September 9, 2006
Needs "to be repudiated, firmly, and decisively, now"
Debra Sweet is the
National Coordinator of World Can't Wait. Richard Nixon refused to speak to
the press for six months after the US invasion of Cambodia. When he finally
appeared before the White House press corps, it was to make awards for
service and bravery to Young Americans, whom he said were "not out
protesting." Debra Sweet, a recipient of an award was 19 at the time. When
she was handed the award she told him that he was responsible for killing
millions of people in southeast Asia. He got angry, turned and left the
room, making a front page story and international news. Ms. Sweet continues
to speak truth to power with World Can’t Wait.
Kevin Zeese: What is the purpose
of World Can't Wait? How did it develop?
Debra Sweet: We started this
movement in July 2005 because of the mounting disaster of 5 years of the
Bush Regime. Starting with the first stolen election, through the horrors
done in our name to people of the planet and living in this country, and
now, looking at the open threats of war on Iran, including possible use of
nuclear weapons, it’s inescapable. The world truly can’t wait to see what
the Bush administration will do given another 2+ years.
Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime, signed by many thousands of people,
including some very well-known voices of conscience, describes why the
regime must be driven out, and how. We seek to create a political situation
where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he
has been taking society is reversed.
The will and sentiments of the
majority of people living in this country are not being given expression by
"official politics" or by protest as usual. Relying on the leadership of
the Democratic Party has proven a disaster. Something radically different
is urgently needed. On Thursday, October 5th we’re calling for
the beginning of something that does not yet exist in this country but which
is restlessly under the surface, being pent up and frustrated by politics as
usual and looking for an outlet.
KZ: What is happening on October
5, 2006? What is the goal of that event? What can people do to help?
DS: On Thursday, Oct. 5 we are going
for critical mass, momentum in society, a "snowballing" going into it, and
critical mass on that day. A new political force will be in existence that
says because of our firm stand—"Drive Out This Regime"—and our large
numbers, we cannot be ignored. We're making a powerful political statement
by refusing to work, or leaving work, refusing to go to school or walking
out of school, rejecting business as usual, making it to the town center or
the federal building, and demanding together: Bring This to a Halt.
This is what makes this different
from any other day. The dynamic it can get going in society is that people
who feel there's nothing that can be done and feel that there's not any
effective way to act against this regime and the whole disastrous direction
of things will see us act in sufficient numbers to wake them up and give
them a sense the vehicle they need to act.
To reach people all across the
country in 2006, you’ve got to do advertising. We’ve done two full page ads
in the New York Times in August; we’re on Air America Radio, and on all
sorts of local and alternative stations and in weekly and Spanish papers.
So your readers can donate online
now as a very important part of stopping the regime.
Coming out, and getting everyone you
know to do so, is something everyone can do, no matter where you are. Go to
worldcantwait.org to find or plan an action where you are. Or call
866-973-4463. Even if there is no committee where you live you can make
your own sign, download some flyers from our site, and go to your City Hall
at 6pm on Thursday, October 5, and meet people who feel like you do. If you
can volunteer --you are needed right now!
KZ: What have been some of the
prior efforts of World Can't Wait?
DS: When our Call came out a year
ago, some people said we were "too strident" in our condemnation of the Bush
crimes, and in saying "People look at all this and think of Hitler - and
they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake
society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come." The
Boston Globe just ran an editorial responding to our ad in the Times, saying
that you can’t make this comparison. This is to the nub of a question that
this society better confront: what is happening here and how serious is it?
When do you decide to fight and when does it become too late? If you let it
go on are you complicit? We think history will judge us very sharply if we
fail to act decisively!
Look what’s happened just in the
year since we put out this analysis in our call: NSA spying rampant,
exposed, and now legal, the legitimization of torture, the destruction of
Constitutional rights, and even the right of habeas corpus, which predates
the Constitution by about 500 years. If you google "Bush+Hitler" today,
you’ll get 127,000 hits. People are increasingly raising the historical
analogy. Of course it’s not literally the same, but in many ways the
consequences and stakes are higher for the whole world. As Nobel laureate
Harold Pinter put it in his statement supporting World Can’t Wait, The Bush
administration is "more dangerous than Nazi Germany because of the range and
depth of its activities and intentions worldwide."
