| John Nichols ANTI-WAR SPEECH
Philip Bareiss Gallery, Taos, NM, Oct.26,2002
Human activity today threatens most life forms on the globe, including all
water, all soil and vegetation, all mineral and fossil reserves, and most
animal and human lifeas well.
Evidence for this scenario is observable in the effects of global warming,
the AIDS disaster in Africa, or I the traffic situation in Los Angeles, New
York, Taos. It's estimated that between 75 and 100 species a day are going
extinct. And human inequality has become one of our greatest natural
disasters. 2.7 billion of the planet's 6.1 billion people live on less than
$2.00 a day. 35,000 children die each day from illness and starvation,
that's the equivalent of 11 and 1/2 Trade Center/Pentagon attacks daily.
Blame for the planet's deterioration is shared by everyone, yet the united
States today is the major ruler and so-called beneficiary of this world I
have just described. Our economic policies and lifestyle are responsible
for over a third of global warming, environmental collapse, and the
concommittant human misery!
Unfortunately, when airplanes took down the World Trade Towers and crashed
into the Pentagon on September 11 last year, an all-out ill-conceived war
against terrorism ,was immediately declared by President Bush, a war that
now threatens to severely add to the widespread traumas on earth, so many
of which are American creations. Since September 11, 2001, our military has
bombed the Taliban into defeat, if not submission; our government has
initiated plans that may seriously curtail our civil liberties; George Bush
has cavalierly thrown out an anti-ABM treaty crucial to our protection from
nuclear confrontation; and the President has asked for an increase in Military
spending of 58 billion dollars, which would make for an enormous defense
budget of 343 billion. . By comparison, Russia has the next largest defense
budget, at 56 billion.
The war on terrorism is accelerating the destructive process of economic
business as usual by giving the United States carte blanche to enforce its
capitalist agenda around the globe. Theocratic (or secular) fascists like
Al Quaeda and Saddam Hussein may hate us for what would be defined as
simplistic reasons, but those reasons have roots into a much wider
universal suffering, a suffering born of the vast damage perpetrated
globally by U. S. economic policy, and its muscle, the US Armed Forces,
which is the most powerful muscle on earth. In the last 150 years we have
been the prime architects of conspicuous consumption and planned obsolence
on earth, with little regard for human or environmental consequences. Lewis
Lapham, writing in the March 2002 Harper's, quoted the diplomat, George
Kennan, a major architect of the Cold War between America and the Soviet
Union, as saying this in 1948:
""Propelled by the fanaticism of Manifest Destiny, the second half of the
19th Century saw our imperial conquests in the Mexican-American War of
1848: in a militarily' imposed Open Door trading policy on Japan in 1850;
in the demolition of Native American tribes through military suppression
and treaty abrogation between 1860-1880; and in Caribbean and Phillipine
conquests of 1898's Spanish-American war.""
Greece in the late 1940s, quashing a socialist revolution; Korea in 1950
(we still maintain a troop presence of 37,000 there); Lebanon in 1958. We
funded a coup in Guatemala in 1954 to overthrow the elected progressive
Arbenz government, replacing it with a series of dictatorships that the
World Council of Bishops once declared were committing genocide against
their own people in a country dominated by US interests. We were major
players in overthrowing the progressive Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 and
replacing him with the tyrannical Shah: Iranians have hated us ever since.
We backed the creation of Israel in 1948, which dislocated over a million
Palestinians from their homeland, and we have never effectively lobbied for
a just solution to that situation.
The CIA was involved in the assassination of the Congo's first prime
minister after independence, the leftist Patrice Lumumba in 1961, the last
compassionate leader in that sad country, and a national hero today.
