Fight Back! interviewed Jess Sundin, an important organizer of the anti-war movement, about the upcoming March 20 protests against the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Sundin was a key leader of the massive march on the 2008 Republican National Convention. She is also a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Fight Back!: Why is it so important for people to build and participate in the March 20 protests?
Jess Sundin: March 20 marks the unhappy anniversary of the invasion of Iraq seven years ago. It’s been nine years since the U.S. launched its attack on Afghanistan. These countries have been battered by bombs and bullets for too long, at untold human cost. American people are against both these wars - talking to pollsters or casting our ballots, we’ve made it clear that we oppose these wars. But talking and voting aren’t enough, we have to take to the streets and demand that the U.S. pull out troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan. On March 20, we’ll come out in the tens of thousands to say no to war and occupation.
Fight Back!: What’s going on with the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan?
Sundin: After all these years, Iraq and Afghanistan are each occupied by more than 100,000 U.S. troops, plus the soldiers of U.S. allies. The U.S. runs prisons in both countries, operates checkpoints along roadways and controls government affairs.
In Iraq, over a million people have been killed by occupying forces - every family has lost someone. Nearly 6 million Iraqis are refugees, having fled their homes and, in some cases, the country. The infrastructure is in a shambles, where most Iraqis have limited access to electricity, adequate housing, drinking water and sanitation services. Unemployment and underemployment are over 40% and there is no sign that any of this will improve.
The people of Afghanistan are being hammered hard by Obama’s policy of bringing in more troops - there are more than twice as many American soldiers there now than there was under Bush. And more are on their way. Top commanders promise this will be a brutal year - we have regular reports of civilian casualties. The troops plan to lay siege to more cities, as they did to Marjah last month, promising to make a whole country of ghost towns.
There is no chance of victory for the U.S. - the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to resist the occupations and fight to control their own countries and futures.
Fight Back!: What do you think are the tasks of the anti-war movement in the upcoming period?
Sundin: The American people know that these wars are losing battles, that the cost in human lives is too high and that the policies of war and occupation do nothing to make our lives better here in the U.S. Quite the opposite, our needs are being ignored. There’s no real money for jobs, or health care, while millions fuel these wars every day. The American people want peace and we can see that the politicians are ignoring our wishes.
It is up to the anti-war movement to give voice to our demands. We must say clearly: “U.S. out of Afghanistan and Iraq now.” This means an immediate withdrawal of all troops.
At the same time, we must take a firm stand in solidarity with the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. This means following the day-to-day events of the war, protesting war crimes and military escalations as they happen and challenging policy makers. The anti-war movement needs to be more visible and bring more people into the streets to protest these unjust wars. If we are clear in our demands and call attention to the continuing and escalating realities of war abroad, linking it to the costs here at home, we can do just that.