El juramento presidencial

Son 35 palabras. Quizás, una de las fórmulas más conocidas. La tradición, el cine y la televisión han hecho de esas 35 palabras todo un símbolo de la presidencia. A mediodía del 20 de enero, el presidente electo de los Estados Unidos debe jurar o prometer el cargo para poder acceder a él. Eso es así por dos artículos de la constitución de Estados Unidos. La fecha, por la vigésima enmienda. El juramento, por el artículo dos.

Antes del discurso inaugural, el presidente electo jura o promete el cargo. Lo hace con esta fórmula recogida en la constitución: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Generalmente lo hace cuando el presidente del Tribunal Supremo le pregunta si está preparado para hacerlo. Tras ello, el presidente electo pone la mano izquierda encima de la Biblia que sostiene su esposa y levanta la mano derecha. El presidente del Tribunal Supremo empezará a recitar el juramento, que será repetido por el candidato electo. Tras ello, lo rematará con un “So help me God”. El presidente electo ya es presidente en ese momento.

Veamos algunas curiosidades del momento que acabamos de describir:

La presencia del presidente del Tribunal Supremo
La constitución no habla de quién debe administrar el juramento. Así, a lo largo de la historia varios cargos han tenido ese honor. Washington fue investido en presencia del canciller de Nueva York en 1789. Collidge, por ejemplo, fue investido por su padre, notario del estado de Vermont. Desde John Adams ningún presidente del Tribunal Supremo se ha perdido una toma de posesión.

Hay más juramentos que tomas de posesión
Se considera que la toma de posesión solo es aquella que se produce según marca la constitución y el ininterrumpido calendario electoral estadounidense. Mientras que con la del próximo día 21 se habrán celebrado 57 tomas de posesión, en total se contarán ese día 73 juramentos. ¿La razón? Las ocasiones en que el vicepresidente ha jurado el cargo tras la muerte del presidente o las veces en las que un presidente ha jurado el cargo en domingo antes de la toma de posesión, donde repite el juramento. Hayes (1877), Arthur (1881), Wilson (1917), Coolidge (1923), Eisenhower (1957), Reagan (1985), Obama (2009 y 2013) han tenido que repetir sus juramentos.

Un juramento en el Air Force One
Tras el asesinato del presidente Kennedy en Dallas en 1963, el vicepresidente Lyndon B. Johnson juró el cargo de presidente a bordo del Air Force One. Una mujer, Sarah T. Hughes, administró el juramento a Johnson. Hasta la fecha, ha sido la única mujer en hacerlo. El juramento tuvo lugar en el aeropuerto Love Field de Dallas, dos horas y ocho minutos después del asesinato de Kennedy. Johnson no usó una Biblia -no había en el Air Force One- y lo hizo sobre un libro de oraciones que el presidente tenía en su despacho.

Jurar o prometer
Solo un presidente, Franklin Pierce, prometió el cargo. El resto, lo ha jurado.

“So help me God”
Esta frase no está escrita en la Constitución. George Washington añadió esta frase al terminar su juramento en 1789 y desde entonces se ha repetido en el resto de ocasiones.

…and repeat after me
Desde 1929, el juramento se plantea de forma afirmativa, no se pregunta. Es decir, el presidente electo repite lo que le dice el presidente del Tribunal Supremo. O sea, Obama dirá lo siguiente los próximos días 20 y 21: “I Barack Obama do solemny swear…”. No siempre se añade el nombre del presidente electo -Franklin D. Roosevelt fue el primero-.

Pero no ha sido siempre así. Desde el primer juramento, se preguntaba al presidente electo: “Do you George Washington solemnly swear…” y al terminar, el presidente electo se limitaba a decir “I do” o “I swear”.

El juramento de los presidentes reelectos
Técnicamente no sería necesario que el presidente electo volviera a jurar el cargo, sin embargo, todos los presidentes lo han hecho.

In Grindr we trust

“¿Qué buscas? Tu voto. Y lo que surja”. Esta conversación, algo rara, podría pasar en Grindr. La aplicación da un paso más y no se queda en ser el espacio de contacto para gays: quiere jugar un rol muy activo en las elecciones estadounidenses. Más de 1,5 millones de usuarios en Estados Unidos serán tentados a actuar y votar en consecuencia el próximo noviembre.

El matrimonio igualitario está en la agenda de estas elecciones. Obama anunció un cambio en su visión sobre este tema y los Republicanos, con Romney a la cabeza, siguen luchando para evitarlo. Una buena muestra, el intercambio de opiniones entre el candidato a presidente y un veterano de la Guerra de Vietnam:

Con “Grindr for Equality”, la aplicación quiere movilizar a sus usuarios para defender los derechos LGTB y cambiar la realidad a través de la acción de miles de personas. Para su CEO, Joel Simkhai, “todas las elecciones se ganan o se pierden a nivel local. No hay elección o pueblo demasiado pequeño para tener una voz gay. Usaremos Grindr para unir a los gays de todo el país, hacer que esta voz crezca y tener un impacto nacional.”

¿Qué hará Grindr? Usará la aplicación para generar visibilidad y conocimiento sobre la igualdad LGTB en los temas que se voten en noviembre. Además, promoverá el registro electoral con información sobre los lugares en los que registrarse -para algo es una aplicación con geolocalización- y les avisará de los plazos. Además, y ahí está la clave, informará de los candidatos (a nivel presidencial, estatal o local) que apoyen iniciativas LGTB.

In Grindr we trust.

Los discursos de George W. Bush tras el 11S

Casi todo el mundo coincide: el mundo cambió el 11 de septiembre de 2001. Todo ha cambiado tras esos ataques. Lo hizo la política, la seguridad, la economía… y el lenguaje. El mandato de George W. Bush, estrenado apenas nueve meses antes, se vió profundamente marcado por los retos que suponía el terrorismo internacional.

La lucha contra el terrorismo fue la guerra contra el terror. Las reglas del juego cambiaron. Las alianzas fueron nuevas. Los argumentos, el lenguaje, la retórica… Todo tiene su origen en ese fatídico día de septiembre en que aviones civiles se convirtieron en mísiles.

