all know that’s not true.

After Iraq I thought “well great, now I’m done and I can just be a jackass in the Marine Corps until I get out. But unfortunately for me I was sent to another unit that was deploying to Afghanistan. My last 7 months in the Marine Corps was spent in Afghanistan. Mostly what we did there was just guard prisoners and operate on individuals who stepped on landmines that are all over Afghanistan. It’s one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world. And then after that I got out of the military after 4 long miserable years.

I came to Kent State. One of the most significant reasons I decided to go to Kent State was because it has such a rich history of being a strong antiwar school. And I thought “well, I need to go somewhere that’s an extreme opposite of the military. I ran into Pat Gallagher of the ISO and I told him I had been to Iraq. He told me to “come to one of our meetings and there’s people who would like to hear what you have to say.”

So after that I got comforted, I would guess would be a good thing to say, by the ISO because until then I didn’t really feel anyone supported the antiwar movement. It seemed like most people I ran into were for the war and thanked for me serving, and yada yada yada…

Recently, I think it was a week and a half ago, the military were on Kent State trying to pervert my happy place (audience laughter), and take away happy people at Kent State and send them to Iraq to die and kill for reasons that don’t make any sense. Out of maybe anger and sort of disgust with the military, that the administration allows the military on our campus, and allows Kent State to be used as a supplier for fresh bodies to be sent over to Iraq – I climbed up the wall and I posted an antiwar slogan on the wall. And I was then chased down by several of the recruiters and one of them grabbed my shirt. That’s the “Hands Off Dave.” [campaign] (audience laughter) And now I’m in a lot of trouble with the university. I might be expelled from school for good. I guess I just don’t understand the logic behind this fiasco it’s created with the administration. I don’t think maybe they realize what’s really going on in Iraq. I don’t know if they think it’s just something on TV. But, you know, it’s not. I hope that the administration will see that it’s them that are endangering the students, and I was simply trying to do all I can do to get them removed from campus and keep our campus safe and un-perverted by the military. So, again, thanks again for all your support. I need it.

Transcript – George Galloway’s September 19, 2005 speech in Chicago

Monday, November 28th, 2005

audio of George Galloway’s talk; 57:13 minutes – 19.7 mb – 48 kbps mono

George Galloway, Member of the British Parliament, spoke on September 19, 2005 at Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern University Law School, Chicago, IL as part of a national tour sponsored by The New Press, The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, International Socialist Review, and the National Council of Arab Americans. Loretta Capeheart, Ph.D., introduced the speakers and served as moderator. Preceding Mr. Galloway were Bill Davis, Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Ahmed Shawki, Editor of International Socialist Review and a board member of the National Council of Arab Americans; and Sabah Khan, a student and member of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) chapter at University of Illinois at Chicago. CAN collected donations for hurricane relief that a group of students took to the Gulf States.

[To ensure accuracy, any quotes from the transcript text must be compared with the audio of his speech. Please see Traprock’s webpage on the Chicago talk to download the audio programs of the speech, the question and answer session, and the introductory remarks by the above named speakers.]

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Thank you very much. Chair, brothers and sisters, thank you very much for that wonderful welcome and the introductory speakers who set the scene for this meeting so very ably. I want to start off this evening by telling you what I’m not here to do before telling you what I am.

