Stan Goff: We Will Lose the War in Iraq

Last night at the Wealthy Theatre, Stan Goff, a twenty-year military veteran and antiwar activist, discussed the current war in Iraq and advocated the development of a movement to end the war by targeting the war as a product of imperialism. Goff further encouraged that antiwar activism be expanded into a struggle to “transform the system” in the United States, and consequently, the world.

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Last night at the Wealthy Street Theatre, Stan Goff declared that the United States will lose the war in Iraq during a lecture titled “Is the Military Losing the War in Iraq.” Goff, a twenty year military veteran who retired as a Special Forces Master Sergeant and served in eight conflict areas during his military career, shared his insights into the reasons for the Iraq War to a crowd of approximately fifty people during a speech that covered a variety of topics including the ongoing Iraq War, the need for resistance to the war, and imperialism.

Goff began his talk by describing that the United States military exists as a tool to project power outside of its borders and that the military is necessary for the United States’ continued functioning as an imperialist power. The military not only secures the United States’ economic dominance but also functions as a surrogate economy that allows the United States to support entire industries (for example military contractors) artificially. Consequently, the United States’ role in Iraq is not one of liberation but rather is one to secure influence in the Middle East both for its own access to oil as well as a means of competing with China’s need for oil. The United States, especially the so-called “neocons” that are running the government, see the war as opportunity not only to secure permanent influence through the establishment of military bases in Iraq but also as a way to “position” the United States for the post-Cold War period. Thus, the bases in Iraq become essential because the United States was expelled from its bases in Saudi Arabia; resulting in the US government and military justifying their presence by issuing proclamations of “successes” in Iraq designed to maintain the continued acquiescence of the United States population and the shift towards Rumsfeld’s “metrics” or body counts where the numbers of insurgents killed are touted as indicators of success.

Goff went on to make an effective argument for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, an argument enhanced by his experiences in fighting insurgencies in the military and his activism in the national Bring them Home Now coalition. He dismissed supporters of the occupation and critics who argue that it is “too hard” to leave Iraq, stating that the reality of leaving is quite simple—an executive order could be issued and the United States military could be gone within a month. He said that there is no need for an “exit strategy” and that the continued presence of the United States is doing nothing to improve the mess that we created. Goff argued that Iraqi self-determination should be the paramount concern and that the expulsion of US forces is a necessary precondition for self-determination. He went on to say that while Iraq is a colonial creation and consequently somewhat of an artificial entity, the Iraqi people have created a national identity and that a civil war is by no means a forgone conclusion. Goff, like Mary Trotochaud who spoke on Saturday, described how sectarianism and factionalism is being played up by the US military and government because it serves their needs by providing an ongoing justification for the occupation. He also expressed his faith in the Iraqi people who have a 6,000-year-old history, arguing that their experience was considerably greater than that of the 400-year history of the United States. On a similar note, Goff reminded the audience that while Hussein’s regime was deplorable in most respects, Iraqis had succeeded in developing a highly advanced society before the 1990 Gulf War with free public education through graduate school, equality for women, and free public healthcare.

The lecture also emphasized that regardless of what people in the United States do to end the occupation; the people of Iraq will succeed in their struggle. Goff talked briefly about the Iraqi insurgency and its ongoing military success and the certainty that their success will continue given that 80% of the country is opposed to the US presence. He described how the insurgency has the initiative in the war and is forcing the United States to respond, saying that the United States has only had “successes” in temporarily quashing resistance when it has decimated entire areas. One example given was the November 2004 assault on Fallujah in which some 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed, and while the US claimed the “pacification” of Fallujah as a victory, such actions are motivating the current insurgency and providing new recruits. Goff traced the insurgency’s roots to the April 2003 events in Fallujah and Najaf when the United States killed unarmed demonstrators in both cities and faced a rebellion that ultimately resulted in the US handing over control of Fallujah to resistance fighters and capitulating to demands by Iraqis for elections. Goff briefly touched on the tactics of the insurgency, and while the targeting of US troops is an obvious choice, he described how the insurgency also has to target the “eyes and ears” of the occupation in the form of Iraqi police collaborating with the US.

