Rep. Jim McDermott

On Veterans Day, Lets Fight to End America's 'Forever Wars'

The holiday we know as "Veterans' Day" was born out of the armistice of World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars. It was conceived as a day of remembrance, a day "to be dedicated to the cause of world peace."

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Representative Confronts American Empire on House Floor

Editor's note: After a week that saw Democrats cave to the White House in the worst possible way on Iraq, we thought this speech, offered on the House floor by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wa., last Wednesday, was worth highlighting. In a brief, five-minute commentary, McDermott does something almost unheard of in Washington: He looks at an issue in its larger historical context instead of pretending it just sprung up overnight like mushrooms after a rainfall.

Mr. Speaker:

This president and vice president have vowed to repeat the mistakes of history, and they have put into motion a plan to do just that in Iran, even as the House is about to send the president a box of blank checks for Iraq, against the will of the American people.

The history is worth knowing.

In 1953, the United States and United Kingdom launched Operation Ajax, a covert CIA operation to destabilize and remove the democratically elected government of Iran, including then Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

Why? Oil.

Under Mossadegh, the Iranian government decided to reclaim Iran's rightful ownership of its national oil treasure, which had been exclusively controlled by the British who were taking 85 percent of the profits.

Oh, and by the way, the U.K. also kept the books secret, merely telling Iran what its 15 percent take was.

As soon as Mossadegh began to reclaim Iran's oil treasure, it was all over. Operation Ajax was set into motion.

The U.S. embassy in Tehran provoked phony internal Iranian dissent, while the Brits engineered an Iranian financial crisis by orchestrating a global boycott of Iranian oil. We brought down the Iranian government and installed the Shah.

For two decades, we propped up the Shah against the will of the Iranian people. It was all about controlling Iran. It still is. Today, ABC News is reporting exclusively that this president has authorized a new covert CIA plot to bring down the Iranian government.

I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the journalism produced by chief investigative reporter Brian Ross and Richard Esposito of ABC News.

This is their lead sentence in the story.

"The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert 'black' operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com."

We’re back in 1953, and that worked out so well.

Of course, the vice president wanted to invade Iran, so we can be sure he will spin new tales of fear in coming days to keep his preferred option, invasion, very much alive.

The president knows only one way -- my way or the highway.

His vice president knows only one way -- invade and seize control of what you want -- and he wants the oil treasure of Iraq and Iran to become wholly owned subsidiaries of the western oil companies he so favors.

With Iraq in civil war, the president has authorized a secret plan to repeat the doomed mistakes of history in Iran.

How many billions of reconstruction money for Iraq will be siphoned off for the deconstruction of Iran?

The American people are virtually shouting at us to pay attention and get our soldiers out of Iraq, now.

Vast sums of U.S. taxpayer money are flowing into Iraq and billions of U.S. dollars are missing.

The special inspector for Iraq reconstruction told a San Antonio newspaper last week that corruption in Iraq is endemic and debilitating.

But, Prime Minister al-Maliki has granted ministers and former ministers immunity from prosecution by Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity.

And, in turn, the ministers can shield their own employees from prosecution.

And, a government that has been told by this president and vice president to pass an oil law that transfers control -- and profits -- to Western oil companies, just like the good old days in Iran.

Overthrowing Iran in 1953 was all about oil. Invading Iraq was all about oil. And the new secret plot against Iran is all about oil.

Oil is the only benchmark this president and vice president want, and they will keep American soldiers fighting and dying until an oil law is passed in Iraq that gives Western oil companies control of the spigot.

It is time to unmask the latest doomed plot to overthrow Iran and past time to get out soldiers out of Iraq.

Nothing less than protecting our troops is acceptable.

Thank you.

Fear Factory

Long before I was elected to Congress, I served as a U.S. Navy Medical Corps psychiatrist at the Long Beach Naval Station, home of the 7th Fleet. I treated the walking wounded of the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970. Our brave troops, who endured lies from our leaders in addition to the usual horrors of war, suffered from fear, anger, sleep disorders and depression, among other things. These symptoms came to be known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

On September 11, Americans suffered a horrible trauma, and we still suffer from the psychological fallout of the terrorist attacks. The administration's calculated campaign to raise and maintain fear and anxiety in America has been an effective tool in prolonging the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by 9/11. As the Bush administration builds its military presence in the Middle East, it is upping the psychological ante here at home.

The deputies of the Bush Terror Posse -- Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft -- are conducting a deliberate campaign to frighten us. One facet of the campaign has, over the last 18 months, persuaded large portions of the population to rush to the stores for water, food, plastic sheeting and, of course, duct tape. The threats of impending danger are on record for the future, the administration seems to be saying. When something happens, you won't be able to say we didn't warn you.

This is just the latest and most egregious step in a fear campaign designed to prepare Americans to do whatever the administration wants us to do.

Here's how it works: Throw a hundred claims against the wall and poll every night to see what sticks. Leak stories that are later discredited. Get a graduate student's dissertation and plagiarize it. Lift paragraphs from a war-industry magazine. Every so often, raise the danger level to code "yellow" or "orange." Give the people a rest. Then start all over again. Mix it all up and put an official seal on it. Now it seems true, despite the skepticism of intelligence professionals.

We have been inundated with fables, lies and half-truths. Remember the 33 pounds of "weapons-grade uranium" being smuggled in a taxi from Turkey to Iraq? A few days later, it turned out to be about 3 ounces of nonradioactive metal. And then there is smallpox: The administration is encouraging vaccinations, but it's only in parentheses that it adds that there is "no imminent threat" of a smallpox attack. There is no clear reason for this focus on smallpox, except to ratchet up the level of anxiety.

Our leaders have worked hard to keep the anxiety level up so that the public will forget about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda (Who were they again?) Instead, in Iraq, we focused on an impaired dictator of a country with a deteriorated infrastructure and a destroyed economy.

This kind of tactic was described by Hermann Goering, who said at the Nuremberg trials, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

What are the next steps? Let's look to history for a clue.

In 1941 we rounded up Japanese Americans and sent them to internment camps. Then we offered them the opportunity to volunteer for the armed services where, because of their valor, the 100th Battalion's 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most decorated combat unit in World War II. We have since paid a price in shame for indefensible actions our government took against these citizens out of suspicion and manufactured fear.

And now? The Bush Terror Posse already has required 18-to-45-year-old noncitizen males from Arab and predominantly Muslim countries to register with the U.S. government. If another terrorist attack should occur, don't be surprised if Bush and Co. issue orders to round up these men and confine them. Details leaked about the proposed Patriot Act II do nothing to reassure us about the future of civil liberties for our citizens, much less for legal aliens who live here.

I'm not sure how much more of this our country can take. Memories of conversations with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder haunt me. I know I'm not alone: I've talked with other veterans who have had recent flare-ups. The nightmares are coming back.

Lately, I think often of FDR's admonition, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Americans may have nothing to fear but the fearmongers themselves.

Jim McDermott is a Democratic congressman from Washington State's 7th District.

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