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Viewpoint: Why Was the Biggest Protest in World History Ignored?

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  • scotpeden
    I note, the threats these world record, Peace Protests presented to the Status Quo, brought about daily spying on Americans, without warrant, and the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 15, 2013
      I note, the threats these world record, Peace Protests presented to the
      Status Quo, brought about daily spying on Americans, without warrant, and
      the harvesting of private information to be sold to the government, by any
      media Corporation you might use. Have you submitted to your TSA groping

      They are afraid, very very afraid, of YOU. Those laws are to protect them,
      not us, they do not reduce any foreign threat our military might have
      created for us, they are simply there to track us and make sure our
      actions are known to them, while we aren't to know of their actions,
      National Security, ya know, their Nation, not ours.

      Ask any Police State, Military State person about Peace Protestors, they
      consider them the most dangerous people on the Planet, after all they keep
      them from fighting wars abroad before those people get mad and come attack
      us here, for what we, our State Department and Military already do to them
      abroad when they are resistant to the Corporations that fund our Political


      Ten years ago today, the world saw what was by some accounts the largest
      single coordinated protest in history. Roughly ten to fifteen million
      people (estimates vary widely) assembled and marched in more than six
      hundred cities: as many as three million flooded the streets of Rome; more
      than a million massed in London and Barcelona; an estimated 200,000
      rallied in San Francisco and New York. From Auckland to Vancouver—and
      everywhere in between—tens of thousands came out, joining their voices in
      one simple, global message: No to the Iraq War.

      I was among the anti-war contingent that swarmed Manhattan’s midtown on
      Feb. 15, 2003, a wintry Saturday. We spread across miles of city blocks,
      trundling past abandoned police barricades as we tried to inch toward the
      United Nations, where ten days earlier then Secretary of State Colin
      Powell had presented what we now know was illusory intelligence about
      Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction. The multitudes in New York
      were diverse and legion. There were anarchists and military veterans,
      vociferous students (I was then a freshman in college) and a motley cast
      of greying peaceniks—many, including one grandmother memorably puttering
      along in a wheelchair, had opposed American involvement in Vietnam. And
      there were myriad others: a band of preppy suburbanites with banners
      announcing themselves—”Soccer Moms Against the War”—musicians, street
      artists, and workaday New Yorkers. My uncle, a doctor with medical
      practices in both the U.K. and India, had flown in for the demonstration
      and was just another face in a vast crowd.

      (JOE KLEIN: Refighting the Last Wars)

      The overwhelming feeling on New York’s streets, despite the grimness of
      the NYPD and the bite of that February afternoon, was one of unity and
      hope. Word was seeping in about the scale of the demonstrations elsewhere
      and it was hard not to bask in our sense of collective purpose. An article
      in the New York Times would soon trumpet, “There are two superpowers: the
      United States and world public opinion.” Here’s Sofia Fenner, then a high
      school senior in Seattle (now a doctoral candidate at the University of
      Chicago, currently doing dissertation work in Cairo): “I was just proud to
      stand with all those people, proud that we as dissenting Americans were
      not staying home while what seemed like the whole world took up our
      cause.” In Los Angeles, a pregnant Laila Lalami walked a mile with fellow
      protesters down Hollywood Boulevard. “I thought—hundreds of thousands of
      people across the U.S. are making their voices heard. Surely they can’t be
      ignored,” the Moroccan-American novelist told TIME this week. “But they

      And there it was. We failed. Slightly more than a month later, the U.S.
      was shocking and awing its way through Iraqi cities and Saddam Hussein’s
      defenses and bedding in—though it didn’t know it yet—for a near
      decade-long occupation. The protests, which by any measure were a world
      historic event, were brushed aside with blithe nonchalance by the Bush
      Administration and a rubber-stamp Congress that approved the war. The
      U.N.’s Security Council was bypassed, and the largely feckless,
      acquiescent American mainstream media did little to muffle Washington’s
      drumbeats of war.

      (PHOTOS: War/Photography by Geoff Dyer)

      A decade later, it’s hard to understand why the display of people power on
      Feb. 15 proved so ineffectual. The gun-slinging righteousness of post-9/11
      America has given way to a more humble West, burdened by unwinnable wars,
      financial crises and a semi-permanent funk of political dysfunction.
      Moreover, the explosion of social media in recent years has enabled
      previously obscure episodes of dissent to reach and reshape the global
      conversation. Protests matter again. Public spaces—from Cairo’s Tahrir
      Square to Madrid’s Puerta del Sol to New York’s tiny Zuccotti Park—became
      sites of a renewed democratic vitality. Yet the mass anti-austerity
      protests that have rocked Europe or even the largest actions of Occupy
      Wall Street have not been able to match the scale of what took place on
      Feb. 15, 2003.

      There will be time yet to re-litigate the justifications behind the
      U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, ten years after the fact. The ranks of the
      war’s cheerleaders have thinned in the intervening years, with a host of
      journalists and pundits in the U.S. offering their mea culpas for
      supporting the war so unquestioningly. A dictator is gone, but more than
      100,000 Iraqis are dead, as well as 4,804 U.S. and coalition soldiers. The
      U.S. spent nearly a trillion dollars on a pre-emptive war that didn’t need
      to happen and a nation-building exercise that has achieved only fragile,
      uncertain gains. Far from a “Mission Accomplished,” the American adventure
      in Iraq has become a cautionary tale of hubris and poor planning. It’s
      clear the West’s current reluctance to take more direct action in ending
      Syria’s bloody civil war is, in part, a legacy of the U.S. experience in
      Iraq, where the disintegration of a regime spawned a whole new phase of
      sectarian slaughter and chaos.

      But there’s no satisfaction in looking back and saying, “I told you
      so”—not with the blood that has been spilled and continues to be spilled.
      That profound solidarity I felt ten years ago has faded into a form of
      resignation and sadness. In a region as complex and politically volatile
      as the Middle East, fixed moral positions are difficult. “Our demands were
      simple [on Feb. 15], and we were right,” says Fenner, the University of
      Chicago doctoral candidate. “What I didn’t realize at the time was that,
      when the war went ahead, nothing would ever be so simple again.”

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