As people return to work and school this fall, the anti-war movement is preparing to return to the streets.
Over the summer the increasing death toll among Iraqis and U.S. military personnel has been reported daily. U.S. troop presence in Iraq is now over 140,000. Recent U.S. polls show that a majority of Americans view the war in Iraq as a mistake and want the troops to come home. To highlight this growing opposition, two nationally coordinated rounds of action have been set for this fall.
The first round of anti-war events is a week of peace actions from Sept. 21 through the 28. A Declaration of Peace has been circulating across the country over the summer asking people to sign an anti-war statement. The second round calls for local demonstrations to be held Oct. 28, 10 days before the U.S. election.
The Declaration of Peace (www.declarationofpeace.org) calls for the U.S. government: to bring the U.S. troops home; to close U.S. bases in Iraq; to support a peace process for security, reconstruction and reconciliation; and to shift funding from war to meeting human needs.
In the Twin Cities, there will be a three-day Fast for Peace starting on Monday, Sept. 18 and running through Wednesday, Sept. 20. The fast is timed to end as the Declaration of Peace actions begin. The Twin Cities Peace Campaign–Focus on Iraq is organizing the fast (see worldwidewamm.org). There will be a constant presence on the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all three days.
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, there will be a large vigil on the bridge from 5 to 6 p.m.
The call for the fast says, in part, “We are deeply troubled and morally outraged at the violence and destruction that currently is being perpetrated not only in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and Palestine. It is our conviction that the killing and maiming of thousands of innocent children is an indefensible act of terrorism. Recent reports out of Iraq indicate that more than 6,000 Iraqis died during the months of May and June (55 percent of them children under the age of 15) and that close to 100 Iraqi civilians die every day.”
The statement goes on to say, “It is our hope that this public fast will help raise awareness of people in our community, and will be a way to invigorate ourselves to speak out against the violence being perpetrated against the people of the Middle East.”
On Saturday, Sept. 23 a march and rally against the war will be held in South Minneapolis. The event begins at 12 Noon at Hennepin & Lagoon Avenues in Uptown and will demand: “Stop the U.S. War in Iraq! U.S.Troops Out Now!”
Opposition to U.S. troops in Iraq is growing in Iraq as well as in the U.S. A Iraqi opinion survey recently conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research shows huge opposition to the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq among the Iraqi people. A breakdown of some of the survey data has been published by Arab Media Picks on the website Abu Aardvark.
The article states, “The bottom line: 97.7 percent of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition troops in the country, up from 74.4 in 2004. 84.5 percent are “strongly opposed.” Among Sunnis, opposition to the U.S. presence went from 94.6 percent to 97.9 percent (97.2 percent “strongly opposed”). Shi’ite opposition to the U.S. presence went from 81.2 percent to 94.6 percent, with “strongly opposed” going from 63.5 percent to 89.7 percent. Even among the Kurds, opposition went from 19.6 percent to 63.3 percent.
In other words, it isn’t just that the Iraqis oppose the American presence—it’s that their feelings are intense: only 7.2 percent “somewhat oppose” and 4.7 percent “somewhat support” the American presence in Iraq.