Robert Redford against the war

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at
Tue Dec 3 03:34:03 MST 2002

Robert Redford urges a different kind of patriotism

Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Tuesday December 3, 2002
The Guardian

The actor and director Robert Redford has accused President Bush of pursuing
a "dangerous and self-defeating" path in the Middle East and asserted that
true American patriotism lies in reducing the country's dependence on oil.

Redford is the latest public figure to attack the Bush administration's
policy on Iraq and call for a new definition of patriotism.

"The Bush White House talks tough on military matters in the Middle East
while remaining virtually silent about the long-term problems posed by US
dependence on fossil fuels," Redford writes in an article in the Los Angeles
Times. "The Bush administration's energy policy to date - a military
garrison in the Middle East and drilling for oil in the Arctic and other
fragile habitats - is costly, dangerous and self-defeating."

Redford asserts that "weaning our nation from fossil fuels should be
understood as the most patriotic policy to which we can commit ourselves".

He attacks the "absence of leadership" on the issue and writes that the
current policy on oil would "guarantee homeland insecurity".

Redford, star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, accepts
that the political climate may be unsympathetic to such an argument.

"To get the United States off fossil fuels in this uneasy national climate
of terrorism and conflict in the Persian Gulf we must treat the issue with
the urgency and persistence it deserves."

He argues that changes in petrol consumption are essential and that the
government should have the courage to embrace the changes. "Big challenges
require bold action and leadership," he writes.

Redford argues that the US policy on energy "creates political liabilities
overseas" and makes the country a leading contributor to global warning.

Other well-known names have also challenged the Bush administration's calls
to patriotic support for the war.

TV host Jerry Springer said recently that a true patriot would be opposing
the threat of war in Iraq because such a war would create a new generation
of people who hated the US. A former politician and a Democrat, he said that
most Americans were concerned about threats from al-Qaida and Osama bin
Laden but not about Saddam Hussein.

Many public figures have been slow to criticise the war plans for fear of
being called unpatriotic but there are a growing number of exceptions.

The actor Sean Penn has taken out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to
question President Bush's motives and policies. Others, including Susan
Sarandon, Marisa Tomei, Kurt Vonnegut and Steve Earle have signed similar
challenges to the war in the national media. The actor Woody Harrelson
expressed his opposition in an article in the Guardian last month.

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