En el décimo aniversario de los ataques, observamos las intervenciones de Bush durante ese día y los días posteriores al ataque. La retórica de los atentados tiene un peso determinante en el marco establecido. Las palabras del presidente Bush marcan el camino de la respuesta a esos ataques.

 

“Terrorism against our nation will not stand.”

Primera intervención de George W. Bush en la Emma Booker Elementary School , Florida (11 de septiembre de 2001)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult moment for America.

I, unfortunately, will be going back to Washington after my remarks. Secretary Rod Paige and [the] Lt. Governor will take the podium and discuss education. I do want to thank the folks here at — at Booker Elementary School for their hospitality.

Today, we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.

I have spoken to the Vice President, to the Governor of New York, to the Director of the FBI, and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families, and — and to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act.

Terrorism against our nation will not stand.

And now if you [would] join me in a moment of silence.

May God bless the victims, their families, and America.

Thank you very much.

 

“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.”

Segunda intervención de George W. Bush en la Base Aérea de Barksdale,  (11 de septiembre de 2001)

Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.

I want to reassure the American people that full — the full resources of the federal government are working to assist local authorities to save lives and to help the victims of these attacks. Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.

I’ve been in regular contact with the Vice President, Secretary of Defense, the national security team, and my cabinet. We have taken all appropriate — appropriate security precautions to protect the American people.

Our military at home and around the world is on high alert status. And we have taken the necessary security precautions to continue the functions of your government.

We have been in touch with leaders of Congress and with world leaders to assure them that we will do what is — whatever is necessary to protect America and Americans.

I ask the American people to join me in saying a “thanks” for all the folks who have been fighting hard to rescue our fellow citizens, and to join me in saying a prayer for the victims and their families.

 

“America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.”

Discurso a la Nación desde el Despacho Oval, Washington DC (11 de septiembre de 2001)

Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbours. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.

America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America — with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbours who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C. to help with local rescue efforts.

Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.

The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business, as well.

The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance.
America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.”

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

“Freedom and democracy are under attack.”

Discurso desde la Cabinet Room, Wasington D.C. (12 de septiembre de 2001)

 

“I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

Discurso con megáfono desde la Zona Cero, Nueva York (14 de septiembre de 2001)

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.

Thank you all. I want you all to know — it [bullhorn] can’t go any louder — I want you all to know that American today, American today is on bended knee, in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn. The nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens

Público: I can’t hear you!

I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!

Público, cantando: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

The nation — The nation sends its love and compassion —

Público: God bless America!

— to everybody who is here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for makin’ the nation proud, and may God bless America.

Público, cantando: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

 

“Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.”

Discurso a la sesión conjunta del Congreso, Washington D.C (20 de septiembre de 2001)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tempore, members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

In the normal course of events, Presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the Union. Tonight, no such report is needed. It has already been delivered by the American people.

We have seen it in the courage of passengers, who rushed terrorists to save others on the ground — passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer. And would you please help me to welcome his wife, Lisa Beamer, here tonight. We have seen the state of our Union in the endurance of rescuers, working past exhaustion. We’ve seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers — in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made the grief of strangers their own. My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our Union — and it is strong.

Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done. I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time. All of America was touched on the evening of the tragedy to see Republicans and Democrats joined together on the steps of this Capitol, singing “God Bless America.” And you did more than sing; you acted, by delivering 40 billion dollars to rebuild our communities and meet the needs of our military. Speaker Hastert, Minority Leader Gephardt, Majority Leader Daschle, and Senator Lott, I thank you for your friendship, for your leadership, and for your service to our country. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of support. America will never forget the sounds of our National Anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris, and at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.

We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo. We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America. Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our own: dozens of Pakistanis; more than 130 Israelis; more than 250 citizens of India; men and women from El Salvador, Iran, Mexico, and Japan; and hundreds of British citizens. America has no truer friend than Great Britain. Once again, we are joined together in a great cause — so honored the British Prime Minister has crossed an ocean to show his unity with America. Thank you for coming, friend.

On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars — but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war — but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks — but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day — and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack. Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: Who attacked our country?The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are some of the murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole. Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world — and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics, a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children. This group and its leader — a person named Usama bin Laden — are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.

The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan, we see al Qaeda’s vision for the world. Afghanistan’s people have been brutalized; many are starving and many have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.

The United States respects the people of Afghanistan. After all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid; but we condemn the Taliban regime. It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder.

And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban: Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.

Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what they see right here in this chamber — a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms — our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa. These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions — by abandoning every value except the will to power — they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies. Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.

Now this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat. Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

Our nation has been put on notice: We’re not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans. Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security. These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. So tonight I announce the creation of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me — the Office of Homeland Security. And tonight I also announce a distinguished American to lead this effort, to strengthen American security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a true patriot, a trusted friend — Pennsylvania’s Tom Ridge. He will lead, oversee, and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism, and respond to any attacks that may come.

These measures are essential. But the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows. Many will be involved in this effort, from FBI agents to intelligence operatives to the reservists we have called to active duty. All deserve our thanks, and all have our prayers. And tonight, a few miles from the damaged Pentagon, I have a message for our military: Be ready. I’ve called the Armed Forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud. This is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

We ask every nation to join us. We will ask, and we will need, the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking systems around the world. The United States is grateful that many nations and many international organizations have already responded — with sympathy and with support. Nations from Latin America, to Asia, to Africa, to Europe, to the Islamic world. Perhaps the NATO Charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An attack on one is an attack on all. The civilized world is rallying to America’s side. They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror, unanswered, can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments. And you know what? We’re not going to allow it.

Americans are asking: What is expected of us? I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children. I know many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat. I ask you to uphold the values of America, and remember why so many have come here. We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith. I ask you to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions. Those who want to give can go to a central source of information, libertyunites.org, to find the names of groups providing direct help in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The thousands of FBI agents who are now at work in this investigation may need your cooperation, and I ask you to give it. I ask for your patience, with the delays and inconveniences that may accompany tighter security; and for your patience in what will be a long struggle. I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity. They did not touch its source. America is successful because of the hard work, and creativity, and enterprise of our people. These were the true strengths of our economy before September 11th, and they are our strengths today. And, finally, please continue praying for the victims of terror and their families, for those in uniform, and for our great country. Prayer has comforted us in sorrow, and will help strengthen us for the journey ahead.

