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President Bush Takes the Nation to the Brink of War and Defends American Empire in His State of the Union Address; Simultaneously, He Tries to Prove He Cares About the Economy

President Bush delivered his State of the Union address last night. The president’s speech took the nation to the brink of war.

Bush declared Saddam Hussein has missed his “final chance” by showing contempt for U.N. weapons inspections.

He claimed there is intelligence that shows the secular Iraqi government is helping and protecting al-Qaeda terrorists. He raised the fearsome specter that Iraq could slip a biological weapon to terrorists, who then might bring them to the U.S. and “bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.”

He insinuated Iraq is trying to develop a nuclear bomb.

He defended his so-called preemptive military doctrine and made a case for American empire, saying, “Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind.”

President Bush vowed the U.S. will wage war without allies if it has to.

And he announced Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell will go before the Security Council on February 5 to present intelligence on Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups. But he offered no proof of any of this in his speech last night.

After the speech, Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts announced he will introduce a resolution to require the president to obtain further congressional approval before invading Iraq. Kennedy said Bush had failed to make a persuasive case that the threat is imminent and war is the only alternative.

Bush also tried to buck criticism that he is ignoring domestic problems as he prepares to invade Iraq. He devoted the first third of last night’s address to domestic issues, in particular the economy.

He also called for more federal funding of charitable work by religious groups, greater reliance on private health plans to treat the elderly, and new restrictions on abortions.

Among the surprise initiatives were Bush’s call for $10 billion to help fight AIDS in Africa and a request to spend $1.2 billion to develop hydrogen-fueled vehicles. He also asked Congress to create programs to help Americans addicted to alcohol and drugs and to help the children of prisoners.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush delivered his State of the Union address last night. His speech was almost a declaration of war, as he said Saddam Hussein has missed his final chance. Bush claimed there’s intelligence that shows the secular Iraqi government is helping and protecting al-Qaeda terrorists. He raised the fearsome specter that Iraq could slip a biological weapon to terrorists, who then might bring them to the U.S. and, quote, “bring a day of horror like none we have ever seen.” He insinuated Iraq is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. He defended his so-called preemptive military doctrine and made a case for American empire, saying, “Once again, we’re called to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind.” President Bush vowed the U.S. will wage war without allies, if it has to. And he announced Secretary of State General Colin Powell will go before the U.N. Security Council on February 5th to present intelligence on Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups. But he offered no proof of any of this in his speech last night.

In a few minutes, we’ll be joined by Robert Fisk in Beirut to talk about the war aspects of Bush’s speech, but we’re going to go first to the economy. George Bush tried to buck criticism that he is ignoring domestic problems as he prepares to invade Iraq. He devoted the first third of last night’s address to domestic issues, in particular the economy. Bush called for more federal funding of charitable work by religious groups, greater reliance on private health plans to treat the elderly, and new restrictions on abortion. Among the surprise initiatives were Bush’s call for $10 billion in new aid to help fight AIDS in Africa, and a request to spend $1.2 billion to develop hydrogen-fueled vehicles. He also requested Congress create programs to hold Americans addicted to alcohol and drugs — to help Americans addicted to alcohol and drugs and to help the children of prisoners. We go now to President Bush’s State of the Union address.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Jobs are created when the economy grows. The economy grows when Americans have more money to spend and invest. And the best and fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place. I am proposing that all the income tax reduction set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year. Under my plan, as soon as I’ve signed the bill, this extra money will start showing up in workers’ paychecks. Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now. Instead of slowly raising the child credit to $1,000, we should send the checks to American families now. This tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes, and it will help our economy immediately. Ninety-two million Americans will keep this year an average of almost $1,100 more of their own money. A family of four with an income of $40,000 would see their federal income taxes fall from $1,178 to $45 per year.

AMY GOODMAN: George W. Bush giving his State of the Union address last night. We’re joined now by Frances Fox Piven, professor of political science and sociology at the Graduate School of the City University of New York, co-author of many books, including Why Americans Still Don’t Vote, Regulating the Poor, The Poor People’s Movement and _The Breaking of the American Social Compact, and Meizhu Lui, executive director of United for a Fair Economy, national nonpartisan group which highlights the growing inequality in the United States.

Meizhu Lui, your response to President Bush’s proposals and analysis last night?

