President Obama has decided to send more than 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan, at a cost of more than $100 billion/year. But America cannot afford a war that does not make us safer, and Congress has the power to stop the escalation. Vote NO on any spending bill that would send more troops to Afghanistan.
He stated a lot of things during the campaign.
For example, I recall something to the effect of "We are the change that we have been waiting for".
I didn't vote for Obama because I agree with him on every issue. One of the reasons that I voted for Obama was out of pure self interest. To hopefully create some space for protest. To hopefully avoid seing myself or anybody else get their head bashed in in some free speech zone or stuck in some domestic guantanamo for trying to create change.
I voted for Obama because I'd rather face Holder than Ashcrosf or Gonzales.
There are people (I suspect that you and I can both think of one in particular) here who argued against Obama's Presidency on the grounds that it would cause us to self censor ourselves.
At the time, I rejected that reasoning quite strongly as being wrongheaded, not because I found it an implausable direction of drift, but rather because whether or not it happened was something that we had control over. The operation of that prediction depended on our own actions.
Sure, if we sit back and self censor ourselves, then that prediction will become self-fullfilling.
Only then will those who made this arguement before the election be proven correct in the end.
On the other hand, if we take advantage of the space that has opened up for protest as a result of the election (and isn't that one of the reasons why folks voted for Obama in the first place?), then some of the the change that we voted for can be brought to fruition.
I look at the Obama Presidency as a 4 or 8 year window for change, where change is a little easier, and making change a little less dangerous.
If we choose not to take advantage of that open window for change, then why did we vote for Obama (for those of us who did) in the first place?
There's no point in opening the window if we don't follow up and crawl through it.
As a believer in "peace through superior firepower" and a warmonger, do I ignore this petition;
as one who has seen that this strategy was screwed up from the get go (bozo's from the previous admin) and we have lost the window of opportunity to win and have put this admin in a no win situation no matter what he does, do I sign to get us out now?
I was watching CNN International last night and today, President Karzai is going to be interviewed by Christian Amanpour to talk about the 'what happens next' now that the announcement has been made that we will be sending more troops.
But they showed a preview in which Karzai made the statement (and I'm paraphrasing) that essentially, the U.S. created the mess that's going on over there by deciding to chase (and then let go) bin Laden for being responsible for 9/11 and started bombing the hell out of Afghanistan and causing a lot of the destruction and chaos that they're experiencing now!!
And I had to say ... hmmm .. well, that's kinda true! Not that Afghanistan didn't already have its issues ... but they didn't have these same kinds of issues that they're having right now ... bombs falling on their heads ... suicide bombers blowing them up ... being used as human shields ... that kinda thing!
In a way, I think we do owe them at least trying to clean up some of the mess that we created. To at least right the ship that we helped to capsize. And then they can sail it on their own.
This is what he said he would do.
what the problem is?
P.S. - did anybody notice that as soon as the Prez said the troops would draw down in x number of months, HIllary Clinton and some other hi profiles went on the talk show rounds to say "errr,,, not so much"????
I think Afghanistan should've been the country that was initially attacked (for lack of a better descripton), which it was. But the previous administration spent so much time trying to get revenge for Saddam Hussein "Trying to kill my father!" (channelling Dave Chappelle). The entire focus on trying to capture Osama Bin Laden got lost in the mix as well as the purpose for any military action. Intentionally? Probably so. But I'm not going to sign that petition, its pointless.
Quote by Yemaya: "But I'm not going to sign that petition, its pointless".
Pointless is absoluty right.
During his Democratic & Presidential campaign, candidate Obama stated that he was going to concentrate on and fight the war in Afghanistan and steadily downside & end the war in Iraq so he is doing exactly what he said that he was going to do.
But as usual, Americans tends to have the same ole' mental problems that seems to get and keep the U.S. in trouble; a very short memory and attention span when things are "going well" and a lack of a heightened sense of security, years after the significant event occurred, 9-11, when everybody in the U.S. was straight scared: nervous, shittin' and peein' in their pants when the planes hit the Twin Towers, not knowing what was going to happen the next minute and following days and months to come.....
