Here is the text of a speech I delivered at a war protest in Provo last Friday.
“…with liberty and justice for all.”
The first time I remember saying the pledge of allegiance, I was in kindergarten. Since that time, I have said these words and knew that America stood for these ideals more than any other country. I fear though that justice is a rarity these days.
Where is the justice in this war? It is true, Saddam Hussein was a rotten dictator who deserved trial in front of his victims. Yet the world is not empty of two-bit dictators who exploit and kill their own people. If our purpose as Americans is to rid the planet of greedy, self-centered, homicidal leaders, we’re going to be fighting until the end of time or the end of America, whichever comes first. Is there justice in spending half-a-trillion dollars on this effort? Will our children and grand-children thank us for the tax burden placed upon their shoulders as we borrowed to destroy, then rebuild, then protect another country as our own crumbles around us? Is there justice attempting to bring democracy to one middle-eastern nation while we support the tyrannical monarchies of others? Where is the justice for the troops making 1/10th what a private contractor makes to risk their lives? Where is the justice for our tax dollars wasted and outright lost? Where is the justice for the return soldier, given a college stipend, but changed forever by the atrocity of war? Where is the justice for those who had ambitions beyond dying in Iraq? Where is the justice for the families of those who do not return? America can never repay our debt to them, but we should at least try.
America should only fight wars that are just. Seeing the Iraq war so devoid of justice, I have no other conclusion than to say it is not.
What is the victory we seek in Iraq? Is it complete domination of the country? Peaceful outcome and lack of violence? If so, we are going about it in the wrong way. Comparisons are repeatedly made to the evil of Hitler in World War II and how it was necessary for us to fight that war. Yet nobody talks about the price. Sixty million deaths. Twenty million soldiers and twice as many civilians. Japan and Germany were bombed until there was nothing left to bomb. If the American people desire a Victory in Iraq day, then they had better get ready to commit. For a military victory to occur in Iraq, it will take millions of young American lives and will bankrupt this country. It will take actions that will inflame the entire Mid-East. I for one do not want this.
I hear the surge is working. I hear the surge isn’t working. I hear democracy is on the march. I hear the country is consumed by civil war. I hear terrorists will follow us home. I hear Communism will take over Asia if we leave Vietnam. I hear troops who are ready to go back again to finish the job. I hear troops speaking against the war and to finish it now. What is the truth? I confess that from Utah it is very difficult to see. If it is democracy we are trying to establish there, then we should ask the Iraqi people what they want done with the country. If they want us to stay, then they should pay for it. If they want us to go, then it is time to leave. Senator Hatch, President Bush, is Iraq a democracy or not?
The only hope I have from this war is that it steadies our hand the next time around. Never again will America hand the president the power to make war without lasting and significant debate in our Congress. Never again will we trust as executive power shreds our Constitution. Never again will we write a blank check without a plan for keeping the peace. Never again will the United States fight a war of aggression with flimsy intelligence.
America must leave war behind and embrace peace. A country in endless war will not survive to celebrate a victory that will never come. Instead, let us focus on our own shores again and seek justice for all.