This Thursday and Friday a long-deferred event is taking place in Washington: an inquiry into why the U.S. broke apart the Middle East by going to war against Iraq in 2003. I wish I could say that a dispassionate arm of the government was undertaking this examination, or maybe even the mainstream media; but it is the antiwar group Code Pink, launching a tribunal aimed at uncovering the lies that produced this unending tragedy.
Here is the Iraq Tribunal announcement from Code Pink:
After 14 years of costly war based on lies, it’s time for truth and accountability. The People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War will unify the global anti-war/peace movements with other justice movements by uplifting testimonies of the costs of this war—and war itself. The Tribunal will bring the lies that created the war on Iraq into public awareness, while demanding Obama act on them. It will build and inspire the anti-war movement that we will need after the inauguration of the next administration in 2017. It will be a tool that all groups can use to build, inspire, and enliven their organizations and communities.
The American establishment is incapable of doing anything like this because it would mean assigning blame on friends, in some cases criminal accountability; and some politicians and columnists and editors and reporters might actually have to lose some social capital, let alone their jobs, for their bad judgment.
Last summer the British produced a report on the Iraq war that stopped short of examining the American causes of the catastrophe but had these craven/damning phrases about the British complicity in the decision:
[British PM] Tony Blair wrote to George W Bush eight months before the Iraq invasion to offer his unqualified backing for war well before UN weapons inspectors had completed their work, saying: “I will be with you, whatever.” In a six-page memo marked secret and personal, the then British prime minister told Bush… in July 2002 that the removal of Saddam Hussein would “free up the region” even if Iraqis may “feel ambivalent about being invaded”.
Iraqis may “feel ambivalent about being invaded.” Stiff upper lip, Iraqis!
I have contributed my own thoughts about the Israel lobby’s contribution to the U.S. decision to go to war to Code Pink, and done so in gratitude for the role Code Pink played in my life. In 2004 I sat in Madison Square Garden, in the hierarchical networking choir of the mainstream media, as President Bush spoke to the Republican convention, a speech interrupted by Jodie Evans of Code Pink, who pulled off her coat to reveal a pink slip with bloody handprints on it. Evans was dragged out of the hall by the hair and elbows, with her shoes flying off in the aisle right near all those media figures, and she spent the night in jail and no one in the media paid her any mind. But her bravery affected me; how come she is bearing witness while you are sitting there like a potted plant and you have some knowledge about what led this country to war. I channeled some of that activism; and then five years later Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin, and Felice Gelman and Dorothy Zellner, got me into Gaza, and in December Code Pink led demonstrations against the Mubarak regime in Cairo.
The Iraq War tribunal seeks your support, in social media. You can demand accountability here.
The event Thursday and Friday will of course be livestreamed from the University of DC law school. You can watch it here, 9:30-5.