Speech by Chris Gauvreau of Connecticut United for Peace (CTUP), March 21, 2009, Washington, DC
It has been difficult to build this demonstration, because each day the corporate media runs a story about how the war in Iraq is winding down. But this morning when I woke up I read the moving appeal from the Iraq Veterans and the Military Families. They said that we must keep marching until every last troop and mercenary is brought home from Iraq and the Iraqi people have true self-determination. And I read the appeal from Iraqi trade unionists meeting in February to steel themselves to step up the fight against the theft of Iraqi oil by U.S. corporations with the blessing of the U.S. backed occupation regime. They plead for our solidarity against the criminal plans that Exxon and Washington have cooked up for their country. In Pakistan, thousands are demonstrating against the regime that is allowing the U.S. military to use drones to bomb and assassinate and stoke civil war. In Afghanistan, the women that the U.S. government claims to be saving with bombs and drones are nailing the U.S. backed regime in Kabul for failing to prosecute so called honor killings of young females.
And Gaza: My friend Saeed who just returned from Gaza says that those resilient and tireless people refuse to be driven from their land and STILL stand defiantly in the veritable rubble of their homes, offering tea to the strangers on solidarity visits from Europe and the U.S.
Those most deeply affected by this war know that it is most definitely NOT over. Further, the economic crisis that drove the U.S. government to undertake this vast military intervention into the Middle East and South Asia, that drove the U.S. elites to undertake this campaign to gain some competitive advantage by means of the energy resources of the region, may just be beginning. Without a militant and independent movement in the streets, exposing each and every escalation of this war, we can expect only more and more desperate military acts in the service of corporate America.
That is why this demonstration, though smaller than some held in the past, is a victory. This demonstration today is a victory whose magnitude you might not yet fully appreciate. It is a victory over the most sophisticated dream machine the U.S. elite has had at its disposal for some time. A dream machine that has weekly fed stories to the media assuring us that the war is over and mobilization unnecessary.
We are the first to mobilize in significant numbers against a government incapable of meeting the needs of those of us who work for a living. We are the first to show the Iraqis, Afghanis, Palestinians that we are still fighting for their right to self-determination. We have proven to those forces in Washington who thought that sweet talk and promises would kill our movement that they are dead wrong and put fear of the antiwar movement’s power back in their hearts.
When I look out over this crowd, I see the people who have the confidence and skills and passion to bring the truth about Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine to the increasingly desperate working people of this country. I see the leaders in training who will rebuild an antiwar movement that links arms with the immigrant workers meeting now from one end of the country to another, and calling for an end to the militarization of the border and the paramilitary ICE raids that are conducted under the umbrella of the so-called war on terror. I see the activists who will plan the next mass mobilization, a mobilization that has the potential to bring in the thousands of new fighters who have recently earned their spurs in the occupation of Republic Windows or the sit downs at the Colibri factory in Rhode Island or in the fight to keep social services flowing. I see the leaders who will make the demand for immediate withdrawal of all the troops, mercenaries, bases, and military aid the natural cry of every family fighting the cruelties being imposed in the name of economic recovery.
Mass united front type actions, independent of the war party, will allow us to grow this movement to encompass the increasing number of veterans, soldiers, unionists, and community activists that are looking for a way to fight back. From every community, people will be looking for a way to articulate their opposition to the priorities of Washington. I urge you all to join me and hundreds of others in an open antiwar conference in July to discuss just how we might grow such mobilizations in today’s political situation. Collective discussions like this are essential if we are to engage those just now coming to understand the roots and impact of the war.
Money for Jobs and Education, not War and Occupation! Out Now!