In Washington, DC, it was a highly reenergized Anti-War Movement that rallied on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 25, 2003. Under a blue sky, with temperatures hovering in the mid-60s, they marched by the thousands. They demanded that all U.S. troops get out of Iraq and chanted slogans, like: “No more lies. Bush has got to go. Bring the troops home.”
The route took the protesters from the Washington Monument, to north on 17th St., crossing H. St., near fabled Lafayette Square, (which sits in front of the White House), then down 15th Street to Pennsylvania Ave, while passing the Justice Department on their right, and the FBI Building on their left, to finish off on Constitution Ave., in front of “The Ellipse”.
NYC’s Julie Finch was at the rally representing “Woman in Black.” She said that her organization maintains a silent vigil at such affairs “to protest war and all its victims.” She added, “We mourn for all the American soldiers that have died, and for the Iraqi civilians, too.” Joyce Paulson, of Palm Springs, CA, told me, “I would like to see the people here today raise their voices so loud that President George Bush would finally take the plugs out of his ears and realize that the public is not fully behind his war policies.”
Heading up the speakers for the program were: Ramsey Clark, a champion of civil rights and the former U.S. Attorney General; Andy Shallal, Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives; Al Sharpton, Democratic candidate for president; Elias Rashmawi of the Free Palestine Alliance; and Rev. Martin Luther King, III, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. One of the most passionate remarks came from Fernando de Solar Suarez, the father of a U.S. Marine, who was killed in Iraq. Suarez moved the crowd to tears with his comments about losing his son.
It was the nation’s capital’s first major anti-Iraq War demonstration since April 12, 2003, barely three weeks after President George W. Bush had authorized the unjustified Neocon-inspired preemptive invasion of Iraq. It comes, too, as the Bush-Cheney Gang is attempting, with mixed results, at Madrid, Spain, to gain international grants to rebuild Iraq.
Carol Ingham came up for the rally from Savannah, GA. She said, “I missed the marches in the 60s because I had a family to raise. I didn’t want to miss this one. I feel very strongly we should not be at war.” Imam Salam, of Fairfax, VA, said, “I’m here today to get our country back on the right track and fight the “USA Patriot Act,” to stand for civil liberties for all Americans, and to say ‘no’ to this occupation. This is definitely Israel’s war.”
Since the pompous War Party unloosened the dogs of war on Iraq, (thanks to the bum advice of Richard Perle and his Chicken Hawk ilk), 347 brave Americans have died and nearly 2,000 have been seriously wounded (lunaville.org). Morale inside the military is very low. The cost is estimated at $6 billion a month to maintain the Iraq Occupation, with no end in sight. The Iraqi death toll is over 37,000, according to the Iraqi Freedom Party. Attacks on American forces, too, are averaging around 26 a day.
The rally, organized by International A.N.S.W.E.R and United for Peace and Justice, brought enthusiastic activists from 38 states and even Canada. Coordinated demonstrations were planned for 40 other countries. Entertainment was provided, too, for the marching protesters, via music with a Korean, Cuban and Hip Hop beat, along with the fabulous drummers from the “Rhythm Workers Union”. On top of all of that, the celebrated “Raging Grannies,” belted out of a few of their popular ballads.
There was a sea of colorful signs and banners on display. They blended in with the last of the Fall’s fading foliage. Some posters railed against the influence of “Big Oil,” the “Controlled Media,” the “Military Industrial Complex,” and V.P. Dick Cheney’s incestuous and money-grabbing relationship with the Halliburton Co.; others, took the Bush-Cheney Gang to task for aiding and abetting militant Israel’s brutish 36-years occupation of Palestine; and many boosted “Kucinich for President.”
One sign in the crowd read: “Remember the USS Liberty.” It was held by an elderly man, who looked like he might have been a veteran of WWII. The “Liberty” is back in the news, after a U.S. Navy lawyer confessed that the treacherous attack on the vessel by the Israelis, on June 8, 1967, (which murdered 34 Americans and wounded 141 others), was deliberate and not an accident. The Israelis were looking to sink the Liberty and blame it on the Egyptians, according to Ret. Adm. Thomas Moorer. Then-President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a cover-up of the War Crime.
A law student, Fadi Kiblawi, from Washington, DC, said, “I’m here to make a statement, not only against the occupation, but against the U.S. engagement in the Middle East region, which is currently driven by neoconservatives on the Defense Policy Board. This policy is looking to colonize the entire region and to prevent at all cost democracy and true sovereignty from emerging.”
Despite the success of today’s demonstration, you can expect off-the-wall criticism from the usual suspects. Propagandists for the War Party, such as William Kristol, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, George F. Will and Mona Charen, will once again dip their pens in their poisoned wells and renew their vile attacks on those seeking a peace with justice resolution for Iraq.
In any event, the Secretary of Defense, the soon-to-be unemployed Donald Rumsfeld, recently admitted in a memo, to his deputy, Paul “Dr. Strangelove” Wolfowitz, that Iraq will be “a long hard slog.”
Bottom line: The protesters reflected the view of a fast growing segment of American society. They want the troops brought home- -now!