A Political Odyssey
The Rise of American Militarism and One Man's Fight to Stop It
by Mike Gravel, Joe Lauria, and Daniel Ellsberg
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is a post-mortem of Sen. Gravel's quixotic race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.
It is also an historical analysis of his career in the Senate in the 1970s.
And finally, this book is about where his National Initiative is going next.
Gravel started seeking the Democratic nomination before any other candidates announced.
He focused his campaign on the National Initiative -- a means for citizens to get ballot questions into the national vote and thereby passed into law, as is done in about half the states now.
Gravel managed to get into a few nationally-televised debates, where he mercilessly bashed Hillary Clinton and others for their pro-Iraq war vote.
Gravel realized when he started getting excluded from the debates that he had lost his bully pulpit, and withdrew, briefly seeking the Libertarian Party nomination as well (losing that to Rep. Bob Barr in May 2008).
This book covers numerous issues from Gravel's two-term Senate career, with sort of "lessons learned" applied to Bush and the current Congress, focusing on:
Overall, this book is a fine read for political junkies, especially those who have strong feelings about secrecy or the military.
It does not delve into the "left-libertarianism" issues that would have been raised had Gravel won the Libertarian Party nomination, however.
We'll deal with those issues in our upcoming interview....
- Gravel's actions with regards to releasing the Pentagon Papers, the documents that Pres. Nixon kept secret because they proved that the Nixon Administration lied to the American public about the Vietnam War
- Gravel's disdain for secrecy, as applied to Pres. Bush's current reluctance to release documents that might demonstrate the same about the Iraq War as the Pentagon Papers revealed about Vietnam
- Gravel's view that the military-industrial complex should really be called the military-industrial-Congress complex because Congress is so tied into it
- Gravel's lengthy historical analysis of how the military-industrial complex came about and is sustained
- How the Supreme Court case of United States vs. Gravel today still allows members of Congress to release war secrets, but that members of Congress don't use it.
- How the people can take back power from Congress and the military by ballot initiatives.
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, June 2008
Click here for 63 full quotes from Mike Gravel in the book A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel.
OR click on an issue category below for a subset.
Budget & Economy|
Clinton’s 1990s military reductions created budget surplus.
Bush’s overblown War on Terror is modern McCarthyism.
Established first in-state high school for native Alaskans.
Science must guide us, not religious extremism.
Energy & Oil|
Implacably opposed to civilian nuclear power.
Using H-bombs to build harbors is an “insane idea”.
1971: Nuclear power causes long-term contamination.
1971: Fought environmentalists for Alaska oil pipeline.
1971 support of SST conflicted with environmentalists.
Sanctions never work, unless regime’s victims ask for them.
1970s self-examination of US role is needed again.
American messianism: Christianizing & democratizing abroad.
1948: Volunteered to fight for Israeli independence.
Cold War Latin America policy was imperialistic.
Reagan did not end Cold War; Gorbachev’s reforms did.
Tariffs on China could spur worldwide economic downturn.
Secrecy makes democracy a sham.
Presidents often tend toward monarchy, especially during war.
1972: Senate presented evidence for 1st time in Gravel case.
1972: Lost Supreme Court case, United States v. Gravel.
Senators can & should reveal secret war plans with impunity.
I hate government secrecy; it only protects government.
Use political power to accomplish something.
FISA was created to check abuse of power.
Doesn’t hunt, but shot moose injured by Alaskan trains.
In Congress, personified opposition to American militarism.
Soldiers die in vain if war serves only elite interests.
President’s job since WWII is pitchman for war industry.
Released full Pentagon Papers when Nixon stopped publication.
Made into Senate pariah for releasing Pentagon Papers.
Bush uses Patriot Act to gut international law.
Boston publisher finally printed Pentagon Papers.
Sued by Nixon in Supreme Court case.
Bush & military-industrialists rule by fear-mongering.
Presidential imperialism feeds the arms industry.
CIA NIE ignored in 1947 about Cold War; & in 2004 about Iraq.
1969: Opposed early ABM anti-missile systems.
Bush’s ABMs don’t work well but do enrich insiders.
1969: Protested nuclear bomb tests on Aleutians.
Peacetime draft militarizes the culture.
Foreign arms sales funnel money back to defense industry.
Reagan’s SDI set stage for Bush’s trashing the ABM treaty.
Need new 9/11 investigation on sources of Bin Laden’s power.
Nativists who want to fence us in are dead wrong.
Communists helped unions end child labor & set 8-hr workday.
Principles & Values|
Served in US Army in the Cold War in Europe.
Withdrew from politics for 26 years, ashamed of politics.
Political career started as teen handing out campaign flyers.
Dyslexic, hence became avid political reader at a late age.
As army spy, felt rotten spying on innocent people.
Moved to pre-statehood Alaska because no political elite.
1958: Ran for Alaska Legislature as prep for US Senate.
1965: False promise to opponent to get House speakership.
1980: Forced into bankruptcy by bad real estate deals.
CNN’s live war coverage is propaganda for weapons systems.
War & Peace|
Iraqis never asked for invasion; don’t shift blame to them.
2001: Should have made deal with Saddam to fight extremists.
Unconstitutional to defund war; so criminalize it.
Iraq war was propagandized like 1898 “Remember the Maine!”.
1960s Vietnam posed no threat to America.
Intent of War Powers Act was to stop wars like Iraq.
Neocons plotted since 1991 to overthrow Saddam.
Only morons & neocons think war achieves Mideast democracy.
Click for quotations from other sources by:
- Mike Gravel
The above quotations are from A Political Odyssey
The Rise of American Militarism and One Man's Fight to Stop It
by Mike Gravel, Joe Lauria, and Daniel Ellsberg.
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