See you in Fayetteville

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And there will be a second annual demonstration in Fayetteville to oppose the war. This is not your typical Chapel Hill gathering of peaceniks and hippies making each other feel better. This event is being organized by veterans and military families (see below) who are most directly feeling the costs of this war.

Make no mistake, we all pay for it: in our ballooning federal deficit, in our decreased security, in the repression of the media, and so many more ways. But military families have the most to lose, and a lot to say.

Please join people from all across the South for this historic event.

Gather: 10 a.m. at Cumberland County Health Center, 227 Fountainhead Lane (see for directions). Brief rally at 11 a.m.

March: Noon; ends at Rowan Street Park.

Rally: 1-4 p.m. Speakers include: Lou Plummer, Fayetteville Peace With Justice and Military Families Speak Out; Kelly Dougherty, Colorado National Guard MP and co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Cindy Sheehan, California mother of slain soldier Casey Sheehan and co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace; Nancy Lessin and Charlie Richardson, Philadelphia parents of Iraq War Marine veteran and co-founders of Military Families Speak Out.

I attended it last year and was inspired by the diverse voices articulating a clear message for peace. If you can't send your body, send your love and send money!

The originating sponsors:
Bring Them Home Now
Fayetteville Peace With Justice
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Military Families Speak Out
NC Council of Churches
NC Peace & Justice Coalition
Quaker House, Fayetteville
United for Peace and Justice
Veterans For Peace



Anyone interested in another take on the Fayetteville protest ought to read today's Dennis Rogers column in the N&O:

He starts with this: I thought Paul Rieckhoff, a veteran of the war in Iraq, put it best: "Rallying against the war by marching at Fort Bragg is like protesting the cows if you don't like McDonald's."

While fully in agreement with the right to protest, he observes:

"It seems to me that if you wanted to stop the war, you'd take your message to the people who could do something about it. They are not at Fort Bragg.

"To find them, head north on I-95 to Washington. There you will find a whole nest of big-talk chicken hawks who have been more than willing to send Fort Bragg soldiers into combat while they remain behind, as they did in earlier wars.

"If the marchers really wanted to convince the decision-makers in whose hands rest the fate of the troops -- instead of just get some TV air time for themselves and their cause -- they'd rally at the White House and the Pentagon, not Fayetteville.

"Staging an antiwar protest in Fayetteville smells like a self-serving publicity stunt. The organizers know they will draw simple-minded national media attention just because they're protesting war near Fort Bragg."

And he concludes with:

"It seems to me that you best support the troops by demonstrating in word and deed that you care about them. You pay them what they're worth. You take care of their families. You honor their sacrifice. You provide them state-of-the-art health care during and especially after their military service.

"Telling them war is bad only adds to their burden.

"They know that, far more than most protesters ever will."

I don't always agree with the positions that he takes in his columns, but it this one, I think veteran Rogers is expressing the views of many other veterans, active military and their families.

Well, the stated reason is to go to Fayetteville to show support for soldiers. So there is some logic to that. You could also argue that protests against the death penalty should be done at the State or National Capitals, not at the prison, but that has never seemed incongruous to me.

My question to these protesters is, what do they think the result of an immediate pullout would be, and is this the result they desire? We've made a hell of a mess in Iraq. Yet withdrawal, while in keeping with the tenants of pacifism, would I think create a greater disaster.

AP: Peace rally attracts about 3,000 near Fort Bragg

There were definitely more people there than last year. A great crowd. And fewer counter-demonstrators, although they were just as incoherent as last time. The speakers were great. I also noticed many more military service men (didn't see service women) attending the protest publicly, ie: in full or partial uniform/fatigues. I know some who were there last year, but this time they were a strong presence... in spite of the military police who were present videotaping protesters, documenting license plates, and trying to pester those in uniform. That was really disgusting.

Anyway, here are a few photos I took with my phone:

Fred--Dennis Rogers' view sounds extremely cynical--think through that 'cows of McDonald's' metaphor (who is McDonald's here? what does McDonald's do with its cows? Do you think a protest at a ranch used by McDonald's would be unsympathetic to the cows?). The point of protesting at Fort Bragg was to honor the decision of many soldiers and military families to protest this war, not to protest the soldiers. I think this message mostly got through. Ed--A majority of Iraqis want the US to leave, according to numerous polls. The second plank in the coalition which won the elections recently held in Iraq declared that the US should leave soon. Iraq is in chaos. A US withdrawal would be a way to begin to undo that chaos. If I have a complaint with the protests, it is that they are not talking enough about the torture and other human rights violations being committed by the US and its allies in the region. The amount of money being spent on the war (much less than is lost to the government through Bush's tax cuts) is the least of it. I'm puzzled that in three slogans and five additional points, protest organizers never mentioned either human rights or international law.

