Howard Zinn, "Just and Unjust Wars"
Howard Zinn, activist historian, has been a lifelong participant
in movements for civil rights and peace. During the early 1960s he was
one of two adult advisers to the StudentNonviolent Coordinating Committee,
and wrote SNCC:
The New Abolitionists. He spoke and wrote against the war in Vietnam, and after the war ended, testified as an expert on civil disobedience in several trials of ultra resisters opposed to the nuclear arms race. His very influential People's History of the United States helped to prepare the ground for widespread opposition in 1992 to celebration of the quincentennial of Christo-
pher Columbus' landing in the Western Hemisphere.
In this talk, Zinn protests the Persian Gulf War and declares his
opposition to any foreseeable war that might be fought by the United States.
Reflecting on his own participation in World War II as a bombardier, he
writes: "I suppose I've come to the conclusion that war, by its nature,
being the indiscriminate and mass killing of large numbers of people, cannot
for any political cause, any ideological cause, any territorial boundary, any tyranny, any aggression."
. . . The generous reader will- recognize and perhaps forgive the loose
and easy style of an extemporaneous talk, in this case given at the University
of Wisconsin in Madison, at the close of the U.S. military action in the
Gulf. It was a hard time for anti-war people, with most of the nation, whipped up by the government and the media in their customary collaboration, exultant at our "easy victory" (few American casualties; who cared about Iraqi casual-
ties?). The anti-war minority was not silent; there were mass demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and other cities, thousands of small actions all around the country, some heroic refusals of participation by men and women in the military, who faced court-martial and prison. I tried to put the short war into a longer historical perspective.
I think that the great danger of what has just happened in the Gulf is what the Administration wanted to happen, that is, to fight a war that would make war acceptable once more. The Vietnam War gave war a bad name. The people who lead this country have been trying ever since to find a war that would give war a good name. They think they've found it. I think it's important for us to sit back and think about not just the Gulf War, not just the Vietnam War, not just this or that war, but to think about the problem of war, of just and unjust war.
We've had all these conferences. All of you who were around at the beginning
of the twentieth century remember the Hague Conferences and the Geneva
Conferences of the 1930s limiting the techniques of war. The idea was:
you can't do away with war, all you can do is make war r,ore humane.
Einstein went to one of these conferences. I don't know how many of you
know that. (We like to bring up things that people don't know. What is scholarship, anyway?) Einstein was horrified at World War I, as so many were, that great war for democracy, for freedom, to end all wars, etc. Ten million men die on the battlefield in World War I and nobody, at the end of it, understands why, what for. World War I gave war a bad name. Until World
War II came along.
But Einstein was horrified by World War I. He devoted a lot of time
to thinking and worrying about it. He went to this conference in Geneva.
He thought they were discussing disarmament, to do away with the weapons
of war and therefore to prevent war. Instead, he found these representatives
of various countries discussing what kinds of weapons would be suitable
and what kind of weapons needed to be prohibited. What were good weapons
and bad weapons, just weapons and unjust weapons? Einstein did something
which nobody ever expected. He was a very private man. He did something
really uncharacteristic: he called a press conference. The whole international
press came, because Einstein was, well, he was Einstein. They came, and
he told this press conference how horrified he was by what he had heard
at the international conference. He said, "One does not make wars less
likely by formulating rules of warfare. War cannot be humanized. It can
only be abol-
We still have that problem of just and unjust wars, of unjust wars taking
place and then another war takes place which looks better, has a better
rationale, is easier to defend, and so now we're confronted with a "just"
war and war is made palatable again. Right now the attempt is to put Vietnam
behind us, that unjust war, and now we have a just war. Or at least a quick
one, a real smashing victory.
I had a student a few years ago who was writing something about war. I don't know why a student of mine should write about war. But she said, "I guess wars are like wines. There are good years and bad years. But war is not like wine. War is like cyanide. One drop and you're dead." I thought that was good.
What often is behind this business of "we can't do anything about war"
and "war, be realistic, accept it, just try to fool around with the edges
of it" is a very prevalent notion that you sometimes hear a lot when people
begin discussing war. Fourteen minutes into any discussion of war someone
says, "It's human nature." Don't you hear that a lot? You just get a group
together to discuss war and at some point somebody will say, "It's human nature." There's no evidence of that. No genetic evidence. No biological evidence. All we have is historical evidence. And that's not evidence about our nature-that's evidence about circumstance.
