Nader Blasts Bush’s War at S.F. Rally

Nader Blasts Bush’s War at S.F. Rally
By Jonathan Nack
October 12, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO – Former Green Party Presidential candidate Ralph Nader
roundly criticized the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism in a
speech before an enthusiastic paying audience of approximately 2,500 at
the San Francisco Masonic Center last night. Nader called for a
democratic debate over the Administration’s policies saying, “the
mindless bombing of Afghanistan’s infrastructure will not end well for
Afghanistan and, I fear, it will not end well for us.” “We are
entitled to ask what this war will cost: what it will cost Afghans, what
it will cost our rights and democracy here, and what the huge shift of
money into the military and corporate bailouts will cost our domestic
programs?”

Nader called for, “sobriety in these moments of impetuousness,
restraint, and to move forward under international law to apprehend the
criminals.” “This is an international crime and we’ve got to find ways
to bring these criminals to justice.”

Nader said that, “grief and mourning for the victims must eventually
give way to honoring their memory,” and quoted a statement by President
George W. Bush that the terrorists, “hate our freedoms: our freedom of
religion, our freedom to assemble, our freedom of speech, and our
freedom to disagree,” in justifying the appropriateness of his own
remarks. Nader said that the best way to honor the memories of
those lost on September 11th was to exercise and defend our democratic
freedoms and to, “make sure our government doesn’t slaughter the lives
of hundreds of innocent people.”

Nader charged that, “thought police in Washington dismiss all critical
analysis a as justifying the terrorist attack,” calling for a rejection
of that notion while describing the terrorists’ act as, “criminal
butchery, a massacre more than an attack, and with no justification”.
He urged the audience to, “never allow Washington to tell you to shut
up, get in line, and waive the flag.” “Never let them take your flag
away from you.” Nader urged the audience to think for themselves, to not
inhibit what they have to say, and asked, “how many times have we been
told that they were dropping bombs only on military targets?” Nader
concluded that there was no such thing as limiting bombing to only
military targets and that, “we are not going to be able to bomb our way
to 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 and
our allies.” He also worried that 7.5 million Afghans face starvation
this 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 assertion
that, “poverty, disease, and illiteracy are breeding grounds for
tolerance of terrorism,” Nader proposed a profound reorientation of U.S.
foreign policy to support democratic forces and to, “side with the
millions and millions of workers and peasants rather than with dictators
and oligarches.” He proposed a, “balanced approach to resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and an end to economic sanctions against
Iraq 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 innocent
children and adults,” said Nader.

Nader also called for a renewed defense of civil liberties, opposition
to unwarranted curtailment of them, and reform of intelligence agencies,
including making them “leaner and more efficient” by reducing their
bloated budgets and bureaucracies.

The focus of speech was a major departure from the usual agenda of the
longtime consumer activist who usually sticks closely to themes
concerning how corporations have gained too much power and are
subverting democracy. Nader did draw a connection to those themes,
noting that corporations are taking advantage of the tragedy of
September 11 for their own greedy purposes. He pointed to corporate
lobbying for government bailouts, even by industries in trouble long
before the terrorist attacks, for the limiting of regulations, including
the opening up of the Alaskan Arctic reserve, and opposing benefits for
workers who are losing their jobs.

The event was billed as a “People Have the Power” rally in support of
San Francisco ballot initiatives for a Municipal Utility District, which
would create public control of power in response to California’s failed
electricity deregulation. Nader, and numerous speakers before him,
called for volunteers for a grassroots campaign which could overwhelm
the big money being spent by Pacific Gas & Electric to defeat the
initiatives. However, Nader and other speakers clearly felt compelled
to 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 Democracy
Rising campaign.

For more information on Democracy Rising:
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