Assassination of IRG General Sparks Protests in America
“War is now officially everywhere and eternal, thereby allowing presidents even greater powers, which they can use in the waging of even more wars, from which yet more powers could derive, and so forth to Armageddon, unless something breaks the cycle.”—David Swanson, War is a Lie
President Trump starts 2020s with more bloodshed in Middle East
Washington, D.C. — Over the past week, there has been much public mourning and dismay around the world due to assassination of the General Soleimani, the second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and their companions on the third day of the new decade.
The Trump-ordered assassination of IRG general and other leaders have sparked widespread demonstrations in the Muslim world and elsewhere.
General Qassem Soleimani was a beloved war-hero in both Iran and Iraq because of his strategic defeats of ISIL-backed terrorist groups using the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) according to PressTV.com
However on January 3, 2020, vehicles carrying General Soleimani’s entourage were targeted and downed by U.S. airstrikes as they traveled out of the Baghdad Airport at 1 AM in the morning. (The source of the bombings remains under investigation).
While it is true that the last weeks of December 2019 will be remembered as one in which there were angry riots and protests against the continued American occupation in Iraq, the IRG leaders had nothing to do with the riots.
According to PressTV and MRN News, the General had called on protesters at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to disperse, which they eventually heeded. This was the respect and power General Soleimani held in the troubled region as a beloved commander.
The loss of this embodiment of peace, hope, and regional stability is evident from the stunned leadership and outpouring of emotions. In both Iraq, and especially Iran, a traditional mourning period of three-days is accorded to such high leaders. There were demonstrations of mourning and solidarity held as far away as in oppressed Indian-state Kashmir, as well as in Pakistan, Yemen, and Iraq with people marching, singing songs, holding posters, and even burning effigies of the American flag.
Grassroots citizens in-the-know organize a rapid response
On Saturday January 4, 2020 at least 72 protests were also held in towns and cities all across the United States. Lead national organizations included ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism) Coalition, World Beyond War, Code Pink, and Occupy DC.
At 12 noon in front of the White House, ANSWER demonstration co-chair Shawn Blackman told a crowd of at least 2000 demonstrators and visitors reasons why in just a few short days so many groups are organizing.
We are taking a stand against the United States government and its unilateral bombing in Iraq; its ongoing war of occupation in Iraq; its sabler-rattling and trying to instigate a war scenario with Iran.
According to Code-Pink demonstration co-chair Leo Florez, mobilization among the grassroots is critical to building a new antiwar movement. He pointed out how essentially the war in Iran has already begun because of economic sanctions since 2017.
Since 2017 with economic sanctions that is economic war, that is getting hotter. And with the murder of General Soleimani, they’ve taken us to the precipice, if not over it.
Mobilizing Americans against a new war might help stop unilateral bombing; it might even help restart diplomatic relations.
U.S. Labor Against War leader Yasemin Zahra explained how wars affect the middle-class especially when our middle-class people are directed to kill their middle-class people.
We can build a country without billionaires where we tackle the real wars: the war on poverty, the war on racism, the war on class; those are the real wars; the real enemy are the bosses in our backyard.
A new anti-war movement would help educate the populous on the quality of life all humans should hold dear including healthy air, clean water, safe communities, gainful employment, and locally grown food.
Brian Becker, founder of ANSWER Coalition decried the ongoing buildup and preparation for war with Iran by making it analogous with the deadly 14-year war in Vietnam, but with Iran a much larger, older, proud nation. He pointed out that it is a crime to just invade another country as a pretext:
“Whether you like the government, whether you don’t like the government, the fact of the matter is this Administration, Donald J. Trump, does not have the right to violate international law, to violate the UN Charter, to violate the War Powers Resolution.”
He also pointed out how a regional conflagration cannot be conflated as not adding to the omniscient threat of World War III.
“All the media is asking, ‘Why is World War III trending?’ World War III is trending because if the United States goes to war against Iran which has allies with Russia and China, how would anyone not think this would be a repeat of World War I and World War II? Those were not a fantasy. They actually happened.”
Mara Hilliard, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, spoke on the need for accountability and the hate we encounter around the world as Americans because of the wars we start. She introduced the famous Hollywood actress, Vietnam War protester, anti-nuclear activist, and now environmental activist Jane Fonda, who has been organizing, and protesting on Capitol Hill week after week.
All of the media present were riveted by the wise words Ms. Jane Fonda spoke as an American grassroots revolutionary:
“I am here to remind people that the Climate Movement and the Peace Movement must be one movement! The younger people here should know that all of the wars that have been fought since you have been born have been fought over oil! The bombing in New York, and right here in the Pentagon was about oil! Because for decades U.S. troops have been stationed in the Middle East to guard oil & troops were stationed on sacred sites, sites that are sacred and holy to the people of that region. Did we not know that? Did we not once again not learn the lessons of Vietnam? Not bother to understand the people that we were bombing and shaming? [Killing, shouted an audience] Not to mention killing?”–Jane Fonda
The actress claimed that oil is causing many problems related to climate change, such as the ongoing spate of wildfires engulfing the northern, eastern, and southern coasts of Australia.
