Mike Gravel on War & Peace

Libertarian for President; Former Democratic Senator (AK)

Iraqis never asked for invasion; don’t shift blame to them

[At the first presidential debate in 2007] Hillary was asked whether she thought the war in Iraq was lost. “This is not America’s war to win or lose,” she replied. “We have given the Iraqi people the chance to have freedom, to have their own country. It is up to them to decide whether or not they’re going to take that chance.”

It takes a lot of gall to blame the Iraqi people for anything in this war. They hated Saddam Hussein, but they never asked for American intervention. The country has been torn apart because of our invasion and occupation. Maybe a million people would still be alive today, had the Bush administration listened to the intelligence, to the Arabists in the State Department, and to the billions of people and their governments around the world about what the consequences of this invasion would be.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 15-16 May 2, 2008

2001: Should have made deal with Saddam to fight extremists

You did not need to be a Middle East expert to know then that Saddam held the country together in a brutal police state. Once he was removed, old tribal and religious scores would be settled in a long-running bloodbath. Even if the threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction had been real--and I never believed it--after September 11, 2001, Saddam and the US suddenly had a common enemy: Islamic extremism. Instead of negotiating a deal to fight that mutual threat, perhaps using the leverage of lifting sanctions, Bush removed Saddam and let extremism flourish in a land where it hadn’t been tolerated. Saddam had been America’s ally against Iran. It would not have been the first time the US made a deal with the devil. We all wanted to see a democratic and prosperous Iraq at peace with its neighbors. But the Bush administration foolishly thought invasion and occupation would bring it about.
Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 16 May 2, 2008

Unconstitutional to defund war; so criminalize it

I had tried to stop the Vietnam War by cutting off funding. But I later understood that to be unconstitutional: Congress can declare war, but it can’t micromanage the conflict. That is the job of the chief executive. That’s why the vote to give this fraudulent president war powers was so damaging.

If Congress can start wars, isn’t it implicit in the Constitution that it can stop them too? The way for Congress to [end the Iraq War] is simply to pass a law against it The war was already criminal in a colloquial sense, in that there was no formal declaration in Congress or a resolution at the UN Security Council, it was based on the kind of phony evidence that had built the Cold War. I meant really criminalizing it by passing a statute making it a felony to stay in Iraq. Then Bush and Cheney would have 120 days to withdraw or face five years in jail.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 19-20 May 2, 2008

Iraq war was propagandized like 1898 “Remember the Maine!”

The military-industrial partnership [in the late 1800s] needed a war to launch America’s overseas empire. The spark came after the suspicious sinking of the US battleship Maine in Havana in 1898. It was blamed, without proof, on Spain. The three-month conflict with the decrepit Spanish Empire left the US with the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

In the end 4,324 Americans were lost, as well as between 600,000 and 1 million Filipinos--eerily familiar numbers today. Also disturbingly alike were Congressional hearings that revealed US troops used water torture against Filipinos. The Philippine occupation and resulting insurgency was essentially repeated in Vietnam and Iraq. The aims were the same: to expand US power and economic interests against competing nations under the phony banner of Christianity or democracy. All three invasions were driven by money and power as ends in themselves--or as a means to more money and power.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 95-96 May 2, 2008

1960s Vietnam posed no threat to America

When I arrived in Saigon [on a 1969 trip as Senator], I could hear a gun battle going on not far away. After some time, grungy, painted-up, sweating young boys in disheveled field attire emerged from the thicket after the firefight. I chatted with them. These drugged-up kids who should have been in school were not fighting for the US government or the nation. They didn’t believe the phony threats about Communism. They were fighting for their buddies next to them in the jungle in a civil war whose outcom posed not the slightest threat to US or global security.

I flew away in the Huey, with a grunt gripping a .50 caliber machine-gun sticking out the open door. I vowed to myself on that flight that when I got back to the States I would do everything in my power to get America out of that damned war.

