Anti-war protesters demonstrated across the country yesterday on the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the ensuing war. Across from the White House in Lafayette Square, protesters heard speakers condemning America’s “eternal wars” and called for a reduction in the Pentagon budget, an end to the war in Ukraine through negotiations and cautioning against a war with Iran and China.
By Phil Pasquini
The devastating war in Iraq resulted in a more fragmented sectarian society divided in political ideology and religious differences, a growing ground for ISIS and environmental damage that will devastate the country for decades to come. In the end, the net gain for Iraq in replacing Saddam Hussein and his Baathist Party has bred more corruption and violence and less of the hoped-for democracy the war was supposed to install to the benefit of the Iraqi people. Instead, the fight over oil has set the country back decades in its development while driving the masses into poverty.
As one speaker noted, “Two decades later, here we are, rallying around the country working to stop yet another terrible and senseless war.” And frighteningly the risk of a catastrophic nuclear war resulting by a tiny miscalculation or seemingly minor incident between the US, Russia, or China is now more probable now than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
“We need negotiations. We need a sane, diplomatic, ‘rules-based,’ resolution of conflicts. We need sustainable self-governance free from imperial agendas” was the common demand from organizers of the protest. The Answer Coalition, the People’s Forum, Code Pink and World Beyond War all resonated in their calling for, “… a ceasefire and No War in China.”
After hearing from several speakers, protesters carrying six coffins representing victims from countries that the US has had recent conflicts in marched a short distance to the White House where they called on President Biden to end the endless wars. Signs held aloft called for an end to the NATO alliance along with those critical of military weapons manufacturers and other war profiteers. Included too were the banks that continually funded and profiteered from war at the expense of raising the national debt and causing ongoing inflation. Other signs called for negotiating peace in Ukraine and echoing the common theme of No War with China.
The large group’s next stop on their march was at the headquarters of the Washington Post Building that they referred to as “The Pentagon Post” for the paper’s “unwavering support for war.” This they also accused of mainstream media as well for their lack of questioning the need to continually use military might rather than negotiations and diplomacy in avoiding conflict.
At the Post, building protesters blocked the entrance with the coffins to shut the building down while a speaker enumerated their views of the paper along with its editorial staff challenging them to report on their demonstration. Also addressed was the mainstream media’s drumbeat to war with Iraq twenty years ago by reflecting on the “outright lie” fed to them by the Pentagon that Saddam had WMDs and portable biological labs capable of changing the very nature of the conflict that ultimately proved to be untrue. Or as one protester who was quoted in a press release reflected, “As a new anti-war activist,… I was sitting on my couch eating Cheetos and even I knew Bush and Powell were lying.”
It may well be remembered too that the then well-known and respected New York Time reporter Judith Miller was fired from the paper that according to an article in the Daily Beast from 2015 occurred after she admitted that her “WMD stories were ‘totally wrong.’” She furthered by characterizing herself, “albeit unavoidably so—mistakes committed in good faith by a truth-seeking journalist working hard to do her best.” Her response “…was demonized by critics and enemies, inside and outside the Times, as an influential cheerleader for an unjustified and ultimately ruinous war conducted under false pretenses.”
After departing the Post building the protesters marched off to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church near the White House where the rally ended.