Meredith Aby, Marie Braun, and Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness speak out about the new wars in Syria and Iraq during Peace Week, 2014.
Speeches given on September 23, 2014 at the Syria Emergency Reponse action at the Federal Building in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Marie Braun, WAMM
Thank you for coming here today to speak out against U.S. military action in Syria.
Sunday, September 21, was the International Day of Peace, and throughout this week there will be peace events around the world organized by people who are yearning for peace—people who want to put to end to war and all the pain and misery that accompanies war.
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While people around the world are calling for peace and a cessation of hostilities, our country is again bombing another country in the Middle East. On Monday, the United States launched airstrikes in Syria targeting the Islamic State, as well as members of a separate militant organization known as the Khorasan group. The Pentagon says U.S. forces launched 47 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles from warships in the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf. In addition, U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighters, bombers and drones took part in the airstrikes.
Again, these strikes do not have international backing. There is no U.N. resolution, nor is there congressional approval. And look at the coalition the U.S. claims to have brought together—Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates —some of the most repressive governments in the Middle East.
After six weeks of airstrikes in Iraq, which, according to the New York Times, have “failed to budge ISIL in Iraq,” our President orders the same strategy in Syria with airstrikes of “unbelievable intensity” according to a reporter on the ground in Syria. And he has expanded the air war in Iraq by launching airstrikes in the Kirkuk region of Iraq.
Let us not forget the large demonstration on climate change that took place in New York City. The timing is interesting. The day that the world should be coming together to say, “How do we address the climate chaos that can destroy our planet?” our eyes are now being focused on the U.S. bombing campaign in Syria.
The people of the world are calling for solutions, solutions to both the climate crisis and nonviolent political solutions to the issue of extremists. What is the Obama administration giving us? Support for the oil monarchies, support for U.S. oil companies, and a recipe for endless war.
It is important that we are clear that there is no imminent threat to the United States right now. This is a lie promoted by our government and the mainstream media. The U.S. has been searching for a justification for an attack on Syria. First it was to protect U.S. personnel inside Iraq, then it was for humanitarian reasons. And now it’s the imminent threat of the Khorasan group, a new group that few have even heard of. If, indeed, there is an imminent threat, our government should be protecting us here at home, not going to war in yet another Middle Eastern country.
And, again, our government is going to war without a well-thought out policy. There appears to be no endgame . . . like Libya, where the result of U.S. military involvement is a failed state that is helping to spread extremism throughout the Middle East. This military mindset can only lead to more extremism, to endless war, and to less security for the people of the U.S..
So, I thank you again for being here. We must continue to keep up the pressure—getting out on the streets, calling the President and our Congresspeople, demanding that the U.S. stop breaking international law.
Meredith Aby-Keirstead, Anti-War Committee and WAMM
Last night the US war on terror expanded in a new way in Syria with 20 targets hit by US bombers. 47 tomahawk missiles were launched from two destroyers. The skies of Syria were filled last night with US surveillance drones. I can only imagine the fear and devastation the US caused last night to the people of Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that 160 people were killed during last night’s attack on Syria including 31 civilians.While the president has focused his rhetoric on fear mongering, it is important that the American people know what the president is really doing in their name.
Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at Institute for Policy Studies who has spoken in Minneapolis several times for MPAC on Iraq, explained the realities of this bombing campaign today, “You can’t bomb extremism out of existence. The U.S. bombs do not fall on ‘extremism,'” they are falling on Raqqah, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people—men, women and children who had no say in the take-over of their city by ISIS. The Pentagon is bombing targets like the post office and the governor’s compound, and the likelihood of large number of civilian casualties as well as devastation of the ancient city, is almost certain.”
Bombing is not the only way the US is growing the war in Syria. The president’s plan is for US intervention in Syria to expand and continue for years. Obama is working a program to train an extra 5,000 “moderate rebels”— who US officials privately concede “don’t really exist.” This war has spread from an internal conflict to a regional one and is now on the brink of becoming even bigger. At each stage the US has poured gasoline on the fire by sending in more weapons and troops. At every turn more US intervention has made the reality of life for the Syrian people harder.
