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War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

Memorial Day, 2005
Bloomington, Indiana


Address by David Keppel


Thank you, Mike [Gasser].  As one who's involved in Bloomington Peace Action

Coalition, I'd like to say what a privilege it is tonight to be working with

the Progressive Faculty Coalition of Indiana University.  I've learned a

great deal from the Progressive Faculty Coalition's forums.  One that I

found particularly valuable was a recent one that Mike spoke at.  It was on

the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil - a meeting which drew

150,000 people on the theme, "Another World Is Possible."  And so, on this

Memorial Day, I trust that we will remember to hope.


I would also like particularly to thank the Coordinators of Bloomington

Peace Action Coalition, Timothy Baer and Christine Glaser.  Without you,

nothing would be possible.  Thank you for all of your hard work.  Thank you

from all of us here.  Thank you on behalf of all not here who care about

peace.  It's the intensity of our commitment that will make peace real.  You

are marvelous examples to all of us of that intensity.


On Memorial Day, we gather to mourn.  We mourn the 1652 Americans killed in

Iraq, the 12,630 wounded, the 21,834 Iraqis killed, and the 100,000 Iraqis

who have died as a result of this war, according to the Medical journal The

Lancet.  There have been 700 people killed in the last month and 34 people

killed today.  Some of these people have been killed, unquestionably,

because of the brutal methods of the Iraqi resistance - methods I do not

condone and I do not think any humane person can condone.


But let us be clear.  These deaths would not have occurred if the United

States had not invaded Iraq.  The responsibility is that of the Bush



We believe that it is dishonorable to send someone to die or to kill on

behalf of a lie.  President Bush did just this.  He led Americans to believe

that Iraq had a link to September 11th - and we know it did not.  He told

Americans that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - and we know that it

did not.  And he had reason to know that it did not.


We in the peace movement honored these human beings who have died in Iraq.

Before the war started, we were here telling the truth.  We challenged the

Administration's claims; and if our Congressional representatives had

listened, then neither we, nor the families of those soldiers who died, nor

Iraqi families, would be grieving today.


We honor those who have died.  We will not dishonor them with silence.  We

know that silence is the voice of complicity that will result in more

deaths.  We will not betray future victims.


It is obvious even to this war's supporters that it is going very badly.

But there are always apologists and strategists for war.  You may have read

the op-ed in The New York Times last week by Harvard professor Niall

Ferguson.  Professor Ferguson, displaying the cultural sensitivity well

known at Harvard, entitled his article "Cowboys and Indians."  He assures us

that the war in Iraq is winnable, on three conditions.  The first is that we

commit a million soldiers.  The second is that we use more ruthless

techniques than we have used yet.  And the third is that we prepare to

occupy Iraq for seventy years.


Mr. Ferguson recognized that these proposals might be politically difficult

to implement, and he had some helpful suggestions.  One was that we use more

immigrants as soldiers.  A second was that we lower the educational

requirements for military service.


Does Mr. Ferguson think that the methods so far have not been brutal enough?

Does he think that Abu Ghraib was not brutal enough?  Does he think that

Guantanamo was not brutal enough and is not brutal enough?  Does he believe

that the intensification of these will make America more secure?  Does he

not know that these have done more than any terrorist could ever do to

increase the probability of another September 11th?


Let us talk about the latest lie that is used to justify this war, because

I'm afraid it has seduced a lot of good people.  It has even seduced someone

I very much admire, Governor Howard Dean.


Governor Dean said yes, the war was wrong.  But now that we're there we

can't leave, because there would be a bloody civil war.


Well Governor Dean, I know you're very busy setting up your new office in

the Democratic National Committee, but I invite you to open the newspaper.

There's a civil war in Iraq right now, and the United States is causing it.

And it will get worse the longer we stay.


An occupied country cannot be united - except in resistance to the

occupation.  So what do occupiers do?  They divide to conquer.  They exploit

ethnic and religious divisions and make them worse.  That's why many of the

worst conflicts - from Rwanda to Sri Lanka to Iraq itself - are the work of



Tonight as we gather, there is an unprecedented military operation in Iraq.

It is called Operation Lightning.  Does the Pentagon think that it has a

monopoly on German-English dictionaries?  Lightning is a translation of



We want the Iraqi forces to do the dirty work for us.  So we are using

Shiite and Kurdish forces in Sunni Muslim districts.  We are the ones

stoking a civil war.


In Baghdad, these forces are busy setting up 675 checkpoints.  Today during

the day, the head of Iraq's largest Sunni Muslim political party, Mohsen

Abdul Hamid, was arrested in his home with his three sons and his four

guards, and his computer was also seized.  


It is rather strange that at the time the United States says it is keen on

fostering Sunni participation, it arrested the head of the only major Sunni

party that is calling for a peaceful solution in Iraq.  Later in the day,

Mr. Hamid was released and the military said it was an error.  But as Mr.

