The Public Square

Gary Storm on the public meeting of the Anti-War, Anti-Racism Effort


AWARE, the local Anti-War, Anti-Racism Effort, sponsors a public event called "One Main" on the first Saturday of each month from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the corner of Main and Neil Streets in downtown Champaign.

This month, on January 6th, One Main will recognize the loss of the 3000th U.S. soldier in Iraq. This exceeds the number of those killed in the 9/11 bombings in 2001. It does not include innumerable others-coalition forces, opponents, and innocent civilians-who have lost their lives. When to these are added the uncountable thousands of others who have been maimed and/or psychologically scarred from the combat and destruction, we can well appreciate the enormous tragedy of the Iraq war and occupation.

Why, and to what end?

Although the memory of 911 was frequently evoked by the Bush administration in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, no convincing evidence has been found connecting Iraq or Saddam Hussein with the events of 9/11. Together with missing weapons of mass destruction, this has caused the U.S. reputation with countries around the world to plunge, while terrorism has increased rather than decreased. The early progress of the U.S. government in using diplomacy to generate international support against terrorism largely evaporated in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. We now need to turn our attention back to international diplomacy in seeking an end to violence there.

Through the AWARE-initiated advisory referendum last fall, Urbana-Champaign citizens voted in a clear majority to bring American troops home and to end the occupation of Iraq. To help accomplish this, a recent post card campaign was initiated to signal our wishes to Senators Durbin and Obama and Representative Johnson. You, as concerned citizens, can reinforce this message by joining the "One Main" event this Saturday. If patriotism involves rescuing our nation from its misdeeds and protecting its integrity, then demonstrating against the war is a patriotic act.

We need to remove our virulent presence from Iraq and help it to heal its wounds. As to our strategic oil interests, we need to use diplomacy to find fair ways of compensating Arab nations for their oil while at the same time allowing it to be more equitably shared by people around the world. Market forces alone will not achieve this goal.

Please join us on Saturday!