James Ryan Co-founder: West Point Graduates Against the War Peace Award Acceptance Remarks Peace Action of Central New York Peace Award Dinner Syracuse, New York November 12, 2006
November 7th, 1918—88 years ago—peace broke out, ending the War-To-End-All-Wars. A tremendous celebration ensued... for awhile, then... False alarm! Four days later—November 11th—we had the real thing: Peace... well, sort of. So much for history and the ending of wars.
Thank you very much for your award naming me a Peace Maker. There is one slight problem. It too seems premature. For there is no peace. Will there be? This war seems indeed endless,
Before we have peace, we must have understanding, and I don’t mean an understanding about the reasons for going to this war. I mean an understanding of the other side, the so-called enemy. Knowing the enemy is the first dictate of war. Today, we know nothing about the other side. Who exactly is the so-called enemy? This monster... this demon, these so-called cold-blooded killers and haters of our freedoms. From the numbers it would seem to be the men and women and children of Iraq.
Operation Iraqi freedom... Freedom from what? What carnage. What a human catastrophe. What a crime!
In 1955, Pogo Possum, a cartoon character, ran for president. “We have met the enemy and he is us,” he famously said. But it is true. Our country, its leaders, and American democracy, have failed the world dismally. And at enormous cost to millions of innocents, killed, injured, and displaced. At enormous cost to our military, both physically and emotionally. And at enormous cost to our nation’s honor.
And now, because they won an election, the democrats celebrate. They are shamelessly premature. For they too approved of this horror of a war. Now they grin and gape, when they should be mourning, mourning for the millions their decisions have so grievously harmed. Their high-fives and boogying are unseemly. These Democrats are complicit in this crime. They do not understand.
The reason for now opposing this war is not because the war has gone badly, but because this war has always been illegal. The reason to now oppose this war is not because our children and grandchildren may be called to serve in the armed forces, but because this war is immoral.
Consider this.... The president of the United States is a liar! The vice president of the United States is a liar! The former secretary of defense is a liar! The former secretary of state is a liar! The former national security adviser (and current secretary of state) is a liar! And because of them, these liars, and our congress, our country stands alone in the world, disgraced and shamed. We should not be celebrating this triumph of ignorance and darkness.
Do we fully understand the consequences? Do we fully understand the blood that is on our country’s hands because of these deceitful, dishonorable people? And they are still with us, all of them, standing unaccountable. Ladies and gentlemen, justice must be done before our nation can redeem its honor.
For us, our work has just begun. Your award is a great tonic for us, and I think of it as a step toward understanding. For you people know peace best, while many of those in our organization once best knew war. Yet now we meet in unified opposition to this war and its many war-mongers.
Thus, in a still-small way, a huge divide has been bridged. In effect, a humanitarian ballot has been cast for truth over propaganda, for honesty over deceit, for understanding over hatred. But we must continue to march. There is much to do. Too many people have died. Too many Iraqi children have been destroyed. For what? For shame, I say. For shame on America.
So I accept your award in the names of all the destroyed people. In the names of the 655,000 Iraqis murdered by the government of the United States.
In the names of the 3000 Americans who gave their lives for lies, for the countless Iraqis maimed by American bombs dropped at taxpayer expense. In all their names, I accept.
I accept in the names of all the women raped, of all the footless, legless, armless Iraqi children. In the names of the grieving widows and widowers and orphans of all sides, I accept.
In the names of all those who weep for their country, I accept.
And, finally, In the names of all those who oppose our efforts, I accept your calling me, Peace Maker. Let there be light.