Almost eight years ago, I made my way to DC to meet up with Medea Benjamin and a few other friends to talk about what we could do to stop the Bush administration's insane push toward invading an innocent country: Iraq. The next morning, eight of us were in front of the White House, on the steps of Congress and in the hearing for the resolution on Iraq; the day ended with two of us in jail. Our message was US Inspectors, Not US War. We had read articles about how the White House had been dreaming the invasion up over the summer and was waiting until September to push it because "you don't launch a new product in August." People's lives were at stake, and they were treating war like the release of a new sports car.
We started CODEPINK in a desperate attempt to try to stop the war in Iraq. We vigiled outside the White House for five months, taking our message and outrage to the halls of Congress, press conferences and every invasion sales pitch we could gain entry to. We met with Nancy Pelosi, who told us she had a briefing with a Florida Senator that convinced her that there were no weapons of mass destruction. As the Democratic Whip she boldly broke with leadership to oppose the war. Sadly, her words were without action. The resolution swept through the committee hearing; we sat and listened with horror to Democrats arguing for the war, their arguments terrifyingly ungrounded in any real facts. Bush wanted to release his shiny new sports car and no one in Congress had the guts to say "This car is dangerous, it's way too expensive, it doesn't have any brakes, and it can only end in tragedy." Congress just sat back and let him have his deadly toy, while we did whatever could to try to keep it off the road.
While we did not succeed in stopping the invasion, we did spend the past eight years organizing, mobilizing, expressing our outrage and exposing the futility, stupidity and enormous cost of this debacle for both Iraqis and Americans. We have countered the constant lies spewing out of the Oval Office, the "think tanks" and the media. We have worked tirelessly to try to bring our resources back home where they're most needed--particularly as millions of Americans are turned out of their homes, people are desperate for jobs, and we need to reconfigure our entire energy system. By August 31, U.S. troops in Iraq are scheduled to be reduced to 50,000--marking what we hope will be the beginning of the end of this catastrophe. The Pentagon and the war supporters will undoubtedly spin this catastrophic intervention as a success--while Iraq lies in ruins and thousands of our soldiers have died in vain. Worse yet, it seems they have learned nothing from the disaster, as we are repeating it again in Afghanistan. Congress is voting for another $33 billion for the Afghanistan war while our states and cities go bankrupt and EVERYONE knows there is no military solution.
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