There's no biological evidence, no genetic evidence, no anthropological evidence. What is the anthropological evidence? You look at these "primitive" tribes, as anthropologists call them, look at what they do, and say, "Ah, these tribes are fierce." "Ah, these tribes are gentle." It's just not clear at all.
And what about history? There's a history of wars and also a history
of kindness. But it's like the newspapers and the historians. They dwell
on wars and cruelty and the bestial things that people do to one another.
They don't dwell a lot on the magnificent things that people do for one
another in everyday life again and again. It seems to me it only takes
a little bit of
thought to realize that if wars came out of human nature, out of some spontaneous urge to kill, then why is it that governments have to go to such tremendous lengths to mobilize populations to go to war. It seems so obvious, doesn't it? They really have to work at it. They have to dredge up enormous numbers of reasons. They have to inundate the airwaves with these reasons.
They have to bombard people with slogans and statements and then, in case people aren't really persuaded, they have to threaten them. If they haven't persuaded enough people to go into the armed forces, then they have to draft them.
Of course the persuasion into the armed forces also includes a certain
amount of economic persuasion. You make sure you have a very poor underclass
in society so that you give people a choice between starving or going into
the military. But if persuasion doesn't work and enticements don't work,
then anybody who doesn't want to sign up for the draft or who goes
into the army and decides to leave is going to be court-martialed and go to prison. They have to go to great lengths to get people to go to war. They work very hard at it.
What's interesting also is that they have to make moral appeals. That
should say something about human nature, if there is something to be said
about human nature. It suggests that there must be some moral element in
human nature. Granted that human beings are capable of all sorts of terrible
things and human beings are capable of all sorts of wonderful things. But
there must be something in human beings which makes them respond to moral appeals. Most humans don't respond to appeals to go to war on the basis of "Let's go and kill." No, "Let's go and free somebody. Let's go and establish democracy. Let's go and topple this tyrant. Let's do this so that wars will finally come to an end." Most people are not like Theodore Roosevelt. Just
before the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt said to a friend, "In strict confidence" (you might ask then, how did I get hold of it; you read all these public letters that now appear and they all start "in strict confidence")-"I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one." Well. No moral appeal there. Just we need a war.
You may know that George Bush, when he entered the White House, took down the portrait that Reagan had put up there to inspire him. It was a portrait of Calvin Coolidge, because Reagan knew that Calvin Coolidge was one of the most inspiring people in the history of this country. Coolidge had said: "The business of America is business." Bush took down the portrait of Calvin Coolidge and put up the portrait of Theodore Roosevelt. I don't want to make too much of this. But I will. What Theodore Roosevelt said, Bush might just as well have said. Bush wanted war.
Every step in the development of this Persian Gulf War indicated, from
the moment that the invasion of Kuwait was announced, everything that Bush
did fits in perfectly with, the fact that Bush wanted war. He was determined
to have war. He was determined not to prevent this war from taking place.
You can just tell this from the very beginning: no negotiations, no compromise,
no-what was that ugly word9.-linkage. Bush made linkage the kind of word
that made you tremble. I always thought that things were linked naturally.
Everybody was linked, issues were linked. I thought that even the countries
in the Middle East were somehow linked, and that the issues in the Middle East were somehow linked. No negotiations, no linkage, no compromise. He sends Baker to Geneva, and people got excited. Baker's going to meet the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, in Geneva. What are they going to do? Bush says, no negotiations. Why are you going? Are you a frequent flyer? Amazing. No negotiations, right up to the end.
Who knows if Saddam Hussein in any of those little overtures that were made, I don't know how serious he was or what would have happened, but the fact is there were overtures that came, yes, even from Saddam Hussein, and they were absolutely and totally neglected. One came from a member of the Foreign Service of the United States who brought it personally from the Middle East and gave it to Scowcroft. No response, no response at all. Bush wanted this war.
But, as I said, there aren't a lot of people, fortunately, like Theodore
Roosevelt and Bush. Most people do not want war. Most people, if they are
going to support a war, have to be given reasons that have to do with morality,
with right and wrong, with justice and lack of justice, with tyranny and
opposing tyranny. I think it's important to take a look at the process
populations are, as this one was in a very short time, brought to support a war. On the eve of war, you remember, before January 15, the surveys all showed that the American public was divided half and half, 46 percent to 47 percent on the issue of 'should we use force to solve this problem in the Middle East." Half and half.