For Goff, the ongoing occupation of Iraq demands resistance and he outlined three efforts that could be undertaken by those organizing against the war—pressuring Congress, doing counter-recruitment work, and focusing on getting Democrats to turn against the war. With regard to pressuring Congress, Goff not only called on people to lobby and communicate with their Congressional Representatives in order to get them to support the “US Out of Iraq Caucus” and vote against funding the war, but also communicated the need to force Congressional Representatives to take these positions by occupying their offices and supporting the efforts of those that engage in civil disobedience targeted at Congressional Representatives. Countering military recruitment was also encouraged, with Goff saying that as a former soldier he hated to advocate working against the military but that he understands that the war will end when the military is degraded to the point where the war is unsustainable and counter-recruitment work, which has the goal of convincing people not to join the military, will help to end the war. He also outlined a third and potentially “dangerous” strategy of working against Democrats running for office by threatening to withhold votes for them if they did not take a stand against the ongoing occupation of Iraq. Throughout his talk Goff placed little faith in Democrats who he said signed onto the war en masse and are every bit as committed to maintaining US power in the world as Republicans. He also said that while Democrats may not support the war, he believes that they might consider supporting it simply because it makes President Bush look bad and that they care little for anything other than their own power. Goff also encouraged people to attend demonstrations and argued that while many people think they are having little effect, they have succeeded in shifting the majority of public opinion against the war. The real question Goff argued is how to motivate those against the war to take action, a question that remains open but is one that necessitates moving beyond the traditional confines of the antiwar movement.

Like the war in Iraq, antiwar organizing needs to be understood through an imperialist context and as such, Goff advocated antiwar organizing not simply to end the war but as a strategy to build a better world. He asserted that stopping the war is an exercise of popular power—and is an exercise that is possible—but that the trick is to not give up the power to the elites once the movement succeeds in stopping the war. He described how the activists that came out of the Vietnam era retreated once they convinced themselves that they had succeeded and that this failure to radically transform society was responsible for the current situation. Goff encouraged activists to work to “transform the whole system” and to understand that the Iraq War is part of an imperialist system under which a variety of struggles are inexorably linked. Activists, particularly those coming from a white, middle class background, need to realize this Goff said and need to find ways to connect their movements to those of people fighting imperialism both around the world and inside the United States. Goff talked about how Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan peoples’ struggle is effectively fighting US hegemony in the world and that with his implementation of social programs and offer to extend loans to Argentina and Brazil to pay off their IMF debts, we may be witnessing the unraveling of the US empire. The people in the United States can also play an important part in the struggle against imperialism and while many in the United States may not understand that the US is an imperialist power, it is a fact that is painfully understood by people of the color who are being actively colonized and militarized by the government. Goff described how in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina it was made even more obvious that the US does not care about people of color and that while homes are being destroyed in New Orleans, entire “cities” are being built on US bases in Iraq in a matter of weeks.

Energetic March against the Iraq War Draws 200

In conjunction with hundreds of protests held around the world to mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, two-hundred people took to the streets of Grand Rapids to protest the ongoing occupation of Iraq.

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On Saturday, March 18, a couple hundred people protested the ongoing occupation of Iraq in downtown Grand Rapids. The march and rally, organized by the Grand Rapids Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was held in conjunction with protests held around the world.

Following a short speech by a member of the IWW the march took to the streets in the largest unpermitted march since the President George W. Bush visited Grand Rapids in January of 2003. The majority of the crowd decided to take up both lanes of traffic while heading to the rally site at Calder Plaza and the energy was considerably higher than at previous anniversary protests (2004 and 2005) with drumming and chants of “no justice, no peace” and “bring the troops home” being shouted by the marchers. At the corner of Lyon and Monroe the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) moved in with several squad cars and directed marchers to move onto the sidewalk, warning marchers that they would be cited if they did not move out of the street. While about half the march moved onto the sidewalk, the other half remained in the rode despite increasingly aggressive threats from the GRPD of arrest. The march arrived at Calder Plaza with no arrests and no further harassment from the GRPD.

The rally featured a number of speakers focusing on not just the War on Iraq but a variety of interrelated issues including immigration reform, the elimination of social services, factory closings, the criminal justice system, and other issues all of which raised the question of the priorities of those with power in the United States. The speakers made it clear that an illegal and expensive war distracts attention from the considerable problems faced by low income and people of color in the United States. Moreover, the crowd was considerably different that in previous years, with a sizable number of people attending from groups outside of the traditional antiwar movement.