Just back from Vietnam, I joined ten senators and some House members in a plan to shut down Congress in solidarity with a nationwide moratorium against the war on October 15.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.171-173 May 2, 2008

Intent of War Powers Act was to stop wars like Iraq

The United States overthrew monarchy, but discovered that a profit-motivated democracy can develop its own forms of tyranny. Prior to the Cold War, Congress followed the Constitution. It formally declared wars. But since Truman sent troops to Korea in 1950, Congress had abdicated perhaps its most serious responsibility. Presidential abuse of power in foreign affairs became routine and Nixon seized it with abandon.

[After Vietnam] the War Powers Act became law in 1973. Congress overrode Nixon’s expected veto. The Act gave a president sixty days to use force without a declaration of war. A declaration of war by Congress was then needed. But was Congress, the press, the courts or the public really serious about reining in the destructive power of our emperor-presidents?

The Act did little to deter major wars in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, which were undertaken with resolutions, but all without a Constitutional declaration of war.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.185-186 May 2, 2008

Neocons plotted since 1991 to overthrow Saddam

Clinton’s containment policy with Iraq angered the neo-conservatives. Bush I’s defense secretary, Dick Cheney, produced a 46-page policy report saying that the US’s post-Cold War mission was to ensure no rival anywhere could challenge America’s undispute supremacy.

Four years later, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and 23 other neo-cons founded a group called the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). They advocated increased defense spending (what else?) to carry out the plan. In 1998, several PNAC members wrot an open letter to Clinton calling on him to launch a preemptive military attack against Iraq to stop it using “weapons of mass destruction.” They concluded, “only a determined program to change the regime in Baghdad will bring the Iraqi crisis to a satisfactory conclusion.”

In 2000 the PNAC produced a similar report, acknowledging that “the process of transformation” toward US world domination “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.217-218 May 2, 2008

Only morons & neocons think war achieves Mideast democracy

The neo-conservatives employed Cold War fear tactics to further the agenda of extending US global dominance, expanding executive power unconstitutionally and growing the arms industry. It has been presented under the naive cover of bringing democracy to oil-rich Middle Eastern states. The neo-cons’ first plan was overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying Iraq. They had had it spelled out since 1993 in various reports. Planning for the Iraq invasion may have begun before Bush was inaugurated.

Iraq was supposed to be just the first domino in the neo-cons’ mad design. Overthrowing regimes in Syria and Iran were next. Getting control of Afghanistan and putting US bases in energy-rich Central Asia was also high on their agenda. One thing links all these regions: oil. Pax Americana would rule the area. But it would be endless Bellum Americana.

Everyone wants to see democracy, security, & prosperity in the Middle East. Only morons think American-led wars are the way to achieve it.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.221-222 May 2, 2008

Meeting with Hamas jump-starts the peace process

Last week, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and almost everyone else in the Washington establishment have condemned and criticized Jimmy Carter for his latest attempt to make the world a safer place. Far from deserving all the cheap shots, Jimmy Carter should be praised for meeting with the leader of Hamas.

When will we Americans learn that the only way to achieve true security is through diplomacy and negotiation? A majority of the Israeli public understands this: 64% of Israelis favor direct talks with Hamas. Only 28% are opposed. They know that the only way to break the cycle of violence is a negotiated settlement. Jimmy Carter’s brave gambit to meet with Hamas and jump-start the peace process is not “anti-Israel.” It is in Israel’s interests.

Should we just hope that warring parties in the Middle East patiently wait until a new president takes over next year? The Democratic Party’s candidates seem to share the same obstinate, ill-informed views as George Bush and John McCain.

Source: Press release, “Jimmy Carter vs. AIPAC” Apr 14, 2008

Iran’s not a problem, never has been, never will be

Q: Do you agree with the president’s assessment that Iran still poses a threat?

A: Iran’s not a problem, never has been, never will be. What you’re seeing right here is something very unique. What the intelligence community has done is drop-kicked the president of the United States. These are people of courage that have watched what the president is doing, onrush to war with Iran. So, my hat is off to these courageous people within the bureaucrats--bureaucracy of the intelligence community.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Make Congress vote on veto override and war will end

Q: What advice would you give your colleagues still in Congress about how they can stop the war even though they don’t have enough votes to stop a debate or to override a veto? What should they do?

