(This is a speech I gave at our No Iran War & No More Imperial Warfare Protest in Fayetteville, Arkansas on January 25, 2020)
We are gathered here today to say loud & clear, No War on Iran! As we speak, war is being waged on Iran with economic warfare of crippling sanctions, as the Iranian people are surrounded by endless U.S. wars, drone bombings, military bases and occupations.
We are gathered here today to say: U.S. Out of the Middle East! The Iraqi government recently voted for the U.S. to leave. We must listen.
Today is an International Day of Protest, with over 200 cities in 19 countries rising up to say No More War. Many of our leading peace & justice organizations are behind this, both nationally and statewide, too many to list. Let’s give it up for these great organizations!
Today, thousands of people all across the world are calling for No War, and for recognition of the fundamental, moral, economic and environmental imperative of ending war altogether. Indeed, it is immoral to bomb cities and villages full of women, children and men, terroristic bombings that cause more terrorism. It is economically mindless to waste trillions of dollars and vast amounts of human labor on death and destruction, when that wealth should be used for a clean energy peace economy. It is environmentally brain dead to support a war machine that is the largest institutional polluter. As activist Margaret Flowers said, “Any talk of climate change that doesn’t include the military is nothing but hot air.”
The purpose of this event today is to call for a Stop to War on Iran, but also to dig deeper. Get out your shovels! We must ask the question: What are the Wars For? To answer this, we must expose some propaganda, some lies.
We are told the wars are for freedom. We are told the wars are for democracy, and so forth. However, the reality is: these wars are for corporate profit, imperialism, and the bloody bank accounts of the richest few.
Don’t take my word for it. Let’s listen again to perhaps the most persuasive voice on these matters, General Smedley Butler. With crystal clarity, he told us What the Wars are for nearly a century ago:
“I spent (33 years in) the Marine Corps (and) I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers…I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism…
I helped make Mexico (safe) for American oil interests in 1914…I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street…I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests …. In China I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
“Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die…(WWI) was the “war to make the world safe for democracy.” No one told them that dollars and cents were the real reason. No one (told) them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits…”
Butler distinctly described What the Wars are For. The wars are not for freedom and democracy, which is painfully clear since the U.S. overthrew multiple democracies. In reality, The Wars are for corporate profit, imperialism. Perhaps it should be called neo-imperialism because it’s slightly different than old school colonialism.
Previously, imperial powers explicitly laid claim to territories, while neo-imperialism is more covert. Instead of colonies, there are over 800 US foreign military bases in 80 countries. Instead of colonial governors, we have puppet dictators and subservient quasi-democracies. What unifies all forms of imperialism is the Extreme Injustice of violent subjugation of people to exploit their labor and resources.
When a government becomes disobedient, like nationalizing resources, that’s the cue for regime change. Regime change warfare includes starvation sanctions, coups and invasions. This is what happened in Iraq, Chile, Iran, Guatemala, Honduras, Bolivia and dozens more. This is what is happening in Iran (again), Venezuela and others as we speak. We are here today to say no more; No more imperial warfare!
The task of ending the institution of imperialism seems immense, but I would not be standing here if I thought it was impossible. I believe the Ultimate Leader is The People, and if we collectively learn to see through the lies, we shall overcome. We shall create a world of sincere justice….and deep peace.