As of Saturday evening, it seems likely that on Dec. 31, 2006, the last day of the year, the number of U.S. military fatalities will reach 3,000.  --  The moment will be marked in Tacoma by a 5:00 p.m. vigil at 6th & Sprague and a reading of the names of those who have died at Associated Ministries (1224 South "I" St.) that will begin at 6:15 p.m. and continue for several hours.  --  Reuters reported Thursday that "organizers say some 140 demonstrations in 37 states are planned."[1]  --  In an opinion piece published the same day, Marjorie Cohn reflected on indications that despite the Nov. 7 election results President George W. Bush is about to send (and House Democratic leaders are about to accede to) tens of thousands more U.S. soldiers to Iraq, is thinking about attacking Iran as well.[2]  --  She recalled a pertinent question asked in the past by Marvin Gaye:  "What's going on?" ...


By Carey Gillam

December 2006

KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- In Kansas City, they will light candles and lay out more than 80 pairs of empty combat boots. In Chicago, anti-war activists will hand out black ribbons, each bearing the name of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.

And in New Haven, Connecticut, opponents of the war plan to read aloud the names of 3,000 dead U.S. soldiers.

In all, organizers say some 140 demonstrations in 37 states are planned to mark the 3,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, a milestone that is likely only days away. By Thursday, some 2,989 U.S. troops had died in Iraq since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the unrelenting violence.

Among those keeping track of the U.S. death toll, including soldiers' families, peace activists, politicians, veterans, and others, many say they will commemorate the 3,000 mark as both a way to honor the dead and demand an end to the war.

"This horrific and tragic milestone allows us to remind this country of the daily unending human toll of a war that didn't have to happen," said Nancy Lessin, who co-founded Military Families Speak Out after her stepson was called to serve with the Marines in Iraq.

"When we reach the 3,000 mark, it is 3,000 too many."

Opinion polls show the war has become increasingly unpopular with a U.S. public that initially supported it. Voter discontent was a key factor in Democrats' victory over President George W. Bush's Republican Party in congressional elections last month.

So far, the discontent has not translated into large anti-war demonstrations, with events over the last year attracting sometimes only a handful of activists, up to sometimes a few hundred, at each place. Turnout could be similarly low-key this time.

Military Families, which has 3,100 members, is coordinating in its protests with Iraq Veterans Against the War, a group of veterans and active-duty soldiers, and the American Friends Service Committee, a Philadelphia-based social peace and justice group. Other anti-war groups are also participating.

Along with commemorating U.S. soldiers, many events will also mourn dead Iraqi citizens.

"Each individual death is tragic and meaningful . . . but the 3,000 mark is an opportunity to recognize and send a message that more war is only going to create more death," said Kansas City Iraq Task Force co-chair Ira Harritt, who is planning a demonstration showcasing empty boots to represent each Missouri and Kansas soldier who has died in the war.

The groups also plan to mount a fresh effort to try to get Congress to do its part to end the war -- calling on the new Democrat-led Congress that convenes next month to refuse to approve more funds for the war.

Mark Graham, an American Friends staffer assigned to monitor the death toll and coordinate U.S. demonstrations, said thousands of people were expected to participate in the protests after the 3,000th death.

"It is a very depressing thing to be looking for . . . and really sad," said Graham.


By Marjorie Cohn

** Marvin Gaye's 1971 song spoke of the madness of the Vietnam War. His timely lyrics should prompt us to work to end today's senseless war in Iraq. **

December 28, 2006

In 1971, singer Marvin Gaye raised hackles when he tried to make sense of the madness of the Vietnam War by asking, "What's Going On?" He sang (

Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today -- Ya
Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some loving' here today.

The song, told from the perspective of a returning Vietnam veteran, was inspired by Gaye's brother who had recently returned from that disastrous war.

Gaye would be asking the same question if he were alive today. Nearly 3,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. A brutal civil war continues to escalate, aggravated by intense opposition to the U.S. occupation. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, General John Abazaid -- commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East who just resigned -- and the vast majority of the American people oppose sending more U.S. troops to Iraq. Yet George W. Bush is planning to do just that.

Even staunch Republicans like MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, who supported the war and voted twice for Bush, is asking what's going on. On his December 20 show, Scarborough was appalled by Bush's statement, "I encourage you all to go shopping more." MSNBC analyst Mike Barnacle noted that "this President is isolated, delusional, and stubborn." Bush's "delusion," according to Barnacle, is going to result in the deaths and carnage of our troops and people throughout the Middle East. "I don't think [Bush] knows what he's saying . . . He is totally isolated from reality," Barnacle added. "The deaths of American soldiers now verges on the criminal."

So what is going on? Former Nixon counsel John Dean recently told a San Diego audience he doesn't think Bush is in charge -- Cheney is running the government. "One of Dick Cheney's geniuses is that he lets Dubya wake up every morning and think he's President," Dean noted. Cheney has set up his own National Security Council in the Vice President's office, according to Dean. Decisions about budgets, personnel, etc., never get to the Oval Office. Cheney decides the important matters before they ever reach Bush's desk, Dean said.

The report of the Iraq Study Group was not prepared by a bunch of radicals. It even recommended privatizing Iraq's oil. But the group of 10 saw that more troops and shunning Iran and Syria is not the answer. What did Bush do? He dismissed the ISG report out of hand in favor of Cheney's agenda.

Why would Dick Cheney and the neocons who convinced Bush to start this war decide to pull out now? They created the war to achieve their imperial dream of privatizing Iraqi oilfields and building permanent U.S. military bases nearby to protect them. They are willing to sacrifice the lives of our soldiers and the Iraqi people in pursuit of their dream.

Cheney is undoubtedly telling the evangelical Dubya to hang in there, God is testing him. Remember Bush said he consulted with his heavenly father before starting the war. If Bush thinks God told him to start this war, what will it take to make him stop?

And it could get worse. Cheney-Bush has sent our battleships to the Persian Gulf to "warn" Iran that we mean business. And the White House blacked out parts of a *New York Times* op-ed on negotiating with Iran written by two former U.S. government advisors. This means, in all likelihood, that Cheney has decided it's time to pick off the next member of the Axis of Evil. They're following the same strategy they used on the way to Iraq: convince the American people that Iran is building weapons of mass destruction, notwithstanding overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Attacking Iran would cause a disaster of epic proportions.

Now that the Democrats are taking over the reins in Washington, we have a golden opportunity to set things right. But incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid's first instinct was to align himself with the 12 percent of Americans who support sending more troops to Iraq. And new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lost no time in declaring that they would not cut funding for the war.

It seems more likely the Republicans, not the Democrats, will try to derail the Cheney-Bush war express. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore) declared last week on the Senate floor: "I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore."

Ultimately, it is up to the American people to step up to the plate and stop this war. It's fine to tell the pollsters we want our troops out of Iraq. But that's not doing the trick. The Vietnam War ended after thousands of people marched in the streets. We may not have the draft to get the college kids off their duffs. But we do have our consciences. And that should be enough.

--Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, will be published next spring by PoliPointPress.