More headlines: Mike Gravel on War & Peace

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2008: searing indictment of Democratic support of Iraq war

David Oks, a high school senior who has previously run for mayor of his small New York town, said that he and several friends are avid listeners of the Chapo Trap House podcast, which mentioned Gravel in a recent episode. About a week ago, he and a couple friends reached out to Gravel and asked if he would consider making another run for president. Their pitch was clear. "My friends and I were encouraging him to consider running for president with the idea being that he would not try to contest any primaries, he would just try to get into the Democratic debates," he said.

Oks and his friends were clearly inspired by Gravel's performance in the 2008 debates, where he delivered a searing indictment of the vast majority of his fellow candidates for their support of the Iraq war and their continued commitment to American interventionism in the Middle East.

Source: New York Magazine on 2020 Democratic primary Mar 20, 2019

Iraqis never asked for invasion; don’t shift blame to them

[At the first presidential debate in 2007] Hillary was asked whether she thought the war in Iraq was lost. “This is not America’s war to win or lose,” she replied. “We have given the Iraqi people the chance to have freedom, to have their own country. It is up to them to decide whether or not they’re going to take that chance.”

It takes a lot of gall to blame the Iraqi people for anything in this war. They hated Saddam Hussein, but they never asked for American intervention. The country has been torn apart because of our invasion and occupation. Maybe a million people would still be alive today, had the Bush administration listened to the intelligence, to the Arabists in the State Department, and to the billions of people and their governments around the world about what the consequences of this invasion would be.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 15-16 May 2, 2008

2001: Should have made deal with Saddam to fight extremists

You did not need to be a Middle East expert to know then that Saddam held the country together in a brutal police state. Once he was removed, old tribal and religious scores would be settled in a long-running bloodbath. Even if the threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction had been real--and I never believed it--after September 11, 2001, Saddam and the US suddenly had a common enemy: Islamic extremism. Instead of negotiating a deal to fight that mutual threat, perhaps using the leverage of lifting sanctions, Bush removed Saddam and let extremism flourish in a land where it hadn’t been tolerated. Saddam had been America’s ally against Iran. It would not have been the first time the US made a deal with the devil. We all wanted to see a democratic and prosperous Iraq at peace with its neighbors. But the Bush administration foolishly thought invasion and occupation would bring it about.
Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 16 May 2, 2008

Unconstitutional to defund war; so criminalize it

I had tried to stop the Vietnam War by cutting off funding. But I later understood that to be unconstitutional: Congress can declare war, but it can’t micromanage the conflict. That is the job of the chief executive. That’s why the vote to give this fraudulent president war powers was so damaging.

If Congress can start wars, isn’t it implicit in the Constitution that it can stop them too? The way for Congress to [end the Iraq War] is simply to pass a law against it The war was already criminal in a colloquial sense, in that there was no formal declaration in Congress or a resolution at the UN Security Council, it was based on the kind of phony evidence that had built the Cold War. I meant really criminalizing it by passing a statute making it a felony to stay in Iraq. Then Bush and Cheney would have 120 days to withdraw or face five years in jail.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 19-20 May 2, 2008

Make Congress vote on veto override and war will end

Q: What advice would you give your colleagues still in Congress about how they can stop the war even though they don’t have enough votes to stop a debate or to override a veto? What should they do?

A: You stop the debate by voting every single day on cloture, every day, 20 days, and you’ll overcome cloture. The president vetoes a law; it comes back to the Congress, and in the House at noon, every single day, you vote to override the president’s veto. And in 40 days, the American people will have weighed in, put the pressure on those--you tell me that the votes aren’t there, you go get them by the scruff of the neck. That’s what you do. You make them vote.

Q: Are you suggesting that these candidates suspend their campaigns, go back to Washington and for 40 consecutive days vote on the war?

A: If it stops the killing, my God, yes, do it!

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 26, 2007

Patraeus report is tragic charade; we all knew what he’d say

Q: What’s your assessment of the Gen. Petraeus testimony on Iraq?

A: I think it’s a tragic charade where obviously one could predict what Petraeus was going to say three years ago. And then you get the president saying he’s going to follow what the dictates or recommendations of Gen. Petraeus, who is making recommendations that the White House wanted. This is a very tragic charade. While human lives are lost because of the inability of this government to have any sense of moral commitment.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Pull American troops out; it can be done in 120 days

I’m running for president because no one else is prepared to end this war. And it should be ended. We should pull American troops out, as soon as possible. And it can be done in 120 days. And what we can then do is begin an aggressive diplomacy. And that would mean to go to Iran, go to Syria. And tell these people, help us restabilize the region that we destabilized, and tell them we made a mistake in doing this. A tragic mistake, and it puts the whole world at risk of a possible nuclear confrontation.
Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Young men & women will die because of this nation’s mistake

Q: Do you think anything is likely to change about the Iraq War between now and the 2008 election?