The history of our involvement in Vietnam, from support of the French
throughout the 1950s, to our 13 years of subversion, manipulation,
assassination, and outright warfare is a grim history that left 4 million
Vietnamese dead, 60 percent of their arable land destroyed, generations
crippled. In 1965 Lyndon Johnson sent 25,000 Marines into the Dominican
Republic to defeat Juan Bosch, a liberal leftist, and install an autocratic
right wing military coup. Our support for reactionary governments in Brasil
and Uruguay, and our involvement in the 1973 rightwing pinochet military
coup in Chile, are a dismal part of the record.
For decades, our country shored up Zaire's sorry dictator, Mobutu Sese
Seko, and we long supported Portugal's harsh colonial regime in neighboring
Angola. When Angola achieved independence in 1975, the united States and
South Africa armed Zairan mercenaries to invade Angola, and we promoted
the reactionary leader of rightwing UNITA forces, Jonas Savimbi, who was
finally killed on February 22 this year after causing the deaths of an
estimated one million Angolans during a 27 year civil war he could not have
waged without our support. The ruin of Angola today owes much to American
policies and aid over I the last three decades.
And the 1991 Gulf war in Kuwait and Iraq, where we killed an estimated
200,000 Iraqis in 72 hours (while incurring almost no US casaulties) to
keep American oil prices cheap, endeared us to nobody, and managed to
offend many Arab states and people of Islamic religion. Recent aerial
warfare in Kosovo and Serbia resulting in not a single American casaulty,
has been a brutally bizarre phenomenon to the rest of the world.
No other country on earth has even remotely invaded so many foreign
nations to promote its self-interest.
We may speak of democracy and human rights at home, but abroad, in support
of US commerce, we trample on human rights and environment. We maintain
actual, or stand-in military presences far and wide. Our domination is
sustained by the largest and best equipped Army of anyone. Here are some
facts taken out of a recent World Almanac, facts that don't even mention US
training, supply and support of military regimes where our soldiers aren't
directly involved. But as of four years ago we had: a million soldiers in
the continental US, 16,000 in Alaska, 36,000 in Hawaii, 5,000 in Guam,
35,000 roaming US possessions, and 127,000 on ships supplying these
soldiers. We also had 1,500 in Belgium, 15,000 in Bosnia/Hercegovina, 4,000
in Croatia, 49,000 in Germany, 6,500 in Hungry, 1,900 in Iceland, 12,500 in
Italy, 500 in Macedonia, 750 in the Netherlands, 1,000 in Portugal, 2,700
in Spain, 2,900 in Turkey, 11,5000 in the united Kingom, and 4,000 on ships
in those areas. Then we had 43,000 in Japan, 37,000 in Korea, 15,000 on
ships in that area. Also 500 in Bahrain, 900 in Diego Garcia, 1,000 in
Egypt, 5,500 in Kuwait, 1,500 in Saudi Arabia, 4,000 on ships in the area.
And finally 1,800 in cuba/Guantanamo, 300 in Haiti, 900 in Honduras, 6,500
in Panama, and 1,500 afloat. Dozens of countries entertain a US military of
under 500 soldiers and commanders and advisors. Even a force of 25 US
military and its material demands constitute a significant political and
economic American presence.
I doubt we can continue to expand militarily and invade Iraq without soon
bankrupting this country, and, coincidentally, crashing the world economy
and its beleaguered natural resources. It's a cinch that our military
dominion, in the name of US interests that impoverish others, will foster
many terrorist or military reactions, and it is a dead-end policy insuring
a perpetual terrorist nightmare such as has existed between Israel and
Palestine since 1948. We are understood by others to have little intention
of sharing the wealth, modifying ourgreed, supporting true democracy, or
respecting the ecosphere. The world we dominate with our American ideals is
an unhappy and shaky world. From outside our borders we are seen by many as
the disaster, the 8000 pound gorilla, the reckless Godzilla in the china
shop, and our reckless consuming lifestyle at home and ubiguitous military
presence abroad reinforces that vision daily.
The irony is, we have created and we maintain that environment through
a terribly destructive and cynical economy based on military dominance at
home and abroad.
For the world to survive, our policies need to be changed.
Hasta la victoria, siempre!