Do you remember this? It happened ten years ago this weekend:
Ten years ago yesterday (February 15th), the world saw what was by some accounts the largest single coordinated protest in history. Roughly ten to fifteen million people (estimates vary widely) assembled and marched in more than six hundred cities: as many as three million flooded the streets of Rome; more than a million massed in London and Barcelona; an estimated 200,000 rallied in San Francisco and 400,000 in New York. From Auckland to Vancouver—and everywhere in between—tens of thousands came out, joining their voices in one simple, global message: No to the Iraq War.
Slightly a month later, on March 20th, 2003, the American-led coalition conducted a surprise military invasion of Iraq without declaring war.The invasion led to an occupation and the eventual capture of President Hussein, who was later tried in an Iraqi court of law and executed by the new Iraqi government.
Civilian and combatant deaths are estimated by the Iraq Body Count project to be 172,907. According to Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, $3 trillion dollars were spent on the Iraq War.
WASHINGTON -- Hoisting signs that read "Forward on Climate" and "No on Keystone XL," a massive group of protesters gathered on the National Mall Sunday to urge President Obama to take action on climate policy.
Organizers of the major rally, including the Sierra Club and environmental activist group 350.org, estimated that there were 40,000 protesters from 30 states in what the groups are billing as the largest climate rally in history.
"This movement's been building a long time," Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, told activists gathered at the Washington Monument. "One of the things that's built it is everybody's desire to give the president the support he needs to block this Keystone pipeline."
It's remarkable the extent to which the Iraq War protests 10 years were ignored, even ridiculued -- not just by the Bush-Cheney administration, which perhaps was to be expected, but by the mainstream media as well as congressional Democrats (no names, but check out the last two Secretaries of State) who were the only possible hope of stopping this very, very silly and destructive enterprise. Indeed, the failure of those protests to register with the Beltway press corps were one of the things in the early 2000s that radicalized me and led me to advocate for media reform.
The experts, the professionals, inissted that if only the people knew what they knew... But it turned out that the leaders didn't know jack when it came to invading Iraq. The decent, everyday people were right all along. Imagine that!
Now, the people are demanding something different: that our leaders take climate change seriously. Even if it takes radical action. Even it it means killing the Keystone XL pipeline, which is supported by so many rich and self-important higher-up types.
Perhaps they'll listen now.