Tonight I thank my fellow Americans for what you have already done and for what you will do. And ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, I thank you, their representatives, for what you have already done and for what we will do together. Tonight, we face new and sudden national challenges. We will come together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air marshals on domestic flights, and take new measures to prevent hijacking. We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying, with direct assistance during this emergency. We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home. We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act, and to find them before they strike.

We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America’s economy, and put our people back to work. Tonight we welcome two leaders who embody the extraordinary spirit of all New Yorkers: Governor George Pataki, and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As a symbol of America’s resolve, my administration will work with Congress, and these two leaders, to show the world that we will rebuild New York City.

After all that has just passed — all the lives taken, and all the possibilities and hopes that died with them — it is natural to wonder if America’s future is one of fear. Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead, and dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom — the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time — now depends on us. Our nation, this generation will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.

It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We’ll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We’ll remember the moment the news came — where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end. I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people. The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

Fellow citizens, we’ll meet violence with patient justice — assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come. In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom, and may He watch over the United States of America. Thank you.

 

 

Spiro Agnew y el poder de la televisión

El debate sobre el poder del medio, el que sea, en la influencia política no es nuevo. Por mucho que a medida que avanza el uso y la influencia de las redes parece que descubramos un nuevo tema de discusión. Para la política, para el poder, esa es una preocupación que se pierde en el tiempo.

Por ello, cuando nos cuestionamos el poder de las redes en las revoluciones de la primavera árabe o su influencia en los diferentes comicios electorales, es interesante recuperar un curioso discurso del que fue vicepresidente de Nixon de 1969 a 1973.

Spiro Theodore Agnew reflexionó en ese discurso de noviembre de 1969 sobre lo ocurrido tras el discurso de Nixon sobre Vietnam. El vicepresidente se cuestiona sobre el poder de los tertulianos, analistas y comentaristas que, tras la aparición presidencial, moldearon la opinión pública con sus comentarios y análisis.

“Every elected leader in the United States depends on these men of the media”

 

“I think it’s obvious from the cameras here that I didn’t come to discuss the ban on cyclamates or DDT. I have a subject which I think if of great importance to the American people. Tonight I want to discuss the importance of the television news medium to the American people. No nation depends more on the intelligent judgment of its citizens. No medium has a more profound influence over public opinion. Nowhere in our system are there fewer checks on vast power. So, nowhere should there be more conscientious responsibility exercised than by the news media. The question is, “Are we demanding enough of our television news presentations?” “And are the men of this medium demanding enough of themselves?”

Monday night a week ago, President Nixon delivered the most important address of his Administration, one of the most important of our decade. His subject was Vietnam. My hope, as his at that time, was to rally the American people to see the conflict through to a lasting and just peace in the Pacific. For 32 minutes, he reasoned with a nation that has suffered almost a third of a million casualties in the longest war in its history.

When the President completed his address — an address, incidentally, that he spent weeks in the preparation of — his words and policies were subjected to instant analysis and querulous criticism. The audience of 70 million Americans gathered to hear the President of the United States was inherited by a small band of network commentators and self-appointed analysts, the majority of whom expressed in one way or another their hostility to what he had to say.

It was obvious that their minds were made up in advance. Those who recall the fumbling and groping that followed President Johnson’s dramatic disclosure of his intention not to seek another term have seen these men in a genuine state of nonpreparedness. This was not it.

One commentator twice contradicted the President’s statement about the exchange of correspondence with Ho Chi Minh. Another challenged the President’s abilities as a politician. A third asserted that the President was following a Pentagon line. Others, by the expressions on their faces, the tone of their questions, and the sarcasm of their responses, made clear their sharp disapproval.

To guarantee in advance that the President’s plea for national unity would be challenged, one network trotted out Averell Harriman for the occasion. Throughout the President’s address, he waited in the wings. When the President concluded, Mr. Harriman recited perfectly. He attacked the Thieu Government as unrepresentative; he criticized the President’s speech for various deficiencies; he twice issued a call to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to debate Vietnam once again; he stated his belief that the Vietcong or North Vietnamese did not really want military take-over of South Vietnam; and he told a little anecdote about a “very, very responsible” fellow he had met in the North Vietnamese delegation.

All in all, Mr. Harrison offered a broad range of gratuitous advice challenging and contradicting the policies outlined by the President of the United States. Where the President had issued a call for unity, Mr. Harriman was encouraging the country not to listen to him.

A word about Mr. Harriman. For 10 months he was America’s chief negotiator at the Paris peace talks — a period in which the United States swapped some of the greatest military concessions in the history of warfare for an enemy agreement on the shape of the bargaining table. Like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, Mr. Harriman seems to be under some heavy compulsion to justify his failures to anyone who will listen. And the networks have shown themselves willing to give him all the air time he desires.

Now every American has a right to disagree with the President of the United States and to express publicly that disagreement. But the President of the United States has a right to communicate directly with the people who elected him, and the people of this country have the right to make up their own minds and form their own opinions about a Presidential address without having a President’s words and thoughts characterized through the prejudices of hostile critics before they can even be digested.

When Winston Churchill rallied public opinion to stay the course against Hitler’s Germany, he didn’t have to contend with a gaggle of commentators raising doubts about whether he was reading public opinion right, or whether Britain had the stamina to see the war through. When President Kennedy rallied the nation in the Cuban missile crisis, his address to the people was not chewed over by a roundtable of critics who disparaged the course of action he’d asked America to follow.

The purpose of my remarks tonight is to focus your attention on this little group of men who not only enjoy a right of instant rebuttal to every Presidential address, but, more importantly, wield a free hand in selecting, presenting, and interpreting the great issues in our nation. First, let’s define that power.

At least 40 million Americans every night, it’s estimated, watch the network news. Seven million of them view A.B.C., the remainder being divided between N.B.C. and C.B.S. According to Harris polls and other studies, for millions of Americans the networks are the sole source of national and world news. In Will Roger’s observation, what you knew was what you read in the newspaper. Today for growing millions of Americans, it’s what they see and hear on their television sets.

Now how is this network news determined? A small group of men, numbering perhaps no more than a dozen anchormen, commentators, and executive producers, settle upon the 20 minutes or so of film and commentary that’s to reach the public. This selection is made from the 90 to 180 minutes that may be available. Their powers of choice are broad.