I’m not here, and I make this point, especially as my name is George *laughter*, I’m not here to re-colonize you. *laughter and applause* I’m not here to tell you Britain knows best, though, of course, we were an imperial power for rather longer *laughter* than you have yet been, and, I hope, longer than you will be. I come from a long line of anti-imperialist parents and grandparents. I am of Irish background, and we’ve always hated the British Empire, always. *laughter and applause* In fact, I remember very well coming home from school once and telling my Irish grandfather that the teacher had said that British had an empire so vast that, upon it, the sun never set, and my grandfather answered, “that’s because God would never trust the English in the dark.” *laughter and applause* I’ve never had cause to doubt him about that. He did say “English.” He was very clear about English, not Scottish or Welsh. And the second thing I’m not here to do is evince some of my critics. I’ve just been on Fox TV with Bill O’Reilly. *laughter* Unfortunately, I wasn’t live because I had a few things up my sleeve about Bill O’Reilly. *laughter* But I’d better not go to that bathroom humor in a mixed audience. But for Bill O’Reilly and people like him, somebody like me is driven by what they call (well, he doesn’t call because he doesn’t use big words) visceral anti-Americanism. Well, I’m here to tell you that I am probably the only man who can say that he is the great grandson of almost certainly the only woman in the entire 19th century who emigrated from America to Scotland *laughter* at a time when thousands were sailing in the opposite direction. I think she got on the wrong boat, as a matter of fact, but, if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here, so there is nothing anti-American about me or anything I have to say this evening. Neither are we against the troops. I saw somebody with a t-shirt last night outside the meeting, 25 of them in a mass demonstration of neo-cons outside the University of Wisconsin. She was wearing a t-shirt, “we love the troops.” Well, we love the troops. That’s why we don’t want any more of them to be killed or to kill other people on a pack of lies from George W. Bush. *applause* After all, who are the troops? The troops are, in your country and mine, conscripted by unemployment, low wages, poor prospects, racism, recruiting sergeants in the high schools and in the car parks of the shopping malls, mopping up on the dissatisfaction with the lives which so many people in industrial and post-industrial Britain and America suffer. How could we want those troops to be harmed? They are our children, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our school friends, and, as I hear the Vietnam veterans say, “isn’t it always the way that those sent in to fight in these wars are not the sons or daughters of those who have most to gain from those wars?” Somebody once said war is a thing where there’s a worker on both ends of a gun. That’s why we say we love the troops so much. We’re demanding their immediate withdrawal from harm’s way in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and wherever else Bush and Blair have sent them. *applause*

And the other thing Bill O’Reilly put to me, and I wish he’d come along to all my meetings, it would be good to have him in the front row shouting these things *laughter*, it gets the blood coursing in the veins, that I had said, he said, that America had brought 9/11 upon itself. Well, let me say what I did say. Not just in the United States but in the British Parliament, and not just now but four days after 9/11, when the House of Commons was recalled to discuss this criminal act of mass murder which killed thousands of innocent people. I said, you’ll forgive me quoting myself, I said “it may appear that these airplanes came out of a clear blue sky, but I believe that these monsters emerged from a deep swamp of hatred and bitterness and enmity which exists against us all over the world but particularly in the Muslim world because of the policies of injustice that we have visited upon them for so many years.” Now I have a responsibility to say that because I know that to be true, as someone who has spent more than thirty years closely involved with the Muslim world and the Arab world in particular. I have seen that swamp. I have walked around the edges of that swamp. I knew that it was there before 9/11, and I knew that something like 9/11 was a disaster waiting to happen. And I was criticized for saying it in New York, but I believe that political honesty requires me to say the same thing whichever city I’m in, whichever country I’m in whatever time it is, because the truth has to be told and has to be understood. *applause* We have to say, you know, people say *something inaudible from the crowd*, I didn’t catch that, but let me infer what it might have been. And my apologies if it was a supportive shout. You see, Bill O’Reilly and the crazed fanatics like him, they want to hang Bin Laden around our necks. Bin Laden has nothing to do with us. Bin Laden was invented by the United States of America and by Great Britain *applause* and by the countries which gave him weapons and money. As I started quoting myself, let me finish quoting myself from ten years or more earlier. On the eve of the fall of Kabul to Bin Laden and the so-called Mujahidin had been armed and financed and bankrolled in every way, including politically and democratically, by the United States and Great Britain. I said to Mrs. Thatcher and Parliament, “you have opened the gates for the barbarians, and a long dark night will now descend upon the people of Afghanistan. They are the people that took Bin Laden into Afghanistan, and then they massacred the people of Afghanistan for having Bin Laden in their midst. How unjust is that?” I heard Mrs. Bush Jr. (I’m going to come back to Mrs. Bush Sr. in a few minutes) and Mrs. Blair on a radio broadcast synchronized swimming in the grief of the anniversary of 9/11, and they asked us never to forget the heart-breaking messages of farewell and love left by those American women on those planes from their mobile telephones on the answering machines of their loved ones at home. They asked us never to forget it as if we could. But, as I said at the time, just because Afghan women don’t have mobile telephones, and their loved ones don’t have answering machines, it doesn’t make their deaths delivered from the sky any less obscene than the deaths of those American women on 9/11. *applause* But, as I looked around, the faces of the powerful men (mainly men) in the British Parliament whom I was addressing, I could read from their face that that truth which to us is self-evident was not evident to them at all. You see, we have to face the fact for the powerful people who rule the world, the blood of some people is more valuable than the blood of others. The blood of Americans is more valuable than the blood of Afghans. The blood of Israelis is more valuable than the blood of Palestinians. And the blood of Europeans is more valuable than the blood of Iraqis. That’s a self-evident truth. There’s nobody holding a minute of silence for the dead in Afghanistan. There’s nobody even counting the dead in Iraq. As Powell, I think it was, said, “we can’t be expected to count dead Iraqis.” And, though this self-evident truth may not be burnt on the minds of a majority of our countrymen, believe me, there’s not a Muslim in the whole world that doesn’t know the double standards that we have on this subject. They know that their blood is worth less than ours, at least to us. And this is one of the things which waters the swamp of hatred that I’m talking about.

