Rochester, New York
NO WAR WITH IRAN
Chapter 23 Member Mick Cole at the "No War With Iran, Global Day of Protest" in Washington DC
January 25, 2020
Chapter 23 Members Marybeth Knowles, James Swarts, Bruce Freeman and William Fisher Joined about 80 Others at the "No War With Iran, Global Day of Protest" in Geneseo, NY
January 25, 2020
NO WAR WITH IRAN
Global Day of Protest---January 25, 2020
Geneseo, New York
Remarks by James Swarts, Chapter 23 President
Thank you, Dr. Matlin, for inviting us to participate and speak here today on this global day of protest to demand that there be no war on Iran.
Peace! Let me hear it -PEACE. Let me hear - No more wars! Can they hear you in Washington? We are here to tell our government, and all the world - All we want is an end to forever wars, and we want peace at home and abroad.
Two-thousand years ago, a Jewish prophet wandered throughout Judea preaching peace, justice, equality, and an end to the strife that was destroying his people. He warned us that we would hear of wars, and rumors of war, but not to fear for the end was not yet to come. But, that was Two-thousand years ago and I tell you that today we had better fear the rumors of war because war in the Middle East will not be fought with spears and swords but with weapons of destruction that will bring the apocalypse that John of Patmos warned in Revelation that will be the end of humankind.
The actions of our government, and especially the irrational decisions of President Trump, could lead us to that doomsday. The assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, a senior Iranian military leader, is just the latest unilateral action by this administration that has brought us to the brink of war. This latest act is part of a long list of hostile actions the U.S. has taken against Iran. War with Iran would be yet another bloody disaster in that region and initiate another endless war. If past is prologue, we already know that the U.S. has had no strategy or accountability in conflict zones and only perpetuates chaos, confusion and violence.
We cannot let that happen. We, the people, must raise our voices so loud that even our deaf congressional representatives and senators will hear us. We must demand, yes demand, Congress cuts the budget of the endless war machine that does nothing but rain death and destruction throughout the world.
We are told that Iran is a threat to our national security. We were told that lie 18 years ago but in that case it was called Iraq. And we know how that lie turned out. Thousands of Americans died, tens of thousands of Iraqis died, millions were displaced, the Iraqi government was destabilized as was their economy, and we are still an occupier in that land against the will of the Iraqi people. What threat to our national security is Iran? We have over 40 military installations closely surrounding Iran in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, and the US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain. How many military installations does Iran have near the US borders in Canada and Mexico? What Iranian fleets are off the coast of the United States? Think about that for a minute. Iran, or Persia, has not invaded another country in over 200 years, and has never attacked the United States. Think about that. Who is the threat to who?
Veterans For Peace strongly condemns any and all U.S. aggression towards Iran and calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Who more than veterans, those who have served in uniform and seen the horrors of war, should be the ones to sound the alarm? We were young once, and sent by chicken hawks to fight in foreign lands, being fed a constant stream of lies and deception for what – why? The blood of the youth of the United States has been shed in the jungles of Asia, the sands of the Middle East, the deserts of Africa, and almost every corner of this earth. And to turn around words of Abraham Lincoln, in truth, they died in vain. How many more innocents will be sacrificed upon the altar of hubris and insanity?
This week, the keepers of the symbolic Doomsday Clock set the countdown to a mere 100 seconds from midnight, citing the erosion of nuclear arms control and an insufficient response to the climate emergency as growing existential threats to humanity. The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it’s ever been. And the threat of war is one of the major factors in that calculation. But there is no reason why it can’t be turned back. As God is our judge, if we don’t put an end to war, war will put an end to civilization as we know it. We cannot afford to stay silent and allow the Masters of War to lead us into Armageddon. We must let our so-called leaders know we want peace, not war, and we wanted it now.
Peace. Let me hear it – Peace.
God be with you. Peace.
Article in Livingston County News--January 25, 2020 No War With Iran Protest in Geneseo NY
Protest in Geneseo Promotes Peace
By BEN BEAGLE
PUBLISHED: THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2020 AT 10:07 AM
GENESEO – The refrain of a Vietnam War-era protest song echoed through the intersection of Main and South streets on Saturday afternoon.
“War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing,” came loud and strong from the 75 people who had gathered for the rally.
Later, they proclaimed “This is what democracy looks like!”
Those gathered held signs calling on elected officials to “Stop the War!” or “End endless wars.” A flag announced participation by “Veterans for Peace.”
And many motorists passing through gave a quick burst from their vehicle’s horns in an apparent show of support.
The “No War With Iran: Anti-War Rally” was organized by Will Suter, who grew up in Geneseo and recently joined the Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace, the rally’s host organization.
“I had been following news events in the Middle East … and I was feeling alone in my opinion. But then I thought I’m sure others felt that way, too. We don’t need another war,” he said, “and this was my way to do something.”
