A note of explanation: In the spring of 1967, my book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was published by Beacon Press. It was the first book on the war
to call for immediate withdrawal, no conditions. Many liberals were saying: "Yes, we should leave Vietnam, but President Johnson can't just do it;
it would be very hard to explain to the American people." My response, in the last chapter of my book, was to write a speech for Lyndon Johnson,
explaining to the American people why he was ordering the immediate evacuation of American armed forces from Vietnam. No, Johnson did not make that
speech, and the war went on. But I am undaunted, and willing to make my second attempt at speech writing. This time, I am writing a speech for
whichever candidate emerges as Democratic Party nominee for President. My supposition is that the nation is ready for an all-out challenge to the Bush
Administration, for its war policy and its assault on the well-being of the American people. And only such a forthright, courageous approach to the
nation can win the election and save us from another four years of an Administration that is reckless with American lives and American values.]At this
moment in our nation's history, we are on a very dangerous course. We can remain on that course, or we can turn onto a bold new path to fulfill the
promise of the Declaration of Independence, which guarantees everyone an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The danger we are in today is that the war--a war without any foreseeable end--is not only taking the lives of our young but exhausting the great
wealth of our nation. That wealth could be used to create prosperity for every American but is now being squandered on military interventions abroad
that have nothing to do with making us more secure.
We should listen carefully to the men serving in this war.
Tim Predmore is a five-year veteran of the army. He is just finishing his tour of duty in Iraq. He writes: "We have all faced death in Iraq without
reason or justification. How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women
whose job it is to protect them rather than their leader's interest?"
What is national security? This Administration defines national security as sending our young men and women around the world to wage war on country
after country--none of them strong enough to threaten us. I define national security as making sure every American has health care, employment, decent
housing, a clean environment. I define national security as taking care of our people who are losing jobs, taking care of our senior citizens, taking
care of our children.
Our current military budget is $400 billion a year, the largest in our history, larger even than when we were in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
And now we will be spending an additional $87 billion for the war in Iraq. At the same time, we are told that the government has cut funds for health
care, education, the environment, and even school lunches for children. Most shocking of all is the cut, in billions of dollars, for veterans'
Common sense should have told us that Iraq, devastated by two wars (first with Iran, then with our country) and then ruined by ten years of economic
sanctions, could not be a threat sufficient to justify war. But that common sense did not exist in Washington, either in the White House, which
demanded war, or in Congress, which rushed to approve war. We now know that decision was wrong and that the President of the United States and the
people around him were not telling us the truth.
We are at a turning point in the history of our nation. We can go on being a great military power, engaging in war after war, in which innocent people
abroad and our own men and women die or are crippled for life. Or we can become a peaceful nation, always ready to defend ourselves, but not sending
our troops and planes all over the world for the benefit of the oil interests and the other great corporations that profit from war.