People asked me in that debate in Parliament and many times since, “well, what would you do? What would you have done?” The first thing I said is, whatever we do, it must make our position better rather than worse. If we handle this the wrong way, we’ll create ten thousand new Bin Ladens. *applause* But if you ask me, if you press me to explain how we got here. Here’s what I have to say. You have to, and, in the United States, I’m sorry to tell you, you, more than anybody, have to grasp this simple truth, that the floor of the heart of the crisis between east and west, between the Muslim world and the rest, is the half-century or more of injustice visited upon the Palestinian people paid for, organized, and armed by the United States of America. *applause* There’s no getting away from that point. There’s really no getting away from that. You see, most people in the west hardly give a second’s thought to the Palestinian people, but Muslims think of Palestine almost every day. They think of Jerusalem, where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the roof of al-Aksa. They know that Jerusalem and al-Aksa is in the hands of foreign fighters who came from Brooklyn or London or Paris, who talk to the CNN news in an American accent, talking about the fact that God promised them this spot several thousand years before like some kind of estate agent. *laughter* You saw them. You saw these settlers at Gaza having to be prized out of their luxury homes. They did get a quarter of a million dollars compensation, a point that was rarely made in the newscasts: a quarter of a million dollars each compensation. But we were being asked by the news to be grateful to General Sharon for giving a quarter of a million dollars to people from Brooklyn who were illegally occupying somebody else’s land since 1967. *applause* Seven thousand settlers occupying one third of the territory of the Gaza Strip, the most densely populated place on Earth, with one and a half million Palestinians occupying the other two thirds. Seven thousand settlers consuming 30% of the water in Gaza, one and a half million Palestinians, most of them living in the most ransid refugee camps, unimaginable unless you’ve been there, in some cases decade after decade, generation after generation. And when I watched as I did in agonizing detail the story of the evacuation of Gaza, I learned all over again the double standard that infuses this whole question and which may leave most people in the west unmoved but which makes the blood of all Muslims boil. General Sharon, to whom we must be grateful, is a man with form. Last week was the 23rd anniversary of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. When thousands of Palestinian refugees, undefended, unarmed men of pension age, women and children, were butchered by the besieging Israeli forces and their Lebanese falangist, fascist allies, there were no men to defend them in the camps because the men had sailed away from the harbor of Beirut for Tunisia and . .. beyond. They have done so under international guarantee, a signed guarantee from the ambassador of the United States of America that the families they left behind would be protected, but no sooner had the ships sailed when these wolves fell upon the undefended refugees, who were an international responsibility, and massacred. Who was in charge of the operation? Who was literally standing at the gates of the refugee camps, literally standing there at the gates? The defense minister of Menachem Begin’s government, General Ariel Sharon, the same General Ariel Sharon for whom the red carpet was rolled out in New York at the United Nations last week, and we were asked to congratulate him all over again for his sagacity in the Gaza Strip. Now when I’m talking about Sharon, I mean, I know he’s seen differently in some parts of the world. I mean, I heard George Bush describing him as a man of peace. Even Sharon doesn’t consider himself to be a man of peace. *laughter* But George Bush thinks he’s a man of peace. *applause*

