Mike Gravel on War & Peace

Libertarian for President; Former Dem. Senator (AK); withdrew from Presidential primary July 2019


Filibustered to end the military draft

Staunchly opposing military aid to Cambodia, Gravel "paralyzed the Senate for two days" in a spontaneous filibuster in 1970, according to the Washington Post. He later trained his sights on the draft extension. As Gravel explained in a letter to the New York Times, the resulting restriction on manpower would force the administration to reconsider its timetable and restrict any other overseas interventions. His filibuster ultimately succeeded in killing the draft.
Source: Jacobin Magazine on 2020 Democratic primary , May 2, 2019

Cut military budget by 50%, close all military bases abroad

The Gravel campaign has put out a 29-page platform. It includes cutting the military budget by 50%, closing Guantanamo Bay, ending the use of drones, vowing not to invade any sovereign nation in the absence of a first strike, closing all military bases abroad, and abolishing the Senate and the electoral college. "My message, centered around an anti-imperialist foreign policy and fundamental political reform, is one that no other Democratic candidate is making the centerpiece of their campaign."
Source: Current Affairs magazine, 2019 article series , Apr 10, 2019

Split DoD into Department of War and Department of Peace

The Department of Defense has benefitted from its Orwellian moniker for too long: who could justify cutting "defense" spending? The Founders recognized that "Department of War," a name that accurately reflected the purpose and activities of the body, was a more fitting name. But that's not enough to push back on the overwhelming power of the Department of Defense. A Department of Peace, as proposed in 1793 by Benjamin Rush, should exist to promote peacebuilding and conflict prevention whenever necessary.
Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeGravel.com , Apr 9, 2019

Withdraw all troops from South Korea; normalize with North

The primary responsibility for achieving a lasting peace on the Peninsula rests with the Korean people and their respective governments. This is--first and foremost--their dispute to settle. As the overwhelmingly more powerful party, the U.S. has a responsibility to make every effort to de-escalate tensions to enable the two Koreas to reach an amicable outcome to current and future talks.
Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeGravel.com , Apr 9, 2019

2020 debates desperately need an anti-war voice

We must fundamentally shift the dialogue of American politics, and force a tough conversation about the costs of endless wars of choice.

The 2020 presidential debates will be in desperate need of an anti-war voice, and Mike Gravel is ready to take on that challenge.

Debemos cambiar el di logo de la polˇtica estadounidense y forzar la conversaci˘n dura de los costos de guerras infinitas de elecci˘n.

Los debates presidenciales de 2020 necesitar n desesperadamente una voz contra la guerra.

Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeGravel.org , Mar 29, 2019

1960s Vietnam posed no threat to America

When I arrived in Saigon [on a 1969 trip as Senator], I could hear a gun battle going on not far away. After some time, grungy, painted-up, sweating young boys in disheveled field attire emerged from the thicket after the firefight. I chatted with them. These drugged-up kids who should have been in school were not fighting for the US government or the nation. They didn’t believe the phony threats about Communism. They were fighting for their buddies next to them in the jungle in a civil war whose outcom posed not the slightest threat to US or global security.

I flew away in the Huey, with a grunt gripping a .50 caliber machine-gun sticking out the open door. I vowed to myself on that flight that when I got back to the States I would do everything in my power to get America out of that damned war.

Just back from Vietnam, I joined ten senators and some House members in a plan to shut down Congress in solidarity with a nationwide moratorium against the war on October 15.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.171-173 , May 2, 2008

Stop nuclear proliferation: the Cold War is over

The decision to wage preemptive war in Iraq raises the specter of a much deeper problem facing the global community--nuclear proliferation. On this issue, we should first look at ourselves. The U.S. has more deliverable nuclear devices than the rest of the world combined. Who in the world are we prepared to nuke? Our political leadership, controlled by military industrialists, insists on pursuing a Cold War strategy in a post-Cold War era.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting , Feb 3, 2007

Election was mandate for peace but carnage continues for oil

Since the elections on November 7, the carnage in Iraq has only gotten worse, in an ever deepening spiral of civil war and violent retribution and ethnic cleansing. Even so, the Bush Administration stubbornly refuses to accept the election mandate from the people and change course. Instead of the mandate for peace the American people desire, the Iraq Study Group offers us a future of more of the same, only more so.

