By FRED LINCK
The author gave the following speech at a rally at the capitol building in Hartford, Conn., as part of the worldwide Climate Strike on Sept. 20.
My name is Fred Linck, I am a member of 350CT, and the Connecticut Peace and solidarity Coalition.
The antiwar movement and the climate movement are unequivocally linked; there is no way to stop climate change without shutting down America’s imperialism. When corporations make billions off a war that the government lied to get us into, solely to control a resource that is killing us, we know we must shut down this insane system that profits from death and destruction.
Over 700,000 Iraqis died in the war and almost 5000 American service members. For what? So that oil companies could have easy access to Iraqi oil fields, to control a resource that every climate action plan shows without a doubt we must stop using as soon as possible.
Did we learn nothing from what the government is doing? Still the war drums beat, trying to get the American people behind more resource wars. They tell us we have to go and fight tyranny in Iran and Venezuela, just like they told us we had to fight for democracy in Iraq. These are two more nations America’s corporations have set their sights on, and for one reason: They want control of the oil.
We must say hands off Iran, and hands off Venezuela. American intervention has no role in making anyone’s lives better, and will in time close the window for human life to be viable on this planet.
Right now, the military is estimated to spend $956 billion for 2019. What do they do with this ridiculous pile of money? Does it benefit us in anyway whatsoever? Of course it does not; they use it to bomb Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine. They use it to attack targets with drones throughout Africa. They use it to make elaborate death machines that kill workers around the world.
The U.S. Department of Defense has a larger annual carbon footprint than most countries on earth. The DOD is the largest consumer of fossil-fuel products in the world, and is also the single largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Its most carbon intensive activity is war. Let us not use a code word for that, its most carbon intensive activity is murder.
When I was 17, I joined the United States Marine Corps. I believed I would be part of something greater than myself; that I was going to go to Iraq to bring democracy and freedom to its people. But the promise that I would make a difference, that I would make the world a better place was a lie. This promise of democracy too was a lie.
And its falsehood was crystal clear only a few years later when masses took to the streets to fight for democratic rights all across the Arab world. In that fight, the U.S. government acted to crush the uprisings by any means necessary: whether it meant backing a despot or bombing the country into fragments.
But still, working people in America managed to learn from the revolt across the ocean. Wisconsin workers learned from the Egyptian occupation in Tahrir Square and set up their own occupation at their state capitol. They made signs comparing their governor to the Egyptian dictator and urged supporters to “fight like an Egyptian.” Others inspired by the Arab Spring occupied a park on Wall Street and started a discussion about class that continues to this day. The U.S. did not export democracy to the Arab world. If anything, it was the other way around.
These wars are about defending the interests of the super-rich. They are now and they always have been. They have been about securing the very same resource that is choking our planet—that is reducing our ability to live.
There is no climate plan that does not recognize that our resources can no longer be thrown into weapons of war, that defends the interests of the super rich, the wars that made Halliburton billions of dollars while destroying our environment. There is no climate plan that does not say we need to retool our economy from one that serves the military industrial complex and the wealthy to one that focuses on renewable energy and a green economy.
What could we do with the money they currently spend on death and destruction worldwide? We could:
- Pay to power all households with wind power, free of charge, every year.
- Pay for everyone 18-21 to go to higher education
- Create 1.3 million infrastructure jobs to rapidly move our energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources
- Double the number of public school teachers
- And create an almost 900,000 clean energy jobs
My friends, if we want any of this to happen, then this strike is going to have to get a whole hell of a lot bigger. I am proud of what the Climate mobilization committee has accomplished, but we need to disrupt the status quo. Business as usual is killing us. We must band together and fight—when millions are in the streets, no one can ignore us.
Working people make this whole world run, and working people want a livable earth. When working people come together and decide that things must change, there is nothing that can stop us.
When we fight, we win. And we must fight to survive.