Making A Difference

Bush's Lies And Simple Truths

George Bush HAS misled the American public. He IS misleading the American public, and we can assume he WILL continue to mislead the public.

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Bush's Lies And Simple Truths
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A few weeks ago Jim McDermott, a courageous congressman from Washington state, traveled to Baghdad inpursuit of peace and was sharply criticized, particularly for his comment that George Bush "mightmislead" the American public to build support for an attack on Iraq. He got only one thing wrong -- the"might."

George Bush HAS misled the American public. He IS misleading the American public, and we can assume he WILLcontinue to mislead the public. In fact, the entire Bush administration has been misleading the public,sometimes by misdirection, sometimes by fudging the facts, and sometimes by straightforward, outright lies.

Remember when Donald Rumsfeld told a congressional committee that Iraq kicked out U.N. weapons inspectorsin 1998? That's a lie. The head of the inspection team pulled the inspectors out after being informed that theClinton administration was going to proceed with Operation Desert Fox, its illegal bombing of Iraq.

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Fudged facts? Well, remember Rumsfeld's declaration that the U.S. had "bulletproof evidence" of aconnection between Iraq and Al Qaeda? For a bulletproof story, there certainly are a lot of holes, including areport from Czech President Vaclav Havel that suggests there is no evidence, at least of the long-rumoredmeeting between one of the 9/11 hijackers and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague.

Some lies are not lies, of course, but just "alternative interpretations." Take the so-calledno-fly zones, in the north and south of Iraq, where U.S. and U.K. planes patrol the skies and bomb Iraqitargets at will. The U.S. claims these zones are authorized by U.N. Security Council resolutions. That therest of the world disagrees and sees it as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty is of little concern to the U.S.Power means your alternative explanation can't be challenged.

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Misdirection is helpful, too. Take Bush's assertion that if Iraq could "produce, buy, or steal anamount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon inless than a year." Yes, that's likely true, but it is the equivalent of saying, "If Iraq had anuclear weapon, it would have a nuclear weapon." Creating the other components of a nuclear bomb would berelatively easy; the fissile material is the issue.

The question isn't whether Saddam Hussein is a nice guy or not; in case anyone isn't clear on that, he'snot. The question is whether he is a real threat. Given that none of his neighbors feel threatened and areadamently against war, that Iraq is far weaker than in 1991, and that all the world thinks renewed weaponsinspection and diplomacy is the proper course, it leaves the Bush administration only a few choices fordealing with other countries (mainly threats and bribery, what one British journalist called "diplomatickneecapping") and only one choice for dealing with the U.S. public -- propaganda. They know that the onlyway they can get the American people is to frighten us with nightmare scenarios, no matter how implausible.

Well, on this one point, I actually agree. I am frightened, but not for the reasons Bush is pushing.International terrorism is a serious problem that requires serious attention, and there are reasons to beafraid of future attacks in the U.S. And if the U.S. goes to war against Iraq, the likelihood of suchterrorists attack will increase dramatically. That's a real reason to be afraid.

But beyond that, I am afraid of other threats.

I am afraid for a country that protects the greed of the few over the needs of the many, the United States.

I am afraid for a Middle East flooded with weapons sold by the the #1 arms dealer in the world, the UnitedStates.

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And I am afraid -- I am terrified -- for a world dominated by an empire that has acquired such a massivedestructive capability, and a demonstrated willingness to use it. I am afraid of the empire in which I live,the empire of which I am a citizen. I am afraid of the men sitting in Washington -- of Rumsfeld and Cheney andWolfowitz, and of George W. Bush -- who are planning the lives and the deaths of people all over this planet.

But I hope that I am not afraid to resist this madness. I hope I am not afraid to speak out. That is alwayseasier if one's voice is not the only voice. So, today I hope we can all find our voices and come together tospeak as one.

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--A voice that says no to an illegal and immoral war, and says yes to international law and diplomacy.

--A voice that says no to an economic system that enrichs the few at the expense of the many, and says yesto an economy that puts need above greed.

--And, most important, a voice that says no to imperial America, and yes to a truly democratic America, ademocratic America that becomes part of the world, not a ruler of the world.

We must not only say yes to the vision of a truly new world order based on justice, but we must commit tothe struggle that is necessary to make that world real. We must be willing to risk our own comforts and ourown privilege, to be impolite when necessary, to agitate, to cause trouble.

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In 1857, the great Frederick Douglass made it clear that:

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecateagitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning,they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may bea physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothingwithout a demand. It never did and it never will."

Let us not be unrealistic about this struggle. We have to ask, who is on our side in this struggle? Is themedia on our side? No. Are the corporations on our side? No. Are the politicians on our side? No.

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Who is on our side? Take a minute and look to the person at your side. That is what we have. We do not havethe power of money; we have the power of people. Many voices into one, not denying our differences but unitingin our strength, the strength of people of conscience who will not abandon the struggle.

With that voice, we can confront Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and George W. Bush with our demand.

We all have many demands for justice, and over time we will press them all. But today we come together tosay, in one voice, that at this crucial time in our nation's history, in the world's history, the besttraditions of humanity -- the political, moral and spiritual traditions that have led us here today -- demandthat we say, in one voice, loud and determined, proud and resolute: NOWAR.

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Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to theMainstream
Citizens of the Empire
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