Yesterday I drove two hours north to the University of Maine-Orono where the annual Hope Festival was held. Fellow Bring Our War $$ Home organizer Lisa Savage (Code Pink Maine) and I worked our table handing out literature and asking people in Maine’s 2nd congressional district to call Rep. Mike Michaud and urge him to vote against the upcoming $33 billion war supplemental for Afghanistan.
We had a good table location right by the stage so our big Bring Our War $$ Home banner was easily seen by most of those attending the event. We had to leave early in order to then drive 2 1/2 hours south to Portland in time for the Peace Action Maine annual dinner that featured Noam Chomsky as the speaker.
When we arrived at the church, where a bread and soup dinner was held, our Bring Our War $$ Home door-hangers had already been put by each of the 300 settings on the dinner tables. Following the dinner the people moved into the church sanctuary and were joined by an estimated 450 more who came to hear Chomsky speak.
There likely were many Obama supporters in the large crowd last night but they had to come away from Chomsky’s talk reeling from the stories he told about Obama over and over again proving to be Bush-lite on foreign policy issues.
Chomsky began his talk by stating that “half of the budget deficit is the military budget….the cost of past wars, veterans benefits, and the interest on the military spending share of the debt.”
“Any hope for a decent economic recovery is up in smoke because of these military spending policies,” he said.
Chomsky next quickly reviewed some of the new high-technology weapons systems being “escalated under the current administration – such as drones, nano technology drones that will be able to fly into a room inside a house and kill someone, super weapons [prompt global strike] to hit anywhere in one hour, and bunker busters.” He told the packed church that the bunker busters were accelerated “as soon as Obama came into office” after having “languished under Bush” and are “now being deployed on the U.S. base in Diego Garcia.”
Chomsky spent a lot of time talking about the Middle East and said that there are “only two countries threatening force in the Middle East – the U.S. and Israel.”
“On one hand Obama is talking about we need to move to a nuclear free world but on the other hand the U.S. is helping Pakistan, India, and Israel expand their nuclear forces – none of whom have signed the U.N.’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” Chomsky remarked.
“The U.S. is consciously creating anger and hatred around the world,” Chomsky reflected, as he gave a strong endorsement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel due to their policies against the Palestinians. “Right now Obama is about the same as Reagan was with South Africa – alot of rhetoric but no actions,” he said.
The ruling corporate oligarchy “are concerned with their own interests, not the impact of their policies,” Chomsky replied to one question from the audience.
In conclusion Chomsky declared, “Power systems do not respond to economic [or moral] arguments, they want to do what they are doing…..We must create enough popular pressure on them – that is how change has come about in the past.”
As the huge crowd began to leave the church Mary Beth and I made our way outside and held our Bring Our War $$ Home banner and urged people to call 1st congressional district Rep. Chellie Pingree and urge her to vote against any more war funding.