Cindy Sheehan Boosts American Anti-war Movement
By Alison Bodine
"We all know by now that that's not true, and I want to ask George Bush, 'Why did my son die? What was the noble cause that he died for?' I don't want President Bush to use my son's name or my family name to justify any more killing or to exploit my son's name, my son's sacrifice, or my son's honour to justify more killing. As a mother, why would I want one more mother to go through what I'm going through, Iraqi or American? And I want to tell him that the only way to honour my son's sacrifice is to bring the troops home now."
- Cindy Sheehan
Casey Sheehan died April 2nd 2004 in Sadr City, one of the almost 1,900 soldiers killed in Iraq since the war began. On November 4th 2004 Cindy Sheehan, his mother, wrote a letter to US President George Bush, asking him why her son died. From this sprung protest and inquisition on the floor of the US Congress, a 'Bring Them Home Now' speaking tour and Camp Casey, a 24-hour vigil outside George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Grown out of a mother's love, the cry of Cindy Sheehan has given the anti-war movement a boost. Under the clear demand "Bring Them Home" over 100,000 people have come to 1,600 vigils all over the US. On August 27th 2,500 people, celebrities and working families alike, joined Cindy on the Texas stage to speak out against the war.
Anti-war groups all over the United States have also responded to this, by becoming increasingly more active and uniting for stronger actions. Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against War, Military Families Speak Out, International ANSWER and United For Peace and Justice, all visibly support Cindy and echo her demands.
Although Cindy herself is just one person, her story is repeated everyday in military families throughout the US, and beyond this Cindy's questions and demands are reflections of the entire US population. According to recent statistics by most US media not only do the people of the United States overwhelmingly support the right of people to protest, but recent polls show that when asked about the war in Iraq a majority of the population want the US to leave Iraq in one year at most. Also the majority of the population no longer feels that the war on Iraq was any bit justified.
Cindy Sheehan, the Voice of Conscience
So the question now is why. Why has the plight of one woman been able to boosted the National anti-war movement now? The answer is no further than Iraq itself. The Iraqi resistance has been waging a fight for self-determination, a fight to reclaim the dignity that they lost when the US invaded over 2 years ago. With the handover of power June 30th 2004, the election in January and now the bait of a constitution created under gunpoint, the US government has been attempting to make the American people bite into the idea of a justified war and occupation. With such phony excuses as bringing "democracy" and "liberation" to Iraq, the US government has had to constantly battle for international support and to stabilize public opinion. However, it isn't working anymore. It is incredibly apparent as everyday more voices add to the argument that the US is losing in Iraq.
Anti-war Sentiment is Growing
This specific boost in the anti-war movement is much like the boosts seen during the movement against the Vietnam War. When the bodies of American soldiers come home in large numbers, the movement grows. When people in the United States can no longer ignore the reality that their sons and daughters are dying in Iraq for lies, the movement grows. When the military increases the aggressiveness of its recruitment tactics, especially in the poorest high schools, mothers all over the country cannot afford to stay silent.
There is also increasing anti-war sentiment within the ranks of the US military. Soldiers are refusing to fight, and some US soldier's are coming to Canada to demand refugee status. Soldiers are laying down their guns and refusing to fight, facing military courts and going to jail. A report released by the US military in July 2005 showed how psychological stress is weighing heavy in Iraq and how morale levels are extremely low. This reaction from the troops, most of them who joined as the only way to pay for an education and viable future, is also the product of the Iraqi resistance.
As a direct reaction to the growing quagmire in Iraq and the recent boost to the anti-war movement, the rifts in strategy of the US government are constantly growing larger. The ruling class is divided over how best to control a radicalizing population. As President Bush responds to Cindy and the movement behind her with his speeches declaring that there is no way the US can leave Iraq, Congresswoman Barbara Lee proposes a resolution to congress that will release the documents exposing the lead-up to the war. There is debate about a timeline and exit strategy for Iraq within the US ruling class. What does this prove to anti-war activists? An increasing crisis in Iraq and the strengthening of the anti-war movement at home.
Supporting Cindy Sheehan is Building the Anti-war Movement
Cindy Sheehan stands as the face of an increasing anti-war movement in the US. She has so eloquently expressed her demands and been given a platform to do so. Still more and more American people are joining in. On September 24 there is an international day of action demanding "Stop the War on Iraq!"
International ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice, two American anti-war coalitions have united for this action. Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) in Vancouver together with hundreds of antiwar coalitions around the world is also in preparation for this major march and rally in Vancouver.
In the US there will be thousands and thousands of people of all backgrounds gathered at the White House demanding an end to the War on Iraq. Whether or not the US government is united on a clear strategy on how to deal with it, Cindy Sheehan and the US population behind her are responding to the crisis in Iraq in a way that is stronger, bigger and more threatening to the ground the US government stands on.
US-UK OUT OF IRAQ!
IRAQ FOR IRAQIS!
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