But it seems that after years of beefed-up security and no terrorists event (under the old administration, despite all the mistakes and bad decisions made) in this country to rival the event of 9-11, Americans have once again gotten back into the usual cycle: being complacent, lazy, complaining, and angry at the idea of continuing to exert constant pressure on the Taliban and Al Qaeda (who have not let up off the gas and the ideals in their efforts to attack America again).
And since many Americans now have a false sense of feeling "safe and secure" once again, only 8+ years after 9-11, it's now not worth the continued time & effort to continue to fight against the terrorists who are hoping that President Obama does exactly what many Americans are hoping for: close shop & pull completely out of Afghanistan, leaving the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden all alone to continue to build, train, politic & plot against America and plan another terrorists attack (s).
Why do we keep doing this?
It reminds me when 9-11 happened and the airlines added stricter rules (armed soldiers in airports, tougher screening processes etc) and for several weeks, all was OK until people started to complain, be their usual spoiled selves and bitch about my space being violated, the extra time, "I'm tired" "my time is being wasted" and the inconvenience of it all.
Now Americans want to do the exact same thing in this situation. Just leave Afghanistan and the terrorists alone (it costs too much) and maybe they will just leave us alone.
(1). We're paying billions yearly to operate the military anyway, whether were at peace or at war so being too expensive and problamatic is a non-issue.
(2). Soldiers will die and be wounded in war. Has been and always will be that way. There are and have been no wars with "zero" killings.
(3). The Americans complaining and wanting to pull out are the usual coward azz, Monday morning chicken hawks (just like VP Chaney and mostly all D.C. politicans) who don't have the intestinal fortitude or nerve to don a military uniform and defend this country.
(4). Any and all military war strategies and planning are bad plans; the lesser of two evils so there is no perfect plan to eradicate terrorism but you have to choose one and implement it.
(5). The Taliban and Al Qaeda don't take scheduled vacations and their intended focus is not different than it was with the 9-11 attacks.
(6). If their is another terrorist attack on American soil after all the soldiers are safe at home, killing thousands of American citizens somewhere in the U. S., (maybe someone you know) then what do you have to say?
Anyway you look at and no matter how you spin it, it’s all jacked up but what choice do we have? Al Qaeda and the Taliban have not changed their original focus and the President said it best in his Nobel speech: " sometimes in order achieve peace, wars must be fought" and this is exactly where we are and have been in this situation for years.
With terrorism, there is no allied nations Vs nations war fighting and an agreed to, shake hands, signed peace treaty, with the confirmed ending winner and the loser, on a battleship somewhere in the Pacific Ocean or a government building in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world Those days are over and the President, in today's terrorist climate, must continue to move forward.
And even when combat operations and the fighting diminishes, we will still have military personnel in both Iraq & Afghanistan, accompanying/ training alongside their soldiers, on a never-ending rotational basis, for many decades to come.
America is, and forever will be, stuck with this reality.
More specifically, the escalation. (President Obama's second Afghanistan escalation in his term so far. Not sure how many he promised, and I really don't care, either.)
Just to be clear, I voted by absentee ballot. I looked at it pretty carefully before sending it in, and nowhere on the ballot did I see any fine print binding me by any promises made by any political candidates (even those who I might vote for), whether to support the war or even to support civil unions for that matter. Neither do I recall the Democratic Party or any of its candidates warning us not to vote if we have any disagreements with any of their positions. Never was I instructed by anybody during the actual campaign that by voting I incur an obligation to help fullfill Noah's prophesey of apathy and inaction.
Indeed, the particular candidate that I voted for for president said just the opposite. He said that "we are the people who we have been waiting for". This was a broad theme of his campaign (and quite a radical theme at that, for a mainstream candidate!) that goes much further fhan the details of any specific policy position on any one issue.
