Posts Tagged end US wars
On Saturday, December 12, 2009, an antiwar rally was held at Lafayette Square Park by the White House. Speakers included Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges all speaking out against the recent escalation of troops into Afghanistan and against Obama’s wars. This is my speech.
Americans may think that after Obama’s speech at West Point Academy to call for 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and after Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech,which laid out clear guidelines for waging a just war and how those guidelines will be followed during the oncoming surge in Afghanistan, there is no reason for Americans to voice their disapproval of the war.
However, a coalition of antiwar organizers, peace and justice advocates, and citizens of conscience disagree and are not willing to accept Obama’s efforts to deflect criticism and tamp down outrage toward the Afghanistan War. Hundreds if not thousands of people will be in Lafayette Square nearby the White House in Washington, D.C. today at 11 am ET.
Rally organizers have put together a roster of speakers that include consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, former Sen. Mike Gravel, Kathy Kelly, Chris Hedges, David Swanson, Gael Murphy, Debra Sweet, and others opposed to current U.S. war policies in the Middle East.
The rally will directly call for vigorous opposition to the military escalation in Afghanistan and a rejection of defeatist thinking and futile rationales, which have been hampering the anti-war movement in America.
Laurie Dobson, a lead organizer of the rally believes it is the peace community’s responsibility “to focus on peace and justice for the world’s people and for our people. And the reason she and others are taking action is because the peace movement must be the consciences for our leaders” especially when they choose expansion of war rather than a phased withdrawal of war.
Speakers will directly challenge Obama’s bizarre justifications for continuing the war in Afghanistan especially the idea that expanding a war is the best way to prepare for a withdrawal.
For example, Ralph Nader recently wrote in his In the Public Interest column, “To say as Obama inferred in his Oslo speech that the greater plunge into Afghanistan is self-defense, with proportional force and sparing civilians from violence is a scale of self-delusion or political cowardliness that is dejecting his liberal base.”
There is no real way to gauge right now how disenchanted liberals and progressives might become with Obama but if he stays the course, this surge could create a trap for Democrats in this country.
Cynthia McKinney says in Congress Republicans may be willing to support Obama and vote for his war legislation now but come 2012 they will put up their own candidate. She suspects that voters will remember Obama’s actions on U.S. wars and Obama could be in trouble.
Elaine Brower, who is with Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) and who will be speaking at the rally, thinks many didn’t expect Obama to do this because his rhetoric suggested he would act differently when elected president.
Brower suggests people of this country look past his rhetoric and see the politician. She says Obama is trying to sell the American people a war that isn’t really a war because we aren’t really fighting anybody; we are really just waging a massive occupation that is resulting an enormous loss of human lives.
Those participating in the rally see this as a way of reigniting the fire within a movement that unfortunately chose to temper their opposition during Obama’s presidential campaign and now his first year in office.
For those wondering why they should be participating in any actions that allow people to show they oppose the Afghanistan War, Matthis Chiroux, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War who will be speaking at the rally, thinks the Nobel Peace prize speech Obama gave should give people reason to oppose this war.
Chiroux hopes all would resist this war because “Americans did not elect Obama to wage war but to wage peace instead.”
Kathy Kelly, a peace advocate who has visited and witnessed firsthand the impact of conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Sarajevo is convinced that “if the U.S. public can recognize the folly of the war in Iraq, followed by the folly of the war in Afghanistan, and then recognize the folly of maintaining 700-900 bases around the world” then we will be able to stop these wars.
She hopes people that are retired and still have a lot of energy will “use their twilight years to ensure that there will be an inhabitable world for those grandchildren.” And she hopes parents who love their children will begin to recognize the choices ahead, engage in the community, change their lifestyle, and let the elected leaders know Americans won’t accommodate their ruthless warmongering behavior anymore.
Chris Hedges, Truthdig.com columnist and author whose most recent book is The Empire of Illusion, will also be a speaker at the rally and suggests that, “A lot of this is about doing something rather than doing nothing and attempting to influence events because it’s clear the Democratic Party has betrayed us.”
Hedges understands no antiwar organizer or leader can promise it will work but “if we do nothing, we’re guaranteeing that the imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will go on for years.”
“It’s all we have left,” says Hedges. “Unless people get out in the street and actively build grassroots opposition against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s going to be never-ending war.”
“So let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he’s outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.”
-President Barack Obama, December 10th, 2009, from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech
When Obama remarked on young protestors awaiting the brutality of their government, he probably wasn’t thinking about the hundreds of Afghan university students who have been rallying against a U.S.-led raid earlier this week, an act of brutality that resulted in civilian deaths. He probably wasn’t referring to how four civilians protesting the raid were gunned down by Afghan troops, which NATO and the U.S. are using to successfully wage war and occupation in Afghanistan.
How does one reconcile the acceptance of a peace prize with the deployment of 30,000 more troops to a country for a war? How does one rationalize the continued use of NATO forces and Afghan security forces to further destabilize and ruin one of the poorest countries in the world with rhetorical flourishes that reference historic peace advocates like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.?
A new coalition of antiwar organizations, peace and justice advocates, and citizens of consience in America aim—the End U.S. Wars Coalition—aims to address such questions and will come together this weekend for a rally on Saturday, Dec. 12th, in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. Not far from the White House, they will challenge the Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama and his administration to halt the escalation in Afghanistan and stop the war crimes being committed in countries throughout the Middle East by U.S. forces.
Laurie Dobson, a lead organizer for the rally, intends to make sure Obama knows there is a consequence for his decisions. Dobson wants leaders from Congress to the White House to know the antiwar movement will respond to decisions for escalation or expansion of U.S. wars.
Organizers behind this End US Wars Rally also seek to engage and energize fellow citizens to challenge this “war party mentality” and also reject defeatist thinking and futile rationales, which have had a demobilizing effect on the antiwar movement in the past year.
Lynne Williams, a Green Party candidate for governor in Maine who will be speaking at the rally, says, “There’s a need for visibility.”
Williams explains, “A lot of people including a lot of progressive democrats really believed Barack Obama’s rhetoric and thought, ‘Let’s give him a chance. It can’t be worse than Bush and Cheney.’ Yeah, it can. It can be at least as bad if not worse. And the way it can be worse is not because Barack Obama does not have perhaps more of a moral compass but because so many people in the movement at least until recently” were not out visibly protesting war because Obama is president.
National World Can’t Wait leader Debra Sweet, who will be speaking at the event, explains that World Can’t Wait is participating in the first national rally since Obama announced the surge of the troops to Afghanistan because his campaign promise to make Afghanistan into a good war and increase U.S. forces should not be tolerated.
Sweet, along with other organizers, are compelling all Americans, from those who didn’t vote for Obama to those who still believe in the power of Obama to bring peace to the world, to come and join in the antiwar movement’s action this weekend.
“I really welcome the people who voted for Obama and in a sense the people still hoping for the best to be a part of it,” says Sweet. She adds, “Those of us who did not vote for Obama and were concerned for this very thing—We have to stick to our principles and keep making a noise about it and pull as many people into reality if we can.”
Sweet and others speaking and organizing for this rally believe the time is now for Americans to assess the reality of the situation. The people of this country should be educating their friends and neighbors on the situation in Afghanistan and at home. They should be providing information for understanding the true implications for expanding the Afghanistan War.
“Whether Obama stated something in his campaign or not, that doesn’t mean we fall behind his campaign promises whether they went in a certain direction or not. We have to hold him to account to be the best representative of the people that we can,” says Dobson. “The campaign is over but the process of becoming a respectable president has begun and he has fallen so short and it has become apparent to even the most hardened Democrats that he never was a true antiwar candidate.”