On this first day of war, we go back to the Pacifica Archives to hear June Jordan, poet, activist, essayist, teacher. June Jordan is the most published African American writer in history. She burst onto the literary and political scene in the late 1960s on the wings of the civil rights and antiwar movements. Poetry for her was a political act, and she used it to shine a fierce light on racism, sexism, homophobia, apartheid, poverty and U.S. foreign policy. Author Toni Morrison once summed up her career as “forty years of tireless activism coupled with and fueled by flawless art.”
AMY GOODMAN: For those of you who are staying with us, we will continue this broadcast, the Democracy Now! part of the day of national programming throughout the Pacifica network. We are going to end with history, putting all of this in context, going way back. We are going to bring you the sounds of the Pacifica Archives. I’m Amy Goodman, with Jeremy Scahill.
BRIAN DESHAZER: On the occasion of a new war on Iraq, the Pacifica Radio Archives brings you the sounds and voices from past wars and peace movements. June Jordan was one of the most important American poets of the late 20th century. She was a teacher, community leader and political activist. Jordan joined the literary and political scene in the late 1960s, following the civil rights and antiwar movements. Poetry for her was a political act, and she used it to address racism, sexism, homophobia, apartheid, poverty and U.S. foreign policy. This is June Jordan from a 1991 peace rally held in San Francisco during the Gulf War.
JUNE JORDAN: I do not believe that we must kill or be killed. Do you?
JUNE JORDAN: I do not believe that we should tolerate a military dictatorship of the press. Do you?
JUNE JORDAN: I do not believe that we must yield to those homicidal lunatics who occupy the White House and the Pentagon. Do you?
JUNE JORDAN: No more war!
JUNE JORDAN: No way!
JUNE JORDAN: No more war!
BRIAN DESHAZER: June Jordan, from the Pacifica Radio Archives, the oldest collection of public radio programming in the United States. For more information about the Pacifica Archives, visit the website at www.pacificaradioarchives.org. I’m Brian DeShazer for the Pacifica Radio Archives.
AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! produced by Kris Abrams, Angie Karran, Ana Nogueira, Mike Burke. I’m Amy Goodman, with Jeremy Scahill. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 1]
AMY GOODMAN: From Pacifica Radio, this is Democracy Now!
You never know when you’re going to die, and we’re still young for this. And you never know when maybe this will be our last smile, this will be our last meal, this will be our last of everything. I mean, how — we never know what’s coming.
AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. begins its invasion of Iraq. We will go directly to Baghdad. We will go to New Delhi, India, and speak with author Arundhati Roy. We will speak with ordinary Iraqis about how they are protecting themselves right now. We’ll hear from Americans in Baghdad and will talk to U.S. reporters in the Persian Gulf War and today.
All that and more, coming up.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
Just about 9:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time last night, the U.S. military began an unprovoked attack on Iraq. Air raid sirens sounded throughout Baghdad just before the sun rose. Anti-aircraft fire filled the sky, and explosions shook the city. Pentagon officials said over 30 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from warships. Two stealth bombers each dropped two one-ton bombs. It’s not clear what has been hit or the extent of the casualties. The Iraqi News Agency has just reported there are 14 injured and one dead. Iraq responded by firing three missiles into northern Kuwait, according to the U.S. military. That could not be independently confirmed.
The attack was not the beginning of the expected massive, what the U.S. government calls “shock and awe” campaign. Instead, it was a targeted strike on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It is not yet clear whether the assassination attempt was successful. Three hours after the attack began. Iraqi state television broadcast what it said was a live address by President Saddam Hussein. U.S. analysts say it could have been one of Hussein’s body doubles. The Arab TV network Al Jazeera reported that as the attack began, U.S. propaganda messages were broadcast on Iraqi airwaves saying, quote, “This is the day you’ve been waiting for.”
Hours before the attack, Senator Robert Byrd, the oldest voice in the U.S. Congress, condemned the Bush administration’s war plans. The West Virginia Democrat said, “Today I weep for my country. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. … Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.” Byrd continued, “We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. … After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America’s image around the globe.”
Around the world, international leaders condemned the U.S. war. Top officials from France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Greece, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand were among the countries opposing the attack. China called for an immediate halt to the attack. Indonesia requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council to stop the war. New Zealand said it, quote, “won’t assist in a baseless war.”
More than 500 communities throughout the United States are organizing protests for today. Activists are calling for nationwide walkouts, strikes and protests. Yesterday, dozens of people were arrested in Washington while staging antiwar protests in the nation’s capital. Over 200 demonstrators marched from a park near the White House to War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s house in northwest Washington. In Boston, police arrested 36 people in two antiwar protests at a federal building and outside the Boston Stock Exchange. During a midday march to the United Nations in New York, 45 antiwar demonstrators were taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct.
In Britain, activists are calling on workers to stage a mass walkout from offices and colleges around the country. In Australia, tens of thousands of people gathered in Melbourne, as well as Sydney. And hours before the bombs fell, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said it was regrettable that war would soon begin. He reported to the Security Council that Iraqi disarmament of weapons could have been verified in a matter of months, had the U.S. not attacked Iraq. And U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the council he would soon present proposals to deal with the humanitarian emergency, to deal with what he described as a, quote, “imminent disaster.”
While the U.S. attacked Iraq, the U.S. military also launched its biggest raid in Afghanistan in over a year. Some 1,000 U.S. troops invaded southeastern Afghanistan last night. Pentagon officials said they were on the hunt for members of al-Qaeda. And the London Telegraph reports up to 70,000 Turkish troops are massing on the country’s border with Iraq. They’re reportedly preparing to launch lightning raids to create a 40-mile buffer zone, they say, in Kurdish northern Iraq.
You are listening to Democracy Now! Coming up, we go directly to Baghdad to hear from Iraqis on the ground, as well as Americans part of the Iraq peace team.