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Introducing THE RAW MACHINE!
The following were
the opening remarks at the January 12, 2008 debut performance of The Raw Machine
at Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill, NJ
“These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions.”
It was exactly 1 year, to the day, after this famous address that Dr. King’s life was cut down by bullet fire. But today we carry his legacy forward as we struggle against a new war that while different in many ways from the Vietnam war, is also similar in many ways.
Welcome also to this debut performance of our band, the RAW Machine! RAW, that’s WAR spelled backwards, and that’s because our aim is to reverse . . . or end . . .. the war. RAW also is an acronym . . . For Revo . . . as in Revolutionary . . . Anti-War. We are anti . . .the War Machine. A war machine that will cost us $2.4 trillion, not billion, but $2.4 trillion, on the Iraq war . . . and that is not even the highest estimate.
Let me introduce you to the personnel. We got <permission pending> on lead and rhythm guitar and vocals. He is probably also Montgomery Township’s foremost expert on the Beatles. Please give it up for <permission pending>. We got <permission pending>, hitting the drums and adding some death metal vocals. We got <permission pending> helping us pipe the high notes on vocals. And then there’s me, Robert Colby-Witanek, filling in on bass, keys, violin, vocals and social commentary. And of course, there’s THE MANAGER . . .Bob Witanek, also stepping up to play 2 or 3 notes on the bass guitar occasionally.
Tonight we hope to confront each of you with the ugly truth about the policies of US government in Iraq. We realize that you might not all be in total agreement with everything we say and do tonight. We anticipate that what we sing and what we do up here might make some of you a little uncomfortable. If so, we have accomplished something.
We ask that you hear us out and think about the ideas that we put forward. We ask that you review your opinions and beliefs systems about this policy. And hopefully some of you will be moved to take a more active role in helping to bring about an end to the war.
For those of you who are musicians and who agree with stopping the war . . . The RAW Machine is a musical entourage in formation. We are looking for all sorts of performers, other instrumentalists, dancers, actors, promoters, organizers. Please see me if you are interested. The hand outs have a few ways to contact me . . . phone, e-mail, im, myspace.
Speaking of the hand outs . . . let me review the pages for you. The first page includes a description of the program, the personnel, a little about our efforts and some other music initiatives. etc. It also includes information about the schools out ensemble. Many of you were part of that last year – and probably remember the good time we had. Let me know if we should do that again – this time doing a better job with distributing the sound across the various pieces of the ensemble and tightening up the venue, etc. Let me know if you want to do this again so we can make arrangements for a proper venue and start the preps.
On page two is a brief list of facts on Iraq which I wrote – I will go into a little more detail in this presentation. Pages 3 and 4 are the lyrics of some of the originals we provide tonight.
Before we get into our music, I want to review a few facts with you.
Why did government say it started war with Iraq?
The government says that it started war with Iraq because they thought Iraq was creating weapons of mass destruction, and because the government accused Iraq of being involved in the September 11 attack. These reasons were not true.
The government talks to us, adults included, as if we are all children. It tells us about evil doers. They tell us tales about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It spins fictions about nuclear weapons development in Iran. Made up stories about Iraqi ties to 9-11. And we watch FOX network and other media . . . who unquestionably report these stories . . . . and swallow the lies. The government talks to us like children. We, the children, will talk to you, other children and adults, as if you are adults who CAN handle the truth!
What are real reasons?
The real reasons are that the government wanted to control the oil in Iraq, and they wanted to take over. Now it looks like they plan permanent occupation. The US economy is taking a beating . . . most lately with the mortgage scandals. The US was hoping that by controlling the oil flow from Iraq it could gain economic clout with all the nations depending on Iraqi oil – that is why it is trying to impose the oil law on Iraq to allow foreign companies to own and control oil development in Iraq, which was illegal previously.
DEAD IRAQIS FROM SANCTIONS
According to the United Nations (UNESCO), 1 million Iraqis, half of them children between ages 1 – 5, died from the effects of sanctions that were in place from 1991-2003 based upon the same fiction of weapons of mass destruction that was the false lie that the government used to lead this nation into war with Iraq.
DEAD IRAQIS DIRECT AND INDIRECT FROM WAR
The Lancet group, did a scientific peer-reviewed study in 2006, and according to this scientific group, 655,000 Iraqis have likely died since the 2003 invasion, but it is possible that 942,636 Iraqis died as of October 11, 2006. Some estimates are as high as 1.2 million dead Iraqis from the effect of the war since 2003.
One hundred twenty two thousand children died in Iraq in 2005 before reaching their fifth birthday. Pneumonia and diarrhea are common causes of these deaths of children in Iraq. There has been a 37% increase in the infant mortality rate in Iraq since 2003.
ORPHANS IN IRAQ
According to an Iraqi government agency known as the anti-corruption board, there are currently 5 million Iraqi orphaned children due to the war. Think for a moment . . . kids in Montgomery will freak if they lose their cell phone privileges! Imagine 5 million children losing their parents to the morgues or separated by the sectarian war, being separated from their parents.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 60,000 Iraqis are forced from their homes every month. As of September, 2007, there were 4.4 million displaced Iraqis, half of them within Iraq and the other half as refugees in neighboring countries and beyond. They are essentially homeless, without adequate food, water, shelter, stricken with sickness and all of the other results of a horrid refugee crisis.
US GIs lives lost and injured?
There have been almost 4000 US soldier death casualties in Iraq, and almost 30,000 are injured. In 2005, 6256 veterans committed suicide, and 1 in 4 homeless people in the US are veterans. Horrible conditions have been documented in veterans’ hospitals and treatment facilities, and veterans often have to fight to get the treatment they need.
Cost in money?
The US spent $604 billion so far. Over the next decade, the wars might cost $2.4 trillion, according to the Congressional Office of Management and Budget. And that is not even the highest estimate.
What domestic problems are not being addressed that this money can be spent on instead?
The infant mortality rate in the US is five children per thousand and the money should be spent on health care instead of on this war. The health care crisis is a disaster for many. Gasoline costs are likely to increase to $4 per gallon causing a ripple throughout the economy as the oil companies reap record profits every quarter. Someone got to break that math down for me. The mortgage crisis spins out of control. New Orleans remains a disaster and our Guard is AWOL for each domestic disaster since they are all deployed in Iraq.
How can this affect young people directly?
With all the money is spent on war, the cost of health care and college will be more expensive, and the young and the poor are the ones who get recruited. The armed forces are strained with the current war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan as the US prepares for escalations into Iran and possibly Pakistan – there is a slowly growing call to bring back the draft, which is a requirement for young people to serve in the armed forces.
Who will stop the war?
The Republicans are clearly for the war, and the Democrats are voting for the funding. People think that this is Bush’s war, but it is really the Bush-Pelosi war. Clinton, Obama and Edwards have all stated that they likely would not have the US out of Iraq by the end of their first terms. It is up to us, the youth, to stop the war.
How will RAW Machine continue to work against the wars?
The RAW Machine will work against the war by raising awareness through our music, and by encouraging others to speak out against the war.