News Release

War and the U.S. Congress: Responsibilities and Evasions

MIKE GRAVEL
Gravel, currently president of Direct Democracy and sponsor of the National Initiative for Democracy, was a noted critic of the Vietnam War while in the Senate. He entered the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record. He said today: “This is a déjà vu of Tonkin and the evidence seems to be as flimsy. [Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman J. William] Fulbright’s biggest regret, he would later say, was signing off on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964. The incident was a lie about a supposed attack on U.S. vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin, fabricated by the Johnson government to give legitimacy to the expansion of the Vietnam War. There seems to be a similar rush to a ‘Tonkin judgment’ in the Senate to give the Bush administration legitimacy for an attack on Iraq. A ‘War on Terror’ is a diffused type of Cold War, which is worldwide, even in Oklahoma and New York. To sustain the war fever the administration hawks need a hot war to sustain a national war mentality…”
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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His op-ed piece in today’s Los Angeles Times is highly critical of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has just concluded two days of hearings on Iraq. The committee is playing a very different role than when the Senate panel aired dissenting perspectives during early years of the Vietnam War, the article says. “Transfixed with tactical issues, none of the senators on television in recent days would dream of acknowledging the present relevance of a statement made by Senator [Wayne] Morse a third of a century ago: ‘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.'”
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WILLIAM HARTUNG
Senior research fellow at the World Policy Institute and co-author of “Axis of Influence: Behind the Bush Administration’s Missile Defense Program,” Hartung said today: “With House passage last week of the $10 billion ‘Cost of War Against Terrorism Authorization Act,’ Congress has signed off on more than $150 billion in new military spending in the first 19 months of the Bush administration. If, as suspected, these new funds are to be diverted to prepare for war against Iraq, the immense costs incurred so far by the Bush administration’s … open-ended ‘war on terrorism’ will be just the down payment on a massive buildup that could exceed the military spending binge of the Reagan era.”
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ROBERT BUZZANCO
Associate professor of history at the University of Houston, Buzzanco is author of Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era and Vietnam and the Transformation of American Life. He said today: “It’s important to remember that while everyone talks of the anti-war movement in the 1960s, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution passed in 1964 by 98 to 2. Fulbright only held hearings after there was a people’s movement against the war. Congress rarely has the courage to do something on its own and debate is limited over the tactics of how to attack. Often what drives war is not what’s actually happening in Southeast Asia or the Mideast, but the perceived interests of some domestic groups.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167