Indeed, Pres. Bush’s true personal measure of victory is buying the time needed to complete the production-sharing agreements-the so-called PSA’s-that will lock in the Iraqi Government, and its successors in Baghdad, for long-term agreements of up to 50 years to share oil revenues and restrict the rights of Iraqi governments to enact new laws that might affect the profits of Big Oil.

Blood for Oil. Treasure for Oil. Honor for Oil. That is the measure of the Bush policy, and it’s sadly the same for the Iraq Study Group report we have just received.

Source: Campaign press release, “Oracle of Houston” , Dec 4, 2006

US creates threats to our own security by acting out of fear

In the eyes of the rest of the world, this country has shown itself to be one of the major problems of world order. Our desire to use power where and when we please has made us one of the world’s most dangerous nations. I am not saying that other nations are more peace-loving. It is only that we have the power to be a danger to world peace with no constraints on our nation’s leaders but their own moral judgment.

In Vietnam we have seen that we create the threats to our own security, through our own actions & the commitments our leaders make. By no stretch could the type of government in power in the southern half of a tiny country halfway around the world affect the security of the US or any of its vital interests. By losing sight of the negligible risks to ourselves, by permitting commitments to be made in our name, we became militarily involved. We were our own worst enemy. This is the ultimate threat to the security of a nation, when its own people no longer have confidence in its government.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p. 49 , Jan 1, 1972

Mike Gravel on Mideast

End military aid to Israel; recognize Palestinian statehood

For too long, America has given uncritical support to the Likud government of Israel, which has enacted racist apartheid-style policies designed to disenfranchise Palestinians. American leadership, both Democratic and Republican, has watched, both approvingly and passively, as Israel illegally annexed Palestinian land, encouraging further encroachment through billions of dollars in military aid, the placement of the American embassy in Jerusalem, and the recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeGravel.com , Apr 9, 2019

End military aid to Saudi Arabia; no support for Yemen war

The US' relationship to Saudi Arabia is extraordinarily corrupt. For decades, the Saudi royal family has used oil money to influence American policy; from the prominence of "Bandar Bush" to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman claiming to have Jared Kushner "in his pocket," our leaders have been serving Saudi interests for far too long. Saudi Arabia is a repressive dictatorship which regularly engages in torture and murder, as seen most recently in the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Its curtailment of women's rights has been appalling.

The United States government serves as a salesman of death around the globe. The only way to clamp down on the military-industrial complex, the greatest enemy of the American people, is a hard line against selling weapons abroad.

Source: 2020 Presidential campaign website MikeGravel.com , Apr 9, 2019

Iraq war was propagandized like 1898 “Remember the Maine!”

The military-industrial partnership [in the late 1800s] needed a war to launch America’s overseas empire. The spark came after the suspicious sinking of the US battleship Maine in Havana in 1898. It was blamed, without proof, on Spain. The three-month conflict with the decrepit Spanish Empire left the US with the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

In the end 4,324 Americans were lost, as well as between 600,000 and 1 million Filipinos--eerily familiar numbers today. Also disturbingly alike were Congressional hearings that revealed US troops used water torture against Filipinos. The Philippine occupation and resulting insurgency was essentially repeated in Vietnam and Iraq. The aims were the same: to expand US power and economic interests against competing nations under the phony banner of Christianity or democracy. All three invasions were driven by money and power as ends in themselves--or as a means to more money and power.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 95-96 , May 2, 2008

Intent of War Powers Act was to stop wars like Iraq

The United States overthrew monarchy, but discovered that a profit-motivated democracy can develop its own forms of tyranny. Prior to the Cold War, Congress followed the Constitution. It formally declared wars. But since Truman sent troops to Korea in 1950, Congress had abdicated perhaps its most serious responsibility. Presidential abuse of power in foreign affairs became routine and Nixon seized it with abandon.

[After Vietnam] the War Powers Act became law in 1973. Congress overrode Nixon’s expected veto. The Act gave a president sixty days to use force without a declaration of war. A declaration of war by Congress was then needed. But was Congress, the press, the courts or the public really serious about reining in the destructive power of our emperor-presidents?

