the War: there is nothing new to say, and everthing new to say

Another issue of Slingshot means it’s time to write another article to try to end the horrendous slaughter in Iraq. It feels like the world has gotten used to living with war — the daily body count of Iraqi and American lives wasted. Just more business as usual that has to be accepted as the price of living in the modern world. The millions who protested in the streets right before and after the war have dwindled to just a few.

Only perhaps one hundred people showed up to a very well organized and well publicized protest outside the Oakland, Calif. military recruitment center on May 15. We shut down the recruitment center and wheatpasted posters over its windows. Local teens rapped and did spoken world. It was a great effort, but somehow, the intensity of the protest failed to match the scale of the ongoing war.

The Slingshot collective sat around at our article meeting not wanting to just rehash the contents of the articles we’ve been publishing every issue for the last three years, and yet not feeling it is appropriate to publish a radical paper in a country fighting a war of aggression without trying to publish something that might help stop the war.

There is nothing new to say, and everything new to say. The revelations of the Mai Lai-style killing of 24 civilians by US Marines in Haditha after one of their buddies got killed, the US-funded Iraqi police degenerating into death squads, the official lies, the billion dollars a day spent on nothing while kids go hungry here in the USA and in Iraq alike — what will it take to get people to rise to their feet to stop the US from operating until the occupation ends?

The media asks “is the US winning or losing the war in Iraq.” Clearly, the US has lost. All that is left is the pullout of troops, but a political paralysis grips the mainstream politicians. It is far easier politically to let the killing go on than to admit that mistakes were made.

As Slingshot has noted repeatedly over the last three years, one of the only hopes of stopping the war is for ordinary people to demand that it stop. In an ABC News/Washington Post Poll conducted May 11-15 of 1,103 adults nationwide, 66 percent said they “disapproved” when asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?” 62 percent said the war was “not worth fighting.” This popular sentiment has not translated into change at the top, but it could at any time, and chances are, it will sooner or later.

It should be sooner. This summer what are we going to do to end this war? Virtually every part of America is contributing to the war effort in some way, and thus every community has targets for protest and disruption.

In a hopeful sign, folks in Olympia, WA blockaded a cargo ship at the Port of Olympia that was being loaded with hundreds of Stryker armored vehicles and other war materials bound for Iraq during the last week of May. The shipment was part of the deployment to Iraq of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, a 4,000-soldier unit stationed at Fort Lewis, WA. Police repeatedly pepper sprayed the crowd and arrested more than 35 people over a week of protest. Demonstrators tried to pry open the port gates. Let a hundred Olympias bloom!