Shaaban confirmed to me tonight, it was no accident.  It was deliberate

intimidation.  We can be sure that those less famous than Mr. Hamid are

spending tonight in Abu Ghraib prison.


The Bush Administration wanted to legitimize its occupation by holding a so

called "democratic" election in Iraq.  It wanted to legitimize its fourteen

permanent military bases, its control of Iraq's oil, its forced

privatization of Iraq's industry, and its sell-off of Iraq's assets.  If it

had been interested in a true election, might it not have offered a

referendum on whether America should stay in Iraq?


No, what the Bush Administration and the provisional government did was to

set up an election in which former members of the Baath Party - even those

with no connection to the security apparatus - were effectively excluded

unless they took a humiliating oath of renunciation.  Moreover, candidates

for the January election had to be approved by the provisional government

before they could run.  This doesn't mean that all candidates enjoyed the

provisional government's support, or that of the U.S.  But it does mean that

serious opponents of the occupation were blocked.  The result of this

exclusion was to favor the exiles whom we had flown in from London.


And in the "democratic" process we then set up, there was only one possible

basis for political victory: a sectarian one.  It was to pit the Shiites

against the Sunnis; it was to pit the Kurds against the Arabs.  It is no

wonder today that the 20% of Iraqis who are Sunni Muslim are feeling

excluded and desperate.  You cannot have peace in a country when 20% of that

country is excluded.


I'm afraid this sectarian division of Iraq is not merely an accident, nor

was it merely a byproduct of occupation.  It was actually one of the

purposes of this war.


You've heard tonight about The Project for a New American Century.  There's

one document that is even more shocking and revealing than theirs.  In the

summer of 2002, Richard Pearle invited Laurent Murawiec of the RAND

Corporation to give a Power Point presentation to the Defense Policy Board.


Mr. Murawiec suggested that the real enemy of the United States is Saudi

Arabia.  The final frame of his Power Point reads:  "Iraq is the tactical

pivot.  Saudi Arabia is the strategic pivot. Egypt is the prize."  Many of

us in the peace movement simply ridiculed this as a piece of Strangelovean

nonsense.  But I'm afraid it makes a horrible kind of sense.


Murawiec said in that discussion at the Defense Policy Board that in seeking

oil in the Middle East the United States has had a policy which he described

as "Be nice to Arabs at all costs."  I'm not sure that Arabs would

necessarily describe United States policy in the last 60 years in those

terms.  But that was Mr. Murawiec's characterization of the policy from

which he wished to break.  So that instead of concluding from September 11th

that the United States needs to take more account of the grievances of the

region, he wanted a policy untethered from any constraints.


Murawiec had a specific strategy to give the U.S. more freedom of maneuver.

It was to weaken Saudi Arabia - or, as he put it, to take Arabia away from

Saudi, to take Arabia away from the House of Saud.  The way he proposed to

do this relies precisely upon sectarian division.


As he points out, although the Shiites of Saudi Arabia make up only perhaps

15% of the population, they are located in the Eastern part of the country,

as are its oil wells and reserves.  As Mr. Murawiec pointed out, a

Shiite-dominated Iraq would also encourage rebellion among the Shiites in

Saudi Arabia.  It would constitute leverage for what he suggested should be

an ultimatum - a United States ultimatum to Saudi Arabia.  I will quote what

he said the ultimatum should be:  "Stop all anti-U.S., anti-Israeli,

anti-Western predication within Arabia.  Dismantle, ban all Islamic

charities and confiscate their assets."  "What the House of Saud holds

dear," he said, "can be targeted."


Well, the result of invading Iraq across the Middle East is not to make the

United States more secure.  It is instead to confirm the worst fears, the

worst suspicions, indeed the worst hatreds in the region.  It is to confirm

the worst fears that United States policy is in the service of the Israeli

occupation of the West Bank and that this is all aimed against Muslims and

against Arabs.


And then the means that the United States has employed in the war that Mr.

Murawiec, Mr. Pearle, and Mr. Bush have launched - this war has done so very

much more to make another 9-11 more likely.


So what can we do?  What is the real alternative? 


First of all, it's truth.  Go to

<>  and sign a petition which demands the

truth about the Downing Street memo.  That's the memo in 2002 when Tony

Blair showed that as early as April of that year, when he had met with Bush,

war was predestined - directly contradicting what both Bush and Blair were

telling the public, the United States Congress, and the British Parliament.



Secondly, we should demand that the United States get out of Iraq.  We

should demand support for Lynn Woolsey's resolution, House Resolution 35.


And we can demand it.  There was a vote - on an amendment to the Defense

Authorization bill this past week (05/25/05).  The amendment received -

you'll be encouraged; certainly, I was - 128 votes.  That's very high at

this time.  That's wonderful!  Indeed, it received the vote of five

courageous Republicans, including Jim Leach of Iowa.


I am sorry to tell you, however, it did not receive the vote of our

Representative, Representative Mike Sodrel.