They decide what 40 to 50 million Americans will learn of the day’s events in the nation and in the world. We cannot measure this power and influence by the traditional democratic standards, for these men can create national issues overnight. They can make or break by their coverage and commentary a moratorium on the war. They can elevate men from obscurity to national prominence within a week. They can reward some politicians with national exposure and ignore others.

For millions of Americans the network reporter who covers a continuing issue — like the ABM or civil rights — becomes, in effect, the presiding judge in a national trial by jury.

It must be recognized that the networks have made important contributions to the national knowledge — through news, documentaries, and specials. They have often used their power constructively and creatively to awaken the public conscience to critical problems. The networks made hunger and black lung disease national issues overnight. The TV networks have done what no other medium could have done in terms of dramatizing the horrors of war. The networks have tackled our most difficult social problems with a directness and an immediacy that’s the gift of their medium. They focus the nation’s attention on its environmental abuses — on pollution in the Great Lakes and the threatened ecology of the Everglades. But it was also the networks that elevated Stokely Carmichael and George Lincoln Rockwell from obscurity to national prominence.

Nor is their power confined to the substantive. A raised eyebrow, an inflection of the voice, a caustic remark dropped in the middle of a broadcast can raise doubts in a million minds about the veracity of a public official or the wisdom of a Government policy. One Federal Communications Commissioner considers the powers of the networks equal to that of local, state, and Federal Governments all combined. Certainly it represents a concentration of power over American public opinion unknown in history.

Now what do Americans know of the men who wield this power? Of the men who produce and direct the network news, the nation knows practically nothing. Of the commentators, most Americans know little other than that they reflect an urbane and assured presence seemingly well-informed on every important matter. We do know that to a man these commentators and producers live and work in the geographical and intellectual confines of Washington, D.C., or New York City, the latter of which James Reston terms the most unrepresentative community in the entire United States.

Both communities bask in their own provincialism, their own parochialism.

We can deduce that these men read the same newspapers. They draw their political and social views from the same sources. Worse, they talk constantly to one another, thereby providing artificial reinforcement to their shared viewpoints. Do they allow their biases to influence the selection and presentation of the news? David Brinkley states objectivity is impossible to normal human behavior. Rather, he says, we should strive for fairness.

Another anchorman on a network news show contends, and I quote: “You can’t expunge all your private convictions just because you sit in a seat like this and a camera starts to stare at you. I think your program has to reflect what your basic feelings are. I’ll plead guilty to that.”

Less than a week before the 1968 election, this same commentator charged that President Nixon’s campaign commitments were no more durable than campaign balloons. He claimed that, were it not for the fear of hostile reaction, Richard Nixon would be giving into, and I quote him exactly, “his natural instinct to smash the enemy with a club or go after him with a meat axe.”

Had this slander been made by one political candidate about another, it would have been dismissed by most commentators as a partisan attack. But this attack emanated from the privileged sanctuary of a network studio and therefore had the apparent dignity of an objective statement. The American people would rightly not tolerate this concentration of power in Government. Is it not fair and relevant to question its concentration in the hands of a tiny, enclosed fraternity of privileged men elected by no one and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by Government?

The views of the majority of this fraternity do not — and I repeat, not — represent the views of America. That is why such a great gulf existed between how the nation received the President’s address and how the networks reviewed it. Not only did the country receive the President’s speech more warmly than the networks, but so also did the Congress of the United States.

Yesterday, the President was notified that 300 individual Congressmen and 50 Senators of both parties had endorsed his efforts for peace. As with other American institutions, perhaps it is time that the networks were made more responsive to the views of the nation and more responsible to the people they serve.

Now I want to make myself perfectly clear. I’m not asking for Government censorship or any other kind of censorship. I am asking whether a form of censorship already exists when the news that 40 million Americans receive each night is determined by a handful of men responsible only to their corporate employers and is filtered through a handful of commentators who admit to their own set of biases.

The question I’m raising here tonight should have been raised by others long ago. They should have been raised by those Americans who have traditionally considered the preservation of freedom of speech and freedom of the press their special provinces of responsibility. They should have been raised by those Americans who share the view of the late Justice Learned Hand that right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues than through any kind of authoritative selection. Advocates for the networks have claimed a First Amendment right to the same unlimited freedoms held by the great newspapers of America.

But the situations are not identical. Where The New York Times reaches 800,000 people, N.B.C. reaches 20 times that number on its evening news. [The average weekday circulation of the Times in October was 1,012,367; the average Sunday circulation was 1,523,558.] Nor can the tremendous impact of seeing television film and hearing commentary be compared with reading the printed page.

A decade ago, before the network news acquired such dominance over public opinion, Walter Lippman spoke to the issue. He said there’s an essential and radical difference between television and printing. The three or four competing television stations control virtually all that can be received over the air by ordinary television sets. But besides the mass circulation dailies, there are weeklies, monthlies, out-of-town newspapers and books. If a man doesn’t like his newspaper, he can read another from out of town or wait for a weekly news magazine. It’s not ideal, but it’s infinitely better than the situation in television.

There, if a man doesn’t like what the networks are showing, all he can do is turn them off and listen to a phonograph. “Networks,” he stated “which are few in number have a virtual monopoly of a whole media of communications.” The newspaper of mass circulation have no monopoly on the medium of print.

Now a virtual monopoly of a whole medium of communication is not something that democratic people should blindly ignore. And we are not going to cut off our television sets and listen to the phonograph just because the airways belong to the networks. They don’t. They belong to the people. As Justice Byron wrote in his landmark opinion six months ago, “It’s the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.”

Now it’s argued that this power presents no danger in the hands of those who have used it responsibly. But as to whether or not the networks have abused the power they enjoy, let us call as our first witness, former Vice President Humphrey and the city of Chicago. According to Theodore White, television’s intercutting of the film from the streets of Chicago with the “current proceedings on the floor of the convention created the most striking and false political picture of 1968 — the nomination of a man for the American Presidency by the brutality and violence of merciless police.”

