Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter 2 Share on Facebook 4 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon 1 Tell A Friend (7 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   26 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

John Kerry sells a war that Americans aren't buying

By       Message Medea Benjamin     Permalink

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 5   Well Said 5   News 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H1 9/5/13

Author 3852
Become a Fan
  (23 fans)
- Advertisement -
Source: AlJazeera

If Congress approves military action in Syria, they will fail to represent the people who elected them.



It was September 19, 2002, and US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was scheduled to address the Senate Armed Services Committee about why it was necessary to invade a country that never attacked us: Iraq.

- Advertisement -

I was so concerned about the pending war that I flew to Washington DC from my home in San Francisco. It was the first congressional hearing I had ever witnessed. My heart was pounding as my colleague Diane Wilson and I pulled out banners that read "UN inspectors, not US war," and proceeded to ask Rumsfeld our own questions: how many innocent Iraqis would die, how many US soldiers, how many of our tax dollars would be poured into this war of choice, and how much money would Halliburton make from the war. We were hauled out of the room by the Capitol police.
     
Fast forward to September 3, 2013, and I found myself in a hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry telling members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee why it was necessary to invade a country that never attacked us: Syria. By now I'm a pro, having attended countless hearings over the last decade. My CODEPINK colleagues and I came prepared. We took out signs that read "Syria Needs a Ceasefire, Not War" and "No US Attack on Syria," and we rubbed red paint on our hands to signify that the blood of Syrians would be on the administration's hands if it went ahead with the attack.

There is little time left to stop this new, mad rush to war. Just as the British people put pressure on their members of parliament and insisted they steer clear of this American folly, so, too, the American people are mobilizing. We are making our opposition known in town hall meetings throughout the country, and in a flood of calls, petitions, emails and visits to our elected officials. At both the Senate and House hearings, officials mentioned that their constituents were overwhelmingly opposed to intervention. 

With an intense feeling of deja vu, I got up to speak right after Secretary Kerry gave his opening remarks. Kerry had said he was proposing limited strikes, not a war. It sounded to me just like the false "cakewalk" argument from the Iraq war sales pitch. I responded that lobbing cruise missiles into another country's sovereign territory was indeed a war, and that the consequences could be devastating. I also insisted that the American people -- and the entire global community -- did not support US military intervention. I was hauled out by Capitol Police, arrested and charged with "disorderly conduct," a charge I have received many times over the last 11 years.
     
Kerry responded to my intervention by evoking his youth. "You know, the first time I testified before this committee when I was 27 years old, I had feelings very similar to that protester," he said, referring to when he spoke out against the Vietnam War in 1971 as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. "And I would just say that is exactly why it is so important that we are all here having this debate, talking about these things before the country, and that the Congress itself will act representing the American people."
     
But what does it mean to represent the American people? In the case of Iraq, the US public had been whipped up by the government and the media to believe that Saddam Hussein played a key role in the 9/11 attacks. That's why a clear majority -- 60 percent -- supported the Iraq invasion. This time, the public is what some call "war-weary" -- but I would call "war-wise." This time, 60 percent of Americans have not bought the government and media hype and are instead opposed to this intervention.
     
In the congressional vote for the Iraq war, almost all the Republicans lined up to support the war, along with 40 percent of the Democrats. But now that the war is not pushed by a rough-and-tumble Texas Republican but by a more refined, sweet-talking, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Democrat, it's unclear how the votes will shake out. Many of the traditional anti-war Democrats have become pro-war, and we in CODEPINK find ourselves applauding the stand of Tea Party favorites like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul or small-government Republicans like Michigan Congressman Justin Amash. Amash has been outspoken in his criticism of military action, holding town halls across his district to discuss the issue. He tweeted that 95 percent of those he met with opposed US military action in Syria.      

We are insisting that there are much better ways than cruise missiles to tell the Syrian people that we care. We are calling for increased US support for the more than two million refugees who are overwhelming the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. With the UN's financial needs only 40 percent fulfilled, the billions of dollars that our government would spend on war would be far better spent addressing the mounting refugee crisis.
     
We are also telling our elected officials that if they are truly concerned about the violence that has killed more than 100,000 Syrians, they should pressure the administration to invest its considerable influence and energies in brokering a ceasefire and seeking a political settlement. This is obviously no easy task. Neither Syrian President Bashar al-Assad nor the divided rebel forces (including the growing al-Qaeda elements) are eager to sit down for talks, as both sides think they can win through force. Yet in the end, this civil war will end with a political settlement, and the sooner it happens, the more lives saved.
     
The clock is ticking, with President Obama and Secretary Kerry frantically selling a war that the American people don't want to buy. If Congress goes ahead and approves military action, they -- unlike their British counterparts -- will fail to represent the people who elected them.

- Advertisement -

 

Must Read 5   Well Said 5   News 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

Www.globalexchange.org

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Ten Reasons to Move Cheney's Book to the Crime Section

Tom Cotton is the Worst Bully in the Senate ---- Here Are 10 Reasons Why

Hillary Clinton and Saudi Arabia

The Egyptian General and the Gladiola

Dear Jon Stewart, Sane People Protest Crazy Wars

Julian Assange: Wikileaks Has the Goods on the Deaths of Innocent Iraqis Killed by the US