Swanson: Road to Peace Goes Through Santa Cruz
Road to Peace Goes Through Santa Cruz
By David Swanson
The following are remarks I made last Wednesday night in Santa Cruz, California, at an event held in the Veterans Hall, where the star speaker was Medea Benjamin, and where a group of Raging Grannies with pink aprons and rolling pins belted out anti-Bush songs of their own creation that brought down the house. Medea was tremendous, and I recommend watching the video once they get it online.
I'm honored to have been asked to come and talk in the US town that least needs to hear about why this war is wrong and why its architects need to be impeached, removed from office, and prosecuted.
Santa Cruz would have been the first city government to pass a resolution in favor of impeaching Bush earlier this year, if Santa Cruz hadn't also done so, already, three years ago.
People send me reports and photos to post at afterdowningstreet.org from marches and rallies and lobbying efforts, and I get more encouraging news from Sherry Conable and others in Santa Cruz than from anywhere else.
And, this being Santa Cruz, I'd like to extend a welcome to all the representatives of the law enforcement community. Ours is a movement to restore the rule of law, laws like the US Constitution, the War Powers Act, and the Geneva Conventions.
I'm honored also to have been asked to speak alongside one of the heroes of the peace movement, Medea Benjamin. Medea and her colleagues at CODE PINK are the most creative and most courageous disruptors of power in this country. I'm thrilled to be working with Medea and many others to build a national network of political activists called Progressive Democrats of America.
And I did say progressive Democrats, which may be an endangered species, but one that can be grown in captivity and one that is starting to flourish in California.
Three years ago today we tried to prevent a war with the largest public demonstrations in cities around the world that had ever been held. We had built a remarkable anti-war movement before the war was even launched. And the movement had begun building international alliances. CODE PINK was at that time taking flowers to the embassies of nations that refused to support the war.
On February 15, 2003, in the morning, before the big march in New York, with marches in hundreds of cities already underway, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Harry Belafonte, his wife Julie, and Phyllis Bennis went to the UN to meet with Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Bennis recalls the meeting in her book "Challenging Empire," and writes that Tutu began by saying, "We are here on behalf of the people marching today in 665 cities around the world. And we're here to tell you that those people marching in those cities all around the world, we claim the United Nations as our own, we claim it as part of our global mobilization for peace."
Two hours later, Annan gave a media interview in which he said that if force were to be used, a second UN resolution would be required.
The US and the UK tried for but never got that authorization. This war was a war of aggression and one explicitly rejected by the United Nations. That's as illegal as you can get, and that's before exposing any of the lies that never actually made a case for the war.
Many of you will recall that last summer the efforts of hundreds of thousands of us forced the Downing Street Minutes and seven related documents into the US media. Bush and Blair were asked a single question about the Downing Street Minutes. They largely ignored the question, which was about the line in the minutes that said the US was "fixing the facts around the policy" of going to war.
Instead, they both denied that they had settled on war by July 2002, pointing out that in November 2002 they had gone to the UN, supposedly in an attempt to avoid war.
And, of course, Bush and Blair had publicly claimed to be working for peace right up until the launch of the war in March 2003.
So, what would happen if we were to find the record of a meeting of Bush and Blair at the White House in January 2003. What would they have been saying in private?
Well, you're unlikely to have heard about it yet in the US corporate media, but such a record hit the international news and the internet a couple of weeks ago. There were a couple of short AP stories, a Christian Science Monitor story, and finally last weekend an LA Times story, but not much else.
Not much else, despite the fact that what this White house Memo reveals are actions that led to a lot more than one man being shot.
And, can I just ask, what kind of society puts a shotgun in the hands of a man who has misused missiles, tanks, napalm, white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and the service men and women of the US military?
The White House memo shows that Blair was pushing Bush to try for a second UN resolution, one that would authorize war.
Bush said, according to the memo: "The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten.' But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway."
Does that sound like Bush was trying for peace or trying to legitimize a war?
Bush also said this: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance air craft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them he would be in breach."
What these guys wouldn’t do for peace!
help push this latest smoking gun into the media, please go
There is no more serious high crime or misdemeanor than taking a nation to war on the basis of lies. There is little dispute, except on the far right, that Bush and Cheney have committed impeachable offenses. But there is a dispute over whether we should try to impeach them.
That's a situation that should scare us. We know that it is our duty as citizens to demand impeachment, yet we are willing to set that aside in order to play the role of political pundits. It is not our place to effectively remove impeachment from the US Constitution, no matter what any pundit says. But the case for impeachment can be made on the liberal pundits' own terms.
