The Cedar Rapids branch of Socialist Alternative, with Women for Peace-Iowa and local supporters, held an anti-war, anti-escalation march in downtown Cedar Rapids on December 18th.

The public mood was decisively in favor of our stand against Obama’s war. After half an hour of protesting on a downtown sidewalk with our signs, receiving honks of support from drivers-by, we led the group down to the Wells Fargo branch where Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack keeps his office, chanting along the way “Obama don’t lie to me, your wars won’t bring democracy!” and “What do we want? Troops out! When do we want it? Now!” Outside of Wells Fargo our speakers Paul Street, Wendy Barth (the 2006 Green Party candidate for governor), the Women for Peace leader and Socialist Alternative member Tiffany Van Tomme all gave short speeches that went over great with the crowd and even evoked support from locals crossing the street nearby.

Below is the speech delivered by Paul Street, a writer and activist based in Iowa City. His next book is The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010).

Thank you Socialist Alternative and Women for Peace for organizing this event.

I feel the clouds of Obamaitis starting to fade a little. I feel the paralysis and confusion starting to lift a bit. Thank God.

The right wing had its tea parties. Bring on the left wing tea and coffee party.

This is the fourth antiwar gathering I’ve attended since Barack Obama gave his terrible George Bush-imitating War Speech in West Point on Tuesday, December 1st This is the second antiwar event I’ve attended since Obama gave another war speech while accepting, of all things, The Nobel Peace Prize.

Once again, as so many times before, it is up to us to reject Washington’s mass- murderous messianic militarism and to remember the wisdom of the timeworn social justice command: fight the rich, not their wars.

Speaking of the rich, the owners and top managers of Boeing and Raytheon and Halliburton and Lockheed Martin and Xe Services and Rockwell Collins were pleased this week to learn that things are
moving along with their annual Christmas present from the federal government – “our” government. The House and Senate are going forward with $600 billion plus for the Pentagon’s annual “base” budget. The administration has requested and will receive $ 129 billion to support “continued military operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite its earlier promise not to use supplemental appropriations to fund war beyond FY 2009, the Obama Administration is expected to soon request additional, so-called supplemental war funding. Obama’s Afghanistan Surge will cost $1 million per soldier totaling $30 billion per year.

Never mind that the continuing criminal, colonial, and bloody occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan remain deeply unpopular at home and abroad.

Never mind that the U.S. war on Afghanistan is every bit as illegal as its war on Iraq.

Never mind that all the justifications that Obama gives for continuing and escalating in Afghanistan and Pakistan are totally false and absurd.

And never mind the growing list of unmet social needs right here in the imperial “homeland.” Out here in the real world, down here in the other America, the real America beyond the war masters’ planning rooms and beyond the corporate suites, the official unemployment rate is 10 percent. The real unemployment rate is closer to 20 percent. One in four – one in four! – American children now depend on Food Stamps. 45,000 Americans die each year in connection with the lack of health
insurance. Our schools and roads and public housing and finances are in shocking disrepair. Our ecology is moving into an irreversible crisis that “our” government is perpetuating right now by undermining serious efforts toward global carbon emission reduction in Copenhagen.

Obama has ruled out a second economic stimulus because he says “we lack the resources.” We just don’t have the money, the president claims.

Oh really? We have trillions of taxpayer dollars to bail out and pay off gigantic parasitic financial institutions that pushed the economy over the cliff. We have untold billions to spend each year on maintaining the highest incarceration rate in the world – on keeping 2.3 million “fellow Americans” (nearly half of whom are black) behind bars. We have $100 billion to spend next year on the bombing of Afghan wedding parties and the sending of Predator missiles into Pakistani

Uncle Sam says he’s “all out of money” for jobs as he signs off on a Pentagon budget that amounts to $1 trillion a year, accounts for half the military spending on Earth, and maintains more than 800 U.S. military bases spread across more than 130 nations – all in the name something they call “defense.”

Barack Obama feels compelled to say that his so-called health reform “won’t add a dime to the deficit.” He never has to say that when he signs checks for the Pentagon, which enjoys an open-ended
debt-financed taxpayer commitment for wars without end!

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift,” Martin Luther King said 42 years ago, “is approaching spiritual death.”

What do we want? We want the troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. We want a major slashing of the war budget and a new level of investment in jobs, health care, environmental healing, healthy food, education, social justice. We want a politics and policy that gets behind people and justice for the many, not profit for the Few and war and poverty for the rest. We want a peace dividend. We want an end to spiritual death. We want a democratic revolution that puts people and the common
good first, over profit and war.

Fight the rich, not their wars.

1. See “Voting Record for David Loebsack: Voting Record for Legislation That Involves Defense,” at

2. See “Representative David Loebsack (D-IA, 2nd): Political Action Committee Contributions, 2007-8 Campaign Cycle,” at;=2007-2008

3. Center for Responsive Politics, “David Loebsack Career Profile: Top Sectors,” reads at;=I&cid;=N00027741&newMem;=N&recs;=20