It’s that time of year again, where you say good bye to your friends at the end of the school year, and either you or some of your friends are graduating. It’s the same in Iraq. But these soon-to-be graduates have spent their college years in the midst of war, passing through checkpoints, fearing being kidnapped or ending up too near an explosion on the way to or from school, even watching some of their classmates die. With little hope in the near future for their own safety or that of their country, many have intentions of fleeing the country, joining the rising number of refugees flowing from Iraq. We, as their peers an ocean away, must keep that in mind as we ‘take the summer off’ and find local ways to keep up the pressure to end this war now. No matter where you find yourself this summer, check out Peace Action or other local peace groups in your area to see what is happening and events you can participate in or other ways to volunteer and support their work.
Tomorrow is the huge mobilization calling for an end to the Israeli Occupation. Read more on why we support other young people in Israel and Palestine in calling for peaceful solutions. Find more info and events near you here.
The Iraqi Parliament this week moved to regain their authority over the U.S. presence in their country. In a historic move they passed a resolution that will give them the power to extend or end the United Nations mandate for the presence of coalition troops in Iraq, a decision that has been made unilaterally by the Prime Minister in the past. It is assumed that they would vote to end the mandate, which would make the presence of foreign troops officially an occupation and therefore politically harder to support. Wonder if this counts as the Iraqis stepping up? Democracy?
Also, unsurprisingly, interest in enlisting in the military has plummeted , which extended war and occupation that is seen as both unnecessary and brutal has a tendency to cause, resulting in a tougher time in getting high-quality new recruits . Thought it is hard to believe you’re fighting for freedom and rights when they’re harassing and prosecuting veterans for speaking out and the Secretary of Defense is trying to sell the South Korea model of a half-century of occupation as a positive idea .
One of the concrete ways we can challenge the war in our communities, in conjunction with countering military recruitment, is to fight the military research happening on our campuses. The Dept of Defense has been tossing millions of dollars and equipment at our funding starved colleges for more research on new ways to kill and wage war. We’re putting together some new resources now to be ready to kick off and step up our work to flunk the war machine, so keep a look out for those coming soon.