Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Camp Democracy, Day Five

September 9, 2006

Well, I went to the Pentagon today at 10 – and it was not an open house, it was a tour of the 9/11 memorial. I wore my tee shirt that says We Will Not Be Silent. The outside of the Pentagon looks like it was never damaged. They have one block from the original damage and they have “September 11, 2001” on it. We were told there were time capsules inside the brick. There was a memorial inside, and they are building a memorial outside. Inside the memorial, there is a chapel…. They have all major religions represented, except for Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Pagan. That is to say, only Christians are represented! And of course, no sign of any real Christianity, which would be forgiveness and love for the enemy. I heard later in the day some Vets for Peace were arrested there handing out information on depleted uranium.

I headed over to Camp Democracy and sat in on some speakers. Antonia Juhasz spoke on various economic policies put into place in Iraq by Bremer. One thing Bremer did was a flat tax, which is a big boon to corporations and very bad for the poor. Bremer also appointed an oil minister, who cancelled all prior contracts and privatized the oil industry. She said from an economic and legal perspective the Bush administration has been very successful in Iraq. But she says public protest caused Haliburton to lose $11 billion in contracts. Her website is www.thebushagenda.net and she has a book out on this topic. During the discussion part of this presentation, someone mentioned the movie WHY WE FIGHT. This movie was shown later in the evening on Saturday. I mentioned at this time that the movie was (I felt) very accurate, except for one thing: the media. They completely left out the media.

Stephen Zunes spoke on the US and Iran and stopping the next war. He runs Foreign Policy In Focus, a think-tank without walls. He says that nonviolent struggles have brought democratic change, not guns and violence. He believes in no nuclear power anywhere (which I agree with). His website is www.fpif.org.

An Iranian woman was part of this panel and she made the point that Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear energy production, and that she is totally opposed to any military intervention. Her website is www.womenforpeace.org.

The next panel I went to was on “Whistleblowing 101”. Karen Kwiatkowski spoke first and she said that they should be called “truth-tellers” or “witnesses” and she also spoke to the need to have a community of support for the truth-tellers. She also made a point of saying that healthy organizations may have differences, but people listen to one another and come to some agreement – and that does not happen in an unhealthy organization, where a person speaks up and is ostracized or punished for speaking up.

Ray McGovern was on this panel also. One statement he made was ‘why didn’t Paul O’Neil come out with his book before the war?’ which is a very good question (and could be asked of others, too). He said the Intelligence Estimate made during the fall of 2002 was full of errors on purpose – there were directed to follow Cheney’s statements. This was used to mislead the US legislators. McGovern said that one Republican Senator was against the wiretapping done by the Bush administration last fall, and yet today is in favor of allowing this – and then he asked why this would be – I immediately said “blackmail” quite loudly. McGovern said that is what it is – the Bush administration probably has some dirt on the Repub Senator.

I went to the next speaker to hear the tail end of what he had to say. He was speaking on how anti-Jewish and anti-Arab bigotry in the West undermines the Middle East peace process. He said that people are afraid of being labeled. I stopped to visit with an artist at Camp Democracy this weekend. His name was Skip Rohde, and it turns out he lives in the next county. His work can be seen at www.skiprohde.com

The last presentation that I went to was by Bill Moyer. Yes, I thought it was Bill Moyers! It was not, but he was recorded by Free Speech TV, because they thought they were going to film Bill Moyers. Moyer is founder of the Backbone Campaign, and he spoke about getting the Progressive Movement going for 2008 and beyond.

Than I had to leave Camp Democracy for the train ride home (which went better than the train ride down there, I must say!). Here is a few final thoughts from Camp Democracy:

Anger looks to the good of justice.

The making of peace is as costly as the making of war.

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