My friend, my comrade Ron McKay, sitting in the front row who works with me, we met in 1977, nearly thirty years ago in the Sabra and Shatila camps, and, together, a few years ago, we visited another refugee camp, this time in occupied Palestine, called Jenin, two days after the massacre there. It was still smoking, still smoldering. The dead lay unburied under the crushed masonry. The camp, one square mile in which ten thousand families had lived for fifty years. This camp is a particular poignant example of the Palestinian tragedy because, for those refugees who still had a roof, if they climbed up onto it, they could literally see the shining city of Haifa on the sea, and every one of those refugees came from that city of Haifa. So, for fifty years, they’ve lived in a rat-infested refugee camp within sight of their own houses, their own gardens, their own orange trees being picked by people from London, from Paris, from Brooklyn. Can you imagine the torture that that represents? And then there were massacres by General Sharon’s government, and the United Nations Security Council unusually held an emergency meeting on a Saturday and passed a resolution. I’m not making this next bit up. The resolution called for Israel to allow inspectors to check reports of mass destruction of the lives of refugees in the camp at Jenin, and Sharon answered, “get stuffed. There are no United Nations inspectors coming in here.” And the United Nations promptly got stuffed, packed their suitcases, went home, and nothing was ever said about the matter again. This double standard may have escaped the notice of most people in the west, but it didn’t escape the notice of a single Muslim anywhere in the world. Not a single one. *applause*

Now the second thing I answered that needs to be done, if we’re going to drain that swamp of the hatred that produced that kind of monstrosity that occurred here on 9/11, occurred later on 7/7 in London, occurred in Madrid and many other places, is that we have to cease our policy of propping up virtually every puppet president and corrupt king who rules the Muslim world from one end to the other. Every one of these dictators. *applause* Again, you know, Bill O’Reilly was real shocked at that point. Who, us? Are you talking to us? I tell them, didn’t you see the funeral of somebody who calls himself King Fahd? Didn’t you see all the western leaders descending on one of the grimmest prison states in all the world, where women are not allowed to drive, where they may not set foot outside their door unless accompanied by a male relative, where nobody has ever voted for anything ever in the whole history of the country, when you can’t even elect the secretary of a fishing club unless it becomes contagious? This idea of elections, a country ruled by a tyrant king where they chop off peoples’ heads in public on Friday afternoons, their blood spurting into the sand for the encouragement or the discouragement of the others, a country run by a kleptocracy whose purpose is to loot the wealth of their own country, loot it and spend it in the casinos, in the bordellos, in the arms bazaars, in the stock market and banks and speculation enterprises of western countries? Do you know that Saudi Arabia thinks it has six trillion dollars in American banks and in the American stock exchange? Of course, it only thinks that it has that money because, if it ever dreamt of withdrawing it, it would be confiscated overnight by any government of the United States. So, in fact, this money does not even belong to them, let alone belong to their country from whom it was looted. And all these western leaders descended on Riyadh. None of them breathed a word about democracy or liberty or freedom of any kind. They were there to kiss the nose, as a prelude to kissing somewhere else, of the tyrant who took the place of the tyrant they were laying in his grave. And so what do you think Arab Muslims, Muslims around the world think when they hear George Bush talking about democracy and liberty, when they see him? He may have been going to collect his father’s latest check. George Bush Sr. has earned at least 10 million dollars from his involvement with the Carlisle Group’s handling of the wealth of the kleptocrats of the House of Saud. And John Major, the former British Prime Minister, is catching up. He’s made two million. But he is a considerably younger man with longer to go. Anybody think the United States really wants democracy in Saudi Arabia? You’ve only got to state that question, pose it in order to answer it. If there was a democratically elected government in Saudi Arabia, the first thing it would do is to close the American bases in Saudi Arabia. Try and get at least some of their money back, and start investing it in their own country, which has seen income per capita drop from $20,000 a year 15 years ago to $7,000 a year today. And maybe even invest a bit of it in the rest of the Muslim world. Maybe even give a bit of it to the Palestinian refugees in Jenin. You’ve only got to ask the question in order to answer it. Does America really want democracy in Arabia? Fair enough. If we don’t want democracy in Arabia, that’s one thing. But don’t say you want democracy next door in Iraq but no democracy next door in Saudi Arabia. Because you’ll just seem as a liar and a hypocrite. *applause*

