March 17-19 Iraq War Protests


I’m listening to an MLK speech from 1967, where King says that the United States, at that point, had committed “more war crimes than almost any other nation.”

'Obey or Die' by Christopher Brown - more at Peace Vigil Paintings

This little girl’s parents were killed at a checkpoint in Iraq. Conservative estimates of Iraqi deaths are 76,000 to 94,000 verified media reported deaths. Separate survey techniques studies estimate 75,000 to 125,000 Iraqi deaths since 2003. Victory in Iraq is a mass media lie. The military presence continues to fuel violence. When the armed forces leave Iraq, Iraqis can begin to assert control over their own destinies, rebuild their country, reconstruct their social institutions and improve the security and welfare for all Iraqis.

Add 44 years of invasions, CIA-engineered coups, and occupations, from Vietnam through Afghanistan.  Add the development of weapons and training for modern counter-insurgency — night vision, drones, depleted uranium, cluster bombs — means that an even higher percentage of civilians are dying and suffering in these aggressive wars the U.S. pursues.

People, it’s time to put political opposition to these wars back on the map, in a mass, visible, and determined way. Veterans for Peace kicked off something very significant last December 16, with mass civil resistance at the White House, as Barack Obama gave his report on the war in Afghanistan.  Leah Bolger, Vice President of Veterans for Peace, captured the mood in Failure to Obey a Lawful Order:

Although it is we who were treated like criminals—handcuffed, arrested and charged, we are not the ones ordering drone strikes or sending in troops. We are not the ones using illegal weapons and poisoning the earth. We are not the ones with blood on our hands. The real criminals continue unabated, shamelessly claiming that they are “making progress,” and unabashedly announcing that they plan to continue their crimes for many years to come.

The next nodal point for our efforts to STOP these wars is the anniversary of the Shock & Awe on Baghdad, March 19, 2003.  A war begun on the basis of monstrous lies against a country weakened already by 15 years of sanctions, brought tremendous loss of civilian life.

Chris Floyd brings some of that home to us in A World in Flames: the Endless Echoes of America’s Atrocities where he continues his series on the American use of chemical weapons in the assault on Fallujah, just after George Bush was re-selected in 2004.

Even without the WMD, the attack itself was one of the most horrific events of the still-unfolding act of aggression in Iraq. Presented in the U.S. press as an old-fashioned, gung-ho, WWII-style “battle,” it was in fact a mass slaughter, largely of trapped civilians; almost all of the “terrorists” and “insurgents” in the city had long escaped during the months-long, oddly public build-up to the assault. It seemed clear that the intent was not to quash an insurgent nest, as stated, but to perpetrate an act of condign, collective punishment — primarily against civilians — in order to terrorize the rest of Iraq into submission…

Vets for Peace Leah Bolger at the White House fence December 16th

Vets for Peace Leah Bolger at the White House fence December 16th

Larry Everest, writing in Revolution, continues digging into the U.S. diplomatic cable releases in WikiLeaks Files Shine Light on U.S. Accountability for Torture in Iraq. One cable released in November shows

beyond doubt that the U.S. military in Iraq and the U.S.-controlled Iraqi army were given an official green light for the systematic use of torture, as well the cover up of those war crimes…The WikiLeaks files reveal that prisoners were also routinely burned with cigarettes, electrocuted, raped, and beaten with any available implement, such as steel rods, wire cables, television antennas, chains, water pipes, fan belts, and rubber hoses, as well as fists and feet. Some were executed.

Stepping out boldly in protest this March against this legacy is more important than ever.  We know from our work that many people living in this country think the Iraq war is “over” because some troops were moved to Afghanistan, and the trail of dead U.S. military has slowed.  The occupation, still 50,000 U.S. troops strong, with added combat capability of U.S. State Department troops, and tens of thousands of private contractors in 17 U.S. bases, is huge and permanent.  Unless it is exposed and stopped by U.S. public opinion and action.

On the 8th anniversary of U.S. war on Iraq, we strengthen our demand to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and the secret bombing and black operations of Pakistan and Yemen.

