Marjah is not Iwo Jima

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Hi, my name is Mike Gravel and I’m a former US Senator from the state of Alaska.  I’m standing in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial, and I’m blessed to live a block away, in fact, from my balcony I can look down at the Iwo Jima Memorial.

What this memorial represents is a sacrifice our young men have given for the safety of this country.  Today we are visited with threats to our safety, but they’re of a different kind.  They’re not of the kind of the Second World War, nor are they of the kind of the Cold War.  What we have today is global terrorism.

Terrorism is not addressed with large armies, large military expenditures.  It is addressed with a global intelligence effort where countries share their knowledge of the terrorists regardless of where they are.  And then, with that kind of arrangement, we can prosecute and bring to justice these terrorists after they’ve committed a crime, and even before, when they’re plotting to commit a crime.

Now, that’s what we need more of, not what we presently have, which of course, is expenditures for jet fighters, for all kinds of hardware that was relevant in the Cold War, but is not relevant today.  We spend more on defense, or war-making capability, than the rest of the world put together.  And we now involve ourselves with two wars.  One in Iraq, which was a fraudulent undertaking, and one in Afghanistan that need not be persued.  We’re fighting for a country that is rampant with corruption.

And the same thing in Iraq:  rampant with corruption.  But they’ve taken our precious tax dollars and put it out in these countries so that these warlords, so that these people can be bribed and go out to the Arabian Peninsula and buy expensive homes and live off of the tax dollars that Americans have put forth.  This is not a foreign policy that will lead to success.  It will lead to the bankruptcy of the American people.

Now, keep in mind what we have is a situation where we spend more on defense than all the rest of the world put together.  And the American people don’t even act as if they care.  Now, that is a reflection, not only on the brainwashing that’s taken place, but it’s a reflection on the perceptions that Americans have about their role in the world.

That’s something that must change, and it can only change if we can bring about direct democracy – the enactment of the National Initiative – where people can make laws…The only force that can stop the military industrial complex is going to be the American people voting to stop this foolishness, this useless expenditure that goes for war-making capability when we need it for peace-making capability here at home, for the success of our economy.

Thank you.


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  1. yes, this is “Pentagon Papers” Mike Gravel.

    • rossl on April 5, 2010 at 02:53
  2. I am a strong advocate for the demilitarization of the United States, and also support democratic reforms such as the ones you mention. But the military-industrial complex is so powerful, and the influence they wield over American politicians is pervasive, if not hegemonic. How do we break this stranglehold? What can I do to help bring about the changes you suggest?

  3. Taliban Retake Control, Momentum In Northern Marjah

    By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr., The New York Times

    Published: April 3, 2010

    MARJA, Afghanistan – Since their offensive here in February, the Marines have flooded Marja with hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. The tactic aims to win over wary residents by paying them compensation for property damage or putting to work men who would otherwise look to the Taliban for support.

    The approach helped turn the tide of insurgency in Iraq. But in Marja, where the Taliban seem to know everything – and most of the time it is impossible to even tell who they are – they have already found ways to thwart the strategy in many places, including killing or beating some who take the Marines’ money, or pocketing it themselves.

    Just a few weeks since the start of the operation here, the Taliban have “reseized control and the momentum in a lot of ways” in northern Marja, Maj. James Coffman, civil affairs leader for the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, said in an interview in late March. “We have to change tactics to get the locals back on our side.”


  5. Without safeguards that ensure such a process could never be used to suppress individual rights, I’d be not only viscerally but vocally against this.

    State initiatives have been abused in 40+ states to deny gay people fundamental human rights.  To the degree some kind of National Initiative could be used for something similar, even if only in theory, I would say not only no but Hell No.

  6. for yet, another very “healthy” message!

    There never, ever was a so-called “War on Terror” — that was a gimmick propaganda sound-byte used to justify all that ensued after 9/11, the circumstances of which are not really all that clear, either.

    As far as I’m concerned, our unbridled aggressions of illegal wars (war crimes) have done more to unleash the already existent HATRED toward us (before 9/11 — due to our economic hits on third world countries — I’m sure you’ve already read John Perkins, “I was an economic hit man”), and, rather, justifiably, if I might say so.  I mean what friggin’ right have we ever had to just to go  invade other countries, kill and maim their citizens, torture them and “steal” whatever we could of their natural resources?  Look what we’ve done to Iraq and their people, but we’ve actually, finally, begun getting the oil field rights, haven’t we?  Of course, you just keep applying pressure, via killing and whatever means, and you win, but you gain what?  Utter HATRED!

    I agree with all that you say, Sen. Gravel.  The problem I have is that the reps. in our government don’t care what we, the people, have to say anymore.  They don’t represent us at all.  They’re all too busy holding hands with the MIC, and all their subsidiaries.  We’ve been screaming, acting for years, we’ve been heard, but we’ve been ignored.  

    I think the issue here is that we must find a way to cut off the “snake’s head.”  Unless and until, we’re headed for a third world country quickly, that is, if global warming doesn’t hit us first.

    Thank you kindly for your ongoing courage and commitment!

    • BobbyK on April 5, 2010 at 06:50

    Thanks for the video!

    Excellent points about Military Industrial Complex and our elected leaders continuing to squander tax dollars on quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I share some of the others concerns about the ni4d leading to Out of Control Majoritarianism.

    Can we really trust direct democracy not to lead to discrimination against minority groups?

    I can easily imagine a Bill Donohue (President of Catholic League of US) pushing anti gay legislation. He’d claim bullshit danger to children etc. Can we really trust 50% plus 1 of the voters not to buy his hate?

    Heck even George W. won a majority in 2004. People do stupid stuff.

    I’ll keep an open mind and read more about the National Initiative 4 democracy.

    As an alternative…Could a 3rd & 4th party movement or a movement to get public financing of campaigns and reform of the senate filibuster give us the change we need?  

    • TomP on April 5, 2010 at 17:24

    for all you did as a seantor to help end the Vietnam War and for all you have done for peace and justice since then.

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