Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK) served two terms in the Senate through the 1970s, a period marked by the U.S.’s struggle to end the Vietnam War. In 1971, when military analyst Daniel Ellsberg famously leaked the Pentagon Papers — which documented the “policymaking process that led to our deepening involvement in Vietnam” — Gravel, a war critic, audaciously read the documents into the Congressional Record to ensure that the public would have access to them.
Also in 1971, Gravel, “against the advice of Democratic leaders in the Senate, launched a one-man filibuster to end the peacetime military draft, forcing the administration to cut a deal that allowed the draft to expire in 1973.”
Now, he’s running for President. He told us last weekend that he thought the Iraq redeployment provision attached to the House and Senate supplemental bills is “ridiculous legislation.” “We need to get out now,” Gravel said, adding that he had his “suspicions” that whoever is elected president in 2008 is “not going to get out of Iraq.”
“We are fighting over the ownership of the Titanic. That’s really what’s going on,” he said. “Keep in mind when Nixon got elected — he said I got a plan to end the war. Yeah, it took him four years. And we doubled the number of casualties under his tenure.” Gravel warned, “I suspect we’re going in the same direction.” Watch it:
Gravel also advocated a carbon tax. He said Americans should “keep in mind” that every time they fill up their gas tank, “you’re spending another $4.00 per gallon indirectly by maintaining American troops in 140 countries to stabilize the price of oil.”
GRAVEL: I think it’s ridiculous legislation. Truthfully, truthfully. Here, when they’re talking about getting out of Iraq next year, what about the people that die between now and then when they know they’re going to get out? What about the families of those people that going to get killed between now and then? We need to get out now.
A year from now isn’t going to make it any better. And I have my suspicions that — whether Democrats or Republicans — they’re not going to get out of Iraq, even after the election. I don’t care who’s elected.
We went in there for the control of oil. This was an oil war by George Bush. The Democrats bought into it in the Congress. And you think they’re going to give up this control of oil? I mean, the tragedy is, as national policy, we are fighting over the ownership of the Titanic. That’s really what’s going on. And so there’s no reason why we can’t get out.
But you can see the plan — if the Democrats were the force for ending the war between now and the end of George Bush’s term, what will happen — probably you’ll probably see a spike at the gasoline tank, at the gas station. So the Republicans will be able to point to the Democrats — oh, look what they did, horrible things happened to you, you’re paying more. Well, we ought to pay more.
People don’t know — when you’re at the gas tank next time filling up your car and you see anywhere from $2.50 to $3.50 per gallon, keep in mind that you’re spending another $4.00 per gallon indirectly by maintaining American troops in 140 countries to stabilize the price of oil.
Forget that. What we ought to do is get off of carbon. And I would advocate a carbon tax to address our energy problem and de facto our environmental problem.
Getting out of Iraq. All you need is the will to do it. Stop and think, the games that are being played. And every day you can go and see the faces of the young people who are dying and being maimed.
This is exactly what we through in Vietnam. Keep in mind when Nixon got elected — he said I got a plan to end the war. Yeah, it took him four years. And we doubled the number of casualties under his tenure. I suspect we’re going in the same direction.
And so when people talking about ending the war, I’m not talking about repositioning the troops. Bring them home. We don’t need to be the policeman of the world. We need to provide some leadership in fighting terrorism as a police problem. We need to deal with the drug problem. We need to deal with a whole host of global problems. And they’re done globally. They’re not done by the United States of America all by itself telling the world which way to part their hair. It just is not working. It cannot work. And as a result of that, our country is in serious decline. And we’re not even addressing that problem.