Chris Hedges: ‘Gravel’s Lament’

Following a protest outside the White House featuring many antiwar leaders, from Cynthia McKinney to Dennis Kucinich to Lynne Williams to Mike Gravel, journalist Chris Hedges wrote a piece titled “Gravel’s Lament.” A video is also included here featuring Gravel’s speech and him leading a chant, saying, “Hey, hey, Obama, say, how many kids did you kill today?”

Barack Obama, who is as mesmerized by the red, white and blue bunting draped around our vast killing machine as the press, the two main political parties and our entertainment industry, will not halt our doomed imperial projects or renege on the $1 trillion in defense-related spending that is hollowing out the country from the inside. A plague of unchecked militarism has seeped outward from the Pentagon since the end of World War II and is now sucking our marrow dry. It is a familiar disease in imperial empires. We are in the terminal stage. We spend more on our military—half of all discretionary spending—than all of the other countries on Earth combined, although we face no explicit threat.

Mike Gravel, the former two-term senator from Alaska and 2008 presidential candidate, sat Saturday on a park bench in Lafayette Park facing the White House. Gravel and I were in the park, along with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and other anti-war activists, to denounce the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at a sparsely attended rally. Few voices in American politics have been as consistent, as reasoned and as moral as his, which is why Gravel, on a chilly December morning, is in front of the White House, not inside it.

“I suspect that from the get-go he had an inferiority complex with respect to the military,” Gravel, who was a first lieutenant in the Army, said of the president. “It is the same problem [Bill] Clinton had by not serving in the military, by not having an actual experience. You don’t have to go into combat, you just have to get into the military and recognize at the lower reaches how incompetent the military can be. So not having that experience, and only dealing with generals, who of course learn to be charming—it’s the sergeants who inflict the pain—he has this aura about the military. We have acculturated the nation to a military culture. This is the sadness of it all because that sustains the military-industrial complex.”

12 thoughts on “Chris Hedges: ‘Gravel’s Lament’

  1. Brian Holtz

    A Libertarian shouldn’t suggest that nanny-state spending is not “discretionary”.

    What is the latest information on whether Gravel is continuing his association with the LP? The most recent data point I have is that he sent his daughter Lynne to stand in for him at a Nov 20 2008 LPCA fund-raising dinner.

  2. tiradefaction


    Gravel doesn’t really associate with parties anymore, he said this in a fairly recent interview with Big Think.

    He’s not really a libertarian in the sense you or the LP consider themselves Libertarians.

  3. Peter M.

    The numbers for this rally/demonstration truly were small; five people from the Socialist Party were there, and they made up a solid ten percent of the entire demo.

  4. Harry Faversham

    Love this guy.
    Shame MSNBC, the so-called “liberal media”, banned his defiant voice.
    Him and Ron Paul are bad ass.

  5. Robert Milnes

    Yeah, bad ass. Gravel is a respectable progressive. Ron Paul is a counterrevolutionary in libertarian disguise.
    Gravel could have won last year. If Ruwart was vp-fusion ticket. & that campaign properly waged. But no. Libs had to have Bann Bobb Barr/W.A.R. I hope both lessons burn their asses.

  6. Robert Milnes

    I see that the rally was poorly attended. Kind of like the Green National Convention? Kind of like the Libertarian Convention next year? I hope this does not mean the PLAS Experiment is doomed.

  7. Robert Milnes

    This sparsely attended Emergency anti-escalation rally seems to be a Green & red event. Where was the anti-war right? the libertarians (paulie)? Where was Ron Paul (paulie)? Too busy planning his next 35 million haul in 2012?

  8. paulie

    Where was the anti-war right? the libertarians (paulie)? Where was Ron Paul (paulie)?

    I’m not sure what your question is. I wasn’t in or near DC. If I had been, I probably would have gone. I imagine Ron Paul was probably not invited, which I think was a mistake on the part of the organizers. However, I have no knowledge of Ron Paul’s schedule.

    I think we need a new organizing bodyy for these things which invites people like Ron Paul as well as those that spoke at this rally.

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