Remarks at Sept. 24, 2005 Antiwar Rally.
This summer I had the honor to serve on the Jury of Conscience for the World Tribunal on Iraq. I was one of 14 jurors from ten countries. The spokesperson for the jury was Arundhati Roy. We listened to three days of intensive testimony by witnesses to the brutality and by experts. Among the witnesses were Iraqis who had experienced first-hand the bombings and the ill-treatment and torture of Iraqis in detention. There was also testimony by American soldiers. One such soldier was a young man named Camilo Mejia, who testified by videotape. After serving time in Iraq, he concluded that the war was immoral and refused to return to participate in it. For this, he was imprisoned.
Something is terribly wrong with our society when a young soldier who refuses to return to war on the basis of conscience is imprisoned, while those who initiated and directed the illegal war are allowed to walk free. The Jury of Conscience of the World Tribunal on Iraq issued a strong Final Declaration that called for those political and corporate leaders responsible for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Iraq War to be held to account under international law.
It has been two and a half years since the United States, along with the “Coalition of the Willing,” initiated the illegal, immoral and unnecessary war against Iraq.
What has the US accomplished?
We have overthrown one of many dictators in the region, but continued our military and economic involvement with others.
We have thrown Iraq into a state of violent chaos.
We have created a breeding ground for extremists to learn the terrorist trade.
We have killed over a hundred thousand innocent Iraqis, and seriously wounded many more.
We have sent over 2,000 allied soldiers, including some 1,900 US soldiers, to their deaths, and maimed and destroyed the lives of many more.
We have undermined the United Nations and international law by engaging in a non-defensive war without the consent of the Security Council.
We have dramatically increased the national debt, which will be left to our children to pay.
We have stretched thin the capacity of the US military to actually defend America.
We have broken a covenant with our youth by deploying them in an illegal war.
What have we learned?
That there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
That our leaders lied us into war.
That “mission accomplished” does not mean mission accomplished.
That we are not hated because we are a free society, but because we commit atrocities.
That “shock and awe” bombings kill children, women and other innocent people.
That our soldiers are capable of committing acts of torture.
That high officials pass the blame for wrongdoing down to the lowest levels.
That President Bush likes to play soldier when he is not on vacation.
That as a society, we have learned very little from our experience in Vietnam.
War is not the answer
I hope that we have also learned that war is not the answer.
Now is not the time to back off from our demands for peace. We cannot be content with pronouncements from the President and Congress that we must “stay the course.”
We all need to stand up as Cindy Sheehan did when she established Camp Casey and asked Mr. Bush, “What was the noble cause my son died for?”
I suggest that each of us write a letter to Mr. Bush with copies to our Congressional representatives that goes like this:
Dear Mr. War President: (what he likes to call himself)
What is the “noble cause” for which Cindy Sheehan’s son and some 1,900 other Americans have died for?
Your illegal war is not worth another American or Iraqi death or injury.
Bring the troops home now.
Let him know you are disgusted with his policies and his cowardice in failing to take a few moments out of his five-week vacation to talk to Cindy Sheehan. Let him know that you expect an answer.
Let me conclude with a poem dedicated to Camilo Mejia.
for Camilo Mejia
I refuse to be used as a tool
I refuse to kill on order.
I refuse to give my life for a lie.
I refuse to be indoctrinated
I refuse to allow the military to define
all I can be.
I refuse to abdicate my responsibilities
as a citizen of the world.
I refuse to deny the human rights
of any person.
I refuse to suspend my conscience.
I refuse to give up my humanity.
I refuse to be silenced.
Do you hear me?
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH
We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).
Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.
As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.
We are pleased to clarify the position.
August 17, 2005