Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished citizens and fellow citizens, every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year, we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead.
You and I serve our country in a time of great consequence. During this session of Congress, we have the duty to reform domestic programs vital to our country, we have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease. We will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared, and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people.
In all these days of promise and days of reckoning, we can be confident.
During the last two years we have seen what can be accomplished when we work together.
To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform which must now be carried out in every school and in every classroom so that every child in American can read and learn and succeed in life.
Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Policy Research for Women and Families: “Bush’s education plan is in jeopardy because of the economic problems nationwide. States and localities are forced to cut education budgets because of their enormous budget deficits.”
Leah Wells, peace education coordinator of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: “The No Child Left Behind Act also deprives students of their right to privacy under section 9528, which mandates that the Local Education Agency release students’ contact information for recruitment purposes. This is a dangerous infringement on students’ abilities to make informed decisions about their privileged information, and furthermore undermines schools’ abilities to be advocates for the students’ privacy since the NCLB act also states that federal funds may be denied to schools who refuse to release their students’ information.”
To protect our country, we reorganized our government and created the Department of Homeland Security, which is mobilizing against the threats of a new era.
To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation.
Zuckerman: “If the largest tax relief bill in a generation did not perform as advertised, why does President Bush think another enormous tax cut will finally solve our economic problems?”
To insist on integrity in American business, we passed tough reforms, and we are holding corporate criminals to account.
Some might call this a good record. I call it a good start. Tonight I ask the House and the Senate to join me in the next bold steps to serve our fellow citizens.
Our first goal is clear: We must have an economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job.
After recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals and stock market declines, our economy is recovering. Yet it is not growing fast enough, or strongly enough.
With unemployment rising, our nation needs more small businesses to open, more companies to invest and expand, more employers to put up the sign that says, “Help Wanted.”
Jobs are created when the economy grows; the economy grows when Americans have more money to spend and invest; and the best and fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place.
Henwood: “That’s a very simplistic view of how wealth is created. Economic growth also depends on education, public health, and infrastructure — all realms in which government plays a big part, even in Bush’s America. Yet he proposes vast tax cuts that will make it harder to pay for these prerequisites of growth — tax cuts that will add over $90,000 to the income of millionaires — but $400 to households with incomes in the $30,000-50,000 range, and $58 to those with incomes between $10,000 and $20,000. The people who need public services the most — poor and middle income households — will take the biggest hits from spending cuts — benefit least from the tax break. And the millionaires who send their kids to private schools get the biggest breaks. All as part of a package that will produce very little economic stimulus.”
Richard Du Boff, professor emeritus of economics at Bryn Mawr College: “This claim is historically inaccurate. Tax rates at the federal level have been reduced steadily since the 1960s, except for a very modest increase in 1990 and 1993, and so has the rate of growth of the economy. The big cuts in federal taxes took place in the 1980s — and those tax cuts were the biggest since the Second World War, much bigger than the Kennedy tax cuts of 1962-1964. In terms of real (price-corrected) gross domestic product (GDP), the country’s economy grew considerably faster in the 1950s and 1960s than during the last three decades (70s, 80s, 90s). From 1950 to 1970 — the era of highest federal tax rates — real GDP grew at 3.8 percent per year. From 1970 to 2000, the rate was 3.2 percent, significantly lower. If we look at GDP per head of population, probably a better measure of the economy’s growth, we have basically the same story but with smaller differences. Greatest growth of all took place during the 1960s (real GDP per head grew at nearly 2.9 percent per year); in the 1980s, with Reagan’s big tax cuts, GDP per capita grew only 2.2 percent per annum, same as it did during the 1990s. The moral of the tale is that cutting federal taxes does NOT make the economy grow faster; history shows that, if anything, the economy may grow more slowly in the face of big federal tax cuts. Of course this does not take into account state and local taxes, which have probably risen over time — along with rising needs for education, law enforcement — and cutbacks in federal grants-in-aid and other federal transfers to states.”
I am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year.
Henwood: “He’s always most attentive to income taxes because that’s what rich people pay big time. For most workers, the social security tax bite is much larger.”
And under my plan, as soon as I’ve signed the bill, this extra money will start showing up in workers’ paychecks.
Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now.
Zuckerman: “This strategy would primarily benefit married couples where the wife earns a similar salary to the husband. It would not benefit poor single parents or the millions of families where the wife stays at home to care for children or family members, or where the wife earns much less than the husband. Still, it would right a basic inequity in the tax code, and therefore deserves support compared to other proposals, such as eliminating taxes on stock dividends, for example.”
Instead of slowly raising the child credit to $1,000, we should send the checks to American families now.
This tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes, and it will help our economy immediately. Ninety-two million Americans will keep this year an average of almost $1,100 more of their own money. A family of four with an income of $40,000 would see their federal income taxes fall from $1,178 to $45 per year.
And our plan will improve the bottom line for more than 23 million small businesses.
You, the Congress, have already passed all these reductions, and promised them for future years.
If this tax relief is good for Americans three or five or seven years from now, it is even better for Americans today.
We should also strengthen the economy by treating investors equally in our tax laws. It’s fair to tax a company’s profits. It is not fair to again tax the shareholder on the same profits.
Henwood: “Then is it fair that New York State taxes me on my gross income, which the federal government has already taken a piece of? Is it fair that it taxes my income, then taxes the income of the grocer I buy my food from, and then the income of the farmer that grows the food? All income is double taxed — but it’s only taxes on the income of very rich people that move Bush to action.”
Henwood: “Bush is saying that he wanted to end the double-taxation of corporate profits, first as corporate income, second as dividends. However, corporations are legally distinct entities. If he wants to get rid of that then we should be able to confiscate the personal assets of any individual who owns stock in a bankrupt company. Also, he is not ending “double taxation” for the vast majority of Americans who own stock. Most stockholders hold stock through retirement accounts. Under the Bush plan, the dividends earned in these accounts will still be subject to taxation as normal income at the point when it is withdrawn.”
Lower taxes and greater investment will help this economy expand. More jobs mean more taxpayers and higher revenues to our government.
Henwood: “In the early 1980s, Reagan cut taxes, and the deficit swelled. In the early 1990s, Clinton raised taxes, and the deficit disappeared. Life just isn’t so simple.”
The best way to address the deficit and move toward a balanced budget is to encourage economic growth and to show some spending discipline in Washington, D.C.
Henwood: “In 1984, federal spending was almost 24 percent of GDP. Last year, it was close to 18 percent. Washington has been on the opposite of a binge.”
We must work together to fund only our most important priorities. I will send you a budget that increases discretionary spending by 4 percent next year, about as much as the average family’s income is expected to grow. And that is a good benchmark for us: Federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families.
A growing economy and a focus on essential priorities will be crucial to the future of Social Security. As we continue to work together to keep Social Security sound and reliable, we must offer younger workers a chance to invest in retirement accounts that they will control and they will own.
Zuckerman: “Who in their right mind would want to invest in a private account in today’s stock market, if they could instead have a guaranteed retirement benefit that increases with inflation for the rest of their life? What safeguards will there be to make sure ‘younger workers’ make sound investments, instead of investing in the future Enrons and dot.coms? And how does a typical woman, who earns $27,000 per year or less, put aside enough in a private account to support her if she retires at 65 and lives to be 85 years old?”
Our second goal is high quality, affordable health for all Americans.
The American system of medicine is a model of skill and innovation, with a pace of discovery that is adding good years to our lives. Yet for many people, medical care costs too much, and many have no coverage at all.
These problems will not be solved with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care.
Henwood: “Instead, we have a very expensive private system that dictates coverage and rations care — to maximize the profits of HMOs.”
Instead, we must work toward a system in which all Americans have a good insurance policy, choose their own doctors, and seniors and low-income Americans receive the help they need.
Zuckerman argues that Bush is omitting a huge problem: “State cuts in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Programs. Medicaid provides health care for the poorest Americans and CHIP provides health insurance for children whose families earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study, 49 states have planned or implemented Medicaid cuts in FY 2003, and 32 states are already on their second round of cuts. In order to reduce deficits, states are eliminating health care for some of the poor adults and children who used to be eligible for Medicaid, requiring patients to pay higher co-payments, or reducing the reimbursements made to doctors, hospitals, or nursing homes that care for the needy. When payments to doctors or hospitals are reduced, it becomes even harder for patients to find doctors or hospitals that will treat them. When payments to nursing homes are reduced, the quality of care is harmed, and very vulnerable elderly patients will die.”
Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers and HMOs, we must put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine.
