We’re human beings! There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious that you’re so sick at heart that you can’t take part.
You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop.
And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! (Mario Savio, December 1964)
In December 1964, the United States was a cauldron on fire. Fervent anti-Vietnam War protests occurred alongside demonstrations and sit-ins as part of the broader Civil Rights Movement that included calls for recognition of indigenous rights, Black rights, Puerto Rican self-determination, Chicano rights, and women’s rights.
At this important moment of synchronicity, Blacks wore signs proclaiming, “I am a man” and young white pro-civil rights and anti-war demonstrators at University of California, Berkeley declared: “We’re human beings!” It is to our humanity that I now appeal. During this (past) long month of October, I can say without a doubt that all of our institutions, even those that exist solely for the pursuit of peace, have failed us: from international organisations founded so that there would be no more war, to international institutions whose sole mission is to render justice, the mighty prerequisite for there to be any peace at all.
No justice, no peace. And what kind of justice am I talking about? The kind of justice that satisfies the soul that the idea of justice, the ideal of justice, has been served.I’m talking about the substance of justice that gives form and mass to appearance. Therefore, the justice of which I speak must be open – able to be seen by the public.
However, merely the appearance of justice, without its substance, is shallow and recognisable. The skilled eye can easily spot a sham, a kangaroo court, a railroaded defendant. Especially when a foundational ingredient of justice is missing: and that is, truth.
In my ascendant order, justice begins with truth and peace ends in affirming human dignity.No truth, no justice; no justice no peace. So what kind of peace am I talking about? The kind of peace of which President John F Kennedy spoke at American University in 1963.
President Kennedy said: “There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university,” wrote John Masefield . . . He admired the splendid beauty of a university because it was, he said, a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth, may strive to make others see.
I have therefore chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of a peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave, or the security of the slave. I’m talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living; the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and build a better life for their children. Not merely peace for Americans, but for all men and women; not merely peace in our time, but peace in all time.
I speak of peace because of the new face of war . . . I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary, rational end of rational men . . . But I also believe that we must re-examine our own attitudes as individuals and as a nation . . . Every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward, by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace . . . towards freedom and peace here at home . . . Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man; and man can be as big as he wants.
No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings; man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable. Peace is a process – a way of solving problems . . . World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbour, it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance. Submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.
Peace need not be impractical and war need not be inevitable. No government or social system is so evil that it’s people must be considered as lacking in virtue. That was Kennedy in 1963. He was not awarded a peace prize, but instead received a bullet through his brains.
Time and time again, he refused to go along with the abominable schemes of his own Pentagon (using nuclear weapons and implementation of Operation Northwoods are two examples). However, we are now in the 21st Century and US president Barack Obama has been honoured with a Nobel Peace Prize.
In light of events ordered by our Commander-in-Chief in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia – for starters – clearly, the Nobel Committee at best acted prematurely, or perhaps have defined war as peace without letting us in on their new lexicography. In addition, these aforementioned countries are merely appetisers, Libya was a much more substantial course, as Syria, Algeria, and maybe Iran are thought by many to be the next course in this multi-nation feast of blood.
Russia and China surely constitute the piece de resistance of the main course; and US citizens at home and abroad seem to be the dessert. Sadly, any visit to any airport since 9/11 or now, a ride down a Tennessee road where the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) reign, it feels like the dessert is being rolled out before the main course.We know that truth is the first casualty of war. We’ve seen it time and time again.
Lies have accompanied every modern war from World War II to the Vietnam War. Why would it be any different for these 21st Century wars? It is not. 935 times our leaders lied to us in the run-up to the war against the people of Iraq. And with Libya, some commentators have written that the lies have been even more offensive.
One lie has already been unravelled and I want to focus on that one right now. The Libyan who went to Geneva and collected signatures on a letter demanding an investigation of the murders of thousands of Libyans by the Jamahiriya government is now on video in an interview revealing how he used a network of friends to get the signatures on the letter and that he just relied on the word of others that thousands of Libyans had been killed by the Jamahiriya government.
When asked point blank if he had any evidence whatsoever to prove that the allegations contained in the letter were true, he answered, “no.” Everything that we have witnessed in Libya, all of the bloodshed, is based on the word of this one individual and he admits on camera that he had not one whit of proof that the letter’s contents were true.
He was not even allowed to occupy the first position as signatory to the letter! The very first signatory to the letter is United Nations Watch, a non-governmental organisation affiliated with the American Jewish Committee. NATO commented recently that they have owned this operation from the beginning, unlike in Iraq. And now look at Libya.
What of the, by some estimates, 20 000 people killed? What of the Libyans whose murders are readily available on the internet in videos, including the Gaddafi family? What of the Libyans whose skin is dark like mine and who have been targeted for murder because some Libyans would rather be identified with whites or Europeans and not the Africans that they are?
What about the migrant workers, who under the Jamahiriya were viewed as partners in the development of Libya and Africa? Many of them lost their lives because they chose to stay because the Libya Jamahiriya had been so good to them.
Those who did not stay, fled to unsafe refugee camps set up along the Tunisia border, some of whom were financed by the very countries contributing to the bombing. What about the families of those migrant workers who depended on remittances from their loved ones just to survive?
What about the families of those incinerated underneath US/NATO bombs, whose names we will never know, and whose fate their loved ones will never know?What about those left homeless by US/NATO bombing? In the Jamahiriya, every Libyan was entitled to a home.
In fact, the Jamahiriya was in the process of building tens of thousands of housing units, readily visible all over the country. Now, those habited and uninhabited have been destroyed. While I was in
Libya, I learnt that the Jamahiriya had set aside funding to repair homes and businesses damaged by the weapons of US/NATO and their allies.
What about the infrastructure totally destroyed, including the pipe factory for the Great Manmade River? What about future generations of Libyans cursed to look like the deformed babies of Baghdad and Fallujah due to US/NATO’s use of depleted uranium? What about the future of the African states and the African Union that depended on Libyan finances for many of their activities?
And finally, what of us? Citizens of the United States whose tax dollars and silence – and in some cases, outright support – allowed this travesty to take place? The Libyan people must be stunned by the silence of their friends. What a spectacle of Hillary Clinton giving an order to kill and then laughing when she is told that it is carried out?
Hillary Clinton willingly joined ranks with Tzipni Livni, who during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, defended Israel’s war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the people of Gaza; Clinton joins league with Henry Kissinger as someone having given a green light for murder. Maybe now she will qualify for a peace prize, too.
US contractors are on the ground in Libya with reports of Blackwater being among the Qataris, British, French, Italian, US, and other Special Forces.
The Libyan people have been irreparably harmed and with the murder on October 20 of their Chief of all the tribes, Ali, unarmed at his home in Bani Walid, there are rumours of revenge killings already having begun.
Video images of the last moments of what we are told are Muammar and Muatassim Gaddafi, amid shouts of God is Great, make me shudder.
In my opinion, the dignity of all of us has been debased by the cumulative images of the US/NATO “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, starting with the meeting in Geneva at the United Nations Human
Rights Commission, through the perorations of the US United Nations Ambassador, through all the videos of murders and death and destruction, through the events of October 20 and up to now. I am deeply affected by what I have witnessed. I am deeply disappointed in how far the United States has been steered off course.
The writer is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. She is the party’s presidential nominee.