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Jeremy Hogan

Is This 2007 Or 1965?

Reflecting on the Anti-War Movement after J27

Three years ago, almost to the date I was on my way to the same place. After the 2004 election George W. Bush has been declared the winner though there was some question whether he really won the election in Ohio. Those questions were quickly dismissed by the official voices of the media. And I found myself on the streets of Washington on January 21, 2005 as Bush was sworn in for a second term.

The questions about the 2004 election were dismissed something like notions about the Vietnam war had been dismissed by the media back in 1965 when the Vietnam War was just getting started. Monks were burning themselves in the streets and the family the American government had put into power to keep the “communists” out of Vietnam proved so incompetent the American Government staged a coup to overthrow them. The American government said all that needed to happen was for the South Vietnamese to defend themselves so the Americans could hand them back there own country. The U.S. would provide military training. Of course, the Americans did most of the fighting and the South Vietnamese never defended themselves.

Sound familiar? Does history repeat itself or is there another reason that two years later I find myself here again?

George W. Bush is proposing a “surge” meaning 21,000 more Americans will be sent to Iraq to help the Iraqis learn to d efends themselves from themselves. Hmm …

Now, I’m in a taxi now looking for the anarchists with a D.C. native at the wheel. He’s an African American man.

“What do you think of Bush’s plan to send 21,000 more troops?” I ask.

He shakes his head.

“Do you think maybe it’s all a bunch of “Bush Shiite?”

He laughs. He says Bush is a liar and Bill O’Reilly is an asshole.

“If someone questions the president, they say, ARE YOU QUESTIONING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES? They use scare tactics.”

We’re passing a group of 30 or so Anarchists … “They’re going to need more people than that to smash the state,” he says. I agree and decide to head back to the main rally where I’ll fight my own ambivalence and navigate 50,000 cliché anti war signs to make some original photos.

Yesterday, I got on a bus with 40 something anti-war activists. The last time I came to D.C. I watched Cindy Sheehan get arrested in the fall of 2005 with several hundred others. Getting to D.C. I packed into a car with two local anti-war activists and the daughter of one. The activists had tried but couldn’t fill a bus. So, I’d offered to share expenses for the trip because we were all headed there anyway.

I watched as they lobbied our local congressmen. One congressman said he’d look into the situation with the war; the congressman soon visited Iraq and declared his support for the war effort. Another congressman’s aid, said, in jest but in seriousness, “it’s either their dictator or ours.”

Since then there have been suicide bombings regularly, and, now I’m sitting on a nice bus a year and a half later behind a couple college freshmen, they’ve never been to a protest this large and I manage to sleep five hours.

One day before the 2004 Republican National Convention there were half a million in New York City marching against the war. And there was hope the war would soon end. Now that seems like hundreds of years ago. Like another lifetime ago when I had had no clue that on this day January 27th, 2007 the U.S. military would be mired in Iraq with no way out except to just leave and call it a lost cause. I could have never imaged that the U.S. government would have spent three trillion dollars when the neo-cons said they were supposed to meet us with flowers. I didn’t think 3,000 American soldiers would be dead, and who knows how many thousands more injured, I would have never have imagined over 300,000 Iraqi civilians would have been killed in 2006 alone.

Almost half a million Iraqis have died since this war or whatever they want to call it (but it is a war) began in 2003. This war has now gone on for longer that WWII. This was supposed to be a q uick war to liberate Iraq but now after we do leave, if we do, it will more likely lead to “killing fields” as the Shiites and the Sunnis ethnically cleanse one another. But, who knows what could happen but it’s very doubtful the U.S. is now safer. Besides, where are the weapons of mass destruction?

I’ll bet you Bush is still looking under his desk for the WMD’s right? His head is “surging” buried in a sandbox under there.

Now on the street of D.C on this winter day in January 2007 …


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