by Julie Varughese, published on Towards Freedom, March 21, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C.—An estimated couple of thousand of people to “several thousand” marched on March 18 in downtown Washington D.C., calling for an end to the U.S. imperialist project that they hold responsible for 20 years of a “War on Terror” on millions of people. The weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
U.S. interference in the form of military invasions and other types of activities since 2001 have caused the global displacement of 38 million people and the death of at least 900,000 people, according to the Costs of War Project. Those are conservative estimates.
The demonstration aimed to link the lack of funding for people’s needs in the United States with the diversity of tactics the United States uses to perpetuate wars on people around the world.
“The proxy war in Ukraine has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives, plunged the world into crisis, and will cost the people of the U.S. at least $113 billion in public money,” Press TV reported. “Over the past year, Washington has supplied Ukraine with military equipment worth more than $50 billion, excluding other types of assistance worth tens of billions of dollars.”
Rally speakers representing a diverse cross-cut of U.S. society, ranging from students and Filipino migrants, to internal U.S. colonies like African and Indigenous peoples, as well as Wikileaks Publisher Julian Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, gathered in front of the White House for a 1 p.m. rally. Toward Freedom Board Secretary Jacqueline Luqman also spoke, which can be found here, here and here.
Then a mile-long march kicked off that stopped briefly at the Washington Post headquarters.
“The corporate media has decided to boycott the American ppl when they speak up against the war machine. CNN, NBC, ABC, all the corporate networks are just echo chambers for the Pentagon — nothing else.”
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) March 18, 2023
Activists spoke out against the newspaper—now owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos—because it spread information that helped build the U.S. government’s case for the invasion of Iraq. A U.S. Senate intelligence committee report later found the war was based on false information.
Happening now in front of the Washington Post: “Whether it’s the war at abroad or the war at home, you can count on the Washington Post to be a liar and a warmonger!” —@EugenePuryear pic.twitter.com/m6fi8aSvm7
— Party for Socialism and Liberation (@pslnational) March 18, 2023
“Thousands of anti-war protesters stretched for blocks without a corporate camera in sight yesterday,” tweeted independent journalist Chuck Modi, who has documented protests in Washington, D.C. “In pre-cell phone age, you wouldn’t even know it happened”
“We are the people. The mighty mighty people!”
Thousands of Anti-War protesters stretched for blocks w/o a corporate camera in site yesterday. In pre-cell phone age, you wouldn’t even know it happened. #FundPeopleNotWar #NoUSWars #PeaceInUkraine pic.twitter.com/Slty82VVH3
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) March 19, 2023
Activists on Saturday carried coffins wrapped in the flags of countries that the United States has either invaded over the past two decades or that the United States has helped fuel a conflict inside of through the shipment of arms and funds.
Growing numbers are condemning the US/NATO for fueling the war in Ukraine and blocking peace negotiations. On March 18, the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, protesters carried mock coffins to the White House and demanded “Money for People’s Needs, Not the War Machine” pic.twitter.com/gs3yrujlfK
— BreakThrough News (@BTnewsroom) March 20, 2023
More than 200 organizations demonstrated against the United States funding and arming the war in Ukraine, and called for the United States to not interfere in peace negotiations. They also spoke out against a possible military conflict with China and decried the U.S./EU sanctions regime that prevents food, fuel and medicine from reaching one-third of the world’s population.
Plus, the call was raised to close U.S. military bases around the world and U.S. military commands, such as AFRICOM. Some estimates have ranged from as little as 800 bases to thousands of bases, according to U.S. military veteran and psychologist Monisha Rios. She claimed at the International Women’s Alliance conference, held March 4-5 in Washington, D.C., that activists have used a figure based on a calculation that undercounts U.S. military installations.
People leading the march held banners that read, “Remember Iraq: No More Wars Based on Lies” and “Fund People’s Needs, Not War.”
‼️You definitely didn’t hear it on on Tucker Carlson or the Washington Post, but several thousand marched in DC this weekend against endless U.S. wars.
The peace movement is being reborn in the U.S. before our eyes. pic.twitter.com/WaD6CyIlRC
— Zeb Habash (@Habash_Zebulon) March 20, 2023
After the march, a teach-in was held at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, just a few blocks from the rally site. There, professor Noam Chomsky, as well as representatives from the U.S. colonies of Guam and Hawaii, gave remarks.
Activists like Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture of Philadelphia, a member of the Black Alliance for Peace, spoke out against the international wars as well as the domestic war on the people of the United States. That includes the most recent federal government move to eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to hungry families. “Roughly 60 percent of those households have children, and more than half include older people or adults with disabilities,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s editorial board writes.
“More and more ppl are against this war because their conditions are worsening. They’re cutting food stamps; it’s harder to pay rent; wages are stagnant. This must change. We must fight back!”
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) March 18, 2023
The protest was noted for how it was led by people who bear the brunt of U.S. imperialism.
“When the interests and positions of colonized people are respected, the turnout to mobilizations look different,” tweeted the Black Alliance for Peace, an anti-imperialist organization led by African people in the United States. “Perhaps the March 18 demonstrations signal a shift is taking place: That an anti-imperialist movement led by young African and other colonized peoples is rising.”
When the interests and positions of colonized people are respected, the turnout to mobilizations look different. Perhaps the March 18 demonstrations signal a shift is taking place: That an anti-imperialist movement led by young African and other colonized peoples is rising. https://t.co/W2O8fHr8HU
— Black Alliance for Peace (@Blacks4Peace) March 20, 2023
Many commented that a renewed movement for peace was emerging with this demonstration. About 11 million people protested the U.S. invasion of Iraq 20 years ago. An ANSWER Coalition representative did not reply to this reporter in time to confirm the number of marchers on March 18
Margaret Kimberley of @Blacks4Peace and @blkagendareport says we don’t want to have to be here again in another 20 years saying no to war. End wars now! @freedomridebloghttps://t.co/0DAr3f2em5 pic.twitter.com/zizTODEXp9
— Popular Resistance (@PopResistance) March 18, 2023
“Here we are again, 20 years later, because imperialism persists,” Black Agenda Report Executive Editor Margaret Kimberley told activist group Popular Resistance. “As long as that is true, the location of the war will change, the people waging the war will change, but we will still have wars. Our goal is to end imperialism.”
Besides in Washington, D.C., demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the United States.
*Featured Image: A demonstration took place March 18 in Washington, D.C., that coincided with the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq / credit: ANSWER Coalition
Julie Varughese is Editor of Towards Freedom.