A: You stop the debate by voting every single day on cloture, every day, 20 days, and you’ll overcome cloture. The president vetoes a law; it comes back to the Congress, and in the House at noon, every single day, you vote to override the president’s veto. And in 40 days, the American people will have weighed in, put the pressure on those--you tell me that the votes aren’t there, you go get them by the scruff of the neck. That’s what you do. You make them vote.

Q: Are you suggesting that these candidates suspend their campaigns, go back to Washington and for 40 consecutive days vote on the war?

A: If it stops the killing, my God, yes, do it!

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 26, 2007

Patraeus report is tragic charade; we all knew what he’d say

Q: What’s your assessment of the Gen. Petraeus testimony on Iraq?

A: I think it’s a tragic charade where obviously one could predict what Petraeus was going to say three years ago. And then you get the president saying he’s going to follow what the dictates or recommendations of Gen. Petraeus, who is making recommendations that the White House wanted. This is a very tragic charade. While human lives are lost because of the inability of this government to have any sense of moral commitment.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Pull American troops out; it can be done in 120 days

I’m running for president because no one else is prepared to end this war. And it should be ended. We should pull American troops out, as soon as possible. And it can be done in 120 days. And what we can then do is begin an aggressive diplomacy. And that would mean to go to Iran, go to Syria. And tell these people, help us restabilize the region that we destabilized, and tell them we made a mistake in doing this. A tragic mistake, and it puts the whole world at risk of a possible nuclear confrontation.
Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Young men & women will die because of this nation’s mistake

Q: Do you think anything is likely to change about the Iraq War between now and the 2008 election?

A: No, because there’s no leadership in this country, and that’s the tragedy of it. There’s no leadership in Congress to speak of. And so we’re stuck playing out. I feel terrible over the young men and women and the Iraqis that will die and get their bodies blown up because of this nation’s mistake. This is all foretold the day we invaded Iraq without reason, without reason. It’s criminal!

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Iran Resolution is a fig leaf to go to war with Iran

GRAVEL: [to Clinton]: This is Fantasyland--we’re talking about ending the war; my God, we’re just starting another war! There was a vote in the Senate today--Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has offered another resolution, and it’s essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. I want to congratulate Biden & Dodd for voting against it, and I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You’re not going to get another shot at this--we invade and they’re looking for an excuse to do it. And Obama was not even there to vote.

CLINTON: My understanding of the revolutionary guard in Iran is that it is promoting terrorism. It is manufacturing weapons that are used against our troops in Iraq. It is certainly the main agent of support for Hezbollah, Hamas and others, and in what we voted for today, we will have an opportunity to designate it as a terrorist organization, which gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the leaders.

Source: [Xref Clinton] 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

Bush cooking books on Iran; resolve against invading Iran

Q: Should we rule out nukes in Iran, as Sen. Clinton has said, or implement sanctions, or what?

A: They’re all wrong on this. The administration is cooking the books, the intelligence on Iran. And we’re playing into this. And I’m very concerned. I would hope the Congress would pass a resolution saying, under no circumstances do you invade Iran. Stop and think. What have they done to us? The administration is giving us intelligence, saying that Iran is destroying our troops. Well, what about our trying to destabilize their government, which we’ve been doing for the last 25 years? We destroyed their democracy. And now we’re looking at them as an excuse to expand the war, which is the plan the neocons had back in 1997. And so, when Democrats buy into the problem of Iran, they just help Vice President Cheney, who should be committed, with his recent statements.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

Blaming Iraqis for war problems is American imperialism

BIDEN [to Gravel]: We must end this war in a way that doesn’t require us to send their grandchild back.

RICHARDSON: To end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them.

CLINTON: Moving troops out cannot happen without careful planning, which is why I’ve been pushing the Pentagon to make sure they’re actually planning because they’ve been resistant to doing so.

Q: Do you agree with Gov. Richardson?

