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US anti-war movement gains steam

By Adam Brookes
BBC News, Washington

Cindy Sheehan's roadside protest outside President Bush's ranch has rallied America's anti-war movement.

It has also attracted a posse of experienced activists and advisers who sense political advantage to be gained.

And it has stoked conservative rage.

Frank J Murray, writing in the Washington Times, called Ms Sheehan "the poster child for surrender".

It's worth remembering that we are in the middle of August.

Congress is in recess.

News is slow.

The president is at his ranch.

And the White House reporters assigned to sit out the summer in sun-blistered Texas are no doubt grateful for the Cindy Sheehan story unfolding under their noses.

Questioning voices

It's possible that Ms Sheehan would not have received the attention she has, were we not in the summer news drought.

Yet she has rejuvenated America's anti-war activists, and is causing commentators - particularly on the left of the political spectrum - to wonder if popular support for the Iraq war is approaching a "tipping point".

The logic would be: If you want to support the troops, give them the material and the numbers they need to do the job or get out
Paul Schroeder, father

Predictions that US public support for the war is on the verge of spiralling downward, Vietnam style, have been with us for a while, and so far have not been borne out.
But Cindy Sheehan's is not the only questioning voice that is capturing America's attention.

A reserve unit, the 3rd Battalion 25th Marine Regiment, had 20 fatalities in one week while operating in western Iraq.

All of the battalion's marines came from Cleveland and Columbus, two cities in Ohio.

In contrast to troops in regular units, reservists who serve together tend to come from the same geographical area.

The deaths of the marines had considerable local impact.

One of the dead was Edward "Augie" Schroeder - a 23-year-old college student.

Immediately on hearing of their son's death, Paul Schroeder and Rosemary Palmer decided to speak publicly about their grief and anger.

We interviewed them at their home in a suburb of Cleveland.

"After 27 months of trying to clear out insurgents in this town, that town, it's not working," Paul Schroeder said.
"The logic would be: If you want to support the troops, give them the material and the numbers they need to do the job or get out."

His wife, Rosemary Palmer, concurred.

"President Bush had said he wants to support the 1,800 [troops] who've died by continuing the war until we win.

"Well, continuing the same thing without changing what you're doing is like the classic definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

"So if we're not going to do it differently, it's just going to be throwing 1,800 more bodies on the same scrap heap."

Poised and articulate, Paul Schroeder and Rosemary Palmer have been all over America's airwaves.

Their status as parents of a dead soldier lends them tremendous moral authority in the eyes of their American countrymen.

And their measured call for the Bush administration to level with the public and to change Iraq policy seems to strike a chord with those who are troubled by the casualty figures and the open-ended nature of the US commitment in Iraq.

US policy

Only the slightest of hints suggest that the Bush administration is in the process recalculating its position on Iraq.

A front-page story in the Washington Post last weekend reported that US policy makers are indeed re-evaluating what is possible there.

An unnamed "official" was quoted thus: "What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground...

"We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

The story caused a buzz around Washington.

But it was read in different ways by different players.

Some saw it as evidence that the Bush administration really is accepting that Iraq will not achieve democracy and constitutional government, and that the United States will accept something short of that as constituting victory.

But one reader who is deeply involved in Iraqi politics saw it as a sort of temperature-taking exercise: The unnamed official, he said, was putting out the idea of re-evaluating Iraq policy in order to see what sort of reaction it received.

In public, President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld all remain committed to the current Iraq policy:

To continue combat operations against the insurgency

To train Iraqi security forces to the point that they are able to take over combat operations

To support the process of building a permanent government and a new constitution

And to refuse the imposition of a deadline for US withdrawal.
The Bush administration is hoping that the passage of a new Iraqi constitution and elections to a new government - scheduled for December - will reinforce a sense among Americans that progress is being made in Iraq.

The administration wants to replicate the surge of popular enthusiasm for the war that followed Iraq's January elections.

Yet the polls show that Americans continue to fear the outcome of the Iraq war.

The Gallup organisation found that 56% of Americans believe that the war in Iraq is going very badly or moderately badly.

These results, says Gallup, are among the most negative since 2003.

A poll in the influential publication Foreign Affairs found that the public's opinion of US foreign policy is deeply split - just as it is on domestic policy.