Let me give you another example . .. The somebody called President, at least he calls himself that, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. The United States government asks us to believe that one of the fruits of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is that there’s just been the first ever free Presidential election in Egypt. In fact, President Mubarak himself announced that this was the first free Presidential election in Egypt. Well, given that he has already served four six-year terms as President, that’s a fairly clear admission that he stole the power of the Egyptian people over the last quarter of a century. The point of this, President Mubarak got more votes in the free Presidential election than he got in the four rigged Presidential elections beforehand. I’m not making that up. Six years ago, in a rigged Presidential election which he has now told us was rigged, he got 84.8% of the vote. Not bad, I must tell you as someone who has been fighting elections all my life. I’ve been quite popular, actually. You know, I’m really pleased if I get 50% of the vote. But Hosni Mubarak got 84.8% of the vote in an election he said was rigged. And, a couple of weeks ago, in a free election, he got 88.6% of the vote of the people of Egypt. Well, if you believe that, you believe anything. And it goes without saying that, if there really was a democratically-elected government in Egypt, it would do in a week everything that must be a nightmare to United States policymakers. It would close the Israeli embassy in Cairo. It would kick out the Mossads. It would start assisting the Palestinians instead of betraying them. It would once again become the beating heart of the Arab world, showing its leadership, showing its historic importance instead of being a slave state with a puppet President who rules on behalf not of his own people but of the governments of other countries. And so, I could go on. There are so many others.

I was thinking the other day about the general. Remember him, the General. President Bush, just before he was first elected, was being interviewed on television. I don’t know if they showed it here, but it was endlessly shown to . .. the people of the world. Mr. Bush was being asked about all these foreign leaders he was going to have to deal with if he got elected as President of the United States. The interviewer asked him (it was quite bold of the interviewer, I must say), “Do you know who the leader of Pakistan is?” Bush answered, “Sure. The General.” *laughter* The interviewer said, “can you be a bit more specific, maybe a name?” And Bush thought for a moment or five, and he said, “we just call him the General.” *laughter* Don’t act so surprised. This is a man who thinks that the people who live in Kosovo are called Kosovarian. The people who live in Greece are called Greecians. He thinks that the main problem with imports in the United States is that most of them come from overseas. *laughter* So don’t act so surprised. At least Gerald Ford could chew a pretzel and walk in a straight line at the same time. *applause* But, let me tell you about the General, because the General is the leader of a country of hundreds of millions of people, moreover, who now possess nuclear weapons, a fact which doesn’t seem to have caused any consternation in the United States administration at all. They go to the ends of the Earth to stop other people even dreaming of having nuclear power, but the General, hey, he can have nuclear rockets if he likes. But the General came to power in a military coup. He seized power in a military coup. So much was this an offense against propriety that the British government immediately suspended him from the British commonwealth and put him on an arms embargo list. But that was until the day after 9/11. Then he ceased to be called the General. He started to be called the President, and then Mr. Bush then knew his name, and he gave him everything that he wanted, not because he’d become any more legitimate, any more democratic, but because he was now an important ally of Bush in his so-called war on terror.