GRAVEL: No, I disagree with him. And I disagree with Joe Biden. And I disagree with Hillary. Stop & think here. Why do we think that we can rule that country? This is American imperialism you’re hearing up here. And that hasn’t worked & it will never work. We’re trying to make the Iraqis the fall guy, not our stupid mistakes. Oh, it’s the Iraqis won’t stand up. I’ll tell you what. Pull everybody out and turn to the Iranians, who helped us defeat the Taliban initially. So if we don’t bring the Iranians to help us, or the Syrians, or Saudi Arabia, of course it’s going to be a disaster.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

Bush can’t go into Iran today because I filibustered draft

The competition is a little weak, because they say they all want to lead. Well, what does a leader do? A leader stands up with a little bit of courage and does something. You know, I filibustered the end of the draft. Bush can’t go into Iran today because he doesn’t have the boots on the ground because of what I did. I stopped the nuclear testing in the North Pacific. And I could go on.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Soldiers in Vietnam died in vain; now same in Iraq

Q: In one of the previous debates you said the deaths of Vietnam were in vain. Do you defend that statement?

A: Our soldiers died in Vietnam in vain. You can now go to Hanoi and get a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cone. And now we have most favored nation trade [with Vietnam]. What did all these people die for? What are they dying for right now in Iraq every single day? Let me tell you: There’s only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain; it’s more soldiers dying in vain.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

2006 election was about Bush’s war; so end it

What is the most important thing that brought about the power to the Democrats [in 2006]? It was the war; George Bush’s war.

So we now have to deal with that with some leadership. The best we’ve seen in the last 6 months is a non-binding resolution. It’s appalling! The Democrats can end this war. You have to be tough. You can’t just do politics-as-usual.

How do you get it passed over a veto? Call up an override vote on Monday, on Tuesday, every day--people are dying and we do nothing about it!.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Vietnam caused no dominoes; Iraq won’t either

Bush’s war was facilitated by the Democrats. They brought the resolution up, one of them authored, co-authored it here, standing here. Now, you want to end it? You’re concerned about what’s going to happen after we withdraw. Remember Vietnam. All the dominoes are going to fall, Southeast Asia’s going to go -- is going to go communist. Well, how do we know what will happen? I do know this, that the insurgency is successful because the population sustains that insurgency. Period.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Someone who voted for the Iraq war shouldn’t be president

Q: Do you think someone who voted to authorize Bush to go to war should be president? A: Not at all, because it’s a moral criteria. And there’s information coming out -- Senator Durbin, Mr. Strum in his book -- that really points out that these people knew that there was two sets of intelligence going on at the same time, and they made a political decision to vote the way they voted, a political decision that cost -- stop and think, we have killed more Americans than was done in the 11th of September.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Soldiers in Iraq are dying in vain; so just get out

We should just plain get out [of Iraq]. It’s their country. They’re asking us to leave. And we insist on staying there. And why not get out? What harm is it going to do? Oh, you hear the statement, “Well, my God, these soldiers will have died in vain.” The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain. And they’re dying in vain right this very second. And you know what’s worse than a soldier dying in vain? It’s more soldiers dying in vain. That’s what’s worse.
Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Iraq war was lost the day Bush invaded-make it illegal

Q: In your two-terms in the Senate, you played a role in the fight to cut off money for the Vietnam War. What would be your advice for the elected officials on this stage who are opposed to the conflict, but also feel the need to keep on funding the conflict?

A: Well, first off, understand that this war was lost the day that George Bush invaded Iraq on a fraudulent basis. Now with respect to what’s going on in the Congress, I’m really embarrassed. What has been passed? George Bush communicated over a year ago that he would not get out of Iraq until he left office. Do we not believe him? We need to find another way. I would hope the other senators would focus on, how do you get out? You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there. We’ve got the votes there. Let the American people see clearly who’s keeping the war going and who’s not. And that’s just the beginning of the tactic, if they’re tough enough to do it.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

2008 election will be decided by how Democrats handle war

I’m not entirely convinced that the Democrats can get the next presidency, because that’s going to be determined by how the Democratic candidates conduct themselves with respect to the Iraq war. We’ll never make it with politics as usual. The oil there is not worth one more American dead. It’s not worth one ounce of blood!
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Bush can sign bill to end war, or he can believe in God

