Here we are --
Five years of war and occupation.
Four thousand American lives taken. Tens of thousands of our soldiers terribly wounded.
A country flattened - utterly destroyed.
A million of that country's citizens ... dead. Four million of them refugees - homeless.
Our democracy and constitutional rights in tatters.
Our standard of living; our economy - poised on the edge of a cliff.
According to the Pew Research firm: in November, 28 percent of news stories were about the war. Today - just 3 percent! It's the war that has disappeared from the front pages of our papers and the screens of our televisions.
The endlessly chattering experts on our op ed pages and TV screens have now pronounced "the economy" as the new problem. It has replaced the war, we are told, as the main concern of Americans. "The surge is working," is repeated over and over and Republican candidate John McBush says "I told you so."
But it's not just the economy, is it? No, it's the WAR economy!
It's not just a recession. It's the WAR recession!
Is that so difficult for the so-called experts to comprehend? Somehow they just can't find a connection between spending a half-trillion dollars for war in Iraq and the huge, gaping hole in our economy that it has produced.
The media and their well-paid talking heads, complicit in selling this war-based-on-lies in the first place will never connect the two: the war and the economy, in the second place. Not now. Not ever. That will be up to us.
A week after Bush rejected the charge that the war has damaged the economy, Nobel Laureate, Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist, Linda Bilmes published a new book that exposed the President and his gang for the house-wreckers that they are. Their book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, The True Cost of the Iraq War, concludes that the true cost, so far, has been a breathtaking three trillion dollars!
Sixty-seven percent of the American people want the war to end now and feel it was a huge mistake. This, despite the surge and the propagandist spin to make it seem the success that it's not. This, despite the prattle that would have us forget the war or detach it from the very serious problems that are piling up at home: jobs disappearing, homes being lost to shady mortgages, lack of affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans, an environment that is in a state of toxic shock.
There's a big job to be done on this the fifth anniversary of Bush's war and occupation of Iraq. Nobody will raise the question of the war and the need to end it now - nobody except us: the peace movement, the activists, those who can see clearly the source of the problems hovering over our country and the world.
So this week, in thousands of communities across our country, thousands of us have been out in the streets, talking to people, handing out fliers, taking a moral and patriotic stand by sitting in and getting arrested, demonstrating and marching. Our mantra -- Five Years of War...Five Years Too Many!
In one of the most amazing actions of this run-up to the fifth anniversary, veterans of the Iraq war held Winter Soldier hearings in Maryland on the 40th anniversary of the My Lai massacre. In gut wrenching and terrifying testimony, these veterans gave eyewitness indictments of atrocities committed by US troops during the ongoing occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers spoke of free-fire zones, the shootings and beatings of innocent civilians, racism at the highest levels of the military, sexual harassment and assault within the military, and the torturing of prisoners. It is something you must watch and share with others.
Flier from Brooklyn For Peace distributed and posted in Brooklyn neighborhoods. Click on the image above for a pdf file you can print and distribute or forward to friends.
Here, in Brooklyn, we've been preparing for this week's actions against the war. Last night, at a big beautiful book store/performance space in Brooklyn's DUMBO, dubbed the Powerhouse Arena. activists and others gathered to hear speakers from peace, veterans and military families organizations.
The Brooklyn For Peace table at Powerhouse Arena yesterday. Many other organizations were represented.
An Iraqi veteran addresses the crowd in DUMBO.
Code Pink and the War Resistors League were there.
Leslie Kielson of UFPJ prepares her speech.
A dramatic exhibition on the real cost of war: soldier's boots representing the 175 soldiers from New York state lost to Bush's lies.
After the Speak Out at Powerhouse we walked up the block to St. Anne's Warehouse. This was the scene of a fundraiser for United for Peace and Justice. Musicians and dancers put on a fabulous concert filled with powerful performances against the war. Emceed by author/activist Laura Flanders and TV star Richard Belzer, the performers included Lou Reed, Damien Rice, Nora Jones, Bill T. Jones, David Byrne and Laurie Anderson. Over a thousand New Yorkers packed in to this DUMBO space on Water Street and responded to the artists' pleas to turn up the heat for peace.
Lou Reed and his band crank out a jarring and bitter version of the Star Spangled Banner.
Nora Jones sang sweetly and softly ... about elections.
In perhaps the most stirring performance of the night, Bill T. Jones, sang the old Irish anti-war folk song, Mrs. McGrath, and then interpreted the pain and agony of war through dance.
David Byrne performed, backed up by Nora Jones and Damien Rice (at right)
And finally, performance artist Laurie Anderson sang her devastating composition, "Only An Expert." You can listen to it on You Tube, (click below). In it she brilliantly takes on the spinmeisters and propagandists of government and media who sugar coat the ghastly violence of this nation's war machine.
Laurie Anderson ... she blew me away!
Listen to the song that Laurie Anderson performed: "It Takes An Expert."
Being out on my neighborhood's streets, I see that people are demoralized. After all, the war has continued for five years. This, despite the overwhelming opposition to it - here at home and around the world. "Protest doesn't accomplish anything so why bother?" But, even if it doesn't succeed in ending the war (and I firmly believe that, in the end, it will be the pressure of the American people that will still hand or the war makers) we must not be silent. Martin Luther King uttered these words many years ago:
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."This Saturday, March 22nd at noon, New Yorkers will form a human chain from river to river along Manhattan's 14th Street to protest five years of Bush's horrible war. Thinking of Martin's words, we should all be there. Click here for details of Saturday's action.