Just Above Sunset
August 21, 2005 - From Brighton, New York to Paris, France

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And so it goes on: Vigils Calling for End to Iraq War Begin (Angela K. Brown, Associated Press, Thursday, August 18, 2005) –


As the sun dipped behind the pastures around the campsite near President Bush's ranch, more than 200 people clutched candles and gathered silently around a flag-draped coffin.

The vigil calling for an end to the war in Iraq was among hundreds nationwide Wednesday, part of an effort spurred by Cindy Sheehan's anti-war protest in memory of her son Casey, killed in Iraq last year.


The organizers were MoveOn.org, TrueMajority and Democracy for America - 1,600 "vigils" from coast to coast.  And the AP notes one was also held in France at Paris' Peace Wall, that glass monument near the Eiffel Tower that says "peace" in 32 languages.

That would explain an email received here in Hollywood early Tuesday from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis


One of my club members sent this:

Tomorrow, Wednesday August 17, we want to join thousands of Americans who are holding demonstrations in the USA in support of Cindy Sheehan and her fight to end the war in Iraq. Please contact us if you wish to join us. We propose to appear in front of the US Embassy in Paris at 1200 noon on Wednesday the 17th.

Email: rubinson@kab.com
Thank you.


It's a bit of a walk from the embassy, just north of the Place de la Concorde, over to the Peace Wall by the big iron tower, but manageable.   According to the AFP, all of sixteen expatriate Americans showed up.  

Back here?

AP notes Oklahoma City and one Marie Evans: "There was no question in my mind that we needed to make a statement in Oklahoma, which is a very conservative state," she said, holding a sign that read, "Every day President Bush plays in Crawford our young men die."  Demonstrators in Nashville had candles, flags and banners, like the one that read: "Thank you for your courage Cindy."  Charlottesville, Virginia?  Joan Schatzman: "I'm a mother who has a 20-year-old son. I did not spend 20 years of my life raising someone to be squandered in a war."  Minneapolis - Saint Paul?  Sue Ann Martinson: "There were no weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqis didn't have anything to do with 9-11."

And so on.  The New York Times covers it (Elisabeth Bumiller, dated August 17) with this on Sheehan: "She's like a herald, waking everybody up," said Tom Matzzie, the Washington director for MoveOn.org.  The Times also notes vigils in Rockefeller Center and Clover Park out here in Santa Monica.  At Union Square in New York? About three hundred people, including "one protester dressed like a hooded prisoner in the infamous photos from the Abu Ghraib prison."  Also noted: Somerville, Massachusetts, north of Boston, one hundred fifty people, a similar crowd in White Plains, and two hundred in a field next to the expressway west of downtown Chicago.  Also in New York - 106th Street and Broadway, and in Riverside Park.

Something is up, even in smug Brighton, New York, on the east side of Rochester.  (Disclaimer: this writer spent much of the seventies teaching at an exclusive prep school on Clover Street in Brighton.)  An account of that vigil with many photos is here.

Something a bit different in the UK with this:

Families of dead troops hope to see Blair in court
Legal fight begins for inquiry into lawfulness of Iraq conflict
Audrey Gillan, The Guardian (UK), Thursday 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.


Now that's curious.

Gillan focuses on one Reg Keys, the father of Corporal Tom Keys, twenty, who was one of six royal military police troops killed in Majar al-Kabir. Keys says these sorts of things:


"We strongly feel that our sons were sent into a conflict not backed by international law or the United Nations. 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.

"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."


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

The difference between us and the Brits is that we do the emotional outpouring thing - dramatic but perhaps useless, if not counterproductive with those now in power - whilst restraint and decorum there mean taking legal action.  Adam McKay notes: "George W Bush may be the first president ever who you can honestly describe as petulant."  The demonstrations mean little.  Would a lawsuit mean more?

Well, the Brits of a certain class are more thoughtful than their American cousins.  Horace may have said "Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori" - but Wilfred Owen gave the definitive comment on that here.  We're not so scholarly.  Over here no one reads Horace or Owen.

We read Pat Buchanan, our traditional and quite xenophobic voice on the right.  But he says this on August 17 –


... Cindy Sheehan may be the catalyst of crisis for the Bush presidency.

As a Gold Star mother of a soldier son slain in Iraq, Sheehan has authenticity and moral authority. Wedded to the passion of her protest, these make her a magnet for a bored White House press corps camped in Crawford for August. Cindy and the president are the only stories in town. And as a source of daily derogatory commentary on the president, Sheehan is using the media, and the media are using her, for the same end: to bedevil George W. Bush.

... Put bluntly, the bottom is falling out of support for the commander in chief.

... If President Bush cannot describe "victory" in terms convincing enough to Americans willing to spend blood indefinitely, he will have to persuade them to stay the course by describing what a disaster defeat will mean for Iraq and for America's position in the world.

But to do that would raise a question: Why, then, in heaven's name, did America take such a risk, when Iraq was never a threat?

September could see the coalescing of an anti-war movement that both bedevils the White House and divides a Democratic Party that seeks to benefit from a losing war, without having to offer a plan to win it or end it, without being held accountable for having supported it, or responsible for undercutting it.

Our politics appear likely to become even more poisoned when the president returns from his troubled vacation.



Marc Cooper writing in the LA Weekly (Issue of August 19-25) notes the poison:


- Has there recently been a more vile moment in our already debased body politic than that staged this past weekend when Fox News contributor and radio talk-show host Mike Gallagher convened his “army” contra Sheehan and, wielding a bullhorn, led a chant of “We Don’t Care”?

- Indeed, the administration has so relentlessly painted itself into a corner, it has so twisted the facts to justify an ill-conceived and mismanaged war, that the president’s handlers consider a pro forma meeting with Sheehan to be a sign of unacceptable waffling and weakness. Steely-souled Dubya ain’t about to give in either to terrorists or to that crazy lady from California.


So just what are we doing and why - and does anyone really have to explain it?

Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, comments on the item in the pages, A Vacuum Where the Noble Cause Should Be, and particularly on what Maureen Dowd said in the Times: "Pressed about how he could ride his bike while refusing to see a grieving mom of a dead soldier who's camped outside his ranch, he added: 'So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so.'"



Cindy Sheehan's son has no life anymore. Why shouldn't she ask why not? Didn't he deserve his life? How is it that Bush thinks he 'deserves' his life more? The guy is a hapless goon. All the parents deserve an answer.

And as long as you are asking, 'why continue?' - think about how long, and what it's expected to achieve. If all that's on the menu is Bush Senior's prediction, the thing should have been stopped yesterday.

Those last days in Vietnam were messy but they got it over with. The Vietnamese won Vietnam. They got their country back.

The way Bush junior has arranged it, bungled it, it looks unlikely that the Iraqis will get Iraq back. You, we, are going to get a pile of fundamental Islam, from Baghdad to Islamabad, thanks to GW Bush. The neo-cons get their wish granted - a new 'evil' empire.

As long as we need their gas there will be a new 'cold' war. Like, forever. Which is the same amount of time that some folks are going to make piles of money out of it.

In the blizzard of lies and ill-informed opinion it's often overlooked that the purpose of democracy is to make money, the more of it the better. A long 'cold' war will do the trick. It did last time.

How long will it take those bozos to start telling us we're in another 'cold' war? It's an answer for Cindy Sheehan after all.


So that's the answer?  It very may well be.

"I've got a life to live and will do so."  Sorry about your son.  He doesn't.  "Let's fight terrorism - now watch this swing."  (Ah, you had to see the movie.)


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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