In U.S. Raids: High Tech Terror in Afghanistan, Everest looks into what the U.S. diplomatic cables say about the US forces occupying Afghanistan. One example:

A January 19, 2009 cable describes the outcry after “at least six operations since mid-December” led to charges of “civilian casualties” and “wrongful detentions.” The cable also reports, “Two special operations missions in December 2008 in Arghandab district allegedly displaced up to 200 families, who fled to Qalat [a town of some 10,000 people and the capital of Zabul province].” (“WikiLeaks cables: Afghan elders threaten to display civilian victims’ bodies,” Guardian UK, December 3, 2010)

In case you missed the tremendously down-played Pentagon announcement, Obama just sent more troops to Afghanistan.  Ken Theisen, in Obama Escalates War in Afghanistan

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal on January 6, 2011, President Obama is planning on a further escalation of the U.S. war of terror in Afghanistan. Obama’s “surge” will bring the total of U.S. forces in this war ravaged nation to almost 100,000.  The Journal reports that, “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to send an additional 1,400 Marine combat forces to Afghanistan…”

Here are things you can do the next two months:

  • We Are Not Your SoldiersMarch 17-19, that’s a Thursday through Saturday, will be protest days in Washington D.C., organized by the ANSWER Coalition, Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait, and other groups.  Start making your plans now to mark that anniversary, in DC, or wherever you can be visible.
  • There are high school students to reach out to.  World Can’t Wait is putting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on tour, leading up to the anniversary, and has resources available now through the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour.
  • Troops are being deployed to Afghanistan all this spring.  Don’t they and their families need to hear from us that they’re going to an illegitimate, unjust, immoral war, and they can resist!
  • Drones are being manufactured and controlled around the U.S.  Protests are ongoing against their use, and you can join them.
  • Bradley Manning may be put before a military court in March 2011.  Stay tuned for the ways in which you can support the person the U.S. charges as a whistle blower on these illegitimate wars of occupation.

Obey or Die

Obey or Die. This little girl’s parents were killed at a checkpoint in Iraq. Conservative estimates of Iraqi deaths are 76,000 to 94,000 verified media reported deaths. Separate survey techniques studies estimate 75,000 to 125,000 Iraqi deaths since 2003.

Victory in Iraq is a mass media lie. The military presence continues to fuel violence. When the armed forces leave Iraq, Iraqis can begin to assert control over their own destinies, rebuild their country, reconstruct their social institutions and improve the security and welfare for all Iraqis.

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  1. #1 by Ray Kemp on January 18, 2011 - 2:19 pm

    I marched in Washington after 1000 soldiers died in Iraq, and I must mention the thousands of innocent Iraqi innocents citizens and children who died in the same time period. Now I am ready to go to jail, if necessary, to bring atrocities we Americans continue to commit in both Iraq and Afghanistan. M. Gandhi said words to the effect that any problem worthy of our commitment cannot be solved in our lifetime. If we could just get Americans to take off their rose colored glasses and start seeing the truth about the ugliness and brutality we, as Americans, have in the past and continue to commit around the world perhaps things will begin the change. We are not the worlds knight in shining armor and we need to clean up our on house before and stop being the worlds most hypocritical nation. Let’s march on Washington, speak the truth and be willing to face the consequences of our actions as a first step toward transforming America into what it was meant to be, which is a beacon of light in a world filled with darkness and brutality.

  2. #2 by maggie tobin on January 18, 2011 - 6:23 pm

    Guantanamo must be closed, yes. What is happening to Bradley Manning must be stopped, yes. But what troubles me is that people seem not to know that for years torture has gone on (and continues) in US prisons. Recently I met a man who had been in solitary confinement for over 20 years. Why has there been so little outcry for him? The answer is simple: no pictures. I applaud your work and will do as much as I can. But I am still troubled. MT

  3. #3 by Lionel Heredia on January 19, 2011 - 11:37 am

    There are marches and there are marches. Washington or the nation will not pay attention to marches with 5, 10, or 100,000. What they will pay attention to is a march that brings 2 to 5 million right to D.C. Imagine millions flooding the streets of the Capital and the White House demanding an end to this phony war and to arrest banker criminals for starters. This is a tall order but I guarantee you millions staying there for a week or two would stop all business functions and would send a historic message like never in American or world history, that the American people have had enough and are putting their foot down hard. Of course there are many other ramifications to this but you get the idea. All these small marches are ignored. They can’t ignor 2 or 5 million at their door step! This takes a lot of work with many groups and perhaps entertainers. We need the New and Improved WoodStock!

  4. #4 by Life has Meaning on January 24, 2011 - 1:37 pm

    I am from a small town in eastern Washington state. Since the first Ira war, a few of us have been holding a peace vigil at the Army Recruiter office every Friday for one hour starting at noon. When a young person goes in to speak to the recdruiter, we hand them a comic book, Addicted to War. I wish it were possible to get to Washington DC, but instead, we vigil where we are. I think if every town in the country would take responsibility to not be complicit with these ongoing war crimes, we could change the direction this country is going. Being there every week as an ongoing presence has been important. Our group was begun by Women in Black and Veterans for Peace. I hope others will be inspired to do something like this where ever you are.
    Life has Meaning

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