Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama Speech Transcript on Patriotism (6-30-08)

Barack Obama gave this speech from Independence, Missouri. Read the complete transcript:

We do so in part because we're in the midst of war. More than 1.5 million of our finest young men and women have now fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 60,000 have been wounded. Over 4,600 have been laid to rest. The costs of war have been great, and the debate surrounding our mission in Iraq has been fierce.

It's natural in light of such sacrifice by so many to think more deeply about the commitments that bind us together as a nation and that bind us to each other, as well.

We reflect on these questions also because we are in the midst of a presidential election, perhaps the most consequential in generations, a contest that will determine the course of this nation for years, perhaps decades, to come.

Not only is it a debate about big issues -- health care, jobs, energy, education, retirement security -- but it's also a debate about values.

How do we keep ourselves safe and secure while preserving our liberties? How do we restore trust in a government that seems increasingly removed from its people and dominated by special interests?

How do we ensure that, in an increasingly global economy, the winners maintain allegiance to the less fortunate? And how do we resolve our differences at a time of increasing diversity?

Finally, it's worth considering the meaning of patriotism, because the question of who is or is not a patriot all too often poisons our political debates in ways that divide us rather than bring us together.

I've come to know this from my own experience on the campaign trail. Throughout my life, I've always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given. It was how I was raised; it is what propelled me into public service; it is why I am running for president.

And yet, at certain times over the last 16 months, I've found for the first time my patriotism challenged, at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears and doubts about who I am and what I stand for.

So let me say this at the outset of my remarks: I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign.

[...]Thomas Jefferson was accused by the Federalists of selling out to the French; the Anti-Federalists were just as convinced that John Adams was in cahoots with the British, intent on restoring monarchal rule.

Likewise, even our wisest presidents have sought sometimes to justify questionable practices on the basis of patriotism: Adams' Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

All were defended at the time as expressions of patriotism, and those who disagreed with their policies were sometimes labeled as unpatriotic. In other words, the use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the republic.

[...]Still, what's striking about today's patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s, in the arguments that go back 40 years or more.

Some of you remember this. In the early years of the civil rights movement and the opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic.

Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the '60s reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases the very idea of America itself, by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and, perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day.

Iraq Opens 6 Oil Fields for International Bidding

Is there any doubt now that the reason the oil man Bush took us to war in Iraq was about the oil?

The Iraqi government says it's opened six oil fields to international bidding as the nation tries to boost production.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani says 35 oil companies qualified for bidding, including several majors from the West, such as Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Total.

He says the oil fields are: Rumeila, Zubair, Qurna West, Maysan, Kirkuk and Bay Hassan.

All the fields are already producing oil, but al-Shahristani said Monday the new contracts would raise Iraq's production by 1.5 million barrels per day.

The deadline for the bids is the end of March 2009, and preliminary contracts will be signed next June.

Remember the Greenspan controversy?
AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.

In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

This article appeared in the Washington Post:
Five years after the United States invaded Iraq, plenty of people believe that the war was waged chiefly to secure U.S. petroleum supplies and to make Iraq safe -- and lucrative -- for the U.S. oil industry.

We may not know the real motivations behind the Iraq war for years, but it remains difficult to distill oil from all the possibilities. That's because our society and economy have been nursed on cheap oil, and the idea that oil security is a right as well as a necessity has become part of our foreign policy DNA, handed down from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter to George H.W. Bush. And the war and its untidy aftermath have, in fact, swelled the coffers of the world's biggest oil companies.

Oil Near $143 on Israel-Iran Tensions

Here's another reason why Israel, or the U.S., should not be attacking Iran. It was the Iraq War that lead to the skyrocketing of oil prices. Any military action on the oil-rich Iranians would be cataclysmic.

Oil rose more than $3 a barrel on Monday to a new record above $143, propelled by heightened market fears of conflict between Israel and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

A fall in the U.S. dollar to three-week lows versus the euro helped boost the market.

U.S. light crude was up $2.55 at $142.76 a barrel by 7:12 a.m. EDT, after a record high of $143.67 a barrel.

[...] Iran's Revolutionary Guards have said Iran would impose controls on shipping in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz if it were attacked.

The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway separating Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world's traded oil flows.

Iran's foreign minister said on Sunday he did not believe Israel was in a position to attack his country over its nuclear program.

I think those oil traders see the writing on the wall.
The Bush administration has launched a "significant escalation" of covert operations in Iran, sending U.S. commandos to spy on the country's nuclear facilities and undermine the Islamic republic's government, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

White House, CIA and State Department officials declined comment on Hersh's report, which appears in this week's issue of The New Yorker.

Hersh told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that Congress has authorized up to $400 million to fund the secret campaign, which involves U.S. special operations troops and Iranian dissidents.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have rejected findings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran has halted a clandestine effort to build a nuclear bomb and "do not want to leave Iran in place with a nuclear program," Hersh said.

"They believe that their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapons program," Hersh said.

The new article, "Preparing the Battlefield," is the latest in a series of articles accusing the Bush administration of preparing for war with Iran.