By David Swanson
Remarks in front of White House, May 17, 2006.
Some weeks back, Cindy Sheehan asked me to start a petition opposing an attack on Iran. We posted it at www.dontattackiran.org
It’s wonderful that so many people are here as we deliver the petition to the White House. It would be nice if President Bush were here, but I understand he’s run for the border in search of his lost 30 percent approval rating.
The other people who should be here, but who are here in spirit, are the 43,000 people who signed the petition on the website. We’ve brought with us to deliver to the men and women guarding our occupied but temporarily abandoned house all 43,000 names. These stacks and stacks of names are printed double-sided and include people’s cities and states, so that our President can be sure he’s listening in on the right people’s phone calls.
Also included, with about half of the names on the petition, are comments that people posted on the website. Almost all of them, Mr. President, are polite comments that need not have scared you way. Reading through thousands of them, I’m struck by the insight and the eloquence of the various points of view you so routinely ignore.
While the comments are for the most part not rude, many of them are angry, and even those that are not angry are opposed to your policies, Mr. President. In fact, a lot of them ask you to resign or promise that you will be impeached. I’m wearing a shirt that reads “Impeach Bush and Cheney” not because I’m angry with you, not because I hate you, and certainly not because I support the last president who was impeached or his corrupt warmongering wife. Mr. President, I want you impeached so that we can have peace in the world and a democracy in America, so that you will stop killing Iraqis and not begin killing Iranians.
Mr. President, this is not just about the people you’ve killed. It’s also about the people you could have saved with the same money and effort. Every dime of the hundreds of billions of dollars you’ve spent killing people could have been spent saving people, around the world, along the Gulf Coast, and in this city that you so unjustly occupy.
For far far less than you’ve already spent, we could have a Department of Peace. We could invest in diplomacy and foreign aid. We could create single-payer healthcare, free college, and free preschool, and restore a decent minimum wage and the right to organize a union – things that cost our public treasury nothing but the plutocrats who tell you what to do quite a lot.
Let me read you the words of our petition:
Dear President Bush and Vice President Cheney,
We write to you from all over the United States and all over the world to urge you to obey both international and U.S. law, which forbid aggressive attacks on other nations. We oppose your proposal to attack Iran. Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, just as Iraq did not possess nuclear weapons. If Iran had such weapons, that would not justify the use of force, any more than any other nation would be justified in launching a war against the world’s greatest possesor of nuclear arms, the United States. The most effective way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons would be to closely monitor its nuclear energy program, and to improve diplomatic relations — two tasks made much more difficult by threatening to bomb Iranian territory. We urge you to lead the way to peace, not war, and to begin by making clear that you will not commit the highest international crime by aggressively attacking Iran.
Mr. President, 43,000 people have signed that, and we will continue collecting signatures. Here are a few of the shorter comments that people added at the bottom:
David Battistoli of San Diego, CA: Haven’t you learned your lessons from Iraq? Pre-emptive wars are wrong.
Deborah Wayne of Jesup, GA: No military strikes without a vote from all of the registered voters in the U.S.
Joel Wendland of Mansfield, OH: Please do not attack Iran as we the American people want PEACE not WAR.
Peter Cobb of Scottsdale, AZ: ONCE was enough!
Phyllis Frazell of Detroit Lakes, MN: NO MORE WAR. Impeach the criminals NOW
James Perry of Studio City, CA: George Bush – YOU MAKE GOD CRY!
Stan Adams of West Palm Beach, FL: Our troops are not your toys to throw around when you want to look tough. Please do not start another war that you cannot win.
Amy Branham of Ann Arbor, MI: Nuking Iran is unacceptable, subhuman, insane, and should happen under no circumstances whatsoever.
Ted Lewis of Yelm, WA: Do not start any more wars in the name of the American People; we have not given you the right and permission to do so!!!!
Those comments, Mr. President, are from the first three pages of the nearly 7,000 pages it took to print them all out. Do you think these people might be trying to tell you something?
There are also quite a number of organizations behind this effort, many of them represented here today. They all oppose your proposal to attack Iran:
Gold Star Families for Peace, CODE PINK, Progressive Democrats of America, Democrats.com, Traprock Peace Center, Global Exchange, Velvet Revolution, Democracy Rising, Truthout, OpEdNews, Backbone Campaign, Consumers For Peace, Campus Antiwar Network, The Young Turks, Citizens for Legitimate Government, Counter Punch, United for Peace and Justice, Stop the War Coalition, This Can’t Be Happening, Voters Evolt, Springs Action Alliance, Radio News America, OrbStandard, International Socialist Organization, Voters for Peace, Thom Hartmann Show, Environmentalists Against War, U.S. Peace Council, Grandmothers for Peace, Justice Through Music, Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran, World Can’t Wait, The Rational Response Squad, Idriss Stelley Foundation, Bush Free Zone, Voice International, Foundation for the Development of Human Resources, Tbilisi, Georgia, Political Cooperative, City Sites, Agir contre la guerre (France), Americans Against the War (France), Spiritual Activism Conference, Muslims for Peace (Australia), AndrewBurgin.com, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Not in Our Name Aotearoa New Zealand, Pixel4Peace, Liberty News TV, IntelligentFuture, CampUS Strike for Peace, We The People United Bangladesh, Friends Committee on National Legislation,