MEIZHU LUI: Well, Americans want right now economic and physical security. We’re really looking for meat and potatoes. But what Bush gave us was some jello and a lot of hardtack. The jello was the little sweet and squishy stuff that you mentioned, the compassion stuff, supposedly, AIDS in Africa, which is wonderful, but I hope the money includes condoms and that abstinence programs don’t eat up most of that budget. But in terms of the hardtack, I mean, there’s the sacrifice and austerity that’s going to be required by war. And it’s interesting that when talking about the war, he mentioned no budget figures. He didn’t say, “Fellow citizens, I’d like you to give me at least $300 billion and maybe $2 trillion over the next 10 years. And I’d like to have the wealthiest people exempted from any contribution to this effort.”

His tax and budget plans really will increase inequality. And to me, they were quite un-American. When FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, declared war in 1943, one of the first things he did was to push Congress to increase taxes on the rich. He did not do what George Bush is doing, which is saying we have to give more tax breaks to the rich in a time of war. Right now the military budget is already 33% of the total discretionary budget, and you only have to assume that’s going to go up. Bush said he’s going to ask for pretty much of a level-funded budget this coming year. And if the military portion will rise, that will mean that there will be far less in the budget for programs that are so essential to everyone else. So the lower and middle class are going to pay for the war, both in terms of giving their lives, in terms of their tax dollars being spent on it and in terms of giving up the programs that are really essential to folks at home.

I was going to say, in terms of healthcare, too, privatization doesn’t really work in some of these programs. In Massachusetts, we did allow people to choose between HMOs, who — people who were on Medicaid. And at first there were a number of plans who did offer their plans to Medicaid members. But over a few years, most of them dropped out. And it turned out not to be a lot of choice, after all, for people in that program. So, I don’t think that privatizing Medicare is really the solution. If he’s looking at — wants to figure out ways to deal with rising healthcare costs, too, you know, the drug benefit could just be a big boon for drug companies, and they are one of the reasons for rising inflation in healthcare right now. So I don’t see that limiting malpractice reform, you know, telling people who’ve had the wrong leg cut off that they’re going to have to limit the amounts that they can get, is really the main way to deal with rising healthcare costs.

So, overall, this economic picture is one in which poor and middle-income people are going to be left behind. Already states are in fiscal crises, as we know. Already there have been child care cuts. They say, “Leave No Child Behind, but we’re going to leave your child if you have to go to work but don’t have child care.” So, mothers have, you know, left their children in the trunks of their cars where they’ve tried to go to work — really stupid but desperate measures. A woman that works in our building is mentally disabled, and she’s able to work part-time. When she found out that she was going to lose psychiatric benefits, she just freaked out and had to be hospitalized for a week. Obviously, that’s a lot more expensive than a few doctor’s visits. We increased our Medicaid coverage over the last number of years. And last year, because of the budget crises in the state, we had to cut that back again, so that working-poor, very low-income single men and women no longer have those benefits.

So, we do not have the best healthcare system in the world. We have the best medical technology perhaps. But if millions of people can’t access that care, we have a system of economic rationing, which is, I don’t think, something that we like to admit. So, overall, I would say that the plan that he has put out does not really address economic and physical security for the majority of Americans.

AMY GOODMAN: Meizhu Lui, executive director of United for a Fair Economy, a Boston City Hospital kitchen worker for 20 years, rising with the rank and file to become president of AFSCME Local 1489 in Boston. Professor Frances Fox Piven, your response to Bush’s words?

FRANCES FOX PIVEN: Well, this administration, and especially George W. Bush himself, has perfected the art, the rhetorical art, of suggesting that they’re going to do one thing, and then doing something exactly the opposite. They campaigned in 2000 on the slogan of compassionate conservatism. Bush speaks forcefully in his State of the Union message about economic recovery and jobs, and then proposes a tax cut, or proposes yet another tax cut, which almost all economists agree will have no impact on the economy in the short run, because the tax benefits will go overwhelmingly to the richest people in the country, who will not spend the money and will not, therefore, provide an economic stimulus as a result of getting their tax refunds.

And in the speech, he gave a lot of emphasis to the kind things he was going to do about AIDS in Africa or about prescription health drugs for the elderly, saving Medicare, this — and he has consistently talked about helping lone mothers who are raising children on their own. And if you look at the actual policies that he proposes, the proposals for Medicare are proposals to privatize Medicare and give more and more control to the HMOs, whose record as healthcare providers is quite dismal. His proposals for lone mothers, mothers raising children on their own, are proposals to make them work even more hours, 40 hours a week, even though they’re raising children and taking care of a home, more hours than they already are working. He has done very little about the fact that 2 million workers have run out — are now unemployed, and many, many workers have run out of unemployment insurance.

