World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs
Joseph Gerson's August 4 Rally Speech
In these dangerous times, it is a privilege to return to the World Conference.
Last year we could not know where the recklessly militarist Bush Administration would lead. It was clear, though that they were creating an extraordinarily dangerous period of imperial reconsolidation, aggression, and possible nuclear war to impose gthe arrangement [for] the twenty-first century.h
Then came the shocking and criminally indiscriminate September 11 attacks.
The U.S. has, of course, visited incomparable death and destruction on other nations. In addition to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and its wars from Manila to the Middle East, it has threatened to initiate nuclear war on more than twenty occasions. What was new about September 11 was that the violence was targeted against the hegemon, but the losses of loved ones were nonetheless devastating.
The Bush Administration has harnessed the sympathy, fear, and anger from the 9-11 attacks to "set the reset button" on U.S. foreign and military policies. Rather than rely on legal and diplomatic means to punish those responsible, it has launched its war against Afghanistan which bled into Pakistan, Kashmir and even India. The Bush government says that World War III will be fought overtly and covertly in as many as eighty countries and will not end in our lifetimes.
The post 9-11 trauma and the government inspired gUnited We Standh patriotism have provided the Bush Administration with the political cover to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, to increase the U.S. military budget to $400 billion - more than the worldfs 25 next largest military spenders combined! and to expand its alliances. It has also expanded its global network of U.S. foreign military bases - especially in oil and gas-rich Central Asia on the periphery of China, released its frightening Nuclear Posture Review, and subverted international law from the U.N. Charter to the International Criminal Court.
Washington is now recklessly preparing for war - possibly nuclear war - against Iraq in what we are told will be gthe most momentous use of force by the United States since the Vietnam war.h
With its abrogation of the ABM Treaty, the NPR, and the fusion of the militaryfs strategic and space commands, we see U.S. commitments to nuclear superiority and first-strike nuclear warfighting. The Bush Administration is infatuated with nuclear weapons. Even the New York Times editorializes that the U.S. has become a nuclear grogue.h Nuclear weapons are to remain the cornerstone of U.S. military power for the next fifty years and the U.S. will retain the potential to deploy as many as 15,000h nuclear weapons.
The Bush Administration is on a fast-track to deploy gmissile defenses,h and is preparing for a gsurgeh in production of new nuclear weapons, including the earth penetrating bunker buster for use against countries like Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
We are resisting, but we desperately need your help. Since September 11, our primary demands have been 1) to bring those responsible for terrorist attacks to justice by legal means, 2) that war is not the answer, 3) to protect endangered communities and our constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, and 4) to address the root causes of the September 11 attacks and of the wars that have followed.
With conferences, protest vigils, signature ads like this one, the April 20th demonstration that brought 100,000 protesters to Washington, D.C., the growing opposition to a war against Iraq, and energy generated by the recently released gUrgent Call to End the Nuclear Danger,h opposition is building. Omost urgent task now is to prevent the threatened, and possibly nuclear, war against Iraq which will result in massive and possibly nuclear destruction, heavy civilian casualties, chaos throughout the Middle East, and an endless U.S. military occupation. But our movement is not yet strong enough to prevent this and other wars. Only unrelenting opposition from within the U.S., combined with equal or greater nonviolent protests internationally, can prevent further catastrophe.
Friends, these are extraordinarily dangerous times. Diplomats in Europe and thoughtful people in the U.S. compare the Bush regime to Germany in the 1930s. Thousands, if not millions of lives lie in the balance. We are doing all that we can to reverse the deadly tide, but we cannot do it alone. I urge you to recognize the dangers, to respond as fully as you possibly can to stop the Bush Administrationfs global military crusade, and to rise to our moral and historic responsibilities.