(The following remarks were made on the occasion of the Santa Barbara Peace March on February 15, 2003. Some 5,000 demonstrators of all ages marched down the main street of town, many carrying highly creative placards opposing war against Iraq. Following the Peace March a rally was held in De La Guerra Plaza, one day hopefully to become De La Pax Plaza.)
You all look so beautiful from where I am standing, and your signs contain so much wisdom. Wasn’t our march today wonderful, in solidarity with protesters for peace marching all over our planet?
I have a short quiz for you. It isn’t very hard. Please shout out your answers loud enough so that they may be heard in Washington.
Who is the leader in the world who poses the greatest threat to our democracy?
Who is the leader in the world who has 10,000 nuclear weapons and is making contingency plans to use them?
Who is the leader in the world whose military has ordered 100,000 body bags?
Who is the leader in the world who is willing to risk American lives for Iraqi oil?
Who is the leader in the world whose military has a “Shock and Awe” plan to fire up to 800 cruise missiles in two days against a country with half its population 15 years old or younger?
Who is the leader in the world who is threatening an illegal war outside the authority of the United Nations Security Council and telling the United Nations it is irrelevant?
Who is the leader we must work to impeach?
Nelson Mandela recently described Mr. Bush as “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly….”
Nelson Mandela also had a message for us: “I am happy that the people of the world especially those of the United States of America are standing up and opposing their own President.”
That is what we are doing today opposing a president who would lead us into a senseless, illegal and immoral war.
Our job is to turn this country around so that it can again connect with its democratic roots and its highest values. We must stop this president who was not popularly elected by the American people from leading us into lawless, endless war, a world of global chaos in which the highest values are greed and might makes right. A war against Iraq will stimulate new terrorist threats against the United States and our European allies, among its many terrible consequences that are not being adequately considered in the Bush administration’s rush to war.
It is up to the people of this country to lead it back from the brink of war. We must lead our country, with all its power, to become a beacon of light and decency in the world. This can only happen if, as a people, we are willing to reexamine our policies, and to lead by our own example. We can become a country that is just, decent, generous and respected.
It is up to us. The future is in our hands.