One Veterans Take on the Rage Against The War Machine Event
As a Combat Vet turned anti-war libertarian, I am encouraged to see people from all across the political spectrum come together to oppose the Warhawks in DC.
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On February 19th the Libertarian Party teamed up with The People's party to host the Rage Against The War Machine anti-war rally. An event that truly brought together people from across the political spectrum for one cause… end the United States involvement in other peoples conflicts; mainly the current war in Ukraine. With such a wide range of views being featured the event was bound to be controversial. Which it was evident from the reaction on twitter this past week. As a Combat Veteran turned anti-war Libertarian I not only attended the event, but I gave my own speech in front of the White House. These are my thoughts on the event.
When I first saw the chair of the Libertarian party, Angela McArdle, post on twitter about the event I knew I wanted to be involved. I made a video telling my story, and how I came to support the anti-war movement to help promote the event. It didn’t phase me at all that the co-host was the People's Party. As liberty activists we need to build single issue coalitions to achieve our goals, as we don’t have the power of the duopoly. This coalition however came with some questionable choices in speakers. A few of the speakers were not quite anti-war, but pro-Russia. I had to question myself, do I really care if they like one team over the other if their main goal is to end US involvement? I don’t believe there are any good guys involved in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and they need to begin peace talks. More importantly though is that we need to stop sending our tax dollars to fund one side over the other prolonging the bloodshed. I made the determination that this is how single issue coalitions work, and as long as they are not trying to get Congress to support Russia, I’m ok with it.
The event itself did not disappoint. In my estimation there were over 1,000 people there, maybe as many as 3,000. (I’m not an expert on crowd size estimations) Then seeing people like Ron Paul, Tulsi Gabbard, Jill Stein, and Denis Kucinich come together was in one word, iconic. Paul made the point that the best way to end the wars is to end the fed. So that way they don’t have the money to spend on such endeavors. Gabbard tells the story of Hawaiians who thought their end was imminent after the ballistic missile's siren mistakenly went off. Tying that onto the nuclear Holocaust a war with Russia would bring. Stein spoke about the costs of war, not just in money, but in terms of the lives lost and the harms to the planet all for the profiteers of the War Machine. Kucinich used the US involvement in blowing up the Nordstream pipeline to not that the administration has violated the constitution and international law, and the American people will hold them to account.
A common thread among many of the speakers, like editorial director of antiwar.com Scott Horton, was that this conflict was preventable. While Putin started an illegal war, NATO has had its hand in provoking Russia every step of the way. He notes “Bush senior made a promise at the end of the Cold War to not expand NATO closer to Russia… that was a promise made to be broken.” Just because one side is bad, it doesn’t automatically mean the other side is good.
Another common thread throughout the day were chants of “Free Julian Assange.” The imprisoned journalist who exposed the atrocities the world powers were committing with his site Wikileaks. The site published highly classified material obtained by whistleblowers in order to shed light on the war crimes being committed by powerful governments around the world. Many Americans see his imprisonment a threat to journalists and their first amendment rights.
After all the speeches were concluded on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the large group marched down to the White House to deliver their demands. Ironically President Biden was on his way to Ukraine to give away more of our money. A number of others gave their own speeches out in front; including myself.
I remember thinking as I was about to speak, how remarkable the event was. How in that circle of people around me, many of them would be protesting against me on different issues, but today they are cheering for me. As I noted in my speech, 9/11 made me a neocon, it was Ron Paul and 5 years in the Army that opened my eyes. That the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) is the biggest and most powerful Lobby in the world. I saw the hazards and fallout from war first hand. It was then I became a Minarchist. I began to realize that the government has one job and that’s to provide a standing military to protect our borders. Not to send our tax money to fight proxy wars across the world, fattening the wallets of the warhawks and the MIC.
The event was extraordinary for those that attended. The biggest event I have ever seen the Libertarian Party host, was not without its issues however. Those who opposed the event took to the internet with one unfortunate screenshot of Angela McArdle speaking in front of Russian Flags. not realizing there were maybe three in the entire crowd, in an open air event. Lesson learned for the young leadership of the Libertarian Party, have a backdrop planned. This was a minor flaw used to distract from the overall message of the event. Ending the War in Ukraine. If your only concerns are that you don’t agree with the views of all the speakers, or that at one moment a bad picture was taken, I really question how committed you are to ending the bloodshed. I would ask when is your Anti-war rally?
Jimmy Dore had the best response to the non-attendees, "I'm anti-war, but not with THOSE people..."