A call against arms in Iraq

Over two hundred protesters assembled at the Torch of Friendship, an eternal flame monument to fallen president John F. Kennedy, in downtown Miami Saturday afternoon to protest the coming war in Iraq.

The assembly was part of a worldwide series of rallies that gathered over 200,000 people in cities throughout the world and was led by speeches from familiar community activists representing groups such as the Miami Coalition Against the War, the Concerned People Opposed to War in Iraq, the Advocates for Legal Force and Miami Coalition to Defend the U.S. Embargo of Cuba.

According to organizers and those present, protesters gathered in a passive disapproval of any military strike against Iraq, in the presumed largest anti-war demonstration since the Vietnam era.

“There are many parallels between this and the early Vietnam era,” said UM Biology Professor Steven Green, who attended the event along with several other faculty members. “The whole reason the administration is paying attention to this is to draw attention away from its failures.”

During the event, protesters carried signs and posters that read, among other messages: “Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore,” “Bombs from 30,000 feet = Terrorism” and “Drop Bush, Not Bombs.”

Messages were also written on the nearby sidewalks and street and included: “Media Everywhere, Truth Nowhere,” “War is Murder for Profit,” and “Capitalismo Mata.”

Mel Reeves, freelance journalist and member of Miami Coalition against the War, said that MCW was initially organized against the war in Afghanistan but has remained to fight the legal battle against unjust war in Iraq.

Reeves led chants and served as a voice against military intervention for the Miami community, according to those present.

Joseph Prospero, a teacher of atmospheric chemistry, is upset with what he refers to as the “stupid, crazy ‘bumper-sticker’ foreign policy” that the U.S. currently employs.

“I would hope [protests such as this] would serve as the nucleus for larger protests in the future,” Prospero said. “We may be losing a lot of people over the next ten years for the same reasons.”

“We are moving toward a military solution of all the world’s problems – the administration should be paying more attention to social problems,” he said.

Several speakers noted the demise of civil liberties as hazardous to the future of democracy in America.

Ronald Cox, a professor of political science at Florida International University, delivered a speech about how the Bush administration is handling the situation.

“The administration’s arguments are empty and hollow, and the Bush administration is relying on the flimsiest intelligence,” Cox said. “There’s a lot more opposition to the war than the press would like you to think.”

Ashley Wingate, a sophomore majoring in philosophy and English who attended the rally, referred to the lack of philosophical justification regarding the issue.

“It doesn’t fulfill any of the requirements of a just war,” she said.

She noted that there are five basic requirements for Jus ad Bellum, the criterion to go to war.

“Good intentions – the right motivation to go to war, authorization by a legitimate authority, war as a last resort, a reasonable hope for success and proportionality – a cost-benefit analysis, must be taken in mind before the decision to go to war is made.”

For more information on the issue, contact Global Exchange, a human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political and social justice around the world, at www.globalexchange.org.

Sam Lockhart can be contacted at s.lockhart@umiami.edu.