Why we stand vigil each week
Re: “Forty-two years later, still protesting” (Sept. 21): While I appreciated the article about the ongoing Connecticut Peace Coalition New Haven vigils at Broadway, Park and Elm Streets, it omitted the most important reasons for our protest. Only once, for example, were the words “Iraq” and “Afghanistan” mentioned—and never “depleted uranium” or “drone bombings. These issues are central to a clear understanding of why we stand there Sunday after Sunday — much more so than the vignettes from my personal story.
The vigil began at that location in late May of 1999 as part of an effort by a fledgling statewide organization, the short-lived Connecticut Peace Coalition, against U.S. military intervention in Kosovo. But it continued from that point forward in order to expose the devastation that economic sanctions by the U.S. and the United Nations were causing the people of Iraq. We’ve kept the designation Connecticut Peace Coalition New Haven to indicate that we are one of many similar grassroots groups throughout the state and nation.
The sanctions on Iraq were originally imposed in 1990 after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. but they continued long after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 1991. Not only did they prevent Iraq from rebuilding its infrastructure after the ’91 invasion, but they also prevented the importation of crucial medicines and medical devices. In addition, the effects of the use of depleted uranium by the invading troops caused cancers and birth defects (both among Iraqis and among our returning veterans and their families) never seen before.
It was against this backdrop that former President George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, continuing the 20-year effort started by his father and continued by the Clinton administration. The U.S. is now engaged in much the same process of devastation to be followed by occupation in Afghanistan.
The Obama administra tion has squandered its historic opportunity to change the direction of U.S. foreign and domestic policy, thus betraying most terribly the young idealists who worked and voted for him. Meanwhile, the U.S. drone bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan mean that fewer and fewer actual human agents of warfare will ever see their victims, even from a height of thousands of feet. Warfare is becoming ever more cynical and inevitable because those who make war pay less and less of a price, while the victims are increasingly random, innocent and undocumented.
These are the reasons why the Sunday vigil continues. “Resist this endless war.” There is room under that banner for the young, the middle-aged and the old — and for everyone’s story and commitment.
The writer is a 1986 graduate of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.