Ida Hellander, executive director of Physicians for a National Health Program: “Bush says that we do not want a national health program that ‘rations care’ and instead want one where they can ‘choose their doctors,’ but a national health insurance would allow people their free choice of doctors which is currently very constricted by insurance plans. Of course, we currently have rationing by ability to pay – with 42 million uninsured, and medical bills the most frequent cause of bankruptcy after loss of job. We already pay more in health care taxes than any other country in the world except Switzerland — this year health care costs will exceed $6,000 per person. With our level of spending we could have the best heath care in the world — for all — if we eliminated the insurance middleman. The cost of paperwork exceeds $300 billion a year – at least half of which could be saved with a simplified national health program.”
Health care reform must begin with Medicare; Medicare is the binding commitment of a caring society.
We must renew that commitment by giving seniors access to the preventive medicine and new drugs that are transforming health care in America.
Hellander: “The prescription drug coverage Bush has proposed is skimpy and expensive. Seniors could save at least 40 percent on drug costs if they were given the same discounts as the Veterans Administration negotiates.”
Seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is.
Hellander: “The best option is to make drugs a part of Medicare, but the drug companies spent over $80 million on the last election to elect Bush and others legislators opposed to making drugs a benefit of Medicare. Also, the new head of the Senate, Bill Frist, has a $26 million fortune from a for-profit hospital corporation (Columbia/HCA, which was recently fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud) founded by his brother. In fact, Frist used his HCA profits to finance his first election to the Senate. So, Bush and Frist are beholden to the for-profit medical industry.”
Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research: “Every other industrialized nation has universal health care coverage for its citizens. They also have better health care outcomes using measures such as life expectancy and infant mortality rates. And, on average they pay about half as much per person as the United States does. The president is apparently determined to ignore how the health care market works. Health insurance companies make money by not insuring people that are going to get sick. The insurance companies have proven themselves quite effective in dumping less healthy patients, which is why including HMO’s in the Medicare system has raised costs, as numerous government studies have found. President Bush’s plans for Medicare do not make sense as health care policy. However, they are likely to be quite effective in increasing the profits of the insurance industry.”
And just like you, the members of Congress, and your staffs and other federal employees, all seniors should have the choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drugs.
My budget will commit an additional $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen Medicare. Leaders of both political parties have talked for years about strengthening Medicare. I urge the members of this new Congress to act this year.
Zuckerman: “Unfortunately, the President’s plan would require the elderly to choose between the current system — which does not include prescription drugs — and a new system which would include some prescription drugs but have other, less desirable changes. The speech doesn’t explain what they are, but other information suggests that either the elderly would have to join an HMO to get their care, or would have to pay extra for better medical care.”
To improve our health care system, we must address one of the prime causes of higher cost: the constant threat that physicians and hospitals will be unfairly sued.
Baker: “Any judgment that is considered too excessive can be (and often is) reduced by the trial judge. It can be, and often is, reduced on appeal. If Bush appointed competent judges then there could be no problem of excessive awards for frivolous suits. Also, the vast majority of suits are brought against a small number of doctors. If the medical profession policed itself and kept these people from practicing medicine, it would drastically reduce the incidents of malpractice, and therefore the need for suits.”
Because of excessive litigation, everybody pays more for health care, and many parts of America are losing fine doctors. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit; I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform.
Zuckerman: “Of course no one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. But many lawsuits are not frivolous. The Institute of Medicine and other independent reports have documented the huge number of patient deaths caused by preventable errors, as well as amputations of the wrong limb and other tragedies. Shouldn’t these patients (and their families) be allowed to sue and shouldn’t the fear of those lawsuits help persuade hospitals to have better safeguards in place?”
Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment.
I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home.
I have sent you clear skies legislation that mandates a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years.
I have sent you a healthy forest initiative to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife and burn away millions of acres of treasured forests.
I urge you to pass these measures for the good of both our environment and our economy.
Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined.
In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about not through endless lawsuits or command-and-control regulations, but through technology and innovation.
Tonight I’m proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.
A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car, producing only water, not exhaust fumes.
With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.
Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
Our fourth goal is to apply the compassion of America to the deepest problems of America. For so many in our country — the homeless, and the fatherless, the addicted — the need is great. Yet there is power — wonder-working power — in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people.
Americans are doing the work of compassion every day: visiting prisoners, providing shelter for battered women, bringing companionship to lonely seniors. These good works deserve our praise, they deserve our personal support and, when appropriate, they deserve the assistance of the federal government.
I urge you to pass both my faith-based initiative and the Citizen Service Act to encourage acts of compassion that can transform America one heart and one soul at a time.
Last year, I called on my fellow citizens to participate in the USA Freedom Corps, which is enlisting tens of thousands of new volunteers across America.
Tonight I ask Congress and the American people to focus the spirit of service and the resources of government on the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens: boys and girls trying to grow up without guidance and attention, and children who have to go through a prison gate to be hugged by their mom or dad.
I propose a $450 million initiative to bring mentors to more than a million disadvantaged junior high students and children of prisoners.
Wells: “While promising, this initiative falls tragically short of prioritizing education. Federal education spending is 1/7 of what is allocated to the military, and students recognize that this disparity means that they are ‘balancing the budget.’ Bringing on a team of mentors for a million disadvantaged students does not reduce classroom size, reinstate arts and drama programs which have been systematically cut from curriculum for their perceived expendability, nor does it support teachers who conduct classes on already stretched resources.”
Government will support the training and recruiting of mentors, yet it is the men and women of America who will fill the need. One mentor, one person, can change a life forever, and I urge you to be that one person.
Another cause of hopelessness is addiction to drugs. Addiction crowds out friendship, ambition, moral conviction, and reduces all the richness of life to a single destructive desire.
As a government, we are fighting illegal drugs by cutting off supplies and reducing demand through anti-drug education programs. Yet for those already addicted, the fight against drugs is a fight for their own lives.
Too many Americans in search of treatment cannot get it. So tonight I propose a new $600 million program to help an additional 300,000 Americans receive treatment over the next three years.
Our nation is blessed with recovery programs that do amazing work. One of them is found at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A man in the program said, “God does miracles in people’s lives, and you never think it could be you.”
Tonight, let us bring to all Americans who struggle with drug addiction this message of hope: The miracle of recovery is possible, and it could be you.
By caring for children who need mentors, and for addicted men and women who need treatment, we are building a more welcoming society, a culture that values every life.
Jennings: “If this concern is genuine, why then is he so cavalier in his determination to wage war against the people of Iraq?”
And in this work we must not overlook the weakest among us. I ask you to protect infants at the very hour of their birth and end the practice of partial-birth abortion.
And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity and pass a law against all human cloning.
Wells raises the question of how being “pro-life” relates to issues besides women choosing abortion, such as state-run executions: “The federal government ought to follow the lead of Illinois Governor George Ryan and abolish the death penalty.”
The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad. The American flag stands for more than our power and our interests. Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person and the possibilities of every life.
This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted, and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.
In Afghanistan, we helped to liberate an oppressed people, and we will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society and educate all their children, boys and girls.
In the Middle East, we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine.
Across the Earth, America is feeding the hungry. More than 60 percent of international food aid comes as a gift from the people of the United States.
Raj Patel, policy analyst at Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, and a visiting fellow at the University of California at Berkeley: “U.S. food aid is nothing more than the dumping of crops that the U.S. is itself unable to sell on world markets. In large part, this is because countries such as Japan and the European Union have bans on genetically modified food, which the U.S. has, for the past seven years, been exporting as food aid to the Third World. This is not compassion, this is steely subsidy of agricultural corporations. Food aid would not be necessary in Africa were it not for the liberalization of agricultural markets that the U.S. has been pushing relentlessly over the past decade.”
As our nation moves troops and builds alliances to make our world safer, we must also remember our calling, as a blessed country, is to make the world better.
Today, on the continent of Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus, including 3 million children under the age of 15. There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection. More than 4 million require immediate drug treatment. Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims — only 50,000 — are receiving the medicine they need.
Patel: “It is important to remember here that the epidemic might have been mitigated much earlier by increased public health expenditure. Unfortunately, at the very time that the pandemic was seeping through the poorest countries in the world, the U.S.-dominated World Bank and IMF were urging cutbacks in health expenditure under their structural adjustment plans. The timing could not have been more disastrous.”
Because the AIDS diagnosis is considered a death sentence, many do not seek treatment. Almost all who do are turned away.
A doctor in rural South Africa describes his frustration. He says, “We have no medicines, many hospitals tell people, ‘You’ve got AIDS. We can’t help you. Go home and die’.”
In an age of miraculous medicines, no person should have to hear those words.