If the US had pulled out a year ago, many people in Fallujah would still be alive, and their city would not be reduced to rubble. Probably the shiites would be in a similar position to that they are today--sort of powerful, but needing to work with sunnis to create a stable Iraq. Without the US there, they would have more incentive to just negotiate their way out of this mess. At least some of the 108 Iraqis murdered in US custody would probably be alive.
Be realistic about what is going on. The US is not some kind of barrier to civil war. The US is trying to build up its bases, and squeeze whatever government it can pull together to bend to US economic plans. Meanwhile, the US has focused so obsessively on limiting its own casualties that a. it has murdered numerous Iraqis (and at least one Italian) at checkpoints and b. it cannot offer any security for the Iraqi troops it is enlisting, resulting in numberless beheadings, car bombings, etc. The US should get out, and deliver substantial aid to repair what it has destroyed. The end of the occupation should be orderly, for the security of everyone, so if you want to quibble about six months or six weeks, that's fine. But the US is accomplishing nothing by being there that is in the interest of Iraqis, rather than some groups of Americans. That is why sentiment in Iraq is strongly in favor of the US leaving. Bill: US military spokespeople are not reliable sources on what's going on in Iraq. I suggest you refer to the one piece of information they can't easily distort or suppress (although they try!): the US casualty count. Not very clear evidence of a declining insurgency. It tends to be cyclical: a couple months of relative quiet, then it picks up again... The real question, so evaded by the US press/military (is there a difference at this point?) is why Iraqis overwhelmingly voted against the US' guy (Alawi) and instead chose a coalition calling for the US to leave and undo the economic changes the US imposed.

Maybe the chaos isn't as bad as you think:

"The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, a development that he called evidence that the insurgency was weakening in one of the most violent areas of the country.

The officer, Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, head of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said that insurgents were averaging about 10 attacks a day, and that fewer than two of those attacks killed or wounded American forces or damaged equipment. That compared with 25 attacks a day, five of them with casualties or damage, in the weeks leading up to the pivotal battle of Falluja in November, he said."

The notion that if the US pulled out now all the killing would stop and Iraq would return to the peaceful kite-flying country that Michael Moore and Sean Penn would have you believe it was is absurd and hopelessly naive.

Ruby, it may be an incorrect assumption to think that all of those whom you saw in uniforms or partial uniforms were on active duty. I suspect many were veterans, and some were just people who had uniform parts. FWIW, soldiers no longer wear fatigues, the now wear BDUs - Battle Dress Uniform.

Were the military police whom you saw videotaping protesters, documenting license plates, and trying to pester those in uniform wearing uniforms themselves? If not, they maybe were federal officers and not in the military.

Steve, the McDonald thing came from Paul Rieckhoff, a veteran of the war in Iraq, and was repeated by Rogers in his column.

Has anyone considered the contridiction of the US government (NOAA) being sued because it didn't do enought to monitor the Indian Ocean and warn people about the approaching tsunami ? Seems like it's hard for the US to please anybody.

Pull out as soon as possible, absolutely. Immediately, I think not. If the US had pulled out a year ago, would things be better now or worse? I'm thinking much worse.

Damn, but I hate being in the position of supporting anything about this disaster. I sound too much like my parents during the Vietnam war. But if there is a chance at something good coming out of this, I support it. If civil war is inevitable, if the majority won't support democracy, we might have to get out anyway. But not now, when there is some encouragement.

Steve, if we can't rely on the word of the top marine that the insurgency is fading, then I can't rely on your account that some mysterious poll out there says that the iraqis want the US to leave. Produce it please...

Fair enough:

As Newsweek reported in its Jan. 31 edition: "Now every major poll shows an ever-larger majority of Iraqis want the Americans to leave."

Here's the original article. (!disturbing photo alert!)

I checked out the original article in Newsweek. I have a few problems:

1. The author never specifies *which* poll he is referring to...all he says is "Now every major poll shows an ever-larger majority of Iraqis want the Americans to leave.". Well, which polls? Let's be specific.

2. Even worse than not naming the poll, we aren't privvy to the internals: how was the question worded? margin of error? who did he ask? If he asked all Baathists and Sunnis, I would say that's not a very fair representation of the population. That's like asking 7 democrats and 3 republicans on the way out of the voting booth who they voted for and then just assuming that Kerry was going to win Florida based on that poll.

All that aside, I have to ask "so what"? Just because a poll says they want us to leave doesn't really mean anything. It could mean "The US has ruined this country and I want them gone" or it could mean "We are ready to run Iraq on our own so thanks for the help, we'll take over now."


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