We launched this November 2, 2005,
on the anniversary of the election, in 70 cities. That day was the largest
walk-out of high school students, over 200 schools, until the immigrant
rights protests this spring. On January 31, during Bush’s State of the
Union message, we held a political "drown-out" of his lies in those cities.
We’ve published four full page ads in the New York Times, in alternative
papers, and run ads on Air America Radio, where we’ve reached many
well-informed people agonizing and looking for a way to stop the direction
the country is going in under Bush.
KZ: On Democracy Rising we have
been advocating the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney
as well as for their resignations. So, we are in agreement with you on
that. But, isn't the root cause of Bushism, really broader?
DS: Undoubtedly, most of your
readers have a critique of American society that recognizes very basic
inequalities in it, which I share. The global economic and military reach
of the world’s only superpower, unchallenged by any equally powerful rival,
now seeking to dominate the planet, is dangerous, particularly when you have
the nuclear trigger in the hands of a President who thinks he was appointed
by God. It is very hard to see this regime quitting Iraq, for instance,
even though the war has gone very badly for them. They are driven to go
further, based on deeper causes – and certainly for different reasons than
they claim publicly! This is aided now by the open capitulation of the
leadership of the Democrats who essentially agree with the need to attack
Iran, who voted for renewing the Patriot Act, and so on.
There are people involved in this
movement to drive out the Bush regime who come from widely different
perspectives on this. You can see that in who has signed the Call. Some
are Jeffersonian democrats, believing that this country has veered away from
the founding principles to its detriment; others of us think those very
founding principles are the basis for a superpower seeking global empire.
Everyone in this movement is
motivated by wanting to bring about a better world, and people have varied
visions of what that will be. The discussion over the root causes, and what
to do about them, is really important, and we encourage it, knowing that we
won’t, and don’t have to, agree on all that in order to act.
So let’s not be paralyzed by points
of political and even ideological difference. The Bush Regime is casting a
very broad net here: Hollywood, anyone who voted for Ned Lamont, not to
mention people who "fit the profile" of what they define as a terrorist
based on nationality or religion; the whole "reality-based" as opposed to
"faith-based" world is being identified as the enemy. This week Bush is
saying if you oppose the war you are aiding Osama Bin Laden. And Condolezza
Rice is equating people who oppose the war with people who would have
refused to fight to end slavery.
Their efforts to remake the world in
a fascist direction are bringing about a society that increasing numbers of
people won’t want to live in. They have to be repudiated, firmly, and
decisively, now, or we won’t get the chance to be debating the "root causes"
of Bush at our leisure. But if we do succeed, we are in a position to
radically change the very bad polarization in this country into something
much more positive. On our side are millions who think the war must be
ended, that the rights of women should be upheld and protected, that
immigrants driven here by the globalized reach of US corporations bringing
ruin to their homelands should not be terrorized and hunted at the border
like animals because they are looking for work; that things like the Katrina
disaster are absolutely intolerable, etc.
If we succeed it would go a long way
towards making this a much more two-sided battle rather than the pitiful and
very dangerous state of affairs in this country where people are
accommodating themselves to terms everyday going further and further to the
right. What was considered totally outrageous yesterday is being legitimated
and legislated today. And people are learning or being forced to accept
KZ: Isn't our militaristic
foreign policy based on the foreign policy of both of the old parties?
President Carter put forward the Carter doctrine which called for use of
military force to ensure access to Middle East oil and President Clinton
made regime change in Iraq the nation's foreign policy. Further, these
policies have deep roots -- President Eisenhower approved the CIA coup
against the elected Prime Minister of Iran.
DS: These policies do have very deep
roots in both parties. It’s interesting to think of recent history, when
the Vietnam War was started by the Democrats, resulted in a Democratic
President being forced from office (LBJ) and then was ended under the
Republicans after Nixon had to resign. Those parties have a lot in common.
