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An Interview with Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, KIA 04/04/04. She is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, an antiwar group allied with Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veteran Against the War. They are for the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.
JOSHUA FRANK: Why did you decide to hook up with the antiwar movement? Do you think that it would have been more powerful to continue building a family-in-mourning movement of mothers, fathers, wives, and husbands of the maimed and the slain in Iraq?
CINDY SHEEHAN: I think those go together, actually. I founded an organization called Gold Star Families for Peace (www.gsfp.org). We are an antiwar group allied with Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veteran Against the War. We are antiwar and for the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. Any group that supports our position is welcome to join with us.
Many war supporters have denied any link between our foreign policy and the risk soldiers are at in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tony Blair has denied any link between foreign policy and the summer bombings in London. What do you see?
I think that U.S. foreign policy is totally responsible for 9/11,
as well as the recent bombings in London. Our policies of killing
innocent Iraqis, Afghanis, supporting the occupation of Palestine,
our permanent bases in Saudi Arabia, our presence in Lebanon, our
support of the Shah, supporting Saddam and giving him the WMDs used
on his own people. I think this sort of behavior drives hatred toward
the U.S. This is just all my opinion, of course. I am not a politician
or a military strategist. I am just a citizen voicing my opinions.
What fuels the war in Iraq today is central to our geopolitical interests: oil. How do you think this affects our chances as a movement to end the current war, compared to what it took to end the Vietnam War?
I think even more than oil, it has to do with the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. They have to keep us afraid of something or someone. During the 1950s and 60s it was the Communists. We lost that focus in the 1970sso Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Perle, along with the rest of the neocons, kept that alive. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, we needed a new enemy; so now it is terrorists they are the ist du jour. It really is impossible to fight ists and isms. You just cant do it. All we get in the end is prolonged evil and unnecessary war and death.
The 2006 mid-term elections are around the corner and there are a few pro-war Democrats up for reelection. The most popular are Hillary Clinton in New York and Nancy Pelosi in California. There is a bit of speculation in activist circles that you may be planning to take on one or the other in the Democratic upcoming primaries. Is this true?
I think Nancy Pelosi is changing her tune, but not nearly fast enough. I have met with her a couple of times. I am not thinking of running against Hillary or Nancy or Dianne Feinstein, for that matter. If it were anyone, though, it would be Feinstein because I am a Californian and I believe she is a despicable warmonger. People have been begging me to run, but I think I can do more good on the outside than the inside.
I will not support a pro-war Democrat. I will support any antiwar candidate. I regret supporting John Kerry in 2004. The movement gained nothing from his candidacy. However, I do think Kerry may be changing his tune on the war.
What are the important pressure points you see coming up for the antiwar movement?
The Iraq referendum and elections are at the forefront. We really want the referendum to be successful, but we are not hopeful that it will be. We still need to expose the failures of the Bush administration along with those of Congress and the media. Well need to keep pushing for the full withdrawal of troops now. That is paramount.
How can activists translate their protests against the war into more than marching at a weekend rally?
A lot of people sacrificed a lot to be in Washington on September 24. If peace activists really want to make changes they have to start putting intense pressure on their elected officials. Of course, everything should be non-violent because we are trying to create a peaceful world and violence cant produce peaceno matter what George W. Bush and his buddies say.
What ultimate outcome to your work do you think would be a fitting monument to your son Casey?
We need to bring our troops home. We cant allow any war for imperialism or greed to be fought in our names. This is what we need to keep fighting for. Not just for Casey, but for all, on both sides, who have perished in this illegal, immoral war.
Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.