There aren't many who come to Congress to protest -- not nearly enough -- and the
disparaging comments of chairs of committees and witnesses toward those who do
challenge administrations are certainly aimed at discouraging pesky,
It wasn't that anyone liked Sadaam Hussein and his treatment of many in
Iraq, but we knew we were being lied into a war with the false claims of weapons
of mass destruction and we protested vigorously against it.
No one likes what Assad has done to many in Syria, nor what ISIS is doing
to the people in the territory they currently control, but we didn't trust the
Obama administration on last year's issue of chemical attacks in Syria, nor do
we trust him on arming "moderate" rebel groups in Syria, so we
September 16, we attended the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey
and held up our signs -- "There is no military solution," "More killing = more
extremism" and other similar signs.
After the hearing began, I stood up and
said, "No More War, No More War
." Committee chair Senator Carl Levin responded
with banging his gavel and saying, "if you don't sit down you will be removed. Then
the snide comment, "You're acting very war-like yourself."
During that hearing, five of us were thrown out of the room after we each gave the
committee and witnesses a quick piece of our minds about the folly of another
attempt to use the U.S. military to resolve yet another political issue.
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The next day on September 17, Secretary of State John Kerry began his
testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations committee, a committee he chaired as a
U.S. Senator, by challenging protest, particularly the delegation of CODEPINK:
Women for Peace over their opposition to arming the Syrian rebels.
entered the hearing room, we shouted, "No more war! No military solution!"
Kerry responded by saying that he respected our right to protest, 'You know, as
I came in here, obviously we had some folks who spoke out. And I would start by
saying that I understand dissent. I've lived it," he said, referring to his
leadership of Vietnam Veterans Against the War nearly 40 years ago. "That's how
I first testified in front of this country in 1971," he said.
Kerry then said that CODEPINK...
"...was started by a woman, or women, who were
opposed to war but who also thought that government's job was to take care of
people, give them health care, and education, and good jobs. And if that's what you believe in, and I believe it is, then you ought to
care about fighting ISIL. Because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating
women. And they believe women shouldn't have an education. They sell off girls
to be sex slaves to jihadists."
Well, Secretary of State Kerry, we are concerned about women and all
people. We do not like what Assad has done to the people of Syria and we don't
like what ISIS has done. And we did not like what Sadaam Hussein, Muammar
Qaddafi or the Taliban did to those who opposed their rule. And, we do not like
what a war that the United States has orchestrated has done to the women,
children and men of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, and the chaos it has caused in
the Middle East and the world.
Kerry conveniently didn't mention in his testimony that ISIS is the direct
blowback the United states is facing after the 11-year war on Iraq. According to
the Washington Post
, after the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Abu Bakr al
Baghdadi, now the head of ISIS, was a minor Islamic preacher who became a
militant because of the occupation. He formed a small, armed group in eastern Iraq to oppose the American occupation and
in 2005, he was captured by American forces
and spent the next four years a prisoner in the American prison camp called
Bucca, in southern Iraq.
According to the
New York Daily News, the U.S. military did not consider him particularly
dangerous, and let him go when the camp closed in 2009. As he left, he
reportedly told guards, "I'll see you guys in New York." They did not consider
his parting words a threat -- just an acknowledgment that many of his captors
were reservists from a unit based on Long Island. The camp's commanding officer
said, "He was a bad dude but he wasn't the worst of the worst."
We believe there
are other ways to deal with ISIS than having more weapons from the United States
flood into the region. The armed rebel groups that number between 80,000 to
100,000 want more weapons, interestingly, to counter the U.S. weapons that the
10-30,000 ISIS fighters have captured from some of the 250,000 Iraqi military
trained and equipped by the United States over the past 10 years. The cycle of
arming groups with U.S. weapons and having those weapons fall into the hands of
fighters the United States opposes is well documented and a very good reason not
to provide these weapons to even more fighters.
strategy is to pressure those governments who have been supporting ISIS behind
the scenes and who are now the U.S. allies in Obama's coalition of the willing.
Saudi Arabia is the big brother caliphate that ISIS wishes to become -- an oil
rich, conservative religious country where Sharia law, morals and vice police,
prison for those who do not agree and beheadings (24 last week in Saudi Arabia)
are the norm.
Saudi Arabia has been the cash cow for U.S. military contractors
and oil companies for decades and the U.S. government has turned a blind eye to
the human rights abuses that the Saudi monarchy has wrecked on its people. But,
rather than confronting Saudi Arabia directly about its support for extremist
groups in the region, the Obama administration pushed for a formal training
facility for "moderate" armed groups in Syria to be trained in the home of
extremists. It does not make a bit of sense!!!!
Now is the time
for the United States to go to the mat with Saudi Arabia.
And now that the
Turkish diplomats have been freed from ISIS, it's time to put great pressure on
Turkey. Turkey is anti-Assad, has allowed international fighters to transit
into Syria and Iraq and has turned a blind eye toward militant recruitment in
Turkey itself. Unemployment in Turkey is 9.3% in 2013; and in 2010,
almost 17% of the population lived below the poverty level. ISIS reportedly
pays fighters $150 a day
. Working with ISIS, young men are able to earn more
that three times Turkey's average per capita GDP -- a tremendous recruitment tool.
The U.S. must
put pressure on Turkey to stop the flow of illegal oil from ISIS into Turkey.
ISIS is selling $1 million in oil per day from oilfields it has captured in
Syria and Iraq on the black market to groups in Turkey.
trying to bully CODEPINK to stop protesting Obama-Kerry policies, we suggest
that Secretary Kerry focus his energies on getting the Obama administration
"allies" to stop aiding and supporting ISIS and its brutal regime of terror on
Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand (more...