Click here to view photos from the March 18 protest

Tragedy & Farce: How The American Media Sells Wars, Spins Elections, and Destroy Democracy

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Free Press co-founders John Nichols and Robert McChesney have teamed up again to write another critique of how the news media in the US fails citizens in promoting democracy. Like many of their previous books, this one critiques major events in recent years, particularly the US War in Iraq and the 2004 Elections. Nothing new was really provided in these sections, but they provide a useful overview and hit on the important aspects of US coverage of these major events in the past 3 years. Much of what they argue is laid out in the first few chapters which looks at some of the main problems confronting modern journalism. The areas they identify as most problematic are the notions of professional journalism, official sources, lack of context and the corporate consolidation of media ownership. These are the standards which they apply to the war and election coverage.

In the election coverage they spent more time on the media campaign to discredit Howard Dean than I would have, but the important point that they make is that even for the media Dean did not fit into the category of being a “viable” candidate, which means even for the media Dean did not represent the privileged point of view. This is one of the norms of professional journalism, according to Nichols and McChesney, the internalizing and promotion of elite viewpoints. we can see this both in terms of how news people themselves have become celebrities, but also due to the fact that their salaries are equivalent to that of the top ten percent of Americans.

Where the book falls short is in the concluding chapter which looks at the media reform movement. The do provide a nice overview of what the movement represents and even identifying the specific challenges to making media more democratic in this country. As with many books there was not enough in this section, either looking at many recent victories in the media reform movement or best practices being employed by groups around the country. It left me wanting more details about what groups are doing in their communities and how they are using media issues as an organizing opportunity.

John Nichols and Robert McChesney, Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy, (The New Press, 2005).

Baghdad Burning

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Baghdad Burning is a collection of entries from the popular Iraqi “web log” “Girl Blog from Iraq.” Authored by an anonymous Iraqi woman living in Baghdad and going by the name “Riverbend” online, Girl Blog from Iraq has become one of the most intriguing and insightful voices to emerge from Iraq. With each entry into her online journal, Riverbend shares insights into the feelings and attitudes of ordinary Iraqis living under the occupation, providing the necessary historical and cultural context that is so often missing from the corporate media’s coverage of Iraq. Whereas the media focuses almost exclusively on violence and death in Iraq, Riverbend tells the story of life under occupation.

Baghdad Burning collects entries spanning roughly one year, from the first entry in August of 2003 to the fall of 2004, a time during which the resistance in Iraq intensified, a power struggle began between the various religious factions, Saddam Hussein was captured, and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) managed the occupation. Riverbend’s writings, a mix of personal experiences and political commentary cover all of the major events of that period, from the attack on the United Nations to the “transfer” of sovereignty, providing an Iraqi perspective that is almost entirely absent from the corporate media in the Western world. While this elusive Iraqi perspective was frequently cited in the corporate media via the proclamations of Iraq’s Governing Council, Riverbend amply demonstrates that the various Council members, especially the much hated Chalabi, were not representative of the Iraqi people, and in many cases, had not lived in Iraq for years. Riverbend describes how people gather around TVs in Baghdad (when the electricity is running) and laugh at the CPA-appointed government and how the “puppets” are aiding the United States government. Baghdad Burning is most helpful in these instances, when Riverbend is explaining how her family and friends view the occupation and how the government in Iraq used to function or in the numerous portions of the book that explain both customs unique to Iraqis and the concepts of Islam that are foreign to most in the United States.

Throughout her writings, Riverbend never claims to speak for all Iraqis, yet her perspective that is fairly typical of many Iraqis who, after years of disruption to their lives under the sanctions imposed by the United Nations at the behest of the United States, simply want to get on with their lives. Moreover, Riverbend reveals the attitudes of her family, friends, and neighbors, all of whom want the occupation to end. Few Iraqis want Saddam Hussein to return to power, but many are outraged by how the war has led to the decline of a once prosperous Iraq. It is clear that the Iraqis see the United States presence as a hostile one and that the only way to end the insurgent attacks is to remove troops from the country, as continued a continued “war on insurgents”—complete with the type of raids, searches, and detentions described by Riverbend—will guarantee ongoing hostility to both US forces and their representatives.

In the end, Baghdad Burning is a valuable addition to the various books published on the war on Iraq since its start in 2003 and is unique among them in its focus on sharing an Iraqi perspective. Riverbend’s blog is essential reading for those opposed to the war and the book is a great way for opponents of the war to familiarize themselves with one Iraqi perspective.

Riverbend, Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq, (The Feminist Press, 2005).