He asked for our involvement. Our voices. Our action. Not just for our votes. He didn't ask for followers. He made no claims to being the massiah. And he never referred his campaign promises as scripture.
Remember LBJ, who faced a similar decision during his own Presidency, and who also opted for escalation.
Is this the legacy that we want for President Obama?
Because the choice, and the responsibility, is ours. We will decide by our own actions.
We are the people who we have been waiting for.
A “Citizens’ Oath Of Office”
For Inauguration Day 2009
By Robert Jensen
19 January, 2009
Eight long years ago at a counter-inaugural event in Austin, TX, I administered a “Citizen’s Oath of Office” to the people who had come together on the steps of the state Capitol to challenge the legitimacy of the incoming Bush administration and its right-wing agenda. In 2005 I offered a revised version that expanded on our duties during even more trying times.
In 2009, we welcome a far saner administration but also face far deeper problems, and hence such a citizen’s oath is as necessary as ever. The Obama administration will no doubt step back from the reckless and reactionary policies of the past eight years, but the core problems of empire and economics -- U.S. domination around the world and corporate domination at home and abroad -- remain as threatening as ever. The robotic talk among Democrats of pressing on in “the right war” in Afghanistan (allegedly to fight terrorism) and a continued faith in the predatory capitalist system (albeit softened slightly in the face of potential collapse) offer little hope for meaningful change at the deep level so desperately needed.
As we celebrate the end of an eight-year disaster, we should recommit to the ongoing work required to create a truly just and sustainable world. With that work in mind, here’s my suggestion for a 2009 Citizen’s Oath of Office, with new language added in brackets:
“I do solemnly pledge that I will faithfully execute the office of citizen of the United States, and that I will, to the best of my ability, help create a truly democratic world by (1) going beyond mainstream corporate news media to seek out information about important political, economic, and social issues; (2) engaging fellow citizens, including those who disagree with me, in serious discussion and debate about those issues; (3) committing as much time, energy, and money as possible to help build [authentic] grassroots political organizations that can pressure politicians to put the interests of people over profit and power; and (4) connecting these efforts to global political and social movements fighting the U.S. empire abroad, where it does the most intense damage. I will continue to resist corporate control of the world, resist militarism, resist any roll-back of civil rights, and resist illegitimate authority in all its forms. [And I will commit to collective efforts in my local community to help build joyful alternatives to an unsustainable consumer society.]”
I think these bracketed additions are crucial. First, adding “authentic” as a modifier of “grassroots political organizations” reminds us that the campaign to elect Obama was not a movement, no matter how many times he uses that term. It was a campaign to elect a candidate from one of the country’s two major parties, both of which are committed to imperial domination and predatory capitalism. That isn’t to argue there is no difference between candidates, but to remind us that a slogan-driven electoral campaign for such a party is not a people’s movement. Authentic movements for justice do not arise out of the Republican or Democratic parties but from people coming together to challenge illegitimate authority rather than accommodate it. Strategic decisions about voting do not replace organizing.
Second, in addition to traditional movement building, it’s clearer than ever that we must focus some of our resources on strengthening on-the-ground alternatives to an extractive industrial economy that is undermining the ability of the ecosystem to sustain life. Those local experiments, such as worker-owned cooperatives and community-supported agriculture, will be increasingly important as the dominant culture proves itself unable to cope with economic and ecological collapse that is no longer a matter for speculation regarding the distant future but a reality we must face now.
We can’t predict the exact texture and timing of that collapse, but we can know it is coming and confront the need for real change. Imagine we are riding on a train hurtling 100 miles per hour on tracks that end at the edge of a cliff. The engineer is replaced by someone who wants to slow the train down to 50 miles per hour but is committed to staying on the same tracks. Slowing down may buy us some time, but the cliff remains.