AIDS can be prevented. Anti-retroviral drugs can extend life for many years. And the cost of those drugs has dropped from $12,000 a year to under $300 a year, which places a tremendous possibility within our grasp.
Ladies and gentlemen, seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many.
Zuckerman: “If we are to prevent HIV/AIDS in Africa, the Caribbean, or anywhere else, the Administration will have to embrace the kinds of prevention programs that work. That includes condoms, not just abstinence education, and not just treatment of people who are already ill. And yet, the Administration has been rejecting these kinds of comprehensive prevention programs at home.”
We have confronted, and will continue to confront, HIV/AIDS in our own country. And to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa.
This comprehensive plan will prevent 7 million new AIDS infections, treat at least 2 million people with life-extending drugs and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS and for children orphaned by AIDS.
I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean.
Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation and co-author of The End of Disarmament and the Arms Races to Come: “This sounds like a lot of money, but it’s important to put it in perspective. The U.S. military budget, at nearly $400 billion a year ($396.1 billion for FY 2003) is larger than the military budgets of the next 26 countries combined ($394.2 billion); and 35 times larger than the combined military budgets of the “Axis of Evil” countries (Iraq, Iran and North Korea — $11.8 billion). U.S. nuclear weapons research, development, testing, and production, at $5.9 billion for 2003, is significantly higher than spending during the average Cold War year, for directly comparable activities ($364 billion). This does not include delivery systems. How could this money be better spent to ensure real human, national and global security?”
Salih Booker, executive director of Africa Action: “Bush’s announcement would be the height of cynicism if the president does not now request at least $3.5 billion of his new total for funding this year. This is the U.S. share of what is urgently needed to fight HIV/AIDS now. According to the White House, the President’s request for additional funds to fight HIV/AIDS will not affect the 2003 budget, and will only begin in 2004, with an increase of just $700 million. The real measure of the president’s sincerity will be in the budget numbers for 2003 and 2004. Large numbers for 2007 are meaningless to people who will die this year without access to essential medicines. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is the most important vehicle in the effort to fight the pandemic and the U.S. should contribute a far greater share. The new commitment of only $1 billion to the Fund, over a period of 5 years, would actually undermine Africa’s greatest hope. Africa’s illegitimate external debts are draining $15 billion a year from the War on AIDS. The spirit and logic of the President’s own initiative demand the immediate cancellation of these debts.”
This nation can lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature.
Patel: “This policy is disingenuous to its core. Under existing World Trade Organization legislation, countries can already ‘compulsorily license’ drugs, waiving the patent protection of pharmaceutical companies in the interests of public health. It is, in fact, U.S.-sponsored legislation at the World Trade Organization that prevents those countries in the third world which lack the production capacities to produce generic retroviral drugs from importing them from other countries. This compassion for the third world doesn’t pan out either. In December, the United States was alone among members of the World Trade Organization in its opposition to an expanded list of diseases which waives reimportation rules. What looks like a moment of heartfelt generosity on the part of the Bush regime is, in fact, a hard-nosed recognition that pharmaceutical companies around the world aren’t winning the PR battle to justify their monopolies. To put it more simply, this is a $15 billion subsidy to the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, in lieu of political battles lost at the WTO by U.S. negotiators. It remains to be seen quite how much of this new-found largesse will go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which last year was on the verge of bankruptcy.”
And this nation is leading the world in confronting and defeating the man-made evil of international terrorism.
There are days when our fellow citizens do not hear news about the war on terror. There’s never a day when I do not learn of another threat, or receive reports of operations in progress or give an order in this global war against a scattered network of killers.
The war goes on, and we are winning.
John Berg, director of graduate studies of the government department at Suffolk University: “Our Constitution makes it clear that Congress, not the President, is to ‘declare war’ — that is, make the decision that war is necessary in a given situation. For Congress to delegate this determination to the President, as it has done, is an abdication of its Constitutional responsibility.”
Diane Perlman, clinical psychologist and contributor to the recently released book The Psychology of Terrorism: “Focusing only on the physical elimination of terrorists and infrastructure, without penetrating the underlying psychological forces and grievances that terror groups use, actually serves to increase recruitment and motivation for further acts of terror. Terrorism is a form of asymmetrical warfare. There is no amount of domination that cannot be turned against us, as we have seen on 9/11. The concept of ‘winning’ does not apply here, because the experience of defeat itself is a motivation for terrorism.”
To date we have arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of Al Qaida. They include a man who directed logistics and funding for the September the 11th attacks, the chief of Al Qaida operations in the Persian Gulf who planned the bombings of our embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole, an Al Qaida operations chief from Southeast Asia, a former director of Al Qaida’s training camps in Afghanistan, a key Al Qaida operative in Europe, a major Al Qaida leader in Yemen.
Michael Ratner, vice president for the Center for Constitutional Rights: “‘Arrested’ is an interesting word to use. It implies that that there was a lawful procedure for someone’s deprivation of freedom. In fact, many of those ‘arrested’ were jailed without any ability to test the legality of their arrests, have been given no access to attorneys and are essentially held incommunicado. We know that 600 or more are in Guantanamo. Some of these may be prisoners of war, but the U.S. has refused to comply with the Geneva conventions and treat them as such. It is a form of executive detention that the OAS inter-American commission considers unlawful.”
James Jennings, president of Conscience International, has recently returned from Iraq with a group of 32 professors. He previously taught Middle Eastern History at several U.S. universities and has made many trips to Iraq and Afghanistan the last several years: “‘Many’ is an exaggeration. On Friday, December 27, 2002, the Associated Press released a chart showing that only seven (mostly third echelon) al-Qaida leaders had been killed and nine captured, but that most remain at large. The cost of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, according to Pentagon budget chief Dov Zakheim, was $2 billion per month.”
All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries.
Jennings: “All suspected terrorists are not necessarily terrorists. But it has been observed that many of the detainees may go on to become terrorists if and when they are ever released from detention.”
And many others have met a different fate. Let’s put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.
Jennings: “The Yemen attack by a Predator drone equipped with Hellfire missiles was at first claimed as killing only a ‘suspected’ al-Qaida member. Those killed in the automobile with him were not accused of any crimes.”
We are working closely with other nations to prevent further attacks. America and coalition countries have uncovered and stopped terrorist conspiracies targeting the embassy in Yemen, the American embassy in Singapore, a Saudi military base, ships in the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits of Gibraltar. We’ve broken Al Qaida cells in Hamburg and Milan and Madrid and London and Paris — as well as Buffalo, New York.
Richard Couto, professor in the PhD program for leadership and change at Antioch University and author of Making Democracy Work Better, has recently returned from Iraq with a group of academics: “The president overstates the case of an Al Qaida cell in Lackawanna (near Buffalo). Before the six men have even come to trial, the president has declared their guilt.”
We’ve got the terrorists on the run. We’re keeping them on the run.
Perlman: “That is absolutely correct; we do have the terrorists on the run. Since our bombing of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda is now more decentralized and harder to find than they were before. They are naturally developing more clever methods to evade us.”
One by one the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.
As we fight this war, we will remember where it began: here, in our own country. This government is taking unprecedented measures to protect our people and defend our homeland.
Perlman: “The government is taking unprecedented measures to protect us from the effects of the attacks they are provoking by threats, domination, humiliation, and war. They are intensifying fear and hatred against us. This greatly endangers us.”
Jennings: “Yes, some of the measures, such as the wholesale roundup of Middle Eastern men, have indeed been unprecedented (with the exception, of course, of the treatment of Japanese-Americans in World War II).”
We’ve intensified security at the borders and ports of entry, posted more than 50,000 newly trained federal screeners in airports, begun inoculating troops and first responders against smallpox, and are deploying the nation’s first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack.
And this year, for the first time, we are beginning to field a defense to protect this nation against ballistic missiles.
Rahul Mahajan, author of The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism and the forthcoming The U.S. War on Iraq: Myths, Facts, and Lies : “There has never been any intimation of a threat that the United States will be attacked by ballistic missiles. The technical shortcomings of a National Missile Defense are extreme; there is no way one could expect a successful defense against such an attack. In fact, the plan of the neoconservatives, as detailed in Rebuilding America’s Defenses, a September 2000 document from the Project for the New American Century, is to create a ‘theater-based’ missile defense system, with many different regional bases. This document also admits the true purpose of such a system — to enable the United States to fight small theater wars without fear of significant counterattack In other words, the purpose of ‘missile defense’ is to destroy the capability of other states to deter U.S. attack, not to defend the United States from attack. This goes hand in hand with the other great secret, openly acknowledged in this document; the reason any of these U.S.-designated ‘rogue’ states are interested in acquiring WMD is not so they can attack the United States — that would be insane — but to deter a seemingly almost certain future attack by the United States. The ‘axis of evil’ was in part calculated to send the message that such attacks are to be expected — a message then followed up by the deliberate leak of parts of the Pentagon’s classified ‘Nuclear Posture Review,’ detailing scenarios in which countries including Iraq and North Korea might be attacked with nuclear weapons. Although the North Korean regime is a truly horrible one, it seems to be the only country that has reacted rationally to that threat, by at least asserting the possibility of developing a deterrent if the United States continues its bellicose posture.”
Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation and author of the report “Nuclear Weapons in a Changed World: The Hidden Dangers of the Rush to War” and the report “Looking for New Ways to Use Nuclear Weapons”: “It is essential to understand that ‘national missile defense'” is not about protecting the United States from a ‘bolt from the blue’ attack. Rather, as revealed in the Nuclear Posture Review, ‘offensive strike capabilities’ are designed to work hand in hand with active and passive ‘defenses’ to serve as so many swords and shields, working hand in hand to ensure the U.S. ability to project overwhelming military power projection anywhere in the world, to protect U.S. ‘interests and investments’ on almost instant notice.”
Perlman: “Since we abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile ABM Treaty, many countries who were on the way to eliminating their nuclear stockpiles, such as Russia and China, have started rebuilding in response to our nuclear developments, not to mention countries like Iraq who feel like they need protection from our bold threats to use nuclear weapons against them. Again, we provoke, and then protect from their reaction to our provocation. Then they develop countermeasures. Our defenses can be overcome with technology that is technologically more simple and far less expensive.”
I thank the Congress for supporting these measures. I ask you tonight to add to our future security with a major research and production effort to guard our people against bio-terrorism, called Project Bioshield.
Susan Wright, editor of Biological Warfare and Disarmament: New Problems/New Perspectives, has noted how the administration has undermined the Biological Weapons Convention.
The budget I send you will propose almost $6 billion to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, ebola and plague. We must assume that our enemies would use these diseases as weapons, and we must act before the dangers are upon us.
Jennings: “Who sold these items to Iraq? In the case of botulinum, it was the U.S.”
Since September the 11th, our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have worked more closely than ever to track and disrupt the terrorists. The FBI is improving its ability to analyze intelligence, and is transforming itself to meet new threats.
Tonight, I am instructing the leaders of the FBI, the CIA, the Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to develop a Terrorist Threat Integration Center, to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location.
Our government must have the very best information possible, and we will use it to make sure the right people are in the right places to protect our citizens.
Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power. In the ruins of two towers, at the western wall of the Pentagon, on a field in Pennsylvania, this nation made a pledge, and we renew that pledge tonight: Whatever the duration of this struggle and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the triumph of violence in the affairs of men; free people will set the course of history.
Perlman: “Yes, we are free to attack and we are free to resolve this without violence and elevate global political culture and conduct. We will set the course of history.”
Jennings: “It is certainly commendable that the President vows not to allow the ‘triumph of violence in the affairs of men.’ However, it is more than merely disingenuous to say such things while simultaneously vowing to initiate an unprovoked war — it is downright Orwellian.”
Perlman: “Around the world, the U.S. is experienced as the outlaw regime, as the rogue superpower, that in fact possesses the most nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and refuses to participate in global treaties to reduce them. In psychology, the term projection, an unconscious process, refers to the disowning of unpleasant or shameful qualities on the self, which are projected on to others and seen as coming from them, which may or may not be the case.”
These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror and mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them without the least hesitation.
Perlman: “The U.S. certainly uses our weapons and great power and wealth to coerce, dominate, blackmail, reward and threaten other countries to do our bidding. Many around the world, even our allies, do feel terrorized by our threats, including threats to use nukes.”
Anas Shallal, a “Partner for Peace” in the Seeds of Peace program, a founder of the Mesopotamia Cultural Society and an independent Iraqi-American business owner in Washington, DC.: “The United States has sold weapons to Saddam Hussein which he used against Kurds and Iranians. In particular the biological seed stock that Iraq possesses comes from a laboratory in Rockville, Maryland. We knew that Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons against the Kurds and the Reagan administration blocked senate sanctions against Iraq in 1988.”
Jennings: “The President forgot to mention that Zimbabwe could possibly attack the U.S. or little green men from Mars might invade planet Earth. Many things that might happen, or could potentially happen, are not likely to. This is sheer speculative demagoguery, playing on the fears of Americans following the tragedy of September 11. It is somewhat surprising that White House speechwriters would stoop to such fear mongering, but perhaps this in itself can be taken as a measure of the desperation official Washington feels about selling another war to Americans on top of the present bad economic news and existing ‘Terror War.'”
This threat is new; America’s duty is familiar.
Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world.
Barbara Olshansky, co-author of the just-released Against War with Iraq said: “Cheney’s strategy document entitled ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century,’ (www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf) was written in September of 2000 for Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld’s Deputy), Jeb Bush, and Lewis Libby (Cheney’s Chief of Staff) by the conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The PNAC document provides a ‘blueprint for maintaining global U.S.pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.’ This ‘grand strategy’ must be advanced for ‘as far into the future as possible,’ the report says. It also calls for the U.S. to ‘fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars’ as a ‘core mission.’ The plan shows Bush’s cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power: ‘The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'”
In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit.
Perlman: “Isn’t threatening the use of nuclear weapons, and the new strategy intending to carpet bomb Iraq, called ‘shock and awe’ to physically, emotionally and psychologically exhaust the desperate Iraqis so they won’t fight us…. Isn’t that ambitious, cruel and limitless?”
In each case, the ambitions of Hitlerism, militarism and communism were defeated by the will of free peoples, by the strength of great alliances and by the might of the United States of America.
Now, in this century, the ideology of power and domination has appeared again and seeks to gain the ultimate weapons of terror.
Jennings: “The ideology of power and domination has indeed appeared again, this time in Washington. The rich irony of this passage actually surpasses anything Orwell wrote in his novel 1984.”
Once again, this nation and our friends are all that stand between a world at peace, and a world of chaos and constant alarm. Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind. And we accept this responsibility.
Stephen Zunes, Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. (Zunes is also the Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project and author of the recently released book Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism): “The attempt to put Baathist Iraq on par with Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia is ludicrous. Hitler’s Germany was the most powerful industrialized nation in the world when it began its conquests in the late 1930s and Soviet Russia at its height had the world’s largest armed forces and enough nuclear weapons to destroy humankind. Iraq, by contrast, is a poor Third World country that has been under the strictest military and economic embargo in world history for more than a dozen years after having much of its civilian and military infrastructure destroyed in the heaviest bombing in world history. Virtually all that remained of its offensive military capability was subsequently dismantled under the strictest unilateral disarmament initiative ever, an inspection and verification process that has been resumed under an even more rigorous mandate. By contrast, back in the 1980s, when Iraq really was a major regional power and had advanced programs in weapons of mass destruction, the United States did not consider Iraq a threat at all; in fact, the U.S. provided extensive military, economic and technological support to Saddam Hussein’s regime.”
America is making a broad and determined effort to confront these dangers.
Perlman: “This can only be done with intelligent, creative use of nonviolent forms of force, based on bodies of knowledge in the social sciences and conflict transformation. Violent force cannot work and will only escalate cycles of retaliation, which will eventually included weapons of mass destruction.”
Zunes: “There is nothing in the UN Charterabout the unilateral disarmament of a member state. By contrast, articles 41 and 42 of the Charter — reiterated in the final article of UN Security Council 1441 — make clear that the UN Security Council alone has the authority to authorize the use of force to enforce its resolutions. It should also be noted that there are over ninety UN Security Council resolutions currently being violated by governments other than Iraq, most of them by such U.S. allies as Morocco, Israel and Turkey. The United States has blocked the United Nations from enforcing these resolutions, however.”
We are strongly supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency in its mission to track and control nuclear materials around the world.
Zunes: “The IAEA has received very little support from the Bush Administration. For example, the U.S. has blocked the United Nations from enforcing UN Security Council resolution 487, which calls on Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the IAEA. In addition, administration spokespeople have repeatedly belittled the organization and its effectiveness.”
We are working with other governments to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union and to strengthen global treaties banning the production and shipment of missile technologies and weapons of mass destruction.
Zunes: “The Bush Administration has actually blocked efforts to strengthen international treaties preventing the spread of biological and chemical weapons and successfully instigated and led an effort to remove the highly-effective director of an international program overseeing the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles around the world. In addition, the Bush Administration has cut funding for programs to remove nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union and rejected a proposed treaty by Russia that would have destroyed thousands of nuclear weapons, insisting that they instead simply be put into storage. Finally, the Bush Administration has rejected calls for a nuclear-free zone for all the Middle East.”
