What We Can Do to End the War
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
The majority of Americans and Iraqis oppose the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Polls indicate that 70 percent of Americans are against the war and over 80 percent of Iraqis want coalition troops out of their country. In the four and a half years since the invasion, nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed and nearly 30,000 seriously wounded. There have also been an estimated 1 million Iraqi civilians killed and over 4 million have fled for their lives.
The war has racked up a bill of over $600 billion of our taxpayer money and yet left Iraq a country in economic shambles and political unrest, and with a population living in fear of daily violence. (Check out the video to the right.)
For the duration of this war, people in the United States have raised their voice in opposition. They have marched, signed petitions, held vigils and written to their elected officials. But it hasn't been enough. Yet.
This Saturday, Oct. 27, United for Peace and Justice, the largest anti-war coalition in the United States, has organized 11 massive anti-war rallies to take place around the nation. Participating organizations include veterans and military family groups, as well as hundreds of national and local peace groups.
Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice said, "Never before have we seen anything like this. In regional centers throughout the nation people will gather in an expression of the widespread opposition to the war. This war, with its senseless death and destruction in Iraq, is draining our communities as resources we need here at home are squandered every day. It is time to bring our troops home."
Tens of thousands are expected to participate in the coordinated day of opposition to the Bush administration's war in Iraq. The protest will take place in 11 regional centers including New York, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Jonesborough (TN), Seattle, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Several other cities are conducting smaller gatherings for those who are unable to travel.
Nancy Lessin, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, stated, "In the coming weeks, Congress will decide whether or not to continue funding the war in Iraq for another year. Military families and Iraq veterans will participate in the regional demonstrations on Oct. 27 to join people from around the country to remind Congress that funding this war is killing our troops."
The actions are designed to send a message both to the Bush administration and to Congress, said Cagan. They hope to give people a platform to express their opposition to the war in Iraq and to the importance of channeling that money to local communities where health care and education have been cut across the country. It will also be a place to raise awareness to prevent another ill-conceived war, this time with Iran.
"The timing is important," said Cagan. "It has been almost a year since voters said loud and clear that we want this war to end. Everyone saw the midterm elections last year as a mandate to end the war. And it is almost exactly a year until the next election. As we gear up for 2008, we want to be clear that the anti-war movement is not going away and we need to keep putting ourselves out there."
This is no longer Bush's war, said Cagan, but Congress' also since it has had a year to take action.
Organizers of the event hope to not just remind people of the enduring horrors in Iraq but to generate hope and energize people to go back into their communities and keep working at the local level.
Cagan says she understands the frustrations that have come from people who've been marching and opposing this war for years with little positive response from our government. "Some people are fed up with protests but are even more fed up with the war," said Cagan. "We have few vehicles to express our opposition, and we need to use every one we have. We'll never know the lives we may have saved or the destruction we may have prevented that resulted from our previous anti-war protests. But I do know that the minute we stop, things will get worse."
Even if you've marched before -- even if you've marched 20 times since March 2003, it is still important to get out there on Oct. 27 and let our elected officials and the entire world know that our country wants our troops out of Iraq.
"Being a visible, public, bold movement does have an impact on policymakers," said Cagan. "And it will ripple across the country and get more people engaged in a whole range of activities."
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.