[vorbis] Our Sympathies
mythos at zxmail.com
Fri Sep 14 23:14:20 PDT 2001
A UNANIMOUS TRIUMPH
FOR MASTERS OF WAR
By Norman Solomon
On Sept. 14, the Senate voted 98-0 for a war resolution. It says:
"The president is authorized to use all
necessary and appropriate force against those nations,
organizations, or persons he determines planned,
authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that
occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such
organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of
international terrorism against the United
States by such nations, organizations or persons."
This resolution, written as a blank check, is payable with vast
quantities of human corpses.
* * * * *
The black-and-white TV footage is grainy and faded, but it still
jumps off the screen -- a portentous clash
between a prominent reporter and a maverick politician. On the
CBS program "Face the Nation," journalist Peter
Lisagor argued with a senator who stood almost alone on Capitol
Hill, strongly opposing the war in Vietnam from
"Senator, the Constitution gives to the president of the United
States the sole responsibility for the conduct
of foreign policy," Lisagor said.
"Couldn't be more wrong," Wayne Morse broke in. "You couldn't
make a more unsound legal statement than the one
you have just made. This is the promulgation of an old fallacy
that foreign policy belongs to the president of
the United States. That's nonsense."
Lisagor: "To whom does it belong then, senator?"
Morse: "It belongs to the American people.... And I am pleading
that the American people be given the facts
about foreign policy."
Lisagor: "You know, senator, that the American people cannot
formulate and execute foreign policy."
Morse: "Why do you say that? ... I have complete faith in the
ability of the American people to follow the facts
if you'll give them. And my charge against my government is --
we're not giving the American people the facts."
In early August 1964, Morse was one of only two senators to vote
against the Tonkin Gulf resolution, which
served as a green light for the Vietnam War. While reviled by
much of the press in his home state of Oregon as
well as nationwide, he persisted with fierce oratory for peace.
It would have been much easier to acquiesce to
the media's war fever. But Morse was not the silent type,
especially in matters of conscience.
On Feb. 27, 1968, I sat in a small room at the Capitol to watch a
hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. Six members of the panel were seated around a long
table. Most of all, I remember Morse's voice,
raspy and urgent.
"My views are no longer lonely," he noted at one point, adding:
"You have millions of people who are not going
to support this tyranny that American boys are being killed in
South Vietnam to maintain in power."
Morse summed up his position on negotiations between the U.S.
government and its Vietnamese adversaries: "Who
are we to say there have to be two Vietnams? They are not going
to do it and they shouldn't do it. There isn't
any reason in the world why the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong
should ever come to a negotiating table on the
basis that there must be two Vietnams."
Moments before the hearing adjourned, Morse said that he did not
"intend to put the blood of this war on my
At the time, Oregon's senior senator was remarkable because he
challenged the morality -- not just the
"winability" -- of the war. He passionately asserted that the
United States had no right to impose its will on
the world. In the process, he made enemies of many fellow
Democrats, including President Lyndon Johnson.
Like most heretics, Morse suffered consequences. After 24 years
in the Senate, he lost a race for re-election in
November 1968. The winner was a slick politician named Robert
Packwood, who denounced Morse's antiwar fervor.
In his lifetime, Morse became a media pariah. In the
quarter-century since his death, political reporters have
rarely mentioned his name.
"I don't know why we think, just because we're mighty, that we
have the right to try to substitute might for
right," Morse said on national television in 1964. "And that's
the American policy in Southeast Asia -- just as
unsound when we do it as when Russia does it."
Three years later, he declared: "We're going to become guilty, in
my judgment, of being the greatest threat to
the peace of the world. It's an ugly reality, and we Americans
don't like to face up to it. I hate to think of
the chapter of American history that's going to be written in the
future in connection with our outlawry in
Such heresy infuriated many powerful politicians -- and
journalists -- while Wayne Morse did all he could to
block a war train speeding to catastrophe.
* * * * *
Now, in the autumn of 2001, there's no one stepping forward from
the Senate to help block the war train. We'll
need to do it ourselves.
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