And in all of this, all of this, in a way, has to do with war, war in Iraq, the war on terror, because always when political leaders invoke foreign threats, they raise — they stimulate people’s fears. They make them insecure. And it’s something that people have very little capacity to assess on their own. Is there really a network out there that can penetrate our cities and contaminate our drinking water? Is there — is Saddam Hussein really in a position to nuke New York and nuke Philadelphia? We don’t know. We ordinary people don’t know. You and I, in fact, don’t know. And one of the reasons, of course, we don’t know is they don’t really tell us anything, like give us anything like hard information. But it’s frightening to people. And every time those fears are invoked, every time they tell us this is a red alert, this is an orange alert, they in a way build their own capacity for twisting the domestic economy in ways that make the rich richer, for enacting their domestic agenda, as well as their international and imperial agenda. So, these two tacks, that are so evident in the State of the Union message — the aggression internationally and the market-oriented and rich-oriented domestic policies — are very much interrelated.

AMY GOODMAN: Frances Fox Piven, professor, graduate professor of sociology at the City University of New York. We’re going to break, and Robert Fisk will be joining us from Lebanon, reporter with The Independent newspaper. We’re going to talk about war. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Democracy Now!'s War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we talk about another message put out by George Bush yesterday, and it was almost a declaration of war, as he said Saddam Hussein had missed his last chance. We’ll hear some of the State of the Union address.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda. Secretly and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists or help them develop their own.

Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

The dictator who is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq — electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.

And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country; your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.

AMY GOODMAN: George Bush, speaking at the State of the Union address last night. Robert Fisk joins us on the line from Beirut, Lebanon, reporter for, foreign correspondent for The Independent newspaper. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Robert Fisk.

ROBERT FISK: Hi there. Yes, I got up at 4:00 my time in the morning to watch the speech. God knows why I did. But carry on.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Thomas Jefferson refused to deliver it in person, saying that he didn’t want to ape the British monarchs with all the pomp and the pageantry, and so he just sent a written State of the Union address over. But Bush, as well as some of his predecessors, go a very different route. Can you comment on the substance of what he said around the issue of Iraq, its connections to al-Qaeda, its nuclear capabilities and other things?

ROBERT FISK: Well, I can begin by saying, I suppose, having been recently reading a book of Thomas Jefferson’s speeches, that George Bush is no Thomas Jefferson.

You know, the first thing that struck me was he says that Colin Powell, Secretary Colin Powell, is going to go to the United Nations on February 5th — when I’m going to be in New York, by the way — to reveal more about the weapons of mass destruction. Well, why in God’s name hasn’t he told the inspectors this information? Why is this part of a script? You know, when I was watching this speech this morning — 4:00 in the morning is a cold, cold time in winter in Lebanon — I sat in my dressing gown, sat on the floor and watched this speech, and I thought, “This is a theater. This is a scripted play.” Where there is information available about weapons of mass destruction — I think Saddam probably has a few left over — why in God’s name hasn’t that information been given to the U.N. inspectors, whom President Bush insisted must be back in Iraq and who went back to Iraq? Why has he kept this information secret and is not revealing it, until he’s going to tell us about it on February 5? It’s going to be very good — very interesting for me to go to the U.N. on February 5 and listen to this. But why in hell’s name don’t the inspectors have this information from the United States? What is this theater we are watching?

Now, if you want to ask about al-Qaeda, we had originally from the Bush administration the story that one of the 19 hijackers of the planes, the 19 men who committed these international crimes against humanity on September 11th, 2001, Mohamed Atta, an Egyptian, met a senior member of Iraqi intelligence in Prague. This story was burst when President Václav Havel, the president of the Czech Republic, personally said it was rubbish. Now apparently there is more evidence, different evidence. Let’s hope it’s not the same story. Why don’t — why aren’t we told this now? Why can’t the president of the United States take the American people into his confidence and tell them, and us, us foreigners, too, whom he apparently wants in his coalition, tell us what this information is? Why is it held secret until February 5th? Why can’t the inspectors know? These are my questions.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to President Bush talking about the nuclear program of Saddam Hussein.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush in his State of the Union address. I’m looking actually at The Washington Post today on page A-13, a small article, which some might say should be on the front page, “U.N. Finds No Proof of Nuclear Program; IAEA Unable to Verify U.S. Claims.” The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said today that two months of inspections in Iraq and interviews with Iraqi officials have yielded no evidence to support Bush administration claims that Iraq is secretly trying to revive its nuclear weapons program. Robert Fisk, uranium from Africa, aluminum tubes that are used to build nuclear weapons, your response?