The poll found a clear majority of Democratic voters expressing unease at the administration's managing of the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond, and a clear majority of Republican voters showing understanding and support.

The consequence of such a split is clear: The debate over the rights and wrongs of Iraq has taken on the broad ideological overtones - conservative versus liberal, religious versus secular, rural versus metropolitan - that shape America's polarised politics.

America is not yet experiencing a collapse in public support for the war.

But voices like those of Cindy Sheehan, Paul Schroeder and Rosemary Palmer are contributing to greater volatility and unpredictability in the Iraq debate.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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"The other side are true believers ready to work as hard as they can for as long as it takes to get what they want. We must do the same, only harder. They learned their tactics from our side in the 60's and we have not yet begun to fight. Keep the heat on, and keep biting the ankles of ...the President.... Don't settle for business as usual." (Jello Biafra)

In the above quote, Jello Biafra was speaking on censorship. He was right about that; but this statement applies with equal importance regarding the anti-war effort. We cannot afford to rest, we cannot afford to allow any momentum to be lost, we must be willing to do whatever it takes and keep the fight up until we win. Because our victory will save lives! To think that getting out thousands of protesters on the front lawn of the Pentagon--that symbol of evil--during the Vietnam War didn't make a statement which made the core of the establishment's sense of control and well being (regarding their handle on public opinion) tremble would be just plain stupid. These efforts actually can change the world for the better. But Watergate was also necessary to oust the right-wing mass-murderer Nixon. Watergate also taught us a lesson about the dishonesty of government officials. But how short our memories are; and now the American people are accepting the establishment's presentation of the war and the "facts" which led us into it without question. It is essential that we try to show with concrete data that the people were led into this illegal war by liars and that there is no exit strategy because there is no intention to exit. The Democrats are basically singing the same song as the Republicans about the need to stay in Iraq until there is stability, which is to say, indefinitely...This stand against the war must be held in the streets and in the courtroom of public disclosure! We cannot count on any of those in office to do this for us--if we could, they would already have done so. If it takes massive pressure to influence them to do so, then they are not genuinely behind the effort. Therefore, it is we, the people, who must carry out this struggle on both fronts. Neither effort is more valuable than the other. It takes courage, initiative and resolve; but it can be done. The other side has a voice that never shuts up. Whatever their statement, the media rushes it to the masses without question. When they are busy elsewhere, the media props them up with "opinion polls" and talk radio. We have to make ourselves heard and right now they are beginning to listen. Keep up the fight!

London Guardian | August 18 2005

Tony Blair could be forced to give evidence under oath after families of 17 soldiers killed in Iraq began a legal bid yesterday to secure an independent inquiry into the lawfulness of the 2003 conflict.

A lawyer representing the families lodged papers at the high court in London, seeking a judicial review of the government's decision this May not to order an investigation into the legality of the war in Iraq.

They hope the inquiry will be held within six months.

The first three defendants named on the papers are the prime minister, the defence secretary at the time, Geoff Hoon, and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.
The families have demanded that judges investigate to see whether the government misled the public about the war.

Standing outside the high court, Reg Keys, the father of Corporal Tom Keys, 20, who was one of six royal military police troops killed in Majar al-Kabir, said he and the other families would not have needed to go to court had weapons of mass destruction been found in Iraq.

"We strongly feel that our sons were sent into a conflict not backed by international law or the United Nations," Mr Keys said. "Our boys were fully prepared to lay their lives down to defend their country. They were sent to war on a falsehood, against a background of propaganda of WMD. Look at the state of Iraq, it's a crucible of terror.

He added: "We feel we have to pursue this case to make our prime minister accountable for his misdemeanours. He misled parliament and it is well-known now that it was a done deal in 2002 that he was going to go to war [alongside] George Bush."

Mr Keys named 10 soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq, and the human rights lawyer Phil Shiner named families of a further seven who had signed up to the case. Mr Keys said he had travelled to the US to meet bereaved families there: "The balance has tipped and the Americans want their boys home. They are in the embryonic stages of a Vietnam."

Rose Gentle of Glasgow, whose 19-year-old, Gordon, was killed by a bomb in Basra in June 2004, said her son had been sent to Iraq "on a pack of lies". She would fight the government until she got the truth. "My campaign will continue until the troops are home."

