Like many Portlanders I had been against the war since the very beginning. Perhaps it was the reported ninety two percent global opposition, or maybe the concept of us interfering in a country half the world away in this day and age. War is wrong, brutal and inhuman and I was under the hopeful opinion that we had moved past this stage of humanity in the two thousands. I dutifully marched and organized, painted signs and watched my friend get beat and maced, I felt vindicated when no weapons of mass cliché were found and even more vindicated when the public opinion began turning as the years ticked by.
After the false victory was declared, and after the horror began to fade out of the mainstream eye and old news became boring news a new problems set hold. How could we pull out now? We all agreed it should be over but we also all agreed that our vast mistake of unimaginable debt (409,678,300,361$) had created a civil war of sorts and that all hell was breaking loose. To pull out now would be worse then our decision to invade in the first place and I began to have arguments with friends and co-workers who I assumed to be liberal and sympathetic. I supported militant direct action like the recent blockade of departing troops by college students, a protest that resulted in tear gas, baton attacks and rubber bullets. To reason that this was actually an effective protest, on a better level then useless symbolic action where we marched around and yelled at populations who already supported us. But yet, I could not present an argument why we could and must pull out now without saying it was the only way.
That was until yesterday. On Sunday the eighteenth of March, four years after the war started and four years I have devoted more or less to frustrated partying I heard a speaker say some words that suddenly explained everything to me. Amidst twenty thousand people, burning flags, a friend getting pepper sprayed for the first time, sighting of old faces and the onward rush of riot police I heard some words filter down, words that dropped conviction like passion and made me inspired again, inspired to be outraged.
The speaker was Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi-Palestinian writer and activist who coordinated the first survey of Iraqi civilian casualties and who demanded my undivided attention from his background and statements.
Iraq has had eight political revolutions in the last eighty years, infighting is nothing new and until this point the country has survived every war and rebuilt itself. We have pushed this country to a new civil war but the Iraqi perspective and international perspective is that US has no place in solving this. The only way to create peace would be to withdraw completely; the only way to expect justice was to let it be built from within. Would we have wanted our civil war or revolution to be decided by an outsider? Our government is currently supporting the separatist party and the nationalist party would have won long ago for better or worse. We are prolonging the instability and violence and our goals are what they always have been, to extract resources, to let our companies rebuild what we have bombed, to establish military bases in the Middle East. Peace comes from us withdrawing completely, right now. Simple enough?
Simple enough that I want to be involved again and let this city once again stand more radical then one march once a year.