ROBERT FISK: Yeah. Well, number one, the inspectors, as I understand it, from their report, went to see these aluminum tubes — aluminium, we call them in Britain — and they were not capable of being used in any form of uranium enrichment or uranium production. So, this part of the story appears to be untrue. Now, we hear that there was some kind of uranium enrichment or uranium coming from Africa in the so-called Blair dossier. Now, this is the famous dossier, or dossier, 50 pages of which were taken up mostly with human rights abuses. Only 15 of the 50 pages dealt with weapons of mass destruction, of which there are a series of paragraphs threaded by phrases like “could be,” “might have,” “would have,” “probably,” “may.” In other words, there is no actual proof in the Blair dossier, the famous African uranium, etc., which proves that Saddam Hussein has or is continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

Now, let’s just hold on a second, because let’s not be romantic about Saddam Hussein. He is a wicked monster. He’s a horrible guy. He’s a vicious person. Women are hanged in Iraqi prisoners on Tuesdays, and Thursdays if they can’t complete the hangings on the Tuesdays. He’s a bad guy. Let’s also remember, I — my own personal feeling, and this is only a hunch, I have no evidence — I think there are probably some nasty, dirty weapons left over from the 1980s, chemical shells, possibly, probably, somewhere in the desert. I think they probably exist. I don’t think he’s continuing to develop nuclear weapons or any other kind of weapons. I don’t think he has the wherewithal, as we say, to do it. But I think there’s some dirty stuff around. He’s a bad guy.

But this is the real question: Are we going — or are you going, which is much more to the point — are you going to invade Iraq and carry out an occupation, which may have continued resistance, because you think he might have some weapons left over from 20 years ago? Is this what this is about? I don’t believe so. I continue to believe, like many of my countrymen and many Europeans like me, that this is about oil. This is about taking the largest untold reserves of oil in the world. Because if you’re worried about — if Mr. Bush is worried about weapons of mass destruction, he should be massing the 3rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Armed Forces to invade North Korea, and he’s not doing that. And what’s the difference? North Korea does not have oil.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you surprised, Robert Fisk, by the comments of Richard Butler, who worked closely with the U.S. government, the CIA, when he did his final weapons report, holed up in New York across the street from the United Nations, working with the United States? And yet he has just come out with — well, made a statement to a conservative Sydney think tank, saying he — that Washington is promoting “shocking double standards,” that “The spectacle of the United States, armed with its weapons of mass destruction, acting without Security Council authority to invade a country in the heartland of Arabia, if necessary, using its weapons of mass destruction to win that battle, is something that will so deeply violate any notion of fairness in this world that I strongly suspect it could set loose forces that we would deeply live to regret,” and then went on to talk about other countries, like Syria, Israel, Pakistan and India, all having nuclear arsenals but not having signed on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

ROBERT FISK: None of this surprises me. None of this surprises me. You see, Richard Butler appeared to be — it may not have been his wish, but appeared to be a kind of cat’s paw for the American right, after it was put around, fairly correctly, that UNSCOM, the original inspection team, couldn’t do its job. Remember, this is the inspection team that was withdrawn. It wasn’t evicted from Iraq; it was withdrawn by Butler prior to Clinton’s bombing — one of the many bombings — of Iraq, and after the institution had become corrupted by the presence of CIA opportunists and agents within its ranks and using it for intelligence purposes. Butler is in a very difficult position at the moment. If he continues to maintain, in some way, the integrity of the original inspectors’ movement, he will be linked inextricably, in the public’s mind, especially in Australia, where there are a lot of critical voices — not as many as there are in Europe, but certainly more than there are in America — about this whole operation. I think that Butler wants to get clear of contamination of this new war. I think everybody wants to get clear of contamination in the new war, except for our own dear Prime Minister Tony Blair, who seems to want to be infected by it. Well, good luck. Tony Blair could find that his entire political career is destroyed by this war, unless it works as he wants.

But let’s just recap, if I may, for a second. I’m not trying to set your agenda, so to speak. But I think if the Americans do invade Iraq, the 3rd Infantry Division will cross the Tigris River with its tanks into Baghdad. Within three to seven days, you will get there, the Americans will conquer Iraq. It’s not a big deal. They will do it. The issue is: What happens afterwards, firstly in terms of civil retaliation and civil unrest, and then what happens when Iraqis start saying — not Saddam Iraqis, not pro-Saddam Iraqis, but Iraqis start saying, “Now, America, we want you to leave”? Are these people going to be arrested, put in prison? What happens then?

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, more of George Bush at the State of the Union address. We’re also going to be joined by Howard Zinn.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Today, the gravest danger in the war on terror, the gravest danger facing America and the world, is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror and mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them without the least hesitation.

This threat is new. America’s duty is familiar. Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world. In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit. In each case, the ambitions of Hitlerism, militarism and communism were defeated by the will of free peoples, by the strength of great alliances and by the might of the United States of America.