Mr. Sodrel, you need to understand that this issue is important to us.  You

need to understand that we will not stop until we find a man or a woman to

represent this district who will make ending the war in Iraq his or her

highest priority.


It so happens tonight that there's someone here who not only will make

ending the war in Iraq her highest priority but also is running for the

United States Congress: Gretchen Clearwater.


We invite other actual and potential candidates for the United States

Congress, as well as our current Congressional Representative, to clarify to

us that it is also their highest priority.


Representative Woolsey's proposal is extremely practical.  It has three


*       Get the United States out of Iraq.

*       If the Iraqis wish it, have international and truly neutral


*       Aid in the reconstruction of Iraq - a country that we have so badly

wounded through years of war and years of malicious sanctions.


We must also work for a truly just peace between Israelis and Palestinians -

a peace that offers Palestinians a true state and not mere Bantustans.  And

we must recognize that the oil of the Middle East does not belong to us.  It

belongs to the people of the region and to future generations.


I wish I could stop here tonight.  But I've learned some very disturbing

information in the last week, and I ask you to bear with me.


The United States may be much closer than most of us realize to war with

North Korea - a war that could make even the war in Iraq seem tame. 


As you know, John Bolton is President Bush's nominee to be Ambassador to the

United Nations, and he has received the strong support of Indiana's senior

Senator, Richard Lugar, a man of whom I thought better.  Mr. Bolton was

asked what United States policy should be towards North Korea.  He was asked

this by a New York Times reporter in an interview.  Mr. Bolton at the time

was in his office.  And he displayed great athleticism.  He jumped up,

reached to his bookcase, pulled down a book, and offered it to the reporter.

The book's title?  The End of North Korea.


Guess what?  Countries do not usually agree to end themselves by peaceful

means.  As of yet, I'm unaware that Kim Jong Il is Mikhail Gorbachev.


As we speak, B2 Spirit bombers with Stealth capabilities and F15E fighters

are being put on Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, within striking distance

of North Korea.  Seven Aegis destroyers carrying Tomahawk missiles are being

moved into the region.  These bombers and missiles are capable of carrying

both nuclear and conventional weapons.  No one is telling us which they are

carrying tonight.


I'm afraid that just as there was a founding document for the Iraq war,

there is a founding document for what I hope will not be, but I fear may be,

the coming attack on North Korea.  It is an article by R. James Woolsey,

former Director of the C.I.A. and a prominent member of The Project for a

New American Century, and retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas G.

McInerney, called "The Next Korean War."  Let me quote from this Wall Street

Journal article (08/04/03):


"It is not reasonable to limit the use of force to a surgical strike

[destroying the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon].  We must be prepared to win a

war, not execute a strike.  Massive air power is the key.  The goal is to

destroy on short notice.  The South Korean army is well equipped to handle a

counter-offensive into the North."


Perhaps it's no wonder that the President of South Korea is a little less

keen to see this war than, apparently, the President of the United States.

The Monterey Institute - itself close to the U.S. military - cites a

military estimate that South Korean and U.S. casualties in a new Korean war

would be between 300,000 and 500,000 in the first 90 days of fighting.  If

North Korea has nuclear weapons - which we say is the reason for attacking -

why wouldn't it use them?  Moreover, as the Monterey Institute points out,

strikes against North Korean nuclear facilities would spread radioactive

material in North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and China, winning friends and

influencing people.


This war - should it occur - would not just be against North Korea.  It

would be the opening shot in a contest between the United States empire and

China.  It would fundamentally alter our relations with both Russia and

China.  It would be an attempt - a futile attempt - to thwart the emergence

of China as a challenger to U.S. global dominance.


But China not only makes our stereos and our waffle irons; it also props up

our currency.  If it stops doing so, the dollar will plummet, interest rates

will soar, real estate values will collapse, and we will be in a deep

depression, more severe than anything we have known since the 1930's. 


The Bush Administration has not done anything to address what it said was

the greatest danger facing us - that of a 9-11 with nuclear weapons.  It's a

deeper tragedy because it is unnecessary.  If the United States were willing

to join, we could build a nuclear weapons free world.


The failure of Bush's war strategy is an opportunity: to awaken to the

fallacy of what is now called Operation Iraqi Freedom but was originally

called Operation Iraqi Liberation until someone noticed that spells OIL.  It

is an opportunity to awaken to the fallacy of our society based on both

self-congratulation and on oil itself. 


If that oil were free and uncontested, we still could not afford to burn it,

because of its catastrophic consequences for our global climate.  We must

not destroy the Earth upon which we live.


Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst system of government -

except for all those other systems.  Well, peace is utopian - until you look

at the costs of war.  Justice is utopian - until you look at the costs of



Tonight we say to the families of those who have died or are now serving in

the Armed Forces: we pledge to work as hard for peace as if your loved one

were a member of our family, because he or she was and is.  And we offer

this to you in return: that you will be honoring your loved one, and

offering her or him the greatest form of love, if you work for peace.


Thank you.





David Keppel