Of course, after the bombs started falling in Iraq, it suddenly became
75 percent and then 80 percent in favor of war. What is this process of
persuasion? It seems to me we should take a look at the elements of that,
because it's important to know that, to be able to deal with it and talk
to people about it, especially since that 80 or 85 percent or now they
report 89.3 percent, whatever, must be a very shallow percentage. It must
be very thin, I think. It must be very temporary and can be made more temporary
than it is. It must be shallow because half of those people before the
bombs fell did not believe in the use of force. Public opinion, as we know,
is very volatile. So to look at the elements by which people are persuaded
is to begin to think
about how to talk to at least that 50 percent and maybe more, who are willing to reconsider whether this war was really just and necessary and right, and whether any war in our time could be just and necessary and right.
I think one of the elements that goes into this process of persuasion is the starting point that the U.S. is a good society. Since we're a good society, our wars are good. If we're a good society, we're going to do good things. We do good things at home. We have a Bill of Rights and color television. There are lots of good things you can say if you leave out enough. It's like ancient Athens. Athens goes to war against Sparta. Athens must be on the right side because Athens is a better society than Sparta. Athens is more cultured. Sure, you have to overlook a few things about ancient Athens, like slavery. But still, it really is a better society. So the notion is that Athens fighting Sparta is probably a good war. But you have to overlook things, do a very selective job of analyzing your own society, before you come to the conclusion that yours is so good a society that your unadorned goodness must spill over into everything you do, including everything you do to other people abroad.
What is required, it seems to me, is, in the case of the U.S. as the good society doing good things in the world, simply to look at a bit of history. It's only if you were born yesterday and also if today you don't look around very sharply that you can come to the conclusion that we are so good a society that you can take the word of the government that any war we get into will be a right and a just war. But it doesn't take too much looking into American history to see that we have a long history of aggression.
Talk about naked aggression. A long history of naked aggression. How
did we get so big? We started out as a thin band of colonies along the
East Coast and soon we were at the Pacific and expanding. It's not a biological
thing, that you just expand. No. We expanded by force, conquest, aggression.
Sure it says, "Florida Purchase" on those little maps that we used to have
elementary school, a map with colors on them. Blue for Florida Purchase, orange for Mexican Cession. A purchase. Just a business deal. Nothing about Andrew Jackson going into Florida and killing a number of people in order to persuade the Spaniards to sell Florida to us. No money actually passed hands, but we'll ignore that.
The Mexican Cession. Mexico "ceded" California and Colorado and New
Mexico and Arizona. They ceded all of that to us. Why? Good neighbors.
Latin American hospitality. Ceded to us. There was a war, a war which we
provoked, which President Polk planned for in advance, as so many wars
are planned for in advance. Then an incident takes place and they say,
wow, an incident took place. We've got to go to war. That was also a fairly short war and a decisive victory and soon we had 40 percent of Mexico. And it's all ours. California and all of that.
Why? Expansion. I remember how proud I was way back when I first looked
at that map and saw "Louisiana Purchase." It doubled the size of my country,
and it was just by purchase. It was an empty space. We just bought it.
I really didn't learn anything, they didn't tell me when they gave me that
stuff in history class, that there were Indians living in that territory.
had to be fought in battle after battle, war after war. They had to be killed, exterminated. The buffalo herds, their means of subsistence, had to be destroyed, they had to be driven out of that territory so that the Louisiana Purchase could be ours.
Then we began to go overseas. There was that brief period in American
history, that honest moment in a textbook where it has a chapter called
"The Age of Imperialism." 1898 to 1903. There, too, we went into Cuba to
save the Cubans. We are always helping people. Saving people from somebody.
So we went in and saved the Cubans from Spain and immediately planted
our military bases and our corporations in Cuba. Then there was Puerto Rico. A few shells fired and Puerto Rico is ours.
In the meantime Teddy Roosevelt is swimming out into the Pacific after the Philippines. Not contiguous to the U.S. People didn't know that. McKinley didn't know where the Philippines were. And Senator Beveridge of Indiana said, "The Philippines not contiguous to the U.S.? Our Navy will make it contiguous." Ours is a history of expansion, aggression, and it continues.
We become a world power. Around 1905-1907, the first books began to appear about American history which used that phrase, "America as a world power." That in fact was what we intended to do, to become a world power. It took World War I and then World War II. We kept moving up and the old imperial powers were being shoved out of the way, one by one.
Now the Middle East comes in. In World War II Saudi Arabia becomes one
of our friendly places. The English are being pushed out more and more,
out of this oil territory. The Americans are going to come in. Of the "Seven
Sisters," the seven great oil corporations, five of them will be American,
maybe one will be British. In the years after World War II, of course,
Soviet Union is the other great power, but we are expanding and our influence is growing and our military bases are spreading all over the world and we are intervening wherever we can to make sure that things go our way.