So, like many others on Tuesday I will breathe a sigh of relief when Obama is sworn in, but I won’t breathe easy.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. His latest book, All My Bones Shake, will be published in 2009 by Soft Skull Press. He also is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002). Jensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his articles can be found online at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html.
Has anyone noticed how much of the reward money offered for information/capture of said enemy goes unclaimed? Because we are driven by greed, the powers to be seem to think that all people are.
Posted: December 13, 2009
7:26 pm Eastern
F. Michael Maloof
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
WASHINGTON – New military rules of engagement ostensibly to protect Afghan civilians are putting the lives of U.S. forces in jeopardy, claim Army and Marine sources, as the Taliban learns the game plan based the rules' imposed limits.
The rules of engagement, or ROEs, apply to all coalition forces of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Their enactment is in response to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's complaints over mounting civilian deaths apparently occurring in firefights.
Despite the fact that the newly arrived U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, imposed the more restrictive ROEs to minimize the killing of innocent civilians, however, the Taliban is well aware of them and has its own forces acting in ways to counteract them.
The impact of new restrictions has created increasing frustration and concern among U.S. Army and Marine Corps troops who now are compelled to follow these rules despite the danger of letting the Taliban live to fight again another day.
Critics see the new ROEs being more oriented toward defensive rather than offensive operations, as evidenced by recent charges of murder against two U.S. Army snipers because they had targeted a Taliban commander who reportedly wasn't holding a weapon.
The actual ROEs are said to be classified U.S. and NATO secrets, but based on individual soldier accounts, those restrictions include the following:
- No night or surprise searches
- Villagers are to be warned prior to searches
- Afghan National Army, or ANA, or Afghan National Police, or ANP, must accompany U.S. units on searches
- U.S. soldiers may not fire at insurgents unless they are preparing to fire first
- U.S. forces cannot engage insurgents if civilians are present
- Only women can search women
- Troops can fire on insurgents if they catch them placing an IED but not if insurgents walk away from where the explosives are.
Often, rules of engagement require varying levels of approvals before action can be taken. In one case, villagers had tipped off U.S. forces of the presence of a Taliban commander who was threatening village elders.
To get permission to go after him, U.S. troops had to get 11 separate Afghan, U.S. and international forces' approval to the plan. The approval, however, did not come until well into the next day. By then, the Taliban commander had moved on, to the consternation of the villagers who had provided the tip. Observers have claimed that it can take some 96 hours to acquire all the permissions to act.
In other cases, the use of force against insurgents may be blocked if they lower their guns, only to have those insurgents return later to attack.
Also, ISAF troops cannot engage insurgents if they are leaving an area where an IED has been planted. In one case, insurgents planting an IED had detected the presence of U.S. forces and immediately began leaving the area, tossing evidence of their preparations along the way. U.S. forces could not fire on them.
The ROEs in some cases have gone beyond limiting ISAF troops in their operations. In one case, ROE restrictions were in effect when four U.S. Marines twice pleaded by radio for artillery support in combat action in Kunar Province in Afghanistan – and twice they were refused, before they were killed.
President Lyndon B. Johnson's
Address at Johns HopkinsUniversity:
"Peace Without Conquest"
April 7, 1965
Mr. Garland, Senator Brewster, Senator Tydings, Members of the congressional delegation, members of the faculty of Johns Hopkins, student body, my fellow Americans:
Last week 17 nations sent their views to some two dozen countries having an interest in southeast Asia. We are joining those 17 countries and stating our American policy tonight which we believe will contribute toward peace in this area of the world.
I have come here to review once again with my own people the views of the American Government.
Tonight Americans and Asians are dying for a world where each people may choose its own path to change.
This is the principle for which our ancestors fought in the valleys of Pennsylvania. It is the principle for which our sons fight tonight in the jungles of Viet-Nam.
Viet-Nam is far away from this quiet campus. We have no territory there, nor do we seek any. The war is dirty and brutal and difficult. And some 400 young men, born into an America that is bursting with opportunity and promise, have ended their lives on Viet-Nam's steaming soil.
