[pjw] REPORT BACK: 30 Years in Iraq-- Friday rally #43 under stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Jan 16 13:38:11 EST 2021

Iraq Affinity Group Supporters

At last night's weekly Friday Rally for Peace and Justice our theme was 
"30 Years Too Long- US Out of Iraq." Unsurprisingly but disappointingly, 
there was no media attention to our event (not even KBOO). Then again, the 
rally only drew four people, three of whom went on the march (all masked 
up and socially distanced).

Before we got started, two people stopped by to engage positively. One 
woman with an eastern European accent said the US should have to pay for 
the damage they did to Iraq. Soon after, a man asked if this was the 
Veterans For Peace Friday rally. I explained it was the old Portland 
Peaceful Response rally that Peace and Justice Works is hosting, but 
didn't think to ask him how he knew about it. Both took fact sheets I 
offered them (we're still using the Afghanistan/Syria fact sheets from 
September-- http://www.pjw.info/afghan19ylfacts.pdf ). We also had a lot 
of honking horns and other positive feedback along the way.

I opened the rally talking about the inauspicious 30th anniversary of the 
first US war on Iraq, pointing to my sign (which I sent out in a link 
yesterday too):


I noted George HW Bush chose Jan. 15, Martin Luther King's birthday,
as the deadline for Iraq to get out of Kuwait. I guess, I said, he was 
kind enough to wait till the next day to start bombing.

Here's an article from 1990 about the deadline:


That bombing destroyed the electrical, sewage and water plants creating 
havoc, in addition the world's most stringent sanctions, which were put 
on in 1990, killed over 500,000 Iraqi children and 100s of thousands of 

Here's a 1995 story that prompted the famous question from Leslie Stahl at 
60 Minutes to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about whether the 
death of half a million children was "worth it" (Albright said yes).


I noted the connection from the first war to the insurrection at the 
capitol last week-- that Congress failed to hold GHW Bush accountable for 
those war crimes, or Bill Clinton (who bombed the "no fly zones" and, 
intensely, Baghdad in 1998 as he faced impeachment), or GW Bush when he 
invaded the country in 2003, or Obama (who bombed Iraq in 2104 chasing the 
Islamic State and started a war in Libya), making it easy for Trump to 
truly say he could shoot someone on 5th avenue and get away with it.


I noted that we can't rely on the Biden administration to give up the 
world's largest embassy or to actually pull all the troops out of Iraq, 
especially given that Biden voted for the 2003 invasion and then claimed 
he did so to avoid a war.


I shared that this anniversary is very personal for me-- it was the first 
Iraq war that brought me into activism. I had a High School friend who was 
in the military and got stationed in Saudi Arabia in the lead up to the 
war. I let him know I joined the peace movement to get him home alive. He 
wrote back "I just got done liberating the Kuwaiti airport. I got 10 
letters. Nine were supportive and then there was yours." So, I guess 
wanting there to be no bloodshed for Americans or Iraqis was not 
supportive. Needless to say we're not friends any more, but I've been out 
in the streets or otherwise organizing nearly every day since then.

Check out our fact sheet from 2016 for more history.


Turning to other international affairs we talked about how the US has 
labelled the Houthis who rebelled against the oppressive pro-Saudi 
government of Yemen as terrorists. This will make getting aid to the 
millions of people who were already suffering from famine and disease 
before COVID much more difficult.


We also talked about how President Trump always wanted to be famous for 
something and now he will be famous for the first US leader to be indicted 
(impeached) twice. That said, still has four more days (five, yesterday) 
to do more damage like granting pardons, upping the military presence 
around Iran and China, or tearing down everything on the way out the door 
(except, as I noted earlier, the border wall).

Daniel Ellsberg worries too:


Locally Mayor Wheeler is going back and forth about whether to increase 
penalties for people who do property damage, but seems to be solidly 
looking at chipping away at Oregon's anti-spying law.


As noted last week, this law is related to how we got out of the Joint 
Terrorism Task Force and is much worth defending. For those who don't 
know, our group was spied on twice by Portland Police; only one of two 
lawsuits against them was successful:


Anyway, the Bureau's annual report on the JTTF is now scheduled to he 
heard on Wednesday Jan. 27 at 10 AM.


Along the route I talked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 
himself facing criminal charges, now faces not only the unprecedented 
fourth parliamentary (Knesset) election in the shortest time for any 
country in history, but also members of his own party leaving just to 
distance themselves from him.


Unfortunately, like the split that may be fomenting in America's 
Republican party, it won't likely change the overall daily life of 
Israelis or, more importantly, Palestinians.

As we rounded out the walk I noted a slight sense of hope that Sen. Bernie 
Sanders is being named to head the Budget Committee in the Senate.


Again, though, we must temper the idea of a champion of working people 
leading the budget talks with the reality that there need to be 50 + 1 
votes in the Senate to pass anything, and the House has to pass the budget 

I also announced that people could watch the excellent presentation by 
Sarah Mirk about her book "Guantanamo Voices" which livestreamed Tuesday 
by heading to our YouTube page.


The Ann Huntwork Peace Memorial Sign, back to its generic two messages, 
went out again-- both on the east and south sides of Pioneer Place mall. 
This is from when I ran the test on the sign back in June.



--dan handelman
Peace and Justice Works
      Iraq Affinity Group
      PO Box 42456
      Portland, OR   97242
      (503) 236-3065
      iraq at pjw.info
      Donate on line: http://www.pjw.info/pjwdonate.html

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