In all of these efforts, however, America’s purpose is more than to follow a process. It is to achieve a result: the end of terrible threats to the civilized world.
All free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attacks, and we’re asking them to join us, and many are doing so.
Yet the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others.
Mahajan: “This is another way of saying that the United States does not consider itself bound by international law — i.e., that it is a rogue state.”
Karima Bennoune, professor of International Law at Rutgers: “There is clearly a growing perception among even its allies that the U.S. considers itself immune from international law. Such a view may have been reinforced on December 19, 2002. That day the U.S. was one of only four countries (out of a total of 173 that participated) that voted in the UN General Assembly against the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Ironically, this Protocol will set up a body of international experts to carry out visits (somewhat reminiscent of inspections) to places of detention in any country that ratifies the Protocol, so as to help prevent torture.”
Shallal: “That is precisely what happened to the United States after September 11, 2001. The course of this nation was changed forever directly due to the actions of others. Civil liberties are being curbed or in some cases completely abolished. The country continues to lose its moral compass in reaction to the September 11 attacks.”
Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people.
Perlman: “The word ‘action’ is a euphemism for violence. Saying it is ‘necessary’ and ‘required’ are psychological manipulations intended to create a false belief that violence is the only way and the best way.”
Shallal: “Freedom and security should also mean civil liberties.”
Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, founder and director of the Muslim Women’s League: “While President Bush makes his case for a war of his own devising … he completely ignored human rights abuses abroad and civil rights abuses here at home that have allegedly contributed to our ‘success’ in fighting the unending ‘war on terror.’ His tacit endorsement of such violations radically undermines our moral authority and ability to lead others in the fight for freedom and justice around the world.”
Different threats require different strategies. In Iran we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction and supports terror.
We also see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy. Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny, and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom.
Zunes: “It was the United States, through its Central Intelligence Agency, that overthrew Iran’s last democratic government, ousting Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. As his replacement, the U.S. brought in from exile the tyrannical Shah, who embarked upon a 26-year reign of terror. The United States armed and trained his brutal secret police — known as the SAVAK — which jailed, tortured and murdered tens of thousands of Iranians struggling for their freedom. The Islamic revolution was a direct consequence of this U.S.-backed repression since the Shah successfully destroyed much of the democratic opposition. In addition, the repressive theocratic rulers that gained power following the Islamic Revolution that ousted the Shah were clandestinely given military support by the U.S. government during the height of their repression during the 1980s. As a result, there is serious question regarding the United States’ support for the freedom of the Iranian people.”
As’ad AbuKhalil, associate professor of Political Science, California State University at Stanislaus: “It was interesting that Iran was singled out by Bush. He claimed to identify with the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy, as if the rest of the Middle East (except Iraq) is free and democratic. In fact, Iran is less oppressive than Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, among U.S. friends in the region. People (outside of the U.S.) will of course wonder as to why the question of democracy was left out of the agenda in U.S. dealings with its ‘friends’ in the Middle East, and this is in a speech that was heavy with freedom talk. Of course, the Palestinians are under Israeli military occupation.”
On the Korean Peninsula, an oppressive regime rules a people living in fear and starvation. Throughout the 1990s, the United States relied on a negotiated framework to keep North Korea from gaining nuclear weapons. We now know that that regime was deceiving the world and developing those weapons all along.
And today the North Korean regime is using its nuclear program to incite fear and seek concessions.
America and the world will not be blackmailed.
Mahajan: “North Korea kept its commitments under the ‘Agreed Framework’ for years while the United States systematically violated its own. One of the primary requirements is that ‘The U.S. will provide formal assurances to the DPRK, against the threat or use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.’ – which emphasizes once again that North Korea’s concern in this crisis is self-defense, not plans to attack the United States, Japan, or South Korea. Not only did the United States never make this elementary commitment (international opinion and international law universally recognize that nuclear attack is fundamentally illegitimate), it has leaked plans that involve targeting North Korea for such an attack. Another component of the agreement was the delivery by the United States of a light-water reactor project by 2003. The United States presumably never had any intention of doing so and had made negligible progress toward such a goal in 8 years, even before the crisis flared up. North Korea’s recent violation of its own commitments is hardly surprising, given that U.S. conduct made the agreement meaningless.”
Zunes: “Indications are that North Korea kept its commitment during the 1990s but ceased its cooperation only recently. It is widely believed that North Korea decided to renege on its agreement as a direct result of last year’s State of the Union address, when President Bush declared North Korea to be part of an ‘axis of evil’ along with Iraq and Iran. Seeing the United States prepare to invade Iraq and increase its bellicose rhetoric against Iran and themselves, the North Koreans apparently decided that they needed to create a credible deterrent in case they were next. They have offered to end their nuclear program in return for a guarantee that the United States will not invade them.”
America is working with the countries of the region — South Korea, Japan, China and Russia — to find a peaceful solution and to show the North Korean government that nuclear weapons will bring only isolation, economic stagnation and continued hardship.
Jennings: “Why doesn’t the United States work with the countries in the region around Iraq to ‘find a peaceful solution’?”
The North Korean regime will find respect in the world and revival for its people only when it turns away from its nuclear ambitions.
Perlman: “This is a very punitive way of framing this situation – only sticks, no carrots. This makes cooperation humiliating, distasteful and less stable.”
Zunes: “Actually, the United States has been at odds with North Korea’s neighbors, taking a far more hard-line position toward the communist regime than those who have far greater grounds for concern about any potential threat. Perhaps more significantly, given that the United States has good relations with other countries that have developed nuclear weapons in recent years – such as India, Pakistan and Israel – and has demonstrated hostility toward North Korea well prior to the start of its nuclear program, the North Koreans may have reason to doubt that curbing their nuclear ambitions will make much of a difference.”
Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States.
Couto: “The only clear fact here is that Iraq has great potential wealth. The President escalated charges of Iraq’s ties with Al Qaeda and promised evidence on February 5th. The history of reckless aggression most likely refers to the Iraqi-Iranian war. According to the Washington Post, (12/30/2002), the U.S.supplied arms to both sides in that war and Donald Rumsfeld played a pivotal role in normalizing relations with Iraq and its ‘brutal dictator.’ The story of U.S. involvement with Saddam Hussein in the years before his 1990 attack on Kuwait — which included large-scale intelligence sharing, supply of cluster bombs through a Chilean front company, and facilitating Iraq’s acquisition of chemical and biological precursors — is a topical example of the underside of U.S. foreign policy. It is a world in which deals can be struck with dictators, human rights violations sometimes overlooked, and accommodations made with arms proliferators, all on the principle that the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend.'”
Shallal: “There have never been any confirmed ties between terrorist groups and Iraq. The alleged meeting of an Iraqi official and Mohammed Atta was dropped because it could not be corroborated.”
Zunes: “There was a very real threat of Iraq dominating the region in the 1980s. During this period, however, the United States provided Saddam Hussein’s regime with military, economic and technological assistance, even as it invaded Iran and its internal repression and support of terrorism was at its height. Now that the country is only a fraction of its once formidable military prowess and it has little direct access to its oil wealth, it is hard to imagine how it could realistically dominate the region again, much less threaten the United States.”
Jennings: “The subtlety of this paragraph defies logic. By linking North Korea – which is a radical, isolated regime with nuclear weapons and an unstable leader, with Iraq, which has not been found to have nuclear weapons, and has submitted to international inspections, the president by a leap of illogic states explicitly that the Iraqi threat is even greater. But this flies in the face of his own CIA’s report, which claims that Iraq could have an atomic bomb in eight years if a possible series of contingent events should occur.”
Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction.
For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological and nuclear weapons even while inspectors were in his country.
Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons: not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities.
Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations and for the opinion of the world.
Bennoune: “This is certainly true. However, President Bush appears confused about the role of international law and the need for all nations to obey it. Earlier in the speech, he said: ‘The course of this nation (the U.S.) does not depend on the decisions of others.’ Some nations, in his view, seem to have to follow international law, while others seem to have a mandate from the oft-invoked God, and don’t have to follow such mundane rules. This completely undermines the universality of international law, one of its central tenets…. The U.S. has often shown contempt for the U.N. and the opinion of the world in the human rights area. The U.S. is one of only two countries in the world (the other is war-ravaged Somalia which does not have a functioning government) that has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. has not ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, putting it in the company of countries like Afghanistan. When the U.S. has ratified human rights conventions (i.e. the UN Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), it has entered limiting reservations, which put the constitution and the dictates of U.S. law (for example those allowing execution of juvenile offenders) ahead of U.N. treaties. This practice has been criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee (a body of UN experts who monitor implementation of the ICCPR) — criticisms rejected by the U.S.government.”
