19 March, 2008

Five Years Ago Today...

...the war in Iraq began. I remain unimpressed by our administration's refusal to take responsibility for its own flaws. I remain unimpressed by a government interested in revenge or retaliation instead of what is right. In truth, "unimpressed" is not the right word for the feeling of revulsion I get in my gut, my heart and my throat every time I hear more about the Iraq War. My brother went to Afghanistan after the attacks on the World Trade Towers. Then he went to Iraq. He didn't believe he should have been there, but he went. And now he deals with the deaths he caused and the deaths of his friends every day. For what? I honestly don't know.

I support Barack Obama for president because I like being spoken to as if I weren't an uneducated peon who simply can't understand the workings of government. I like his style, his attitude, and his heart. I think Hillary is less charismatic, and I believe that we need a charismatic and earnest leader to help the country hold her head up again. Senator Obama made this speech five years ago. It's time for a change.

"Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.

I don't oppose all wars. After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear - I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the President today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use
the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in
our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own
people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and
mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education,
without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil,
through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and
Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that
we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and
greed. Poverty and despair.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not -- we will not -- travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain."


  1. Thank you so much for posting that. I don't want to get too optimistic, as I'm all too familiar with what regimes will do to stay in power, but I'm feeling more hopeful about the future state of the American political landscape than I have in quite some time. Just wish we Canadians could vote in your elections, or that US politics didn't have such a huge impact up here!

  2. Tika, I second that thanks for the post/quote. You said "I support Barack Obama for president because I like being spoken to as if I weren't an uneducated peon who simply can't understand the workings of government." I so agree there too. This administration's policies, especially regarding education, will leave us with a deep wound that is difficult to heal. And if they got their way, they would have "uneducated peons" they could push anyway they wanted. We must remember that this country was founded on dissent and to squelch it in the name of "patriotism" is purely wrong.

  3. Thanks for the post. I'm a Hilary supporter, but I like Obama, too. It doesn't really matter who I support because I live in FL and I don't think my primary vote is going to count for anything. :-) I remember watching Obama's speech five years ago and, for the first time in years being soooo impressed by a politician.

  4. Do you know what I learned Friday? Barack Obama really likes meeting people with the same name as his daughter...
    Oh yes, that and in person he is even more amazing and impressive than on TV or the radio, and when he speeks from the heart it gives you hope.