The Act did little to deter major wars in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, which were undertaken with resolutions, but all without a Constitutional declaration of war.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.185-186 , May 2, 2008

Neocons plotted since 1991 to overthrow Saddam

Clinton’s containment policy with Iraq angered the neo-conservatives. Bush I’s defense secretary, Dick Cheney, produced a 46-page policy report saying that the US’s post-Cold War mission was to ensure no rival anywhere could challenge America’s undispute supremacy.

Four years later, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and 23 other neo-cons founded a group called the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). They advocated increased defense spending (what else?) to carry out the plan. In 1998, several PNAC members wrot an open letter to Clinton calling on him to launch a preemptive military attack against Iraq to stop it using “weapons of mass destruction.” They concluded, “only a determined program to change the regime in Baghdad will bring the Iraqi crisis to a satisfactory conclusion.”

In 2000 the PNAC produced a similar report, acknowledging that “the process of transformation” toward US world domination “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.217-218 , May 2, 2008

Only morons & neocons think war achieves Mideast democracy

The neo-conservatives employed Cold War fear tactics to further the agenda of extending US global dominance, expanding executive power unconstitutionally and growing the arms industry. It has been presented under the naive cover of bringing democracy to oil-rich Middle Eastern states. The neo-cons’ first plan was overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying Iraq. They had had it spelled out since 1993 in various reports. Planning for the Iraq invasion may have begun before Bush was inaugurated.

Iraq was supposed to be just the first domino in the neo-cons’ mad design. Overthrowing regimes in Syria and Iran were next. Getting control of Afghanistan and putting US bases in energy-rich Central Asia was also high on their agenda. One thing links all these regions: oil. Pax Americana would rule the area. But it would be endless Bellum Americana.

Everyone wants to see democracy, security, & prosperity in the Middle East. Only morons think American-led wars are the way to achieve it.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.221-222 , May 2, 2008

Meeting with Hamas jump-starts the peace process

Last week, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and almost everyone else in the Washington establishment have condemned and criticized Jimmy Carter for his latest attempt to make the world a safer place. Far from deserving all the cheap shots, Jimmy Carter should be praised for meeting with the leader of Hamas.

When will we Americans learn that the only way to achieve true security is through diplomacy and negotiation? A majority of the Israeli public understands this: 64% of Israelis favor direct talks with Hamas. Only 28% are opposed. They know that the only way to break the cycle of violence is a negotiated settlement. Jimmy Carter’s brave gambit to meet with Hamas and jump-start the peace process is not “anti-Israel.” It is in Israel’s interests.

Should we just hope that warring parties in the Middle East patiently wait until a new president takes over next year? The Democratic Party’s candidates seem to share the same obstinate, ill-informed views as George Bush and John McCain.

Source: Press release, “Jimmy Carter vs. AIPAC” , Apr 14, 2008

Opposed war in Iraq before it even began

As a senator, he became known for releasing the controversial "Pentagon Papers" at an ad hoc committee performance. He was early against the Vietnam War. He was early in advocating diplomatic relations with China. More recently, Senator Gravel was opposed to the War in Iraq even before this quagmire and criminal endeavor began. He opposed military action against a completely US-surrounded Iran. He understands the inequities in the Israeli occupation of Palestine
Source: Mandate for Change, foreword by Ralph Nader, p. ix , Jan 24, 2008

Iran’s not a problem, never has been, never will be

Q: Do you agree with the president’s assessment that Iran still poses a threat?

A: Iran’s not a problem, never has been, never will be. What you’re seeing right here is something very unique. What the intelligence community has done is drop-kicked the president of the United States. These are people of courage that have watched what the president is doing, onrush to war with Iran. So, my hat is off to these courageous people within the bureaucrats--bureaucracy of the intelligence community.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

Bush cooking books on Iran; resolve against invading Iran

Q: Should we rule out nukes in Iran, as Sen. Clinton has said, or implement sanctions, or what?