If we are to believe a recent report of the House of Representative Commerce Committee, then television’s presentation of the violence in the streets worked an injustice on the reputation of the Chicago police. According to the committee findings, one network in particular presented, and I quote, “a one-sided picture which in large measure exonerates the demonstrators and protestors.” Film of provocations of police that was available never saw the light of day, while the film of a police response which the protestors provoked was shown to millions.

Another network showed virtually the same scene of violence from three separate angles without making clear it was the same scene. And, while the full report is reticent in drawing conclusions, it is not a document to inspire confidence in the fairness of the network news. Our knowledge of the impact of network news on the national mind is far from complete, but some early returns are available. Again, we have enough information to raise serious questions about its effect on a democratic society.

Several years ago Fred Friendly, one of the pioneers of network news, wrote that its missing ingredients were conviction, controversy, and a point of view. The networks have compensated with a vengeance.

And in the networks’ endless pursuit of controversy, we should ask: What is the end value — to enlighten or to profit? What is the end result — to inform or to confuse? How does the ongoing exploration for more action, more excitement, more drama serve our national search for internal peace and stability?

Gresham’s Law seems to be operating in the network news. Bad news drives out good news. The irrational is more controversial than the rational. Concurrence can no longer compete with dissent. One minute of Eldrige Cleaver is worth 10 minutes of Roy Wilkins. The labor crisis settled at the negotiating table is nothing compared to the confrontation that results in a strike — or better yet, violence along the picket lines. Normality has become the nemesis of the network news.

Now the upshot of all this controversy is that a narrow and distorted picture of America often emerges from the televised news. A single, dramatic piece of the mosaic becomes in the minds of millions the entire picture. The American who relies upon television for his news might conclude that the majority of American students are embittered radicals; that the majority of black Americans feel no regard for their country; that violence and lawlessness are the rule rather than the exception on the American campus.

We know that none of these conclusions is true.

Perhaps the place to start looking for a credibility gap is not in the offices of the Government in Washington but in the studios of the networks in New York! Television may have destroyed the old stereotypes, but has it not created new ones in their places? What has this “passionate” pursuit of controversy done to the politics of progress through logical compromise essential to the functioning of a democratic society?

The members of Congress or the Senate who follow their principles and philosophy quietly in a spirit of compromise are unknown to many Americans, while the loudest and most extreme dissenters on every issue are known to every man in the street. How many marches and demonstrations would we have if the marchers did not know that the ever-faithful TV cameras would be there to record their antics for the next news show?

We’ve heard demands that Senators and Congressmen and judges make known all their financial connections so that the public will know who and what influences their decisions and their votes. Strong arguments can be made for that view. But when a single commentator or producer, night after night, determines for millions of people how much of each side of a great issue they are going to see and hear, should he not first disclose his personal views on the issue as well?

In this search for excitement and controversy, has more than equal time gone to the minority of Americans who specialize in attacking the United States — its institutions and its citizens?

Tonight I’ve raised questions. I’ve made no attempt to suggest the answers. The answers must come from the media men. They are challenged to turn their critical powers on themselves, to direct their energy, their talent, and their conviction toward improving the quality and objectivity of news presentation. They are challenged to structure their own civic ethics to relate to the great responsibilities they hold.

And the people of America are challenged, too — challenged to press for responsible news presentation. The people can let the networks know that they want their news straight and objective. The people can register their complaints on bias through mail to the networks and phone calls to local stations. This is one case where the people must defend themselves, where the citizen, not the Government, must be the reformer; where the consumer can be the most effective crusader.

By way of conclusion, let me say that every elected leader in the United States depends on these men of the media. Whether what I’ve said to you tonight will be heard and seen at all by the nation is not my decision, it’s not your decision, it’s their decision. In tomorrow’s edition of the Des Moines Register, you’ll be able to read a news story detailing what I’ve said tonight. Editorial comment will be reserved for the editorial page, where it belongs. Should not the same wall of separation exist between news and comment on the nation’s networks?

Now, my friends, we’d never trust such power, as I’ve described, over public opinion in the hands of an elected Government. It’s time we questioned it in the hands of a small unelected elite. The great networks have dominated America’s airwaves for decades. The people are entitled a full accounting their stewardship.”

 

Fuente: American Rethoric

George H.W. Bush anuncia la invasión de Irak

Tal día como hoy de 1991, el presidente George H. W. Bush anunció el fin de las hostilidades en la Guerra del Golfo y pidió a Irak a que aceptara las doce resoluciones del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. Semanas antes, anunciaba al pueblo americano y al mundo entero el inicio de la invasión de Irak. Lo hizo con un discurso televisado desde el Despacho Oval. Este es el discurso que dirigió el presidente.

“While the world waited, Saddam Hussein met every overture of peace with open contempt. While the world prayed for peace, Saddam prepared for war.”

Just 2 hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. These attacks continue as I speak. Ground forces are not engaged.

This conflict started August 2d when the dictator of Iraq invaded a small and helpless neighbor. Kuwait—a member of the Arab League and a member of the United Nations—was crushed; its people, brutalized. Five months ago, Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait. Tonight, the battle has been joined.

This military action, taken in accord with United Nations resolutions and with the consent of the United States Congress, follows months of constant and virtually endless diplomatic activity on the part of the United Nations, the United States, and many, many other countries. Arab leaders sought what became known as an Arab solution, only to conclude that Saddam Hussein was unwilling to leave Kuwait. Others traveled to Baghdad in a variety of efforts to restore peace and justice. Our Secretary of State, James Baker, held an historic meeting in Geneva, only to be totally rebuffed. This past weekend, in a last-ditch effort, the Secretary-General of the United Nations went to the Middle East with peace in his heart—his second such mission. And he came back from Baghdad with no progress at all in getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait.

Now the 28 countries with forces in the Gulf area have exhausted all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful resolution—have no choice but to drive Saddam from Kuwait by force. We will not fail.

As I report to you, air attacks are underway against military targets in Iraq. We are determined to knock out Saddam Hussein’s nuclear bomb potential. We will also destroy his chemical weapons facilities. Much of Saddam’s artillery and tanks will be destroyed. Our operations are designed to best protect the lives of all the coalition forces by targeting Saddam’s vast military arsenal. Initial reports from General Schwarzkopf are that our operations are proceeding according to plan.