Couto: “This is more reckless rhetoric designed to prepare the world for an attack on Iraq. According to Hans Blix’s report one day before the President’s statement, ‘It would appear from our experience so far that Iraq has decided in principle to provide cooperation on process, notably access.’ And ‘Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field [running the operation of inspection]. Access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect, and with one exception [out of 230] it has been prompt.'”
The 108 U.N. inspectors were sent to conduct — were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq’s regime is disarming.”
Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director, Western States Legal Foundation: “While U.S. officials try to cast the worst light on the UN weapons inspectors’ generally favorable reports, they have already prepared contingency plans to use nuclear weapons in Iraq. This manifests the Bush Administration’s increasingly aggressive and unilateral ‘national security’ policy which tears down the wall between nuclear and conventional weapons, and contemplates nuclear weapons use ‘against… emerging threats before they are fully formed.’ While focusing world attention on a speculative and questionable Iraqi ‘threat,’ the U.S. is actively pursuing ‘more useable’ nuclear weapons for use against seven named countries, in blatant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Which country poses a greater threat to global security? Why aren’t international weapons inspectors in the U.S.? Who will disarm America?”
It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.
Zunes:”UNMOVIC director Hans Blix and IAEA director Mohamed El-Baradei have expressed concerns that Iraq was not sufficiently forthcoming in some potentially key areas, though they also noted areas where there had been a high level of cooperation in some other areas. This is far short of ‘utter contempt.’ Similarly, their mission is far from being a scavenger hunt, given the extensive records from the eight years of UN inspections during the 1990s. It is noteworthy that the UNSCOM inspectors did not find any more hidden materials during their last four years of operations despite expanding the scope of their searches. Though these inspectors were withdrawn under pressure from President Bill Clinton in late 1998 before they could complete their job, satellite surveillance and other intelligence gathering since then has given this new round of inspections – which have an even tougher mandate regarding the timing and extent of their searches – a good idea of where to look and what to look for. Furthermore, they have equipment that can detect radioactive isotopes and other telltale signs of WMD development at a great distance from their source. It is noteworthy that after insisting that Iraq’s four-year refusal to allow UN weapons inspectors to return was cited as grounds for an invasion, the Bush Administration has suddenly challenged the inspectors’ effectiveness since they resumed inspections. Furthermore, the United States has yet to put forward any proof that Iraq currently has any banned weapons.”
The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax; —
Glen Rangwala , a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University in Britain: “No, they didn’t. The UNSCOM January 1999 report states that there is insufficient evidence that Iraq didn’t produce this volume of anthrax spores. In short, if Iraq had used its fermentors at maximal capacity from the start of the industrial production of anthrax in September 1990 until the outbreak of war, it could have produced this amount of anthrax. The production log for 1990 at Iraq’s bio-weapons factory, al-Hakam, indicates that Iraq did not operate its fermentors at maximal capacity. UNSCOM was not wholly confident of the accuracy of the production log, though it never explained why. However, there is no indication — either in UNSCOM reports or in UNMOVIC statements — that they actually believe Iraq produced this volume of anthrax. There is, again, a very large difference between what Iraq had the potential to produce in 1990, and what it is likely that it did actually produce.”
Rangwala: “This is just plain wrong. Anthrax spores produced in 1990 were in liquid slurry form. They would have deteriorated markedly by the mid-1990s. The assessment by Professor Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is as follows: ‘Anthrax spores are extremely hardy and can achieve 65 percent to 80 percent lethality against untreated patients for years. Fortunately, Iraq does not seem to have produced dry, storable agents and only seems to have deployed wet Anthrax agents, which have a relatively limited life.” [“Iraq’s Past and Future Biological Weapons Capabilities” (1998), p.13]
The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hasn’t accounted for that material. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
Rangwala: “This is plain inaccurate. The only assessment of UNSCOM in this regard was in the January 1999 report, which stated that it could not account for 460kg of casein, the growth media for botulinum toxin. That would be enough to produce 1200 litres of the toxin. The U.S. has independently claimed that Iraq had more casein, but that is not — and has never been — the UN’s assessment.”
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He’s not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
Zunes: “This figure is far higher than most independent estimates. The former chief weapons inspector for UNSCOM stated that at least 95% of Iraq’s chemical weapons had been accounted for and destroyed by 1998. With the embargo preventing the import of new materials, satellites eyeing possible sites for new production, and the return of UN inspectors, it is highly dubious that Iraq could develop an offensive chemical weapons arsenal, particularly since virtually all of their ballistic missiles capable of carrying such weapons have also been accounted for and destroyed. In addition, if Saddam Hussein’s possession of chemical weapons is really such a major concern for the U.S. government, why did the United States send Iraq tons of toxic chemicals during the 1980s, even when it became apparent that they were being used for weapons?”
U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them, despite Iraq’s recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs.
Rangwala: “The only defector who has gone public with this claim is Adnan Saeed al-Haideri. It’s interesting to note that in his first press conference, he didn’t make this claim at all. It was only after he was “debriefed” by an official from the Iraqi National Congress — the group supported politically and financially by the Pentagon — that he started making these claims.”
These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.
Zunes: “True. What the president failed to mention is that in 1998 the International Atomic Energy Agency also reported that Iraq’s nuclear capability had been completely dismantled. More recently, IAEA director El-Baradei, in his January 27 report to the UN Security Council, reported there was no evidence to suggest that Iraq had resumed its nuclear program.”
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
Rangwala: “Iraq in 1981-82 tried unsuccessfully to import yellowcake (unrefined uranium) from Niger. The UK government has given no signs that it was not referring to this episode. The IAEA have repeatedly asked the U.S. and UK for information about this, without success. Either the UK is refusing to comply with the UN weapons inspectors, or its claims are irrelevant.”
Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
Zunes: “As ’60 Minutes’ and other independent investigations have revealed, these aluminum tubes also have commercial applications. The IAEA has investigated the matter and has reported that there is no evidence to suggest they were intended for a nuclear program.” www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/jan-june03/inspectors_1-27.html.
Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.
John Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and co-editor of the just-released Rule of Power or Rule of Law? An Assessment of U.S. Policies and Actions Regarding Security-Related Treaties: “Chief nuclear inspector Mohamed El Baradei told the Security Council Monday that ‘we have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program.’ El Baradei noted that that by the end of 1992 the IAEA had eliminated nuclear-weapons-related facilities and equipment, and by early 1994 it had removed weapons-usable uranium and plutonium from the country. He stated that while investigation continues, ‘it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with’ rocket production as Iraq states and ‘unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges’ for uranium production. He noted that investigation continues regarding reports of Iraqi efforts to import uranium. (Text of El Baradei’s report is at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/28/international/middleeast/28ETEX.html)
“Contrary to the implication of Bush’s speech, El Baradei’s report indicates that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program or that if it does, the program is in a very early stage. The reality is that an advanced program would be discovered due to the large-scale, industrial nature of production of enriched uranium and separated plutonium and the detectability of radioisotopes at significant distances. It is impossible for Iraq to mount such a program while subject to UN inspection and monitoring. Yet the Bush administration relied last summer on the prospect of a future nuclear-armed Iraq as a chief rationale for going to war. Perhaps recognizing the weakness of that rationale, in this speech Bush emphasized instead the dangers posed by chemical and biological weapons, and argued: ‘With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region.’ The argument shifts as the administration runs into inconvenient facts.
“Meanwhile, doctrine announced in December 2002 and Pentagon planning reported by the Los Angeles Times envisage U.S. use of nuclear weapons to respond to or ‘preempt’ any Iraqi use of chemical and biological arms in response to a U.S. invasion and to attack deeply buried targets. Who’s threatening whom with nuclear weapons? The U.S. posture is contrary to commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including a 2000 pledge to a ‘diminishing role of nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that the weapons ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination.’ That is the same treaty Iraq violated in the early 1990s by seeking to acquire nuclear arms.”
From intelligence sources, we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves.
Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses. Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations.
Mahajan: “Iraq is not ‘blocking’ U-2 flights — it simply cannot guarantee their safety. The reason it can’t guarantee their safety is that U.S. and U.K. planes constantly overfly Iraqi airspace, in violation of international law, and Iraq maintains its sovereign right to defend its airspace. If the United States was serious about inspections, it would suspend or end the no-fly zones so that the U-2’s can collect information.”
Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say.
Intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with UN inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.