Now in this century, the ideology of power and domination has appeared again and seeks to gain the ultimate weapons of terror. Once again, this nation and all our friends are all that stand between a world at peace and a world of chaos and constant alarm. Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind. And we accept this responsibility.

AMY GOODMAN: George Bush. When we come back from break, historian Howard Zinn, political scientist Frances Fox Piven and Robert Fisk will respond to Bush on empire. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Edwin Starr, “Time,” here on The War and Peace Report, Breaking the Sound Barrier. I’m Amy Goodman, as we talk about the State of the Union address of George Bush. Howard Zinn, historian, author of A People’s History of the United States and his memoir, Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, your response to Bush’s words?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, I was just listening to your replaying of those lines in which he talks about how throughout the 20th century there have been nations that have tried to dominate the weak and intimidate the world. And, I mean, it’s very ironic. It means that Bush really does not know the history of the 20th century, or certainly does not know the history of the United States in the 20th century.

I mean, the 20th century started out with the United States conquering the Philippines — talk about the strong dominating the weak. It continued with the United States sending Marines into every country in Central America, occupying Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I mean, that was this strong nation dominating the weak.

You know, World War II was a kind of departure, in the sense that after standing by and actually helping the fascist powers, and standing by while Japan was inflicting enormous cruelties on China, you know, that the United States finally — when an outpost of its empire was attacked, then the United States moved into the fray. And yes, you know, Hitler was defeated by a coalition.

But ever since World War II, for the whole second half of the 20th century, the United States has been the power that has been dominating the weak and intimidating world and, war after war, intervention after intervention, supporting dictatorships all over the world, overthrowing democratic governments, democratically elected governments, as in, you know, Guatemala and as in Chile, and overthrowing any government that displeased us, like the government of Iran in 1953 because they nationalized the oil. I heard Robert Fisk talk about the crucial issue of oil, and, of course, that’s behind all of this.

But today, at this moment, to talk about who is trying to dominate the world, who is trying to intimidate, Saddam Hussein is not the aggressor. Saddam Hussein is not threatening anyone. He’s not attacking anyone. He is not an enormous military power. Here’s the United States sitting on 20,000 nuclear weapons, possessing the greatest number of weapons of mass destruction in the world, facing a little country whose weapons of mass destruction we can’t find. Maybe they have them. I don’t doubt that they do. But they can’t be so formidable as to threaten the world. The United States is at this point bullying the world. If Saddam Hussein is a threat, then why is it that the nations all around Saddam Hussein, who apparently would be the most vulnerable to his threat — how come the nations all around Saddam Hussein do not want us to go to war? How come the United States, farthest away from Saddam Hussein, more powerful than any nation in the world, separated from him by an ocean — how come the United States declares itself in danger?

And then, when Bush talks about defending the safety of our people, he is endangering the safety of our people. And I just saw a piece in this morning’s Times by Nicholas Kristof in which he points out that the danger of terrorism is likely to be greater if we invade Iraq. And I might point out, and, you know, the newspapers have sort of ignored this, but I’m sure you remember this, Amy, that the intelligence agencies of the United States government, including the CIA, concluded that the most likely use of weapons of mass destruction — if Saddam Hussein has them, but the most likely use of them by him would be if he were invaded, if we attacked him. So, as far as the safety of the United States goes, Bush, by threatening war, by making war on Iraq, is endangering the safety of the American people.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Howard Zinn, I want to thank you very much for joining us, historian, talking to us from his home in Boston. Frances Fox Piven, we’re just about to go to Congressmember Dennis Kucinich, a co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, but as you hear these different clips of Bush’s speech and watched it last night, your final thoughts?

FRANCES FOX PIVEN: Well, I am confounded by the recklessness of the Iraq strategy. You know, usually — probably they want oil. No question. And they also want an American presence at the center of the Middle East. But this is also a ruling clique, and ruling cliques usually worry about remaining rulers, about stability, about securing their bases. And given that, this group seems to me to be, you know, off the wall, so macho, so reckless, pursuing a strategy that threatens to bring terrorism down on our heads domestically, that threatens to set off a series of blowback reactions in Turkey, in Egypt, in Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia. This is not the Philippines. I mean, we could take the Philippines, and the reverberations were minimal. We could topple the government of Guatemala or Chile. And we could go into Grenada, and of course nothing happened. But it’s perfectly clear that we don’t know what will happen if we invade Iraq, and that the risks are awesome. Why are these characters taking such chances, such risks? That seems to me to be very, very puzzling.

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An Alternative State of the Union: We’ll Hear from Dennis Kucinich, Raúl Grijalva and Sheila Jackson Lee of the Congressional Progressive Caucus

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