On September 8, Ralph Nader stopped by the wealthy Columbus, Ohio suburb of Bexley to discuss issues facing our nation and his candidacy for President of the United States of America.
This is an edited transcript of what was discussed after his speech given to a public event in which a couple hundred people attended. There was no mainstream news media there, but the event was covered by two local independent news organizations: The Columbus Free Press which organized his appearance and The Liberty Voice .
Question: What would you do on foreign policy? John McCain claims he's a really great guy to handle enemies...
Nader: None of these so-called enemies are on our tail. We're in their back yard--they're not in our back yard. As long as we've got bases and we've got missiles pointed at them, and we call them the 'axis of evil' and we invade them and bomb them--we're going to have enemies.
It's amazing they haven't done more to us.
But we've exaggerated the threats. Like after 9/11 when Bush said, there are al Qaeda cells in the US and they're well financed suicide agents. Well, how come they haven't struck?
General Douglass Macarthur once said, "If government always exaggerates threats it gets more money and more power." Of course Bush got a lot of power from at the expense of Congress and of course after 9/11.
Just take it one point at a time: Iraq had a dictator we helped install. He was our anti-communist dictator, then when he moved to Kuwait he became our dictator opposition.
But who kept him going? We sold him the materials for chemical and biological weapons. The department of Commerce licensed companies, and they did the same in Western Europe It's a matter of public record. This was under Reagan and Bush I. It's money. Business. Trade. At the time Saddam was on our side.
Iran? Iran is surrounded by the US military. We goaded Saddam to invade them. Gave logistical intelligence support--material support. Half a million Iranians died from that war. Think they forget that? We blew up one of their civilian airliners. 380 people. Think they forget that? We overthrew their Prime Minister in 1953 cause he was going to nationalize the oil resources of Iran and installed a 27-year dictatorship--the Shaw of Iran. Brutal. Think they forget that?
They haven't invaded anybody in 250 years. They've got a GDP the size of Connecticut-a poor country. Now they talk belligerent because that's all they got.
Suppose they create two or three nuclear weapons. What are they going to do? Commit suicide? Israel has 250 of them. They could blow up the Arab world in a weekend.
All of this is to just distract us-to keep the military machine going and military contracts going. They distract us from the problems we have back home, concentrate more power in the White House, and chill out the opposition--people are afraid to speak up post 9/11. And, by the way--make his company friends rich beyond belief. Halliburton--Cheney's company and all those companies that put the money in which funded his re-election campaign 2004.
We have to start thinking independently, instead of the way the American Legion Leaders and VFW leaders "stand up." Hey! Just because they are heads of the American Legion doesn't mean they have to be stupid. Veterans for Peace? Now these guys think for themselves. WWII. Korea. Vietnam veterans. You go to their convention, and they really think for themselves. They want the facts. They analyze it. They aren't going to be stampeded with someone waving the flag in front of it all.
We've got to make sure that we become a humanitarian super power. It's cheaper. We're the biggest arms exporter in the world to some of the most odious regimes in the world, but they cut deals with our corporations. And if we're a humanitarian superpower against infectious diseases, clean water--we know all these things: agricultural co-ops and how to get more crops per yield, how to save more water in irrigation systems, how to deal with tuberculosis and malaria, how to deal with global warming, and how to be the leader in solar energy. We have so much to give! Instead, what are we showing the world? Napalm. Cluster bombs. F-16's. Destroyers. That's what we're showing the world. We don't run our country. We don't run our country, it's run for us.