Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Live Blogging: Citizens' Tribunal on Iraq War"

noemie maxwell:
(Dan) Ellsberg starts out by commenting on Grossman's opening remarks on the critical need for US citizens to think, and the difficulty of thinking, of being aware. And he says this is true, but we're beyond that now. We're looking at new aggression being planned here and new disasters waiting for us (reference I believe to the apparent direction we're heading toward, invasion of Iran and Syria), a double-fold, three-fold escalation. And there is a new challenge here, a challenge to soldiers and citizens that we have never seen before. We are facing not only reckless escalation, as in Vietnam, and not only an illegal criminal action, like the invasion of Grenada or Panama or a single raid against Libya -- actions that are over with quickly. But this action is both clearly illegal and protracted. Vietnam was much like this war, but it was not as clearly illegal. Carter and Reagan, after the Vietnam war, were both able without embarrassment, to call Vietnam an honorable conflict.
I think it's fair to say that this has been the most incompetent aggression in the history of Empire. Unlike Vietnam, but like Saddam into Kuwait, like Hitler into Poland, etc., this is a clear-cut aggression. Well described as the pre-eminent of war crimes. What Ehren Watada is focusing on are the constitutional issues really unique to this war. We really have never had such a clear cut challenge in a democracy what to do in the case of an aggression like this. I was watching Fox News and wondered how their coverage differed from the German coverage during WWII. The flag would have been different, but the coverage would have been the same. There were many Germans were very uneasy about that law. They were living under a emergency state. They were no longer under a democracy.

We are not yet a police state, just as Germany was not yet a police state in January 1933, but by June, they were. We may see a major reorganization of what kind of government we have here in the United States.

This is not our first war of aggression. Korea, Gulf War, none of those look like wars of aggression. I don't think many people here know much about the Mexican War. How many people in this room? I see about 20 hands. The personal memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant can be found on thhe Internet. He's competing for "Worst President of the United States" with George W. Bush. Grant's understanding, when he was a Lt., was that he was given orders to deliberately provoke Mexicans so that Polk could falsely claim that Americans had been killed on American territory and then dare Congress to do something about it. Congress was very willing to comply. Except for one Congressman, Abraham Lincoln, who spent every afternoon introducing a spot resolution: "show us the exact location where Americans were killed."

Grant later said of the Mexican War, that it was one of the worst cases of a stronger nation attacking a weaker one. In later years, Grant said he never forgave himself for not having the moral courage to resign.

My life changed when I saw that there were people, like Lt. Watada and like Thoreau, who went to jail over the Mexican war, who were willing to stand up for justice. Thoreau said, when people are committing only small oppressions within the "machinery" of government, it can be tolerated. But when a country is unjustly overruun and conquered by a foreign army, and especially when it is our country committing that act, then it is not too early to rebel.

A majority of Americans are against this war. It takes no courage to oppose it. Like the Democratic Congress of the US with their non-binding resolution. What takes courage is stopping it. Most of the Democratic Congressmembers are ready to let us stay in. It won't be just more of the same. They're ready to let new disasters take place. And no one is ready to take responsibility for it.

Thoreau said: The thousands opposing slavery and war who hesitate and sometimes protest, but do nothing to stop it, who wait for others to remedy the evil, at most, they give a weak vote. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper only. A minority cannot be resisted when it puts its whole weight behind it. Lt. Watada has put his whole weight, his career, non-violently and truthfully, his access to information.

I don't discount people who give their partial vote. That is needed too. But it is the people who give their whole vote, their whole weight, who give us hope that we can change the direction of this country and avert these disasters that face us.

Question: What court does have the ability to address the legality of this war?

Congress and the President "fight" over this decision, who decides whether to wage or halt war. But when the question is not just should we have a war, in practical terms, but is it legal, who else should decide that than the courts? If not the courts, then that makes no sense to me. It is not a complex question. Ehren Watada did not have to go to law school to see that this war is illegal. It is new for a court to address this question. But the court can decide to do it. What I would say to the judge in this case: You, like me, should be facing up to what your oath to the Constitution compels you to do.

Zappini has captured some notes on the synergistic effect of investigation and impeachment hearings that Ellsberg has commented on in relation to his experience in the Nixon administration. It's the best argument I've heard in favor of going ahead now with impeachment proceedings against George Bush.

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