Speech by Meredith Aby-Keirstead, Anti-War Committee member, at the MN Peace Action Coalition Protest on 3/18/2017 marking the 14th anniversary of the start of the US war on Iraq
In the past 2 months President Trump has taken a foreign policy situation he inherited – in which the US was already at war in multiple countries – and has thrown gasoline on the fire.
Trump says he’s sending in 1,000 more ground troops in Syria which will double US forces there and will escalate and prolong the 6 year conflict. He has escalated the war in Yemen and increased drone attacks by 432% – which beats Obama who was previously #1. Trump proposed a $54 Billion increase in military spending which would increase the largest military budget in the world by 10%. On March 1st Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor at the time, issued a statement “officially putting Iran on notice” and yesterday his administration said that a pre-emptive strike against North Korea isn’t off the table.
This week marks 14 years since the start of the war on Iraq – a war that is very much still on going – and we realistically have to be concerned that next year we could be at war with one or two More countries. Is that the direction you want for our country? For the world? No!
The reality is we cannot let Trump speak for us. We need to send our own message to Washington DC and to the people of the world that we do not support his attacks on the people of the Middle East or Asia. We need to demand a decrease in military spending and defend the social safety net and environmental protections that we value.
One issue the Anti-War Committee has been focused on the last 2 months is fighting Trump’s Muslim Ban. We are outraged by the rise in hate crimes against queers, trans folks, and people who practice minority religions like Islam and Judaism. Bigots feel emboldened by the White House’s disrespectful way that they address significant populations in our country. The Muslim Ban in particular represents where Trump’s hate speech is trying to become law. So far we have been successful in resisting his first and second order. Through massive protests locally and nationally we the people expressed our disgust for the discrimination against our Muslim sisters, brothers and community members and we created an environment where the courts stood up to Trump. However, he is not done. Yesterday the “Justice” department filed paperwork to challenge the Maryland court injunction. We need to be prepared to stand up against any Trump attempt to legalize bigotry!
As we mark 14 years of war in Iraq here today it is important to connect the Muslim ban to the larger war on terror. Since 2001 the US has attacked country after country using the excuse of terrorism to destroy and destabilize significant parts of the Middle East and Southern Asia. The very countries that the US has bombed are the countries that are on the Muslim ban. The Trump administration is labeling entire countries as “terrorist havens” when in fact the US has caused years of terror in them. US warfare has created an international refugee crisis and this ban is an attempt to blame the very victims of these wars for their own trauma. It is immoral and outrageous to deny refugees an avenue to flee to the US when our country was responsible for creating the wars they are running from.
So let’s mark the 14 year anniversary of the war on Iraq, work to end this horrible war but also march together to stop Trump’s future wars and bans.
Chant: We’re gonna beat back the Trump attack! We’re gonna beat beat back the Trump attack!