A: They’re all wrong on this. The administration is cooking the books, the intelligence on Iran. And we’re playing into this. And I’m very concerned. I would hope the Congress would pass a resolution saying, under no circumstances do you invade Iran. Stop and think. What have they done to us? The administration is giving us intelligence, saying that Iran is destroying our troops. Well, what about our trying to destabilize their government, which we’ve been doing for the last 25 years? We destroyed their democracy. And now we’re looking at them as an excuse to expand the war, which is the plan the neocons had back in 1997. And so, when Democrats buy into the problem of Iran, they just help Vice President Cheney, who should be committed, with his recent statements.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Blaming Iraqis for war problems is American imperialism

BIDEN [to Gravel]: We must end this war in a way that doesn’t require us to send their grandchild back.

RICHARDSON: To end this war, we have to get all the troops out, all of them.

CLINTON: Moving troops out cannot happen without careful planning, which is why I’ve been pushing the Pentagon to make sure they’re actually planning because they’ve been resistant to doing so.

Q: Do you agree with Gov. Richardson?

GRAVEL: No, I disagree with him. And I disagree with Joe Biden. And I disagree with Hillary. Stop & think here. Why do we think that we can rule that country? This is American imperialism you’re hearing up here. And that hasn’t worked & it will never work. We’re trying to make the Iraqis the fall guy, not our stupid mistakes. Oh, it’s the Iraqis won’t stand up. I’ll tell you what. Pull everybody out and turn to the Iranians, who helped us defeat the Taliban initially. So if we don’t bring the Iranians to help us, or the Syrians, or Saudi Arabia, of course it’s going to be a disaster.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Bush can’t go into Iran today because I filibustered draft

The competition is a little weak, because they say they all want to lead. Well, what does a leader do? A leader stands up with a little bit of courage and does something. You know, I filibustered the end of the draft. Bush can’t go into Iran today because he doesn’t have the boots on the ground because of what I did. I stopped the nuclear testing in the North Pacific. And I could go on.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Dislodge ourselves from Iraq, by working with Iran & Syria

On the consequences of withdrawal from Iraq: "All the statements made that it will be a bloodbath are correct. There is no question. But we instigated it. We brought it about. There is nothing we can do about that. Now, we must dislodge ourselves. The answer is to engage with Iran. We forget that Iran helped us to whip the Taliban in Afghanistan. So, countries like Iran and Syria ought to be engaged. These countries have a greater stake than we have in the stability of the Middle East."
Source: National Review magazine on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Aug 1, 2007

Soldiers in Vietnam died in vain; now same in Iraq

Q: In one of the previous debates you said the deaths of Vietnam were in vain. Do you defend that statement?

A: Our soldiers died in Vietnam in vain. You can now go to Hanoi and get a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cone. And now we have most favored nation trade [with Vietnam]. What did all these people die for? What are they dying for right now in Iraq every single day? Let me tell you: There’s only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain; it’s more soldiers dying in vain.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Vietnam caused no dominoes; Iraq won’t either

Bush’s war was facilitated by the Democrats. They brought the resolution up, one of them authored, co-authored it here, standing here. Now, you want to end it? You’re concerned about what’s going to happen after we withdraw. Remember Vietnam. All the dominoes are going to fall, Southeast Asia’s going to go -- is going to go communist. Well, how do we know what will happen? I do know this, that the insurgency is successful because the population sustains that insurgency. Period.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Someone who voted for the Iraq war shouldn’t be president

Q: Do you think someone who voted to authorize Bush to go to war should be president? A: Not at all, because it’s a moral criteria. And there’s information coming out -- Senator Durbin, Mr. Strum in his book -- that really points out that these people knew that there was two sets of intelligence going on at the same time, and they made a political decision to vote the way they voted, a political decision that cost -- stop and think, we have killed more Americans than was done in the 11th of September.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Anyone who voted for Iraq war should not be president

History teaches us that nations fail when leaders fail their people. The decision to invade Iraq without provocation and fraudulently sold to the American people, by a President consumed with messianic purpose, sadly confirms this lesson. The Democrats controlled the Senate on October 11, 2002 and provided political cover for George Bush to invade Iraq. It’s my opinion that anyone who voted for the war on October 11 is not qualified to hold the office of President.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting , Feb 3, 2007

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Page last updated: Dec 15, 2019