Purge Not Surge
US anti-war marches draw hundreds of thousands
Bush & Congress: Enough is Enough! End the War Now!
(29 January 2007) - HUNDREDS of thousands of people from across the United States converged on Washington, DC on Saturday 27 January to put President George W. Bush and Congress on notice: "We have had enough. We demand an end to the war now. We want all the troops home now!" There is no debate, no confusion. It is not a matter of simply opposing an escalation.
Demonstrators arrived in Washington in trains, airplanes, and a caravan of 300 buses from various points throughout the country.
When Bush announced plans to carry out more crimes against the Iraqi people in his 10 January speech, with the US having already escalated its wars by bombing Somalia, killing many civilians, Americans across the country immediately protested. More than 1,000 actions took place either on the day Bush spoke, or the next day, Thursday, 11 January, demanding an immediate end to the war against Iraq, no funds for war, and all US troops home now and full funding for their medical needs.
The level of anger was indicated by the fact that the number of actions jumped from a couple of hundred to more than 500, than more than 1000 over the course of a few days. Many actions were successful despite being called with one to two days notice. They also included demonstrations for impeachment and to close the Guantánamo concentration camp.
Next week the US Senate plans a vote on a non-binding resolution expressing opposition to Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, but Bush made his position clear Friday: "I'm the decision-maker!" and practically told the legislators they can stick their non-binding resolutions wherever they please. It is also a slap in the face to the overwhelming vote in November against war.
Actor Sean Penn summed up the new energy -- and the new focus -- of the anti-war movement, when he turned Bush's own words against the president. Penn told anti-war demonstrators gathered in Washington that Bush would be wise to review the Constitution. "In a democracy," the actor told the cheering crowd, which organizers said numbered in the hundreds of thousands, "we are the deciders."
Moreover, the many signs calling for impeachment and Purge Not Surge made clear that the effort by Bush and top Democrats to divert resistance to simply opposing escalation of the war rather than the war itself is not succeeding.
The sentiment to impeach Bush for war crimes was very broad as was the refusal to accept anything less than an end to the war now and no more aggressive wars, against Iran, Cuba or any other country.
Iraq war veterans and military families were out in force. More than 150 military families, members of Military Families Speak Out, traveled to the US capital to join the march and rally. Common Dreams News Center reports that military families are calling on Congress to vote against the upcoming appropriation request that would allow the war in Iraq to continue. Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), an organization of over 3,200 military families who are opposed to the war in Iraq, is the largest organization of military families opposing a war in the history of the United States.
The demonstration, estimated by organizers at nearly 500,000, brought out many new participants. Many families marched, as did many young girls ten and twelve years old and high school youth, rejecting military recruiters in their schools and refusing to serve in the military. The action also represented the increasingly broad character of resistance to war and aggression. Many collectives identified themselves, including farmers, park rangers, psychologists and more. They marched alongside increasing numbers of religious, labour and women's groups. Many states were also represented, including Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and others.
Protesters surrounded the Capitol, making clear that Congress is the target and that there is no patience for the Democrats' refrain that "moving too quickly will harm the troops."
To this the protesters said, "Not one more death, American or Iraqi! Not one cent, not one youth for war!" The only way to defend the rights of the peoples is to bring all the troops home now and block all wars of aggression.
While different groups and speakers advocated reducing the anti war movement to the level of a lobby group, the US Marxist-Leninist Organization in a statement pointed out: "It is also the case that the Democratic majority in Congress seems to think there is a debate as to when and whether to end the war. There is a definite effort by Democrats to change the focus from the clear demand of the people to end the war now, to simply opposing escalation. There is also emphasis going to the need to secure 'bipartisan support' for the various bills and resolutions, which again means continuing the war.
"The action today and many others make clear: the Democrats are on notice. Their failure to act to end the war now will mean their failure as a political party. No illusions will remain. This presents the opportunity to build up a new electoral system, one where the votes of the people count and the will of the people is enforced."
While Bush escalates and Congress refuses to act, the militant anti-war spirit of American protesters was firm and resolute. Whether young or old, veteran or new-comer, from the south or west or north or east, there was one voice and there was one stand - "Now is the time to end the war, now is the time to bring all U.S. troops home, now is the time to stop funding war. Now! We do not accept a pro-war government. If Congress does not submit to the will of the people, let the Democrats beware - the people are preparing to bring forward their own anti-war government."
Saturday's demonstration in Washington was just one of more than 50 held around the United States this past weekend.
In San Francisco, a protest against Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq turned out 5,000 demonstrators.
In Los Angeles, thousands took to the streets, with many carrying signs that said "Impeach Bush."
In Seattle, more than 1,000 people turned out to protest. Among the speakers at that rally was first Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to face prosecution for refusing to serve in Iraq.
With files from Voice of Revolution (www.usmlo.org), IPS, Common Dreams, NY Times
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