'We are the majority'


The following speech was delivered by Pip Hinman, a member of Sydney's Stop the War Coalition and the Socialist Alliance, to the September 8 "Stop Bush" protest in Sydney.

The other night on Lateline on the ABC, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was trying to justify her government's war of occupation in Iraq.

The people in Iraq, she said, just want they same things that we want. They want peace, security and freedom. Just like we do.

That was her argument for the US occupation of Iraq.

But it has been the US government and the governments of other rich robber nations that have been denying the people of Iraq, and others in the Middle East, peace, security and freedom for more than a century.

These rich and powerful governments have occupied and carved up this part of world like stolen treasure.

They've installed, funded and propped up dictators and created sheikhdoms when it has suited them. And in the process they've guaranteed the profits of the big companies these governments serve.

And now, Condoleeza Rice and her president, George Bush, have the brazenness to tell us that the US and its allies are in Iraq to bring freedom, security and peace to the people of that land.

Most Australians, like most people in the US, don't swallow this lie.

Most of us think they are in there to steal the oil and to protect the profits of giant corporations like Halliburton.

We think this because that is what they are doing!

That we are in a majority reflects well on the good judgement, moral conscience and humanity of most people. I am sure most people found it incredible when Bush argued — just a couple of weeks ago — that the US should never have withdrawn its troops from Vietnam!

This war made an indelible mark on a number of generations.

One and a half million Vietnamese soldiers and freedom fighters were killed, and 600,000 wounded.

Some 4 million Vietnamese civilians died in the US war on Vietnam.

I visited Vietnam recently with my family. Most people you meet there today have a close relative who was in some way a casualty of war.

I met a few of the 4.8 million victims of Agent Orange and other dioxin poisons used by the US armed forces in the Vietnam War. This is a terrible crime visited upon generation after generation who have to face severe genetic deformities as a result.

And Bush dares to argue that the US should never have withdrawn from Vietnam!

How many more would have been killed if this sick fantasy had been implemented and Vietnam was still forced to be a nation at war?

It was estimated last year that some 650,000 people had been died in just three-and-a-half years of war in Iraq. And unless we stop this war, those figures will rise.

The tens of thousands of people who marched for an end to the Vietnam War, for the withdrawal of US and Australian troops from that country were right.

They were right to take that stand.

And those of us who are now marching to end the war on Iraq and Afghanistan are also right.

The likes of Bush, Rice and their trusty ally John Howard are nothing less than war criminals with the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people on their hands.

We have truth, justice and morality on our side.

And today we are a majority. A big majority.

Howard and Bush have been forced to concede they are in a minority on the war. They cannot deny this any more.

But they are refusing to carry out the will of the majority. So much for their respect for democracy.

Politically, Bush and Howard are very likely, as they say, "dead men walking".

That's why Bush has to "enjoy" his visit to Sydney - in the biggest chicken run that's ever been constructed in this country!

That's why hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on a security operation aimed at stopping him from seeing our banners and placards, and hearing our voices!

That's why Howard has been trying all year not to mention the war in Iraq.

But then Bush came to town with his "No withrawals!" and "Let's go nuclear!" line.

Hopefully, Bush's APEC endorsement of John Howard's re-election bid helps make the Howard government history.

But we cannot afford to leave it to hope.

We cannot afford to hang up our boots, just now, and stop marching for peace.

The only real guarantee that our troops will be withdrawn from Iraq — and not sent off on another war of occupation — is a strong and independent anti-war movement.

That is what the Stop The War Coalition is building. We need you to join us, to boost the ranks of our activists, to share your skills, to organise in your neighbourhoods and with your friends and workmates.

Then, one day, not too far away, our troops will be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan, and there will be an end to these illegal, unjust and monstrous wars.

Troops out now!