In a sign of mounting opposition to the Clinton Administration’s war policies, more than a thousand people participated in a five-hour teach-in on May 23 in Los Angeles. Co-sponsored by The Nation Institute, Southern California Americans for Democratic Action and KPFK Radio, the event brought together speakers ranging from the left to the right. Following are excerpts that have been edited and adapted.
Tom Hayden, California State Senator
The most evil aspect of the Clinton Administration’s moral position was described yesterday in a headline in the New York Times as its wish to keep the US voters content [“Clinton’s Aims: Win the War, Keep the U.S. Voters Content”]. The cynical assumption of this strategy is that Americans won’t care if our government drops antipersonnel bombs in our name, we won’t care if our government blows up hospitals in our name, if tens of thousands of people are killed and maimed and traumatized and displaced in our name, as long as we are kept content by spin doctors who demonize the Serbs, minimize the news of civilian casualties, sanitize the ground troops as only peacekeepers and hypnotize us into a ground war before we can get out of our armchairs to protest it.
The Clinton Administration is hoping that we won’t wake up and act like human beings whose values and tax dollars are being wasted in a war, to save those officials from having to be human enough to acknowledge a mistake.
If they keep bombing and sending in the troops we will meet them in the season of our discontent. No one should be content. No one should be manipulated into being content by the White House or NATO spin doctors. It is time to express discontent simply to prove that we are human beings. It is time for discontent to say human beings are not collateral damage. It’s time for discontent to say that admitting a mistake is more honorable than compounding it. It’s time for discontent among Democrats. It’s time for discontent to say de-escalate and negotiate. It’s time for discontent to save democracy.
Arianna Huffington, columnist
As for Wes Clark, I have to say something about the supreme commander, who is beginning to look a lot like Tony Perkins at the end of Psycho. He goes on saying we are winning. He keeps saying Milosevic is losing and we are winning, and I begin to think that basically the NATO commanders and our American leaders are in a kind of auto-erotic fantasy world where there is absolute detachment between reality and the world they live in. There are these completely amazing visions that they paint of escorting the Kosovars back to their homes. We can’t even get diapers to the refugees. Are we going to rebuild their homes in the next three months?
The American media have been completely compliant. They have not been asking any of the tough questions. Nobody asked Madeleine Albright or Sandy Berger or any of those dwarfs anything about the fact that we had indeed bombed the very people we were there to save.
America is supposed to be great because America is supposed to be good. Right now American goodness is being questioned all across the world. Anti-Americanism is on the rise. American greatness is being diminished and America’s enemies are being emboldened–and for what? Because of the so-called good intentions we had. We have to stop justifying foreign policy on good intentions.