Lying for Empire and War Made Easy

Reviewing these two books together makes a great deal of sense, since both deal with the deception and lies committed by US Presidents since World War II. The basic differences in the two books are that War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death looks at the concurrent deception of both US President’s and the US Media, whereas Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes With a Straight Face focuses on the deception of US Presidents and the resulting war crimes committed by each administration.

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In Lying for Empire, author David Model looks at the administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Dubya. Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy, begins with the Johnson administration and continues up to and including the present administration. Solomon focuses a great deal on the US media’s collaboration with the official position during the Vietnam War. Despite popular belief that the US media was antagonistic to the war in Southeast Asia, Solomon demonstrates that the US news media were basically stenographers to power. One case in point is the US government’s lie about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which justified a major US escalation of the war in Vietnam. It never happened, there is no record of a North Vietnamese attack on the US, and even former Johnson administration Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara admits there was deception. Did the US news media scrutinize this lie? On the contrary, the US media was an echo chamber for the administration. In the words of Washington Post reporter Murrey Marder “If you were making a retraction (for the Gulf of Tonkin story), you’d have to make a retraction of virtually everyone’s entire coverage of the Vietnam War.”

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Model, in Lying for Empire, identifies several strategies employed by US administrations, that are then embraced and promoted through the media, what the author calls a “pattern of lies.” These strategies are: a government propaganda campaign, embedding reporters, the use of language, demonizing the enemy, the need to demonstrate that the US are liberators, marginalizing dissent, an imperative to conceal the real motives for the policy, falsifying evidence, coverage of only American deaths, and the possible use of covert forces when necessary. Solomon follows a similar pattern in War Made Easy since he uses themes to present his case about administration lies and media complicity, themes such as “This is About Human Rights” or ” “Opposing the War Means Siding with the Enemy.”

Both books are very timely for two main reasons. First, they demonstrate that government deception has been integral to US policy despite who occupies the White House, and secondly, that the US media has failed to hold power accountable for decades. Both books should help make the case that the current administration is just continuing long held traditions and policy decisions to further Empire. If those of us who are committed to serious change in the US are to confront the policies of the current administration our analysis must acknowledge that wars and economic hegemony are what all administrations have pursued in favor of Empire. In the closing chapter of Lying for Empire, the author looks at the traits of a psychopath to see if Bush fits the basic traits. The author concludes that he does, but then states “What this means is that no person in either the Democratic or Republican Party could be a serious contender for their party’s nomination if they were not prepared to maintain and expand the American empire. The imperatives of empire have become larger than any one person, even the President. His job is to lie and serve empire.”

David Model, Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes With a Straight Face, (Common Courage Press, 2005).

Norman Solomon, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, (John Wiley and Sons Inc, 2005).

The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq

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With the constantly changing situation in Iraq, any book published on the occupation and its consequences is likely to become irrelevant quickly unless it is written in a manner that is able to capture the underlying themes and realities of the occupation. Christian Parenti’s The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq is able to do just that, providing a “snapshot” of Iraq during the first year of the United States military occupation. Parenti touches on the themes of the occupation that continue to this day–the criminalization of the Iraqi people, the colossal failure of the reconstruction effort, the ongoing resistance to occupation, the distorted information presented to (and reported in) the corporate media, and the hostility of US soldiers to the Iraqi people.

The corporate media has failed to accurately report on Iraq during the lead up to the invasion, during the invasion, and during the occupation. While there have occasionally been a few decent articles that have appeared in the corporate media, the majority of the articles have done a poor job explaining is happening in Iraq, with the media choosing to unquestioningly accept the assertions of the United States government. Ideally, there would have been independent journalists to fill this void, and while there have been a number of independent journalists who took extraordinary risks to create an accurate picture of what is going on Iraq, there have always been too few. Parenti was one of the few independent journalists who spent time in Iraq and The Freedom details his experiences in Iraq and uses them to create a vivid picture of the human aspects of the occupation.

Parenti reveals the realities of the occupation through his interactions with ordinary Iraqis, and in the process, reveals facets of the occupation that have gained little attention in the United States. The occupation has been characterized by the criminalization of much of the Iraqi population–over 40,000 people have been detained by the United States and many cities and villages have been put on “lockdown” with curfews, identification cards, and checkpoints, all of which are part of the “larger logic” of the US occupation–that of collective punishment of civilians as counterinsurgency.” Parenti describes going to the Abu Ghraib prison to wait with people having family members held in the prison for months without charges, raids on houses, and abuse of detainees by US soldiers. The United States has attempted to justify this collective punishment as a necessary means of fighting the resistance. Parenti met with members of a resistance cell and his book features an account of a friend who met with the resistance in Falluja, and Parenti’s reporting confirms the assertion that the resistance is not a movement but rather various parts without a clear or coherent ideology, a critique that has been made by other writers.