In 1940-41, at the beginning of World War l:I, Henry Luce, a very powerful
man in America, the publisher of Life and Time and Fortune and the maker
of presidents, wrote an article called "The American Century," anticipating
that this coming century is going to be ours. He said, "This is the time
to accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most vital
powerful nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence. For such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." He was not a shy man. So we proceeded.
While it was thought that anti-communism, rivalry with the Soviet Union,
the other great superpower, was the central motive for the American foreign
policy in the postwar period, I think it's more accurate to say that the
problem was not communism, the problem was independence from American power.
It didn't matter whether a country was turning communist or not, it mattered
that a country was showing independence and not falling in line with what the United States conceived of as its responsibility as a world power. So in 1953 the government in Iran was overthrown and Mossadeq came into power. He was not a communist but a nationalist. He was a nationalist also because he nationalized the oil. That is intolerable. Those things are intolerable, just
like Arbenz in Guatemala the following year. He's not a communist. Well, he's a little left of center, maybe a few socialist ideas, maybe he talks to communists. But he's not a communist. He's nationalized United Fruit lands. That's intolerable.
Arbenz offers to pay United Fruit. That proves that he's certainly not a real revolutionary. A real revolutionary wouldn't give a cent to United Fruit .. . I wouldn't. I've always considered myself a real revolutionary because I wouldn't pay a cent to anybody like United Fruit. He offered to pay them the price of their land, the price that they had declared for tax purposes. Sorry. That won't do. So the CIA goes to work and overthrows the Arbenz government.
And the Allende government in Chile also. Not a communist government, a little marxist, a little socialist, quite a lot of civil liberties and freedom of the press, but more independent of the United States than the other governments of Chile. A government that's not going to be friendly to Anaconda Copper and ITT and other corporations of the U.S. that have always had their way in Latin America. That's the real problem.
That history of expansion, of intervention, is not even to talk about Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. Not to talk about all the tyrants that we kept in power, of all the aggressions not just that we committed but that we watched other countries commit as we stood silently by because we approved of those aggressions.
Until Noam Chomsky brought up the name of East Timor into public discussion
nobody had even heard of it. The CIA had heard of East Timor. Anyway,
Indonesia went into East Timor and killed huge numbers of people.
The invasion, occupation, and brutalization that Saddam Hussein committed
in Kuwait was small in comparison to the enormous bloodshed in East Timor,
done by Indonesia, our friend, and with military hardware supplied by the U.S.
The record of the U.S. in dealing with naked aggression in the world,
looking at a little bit of history, is so shocking, so abysmal, that nobody
with any sense of history could possibly accept the argument that we were
now sending troops into the Middle East because the U.S. government is
morally outraged at the invasion of another country. That Bush's heart
goes out to
the people of Kuwait, who are suffering under oppression. Bush's heart never went out to the people of E1 Salvador, suffering under the oppression of a government which we were supplying with arms again and again. Tens and tens and tens of thousands of people were being killed. His heart never went out to those people. Or the people in Guatemala, again, whose government we were supplying with arms. It's a long list.
The moral appeal of war is based on people's forgetting of history and on the ability of the mass media and the Administration to obliterate history, certainly not to bring it up. You talk about the responsibility of the press. Does the press have no responsibility to teach any history to the people who read its newspaper columns? To remind people of what has happened five, ten, twenty, forty years ago? Was the press also born yesterday and has forgotten everything that happened before last week? The press complained about military censorship. The big problem was not military censorship. The problem was self-censorship.
Another element in this process of persuasion is to create a Manichean
situation, good versus evil. I've just talked about the good, us. But you
also have to present the other as total evil. As the only evil. Granted,
Saddam Hussein is an evil guy. I say that softly. But he is. No question
about it. Most heads of government are. But if you want to bring a nation
to war against
an evil person, it's not enough to say that this person is evil. You have to cordon him off from all the other tyrants of the world, all the other evil leaders of government in order to establish that this is the one tyrant in the world whom we have to get. He is responsible for the trouble in the world. If we could only get him, we could solve our problems, just as a few years ago if we could only get Noriega, we could solve the drug trade problem. We got Noriega-and obviously we've solved the drug trade problem. But the demonization is necessary, the creation of this one evil shutting out everything, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, not letting people be aware of them.