So when the Pakistanis and the Egyptians and the Saudis and Muslims around the world hear our governments talking about democracy and liberty and human rights, they don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but more and more of them are crying. And, of the many more who are crying, some are crying tears so bitter that they’re ready now to support others who want to hurt us, want to give their lives for many of ours. And, thus, the swamp becomes deeper still.

But the third main contributory factor to the growth of this swamp I’m here to tell you went virtually unnoticed by anybody in the west because I spent the best years of my life trying to raise the alarm about the mass murder of Iraqi children under the sanctions imposed by the United States and Great Britain on the people of Iraq. *applause* It was described by a fine Democratic Party congressman, David Bonier from Michigan, as infanticide masquerading as politics. An Iraqi child was dying every six minutes of every day and night. I saw them. I saw Iraq when it was a sea of misery with nobody looking, nobody listening. I stood at the door of a labor ward in a hospital in Baghdad and listened at the door to a woman giving birth by Caesarian Section without anesthetic, and it’s a noise that haunted me every night, year after year, and drove me on in the campaign, I, and a very few others, great Americans like Kathy Kelley of Voices in the Wilderness, and very few others. I know that most people in the west didn’t care about those Iraqi children dying, but every Muslim cared about those Iraqi children dying, and they couldn’t understand why we could be so careless about those Iraqi children dying if it was not for the reason I mentioned at the beginning, that the blood of Arabs and Muslims is cheaper than the blood of other people. Because if a million children anywhere else were dying as a result of a policy being imposed by elected governments in the west, it is undoubtedly true that that policy would have come under greater attack, scrutiny, and eventually been changed. But that’s not what happened in Iraq. Instead, we moved from the slow killing of the sanctions to the hot killing of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And we have to keep restating these points because the media is determined to avoid them even now. This war was based on a pack of lies from A to Z.From the first to the last, it was based on a pack of lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no link between Iraq and the atrocities on 9/11. There was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but there is now. There’s plenty of al-Qaeda in Iraq now, and who’s to blame for that? Who brought al-Qaeda into Iraq, visiting upon now the people of Iraq the same scourge that we visited upon the people of Afghanistan in the 1980’s and early 1990’s? And most pernicious of all was the lie that the invading armies would be welcomed by flowers and rice. This lie, told to our own soldiers, and there’s 2,000 American boys lying in the ground now, testimony to the fact that they were greeted with something much hotter and much sharper than flowers and rice. Fifteen thousand American boys wounded, maimed, scarred forever, many of them in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives, for the rest of their lives in a wheelchair, the next sixty years in a wheelchair because of that pack of lies that sent them into this ignoble enterprise. And there’s more than 100,000 Iraqis dead according to Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Association. When I mentioned this in a debate in New York the other night, my opponent said that Johns Hopkins University, one of the world’s finest schools, and the Lancet, one of the most respected journals in the world, were crazed fabricators. He really did say that, and I asked him to repeat it, and he repeated it, and there was a group of maniacs in the audience who were shouting “yes, crazed fabricators.” Well, I’ll tell you this. If I had to choose between the work of Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet or Christopher Hitchens and George W. Bush, I’m with Johns Hopkins and the Lancet. *applause* Now all these lies, all this death and destruction, the disfiguring of the face of the international legal and political system, the bankruptcy of the United Nations Security Council which said, “no, we won’t agree to war,” and America and Britain said, “well, you get stuffed, we’re going to have the war anyway,” the breakdown in trust that is now evidenced in the New York Times poll that my comrade Ahmed talked about earlier, when most people in both countries no longer believe in what their government tells them, their confidence in our own system of government perhaps fatally undermined. And all the extremism that’s been sewn, all the new dangers that have been laid for us, I tell you, will blight the lives not only of every person in this room but their children and maybe their children yet unborn.