The answer is not a mealy-mouthed non-binding resolution. And even if it were binding, it’d be unconstitutional. You can’t cap, it’s unconstitutional. The president is the commander in chief, like it or not. But the Congress, under the Constitution, has the right to declare war and has the right to end it. What they need to do is put up a law before the House & Senate; we have the votes. And then it goes to the president. After the president gets it, he’s got a choice; he can continue to believe in God or he can turn around and end the war. Well, I think that he’s going to figure God can trump the Congress. And so now he’s going to veto it, it comes back to the Congress, and we have created a constitutional crisis between the executive & the Congress. And the American people can understand this. [Maybe] you have enough in the House to override the veto, and we can get out of Iraq within the next six months under this scenario. Otherwise, George Bush is going to keep it going for the next two years.
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Anyone who voted for the war should not be president

History teaches us that nations fail when leaders fail their people. The decision to invade Iraq without provocation and fraudulently sold to the American people, by a President consumed with messianic purpose, sadly confirms this lesson. The Democrats controlled the Senate on October 11, 2002 and provided political cover for George Bush to invade Iraq. It’s my opinion that anyone who voted for the war on October 11 is not qualified to hold the office of President.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting Feb 3, 2007

Bring the troops home now

We made a grave mistake. We should have the courage to admit it. We must bring our troops home now--not 6 months from now, not a year from now--NOW! The Democrats need to act resolutely--and I’m not talking about some mealy-mouthed, nonbinding resolutions.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting Feb 3, 2007

Stop nuclear proliferation: the Cold War is over

The decision to wage preemptive war in Iraq raises the specter of a much deeper problem facing the global community--nuclear proliferation. On this issue, we should first look at ourselves. The U.S. has more deliverable nuclear devices than the rest of the world combined. Who in the world are we prepared to nuke? Our political leadership, controlled by military industrialists, insists on pursuing a Cold War strategy in a post-Cold War era.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting Feb 3, 2007

Immediate withdrawal from the war in Iraq

Gravel’s campaign is based primarily on his ardent support for direct democracy (the National Initiative), but also emphasizes his support for a national sales tax and abolition of the IRS, immediate withdrawal from the war in Iraq, a single-payer national health care system, and term limits during his campaign.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, “Mike Gravel” Jan 1, 2007

Commence an immediate and orderly withdrawal from Iraq

Source: Campaign website, www.gravel2008.us, “Issues” Dec 25, 2006

Election was mandate for peace but carnage continues for oil

Since the elections on November 7, the carnage in Iraq has only gotten worse, in an ever deepening spiral of civil war and violent retribution and ethnic cleansing. Even so, the Bush Administration stubbornly refuses to accept the election mandate from the people and change course. Instead of the mandate for peace the American people desire, the Iraq Study Group offers us a future of more of the same, only more so.

Indeed, Pres. Bush’s true personal measure of victory is buying the time needed to complete the production-sharing agreements-the so-called PSA’s-that will lock in the Iraqi Government, and its successors in Baghdad, for long-term agreements of up to 50 years to share oil revenues and restrict the rights of Iraqi governments to enact new laws that might affect the profits of Big Oil.

Blood for Oil. Treasure for Oil. Honor for Oil. That is the measure of the Bush policy, and it’s sadly the same for the Iraq Study Group report we have just received.

Source: Campaign press release, “Oracle of Houston” Dec 4, 2006

US creates threats to our own security by acting out of fear

In the eyes of the rest of the world, this country has shown itself to be one of the major problems of world order. Our desire to use power where and when we please has made us one of the world’s most dangerous nations. I am not saying that other nations are more peace-loving. It is only that we have the power to be a danger to world peace with no constraints on our nation’s leaders but their own moral judgment.

In Vietnam we have seen that we create the threats to our own security, through our own actions & the commitments our leaders make. By no stretch could the type of government in power in the southern half of a tiny country halfway around the world affect the security of the US or any of its vital interests. By losing sight of the negligible risks to ourselves, by permitting commitments to be made in our name, we became militarily involved. We were our own worst enemy. This is the ultimate threat to the security of a nation, when its own people no longer have confidence in its government.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p. 49 Jan 1, 1972

Other candidates on War & Peace: Mike Gravel on other issues:
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GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

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Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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