I didn't see the media paying any attention to this, to the latest reports
of Amnesty International, in which, if you read the 1990 report of Amnesty
International, they have a few pages on each country. There are a lot of
countries. A few pages on Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
Israel. You look through those pages and all those countries that I have
named show differences in degree, but the same pattern of treatment of people who are dissenters, dissidents, troublemakers in their own country. In Israel, of course, it's the Palestinians. Israel has a more free atmosphere in the non-occupied, but in the occupied territories, Israel behaves the way Saudi Arabia behaves towards its own people and the way Syria and Turkey do. You see the same pattern in the Amnesty International reports, the same words appearing again and again. Imprisonment without trial. Detention without communication with the outside. Torture. Killing. For all of these countries. But if you want to make war on them, you single one out, blot out the others, even use them as allies and forget about their record. Then you go in. You persuade people that we're against tyranny, aren't we? We're against brutality, aren't we? This is the repository of all the evil that there is in the world. There are times when people talked that way. Why are we at war? We've got to get him. We've got to get Saddam Hussein. What about the whole world? Saddam Hussein. Got to get him.
I would like to get him. I would like to get all of them. But I'm not
willing to kill 100,000 or 500,000 or a million people to get rid of them.
I think we have to fnd ways to get rid of tyrants that don't involve mass
slaughter. That's our problem. It's very easy to talk about the brutality.
Governments are brutal, and some governments are more brutal than others.
Saddam Hussein is
particularly brutal. But in addition, Saddam Hussein uses chemical weapons and gas. That kept coming up. I remember Congressman Stephen Solarz, the great war hawk of this period: Saddam Hussein used gas, used chemical warfare. True, ugly and brutal. But what about us? We used napalm in Vietnam. We used Agent Orange, which is chemical warfare. I don't know
how you characterize napalm. We used cluster bombs in Iraq. Cluster bombs are not designed to knock down military hardware. They are anti-personnel weapons which shoot out thousands of little pellets which embed themselves in people's bodies. When I was in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War I saw x-rays of kids lying in hospital beds showing the pellets in the various organs of their bodies. That's what cluster bombs are. But gas? No. Chemical weapons? No. Napalm, yes. Cluster bombs, yes. White phosphorus, yes. Agent Orange, yes. They're going to kill people by gas. We're going to kill people by blowing them up. You can tell who is the cruel wager of war and who is the gentlemanly wager of war.
You can persuade people of that if you simply don't mention things or don't remind people. Once you remind people of these things they remember. If you remind people about napalm they remember. If you say, the newspapers haven't told you about the cluster bombs, they say, oh yes, that's true. People aren't beastly and vicious. But then information is withheld from them and the American population was bombarded the way the Iraqi population was bombarded. It was a war against us, a war of lies and disinformation and omission of history. That kind of war, overwhelming and devastating, waged here in the U.S. while that war was waged over there.
Another element in this process of persuasion is simply to take what seems like a just cause and turn it into a just war. Erwin Knoll used that terminology. I have used that terrninology, and both of us, because we're so wise, seem to come to the same conclusions. That is, that there's this interesting jump that takes place between just cause and just war. A cause may be just: yes,it's wrong for Saddam Hussein to go into Kuwait, it's wrong for this and that to happen. The question is, does it then immediately follow that if the cause is just, if an injustice has been committed, that the proper response to that is war? It's that leap of logic that needs to be absolutely avoided.
North Korea invades South Korea in 1950. It's unjust, it's wrong. It's a just cause. What do you do? You go to war. You wage war for three years. You kill a million Koreans. And at the end of the three years, where are you? Where you were before. North Korea is still a dictatorship. South Korea is still a dictatorship. Only a million people are dead. You can see this again and again, jumping from a just cause to an overwhelming use of violence to presumably rectify this just cause, which it never does.
What war does, even if it starts with an injustice, is multiply the injustice. If it starts on the basis of violence, it multiplies the violence. If it starts on the basis of defending yourself against brutality, then you end up becoming a brute.
You see this in World War II, the best of wars. The war that gave wars
such a good name that they've used it ever since as a metaphor to justify
every war that's taken place since then. All you have to do in order to
justify war is to mention World War II, mention Churchill, mention Munich.
Use the word "appeasement." That's all you need to take the glow of that
war and spread it over any ugly act that you are now committing in order to justify it.