The families argue that, under human rights laws, if the British state is involved in the use of lethal force there must be an independent inquiry.

Among the questions the families want to ask at court is why "the equivocal advice of March 7, in 2003, from the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, changed so that 10 days later it was completely unequivocal in giving legal support for the war?"

The families are seeking an urgent preliminary hearing so the judicial review can be held before the year's end.

"Why were these soldiers sent out to Iraq when it appears from everything in the public domain that the Iraq war was illegal and that therefore the sons and daughters of these families died for no good reason?" Mr Shiner asked.

Mr Blair has said there was no need to go "back over this ground again and again". In a letter to the families, Treasury solicitors said the government believed that military action against Iraq was fully justified.

The names of the 17 soldiers are Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, Cpl Simon Miller, Cpl Russell Aston, LCpl Shaun Brierley, Fusilier Gordon Gentle, Lieutenant Marc Lawrence, Cpl Dewi Pritchard, Cpl Paul Long, Sgt Les Hehir, Operator Mechanic 2nd class Ian Seymour, Cpl Stephen Allbutt, Lance Bombardier Llewelyn Evans, LCpl Karl Shearer, Lt Philip Green, Trooper David Clarke, and Cpl Andrew Craw.

Exactly. They NEVER planned an exit, they are hiding their true agenda. We figure it out with a little study and logic combined with a few facts like the 14 military bases and the worlds largest usa embassy being planned or built. bushco is completely secretive about their agenda there. like cheneys energy czar meetings all conducted in secret. Why do people do things secretively? Criminals conduct their crimes in secret cuz they dont want people to know what they are doing. These folks are criminals Plain and simple.

Cindy Sheehan is a FUCKING IDIOT. Go to hell, bitch!

So nice to see such "compassion" from a fellow human being.

Not to mention the "respect" that the Right Wing shows for those
of differing opinions.

But most of all, I see from the word "bitch" that you share that
PNAC NEO CON Patriarchal deep and heartfelt respect for women.

You must be one of those "Thousand Points of Light" that Papa Bush
spoke so glowingly of.


Probably believes a woman's place is in the kitchen!
English to Federalist Neocon translation: Baaaah! Baah! (and the sound that lemmings make)...

Fire Karl Rove!
Hang Abramoff!
Indict, indict, indict!!!strong>


To the above potty mouth, Seems to me that Cindy Sheehans bravery FRIGHTENS YOU A LOT!!!!

Who will step in for Cindy during her absence to handle press interviews to keep the Crawford protest in the 6:00 news?

"Cindy Sheehan is a F***ING IDIOT. Go to hell, bitch!"

Typical response from a right-wing Bush supporter who has their head up their ass and can't think for themselves and recognize what is happening to this divided country. We are being led by an administration that treats us like we are all stupid. It is simply amazing that the MSM is not holding this administration accountable for misleading all of us, including the MSM, into thinking that Iraq had WMDs and was responsible for 9-11. The perfect opportunity for the MSM to finally get on the same page as 60%+ of this country to show they (the MSM) are not buying Bush's bullshit anymore is on September 11th when the Pentagon puts on its "support the troops" (which I do) march and indirectly or directly tie the Iraq war in with 9-11. The MSM should even cover the Pentagon's dog and pony show.

Sorry. The last sentence should have been:

The MSM should NOT even cover the Pentagon's dog and pony show.

The left criticizes the right for being sheep... but the lefties are the ones that are following behind Cindy Sheehan. And, Cindy Sheehan is really only a sheep of Mike Moore, George Soros, and Jane Fonda!!!

That's funny - I thought we were being Independent . .. TOGETHER!!

"Come Together
Right now, over me"
- The Beatles


You have not been paying attention to the whole story. Sheehan started this on her own months ago with Gold Star Families for Peace and alone (with her sister) on August 6th in Crawford. It is Moore, Moveon.Org and others who are following her.

I would agree with you if she hadn't changed her motives. First she wanted answers, and I'm fine with that. But, now she wants to send the troops home, that wasn't her original goal. Mike and George are leading her to do this.

Please Everyone check this one out. A Student / Proffessor strike in September . Check the petition out. AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ...... Some of our nations top scholars are presenting this one...

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