I hear three main objections. First, we should focus on ending the war. But more than anything else, what is driving opposition to the war is awareness of the lies used to justify it. Investigations into those lies and the spying and leaking and other related crimes is the shortest route toward ending the war. Bush and Cheney have made clear that they will not end this war while they're in office. And we also need to think about preventing the next war and future wars.
Second, I hear that we must wait until the Democrats (or a combination of Democrats and independents) win a majority in Congress. But why should we wait until then to talk about impeachment and not wait until then to talk about every other up-hill fight, including ending the war? This is the time to fight for what's right. And this is an off-year election. People must be given a dramatic reason to turn out and vote. With 85 percent of Democrats wanting to vote for pro-impeachment candidates (at least in Pennsylvania, the only state that's been polled), this can be an election issue. And it must be an issue beforehand if the election is to give it a boost. If we elect a bunch of Democrats who have not been forced to support impeachment during the campaigns, the pundits will immediately announce that 2008 is just around the corner, and now is, once again, not the right time for impeachment.
Third, I hear that Cheney is worse than Bush. But we're very unlikely to see a serious investigation of Bush that does not incriminate Cheney. And Cheney is running things now, so we'd be better off with him up-front; he's even more unpopular than Bush.
I also hear that impeachment is too partisan and political and traumatic (as if life under Bush-Cheney is not traumatic). Well, impeachment was those things when the Republicans impeached Clinton against the will of the people. Now, a majority favors impeachment, and there is no law that says we can't win over 15 Republicans and all of the Democrats to make it happen.
But this is not revenge for Clinton. This is defense of democracy.
Sure, I'm vaguely annoyed that Clinton was not impeached for the reasons I would have chosen. But mostly I want Bush and Cheney impeached for the illegal war, the spying, the leaking, the lying, the bombing, the napalm, the white phosphorous, the depleted uranium, the illegal propaganda, the disastrous energy policy, the destruction of our education system, of the right to organize, of our pension system, the attack on Social Security, the global warming, the neglect that led to the Katrina disaster, the neglect that led to the 9-11 disaster, the complete disregard for the rule of law, the mistreatment of veterans, and the unprecedented low standing of the United States in world opinion.
At www.afterdowningstreet.org I've posted a list of some of the things, large and small, that you can do to help end the war, ranging from not buying gasoline to conscientious objection, from wearing an anti-war shirt to helping other cities pass impeachment resolutions. But the most important thing we can do is to pressure Congress. That means pressuring the media, but it also means pressuring Congress directly. And after three years, with more people dying every day, it's time we got aggressive about it.
We need to speak truth to power. We've made a lot of phone calls and sent a lot of Emails. We've held a lot of meetings. We've seen a lot of Resolutions of Inquiry fail in committee, including one today on the illegal spying.
Senator Rockefeller has proposed looking into the spying. To give you an idea of what we're up against, here is what Senator Chuck Hagel said in today's Washington Post, (and this was after talking to Cheney, who may have come armed),
"If some kind of inquiry would be beneficial to getting a resolution to this issue, then sure, we should look at it. But if the inquiry is just some kind of punitive inquiry that really is not focused on finding a way out of this, then I'm not so sure that I would support that."
Enough is enough. A coalition of groups, including Progressive Democrats of America, Democrats.com, Gold Star Families for Peace, Hip Hop Caucus, Velvet Revolution, After Downing Street, Democracy Rising, and Iraq Veterans Against the War is announcing this week a campaign to organize protests every weekend outside the homes of Congress Members, demanding an end to the war and the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
You can sign up to get involved at http://www.democrats.com/cd
Democrats.com is not the Democratic party, and we are organizing protests outside the homes of Democrats and Republicans.
We are leaving it to the judgment of local organizers to make exceptions for the very best congress members, with whom we'll request more meetings before moving to protests.
We're asking that members cosponsor Murtha's bill to withdraw troops and McGovern's to end war funding, and that they cosponsor Conyers' bill to create an investigation into grounds for impeachment, and that they introduce articles of impeachment.
About 10 members have done three out of four. A great many have done two. Sam Farr and Mike Honda have done two. Anna Eshoo has done one. I encourage you to persuade Farr and Honda to sign onto McGovern's bill, and persuade Eshoo to sign onto McGovern and Conyers. And then ask each of them if they would like to become an instant international hero by introducing articles of impeachment.
How many of you would be willing to work on that?
You can sign up at www.democrats.com/cd
We are also encouraging people to lobby the California state legislature to send impeachment charges to the US House of Representatives.
How many of you would support that? Contact Sherry or one of the other organizers of this event to get involved.
We need you in Santa Cruz to help along the parts of California that are struggling, and to see if you can get any action out of Senators Boxer or Feinstein. Senators are supposed to represent people too!
We also need you to lobby national activist organizations to take on impeachment. If our organizations can't be made to take this on, we can hardly expect Congress to do so.