7 years of shock and awe

03/27/2010 § Leave a comment

march 19 marked year 7 since the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.  with health care dominating, and afghanistan refocused, anti-war protests went by with little fanfare.

at least 1.2 million iraqi deaths, 5+ million refugees, over 30,000 US combat deaths and 100,000 wounded.  glad to pay lockheed martin, northrup grummond, halliburton, blackwater aka XE aka US training center and friends a big chunk of that $700+ billion for iraq war spending; a personal $5,358 per taxpayer.

i took this video of activist city councilor chuck turner at a demonstration outside the democratic national convention in 2004.  john kerry was being anointed presidential nominee while democrats tried to out-republican the republicans.  selling ‘war on terror’ rhetoric and supporting occupation.  boston itself was under lockdown, with something like $50 million in new riot gear, surveillance cameras, and a constitutionally insulting “free speech zone” (glorified dog kennel) where residents were to exercise their 1st amendment rights out of sight of the fleet center’s delegates and dignitaries.

chuck’s speech is a passionate indictment of the military industrial complex that drives both democratic and republican parties, but also advances an internal conversation critiquing the relevance of the mainline peace movement with working class communities of color.

6 years later, this speech predicted a strategic failure of peace organizing.  US defense spending totals more than the next 15 countries combined.  but the mainstream peace banner was narrow and humanitarian in framing: “troops home now from iraq.”

so, campaigning as an anti-iraq-war candidate, obama was able to absorb anti-war resources and co-opt broad resistance.  his liberal slight of hand appeased iraq war angst while maintaining Bush-era military spending.  anti-war rhetoric without critique of the military industrial complex has left us with an afghanistan bait and switch.

this was eisenhower’s caveat, dr. king’s riverside church speech, and chuck’s point above.   leveraging a statement by rep. barney frank, dorchester people for peace have been growing a campaign to cut the defense budget by 25%.  funds would be reallocated towards jobs and human services.

as people of conscience, we must accept our culpability in this horrific preemptive invasion.  so let’s talk about reparations for iraqis.

and then lets talk about reinvesting in our own communities.  the US is 30th in infant mortality, 48th highest homicide rate (deadliest western industrialized nation), and 19% of our children live in poverty.  what we could do with a few hundred billion extra each year…

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