Why must we take this painful road?
Why must this Nation hazard its ease, and its interest, and its power for the sake of a people so far away?
We fight because we must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny. And only in such a world will our own freedom be finally secure.
This kind of world will never be built by bombs or bullets. Yet the infirmities of man are such that force must often precede reason, and the waste of war, the works of peace.
We wish that this were not so. But we must deal with the world as it is, if it is ever to be as we wish.
THE NATURE OF THE CONFLICT
The world as it is in Asia is not a serene or peaceful place.
The first reality is that North Viet-Nam has attacked the independent nation of South Viet-Nam. Its object is total conquest.
Of course, some of the people of South Viet-Nam are participating in attack on their own government. But trained men and supplies, orders and arms, flow in a constant stream from north to south.
This support is the heartbeat of the war.
And it is a war of unparalleled brutality. Simple farmers are the targets of assassination and kidnapping. Women and children are strangled in the night because their men are loyal to their government. And helpless villages are ravaged by sneak attacks. Large-scale raids are conducted on towns, and terror strikes in the heart of cities.
The confused nature of this conflict cannot mask the fact that it is the new face of an old enemy.
Over this war--and all Asia--is another reality: the deepening shadow of Communist China. The rulers in Hanoi are urged on by Peking. This is a regime which has destroyed freedom in Tibet, which has attacked India, and has been condemned by the United Nations for aggression in Korea. It is a nation which is helping the forces of violence in almost every continent. The contest in Viet-Nam is part of a wider pattern of aggressive purposes.
WHY ARE WE IN VIET-NAM ?
Why are these realities our concern? Why are we in South Viet-Nam ?
We are there because we have a promise to keep. Since 1954 every American President has offered support to the people of South Viet-Nam. We have helped to build, and we have helped to defend. Thus, over many years, we have made a national pledge to he!p South Viet-Nam defend its independence.
And I intend to keep that promise.
To dishonor that pledge, to abandon this small and brave nation to its enemies, and to the terror that must follow, would be an unforgivable wrong.
We are also there to strengthen world order. Around the globe, from Berlin to Thailand, are people whose well-being rests, in part, on the belief that they can count on us if they are attacked. To leave Viet-Nam to its fate would shake the confidence of all these people in the value of an American commitment and in the value of America's word. The result would be increased unrest and instability, and even wider war.
We are also there because there are great stakes in the balance. Let no one think for a moment that retreat from Viet-Nam would bring an end to conflict. The battle would be renewed in one country and then another. The central lesson of our time is that the appetite of aggression is never satisfied. To withdraw from one battlefield means only to prepare for the next. We must say in southeast Asia--as we did in Europe--in the words of the Bible: "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further."
There are those who say that all our effort there will be futile--that China's power is such that it is bound to dominate all southeast Asia. But there is no end to that argument until all of the nations of Asia are swallowed up.
There are those who wonder why we have a responsibility there. Well, we have it there for the same reason that we have a responsibility for the defense of Europe. World War II was fought in both Europe and Asia, and when it ended we found ourselves with continued responsibility for the defense of freedom.
OUR OBJECTIVE IN VIET-NAM
Our objective is the independence of South Viet-Nam, and its freedom from attack. We want nothing for ourselves--only that the people of South Viet-Nam be allowed to guide their own country in their own way.
We will do everything necessary to reach that objective. And we will do only what is absolutely necessary.
In recent months attacks on South Viet-Nam were stepped up. Thus, it became necessary for us to increase our response and to make attacks by air. This is not a change of purpose. It is a change in what we believe that purpose requires.
We do this in order to slow down aggression.
We do this to increase the confidence of the brave people of South Viet-Nam who have bravely borne this brutal battle for so many years with so many casualties.
And we do this to convince the leaders of North Viet-Nam--and all who seek to share their conquest--of a very simple fact: We will not be defeated. We will not grow tired.