Rangwala: “There is absolutely no evidence for any of this. No evidence has been presented either by UNMOVIC or the U.S. to back up these claims.”
Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why?
AbuKhalil: “The implication here is that those who have weapons of mass destruction can only acquire them because they have aggressive and dominating intentions. But does that apply, say, to Israel and more importantly the U.S.? Or do those weapons of mass destruction only pose a threat to peace and security when in the hands of Arabs and Muslims?”
The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate or attack.
Zunes: “This is hardly the ‘only possible explanation.’ The most likely reason for a country in a heavily armed region within missile range of two nuclear powers to pursue weapons of mass destruction is for deterrence. Even the CIA has reported that there is little chance that Iraq would use WMDs for offensive purposes in the foreseeable future. By contrast, so says this CIA analysis, there is a far greater risk that Saddam Hussein would use whatever WMDs he may possess in the event of a U.S. invasion, when deterrence has clearly failed and he no longer has anything to lose.”
With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region.
Perlman: “Who else could exercise ‘ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region’?”
Wright: “This is a very eloquent and very dangerous speech, the purpose of which is to lead America into an illegal, unilateral war against Iraq. It is important to register what was not claimed either by Hans Blix or by Mohamed El Baradei, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Those who argue that the time of inspections has run out and the remaining questions are cause for war paint a picture of an Iraq bristling with weapons of mass destruction. This is far from what we already know. Iraq is a defeated, impoverished country that has been under a strict arms embargo since 1991. Substantial evidence indicates that it does not possess nuclear weapons and Mr. El Baradei registered this today. After the UN inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 because a military strike by the United States was imminent, Iraq did not start a war, it continued to pay huge war reparations to Kuwait, and it did not threaten any other country. All the signs were that, even with the UN inspectors out of the country, Iraq was effectively deterred.
“So the key question to be asked about the position of the Bush administration is whether the remaining ambiguities associated with Iraq’s chemical and biological warfare programs justify what the administration calls a ‘preemptive’ war ? Such a war is hardly justified under the UN charter, which requires war to be justified in terms of self-defense against an attack or protection against an imminent danger to the survival of a state. Do these ambiguities justify horrendous humanitarian costs to the Iraqi people and the surrounding region? Or to the American people and their security given that a U.S.attack on Iraq may very well provoke further terrorist attacks on the U.S.? A brutal irony in the scenarios for war is that the Bush administration has radically loosened restraints on the use of nuclear weapons. There is a possibility that the administration would pursue its ambitions in the Gulf by using the very weapons that it claims it wants to eliminate.”
And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.
Zunes: “Reports from the State Department, the CIA and other intelligence agencies have found no credible proof of any links between the Islamist al Qaeda movement and the secular Iraqi government. In fact, they have been at odds with each other for many years. Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism peaked in the 1980s, when the U.S. dropped Iraq from its list of states sponsoring terrorism in order to make the regime eligible to receive U.S. military and technological assistance. Furthermore, most biological weapons – the only WMDs threat that Iraq realistically might possess at this point – do leave fingerprints and could easily be traced to Iraq.”
Jennings: “Secretary of State Colin Powell said this week at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, that Iraq has ‘clear ties to terrorist groups,’ but he failed to present any evidence. This line is an old argument that has often been refuted over and over again, for example in the Institute for Public Accuracy’s analysis of President Bush’s earlier Iraq policy speech. The truth is that Iraq, a secular government, has always opposed Khomeini-type Islamic radicalism, and in fact never recognized the Taliban government in Afghanistan, even though U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were supporting them. It is true that the Ansar al-Islam, a 600-member cadre of armed Islamists having similar goals to al-Qaeda, continues to hold territory in the U.S.-protected Kurdish zone of northern Iraq. Why the U.S. has not so far attacked them is a mystery, when the loudly announced goal of the ‘Terror War’ since September 11 has been to eliminate such threats wherever they may take sanctuary. It is therefore highly ironic that the only place in the world that terrorists have remained safe thus far is in Kurdistan, under the protection of the U.S. military umbrella. One clue may be found in a recent article by New York Times columnist William Safire, often a stalking horse for successive administration’s actions. He tried (unsuccessfully) to make the case for a link between this group and Iraq’s central government. Long time observers of the situation fear that this group is being held in reserve as a trump card in the Pentagon’s search for a casus belli. Any alleged link between these fanatics and official Iraq would provide the President with an ideal opportunity to attack Iraq as an extension of the so-called ‘War on Terror.’ Americans should keep in mind, however, that both the Vietnam War and the Gulf War were initiated in part by pretexts advanced by the executive branch of the government. The first was the Senate’s Tonkin Gulf Resolution (based on a lie by the Johnson administration), and the second the famous ‘Naira’ testimony before Congress, in which the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter claimed to have seen Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait that never happened. The theme of ‘babies dumped from their incubators’ was widely promoted by George Bush, Sr. in drumming up support for the Gulf War.”
Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained.
Shallal: “What has September 11th showed us? Saddam had nothing to do with September 11th. Making these desperate links of September 11th to Saddam Hussein is at the least disingenuous.”
Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.
Jennings: “One can imagine all kinds of things, from goblins and ghosts to things that go bump in the night. It hardly seems presidential, or even marginally responsible, for a high U.S. public official to engage in this kind of speculation. It apparently is designed to stimulate fear, which will in turn generate support for a war already decided upon.”
We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes.
Perlman: “All of the administration’s actions are inviting that day … our bullying, tough talk, domination and threats are increasing fear, motivation and danger.”
Zunes: “Again, there is no evidence of any connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, who has called the Iraqi dictator ‘an apostate, an infidel, and a traitor to Islam.’ Iraq has never threatened nor been implicated in any attack against U.S. territory and the CIA has reported no Iraqi-sponsored attacks against American interests since 1991. It is always easy to think of worst case scenarios, but no country has the right to invade another on the grounds that the other country might some day possess weapons that they might decide to pass on to someone else who might use these weapons against them.”
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?
If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
The dictator who is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.
Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained: by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.
Bert Sacks has been to Iraq several times, most recently with Congressmen Jim McDermott and David Bonior. (He has violated U.S. law in taking medicine without authorization to Iraq and has been fined $10,000): “Amnesty International has, indeed, catalogued other methods; they have included putting babies beside the cells of a mother and father and leaving them to cry and starve until the parents do as they are told. (We continued to support Iraq after AI’s reporting of this torture.) The same Amnesty International USA passed a resolution, at their U.S. Annual General Meeting in Seattle on April 21, 2002, which essentially accuses U.S./UN economic sanctions of torturing the Iraqi people in just this same way.”
If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.
Zunes: “The use of chemical weapons by the Iraqi armed forces against Kurdish villages took place in the 1980s when the U.S. was backing Saddam Hussein’s government. The U.S. even covered up for the Halabja massacres and similar atrocities by falsely claiming it was the Iranians – then the preferred enemy – who were responsible. Human rights organizations have indeed reported torture and other human rights abuses by the Iraqi regime and did so back in the 1980s when the U.S. was supporting it. As a result, one can only assume that this professed concern about human rights abuses is insincere, particularly since the Bush Administration is currently sending military and police aid to repressive regimes such as Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Egypt and others that are guilty of similar human rights abuses. If President Bush really thinks that this constitutes evil, why does he support governments that engage in such crimes?”
And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country.
AbuKhalil: “Time Magazine recently reported that some 800 cruise missiles will fall on Iraq in the first 48 hours of war; does that mean that all 800 missiles will be directed at Saddam, and his two sons Udayy and Qusayy? If not, where will the rest go?”
And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.
Shallal: “Few Iraqis would believe that our intention is to liberate them. They are also keenly aware that for any credible opposition to take hold, it would have to come from within not led by the U.S. military. In the words of one Iraqi, ‘We do not want to be Karzai’d.’
“There is no shortage of Iraqi opposition groups. They represent a wide array of Iraqis including Sunni, Shiites, Kurds and Monarchs. What they have in common is their desire to overthrow Saddam. How, when and why differs greatly from one group to another. Most lack credibility and have little internal support.
“The INC is the group of choice for the U.S. and the CIA – this group is now headed by Sharif Ali, the nephew of the late King Ghazi. Its previous head and de facto leader is Ahmed Chalabi. He was convicted of embezzlement and 31 felony charges in Jordan and fled to England in the early 90’s where he was afforded safe haven. Senator Lieberman called Mr. Chalabi ‘a principled man.’ He came to the U.S. and was instrumental in the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998. He is mired in CIA money and has little support within Iraq.