This is a tremendous crime, but, when the French statesman Talleyrand was informed of the murder of a political opponent, his aides said, “it’s a terrible crime,” and Talleyrand answered, “yes, it’s a terrible crime, but it’s worse than a crime, it’s a blunder.” And that’s what this enterprise is. It’s a crime, but it’s worth than a crime, it’s a blunder. It’s a blunder that has turned the world up-side-down, and it’s not finished yet. If we don’t withdraw the British and American armed forces from Iraq very soon, Iraq may plunge into an uncontrollable, unfathomable conflagration of civil war on a confessional and ethnic basis. You’re worried about oil at $70 a barrel, you won’t be able to buy a barrel of oil for any money at all if a Yugoslav-style war breaks out on top of the world’s biggest oil field. And the people that brought us here are still in charge. George Bush got re-elected — okay, let me rephrase that. *applause* Let me rephrase that then. George Bush is still in power. Tony Blaire is still in power. The generals, the intelligence chiefs, the editors, and the journalists who were as much a part of the invasion of Iraq as the U.S. Marine Corpse was *applause* are all still in power, and what are we going to do about it? Are we going to try and hold these people to account? We have a chance now to do it because things have begun to change in this country. I can sense it. I can smell it, feel it on the streets. First of all, when Cindy Sheehan, that brave mother, took to the roads *applause* and besieged that permanent holiday home of George Bush when he, oh, he retires there to his library. *laughter* He’s apparently colored in most of his books already. Cindy Sheehan has set a fire burning underneath Bush and all these criminals who lead us here, and then, I said I’d come back to Mrs. Bush Sr. I tell you, the Bush administration stands naked in front of the whole world, and it’s an ugly sight, a very ugly sight. We knew there were malevolent crooks, but we didn’t know they were utter incompetents as well, unable to organize the collection of dead bodies in their own streets of their own cities a week after a natural disaster, unable to deploy force to rescue their own citizens but ready at the drop of a hat to send forces overseas to destroy other peoples’ countries and destroy their societies. I tell you, when I helped Mrs. Bush Sr. ,you know Marie Antoinette just before the French Revolution, told that the people were rioting for they had no bread, she asked them then why don’t they eat cake. Wasn’t that Barbara Bush as they walked around the Astrodome telling these poor people they’ve never had it so good, how lucky they were, underprivileged as they were, to be in astrodome, dependent on food hand-outs in the richest and most powerful country in the world? I tell you, between Mrs. Sheehan and Mrs. Bush, things have changed here big time, and you have the chance to contribute to that change next Saturday. Every person here must be at that demonstration in Washington, D.C. *applause* It’s a must, an obligation to be here.