The demonstration was part of a nationwide protest against what some have described as a new war in the Middle East. Others, such as Suter, expressed concerns about the long-running involvement of the United States in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.
Suter said he was drawn to Citizens for Peace by its “powerful legacy.” The organization was founded in 1972 with the general objective of fighting against militarism and war.
“I find a lot of parallels between our action in the Middle East and Vietnam,” said Suter. “An endless quagmire is the last thing we need. We need to learn from history and we should.”
Mary Roodenburg of Geneseo said the longevity of American military forces in the Middle East “makes no sense to me.”
“It’s been going on well before those fighting it were even born,” she said. “They tell us there’s not enough money for healthcare in this country. We can’t feed the hungry. It all leaves me very conflicted.”
Co-sponsors of the rally included Geneseo Peace Action and the Rochester chapter of Veterans for Peace.
“We need to raise our voices and say ‘No war,’” said the Rev. James L. Swarts, a member of Veterans for Peace who served in the U.S. Navy during the 1960s, who spoke to the gathered crowd. “Let them hear you in Washington. Tell them we want peace, not war.”
It was a common refrain during the hour-long rally.
Holly Adams of Hunt, a member of Citizens for Peace for more than a decade, said war is not a solution.
“Conflicts are solved by understanding and compromising, and meeting at a table and negotiating,” Adams said. “It’s horrifying to me that people can be taken out by drones on a foreign country’s land. I believe in peace.”
A range of community members, from long-time residents to college students, gathered at the corner and along the Main Street sidewalk – in the shadow of the village’s Wall of Honor, which is inscribed with the names of Geneseo-area residents who have died in war.
Hailey Schiller of Nassau, an English major at SUNY Geneseo, attended at the urging of her grandfather, who served on a submarine during the Vietnam War era.
“It was important for me to be here for him,” said Schiller, who held a sign that said “Peace is Patriotic,” written with red and blue markers. “As a veteran he saw how American citizens were being used not to protect the interests of the people, but for imperialistic interests.”
The protest arose from the Jan. 2 announcement from the U.S. Department of Defense which said the United State military had killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force in Iran. The United States had previously designated Soleimani’s group as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Department of Defense said the U.S. strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.
Iran later responded by launching missiles toward two military bases in Iraq used by U.S. forces.
Tensions have calmed since the first days of the Soleimani assassination, but participants in the rally said they remain concerned about the long-time U.S. presence in the region, withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and ongoing protests in Iran.
“We were young once, sent by chicken hawks to fight in a foreign land,” Swarts said. “How many more innocents will be sacrificed at the altars of hubris and vanity?”
Swarts, in an interview after his speech, said his organization has called for, among other things, an end to aggression against Iran, immoral sanctions that are only hurting the people of Iran, not the government; the withdraw of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, an end to killings such as the one that claimed the life of Soleimani, a renegotiation of peace in the Middle East and a careful look at the roles of the United States and Israel in the region.
During his speech, Swarts, a retired history professor at SUNY Geneseo, noted the Doomsday Clock had been moved to 100 seconds to midnight – the closest it’s ever been to the metaphorical end of the world. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the clock’s current time two days before the Geneseo protest, citing threats such as nuclear war, climate change and disinformation.
“There’s no reason the clock can’t be turned back,” said Swarts. “If we don’t put an end to war, war will put an end to us. … We can’t be silent. We must let our leaders know we want peace, not war, and we want it now.”
Countering The Lies: National Online Teach-in Sat. Jan. 11 No War With Iran!
Presented by the Answer Coalition
Posted on the Answer Coalition Facebook Page
Kathy Kelly, Voice for Creative Nonviolence
Abby Martin, host of The Empire Files
Dr. Gerald Horne, author and historian
Claudia De La Cruz, The People's Forum
Liz Theoharis, Co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign
Mazda Majidi, Iranian-American journalist
Leila Zanda, Iranian-American activist
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate 2016
Eugene Puryear, ANSWER Coalition
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
Ciara Taylor, The People's Forum
Max Blumenthal, journalist at The Grayzone
Leonardo Flores, CODEPINK Latin America Coordinator
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
Cavan Kharrazian, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Yasemin Zahra, US Labor Against the War (USLAW)
Mike Prysner, Iraq anti-war veteran
Anya Parampil, journalist at The Grayzone
Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition
This presentation was well organized and informative. Each speaker addressed a separate topic concisely.
Click here to link to the video.
Of particular relevance to veterans, Mike Prysner, an Iraq anti-war veteran and host of the "Eyes Left" podcast, talked about his efforts to help those in the military, even those who are about to deploy or have deployed to the Middle East, mainly by applying for conscientious objector status or simply going awol. His presentation is at about 1 hour 15 minutes in.