We will not withdraw, either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless agreement.
We know that air attacks alone will not accomplish all of these purposes. But it is our best and prayerful judgment that they are a necessary part of the surest road to peace.
We hope that peace will come swiftly. But that is in the hands of others besides ourselves. And we must be prepared for a long continued conflict. It will require patience as well as bravery, the will to endure as well as the will to resist.
I wish it were possible to convince others with words of what we now find it necessary to say with guns and planes: Armed hostility is futile. Our resources are equal to any challenge. Because we fight for values and we fight for principles, rather than territory or colonies, our patience and our determination are unending.
Once this is clear, then it should also be clear that the only path for reasonable men is the path of peaceful settlement.
Such peace demands an independent South Viet-Nam--securely guaranteed and able to shape its own relationships to all others--free from outside interference--tied to no alliance--a military base for no other country.
These are the essentials of any final settlement.
We will never be second in the search for such a peaceful settlement in Viet-Nam.
There may be many ways to this kind of peace: in discussion or negotiation with the governments concerned; in large groups or in small ones; in the reaffirmation of old agreements or their strengthening with new ones.
We have stated this position over and over again, fifty times and more, to friend and foe alike. And we remain ready, with this purpose, for unconditional discussions.
And until that bright and necessary day of peace we will try to keep conflict from spreading. We have no desire to see thousands die in battle--Asians or Americans. We have no desire to devastate that which the people of North Viet-Nam have built with toil and sacrifice. We will use our power with restraint and with all the wisdom that we can command.
But we will use it.
This war, like most wars, is filled with terrible irony. For what do the people of North Viet-Nam want? They want what their neighbors also desire: food for their hunger; health for their bodies; a chance to learn; progress for their country; and an end to the bondage of material misery. And they would find all these things far more readily in peaceful association with others than in the endless course of battle.
A COOPERATIVE EFFORT FOR DEVELOPMENT
These countries of southeast Asia are homes for millions of impoverished people. Each day these people rise at dawn and struggle through until the night to wrestle existence from the soil. They are often wracked by disease, plagued by hunger, and death comes at the early age of 40.
Stability and peace do not come easily in such a land. Neither independence nor human dignity will ever be won, though, by arms alone. It also requires the work of peace. The American people have helped generously in times past in these works. Now there must be a much more massive effort to improve the life of man in that conflict-torn corner of our world.
The first step is for the countries of southeast Asia to associate themselves in a greatly expanded cooperative effort for development. We would hope that North Viet-Nam would take its place in the common effort just as soon as peaceful cooperation is possible.
The United Nations is already actively engaged in development in this area. As far back as 1961 I conferred with our authorities in Viet-Nam in connection with their work there. And I would hope tonight that the Secretary General of the United Nations could use the prestige of his great office, and his deep knowledge of Asia, to initiate, as soon as possible, with the countries of that area, a plan for cooperation in increased development.
For our part I will ask the Congress to join in a billion dollar American investment in this effort as soon as it is underway.
And I would hope that all other industrialized countries, including the Soviet Union, will join in this effort to replace despair with hope, and terror with progress.
The task is nothing less than to enrich the hopes and the existence of more than a hundred million people. And there is much to be done.
The vast Mekong River can provide food and water and power on a scale to dwarf even our own TVA.
The wonders of modern medicine can be spread through villages where thousands die every year from lack of care.
Schools can be established to train people in the skills that are needed to manage the process of development.
And these objectives, and more, are within the reach of a cooperative and determined effort.
I also intend to expand and speed up a program to make available our farm surpluses to assist in feeding and clothing the needy in Asia. We should not allow people to go hungry and wear rags while our own warehouses overflow with an abundance of wheat and corn, rice and cotton.
So I will very shortly name a special team of outstanding, patriotic, distinguished Americans to inaugurate our participation in these programs. This team will be headed by Mr. Eugene Black, the very able former President of the World Bank.