Now my last point is this. My favorite parliamentarian is Charles James Fox, whose statue is the first one you come upon as you enter the British Parliament through the St. Stephens entrance. Fox was expelled twice from the British Parliament, first for supporting the American revolution, the American freedom struggle from colonial rule, secondly for supporting the French Revolution. Admittedly, he spoke a little frankly on the second point. He tabled a motion in the British Parliament congratulating the people of France on the execution of their king and queen *laughter* and looking forward to the day when the same fate befell all the other crowned heads of Europe. *applause* But take yourself back in time, and imagine a conversation with Charles James Fox that would run like this. “Are you sure you’re doing the right thing, helping these people? What if they win? What if they set up their own country? What if it ends up being run by crazed fundamentalists like Pat Robertson and George Bush and Richard Pearl and Dick Cheney? Don’t you think that’s a bit risky?” *laughter* Fox would have answered, “It’s not my business who rules America. It’s the business of the American people alone who rules America.” *applause* He might have said, “I have only one choice to make, whether I’m with the foreign occupation of their country or whether I’m with their right to be free of that occupation of their country. That’s the only choice that I have to make.” I told you earlier I’m of Irish background. When the Irish people rose in 1916 at Easter time and delivered the decisive blow against the British empire, seizing the general post office in O’Connell street and proclaiming the Irish republic, there were people in London who called themselves progressives, sapiens, socialists even, who declined to issue a certificate of approval for those Irish revolutionaries. Why? They said, “these Irish rebels are priest-ridden, bog-trotting, Gaelic, Celtic obscurantists who want to dig Ireland off into the mists of a Celtic Brigadoon.” But they forgot that the only certificate of approval that was necessary was the certificate issued by the Irish people themselves for that revolution. *applause* That’s all that is required. And I’m mentioning this because there are people who will say to you, “you can’t support the freedom struggle of the people of Iraq because they might . .. be governed by religious people, by people with beards and turbans who don’t speak or act like us.” Maybe so. The longer we stay there, in fact, the more extreme the likely outcome in the end will be, but nobody can choose who rules Iraq except the people of Iraq. And that is a non-negotiable principle demand. *applause*

Thank you. Just a last point, and I’ll shut up and take some questions. I know I’m speaking to a lot of people of a certain age who know the Vietnam story and all its gore and misery. And I’m addressing them as well as the others on this point. Half of the American casualties in Vietnam fell between 1968 and the end of the war. In 1968, the American government had already decided that it was going to have to withdraw. In fact, Henry Kissinger sabotaged the peace negotiations in Paris to make sure that Humphrey lost the election and that Nixon could win. And half of the 58,000 dead and half of the wounded fell after the United States already knew that it had to leave Vietnam. I can tell you the American administration already knows it has lost the war in Iraq and that, the longer it stays, the deeper it will sink, and the more blood will be added to that swamp of hatred that I’ve been talking about all night. You know, the United States lost all those men and killed all those Vietnamese in the interests of a word which has now crept back into the vocabulary. It’s a dreaded word. I hate to hear it. The word is credibility. I hear these neo-cons say, “we can’t leave Iraq because it will destroy our credibility.” That’s the word that send tens of thousands of Americans to their graves in Vietnam. America will have to leave Iraq sooner or later. It’s much, much better for everybody if it’s sooner rather than later. The longer we stay there, in fact, the more extreme the likely outcome in the end will be, but nobody can choose who rules Iraq except the people of Iraq. And that is a non-negotiable principle demand. *applause*

Thank you. Just a last point, and I’ll shut up and take some questions. I know I’m speaking to a lot of people of a certain age who know the Vietnam story and all its gore and misery. And I’m addressing them as well as the others on this point. Half of the American casualties in Vietnam fell between 1968 and the end of the war. In 1968, the American government had already decided that it was going to have to withdraw. In fact, Henry Kissinger sabotaged the peace negotiations in Paris to make sure that Humphrey lost the election and that Nixon could win. And half of the 58,000 dead and half of the wounded fell after the United States already knew that it had to leave Vietnam. I can tell you the American administration already knows it has lost the war in Iraq and that, the longer it stays, the deeper it will sink, and the more blood will be added to that swamp of hatred that I’ve been talking about all night. You know, the United States lost all those men and killed all those Vietnamese in the interests of a word which has now crept back into the vocabulary. It’s a dreaded word. I hate to hear it. The word is credibility. I hear these neo-cons say, “we can’t leave Iraq because it will destroy our credibility.” That’s the word that send tens of thousands of Americans to their graves in Vietnam. America will have to leave Iraq sooner or later. It’s much, much better for everybody if it’s sooner rather than later. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you. *applause*

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We are very grateful to Mike Gorse, who transcribed this talk. Mike may be reached at mgorse[AT]mgorse.dhs.org

See also Mike’s website at http://mgorse.dhs.org:8000/