No New Wars with Iraq & Syria!

No New Wars with Iraq & Syria Rally on 9/27/2014 in Minneapolis, MN

Speech by Meredith Aby-Keirstead of the Anti-War Committee

Today we join with the ANSWER Coalition and anti-war groups around the country to say no to new wars with Iraq and Syria.  This war, like the other chapters in the war on terror, is being sold through fearmongering and lies. The United States is a major part of the problem and cannot be the solution to the current crisis in Syria and Iraq.

The president has sold this war using so many lies – and we’re only 2 weeks in.

#1.  The first lie is that the war is against ISIS.

In reality this war is against anyone who stands in the way of the US agenda in the Middle East.  So far it’s been used to change the government of Iraq, to bomb Iraq and Syria, and to send more weapons to Syrian rebels.  In week one of the bombing on Syria we’ve already seen that the president has expanded his war on ISIS to include other groups and in his speech to the UN this week Obama admitted that targeting the Syrian government was at least half of his intention by funding the Syrian rebels.

#2.  Second lie is that there won’t be boots on the ground.

The president knows that the American public and his partners from the War on Terror like the British are incredibly war weary so he is trying to tell people what they want to hear.  But  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey and Defense Secretary Hagel told the Pentagon they need troops on the ground in order to be successful.  We can already see the soft peddling of troops starting in the press.

#3.  The third lie is that this is an international coalition of support which therefore justifies the US’ bombing campaign.

Shamus Cooke on Common Dreams explained that in reality “Obama’s Arab bombing partners are the states most responsible for ISIS’ creation. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are especially guilty of sending money, weapons, and extremist fighters into Syria to topple the Syrian Government, which directly helped transform ISIS from a fledgling group of fanatics into a regional power. Obama’s “coalition of the willing” is largely a mirage, since it’s composed of Gulf state monarchies that are completely dependent on U.S. aid, supplying these dictatorships with enough fire power to protect them from their own citizens, who would otherwise topple their “royalty” in minutes.”

President Obama has labeled ISIS “network of death” while ignoring the role the US has played in the Middle East and Afghanistan since 9/11.  The US has used bombs, drone strikes, targeted assignations, and torture to terrorize the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia – to name just a few.  One doesn’t have to be a supporter of ISIS to see that the US doesn’t have the moral high ground to name call anyone a network of death.

In fact according to Al-Jazeera missiles targeting the town of Kafr Diryan destroyed two residential areas, killing 27 people including 6 children where towns people say doesn’t have an ISIS precence.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says US attacks on Iraq and Syria have helped ISIS’ recruitment skyrocket with over 6,000 new recruits.

Additionally, Dempsey announced yesterday that the US is considering a no-fly zone over the Turkey-Syria border.  We know from our solidarity with Iraq starting in 1998 what the realities of a no fly zone means.  A no fly zone is political speak for daily bombing campaigns and an offensive against the Syrian government’s airforce which would be like pouring gasoline on an already raging fire – all in an area that had 140,000 refugees flee their home just this week from the US bombing (Common Dreams 9/27/2014).

Does any of this sound like the US is helping the people of Syria?  No way!

This week the US Congress approved $500 million in funding for the alledgedly “moderate” Syrian rebels (Common Dreams 9/26/2014) and Secretary of Defense Hagel said airstrikes were costing the U.S. between $7 million and $10 million a day (Common Dreams 9/27/2014).

Is that what you want to support?  No.  We need money for human needs NOT for war!

We know the president’s “strategy” if you want to call it that will not create peace – in fact it will escalate the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.  This war is on track to expand against the Syrian government, possibly bringing in Iran, Lebanon, Russia and Israel.  The US is making alliances with Syrian rebel groups they don’t understand.  Every day the US is in Syria longer is another day that makes it more likely that the US is sucked further into a civil conflict.  But that is what the 1% really want.  They don’t care that airstrikes will cause more harm than good.  They don’t care that US efforts are doomed to backfire and escalate the war regionally.  Their real agenda is quite simple: keeping the Middle East under U.S. control by any means necessary.

But we care.  We don’t want more people killed for empire.  We don’t want more money spent on war.  We don’t want another generation of Americans and Iraqis to see each other as enemies.  We have a big task a head of us.  We need to challenge the president’s message.  We need to build our capacity as an anti-war movement.  Whose with me?

The people of Iraq and Syria are under attack!  What do we do?  Stand up!  Fight back!