A: No, because there’s no leadership in this country, and that’s the tragedy of it. There’s no leadership in Congress to speak of. And so we’re stuck playing out. I feel terrible over the young men and women and the Iraqis that will die and get their bodies blown up because of this nation’s mistake. This is all foretold the day we invaded Iraq without reason, without reason. It’s criminal!

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Iran Resolution is a fig leaf to go to war with Iran

GRAVEL: [to Clinton]: This is Fantasyland--we’re talking about ending the war; my God, we’re just starting another war! There was a vote in the Senate today--Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has offered another resolution, and it’s essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. I want to congratulate Biden & Dodd for voting against it, and I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You’re not going to get another shot at this--we invade and they’re looking for an excuse to do it. And Obama was not even there to vote.

CLINTON: My understanding of the revolutionary guard in Iran is that it is promoting terrorism. It is manufacturing weapons that are used against our troops in Iraq. It is certainly the main agent of support for Hezbollah, Hamas and others, and in what we voted for today, we will have an opportunity to designate it as a terrorist organization, which gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the leaders.

Source: [Xref Clinton] 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

2006 election was about Bush’s war; so end it

What is the most important thing that brought about the power to the Democrats [in 2006]? It was the war; George Bush’s war.

So we now have to deal with that with some leadership. The best we’ve seen in the last 6 months is a non-binding resolution. It’s appalling! The Democrats can end this war. You have to be tough. You can’t just do politics-as-usual.

How do you get it passed over a veto? Call up an override vote on Monday, on Tuesday, every day--people are dying and we do nothing about it!.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Soldiers in Iraq are dying in vain; so just get out

We should just plain get out [of Iraq]. It’s their country. They’re asking us to leave. And we insist on staying there. And why not get out? What harm is it going to do? Oh, you hear the statement, “Well, my God, these soldiers will have died in vain.” The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain. And they’re dying in vain right this very second. And you know what’s worse than a soldier dying in vain? It’s more soldiers dying in vain. That’s what’s worse.
Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Iraq war was lost the day Bush invaded-make it illegal

Q: In your two-terms in the Senate, you played a role in the fight to cut off money for the Vietnam War. What would be your advice for the elected officials on this stage who are opposed to the conflict, but also feel the need to keep on funding the conflict?

A: Well, first off, understand that this war was lost the day that George Bush invaded Iraq on a fraudulent basis. Now with respect to what’s going on in the Congress, I’m really embarrassed. What has been passed? George Bush communicated over a year ago that he would not get out of Iraq until he left office. Do we not believe him? We need to find another way. I would hope the other senators would focus on, how do you get out? You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there. We’ve got the votes there. Let the American people see clearly who’s keeping the war going and who’s not. And that’s just the beginning of the tactic, if they’re tough enough to do it.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

2008 election will be decided by how Democrats handle war

I’m not entirely convinced that the Democrats can get the next presidency, because that’s going to be determined by how the Democratic candidates conduct themselves with respect to the Iraq war. We’ll never make it with politics as usual. The oil there is not worth one more American dead. It’s not worth one ounce of blood!
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Bush can sign bill to end war, or he can believe in God

The answer is not a mealy-mouthed non-binding resolution. And even if it were binding, it’d be unconstitutional. You can’t cap, it’s unconstitutional. The president is the commander in chief, like it or not. But the Congress, under the Constitution, has the right to declare war and has the right to end it. What they need to do is put up a law before the House & Senate; we have the votes. And then it goes to the president. After the president gets it, he’s got a choice; he can continue to believe in God or he can turn around and end the war. Well, I think that he’s going to figure God can trump the Congress. And so now he’s going to veto it, it comes back to the Congress, and we have created a constitutional crisis between the executive & the Congress. And the American people can understand this. [Maybe] you have enough in the House to override the veto, and we can get out of Iraq within the next six months under this scenario. Otherwise, George Bush is going to keep it going for the next two years.
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

Bring the troops home now

We made a grave mistake. We should have the courage to admit it. We must bring our troops home now--not 6 months from now, not a year from now--NOW! The Democrats need to act resolutely--and I’m not talking about some mealy-mouthed, nonbinding resolutions.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting Feb 3, 2007

Immediate withdrawal from the war in Iraq

Gravel’s campaign is based primarily on his ardent support for direct democracy (the National Initiative), but also emphasizes his support for a national sales tax and abolition of the IRS, immediate withdrawal from the war in Iraq, a single-payer national health care system, and term limits during his campaign.
Source: article, “Mike Gravel” Jan 1, 2007

Commence an immediate and orderly withdrawal from Iraq

Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website,, “Issues” Dec 25, 2006

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