|IN COMMEMORATION OF THE ANTIWAR MARCHES
ON SEPTEMBER 24, 2005, IN WASHINGTON D.C.
The fight against the War in Iraq continues of necessity among those with concern and understanding, in face of all
our “leaders” who care not, neither for the consequences of their actions, nor how many lives they cause to be lost.
It is the same as what impelled me to become active back in the 1960s in opposition to another destructive
adventure our “leaders” then were bringing about, which gives a most eerie déjà to our protest against the protest
against the War in Iraq we mount today, as well as the continuing carnage of that war. So much precisely like the
protests and the continuing carnage then -- of the War in Vietnam. That is why today I post here the speech I gave
last summer against the War in Iraq as a left activist then, now, and all my adult life, some forty years now—GF.
U.S. OUT OF IRAQ NOW!
SPEECH BEFORE THE ANTIWAR RALLY OF JUNE 5, 2004,
ON BEHALF OF THE INDIANAPOLIS BRANCH,
CENTRAL INDIANA DSA
then-Chair, Indianapolis Branch,
Central Indiana DSA
Published in the Solidarity 2004 Pre-Convention Discussion Bulletin #6, July 1, 2004
Good afternoon, Brothers and Sisters. U.S. out of Iraq now!
proud and honored to be an integral part of this. We are here to stand with you in insisting: U.S. out of Iraq now! Bush out of
the White House as soon as possible!
Recent events have starkly informed us of the brutal logic of empire, the unconscionable logic of occupation. It is the same
logic used by all foreign occupiers and subjugators, from the Roman Empire on down to the British in India, the French in
Algeria, and the U.S. in Vietnam. It is a logic that tries to mask the ugly realities of realpolitik with pretty assurances of
humanitarian intent. But the pretty assurances simply are not so, and how well do we know it now, know it every day as we
pick up the newspaper. The war in Iraq and the aftermath at home are the compelling deductions of the ugly logic of empire,
and not even the Indianapolis Star can disguise that.
Just reflect back on what we’ve seen in the last month. First, there were the revelations, shocking enough at first, but which
have become even more grisly and extensive, of deliberate torture, humiliation and degradation of Iraqi prisoners and Islamic
religion and culture by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison. Then, on May 20, Iraqi police with the support of U.S. troops
raided the homes and offices of erstwhile U.S. ally Ahmad Chalabi, his staff, and his Iraqi National Congress in Baghdad,
tellingly displaying the logic of empire when thieves fall out. And of course, we have the now-infamous speech of President
Bush on May 24 before the U.S. Army War College, where he outlined his “plan” for Iraqi sovereignty and promised to
supposedly end the U.S occupation in Iraq, all the while doing so by continued troop presence and even increasing the number
of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. And then, as if to show what Iraqi “sovereignty” really meant to the U.S. empire, on Monday, June 1,
the announcement of who was to head the new interim “sovereign” Iraqi government was delayed because of disagreements
over key leaders between the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and top U.S officials. Needless to say, this dispute was
resolved in a way the U.S. found acceptable, and – surprise! – this new “sovereign” Iraqi interim government invited the U.S.
to stay in Iraq as long as it wanted. All this against the constant and continuing resistance to this colonial occupation by the
Iraqi people as a whole – not just terrorists, not just disgruntled Shiite militants, not just the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s
forces – but by the Iraqi people as a whole, who want their country back. But not giving it back except on U.S. colonial terms
is, of course, the natural outcome of the logic of empire. The same logic, as mentioned above, of the British in India, of the
French in Algeria, and of the U.S. in Vietnam.
And on the question of torture by U.S. troops, I can well sympathize with those lower-ranking soldiers being subject to court-
martial that they are just scapegoats who only followed orders. For if the military teaches anything, it teaches that rank-and-file
soldiers obey unquestioningly the orders of higher-ups and take no initiative on their own. I don’t believe for a minute that the
policy of deliberate torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners was an aberration committed solely on the part of the undisciplined
lower ranks; no, the orders for the torture and humiliation had to come from higher-ups, all the way through the chain of
command up to the chief U.S. command in Iraq, perhaps all the way up to the Joint Chiefs, to Rumsfeld, and maybe up to
George W. Bush himself. No, this didn’t happen just because low-rank GIs got out of control.
However, to be fair, I will say this. If, indeed, the orders to torture and humiliate did come with the approval of George W.
himself, they may have come because he was nodding off or too engrossed in watching reruns of Leave It to Beaver to fully
know what he was approving!
But all this is nothing but the outcome of the inevitable logic of empire. And if there are those now who still believe that this is
a wrongful departure from real American traditions and values, I would suggest that those people go to an American Indian
reservation and ask the people there to tell them the stories passed down from their great-grandfathers and great-great
grandfathers of how the West was really won. I would ask those people to check out the archives of African American history
from slavery through sharecropping and segregation, and the archives of the Hispanic people of the Southwest. Because, like
to accept it or not, empire and colonization, both internal and external, are as much a part of U.S. history as the Founding
Fathers and the Bill of Rights. It just can’t be as prettified anymore. And that also is a natural outcome of the logic of empire,
from Manifest Destiny to Halliburton.