Yes, World War II had a good cause. A just cause against fascism. I volunteered. I don't like to admit that I was in World War II, for various reasons. I like to say, "I was in a war." I suppose I admit that I was in World War II so that people won't think I mean the Spanish-American War. I volunteered for World War II. I went into the Air Force and became a bombardier and dropped bombs on Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary. I thought it was a just cause. Therefore you drop bombs.
It wasn't until after the war that I thought about this and studied and went back to visit a little town in France that I and a lot of the Air Force had bombed, had in fact dropped napalm on. The first use of napalm that I know of was this mission that we flew a few weeks before the end of World War II. We had no idea what it was. They said it was a new type of thing we were carrying, the bomb. We went over and just bombed the hell out of a few thousand German soldiers who were hanging around a town in France waiting for the war to end. They weren't doing anything. So we obliterated them and the French town near Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast of France.
I thought about that, about Dresden, the deliberate bombing of civilian populations in Germany, in Tokyo. Eighty, ninety, a hundred thousand people died in that night of bombing. This was after our outrage, our absolute outrage at the beginning of World War II when Hitler bombed Coventry and Rotterdam and a thousand people were killed. How inhuman to bomb civilian populations. By the end of World War II we had become brutalized. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and even after that.
I have a friend in Japan who was a teenager when the war ended. He lived
in Osaka. He remembers very distinctly that on August 14, five days after
the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, the Japanese agreed to surrender on August
15. After Nagasaki it was very clear that they were about to surrender
in a matter of days, but on August 14 a thousand planes flew over Japan
dropped bombs on Japanese cities. He remembers on August 14, when everybody thought the war was over, the bombers coming over his city of Osaka and dropping bombs. He remembers going through the streets and the corpses and finding leaflets also dropped along with the bombs saying: the war is over.
Just causes can lead you to think that everything you then do is just.
I suppose I've come to the conclusion that war, by its nature, being the
indiscriminate and mass killing of large numbers of people, cannot be justified
for any political cause, any ideological cause, any territorial boundary,
any tyranny, any aggression. Tyrannies, aggressions, injustices, of course
have to be dealt with. No appeasement. They give us this multiple choice: appeasement or war. Come on! You mean to say between appeasement and war there aren't a thousand other possibilities? Is human ingenuity so defunct, is our intelligence so lacking that we cannot devise ways of dealing with tyranny and injustice without killing huge numbers of people? It's like the
police. The only way you can deal with a speeding motorist is to take him out of his car and beat the hell out of him, fracture his skull in ten different places? It's a sickness of our time. Somehow at the beginning of it is some notion of justice and rightness. But that process has to be examined, reconsidered. If people do think about it they have second thoughts about it.
One of the elements of this process of persuasion is simply to play
on people's need for community, for national unity. What better way to
get national unity than around a war? It's much easier, simpler, quicker.
And of course it's better for the people who run the country to get national
unity around a war than to get national unity around giving free medical
everybody in the country. Surely we could build national unity. We could create a sense of national purpose. We could have people hanging out yellow ribbons for doing away with unemployment and homelessness. We could do what is done when any group of people decides and the word goes out and the air waves are used to unite people to help one another instead of to kill
one another. It can be done. People do want to be part of a larger community. Warmakers take advantage of that very moral and decent need for community and unity and being part of a whole and use it for the most terrible of purposes. But it can be used the other way, too.
The reason I've gone into what I see as this process of persuasion and
the elements of persuasion is that I think that all of them are reversible.
History can be learned. Facts can be brought in. People can be reminded
of things that they already know. People do have common sense when they
are taken away briefly from this hysteria which is created in the time
of war. I can only describe what's happened in these last few months as
a kind of national hysteria created by the government and collaborated
with by the media. When you have an opportunity to lift the veil of that
hysteria and take people away from under it and talk to people, then you
see the possibilities. When you appeal to people's sense of proportion:
What is more important? What is it that we have to do? People know that
there are things that have to be done to make life better. People know
the planet is in danger, and that is far more serious than getting Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait ever was. Far more serious.
I think people also may be aware in some dim way cvery once in a while
I think of it, and I imagine other people must think of it, too-that here
it is, 1991, and we're coming to the end of the century. We should be able,
by the end of this century, to eliminate war as a way of solving international
disputes. We should have decided, people all over the world, that we're
going to use our energy and our resources to create a new world order,
but not his new world order, not the new world order of war, but a new
world order in which people help one another, in which we divide the enormous
wealth of the world in humane and
rational ways. It's possible to do that. So I'm just suggesting that we think about that. I feel that there's something that needs to be done and something that can be done and that we can all participate in it.