“Another possible ‘liberator’ at the top of our list is Nizar Al-Khazraji. One of Saddam’s military honchos who left Iraq to seek asylum in Europe. He is still under investigation for charges of crimes against humanity in the possible role he played in gassing the Kurds in Northern Iraq. In June 2002, the Police Chief of Ringsted, Denmark told Western Denmark TV that he had no doubt that Al-Khazraji was involved in the genocide against the Kurds. He added that the evidence, so far collected, is substantial. It has necessitated the review of his asylum application and sending his file to Public Prosecutor — The Kurdish National Congress has pressed for charges. Ambassador David Mack, a senior official in the State Department, has endorsed Gen. Khazraji as a man ‘with the right ingredients’ as a future leader of Iraq.
“For change to take hold in Iraq, it would have to take place gradually. It will also have to come from within and it must take place in an open arena, free from sanctions and restrictions to information, travel and movement.”
Rangwala: “Bush seems to be committing himself to the removal of the Iraqi regime, even if there is full compliance with weapons inspectors. This provides only disincentives for Iraq to comply. Bush has never answered the question: Does he have a regime change agenda, or a disarmament agenda? The two are not compatible: By adhering to the former, you prevent progress in the latter.”
The world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm. America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country and our friends and our allies.
The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi’s — Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors and its links to terrorist groups.
We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.
Jennings: “Few voices have been raised in criticism of the Bush administration’s major strategic shift from deterrence and containment of Iraq to preemptive attack and regime change. Yet it is a change of monumental significance. In the January/February, 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs, Bush Advisor Condoleezza Rice stated the administration’s position vis a vis the Middle East as one of deterrence. Following President Bush’s remarks that Saddam must not be allowed to blackmail the world, Ms. Rice said that, unless the U.S. acts, Iraq would ‘blackmail the international community.’ Two of America’s most eminent international affairs and security studies specialists dispute that assessment, saying that the only way the administration can sell the idea of a preemptive attack on Iraq is to ‘inflate the threat’ and ‘distort the historical record.'” [www.foreignpolicy.com/wwwboard/walts.html]
Tonight I have a message for the men and women who will keep the peace, members of the American armed forces. Many of you are assembling in or near the Middle East, and some crucial hours may lay ahead.
Jennings: “‘Keep the peace’ in this context is another Orwellian phrase. The U.S. armed forces will be used in Iraq as an attack force, not a peacekeeping force.”
In those hours, the success of our cause will depend on you. Your training has prepared you. Your honor will guide you. You believe in America and America believes in you.
Zunes: “No doubt the thousands of armed forces personnel currently assembling in that region do believe in America. Hopefully, America will believe in them enough to not abandon them as they did the veterans of the previous war against Iraq who suffer the debilitating effects of Gulf War Syndrome without the support and recognition of the government that sent them into combat. It is also ironic to hear such high praise of the men and women readying for combat from a man who – despite his support for the Vietnam War – refused to fight in it, instead using family connections to get into a National Guard unit from which he was AWOL for much of his time of service. In addition, it is Orwellian to claim that an army poised to bomb and invade a sovereign nation are there to ‘keep the peace.’ The best way American servicemen and servicewomen can keep the peace would be to refuse to obey any illegal orders of their commander-in-chief that command them to fight in an illegitimate war.”
Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a president can make. The technologies of war have changed. The risks and suffering of war have not.
For the brave Americans who bear the risk, no victory is free from sorrow.
This nation fights reluctantly, because we know the cost, and we dread the days of mourning that always come.
We seek peace.
Perlman: “This is a lie. All their rhetoric, actions and investments reveal they seek war.”
We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all.
Olshansky: “The Project for a New American Century report describes American armed forces abroad as ‘the cavalry on the new American frontier.’ The PNAC report also: (1) refers to key allies such as the UK as ‘the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership;’ (2) describes peace-keeping missions as ‘demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations;’ (3) reveals worries in the Administration that Europe could rival America; (4) states that ‘even should Saddam pass from the scene’ American bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain there permanently — despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of U.S. troops — as ‘Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests as Iraq has;’ and (5) pinpoints North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes and says their existence justifies the creation of a ‘world-wide command- and-control system.’ The Report also hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. may consider developing biological weapons — which the nation has banned — in decades to come. It states that: ‘New methods of attack — electronic, non-lethal, biological — will be more widely available … combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes … advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.'”
Mike Zmolek, coordinator of the National Network to End the War on Iraq: “Bush ends this speech with classic Orwellian prose. ‘This nation fights reluctantly… We seek peace. We strive for peace.’ But if one of the most impoverished war-torn countries on earth ‘forces [war] upon’ the world’s sole superpower, ‘we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military, and we will prevail.’ Then, heroically, ‘we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies and freedom.’ Of course, for the time being, the Treasury is slapping stiff fines of up to $50,000 on Americans who have defied the genocidal sanctions and delivered food and medicine to needy Iraqis. ‘We exercise power without conquest,’ says Bush, ‘and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.’ The white man’s burden continues.”
Jennings: “In fact, Iraq has not killed a single American … in the twelve years since the Gulf War. Until this speech, both the CIA and the Pentagon have been cautious about the connection with terrorism, for the most part admitting that they lack the evidence that Iraq has been involved in supporting terrorist organizations. This reluctance suggests that the President’s citations about terrorism are based on thin evidence indeed. Yet the U.S. has in effect already declared war on Iraq, having never really stopped bombing the no-fly zones. U.S.-led sanctions have killed over a million Iraqi citizens, according to UN studies. This next war, if implemented as the President’s speech seems to indicate, will create chaos in surrounding countries, kill many thousands of innocents, create masses of refugees, and cost the U.S.greatly in money and blood, for no guaranteed outcome. Why do it? In a famous phrase from ancient times, ‘The Romans created a desert and called it peace.'”
If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means, sparing, in every way we can, the innocent.
And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military, and we will prevail.
Zunes: “The palpable eagerness of the Bush Administration to go to war belies any claims of seeking peace. Iraq has neither attacked nor threatened the United States, so it cannot be said that war is being forced upon the country. Virtually all of America’s allies oppose this threat of war. In the United States, the Catholic bishops and every mainline Protestant denomination have gone on record declaring that a U.S. invasion would not constitute a just war, a sentiment echoed by religious leaders around the world. The U.S. record of sparing the innocent in its recent wars has been quite poor, with upwards to 5,000 civilians killed in the first Gulf War, an estimated 500 civilians in Yugoslavia and approximately 3,000 civilians in Afghanistan. Most scenarios predict a far higher level of civilian casualties in a U.S. invasion of Iraq.”
And as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies and freedom.
Jennings, who has conducted several humanitarian missions to Afghanistan: “Afghan relief by the world’s community remains a pathetic fraction of what Afghanistan really needs for its reconstruction. It is true that among all the nations, the U.S. is the largest donor, but even this is a pittance compared with the ongoing cost of pursuing the war. And if the U.S.-led sanctions regime has slowly, deliberately and cruelly starved Iraqis for twelve years – and it has – what is to convince the people of Iraq that the U.S. suddenly wants to become their great benefactor?”
Zunes: “The United States has spent only a miserly amount of money for food, medicine and other humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan relative to the billions of dollars spent to bomb that country. Despite greater political pluralism in Afghanistan under the post-Taliban regime, most of the country is not enjoying freedom, but is subjected to the abuse of warlords, opium magnates and ethnic militias that have gained in power since the U.S. intervention.”
Many challenges, abroad and at home, have arrived in a single season. In two years, America has gone from a sense of invulnerability to an awareness of peril, from bitter division in small matters to calm unity in great causes.
And we go forward with confidence, because this call of history has come to the right country.
Americans are a resolute people, who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world, and to ourselves.
America is a strong nation and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.
Zunes: “The character and resoluteness of the American people is worthy of praise. Unfortunately, the United States government has frequently used its military and economic power to suppress liberty, such as supporting the overthrow of democratically elected governments in countries like Guatemala and Chile while backing scores of dictatorial regimes throughout the world. The United States has also used powerful international financial institutions to force poor countries to weaken environmental and labor laws to enhance the profits of U.S-based multinational corporations.”
We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life and all of history.
May he guide us now, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Jill Nelson, author and columnist: “Empty promises on the economy and domestic issues, balm for the so-called ‘Christian’ right wing, dishonest manipulation of American’s fear of terrorism, and a giant step toward an ill conceived, cynical war for oil. I was struck by the notion that Bush’s words condemning Iraq rang true if ‘America’ was substituted for ‘Iraq.’ The administration seems determined to keep the country on a slippery slope that guarantees war, chaos, and the United States as the most feared and loathed nation in the world.”