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ANSWER calls for united protest on Oct. 25 to bring the troops home

By Leslie Feinberg

Grassroots anger is building again at the Bush administration's aggression in Iraq and the lies it has told to put the war over. But this time the families of soldiers are joining the urgent demand to "End the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home."

The International ANSWER coalition--Act Now to Stop War & End Racism--has issued a call for a mass march on Oct. 25 in Washington, D.C. More than 1,000 organizations and individuals have already endorsed the demonstration.

Brian Becker, a member of the ANSWER steering committee and co-director of the International Action Center, spoke to Workers World newspaper about the urgent need to build a unified, massive march.

Becker began: "We're not looking for a kinder and gentler occupation or for a United Nations occupation. We stand for the unrestricted, undiluted right of the Iraqi people to choose their own destiny, free from the brutal occupation launched by the U.S. and U.K.

"On Oct. 26 of last year, the ANSWER coalition initiated a mass people's anti-war movement in the United States with large demonstrations on both coasts. We knew that only the mobilization of the people on an enormous level had the possibility of changing the political climate and creating an effective obstacle to the Bush administration's path to pre-emptive war against Iraq.

"While other forces focused their attention on lobbying Congress, we believed that the organization and the mobilization of the people was the only effective power. It turned out that Congress easily rubber-stamped Bush's illegal war. In fact, the majority in Congress, including the leadership from both parties, played the role of criminal co-conspirators as the Bush administration treaded on the Constitution and its legal obligations under the UN Charter in racing to carry out a war of aggression against Iraq."

Becker pointed out that on Oct. 26, more than 200,000 people marched from the Vietnam War memorial in D.C. and surrounded the White House. "It shocked the administration, it shocked the media and it was accompanied by similar large protests around the world on the same day."

"That was when the movement became a global movement and that's because of ANSWER," Becker said.

He explained that the reason that protest began at the Vietnam Memorial was that, "We believed that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would have many similar parallels to Vietnam. It was a war of choice, not a war of national defense. It was an invasion and occupation of a Third World country whose people had a long proud tradition of anti-colonial resistance. It would be a sinkhole into which hundreds of billions of dollars would be poured. And we believed that the people of the U.S. would learn--as they did during Vietnam--that the public rationale for the war was based on a pattern of lies and deceit.

"It was amazing to us, to the ANSWER coalition, and to the war makers that so many people came to the same conclusion and tried to go into the streets to prevent this adventure."

Bush administration isolated

"The people's movement became so powerful and so uniquely global," Becker continued, "that it did in fact have the impact of changing the political climate.

"As a consequence, the usually pliable UN Security Council refused to rubber-stamp the war and invasion of Iraq. Bush and Blair were forced to set up a phony photo-op, stage-managed meeting on the Azores islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was the only place they knew for certain would not be confronted by huge anti-war demonstrations. This was in order to pretend that they had some level of international support and legitimacy for their planned criminal war against Iraq."

Becker explained that the U.S. government and Pentagon "had enough military power and enough determination to defy world public opinion and carry out the invasion of Iraq. They had enough military power that they could conquer Baghdad within three weeks.

"But make no mistake about it," he stressed, "the Bush administration still stands isolated and alone on the world stage as it carries out the occupation of Iraq--which it has now placed under a U.S. military dictatorship.

"The people of Iraq today are resisting the occupation. There is not only an armed resistance, but there is a multi-faceted political resistance that has impacted almost all layers of Iraqi society. The Iraqi people want the U.S. soldiers and occupation authority to leave. They want to determine their own destiny, as do all people everywhere."

Bring the troops home!

"At the same time," Becker said, "U.S. troops are quickly realizing that they are nothing but cannon fodder in the eyes of Bush, Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks. More and more U.S. soldiers are being killed and an even greater number are being maimed.

"They are well aware that Bush made the comment 'Bring 'em on'--a comment that was affirmed by Tommy Franks, who had the gall to say on the day before he retired and went home, 'I agree with the president, bring 'em on.' Soldiers and their families are aware that the multimillionaire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could cavalierly state at a news conference held in Washington, "Will more people be killed? You bet."

Becker continued, "The Iraqi people want the soldiers to leave and the soldiers want to come home.

"The GIs are learning the same bitter lesson as the result of their personal experience that thousands of soldiers learned during the Vietnam War."

All out for Oct. 25!

"The Oct. 25 mobilization is not simply a demonstration," explained Becker. "It is a tactic employed by the anti-war movement that takes into account the political situation.

"The Bush administration is isolated politically around the world. The Blair government could be on the verge of falling. The Iraqi resistance is growing. The U.S. soldiers and their families want troops to be withdrawn.

"October 25 is an effort to go back into the streets as the movement successfully did during the past year and to again become the most potent political factor in the equation. Only the people's mobilization around the world, but especially inside the United States, can force the end of the U.S. occupation and successfully bring the U.S. troops out of Iraq.

"That is the key to peace," Becker concluded. "And it is the key to the Iraqi people's taking control again of their own country."

Reprinted from the July 31, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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