Peace activist Cindy Sheehan criticizes war and politicians
In 2004, Army specialist Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq. His death led his mother, Cindy Sheehan, to set up camp outside former President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in August 2005. Sheehan and supporters held a vigil for her son’s death and a protest against the Iraq War for four weeks while Bush was on a vacation at the ranch.
The protest garnered national attention and became known as Camp Casey. She camped there along with thousands of supporters, including members of congress, artists and civil rights activists. Sheehan soon became a leader in the anti-war movement.
In 2007, she ran for congress in California against former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Sheehan lost, but received more than 17 percent of the votes as an independent candidate. She has since written a number of books detailing her activism, and she continues to speak regularly at events around the nation.
Sheehan is now on a speaking tour sponsored by Socialist Alternative. She is scheduled to give a speech at Fairhaven’s annual World Issues Forum, titled “Dawn of a New Revolt: Challenging Corporate Control of Politics” on April 27. She will speak at noon in the Fairhaven auditorium and at 7 p.m. in Fraser Hall room 4.
She will discuss the uprisings in the Middle East and the recent worker-led protests in Madison, Wis., as well as budget cut protests around the country.
The Western Front interviewed Sheehan about the war, budget cuts and activism.
Can you give a short overview of what you’ll be speaking about at Western?
I will be speaking about the fraud of the so-called two-party political circus here in the U.S. and alternatives to that.
We just marked the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and October will be 10 years in Afghanistan. On top of those wars, the U.S. is actively involved in a number of countries in the same region, including Yemen, Pakistan, and now, Libya.
How have these wars affected the U.S. and the American people?
These foreign wars for imperial profit, for the very few, have harmed the people of the U.S. in some profound ways. And most people, although feeling these pinches, don’t realize what it’s about.
First of all, conservatively, the U.S. has spent about $3 trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while essential services to the poor are being cut. And along with the high unemployment rate, this has contributed to a growing divide between the rich and the poor in this country.
Secondly, the indiscriminate killing and bombing of innocent people and population centers have fostered a white-hot hatred of the United States and ultimately a population that thinks of only our own needs and “safety” over the rest of the world.
You have described the Bush administration as criminal. How would you describe the Obama administration?
Same way. It’s doing the same thing.
As a peace activist, why do you think there has been so little reaction, as far as demonstrations, by the public to these wars?
Because there is a Democrat as president. Democrats have the ability to kill effective left-wing social movements as Republicans have the same ability to foster them. I predict with the next Republican administration in either 2012 or 2016 for sure there will be another spike in anti-war interest, but it will be too late for so many people.
What is your reaction to the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa?
Some are legitimate and some, likely most of the “rebels” in Libya, are fomented by our CIA and other agencies loyal to global capitalist, mostly around oil interests.
What are you working on now and what do you hope to accomplish?
I am working on the same thing I have been working on since my son was killed: peace. And peace is what I hope to accomplish.
With the cost of the Iraq War now estimated at over $1 trillion, and spending on the attacks in Libya estimated at $300 million per day, why do you think cuts to military spending are not part of the budget plans for Democrats or Republicans?
Because the war profiteers have an inordinate, illegal and immoral influence over politicians in both parties. And it’s so easy to pull the wool over the eyes of most Americans when it comes to “national security” and the especially despicable fallacy of “supporting the troops” by funding them to stay in illegal and immoral wars.
There have also been a number of large protests in the United States, mainly Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker has stripped collective bargaining rights from public employees. There have been demonstrations in other states where similar measures are trying to be implemented.What do you think the attacks on public employees and unions means for the rest of the country? What’s at stake?
The attacks are just continuing from every regime since the Reagan administration, and I don’t see the Democrats stepping in to help the working people of this country, especially since union leadership is in bed with the Democratic Party.
We need a worker’s party that includes all workers in this country and not just people who belong to unions. When unions not only stand up for their hard-earned rights, benefits and pay, and say that they want the same things for all working people, and call for a nationwide general strike, I think things will start to change.