While the resistance and the criminalization of the Iraqi people is omnipresent in Iraq, Parenti focuses on other issues as well. He talks about the massive rise in crime in Iraq, crime that has come as a consequence of the 60% unemployment rate in Iraq. Prostitution has also become more common; while murders are so widespread that the director of the Baghdad morgue estimates that there are over six-hundred a month–a fact that caused the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to stop tabulating murders during its time administering the occupation. He discusses how the United States has awarded contracts to companies that have been convicted of corruption and that the sum pledged by the United States, $18.4 billion, is only a third of the $55 billion recommended by the World Bank. The United States incompetence managing reconstruction efforts and the inability of people to meet their basic needs, has led to the increase in crime and resistance attacks.

The Freedom gives readers a picture of the occupation that is far different from what is encountered in the corporate media. Parenti’s book is a intriguing and useful and is one of the better published discussions of the Iraq War and its consequences.

Christian Parenti, The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq, (The New Press, 2004).

The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War

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Andrew E. Hunt’s The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War is an incredibly important book for students of the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, as a study of Vietnam Veterans Against the War presents an essential counterpoise to all of the literature that attacks those movements as consisting primarily of the children of the elite.

Vietnam Veterans Against the War were one of the most visible anti-war organizations in the United States after the break-up of Students for a Democratic Society and the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice. While SDS was an organization made up of largely radical students and campus intellectuals, and thus easy for the Nixon White House to dismiss, Vietnam Veterans Against the War was an organization made up entirely of veterans. These veterans had seen the horror of Vietnam and as a result of their experiences, came back opposed to the war and increasingly radicalized. While many members were radicalized by their post-Vietnam experience–the failure of the Democratic Party to end the war, the unresponsiveness of politicians to the veterans’ lobbying, and the other movements of the period–there was always a tension between the traditionally “liberal” members and the more radical members. Nevertheless, by the end of the war, the group was denouncing sexism, racism, imperialism, and capitalism and understanding the Vietnam War within the framework of global capitalism and imperialism.

The tactics of Vietnam Veterans Against the War were often dramatic, and consequently, the group was able to draw a considerable amount of media and popular attention. They staged a multiple-day guerilla theatre march through Pennsylvania, dubbed “Operation RAW” in which veterans dressed in military uniforms and carried fake M-16s and reenacting the “search and destroy” missions of Vietnam. At another demonstration they threw their medals on the steps of the capitol in Washington DC and denounced the war. They held highly visible investigations of atrocities in Vietnam and organized veterans to speak at the investigations. They tried to organize services for veterans, and while they lacked the infrastructure to do so, they were one of the earliest groups to make the effort. They tried to directly organize veterans returning from Vietnam by obtaining exit rolls, but the military denied them access while providing the lists to the VFW and the American Legion, and instead Vietnam Veterans Against the War was left to the lengthy process of contacting veterans by word of mouth.

The Turning is essential reading for students of the social movements of the sixties and the Vietnam War. While the ruling class and its media outlets have tried to rewrite the history of the antiwar movement, portraying it as hostile to soldiers and the working-class, The Turning refutes this argument by chronicling the history of a group that consisted of soldiers and primarily members of the working class.

Andrew E. Hunt, The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, (NYU Press, 2001).

Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance

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Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance is a scathing indictment of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and the United States quest for global dominance. As always, Chomsky brings an unparalleled knowledge of US foreign policy to the table and provides a detailed refutation of the idea that the United States’ actions are “humanitarian interventions” designed to protect the world from terrorism. Instead, Chomsky provides a plethora of information showing that most actions conducted by the United States are forms of state terrorism designed to maintain the United States’ position in the world at all costs.

Chomsky argues that President George W. Bush’s “new” “war on terror” is an extension of the policies undertaken during the Regan presidency. During the Regan administration, the United States government supported nefarious dictators, Islamic jihadists, and others as a way of confronting Regan’s “terrorists.” Chomsky cites numerous cases where these allies either committed great atrocities with the tacit approval of the U.S. government (East Timor and Colombia) or became “enemies” when they acted in a manner contrary to the United States’ wishes. Chomsky also discusses Regan’s elusive definition of terrorism where it was applied only to the actions of others and never the actions of the United States–just as is the case in Bush’s “war on terror.”

