New Politics


Antiwar talk at the Boston Commons, March 24, 2007

Howard Zinn

[This web article is part of a continuing discussion resulting from our Symposium on Iraq and the Antiwar Movement from Issue 39. See here for a full list of related print and web articles.]

[originally published as a ZNet Commentary, March 27, 2007]

If somebody invaded your home, and smashed things up, and terrorized your children, would we give them a timetable? When I look at this latest Democratic proposal for a timetable, you know, maybe 18 months from now, at the same time funding the war for another 140 billion dollars, you know, it's as if you gave an intruder in your house a timetable for withdraw, and meanwhile, made a nice dinner for him. No, we can't do that, we have to get out. We don't belong in Iraq. The people in Iraq do not want us there, the American people expressed themselves clearly that the American people don't want us there. It seems the only people who want us there are the members of Congress and the Bush administration.

You know what? We shouldn't have anymore non-binding resolutions. This administration feels that everything is non-binding, you know? According to Bush the Ten Commandments are non-binding. You know, "Thou shall not kill" is non-binding. The only kind of resolution that?., there is a resolution that the House of Representatives could pass, which is binding and which is not subject to presidential veto, and that is a resolution for impeachment. It's time to talk about impeachment. We had 4 years of war in Iraq; we've had 4 years of what the Constitution requires as grounds for impeachment that is "high crimes and misdemeanors." We've had high crimes committed by this government: aggressive war. At the end of World War II, at the Nuremberg Trials, the Nazi leaders were hanged for carrying on wars of aggression. And we are carrying on a war of aggression.

I think what we ought to start talking about is not just the war in Iraq, but war in general. Because, and I say this, I join the other veterans who spoke from this microphone, I am a veteran of World War II, I was a bombardier in the Air Force in World War II. And my own experiences, and my own study of history, have persuaded me that war solves no fundamental problems, no matter what excuses are given to us by our so-called leaders. No matter what we are told about fighting for freedom and democracy, fighting for civilization, no matter what we are told, what tyrant is in power, there is no excuse for war, which is the mass indiscriminant killing of huge numbers of people. No excuse for that. War should come to an end, and we should think beyond the war in Iraq, and insist that we will never go to war again for whatever reason is given to us.

You know they talk about terrorism and the war on terrorism, and just think, at the time of 9-11, this country had 10,000 nuclear weapons. We had submarines armed with nuclear weapons, we had airbases in a hundred countries, and yet 9-11 took place. Militarism, war, submarines, nuclear weapons, they solve nothing.

And if we are going to really do something about terrorism, we ought to get rid of war, because war IS terrorism. We need to stop all this pride in being a great military power. I don't want my country to be a great military power. I want my country to be a great humanitarian power. When people were drowning in New Orleans and in Mississippi because of Katrina, I was thinking of the helicopters over Iraq which should have been saving people here in this country, instead of killing people over there. We should be using our enormous wealth to give everybody in this country free healthcare, and I mean everybody. Let's not talk about legal immigrants and illegal immigrants, citizens and non-citizens, every human being deserves free healthcare, every human being deserves an education. Remember those signs of last May, "No Human Being is Illegal," except maybe the people in the White House.

Albert Einstein said after World War I, thinking of the horrors of that war, he said: "War will not stop until men refuse to fight." And we are now seeing men and women refusing to fight in Iraq. We need to support them. And we need to support the family of those who have died in Iraq. And when enough people refuse to fight in Iraq, and when enough of us support them in their refusal, then the war will not be able to continue. So I look forward to that time when not only this war ends, but all war ends, and we can finally live in a country which we can be proud of. Thank you.


HOWARD ZINN is the author of A People's Hisotry of the United States, and, most recently, of A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.


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