Ellsberg, Swanson, Nader & Benjamin- On Iraq, Afghanistan, Manning & Wisconsin

Daniel Ellsberg

On March 18, Daniel Ellsberg, David Swanson, Ralph Nader, Medea Benjamin, and others gave moving speeches on the need to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the strategies that they would encourage us to follow.  On March 19, at the White House, 1,500 people demonstrated, calling for an end to the wars and for justice for Bradley Manning.  More than 100 people were arrested.  The same day, throughout the country, in more than one hundred marches and rallies, thousands demonstrated.  On March 20, at the Quantico Marine Base, 350 people demonstrated and 31 were arrested.
The war in Iraq is now in its ninth year.  The war in Afghanistan is well into its tenth year.  Both of these wars are unjust, and they are illegal.  They are costly in both lives and treasure.  In Iraq, more than 4,400 American soldiers have been killed.  More than 32,000 have been wounded.  Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Nearly five million have been displaced.
More than 1,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. More than 12,000 have been wounded.  Tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed.
The war in Iraq has cost us $779 billion, so far.  The war in Afghanistan has cost us $373 billion, so far.  Together, that is over one trillion dollars.
We now have 50,000 troops in Iraq, plus about 50,000 military contractors.  In Afghanistan, we have 100,000 troops and about 70,000 contractors.  The proposed military budget for FY 2011, including the cost for these two wars, is $709 billion.  The military accounts for 58% of our federal discretionary budget for FY 2011.  The killings must stop, and we must bring our war dollars home.
For the cost of keeping each soldier in Afghanistan, we can create twenty-three jobs here at home. We need to end the wars.  We need to cut the military budget substantially.  We should insist that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.  We must put a stop to the powerful influence of corporations on our domestic and foreign policy decisions.  We need to dismantle the military-industrial complex, which perennially encourages us to engage in war.  (For a video of key excerpts of Eisenhower’s famous speech, see one of my earlier posts here.
In his speech, Daniel Ellsberg described President Obama as, “a former Constitutional scholar.” He described Obama as, “a man who believes we elected a monarch.”  Ellsberg discussed Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  He spoke extensively about the Bradley Manning case.  Ellsberg referred to Manning as “a hero,” and he said that he felt “a kinship” with Manning.
David Swanson discussed his theses that, “War is a lie.”  He said, “Wars … cannot be controlled, and the real motivations that drive them are not as advertised.”  Swanson discussed his belief that, “We have a President who defers to the military on everything.”
Ralph Nader, in his speech, said that he believes that, “We are, basically, in a fast transition to a functional dictatorship.”  He referred to the President as, “President Obama-Bush.”  Nader told the crowd, “Vietnam ended when people marched; Congress heard and began cutting off the money.  Congress can still cut off the money.”  He urges us to, “Focus on members of Congress.”
“People are feeling the need to fight back,” Medea Benjamin said.  “They’ve got to stand up.  There’s no more sitting back.”  She said, “We are seeing union and non-union people coming together.”  Benjamin spoke, with seeming optimism, of the importance of people fostering the linkage of the antiwar and workers’ rights movements.
The six-minute video, below, is a compilation of excerpts from the videos of the four speeches. The four original videos were recorded by Kevin Zeese and posted on YouTube by David.
To view a video of Dan’s full speech, click here.
To view a video of David’s full speech, click here.
To view a video of Ralph’s full speech, click here.
To view a video of Medea’s full speech, click here.
I can’t say that I agree with everything that the speakers’ said, but they certainly did make a number of very important points.  I would especially encourage my readers to check out the full video of Medea’s speech. The speech is extremely powerful, and, in my view, Medea does an outstanding job of making several important, insightful points.
For an account of the demonstrations at the White House and at Quantico, along with videos of both demonstrations and of the arrests at Quantico, you might want to check out www.stopthesewars.org.
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3 Responses to Ellsberg, Swanson, Nader & Benjamin- On Iraq, Afghanistan, Manning & Wisconsin

  1. Jim Olson says:

    I can read about ten times as fast as i can watch a video. A transcript is far more valuable. You know the old saying, so much to do, so little time? Well I’m 70.

    • Jim,
      Thanks for commenting, and for the suggestion. I agree that it takes much less time to read a transcript than it does to watch a video. Also, as you said, we all have so little time. I think, however, that many people like to watch a video, because it provides context, nuance, and feeling, all of which are difficult to convey in a transcript. I try to reach a balance on all this.
      In the text of the article, I quote some key portions of the videos. I also indicate some phrases and sentences in bold, to make it easier for the reader to focus on important points. In presenting the videos, to save my readers time, I edited thirty-nine minutes of video down to the six-minute video that is included in the post. I linked to the full videos, for people who would like to view the full speeches.
      Transcribing the videos would have taken an inordinate amount of time. I hope this balanced approach has worked well for most of my readers.
      Thanks again for commenting. I do appreciate your input.
      Bob- for Peace and Justice Online

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