"My fellow Americans, in this ceremony we recognize the power of the people in a democracy to create self-government. For you have truly lifted me, as a lowly servant, up from your midst to serve our nation.
You have entrusted in me the duties of national service. You have
asked me to stand as a sentinel to safeguard our rights. You have
expected me to tell the truth, even if that truth shall disturb established
economic, political and social structures. I accept your trust with humility
and with resolve. I shall proceed in my duties each day with courage and unshakeable faith and with love of you, my dear constituents, love of our
country, love of freedom and love of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
For the America I envision seeks world unity instead of unilateralism. It gains its power through being the first to help, not the first to strike. It extends itself to the peoples of the world to lift their burden. It is an
America, which when asked for help, dispenses bread instead of
bombs, medical assistance instead of missiles, and food instead of
There is a role for America in the world. It is in working with the community of nations to achieve the security of all nations. It is in
restoring the promise of the Non Proliferation Treaty to lead the way to
get rid of all nuclear weapons. It is in helping to assure international
order. It is through strengthening and abiding by international treaties.
It is in assuring control and eventual elimination of biological and
chemical weapons, and landmines. It is in protecting our global climate
by cooperating with the rest of the world in reducing carbon emissions.
America can help protect the world. America can help save the world.
But America cannot control the world, nor should we want to do so.
Yet our Administration would project American power for the purpose of domination. Their National Security doctrines call for America to
strike anywhere it pleases and to be the first to use nuclear weapons.
Our nation is now poised to go to all-out war against Iraq. Iraq has not committed any act of aggression against the United States. Iraq was
not responsible for 911. No credible evidence exists linking Iraq to Al
Queda's role in 911. Iraq was not responsible for the anthrax attack on
our nation. The United Nations has yet to establish that Iraq has usable
weapons of mass destruction. There is no intelligence that Iraq has the
ability to strike at the United States. According to the CIA, Iraq has no
intention to attack America, but will defend itself if attacked.
Why then, is our nation prepared to send three hundred thousand of our
young men and women into house to house combat in the streets of
Badhdad and Basra? Why is our nation prepared to spend 200 billion
or more of our hard-earned tax dollars for the destruction of Iraq?
Why is our nation preparing to use the most powerful military machine in history to wage an assault against the people of Iraq, to destroy their
houses and buildings, to wipe out their water and electric systems and
to block their access to food and medical supplies?
There is no answer which can separate itself from oil economics, profit requirements of arms trade, or distorted notions of empire-building.
War with Iraq is wrong. But if war is prosecuted further in Iraq, we must be prepared to advance the cause of peace in this country. We must be
prepared to stand up, to speak out, to organize, to march, to demand
an end to the war, or to demand an end to an administration which
insists on war.
It is urgent we oppose this war. It will dominate our nation's priorities. It will threaten Social Security. It will threaten Medicare. It will block
a prescription drug benefit for the elderly. It will stop America from
providing jobs for all, health care for all, education for all.
There are some who believe that it is unpatriotic to challenge the Administration on the war. They believe it is politically wiser to
debate the economy. but how can one reasonably separate war
from the budget, war from the economy, war from America's ability
to meet the needs of the people of this nation?
The Administration's own top economic adviser said the war could cost up to $200 billion. Our federal budget is already close to a
$200 billion deficit due to huge tax cuts for the wealthy. Remember
when we had a budget surplus?
Each time the administration talks about war, fear is created and when fear goes up, the market goes down. War will mean a sharp
increase in oil prices, which will hurt jobs in manufacturing and
transportation. One economic study with a worst-case scenario puts
the cost of an all-out war, plus long-term occupation of Iraq at $1.6
You cannot separate war from the economy. You cannot separate
war from America's future, from its role in the world and its ability
to meet the needs of our own people here at home.
We need to ask the questions. Why does America have hundreds
of billions to ruin the health and take the lives of innocent people in
Iraq but no money to provide health care for all Americans?
Why would America spend hundreds of billions to retire Saddam
Hussein, but no money to protect the retirement security of its own
Why does America have money to blow up bridges over the Euphrates River in Iraq, but no money to build up bridges over the Cuyahoga
River in Cleveland?
The path America must take is one of peace which leads to prosperity. It is one which understands that creating a structure of peace ensures
that economic structures can be sound, affirmative of human needs and
restorative of human values.
This is the dream of a Department of Peace which can help America take the first step towards making nonviolence an organizing principle
in our society -- making the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a
reality -- and working to make war itself a thing of the past. It is this
ethnic of peace seeking and peace building which will cause us to
take down weapons from the heavens and work to create a heaven on
earth full of new possibilities.
Peace and prosperity shall be as two pillars in a newly rebuilt America which provides for the economic and social security of its own people
as a cause of nationhood and for the economic and social progress of
peoples of other lands as a cause of brotherhood.
This confirmation of the purpose of nation was the dream of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society,
and John F. Kennedy and the New Frontier. This shall continue to be
our dream in the days ahead, that no matter the darkness, we shall
hold up the light of America's higher purpose, which calls to us across
the ages from Washington, Jefferson and Adams through Lincoln to
the present day.
Our nation has always had a higher calling, despite the darkness of 911 and the official response to it. It is a calling to maintain the quest
for democracy, for freedom and liberty at times of peril as well as times
of peace. We can sense that higher calling. That higher calling is our
heritage. The words of Francis Scott Key still echo:
"Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?" In this he celebrated the link between
freedom and bravery: That it takes courage to live in a democracy. It
takes courage to stand up to terrorists and maintain basic liberties. It
takes courage to lead the way toward global disarmament while some
are bent on destruction. It takes patience to face dictators around the
world and not be tempted to bomb them into submission. It takes
wisdom to have great power and to make gentle its presence in the
world. And it takes compassion to understand the plight of peoples
world wide who themselves are trying to survive, to live out their own
humble lives despite having conditions which are challenging or
governments which are oppressive.
My friends. This is still your government. You have the right to have a say in how its destiny is being charted. That right derives from our
very Declaration of Independence, which claimed self-governance
as a basic right. Government does not just happen in Washington,
D.C. It is the result of a process which takes place in thousands of
cities, villages and townships. It is also a process which also takes
place in our hearts, which is brought to life by our love of country,
and our love of each other. It is your love which enables me to carry
those hopes and dreams forward. And I shall do so courageously
in the days ahead. Thank you."