20. BERTRAND RUSSELL

Closing Address to the Stockholm Session

The International War Crimes Tribunal has been subject to abuse from people who have much to hide. It has been said that the conclusions of this Tribunal were known in advance. The conclusions of our Tribunal are built out of the evidence. The evidence is abundant. It is precisely because the knowledge of crime is a cause for inquiry that we are holding this session. When the evidence on aggression and the systematic bombardment of the entire population of Vietnam becomes known to the public, we are in no doubt that all men of integrity who examine this evidence will be compelled to reach the same conclusions.
     During recent days the United States has been bombing residential quarters of Hanoi and Haiphong with steel pellet bombs. These facts are reported in newspapers throughout the world. These actions are criminal. They must be investigated because of the evidence that they are occurring and because of their criminality. Those who are prepared to investigate these new crimes against the people of Vietnam will be men of sufficient public spirit, moral concern and personal integrity to be prepared to consider the crimes in Vietnam cause to abandon private work, endure public abuse and risk personal harm.
     We have heard evidence for many days on the sustained aggression by a great power against a small, heroic people. A large power has occupied an impoverished nation to subdue a popular movement seeking land, independence and social advance. It is not the evil which is new; nor is it the crisis which has changed. We have celebrated in history the struggles waged by oppressed people against large, cruel and powerful invaders. The sense of identity with the small victim of a cruel and large tormenter touches our deepest impulses and is part of our mythology, religion and literature. The concern for the weak struggling after long suffering against the strong for their simplest rights is the source of our ethics and the great moments in our common history. {186} David and Goliath, the Greeks at Salamis, the Vietnamese and Genghis Khan - the partisans of Vietnam and the United States air force and mechanized army - are part of a continuous tradition.
     The International War Crimes Tribunal defies the powerful rulers who bully and butcher with abandon. Who would compare the 100,000 tons of napalm with a peasant holding a rifle? Who can fail to distinguish the power which destroys the hospitals and schools of an entire people from the defenders who attack the aeroplanes carrying napalm and steel fragmentation bombs? The difference between the victims and the criminals who oppress them is part of the evidence before us compelling honest men to speak loudly and to risk much.
     The United States is using fascist states to facilitate its plans for new levels of crime. Each day bombers leave Thailand to saturate Vietnam in steel pellets and liquid fire. Has one American city been attacked? Are Canada and Mexico bases for the destruction of America by a power on the other side of the world? If one American city suffered two hours of bombing such as has been inflicted for two years on Vietnam the world press would inform us rather fully. This imbalance is a clear indication of the great injustice we are investigating. The difference in power is matched by the indifference of the powerful and those who serve them or depend on their favour.
     During the 1930s, when millions of people could see the nature of Adolf Hitler and Nazism, there was too little understanding and insufficient will to act in time. In Germany there were no great strikes or mass demonstrations. The large political parties opposed only in words but did not mobilize their large support. Even now the great political parties fail to act and the nominal opponents of the aggressive violence of the United States satisfy themselves with pious complaint in institutions dominated by the aggressor.
     Nazism emerged from a nation unable to stabilize itself and degenerated to unforeseen limits of depravity. The policy of aggression in Washington has brought a comparable degree of scientific extermination and moral degeneracy. The International War Crimes Tribunal must do for the peoples of Vietnam, Asia, Africa and Latin America what no tribunal did while Nazi crimes {187} were committed and plotted. The napalm and pellet bombs, the systematic destruction of a heroic people are a barbarous rehearsal. The starving and the suffering will no longer die in silence. We must discredit the arrogant demand that they protect our comfort with their quiet agony. Our social institutions, impregnated with racism, must be reconstructed. The Tribunal must begin a new morality in the West, in which cold mechanical slaughter will be automatically condemned. The Tribunal must inspire a new understanding that the heroic are the oppressed and the hateful are the arrogant rulers who would bleed them for generations or bomb them into the Stone Age. The Tribunal must warn of the impending horror in many lands, the new atrocities prepared now in Vietnam and of the global struggle between the poor and the powerful rich. These are themes as old as humanity. The long arduous struggle for decency and for liberation is unending. A Tribunal such as ours will be necessary until the last starving man is fed and a way of life is created which ends exploitation of the many by the few. Vietnam struggles so others may survive. The truths we must declare are simple truths. Great violence menaces our cultural achievements. Starvation and disease cannot be tolerated. Resistance at risk of life is noble. But we know this. Western Europe and North America are drenched in the blood of struggle for social change. Feudalism, the reduction of men to starving hulks, the purchase of their minds, the eradication of their spirit - these are blights on human culture. These are vicious forms of aggression at once more fundamental and more pervasive than the crossing of frontiers by foot soldiers. Wherever men struggle against suffering we must be their voice. Whenever they are cruelly attacked for their self-sacrifice we must find our voices. It is easy to pay lip-service to these ideals. We will be judged not by our reputations or our pretences but by our will to act. Against this standard we too will be judged by better men. {188}{189}{190}
 

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