In fact, the last Democrat President, Clinton, was to the right of Richard
Nixon on many things, even though his party has a base of people who are
traditionally less empowered. It’s gotten very difficult to tell the
difference, given that the Democrats running for President already are vying
to be more "resolute" in so-called "war on terror" (which is really a war
for empire) than Bush himself.
But, objectively, look at what has
happened under Bush in the last 5 years. A lot of us would say we couldn’t
imagine the changes which have already taken place; a "rolling coup" under
the authority of the Supreme Court; a virtually unending war projected to
last decades; the mass transferal of resources from the public to private
sectors in everything from military expenditures to health care, and public
education…and the remaking of society based on the ideology of narrow
Christian fundamentalism attacking even the basis of modern science,
evolution. There are millions of people who look at Bush’s environmental
practice alone, and think he could bear responsibility for destroying the
The fact that the policies have deep
roots, and are significantly shared by both parties is no reason to tolerate
them! In fact, it underscores the need for people to get OUT of this
framework, and come into the streets on October 5.
KZ: So, removing Bush is
certainly a good step, but isn't Bush a symptom of a bigger problem that the
leadership of both political parties?
DS: Let’s not step over that "good
step"! Driving out this regime is absolutely urgent, and necessary. No one
seeking social justice or even wanting to hold on to the way things have
traditionally been in this country (as abhorrent as the horrors that come
with even the normal workings of the system is to many of us) can hope to do
that while this regime is in place. With Bush you get the "unitary
executive" with its unprecedented seizure of powers by the President. As a
former broadcast executive told me, even if it’s not until the last day of
his Presidency, Bush must be removed and leave in disgrace, or you have
everything in place for the Bush successor to keep to the same direction.
The world can’t wait till 2008. Imagine just the damage that they area
already telling us they’ll do in the next two years!
KZ: What does World Can't Wait do
about the bigger than Bush problem?
DS: Driving out the Bush regime
itself is essential to solving the "bigger than Bush" problem. Fighting the
outrages one at a time has meant losing ground to the whole societal
onslaught. There are political and economic reasons why, with the emergence
of the US as the sole super-power, the Republicans have the initiative in
the halls of power; why Christian Fundamentalists with ambitions of making
this country a theocracy are now entrenched in the highest offices of the
land, and why the Democrats have no coherent alternative to the Bush program
for running the empire. This is more than we can cover in this interview.
But the whole disastrous course this regime concentrates and that is being
accommodated and re-enforced by what the Democrats are doing -- all this has
to be brought to a halt. And, the only way of doing that is through the
mobilization of massive political opposition by the people…from below.
If that is done, then the possibility of turning
things around and onto a much more favorable direction will take on a whole
new dimension of reality. It will go from something only vaguely hoped for,
by millions of isolated individuals, and acted on by thousands so far, to
something that has undeniable moral force and unprecedented political
impact. Imagine a movement in this country coming out of a politically
activated people who created enough upheaval to do this, moving on to tackle
how the global environment can be saved, for example!
On October 5, 2006, on the basis of our Call, The
World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime!, people throughout the country
will be stepping forward in a day of mass resistance. The breadth, the
depth, the impact and the power of that day depends not only on those in The
World Can't Wait organization, and others, who are already organizing for
this day. It also depends on all those who have been hoping and searching
for a means to do something that will really make a difference.
If we fail to act to make this a reality, then it will
definitely make a difference -- in a decidedly negative way. But if we do
take up the challenge to build for this, and then do take history into our
hands on that day, through political action on the massive scale that is
called for -- it can make all the difference in the world, in a very
positive sense and for the possibility of a better future for humanity.
I’m challenging, and inviting all your readers to join
in this effort, now. There’s not a moment to waste. Thanks for the
opportunity to talk.
For more information visit the World Can’t Wait at
http://www.worldcantwait.net/. And, join us on October 5 in Washington,
DC or at a demonstration near your community.
Kevin Zeese is executive director of
DemocracyRising.US and a candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland (www.ZeeseForSenate.org).