Our objectives are clear: Saddam Hussein’s forces will leave Kuwait. The legitimate government of Kuwait will be restored to its rightful place, and Kuwait will once again be free. Iraq will eventually comply with all relevant United Nations resolutions, and then, when peace is restored, it is our hope that Iraq will live as a peaceful and cooperative member of the family of nations, thus enhancing the security and stability of the Gulf.

Some may ask: Why act now? Why not wait? The answer is clear: The world could wait no longer. Sanctions, though having some effect, showed no signs of accomplishing their objective. Sanctions were tried for well over 5 months, and we and our allies concluded that sanctions alone would not force Saddam from Kuwait.

While the world waited, Saddam Hussein systematically raped, pillaged, and plundered a tiny nation, no threat to his own. He subjected the people of Kuwait to unspeakable atrocities—and among those maimed and murdered, innocent children.

While the world waited, Saddam sought to add to the chemical weapons arsenal he now possesses, an infinitely more dangerous weapon of mass destruction—a nuclear weapon. And while the world waited, while the world talked peace and withdrawal, Saddam Hussein dug in and moved massive forces into Kuwait.

While the world waited, while Saddam stalled, more damage was being done to the fragile economies of the Third World, emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, to the entire world, including to our own economy.

The United States, together with the United Nations, exhausted every means at our disposal to bring this crisis to a peaceful end. However, Saddam clearly felt that by stalling and threatening and defying the United Nations, he could weaken the forces arrayed against him.

While the world waited, Saddam Hussein met every overture of peace with open contempt. While the world prayed for peace, Saddam prepared for war.

I had hoped that when the United States Congress, in historic debate, took its resolute action, Saddam would realize he could not prevail and would move out of Kuwait in accord with the United Nation resolutions. He did not do that. Instead, he remained intransigent, certain that time was on his side.

Saddam was warned over and over again to comply with the will of the United Nations: Leave Kuwait, or be driven out. Saddam has arrogantly rejected all warnings. Instead, he tried to make this a dispute between Iraq and the United States of America.

Well, he failed. Tonight, 28 nations—countries from 5 continents, Europe and Asia, Africa, and the Arab League—have forces in the Gulf area standing shoulder to shoulder against Saddam Hussein. These countries had hoped the use of force could be avoided. Regrettably, we now believe that only force will make him leave.

Prior to ordering our forces into battle, I instructed our military commanders to take every necessary step to prevail as quickly as possible, and with the greatest degree of protection possible for American and allied service men and women. I’ve told the American people before that this will not be another Vietnam, and I repeat this here tonight. Our troops will have the best possible support in the entire world, and they will not be asked to fight with one hand tied behind their back. I’m hopeful that this fighting will not go on for long and that casualties will be held to an absolute minimum.

This is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great progress in ending the long era of conflict and cold war. We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order—a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations. When we are successful—and we will be—we have a real chance at this new world order, an order in which a credible United Nations can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the U.N.’s founders.

We have no argument with the people of Iraq. Indeed, for the innocents caught in this conflict, I pray for their safety. Our goal is not the conquest of Iraq. It is the liberation of Kuwait. It is my hope that somehow the Iraqi people can, even now, convince their dictator that he must lay down his arms, leave Kuwait, and let Iraq itself rejoin the family of peace-loving nations.

Thomas Paine wrote many years ago: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Those well-known words are so very true today. But even as planes of the multinational forces attack Iraq, I prefer to think of peace, not war. I am convinced not only that we will prevail but that out of the horror of combat will come the recognition that no nation can stand against a world united, no nation will be permitted to brutally assault its neighbor.

No President can easily commit our sons and daughters to war. They are the Nation’s finest. Ours is an all-volunteer force, magnificently trained, highly motivated. The troops know why they’re there. And listen to what they say, for they’ve said it better than any President or Prime Minister ever could.

Listen to Hollywood Huddleston, Marine lance corporal. He says, “Let’s free these people, so we can go home and be free again.” And he’s right. The terrible crimes and tortures committed by Saddam’s henchmen against the innocent people of Kuwait are an affront to mankind and a challenge to the freedom of all.

Listen to one of our great officers out there, Marine Lieutenant General Walter Boomer. He said: “There are things worth fighting for. A world in which brutality and lawlessness are allowed to go unchecked isn’t the kind of world we’re going to want to live in.”

Listen to Master Sergeant J.P. Kendall of the 82d Airborne: “We’re here for more than just the price of a gallon of gas. What we’re doing is going to chart the future of the world for the next 100 years. It’s better to deal with this guy now than 5 years from now.”

And finally, we should all sit up and listen to Jackie Jones, an Army lieutenant, when she says, “If we let him get away with this, who knows what’s going to be next?”

I have called upon Hollywood and Walter and J.P. and Jackie and all their courageous comrades-in-arms to do what must be done. Tonight, America and the world are deeply grateful to them and to their families. And let me say to everyone listening or watching tonight: When the troops we’ve sent in finish their work, I am determined to bring them home as soon as possible.

Tonight, as our forces fight, they and their families are in our prayers. May God bless each and every one of them, and the coalition forces at our side in the Gulf, and may He continue to bless our nation, the United States of America.

Fuente: Miller Centre of Public Affairs

“O están con nosotros. O están con los terroristas”

El 20 de septiembre de 2001, nueve días más tarde del ataque terrorista a las Torres Gemelas en Nueva York, el presidente Bush se dirigió al Congreso en sesión conjunta. El tejano, que había sido elegido bajo la duda del fraude electoral y que era percibido como un novato sin experiencia en política exterior y defensa, dio el paso adelante que necesitaba su presidencia. En ese discurso marcó la política exterior norteamericana para su mandato. La lucha contra el terror, como pretexto para tantos abusos como luego cometieron, tuvo su puesta de largo en este impresionante discurso de George W. Bush.

“We Are a Country Awakened to Danger and Called to Defend Freedom.”

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tempore, members of Congress, and fellow Americans, in the normal course of events, presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the union. Tonight, no such report is needed; it has already been delivered by the American people.

We have seen it in the courage of passengers who rushed terrorists to save others on the ground. Passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer. And would you please help me welcome his wife, Lisa Beamer, here tonight?

We have seen the state of our union in the endurance of rescuers working past exhaustion.

