Obama promised to make ending the war in Iraq his first act in office. Then he did what he could to avoid ending it. Forced by Bush and Maliki and the Iraqis to remove troops, he's keeping troops nearby and filling bases with mercenaries, while expanding ground and drone wars around the region and claiming the power to make war anywhere he likes, including having already done so in Libya. Nonetheless a hearty band of Obama-Right-Or-Wrongers planned a rally in Chicago to praise the president for . . . well, for something or other.
The rally was sponsored by Marilyn Katz and Carl Davidson and "Chicagoans Against War in Iraq," and was promoted as a big national event. I heard about the planning here in Virginia. Among the 30 speakers were the president of the Cook County Board Toni Preckwinkle, Alderman Joe Moore, and Tom Hayden. But an email report I've just been forwarded says the audience was "5-10," and "Dozens and dozens of prepared placards that said 'yes we can' were in a box, untouched."
Meanwhile, "In opposition, holding placards, were some 15 or more from March 19th Anti-War Coalition, Occupy Chicago, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice, and others. The placards included slogans "The U.S. War on Iraq is NOT Over" "Obama Does Mot Deserve Praise," "Obama is Continuing Illegal & Unjust Wars," "Obama Is Threatening Iran and Syria," "Free Bradley Manning," "No War on Iran," "Orambo," "There Is Nothing to Celebrate" and others. Hundreds of leaflets from the March 19th Anti-War Coalition entitled "The Government is NOT bringing all U.S. troops home or ending its wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or its threats against Iran and Syria and elsewhere" were distributed to passersby as well as those at the rally."
UPDATE: Story and Photo Here.
UPDATE 2: Hayden, Davidson, and Katz tell me this was no rally at all, just a press conference. None of them can explain the placards. They gave NBC the impression it was a rally. They gave In These Times the impression it was a rally. I'm not aware of any other press, of any press that did not think it was a rally.
NEWS ALERT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Activists From Across the Nation to Gather in Chicago at
2002 Rally Site to Mark Iraq War End
“Determination of a few can change the world”
(CHICAGO—December 15, 2011) Nine years and two months after the first large protest against the then impending war in Iraq, organizers of the now-famous rally will return there with anti-war leaders from throughout the nation to mark the end of what they predicted to be and has turned out to be an ill-conceived and costly war.
“On October 2, 2002,” said Marilyn Katz, “to the surprise of themselves and a nation still reeling from the events of 9/11, thousands of people gathered in Federal Plaza to voice our opposition to an impending war that we felt was built on lies and would cost both the people of Iraq and America thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Among the speakers that day was a relatively unknown state senator – Barack Obama, who added a strong voice in opposition when it was not yet a popular position.
“What began as a few thousand people in Federal Plaza and places like it grew to a movement of millions who opposed a war and became a critical force in electing a president who promised to end the war he had long opposed. That movement has continued. The promise has been kept. We return to Federal Plaza to mourn the losses all have endured and to celebrate the difference that citizen action can make in creating and changing history – and to honor those whose word is their promise.”
Among those joining Among those joining Bettylu Saltzman, Marilyn Katz and others who founded Chicagoans Against War and Injustice (CAWI), the group that called the demonstration, will be Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; Alderman Joe Moore, president of Cities for Peace; labor leader Tom Balanoff, SEIU; anti-war stalwart Tom Hayden, Progressive Democrats of America; Chuy Garcia, commissioner, Cook County Board; Bill Zimmerman, media consultant to MoveOn.org and author of Troublemaker, a memoir of the Vietnam antiwar movement; Ryan Canney, Move On.org; Juan Andrade, United States Hispanic Leadership Institute; Julie Hamos, director, state of Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services; David Cortright, Win Without War; Bill MacInary, Lynda Deforge, William McNary, Citizen Action; Carl Davidson, Progressive Democrats for America; Adele Simmons, former president the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; representatives from VetVotes; and Ilya Sheyman, candidate for U.S. Congress.