Speech given by New England American Friends Service Committee Co-Clerk Brian Corr at the Day After anti-war rally held in Boston's Government Center
Even as I prepared these words, I was hoping that I would never have to
I began nine days ago -- the day that marked one and one-half years since the terror attacks on New York and Washington.
And 18 months later the U.S. has launched a vicious retaliatory war on the population of a country that -- contrary to what the Bush Administration wants us to believe -- has no known connection to those attacks.
What has happened to our country?
The Bush Administration claims the UN has become irrelevant by doing
exactly what it was established to do -- ensuring the rule of international law over the rule of force.
The Bush Administration claims the UN has become irrelevant by refusing to support the immoral and illegal actions of the world's only superpower -- a country that is responsible for fully half of the world's military spending
-- a country that has evaded, ignored, and blackmailed the UN time and time again..
Our government claims that we -- here in the United States -- have faced an "imminent threat" from a nation that has lost 1,500,000 lives since October 1991 from the deadly sanctions, and that has had almost than 75% of its land controlled by the U.S for more than 11 years through the no-fly zones.
Our government has launched a war that will kill tens of thousands -- and very possible hundreds of thousands -- of innocent civilians in order to "liberate and disarm" Iraq.
The military's goal -- to "shock and awe" the Iraqi government, military, and populace into submission -- means in simple English that they plan to kill many -- and to traumatize the rest. Millions of Iraqis will face horrifying and life-threatening danger, and will then suffer from lasting post-traumatic stress disorder, experiencing nightmares, flashbacks, extreme fear and anxiety, and emotional numbing long after the attacks end.
This is how the Bush Administration plans to liberate Iraq...
But if you care about peace, you are in the right place today.
We are here today -- first and foremost -- to remind our country that war is by definition a failure for the human race, and that this coming war against Iraq in particular will been a monumental failure.
We are here today because we are serving now as the conscience of our
nation. We are here to remind our fellow Americans of essential facts,
facts that many of them already know, but which have been battered into
subconsciousness by a relentless war machine and by the mainstream media which support it.
We are waging peace. It is difficult, hard work. It is constant -- and we must not let up.
We are not here today because of a failure of the peace movement, or of the UN -- this is a failure of the Bush Administration -- a failure of our nation's democracy -- a failure of our elected officials, officials who ignore the will of the people, who ignore international law, who ignore morality, to pursue their dream of a world under US domination.
We are here today to remind our country that there is such a thing as
international law, the Geneva conventions, and a United Nations, and that the United States does not have the right to take the law into its own hands, and decide when and where the cataclysm of war will be thrust upon a people.
We are here to remind our country that destroying a civilian infrastructure which people need to survive which is exactly what U.S. sanctions have done every day in Iraq for a decade that taking away their electricity, their jobs, their water, is a direct and flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, a war crime, and a moral abomination.
We are here to remind our country that a nation which wants to be a force for human rights in the world must first stop its own systematic military support of human rights-abusing governments, and that for this reason the U.S. must not only stop this war -- the U.S. must immediately suspend all weapons shipments and military related aid to the governments of Turkey, Columbia, Indonesia, and Mexico all countries which have used U.S. weapons to wage war against their own people.
We are here to remind our country that it is wildly inappropriate,
counterproductive and again, immoral, to punish an entire civilian
population for the sins of its leaders.
I am sick and tired of having the likes of John Ashcroft Donald Rumsfeld
dictate to me that to oppose war with Iraq means that I am aiding terrorism and supporting Saddam Hussein, and I want to be very clear here today that I am ADAMANTLY pro-peace and ADAMANTLY anti-terrorist, and that that is precisely why I am opposed to this illegal, immoral, and insane war.
We are here to remind our country that it is never, never justifiable to
kill innocent civilians, regardless of the cause; to remind our country
that killing will never stop killing, and that adding our atrocities on top of September 11 does nothing to protect human lives in the U.S or any other nation.
You cannot stop war crimes by committing war crimes. You cannot build
respect for international law by violating international law.
We are here to remind our country what Dr. Martin Luther King taught us
nearly 35 years ago, and which many of us have forgotten -- that the bombs we drop will explode not only in Iraq, but right here in America.
If we want to know why some schoolchildren in our country are gathering
large arsenals of bombs, guns and other weapons, or why 19 men would hijack airplanes and slam them into the Twin Towers, we should look no further than the leadership of our own government which spends vast sums of our tax dollars to amass arsenals of bombs, guns and other weapons -- and which then shows an astoundingly callous disregard for the lives of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the literally dozens of nations which the U.S. has bombed in the past 40 years.
Though the times appear grim, now is not the time to let up. We who have
built an incredible peace movement the last six months have an opportunity, an obligation even, to turn it into a sustained effort to take back our government. We must do all we can to end this war and the wholesale slaughter it will entail.
Never before in the history of the world has there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation about the very legitimacy of war
So remember why we are here today:
We are here today because we are the people who support the rule of law
over the rule of force.
We are here today because we are the people who support human rights, and support human life.
We are here because we are the people who work day and night to build a
world in the 21st century that is not only safe for our children, but
worthy of them.
We are here to stop this war!
And we are NOT GOING AWAY!
We are not going away until this illegal war -- this immoral war on the
people of Iraq stops. We are not going away until our government stops,
forever and ever, to wage war against civilian populations, and to use
cluster bombs and cruise missiles as idle playthings, tossed capriciously at innocent men, women and children by a military superpower which is bereft of meaning, direction, and morality.
That is why we are here today.
And we are NOT GOING AWAY!
Brian Corr serves as co-chair of the National Board of Peace Action, and is co-clerk of the Executive Committee of New England American Friends Service Committee.
c 2003 Brian Corr. This material may be reprinted, redistributed, and quoted as long as the author's name, along with this notice, are included with it.