[pjw] REPORT BACK: Iraq 18 Years Later-- Friday rally #52 under stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Mar 20 17:45:15 EDT 2021

Hello Iraq Affinity Group supporters

Last night's rally for Peace and Justice wrapped up one full year since 
Peace and Justice Works took over sponsorship. The rally a year ago was 
one we cosponsored with Portland Peaceful Response Coalition marking 17 
years after the US invasion of Iraq. Last night's marked 18 years, and the 
US is still there.

There were six of us at the rally, including a new attendee who heard 
about the event on KBOO and a PJW member who hasn't been to the rallies 
for about a year. Five of us went on the march.

We had plenty of people signaling support, and a few comments about how 
long this has been going on. Two people took copies of the fact sheet we 
sent out yesterday:


The bulk majority of my talk at the rally was focused on Iraq, and much of 
it was similar to what's in the fact sheet, so sorry for any duplication. 
It is interesting, though, that at the rally we did 2 months ago to mark 
30 years since "Gulf War part 1" there were certain things that hadn't 
happened yet as they are part of the new Presidency.

--I talked about the history of the invasion being rooted in lies about 
Iraq having something to do with 9/11 and having weapons of mass 
destruction, both of which are not true.

The Guardian 10/7/04:

CNN 3/13/08:


--That war of lies cost the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis and 
nearly 5000 US soldiers.


--Much of the justification for the continued US presence, including the 
world's largest embassy, the presence of 2500 troops and ancillary wars 
is based on the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which 
congress is looking at repealing once again.


--Those extra wars include the US attacks on Syria starting in 2014, 
leading to a troop presence of 500-1000 Americans, who may or may not be 
guarding the oil fields there.


--Which brings us to President Joe Biden, who

---voted to support the 2003 invasion


---bombed Iraq in late January, making him the 6th consecutive US 
president to do so


---and then bombed a militia group in Syria in order to avoid inflaming 
Iraqi anti-American sentiment, even though there wasn't proof that group 
had attacked an Iraqi base where US troops were injured. This article 
actually says another group took responsibility:


--I noted again that Defense Secretary Austin's assertion of the US right 
to defend itself is predicated on the idea that the US has any right to 
still be in the country they invaded and occupied.


--I also reminded everyone this was the 10th anniversary of the US/NATO 
war on Libya. While our fact sheet says there were nearly 600 civilians 
killed by that attack, others citing the same source use lower numbers. 
See if you can figure it out:


MEANWHILE, President Biden continues the US's ongoing existing and paths 
to future wars.

--The US is now saying they may "need to" stay in Afghanistan up to 6 
months past the deadline in the agreement made with the Taliban, which 
would put American troops there past the 20 year mark of THAT invasion.


---and, by the way, the US has 1000 more troops in Afghanistan than the 
2500 they claim are still there:


--Biden and his administration also directly insulted and confronted the 
leaders of Russia and China, adding to the already ramped-up tensions that 
have been going on for years.


So, I commented, it seems we may have traded one bully for another. One 
would think Biden would be all for getting the troops home since his son 
died due to exposure during his time in Iraq.


In local news, I noted that Mayor Wheeler is trying to revive the Gang 
Enforcement Team/Gun Violence Reduction Team both by asking for an 
emergency $2 million to fund a reboot of the Team and by incorporating the 
FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms-- to deputize Portland 
officers in addition to aiding the Portland Police.


I noted that one reason we've been opposed to the Joint Terrorism Task 
Force deputization of officers is the feds' much laxer guidelines on 
opening investigations than Oregon law enforcement.

We then headed out on the march, where at the usual spot we talked 
Israel/Palestine news, in this case that Israel is throwing out "excess" 
COVID vaccines while Palestinian hospitals are filled to capacity.


As we headed back to the Square, for the "Money for human needs not war" 
announcement, I talked about two different studies that put the cost of 
all the US wars since 9/11 at FIVE TO SIX TRILLION DOLLARS, which could 
have paid for a lot of housing, jobs, education and health care needs. If 
anyone can find a break-out of just the financial costs of the Iraq war 
let me know.


When we got back to the Square (well, across the street at 6th and 
Yamhill), I wrapped up by tying in the racism inherent in wars, 
especially the Islamophobia prompted by the US post-9/11 wars, and the 
anti-Asian sentiments that led to the murders in Georgia this week. War 
and hateful violence are byproducts of white supremacy and imperialism. I 
had talked earlier about how the US owes Iraq for all the damage it did to 
the infrastructure there and lives lost, not realizing CommonDreams posted 
this piece calling for reparations.


The Ann Huntwork Peace Memorial sign went out again on the NE corner of 
Pioneer Place, I really need to check into my theory that the Gucci 
store and maybe their security cameras are causing interference.

As a side note, the fencing around the Federal Building was removed last 
week, then protestors vandalized the building and the fencing--which was 
headed back to Washington, DC????-- came back and was reinstalled.


But this time it's not spilling into the street, so maybe the Portland 
Bureau of Transportation won't have to re-start the clock on the fines 
that were racking up.

It felt good to have six people there for the first time since our 
Guantanamo event in January. Again, if you feel comfortable coming 
downtown as the restrictions are slowly lifting due to COVID please do. We 
continue to mask up and stay distanced.


dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

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