What were the demonstrations in Washington, DC and in several other US cities on January 27 really about? What did they accomplish? Does anyone really care?
First, the headlines.
Islamic Republic News Agency:
Thousands of people attend anti-war demonstrations in USAl-Jazeera:
New York, Jan 28, IRNA
Thousands of people on Saturday staged demonstration in several American cities, including the capital, in protest at war-mongering policies of the US President George W Bush.
The demonstrators called for an end to Bush's approach toward the war in Iraq and stressed the need for urgent return of the American troops to their home country.
The demonstrators shouted slogans such as, "We do not want another Vietnam".
In Washington, the crowd heard speeches by more than a dozen veterans, anti-war activists, religious leaders, Hollywood celebrities and political leaders like Jesse Jackson, a longtime African-American civil rights activist . . .
Washington rally urges end to wartruthout:
Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters have rallied outside congress chanting "bring our troops home," in an attempt to pressure the government to quit Iraq.
Veterans and military families joined some congressmen, peace groups and actors to urge congress and George Bush, the US president, to stop funding the war and pull troops from Iraq.
"I thought I was serving honourably. Instead, I was sent to war ... for causes that have proved fraudulent," Garett Reppenhagen, a former sniper and Iraq war veteran, said at Saturday's rally . . .
"Hundreds of Thousands of Protesters Converge on Capitol Hill." There's a problem here, my friends. This headline links internally to a reprint of Ian Urbana's NYT piece, headlined "Protest Focuses on Troop Increase for Iraq", which begins, "Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bush's plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the war began."
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Corporate media and DC law enforcement collude once again in shaving anti-war march numbers. On a postcard perfect weather day in Washington, in excess of 150,000 people gathered on the Washington Mall, west of the US Capitol, to hear members of Congress and Hollywood celebrities call for the Bush administration to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. However, as with past anti-war demonstrations in Washington, the corporate media, largely influenced by New York- and Los Angeles-based special interests, downplayed the number of demonstrators . . .So, at most, we get "hundreds of thousands" of demonstrators only by including several, mostly nationally ignored by both the MSM and the left-press, in SF, NYC, LA, Massachusetts, and several other locations. It's pretty clear we can trust absolutely none of the numbers.
What is really telling is that none of the media, corporate or independent, really covered the day. And both media essentially called it a protest against just the Iraq mess, which is actually true.
No, I wasn't there. I haven't, for many reasons, witnessed first-hand a lefty demo since a massive march against in the 80s in DC against the Reagan wars in Central and South America - unless you count a much smaller anti-Klan rally in Boston a couple of years later in Boston, at which I was nearly clubbed to death by mounted Boston cops with big sticks and tear gas trying to protect the Klan marchers from non-violence.
I'm a big fan and proponent of non-violent, direct, personal political action. So I don't criticize such demos as I have in the past. I'm very happy that no one got clubbed or fried by the military's new mobile microwaves (gotta love DARPA, always working hard to protect us from the tragedy of peace). However, I have realized for several years that the energy, money, and time put into these demos would be much better spent, much more cost-effective, if you will, in other efforts. I'd like to thank, also, John Conyers, Maxine Walters, Dennis Kucinich, and even Jesse Jackson and Jane Fonda and other old-timers, for being there in DC and speaking up.
All in all, considering the importance, the demos were small and the coverage smaller. I must remind you also (including you, John Conyers) that "the people" did not get us out of Vietnam. Our military was driven out by the Vietnamese and Chinese.
The soul of the matter. Where I personally feel cheated is in the fact that most (thankfully not all) of the focus was on the situation in Iraq. There has been a smattering of attention and rhetoric about our already on-going military involvement in Iran, Somalia, and elsewhere. For the most part, the "Anti-War Movement" in the US is a whisper at best. The anti-Iraq war effort has grown from our meager disregarded opposition between 2001 and 2003 and our majority voice now because we're losing the damned thing. The US should fight only victorious wars, apparently.
Yes, the majority of American people and even, maybe, Congress finally oppose the administration's course in Iraq. But I no longer hear the voice of a majority against war.
Few including the administration, can define what "victory" would be in Iraq. I submit that the real reason for this is that it does not exist and cannot be attained. Not by US and "coalition" forces, not by Shi'ites, not by Sunnis, not by al-Qaeda. Everyone has lost. US forces should not be "redeployed". All US military bases in other countries must be abandoned and all assets withdrawn inside US borders. All forces, including private mercenary companies like Blackwater, must stand down from foreign adventurist action. US military effort must be directed to only defend our people on our soil against real and present danger. US "interests" elsewhere must be abandoned when those interests conflict with the legitimate interests of the people who live there. Invitation by those people to the US to contribute forces and/or other assets to local or regional struggles must be resisted and usually rejected. We must finally limit the use of military force anywhere at any time for any reason except to defend all the American people living in America. "Isolationism?" You bet. It means that we will practice and promote only peace.
Reality check. For support of this argument, let me just turn back to our current involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. In Afghanistan we and NATO have been unable to find and arrest Osama bin Laden, eliminate a now-resurgent Taliban, or prevent the people there from increasing their reliance on growing their international opium/heroin-based economy. We are losing on all fronts there.
In Iraq, we have been instrumental in unleashing the vicious forces of ancient hatred among Shi'ites, Sunnis, and other sects of Islam there and in other countries such as Palestine, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. We have made a major contribution to the possibility perhaps probability of apocalypse. To nuke Iran would nearly assure that eventuality.
War is not the answer. If you believe that it is the answer, please tell me, "What is the question?" The people of the United States of America will lead the world to peace only by waging peace - among and for each other and all others.
I urge you again to read Vali Nasr's "The Shia Revival", found here. I urge you to not only pray, but to act, for peace. I wish you ultimately to . . .
Be at peace.
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