Speech by Meredith Aby-Keirstead, member of the Anti-War Committee at the MN Peace Action Coalition protest on August 6, 2016
The MN Peace Action Coalition started organizing for this protest in June because we were concerned about the increasing numbers of troops being sent to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and because of the increasing use of drone strikes on Syria. We didn’t for see that the US would pick the week of the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombings on Japan as the time to start this newest intervention in Libya. Today we mark this anniversary by joining together to call for an end to U.S. wars and interventions. Unfortunately this demand is even more important today! Thank you for coming out!
We have been given the excuse that the reason for these new Libyan airstrikes is because the US has to take out the increasing danger of ISIS in Libya. We have been given this excuse as the justification for intervening and expanding Syria’s civil war and for a third intervention in Iraq. However, it critical to understand WHY Libya is a failed state and why ISIS has gotten stronger in Syria and Iraq. And it is not due to the lack of US bombs but rather because of them! In Iraq, in Syria and in Libya the US has taken out or destabilized governments that are independent of US corporate interests and has tried to replace them with puppets. The US has created the very instability it is claiming to save the people of the region from. But, after years of U.S. bombs, troops, weapons and meddling, does anyone believe more of the same will make things better for the people of the region? NO!
We are here today to draw attention to the fact that US warfare and intervention are increasing. In addition to this new wave of airstrikes in Libya, in recent weeks the U.S. has announced plans to send more troops to Iraq and has announced that a large contingent of troops will be kept in Afghanistan.
The US is in a period of endless war and we need to draw America’s attention to the important issue of US foreign policy. Most people in this country are unaware that in 728 days of the campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq that the US and its allies have dropped 49,917 bombs and missiles and killed an estimated 1,574 civilians. Most people forget that we have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001 and that the US has lost 2,382 soldiers and that over 2,000 civilians have been killed or wounded and more than 80,000 people displaced just this year already. My high school students don’t remember a time when Iraqis haven’t been “the enemy”. As a movement we need to be more vocal about challenging the US war on terror – especially when we are in an election cycle where neither major party candidate to be the next commander-in-chief is even attempting to promise to drop less bombs or bring the troops home! Please use today as a springboard for more action! We need to chant louder, we need to ask tough questions at campaign events, we need to call and pester members of Congress, we need to talk about this issue even when the media doesn’t – we need to make the issue of the War on Terror an issue of discussion and not cede the debate to the other side who uses fear of Islamic extremism to justify mass bombing campaigns in our name! Can we do that? YES. And we have to. The people of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are depending on it.
What do we want? Stop the bombing! When do we want it? Now!