Taking the definition of terrorism presented in the U.S. legal code, Chomsky cites numerous examples of the United States engaging in terrorism in Cuba and Central America, demonstrated by the World Court’s condemnation of the United States for “unlawful use of force” (which Chomsky says is a synonym for international terrorism). With the continuity of officials between the two administrations, it is not much of a stretch to see the Bush administration’s foreign policy as a continuation of Reagan’s policies, but the Bush administration’s policy does differ in a significant way–it completely throws out any possibility that the United States might comply with international law, instead presenting a new legal justification through the new National Security Doctrine that states the United States has the right to act to maintain its position as the global superpower. However, the crux of the analysis is that the United States government’s position has been to secure its domination at all costs since 1950 and that US foreign policy must be seen within that context.

As with all of Chomsky’s works, Hegemony or Survival’s strengths are its meticulous documentation and readability. While the book does not offer anything “new” to most people coming from a perspective critical of the new US imperialism, it has plenty to offer liberal critics of the recent military actions against Iraq who saw them as just an isolated event.

Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, (Metropolitan Books, 2003).

Challenging the War on Terror and Stopping the Invasion of Iraq

Reprinted from The Rant (September 2002)

Despite the generally hostile climate towards people opposing the Bush administration’s war on terror immediately after September eleventh, and indeed the media’s continued hostility towards and failure to report dissenting views, there is growing evidence that a successful opposition movement can be built. Shortly after the attacks, many activists felt they were in an extreme minority, a feeling largely shaped by the media that has not reported on dissenting views.

In the months since September eleventh, the media has not adequately covered the growing movement against the war. If you get most of your news from one of the major US news outlets, you would see little coverage of a movement which has staged two major demonstrations in Washington DC and countless smaller actions across the country. On September 29th, 2001, just two weeks after the attacks, there was a demonstration with several thousand people on the National Mall, showing that mass dissent was possible and would not result in immediate arrest, public ridicule, or any number of other concerns raised by people who argued it was too soon to begin organizing against the poorly defined war on terror. While media coverage was limited, the rally was televised nationally on CSPAN and was not subject to police repression. A larger demonstration, involving a diverse coalitions of groups and participants numbers in the tens of thousands was held on April 20th, 2002, with thousands of demonstrators staging a simultaneous demonstration in San Francisco. In the year since the attacks, there have been a number of teach-ins on campuses, video screenings, marches, and other actions. Recently there have been an increasing number of protests against administration policy, gearing up for an October 26th national day of action against the potential invasion of Iraq. The most dramatic of these recent protests was on August 22nd in Portland, where 3,000 non-violent protestors were assaulted by police with pepper spray and rubber bullets for voicing their dissent, while the police department has come under scrutiny for their handling of the protests.

Clearly, those opposing the war administration policy are not alone and while the media may help the Bush administration by minimizing dissent and espousing their belief that it is the patriotic duty of Americans not to question administration policy, they are increasingly unable to hide the fact that public approval for the war on terror is not nearly as unanimous as was once believed. While statistics are not the best way to gauge public opinion, it is worth noting that a recent survey of Michigan voters indicated that 47% of people believe Bush has not made a convincing case for invading Iraq with 44% of people said that they opposed an invasion of Iraq. While approximately 60% of people support military action against Iraq on the national scale, at the current time there is no poll indicating how people feel about military action now that Iraq has agreed to allow inspectors to return. Ironically, as the Bush administration seeks to expand their war they are simultaneously strengthening the opposition.

It is of utmost importance that those who are opposed to the war take advantage of the current climate and begin organizing against the potential invasion of Iraq. We need to continue making coalitions, doing outreach, and most importantly engaging in highly visible actions designed to influence the United States government. At the present, the public is divided, which can be used to the advantage of dissenting groups who should experience a more positive response to their actions and resulting in more participation. Not only will there be more participation, but it should be more diverse as more groups being to oppose military action in Iraq. A successful movement could be effective in pushing public opinion against an invasion of Iraq and if that opinion threatens the politicians’ reelection prospects, they will listen. Aside from the increase in numbers, we know the Bush administration has not made a case that justifies the invasion, that 5,000 Iraqi children die each month as a result of the sanctions, and that an attack will serve to motivate future terrorism. Organize!