Today's Blog is in honour of the millions of people worldwide who have done their own little bit to protest the war.
I was there when a million people took to the streets of London to protest before the war started. I was there again and marched past Downing Street when Bush paid us a visit earlier this year.
These scenes have been mirrored around the world. The numbers actually fighting the war, and perpetuating the occupation of Iraq are dwarfed by the many many normal people simply praying for peace and trying their hardest to influence less-than-compassionate politicians.
For those of you who are perhaps sympathetic, but are yet to do your bit, I urge you to get involved. For people of my generation, this is our Vietnam.
It's would be very easy to say that we have failed. And yes, we failed to stop the war. But we have mobilised, in the UK at least, the biggest ever protest this country has ever seen. For the people who took part, who day-in, day-out argue their views with less than sympathetic colleagues, the chance to stand among a crowd of like minded people is a truly wondrousus feeling.
It's important to note, and it's not often you can say this when it comes to political arguments, we have been proved right. Iraq was no threat. There were no weapons of mass destruction. What's more, with the on-going arguments over WMD, bugging and the Hutton whitewash, I believe we will bring down Tony Blair and Dubya may yet be kicked out in the next US elections. They may never face the consequences of their actions but we will have stopped them.
However the fight isn't over till the people responsible for killing 10,000 Iraqi civilians are brought to justice.
I was prompted to write this blog as a reaction to reading about the Stop the War Coalition national conference. The other reason was that I have been looking for an excuse to include the two emails below for some time.
The first is a letter sent to Iraqi blogger Riverbend. It was Salam Pax that introduced me to the delights of blogging. But it was the beautiful and emotive jottings of fellow Baghdader Riverbend that really inspired me.
Those of you who believe the politicians, who are now switching their reason for war from WMD to civil rights, should read Riverbend. Before the war she was successful computer programmer. She earned a good wage, and lived and dressed much as any western young woman would. Now, with religious fervour whipped up by the invasion, because she is a women, she has lost her job and her freedom to act, dress and live how she wishes.
When I returned from the George Bush march I was inspired to write to Riverbend. Her stories of life in Baghdad had reduced me to tears on a number of occasions. She was one of the reasons I continued to give my time to the Stop the War movement. However, it was my an icreasing feeling of hopelessness that prompted me to type the email. I was starting to think protesting was useless. The media, which its own agenda, was largely ignoring us and we were failing to influence not only the politicians but also the apathetic.
Below is first my letter to Riverbend and secondly her response. I can only only say the email, like her blog, was a huge inspiration and persuaded me that I was right in my actions and beliefs.
Yesterday I travelled for six hours from my home in Newcastle upon Tyne to London to protest about George Bush. As futile as it may be it does give me great hope to attend marches - the feeling of being with many thousands of like-minded individuals gives you hope. The event was so big (300,000 say the organisers 100,000 say the Police) that I felt what we were doing has to be noticed all over the world.
And then today, after travelling six hours back last night, I looked at the papers and it was the third or fourth news item. The world instead seemed more interested in the bad news from Turkey, Michael Jackson, even the upcoming Rugby world cup.
I was there when they toppled the statue of George Bush in the middle of Trafalgar Square. There were over 100,000 people right there to see it. The emotion was high. Ron Kovic the Vietnam veteran was there. As he spoke they showed pictures of the Vietnam atrocities. I cried, I spent two months in Vietnam last year and I fell in love with the place and its people. You have never met such beautiful, caring, hard-working, friendly people. How anyone could ever fight these people is beyond me.
Now it's Iraq and I am so sorry for what my country is doing.
I understand that when the statue of Saddam fell and the pictures were shown across the world, there were, in fact, only a couple of hundred Iraqi's present. However, the camera angles made it look like thousands. Yesterday, when George was toppled there was over 100,000 and the TV pictures today made it look like several hundred.
How can the peace movement win hearts and minds when the media doesn't give us the same privilege as the politicians?
Today, George Bush was in Tony Blair's constituency, Sedgefield, only half an hour from my house. It made my flesh crawl to think of him so close. He ate a traditional English lunch in a British pub. But of course, it wasn't really a traditional English meal because only his American chef is allowed to cook for him. The pub visitors were also hand picked by Blair - so not really a pub atmosphere either. And what's the point of visiting a pub if you don't have a beer - except as a reformed alcoholic he couldn't even do that.
In the words of Michael Moore "these are fictitious times". The above, and the trip to the UK was all stage managed to get pictures for his upcoming election. They achieved those by blocking out real people entirely. So where is this free speech that he says is so wonderful?
The region I live in is not a rich one by British standards but his pub lunch cost us millions of pounds. Normal tax and rate payers forking out for a millionaire oil man to eat fish and chips made by the same chef that cooks for him at home. Ludicrous.
After the buzz of yesterday the reality has set in again today - for the first time I am not sure he can be stopped.
It is a very frightening thought.
Stay safe and well
You people have already won 'hearts and minds'... no news crew or network
can belittle what was done in London. It was just amazing! We were watching
it here and waiting to see Bush toppled! It was incredible- people here were
laughing, clapping and whistling. We were there- but in spirit.
In my eyes, it looked like a million people were out there We were
watching the demonstrations from the day before yesterday and waiting to
see Bush and Blair's reactions to the whole thing. It was so much fun...
and it looked like everyone was out there enjoying their time, joined
together in a common cause. CNN didn't cover it well AT ALL, but Al-Jazeera
and Al-Arabiyah were covering it live during the best parts.
Congratulations, it was wonderful and worth it. People here are
much more concerned with demonstrations then Michael Jackson, at this point
(though it may shock the world!).
Thank you for writing to me and telling me about it... and never think it
went un-noticed- it was lovely.
Love, light and peace,
I saw two shooting stars last night I wished on them but they were only satellites. It's wrong to wish on space hardware. I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.