Nader Blasts Bush’s War at S.F. RallyBy Jonathan NackOctober 12, 2001
SAN FRANCISCO – Former Green Party Presidential candidate Ralph Naderroundly criticized the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism in aspeech before an enthusiastic paying audience of approximately 2,500 atthe San Francisco Masonic Center last night. Nader called for ademocratic debate over the Administration’s policies saying, “themindless bombing of Afghanistan’s infrastructure will not end well forAfghanistan and, I fear, it will not end well for us.” “We areentitled to ask what this war will cost: what it will cost Afghans, whatit will cost our rights and democracy here, and what the huge shift ofmoney into the military and corporate bailouts will cost our domesticprograms?”
Nader called for, “sobriety in these moments of impetuousness,restraint, and to move forward under international law to apprehend thecriminals.” “This is an international crime and we’ve got to find waysto bring these criminals to justice.”
Nader said that, “grief and mourning for the victims must eventuallygive way to honoring their memory,” and quoted a statement by PresidentGeorge W. Bush that the terrorists, “hate our freedoms: our freedom ofreligion, our freedom to assemble, our freedom of speech, and ourfreedom to disagree,” in justifying the appropriateness of his ownremarks. Nader said that the best way to honor the memories ofthose lost on September 11th was to exercise and defend our democraticfreedoms and to, “make sure our government doesn’t slaughter the livesof hundreds of innocent people.”
Nader charged that, “thought police in Washington dismiss all criticalanalysis a as justifying the terrorist attack,” calling for a rejectionof that notion while describing the terrorists’ act as, “criminalbutchery, a massacre more than an attack, and with no justification”.He urged the audience to, “never allow Washington to tell you to shutup, get in line, and waive the flag.” “Never let them take your flagaway from you.” Nader urged the audience to think for themselves, to notinhibit what they have to say, and asked, “how many times have we beentold that they were dropping bombs only on military targets?” Naderconcluded that there was no such thing as limiting bombing to onlymilitary targets and that, “we are not going to be able to bomb our wayto a solution of this problem.”
Nader described the Administration’s rationale for the bombing as”cheap propaganda”, which is, “going to get more rancid and grim.”“U.S. attacks on Afghanistan will spread more hatred of our country andour allies.” He also worried that 7.5 million Afghans face starvationthis winter, which he said was only four weeks away in Afghanistan,while the U.S. has dropped only “135,000 snacks.”
Quoting approvingly Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s assertionthat, “poverty, disease, and illiteracy are breeding grounds fortolerance of terrorism,” Nader proposed a profound reorientation of U.S.foreign policy to support democratic forces and to, “side with themillions and millions of workers and peasants rather than with dictatorsand oligarches.” He proposed a, “balanced approach to resolving theIsraeli-Palestinian conflict,” and an end to economic sanctions againstIraq which he said was taking the lives of 5,000 Iraqi children a month.”You do not destabilize a dictator by destroying the lives of innocentchildren and adults,” said Nader.
Nader also called for a renewed defense of civil liberties, oppositionto unwarranted curtailment of them, and reform of intelligence agencies,including making them “leaner and more efficient” by reducing theirbloated budgets and bureaucracies.
The focus of speech was a major departure from the usual agenda of thelongtime consumer activist who usually sticks closely to themesconcerning how corporations have gained too much power and aresubverting democracy. Nader did draw a connection to those themes,noting that corporations are taking advantage of the tragedy ofSeptember 11 for their own greedy purposes. He pointed to corporatelobbying for government bailouts, even by industries in trouble longbefore the terrorist attacks, for the limiting of regulations, includingthe opening up of the Alaskan Arctic reserve, and opposing benefits forworkers who are losing their jobs.
The event was billed as a “People Have the Power” rally in support ofSan Francisco ballot initiatives for a Municipal Utility District, whichwould create public control of power in response to California’s failedelectricity deregulation. Nader, and numerous speakers before him,called for volunteers for a grassroots campaign which could overwhelmthe big money being spent by Pacific Gas & Electric to defeat theinitiatives. However, Nader and other speakers clearly felt compelledto address the war. The event was also organized as part of a series of”super rallies” being held around the country by Nader’s new DemocracyRising campaign.
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