Views on Iraq one year later later

BY LUCILLE VAUGHAN
Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 19, 2004

To mark the first anniversary of the beginning of the war in
Iraq, Ann Arbor residents joined others around the world to honor
the victims of the war and to protest the United States’
continuing involvement in Iraq.

More than 2,500 people marched through Ann Arbor Saturday,
packing the Diag for music, speeches and a candlelit vigil.

The rally, titled “The World STILL Says No to War,”
and sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace, Anti-War
Action! and Veterans for Peace, was part of a greater protest
throughout the world. In London, two anti-war activists climbed the
landmark Big Ben clock tower with a sign reading “Time for
Truth.” In New York City, a crowd of more than 30,000
congregated in Manhattan.

Protesters in Ann Arbor brandished signs with slogans including
“Why Is There Always Money For War But Not For Health
Care?” and “It Sucks When Sauron (Bush) Rules Over
America.”

Ann Arbor resident Scott Alf said he participated in the rally
to raise community awareness of the situation in Iraq. “We
need to reach outward,” he said. “As we march around,
this is to get the word out and create public discourse.” Alf
added that America faces a critical struggle in the future.
“We need to organize and we need to bring the battle
home,” he said. “The real battlefield is here at
home.”

LSA sophomore Pamela Baker, who attended the rally, said
anti-war protest is still relevant even though a year has elapsed
since the U.S. invasion began.

“A lot of people think it doesn’t matter anymore
because we already went to war,” she said.

“But it’s important in an election year because a
lot of people are concerned about the direction the U.S. is going,
especially in foreign policy.” He described the war-torn city
of Baghdad, where he said children are kicked out of orphanages and
forced to roam the streets, where they become the prey of drug
dealers.

Bob Krzewinski, coordinator of the Washtenaw County chapter of
Veterans for Peace, said he was dismayed by President Bush’s
foreign policy in Iraq.

“With the situation in Iraq our commander in chief, urged
on by advisors who never served a day in the military, seemed
almost giddy in his enthusiasm to start a war,” Krzewinski
said. “Indeed, Mr. Bush even encouraged attacks on our troops
by his infamous ‘bring them on’ statement.”

Krzewinski called for Americans to become a force of positive
change by writing letters to Congress and the president.
“Tell our leaders that soldiers are not playthings like
figures in a video game,” he said. “War is real; it
hurts and should be avoided at all costs.”

Veterans for Peace constructed a symbolic cemetery on the grass
of the Diag, with a cross, Star of David or other symbol for every
American soldier killed in Iraq. At sundown they held a candlelight
ceremony and read the names of American soldiers killed in Iraq.
Yesterday’s rocket attack in Baghdad brought the number of
American soldiers killed in Iraq up to 578.

SNRE junior Elizabeth Graham, who attended the rally, said she
was opposed to the war in Iraq. “I’m kind of disgusted
that we’ve been there for a year and haven’t really
accomplished anything,” she said.

Graham said the allegation that war protesters are unpatriotic
is false. She said the majority of Americans were against the war
in Iraq.

“It’s pretty ridiculous that right after we invaded,
everyone said, ‘Even if you don’t agree with the war,
you should support the president.’ This is a democracy. If he
is not going to support the feeling of the people, I’m not
going to support him.”

U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan) issued a statement to Ann
Arbor residents in which he criticized the Bush
administration’s policy in Iraq.

“I do not believe the administration made an adequate case
for war, which is why I voted against authorizing the use of
military force in Iraq,” he said in the statement.

“In my letter to President Bush, I requested that the
Administration, among other things, make a clear and convincing
case that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction — biological,
chemical or nuclear — and the means to deliver such agents. I
asked that the Administration explain why it believes Iraq will
employ these kinds of weapons in imminent attacks on other
nations.” Dingell said that he never received a response to
his letter.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who spoke in the Michigan
Union’s University Club yesterday, said oil was a deciding
factor in the Iraq war.

Steve MacGuidwin, president of College Republicans, said the
Iraqis have approved a constitution and are on their way to
becoming a democracy. “The worst thing we could do right now
is to take our military out of an unstable region,”
MacGuidwin said.