We’ve seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made the grief of strangers their own.

My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our union, and it is strong.

Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.

I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time.

All of America was touched on the evening of the tragedy to see Republicans and Democrats joined together on the steps of this Capitol singing “God Bless America.”

And you did more than sing. You acted, by delivering $40 billion to rebuild our communities and meet the needs of our military. Speaker [Dennis] Hastert, Minority Leader [Richard] Gephardt, Majority Leader [Thomas] Daschle and Senator [Trent] Lott, I thank you for your friendship, for your leadership and for your service to our country.

And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of support.

America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris and at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.

We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo.

We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America.

Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our own. Dozens of Pakistanis, more than 130 Israelis, more than 250 citizens of India, men and women from El Salvador, Iran, Mexico and Japan, and hundreds of British citizens.

America has no truer friend than Great Britain.

Once again, we are joined together in a great cause.

I’m so honored the British prime minister had crossed an ocean to show his unity with America. Thank you for coming, friend.

On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war, but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.

Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians.

All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.

Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking, “Who attacked our country?”

The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are some of the murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.

Al Qaeda is to terror what the Mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money, its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics, a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.

The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children.

This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad [and] the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.

They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.

The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan we see al Qaeda’s vision for the world. Afghanistan’s people have been brutalized, many are starving and many have fled.

Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.

The United States respects the people of Afghanistan — after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid — but we condemn the Taliban regime.

It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists.

By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder. And tonight the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban:

Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land.

Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. And hand over every terrorist and every person and their support structure to appropriate authorities.

Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating.

These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.

The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself.

The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.

It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

Americans are asking, “Why do they hate us?”

They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us because we stand in their way.

We’re not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They’re the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.

Americans are asking, “How will we fight and win this war?”

We will direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network.

Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.

We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.

And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.

From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our nation has been put on notice. We’re not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans.

Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security.

These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. So tonight, I announce the creation of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me, the Office of Homeland Security.

And tonight, I also announce a distinguished American to lead this effort, to strengthen American security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a true patriot, a trusted friend, Pennsylvania’s Tom Ridge.

He will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come.

These measures are essential. The only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it and destroy it where it grows.

Many will be involved in this effort, from FBI agents, to intelligence operatives, to the reservists we have called to active duty. All deserve our thanks, and all have our prayers.

And tonight a few miles from the damaged Pentagon, I have a message for our military: Be ready. I have called the armed forces to alert, and there is a reason.

The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.

This is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom.

This is the world’s fight. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

We ask every nation to join us.

We will ask and we will need the help of police forces, intelligence services and banking systems around the world. The United States is grateful that many nations and many international organizations have already responded with sympathy and with support — nations from Latin America to Asia to Africa to Europe to the Islamic world.

Perhaps the NATO charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An attack on one is an attack on all. The civilized world is rallying to America’s side.

They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror unanswered can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments.

And you know what? We’re not going to allow it.

Americans are asking, “What is expected of us?”

I ask you to live your lives and hug your children.

I know many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.

I ask you to uphold the values of America and remember why so many have come here.

We’re in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith.

I ask you to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions. Those who want to give can go to a central source of information, libertyunites.org, to find the names of groups providing direct help in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The thousands of FBI agents who are now at work in this investigation may need your cooperation, and I ask you to give it. I ask for your patience with the delays and inconveniences that may accompany tighter security and for your patience in what will be a long struggle.

I ask [for] your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity; they did not touch its source.

America is successful because of the hard work and creativity and enterprise of our people. These were the true strengths of our economy before September 11th, and they are our strengths today.

And finally, please continue praying for the victims of terror and their families, for those in uniform and for our great country. Prayer has comforted us in sorrow and will help strengthen us for the journey ahead.

Tonight I thank my fellow Americans for what you have already done and for what you will do.

And, ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, I thank you, their representatives, for what you have already done and for what we will do together.

Tonight we face new and sudden national challenges.

We will come together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air marshals on domestic flights and take new measures to prevent hijacking.

We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying with direct assistance during this emergency.

We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home.

We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act and to find them before they strike.

We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America’s economy and put our people back to work.

Tonight, we welcome two leaders who embody the extraordinary spirit of all New Yorkers, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As a symbol of America’s resolve, my administration will work with Congress and these two leaders to show the world that we will rebuild New York City.

After all that has just passed, all the lives taken and all the possibilities and hopes that died with them, it is natural to wonder if America’s future is one of fear.

Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead and dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them.

As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty here and across the world.

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment.

Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us.

Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail.

It is my hope that in the months and years ahead life will return almost to normal. We’ll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good.

Even grief recedes with time and grace.

But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day and to whom it happened. We will remember the moment the news came, where we were and what we were doing.

Some will remember an image of a fire or story or rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others.

It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. It is my reminder of lives that ended and a task that does not end.

I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

Fellow citizens, we’ll meet violence with patient justice, assured of the rightness of our cause and confident of the victories to come.

In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom and may He watch over the United States of America.

Thank you.

Chistes para ganar una guerra

A principios de la década de los ochenta, la Guerra Fría estaba a punto de llegar a su fin. Muchos piensan que fue el colapso de la economía soviética o la insostenible carrera armamentística a la que se vio empujada la Unión Soviética por iniciativas como la Guerra de las Galaxias. Lo piensan y tienen razón. Pero desde el mundo de la comunicación, se dio una estocada mortal. Un golpe que vino en forma de chiste.

Seguramente, para estrategas como Clausewitz no entraría en su abanico de posibilidades la opción de ganar una guerra a través del humor. Si la mejor defensa, para Clausewitz, es la propia defensa, el humor más que defensivo puede ser una afilada herramienta. Como se suele decir, la mejor defensa, el ataque.

Ronald Reagan se aplicó la lección. Mientras ordenaba aumentar el gasto militar y acercaba posiciones con los aires de reforma de la Perestroika de Gorbachov, no dudaba en usar chistes sobre las condiciones de vida al este del Telón de Acero. Con ironía y sarcasmo desarmaba al que, años atrás, generaba miedo en una generación entera de norteamericanos que temían terminar sus días bajo una mesa de colegio mientras esperaban la explosión de la bomba nuclear.