President Obama last week told the American people he was authorizing a war on ISIS. It’s debatable whether or not he even has the authority to do that, but in the first night of US bombing Obama targeted ISIS and the Nusra Front and the Khorasan. So in the first week of the “mission” we’ve already seen mission creep. Even mainstream news sources today have remarked that they were surprised that the war has expanded so quickly to new targets. Who will be bombed tomorrow?
It’s important to note that this war is not just in Syria. The U.S. also launched four more airstrikes in Iraq last night, bringing the total number since August, 2014 to 194! US-backed attacks by government forces this month killed 31 civilians, including 24 children, in a school near Tikrit. Bombing campaigns and support for the puppet Iraqi government will only further the conflict and enlarge ethnic tensions in Iraq. Current US foreign policy will not bring democracy, freedom or peace to Iraq or Syria!
I feel like I’m watching foreign policy déjà vu. This is almost an exact replay of other chapters of the U.S. war on terror. We are seeing the cycle again repeated of more bombings which will fuel more attacks which will be used as excuses for more attacks. The Guardian newspaper reported that since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process. This is the path of imperialism—not of peace.
As one friend told me – you don’t call an arsonist to put out a fire.
Our role is to stop this escalation. We have the power to put out this fire. Last year we stopped the president from attaching Syria. This year Obama has used a sophisticated set of techniques to convince people that US intervention would be helpful. We need to use the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan to challenge his version of recent history. I work with young people who have no memories of the world before this endless war on terror.
We need to stop this never-ending US war. Hands off Syria! Stop the bombing now!
Sarah Martin, WAMM
How many of you were at Hiawatha and lake just three days ago calling for an end to the war on iraq and no new war in Syria? Well here we are again and it is very important that we are here now to say and show clearly what this us intervention is really all about. This morning there was a demonstration in front of the White House and there is a call for demonstrations to be held across the country this week.
We know the so called Islamic state would not be the major force today if it were not for the us military aggression that destroyed the strong secular nationalist states of Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. This was followed by the catastrophic support for the armed opposition in Syria. These brutal wars, occupations and bombings were/are all based on lies and pretexts. Even the latest, the beheadings of the journalists which rightly horrified the world, are suspicious. According to reports it may well be a brigade of the so-called moderate Syrians detained one of the journalists and then sold him to ISIS. These are the same “moderates” Congress just voted to arm and train.
President Obama sought to tout the attacks on ISIS as part of a “broad coalition” with Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qtar and Saudi Arabia. But These countries are all enemies of Assad and have been arming the opposition in Syria trying to oust him. It is very logical to assume this bombing intervention is a pretext for regime change in Syria.
After six weeks of ever-intensifying US airstrikes the Obama Administration officials are hyping the “progress” in their new war in Iraq. The situation on the ground, however, does not bear that out.
Far from progress, only a handful of frontline towns have changed hands and ISIS controls the same massive chunk of Iraq it did when the US started launching attacks. So it seems bombing doesn’t work all that well.
But the real reasons, of course, are not to protect and deliver the Iraqi and Syrian populations from ISIS. It’s the same old, same old: to maintain economic and political control in the part of the world which has 2/3 of the world’s oil.
Marie Braun is a member of WAMM who has been honored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation Peacemakers of the Year award with husband John Braun and received a Courageous Woman Award from the Women’s Resource Center at Augsburg College and a Hawkinson Foundation Honorary Award with husband John Braun for their work for peace and justice.
Meredith Aby is an active member of the Anti-War Committee in the Twin Cities as well as a board member of WAMM. Four years ago, September 24, 2014, Meredith’s home was raided and she was subpoenaed by the FBI, along with several other Twin City activists, because of work in solidarity with people’s movements worldwide. She has worked against war and for peace and justice since the founding of the Anti-War Committee in 1998.
Sarah Martin has worked tirelessly for peace and justice as a member of WAMM since its founding in 1982. She has been a part of committees opposing war in many parts of the world and has attended countless demonstrations against war. Sarah was also subpoenaed by the FBI for work in solidarity with people’s movements worldwide.