“No justice, no peace, U.S. out of the Middle East!” chanted the crowd.
Another rhyme went up for the crowd: “Hey Trump, what do you say? How many kids did you kill today?”
It was hard to believe so many young people and seasoned activists had shown up on such short notice this cold day in January at Lafayette Square, many with their own signs. But the President and his family are unwilling to acknowledge the nearby visitors because Pennsylvania Avenue is closed off except for a makeshift grandstand for VIP gatherings. Maybe the largest banners, yellow or pink, might be seen from the windows.
Occupy DC calls for Transformational Change
Grassroots folk-hero Kevin Zeese was boisterously cheered as he came up to speak. Many of the local DC activists, particularly millennials and Gen Z, lived through and led Occupy DC in 2011 when there were encampments at McPherson Square as well as at Freedom Plaza. In 2019, Zeese and other leaders from Code Pink made national news because they encamped within the Venezualan Embassy (with permission by the Maduro government) for almost six weeks even after it was ordered closed by the United States.
As founder of Popular Resistance and Green Party supporter in 2016, he emphasized the need for a new vision in the 2020s:
This is the decade that we will face up to climate, face up to the Pentagon. We will put in place a Peace Economy based on clean renewable and sustainable energy. The reckless assassination by Donald Trump against the commander of the Iranian Forces is living in the past! That is a war for oil! We don’t need any wars for oil. That era is over. That is the era of the United States causing chaos in the Middle East. We want it to end!
His reasoning for quitting the Middle East:
Since 2003, since the United States occupied and attacked Iraq, since then the U.S. has destroyed Libya. Obama started the war in Syria, still going on. We have caused chaos throughout that region. Yemen is being slaughtered by the United States and Saudi Arabia. And what we are seeing now, we are starting to focus on reality: we are in a global world war right now. The Middle East is the battleground for that war. But that battleground will shift and expand.
Zeese bolsters his argument that we are already in a global war scenario. He mentions the ongoing economic war being conducted against North Korea; and military maneuvers against Venezuela. (There is no denying that Russia and China are equally invested in the region, and that peace treaties with both Russia and Iran have collapsed.)
The leftist-progressive attorney, Dr. Margaret Flowers, and many in the Green Party today believe that if we are to preserve our democracy, we must rejuvenate it with Green New Deal type of hope. Exactly who embodies that presidential hope is unclear, but it must be a candidate who is sincere, addresses mistakes, and doesn’t hide behind euphemisms. It must be someone with the guts to halt the largest military weapons race in history and tell it like it is in front of corporate media.
We have to show both parties that militarism and war are no longer supported by people of the United States…Only Bernie Sanders said the right thing. Only Bernie Sanders said the Iraq War was a mistake. He said the assassination was a mistake; and he said the escalation was a mistake. That is exactly right.—Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
In 2016 Green Party presidential-hopeful Dr. Jill Stein campaigned on a New Green Deal (since co-opted by Democrats) because as a lead organizer for the People’s Climate March in 2014 in New York City, she and countless other scientists recognize that climate change will soon be unstoppable. Due to America’s long delay in diversifying energy sources, we have less than ten years to take drastic measures to change our lifestyle and habits if we want to keep global warming within manageable temperatures.
Zeese’s keynote speech is a call-out to the younger generation:
Time for us in 2020 to build a peace movement that cannot be ignored. You here today, you are on the cutting edge of that new movement. This movement is going to expand this year to tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands…Say no to the war in Iran…Show the world that the Peace Economy is our future!
Naomi Hazan an Iranian-American in mourning with Code Pink spoke, as well as Paul Dunke from Friends of the Congo, and other notable grass-tops and media personalities.
Procession heads to Trump Hotel
It was decided upon that it would be worthwhile to take the march up to the Trump Hotel via Pennsylvania Avenue. At least 2000 demonstrators participated as well as camera crew and interested onlookers. According to ANSWER Coalition Brian Becker, this was to further the symbolism of our presence. So many protesters had crafted their own posters, including youth holding “War is a Racket” sign, “Close the doors on war,” and “Stop bombing Iraq.” Many local protesters couldn’t help feeling a dejavu sense from back in 2003 on the eve of the War in Iraq. Other transplants can still remember the struggle in 2013 to delay the war on Syria. Those born in the 60s can never forget the fall of Saigon and the cover of Life magazine depicting the naked Vietnamese girl running for her life.
Everyone should recognize that the new war, at a time when the U.S. Debt clock is now over $23 trillion dollars, will not be fought by the elite, who might be eagerly awaiting glorious monetary profits. The flag-bearers for the new war will always be recruited from the poor and middle-class, those who will do anything to avoid detention camps, lower-income families who believe that it might help their sons and daughters pay for college, or those whose fathers cannot finagle for their sons to avoid the draft.