El humor es una potente herramienta de comunicación. Pero debemos saber cuando usarlo. Para ello, Reagan supo tomarle el pulso al momento histórico que estaba viviendo. O sea, no es lo mismo recurrir al sarcasmo cuando se cree estar en superioridad con el enemigo y entendiendo que la opinión pública puede entender el recurso al humor, a hacerlo en momentos más débiles. Por ejemplo, con los #AguirreFacts o si ahora, con la que está cayendo, a Rajoy le diera por contar chistes del tipo “Un español, un griego y un alemán se van de cañas. ¿Quién paga?”

Los últimos años del comunismo recibieron del bando opuesto la burla y la carcajada. Los chistes de su comandante en jefe se hicieron famosos y su enorme carisma generó una idea imbatible en la mente de los americanos: el enemigo ya no era tal. Los años posteriores a la caída del Muro hicieron lo suyo para ello pero, ¿cuanta responsabilidad tienen los chistes de Reagan en hacer que el miedo se disolviera como un azucarillo en un café?

El discurso del general Patton

El general George S. Patton hijo dirigió este discurso a los hombres del Tercer Regimiento de Estados Unidos el día antes de la invasión de Normandía, el célebre día D, durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Un ejemplo claro de lo que una arenga puede y debe hacer entre una entregada masa.

Patton, a diferencia de muchos oradores contemporáneos, no usaba notas o apuntes. Ni mucho menos telepromters. Siempre se dirigía a sus hombres con un lenguaje coloquial, directo. “No se puede dirigir un ejército sin palabras malsonantes; tiene que utilizarse un lenguaje elocuentemente informal”, solía afirmar.

“Me ocuparé personalmente de acabar con ese cabrón hijoputa de Hitler”

You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

“La idea misma de perder es odiosa para un norteamericano”

You are not all going to die, only two percent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he’s not, he’s a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base. Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men. Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen.

“El auténtico héroe es el hombre que lucha aunque tenga miedo.”

[…]All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain. What if every truck driver suddenly decided that he didn’t like the whine of those shells overhead, turned yellow, and jumped headlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, “Hell, they won’t miss me, just one man in thousands”. But, what if every man thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now? What would our country, our loved ones, our homes, even the world, be like? No, Goddamnit, Americans don’t think like that. Every man does his job. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war.

[…]Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!

[…]There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, “Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.” No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, “Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!

Un presidente con salud de hierro

Publicado hoy en La Vanguardia.

Un presidente con salud de hierro.


Obama ha hecho historia. Aunque la reacción en sectores importantes de la sociedad americana es que Obama debería ser ya historia. La suya ha sido siempre una decisión arriesgada y durante todo el proceso ha demostrado que los líderes de verdad están hechos de una pasta especial. No se achantan. No se repliegan ante la primera adversidad. Por ello, aunque muchos deseen que éste sea otro presidente de un solo mandato, lo cierto es que el comandante en jefe no cesa en su empeño de superar barreras, batir marcas y seguir su senda para cumplir con lo prometido.

No lo olvidemos: la reforma sanitaria fue uno de los mensajes clave en campaña. Fue, entre otros temas y propuestas, los que llevaron a millones de personas a las urnas por primera vez. Sólo un movimiento, y no una candidatura al uso, podía incorporar a tantos nuevos votantes. Y sólo los movimientos, con un liderazgo fuerte, pueden acometer reformas de calado. Parece como si a muchos, especialmente durante la tramitación de la ley, les hubiese molestado que el presidente quisiera cumplir con la palabra dada. Quizás otros políticos hacen del caso omiso su bandera, pero no es así en esta Casa Blanca.

“No rehuimos nuestras responsabilidades, las abrazamos. No nos acobardamos ante el futuro, le hemos dado forma”, dijo Obama en su comparecencia tras la aprobación de la ley en la Cámara de Representantes. Responsabilidades para con su país, con la gente. Con los 32 millones de americanos que tendrán a partir de ahora cobertura sanitaria. Aunque para algunos, la opción de Obama es suicida para con su partido: este noviembre las cámaras se renovarán parcialmente y los efectos de esta reforma podrían dañar a la presidencia. Quizás la opción fácil hubiese sido desistir y hacer caso a los cálculos electorales, pero este domingo se respiró en el Capitolio y en el Ala Oeste lo que hace distinto a esta ley: es una decisión histórica.

Por ello, el tono del presidente no escondió triunfalismo, alegría y ambición. Un acontecimiento histórico merece ser tratado como tal. No se escapó ni un detalle: Obama siguió la votación desde la sala que lleva el nombre de quién inició la cobertura social en Estados Unidos, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Y así lo hizo constar el secretario de prensa de Obama mediante un tweet: “POTUS watched vote in room aptly named for president who started this – cheers and clapping at 216 – high five for Rahm, hugs all around”.

No olvidemos que no es sólo una decisión histórica, de calado y con fuertes implicaciones para la ciudadanía e importantes sectores económicos del país. La decisión muestra una vez más el triunfo de un estilo muy alejado de Washington. Algo así como cambiar el sistema desde el sistema. Esta reforma sería inconcebible con otros presidentes. Tal y como desgranó el líder de la mayoría, la promesa de una reforma sanitaria ha venido del brazo de casi todos los presidentes de los últimos años, pero sólo aquel que basó su posicionamiento como outsider al modo de hacer política en la capital, ha conseguido realmente su cometido. El cambio, ya decía el presidente, no viene de Washington: va a Washington.

Esa parte conceptual, que rebosa retórica, tendrá que ser explicada a muchos congresistas. Porque quizás Obama vea como su mayoría en las cámaras se pierde en noviembre, pero con esta ley en su haber tendrá la fuerza necesaria para poder batallar por esos distritos. Para volver a contar eso de la necesidad de hacer sentir las voces de la gente en una democracia. Seguramente, esa cobertura del presidente sea una de las contrapartidas arrancadas a la Casa Blanca por parte de muchos congresistas demócratas. Esta ley hace más bien que mal al presidente y, según la filiación de cada uno, más mal que bien al país: deberán hacer un gran esfuerzo en el Ala Oeste para rentabilizar esa victoria y convencer a los que aún creen que ayer Estados Unidos dio un paso hacia el comunismo.