And that brings us to why we are here today. For, as antiwar activists and concerned citizens, we know that peace is the way,
but we also know that if there is no justice, there will be no peace. There can be no peace. And this is neither a threat nor a
call to violence, this is just the recounting of human history and life. For people will not submit willingly to injustice and
oppression, they will not supinely sit by and allow themselves to be subject to the stupor, to the enforced silence and inaction –
the “peace,” if you will – of domination, exploitation and subjugation. They will inevitably rise up and fight back. As they do
today, on fronts ranging from Iraq and Palestine to the protests against the WTO in Seattle and Miami.
And while we certainly pursue our goals of peace with justice nonviolently, we must always do so with strength and
determination, and never with passivity, never with settling for the merely symbolic only. I know I speak for many of us here
when I say that we are not interested in being [Indianapolis Democratic Mayor] Bart Peterson’s or [Indiana Democratic
Senator] Evan Bayh’s favorite peace movement!
Of course, we are all united here today in our desire to get George W. Bush out of office permanently. And not just Bush, but
also Rumsfeld, Cheney, Ashcroft, the whole rotten far-right bunch. And I’d say that also means getting rid of Colin Powel and
Condoleeza Rice; they are definitely not our idea of affirmative action!
But it has to be faced most surely that simply electing a Democratic President, while it will get rid of George W. Bush
personally, does not mean in itself that it will get rid of Bushism. A conservative, Democratic Leadership Council, or centrist
Democrat is most likely to give us only a “kinder, gentler” version of Bushism. And let’s face that. Keeping a Democratic
President progressive, even with a Democratic House and Senate, will still be a prime task for all of us, and will mean that our
antiwar, pro-justice movement cannot just go to sleep, cannot just rest, after November or January, but must still remain awake
and alive to apply pressure. We in DSA addressed this precisely at our National Convention in 2003, and passed a crucial
resolution for action precisely on this -- and I’d like to add parenthetically, it was a resolution I was responsible for writing.
The resolution is short and to the point, and so I quote it in full directly:
WHEREAS, DSA does not automatically assume that a Democratic President, even with a Democratic House and Senate, or
any lesser Democratic officeholder at any level, will automatically be a progressive, or move in a progressive direction;
THEREFORE, be it resolved that DSA recognizes that left pressure will still need to be applied when Democrats are elected or
re-elected at any level; and
THEREFORE, DSA will actively work to apply such pressure through itself and through progressive coalitions, at the national,
state and local level, through all agencies available – progressive and grassroots organizations, trade unions and Jobs with
Justice chapters, organizations of women and minorities, educational forums, and, just as important, through demonstrations
and protests in the streets.
Now to address the Presidential election of 2004. Central Indiana DSA has voted to endorse no candidate for President in
2004, but to call on all to vote their consciences. So, if you plan to vote for Ralph Nader; to vote for Kerry with greater or
lesser enthusiasm; to hold your nose and vote for Kerry because George W. Bush must be removed absolutely; or whether you
will abstain from voting altogether, because you don’t want to further encourage those all of us definitely don’t want to
encourage – Central Indiana DSA understands and supports your courage and commitment to vote your conscience, whatever
it is, and stands by you in that decision.
DSA is a multi-issue organization devoted to achieving socialism with democracy, with an analysis that sees all issues
intertwined. We carry that sense into our antiwar work as well. And so we in DSA say most directly, our insisting U.S. out of
Iraq now! also means demanding decent, accessible public transportation and resistance to cutbacks in [Indianapolis’s public
bus system] IndyGo’s already inadequate service; our insisting U.S. out of Iraq now! also means supporting working people in
their struggles for union representation and support of union struggles against corporate giants such as SBC; our insisting U.S.
out of Iraq now! also means demanding and fighting for an economy that serves all, and insisting on jobs at a Living Wage for
all who want and are able to work; our insisting U.S. out of Iraq now! also means demanding a guaranteed, effective social
safety net for all, including guaranteed decent, comprehensive and affordable health care for all; and our insisting U.S. out of
Iraq now! also means combating that Indianapolis mind-set that went ga-ga over ultra-upscale Saks Fifth Avenue moving into
the area last fall, precisely at that time when unemployment in [Indianapolis-comprising] Marion County was at a record high.
Our insisting U.S. out of Iraq now! means supporting and working for all of the above, and more – working positively in
support of economic, social and political justice for all people, no matter where they are, in the U.S., in Iraq, or anywhere else
in the world.
That, in a nutshell, is the democratic socialist vision and call to action of DSA. And if this vision and call to action from DSA
interests you, piques your curiosity to check us out, we of the Indianapolis Branch of Central Indiana DSA extend to all of you
a cordial invitation to attend our next meeting on Sunday, June 13, 3:00 P.M. at the Abbey Coffeehouse, on the corner of
Massachusetts and College. All of you who are interested, please come.
And so I end: be strong and determined, Brothers and Sisters! And use that strength and determination well to do all to force
the U.S. out of Iraq, to curtail its self-appointed role as world cop on behalf of world multinational capitalism, and to resist to
the very end that corporate capitalism that tries to run and dominate our lives. Be strong, be determined, Brothers and Sisters!
Don’t ever give up!