In areas that are still ripped by conflict, of course development will not be easy. Peace will be necessary for final success. But we cannot and must not wait for peace to begin this job.
THE DREAM OF WORLD ORDER
This will be a disorderly planet for a long time. In Asia, as elsewhere, the forces of the modern world are shaking old ways and uprooting ancient civilizations. There will be turbulence and struggle and even violence. Great social change--as we see in our own country now--does not always come without conflict.
We must also expect that nations will on occasion be in dispute with us. It may be because we are rich, or powerful; or because we have made some mistakes; or because they honestly fear our intentions. However, no nation need ever fear that we desire their land, or to impose our will, or to dictate their institutions.
But we will always oppose the effort of one nation to conquer another nation.
We will do this because our own security is at stake.
But there is more to it than that. For our generation has a dream. It is a very old dream. But we have the power and now we have the opportunity to make that dream come true.
For centuries nations have struggled among each other. But we dream of a world where disputes are settled by law and reason. And we will try to make it so.
For most of history men have hated and killed one another in battle. But we dream of an end to war. And we will try to make it so.
For all existence most men have lived in poverty, threatened by hunger. But we dream of a world where all are fed and charged with hope. And we will help to make it so.
The ordinary men and women of North Viet-Nam and South Viet-Nam--of China and India--of Russia and America--are brave people. They are filled with the same proportions of hate and fear, of love and hope. Most of them want the same things for themselves and their families. Most of them do not want their sons to ever die in battle, or to see their homes, or the homes of others, destroyed.
Well, this can be their world yet. Man now has the knowledge--always before denied--to make this planet serve the real needs of the people who live on it.
I know this will not be easy. I know how difficult it is for reason to guide passion, and love to master hate. The complexities of this world do not bow easily to pure and consistent answers.
But the simple truths are there just the same. We must all try to follow them as best we can.
We often say how impressive power is. But I do not find it impressive at all. The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure. They are necessary symbols. They protect what we cherish. But they are witness to human folly.
A dam built across a great river is impressive.
In the countryside where I was born, and where I live, I have seen the night illuminated, and the kitchens warmed, and the homes heated, where once the cheerless night and the ceaseless cold held sway. And all this happened because electricity came to our area along the humming wires of the REA. Electrification of the countryside--yes, that, too, is impressive.
A rich harvest in a hungry land is impressive.
The sight of healthy children in a classroom is impressive.
These--not mighty arms--are the achievements which the American Nation believes to be impressive.
And, if we are steadfast, the time may come when all other nations will also find it so.
Every night before I turn out the lights to sleep I ask myself this question: Have I done everything that I can do to unite this country? Have I done everything I can to help unite the world, to try to bring peace and hope to all the peoples of the world? Have I done enough?
Ask yourselves that question in your homes--and in this hall tonight. Have we, each of us, all done all we could? Have we done enough?
We may well be living in the time foretold many years ago when it was said: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
This generation of the world must choose: destroy or build, kill or aid, hate or understand.
We can do all these things on a scale never dreamed of before.
Well, we will choose life. In so doing we will prevail over the enemies within man, and over the natural enemies of all mankind.
To Dr. Eisenhower and Mr. Garland, and this great institution, Johns Hopkins, I thank you for this opportunity to convey my thoughts to you and to the American people.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9 p.m. in Shriver Hall Auditorium at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. In his opening words, he referred to Charles S. Garland, Chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, and Senators Daniel B. Brewster and Joseph D. Tydings of Maryland.
Later he referred to Dr. Milton Eisenhower, President of Johns Hopkins University, and Eugene Black, former President of the World Bank and adviser to the President on southeast Asia social and economic development.
Earlier, on the same day, the White House released the text of the statements, made to the press in the Theater at the White House, by George W. Ball, Under Secretary of State, Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, and McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President, which defined the context of the President's speech.
Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965. Volume I, entry 172, pp. 394-399. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1966.